Road grant matching funds approved; Bishop appointed to Hospital Board

Agenda items for the September meeting of county commissioners included election of Chair and Vice-Chair, an appointment to the Copper Basin Medical Center District Board, WiFi access for the public, money for road grants, and more. 1st District Commissioner John Pippenger was elected Commission Chairman for 2016-2017. Third District Commissioner Daniel Deal was elected Vice-Chair.

Will Bishop was appointed to the CBMC Hospital Board. A motion was first made by Deal to appoint Raymond Allison. Allison was one of themes submitted by the board. Sheena Gaddis said the commission needed to know what they were appointing, and that his application for the board said he would be bringing “common sense” to the board. Gaddis made a substitute motion to appoint Will Bishop, who had turned an application in to the county. The substitute motion brought up question from last month’s meeting, where there was debate about the proper procedure for substitute motions.

Pippenger said once a substitute motion passes, it then becomes the main motion and must be voted on again. He said he had done some research and checked with several parliamentarians, and that a substitute motion was the same as an amended motion. Gaddis asked why that was contrary to what Jimmy Logan said. County Executive Hoyt Firestone pointe out the motion last month had been as a subsequent motion to amend. Pippenger said when a motion to amend it passed, it become the main motion and has to be voted on.

Gaddis said she wanted the board to vote on the person with the most qualifications, and not “common sense.” Her motion to substitute Will Bishop instead of Raymond Allison was seconded by Mark Bishop. Deal passed on the vote, all others voted yes. Daren Waters and Karen Bracken were absent. The vote on the motion as a main motion passed with the same vote. Deal told Bishop his vote was nothing against him, and he hoped Bishop would do a good job on the board.

Commissioners approved moving $130,000 from the fund balance to pay the match on several grants for road work. Buster Lewis told the board There were projects approved through Federal Land Access Projects, State Aide Paving Projects, and State Aide Bridge Projects. Total cost of the projects, which include bridge work at Old Fort, Columbus, Chestuee, Reynolds, and Turtletown; and paving on Ladd Springs and Sugarloaf would be over $5 million. The county would be required to pay a little over $400,000 to do all the projects. Mark Bishop said taking out one big project on Ladd Springs would lower the county’s portion to $130,000. $287,000 would have to go toward the Ladd Springs project. That project was estimated at $1.14 million total. Bishop made a motion to fund all the projects except that one. Lewis said the FLAP (Federal Land Access Projects) money could be put off for one year and still be okay. He also pointe out the Easley Ford project was not on there because they had resistance from a neighbor. Bishop said if that bridge was condemned, they would have to take it out. He also pointed out the Road Department had used their fund balance for the recent Old Federal Road project.

Pippenger addressed the board about the possibility of having open WiFi at the courthouse. He said at one time they did, and students would use it after school. He said it was also useful to look up things during meetings. He suggested creating a committee to check into the cost of having WiFi at the courthouse as well as the Ducktown Community Center. Bishop said a lot of people don’t even have access to internet. Gaddis asked what happened to the WiFi that used to be at the courthouse; Firestone said it left when the library moved. Pippenger, Gaddis, and Mike Curbow will be on the WiFi committee and will look into the issue.

Assessor of Property Randy Yates told the board he was in need of a new plotter and two computers for his office. He said he had asked for money in his budget for the equipment, but was told to take it out of the budget and then request money from the fund balance. He said one computer was completely down and the other was 10-years old and had serious issues. Commissioners approved $8800 for the equipment.

Mark Bishop told the board a motion had been made during budget committee to add $1500 for data processing equipment for the County Clerk and Register of Deeds. County Clerk Angie Sanford said it was her understanding Kandi Bramlett had been told to make her purchase then do a budget amendment. Sanford said she had done the same. Firestone said it was fine to have a negative in that line until the amendment could be done the next month. The board also approved bonds for the Property Assessor and Road Superintendent. Firestone told the board the constable positions could be covered by the county’s blanket policy. Approval was also given to the Sheriff’s Department to declare various old sirens and police radios as surplus equipment to dispose of them.

Benton Arts and Heritage Day to feature Memory Mile Walk in honor of those lost to tobacco

The Polk County Health Council invites you to walk the Memory Mile in honor or memory of a loved who currently has, or you have lost due to a smoking/tobacco-related condition such as heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. The Walk will begin at 9:00 am on October 29 to kick-off the 2016 the Heritage Day Celebration. There is no fee for the walk but themed t-shirts will be provided to all who pre-register. Also, a memorial marker with your loved one’s name will be placed on the courthouse lawn throughout the day. Registration forms are at the Benton Municipal Building, Benton IGA or register online at

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Some other facts about smoking include:
• Smoking accounts for about 90% of all cancer deaths.
• More women die each year from lung cancer than breast cancer.
• Smoking increases the risk for coronary heart disease 2 to 4 times, stroke 2 to 4 times, and of developing lung cancer 25x.
• Smoking causes diminished overall health, increased absenteeism from work, and increased health care utilization and cost.
• Smoking can also cause cancer anywhere in your body including bladder, blood, cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney and ureter, larynx, liver, and oropharynx, pancreas, stomach, trachea, bronchus and lung.
Polk County Health Council is holding the Memory Mile Walk with the tobacco lawsuit settlement money they received this year. According to Donna Calhoun, Chairperson of the Polk County Health Council, “We hope to encourage healthy habits in Polk County with events like this and raise the awareness of the consequences of tobacco use in any form.”

The most recent statistics show that 71% of Polk County adults do not smoke. According to Jeannie Bentley, Polk County Health Department Director, “We hope to keep increasing the percentage of nonsmokers to reduce the risk of serious health conditions including cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and low birth- weight, premature babies.”

E-cigarettes are a fairly new trend advertised as a safe alternative to smoking. However, secondhand vapor has cancer causing chemicals in it and the nicotine refills aren’t required to be childproof. They come in candy and fruit flavors that appeal to children. One teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be lethal to a child and a smaller amount can cause severe illness that usually requires a trip to the emergency department. A toddler in New York died from drinking an e-cigarette refill and calls to poison control centers have dramatically increased with increasing sales of e-cigarettes.

The Polk County Health Council is a partnership of agencies. Organizations represented on the council are UT Extension Polk County, Coordinated School Health Polk County, Polk County Health Department, People Helping People, Benton Family Health Care and numerous volunteers. Polk County has many beautiful outdoor areas for hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities and the Health Council hopes to encourage local residents to be outside and active by sponsoring the Memory Mile Walk to promote a healthy, tobacco free lifestyle.

Vehicle access to Sylco Campground to be limited until damage can be repaired

Vehicle access around the loop at Sylco Campground will be restricted within the next couple of weeks. Andy Gaston, Acting Ranger with the Cherokee National Forest, said the restriction would be temporary. He said the Forest Service needed to make repairs to the campground before re-opening the road, but the campground would remain open throughout the process.sylco-damage2

According to Gaston, off-road and other vehicles have been utilizing the campground for mudbogging and other activity. Vehicles have created their own paths and worn mud pits several feet deep through the camping area. Gaston said they needed to restrict access so it does not get worse before they can fix it.
The Sylco Campground is a disbursed development historically used by hunters. Three campsites are located in the section that is being vandalized. The vault toilets were boarded up several years ago, and one of the tables has been stolen.

County Commissioners Mike Curbow and John Pippenger, along with Garry McDonald visited the site last week with Gaston to see the damage for themselves. Gaston said he wanted to ensure everyone understood why they were taking steps to restrict vehicle access to the site. McDonald said he would have driven right past it had they not been following Gaston because of its condition. He said it was sad to see, and that he used to go to the campground as a kid. Curbow said they used to have family reunions there.

Gaston explained that the Forest Service used to have six technicians handling the area, but now only had one. He said they have focused their attention of the areas where the people and crowds go. Gaston said when he came on as Acting Ranger, he was taken aback by the damage. According to Gaston, law enforcement has caught two different groups of people mudbogging in the campground. One of them, he said, had put it on facebook. Gaston said because their manpower is limited, it will continue to happen.sylco-damage3

Pippenger asked if the main forest service road leading to the campground would be closed. Gaston said no. He said they had not even considered closing that road, and were only restricting access to the loop around the campsites. Gaston said if the campground was closer to town they might be able to partner with the sheriff’s department or county government to clean it up and operate it. Pippenger asked about volunteers to keep it mowed; Gaston said he thought they would be able to mow it once a month after the damage was repaired. He said the work should be done in 2017.

A landscape architect has already been to the sight several times, Gaston said. He said they would not to any digging, but would bring in large boulders to restrict vehicle access around the loop. Pippenger said he would be contacting other members of the committee to see if they wanted to come back out to the campsite to see it for themselves. Gaston said he wanted to ensure the county understood what they were doing and why.

Revenues at Copper Basin Medical Center increasing, CEO says

The Copper Basin Medical Center District Board members discussed differences in the new ER contract compared to the old, accounts receivables, and revenues during their August meeting. CEO Anna Clark told the board revenues were increasing, and that collections for private pay had increased three times. Clark said she ran a report on the amount the hospital collected from professional fees for a year with the old ER contract. Questions had previously been raised about whether or not the new contract would end up costing the hospital money because the new ER group would be responsible for collecting their own professional fees.

Clark said it had been stated that they would lose $100,000 by not collecting the fees, but she did not know where that number came from. She said of the $408,000 collected during a one-year time frame, $208,000 was actually for deductibles and other fees. Clark said the hospital was saving about $11,000 per month with the new contract. According to Clark, comparing the amounts of professional fees actually collected to the cheaper hourly rate of the new ER doctors, the hospital is coming out ahead. The old contract was for $135/hour with the hospital collecting professional fees; the new contract is $69/hour with ER doctors collecting their own fees. Jack Collins said he thought they would have done well on the old contract if it had been done right. Clark said she hoped better documentation would help them get paid better.

Mitchell Hicks said there were no real numbers on either side. He pointed out that Doug Collins had previously told the paper they would save about $400,000 and now Clark was saying it was about $100,000. Clark said the other side was wrong about their estimates, too. She said she hoped they would have good data at the end of the month. Frank Shinpaugh asked if the $11,000 a month would cover a loan payment. Clark said it was close, and that the loan payment was $14,000. She said this month’s payment related to a CT scanner was the last one, which freed up an additional $3900 a month.

Hicks asked if transfers were down and how many patients were being seen. He said he was hearing from people at Fannin Regional that they were getting our patients. Clark said they were seeing an increase in July over June, and that August would be an increase over July. Carina Walker said she could start providing practitioners reports so the board could see how many were being treated. Jack Collins said the decline took a long time to happen and it would take a while to build back up.

Clark said there was $5.7 million in accounts receivables. She said that was good because they were at $7 million at one time. Clark said there was still some old stuff and they were trying to weed through it. She said $1.6 million was charged in July and $1.4 million was collected, adding that things are slower in summer months. She said their target was $3 million. According to Clark, private pay collections had improved by three times. Hicks asked how that was done. Clark said statements were not consistent before and were now.

Clark also reported they should have the audits from the CPAs this month and would be able to pay for it with Medicaid reimbursement money. Hicks asked if that was something Erlanger was waiting for. Clark said the firm they hired had already collected enough information to do a summary and that if Erlanger wanted to continue the process they would contact the hospital.

Collins asked if they were going to vote on the ER contract. He said if they did not vote on it, it was not a contract. Doug Collins said he would like to put it behind them so they could focus on more important things.
Hicks said he was not in favor of voting on any contract until the last contract was paid. He said they still owed Dr. Siddiqui. Jack Collins said it was in the minutes that Siddiqui would be paid. He made a motion to accept the ER contract for two years.

Shinpaugh asked if they should put it in a motion to pay Dr. Siddiqui. He said that would make it official. All members voted yes. Hicks said with that motion being done, he would vote yes on the new contract, adding he just felt it was bad business to give out a contract when they hadn’t fulfilled the other one.
Carina Walker updated the board on changes made to the bylaws, which included mostly updates to wording and procedures. She said the state and joint commission would want to see there was a process and standard for board members.

Walker said the board might need to consider increasing members to nine in order to meet specific requirements for certain grants. Clark said they had missed out on a grant opportunity because they did not have all the policies asked for. Walker suggested looking at the bylaws yearly to make updates or corrections.

Scarecrows wanted for contest during Benton Arts & Heritage Day

Organizers of Benton Arts and Heritage Days have begun preparations for this year’s event, slated for October 29, 2016 from 10-5. Along with music, food, arts & crafts, petting zoo, bounce houses, tractors, blacksmithing, boots & hearts contest, and quilts, this year’s festival will bring back the scarecrow contest sponsored by Benton IGA. A new addition to the festival this year will be a Memory Walk in honor of those lost to tobacco, sponsored by the Health Department and Ocoee Health Council. Title

“Scarecrows can protect cornfields or scare visitors, and putting them together can be a fun experience for families or school groups,” said Melvin Bell, manager at Benton IGA. Bell said they were bringing the scarecrow contest back in the hopes of one day having scarecrows lining the streets through Benton. Scarecrows will need to be from 5’-7’ tall, and constructed for durability. They can take any form, such as a traditional scarecrow, cowboy, spaceman, princess, or anything than can be imagines.

“The goal is to generate goodwill and a festive atmosphere,” Bell said, adding, “And we’ve increased the prize money a bit this time in the hopes of encouraging more folks to participate.”

First prize for the contest will be $75. Second place is $25, and 3rd place is $10. There will be categories for businesses/organizations, families, and school groups. Entires must be received by October 24th. Entry forms can be picked up at Benton IGA. For more information, call Melvin Bell at 423-338-9233 or stop by the Benton IGA.

Vendor applications for food, art, and craft vendors are now available. They can be picked up at the Benton Municipal Building, Benton IGA, or Polk County News. You can also visit and download a pdf version.

Early voting begins October 19th in Polk County, TN

Polk County Election Commission members met Monday afternoon in Ducktown. Early voting dates were set, and ballot boxes were locked after the meeting in preparation for the election. Commissioners also discussed the two liquor referendums that will be on the ballot. Anna Clark asked about the wording of the referendums. Deputy Administrator Nathan Hitson said the wording was set by the state. Administrator Steve Gaddis pointed out that if the population of a city in the county was over 5000, they would have had to exclude city voters. He said they did not have to do that. Mac York asked about the referendums in the cities. Hitson said the referendums were countywide. He said none of the cities had to have a referendum to sell liquor. Hitson said cities could choose to have a referendum to opt out of liquor sales if the referendums pass. Gaddis said it would not be a vote of the city to opt out, it would have to be a referendum.

Early voting will begin October 19th at the Election Office in Benton. Early voting can be done any time during regular office hours in Benton. Clark suggested start times for early voting in Ducktown be the same as on election day so people do not get confused. Gaddis said the voting usually began at 9am on election day. Tommy Davis said people are usually lined up by 9am because they think it starts at 8am. Clark said it should just be consistent. She suggested 9-4. York said some don’t get off work until 3:30 or 4 and had to drive. Gaddis said he liked 9-5. Commissioners agreed to have early voting in Ducktown on October 21, 22, 26, 28, and 29 from 9am-5pm.

Gaddis said he thought they would have a decent turnout this year because of the presidential election and the referendums.

Two liquor referendums will appear on November ballot in Polk County, TN

The local election slate has been completed for the November election. Along with state and presidential candidates, city voters in Benton, Copperhill, and Ducktown will be voting for city commissioners and mayors. In Ducktown, candidates run for commission, then the commission selects a mayor. Voters will also have the opportunity to cast their vote on two liquor referendums – one for package sales and one for liquor by the drink.

In Benton, incumbent Mayor Jerry Stephens and Commissioners Joe Jenkins and Gene Pack all seek re-election. The commissioners face a challenge from Garry McDonald. Ducktown will not have much of a race, as two seats are up and two candidates are running. Doug Collins and Brad Miller are running. In Copperhill, three candidates seek the position of mayor – incumbent Kathy Stewart, Billy Brackett, and Jerry Gilliam. Running for city council seats will be Tara Akins, Scott Brooks, and Bill Standridge. Akins and Standridge.

Two petitions have been approved to appear on the ballot as liquor referendums. 352 signatures were required for each petition, and each received about 450 signatures, according to Deputy Election Administrator Nathan Hitson. He said the petitions must be signed by 10% or more of the registered voters voting for Governor in the last election. Each liquor referendum is a separate entity, and are voted on as such. For example, the referendum for package sales could pass, with the by-the-drink sales failing, or vice versa. Both could pass or fail entirely, as well.

If either of the votes for liquor passes, the school system and the county general fund will receive a percentage of the state tax levied on liquor sales. According to Tennessee Code, there are two related taxes for liquor by the drink. One is an annual fixed amount based on the type and size of the business, which does to the state general fund for state purposes. The second tax is a 15% levy based on the sales price of alcoholic beverages sold on premises.

Of the 15% liquor-by-the-drink tax, 50% will go to the state budget for education. The other 50% will come back to the county. Half of the money that comes back to the county will be expended for school systems in the same way county property tax is handled. The other half of the 15% liquor tax revenue goes to the county general fund, or to the city in which is was collected.

The last day to register to vote in the November election will be October 11, 2016.

Money found in budget for additional courthouse employees

Needed increases in courthouse office personnel were approved during a county budget committee meeting. The need to increase workers due to state internal controls regulations had been debated for several months. Pending approval of the county budget on Thursday, one full-time position has been added to the office of Budget Director, and the offices of Trustee, County Clerk, and Register of Deeds will have an additional part-time person. County Executive Hoyt Firestone told the board they had approved another person for that office eight years ago when Mike Stinnett was in office. Mark Bishop said Firestone campaigned saying it wasn’t needed. Firestone said he did, but we were six years past that. He said work had increased and that something new was added to them every time the legislature met.

Firestone said the state had put the internal controls on them. “They didn’t give us an option,” Firestone said. He said it doesn’t spell out in the statute what will happen if they don’t do it, but that there would be a separate audit for federal dollars. Kelley Morgan, Director of Accounts and Budgets, told commissioners she was having surgery on the 30th, and would be down for 10 weeks. She said she would not be able to do any work for 4-5 weeks. Buster Lewis asked who would be doing her work while she was out. “You tell me,” Morgan said.

Firestone said it was a matter of fairness to the offices. He said regardless of the surgery, Morgan needed backup. Morgan said she just wanted to be compliant. She said if they were not going to combine the Road Department with County General, she needed one person. Firestone said Morgan went back through the revenues and made adjustments after speaking with the auditors and reconciling the general fund. He said she was able to find enough to fund the full-time position as well as the position in the County Clerk’s office. Angie Sanford currently has a part-time bookkeeping position, and her request was to make it a full-time position in order to be compliant with the internal controls regulations.

Trustee Gina Burchfiel said she needed a part-time position, but that she would figure out a way to make it work in order to accommodate the needs of the other offices. She said it would be hard, but she was willing to try to find a way. Morgan suggested that $9000 could be pulled from the fund balance. Mike Curbow said if they were going to do one, they might as well do all three. Lewis asked if the current 1-day a week position in Morgan’s office would be moved to the full-time position and if Alicia would be able to do everything. Morgan said she would not be able to do everything, but would have access to certain things and could do the work while she was out.
Morgan said the internal controls were designed for different people to do different things. Sheena Gaddis said there was nothing wrong with cross-training. Firestone said they had to be familiar and capable. Gaddis said somebody needed to be able to do it.

Bishop said they should look at other ways to save money and suggested an outside company to collect hours. Morgan said the sheriff’s department was the only one to turn in hours. Firestone said payroll was farmed out when he came back into office and it was a mess.Daren Waters asked how much was in the undesignated fund balance. Morgan said there was about $3.8 or $3.9 million. Bishop said if they started using the fund balance the courthouse would fall apart. Firestone said there was $180,000 earmarked for courthouse repairs. Bishop said he didn’t know if that would fix it. Firestone said said it might not but saying they wouldn’t be able to fix it was a big jump.
Sanford said she had increased services in her office and the county took the money for them each month. She said she would have to cut services if she did not have enough people in her office.

Curbow made a motion to pay for two half positions in the Trustee and Clerk’s offices out of the fund balance. Morgan said it would be about $26,000 depending on insurance. She said between $100,000 and $200,000 went into the fund balance each year. Pippenger said that meant they were overfunding. Bishop and Gaddis voted against the motion; all others voted yes. Greg Brooks and Karen Bracken were absent. Curbow motioned to pay for the position in the budget office and half position in the Deeds office through the cuts Morgan found in the budget. Bishop and Gaddis both voted no; all others voted yes. Bishop said he preferred “pay as you go” instead of using the fund balance. Waters said a 2¢ tax increase would enable them to do that if that’s what they wanted.

Polk County, TN School Board discusses air conditioning, spring water for Basin fields, lights at South Polk

Polk County’s School Board met at Chilhowee Middle School for their regular August meeting. Agenda items included the election of James Davis as Vice-Chair, purchase of several air conditioner units, and amending a lease with the Township. Board members also discussed possibly using a spring to water fields at Copper Basin High School, and the need for lighting at South Polk. Jason Bell told the board state testing will be done with paper and pencil this year.

Board members agreed to pull about $70,000 from the fund balance for the purchase roof air conditioner units at Benton Elementary, Copper Basin Elementary, South Polk, and Copper Basin High School. A hotel type unit will be purchased for Polk County High School. Joel Cox told the board they’d hoped to get by with just replacing one at Benton Elementary, but once school started up, they discovered otherwise. Stan Howard asked if bids were taken, or if there had not been enough time. Cox said it was an emergency situation, but that Dr. Jones said they had a service contract with Higdon Heat and Air. LW Smith pointed out there was a $175 travel fee when Higdon went up to Copperhill. Shawn Pritchett suggested revisiting the service contract and taking bids since it had been so long. Pat Suits said the bidding process wouldn’t be fair because the other companies would know what Higdon was charging.

Smith told the board the 4th Fractional Township property line ran through the middle of the new ballfield at Copper Basin High School. He said he had talked with the Township about adjusting the land lease to add 1500 feet on the south, and 1000 feet on the east and west. Howard asked if it might be possible to trade footage from another section if they did not want to add to the lease. Smith said he didn’t see where there would be a problem adding the extra footage. Mark Williams asked if there would be a right-of-way to access it. Smith said there already was. Cox said the Township would most likely enter into another 50-year contract with the board.

Smith also suggested the board utilize a spring to water the Basin sports fields. He said there was spring below the practice fields that would give them free water. Smith said the only field that currently had a water meter was the football field, and it cost them $1500-$3000 a year. He said using the spring for all the fields could save them $5000 a year. Smith said he’d spoken with Randy Collins, who suggested it would cost about $16,000 to set the system up, install a pump, and get everything ready. Suits asked if they knew whether or not the water was good, and if they were going to use it for anything other than the fields. Davis said they used the spring when he worked in the mines. Smith said they would use the water for the fields. he said if there could be some sort of filtration system put in they might be able to utilize it in the restrooms. He said if they staggered and alternated the use of the spring on different fields, they would make their investment back in a few years.
Williams asked where they would be able to pull the money from. He suggested tabling the idea for a month since they just had to pay so much for air conditioners.

Frank Brown addressed the board about putting up lights at South Polk. He said the new walkway and playground had no lighting at all. Brown said they could get with VEC about putting up some dusk-to-dawn lights for just a few dollars a month.Cox said he had spoken with Aaron Hood at VEC, who gave him two options for lighting. 70-watt LED lights would be $20-25 a month and 400-watt metal lights would be about $32-38 per month. Both options would have a 1-time transformer charge of $400. Pritchett said having lights would be good for folks who want to use the walking track in the evenings after work. Brown said if people are out there trying to walk and unable to see, they could step off the walkway, fall, and break a leg, then sue the school system. He said there were also kids out there at night climbing all over the school. Brown said lighting up the school would help that. Brown was instrumental in getting a donation from the Railroad to put up an awning and handicap ramp at PCHS. Cox asked if there was railroad money for the lights. Brown said whatever was left from the handicap ramp project could be used for the lights. Howard asked if they would be able to use solar lights. He suggested investigating that option.

A soccer supplement for Chilhowee Middle School soccer coaches was approved. Several board members said they thought it had already been done. Cox said the middle school had never had supplements for soccer. He said it would be about $1200.

Cox addressed the board about the Read 20 initiative. He said the purpose was to improve reading. Cox said within 10 years they wanted to have 90% of all third graders reading at or above their grade level. He said it is now about 48-49%. Cox said the teachers were beginning to get excited about the initiative, and they wanted to get the community excited now. He encouraged anyone who has a baby to read to the 20 minutes a day. Cox said it may not seem like they are listening when they are young, but it makes a difference. Cox also told the board Copper Basin Elementary and South Polk Elementary were the recipients of a McGraw Hill research grant that would send trainers in for 1st grade teachers. He said there was no charge to the school system, and they would come in and work with teachers all year long. Cox said it was a proven program with a 30-year track record.

Jason Bell gave the board a testing update. He said after the online testing debacle last year, the state would be doing paper and pencil tests this year. He said there were two parts to testing last year, with one earlier in the year. Bell said that would not happen this year, and there would be only one testing window. Bell said testing time had been reduced, and he was glad the state had listened to complaints and made changes. Testing will take 2 1/2 hours less this year. Bell said the state was looking at a 3-year window to get back to online testing, and might phase some in next year. Williams asked if students were being re-trained to take written tests this year since they had put for so much effort to train them to do online testing. Bell said they were.

Daniel Kelly convicted in 2011 bank robbery in Delano, TN

Daniel Kelly has been found guilty of the Aggravated Robbery of First Volunteer Bank in Delano in August, 2011. Kelly was tried in front of a jury on July 26, 2016. According to Captain Brian Fields of the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, Kelly was done in by the fact that he knew details about the crime that only the robber would know. He and Detective Kevin Cole both testified that Kelly gave them a confession, and he made statements that only the robber would know. Fields said certain details were withheld from the press and the public at the time of the robbery, and Kelly hit on those details.

Bank Teller Misty Burgess testified to seeing Kelly enter the First Volunteer Bank armed with a handgun. She said he was holding the weapon near his face, and told her to give him all the money. Burgess testified that she gave him the money and he fled the bank headed north through the wood line of the parking lot.
Dickson City officer Zack Donegan testified to making contact with Kelly in Dickson County in 2014. He said Kelly made statements about the bank robbery in Polk County.

John Fortuno, Kelly’s attorney, argued that his client had not made a true confession and that his client did not resemble the video footage of the robber taken by bank security camera. District Attorney Andrew Watts and Drew Robinson prosecuted the case with Defense Attorney John Fortuno representing Kelly. Judge Andrew Freiberg presided.

Following the testimony and closing arguments the jury deliberated and then returned a verdict of guilty for Aggravated Robbery to Kelly. Judge Andrew Freiberg said the sentencing range for Aggravated Robbery is 8-12 years and moved sentencing to November this year.