Polk County, Tennessee unofficial election totals for November 8, 2016

Polk County election totals are as follows:

Donald J. Trump: 5097
Hillary Clinton: 1252
Roque De La Fuente: 4
Gary Johnson: 114
Alyson Kennedy: 4
Mike Smith: 23
Jill Stein: 26

Chuck Fleischmann: 4923
Melody Shekari: 1450
Topher Kersting: 37
Cassandra Mitchell: 87
Rick Tyler: 237

Dan Howell: 5054
Anna Miller Grabowski: 1531

Consumption on premises: 3780 yes – 3032 no
Package liquor: 3929 yes – 2863 no

Benton:
Jerry Stephens: 534
Joe Jenkins: 416
Garry McDonald: 358
Gene Pack: 269

Copperhill:
Billy Brackett: 51
Jerry Gilliam: 23
Kathy Stewart: 92
Tara Akins: 92
Scott Brooks: 81
Bill Standridge: 105

Ducktown:
Doug Collins: 83
Brad Miller: 90

Election totals by precinct will appear in the November 16th edition of the Polk County News.

Rattlesnake Hollow Fire continues; nearby trails closed

A fire on the southeast side of Chilhowee Mountain has grown to include at least 100 acres so far, and will likely grow. According to Terry McDonald with the United States Forest Service, fire growth is anticipated due to the location of the fire. The Rattlesnake Hollow Fire was first reported  at approximately 2:30 pm Sunday.  It is located in the Rock Creek Gorge on the southeast side of Chilhowee Mountain in Polk County. No structures or facilities are threatened.

National Forest visitors are being asked to avoid trails in the Rock Creek Area. closure_8x11_land_20161026_1634_rattlesnakehollow_tncnf000247

“Because of the location of the fire in steep, rocky inaccessible terrain fire growth is anticipated,” McDonald said. He said that because of firefighter safety, crews are not  constructing fire lines directly adjacent to the fire. Crews are going indirect to construct hand lines and using creeks and trails in the area.

Two helicopters, an air attack aircraft for observation, two fire engines, and 35 firefighters and support personnel are currently working on the blaze.“As firefighters progress with line construction they will be burning out unburned vegetation along their lines. This helps secure the lines from the main fire –when lines are burned out it leaves an area devoid of fuel (vegetation),” McDonald said. Trails at and near the Rock Creek area are closed and marked on the ground (Please refer to map).

Effective October 29, 2016 the following fire restrictions are in place for the entire Cherokee National Forest (approximately 655,000 acres) until terminated by the U.S. Forest Service:

· Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal fire outside of developed recreation areas. The use of portable lanterns, stoves or heating equipment that utilize gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed.

o Fires at developed recreation areas must be confined to receptacles designed for fire. Metal fire rings and grills are provided in Cherokee National Forest developed recreation areas. Campfires should always be put out and cold to the touch before left for any period of time.

Cherokee National Forest Fire Management Officer, Marty Bentley explained, “This simply means that the only places National Forest visitors can have a fire is in developed recreation areas where metal fire rings and grills are provided. Portable lanterns, stoves or heating equipment that utilize gas or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed. This action is necessary to protect National Forest resources and visitors. This restriction only pertains to the Cherokee National Forest. We intend to terminate this restriction as soon as we receive significant moisture and conditions warrant it.”

National Forest visitors are asked to be very careful with fire and to obey all state and federal fire related laws and regulations.

CBMC Board members question new appointment

Copper Basin Medical Center’s monthly District Board meeting started off a little rocky, but settled down relatively quickly. Newly-appointed member Will Bishop joined the board. He was appointed during the September County Commission meeting. Board member Jack Collins attempted to thwart Bishop’s appointment by presenting a letter he said was signed by outgoing member Randy Collins rescinding his resignation. Randy Collins was not in attendance. Mitchell Hicks and Ron O’Neal were also absent. Jack Collins said Randy was on the board until he was replaced. Jack said the board had to approve new members. He said he was scared about giving up Randy’s knowledge.

Board Chairman Doug Collins said he had spoken to Randy, and didn’t know that he was 100%. Doug said he had spoken with attorney Eric Brooks, whose feeling was that when the county or a city appoints a member, it is their will. Doug said the board did not have to vote to accept the new member. Doug said if Randy wanted to get back onto the board, he would have to go back before the commission and be appointed again. Bea Tallent asked why there was nothing in the bylaws that said the board members had to come from the Basin area. Jack said they had always put members on from the Basin area. He said it was Copper Basin Medical Center and they needed people from that area, adding, “I don’t know this man.”

Doug Collins pointed out Bishop’s degree was in healthcare. Jack Collins said it was history and precedent for both hospital boards to have members from the Basin. He said he was not throwing rocks at Bishop, but it was Copper Basin Medical Center. Bishop said that as of the county commission meeting, Randy’s window to rescind had closed. Jack said the commission appointed him to be considered by the board. Doug pointed to the Private Act, and said he was sick of all the arguing and wanted to get on to business. Bishop said he had spoken to several commissioners who said if he was not accepted, they would re-appoint him and send him back. Jack Collins asked if that was a threat. Bishop said that was reality.

Doug Collins said there were going to be times when they didn’t like who was appointed, but they did not need a peeing contest with the commission. He pointed out that CEO Anna Clark lived below the mountains and cared about the hospital. Bishop said there should be equal representation because the county was on the hook for the hospital, not just the cities above the mountains. “They just want to keep an eye on us?” Jack asked.

Clark asked if the Private Act said the board had to approve new members. Doug Collins said no. Jack said they had always voted to approve new members. Doug said he did not want a fuss fight and that Randy had turned in a resignation and it was accepted. Tallent asked if they should table the approval until the next meeting. Jack Collins said they had a dump truck full of stuff to do and needed to make a decision. He said there was no sense in putting it off. Doug asked what he wanted to do; Jack made a motion to accept Bishop on the board. Frank Shinpaugh questioned if he was hearing correctly, then seconded the motion. Tallent voted against, but said it was nothing personal against Bishop.

In actual business, the board approved an anti-tobacco policy for the hospital. Clark said they were a healthcare facility and they needed to encourage people to stop smoking. She said having a policy would also make the eligible for some grant opportunities. Jack Collins said they did not need a gestappo crew to enforce it. Bishop suggested a wording change in the policy in regards to employees reporting tobacco use. He said it provided a loophole for not reporting. Collins said he was uncomfortable with employees being a monitor and being comfortable with that. Bishop suggested if they found this difficult to talk about, they would have a hard time in healthcare. The anti-tobacco policy will begin November 1st. No tobacco will be allowed on any part of the property.

Revisions to the bylaws were approved, with more changes to come. Policy revisions were also approved, and a whistleblower policy was added. An issue with a piece of radiology equipment was discussed. Clark said there was a new radiology group and wait time was down, but a piece of equipment was slowing the process. She said someone would be looking at it soon.

Clark said there was $1.8 million in charges in August, up about $100,000. She said $1.7 million was collected. Clark said Dr. Siddiqui had been paid, and the auditors had been paid.
Doug Collins said the City of Ducktown had been approved for a CBDG grant of $315,000 to put a new roof on the hospital. An $88,000 match will be required to do the project. The roof on the hospital is the original roof from 1953, with patches and other work being done over the years.

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 www.ocoeerunforhealth.com.

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 polkevents.com 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.