SuperTalk WFHG Local News Stories
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Virginia Transportation Secretary: New Law Leaves Most Highway Projects Competing for Scarce Dollars
Extending the Coalfield Expressway, improving Interstate 81 exits in Abingdon, expanding Lee Highway in Bristol for The Falls Development and many more projects brought out a crowd to a Virginia Transportation Board public hearing. According to state Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane, under new state law, unless a project is already under construction or brings 50 percent of its funding from another source to the table, all projects are back competing - based on cost/benefit factors - for the state's scarce dollars. He said, “Heretofore, it's been driven by political whim and executive order, so hopefully this will put more sustainability and credibility into the process.” (LM)

Kingsport Schools to Equip Students with Laptops
With an initial delay of $800,000 and then $400,000 a year, Kingsport schools plan to start equipping sixth and seventh graders with laptop computers. As the project progresses, it will be expanded to include more grades and school officials say they're exploring a multi-year approach of purchasing and leasing the computers with a goal of having a laptop to all students in 4th through 12th grade. (EE)

Bristol Public Library Sculpture Party
There's a new art sculpture outside of the Bristol Public Library...and Thursday it will be the center of a city celebration. The celebration of sculpture honoring Bristol's heritage will take place in front of the library at 130 pm, followed by musical entertainment and more. (EE)

Topping Out Ceremony Held for Eastman's $100 Million Corporate Business Center
A multi-million dollar structure that is part of the new $1.6 billion dollar investment Eastman in Kingsport is halfway to completion. A topping out ceremony was held for the company's $100 million dollar Corporate Business Center. Eastman CEO Mark Costa said the new construction signifies the company's commitment to East TN, saying the Fortune 500-company could have selected several places across the globe to build the new center but decided on Kingsport because of Tennessee's attractive business incentives. The new center is scheduled to be completed in late 2015.

Man Reported Missing in Kingsport Found Safe
Eugene Kaywood, who was reported missing two days ago in Kingsport has been located. Police say he is now with family members and is safe and sound. (KC)

Hearing Delayed for former Bristol Library Executive Charged with Embezzlement.
A preliminary hearing is delayed until Jan. 22nd for the former Bristol Library Foundation Executive accused of embezzlement.Anita Foster-Machado had been due in court Tuesday. She's charged with six counts of felony embezzlement, accused of using the foundation’s credit card over two years years to purchase personal items totaling $20,000.(JH)

Kingsport Investigators Searching for Missing Man
Kingsport police are asking the public for help in finding a man missing since Monday. 56-year-old Eugene Kaywood was last seen at his residence and authorities said that due to medical conditions, he is unable to care for himself. He is described as a white male standing 5 feet 6 inches tall with brown hair and blue eyes and weighing 115 pounds. He was last seen wearing a maroon shirt, green coat, blue jeans and a white University of Tennessee hat.

Funeral Home Fire in Castlewood Under Investigation
A Russell County funeral parlor was completely destroyed in an early morning fire. According to Castlewood Fire Department Lieutenant Kevin Smythe, the cause of the blaze at Holding Funeral Home is still under investigation. Their were no injuries reported and Sheriff Steve Dye said the Virginia State Police are assisting local authorities in the case. The funeral home had only been open less than year.

Johnson City Leaders Hire Lobbyists To Push Their Agenda in Nashville
Johnson City leaders have hired a Nashville lobbying firm on a $30,000 annual retainer hoping to increase its presence with lawmakers at the state capital. Commissioners approved the contract with Windrow Phillips Group at a recent meeting. The deal covers work with lawmakers, the governor's office, state departments and assisting in pushing the city's legislative agenda. The client list of Windrow Phillips includes, Bank of America, and AARP.

Bristol, TN Named One of the Most Conservative Cities in America
Bristol, TN ranks high on yet another national list. This time, it's for being the 4th best city in the nation for Conservatives. ranked America's top political towns in their survey, “Best Places For Liberals, Conservatives, And Centrists”. The group looked at criteria such as our region's support for Dr. Phil Roe in the U.S. House of Representatives, how we voted in the last Presidential election and they collected data on how we rank ourselves on a scale of very liberal to very conservative.

Tri-Cities Airport Wants to Re-impose Passenger Fee
Tri-Cities Regional Airport gives notice of its intent to re-impose a passenger fee that expired in June to pay for airport improvements. According to its notice, the airport plans to raise $1.9 million by charging each passenger a fee of $4.50, starting in March and continuing for two years. Airport improvements planned include repairing and improving the access road, and terminal improvements to the facade, adding a passenger loading bridge and a new baggage claim. (LM)

Kingsport Woman Seriously Injured After Being Ejected from SUV
A Kingsport woman was seriously injured when her SUV rolled over and ejected her out of the vehicle. Police said 57-year-old Regina Bailey was rescued from underneath the SUV after the vehicle veered to left, jumped the curb and struck a tree in the yard of a home on Catawba Street. Investigators said Bailey was not wearing her seat belt.

Man Pleads Guilty to Child Neglect in Church Hill
Christopher Warner is ordered in court in Church Hill to serve 15 days in jail for misdemeanor child neglect. A one year jail sentence was suspended to that and probation after Warner pleaded guilty to leaving his 5-month old baby in his vehicle for more than 20 minutes while he ate breakfast in a grocery store. (LM)

State Transportation Board Seeking Input in Bristol Wednesday
Virginia's Transportation Board meets in Bristol Wednesday, after a statewide swing gathering input on final revisions for its $13 billion six year plan. The plan is for funding essential highways, bridges and other projects. Delegate Terry Kilgore of Scott County says the local push is for extending the Coalfields Expressway and passenger rail service to Southwest Virginia and Bristol. He said, “It's important for folks who are interested in it to get to the meeting and to let their voices be heard so we can make sure that is a part of the six year plan.” The public hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. at Bristol's Holiday Inn. (LM)

Virginia State Police Budget Cuts Will Reduce Staff, Overtime Pay
Reaction from the Virginia State Police Association to the governor's deep cuts proposed in the budget of state police. Executive Director Wayne Huggins says it's s disconcerting that other “core” services were spared. He says the $12.7 million in cuts are to the detriment of service and morale. He said, “One cut requires us to leave 41 trooper positions vacant. There's also a vague cut that may cause us to eliminate overtime pay." (LM)

Sullivan County Detectives Looking for Help to Identify Bluff City, Piney Flats Vandals
A group of vandals have caused thousands of dollars in damage to several homes in Piney Flats and Bluff City. A report from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office said more than a dozen cases of glass bottles being thrown through the windows of homes and cars are being investigated. The majority of those incidents have happened on the weekends in the past month. Anyone with information on these cases should contact Sullivan County detectives.

Committees in Carter County to Stay As-Is After Lengthy Debate
(Humphrey) “Well, I think its a great question. The attorney just advised us that that was illegal in his opinion.” That's Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey's reaction to a lengthy debate over approving minutes to a Sept. 29 meeting the Commission held to select members to several committees including the planning commission. A first vote to approve those minutes failed, leading to the county attorney to caution the board. Some members of the commission questioned whether to have the meeting last month and have railed against some selections made to certain committees. Humphrey explained that the State Comptroller's Office of Open Records said the commission was in violation of the open meetings law and had to hold the conference. All committee appointees will stay and with no re-votes, Humphrey concluded.

State Police Association in Virginia Says Budget Cuts Will Deter Service and Morale
Reaction from the Virginia State Police Association to the governor's deep cuts proposed in the budget of state police. The association president says it's disconcerting that other “core” services were spared. D. J. Smith said the cuts will force state police to eliminate overtime pay, leave vacancies unfilled and renders useless pay incentive policies, all to the detriment of service and morale. (LM)

Virginia Creeper Trail Inducted into National Rails to Trail Hall of Fame
The Virginia Creeper Trail, a centerpiece of outdoor recreation in the regon, is a new inductee into the National Rails to Trails hall of fame. The 34-mile trail connecting Abingdon to White Top is recognized for being one of the region's most prominent recreational draws by the Rails to Trails conservancy. (LM)

Problem with Accuracy of Eyewitnesses to Crime Identified Across Virginia
Most people wrongly convicted of crimes in Virginia and later exonerated by DNA evidence originally were misidentified by eyewitnesses. The Virginia State Crime Commission is looking at the problem. A study also says that most law enforcement agencies in the state are using outdated eyewitness ID procedures. (LM)

Police say Woman Lied About Child's Fund Raiser to Collect for Herself
An Morristown woman has been charged with lying about a field trip for her 6-year-old daughter as part of a scam to collect cash for herself. Authorities say 23-year-old Joslynn Munsey went door-to-door asking for money to fund a trip to Disney World. (LM)

Jeff Howard Promoted to ETSU Dean of Students
East Tennessee State University announces the promotion of Jeff Howard from associate dean to dean of students effective Nov. 1st. He's an alum who's been at ETSU since 2007. He formerly held student affairs positions at both UVA-Wise and Carson-Newman. (LM)

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