SuperTalk WFHG Local News Stories
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mother Indicted by Greene Co Grand Jury, Charged With Murder in Death of Her Two Daughters
The mother of two babies found dead by police last December in Greeneville has been charged in their murder. A grand jury has indicted 22-yr-old Kendra Tweed on two counts of first degree murder, aggravated child neglect and aggravated child endangerment. Tweed's boyfriend Erick Jones Jr. was also indicted back in September for the murders of the two-month and 13-month-old girls. An autopsy showed the babies were killed by blunt force trama to their spinal cords.

BVU CEO on Restitution Accounting: Slightly More Than Half of $720,118 Stolen in Fraud Scheme Recovered
With more restitution paid by the shysters in the Bristol, Virginia Utilities fraud and kickback scheme, BVU reports it's now received a total of nearly $412,000, slightly more than half owed as per court orders, according to BVU CEO Don Bowman. He said, “We are optimistic that we will be able to recover an additional $310,000. The timing is a little uncertain. Obviously if certain individuals don't live up to their plea agreements, it could be delayed for a considerable period of time. We have up to 20 years, it is my understanding, to collect these funds.” Bowman said only about 10 percent of recovered funds are staying with the utility to benefit customers because the fraud scheme involved creating phantom work funded mostly by grants from the federal and state agencies, so most of the restitution is repaying them.

Black Friday Bargains Include Adoptable Pets in Sullivan County
You can even adopt a pet at a bargain on Black Friday in Sullivan County. Discounts of $20 will be offered at the animal shelters in Blountville and Kingsport, on black and mostly black cats and dogs. That makes the fee $40 for dogs and $30 for cats. The discount is good through Saturday.

Milligan College Gets $1.2 Million Gift From Shipley Trust
Milligan College received one of its largest monetary gifts in its history with a $1.2 million contribution from the estate of Bruce and Sara Shipley. School officials said the Shipley trust has already made several contributions to various scholarships. Milligan is just $8 million away from reaching a fund raising goal of $40 million for infrastructure and programs as part of the college's 150-year celebration set for next year.

Bloomingdale Home Invasion Thieves Brought Equipment to Roll Safe Outside, Drove "Loud" Getaway Vehicle
Hoping to discover new leads, Sullivan County authorities are out with more information about at home invasion two weeks ago in Bloomingdale, where an elderly woman reported she woke up to two men in her bedroom, they tied her wrists and ankles, and stole a safe. Sheriff's spokesperson Leslie Earhart says the men, with their faces covered, kicked in the front door at the home on New Beason Well Road and, apparently because they were familiar with the home, went straight for a safe, in which the victim kept cash. She said, “They went in the house, went straight to the safe and brought in equipment to roll it outside.” The victim described their getaway vehicle as loud.

Police: Argument Over TV Characters, Lasagna Leads to Domestic Assault
A Hawkins County man is arrested after hitting his wife in the forehead with a TV remote after he began arguing with her about characters on a TV show. 46-yr-old Paul Garland of Rogersville is charged with domestic assault after the couple had two arguments, including a fight where Garland complained about the lasagna they were having for dinner. Police said Garland fled the home after assaulting his wife who was treated for minor injuries.

UPDATE: Memphis Man Killed at Carter County Logging Job in Hampton
Preliminary information from the Carter County Sheriff's Office says a Memphis, TN working on a logging crew near Hampton was struck by a tree and killed. Investigators said 43-yr-old Lloyd Dewan Leake was dead at the scene at the work site located in the Dennis Cove community. Asplundh Tree Expert Company workers were clearing a powerline trail when the accident occurred.

Unicoi Co Woman Booked on Contraband Charges
A Unicoi County woman faces an assortment of charges after police in Greene County determined she tried to bring narcotics into their jail. 30-yr-old Elizabeth Lopez of Unicoi tried to cash another person's $1,700 check inside Wal Mart in Greeneville, according to a police report. When police spotted her vehicle, they found drug paraphernalia. Officers also found pain pills in her pocket as she was being booked. All total, Lopez faces five charges including introduction of contraband into a penal facility.

Construction Halted to Ease Holiday Traffic
Transportation departments in Tennessee and Virginia will halt all lane closure activity on interstates and state highways during the Thanksgiving holiday. Officials hope the move will help alleviate congestion, especially during the predicted peak travel days of today and Sunday. Also starting today, state police will be out in force as highway traffic swells for the start of the long Thanksgiving holiday. Virginia State Police Spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the increased patrols will continue through Sunday night.

Fatal Logging Accident Under Investigation
A logging accident claimed the life of a 30-year old man in Carter County. Officials say it happened near Hampton on Dennis Cove Road and that the investigation is ongoing.

Gas Prices Continue to Drop
Good news if you have to travel this Thanksgiving weekend. A new report from East Tenessee AAA says we will see the lowest gas prices over the holiday since 2008. Right now, an average gallon of gas will cost less than $1.85 in the Tri-Cities. That's over 7 cents cheaper than last week and nearly 80 cents lower than this time last year.

Second Carter County Business Damaged By Fire This Week
Another Carter County business has damaged by fire. Jim's Custom Auto Upholstery Shop has been deemed unsafe after the roof collapsed during the fire. Along with the building, multiple vehicles were inside as well as tires and fabrics. Although an official cause of fire has not been determined, fire crews speculate it started as an electrical problem.

Southwest Virginia Nurse Practitioner Pleads Guilty to Illegally Prescribing Thousands of Oxy Pills
Gloria Kennedy, a nurse practitioner at a medical clinic in the Russell and Tazewell County areas, pleads guilty to writing prescriptions for thousands of oxycodone pills to her husband and others to use or distribute for profit. She faces up to 25 years in prison for that and making false statements, at sentencing ;in federal court in Abingdon in March.

Legal Snags Bring Pomrenke to Court as She Prepares for Trial in BVU Conspiracy and Extortion Case
Bristol Virginia Utilities Chief Finance Officer Stacey Pomrenke, preparing for trial in January for conspiracy, extortion, wire fraud and other charges, has her attorneys seek special permission for her to review at home evidence that prosecutors have now shared. Usually, it's restricted to the attorney's care, not to be disseminated because of its sensitive nature. But due to the volume of this, 90,000 plus pages, Pomrenke wants to review it at home for convenience. Prosecutors object. No decision yet from Judge James Jones because of mention that her attorneys may move to remove the judge because of previous statements he made about an epidemic of corruption at BVU. Her attorneys have a Monday deadline to file that motion.

Coeburn Officials Dealing with Dirty Water
The town of Coeburn is battling a problem with their water as numerous homes are reporting discolored water in their taps. Town officials are saying a glitch at the town's water plant caused filtration build up in the lines, causing the sediment to flow into the customer water mains. The town is working with the Virginia Department of Health while collecting water samples from homes. Residents are asking for discounts in their water bills.

Hawkins Co Woman Jailed for Kicking, Spitting-on Officers
A Hawkins County woman is facing several felony charges after getting physical with officers. Police said 28-yr-old Wendy McLain of Rogersville began yelling in her cell and she was placed in a restraint chair. The report said that while in the chair, McLain kicked the officers in the shins and then began spitting on the policemen. She was moved to an observation cell in the jail following the incident.

BVU Recoups Over $300,000 in Restitution
Bristol Virginia Utilities has received $301,000 from U.S. District Court officials in Abingdon. That money is restitution paid back to the court from kickback scheme defendants David Copeland and Jim Kelley, former BVU executives, and Todd Edwards, a subcontractor from South Carolina. The men are currently serving prison time for wire and mail fraud, money laundering, defrauding the IRS and other charges. The VA Tobacco Commission will get the bulk of that money, collecting over $227,000, and BVU OptiNet receiving over $24,000.

JC Fire Marshals: Turkey Fryers Potentially Hazardous
Frying turkey has become popular for Thanksgiving, but the process is such a fire hazard, it prompts safety tips from fire officials. Johnson City's fire marshals warn that many frying units are prone to tipping over and spilling hot oil, and overfilling the pot with oil, may also cause it to spill. If oil contacts the burner or flames, the entire unit could easily go up in flames. Units without thermostats have the potential to overheat and the sides, lid and handles get dangerously hot posing risk for burns. They say turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, never leave them unattended and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Dec. 3 Next Court Date For Johnson City Woman That Assaulted Two Officers
A Johnson City woman is jailed after assaulting two police officers during a traffic stop. Police said 20-yr-old Victoria Arnett gave the officers false ID information after they determined she was wanted on outstanding charges. Investigators said Arnett violently resisted arrest before being cuffed. Arnett has been arraigned on four felonies including aggravated assault. Her next court date in Dec. 3rd.

Haslam More Comfortable with Vetting of Syrian Refugees; McAuliffe Threatens Veto of Refugee Block Bill
Syrian refugees continue to be on the radar of the governors of Tennessee and Virginia. Gov. Bill Haslam says he's more comfortable with the vetting process of immigrants following a discussion with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Haslam said his letter to President Obama last week was to institute a pause not an outright stoppage to letting immigrants come into TN. In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the GOP-controlled General Assembly is just posturing with threats of a bill to ban Syrians from coming into the state and he plans to veto any bill that passes.

Rogersville Man Uses Authentic Wal-Mart Gear While Trying to Steal TVs
Police in Hawkins County said a man went into disguise mode to try and wheel two big screen TVs out of a Wal-Mart in Rogersville. A police report said 37-yr-old Shon Dale Tilson had obtained a Wal-Mart hat, ID badge and vest and was pushing the TVs out of the store when he was met by officers in the parking lot. Tilson was also carrying a .9mm pistol in his waistband. He faces four theft and gun related charges.

TDH: 26 Counties Including Unicoi, Washington Offering Birth Control to Drug-Addicted Women
A law that allows police to charge women who abuse drugs during pregnancy will be under review during the TN General Assembly, but 26 counties are offering birth control options to women inmates lodged on drug charges in an effort to reduce the number of drug-addicted babies. The TN Department of Health reports Unicoi and Washington counties are among the localities using state and federal grants to pay for 3 to 5 year birth control options for women.

Kingsport Police Dept. Back on Foot Patrol Downtown
The bustle of holiday traffic along with renewed economic activity has the Kingsport Police Department announcing intentions to have foot patrol officers in the downtown area. They will be the first uniformed officers on foot on sidewalks in decades, according to PIO Tom Patton. The department realigned personnel allowing for select patrols downtown and more officers on bicycles on the Greenbelt and its nine-mile corridor.

TVA Creating Platform for Drilling Rigs to Test at Boone Dam
TVA saying newly placed rock on the crest of Boone Dam will soon be covered with concrete. That's the latest as the nation's largest utility moves forward on fixing seepage and erosion at the dam which is keeping Boone Lake lower than usual and that's expected to be the case for five to seven years. Crews have covered the clay surface of the earthen embankment with rock. Next steps in the project which may cost up to $300 million include replacing the light poles that came down earlier and pouring a concrete pad over the rock. TVA says this creates a safe platform for drill rigs to begin testing in January.

Pilot Flying J Inks to be Title Sponsor at Battle at Bristol
Pilot Flying J will be title sponsor of next year's football battle between Virginia Tech and Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway. Pilot Flying J operators travel centers throughout North America. They announced through their Knoxville headquarters that they have signed on to be the title sponsor of the Battle at Bristol – expected to shatter the existing college football attendance record. It secures Pilot Flying J naming rights for the game, so it will be Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol. In addition, ESPN/ABC is confirmed as the broadcast partner with time and final network to be determined at a later date.

Local Musician to Appear on Jeopardy
Local musician and director for ETSU's Center for Academic Achievement will have a national spotlight on Thanksgiving evening. Rob Russell will appear on Jeopardy at 7:30 on Thursday. As the front man for the band, Rob Russell and the Sore Losers, the Jeopardy contestant has performed at various venues around the Tri-Cities.

Kingsport Police Will Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints This Weekend
Kingsport Police say they will conduct sobriety checkpoints this holiday weekend. The checkpoints will be at various locations throughout the city during the evening hours this Saturday. Officers want to stress that DUI laws not only include alcohol, but any substance that impairs driving – including illegal drugs, over the counter medicine and even medication prescribed by your doctor. Kingsport Police say this is part of an ongoing operation to reduce impaired driving.

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