SuperTalk WFHG Local News Stories
Thursday, March 05, 2015

Tim Tebow Foundation Opens First "Timmy's Playroom" Area in TN at Niswonger
A special area has opened inside Niswonger Childrens Hospital in Johnson City and the man behind it is very familiar to those in East Tennessee and especially UT fans. Timmy's Playroom is an area equipped with activities, video games and other state-of-the-art features that patients can use as an escape from their sickness. This is the first Timmy's Playroom in Tennessee and the sixth in the nation provided by Tim Tebow, former Univ. of Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner.

ETSU College of Education Receives $1.2 Million Endowment
Staring this fall, East Tennessee State University students will have new scholarship opportunities. It is thanks to a $1.2 million scholarship endowment in honor of a 1952 alum. The gift was presented to ETSU's College of Education, but the scholarships will be offered not only to students wanting to become teachers, but those studying human services, exercise science, parks and recreation and sport management.

Rare Portrait of Davy Crockett's Widow to be Auctioned Off in Damascus
A rare portrait of the widow of Davy Crockett will go to the highest bidder at an auction Saturday in Damascus. Elizabeth Patton Crockett married the famous frontiersman and Congressman from Tennessee in 1815. The oil painting was discovered at her old family home in Asheville. The auctioneer says museums have been interested in the painting since it was recently consigned to the auction house.

Car Found but Man Still Missing after Being Swept Away By Flood
An update on the man swept away in the flood waters in Buchanan County. Authorities have found his car, but not him. Authorities say he and a woman were in a Chevrolet Malibu on Route 80 near Davenport when they apparently encountered a flooded section and misjudged the road. The car was swept down the river. Authorities say the woman got out of the car but he didn't. A scuba dive team with state police has arrived to assist the search.

Last of Meth Distributor Charged in Operation "Salt Vegas" Pleads Guilty
In what Washington County, Virginia Sheriff Fred Newman calls one the most aggressive multi-jurisdictional drug investigations in the region, 55-year-old William Hunt of Abingdon has pleaded guilty in federal court to involvement in trafficking methamphetamine. His plea marks the 28th and final defendant found guilty in the case, dubbed “Salt Vegas” due to ties to Saltville, Abingdon and other towns. Hunt faces sentencing June 16th. Ten of the 28 also pleaded guilty in state court. Sentences have ranged from probation to a 17-year prison sentence ordered for ring leader Richard Shaw of Mountain City.

Weather Even Impacts Rail Traffic
Hazardous weather and road conditions have even had an impact on rail traffic. In Southwest Virginia, a CSX train struck a boulder on the tracks, rupturing the train's fuel tank. The railroad's environmental team responded to clean up fuel spilled. There were no injuries in the incident in Dickenson County.

Kingsport Police Continue Search for Man Missing for One Year
Kingsport police still have the case file open regarding a man who left his home one year ago and has not been seen since. 38-yr-old Dusten Toschlog left his house on Cherokee Village Drive at 4 a.m. that day under what police called “mysterious circumstances.” His pickup truck was found in North Carolina a few months later. Information passed on to law enforcement indicates reason for concern for his welfare. Any information on this case can be reported at 423.229.9429.

Reports: Man Swept Away by Floodwaters in Buchanan County
Reports that a man was swept away in the flood waters of Southwest Virginia. Search crews are looking for a man in Buchanan County near the Davenport community. According to authorities, the man was helping a family member when his car was caught up in flood waters. A relative was able to escape. Searchers have not been able him or the car. The national guard has been reactivated, being readied in Gate city as more rain, sleet, and snow hammer the region..

Wellmont Merger Search "Nearing Conclusion"
It's been three months since word from Wellmont Health System of a delay on a decision, which was expected by the start of 2015, concerning merger with another health care organization. Wellmont spokesman Jim Wosniak says it is nearing a conclusion on its future and will have an announcement soon. For more than a year, Wellmont has studied merger. Last summer, it announced it was having talks with two potential partners. Many community leaders and organizations have urged Wellmont to stay local.

Bill Stripping Localities of Power to Ban Guns in Parks Passes TN Subcommittee
A bill is circulating in the Tennessee General Assembly that would take the power away from localities to ban guns in public parks. It would overturn a 2009 law that gave local governments a choice in banning firearms in their parks. The City of Bristol got rid of its gun ban in 2013. Rep. Mike Harrison of Hawkins County says TN should be consistent about where people can carry their guns. The bill comes just a month before the National Rifle Association has their national convention in Nashville.

VDOT Reporting More Than 70 Routes Flooded, Closed in SW Virginia
More than 70 roads in SW Virginia are currently under water due to massive flooding... EARL: “There are multiple counties in SW Virginia that have been affected. It appears that Scott County does have the majority of closures.” VDOT spokesperson Michelle Earl says mudslides are also becoming plentiful as banks beside roadways erode from the wet weather. Its causing several detours and even causing roadways to buckle and become impassable... EARL: “A section of Route 65 is closed between Fort Blackmore and Dungannon due to a pipe collapsing last night under the strain of two weeks or more of wet weather.”

Sullivan County's Longtime Economic Recruiter Retiring
Sullivan County's longtime economic development recruiter Jack Lawson is retiring, ending a nearly 30-year career. Lawson is credited with recruiting everyone one of the 34 companies for the Tri County Industrial Park. In all, county leaders say during Lawson's tenure, more than 17,000 new jobs were created and companies invested more than $2 billion in manufacturing projects.

Criminal Complaint Shows Fired Washington County TN Corrections Officer Hit, Kicked, Laughed at Victim
A corrections officer with the Washington County, TN Sheriff's Office has been fired after being arrested and charged with domestic assault in Anderson County last month. The criminal complaint said 35-yr-old Chris Lambert held the victim against her will and punched her in the face, arm and groin, leaving her with visible bruises. The document also said that Lambert laughed at the victim after pushing her into a wall.

Teenager Arrested, Charged for Arson That Destroyed Two Barns in Hawkins County
A teenager has been arrested and charged in an arson case involving the property of a Tennessee Highway patrolman last month. 19-yr-old Cody Christian of Bulls Gap is charged with one count of arson and vandalism over $60,000. Christian told officers that he set fire to the two barns located off Old Highway 66 in Rogersville on Feb. 13 and then returned to the scene when firefighters arrived to watch it burn. Fire investigators said the blaze caused over $100,000 in damage.

APCO Offering Customer Text and Email Power Outage Alerts
Appalachian Power is rolling out a new alert system for customers. It notifies customers by text message or email when their home or business is affected by a power outage. Customers enrolled in the alert system will receive a notification when power failures have been reported in their area. They'll continue to get updates as APCO crews determine the cause of the outage and predict when power will be restored. Costumers can enroll on the utility's website.

TN Dept. of Education Likely to Let Counties, Cities Waive School Days Missed by Snow
It appears the TN Dept. of Education is leaning toward allowing school systems to waive the required amount of school days after winter storms plagued the state in the past three weeks. Gov. Bill Haslam declared a state of emergency last month due to the snow, which would fall under the waiver requirements under the law. Several counties and cities in NE Tennessee have already exhausted their allotment of snow days for the year.

VDOT: Haysi Main Street to be Closed for a Week Due to Building Collapse
Virginia Department of Transportation announces that part of Main Street in Haysi is expected to remain closed for about a week following a building collapse. Traffic is being detoured from Route 63 while the building is evaluated. Part of it fell onto a vehicle at the drive-through of a nearby pizza restaurant. Two people in the vehicle weren't injured. Another adjacent building was damaged and has been condemned. The cause of the collapse remains under investigation but came after heavy snow.

Office Depot Cutting Jobs in Bristol, Virginia
Office Depot Incorporated announced the layoffs of more than 100 people who work at its customer service center in Bristol, Virginia. The company said the cuts, caused by its merger with Office Max, will eliminate about 140 positions.

Rain, Snow Melt Cause Flooding Throughout Southwest Virginia
Rain and snow melt is causing flooding throughout Southwest Virginia. More than a dozen roads closed now by emergency officials in several counties, including Washington, Russell, Wise, Scott, Lee, Dickenson, Buchanan and Tazewell Counties. There are also reports of mud slides and at least one incident of a vehicle stranded in flood waters in the Big Stone Gap area – that vehicle rescued to higher ground and no one injured. Wise County Emergency Management Director Jessica Swinney said the biggest concern is for people in vehicles. She advised, “Do not drive through water standing on the roadway. You can't really tell the depth of the water. So our best advise to residents is do not drive through standing water.” Officials also urge caution in areas where mud or debris has moved onto roads. Behind the band of rain, freezing rain and snow expected.

Johnson City Police Arrest Man on Meth Charges After He is Caught Holding the One-Pot Lab
Officers responding to a domestic disturbance at Briarcliff Apartments in Johnson City ended up catching a man red-handed with a one-pot meth lab. A police report said that 37-yr-old Carlo Gerarde was holding the bottle when he opened the door to officers. Several other components of meth making were found in the apartment located in the 800 block of Briarcliff Road. Gerarde is charged with initiating the process of making meth and possession of felony drug paraphernalia. (KC)

TN Bill That Guarantees Veterans Groups Fund-Raising Games Gaines Committee Approval
Senator Rusty Crowe of Johnson City is touting the committee passage of a bill he introduced in General Assembly in Nashville. It will insure that a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November gives veterans organizations the same ability to have fund-raising events like raffles and other games of chance that tax-exempt groups are afforded. Crowe introduced Amendment 4 in 2014 and the funds raised must benefit the community, veterans or retired veterans. The bill now goes to the House.

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