News briefs from around Tennessee
Posted: Monday, June 8, 2009 8:01 pm
Johnson hears complaints
from coal ash victims
KINGSTON (AP) — Residents who live near the site of a massive coal ash spill told a Texas congresswoman Sunday that they worry about their health, the lost value their homes and the slow pace of the cleanup by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment oversees the TVA and already has held two hearings in Washington about the Dec. 22 breach in a huge coal ash storage facility at Kingston that released 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic-laden ashen muck into the Emory River and a lakeside neighborhood.
During a 90-minute town hall meeting, one resident after another told Johnson their concerns.
“I don’t have an answer for you today, but I will get you one,” the Dallas Democrat said.
Resident Gary Topmiller said his dock is coated with ash, “our property has become a prison,” and he’s suffering nosebleeds and coughing. He called TVA “a cold bunch of people” who won’t help “because we hired an attorney.”
“This will not be the end of it,” Johnson said after the meeting. “This is just the beginning.”
Lawmaker seeks to extend
Tenn. Ethics Commission
NASHVILLE (AP) — One of the main supporters of legislation to keep the Ethics Commission independent hopes to convince lawmakers that it should be given a chance to operate under new leadership before being merged with the Registry of Election Finance.
The commission is scheduled to go out of business at the end of this month. Most lawmakers agree ethics oversight should continue, but Republicans are pushing a proposal to merge it with the registry, which monitors campaign contributions, under an entity that would be called the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle said the merger would undermine the intention of the commission, which was the centerpiece of ethics reforms passed in the aftermath of the FBI’s Tennessee Waltz corruption sting in 2005 that led to the convictions of nine state and local officials and a lobbyist.
Critics say the commission, which began operations in 2006 and fired its executive director last month, has not met expectations. But Kyle said that’s no reason to end it or merge it.
“I believe we need to extend the current Ethics Commission for a term of a couple of years and ... hire a new director and see if we can have the type of Ethics Commission we envisioned,” said the Memphis Democrat.
Gov. Phil Bredesen has also spoken out against the merger, saying he doesn’t find ethics and campaign finance “a natural partnership.” As for the commission, he said it’s “too soon to either declare it a success or a failure.”
that entered home is dead
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Wildlife officials believe they have captured and killed the black bear that crashed through the glass door of a Knoxville woman’s home last week.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency supervisor Brian Ripley tells The Knoxville News Sentinel authorities “have every reason to believe” it’s the same bear.
The bear was caught Saturday night after being struck by a Knoxville Police Department car about two miles from the home it allegedly entered last week.
Knoxville Police Department Lt. Ed Mitchell tells the newspaper an officer accidentally backed into the bear while looking for it about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Ripley says the bear, which weighed about 150 pounds, was tranquilized with a dart, put in a trap, sedated and then euthanized by gunshot. Ripley says the bear was not a good candidate for relocation because it entered a home.
2 die in small plane crash
KNOXVILLE (AP) — A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman says two people were killed when a small plane crashed at Melton Hill Lake this weekend.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says the small sea plane was destroyed while attempting to land on the lake. Bergen says the crash occurred at about 5:45 p.m. Saturday.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that authorities said the pilot and passenger were from Tennessee.
Witness Frank Murchison told the newspaper that the aircraft had successfully touched down on the lake at least two times before crashing.
TBI investigating deputies’
shooting of armed man
CHURCH HILL (AP) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will look into the fatal shooting of a Hawkins County man who shot toward two sheriff’s deputies.
Hawkins County Sheriff Roger Christian said it might never be clear whether 47-year-old John Webb Sr. intended to harm the officers or whether he was trying to provoke them into killing him.
The Kingsport Times-News quoted Christian as saying Webb’s teenage son was killed in traffic crash four years ago and his wife had died since then.
The sheriff said the deaths of a child and a wife were “a lot for any person to bear.”
The shooting occurred Saturday night after deputies were asked to check on Webb’s welfare and he walked out carrying a rifle, then fired in the direction of officers who returned fire, killing him.
Published in The Messenger 6.8.09