Updated January 28, 2015 02:26:21 PM
County Commission opts to bid ambulance service

Despite a request from a representative of MedicOne to renew the county’s contract with the ambulance service provider, the Unicoi County Commission opted to bid out the contract during its meeting on Monday, Jan. 26, at the courthouse.

During the time for citizens’ comments at the start of the regular meeting, Daryl Gibson, vice-president of business development for MedicOne, asked the commission to consider approving the renewal of the county as is, then the two parties could make changes to the contract, such as lowering the $180,000 subsidy the county has paid annually to MedicOne, later.

“Can we just go ahead and pass it right now as it is and be done with it?,” Gibson asked. “... Resign the contract as it is and then we’ll talk afterwards.” More...

Updated January 28, 2015 02:26:28 PM
MedicOne CEO threatens legal action

By Brad Hicks | Erwin Bureau Chief | Johnson City Press

Puzzled. Baffled.

“Frustrated beyond belief.” More...

Updated January 28, 2015 01:39:12 PM
MSHA: New UCMH 'right on schedule'

A new hospital is in the future for Unicoi County, according to Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA).

The health system, which acquired Unicoi County Memorial Hospital (UCMH) in 2013, announced last week that strategic planning for the proposed 20-bed facility is ongoing by the UCMH visioning committee.

According the health system, the new facility will be located near Exit 40, just off I-26 in the southern section of Unicoi County. MSHA is expected to close on the property for the new UCMH in July. More...

Updated January 28, 2015 11:47:43 AM
Hometown Memories Publishing Company seeks stories

Hometown Memories Publishing Company intends to save a big slice of local history before it’s lost forever.

Karen Garvey, Senior Editor at Hometown Memories Publishing, is asking local folks to share their memories for a living history book. She invites anyone over age 60 with yarns about the “good old days” in Northeast Tennessee to write them down and mail them to her for possible publication in the book. The hardcover coffee table book will contain tales of bygone years from people who actually lived them.

To encourage participation, Garvey is offering a $250.00 award for the most appealing story. There will also be two $100.00 runner-up awards and a cash award for best picture. More...

Updated January 21, 2015 01:58:54 PM
Ambulance service contract deadline approaches

The Unicoi County Commission’s Ambulance Committee is scheduled to meet this week to continue discussing the county’s ambulance service contract. This will be the second meeting in the past week as the committee tries to determine what company will provide ambulance services to the county by an April 1 deadline.

Ambulance services are currently provided by MedicOne Medical Response, which is based in Texas. The company has been the county’s ambulance service provider for the last four years. The contract between the county and MedicOne is set to expire on April 1. It included a yearly subsidy of $180,000 paid to the company by the county all for years.

MedicOne CEO Jim Reeves appeared before the committee during a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Unicoi County Courthouse and discussed his company’s history with the county since it was awarded the ambulance service contract, including financial and transport information. More...

Updated January 21, 2015 01:57:39 PM
Commission to consider adding more seats to BOE

By Brad Hicks | Erwin Bureau Chief | Johnson City Press

A split vote among members of the Unicoi County Board of Education on Jan. 8 resulted in the non-renewal of Director of Schools Denise Brown’s contract.

Later this month, the Unicoi County Commission could take the first step to make that kind of split unlikely in the future.  More...

Updated January 21, 2015 01:57:31 PM
Cancer risk study moving forward

A pilot planning phase of a study on the risks of cancer in populations near nuclear facilities recently concluded.

According to a recent report issued by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the organization was asked to undertake the study, “Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations near Nuclear Facilities,” by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Seven nuclear facilities were chosen to participate in this study, including Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) in Erwin. NFS is the only fuel cycle facility included in the study, according to the NAS report.

The other six facilities are: Dresden Nuclear Power Station, Morris, Ill.; Millstone Power Station, Waterford, Conn.; Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, Forked River, N.J.; Haddam Neck Plant, Haddam Neck, Conn.; Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant, Charlevoix, Mich; and San Onfore Nuclear Generating Station, San Clemente, Calif.  More...

Updated January 21, 2015 01:57:26 PM
UCSD uses GPS to find lost teen hunter, dog

By Brad Hicks | Erwin Bureau Chief | Johnson City Press

In his spare time, Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley enjoys hunting, so he knows the importance of being able to track down a hunting dog in the event one becomes lost.

But it was a tool that many hunters utilize to track lost dogs that helped officials locate a young hunter who found himself lost in the mountains of Unicoi County over the weekend. More...

Updated January 14, 2015 11:15:36 AM
Looking ahead: Mayors share plans during panel

What 2015 holds for Unicoi County’s three governments was the topic of a panel discussion between the county’s three mayors – County Mayor Greg Lynch, Town of Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley and Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch – on Friday, Jan. 9, at the Unicoi Tourist Information Center.

This was the fourth panel discussion of the mayors mediated by Jim Buchanan. Buchanan first asked the mayors to outline issues and projects facing their respective towns this year.

Johnny Lynch said the Town of Unicoi is awaiting grant fund for the proposed Mountain Harvest Kitchen which will be located next to the Unicoi Tourist Information Center.  More...

Updated January 14, 2015 11:11:37 AM
Brown's contract not renewed

The Unicoi County Board of Education will now be on the search for a new director of schools.

During a regularly scheduled meeting of the board on Thursday, Jan. 8, the board voted not to renew the contract of current Director of Schools Denise Brown.

The six-member board voted 3-3 on Brown’s contract. Because four “yes” votes were needed to approve the contract, the 3-3 vote meant the board would not retain Brown as the leader of the local school system. More...

Updated January 14, 2015 11:10:13 AM
Erwin BMA discusses holiday dinner

By Brad Hicks | Erwin Bureau Chief | Johnson City Press

A controversial pre-Christmas dinner held for town of Erwin officials and employees, and that included the spouses of some of these officials and employees, was the main course of discussion at the Monday, Jan. 12, meeting of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley said the dinner was held on Dec. 22 at Johnson City's Bonefish Grill as a way for the town to show its appreciation for departmental leaders and officials, some of whom serve without pay. She said such dinners are traditionally held by the town one to two times per year.  More...

Updated January 13, 2015 03:01:25 PM
Sheriff warns of IRS scam

Sheriff Mike Hensley and the Unicoi County Sheriff's Department is warning citizens of an IRS-related scam. According to Sheriff Hensley, an individual posing as an IRS agent has called local residents saying he has a warrant for the arrest of the person he has called. In order to prevent being arrested, the person asks the resident to pay funds to him.

This is a scam, Hensley said. Anyone who receives a call is asked to contact the UCSD to make a report. Hensley has been in contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the matter.

The UCSD can be reached by calling 743-1864. More...

Updated January 08, 2015 02:00:59 PM
Commission chooses Gaines

In front of a capacity crowd at the Unicoi County Courthouse on Monday, Jan. 5, the Unicoi County Commission voted 5-4 to nominate veteran educator Ruth Gaines to complete the unexpired term of the late Dwight Bennett on the Unicoi County Board of Education as a Third District representative.

Voting in favor of Gaines’ appointment to the school board were commissioners Marie Rice, Bridget Peters, Jason Harris, Gene Wilson and Kenneth Garland. Voting against Gaines were Loren Thomas, Glenn White, Walter Garland and John Mosley.

“You can’t replace Dwight Bennett,” Gaines said following the meeting. “He was a longtime public servant. He cannot be replaced, but I can try to step in and do what I consider to be right, legally right and morally right, for the best of the students in Unicoi County.” More...

Updated December 26, 2014 02:19:24 PM
Haynes: Bridge construction progressing on schedule

Several projects are on the horizon for the Unicoi County Highway Department and some are already in progress.

The department has been working on the new Mill Creek Bridge in the Temple Hill community. In addition, work is looking to begin soon on the Upper Higgins Creek Bridge as well as renovations to Veterans Park. Starting in the spring, crews will begin working around Veterans Park and Gentry Stadium to remove a section of dirt that will allow for more parking.

“As you know, we’re shy of parking up there,” said Unicoi County Highway Superintendent Terry Haynes. “[The removal] is going to help the looks of Veterans Park and Gentry Stadium.” More...

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