A 2017 Year in Review: April-June


Posted 12/28/17

The second quarter of 2017 brought significant and long-awaited broadband legislation and a not-so-popular gas tax increase from Nashville, the annual local budget questions, a looming tax increase …

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A 2017 Year in Review: April-June


The second quarter of 2017 brought significant and long-awaited broadband legislation and a not-so-popular gas tax increase from Nashville, the annual local budget questions, a looming tax increase for Cleveland residents, and a sad goodbye to a longtime Cleveland Daily Banner colleague.


Lines for the Remote Area Medical clinic, held at Cleveland High School, began a full 12 hours before the RAM volunteers were to start handing out numbers.

Cleveland State Community College opened a time capsule which was buried 25 years ago  containing artifacts and historical items that was buried by some Cleveland State students, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the college. A new time capsule was then buried in honor of the college's 50th anniversary.

The $3 million lawsuit brought against the county, Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson and BCSO Deputy Tiffany Oakley by the family of Allan White was scheduled for a jury trial in the Chattanooga courtroom on May 14, 2018.

The hard work paid off as Bradley County was officially recognized as a designated Healthier Tennessee Community this week in Nashville.

The Bradley County Commission planned to purchase the former American Uniform building, at the request of the Bradley County Board of Education. The school board wanted to make the building a destination for science, technology, engineering and math activities, particularly those STEM areas related to high school career and technical education programs, as well as the new home of the GOAL Academy.

Bradley County departments were asking for a slight decrease percentage-wise in total than the requests they submitted during last year's budget process.

Jasmine Ngo was selected as Cleveland's 2018 Distinguished Young Woman.

A bill designed to limit the abuse of welfare which is sponsored by a local state legislator went  to Gov. Bill Haslam's desk for his signature. The Program Integrity Act (HB-227) was sponsored by state Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Esmerelda Lee left  her post as campus manager at the Garden Plaza of Cleveland after a decade in service to the area's local senior citizens.

Hundreds of Bradley County residents took advantage of properly disposing hazardous materials at the Bradley County Justice Center.

The man accused of assaulting Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson in April 2016 pleaded guilty to charges related to that incident, including assault against a Cleveland female. Gregory Mathis Jr., who lived on Campbell Bridge Road when arrested April 28, 2016, received jail time for four separate criminal counts: aggravated assault/strangulation, assault/bodily injury, domestic assault, and assault/offensive or provocative contact.

The state House of Representatives passed Gov. Bill Haslam's Broadband Accessibility Act by a vote of 93-4, sending the bill to the governor's desk for his signature.

An apparently "live" hand grenade was discovered under an Old Chattanooga Pike home, causing the area to be closed down to anyone not associated with emergency services.

The Bradley County Board of Education voted unanimously to grant Director of Schools Dr. Linda Cash a new contract which would employ her through June 30, 2021.

The teen and young adult-focused clothing store Rue21 at Bradley Square Mall announced it will close its Cleveland store along with another 400 nationwide.

Retired BCSO Deputy Kester Calfee was lovingly referred to as "Ole' Kester" by his co-workers, and those who worked with him in the Judicial Services Division.

The medical assisting associate's degree program at Cleveland State Community College was reaccredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

There was a full house at the Cleveland City Schools Administrative Office Building as contractors and sub-contractors turned up for the Candy's Creek Cherokee Elementary School pre-bid meeting.

The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission has closed its case against Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson with a letter of warning. The commission responded to allegations which were made by a Chattanooga newspaper suggesting that Watson was "curbstoning," the practice of selling open-title cars on the side of the road.

Gov. Bill Haslam surprised many when it was revealed his amendment to the proposed state budget included $11.8 million to reimburse the Tennessee Valley Authority for revenues lost when the Ocoee River runs free to allow for whitewater recreational activities.

Three Lake Forest Middle School students created an award-winning documentary film and prepared to take it to a national competition. Eighth-graders Paige Frady, Chase Hagler and Jaylin Viviano won first place in the Junior Group Documentary category of the Tennessee History Day competition.

Senior students in the audio/visual production program at Bradley Central High School recently won first place in the Tennessee SkillsUSA State Conference.


Cleveland Daily Banner staff writer Brian Graves was awarded first place for general reporting by the East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists during the organization's annual Golden Press Card awards.

Bob McIntire, owner of McIntire and Associates Insurance, received the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce's Mel Bedwell Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Cleveland and Bradley County shared in a major homecoming as a line of local A-listers joined in to celebrate WCLE-FM's 60th anniversary.

An $11 million lawsuit was filed naming Bradley County, Sheriff Eric Watson and BCSO Corrections Supervisor Capt. Gabe Thomas, along with three others, as responsible parties in the death in April 2016 of Billy Joe Rogers. Rogers, who was 38 at the time of his death, died at the Bradley County Justice Center in what Chattanooga attorney John Wolfe called "a homicide."

"We very much appreciate him keeping his Cleveland State promise." With those words, Cleveland State President Dr. Bill Seymour introduced Gov. Bill Haslam as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2017, and led the college into its second half-century of service.

The 2017 Cleveland High School Hall of Fame inductees were announced as: Greg Calfee, Class of 1980, owner, Greg Calfee Builders; Ted Carson, Class of 1978, teacher/coach; Dr. Elizabeth Dale, Class of 1997, director, Burn Center, University of Cincinnati Medical Center: Tim Henderson, Class of 1979, president/CEO, Cleveland Utilities; Quantal Langford, Class of 1998, founder/owner, Langford Design; Chris Leggett, Class of 1987, businessman/Christian humanitarian; Tanya (Baldree) Mazzolini, Class of 1980, vice president of accounting, Life Care Centers of America; Debbie (Ledford) Melton, Class of 1980, general manager/owner, Don Ledford Automotive Center; Dr. Debbie (Bilbo) Murray, Class of 1971, vice president for Academic Affairs, Lee University; Roger Pickett, Class of 1979, president/owner, MurMaid Mattress Inc.; Dr. Alisa White, Class of 1977, president, Austin Peay State University.

Jack Bennett Sr., who worked for 25 years as advertising director of the Cleveland Daily Banner, passed away following an extended battle with cancer. Bennett came to the Cleveland and Bradley County community on Aug. 1, 1991, having been hired by longtime Publisher Pledger "Goldie" Wattenbarger.

It took a Bradley County jury just over an hour to return a guilty verdict in the first-degree murder trial of Jody Hughes on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

The Bradley County Sheriff's Office began to follow what has become a national trend concerning the national motto. Sheriff Eric Watson unveiled the new "In God We Trust" decals which will now be placed on all of the BCSO's fleet vehicles.

The Honorable Mayor Tom Rowland Interchange was officially dedicated, anticipating the numerous vehicles which are anticipated to be using it as their major access to Spring Branch Industrial Park.

The Better Business Bureau opened a Cleveland branch at 20 North Ocoee St. on the second floor of the Regions Bank building.

The inaugural Cleveland Half Marathon was a hit as a total of 371 runners covering 14 different states took to what was described by an elite runner as a "top notch" road race.

Ron and Debbie Moore were honored with a History in the Media Award for their radio show, "Old Town Cleveland” by The East Tennessee Historical Society.

The Bradley County Commission gave unanimous approval to the $75 million budget proposed by the Bradley County School system.

Bradley Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center celebrated the facility's 60th anniversary celebration.

Bachman Academy, a preparatory boarding and day school located on South Lee Highway just south of Cleveland, closed its doors.

“Voice of the Vols” Bob Kesling served as the featured speaker for the annual benefit luncheon for the Holston United Methodist Home for Children.

The president of Resolute Forest Products, Richard Garneau, said his company is secure in its investments for the future at the company's Calhoun plant.

The Bradley County NAACP and Bradley County Democratic Party came together to help make Mosby Park ready for its many summer visitors.


The human skeletal remains found in a quiet Cleveland neighborhood months earlier were identified by the Cleveland Police Department as those of Joshua Arp.

Groundbreaking for the Janice Casteel Connector of the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway was attended by local officials. The connector runs from the city's North Ocoee sidewalk system to Tinsley Park.

Groundbreaking for the new Wacker HDK plant was held a bit more than a year after Wacker celebrated its official production start-up at its $2.5 billion polysilicon facility. The new plant will represent an additional investment of $150 million and is anticipated to create at least 50 new jobs.

Audri Wood, language arts faculty at Tennessee Christian Preparatory School has received the highest award given to faculty members, the Excellence in Teaching Award.

By a vote of 4-1, Finance Committee members totally erased the Election Commission’s $50,700 request to buy electronic poll books.

A local man, Joshua Standifer, said he has been barred from Tennova Healthcare for attempting to help a homeless man he said was released from the facility though still in need of supervision. The hospital later apologized to Standifer.

The Bradley County Commission's Emergency Services Committee asked Emergency Services Director Shawn Fairbanks to develop a plan by which the county can upgrade its staffing and equipment to meet a continually increasing demand on the department.

More than 80 golfers teed off against impaired driving as they played in the 2017 Dustin Ledford "Live Wide Open" Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament.

Dilling Group Inc. celebrated the ribbon cutting and grand opening of its newest regional office in Charleston.

Sadness filled the halls of the Bradley County Sheriff's Office after missing K-9 Lucy was discovered dead along railroad tracks in McMinn County.

Bradley County Commission Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber requested the governing body revisit the idea of changing the way commissioners are elected. The Commission, by a vote of 8-6, approved a new process that will create two separate seats for each of the seven districts.

A reorganization of manpower for Bradley County Fire-Rescue was put into place to provide faster response times throughout the county, as well as the potential of giving more in the county the benefits of reduced insurance rates.

More than half a year after being approved by the residents of Benton, the first wine and spirits store in that Polk County city opened.

Cleveland officials began seeking input from city residents for assistance in compiling a master plan for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Donnie Ray Brantley, the man accused in the murder of his estranged wife in 2009, was allowed to be free on bond pending his trial set for early February 2018.

The new artificial turf field at Cleveland High School was unveiled after the installation was completed.

George Starr, a legendary voice and figure of Lee University Athletics for more than 30 years, retired from his full-time role as sports information director, but remained as the director of Radio Broadcasting and Voice of the Flames for the Lee Athletic Department.

The work being done by the United Way of the Ocoee Region's Impact Cleveland initiative in the Blythe-Oldfield community was bolstered by a $500,000 grant from Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods.

Nancy Neal announced her retirement as vice president for communications of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

The Cleveland City Council moved ahead with approval of significant retail and residential development along Paul Huff Parkway, despite concerns about the probability of increased traffic in the area.

Tenth District Attorney General Steve Crump said the heroin epidemic "is coming,” adding Tennessee is one of the top 3 states with opioid addiction.

Volunteer Electric Cooperative began plans to implement a pilot program to determine the technical and financial viability of providing fiber broadband services in northern Bradley County.


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