THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
The old Bradley County Jail on Second Street N.E. will be placed on the auction block.
The Bradley County Commission voted 14-0 Monday night to employ Carroll-Greene Real Estate & Auction Company to put the old jail up for auction with the stipulation it not be sold if an acceptable price is not generated. No figure was agreed on.
The commission voted 8-6 to provide about $13,800 in local money to fund construction of a badly needed Emergency Operations Center for Civil Defense in the courthouse basement.
The naming of Carroll-Greene without taking bids on the sale was questioned by Commissioners Jackie Callaway and Bill Moore.
Mrs. Callaway asked if it was legal to name an auctioneer without taking bids.
County Attorney Jim Webb said it was.
Moore, land committee chairman, said he had reservations about naming an auction company without taking bids. He said, “I took too much heat over this last one (sale of Fulbright Park).”
Carroll-Greene was recommended by the land committee despite the fact several other companies submitted lower bids. The auction motion was presented by H. Bernard Dixon after the committee voted 10-4 to ask Dan Moody to vacate the premises. The commission voted July 18 to lease the facility to Calvary Baptist Church doing business as Cleveland Rescue Mission. Since that time commissioners have been informed neither Calvary Baptist nor the rescue mission are involved in the rental.
Moody had sought to establish a shelter at the old jail for homeless women and children. Voting against the measure were Mark Burger, Moore, Dixon and Mrs. Callaway. Supporting it were Jack Kirkpatrick (who made the motion), Randall Fisher, Cleaston Runion, Milford Miller, Jimmy Kibler, Gus Buckner, Bill Ledford, Donald Caywood, Roy Smith and Bill Creech.
The $13,000 for Emergency Operations Center construction was provided after long discussions between commissioners and Don Gardner, executive director of the Bradley County Office of Emergency Preparedness (Civil Defense).
Gardner explained the county has a chance to receive about three federal dollars for each local dollar provided for EOC construction. He said a $33,000 Tennessee Valley Authority grant already has been received and federal funds to match the grant are available if an EOC meeting federal specifications is approved for the county. However, it will take about $27,000 local money to provide a facility meeting all federal guidelines, Gardner estimated.
He said he has talked with Cleveland Mayor Harry Dethero, who has informed him he supports city financing on the project if the city attorney says it is legal to put city money in a county building.
Responding to a commissioner’s question, Gardner said the present EOC received most of the criticism from state and federal agency representatives who witnessed Bradley County’s portion of the recent Sequoyah Evacuation Plan drills.
Kibler made the motion the county provide half the local funds needed to construct a facility meeting federal guidelines.
“That would put the pressure on the city,” Moore responded.
The commission voted unanimously to pay rent equal to one year taxes and insurance on a Central Avenue building which is being donated to the county for office space by George Johnson.
County Executive Eddie Cartwright said the cost will be about $4,800. The commission was unanimous in its decision to sell an old ambulance to Polk County for $5,250. Cartwright said bids for new ambulances were opened by the ambulance committee which will make a recommendation to the commission after inspecting them.
Brian Gentry was named director of the ambulance service.
A list of nine notaries was passed unanimously.
Carroll-Greene Auction was commended for the professional manner in which the Saturday sale of Fulbright Park was conducted. The property brought the county $452,000 which will go in the bond sinking fund to be used to pay the debt on the Bradley County Recreation Park.
Tom McAnulty with the County Technical Assistance Service of the University of Tennessee will be in town Wednesday morning to discuss the feasibility of installing in-house computer terminals in various courthouse offices, Dixon said.
The county’s budget which was approved in July was amended by unanimous commission vote. Dixon, finance committee chairman, said state auditors informed him the county would be written up for approving a loan to the school system for renovations at Prospect School. The word “loan” was changed to “transfer” at Dixon’s recommendation. He said the money will be repaid.
The truck of a candidate in the race for commission of fire, recreation and parks was hit by buckshot Monday afternoon, said a spokesman for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department.
Lt. Andy Sheifer said commission candidate Loyd Howle was traveling on Buchanan Road when a shot fired from a wooded area hit a sign on the back of his truck.
Sheifer said, “It didn’t even penetrate the sign. But it chipped the paint on the truck.”
It is undetermined if the shot purposely was fired at Howle’s truck or accidentally hit it, Sheifer said. He mentioned it could have been some kids in the woods shooting at birds or something. The matter remains under investigation.
“We’re still looking into it,” he said.
It’s not often that a person gets struck by lightning and lives to tell about it. But that’s what happened to Edwin Stepp, a resident of Bates Pike, last Saturday night about 7 p.m.
“I was outside the house. I was working with some electrical equipment and putting it away,” Stepp said.
Although he had noticed lightning flashing in the distance, the bolt that hit him seemed to be the first crack in the area, he said. The lightning struck as he was walking through some trees.
“It must have just jumped on to me somehow,” he said. He was taken to Bradley Memorial Hospital Emergency Room where he was examined, X-rayed and treated for burns. He was released from the hospital on Sunday.
Stepp, who is an employee of Bowaters Southern Corporation, is on vacation this week and is recovering from the accident at his home.
The lightning struck first behind his right leg, but also spread into his other leg, causing widespread burns. The pants he was wearing were almost entirely shredded by the force of the bolt. The area where the lightning struck also shows signs of damage. A cord to a drill was burned and a couple of trees were hit.
“I was fortunate that it didn’t come above the waist,” Stepp said.
In addition to the burns, Stepp said he also still suffers from an upset stomach because of the accident.
“When it first hit me, I didn’t know what it was,” he said.
When the large bolt struck him, he was knocked to the ground and blacked out for a few minutes, he said. It wasn’t until after he lay on the ground for a few moments that he felt the electric current.
“Then I got frantic and tried to crawl away and started yelling for help. I crawled about 20 feet and they (his family) came out to help,” Stepp said.
Immediately after the accident, he felt complete numbness in both legs. He didn’t regain feeling in his right leg for about five minutes or more, he said.
“After I made it a couple of minutes or so, I knew I was OK,” he said. “The first few seconds I didn’t know which way I was going.”
As a result of the accident, Stepp said he has learned several lessons. On the practical side, he’ll never work outside during a storm again, he said.
“I’m just thankful the Lord gave me mercy and gave me more time to live,” Stepp said. “I realize through the incident a person’s life can be taken in a fraction of an instant. And I realize we all need to live more dedicated Christian lives.”
An order of confiscation was signed by Criminal Court Judge Steve Bebb Tuesday allowing the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department to keep the $108,000 confiscated from several hidden compartments of a customized 1979 van on July 17.
A small quantity of marijuana was also found in the van, stopped by Deputy Robbie Epperson in the Holiday Inn South parking lot, and a 32 year old Friendship, Ind., man, David Keith Affolter was charged with possession of marijuana for resale.
Affolter admitted he was on his way to Florida to purchase drugs to take back to Indiana, but he denied the $108,000 or the van belonged to him, according to Judge Bebb’s order.
The Sheriff’s Department allowed 15 days for anyone to claim ownership of the money or the van, but nobody did so.
“By virtue of the above statement of facts, it is clear to the court’s satisfaction that the $108,000 described above was received in consideration for a controlled substance. It is further clear to this Court that proper notice having been served on Mr. Affolter and no claim having been made within the last 15 days that he has waived any claim to said money,” Judge Bebb’s order states.
The money will be turned over to the drug enforcement fund of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department. This money is used to finance undercover drug operations, public information forums and purchases of investigative equipment. This type confiscation, allowed by section 52-1443 of the TCA, allows these often-expensive expenditures to be made at no cost to taxpayers, Sheriff Robert Lawson has pointed out.
“If we are allowed to keep this money, then drug dealers in Bradley County be forewarned, because we are going to channel some of it into major undercover drug operations,” the sheriff said a couple weeks ago.
Negotiations between Magic Chef and the International Molders Union Friday afternoon were used to clarify conditions by which striking employees might return to work, and the chief negotiator for the union criticized the company for hiring more than 150 new employees at this point in the negotiations.
Union representative Bill Cubitt charged the company has brought a “dark cloud over the meetings” by hiring more than 150 new employees at a time when negotiations were focusing on how the striking union members could be returned to work.
“It appears to have been a move to intentionally fill jobs so the strikers would have no jobs opens for them,” Cubitt said in a telephone interview Saturday.
Bill Foust, chief negotiator for Magic Chef, responded to this charge by saying a decision to hire new employees is dictated by business interests. The company’s marketing and sales divisions determined they needed more units produced last week and so additional employees were hired to produce them, Foust said.
“We’re here to serve the customers, not the union. The union has a right to strike, but we also have an obligation to continue doing business,” he added.
Both sides agreed that Friday’s four-hour meeting, as well as a five-hour meeting a week earlier, was used for clarification of the company’s striker reinstatement plan and that no new proposals or counter proposals have been offered by either side in the six month strike since May.
Cubitt said all misunderstandings about the proposal have been clarified and union negotiators would be taking the company’s offer back to the leadership of the international union and the union local for review.
If there is a “meeting of the minds,” the union will offer a written counterproposal, call another meeting and possibly take the proposal to the membership for ratification, Cubitt said. But the union leader said the 150 plus new employees hired last week “would have put a third of the (strikers) back to work” and would have given the union more incentive to accept the company’s proposal.
Foust said the company could offer no guarantee on when it may be hiring again because “it’s all dependent on business conditions.”
He also said Friday “at this time we have no vacancies that we can offer either to new hires or to any returning striking employees.”
Cubitt said he has asked at every meeting about the status of job positions that may be open and Foust, who is also the corporate director of human resources, has always told him “we can never tell. But I can’t believe that he answered that question to me last Friday, and then a miracle took place and they hired 160-some new people this week between meetings,” Cubitt said following Friday’s meeting.
“The number one issue in this is the people…any time the company to us and said we could put X-number of people back to work on a given date, yes, it would give us incentive to take a serious look at it,” Cubitt said. “If the intent of the management of Magic Chef is to never make it possible for the strike to be settled — if they truly want to get rid of the union and get rid of the people and never have either one again — then yes they can take the same position the government took in the air traffic controller’s strike and we could die, until there is nothing else left … and sometimes I think that’s what they want to do,” Cubitt said.
The striker reinstatement plans originally offered by the company in April calls for strikers to be recalled on the basis of seniority as positions come open in their job classification. However, the strikers would not be allowed to “bump” the permanent replacements out of their jobs, Foust said.
Cubitt also explained Supreme Court decisions have held that replacement employees could not be “bumped in the initial step” by returning strikers. But the union representative said if there is a layoff the last employees hired would be the first laid off, “but that’s not bumping them (the replacements) off the job. They will go to the end of the recall list and they will not have super-seniority,” Cubitt said.
Foust categorized the atmosphere of Friday’s talks as “very businesslike,” although both negotiators agreed no new proposals have been offered by either side since May.
Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE
Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE
We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.
If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.
Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE