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Unidentified driver injured in Thursday crash

COSBY—The driver of a vehicle who wrecked and was injured Thursday morning remains unidentified, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

THP and other first responders were dispatched to the area of Middle Creek Road around 10:30 a.m. concerning a single car accident.

Upon arrival, THP Troopers learned the driver of a 2007 red Ford Focus was traveling on Cosby Highway when the driver made a turn onto Middle Creek Road and reportedly veered off the right side of the road.

The vehicle continued in motion going off a small embankment, the report stated.

The impact caused the vehicle to flip before coming to a final rest on its top.

The driver was transported by First Call EMS to UT Medical Center for “undetermined” injuries.

According to the report, the driver was charged with seat belt violation, due care, no insurance, no registration and no license. The driver also faces the charge of driving under the influence.

Corrections Partnership Committee discusses justice center locations

NEWPORT—Members of the Cocke County Corrections Partnership Committee met Thursday evening where they discussed two locations for a potential justice center in the county.

Chairman Gary Carver provided an in depth analysis on the site options, as well as the costs associated with each plan.

The two sites being considered are the existing courthouse, and the county owned property off of Cope Boulevard known as the Jack Farm.

The goal for the committee is to find a way to build an 85,000 square foot facility with beds for up to 300 inmates.

After reviewing the options the commissioners came to the conclusion that building a new facility would be easier than modifying and expanding the courthouse.

“The 85,000 would be the minimum and that wouldn’t even include the medical, laundry, kitchen or a booking area officers would need,” Carver said.

“We would need a seven story building to meet our needs. It would be the tallest building in downtown.”

Site A Option 4 for the courthouse could show some promise, but it would still be less than adequate.

That option would eliminate parking in the immediate area, and carry a low-end price tag of $200,000 for property acquisition and structure removal.

“That would get us to 85,000 and be a one floor structure, but there would still be staffing issues,” Carver said.

Future expansion of that site would be limited unless more property was purchased.

Jail Administrator Josh Hartsell said the octagonal design used in many justice centers is ideal and overall more secure.

“A single level octagonal shaped building works best,” Hartsell said.

“It would allow for a master control tower. You would need more officers, but not as many as a multi level structure. It would also be more secure.”

Jay Henderlight, Architect with Michael Brady Inc., agreed saying the Cope Boulevard location would be better than any structure in downtown Newport.

“The property would need to be built up to the height of the road, but it is as safe as anywhere in downtown,” Henderlight said.

“The property allows for different configurations and would be more efficient. You would probably want to move your Sheriff’s Department there as well to assist the jail staff. You can also work out ways to expand on that property. There are a lot of options.”

Assistant DA Tonya Thornton’s biggest concern is the safety of the new facility.

The current method of moving inmates back and forth for court dates presents a lot of issues that Thornton would like to see remedied.

“We at the DA’s office are concerned about the safety issues in general,” Thornton said.

“We work to punish people and many don’t like us when we do our job. We would like to see a better security system in place from the get go. A more secure facility would allow us to go to work and feel safe.”

Thornton said that the current courtroom has limited equipment, and that the DA’s office has to supply their own for each trial.

She hopes that issue can be addressed in a new justice center as well.

Bob Bass, Detention Facilities Manager for the Tennessee Department of Corrections, said the county needs a justice center.

He noted that most counties across the state are moving to justice centers.

“I can’t think of a county that is building just a jail,” Bass said. “Everyone is going to justice centers because a jail just doesn’t make sense. The cost is upfront, you just have to get it over with. You have to remember this is all about public safety. I’ve never seen a town dry up because a jail moved out of downtown.”

Bass went on to praise the committee for the work that has been done in the past few months.

He said he would follow the same steps.

“I want to commend this committee for the work they have done. I’m proud of the steps that have been taken. This is the professional way of doing things. I would follow the exact format that you did.”

A justice center is expected to cost $30 million. Carver said the cost associated with the grading to the access road near the Cope Boulevard property would be close to $3 million.

A public forum will be held on July 30 at 6 p.m. in Newport’s City Hall for all citizens to come and see the various site plans and voice their opinions on the proposed options.

The committee hopes to meet again once the public forum has been held.


Mountain Edge took the stage Thursday evening as part of the Rhythm On The River concert series hosted by the Cocke County Chamber of Commerce. A large crowd turned out to listen to the bluegrass band play some of their favorite songs. The concert series will conclude on Thursday, July 27, when the band GRITS from Dumplin Valley will take the stage. As always, the event is free and affordable food offerings will be available.

Three face drug, child abuse charges

NEWPORT—Three North Carolina residents are facing several charges following a traffic stop where THP Troopers found a large quantity of drugs along with children locked in the back of a U-Haul truck on Wednesday, July 10.

THP Trooper Caudill was dispatched to the 446 Welcome Center on Interstate 40 after a bystander complained of seeing children locked in the back of a U-Haul truck.

Trooper Caudill said while en route, he located the suspected vehicle and conducted a traffic stop at the 431 mile marker in the westbound lane without incident.

At that time, Caudill came in contact with Lakista Williams, 40, Willie Green Jr., 40, and Eric Larue, 38, all of Hendersonville, NC.

Troopers questioned Larue, who was the driver, inquiring about who was inside of the truck and he admitted there were people in the box of the truck.

A subsequent search of the truck revealed three small children under the age of 8-years-old. In addition, THP Troopers also found baggies of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

Williams, Green, and Larue were arrested without incident. They were all charged with child endangerment (three counts).

Larue was additionally charged with no driver’s license, child restraint (three counts), and failing to maintain lane of travel.

Green was additionally charged with possession of schedule 6 and Williams was charged with possession of schedule 2 (two counts) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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