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Fourth Judicial District Circuit Judges announce candidacy for re-election in 2022

COCKE COUNTY—Fourth Judicial District Circuit Judges Carter Moore, Jim Gass, Rex Henry Ogle, and Duane Slone jointly announce their candidacy for re-election in 2022.

Chancellor Telford Forgety announces his intention to retire at the end of the current term. The judges serve in Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson and Sevier Counties. Forgety also serves Blount County. All are Republicans, and the ones seeking re-election will be running in the May 2022 Republican Primary.

In a joint statement, the judges state that they are proud to serve the people of the four counties, and they each wholeheartedly endorse the re-election of their fellow judges.

As a group, they ask friends and constituents to cast their vote for each of these office holders. The judges believe it is vital to our communities that we maintain an effective court system open to the public during this pandemic.

They, along with the Court Clerks and Court staffs, have continued to work to guarantee that our courts are open and functioning, insuring that our citizens have access to fair and impartial proceedings.

As a group, the judges want constituents to know it is an honor to serve the people of the district, and that they will each continue to work daily to maintain your trust.

Judge Carter Moore received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from East Tennessee State University in 2004, graduating with highest honors. In 2008, he graduated from the University of Tennessee Law School, Magna Cum Laude. After graduation, Judge Moore operated his own private practice in Newport, as well as serving as the Cocke County Attorney from 2011 to 2017.

In 2017, Governor Bill Haslam appointed Judge Moore to fill the post of Circuit Court Judge, Part I, after the retirement of Ben W. Hooper, II. Judge Moore subsequently won a contested election in 2018 to serve the remainder of the term.

Judge Moore hears both civil and criminal matters in the Fourth Judicial District. In addition to his regular duties, Judge Moore presides along with Judge O. Duane Slone, over the Fourth Judicial District’s Drug Recovery Court, serving citizens from Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, and Sevier Counties.

Since taking the bench, Judge Moore has also established a Tennessee Recovery Oriented Compliance Strategy (TN-ROCS) docket in his court as a resource to address treatment needs of defendants who may not qualify for inclusion in recovery court.

Further, Judge Moore served as the Presiding Judge for the Fourth Judicial District for the 2020-2021 term. He resides in Cosby with his wife, Renee, an educator, and their three children. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Newport and previously served on the club’s Board of Directors.

Judge Moore enjoys spending his free time outdoors with family and friends, as well as playing Bluegrass music with his band, Mountain Edge.

Judge Jim Gass was appointed Circuit Judge in 2017 and elected in 2018. He presently serves on both the Tennessee Judicial Conference and Tennessee Trial Judges Executive Committee and is the Presiding Judge for the Fourth Judicial District for 2021 to 2022.

He is a 7th generation resident of this judicial district, is a graduate of Samford University, and holds a law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

Before taking office, he was a partner at Ogle, Gass & Richardson in Sevierville, where he served as City Attorney of Pigeon Forge and the Town of Dandridge. Prior to that, he served from 1988 to 1998 as Assistant District Attorney in the office of District Attorney Al Schmutzer.

He is a Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation and a past president of the Sevier County Bar Association. He and his wife, Lauren, have two adult sons. Judge Rex Henry Ogle is a Sevierville native who graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee and received a major in Political Science.

He received his Juris Doctor degree from the Memphis State University School of Law in 1979. He practiced as an attorney in Sevierville until elected Circuit Judge. He served as President of the Tennessee Judicial Conference in 2001-2002, and has served multiple terms as Presiding Judge of the 4th Judicial District.

He was founder and former president of the 4th Judicial District Task Force Against Domestic Violence, and in 1997 was awarded the “Judge Jane Wheatcraft Award” by the Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence for his outstanding service within the judicial system.

He is a Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation. A lifelong Republican, he has also served as Chairman of the Sevier County Republican Party. He is married to Judge Norma McGee Ogle, and they have one son, Daniel Ogle.

Judge Duane Slone, a former drug trafficking prosecutor, was first elected to the Fourth Judicial District Circuit Court in 1998 and in 2009 he co-founded his judicial district’s Drug Recovery Court.

He is recognized nationally as an effective collaborator and innovator for his efforts to address the Opioid Driven Addiction Crisis. Currently, Judge Slone serves as Chairman of the eight State Appalachian Midwest Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative, the Substance Misuse and Addiction Resources for Tennessee “SMART” Justice Network, and the Tennessee Judicial Conference Problem Solving Court Committee.

He is a steering committee member of the National Rural Justice Collaborative and “SMART” Policy Network. Additionally, Judge Slone is a member of the National Institute of Drug Addiction JCOIN Practitioner Advisory Board, the SAMHSA Advisory Committee for Women’s Services, the Advisory Board of the National Rx and Heroin Summit and the White House ONDCP National SUD Strategic Advisory Panel Criminal Justice Workgroup.

Judge Slone has been honored as the recipient of many state and national awards for his innovative work addressing the Opioid Crisis including the 2019 National Center for State Courts William H. Rehnquist Judicial Excellence Award, the nation’s highest state court judicial honor in recognition of this work.

Chancellor Forgety, 72, says he has enjoyed his 46-year legal career, and particularly thanks the people of his district for allowing him to serve them as Chancellor for the past twenty-four years. His wife, Vickie, retired after the birth of their first grandchild four years ago, and he has looked forward to spending more time with her, their children and grandchildren.

He says that it has been the greatest honor and privilege of his life to serve as Chancellor, and that in retirement he will continue to be involved in and serve his community.

Candlelight memorial created to honor 13 fallen soldiers
  • Updated

Multiple organizations recently came together to create a memorial to honor the 13 soldiers that were killed in Afghanistan in late August.

“On behalf of The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, Newport Police Department and Cocke County EMA, we send our sincerest condolences to the 13 fallen soldiers families. Our Candlelight Memorial represents each one of them we lost that day, August 28, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Eleven United States Marines, One Navy Corpsman and One Army Soldier. We thank them for making the ultimate sacrifice for protecting our country and the people they protected that day. May their souls rest in eternal peace.”

Killed that day were U.S Marine, Sgt Johanny Rosario, U.S. Marine, Cpl Hunter Lopez, U.S. Marine, LCpl Kareem Nikoui, U.S. Marine, LCpl Rylee McCollum, U.S. Marine, LCpl Jared Schmitz, U.S. Marine, LCpl David Lee Espinoza, U.S. Navy, Maxton Soviak, U.S. Marine, SSgt Taylor Hoover, U.S. Marine, Cpl Daegan Page, U.S. Army, Ryan Knauss, U.S. Marine, Cpl Humberto Sanchez, U.S. Marine, Sgt Nicole Gee and U.S. Marine, Ricky Thompson.

A special thank you goes out to the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, Newport Police Department and Cocke EMA for cars, flags, helmet and rifle. Boots for the memorial were provided by CCSO Det. Lt Daniel Smith (Army Veteran, boots are from a tour in Iraq). Thanks also goes out to Administrative Assistants Kristen Schaff, Brittany Wilson and Leslie Frisbee.

COVID cases falling, still on par with January numbers

COCKE COUNTY—As of September 27, there were still 384 active cases of COVID-19 in the county. Fourteen new cases were reported on September 27 alone.

From September 20 through 26, there were 222 new cases reported.

Of those, 75 cases were reported in patients aged 5-18 years old, according to state data.

Over the last seven days, Cocke County has conducted 69.4 COVID-19 tests per day with an average positive rate of 22.6%.

Since last week’s update, 476 doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered, bringing the population percent with at least one dose up to 48.65%, and the percent fully vaccinated to 42.16%.

The following is a list of surrounding counties showing their total COVID-19 count compared to active cases, as well as their population percentage that has received at least one dose versus percent fully vaccinated:

Sevier: 18,918/877 (50.12%/41.79%)

Hamblen: 12,481/518 (41.09%/35.34%)

Greene: 12,428/698 (44.64%/39.26%)

Jefferson: 9,388/518 (51.17%/44.25%)

The CDC has reported just over 20,000 new cases of COVID-19 across the state of Tennessee in the last seven days. Tennessee still ranks in the top 10 highest new cases per capita in those seven days.

The CDC also reports 413 new deaths in those seven days, placing Tennessee at ninth-highest COVID deaths per capita in that window.

The state reports 6.69 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered across the state as of September 27. Approximately 3.57 million Tennesseans have received at least one dose, including 3.05 million who are fully vaccinated and 82,508 who have received an additional booster dose.

These numbers equate to 52.2% of the population with at least one shot and 45.9% fully vaccinated.

The CDC reported 30,928 new cases in the U.S. on September 27. The national case total currently sits at 42.85 million cases since the onset of the pandemic.

More than 265 new deaths were reported on the day across the nation, which pushes the national toll to 686,639 American lives lost.

Over 213 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, accounting for 64% of the population. 55.4% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

COVID vaccine boosters available to county residents

NEWPORT—The Cocke County Health Department is currently offering COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine booster doses to residents. The Health Department will be moving their testing and vaccination clinic to the Cocke County Fairgrounds moving forward.

Hours of operation for vaccine clinics are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday/Thursday from noon to 3 p.m.

Hours of operation for the testing clinic are Tuesday/Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. by appointment only.

A single dose booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can be administered for individuals who met the following criteria:

• People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,

• People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,

• People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and

• People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

To make an appointment, call 423-623-8733. For more information, call 865-549-5200.