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Coffee County Grand Jury Meets

grand juryThe Coffee County Grand jury met Tuesday to consider 48 cases that were bound over to it from the General Sessions courts.
There were also 37 sealed or original cases that were considered by the secret panel. Those cases are those that were presented straight to the grand jury by law enforcement. Those cases usually include drugs or other cases that have not been through the court system.
Those named in sealed indictments will be arrested and booked into the Coffee County Jail on the charges.
All of those indicted will appear in Coffee County Circuit Court for arraignment and a court date to be set.

Your Social Security Number May Have Been Used On Someone Else’s Taxes

TAX2April 15 is “Tax Day” and some area residents have had the rude awakening that their Social Security numbers were stolen. The residents found out when they filed their income tax forms this year with the Internal Revenue Service. They were told that their Social Security numbers had been used by other filers.
When the people check with the IRS they confirm the fraudulent actions.
Some of those who have experienced the problem had earlier been told that their information had been hacked when thieves hacked their insurance carrier.

Weekly Gas Prices

gas prices 5Gas prices continue to fluctuate as refineries begin to move out of the spring maintenance season and prepare for the summer driving season. The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.39, down a fraction of a cent from last week. Motorists continue to enjoy significant year-over-year savings, paying $1.24 per gallon less than last year.
“There is a real possibility we could see prices drop to nearly $2 in some regions,” said Josh Carrasco, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Cheap crude oil should continue to place downward pressure on gas prices, barring any unforeseen events, such as refinery outages or hurricanes.”
The EIA has forecast a national average of $2.45 for April through September, and an average of $2.40 for the 2015 calendar year.
In Tennessee, the average price per gallon is $2.14, 1 cent less than last week and $1.33 less than a year ago.
The low price in Manchester is $2.09 and in Tullahoma the low price per gallon is $2.07.

53 Applicants Want To Grow Hemp

HempTennessee’s Department of Agriculture says it has received 53 applications seeking approval to grow industrial hemp.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the applicants will serve as test cases for the state law if the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration gives its approval to the project.
Officials say industrial hemp is the same plant species of marijuana, but it has a significantly lower content of THC, the part that makes you high. It can be used in a variety of products, including fabric, textiles, fibers and foods.
The DEA has asked state officials for more details on planned uses for the crop.
Those who applied to grow hemp asked for plots ranging from one-tenth of an acre in Nashville to more than 900 acres in Memphis. Most sought approval to grow the crop on 5 acres or land or less.

ADA Anniversary: Wheels of Change Roll Through Tennessee

The ADA Legacy Tour travels to 48 states over the next year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Photo courtesy of ADA Legacy Tour.

The ADA Legacy Tour travels to 48 states over the next year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Photo courtesy of ADA Legacy Tour.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on a disability. On Wednesday the ADA Legacy Tour is due to make a stop in Nashville. The tour includes information on how the landmark legislation has changed the lives of Americans like Carol Francisco of Nashville, who is blind. She says the ADA gives her a resource “in her corner” as she pursues accessibility in her hometown. “You do what you have to do,” she says. “It’s just that you get tired of fighting all the time. You really do. But the ADA has made it easier to fight.” While things have improved since President George H. W. Bush signed the ADA into law in 1990, Francisco says Tennessee communities – including Nashville – have a long way to go. According to Francisco, the installation of additional sidewalks and crosswalks with voice-assist could help her navigate the city more safely. Another Nashville resident, Emily Hoskins, was paralyzed at birth because of a tumor in her spine. She now works for the Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee, and helps educate businesses and individuals on the importance of having an accessible workplace. “Unless you are directly impacted by disability,” she says, “meaning you have a disability, or you have a family member or friend with one, you don’t notice those things a lot.” While the ADA now mandates schools provide an education for people with disabilities, Francisco notes that wasn’t the case in her youth, in her hometown. “The high school could and did say, ‘Okay, we’re not taking you,'” she says. “That meant that I had to go away from home and stay at the School for the Blind, which I didn’t really want to do. I wanted to stay at home and be with my family.” The ADA protects people in areas of employment, public transportation, accommodation and telecommunications services. Last year, more than 25,000 complaints were filed nationwide under the ADA with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Of those, all but about one thousand were resolved. The ADA Legacy Tour will stop at the East Park Community Center in Nashville on Wednesday, April 15, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Coffee County Woman Charged With Animal Cruelty

One of the animals found on Sunday morning... Photo from Animal Rescue Corps

One of the animals found on Sunday morning… Photo from Animal Rescue Corps

A Coffee County woman is facing charges after nearly 100 small to medium dogs and several cats were found suffering and dying on her property over the weekend in Coffee County on Hickory Grove Road. The animals were found in cages rusted shut and covered with cobwebs, some matted to the wire and unable to move. Carolyn Irby has been charged with 10 counts of animal cruelty.
Local authorities found they were living in “extremely neglectful conditions.” Coffee County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Danny Ferrell said, “It was immediately obvious that we were going to need assistance in removing this large number of animals and getting them to safety as quickly as possible.” He added, “Animal Rescue Corps was the only organization who could help us both document the scene and safely remove the animals.”
The animals are being cared for at a Lebanon, TN animal clinic.

Tullahoma Police Department Solves Recent Vehicle Burglaries

Tullahoma Police CarOn Monday morning, April 6, the Tullahoma Police Department began receiving reports of vehicle burglaries in the Colonial Acres, Brookfield Estates, and Macon Manor subdivisions. As the officers began completing the reports and listing the stolen property, information from citizens and businesses started coming in. As a result of the information, suspects were identified and an investigation by the patrol and the investigations division led to the recovery of a large amount of possible stolen property.
Detective Tyler Hatfield was assigned as the primary investigator and began notifying victims that some property had been recovered and discussed making arrangements to identify their items. Hatfield and Evidence Custodian Darrell Richards began the task of separating the property and trying to match it to a report. The property recovered consisted of: electronics, computers, tools, wallets, cosmetics, clothes, and other miscellaneous items.
Detective Hatfield obtained arrest warrants for Chelsea Nunley, of Tullahoma. Nunley is alleged to have committed the offenses of Burglary (6 cts.) and the Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card (1 ct.), after attempting to complete transactions with credit cards that had previously been reported stolen from the burglarized vehicles. Nunley was processed into the Coffee County jail with a bond of $17,500, and has court date of April 20. As the investigation continues, additional arrests are anticipated, additional charges, to include several counts of Burglary, will be presented to the next Coffee County grand jury.
The Department would like to thank the citizens and business owners that assisted in this investigation and the quick resolution.
In all the reports completed by the officers, the vehicles from which the property was taken were unlocked.

Two Tennessee Rivers Listed as “Most Endangered for 2015″

The Holston River is listed as the third most endangered river in the nation by the group, American Rivers. Photo courtesy: flickr.com/dmott9

The Holston River is listed as the third most endangered river in the nation by the group, American Rivers. Photo courtesy: flickr.com/dmott9

Tennessee is the only state in the nation to have two rivers listed as “endangered” by the environmental group American Rivers.
The Holston River, in the northeast part of the state, ranks third on the list and the Harpeth River in middle Tennessee is listed ninth out of 10.
Erin McCombs, associate conservation director for the organization, explained why it’s important that citizens and municipalities use the information included in their report released this week to protect the rivers.
“What I think is unique about having two listings in Tennessee,” she said, “is that right now there is a real opportunity to really use the Clean Water Act and make sure that our regulatory agencies are keeping our rivers clean.”
The Holston River makes the list because of toxic chemical pollution and the Harpeth River is listed because of sewage pollution and overuse. The Edisto River in South Carolina and the Pearl River in Louisiana were the other two southeastern rivers listed in the report, called “America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2015.”
The Holston River provides drinking water for tens of thousands of Tennessee residents, as well as water for industry and recreation. McCombs said much of the damage done to the river is from a chemical called RDX, a toxic explosive and possible carcinogen that’s released by the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport.
“What’s kind of alarming about this,” she said, “is that they’re finding really high levels of this, much higher than the EPA guidelines are, and they’re finding them very far downstream.”
A spokesperson from the U.S. Army, which contracts with the Holston plant, said the “Army is working closely with the operating contractor and regulatory agencies to reduce RDX wastewater discharges at the plant.”
The Harpeth River made the list because of the city of Franklin’s sewer plant and the region’s excessive water use. American Rivers is calling on state officials and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to take steps to ensure the city uses the latest technology to reduce pollution to the river.
“During the summer, when we have really low periods of flow, the entire volume of the stream is sometimes up to around a third of effluent coming from the wastewater treatment plant,” McCombs said, “and oftentimes we have elevated levels of pollutants.”
A spokesperson for the city of Franklin said the city recently created a water resource plan and is in the process of implementing a sewer plant upgrade. The spokesperson said the health of the Harpeth River is impacted by other factors upstream before it flows through the city.
The report is online at act.americanrivers.org.

Media May Have To Get Permission From Judges To Bring Electronics Into Court

Court roomReporters may soon have to get permission from a judge any time they want to bring a cell phone, laptop or other digital device inside a courtroom.
Officials with the Administrative Office of the Courts said Friday those requirements are part of a proposed Tennessee Supreme Court rule that regulates media coverage in the courtroom. AOC officials said permission would be required even if the reporter were not Tweeting or streaming video from the courtroom but simply wanted to use a laptop to take notes or have a silent phone on hand.
Reporters would have to make a written request to a judge at least two business days in advance of any hearing they wanted to cover.
The Supreme Court is encouraging comments on the proposed changes.

Suffering Animals Rescued In Coffee County

animal rescue 4Nearly 100 small to medium dogs and several cats, suffering and dying in cages rusted shut and covered with cobwebs, some matted to the wire and unable to move were rescued in Coffee County from a home in the Fountain Grove community early Sunday morning.
Local authorities found they were living in “extremely neglectful conditions.” The dogs, which were a variety of breeds including Golden Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers and Border Collies, were found very thin and living in complete darkness.
The remains of 10 other dogs, wrapped in sheets were found on the property.
The Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) assisted the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office in taking the 90 adult dogs and puppies and seven cats, which were surrendered by the property owner. animal rescue 3
The Animal Rescue Corps is calling this rescue, Operation Midnight Run, because after receiving a call late Saturday night from Coffee County authorities, they drove all night, to reach the animals in less than 12 hours. The team worked throughout the day on Sunday to get the animals the medical and other care they needed.

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