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Former Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center Manager Facing Serious Charges

Alyce Faith Heifner… Photo provided by the CCSD.

Alyce Heifner, former manager of Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center has been arrested in New Mexico on charges brought by the District Attorney’s office. The charges are based on an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Comptroller of Treasury. Heifner is facing three to six years in jail for allegedly stealing more than $30,000 from the conference center for personal use while working there, according to District Attorney Craig Northcott.
Heifner is charged with theft over $10,000 and two counts of official misconduct.

Domestic Violence Victim Witness Coordinators Receive Training

Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott

Tennessee’s 15 newest domestic violence victim witness coordinators, who will work with domestic violence victims across the state, recently completed training focused on ways to recognize the signs of domestic violence, how domestic violence cases are prosecuted and how to keep victims safe.
“Victims of domestic violence are often ashamed or frightened to come forward,” said 14th District Attorney General Craig Northcott of Coffee County. “Our hope is that, as our communities see what is being done to strengthen Tennessee’s support systems for domestic abuse victims, those victims will be more confident in making their voices heard.”
The training, hosted by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, was also completed by seven Assistant District Attorneys who prosecute domestic violence cases, and included a panel discussion led by 16th District Assistant District Attorney Sarah Davis (serving Cannon and Rutherford counties).
“The training this group received is a newly designed model,” General Northcott said. “It was created specifically for incoming coordinators who will be working with domestic abuse victims. This group was the first to receive the training, and I’m proud to say that Jennifer Craighead and Amanda Wiser, who serve us here in the 14th District, participated.”
The coordinators and the training are funded by a grant from the Office of Criminal Justice programs. The goal of the new victim witness coordinators and the training is to ensure that, as domestic violence victims come forward, they are quickly connected with a professional who is able to offer the necessary support.
If you know a victim of domestic violence, please visit http://tndagc.org/ to find the best contact in your local district.

Gas Prices Remain Steady

Motorists saw little movement in pump prices last week. But gasoline could soon be on the rise as spring approaches due to refinery maintenance, an increase in driving and the switch to summer-blend fuels. Currently, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.28, up four-tenths of a cent from last week, down 5 cents from a month ago and 56 cents higher year-over-year.
Tennessee gas prices rose slightly last week. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.06 which is a cent higher than one week ago, 7 cents lower than a month ago and 55 cents more expensive than last year.
The low price per gallon for gas in Manchester is $1.98 and in Tullahoma it’s $1.95.

TDOT Message Board Contest Continues

If you’ve ever wanted to help choose the messages that show up on TDOT signs, now’s your chance!
TDOT has narrowed down 15 finalists from 2,000 submissions.
Voting ends March 7 at 4:30 p.m. The winner will be announced March 13.
The catchphrase with the most votes will be put into the message board rotation across the state. TDOT has 177 message signs statewide.
Last year’s winner was, “Turn signals, the original instant messaging.”
Here are some of the finalist:

• Not buckled up? What’s holding you back?
• Speeding can lead to skid marks
• Only bird brains tweet while driving
• Use your blinking blinker!
• Avoid a wreck – don’t rubberneck
• Let your babies grow up to be cowboys – buckle ’em up!
• Signal your intentions
• In a hurry? Shoulda left early – slow down!
• Nice headlights! Turn yours on during rain or fog
• Ride like lightning – crash like thunder
To vote go to http://www.tn.gov/tdot/article/dms-contest

Here comes Dunkin Donuts

If you’ve been wondering what’s going in the former location of Pizza Hut in Manchester, well soon it will be the home of Dunkin’ Donuts.
Dunkin’ Donuts sells a wide variety of donuts, coffee beverages, breakfast sandwiches and other baked goods. There are over 11,300 locations worldwide.
The franchisee is looking for part-time and full-time positions for the Manchester location to open soon, according to job listings on snagajob.com. Visit the site for details.

Fatal Crash in Coffee County

Sunday afternoon around 12:30pm near AEDC on the Wattendorf Memorial Highway at the Exit 117 Interstate 24 overpass there was a 2-vehicle crash.
In Tennessee Highway Patrolman Larry Fraley’s report a 2002 Ford Mustang driven by 18 year-old Mary E McBee of Decherd was traveling north when she allegedly failed to yield while turning onto the I-24 westbound exit ramp. The action apparently caused 48 year-old Korey J Benbow of Manchester to collide his Harley Davidson motorcycle with the Mustang. Benbow was pronounced deceased at the scene. Apparently McBee was injured, but no information was given on the extent of her injures.
No charges were filed.

Haslam Speaks on IMPROVE Act

Gov. Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam was in Franklin County on Monday discussing his plan for a 7 cent tax increase per gallon on gasoline and 12 cents on diesel to go toward roadway improvements.
The purpose of the event, was to provide a forum on a plan focusing exclusively on increasing much-needed funding to repair and maintain safe highways and bridges throughout Tennessee. Haslam has also proposed that sales tax be reduced on food products.
Haslam’s agenda includes the IMPROVE Act, which stands for “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy.”
The IMPROVE Act, besides increasing the road user fee by 7 cents for a gallon of gas and 12 cents for a gallon of diesel, also increases car registration fees by $5 for the average passenger vehicle.
It places an annual road user fee on electric vehicles and increases charges on vehicles using alternative fuels.
The proposal also includes a 3 percent charge on rental cars and changes the state’s open container law to allow the Tennessee Department of Transportation flexibility to use $18 million in existing federal dollars on roads.
Under the IMPROVE Act, the state sales tax on groceries will fall to 4.5 percent – for a total one percent reduction under this administration since 2011.

State “Operation SOS” Begins

The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Transportation are working together to make drivers aware of the state’s Move Over law.
The new campaign is called “Operation SOS”, Safety on the Smart Ways, and came about after 3 TDOT workers were killed within 12 months.
Drivers are to move over to give space for workers on and along the highways.
Last week, troopers followed TDOT help trucks throughout Nashville and pulled over drivers who violated the move over law.
Between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., troopers issued 41 move over citations, one texting and driving citation, and arrested one person for DUI.

Tenn. Mental-Health Care Availability Could Be at Risk

Experts fear repealing the Affordable Care Act could reduce access to mental health care for those who need and depend on it. (Ryan Melaugh/Flickr)

While the fate of the Affordable Care Act hangs in limbo, one sector of the population is particularly vulnerable to changes in the health care system. Over the last eight years, access to mental health care for those who need it has increased through availability of coverage and safeguards to ensure access to that care.
Jeff Fladen with the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Tennessee said reducing accessibility for folks who need mental health services also greatly affects their ability to remain self-sufficient.
“They’re getting insurance now through the exchanges and if a lot of people lose insurance because there’s no subsidy, then they won’t have insurance coverage for treatment,” Fladen said. “And that can make the difference between keeping the job and advancing and not.”
Experts say it can take up to 10 years to establish a successful treatment plan for people in need of mental health care, and a disruption in treatment can instigate behavior that makes it almost impossible for some people to function in society.
Fladen said if the state and federal governments don’t support regular mental health care for those who need it, it ultimately will cost more down the line – from law enforcement to social services.
“We have a lot of low income people who would depend on things like Medicaid through block grants and Medicaid expansion,” Fladen said. “And reduction in care will hit that group even more, which will cost all of us more – in hospitals and jails and homelessness – even above and beyond the impact on the individual and their family.”
Despite the progress made in the availability of care, he said millions of people still live in areas with a shortage of mental health service providers – particularly in rural and economically disadvantaged communities.

Coffee County Authorities Arrest Fugitive from Justice

Stacy Sibley Stewart photo provided by the CCSD.

Last week Coffee County Sheriff Investigator James Sherrill received information from Capt. Frank Watkins that Stacy Sibley Stewart, 36, could be found at a residence on Thornberry Road in Normandy. The investigator learned that the man was wanted on warrants from Coffee Warren and Bedford Counties, as well as Coles County, Illinois.
Watkins had received information that Stewart was in possession of a large amount of meth. So they asked him if they could search and he gave permission to do so. Deputy Brandon Reed allegedly found approximately a gram of methamphetamine in a bedroom.
Stewart was charged with being a fugitive from justice, violation of probation and possession of schedule II in Coffee County and faces other charges in the other counties.
Stewart was booked into the Coffee County Jail under a bond of $103,500. He is scheduled to appear in Coffee County General Sessions Court March 6.

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