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Greene County Blanketed By First Snowfall

Greene County saw its first bit of accumulating snowfall of the season Wednesday morning, forcing Greene County Schools to operate on a two-hour delay.

Greene County Director of Schools David McLain said the county would operate on a two-hour delay Wednesday, highlighting snowfall especially in southern Greene County.

The National Weather Service Office in Morristown reported that it had not yet received spotter reports for detailed snowfall amounts in Greene County. The largest snowfall that it had received by 8:15 a.m. was a half-inch on the south side of Gatlinburg.

A Greeneville Sun reporter who lives in the southern end of the county measured 3 inches of snow this morning.

County residents will be seeing a pattern of rain and snow in the coming days, meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Morristown said late Tuesday.

Highs Wednesday were forecast to stay in the 30s with the snowfall diminishing by late morning.

The low temperature for Wednesday night is projected to be about 24 degrees, with sunny conditions and highs in the low 40s in the forecast by Thursday afternoon. Friday is expected to be overcast as a low-pressure system moves in from the East Pacific. Meteorologist Derek Eisentrout said that the weather for the weekend is uncertain, because the direction and speed of the pressure system is subject to change.

Snow showers are possible on Friday night, turning into rain by 11 a.m. Saturday.

Rain is expected throughout the day Saturday, turning to snow flurries in the evening into Sunday morning. Mixed precipitation on Sunday night will continue into Monday morning, Eisentrout said.

No accumulation is expected.


Photo Special To The Sun/Andrew Bailey 

Hiker Andrew Bailey captured this frosty scene atop Viking Mountain after the first snowfall in late November. Although National Weather Service meteorologists are predicting a mix of rain and snow late this week into the weekend, more accumulation is not likely. (See additional photos of Viking Mountain scenes in Wednesday’s edition of Greene County’s Accent.)


Local_news
Greene County Commission
County Won't Vote On Tax Attorney Matter

The Greene County Commission will not consider officially recommending Greene County Attorney Roger Woolsey as the county’s tax attorney at the next commission meeting.

According to state law, Trustee Nathan Holt would have the final say alongside County Mayor Kevin Morrison.

Commissioner Brad Peters, who had sponsored a resolution to do so, said that he will be pulling the resolution from the next commission meeting agenda due to lack of interest and feedback from Holt and Morrison.

Peters wrote in an email to The Greeneville Sun Tuesday that he spoke with Holt prior to sponsoring the resolution initially. He said Holt claimed to not think the resolution “had any statutory authority but that he didn’t have a problem if we voted on it.”

The county has traditionally used the services of a private attorney, most recently Bill Nunnally, to handle sales of property to recover delinquent property taxes.

“Obviously something changed between then and the meeting, and I’m sure [Holt] was contacted by both Mr. and Mrs. Nunnally,” Peters wrote. “I can’t say I’m surprised by what has transpired since news of the resolution hit the media, but I’m definitely disappointed.”

Nunnally has taken on the role of county tax attorney, with the exception of six years, since 1982, he said Monday. His wife, Joy Rader Nunnally, is the county’s register of deeds.

Peters’ resolution stated that if the county attorney takes on the role of tax attorney, it could save the county money.

“Both (Morrison) and (Holt) have stated publicly that they have no intentions of making a change, so there’s no need in wasting any more time on the issue,” Peters wrote of pulling the resolution. “If they feel it’s in the best interest of Greene County for $111,000 to go to a private attorney when we have a full-time attorney on staff, I guess that’s a decision they’ll have to live with, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the issue comes up again during the next election cycle.”

At the previous county commission meeting, it was noted that Nunnally receives roughly $100,000 in compensation for taking on the role of county tax attorney.

When delinquent taxes are turned over to the clerk and master’s office for collection, fees are added to each delinquent tax bill. As those bills are paid, the clerk and master’s office pays those additional fees to the delinquent tax attorney for their work, Holt explained in a previous interview.

Morrison said Monday that he is not convinced that the savings would become reality by this resolution, based on several reasons: first, that the county would almost certainly have to hire a full-time employee with office space, and equipment would have to be paid for.

“Now, I realize some of those things are just one-time expenses, but some of those things are ongoing expenses,” Morrison said Monday. “The other portion of that is that as the county, we don’t necessarily have the space — the physical space — that would be needed to, for instance, to bring an employee in with a work space that would be dedicated for that.”

At the previous commission meeting, Peters said that two years ago, Woolsey was the county’s part-time attorney who handled all county litigation plus many workers compensation and human resources issues. Currently, Woolsey is full-time attorney and the county appointed a full-time human resources director, Erin Chandler-Elmore.

“You can finagle the numbers any way you want but at the end of the day no one can dispute the fact that having a current, salaried employee perform a task — whether it be delinquent taxes, paving a road, or plunging a toilet — is more cost-effective than hiring a contractor to do it,” Peters wrote.

Morrison pointed out that, since Woolsey has been appointed full-time county attorney and Elmore has been appointed full-time human resources director, the county has been able to respond to personnel problems and policies and procedures that are dictated to the county from the state government and deal with lawsuits. That has resulted in the savings of probably thousands of dollars, he said.

“Now, the problem is that you don’t necessarily know that information to be true, because we don’t necessarily know what lawsuits or potential litigation that that pro-activeness has headed off,” Morrison added.

“I have to look at it from a pragmatic perspective and say, ‘Do we really want Mr. Woolsey researching delinquent tax properties? Is that a function that we want him to do or do we want him continuing to do the good work that he’s already been doing?’ I’m just not convinced that Mr. Woolsey has the time, given his workload, that some would argue that he does,” Morrison said.

“I think I have a little bit more of a base to stand on, because full-time I’m in there, I see what he does, I know how busy he is, I know how many issues that I have taken to him and different departments, just over the course of the last three to four months. I’m not certain that people understand just how very busy Mr. Woolsey really is and how valuable of an asset he really is doing the things that he is doing,” Morrison added.

Peters has said on multiple occasions that Woolsey has never campaigned for the role of county tax attorney, but has also never said that he would be unable to perform the duties.

“I don’t know Bill Nunnally personally, and I’m sure he’s a fine attorney, but this resolution was not intended to be a referendum on his ability to collect delinquent taxes,” Peters wrote. “But since that’s what it’s become I think someone needs to ask the question, if he can do the job so much better than Roger Woolsey, then why do we have an individual on the County Commission who at the time he was elected owed over $12,000 in unpaid property taxes dating all the way back to 2002?”

Peters was referring to Commissioner Clifford “Doc” Bryant, who was elected on Aug. 2 in the county elections.

Greene County Trustee office records show unpaid personal property taxes for “Bryant Chiropractic Clinic” for the 2002-2010 tax years. Those taxes have been turned over to the clerk and master’s office for collection.

“My records also show unpaid personal property taxes for ‘TAC 2’ for the 2005-2010, 2013 and 2015-2018 tax years. The 2017 and 2018 taxes are still with my office. The 2017 taxes are $46.00 through December 2018. The 2018 taxes are $47.00 through February 2019. All other years have been turned over to the clerk and master’s office,” Holt wrote in an email Tuesday.

Bryant did not respond to The Greeneville Sun’s attempts to seek comments on the subject, nor did he respond to questions the Sun posed to him before the county election in August.

BUDGET AND FINANCE COMMITTEE

Peters officially resigned from the Greene County Commission’s Budget and Finance Committee last Tuesday.

Morrison said that he received a surprising email from Peters saying that he was attempting to regain some spare time due to having the duties of the director of public works of the Town of Greeneville and desired to tender his resignation.

“I was very disappointed by the fact that he felt he needed to do that, but I certainly understand the time constraints and the issues with regard to running a very big department in city government and then contributing on a level or tempo that has been demanded of the last four months, I mean with all the transition issues, with the ongoing issues that we inherited Sept. 1, as well as future issues, I was just sort of saddened by the fact,” Morrison said Monday.

Peters served on the budget and finance committee since 2014.

“(Peters) is a good commissioner, very diligent in his research and his job. He’s very thoughtful and intelligent and I think that he certainly has the best interest of the county involved,” Morrison added. “I just hate to see him set away from that role because he was very valuable.”

Peters declined to comment when asked about his resignation from the committee.


Local_news
Coal Fund
Contributions This Season Nearing $10K

When a large retail store in Greeneville closed several months back, one of those thrown out of work was a wife and mother in a household of four: husband, wife and the wife’s niece and nephew, ages 6 and 8.

With an important part of the family income suddenly gone, the unemployed wife diligently set out to find work and has been relying on unemployment compensation until that next job finally is found. But unemployment benefits are soon to run out.

The woman’s mother has been trying to help out as best she can with some of the expenses and even has tried to get food stamps, but legal technicalities regarding child custody have kept her from qualifying for the program, even though the children are living with her for an extended time.

When home heating recently became impossible to cover financially, the Coal Fund was able to step in with vital assistance.

Stories such as these are common, and demonstrate the reason the Coal Fund exists, Greeneville Greene County Community Ministries Executive Director Carmen Ricker said. The Community Ministries agency she oversees administers the Coal Fund free of charge and ensures that each donated dollar goes directly into providing heating assistance for friends and neighbors who have a demonstrated need for help.

The Coal Fund was established decades ago by The Greeneville Sun and has received exemplary support from the local community year after year.

The annual autumn/winter drive to gather financial support for the Coal Fund is now in progress, giving local citizens a chance to put their love of their community neighbors into tangible, practical form.

The Greeneville Sun publishes regular updates listing the most recent donors to the program during the annual seasonal drive. The Coal Fund accommodates those who prefer to be listed anonymously.

Here are the most recent Coal Fund donations:

  • Robert and Teresa Ricker: $100
  • Bradburn Hill United Methodist Women: $100
  • Clear Springs United Methodist Church Gleaner’s Guild Sunday School Class: $100
  • In honor of Ms. Stephanie Howell by Dave and Cathy Wooten: $125
  • Mount Zion United Methodist Women: $100
  • J. Clement Allison: $75
  • Anonymous: $400
  • Bond Between Us Class of First Christian Church: $500

Donations received since Nov. 29: $1,500

Total donations received for the Coal Fund as of Dec. 3, 2018: $9,109.75


Photo Special to The Sun 

A smiling Jacob McAmis poses for an undated photo, provided by his family.


Local_news
featured
Report Details Final Minutes Of McAmis Pursuit

Details of the time leading up to the death of Jacob McAmis were released Tuesday night by the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.

The 18-year-old Chuckey-Doak High School student shot himself during a pursuit by sheriff’s deputies on Asheville Highway shortly before 4:45 p.m. Nov. 26. McAmis had earlier been called into the high school office and fled the school grounds in a car involved in several pursuits that day.

Lt. Michael A. Jones detailed the events leading up to his death.

The report said that, in response to the continuing investigation by school resource officers involving McAmis’ flight from the high school, Jones assembled officers at the Sandwich House restaurant on North Main Street after Lt. Teddy Lawing, school resource officer at South Greene High School, notified Jones that he had a possible location of McAmis at 420 Old Cemetery Road.

Jones said in the report that Lawing got the information from another Chuckey-Doak student. At the restaurant, McAmis’ phone was pinged, and the location came back to the 1400 block of Chuckey Pike.

As deputies discussed possible scenarios that would lead to the phone pinging off a tower in that area, including McAmis possibly traveling along U.S. 11E, Lawing continued to gather information from multiple sources, the report said.

Lawing told Jones that he received information that McAmis was still at 420 Old Cemetery Road.

Seconds later, Lawing told Jones that Greene County 911 Dispatch had a report of a fire in the 300 block of Old Cemetery Road and that a blue car was seen leaving the property, according to the report.

McAmis was driving a blue Chevy Malibu during two earlier pursuits on the afternoon of Nov. 26 that were discontinued.

A news release after McAmis’ death by the sheriff’s department said that at about 11 a.m. on Nov. 26, Chuckey-Doak High School officials were alerted to a student “who was reportedly in possession of illegal narcotics and a firearm.” He was identified as McAmis.

When confronted, McAmis pushed past school Principal Shelly Smith and fled from the school to his car.

“A subsequent pursuit by law enforcement ended with Mr. McAmis evading apprehension,” it said.

Jones’ report said that about noon on Nov. 26, the sheriff’s department received information that McAmis was at a service station at the corner of Kiser Boulevard and Snapps Ferry Road. Deputies located the vehicle at an apartment building on Kiser Boulevard.

When McAmis saw the deputies, he “fled again on Snapps Ferry Road for several miles before Sheriff (Wesley) Holt had me to discontinue the pursuit.”

An earlier pursuit by C-DHS SRO Wayne Wilhoit was also discontinued.

After being informed of the fire, Jones was told that McAmis was at the AMC Classic Towne Crossing 8 movie theater on West Andrew Johnson Highway.

Deputies and Greeneville police started toward the theater and Jones notified Chief Deputy David Beverly “that McAmis was now a suspect in an arson on Old Cemetery Road,” the report said.

McAmis saw officers about to turn into the theater parking lot and drove toward Church Street. The decision was made to initiate another pursuit, the report said.

McAmis “used surface streets to make his way to the Asheville Highway with speeds only reaching 60 to 70 miles per hour at their highest and down to 30 miles per hour at the lowest as he weaved in and out of evening traffic on the Asheville Highway,” the reports said.

McAmis “did so appearing to be in control of his vehicle at almost all times. He continued on with (three deputies) in pursuit,” the report said.

At the intersection of Asheville Highway and the 107 Cutoff, a deputy deployed stop sticks and “spiked the subject’s driver side tires,” the report said.

“McAmis continued on out the Asheville Highway toward North Carolina. Just past Kelley Gap Road, the vehicle veered to the left and struck a guardrail before stopping,” the report said.

Deputies discovered McAmis dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Entry was gained and a revolver was removed from the subject’s hands in his lap and found that he was deceased,” the report said.

Greene County-Greeneville EMS was called to the scene. Beverly also summoned sheriff’s department detectives and the Tennessee Department of Investigation.

In a news release after the incident, Holt said McAmis “was reportedly in possession of illegal narcotics and a firearm,” which was why he was called to the school office.

No drugs were found in the car after his death. Toxicology results are pending.

“This certainly is a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and the students and staff at Chuckey-Doak High School,” Holt said in the news release.

McAmis was C-DHS class president his junior and senior years, consistently achieved high grades and was active in school activities.

In an interview with The Greeneville Sun following his death, adoptive mother Carolyn Looney-McAmis spoke about his frame of mind in the weeks preceding the events of Nov. 26.

(The) events were not a good portrayal of who Jacob was,” Looney-McAmis said. “Everybody loved him.”

McAmis and his brother were adopted by Carolyn and Kevin McAmis three years ago. On Oct. 20, his birthday, McAmis learned that his biological mother had died. About five days later, McAmis and his brother found his elderly foster mother unresponsive following a back surgery, Looney-McAmis said. She died days later.

“That one tragic event can change the course of someone’s life,” Looney-McAmis said, adding that McAmis faced many tragic events in his lifetime. “When you have that combination of family history of mental illness and addiction, that’s a lot of circumstances to overcome.”

Looney-McAmis said the public should know that her son “was just a troubled soul on that day.”eryone did everything that they could to help him,” Looney-McAmis said. The TBI recently referred all questions about McAmis’ death to the sheriff’s department.

Funeral services for McAmis were held on Dec. 1.

Staff Writer Bianca Marais contributed to this report.