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Local_news
New Equipment For Traffic Signals Approved

Greeneville drivers will get a preview soon of new traffic detection equipment that will eventually be used to help traffic safety along Highway 11E.

The Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the purchase of a radar system for vehicle detection for two traffic signals on East Andrew Johnson Highway at its meeting Tuesday.

The new equipment will be installed at the intersections at the Greeneville Commons Shipping Center and nearby Bob Smith Boulevard.

A number of traffic signals in town have vehicle detection equipment installed. Metal strips in the pavement trigger a change in the light once a vehicle drives onto them, explained Town Engineer and Director of Public Works Brad Peters.

However, they have to be replaced after repaving, which is what has occurred at both intersections, Peters said. The Public Works Department has repaved Bob Smith Boulevard. The drive into the Greeneville Commons has been repaved as part of the recent improvements made by Brixmor Property Group.

Apart from repaving, metal equipment in the pavement has to be replaced every three to five years and can be subject to breaking due to freezing of the asphalt or wear from vehicles running across, Peters said.

As part of the town’s current project to improve traffic safety and reduce congestion on Highway 11E, a different detection system is planned for installation at the traffic signals, Peters said.

This system is radar-based for counting vehicles at a signal, and once it is installed, it requires almost no maintenance and is more reliable in operation, the board was told.

Rather than spending about $1,800 for each of the three metal loop detectors that would be needed at the intersections that would eventually be replaced by this system, Peters said the recommendation is to upgrade to the radar system at these two intersections.

The cost of the equipment, $22,322, is a significant increase in expense but will be reimbursed by a grant the town will receive for the traffic signalization project, he said.

The purchase is not currently in the budget, but the purchase can be covered by funds now designated for street paving, Peters said. Paving projects would then be adjusted for next year.

Currently, design for improving the intersections is being completed, and after it is finished, bids for the work involved can be sought, he said.

In a related item, the board approved the purchase of a traffic signal conflict monitor tester for $10,790, which is included in the current Public Works budget. This equipment tests to make sure sensors in traffic signals that detect vehicles are working properly.

OTHER ACTION, BEER BOARD

In separate action. the board approved a special event application for the Greeneville Christmas Parade, which will take place Dec. 8 and have a theme of “Songs of the Seasons.”

Special event sign requests were approved for the Greeneville Woman’s Club Holiday Bazaar on Nov. 2-3 and the Greeneville City Schools Education Foundation’s Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.

Meeting as the Beer Board, aldermen approved an application for on-premise consumption at Hampton Inn on East Andrew Johnson Highway.


Local_news
Mixed Weather Varies Pumpkin Harvests

Halloween is almost here, and that usually means carved pumpkins galore. Mother Nature nearly had other plans.

“The drought substantially reduced the size of our jack-o-lantern pumpkins, but I found a source of larger pumpkins in North Carolina so we have plenty of good size pumpkins,” said Phil Ottinger, owner of Greeneville’s Buffalo Trail Orchard.

The Dodd Branch Road agribusiness offers visitors the chance to pick-your-own products, including pumpkins. Especially wet weather this spring and summer meant Ottinger and his family had to plant about two weeks later than normal.

“This is the first year that we have had to purchase pumpkins,” he said.

The drought that has rendered lawns brown and crunchy has also left a mark on the region’s pumpkin harvest, a look at weather data and interviews by The Greeneville Sun suggest.

The U.S. Drought Monitor lists much of Greene County in a severe drought, the third of five categories that usually means crop and pasture losses, as well as water shortages on farmland.

Across northeast Tennessee, rainfall in 2019 had been well above normal through the end of summer. That included nearly 9 inches of rain in February, and above average precipitation each month from January to June. But an incredibly dry August and September, aided by soaring temperatures at the start of autumn, made conditions ripe for a serious drought.

Vera Ann Myers, whose family owns and operates Myers Pumpkin Patch in the western part of the county, said some of her “field-trip pumpkins” have been less plentiful due to the unseasonably dry weather. Smaller than traditional jack-o-lanterns, Myers and her family let kids paint and decorate those pumpkins when school groups arrive on field trips.

“Surprisingly, we’ve had a bumper crop of jack-o-lanterns. We moved where we normally plant them,” she said. “As for our field-trip pumpkins, we still have plenty to retail but not as many for wholesale.”

Across the nation, limited rain coupled with record-breaking heat has generated different effects on pumpkins. Earlier this month, USA Today reported that farmers in Texas harvested considerably fewer pumpkins than normal while farms in Kentucky logged unexpectedly good yields.

At least for visitors to orchards and pumpkin patches in East Tennessee, this week’s weather should be near perfect. The National Weather Service projects temperature highs in the 60s and 70s all week. Rain is likely Wednesday, and precipitation enters the forecast again early next week. Meteorologists forecast sunny skies Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


Local_news
Fla. Sheriff Details Alleged Killer's Actions

The man accused in the brutal slayings of a man in Greeneville and two others Sunday night in Florida deserves the death penalty, according to the sheriff overseeing the Florida county in which Stanley Eric Mossburg was taken into custody.

Sheriff Grady Judd, of Polk County, Florida, had plenty of other things to say Tuesday morning about 35-year-old Mossburg at a news conference.

Mossburg, a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina who goes by the nickname “Woo Woo,” has a lengthy criminal record and was described by Judd as a “spree killer” who personifies “evil in the flesh.”

Judd detailed the alleged actions of Mossburg during the homicides of Christopher Scott Short in Greeneville and a couple whose names have not been released in their home in Winter Haven, Florida. A man in the Florida home where a man and woman were murdered survived and provided investigators with insights about Mossburg’s mindset.

Judd said the man who survived being held hostage in the Winter Haven house was told by Mossburg that the couple killed were his seventh and eighth victims, although only three are known.

“(He) told our live victim, ‘I want to be a serial killer. I like killing people,’” Judd said.

Mossburg allegedly told the victim his “goal was 11” victims, Judd said.

In describing what investigators know about the Greeneville and Winter Haven murders, Judd said the circumstances indicate actions based on “anger, revenge (and) evil.”

Knives were used in the murders, Judd said.

GREENEVILLE HOMICIDEJudd gave a chronological account of Mossburg’s alleged criminal activity leading up to his arrest Tuesday morning.

The body of Short, 33, was found the morning of Oct. 2 beside Celebrity Coin Laundry, at the end of a strip mall at 2055 E. Andrew Johnson Highway.

Family members and friends had said he went there to do laundry about 11 p.m. on Oct. 1.

Judd said surveillance camera video showed Short alone in the laundry when a white male walked in and pulled a gun before the two men disappeared into a bathroom for four minutes.

They emerged with Short’s hands bound, and the pair disappeared from view as they walked out of the laundromat.

Short’s wife texted his cellphone about 2 a.m. on Oct. 2, concerned about his whereabouts. She received “a very vile, ugly, nasty text” in response suggesting Short was out with another woman, which his wife knew not to be true, Judd said.

Heather Short called Greeneville police, who went to the laundromat about 2 a.m. on Oct. 2 but reported they saw nothing out of order.

By that time, Judd said, Mossburg was on the way to Spartanburg in Short’s Buick Regal sedan.

By morning, when Short’s body was discovered, “The suspect has stolen the victim’s car, killed the victim and is now driving to Spartanburg,” Judd said.

SPARTANBURG TO FLA.

Mossburg was seen by police Oct. 4 on videotape in Spartanburg. Short’s Buick Regal was located Oct. 5 at a nearby scrapyard, Judd said.

Investigators also learned that a relative of Mossburg had bought him a bus ticket to Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 2, “because he (said) he wants to go to Orlando,” Judd said.

“We have, at this point in the investigation, no idea why he wanted to go to Orlando,” Judd said at the news conference.

Mossburg took a Greyhound bus to Atlanta and then to Orlando.

“So now we’re at Oct. 11, and we start getting information that a murder suspect named Mossburg has pawned property at a (Florida) pawn shop,” Judd said. The U.S. Marshals Service was assisting Greeneville police in trying to locate him. Polk County deputies were also on the lookout for Mossburg.

Mossburg stole a Ford F-250 pickup truck Oct. 9 from Hillsborough County, Florida, Judd said.

About 4 p.m. on Sunday, Mossburg was seen on a Ring video home security system in the Winter Haven neighborhood where the murders occurred. The security system notified the property owner of someone “prowling around” in a yard, the sheriff said. The owner went outside and confronted Mossburg, who left.

The property bordered the one where the murder victims lived.

ORDEAL OF VICTIMS

The “live victim” arrived at the house about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. After entering the house, he heard the woman who lived there say, “Just do what he says and he won’t hurt you,” Judd said.

The man saw the woman bound in a chair with her hands behind her back. He was approached by Mossburg.

“He says I have guns and I have knives and I will kill you” and began to walk the man through the house into an office area with a small safe, Judd said.

Mossburg allegedly told the man, “Don’t look in the master bedroom, you won’t like what you see in there,” Judd said.

Mossburg ripped cords from computers and tied the man to a chair. He demanded money and valuables, and the man told him the safe only contained passports and documents of no value, Judd said.

The man’s life was threatened by Mossburg, who allegedly told him the other man in the house fought back so he “made him suffer” before killing him, Judd said.

Mossburg spent the night in the house. Judd said Mossburg told the man he had killed the woman “but did it quick because she was cooperative.”

The sheriff said Mossburg poured bleach on the victims and mopped the floors as Monday morning approached.

“Our live victim is still cooperating, he is trying to do everything he can not to excite this obvious evil murdering person,” Judd said.

The elderly man was allowed to sit on a living room couch. He asked Mossburg to turn the air conditioning down, and was refused. Mossburg allegedly responded that “he needs to keep it cool so these victims don’t start to smell,” Judd said.

Throughout Monday morning, Mossburg loaded up the female victim’s car with valuables and before he left about noon, told the man he would be back for the bodies and would kill him if he called police, Judd said.

“Our live victim (told police) I’m afraid he is just outside or hiding around the corner. This person understands (Mossburg) is evil in the flesh” so he remained on the couch until about 6 p.m Monday, when he ran to a neighbor’s house and called 911.

Sheriff’s deputies responded and set up a perimeter in the area. Judd said that, inexplicably, Mossburg drove back to within two blocks of the murder scene, where the pickup truck stolen on Oct. 9 was parked near a house where he had been staying.

TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

A sheriff’s captain told Judd a car was parked near that house that had not been there several minutes earlier. Nearby was the stolen truck, which had been spray-painted white.

Witnesses cooperating with investigators said Mossburg ran through their backyard and barricaded himself in the house. Deputies trying to kick a door open were shot at, Judd said.

The SWAT team arrived and introduced “chemical agents” to get Mossburg to come outside, to no avail. Throughout the night, Mossburg allegedly took other shots at deputies, he added.

A sheriff’s department military surplus mine resistant vehicle was used to open the garage door and a K-9 dog went after Mossburg, who was hiding under a pool table in the garage. As he fought the dog with both hands and deputies saw he was not armed, they rushed in and took him into custody, Judd said.

“Out deputies put their lives at extreme risk (Monday) night to protect the community, and I’m exceptionally proud of them,” Judd said. “For whatever reason instead of fleeing to South Carolina, he didn’t take the stolen (car). He came back and said he wanted to engage.”

QUESTIONS AND RELIEFIt is still not known why Mossburg was in Greeneville. Police Chief Tim Ward said Tuesday a Greeneville police detective was en route to Florida to interview Mossburg.

Warrants in Tennessee were sworn out in connection with the death of Short charging Mossburg with first-degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping.

Florida has the death penalty. Judd said that Mossburg is charged with more than 30 crimes in Polk County, including two counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with gunshots allegedly fired at deputies.

Judd scoffed at Mossburg’s prior criminal history of car theft, drug possession and related crimes that may lead some to consider him a non-violent offender.

“He just likes to steal cars and steal and use drugs — oh, by the way, he’s a spree killer, so don’t concern yourself about that,” Judd said. “All the victims we’re aware of had multiple wounds as a result of this evil, evil person.

“Let me make no mistake about it, you cannot legislate evil out of a guy. This guy needs the death penalty if there’s ever there’s been a person who needs the death penalty,” Judd said.

Heather Short, the wife of Scott Short, said Tuesday that she is relieved that Mossburg is in custody so he cannot harm anyone else.

“My heart goes out to the loved ones’ families and the people whose lives he took in Florida,” Short said. “It’s a little hit of a relief he is off the streets. Now he can’t hurt anybody else. That was a big concern.”

Short thanked the community for continued support after her husband’s death and the work of law enforcement in bringing his alleged killer to justice.

“I just want everybody to know we appreciate the love and support,” she said. “I still firmly believe Scott was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the fact this guy went to Florida and did the same thing twice, that just backs up the wrong place at the wrong time theory.”

The Judd news conference is available in its entirety on the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.


Ap_national_news
Debate Rivals Assail Warren As She Joins Democrats' Top Rank

Elizabeth Warren repeatedly came under attack during the Democratic presidential debate as rivals accused the Massachusetts senator of ducking questions about the cost of Medicare for All and her signature wealth tax plan in an attempt to derail her rising campaign.

The pile-on Tuesday reinforced her new status as a front-runner in the contest to take on President Donald Trump next year. With first state primaries rapidly approaching, her many challengers have dwindling opportunities to emerge as powerful alternatives to the progressive agenda she’s championing.

The night’s confrontations were mostly fought on familiar terrain for the Democrats, who have spent months sparring over the future of health care with former Vice President Joe Biden and other moderates pressing for a measured approach while Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders call for a dramatic, government-funded overhaul of the insurance market. Still, unlike Sanders, Warren refused to say whether she would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for a Medicare for All universal health insurance plan — a stance that’s increasingly difficult to maintain given her more prominent status.

Her rivals seized on the opportunity to pounce.

“I appreciate Elizabeth’s work but, again, the difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something you can actually get done,” said Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, added: “We heard it tonight. A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question that didn’t get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.”

Warren insisted that she has “made clear what my principles are here,” arguing that lower premiums would mean that overall costs would go down for most Americans.

California Sen. Kamala Harris tried to get in on the action on another subject, scolding Warren for not echoing her calls for Twitter to suspend Trump’s account. Warren responded, “I don’t just want to push Trump off of Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House.”

Featuring a dozen candidates, the debate, sponsored by CNN and The New York Times and held in Ohio, was the largest in modern history. It was the first time the White House hopefuls gathered in a little more than a month. In that time, the political landscape has changed with Trump facing an impeachment inquiry in the House centered on his quest to get Ukraine to dig up unflattering details about Biden, another front-runner among the Democrats hoping to unseat the Republican president.

“You would think there is NO WAY that any of the Democrat Candidates that we witnessed last night could possibly become President of the United States,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Now you see why they have no choice but to push a totally illegal & absurd Impeachment of one of the most successful Presidents!”

The debate also served as Sanders’ return to the campaign trail following a heart attack earlier this month. The Vermont senator failed to show all the fire of previous debates but made his points with force. He was applauded when he thanked supporters and rivals for their good wishes and declared, “I’m feeling great.”

The debate touched on foreign policy, too, a subject that has dominated the news in recent weeks as Trump said he was withdrawing most U.S. forces from Syria and then Turkey invaded the northern part of the country to attack Kurdish fighters.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who served in Iraq with the Army, questioned the need for U.S. involvement in “regime change” conflicts in the Middle East. That prompted Buttigieg, himself a veteran, to respond: “What we are doing or what we were doing in Syria was keeping our word.”

“I would have a hard time today looking an Afghan civilian or soldier in the eye after what just happened over there,” said Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan. “It is undermining the honor of our soldiers. You take away the honor of our soldiers, you might as well go after their body armor next.”

Biden has faced the sharpest criticism from rivals in previous debates. But fewer candidates engaged with him on Tuesday as they trained their focus on Warren.

Still, he struggled to fully explain why his newly promised ethics plan to prevent conflicts of interest involving his relatives wasn’t applied to his son Hunter when he was hired in 2014 as a director for a Ukrainian energy company.

That relationship has become a focal point of Trump’s push for a Ukrainian government probe of the Bidens — an effort that was a major factor leading to the House impeachment inquiry.

On Sunday, Biden had vowed that “no one in my family will have an office in the White House, will sit in on meetings as if they’re a Cabinet member, will in fact have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country.”

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked, “If it’s not OK for a president’s family to be involved in foreign businesses, why was it OK for your son when you were vice president?”

Biden faltered some before offering, “My son did nothing wrong, I did nothing wrong.”

Toward the end, Biden was more confident when he accused Warren and Sanders of “being vague” on the true costs of Medicare for All.

“Tell people what it’s going to cost, how you’re going to do it and why you’re going to do it,” he said.

Sanders responded by criticizing the former vice president’s record, including his support for what Sanders called the “disastrous war in Iraq.” Warren also accused Biden of not doing enough as vice president to empower a consumer financial protection agency she helped set up in the wake of the national financial crisis.

“I went on the floor and got you votes,” Biden responded, waving his finger at Warren.

Warren answered that she was “deeply grateful” that then-President Barack Obama supported her efforts, implying that Biden didn’t help.

She swatted back at criticism of her sweeping plan to tax wealthy Americans to pay for her domestic agenda. Klobuchar said she wanted to provide a “reality check” on the issue while former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke suggested it was “punitive.”

Warren framed the measure as part of the ambitious agenda she’s pitching to fundamentally reshape the economic and political system.

“Look, I understand that this is hard, but I think as Democrats we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started,” Warren answered.

Though Warren fielded much of the criticism on Tuesday, other rivalries emerged.

O’Rourke and Buttigieg argued about gun control, with the mayor saying the Texan himself wasn’t even sure how the mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons he’s called for would work. That touched off a stretch where both candidates talked over one another.

At one point, Buttigieg told O’Rourke: “I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.”

Also debating were New York entrepreneur Andrew Yang, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Obama housing chief Julián Castro and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.