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Greeneville Municipal Election
Time To Decide

Polls began welcoming voters at 9 a.m. and remain open until 8 p.m. Thursday for the Greeneville Municipal Election.

Contested races for 1st Ward representatives on the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Greeneville City Board of Education drove early voting turnout, with 668 early and absentee ballots received at the Greene County Election Commission during the 15-day period that ended Saturday.

Greeneville precincts at the Greene County Courthouse, Greeneville High School, Greeneville Middle School and Tusculum View Elementary School are open.

Contested races are on the ballot only for 1st Ward voters. The 2nd Ward ballot includes the at-large seat on the Greeneville Water Commission. Incumbent Johnny Honeycutt is unopposed in his re-election bid.

Voters in the 1st Ward will choose representatives from three candidates vying for two seats on both the town council and school board.

Seeking the two 1st Ward aldermen seats are incumbents Buddy Hawk, a retired businessman, and Keith Paxton, a business owner and landowner/developer. Cal Doty, who is president of 1 Team Clinic, is seeking his first public office in the alderman race.

Seeking election the two available seats on the school board are incumbents Craig Ogle, executive vice president and senior lender for Heritage Community Bank, and Josh Quillen, vice president of South State Contractors Inc., who was appointed to fill an unexpired term. They face challenger Pam Botta, a retired teacher from Greeneville City Schools and an adjunct professor at Walters State Community College.

INFORMATION FOR VOTERS

Those voting will need to present a federal- or state-issued photo ID to cast a ballot.

Acceptable forms of identification are a Tennessee driver license with a photo, U.S. passport, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security photo ID, a photo ID issued by the federal government, U.S. military ID including a Veteran Identification Card and a Tennessee handgun carry permit with a photo.

The ID can be expired. College student ID cards and out-of-state photo IDs are not acceptable forms of identification.

A sample ballot for the Greeneville Municipal Election can be found on the Election Commission page on the Greene County government website at greenecountytngov.com.

The Election Commission can be found under the “Public Services” menu.

Additional information is available at govotetn.com.


Local_news
TI Group Automotive Systems Files Closure Notice

TI Group Automotive Systems LLC has filed a notice with the state that it plans to close its manufacturing facility in the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park by the end of the year.

The company filed a notice on July 25 about the planned closure, which is required by Tennessee’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act. That act requires employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of plant closing, mass layoffs and/or sale of a business.

“TI Group Automotive Systems LLC has filed an official WARN Notice with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, notifying the agency of permanent closure and layoffs which will begin September 20, 2019, and continue through December 2019,” the notice posted on the department’s website states.

The closure will affect 67 employees, according to the notice.

The Northeast Local Workforce Development Area rapid response team, employed by the Alliance for Business and Training Inc., has been notified to coordinate dislocated worker services with the employer and affected employees, the notice said.

The Northeast Local Workforce Development Board will be responsible for the oversight of the continued follow up of Rapid Response and Dislocated Worker services associated with this event.

TI Group’s corporate headquarters did not respond to a request for comment.

The plant, which manufactures fuel pumps and modules, opened in the industrial park in 1996 as a Bundy Corporation facility. Though the company’s name was changed in 1999, the plant’s ownership did not change, as Bundy is part of the TI Group.

The plant has had as many as 400 employees in the past, and what it manufactures has changed over the years. It previously also produced brake and fuel-line components.


Local_news
Post-Conviction Hearing Set For James Douglas Black

A post-conviction relief hearing for a man convicted in the 2012 murders of a Cocke County couple was set for Dec. 2 before Circuit Court Judge Alex E. Pearson in Greene County Criminal Court.

James Douglas Black, 56, was convicted in January 2017 by a Greene County jury of the first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murders of Cortney A. Thompson and Terrance L. Stewart in March 2012.

The bodies of the longtime companions who lived together in Newport were found on the morning of March 11, 2012, near a gravel access road under the Newport Highway bridge close to the Cocke County line.

Black, also of Cocke County, was among four people convicted of murder in connection with their deaths. He received concurrent life sentences from Judge John F. Dugger Jr. on the crimes.

On Wednesday, Dugger set the December post-conviction hearing date for Black in Greene County Criminal Court.

Dugger also assigned Greeneville lawyer Brandon A. Potter to represent Black.

State Department of Correction records show that the earliest possible date Black could be released on parole is in 2070, when he would be 105 years old.

Trial testimony showed that robbery to get money for drugs was the motive of Black, who also sought revenge for the theft of about $4,000 from his father on March 10, 2012. The defendants and the victims knew each other and used drugs together before the killings.

Prosecution testimony showed that Stewart and Thompson were shot in the head by Black, who was sitting in the back seat of Thompson’s car with two others as Thompson drove toward Greeneville on the Newport Highway.

The state Court of Criminal Appeals reviewed an appeal by Black and issued a ruling in August 2018. Black asserted in his appeal that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions.

The appellate panel affirmed those convictions, but found the first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony convictions reflecting two different theories of the murder should be merged. Black was also convicted of first-degree murder in perpetration of a robbery.

In all, Black was convicted by the jury of six counts of first-degree murder for playing a central role in the deaths of Stewart and Thompson.

The six counts run concurrent in the life sentence imposed by Dugger. The appellate judges cited case law in concluding that when a defendant is convicted under two alternative theories for the same offense, “the greater charge stands and the guilty verdict on the lesser charge merges into the greater charge.”

The ruling authored by appellate Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer notes that while the sentences for the six convictions are concurrent, “none of the counts are merged.”

“We affirm the trial court’s judgments (and) remand the the case for merger” of two of the three counts each in the murders of Stewart and Thompson to the trial court for correction.

The cases of two co-defendants of Black charged with first-degree murder were also resolved in January 2017 with plea agreements.

Tabitha N. Whitlock, 39, who listed a Mosheim address after her March 2012 arrest, entered a guilty plea before Dugger to first-degree murder and received a prison sentence of 16 years. She must serve the entire sentence without chance of parole.

Teresa Miller, 57, of Newport, entered a guilty plea to facilitation of felony first-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison at 30 percent release eligibility.

Christopher Allen Jones, 38, of Newport, was also charged with first-degree murder in March 2012. On the eve of his trial in January 2015, Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced by Dugger to a 35-year prison term.

Black remains held in TDOC’s maximum security Special Needs Facility in Nashville.


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