Truck hauling 35,000 pounds of M&Ms overturns

KNOXVILLE (AP) — A truck hauling about 35,000 pounds (15,876 kilograms) of M&M candies overturned on a Tennessee highway Friday morning, a Department of Transportation official confirmed.

The semitrailer crashed on Interstate 40 near Knoxville around 5:30 a.m., news outlets reported. One of the ramps in the area was expected to be closed for several hours as emergency crews responded and others cleaned up, Mark Nagi, community relations officer for the agency, said on Twitter. Nagi followed up with a photo of dozens of cardboard boxes filled with packaged M&Ms sitting among the debris.

The agency didn’t say if anyone was injured in the crash.

Newport Grammar closed due to illness

Newport Grammar School cancelled classes for Thursday and Friday because of the large number of sick students and staff.

Sandra Burchette, director of Cocke County schools, says Newport Grammar School, which has an enrollment of 719, typically has 30 to 40 students absent because of illness.

“We had 80 students out on Tuesday and 86 on Wednesday, and the school nurse sent several home from school each day,” Burchette said. “This will give our custodians time to do a thorough cleaning.”

The director of schools says large number of absentees is mostly the result of the flu and a stomach virus.

Woman gets eight years probation

A woman who pleaded guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine in Hamblen County Criminal Court on Wednesday – like most others who in recent months have admitted guilt to that offense, avoided a prison sentence, according to court documents.

Cheyenne Coburn, 28, was sentenced to eight years in the probation-like community-corrections program. Coburn also pleaded guilty to simple possession of Suboxone, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal impersonation. Criminal Court Judge John F. Dugger Jr. imposed $3,100 in fines.

James Anthony Bastain, 30, pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and was sentenced to serve 250 days of a two-year sentence.

Benjamin Christopher Carter, 20, was sentenced to 11 months, 29 days of supervised probation and fined $100 after he pleaded guilty to attempted facilitation of burglary. Michael Patterson, 40, pleaded guilty to theft under $1,000. He was sentenced to 11 months, 29 days of supervised probation.

Dandridge man injured when truck crashes into store

A Dandridge man sustained a minor injury on Wednesday when a pickup truck crashed into NAPA Auto Parts store on West Broadway in Newport, according to police.

Newport Sgt. Billy Woody said David Brooks, 54, was standing inside the store at 3:13 p.m. when a Ford pickup driven by Tommy Wiley, 70, Newport, hit the building. Items on an interior wall shelf struck Brooks causing a minor arm injury. He was examined at the Newport Medical Center for a minor injury caused by a plastic gas can, according to Woody.

Wiley said he was parking outside the store when his foot slipped off the brake pedal and landed on the gas pedal. The truck did not enter the building, but caused an estimated $10,000 in damage.

Man charged after spitting on deputy

A would-be Cocke County burglar, who reportedly has hepatitis C, allegedly spat on a Newport officer during his arrest on Wednesday, authorities say.

Newport Sgt. Donald Coakley reported Corey Hazelwood, 29, Overlook Way, Newport, was captured on video surveillance behind Newport Internal Medicine on Murray Drive, trying to break into the building. He also allegedly vandalized an outdoor storage container.

Later Wednesday, Coakley spotted Hazelwood on White Oak Avenue and took him into custody. But inside the cruiser, the defendant began to scream and he attempted to kick out the cruiser windows. The officer said he turned his lights and siren and sped to the jail as quickly as possible.

After they arrived, the suspect twice spat on Coakley before he was fitted with a spit mask, according to a warrant, which charges Hazelwood with aggravated assault, theft, two counts vandalism and a violation of probation.

Christmas celebration planned for GSMNP

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

The free festival will include mountain music, traditional shape-note singing, mountain craft demonstrations, carolers, and a living history walk. Visitors are encouraged to take part in mountain traditions including hands-on activities and make-and-take crafts. Hot apple cider will be served throughout the day.

Park volunteers and staff have created a new, immersive experience in which visitors are invited to journey through holiday traditions over the last 100 years. Creative displays and exhibits can be found throughout the visitor center representing several decades of Christmas toys, decorations, and pastimes. These displays will be on exhibit until Jan. 5.

As part of the event, the popular Christmas Memories Walk will be held at 1 p.m. Costumed interpreters will bring the history of the Smokies to life as they shed light on significant moments leading to the park’s establishment.

NU approves five new concrete water tanks

The Newport Utilities Board gave its approval Thursday to the addition of five new concrete water tanks, added to the 14 concrete and steel tanks already in place. The tanks will be paid off over a number of years with this year’s cost totaling $50,000.

The board was told that 2,878 customers now have signed up for broadband service, 26 percent of all customers. The utility has a goal of signing up 45 percent of its customer base. Board member Jeff Fancher suggested that the utility do more to promote the cost savings of NU Connect over other providers that have been in the community for several years.

The board agreed to delay implementation of the wireless project, which is to provide broadband to an area from Point Pleasant to Irish Cut. The 125-foot poles will be located at 22 transmission sites. The utility hopes to have 5,500 customers receiving wireless broadband. The transmission towers will also be available for lease by cell phone providers.

The utility’s procurement department has taken on the task of purchasing items, which in the past was handled by a third-party firm. That move is expected to save the utility $96,000 annually.

Sheriff’s Department warns of scam

The Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department is warning local residents not to fall for a check scam that has been reported multiple times in recent weeks.

Detective Sgt. David Stapleton says the hook is a $2,450 cashier’s check that arrives in the mail as part of a “secret survey” conducted by a real estate agent. The recipient is instructed to deposit the check and keep $450. The recipient is directed to load the remaining $2,000 onto an eBay card and forward it to another address, according to Stapleton.

Two or three weeks later, the check is returned for sufficient funds and the scam victim is out $2,450, according to the detective, who says “a couple” of Hamblen County residents have been taken.

“If people receive a check in the mail on anything, they do not need to cash the check because it’s a scam,” Stapleton said.