Two inmates face contraband charges at Cocke County Jail

Two Cocke County Jail inmates face new charges after they were recently strip-searched by corrections officers.

Officer Travis Mullins said he searched Spencer Grooms, 29, Keener Road, Cosby, and Kyle Valentine, 28, Easy Street, Newport, and found a tan, sandy substance on both men.

The substance is believed to be heroin. Both men are charged with the introduction of contraband into a penal institution.

Newport ETHRA to host free legal clinic Jan. 23

Attorneys with Legal Aid of East Tennessee will be at the Newport ETHRA office 10 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 23 for a free legal clinic during which qualifying seniors will have the opportunity to meet privately with an attorney.

Qualifying seniors may receive legal advice, representation, or preparation of legal documents, free of charge.

To schedule an appointment to meet with an attorney at this clinic, call 423-623-7296, ext. 4. The ETHRA office is located at 440 Eastern Plaza Shopping Center, beside Ruble’s Barber Shop.

Rafting numbers increase in Cocke County

The Cocke County whitewater rafting industry on the Pigeon River had another good year in 2019.

Cocke County Clerk Jan Brockwell says a total of 225,651 rafters took the trip down the river with 11 whitewater companies. That’s more than 3,000 rafters more than in 2018.

The customers paid a total of $375,568 dollars with the $2.00 per person rafting fee. In addition, the whitewater companies paid the county a total of $5,550 in permit fees, bringing the economic impact to $381,068.

Smoky Mountains Outdoors had the most customers with 69,230 rafters and brought in a total of $115,478 for the county.

The industry also benefits the community through additional visitors who spend money at other local businesses.

Auto seat maker eyes $24M Tennessee expansion, 330 new jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An automotive seat manufacturer is planning a $23.5 million expansion in Tennessee expected to create 330 new jobs.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development says the project involves expanding the Adient manufacturing facility in Lexington.

Adient is making its second significant investment in Henderson County in the last two years. In 2018, officials announced a $10.8 million investment there with 200 more jobs.

The company says it supplies 23 million seat sets annually and works with all major automakers and vehicle classes.

Adient has 83,000 employees in 35 countries, with 220 manufacturing or assembly plants worldwide.

Program for first-time mothers receives $5M grant

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A grant to East Tennessee State University totaling nearly $5 million will provide nurse home visit services for first-time mothers living in poverty in nine counties.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services awarded the grant to the university’s Nurse-Family Partnership program, the school said in a news release. The program provides services to women in Johnson, Carter, Unicoi, Washington, Sullivan, Hawkins, Hancock, Greene and Cocke counties.

The program provides service for mothers from prenatal care through the child’s age of 2 years.

The program is free to low-income, pregnant, first-time moms in the participating counties.

2 children shot 1 day after boy fatally wounded in Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Two children were shot and taken to a hospital in critical condition one day after a 10-year-old boy was fatally shot in the same Tennessee city.

A boy and a girl were wounded Monday night in Memphis, according to a tweet from the city’s police department. Both were taken to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for treatment.

Police haven’t released any information on a suspect.

This is the second case of a child being shot in Memphis in as many days. A 10-year-old boy was wounded Sunday and police said Monday morning that he had died.

The Memphis Police Department confirmed the death Monday morning in a tweet and said there was an ongoing homicide investigation. The agency did not release the boy’s name.

Police said they were called to a location in Memphis around 6 p.m. Sunday, found the child wounded and took him to the hospital.

Authorities say they are looking for a man in a white Nissan Altima or Infiniti with a black front bumper. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

No further information was immediately release.

Former inmate shares message of transformation on MLK Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Cyntoia Brown-Long, who was released from prison in August, shared a message of transformation, appreciation and motivation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Brown-Long engaged in a wide-ranging discussion Monday with Judge Richard Dinkins at the state museum in Nashville, The Tennessean reported.

Championed by celebrities as a symbol of unfair sentencing, Brown-Long was released last year from the Tennessee Prison for Women, where she had been serving a life sentence for killing a man who had picked her up for sex at 16.

Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg and LeBron James had lobbied for her release, calling her a sex trafficking victim. She was granted clemency last January by outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, who cited her rehabilitation behind bars and youth at the time of the crime.

Dinkins frequently tied Brown-Long’s experience with the work and message of King.

“Martin Luther King had a social justice ministry,” he said. “You are here about social justice.”

Brown-Long said King’s message was to get people to see one another.

“For so much of my life, I had never felt seen,” she said.

She said that as she went through the criminal justice system, many prosecutors and judges did not see her as a person and she wants to help others in similar circumstances who are still incarcerated.

“I want them to see that I’m not just, you know, some miraculous occurrence. There are thousands of people who are just like me in there.”

Brown-Long later told reporters that she was working on legislation with state Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, that would help juveniles.