TBI Busts Alleged Human Traffickers in Blount County

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) busted seven men in connection with human trafficking, according to the agency’s website. 

“Over a two-day period beginning August 4th, as part of an undercover investigation aimed at addressing human trafficking in East Tennessee, authorities placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases,” according to TBI. “The focus of the operation was to identify individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors. As a result of the operation, authorities arrested seven men.”

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Governor Lee Announces Amazon Expansion in East Tennessee

Amazon will establish its eighth fulfillment center in East Tennessee, creating 800 full-time employees “to engage with advanced robotics.” Governor Bill Lee issued the announcement on Wednesday in a joint press release with Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Bob Rolfe, and Amazon spokespersons.

Located in the city of Alcoa, the distribution center will overtake property that was once a local golf course by Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway. According to a press release issued by the county’s development cooperative, Blount Partnership, employees will receive a starting wage of $15 an hour with full benefits and other perks, including 20 weeks of maternal and parental paid leave. 

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Blount County Mayor Shares Comparison of Mask and No-Mask Counties in Tennessee

Mayor of Blount County Ed Mitchell took to Facebook last week sharing a comparison of how Tennessee counties have fared under mask and no-mask mandates.

Blount County, which is not under a mask mandate by Mitchell, has Maryville as its county seat and largest city.  It lies in Tennessee’s eastern grand division adjacent to Knox and Sevier counties, both of which have mask mandates in place.

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Law Enforcement Announces More TennCare Arrests in Knox, Williamson, and Blount Counties

  Tennessee officials have arrested more people on charges of TennCare fraud. According to a press release, authorities with the Office of Inspector General and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office charged a Loudon County woman in Knox County with doctor shopping for prescription drugs and using TennCare as payment for the pills. Authorities arrested April L. Finger, 45, of Loudon (pictured, right). “An investigation led to the identification of five different instances in which Ms. Finger failed to disclose to her medical providers that she had been receiving prescriptions for the painkillers hydrocodone and Tramadol from other providers, using TennCare as payment,” according to a press release. “A review by the Knox County District Attorney’s Office led to criminal charges for three counts of TennCare fraud.” District Attorney General Charme P. Allen is prosecuting, according to the press release. OIG officials along with members of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office this week announced the arrest of Jamie M. Frisell, 51, of Greenback (not pictured). Authorities charged the Blount County woman with TennCare fraud and theft of services more than $60,000. “Authorities say she falsely reported her income and marital status for the purpose of enrolling in the taxpayer-funded insurance program,” according to…

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The Would-Be ‘State of Franklin’ That Never Officially Existed

The United States Constitution does, of course, contain guidelines as to how a territory may enter the Union as a full-fledged state on an equal footing with all previously-existing states.  The last time that any new states were added to the United States was in the year 1959 when Alaska became the nation’s 49th state and Hawaii became the country’s 50th state. Specifically, the U.S. Constitution’s Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 — which requires only a simple majority vote — reads: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.” There has been recent chatter about admitting Puerto Rico into the Union as the nation’s 51st state. As the Constitution was not written until 1787 — and, once written, did not take effect until the following year — the procedure outlined within the still-in-force Articles of Confederation would have remained applicable to admission of news states up to…

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SCCY Firearms Relocating to Tennessee

Tennessee Star

  SCCY Firearms is relocating to Tennessee, according to a report in NRA magazine Shooting Illustrated. The handgun manufacturer announced last week that it would move from Daytona Beach, Florida to Maryville in Blount County in East Tennessee. SCCY will be housed in a 150,000-square-foot plant on a 68-acre campus. The staff size will increase to 350. The first phase of construction is set to be completed in the first half of 2018. “We needed more space to make those guns,” company founder and CEO Joe Roebuck told reporters. “So when we come to Tennessee, there’s actually two more additional product lines coming that we don’t currently manufacture and sell today.” Begun in 2003 as a small company, SCCY later grew to the point that last year it projected $30 million in sales. SCCY touts its product as the “king of concealed carry.” Plans for the Tennessee location include an outdoor shooting range, a lodge for visiting VIPs and gun writers and five main production and shipping buildings. “I’m gonna keep a small footprint back in Florida, but I’m moving my headquarters here,” Roebuck said. Last year, Italian gunmaker Beretta opened a plant north of Nashville in Gallatin with plans to employ…

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Blount County Veteran Honored With Quilt of Valor

  A 93-year-old Blount County veteran was given a quilt last month to honor his military service, an award bestowed by a national nonprofit organization. The quilt was the handiwork of Quilts of Valor, which started in 2003. “Boy that means a lot, it means a lot,” said Ray Garner after receiving his quilt at the Blount County Courthouse, according to WBIR Channel 10 in Knoxville. A Purple Heart recipient, Garner served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His name is on the World War II Battle of the Bulge monument outside the Blount County Courthouse. Quilts of Valor was founded by Catherine Roberts, whose son was deployed to Iraq, according to the group’s website. The group originally focused on honoring those wounded in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first quilt was awarded in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq. A Walter Reed chaplain welcomed the group because his wife happened to be a quilter. In 2009 in Bellingham, Washington, a group of Quilts of Valor volunteers who got together for a quilting retreat looked for veterans of Iraq and…

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