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News
Missing child comes from a family with previous troubles

The father of missing child Summer Wells has a history of drinking and domestic violence.

According to a warrant filed in General Sessions Court in Hawkins County on Oct. 15, 2020, Candus Bly of Rogersville called authorities to report a domestic assault by her husband Donald Wells.

When Deputy Kyle Shively of the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the couple’s home on Ben Hill Road, Wells had left the property, so he began to speak with Bly and two witnesses. When another deputy warned Shively that Wells’ white GMC Sonoma was coming up the drive, Shively said “family members” expressed fear and said there was a firearm in the truck.

Shively detained Wells in the driveway and said he detected a strong odor of alcohol, and apparently had to pick Wells up from the ground.

Wells allegedly admitted to a firearm in the truck, but said it was a black powder pistol. The weapon was soon located.

Wells also reportedly admitted to having felony charges in Utah.

When Shively spoke with Bly and the two witnesses, Jose Roman and Candace Harer, Bly said Wells came home drunk, and when he saw Roman in the house, accused Bly of infidelity. Wells allegedly began to struggle with both Roman and Bly, and she was pushed down, injuring her left knee. Bly and the other witnesses said Wells began punching himself in the face and then left.

Wells was arrested and in April of this year pled guilty to possession of a firearm while under the influence.

Charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and domestic assault were dismissed due to failure to prosecute. He was given supervised probation for one year and ordered to perform 96 hours of community service. His weapon was forfeited to the sheriff’s department.

Bly also filed for an order of protection for herself and four children on Oct. 13, 2020, but later withdrew the petition.

Wells was also charged with being a fugitive from justice for an out-of-state parole violation in 2001.

Wells’ and Bly’s 5-year-old daughter disappeared from their house on June 15 and authorities have been searching for her since then. They have not identified a suspect or a suspect vehicle in the incident.

This week authorities instituted roadblocks in the area to ask passing motorists if they have seen Summer.

Donald Wells has appeared on local media pleading for help in finding Summer.


News
County continues to wrestle with medical building issues

A deed first drawn up 26 years ago is continuing to be problematic for county officials.

The public buildings committee of the Hawkins County Commission met Tuesday to discuss the issue of property first obtained by the county in 1958 and later given to Hawkins County Memorial Hospital in order to build a hospital. That quitclaim deed included a reversionary clause that the approximately 10-acre parcel would revert to the county if it ever ceased to be used for anything other than a hospital, or was sold to anyone else. That deed is dated 1995.

A hospital was then built, and sold in 2000 to Wellmont Hawkins County Memorial Hospital.

In 2000 Wellmont Health System also committed $6 million to build a medical office building on the property.

That building was erected in 2007. Dr. Sachdev, the current lessor of the building, is now seeking to sell his lease and has asked the commission to revoke its reversionary clause, saying through his attorney that the clause impedes his ability to sell the lease.

In the public buildings meeting Tuesday, attorney Joel Conkin, representing Dr. Ranjan Sachdev, referred to it as a “cloud on the title.”

It should be noted that Dr. Sachdev is not attempting to sell the land on which the medical office building sits, but the lease (and presumably any existing debt) on the building itself. He has no right to the land itself, which is still owned by Wellmont, which has now merged into Ballad Health Services.

According to Hawkins County Property Assessor David Pearson, the value of the building based on the 2020 re-appraisal is $2,299,100. The value of the property it sits on was $389,100 in 2016.

County Mayor Jim Lee expressed concern about the wording of the reversionary clause itself. He said he had been told that the only facilities being used in the hospital today are the emergency room and five hospital beds.

“We don’t have a hospital here now,” he said.

Lee, who vetoed an earlier vote by the commission to revoke the reversionary clause, told the committee, “We’re just digging ourselves a hole.”

“Why won’t they [the unnamed potential buyers of the building] just go ahead and buy it?” asked Committee Chair Rick Brewer. “I’m not gonna give away taxpayer property.”

Although no one on the committee was willing to make a motion to bring the issue before the full commission again, Commissioner Valerie Goins said she had already asked for the issue to be on the agenda for Monday night’s meeting.


Community
Local group plans Holston River history exhibit
Readers’ historic photos requested

Got any historic photos of life along the Holston River lying in your attic somewhere?

If so, a Hawkins County group planning a Holston River history exhibit would love to see them.

“The Holston River stretches all the way from one end of Hawkins County to the other,” Bill Kornrich, who is the project manager, told the Review. “That’s why we have named the project ‘The Holston: It’s Your River, Hawkins County.’”

As the Review previously reported, official plans are starting to come together for the planned Surgoinsville Area Archives and Museum (SAAM), which will be located in the basement of the current Surgoinsville Library. One of the main attractions in the museum is set to be this thorough exhibit on life along the Holston River through the years.

Though much of the local exhibit is already in the works, the designers still need more old photos to complete it.

The group already has many photos of wildlife, kayaking, and scenic views, but they need photos of historic events such as ferries across the river, logging, produce being transported to Knoxville on the river, or baptisms in the river.

Creating a design

The local exhibit is being created by a subcommittee of seven members from CARE NET CCC, which stands for Care Northeast Tennessee Community Conservation Committee. This is an organization focused on “protecting, preserving and enjoying nature and the environment in East Tennessee,” and they are a branch of the Sierra Club.

The project came about after the group received a $2,500 grant from Humanities Tennessee to create a local history exhibit.

“Since Care NET is interested in clean air and clean water, this seemed like the most natural topic in the world,” Kornrich said. “It is really an extension of the work we are already doing by trying to clean up litter from the river.”

It’s Your River, Hawkins County

The exhibit will consist of six, 7x3 ft. self-standing panels along with a large map that will show the way the Holston River flows through the county and all of its small offshoots and creeks.

The aforementioned small group is creating all of the display’s text after months of historical research. They have also already gathered many old photographs, newspaper articles and letters. Some of the photos used in the exhibit will be from the Review’s own Randy Ball.

One particularly interesting piece of information the group found was a graphic from a 1930s edition of the Review which shows the parts of Hawkins County that were to be covered by Cherokee Lake once the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed a portion of the Holston River.

They also pulled information from a Review fishing column which ran for decades.

Kornrich noted that this was particularly interesting because fishermen now are advised by the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation to consume only one fish per month or, in some cases, no fish due to potential Mercury contamination.

The group has also documented the ever-present litter problem that plagues portions of the river. Members of Care Net CCC are all too familiar with this issue, as they regularly host river clean up projects each year. Kornrich also often kayaks along the Holston, and, during one trip counted around 250 tires that had been dumped into the river in just a four-mile stretch.

The exhibit will also include an interactive portion, which will allow visitors to add a marker to the map to represent the location of their home.

“A lot of people in this county live near a creek, and this exhibit will give them an idea of where their creek eventually enters the Holston River,” Kornrich said.

Visitors will also be given a pamphlet with further information to read along while viewing the exhibit.

Though this local exhibit will be housed inside SAAM, it will be portable and available for community at no charge.

How can you help?

Kornrich told the Review that the group currently has many contemporary photos that capture both the beauty and the unfortunate pollution of the river.

“What we don’t have are photos that go back a ways,” he said.

For example, Kornrich noted that the group would love to find photos of the ferries that transported travelers’ cars across the river in years past.

“I’ve seen a photo or two of those ferries in a book, but we would much prefer to find photos from someone who might remember it from growing up,” he said.

The group also discovered through their research that agricultural produce was often transported by ferry from the river bottoms in Hawkins County all the way to the Knoxville area, and logs were sent all the way to Chattanooga.

“The Holston River went all the way down into Knoxville, joined the Tennessee River, and went down to Chattanooga,” Kornrich explained.

The group would also love to find a photo of the Cherokee Indian weir that is sometimes visible from the Hugh B. Day Bridge.

An article from Smokey Mountain Living Magazine explains that “fish weirs are structures built within a stream or river or at the edge of tidal lagoons designed to route fish either to a particular area, like shallows or into a trap where they can be captured.” They were often used by Cherokee tribes, and the most common form of weir in the Southern Appalachians is a “V” shaped rock wall. There are at least three weirs along the Lower Holston River in Tennessee, which can be found at Cherokee Dam, Indian Cave and Nance’s Ferry.

“When you go over the Hugh B. Day bridge, at certain times of the year in low water, you can look down and to the West, you can see a pattern of some rocks that Native Americans made in the river,” Kornrich said.

Baptism ceremonies were also commonly held in the waters of the Holston River.

“It’s just like the old hymn ‘Down to the River to Pray,’” Kornrich said. “People know that hymn, but that was also part of church life here for those who were baptised. We’ve been looking around for photos of those, but we’ve just not found any. If we could find someone who is willing to let us use that photo in the exhibit, it would be very valuable.”

A traveling exhibit

In addition to the exhibit featuring local history, a traveling exhibit entitled “Tennessee Waters: Shaping Our Land, Our Lives, and Our Future” to be set up in three locations in the county:

September 1 — 15 Surgoinsville Library and Surgoinsville Area Museum

September 16 — 30 Depot and Printing Museum in Rogersville

October 1 — 15 Church Hill Library

This is a panel exhibit that has traveled around the entire state and is provided by Humanities Tennessee, the Tennessee Historical Society, and the Albert Gore Research Center. While the Tennessee Waters exhibit will provide residents the opportunity to learn more about Tennessee waterways and the many benefits that our rivers provide, the Holston River exhibit will focus specifically on Hawkins County’s river.

If you or someone you know has a photo you would like to contribute to the exhibit, contact Kornrich at bkornrich@gmail.com or 423-300-8764.


News
Lunch Box to distribute local meals starting July 1

The Lunch Box, a local summer feeding program for children, announces its sponsorship of the 2020 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Human Services under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Meals will be provided to all children without charge and the child must be present to pick up the meal. Due to the restrictions on closed contact the meals will be available for pickup only. Acceptance and participation requirements for

the program and all activities are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. There will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Beginning on July 1, through July 31, meals will

be provided at the sites and times as follows:

Walk-In:

•Shepherd’s Center, 306 E. Main Street @ 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Rogersville Bus Route

•Arrowhead/Brown Drive, 2013 Brown Drive @ 10:30 a.m. – 10:45 p.m.

•Terrace Apts., 801 W. Broadway @ 10:55 a.m. – 11:05 a.m.

•Locust Circle (Trent Lane) @ 11:10 p.m. – 11:25 p.m.

•Harmon Drive, Harmon Street @ 11:35 p.m. – 11:50 p.m.

•Swift Park, Hasson Street @ 12 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.

•Fugate Hill, 623 Watterson Street @ 12:25 p.m. – 12:40 p.m.

•Carters Crossing MHP, 416 Carters Valley @ 12:55 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.

•Big Creek MHP, 207 Carters Valley Loop @ 1:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

•Dylan Heights, 215 Stanley Valley Rd @ 1:40 p.m. – 1:55 p.m.

•Rogersville City Park, 1:10 p.m. – 1:40 p.m.

Church Hill Van Route:

•Stoney Point MHP, 2901 Main Street, Surgoinsville @ 10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

•Church Hill Apts., 914 Holliston Mills Rd @10:55 p.m. – 11:05 p.m.

•Hickory Hills Apartments, 370 Silver Lake Rd @ 11:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

•Providence Church, 710 Ordinance Drive @11:40 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

•Rolling Hill MHP, 4733 Carters Valley Road @ 12:25 p.m. – 12:40 p.m.

•Hidden Acres, 5127 Carters Valley Road @ 12:50 p.m. – 1:05 p.m.

•Frosty Acres, 244 Shipley Road @ 1:10 p.m. – 1:25 p.m.

•Cross Roads MHP, 233 Payne Ridge Road @ 1:35 p.m. – 1:50 a.m.

•Country Lane, 2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

The Lunch Box goes into neighborhoods and feeds children 18 and under free of charge.

If you wish to donate to the Lunch Box you may drop off at Of One Accord, 306 E. Main Street, Rogersville, TN 37857 or mail to OOA Lunch box, P. O. Box 207, Rogersville, TN 37857.


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