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Rogersville
District attorney says Bill Creasy violated plea agreement by running for constable seat

William “Bill” Creasy resigned his position as District 1 constable in April of 2019 after being indicted on official misconduct charges, but he won the Aug. 6, 2020 constable race with 72 votes as opposed to current constable Ryan Christian’s 71 votes.

However, District Attorney Dan Armstrong told the Review that his office filed a new motion in court this week alleging that Creasy has violated the plea deal he took in September of 2019 to reduce felony charges to misdemeanors.

If Judge John Duggar grants Armstrong’s office this motion, Creasy will not be allowed to assume the constable position on Sept. 1 and will face further legal ramifications.

Creasy elected in 2018, resigns in 2019

Bill Creasy was elected District 1 constable in August of 2018 to represent the Allandale and Mount Carmel communities and was scheduled to officially take office on Sept. 1 of that year.

However, on Aug. 15, 2018, Creasy conducted a traffic stop with blue lights on a man who resides in his neighborhood.

As a result, a Hawkins County grand jury indicted him on charges of official misconduct and official oppression in February of 2019. Both of which are Class E felonies punishable by one to two years.

In April of 2019, Creasy resigned from his position as constable. In June of 2019, the County Commission then appointed Ryan Christian to fill the position until the next county general election (this year).

Whoever won the race in this year’s election would have only served the remainder of Creasy’s term, which would have ended on August 31, 2022.

On Aug. 30 of 2019, Creasy appeared in Hawkins County Criminal Court, where he pleaded guilty to the reduced Class A misdemeanor charges of attempted official oppression and attempted official misconduct.

He was granted judicial diversion by Judge John Dugger, which means that, if Creasy completes the terms of probation on Aug. 30, 2020, his record can be expunged.

Armstrong told the Review that a condition of the plea agreement was that Creasy resign from office for the remainder of what would have been his term (ending in 2022).

“There was nothing that would have kept him from re-running at the end of this term in 2022 for that office again if he chose to,” Armstrong added.

District Attorney says Creasy violated plea agreement

“We believe that, in seeking to be a write-in candidate to fill the unexpired term from which he resigned as part of the plea agreement, is a violation of that plea agreement,” Armstrong told the Review. “Part of the plea agreement was, and the reason that we agreed to let him plea to the misdemeanors, was that he resigns from office. Obviously, that means he resigns the term of office. By presenting himself as a write-in to fill the unexpired term, he’s clearly violated our agreement. Therefore, we’re asking the court to set aside his diversion and to re-sentence him.”

If the court grants Armstrong’s motion, Creasy’s record will not be expunged when he completes the probationary period as it would have originally been. Duggar could also re-sentence Creasy.

“At the time that he (Duggar) granted Creasy’s diversion, he put Creasy on probation for a certain number of months (11 months and 29 days),” Armstrong said. “The judge can go back and say, ‘now I find you guilty,’ and ‘you have violated the judicial diversion’ and sentence him to jail.”

Administrator of Elections Crystal Rogers told the Review that, in this case, the County Commission would likely appoint someone to fill the unexpired constable term until the next election in 2022.

However, if the court denies the motion, Armstrong said, “there would be nothing to keep Creasy from becoming constable.” He would then take office Sept. 1 and fill out the rest of his original term, ending Aug. 31, 2022.

Creasy is set to appear before Duggar at the end of August.

“Take them on good faith”

Administrator of Elections Crystal Rogers told the Review that the issue regarding Creasy’s plea agreement is only between Creasy and the District Attorney’s office—not the election office.

“All we can do is take the person’s certificate of write-in on good faith,” Rogers said. “If he had been convicted of a felony, that information would have been sent to us, but, in this case, we have no record of him being convicted of any felony.”

Rogers added, “It is up to the write-in candidates to get their name out there and let people know that they are a write-in. Their name will not appear on the ballot, and we don’t put their name out there, and we can’t.”

Creasy claims charges are false

Creasy has said in published reports regarding the charges against him, “The charges against me were made up and totally false. This area has a lot of drug activity and with me having a dog trained in narcotics was a threat, so it was a way to get me out. Shortly after this happened, my neighbor was busted with close to two pounds of meth, so this is a real problem here as everywhere else. My record will be wiped clean of all this by the 20th of this month, so we are starting over with a clean plate. I look forward to helping my neighbors.”

However, Armstrong told the Review, “My response to that would be, if Mr. Creasy wants to go before the judge, undo the plea agreement completely and go to trial, we will be more than happy to do that.”


Covid19
Hawkins County Mayor extends mask mandate until Aug. 29

Hawkins County Mayor Jim Lee announced in a Wednesday afternoon press release that he will be extending the county-wide mask mandate until midnight on August 29.

“As positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise, most county residents that I have spoken to are requesting an extension on the mask mandate,” Lee said. “With Ballad Health halting admissions and elective surgeries at Hawkins County Memorial Hospital we all have to do our part in preventing the spread of this virus. Wearing a mask in public will help our economy by keeping businesses open.”

Lee initially enacted the mask mandate on July 17 and said at the time that he would revisit the idea within a month.

Since then, COVID-19 cases have only increased throughout the region. On July 17, there had been 124 cases in Hawkins County since the crisis began in March. As of August 12, that number had grown to 500.

As far as enforcing the mask mandate, Lee said in July, “The Governor’s order (to allow county mayors to choose whether or not to mandate masks) does allow for enforcement but our local law enforcement does not have the resources to enforce this order. I will not be asking our law enforcement to be burdened with chasing around citizens who don’t have a face mask. We expect that our local citizens will do what most have already been doing for the last few months. Wearing a mask in public will help our economy by keeping businesses open.”

As with his initial release, Lee listed Ballad Health’s decision to pause overnight admissions at Hawkins Memorial Hospital as a contributing factor to his decision.

“Ballad Health has put East Tennessee Mayors in a very complicated and controversial situation,” he said in his July release. “We had a wonderful hospital in Hawkins County with a great staff and best care you could get. We have lost a level 1 trauma center within an hour of the majority of the county, we have lost a helicopter in our fleet of available aircraft, and now we have lost the ability for patients to be hospitalized locally in Hawkins and Hancock County. The reason Ballad Health has trouble with staffing is they cannot retain staff. All this means is more work for our EMS, which is already struggling to survive.”

Lindy White, who is President of the Northwest Market for Ballad Health, told the Review when Ballad announced its decision that this is part of the “trigger surge plan” that is being implemented due to the recent increase in the number of local COVID-19 cases.

Lee’s decision to extend the mask mandate came just days after Hancock County Mayor Thomas Harrison did the same on August 3.


Rogersville
More candidates' names added to list for Nov. 3 municipal elections

ROGERSVILLE — The deadline for persons to file petitions of candidacy for the 2020 municipal elections in local towns and cities is noon, Thursday, Aug. 20, and since the Review’s last update, new candidates have tossed their hats into the ring.

Municipal elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3, along with the national and state elections.

As of the end of the day on Tuesday, here is the most current list of persons who have filed qualifying papers:

BEAN STATION (a portion of which is in Hawkins County; petitions are filed in Grainger County): Alderman, two seats: Jeffrey L. Atkins, Johnny Brooks, Patsy Winstead Harrell, and Ron Wonderly.

BULLS GAP — Alderman (two seats): Susan Williams and Gaylon Williams.

CHURCH HILL — Mayor: Kenny W. Lunsford, Jr., and Dennis W. Deal; Alderman-At-Large (three seats): Tom Kern, James Grigsby, Kathy Christian, and Gregory “Buck” Tipton.

MOUNT CARMEL — Mayor: Jennifer Lawson Williams, Pat Stilwell, John Keith Gibson, Tina S. Carico, and Larry Frost; Alderman-At-Large (three seats): Melinda Danielle Fleishour, Jim Bare, Tresa L. Mawk, Garrett A. White, Darby Patrick, and L. Paul Hale.

ROGERSVILLE CITY SCHOOL BOARD — Seats Three and Four: Todd Biggs, Reed Matney and Carol Carpenter Gibson.

SURGOINSVILLE — Alderman-At-Large (three seats): Warren C. Bishop, Rita Thompson, Randall L. Collier, and Bobby Jarnagin.

For information on qualifying, persons may contact Crystal Rogers, Administrator of Elections at the Hawkins Co. Election Commission, by phone at 423-272-8061, or by email at Hawkins.Commission@tn.gov.


Covid19
BREAKING NEWS: CHS student athlete tests positive for COVID-19

Director of Schools Matt Hixson announced late Wednesday evening that a Cherokee High School student athlete has tested positive for COVID-19.

“The student last attended an athletics event on August 8,” Hixson said in the press release. “The student was following all health and safety protocols developed by the Northeast Tennessee Athletic Administrators, Regional Health Officials, and the TSSAA. Other students, who came into contact with this student, have been contacted and are currently self-quarantining.”

This is a developing story and will be regularly updated online as more information becomes available.


Brady Forgety, son of Becky McMahan and Chris Forgety (not pictured)


Rogersville
Aftershock measuring 2.9 felt in North Carolina following Sunday''s 5.1 temblor

ROGERSVILLE — As predicted by the U.S. Geological Survey, an aftershock measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale was felt in northwestern North Carolina and northeast Tennessee on Tuesday, following Sunday’s larger 5.1-magnitude temblor that rattled dishes in cabinets up to 90 miles away around 8:07 a.m. on Aug. 9.

Sunday’s quake happened along the North Carolina-Virginia state line about 2.5 miles southeast of Sparta, NC, in Alleghany County, or about 80 miles E/NE of Rogersville, according to the USGS.

The earlier quake, which was the strongest to occur in North Carolina since a 5.5 magnitude quake happened near Asheville in 1916, was at a depth of about two miles.

The moderate quake was the sixth in that area in a 25-hour span, the USGS said. A series of smaller quakes began about 7:05 a.m. on Saturday, the strongest of which was a 2.6 magnitude tremor that struck about two miles south of Sparta at 1:57 a.m. Sunday.

Sunday’s quake was felt as far south as Augusta, Georgia, and as far north as Staunton, Virginia, including by residents of Hawkins and Hancock counties in NE Tennessee.

According to the USGS, when multiple quakes occur in a small region, the chance of a larger earthquake is greater.

Tuesday’s event, which occured about 3:45 p.m., was in the same area at a depth of about one mile.

North Carolina does not have active fault zones, but Sarah Carmichael, an associate geology professor at Appalachian State University, said in published reports that small quakes in the state are “associated with very old faults that formed during the building of the Appalachian mountains.”

“The faults themselves aren’t active anymore in terms of tectonics, but as the North American plate moves/shifts with time and builds up stress, these little faults will be the things that can move a bit to diffuse some of the stress on the plate,” Carmichael told the Winston Salem Journal.