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WDEF News 12 - Local News
Updated: 36 min 58 sec ago

TBI Needs Your Help to Crack a Cold Case in Marion County

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 9:00pm
(WDEF) The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation needs your help to identify an elderly woman found dead seven years ago at the entrance to Foster Falls State Park in Marion County.
        Agents hope someone who sees her description may recognize her, since efforts to determine who she was since her body was found in February 2007 have not yet led to her identity.
        The woman stood between 5’2” to 5’5” tall and weighed between 110 and 120 pounds.
        She had reddish-brown shoulder-length hair and hazel eyes.
        She appears to have been in her mid to late 60s.
        Medical examiners say she had a golf ball-sized tumor on the right side of her neck, and a hernia that protruded from her stomach.
        When she was found, the victim was wearing a light pink turtleneck, a pink sweater, a purple skirt, beige panty hose and a blue fur-lined coat.
        Anyone with information about this woman’s identity is encouraged to call the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

EPB Say Latest Report Shows Offsetting Costs Cancel Out Their Overbilling To The City Over The Past 7 Years

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:16pm
CHATTANOOGA,TN, (WDEF)-EPB say they gave accountants Mauldin and Jenkins thousands of  documents including TVA rate documents, process information and city of Chattanooga power bills going back 7 years.

Their report shows that EPB overbilled the city 1.5 million dollars.

Harold DePriest, CEO of EPB,"This is not some drama pitting us against the city, both we and the city want are going to have the same goal in this, the city will want to pay only for what they used and nothing more, we have the same goal we want them to pay for what they used and nothing more"

However  they say when factoring in services they underbilled including maintenance charges they only actually over-billed 17000 dollars.

City Council's Larry Grohn says there needs to be more clarity on one of those under-billed services, line loss, which comes to just over 600,000 dollars.

"That 5% power shortage charge is only for metered lights, the vast majority of the city's lights are not metered, that in itself means it should not even be included"

EPB claims they are being slowed down while trying to work with Mayor Berke's team due to a lawsuit by Global Green Lighting CEO Don Lepard.

Harold DePriest, EPB CEO,"A lawsuit by one individual, its not by the city of East Ridge or Redbank, this is one individual, we think it is without merit."

Lepard says EPB had plenty of time long before his lawsuit was filed to deal with the city's overcharging confusion.

Don Lepard, Entrepreneur and CEO of Global Green Lighting, "When we say the continuous of the reporting of the offsetting charges we just felt that it was necessary for us to bring forward what we knew and that is that there is no offsetting charge, there was an over-charge."

EPB added this latest report while differing to city auditor Stan Sewell's they say shows transparency and accountability on their part.

Mayor Berke declined to comment on camera or discuss the topic in-depth but added he would welcome more conclusions not just reports.

Police: 'Man who attacked runner is still at large'

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:46pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Chattanooga police are looking for a man accused sexually assaulted an elderly runner in North Chattanooga.

It happened Monday morning around 7:30 on West Mississippi Avenue.

News about the assault sent shock-waves through the North Chattanooga community.

Tiffany Phillips is a resident who lives on Mississippi Avenue. She says she and many of her neighbors often run for exercise through that area.

"Its very scary because I have two younger children as well. I'm going to make sure to never run by myself and always take someone with me," Phillips said.

Another neighbor says runs almost everyday and was horrified by the news of an attack on a runner.

"It's just a tragedy. It's a horrible thing to hear. I hate to think about him and his family. I hate to think about the safety of so many families who are here in this neighborhood," said Carol Howard-Merrit.

The suspect is described as a black man standing 5'8'', weighing 180-200 lbs. He was last seen wearing light colored shorts and a dark colored button-up shirt.

Police are not asking residents to give up running in the early morning or late at night but they are asking runners to be extra careful since the suspect is still at large.

Runners like Christopher Graffe says it pays to always be on alert.

You know, these days you have to be on the lookout everywhere you go. The city is pretty safe but there's crazy people everywhere and you have to keep your eyes out and be aware of your surroundings," Graffe said.

If anyone has information about the attack or find themselves witnessing suspicious activity involving someone fitting the description, they are strongly advised to contact Chattanooga police at (423) 698-2525.

Authorities say they want to get this person off the street before he strike again.

Crack Cocaine Sentencing

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:38pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) A federal judge sentences a Fayetteville man to more than 12 years in prison for distribution of crack cocaine.

35-year-old Dontez Flowers will serve 151 months behind bars.

He plead guilty in June.

He admitted to selling crack cocaine to someone working with law enforcement, and even continued after being confronted by police.

Erlanger East Expansion Approved

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:34pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) Erlanger East gets ready to become a full service hospital.

A state agency unanimously approved its expansion.

The $68.7 million project should be finished by December of 2016.

It will add more inpatient beds, surgical services, a cardiac catheterization lab and more.

Catoosa County School Program Receives AT&T Funding

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:27pm
Catoosa County, GA (WDEF) A Catoosa County program to help students stay in school gets $290,000 from the AT&T Aspire Initiative.

Communities in Schools is one of 30 programs receiving funds nationwide.

It supports student mentoring and helps students that might have trouble in a traditional track to succeed.

Communities in Schools will use the money to continue an intensive intervention classroom known as iFresh.

Ex. Dir. of Communities and Schools Suzanne Chovanec says, "The funding actually will support the iFresh program for two more years; through this funding. We're really excited, we will be able to continue our classroom here at the Catoosa County Performance Learning Center. And also it gives opportunity as communities and schools, to be able to add additional staff. Which we will place at each additional high school."

The funds will also allow the program to expand into three high schools; plus a summer school STEM boot camp.

Fort Payne Double Traffic Fatality

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 3:27pm
Fort Payne, AL (WDEF) Two men died after a car crash in Fort Payne, Alabama.

It happened at 8th Street North East and Gault Avenue North Wednesday the 17th.

Authorities say 23-year-old Miguel Jose Junior was driving a Dodge Ram.

They say it left the roadway and hit a ditch.

Jose and his passenger 24-year-old Antonio Martin were both taken to hospitals, but both passed away.

Central Avenue Traffic Fatality

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 3:14pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) Chattanooga Police investigate a traffic fatality at 700 Central Avenue from early Saturday morning.

Police say a Mercury hit an Acura that was stopped at a traffic light from behind.

The passenger of the Acura 20-year-old Jordan Guess went to the hospital with serious injuries, but later passed away.

Erlanger East Granted Approval to Begin Full Service Hospital

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 11:03am
The State of Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency unanimously approved an extension to complete the expansion of Erlanger East Hospital to a full-service hospital with 107 inpatient beds.

The "certificate of need" allows the Erlanger Health System to complete its $68.7 million expansion project. The phased-in expansion of Erlanger's Gunbarrel Road campus, expected to be completed by December 2016, will not only feature more inpatient beds, but also an expansion of surgical services, a cardiac catheterization lab, as well as other ancillary and support services.

EPB Releases Mauldin & Jenkins Report on Street Lights

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:12am
Chattanooga, TN (September 30, 2014) – EPB has released a report by Mauldin & Jenkins, the independent accounting firm charged with analyzing the process errors that led to questions about billing for public street lights.

The Mauldin & Jenkins report shows that although process errors caused EPB to incorrectly bill for the energy usage of about 6,000 lights, these costs are largely offset by the fact that all 26,000 lights in Chattanooga’s street light system as a whole burned 177 hours longer each year and used 5% more power due to line losses than previously reported. Other offsetting cost factors included facilities charges, the retirement of lights and maintenance charges.

Mauldin & Jenkins began by analyzing thousands of documents including TVA rate schedules and power use studies, EPB process information and work documentation, and the City of Chattanooga’s street light power bills going back seven years. Based on its findings, Mauldin & Jenkins then calculated a “pro-forma” bill for the City of Chattanooga for every month from January 2007 to January 2014.

Warren McEwen, a partner with Mauldin & Jenkins, who led the analysis summarized the findings by reading from the report: “The analysis of the City of Chattanooga street light billings for eighty-nine months indicates a net overbilling of $17,049.”

Harold DePriest, President & CEO of EPB, pointed out that the Mauldin & Jenkins Report provides a good starting point for working directly with the City of Chattanooga and other municipalities to reach a fair resolution on the issue.

“Although the City Auditor and Mauldin & Jenkins reached differing conclusions about some of the offsetting costs, we now have the information we need to sit down with our city partners and find a solution that takes into account all of the factors in this complicated situation,” DePriest said.

According to DePriest, EPB’s efforts to resolve the issue in the near term may be delayed by the lawsuits filed by Don Lepard. “Don Lepard filed his lawsuits even though Chattanooga, Red Bank, and East Ridge did not agree to join him,” DePriest said. “Later this week, we will be filing a motion to dismiss on the grounds that his suit has no merit.”
Despite the lawsuits, DePriest reaffirmed EPB’s commitment to moving forward in partnership with the City of Chattanooga and the other municipalities. “Our goal is to find an agreeable solution for all parties,” DePriest said. “That’s the only way to ensure the best result for citizens of our local communities who are also EPB’s customers.”

EPB is also taking a number of steps to improve its internal processes. The utility has issued a Request for Proposals seeking bids from contractors to conduct a complete physical inventory of all street lights and private lighting in its service footprint. Once the initial inventory is complete, EPB plans to verify its total light inventory on a rolling three-year schedule.

JOE FRUGAL: $5.99 Large 2 Topping Pizza This Week at Dominos for Carryout

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 4:57am
October is National Pizza Month... and Domino's fires the opening volley for value.

Now through October 5th, you can get a large two-topping pizza for carryout for $5.99.

Order over the phone, in-store, at or via Domino's ordering app to get the deal.

26th Street Court Shooting

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 3:11am

Chattanooga police respond to a person shot in the 2200 block of 26th Street Court.

At 10:16 Monday evening, officers were flagged down at 2500 4th Avenue by a person suffering from a gunshot wound.

The investigation is ongoing and more information will be released when available.

Dalton School Baord Say They Are Reviewing Options To Deal With Middle and High School Overcrowding

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 10:52pm
DALTON, GA, (WDEF)-Dalton's 8th grade is now the 8th biggest in the entire state of Georgia.

Steve Laird, school Board Member,"We had a study group put together and we have been looking at all of the different possibilities that we could, we involved about 30 to 40 members of the community so we got a broad section and with a broad section you get a lot of good ideas and a lot of good input"

The cost could reach into the dozens of millions of dollars and members say choosing whether or not to expand current facilities or reduce class sizes are some of their biggest concerns.

Board members say Morris Innovative High School behind me is also need of extra support over the coming years and they want to get the ball rolling as soon as early next year.

"We are going to look at some expansion we are going to have to figure out what we are doing with the overcrowded situation in the middle school, we also need to address the high school and Morris to come up with the best answer"

Laird said he is proud of the efforts thus far and believes the board are all on the same page and want change before the problem gets further out of hand.

Dalton parent and member of City Park PTO Ty Ross believes everyone involved will pull together and come up with an answer.

"Coming out of the great depression, double digit unemployment, it might be that we have to come up with a non traditional solution that best utilizes existing square footage"]

Dalton High School is also now inside the top 100 in the state due to overcrowding.

Ty Ross of City Park School says expanding in East Dalton could be an option or refurbishing older buildings.

Runner Assaulted Early Monday Morning on Mississippi Avenue in North Chattanooga

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 8:44pm
(WDEF)  Chattanooga Police respond to an assault call on Mississippi Avenue early Monday morning.
     Someone was assaulted while running around 7:30am.
     Police describe the suspect as a man who's about 5'8 to 5'9 inches tall, weighing between 180-200 pounds with a short afro, flat top style hair.
     At the time of the attack, he was wearing white or khaki shorts and a dark colored button-up style shirt.
     If you know anything about this crime, please call Chattanooga Police.
     The CPD suggests the following safety precautions for running early mornings and late night.
1.Run with a partner or a dog in well-lit areas.
2.Avoid unpopulated areas.
3.Trust your intuition about a person or an area.
4.Alter or vary your running route pattern.
5.If you do use headphones, run with the volume low and just one earbud in.
6.Have a cellular phone with you at all times.
    CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY (423) 698-2525 if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is important to report incidents immediately.

Crash victims possibly targeted by hit and run driver in Rhea County

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 7:10pm
DAYTON, Tennessee(WDEF) - Authorities are searching for a motorist who may have purposely used his or her vehicle to assault a woman and her husband.

It happened last Friday night at the intersection of Highway 30 and New Union Road.

Brittany Bush, 22, of Dayton a passenger in a car driven by her husband on Highway 30. The couple noticed a vehicle sitting at the stop sign on New Union road. They say the vehicle could have easily turned long before they got closer to the intersection but the driver of that vehicle  reportedly waited until Bush and her husband entered the intersection.

"It felt like they waited for us to get right there then hit their gas. I know that because they actually swerved over more to catch our car,"Bush said.

Bush says the impact caused her to sustain serious injuries.

"They hit so hard that my seat belt came off. A screw went into the back of my head then my head hit the dashboard and I went back over and bruised my ribs. So I have a concussion, and a fractured collar bone," Bush said.

The driver of the other vehicle drove off after hitting the couple's car.

Authorities are looking for a white 2000 - 2005 Dodge Neon with a black trim and dark tinted windows. The vehicle will also have damage to the front bumper.

Chattanooga wants more Ironman

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 6:02pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) Chattanooga hosted its first Ironman competition, and many are calling it a huge success. Visitors from around the world came to the Scenic City to watching the grueling triathlon.

"An awesome site to have it at."
"The fans were awesome."
"You guys were so awesome out there."

Awesome was one word most used to describe the Little Debbie Ironman Chattanooga.
In its first year, the turnout exceeded everyone's expectation.

While downtown Chattanooga hosted the large crowd around the finish line, many in Chickamauga say it was just as exciting on the bike trail.

"They cheered them on," said Georgia resident Lionel Claridy. "There was a lot of people out cheering them and everything, watching them, and they really enjoyed them."

But someone tried to sabotage the event in North Georgia by placing tacks and oil on the course, causing 30 bikers to get flat tires.

Ironman Officials said it's something they didn't expect.

"It doesn't happen often," said Ironman Course Director Brian Myrick. "New events you never know really what to expect."

North Georgia residents were disgusted when they heard about it.

Terry DeLancett said, "It could hurt somebody."

Daine Johnson said, "I was kind of embarrassed that it happened."

Through the minor attempted sabotage, these residents still look forward to seeing more of the Ironman.

Terry DeLancett went on and said, "I think it be pretty good, I mean it brings a lot of money to the area."

Daine Johnson added, "Absolutely would love to have them come back. I hope that didn't discourage from coming to our area."

These were feelings Chattanoogan officials like Chris Anderson share.

"I was proud of Chattanooga this weekend," said Anderson.

Chattanooga has made a five year commitment to the Ironman competition.

Anderson added this may be the best thing going forward for the city.

"People get exposure to our city for the first time, and now maybe we've made life-long fans out of them."

This is something the Scenic city will not shy away from.

"People enjoyed it, people really enjoyed it," said Claridy.

This was the first of five Ironman competition. Officials say they expect even bigger crowds now that in these next four years.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Assigns New Inspector to Watts Bar Nuclear Reactor

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 5:09pm
(WDEF) Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials in Atlanta have selected Jeff Hamman to serve as the new resident inspector at the Watts Bar nuclear plant’s Unit 1.
        The Watts Bar plant is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and is located near Spring City, Tenn., about 60 miles southwest of Knoxville. The plant’s Unit 1 has been in operation since 1996 and TVA is currently completing construction and testing of Unit 2. The NRC is expected to make a decision on a license for Unit 2 in 2015.
        Hamman joins Senior Resident Inspector Jared Nadel, who recently assumed that role for Unit 1. The NRC also has resident inspectors for the Unit 2 construction activities.
        Before being assigned to the Watts Bar site, Hamman had served since April 2007 as a project engineer in the NRC’s Region II office in Atlanta. Before joining the NRC, Hamman worked as a licensing specialist at the Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, S.C., and as an engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site. Hamman also served six years on active duty in the U.S. Navy as a Reactor Operator, and currently serves in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps as a reserve officer, holding the rank of Commander.He has more than 30 years military service, both active and reserve, and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
        Hamman received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer in South Carolina.
        “Jeff Hamman has the commitment and experience to carry out the NRC mission of protecting people and the environment by helping ensure the safety of the Watts Bar plant,” said NRC Region II Administrator Victor McCree.
        At least two NRC resident inspectors are assigned to each operating U.S. commercial nuclear plant. They serve as the agency’s eyes and ears at the facility, conducting inspections, monitoring major work projects and interacting with plant workers and the public. Resident inspectors can serve at one site for up to seven years.
        The Watts Bar resident inspectors can be reached at423-365-5487.

Cleveland High School Drone

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 4:56pm

Broadcasting students at Cleveland High school can now get a birds eye view for their reports.
The school now has a drone that students can use to report the news, and cover sporting events from the air.
They call it a quad-copter.
With this technology, students can fly over a football game.
They can use it in short films.
They will even be able to use this new technology to help local fire and police departments take video of a wreck.

UTC Homecoming Week Kick-Off

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 4:41pm
(WDEF) Students, faculty and Chattanooga residents kicked off homecoming week at UTC Monday.
     The 2014 Homecoming Kickoff Pep Rally took place at Chamberlain Pavilion around noon.
     The Homecoming Court was officially announced.
     Attendees also got to hear from the UTC band and spirit squads.
     Coaches and students got the crowd ready for this weekend's showdown with the Virginia Military Institute Keydets.
     Chattanooga Mocs head football coach Russ Huesman said, "It's important that we play well and win a football game for y'all that are here today, that go to school here at this time and come out and support us, week in and week out.  That's the most important thing."
     Homecoming festivities continue all week.
     That includes field games, the golf tournament and tailgating.

11 Athletes Treated at Erlanger for IronMan Competition

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 4:14pm
(WDEF)      11 athletes competing in this weekend's IronMan competition made a trip to Erlanger's downtown emergency room.
     Six males and five females were treated and released for injuries stemming from bicycle crashes to dehydration.