"Keep Sheriff Tommy J. Jones"

"Keep Sheriff Tommy J. Jones"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coker Creek Goldfest move marks the End of an Era

Update 2018: Sanford Gray's widow (Esther Gray), and daughter, (Marylu Atchley) almost sold the Coker Creek Village Property to a buyer from East, TN. -- The real estate deal that had been in the works for months did not go through, the buyer backed out of the deal. 

There was a 'falling out' with the Coker Creek Goldfest organizers back in 2012, also known as the Autumn Goldfest--since then, the historic 'Goldfest' (which was used to fund worthy causes), has been held nearby, in a much less desirable location: overlooking propane tanks and metal storage units. 
The change took place soon after Frank Murphy Jr., died; Murphy and Sanford Gray were the original organizers of the event. On the Coker Creek Village website, there's no mention that the Goldfest organizers were 'booted out' in 2012...

Update 2012: The autumn event of the historic 'Coker Creek Gold Festival' will take place at a new location; on the grounds of the Coker Creek Elementary School on the 13th and 14th of October. The Ruritan Club building (next to the school) will also be used for the event.

It was rumored as far back as 6 weeks ago that a major 'brouhaha' had been brewing between the movers and shakers that like to think they control most of the major happenings on Coker Creek Mountain.

The Gold Fest's founders (Frank Murphy Jr. and Sanford Gray) have passed on (R.I.P.).

You may hear more than one version as to why the event relocated: the most likely scenario is that the heirs of the Coker Creek Village property did not wish to continue to have the event take place on their property.

Another version claims the reason for moving the event to the Coker Creek Elementary School was a "mutual decision."... However, an insider who did not wish to be identified provided the following details:

  • The Ruritan president was given the option of having the event at the usual Coker Creek Village location this year, but he was advised it would be the last time--they would have to find another location.
  • Negotiations broke down and the Ruritaners decided to move the event this year--without having long range plans--it appears it was a case of 'if they dont' want us, we'll move now.' " No way to appease Mr. Pease..."
  • The Ruritaners contend that a document signed by Sanford Grey bequeathed the use of the Coker Creek Village property in perpetuity for the yearly 2 day Goldfest event, but they did not wish to pursue the matter in court. It is unclear even if such a document exists, how enforceable it would be in a legal stand-off.                                                                                                                                            

Murder victim and Coker Creek resident Franny Graham was a regular at the Ruritan Club gatherings. Some Ruritan members are also linked to the Coker Creek Welcome Center.

Had the Ruritaners accepted the offer to hold the event at the usual Coker Creek Village location this year, it would have given them ample time to come up with more than just one option for long term planning and future use.

The 94 plus acres that makes up the main property of Coker Creek Village is likely the most valuable parcel of land in Coker Creek. (Location, location, location.)

The Murphy Clan (who at one time owned the Coker Creek Village property) has nothing that compares...even with the thousands of acres they still own in Coker Creek.
The End of an Era in the Goldfest location is a significant event...it means that the Murphy Clan and their 'hangers on' were not the arbiters of a major decision.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Man who did a Peter Pan from Bald River Falls 'slipped'

As we now have learned, the incident on July 28, 2012, that took almost two hours of emergency ops involving Forest Service, Rescue Squad, EMS, and MCSD., led to the death of Monroe County resident Ralph Ray Jr., of Ten Mile. The Forest Service incident commander confirmed that the accident victim had made it to the top ledge, but slipped and fell before he could direct his dive towards a spot away from rocks and boulders.

The MCSD confirmed that Ralph Ray Jr., age 46, Mans Hollow Road, died on the following day-- July 29, 2012 at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Climbing the falls is extremely dangerous, nevertheless, many visitors to the area still do it--and will likely continue to do it despite the recent tragedy. The initial call requested the Rescue Squad to assist a subject which had been trapped under a rock for ten minutes, at Bald River Falls. After getting the still unresponsive victim out from under the rock, a person on scene started CPR in a futile attempt to save the victim's life: it took a while for first responders to arrive on scene from Madisonville, which is a good 30+ mile distance.

To add to the confusion, one of the first responders unknowingly had an 'open mic' on his HT (handie talkie), which kept the radio repeater jammed up for a short time. All in all, it was a great example how well local agencies can work together in an emergency situation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For former mayor Powers: The chickens come home to roost

Who would have imagined?... after not being able to account for thousands in missing funds by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury--former chief of police William "Bill" G. Isbell returns to Tellico Plains, sues the city for back pay he allegedly did not receive while Roger Powers was the city mayor--and after an agreed settlement, is awarded $1,328.

Some of the city council members had rejected (vetoed) the idea of appointing Isbell as Tellico Plains chief of police, perhaps to deflect any blame, in case things did not turn out well. However, Isbell's strongest supporter in the city council Harkey Yates, who many perceived as having more power than the mayor--succeeded in getting Isbell appointed, and the veto was over-ridden.

(Yates passed away last Christmas eve, his sudden death was investigated as a possible homicide.)

"The chickens come home to roost"
Bad deeds or words return to discomfort their perpetrator
The notion of bad deeds, specifically curses, coming back to haunt their originator is long established--it dates back to 1390 when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in the The Parson's Tale:
And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a byrd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Former Chief of Police William "Bill" G. Isbell investigated in Missing Money Probe

Missing or un-accounted: seized drugs, weapons, and money collected from fundraisers

The D.A.'s  position to not file charges won't change public opinion on Bill Isbell; despite the embellishment and hype that was spun on his alleged 'retirement.'...Particularly when you consider Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris was indicted, in part, for mis-appropriation of funds--close to the amount that the TPPD was unable to account for during Bill's Isbell's stint as chief of police.

Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury report

Isbell-registered police website is shutdown.

As seen in the Advocate&Democrat News--Where did the Money Go?--"Among the findings, the former police chief received $3,800 in cash from four police fundraisers, but the money was never deposited into a town bank account.

Both Isbell and his top crony, Don Charest were 'booted out' of the Tellico Plains Police Dept, listen to Mayor Roger Powers in the link below.   For Charest, wearing a reserve officer badge was important, the feeling of power and authority was paramount--he tried to 'cozy up' to the 2013 chief of police (Jeb Brown),  wanting to bring back the Isbell--Era police squad,  but failed.

As of 2016, The Tellico Plains Police Dept. is still in a public relations 'damage control mode' from the scandals during Isbell's  tenure as police chief--although, the present day TPPD is a stark contrast, and many agree that it's one of the best police dept's in the county.

The 2014 disqualification of Sheriff Randy White led to the interim appointment of Tommy Jones, a young and inexperienced fill-in--Charest wormed his way into the good graces of sheriff Tommy Jones, and, this time he got a Monroe County Sheriff reserve officer badge--'Way to go Tommy.'

William "Bill" Isbell
Don Charest