Burning ban in effect for Scott County

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has imposed a temporary ban on open fires in Scott County and 50 other counties in Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee.

As a severe drought continues to worsen across the region, Governor Haslam on Monday responded to the growing number of wildfires in Tennessee by issuing the burning ban. The ban applies to campfires and the burning of vegetation, construction debris and household items. It does not apply to grills or similar enclosed devices, although residents are urged to be cautious about how grill ash is disposed of, either by waiting until the ashes have cooled or dousing them with water.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 16, there were 67 active wildfires in Tennessee, encompassing some 23,000 acres, according to the Tennessee Division of Forestry. There were no active wildfires in Scott County.

The U.S. Drought Monitor currently classifies Scott and surrounding counties as being in a severe drought.

Highland Telephone certified for gigabit internet speeds

SUNBRIGHT, Tenn. — Highland Telephone Cooperative was certified today as a Gig-Capable Provider by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. Highland earned this award after more than six years of work to replace its copper network with an all-new fiber optic network. Because of the new system, the cooperative is able to deliver world-class gigabit broadband speeds to the people of Morgan and Scott counties in Tennessee and McCreary County, Kentucky.

The gigabit speeds are 100 times faster than the top speed many Americans can receive in their homes.

“This gigabit certification caps off years of careful planning, investing and building a brand-new fiber network for our area,” said CEO Mark Patterson. “All along, we knew our commitment was worth the effort so our friends and families in this area could keep their rural lifestyle without sacrificing world-class connectivity.”

To build the fiber network capable of bringing gigabit speeds to the region, Highland crews and contractors ran more than 2,700 miles of fiber — enough to stretch from the cooperative office in Sunbright, Tennessee, to Vancouver, British Columbia. The $66 million investment is already improving the region’s quality of life, health care options, educational opportunities and economic outlook.

“Our area lacks interstates and many economic advantages that other communities enjoy, and we’ve suffered through some extremely high unemployment in recent years,” Patterson says. “An asset like a gigabit-capable network can be our competitive edge when it comes to bringing in industry and growing existing businesses.”

While gigabit speeds are a major tool for economic development, the speeds will also add convenience to the daily lives of those in Highland’s service area. For example, Highland members with a 1 Gbps internet connection can download a two-hour, high-definition movie in as little as 25 seconds. Downloading that same movie on a 10 Mbps connection would take about 55 minutes.

NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield lauded HTC for its commitment to innovation and service.

“I applaud Highland for its commitment to delivering the internet’s fastest speeds — an accomplishment worthy of much praise considering the challenging circumstances small, community-based telecommunications providers operate under in serving some of our country’s most rural and remote communities,” Bloomfield said. “By building a gigabit-capable network, Highland has not only overcome these challenges, but also shattered conventional benchmarks for broadband speed to enable cutting-edge technologies that drive innovation and promote economic development in their communities, region and nationwide.”

More information about the NTCA Gig-Capable Provider certification program is available at www.ntca.org/gigcertified.

County audit conducted

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has completed its annual audit of Scott County’s basic financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, resulting in only minor findings.

The Comptroller’s office on Nov. 8, 2016, released the findings of the audit. In the Office of Director of Finance, the audit found that a scheduled principal payment on a capital outlay note had not been made. In the offices of Clerk & Master and Register of Deeds, the audit found that duties were not segregated adequately.

Specifically, auditors noted that the finding in the Office of Director of Finance was due to a staff member not understanding the rule of repayment provisions authorized for debt instruments.

“As soon as the error was presented to the Finance Department, the principal payment was made to the bank,” the audit noted. “The finance director discussed the procedures of the repayment of debt instruments with the staff member. The finance director will be reviewing the debt schedule each month for that fund. The finance staff will attend continuing education courses that pertain to GASB updates and changes to state law pertaining to accounting, purchasing and budgeting.”

In the offices of Clerk & Master and Register of Deeds, the finding regarding inadequately separated duties was a repeat finding.

“A resolution to correct this deficiency was never suggested; therefore this clerk had no idea on how to correct this to the audit’s satisfaction,” Clerk & Master Jane Lloyd noted.

“It really didn’t hinder or make the office operate in a better manner, but I made these corrections to comply with the state requirement so that federal funds would not be withheld from the county,” Register of Deeds Benjie Rector noted.

Both offices submitted a plan for corrective action as a result of the audit. In the Clerk & Master’s office, the clerk will be responsible for making bank deposits. In the event that she is absent, the bookkeeper will take deposits to the bank. The bookkeeper will not issue manual receipts, and the chief deputy will not issue checks. The actions were put into place on July 1, 2016.

The complete audit is available for inspection.

Date set for annual Christmas parade

ONEIDA, Tenn. — Through the eyes of a child.

That will be the theme of the 2016 Scott County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade, which will march through the streets of Oneida on the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 3.

While the parade’s fine details are still being sorted out, entries are already being accepted. The parade will step off from its traditional lineup location — the parking lot of HBD Industries on Industrial Lane — at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.

The parade will turn left onto Industrial Lane and continue east on Industrial Lane before turning left again onto Alberta Street (U.S. Hwy. 27). From there, the parade will travel north on Alberta Street to Traffic Light No. 5, where it will turn right onto Claude Terry Drive before disbanding in the parking lot at Oneida Elementary School.

Application forms for parade entries can be downloaded, printed and returned to the Chamber of Commerce’s offices at the Scott County Visitor Center on U.S. Hwy. 27 in Huntsville. Blank forms can also be picked up at the visitor center Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The deadline for submitting completed applications is Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m.

In the event of inclement weather, the parade will be held Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m.

Scott Countians urged to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses

HUNTSVILLE — Scott County Mayor Dale Perdue and Art Miller, director of the Scott County Health Department, urge residents and business owners to start “Tip and Toss” and “SWAT” actions to prevent mosquito breeding grounds.

“Mosquito season has started in Tennessee, presenting potential health problems for residents who could be bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes,” said Perdue. “To prevent mosquito breeding spots, we urge residents and business owners to do a cleanup near their homes and establishments, discarding or tipping over items than can unintentionally hold water that mosquitoes can use to lay eggs and multiply. A mosquito can lay her eggs in something as small as a plastic soda bottle top, so tossing these types of items into the trash could help prevent you or someone else from suffering a mosquito bite.”

“Most mosquitoes rarely travel much farther than the length of two football fields, a little more than 200 yards from where they are born. Having a SWAT plan in place – Standing Water Abatement Tactics – can prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs and then living near your home or business,” director Miller said. “By eliminating standing water, we can reduce our chances of suffering a mosquito bite, which is not just an itchy irritation, but may cause the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.”

Tennessee is home to many types of blood-sucking mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are capable of transmitting several serious diseases. At this time, mosquitoes in Tennessee are not transmitting Zika virus disease, which has been associated with birth defects. Mosquitoes here, however, are known carriers of other diseases seen each year in Tennessee, including West Nile and La Crosse encephalitis. They also carry dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya virus although not currently in Tennessee.

“While there’s reason for concern and a need to prevent mosquito breeding places, there’s good news for all of us: Mosquito bites are entirely preventable,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Prevention starts with wearing long, loose and light clothing; treating exposed skin with safe and effective repellents; and using clothing treated with permethrin in risk areas. Now, more than ever, we all need to ‘fight the bite.’”

TDH recommends the following:

•Apply repellants to skin often; these can include lotions, liquids or sprays. TDH and CDC recommend use of repellants which contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane 3, 8-diol and IR3535. Duration of protection varies by repellant; read labels on products to determine when reapplications are necessary for optimal protection.

•Wear long, loose and light-colored shirts and pants and wear socks. Tucking shirts in pants and tucking pants into socks will help form a barrier. Wear closed shoes or boots instead of sandals.

•Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated permethrin clothing.

•Avoid perfumes, colognes and products with fragrances that might attract mosquitoes.

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in larger water holding devices, such a bird baths or garden pools, TDH recommends using larvicides such as mosquito torpedoes or mosquito dunks. If used properly, larvicides will not harm birds or animals.

“Our efforts in Scott County will complement and support ongoing work in every county of the state to reduce or eliminate disease-carrying mosquitoes,” Perdue stated. “We can’t think of mosquito bites as mere nuisances; they could cause illness or even death, particularly among the very young, older people or those with weakened immune systems. We owe it to our neighbors to tip, toss and SWAT near our homes and businesses, and to be more deliberate in our personal ‘fight the bite’ efforts.”

Meal funding available to childcare providers

HUNTSVILLE — Home day care operators can receive financial assistance for food served to children through a program sponsored by East Tennessee Human Resource Agency (ETHRA).

According to Veronica Stephens, program manager, the Knoxville based agency is working to identify and contact all providers of child day care programs in East Tennessee to offer assistance.

ETHRA serves as a sponsoring agency for the Child and Adult Care Food Program in East Tennessee. The Tennessee Departmen tof Human Services provides ETHRA the funds, which are available to reimburse licensed day care providers for the cost of meals served to children.

ETHRA can serve the following types of care care facilities:

•Alternate Approval: A home that is providing care for up to four unrelated children. Provider must obatin a Letter of Compliance from sponsor.

•Family Day Care: A day care home operated by any person who receives pay for providing less than 24-hour supervision and care without transfer of custody for up to seven children under 12 years of age.

•Group Day Care: A day care facility operated by a person, social agency, corporation or institution, or any other group which receives eight or more children under 12 years of age less than 24 hours per day for care outside their own homes without transfer of custody.

Providers whose own child(ren) are enrolled in their day care may receives reimbursement if they meet income requirements (available at the ETHRA office).

ETHRA staff are available to provide help to any indivudula or group interested in obtaining a license to participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Home day care providers already operating in the area are also eligible to participate in the program.

For additional information on assistance, contact Stephens at (865) 691-2551, ext. 4229 or Vstephens@ethra.org

Scott selected for property evaluation

HUNTSVILLE — Scott County is one of eight counties across the state selected by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development to participate in the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program spring round, the Industrial Development Board of Scott County announced Monday afternoon.

Launched in 2015, the purpose of PEP is to improve the inventory of industrial sites and buildings in Tennessee by evaluating potential properties, advising counties on where investment may be most beneficial and what is needed to address issues.

TNECD unveiled the eight counties that it selected to participate in the program Monday afternoon.

“I am so happy for Scott County because this will allow us to determine which is the most viable industrial site to pursue for the county,” said Stacey Kidd, executive director of the ID Board. “Through the financial support of the state and the direction from Austin Consulting, we will now have a clear direction in which property to invest in to help attract new industry to this amazing county.”

The ID Board has been pursuing property to develop for industrial purposes. The ID Board recently worked with the Winfield Industrial Development Board as the town acquired the former ABC building on U.S. Hwy. 27 for use as a spec building in its efforts to recruit new industry. Kidd said identifying which properties will best serve the county’s industrial recruitment efforts is vital as the county attempts to put its best foot forward.

TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said that the PEP will help in that regard.

“By assisting counties across the state in evaluating and improving their sites, we can make sure these communities will be better equipped to attract potential new business and create future economic growth,” Boyd said.

Other counties selected for the spring round of the program were Fayette, Humphreys, Lawrence, Maury, Unicoi, Van Buren and White.

“This program will provide eight counties with the tools they need to make themselves more marketable to potential new business,” said TNECD site development director Leanne Cox. “I look forward to working with all of the counties who have been selected to participate in the program, and I am excited to see them enhance our state’s efforts in recruiting and expanding businesses in Tennessee.”

The program includes an educational webinar on the site selection process, an on-site visit by Austin Consulting and a comprehensive assessment addressing each property’s strengths, weaknesses and recommended next steps to improve marketability.

Selected for the highly competitive grant was based on demonstrated local need for industrial properties and also on the county’s ability to assemble viable properties with market potential.