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Thursday, December 14th

From the Tennova Healthcare Cleveland News Desk, here is your news for Thursday, December 14th, on Mix 104-1 and Talk 101-3 The Buzz.

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press…

A judge said Wednesday he will decide within a few days whether Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson walks free or goes to trial on a dozen felony charges relating to forged automobile titles.

In a short hearing, Special Judge Don Ash, of Murfreesboro, heard a motion to dismiss by Watson’s attorney James F. Logan Jr.

The charges accuse Watson of having or using vehicle titles that had been forged or altered in relation to his side business selling used cars. The state Department of Revenue took the case to the Bradley County grand jury after a December 2015 investigation by the Times Free Press into Watson’s side business as a used car dealer.

Each charge is a Class E felony punishable by one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000 upon conviction.

However, Logan contends the state law under which Watson is charged, T.C.A. 55-5-116 Section 3, is unconstitutionally vague or fails to include a required element of the crime.

The statute says it’s a crime to possess or use a title issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles or a county clerk that has been forged with fraudulent intent. Logan contends the state hasn’t offered any evidence the sheriff violated Tennessee law — the forged titles in this case were issued by Florida — or intended to defraud anyone.

The statute has been on the books for 70 years and this is the first time anyone’s been charged under Section 3.

Ash said he would rule within two or three days. He also talked with the attorneys about trial procedures, such as jury selection, if he declines to grant Logan’s motion.

From the Cleveland Daily Banner…

Cleveland City Manager Joe Fivas has provided City Council members with a timeline for the city’s Strategic and Community Plan, including the anticipated inclusion of staff, focus groups and community residents.

The city manager received comments of appreciation for accomplishments in his first year on the job by council members, during Monday’s final Council gathering of the calendar year.

Fivas said staff members will be developing the first drafts of the overall plan from now until February, with those proposals and considerations to be forwarded to the council when completed.

He added that there are planned community meetings in each of the city’s five districts, much the same as the city conducted during the summer with its comprehensive survey campaign.

Staff is expected to present a tentative three-year plan for Parks and Recreation, and Sports Tourism, to the council at its next work session on Monday, Jan. 8.

On Feb. 12, a staff proposal will cover downtown development, and Southside Redevelopment. Public Safety proposals (for the Police and Fire departments) will be discussed on Feb. 26.

Next spring, from February to March, the mayor and council will have a planning session for financial forecasting, with a council budget session in April. In May and June, the city budget will be adopted, a capital improvement plan adopted, and the finalization of a three-year strategic plan enacted.

From WRCB Channel 3…

Seventeen workers at Athens-based Mills Products were transported to area hospitals after a leak made them sick Wednesday morning. As of news time, twelve of the 17 have been released, according to officials.

No new cases of sick workers have been reported, according to a news release from the company. The facility was cleared by emergency crews Wednesday afternoon and has been returned to their normal operating schedule.

The source of the leak has not yet been determined, and emergency crews are testing the facility to learn the nature of the leak and possible effects. Officials say they may have ruled out carbon monoxide. The root cause has not yet been discovered.

McMinn County Mayor John Gentry described the incident as an “exposure.”

This has been your local and state news. You can get news anytime by visiting our website, mymix1041.com. From the Tennova Healthcare Cleveland News Desk, this is Jeremy Gault reporting.