Biggest stories of 2013 recapped
Updated On: Jan 01 2014 05:28:53 PM CST
From fires, to football, and everything in between, many major stories have topped our newscasts this year.
Unicoi County hospital sale
2013 began much as 2012 ended for folks in Unicoi County -- trying to figure out the future of their local hospital. The hospital board approved selling the hospital to Mountain States Health Alliance. However, Wellmont also made a bid. After a series of legal maneuvers, Mountain States won out. Click here to read more.
Mouse's Ear bar destroyed in fire
An early morning fire halted shows at the Mous'es Ear Exotic Sports Bar in Gray. No one was hurt. The zoning laws have been changed in that area, so the club cannot be rebuilt there. Click here to read more.
86-year-old defends self during home invasion
A story from Bulls Gap captivated viewers all around the country and became the most-viewed story of all time on WCYB.com -- 86-year-old Louise Howard of Bulls Gap grabbed a shotgun when an intruder broke her door and came in. She and the intruder wrestled over the gun and it went off, hitting a wall. The intruder fled, but later turned herself in. Click here to read more.
Deputy goes undercover as high-schooler
This story almost sounded like a Hollywood movie script -- Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes told us his department had placed an undercover officer in area high schools to root out drugs users and sellers. Officer Donna Rogan posed as a student for ten months, and her work led to 14 arrests. Click here to read more.
ETSU Bucs football returns
Football fever returned to East Tennessee State University in April as university president Brian Noland announced the school would again field a team after a ten-year hiatus. The university was given approval by the State Board of Regents to increase student fees to help pay for football. Former University of Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer was brought in as a consultant to help get the ball rolling. After a two month search, Carl Torbush was named as the head coach. The first game against Kennesaw State is scheduled for September 3, 2015 at Science Hill High School. Click here to read more.
State troopers injured in high-speed chase
In Scott County, Virginia, a high-speed chase injured two state troopers -- one critically -- and left a half-dozen cars damaged. Troopers told us Jason Byrns approached a police checkpoint in his car, then abruptly turned around and fled. They gave chase, and minutes later other troopers joined in. Click here to read more.
Pilot-Flying J investigated
Jimmy Haslam, brother of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, had some problems in April. FBI agents blocked off his Pilot Oil-Flying J company offices and carted out boxes of records. An investigation revealed no improprieties by Haslam, but did find some of his employees had falsified records and not paid rebates to trucking companies. Click here to read more.
Virginia Intermont College's accreditation
Bristol's Virginia Intermont College got the bad news in April that its accreditation might not be reinstated. The cash-strapped school was using payment plans for vendors and services, due in part to long-term money issues. In June, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools said it would not renew VI's accreditation, but a court ordered SACS to keep VI in good standing. Click here to read more.
Local tie to national headline
In May, we reported an amazing story with ties to our area. Three women missing for more than a decade were found in a Cleveland, Ohio home where they had been held captive. One of them, Amanda Berry, has family in our area, and we spoke to her grandmother not long after Amanda called her. The man who took Berry and the others captive, Ariel Castro, later killed himself in jail. Click here to read more.
Eastman commits to Kingsport
Eastman Chemical made a huge announcement for the city of Kingsport in May. Eastman made a long-term commitment to stay in the Model City, which includes building a new headquarters on its campus there and adding jobs. Click here to read more.
Trail Days tragedy
In June, the Damascus Trail Days celebration took a tragic turn as an elderly man driving in the parade had a medical emergency and drove his car into a group of hikers, injuring several people. No charges were filed against the driver. Click here to read more.
McLeod Blood Center trial
A well-known Johnson City doctor was sentenced to two years in prison in June, despite his plea for probation. Dr. William Kincaid, who once practiced at the McLeod Cancer and Blood Center, was convicted of giving patients cancer medication that had not been approved by the FDA. Click here to read more.
Bristol city manager resigns
Bristol, Virginia city manager Dewey Cashwell resigned in June. He'd held the job for almost three years. The reason was hush-hush, but he received a year's pay as severance -- about $125,000 in all. Cashwell is now city manager in Culpepper, Virginia. Click here to read more.
Former sheriff's court cases end
Former Unicoi County sheriff Kent Harris spent a good deal of the year in court. He faced three trials on 13 felony counts. Two ended in hung juries, and the third was dismissed by a judge. After the last one, District Attorney Tony Clark decided not to pursue any further action against Harris. Click here to read more.
Heavy rains flood the area
In July, saturated ground and heavy rain caused widespread flooding in downtown Kingsport and in several other areas. We reported live as the water went from ankle deep to knee deep in a matter of minutes. Downtown shops suffered major damage, as did some homes. Officials called this an exceedingly rare event. One resident captured amazing video of floodwaters in his backyard -- click here to view the video. that same storm caused flooding in johnson city as well, where roads were covered and many drivers were stranded. Click here to read more.
Man shot after allegedly trying to ram deputies
In August, three Sullivan County deputies shot a man who hit two of them with his car. The deputies answered a call about a car crash. Upon arrival, they saw 58-year-old Roger Street had hit another car and was standing in the road. He then got back in his car and while trying to flee, hit the two deputies. They opened fire. The deputies had minor injuries. Click here to read more.
Greeneville man gets life in prison
In august, Ethan Self of Greeneville was convicted of killing his father. Self confessed to the shooting, but said it was an accident. The jury didn't believe him, and he got life in prison. Click here to read more.
School cuts 50 positions
In September, teachers and school staffers in Buchanan County, Virginia got a tough lesson in economics. An overflow crowd heard the school board explain why it needed to cut about 50 positions district-wide. The superintendent cited a loss of more than $2 million in federal funds. Click here to read more.
Hospital closes in Lee County
Cuts of another kind led to the closing of the only hospital in Lee County, Virginia. In May, its owner, Wellmont Health System, said the hospital would stay open. But after trimming staff and cutting beds, it announced in September that Lee Regional would close just three weeks later. Click here to read more.
Rain can't stop Rhythm & Roots
Mother Nature tried, but she couldn't dampen spirits at this year's Rhythm & Roots event in Bristol. Despite wet, cool weather, thousands of fans still turned out to sample music, some of it indoors. Luckily, organizers had insurance to help cover costs in the event of inclement weather. Click here to read more.
Church bus involved in accident
October proved to be a deadly month on area interstates. On October 2, a bus chartered by a church group hit an SUV and tractor-trailer on I-40 near Dandridge. The big-rig erupted in flames. Six people in the bus and the SUV driver were killed. 14 other people were hurt. Click here to read more.
Firey crash kills three
That same day on I-81 in Smyth County, Virginia, another fiery and deadly crash happened as a tanker truck carrying more than 8,000 gallons of gas hit a pickup, then slammed into a highway cushion truck. The tanker blew up, spewing thick black smoke and closing the interstate. Three people died in the accident. Click here to read more.
First trial in 'Facebook murders'
The trial of Marvin Potter took place in October. He was accused of killing a Mountain City couple. Billie Jean Hayworth and Billy Payne, Jr. were found shot to death. Prosecutors say Potter killed them because they de-friended Potter's daughter Jenelle on Facebook. After a week long-trial, Potter was convicted. Click here to read more.
'Battle At Bristol' announced
After very successful spring and fall races, the Bristol Motor Speedway made news in October. It was announced that BMS will host a football game between the University of Tennessee Volunteers and the Virginia Tech Hokies. The game is set for September 10, 2016, and should bring in about 150,000 fans. If so, that will be the biggest crowd to ever attend a college football game. Click here to read more.
Mayor, candidate scuffle in city hall
In November, a heated debate got physical in Unicoi County. County mayor Greg Lynch and mayoral candidate John Day scuffled in the mayor's office. Lynch told us things got heated when Day insulted one of his employees. Click here to read more.
ETSU president hurt in accident
ETSU president Brian Noland was injured when his SUV was T-boned by a truck at a Johnson City intersection. Officers say the driver ran a red light. Noland suffered a neck injury and was hospitalized for some time. HGe appeared in a school-produced video in December, thanking everyone for their concern. Click here to read more.
Bus driver's case delayed again
Many days of court-room delays for a former school bus driver continued in December. Brenda Gray faces 39 counts of reckless aggravated assault after a bus crash in Washington County, Tennessee in September 2012. Her bus ran off a road and flipped several times. The case has been delayed due in part to the death of her first attorney. Click here to read more.
Kingsport city manager to retire
Kingsport city manager John Campbell announced he would be retiring near the end of the year. Campbell, who also held the post in Johnson City, will leave in July 2014. Until then, he'll help find his successor. Click here to read more.
Kingsport child has 'miracle' surgery
One family is calling this last story a Christmas miracle -- seven-year old Weston Keeton of Kingsport received a rare heart and double-lung transplant in Philadelphia. Weston had been on the waiting list for two years. His mother Julie told us not long before getting the surgery, Weston met Santa and told him all he wanted for Christmas was a new heart and lungs so he can get big. Click here to read more.
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