A1 A1
Crime
featured
You can track an inmate's whereabouts, and they'll never know

BLOUNTVILLE — Want a heads-up if a particular inmate is about to be released from a county jail in Tennessee? Registering for notifications on an inmate’s changes in status is as easy as dialing a toll-free telephone number or downloading a free app.

You’ll be notified if the inmate is released, escapes or gets transferred. It’s your choice whether you’re notified by telephone, email or text — or all three. It’s automated. And the inmate will never know you’re tracking their whereabouts.

That’s possible through the Tennessee Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (SAVIN) program.

“If you’re a victim of crime, you can register by dialing a 1-800 number or by going to a link on the internet,” Gary Cordell, program coordinator, said Monday after leading a SAVIN training program for law enforcement personnel and others in Northeast Tennessee. “You can register to track the status of any inmate in any county jail in Tennessee. All 95 counties in the state are a part of this program.”

Cordell said notifications give victims an opportunity to make arrangements or take actions to protect themselves.

“I’ve heard stories that ‘It saved my life,’ ” Cordell said. “It gives crime victims not only peace of mind, but also a sense of empowerment.”

The program started in Tennessee 10 years ago and is funded by a state grant.

The app is called Mobile Patrol.

SAVIN is open to the public, Cordell said. Anyone can register.

“The purpose of the program is to increase the safety of victims of crime, law enforcement, criminal justice personnel and the general public by providing access to timely information concerning the custody status of offenders in county jails,” a press release about the program reads in part. “Victims and other concerned citizens can register anonymously by telephone (1-888-868-4631) or register at the website to be notified in the event of an offender’s release, transfer or escape. The VINE system is provided by our sole source provider Appriss. The TSA Staff and SAVIN Governing Council, which is comprised of sheriffs representing all regions of the state, have been working hard toward implementing and promoting this service to the public.”

The 2009 Tennessee State Legislature enacted legislation, signed by the governor as Public Chapter 488, to fund this 24-hour/365 day Statewide Automated Victim Information Notification System to be operated by the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association beginning July 1, 2010.

Citizens calling 1-888-868-4631 are asked to provide an offender’s name and/or booking number, which they can obtain from their local county jail or correctional facility.

After the system has provided the relevant offender custody information, it asks the caller if they would like to register to be automatically notified when that offender is released or transferred and what manner of notification they prefer.

Those choosing to register provide a phone number and a four-digit personal identification number, which they will later use to confirm the notification calls or to cancel any future calls if needed.

Live operator assistance is available round-the-clock for callers who have questions or require additional help. General information is in both Spanish and English. and interpreters are available in many languages.

Citizens locating an offender and/or registering via the internet can access the information through www.vinelink.com and simply click on the state of Tennessee on the Vine map and follow the instructions given.


The flight conditions over Norton were better than on Mars Monday, as a Hughes 369D helicopter operated by Aerial Solutions did some spring cleaning with an air saw along an Old Dominion Power right-of-way. As for the flying conditions on Mars, NASA’s experimental helicopter Ingenuity rose into the thin air above the dusty red surface of Earth’s neighbor on Monday, achieving the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet. Story and photo on Page A3.


top story
Region adds 26 new infections; Ballad reports most COVID-19 hospitalizations since January

Northeast Tennessee’s seven-day new case rate fell to its lowest point in weeks on Monday, with 26 new cases the fewest reported in the region since March 8.

As of Monday, the region’s seven-day new case rate was 118.2, its lowest rate since April 6. The region’s rate hit a monthly high of 139 on April 14.

The drop in new cases also led to a decline in active cases, which fell to 1,597 — down from Friday’s high of 1,662.

Earlier on Monday, the state said the day’s report would include a rush of data from a statewide provider clearing a backlog of information, but Northeast Tennessee did not seem to show much impact as a result. The Tennessee Department of Health said in a release that the backlog totaled about 3,200 positive test results and dated back to January. Only about 1,020 of those tests were conducted in the past seven days, the department said.

According to data from the TDH, most of the backlog cases were added in Blount, Davidson, Knox, Montgomery, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties. Tennessee added 4,181 new cases on Saturday as a result of the backlog, though the real number is likely between 1,000-2,000.

Ballad hospitalizations

Ballad Health on Monday reported 129 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, its highest inpatient census since Jan. 29 — an 80-day span. The number of patients on ventilators rose to 19, the most reported since Jan. 27. The number of patients in intensive care was at its highest point in two weeks, as well.

Monday’s rise in overall hospitalizations and critical care patients continued a trend that began in mid-March, with hospitalizations up 92.5% since March 15. During a press conference last week, Ballad’s Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton warned that the system can’t handle another surge in hospitalizations.

“Simply put, we really cannot take another surge like we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “Our health system was really strained before, and we’re very concerned that we cannot sustain another strain.”

In-house modeling from Ballad projects hospitalizations could reach 150, which would be the most reported in the region since Jan. 28 (160).

NERHO hosting multiple walk-in vaccination events this week

The Northeast Regional Health Office is hosting multiple walk-in vaccination events this week.

Tuesday:

  • Greene Valley Development Center, 4850 E. Andrew Johnson Highway, Greeneville, 7:30-9:30 a.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  • Phipps Bend Industrial Park, Surgoinsville, 3:30-6:30 p.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  • Unicoi County High School, 700 S. Mohawk Drive, Erwin, 9 a.m. to noon and 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech)

Wednesday:

  • Hancock County Health Department, 178 Willow St., Sneedville, 7-9 a.m. (Moderna)

Thursday:

  • Greene Valley Development Center, 4850 E. Andrew Johnson Highway, Greeneville, noon to 6:30 p.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  • Johnson County Health Department, 715 W. Main St., Mountain City, 9-11 a.m. (Moderna)
  • Freedom Hall Civic Center, 1320 Pactolas Road, Johnson City, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech)

Friday:

  • Phipps Bend Industrial Park, Surgoinsville, 7-9 a.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  • Freedom Hall Civic Center, 1320 Pactolas Road, Johnson City, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech

NET by the numbers

Cases: 54,939 (+112). Past seven days: 935

New cases by county: Carter 12, Greene 12, Hancock 2, Hawkins 9, Johnson 1, Sullivan 34, Unicoi 1, Washington 41.

Active cases: 1,662 (+2)

Active cases by county: Carter 188, Greene 131, Hancock 15, Hawkins 149, Johnson 67, Sullivan 584, Unicoi 56, Washington 472.

New tests: 909 (12.87% positivity rate )

New hospitalizations: 2. Past seven days: 25

Deaths: 1,042. Past seven days: 8

Tennessee by the numbers

Cases: 835,842 (+470)

New tests: 8,149 (6.97% positivity)

Deaths: 12,081 (+17)

Active cases: 13,988

Current hospitalizations: 844 (-2)

Ballad Health Scorecard

COVID-19 inpatients: 129 (+18)

Admissions: 26

Discharges: 16

Patients in intensive care: 29 (+4)

Patients on a ventilator: 19 (+2)

Designated beds available: 14 (-11)

First-dose vaccines administered: 41,707 (+305)

Second-dose vaccines administered: 36,659 (+1,240)

Ballad has a 21-county service area in Tennessee and Virginia. Ballad issues scorecards on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


A crewman checks the progress as an Aerial Solutions Hughes 369D helicopter cuts brush along an Old Dominion Power right-of-way Monday.


top story
Cat found bound, stabbed to death in funeral home parking lot

Johnson City police and Washington County/Johnson City animal control officers are looking for who bound, beat and stabbed a cat to death and left it in a funeral home parking lot.

The cat, orange with long hair and white on its feet, underbelly and face, was found Sunday by an employee at Appalachian Funeral Home on East Watauga Avenue.

“He called JCPD and the police called us,” Shelter Director Tammy Davis said.

The employee left the parking lot at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday and the cat was not there, Davis said. He returned around 1 p.m. and found the animal.

“We have the screwdriver ... the police took the tape off the cat’s leg, and the funeral home is going through surveillance video,” Davis said. She also said there will be a necropsy on the cat to determine exactly what injuries were inflicted.

“We’re working very closely with JCPD and the funeral home. It’s a very active investigation,” she said.

Photos on the shelter’s Facebook page were graphic, Davis said, but were the least offensive of all the photographs taken.

Animal control and police plan to canvass the area to see if anyone else may have surveillance video that recorded anything that could lead to the arrest of the responsible person.

“Unfortunately, we see animal cruelty cases every week at the shelter,” Davis said. “This was more disturbing because it was deliberate. It was intentional. It’s someone who bound this cat, abused it and killed it and then they left it where it would be found.”

Davis said it was also upsetting because the shelter had a great turnout for its kitten shower donation event on Saturday.

“We went from an amazing day on Saturday, seeing the good in our community. And then it’s disappointing to see that the following day, we see this.”

Anyone with information about the crime can call the Johnson City Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at 423-434-6166. For those wishing to remain anonymous, information can be sent by calling Crimestoppers at 423-434-6158. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by texting 423JCPD and your tip to 847411 (TIP411) or submitted via the internet at www.citizenobserver.com.


After eight presidential elections, seven gubernatorial contests and several primaries and local and special elections, Norton General Registrar Marie Muir is retiring after 30 years in the post.


Back