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42 additional COVID-19 deaths reported in seven days across Northeast Tennessee

Forty-two COVID-19 deaths were reported in eight Northeast Tennessee counties in the seven-day period ending Sunday (Oct. 4-10), according to numbers published online Monday by the Tennessee Department of Health.

New cases of the virus increased in all eight counties. Active cases, however, decreased in all eight counties.

Active cases in the region totaled 2,677, on Oct. 10, compared to 3,251 on Oct. 3, according to daily reports by the TDH. On Sept. 19, active cases totaled 5,556 for the eight-county region.

Numbers of deaths and new and active cases in this article are from the TDH’s daily Epidemiology and Surveillance Data reports, using data recorded from that report on Sept. 20 (for numbers recorded Sept. 19), Sept. 27 (for numbers recorded on Sept. 26), Oct. 4 (for numbers recorded on Oct. 3), and Oct. 11 (for numbers recorded on Oct. 10). The Times News is reporting from the same chart to try to provide consistency.

Visitors to the TDH website will find sometimes significantly different case, new case, active case, and death numbers for each county elsewhere on the site.

Thirteen of of the deaths reported from Oct. 4-10 were in Sullivan County. Other deaths reported during the seven-day period, by county: 10 in Greene; eight in Washington; five in Hawkins; three in Unicoi; two in Carter; and one in Hancock.

New cases reported across the region in the same time frame total 1,555. New cases by county, for the seven-day period: 438 in Sullivan; 353 in Greene; 317 in Washington; 167 in Hawkins; 164 in Carter; 59 in Johnson; 34 in Unicoi; and 23 in Hancock.

Ballad Health’s COVID-19 Scorecard for Monday reported 234 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across its 21-county service area. Sixty-nine patients were in intensive care units, and 54 were on ventilators. There were two pediatric patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

Most of those numbers show decreases from a week before. On Monday, Oct. 4, Ballad’s daily COVID-19 Scorecard reported: 287 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across its 21-county service area; 81 patients in intensive care units; 61 were on ventilators; and four pediatric patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

Statewide, according to the TDH, 1,295 (12%) of the 11,074 floor beds in Tennessee hospitals were available as of Sunday, and 247 (12%) of the 2,023 ICU beds in Tennessee hospitals were available.

A week ago, TDH reported only 7% of ICU beds were available across the state.

State comptroller pushes for local infrastructure spending

State Comptroller Jason Mumpower would like to see local governments spend their share of federal COVID-19 relief funds on “transformative” projects.

Speaking to the East Tennessee Republican Club in Johnson City on Monday, Mumpower said water and sewer improvements are among his “personal favorites” and represent a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for municipal and county governments in Tennessee.

“This is an opportunity for every community from Mountain City to Memphis to expand their water/sewer infrastructure,” he said. “We have pipes in the ground that are between 40 and 70 years old.”

He said communities in Tennessee also have the opportunity to use their share of funds from the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan Act to address broadband needs. A total of $4.4 billion from the act is coming to Tennessee’s schools, counties and municipalities.

Tennessee government is also slated to receive $3.725 billion from the recovery plan. As a result, the comptroller said the state government has decided to allocate $1.36 billion of the $3.725 billion to match local spending on water and sewer projects.

The state has also committed $500 million in ARPA funds to match local spending for broadband infrastructure projects.

“We’ve all learned in the past 18 to 20 months just how important it is to have access to reliable broadband,” Mumpower said.

He told area Republicans meeting at the Carnegie Hotel to contact their local county and municipal officials and to urge them to spend their federal pandemic relief funds on projects “that are transformative for their communities.”

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy later told the group that county commissioners have decided to spend a sizable portion of the $25.1 million in ARPA funds coming to Washington County on waterline projects.

Mumpower also noted Monday that Tennessee is one of 17 states that have recorded revenue growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. And he said Tennessee is one of just 13 states in the nation with a top Triple A credit rating.

“Our state government carries the lowest per-capita debt load of any state in the nation with debt,” he said.

The Bristol native served as deputy comptroller of the treasury before being elected by the Republican majority of the state General Assembly to head the constitutional office earlier this year. He was 23 years old when he was first elected in 1996 to represent parts of Sullivan and Johnson counties in the state House of Representatives.

The 48-year-old King University graduate said the primary function of the comptroller’s office is “to make government work better.”

The duties of the office include conducting annual financial audits of state and local governments and public utilities.

‘He was Mr. Duffield:’ Kenny Fannon leaves a legacy in Scott County

DUFFIELD — Scott County lost a prominent member of its community over the weekend.

Kenny Fannon passed away on Sunday, Oct. 10, surrounded by family. The Duffield native was 90 years old.

Most knew Fannon as the creator and organizer of Duffield’s largest event, Duffield Daze, which started in 1981 as a way to give back to the Duffield community through a family-friendly event.

But his legacy doesn’t end there.

Fannon served in the Korean War. Throughout his life, he was instrumental in the Veterans Day celebration in Scott County and helped with many other veteran events in the area. He was also a dedicated member of the community who served on the board of directors for Duffield Volunteer Fire and Rescue for many years and was an associate member of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce, among other clubs and organizations.

“You just don’t find that kind of spirit and commitment anymore,” Scott County Tourism Director Pam Cox said. “He is going to be missed.”

Those who attended a Scott County Chamber dinner over the years most likely enjoyed a skit from Fannon and longtime friend Joe Fuller.

“We never had it planned, but we would make polite fun of each other as part of the comedy skit, “ Fuller said. “It’s a terrible loss. We all miss Kenny.”

One of the great loves of Fannon’s life was the railroad.

Fannon was a railroad historian who, along with his grandson, Ruston, preserved the history of the railroad in Southwest Virginia through a robust collection of railroad artifacts at the Fannon Railroad Museum. The museum includes refurbished authentic railcars, engines and the depot seen in the ‘80s movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter” about country legend Loretta Lynn. Throughout the years, Fannon and his family also often provided railroad programs at Natural Tunnel State Park and the Southwest Virginia Museum.

“I worked for the railroad for 34 years. Kenny never did work for the railroad,” Fuller said, “but he knew more about the railroad than some of us that worked there because of his studies and things he displayed.”

Fannon was always willing to lend a piece of railroad history, Cox said, while sharing all he could about the subject.

“You could just go up to his house and ask to see his railroad museum,” Cox said, “and he’d take you in.”

But mostly, Fuller said, Fannon just loved talking to people.

“He would talk to anybody,” Fuller said. “He would carry on a conversation and most of the time it led to railroading. He was just a well-liked fella that made friends with whomever he met.”

For many years, Fannon served as the conductor of Duffield Daze, which still continues as a Labor Day event complete with fireworks, live music and more.

That event, Cox said, was a testament to Kenny’s love for the community.

“Everybody knew Kenny,” Cox said. “He was Mr. Duffield.”

In a 2013 article in the Kingsport Times News on Duffield Daze, Fannon said his goal was to provide an event for the community and make Scott County just a little better in the end.

“As long as I’m able, I’m going to keep going on, I reckon,” Fannon said. “Somebody will have to take over one day, but we’ve got some good people to step in, so I’m not worried about it. …

“I do this because I just want to leave this place a little bit better than when I got here.”

Any upcoming arrangements in honor of Fannon will be announced by Oak Hill Funeral and Cremation Services.

Kingsport SWAT team helps to end standoff

KINGSPORT — A suspect was taken into custody on Monday following a standoff with Kingsport police officers.

According to information from Kingsport Police Department Public Information Officer Tom Patton, police officers responded to a residence in the 1200 block of Chestnut Street on Monday afternoon in reference to a domestic disturbance with the possibility of shots fired.

The resident refused to exit the home to speak with officers, and a standoff ensued.

When negotiations failed, an individual was eventually taken into custody with the assistance of the KPD SWAT team.

As of Monday evening, the scene was stable and there was no danger to the surrounding neighborhood, according to the information from Patton.

Patton said investigators at the scene had been able to determine that no serious injuries were sustained during the earlier domestic incident.

The matter remains under an open and active investigation with charges pending, according to the information from Patton.

No further information was available late Monday.

Thursday marks the 16th day since Summer Wells was reported missing. To report credible information call 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463).