U.S. board rejects deal to preserve rail line

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has paved the way for the owner of an historic railroad line from Oneida to Devonia in Scott, Campbell and remote Anderson County to pull up the tracks and close the line permanently.

In a 4-1 decision last week, the STB denied an appeal by an Arkansas railroad company to allow it to buy the nearly 42-mile line from Kentucky-based R.J. Corman Railroad using a process through the STB that would have forced the sale.

Last September, the STB – in a 2-1 vote – denied a request by Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad Co. to buy the line and rehabilitate it for proposed new freight customers. The line has been dormant since 2013, when the last customer – a coal-mining operation in the Devonia area – shut down.

In January, Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad attempted to reach an agreement with R.J. Corman to purchase the line outside the STB’s Offer of Financial Assistance program, through mediation that had been ordered by the STB.

The mediators said that despite two meetings with R.J. Corman Railroad and Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad, on Jan. 21 and 22, “the parties ultimately were not able to reach a settlement,” and “the mediation has ended.”

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Norris council approves rezoning next to museum

This image from the Anderson County property map shows the two parcels — Tracts 13 and 132 — that were rezoned for commercial use Monday night by the Norris City Council. They would provide 17.5 acres for a planned RV park adjacent to the Museum of Appalachia.
Despite objections from three nearby residents and a member of the Norris Planning Commission, the Norris City Council quickly and unanimously voted Monday night to change the zoning of property next to the Museum of Appalachia to commercial use.

Although Mayor Chris Mitchell and others on the council made it clear that they were voting on the rezoning, and not any specific plans for the property, some heated discussion in a public hearing before the meeting made it clear that the ultimate goal is to accommodate the museum founding family’s goal of setting up a campground and park for recreational vehicles.

It would be the first overnight accommodations facility near the museum, which sits along Andersonville Highway in the Bethel community on land that was annexed by Norris about 10 years ago.

The rezoning, approved on second and final reading, changes the property from the current S-2 (Scenic Highway District) to general commercial (C-2). The rezoning covers the address 2819 Andersonville Highway, which includes two tracts comprising about 17.5 acres adjacent to the museum. The land is owned by the family that created the Museum of Appalachia in 1969, and still controls it. John Rice Irwin is the family patriarch, and his daughter Elaine Irwin Meyer is president of the museum.

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Candidates announce intentions for Anderson County judgeships

Miller will run for re-election for General Sessions II seat

Judge Roger A. Miller announced his intent to seek re-election last week for a second term as General Sessions Judge Division II located in Oak Ridge.

Miller was elected General Sessions judge in 2014 after practicing law for 16 years in Clinton.

A lifetime resident of Anderson County, Miller graduated from Clinton High School in 1980.

Prior to practicing law, Miller served as an EMS Paramedic for 13 years with the Anderson County Ambulance Service and Methodist Medical Center.

Miller was the first full time paramedic employed in the Methodist Medical Center Emergency Room in the mid-1990s.

Miller obtained an associate degree in applied science from Roane State before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the social sciences. He obtained his law degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in 1998.

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Candidates announce intentions for Anderson County judgeships

Spitzer seeking appointment as a Circuit Court judge

Assistant District Attorney General Ryan Spitzer will seek the Republican nomination to succeed Judge Donald R. Elledge in 2022.

Spitzer has announced he will seek the office of Circuit Court judge in Anderson County following the early retirement of Circuit Judge Donald R. Elledge, effective June 30.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is expected to appoint a new judge to fill the remainder of the term until the regular election next year. Spitzer announced he will be seeking the appointment by the governor, and also intends to be a candidate in the Republican Primary on May 3, 2022.

Spitzer has served as an assistant district attorney here in Anderson County for the past 13 years, helping to investigate and prosecute thousands of criminal cases in both General Sessions and Circuit courts.

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