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Calhoun asks for murder charge to be dismissed

An Englewood man charged in a 46-year-old murder case has waived his arraignment, which was scheduled for Monday in Madisonville, and recorded a plea of not guilty, but he will still appear in court.

The attorney for Max Benson Calhoun, 67, has filed papers asking that the murder charge against him be dismissed, and if that dismissal is not granted, the attorney has asked that his client’s million-dollar bond be lowered to a more “reasonable price.”

Calhoun’s lawyer, James Logan Jr., filed paperwork saying Calhoun is being charged under a law that did not exist at the time of the alleged crime and, therefore, the charge should be dismissed.

Logan said in the filing that the wording of the law changed slightly in May 1973, after the alleged crime in March 1973, rendering the charge unlawful in this case. He also said Tennessee did not have capital punishment in 1973, meaning the state cannot pursue the death penalty against Calhoun.

Logan also filed a motion saying Calhoun’s million-dollar bond was unconstitutional and needed to be lowered. He states in the filing that in Tennessee, someone charged with murder receives a $100,000 bond.

Calhoun is charged in the 1973 death of John Raymond Constant Jr., a murder that has long been one of Monroe County’s main unsolved homicide cases. Tenth Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump said in a Feb. 12 press conference that a witness came forward in December, saying they had a terminal disease and wanted the truth to be known.

The history of the case has become well known the in the past month. The Democrat newspaper, then owned by Dan Hicks Jr., ran updates in 1987 on what was then already a 14-year-old case.

Constant’s body was found in a pickup truck under a bridge in Vonore. He had been shot multiple times with two different kinds of weapons. One theory investigators looked at early in the case was that Constant might have been shot in a car wash stall in Etowah, but it was made to look like he was ambushed in Vonore. When asked about that, Crump declined to comment.

A man who lived close to where Constant was found in Vonore said he was watching TV between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. that evening when he heard several quick shots. The man also said a car with a loud muffler passed his house both before and after the shots.

The articles said investigators had also been told Constant was last seen in a garage owned by H.B. Calhoun in Etowah.

It is H.B. Calhoun’s son, Max, who now stands charged with Constant’s murder.

In another 1987 article, Constant’s ex-wife said Constant was scared he was being set up to be killed because he knew too much about crooked dealings involving certain public officials.

In 1982, a former McMinn County deputy was arrested and charged, but he was eventually cleared of Constant’s murder.

The arrest of Calhoun earlier this month in the Constant homicide case is the first major splash made by Crump’s Cold Case Task Force formed to investigate certain unsolved cases across his district.


News
TASS opens new faciltity

Tellico Area Service Systems (TASS) held an open house for its new workshop/warehouse location on the Niles Ferry Industry Park in Vonore this past week.

TASS Superintendent Mark Clinton said previously the parts for the TASS water and pipe lines had been kept in a 600-square-foot room.

“Now, we have a new 6,000-square-feet facility,” Clinton said, “And it’s going to make a huge difference.”

Clinton said the current TASS offices would remain open.

“This is for the guys you see out at midnight on Christmas Eve repairing water lines,” he said. “They now have an area where they can keep equipment, get dressed to go out, a training area and even office space.”

The new building sits on 7 acres TASS bought from Monroe County. TASS serves Monroe, Loudon and Blount counties with both water and sewer, treating, on average, 4.5 million gallons of water a day.

“If you laid out all the pipe we have in a straight line, it would reach all the way to Memphis,” said Clinton.

TASS, which is a division of both Monroe and Loudon counties, was officially created on Dec. 3, 1970, by a joint agreement between Loudon and Monroe counties. The purpose was to provide a modern water and wastewater treatment system to its citizens and also to realize the area’s potential for industrial and residential growth. TASS is governed by the Water and Wastewater Finance Board in Nashville.

TASS employs 23 full-time employees. The 23 employees presently on the job represent more than 192 cumulative years of water and wastewater experience.

The current system consists of a 7-million-gallon-a-day water plant, 241.2 miles of water lines, a 1.5-million gallon-a-day wastewater treatment plant, 51.41 miles of sewer lines, nine water pumping stations, 18 sewer pumping stations, five water tanks with a combined storage capacity of 6 million gallons.

There are currently 3,990 water customers, 279 industrial water customers, five wholesale water customers and two wholesale wastewater customers.


News
Myers remembered for commitment to community

Most people will never fully understand the impact Frank Myers had on his community in Tellico Plains, or even across Monroe County.

“Frank was a local icon,” said Tellico Plains Mayor Patrick Hawkins. “He helped so many in ways that a lot of people will never know about because Frank didn’t do it for any self glory, but to help a fellow friend in need. He will be remembered for his commitment to helping others and his always smiling face. He loved Tellico Plains and Tellico Plains loved him.”

Myers died Tuesday at the age of 75.

Myers grew up in the Rural Vale community of Tellico Plains and later served in the United States Marine Corps. In March 1973, Myers opened Myers Funeral Home in Tellico Plains and began a life-long dedication to providing compassion in the darkest hours of those who needed it most. Myers’ wife, Sharon, and three children—Frank “Bud” III, Lee Ann and Dana Jo—followed in his footsteps, becoming licensed funeral directors and working alongside him for many years.

Carla Brannon, a long-time employee of Sweetwater Hospital Association, called Myers “one in a million.”

“Being at the hospital for as long as I have and seeing how he interacted with the families during difficult times, he was just always amazing,” she said. “If he knew people didn’t have a lot of money, he always took care of them. I don’t know if he charged those families a dime. He kept things on a personal, hometown level. The service he gave this community is just incredible. It’s a legacy.”

But close to Christmas in 1999, Brannon found herself in her own darkest hour.

“My son, Daniel, had a perforated ulcer in his stomach and it led to him going into multiple organ failure,” said Brannon. “The doctors sat me down and told me it wasn’t looking good. I was given zero hope that Dan would make it to Christmas.”

In her profession in the medical field, this was Brannon’s first time being on the receiving end of bad news.

“The doctors wanted me to look at signing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) or something along those lines,”she said. “I was a mess, but I didn’t want to give up hope. I ended up signing a chemical code only.”

Brannon said she went down to Children’s Hospital’s chapel and cried.

“I prayed probably the hardest I’ve ever prayed in my life,” she said. “I wasn’t ready. I needed more time.”

After leaving the chapel, Brannon said she went back to the Ronald McDonald House and her mind was filled with worries about what she would do if Daniel did pass away.

“Would I have the right mind to do what I needed to do?” she thought.

The first person that popped into Brannon’s mind was Myers.

“I made a call to Frank, a very trusted family friend, and I said, ‘Frank, I know I won’t be able to make a solid decision if this happens, but can you help me?’” Brannon recalled. “Frank told me he would be honored to take care of Dan if something happened. But then he told me, ‘Carla, we’re not God and the doctors aren’t God.’ He said both he and Sharon would be praying for Dan and told me not to give up hope that Dan could make a turn for the better.”

“He just had a calming presence about him,” Brannon continued. “That was just Frank. I was a scared little girl and he made me feel better. When I hung up the phone with him that night, I had peace. I felt like everything was going to be okay.”

And it was.

When Brannon arrived to Children’s Hospital on Christmas morning, she was greeted by the nurses standing by Daniel’s bed.

“They had decorated his bed with tinsel and it said, ‘Merry Christmas, mommy,’” she said. “They held up one of the (film) X-rays from the day before and another new X-ray. It was just a miracle the difference between the two.”

Brannon’s son, Daniel, is now 25 years old.

“I will always remember how Frank helped me in my darkest hour,” she said. “When my hope had run out, he simply told me he would take care of everything and I knew that everything he said was true. He showed so many families what compassion looks like.”

‘A second father’

But Myers’ legacy is more than what he did at his funeral home. He also served in many civic organizations and clubs in Tellico Plains, but the most dear to his heart was serving in the Boys Scouts of America. He was scoutmaster for Troop 115 of Tellico Plains for more than 50 years.

“Frank was like a second father to me,” said 3rd District County Commissioner Chris Wiseman, who spent nine years under Myers’ leadership as an Eagle Scout. “His upbringing made me what I am today. He always made time to help everyone. He had a big heart and wouldn’t turn anybody away.”

Tellico Plains Fire Chief Jamie Sisson also spent close to eight years as one of Myers’ scouts.

“Frank was always teaching you something. You never went home empty (after scout trips),” said Sisson. “He made it fun. He was just a good leader, all the way around. Always telling stories and laughing, man, he was laughing all the time. Just a good ‘ole guy.”

On scout trips, Sisson said they would cook road kill.

“Whatever Frank ran over,” he laughed. “We won the Cracked Skillet Award with a possum cooked in a Dutch oven. It was actually good.”

Sisson said he would often stop by to see Myers or stop to talk to him when they would see each other out in public.

“He had a lot of stories from scouting days and from Korea during the time he was in the military,” said Sisson. “I served in the military too so we were able to trade some tales. He was one of my mentors.”

Myers served as a volunteer in the Fire Department, according to Sisson.

“Tellico’s lost a good leader,” he said. “Frank always gave back and didn’t hesitate to help someone in need. He treated everyone equal. All of us old Scout guys, he meant a lot to us. Everyone looked up to him.”

Myers was also the longest active standing member of the Tellico Plains Kiwanis Club. He worked alongside his good friends, the late Charles Hall and Harold Hawkins Sr., on community projects and the Wagon Train.

‘Gee a little, haw a little!’

“‘Gee a little, haw a little!’” is what I hear when I think of Frank,” said Pam Hall Mathews, the late Charles Hall’s daughter and the current president of the Board of the Charles Hall Museum. “The Wagon Train is how I remember him best. He and his partner, Harold Hawkins Sr., would drive the Hall’s covered wagon steering dad’s mules, Kate and Bell.”

Mathews said she would ride her horse behind Myers’ wagon.

“I could have ridden anywhere, but Frank always made those long, hard and, many times, rainy rides fun,” she said. “A bonus was that Sharon would pack Frank enough homemade goodies to share that always went well with our Beanie Weenies!”

Myers also took care of the Hall family’s mules, Kate and Bell, on his farm—Myers Farm—in Rural Vale, noted Mathews. The Myers Farm has been in the family for more than 100 years and continues to be worked on by family members.

“Frank and dad were great friends and the best of Wagon Train friends,” said Mathews. “Frank never failed to tell me how much he missed Daddy. He left a big impact on Tellico Plains, through his funeral home, the Kiwanis Club, Boys Scouts, church and his beloved Wagon Train. He will be greatly missed.”

Funeral services for Myers were held on Friday with a committal service with military honors scheduled for Saturday morning.

See A2 of the Feb. 24 edition for complete obituary.


News
Rogers pleads not guilty to charges involving missing girl

A Wisconsin man charged in connection with the disappearance of a Madisonville teenager earlier this month has now been indicted by a grand jury. One charge alleges he coerced a minor to provide a video showing her engaged in sexual activity and then had her email him the video across state lines.

He was also charged with lying to the FBI in a two-count indictment.

In a hearing held in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday, Bryan Rogers, 31, pleaded not guilty to the charges had a trial date of July 15 set in the federal case.

The indictment says the girl sent the video to Rogers sometime between Dec. 24 and Jan. 13. The indictment also states that on Jan. 31, Rogers lied to the FBI, saying the girl was not in his mother’s home, that he had not driven to Tennessee and picked her up and that he had not been in Tennessee since 2010.

The teenage girl was reported missing from her Madisonville home on Jan. 14, and a tearful press conference was held a couple of weeks later with her parents begging the public to help find her. Less than a week later, her adoptive father, Randall Pruitt, was arrested and charged with rape of the girl.

In court papers filed showing conversations between Rogers and the girl, she said she had been abused by Pruitt since she was 2 years old and that when she told her mother, her mother did not believe her.

Rogers is still in a Wisconsin jail and in a story posted on madison.com, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Oppeneer said he was “making no judgment about whatever motives Rogers, 31, may have had when he is alleged to have persuaded the 14-year-old girl to make a video of herself being sexually assaulted by an adult, or about the likelihood of success that prosecutors would have of getting a conviction.”

But Oppeneer said there was enough evidence for him to believe Rogers had violated a federal law by persuading the girl to make the video and then send it to him.

Rogers’ lawyer, Jonas Bednarek, had filed papers making a case that Rogers was not a flight threat nor presented a danger to anybody.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger argued that Rogers should remain in custody until his trial. Pfluger said Rogers displayed an ability to avoid police as there was no traffic or security camera evidence of him taking the girl from Tennessee to Wisconsin.

Bednarek also pointed out that Rogers had helped the girl compose a letter to the FBI detailing her abuse at the hands of her adoptive father, but the judge was not swayed.


News
TPHS student creates online art magazine for youth

The struggle to become a writer begins long before a word of the first novel is written. For an artist, the journey begins before the pen touches paper. For any type of art, getting started is the most important step.

Knowing this, 15-year-old Hannah Morris, a sophomore at Tellico Plains High School, had an idea that could potentially change the lives of hundreds of other teenagers who are facing similar issues.

“I’ve been writing since sixth grade,” said Morris. “I like to write short horror stories. I have a lot of creative ideas. Putting them on paper helped me be able to organize them. I get inspired from almost everything. Anything weird, or different, promotes ideas, and that’s how most of my stories are started.”

But Morris was struggling to find somewhere that would publish her work.

“The idea was to find a way that I could publish myself, then I realized that others were like me—struggling to find a way to get their name out there too,” she said. “I wanted to create somewhere for us all to share our art with the world and start building our portfolios.”

So, last summer, Morris created an online magazine for youth ages 12 to 18. It is inclusive to all types of art, whether visual, literary or performance.

“This can range from writing to singing, from sculpting to screen writing, from dancing to wood working,” said Morris. “Our goal is to give young creators a platform to build from.”

When developing a name for the online magazine, Morris kept thinking about hands.

“The majority of artwork comes from your hand,” she explained. “You have five fingers on a hand so I came up with 5 P.O.I.N.T., which stands for Presenting Our Incredible New Talent.”

The first issue of the magazine published in December. It includes 12 pieces of work from eight different artists.

While Morris has a goal of publishing once a month, she said it currently depends on the frequency of submissions.

“We went around to the schools that have age-appropriate students and talked to the principals and handed out cards and information,” said Morris. “All of it was approved by our Director of Schools Tim Blankenship. But I’m lacking the desired response from it so far.”

Anyone ages 12 to 18 is welcome to submit work for 5 P.O.I.N.T. Magazine. To submit your work, fill out the form under the “Submissions” tab on the magazine’s website at https://5point-magazine.weebly.com/.

“It’s pretty easy to navigate,” said Morris. “I wanted it to be a simple process.”

Morris noted that not every submission for that month will be included in the next issue of the magazine, however.

“It depends on how good the artwork is and if it fits the current theme we are developing for that issue,” she said. “Everything that’s submitted in one certain month might not go in that next edition, but it could be included in later months.”

If you enter a piece of visual art, your piece may be used as a cover for the magazine.

“Our magazine cover will change each issue and will feature a young artist,” she said.

Any submission also has the opportunity to be featured as the Talent Spotlight for the upcoming edition.

“We have a cool feature on the website called Talent Spotlight,” said Morris. “A piece that sticks out within the submissions for that month will be selected and they get the tab on the website all to themselves to promote the artist and their art. It’s just another way that people can get their name and work out there and get some recognition.”

Magazine issues can be purchased for $5 each on 5 P.O.I.N.T.’s website. Morris said the money raised will help keep the website and magazine going.

“Eventually we would like to see it make profit,” she said. “I would love for this to stay a part of my every day career and life—in college and beyond.”

While the online magazine is still new and growing its roots, Morris said it has been well received so far.

“My entire community is very supportive,” she said. “From my family to my teachers. They’ve embraced it.”

Morris’ goal is to see 5 P.O.I.N.T. magazine branch out nationwide.

“All art is important and being able to share your art is just as important as creating it,” she said. “That’s what 5 P.O.I.N.T. is for—we want to help young artists share their work, build from it and be proud of what they’re creating.”

In addition to a website, 5 P.O.I.N.T. Magazine has Facebook and Instagram pages: 5 Point Magazine.


Max Benson Calhoun


Bryan David Rogers


Frank Myers Jr.