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A fire destroyed this mobile home in Valley Trailer Park on Sunday night, but no injuries were reported. Sweetwater Fire Department (SFD) responded to the blaze at 9:45 p.m. and was assisted by Christianburg Volunteer Fire Department and North Monroe Fire Department. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the one residence. The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to a report filed by SFD.

Allen resigns from County Commission

A small bombshell was dropped at the beginning of the Monroe County government budget workshop on Monday when Mayor Mitch Ingram read a letter from 1st District County Commissioner Marty Allen, stating that he was resigning from the commission.

Allen did not attend the meeting and Ingram said the board could not act or comment on the letter until the official meeting on Tuesday night (held after The Advocate & Democrat’s print deadline for this edition).

Ingram read the letter, in which Allen stated resigning was “not an easy choice,” but the stress of the position was affecting his health and his family deserved him at his best.

Allen also said serving the county had been an honor and he had done the best he could for the citizens of the 1st District.

“My biggest fear has been to disappoint others,” he wrote, “and I hope you don’t find me selfish in my decision.”

Allen, who had served on the County Commission since 2010, had initially indicated he would not run again last year, but he did and easily won. He was a member of the Niles Ferry Industrial Park Committee and helped forge a plan to sale some land in that park that is serving no purpose other than to store rotted switchgrass.

Allen was visibly upset when the commission rejected the plan to sell the land to Son’s Construction, wondering why the committee even existed if the commission was not going listen to its recommendations.

Ingram said it is up the commission to now appoint someone to fill Allen’s seat. They will have 120 days from April 22 to do that and whoever is chosen will serve until the next election, at which time they will have to run for election if they wish to keep the seat.

mthomason / Michael Thomason | The Advocate & Democrat 

Monroe County Economic Development broke ground on Monday for a Site Development grant/invest prep in the amount of $857,143. The grant is funded by Tennessee Economic Development and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The grant funding will help create a site-ready pad for future industrial prospects and will sit on 27 acres. From left: Monroe County Commissioner Brian Harrill, Monroe County Maintenance Supervisor Brandon West, Vonore Mayor Bob Lovingood, Donna Martin with Monroe County Economic Development, Monroe County Finance’s Gail Sensibaugh, who will oversee the grant, Monroe County Economic Development Director Richard Kirkland and Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram.

Couple wanted in North Carolina found in Monroe County

A couple wanted by authorities in North Carolina was arrested Monday after they came out of the woods behind a ranger station and asked for directions, according to investigators.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Hailey Burrell said she went to station around 9:30 a.m. after rangers called dispatch and said the couple had walked out of the woods and asked for directions to the nearest town.

Ranger Sue Thompson said the woman was wearing a purple hoodie and the man was tall with diamond earrings. Thompson also said they were carrying a rifle case.

Burrell said dispatch told her there had been a chase in North Carolina in Graham County on the Cherohala Skyway that came into Tennessee and the chase ended with a wreck and a man and woman running from the car.

The couple was not found after the wreck, but their description matched the one the ranger had given.

Burrell later found the couple on Bear Lane and identified the man as Douglas Cox and the woman as Crystal Cox. She said the woman had a bump on her forehead and a bruised eye, and was not wearing any shoes.

The officer asked the couple about the rifle and they allegedly said they did not have a rifle. The two were shown, however, on a store’s security camera carrying a camouflage rifle case. Store employees said the couple had sold the rifle to someone in the parking lot.

Douglas Cox then allegedly admitted he had sold the rifle because they needed money to get home and told the officer he was also on felony probation.

Burrell said she then asked them if they had been in a car wreck the night before and they said they had not been. Burrell was informed, however, that Crystal Cox had handed over her license to law enforcement officers before the couple fled North Carolina in a reportedly stolen car.

Burrell said she did recover the rifle from the man who had bought it.

Douglas Cox, 30, McCrimmon Road, Rowland, North Carolina, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and being a fugitive from justice.

Crystal Cox, 29, same address, was charged with filing a false report.

Shots fired, arrest made for drugs

It came in as a call of someone being shot in Sweetwater on Monday afternoon and while a gunshot victim was not found, Sweetwater Police did make a drug-related arrest.

Officer Suzanne Ward said it was just before 1 p.m. when she was told shots had been fired in the area of Fair and Cherry streets and that someone had been shot.

When she arrived in the area, Ward and other officers found Brelsford Houston Johnson Jr. standing in a driveway and detained him. Other people then came running out of the house and said Johnson had been fighting with Gabrial Ogle and that Johnson had fired a gun at Ogle.

Ward said Ogle had run from the residence before officers arrived and officers were not sure if he had been shot or not.

Ogle has yet to be located.

Detective John Scruggs did see a .380-Taurus handgun lying in the rear passenger floorboard of a Chevy Tahoe in the driveway. A search of the car turned up a box of ammunition, a baggie with suspected heroin in it, suspected marijuana, 26 Gabapentin pills, a loaded syringe, a pipe with residue in it, three sets of digital scales, a set of brass knuckles and five counterfeit $100 bills.

Ward said Johnson’s identification card was lying next to the bag of pills.

Johnson, 30, Cleveland Avenue, Athens, was taken into custody and charged with reckless endangerment, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of prohibited weapons, possession of heroin, possession of Gabapentin, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal simulation.