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Trio of Sequoyah students named all-state in band

Three students from Sequoyah High School have made it to the all-state band competition for the first time in several years.

According to their teacher, Linda Trout, the competition encompasses the eastern region of the state.

“They work up music and audition, which this year the auditions were held virtually, so they had to submit a video of them playing so many scales in the music they worked up,” Trout said. “We had several that tried out, but three were selected from the auditions.”

The three students who passed the auditions are Hector Leyva, Jared Anderson and Sammie Beverley.

“Hector and Jared are both juniors and are in the 11th and 12th grade category while Sammie is a sophomore and is in the 9th and 10th grade category,” noted Trout. “Jared and Sammie scored high enough in their seating placement and were selected to go on to the State Honor Band Clinic, which is all-state.”

Trout noted the all-state competition would be held differently this year due to the pandemic.

“Normally they would rehearse and give concert in another audition, but since they are not doing auditions again this year they are just giving them the all-state designation,” Trout said. “They will be having a virtual conference this weekend that will feature stuff for them to do, but they will not be holding a virtual concert because it would be pretty complicated to do.”

Trout noted that prior to these students, she only had two other students who have gone to all-state.

“This is the first time in several years that we had students audition and make it high enough to all-state,” she expressed. “It is just unfortunate that they don’t get to participate in the clinic ... It takes some of the excitement out of it.”

She said having students participate in the clinic gives the school representation at the regional and state level in music and arts.

“The band itself competes in several national competitions, but this is individual students’ work and accomplishments,” she said. “They are representing themselves, their family and the school very well.”

Making it to this level is something the students can use to continue their education career.

“It looks good on a college application and it is a feather in your cap to say that ‘I accomplished this,’” Trout expressed. “It is definitely an accomplishment for the student and I am extremely proud of them. I am proud that they chose to do it and I encourage all of my other students to get out there and push themselves, to go the extra mile and do something more.”

Sliger remembered as 'dedicated, conscientious' county extension agent

A staple of agriculture in Monroe County passed away late last month and he is being remembered by those who knew him.

Robert “Bob” Lee Sliger passed away at his home on March 21 at the age of 82.

Sliger was born on Sept. 4, 1938 in Ten Mile at the Sewee Creek Angus Farm to Joe and Viola Sliger.

He obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree at Tennessee Tech and his Master’s Degree from the University of Tennessee.

Sliger began working for the University of Tennessee Extension Service in 1966 as a special agent in test demonstration, working a four-county area including Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties.

During that time, he met Barbara Faye Delay, a young home agent also employed by the University of Tennessee. In 1969, the couple married and made their home in Madisonville when Sliger was appointed the Monroe County UT extension agent.

Sliger served as the extension agent for Monroe County for nearly 40 years, as he started on May 15, 1969 and retired on June 30, 2009. There was a four-year stint where Sliger worked as a banker, from March 1, 1975 to March 1, 1979.

Sliger received recognition for honors such as being named the National Outstanding Young Agent of the Year by the National Association of County Agents in 1973 and being named Monroe County Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 2006 before retiring in 2009.

“Agriculture lost a real public servant. He was a friend, a mentor, a dedicated UT Extension agent and really willing to help anybody,” Monroe County Cattlemen’s Association (MCCA) President Dr. Hugh McCampbell said. “He was just a peach of a guy to work with.”

McCampbell described Sliger as “the type of gentleman that you would want to introduce to your mother or your wife.”

Sliger was also devoted to his job, McCampbell noted.

“Always dedicated, conscientious and easy to work with, Bob worked long hours as our county agent, often being easiest to reach at his office as late as 7 p.m., or even up towards 9 p.m. or so. Many folks in Monroe County have a story to tell along those lines, to tell how he helped them in the past with whatever problem they had,” he said.

McCampbell noted that Sliger’s dedication and innovation really stood out to him.

“He started a bull leasing program that really improved the genetics of cattle,” McCampbell said. “He was really dedicated to working for agriculture. He could see the work that needed to be done and he knew he had to implement things ... Any county would have loved to have him as their extension agent.”

McCampbell added that Sliger was “instrumental in establishing Holstein steer sales at the East Tennessee Livestock Center (in Sweetwater), which continue today. That market has developed so much that producers bring their Holstein steers from at least seven states, including as far away as Florida, because of the attraction of buyers to the sales here.”

He noted there is a scholarship available to graduating high school seniors, people who completed their freshman year of college majoring in agriculture and those who are the child or grandchild of someone who is in the MCCA named the Robert Lee Sliger Memorial Scholarship.

“Donations to the scholarship are always welcome,” he expressed. “Donations can be made by sending donations to Monroe County Cattlemen’s Association Treasurer John Wiggins at address 2361 Niles Ferry Road, Madisonville, TN 37354 or by calling Monroe County Agent Johnathan Rhea at his office number 423-442-2433 or myself at 423-836-6016.”

More than half a point decrease in unemployment rate for February

The unemployment rate continued to see a decline for the month of February in Monroe County.

According to the State of Tennessee, the unemployment rate in Monroe County for the month of February was 4.4%, which is 0.6% decrease from the previous month’s rate of 5%.

State of Tennessee Statistical Analyst Patrick Todd stated the numbers have decreased across the state.

“For February, this is expected,” Todd said. “Last month was a little unexpected. Typically January is your highest rate so you usually expect to see it decrease from the spike in January.”

He noted the rate for February was just a little higher this year than it was in February of 2020, which had a rate of 4.1%.

“I believe this is a good sign given the pandemic,” Todd said. “We are doing better and are down to the low single digits, so I think this is a good sign.”

He noted that most counties have seen a labor force decline.

“That sort of helps drop the rate down but it is not necessarily a good thing,” Todd noted. “All that said though, this is definitely an improvement.”

He hopes the rates for the month of March will continue to follow the current trend of lowering.

“If you can get through the spring it typically shows a downward trajectory,” he noted. “Who knows exactly what kind of fluctuation we could have, but most of the time we see the rate drop.”

In the surrounding area McMinn County dropped by 0.2% for a rate of 5%, Blount County decreased by 0.2% for a rate of 4.4%, Loudon County fell by 0.1% for a rate of 4.2% and Polk County dropped 0.2% for a rate of 5%.

Across the nation, the rate slid down 0.2% to 6.6% and the state rate lowered half a percent to 4.9%.

The rate fell 90 counties, while rising in four and staying the same in one. That leaves the rate below 5% in 39 counties, between 5% and 10% in 56 counties and above 10% in none.

The counties to see their rate rise in February were White County (0.2% to 4.9%, Overton County (0.2% to 5.3%, Lake County (0.3% to 8.6%) and DeKalb County (0.1% to 5.5%).

Smith County held steady at 4%.

Missouri man, woman arrested in car thefts

A Missouri man and woman were arrested after he allegedly stole three cars, including a Vonore Police cruiser March 31.

Vonore Officer Cory Fritts said he went to Vic’s Texaco that day on a call of a stolen 2010 Toyota Tundra and a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, valued at a total of $41,000.

Fritts said he watched surveillance video from the store and saw a man later identified as Jason Michael Salley take both cars.

Fritts said an investigation led him to the Farnsworth Apartments in Vonore where he found Salley and a woman named Audrey Martin.

Fritts said he took Salley into custody and put him into the back of his Dodge Charger patrol car, but Salley didn’t look to stay in the backseat for long.

Fritts said Salley, listed as being 5’9 and 155 pounds, managed to get his cuffed hands out from behind him, crawled through the cage window separating the front and back seats and took off in the car.

Fritts said the car was found wrecked about three miles away on Deer Run Drive. Fritts said a search of the area was conducted, but Salley wasn’t found.

Fritts said he then took Martin to the Vonore PD, read her rights to her, she waived them and told Fritts what had happened.

Martin reportedly said she was picked up by Salley early on March 31 in a stolen white Toyota and they drove to the Texaco where Salley allegedly stole the other truck while Martin took over driving the Toyota.

She said they took the Chevrolet and parked it behind a church on Ball Play Road and then took the Toyota to a house on Ball Play where they left it and called a woman to come and get them. The woman later told Fritts she had picked the couple up and they had left a white Toyota Tundra behind.

The search for Salley was launched, but it was a couple of days later, April 2, that he was located at a hotel in Cleveland by the Vonore Police, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Cleveland Police Department.

Salley took off running again, but he was caught after a short foot chase.

Salley, 27, North Golden Street, Springfield, Missouri, was charged with escape and three counts of auto theft.

Martin, 28, West Maple Avenue, Hurley, Missouri, was charged with accessory after the fact.