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Sweetwater man found dead after shooting last week

Authorities are investigating a fatal shooting the occurred last week in Sweetwater.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), at the request of 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump, TBI special agents and detectives with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department began a homicide investigation on Thursday.

TBI agents reported that, around 9:30 p.m. that day, deputies responded to a shooting call at a residence on Billingsley Road in Sweetwater.

Michael Black, 48, of Sweetwater, had reportedly been shot and died of his injuries. His body was taken to the Knox Regional Forensic Center.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, deputies responded to a drive-by shooting on Cedar Valley Road and allegedly found Black pulling into a driveway and then speeding off.

They began to pursue him, but lost sight of him around Inman Road and Billingsley Road.

As they returned to the residence on Cedar Valley Road, they received a call that Black had been shot and killed.

Upon arriving at Black’s vehicle, they reportedly found him “deceased in the driver’s seat of his vehicle.”

The investigation remains active and ongoing.

An active citizenry

Local citizens turned out to support continued funding of the Monroe Friends of Animals and increased funding of Monroe County Schools at last week’s Monroe County Commission budget workshop The county commission was set to meet at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Monroe County Justice Center to vote on the first reading of the budget. Full coverage of the budget is online at and will be in next Wednesday’s edition of The Advocate & Democrat.

Sweetwater businesses engaging citizens to support other local shops

Jackie Jones Ford Lincoln in Sweetwater is hosting online games that will allow participants to receive gift cards for local businesses.

The games are comment-based on the company’s Facebook page where they ask viewers to comment on specific topics for an allotted time before drawing names.

The winners will receive gift cards for local businesses in Sweetwater that total to $100 per business.

According to Jackie Jones Human Resources Manager Tifany Collins, this event started after they saw the amount of closures brought about by COVID-19.

“We were deemed essential and it was just so heartbreaking driving through Sweetwater and seeing everything shut down and business owners struggling,” said Collins. “When everything started to open back up, we wondered what we could do to help the community.”

The owner of the business, David McMahan, spent $100 on gift cards at the local businesses that were struggling or had to close due to the virus in hopes of creating an event that would help people want to visit these locations.

Not all gift cards are redeemable for $100, as some may be broken down into multiple gift cards that would total $100.

The “games” on Facebook are designed to help each business “build foot traffic” by taking requests from the business.

“The first game we did was ‘Tell us what you love about Sweetwater’ and the video got a ton of shares and thousands of views,” Collins said. “The next game we played was for Sweetwater General. The owner wanted to get the Facebook likes up so the game was to like the Sweetwater General page and for extra entries leave a comment.”

Their hope in doing this event is to promote and stimulate businesses in Sweetwater.

“The games have been picking up a lot of activity and we hope that it promotes unity and positivity in the community in light of everything that has been going on,” noted Collins.

The drawings take place after each game’s time period, which could last from a couple of days to a week depending on the game.

“We keep track of everyone who is liking and commenting and then when the game is over we print out each name for the drawing,” Collins stated.

The games can also be located on other Facebook pages, such as “It’s sunny in Sweetwater” and the City of Sweetwater government page.

“We hope to spread positivity and attention to our little hometown and for people to see what Sweetwater has to offer,” said Collins. “We hope it brings unity and positivity and fun when you get on Facebook because there is so much negativity lately so this is just a fun, happy thing and hopefully it brings someone business.”

Bledsoe indicted on reckless endangerment, assault charges

Madisonville City Alderman James Kevin Bledsoe was recently charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon — reportedly a vehicle — and two counts of aggravated assault.

He was indicted on the charges by the Monroe County Grand Jury during its June term.

According to the indictment, on or around April 20 of this year, Bledsoe “unlawfully, intentionally or knowingly” threatened three people with his vehicle, allegedly causing them “to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury by the use or display of a deadly weapon.”

Bledsoe was released on $20,000 bond with a court date that was set for Monday, June 22, at 9 a.m.

Bledsoe had also been indicted last November for an incident that allegedly took place last August where he was charged with two counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, a gun.

Monroe County's August election ballot set, early voting starts July 17

Early voting across Monroe County for the August election will soon be kicking off from July 17 going through Aug. 1.

Those who are interested in early voting can register to vote until July 7 and election day is set for Aug. 6.

Registration can be done in person at the election commission office, via fax or online at

According to Monroe County Administrator of Elections James Brown, they are currently accepting absentee by mail ballots.

“Anyone that wants to vote by mail can, other than any first time voter that did not register in person,” said Brown. “You have to vote in person for the first time.”

The election commission has been devising a plan, for the last several months, to allow voters to vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When a voter comes into a precinct they will be given gloves, we will furnish them their own ink pen, we will have hand sanitizer available at every polling precinct, we will require voters to stay six feet apart, and we will have a custodian at each precinct ready to clean and sanitize the tables and machines after each voter uses them,” Brown stated. “All of our poll officials will have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to use and those are the precautions that we have taken.”

Those on the ballot in the upcoming August election for the United States Senate Republican Primary are Clifford Adkins, Natisha Brooks, Byron Bush, Roy Dale Cope, Terry Dicus, Tom Emerson Jr., George S. Flinn Jr., Bill Hagerty, Jon Henry, Kent A. Morrell, Glen L. Neal Jr., John E. Osborne, Aaron L. Pettigrew, David Schuster and Manny Sethi.

The United States Senate Democratic Primary consists of Marquita Bradshaw, Gary G. Davis, Robin Kimbrough, James Mackler and Mark Pickrell.

Chuck Fleischmann is running unopposed for the United States House of Representatives District 3 seat in the Republican primary, as are Tennessee House of Representatives Republican candidates Lowell Russell (District 21) and Mark Cochran (District 23).

Meg Gorman is running unopposed in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives seat held by Fleischmann.

Monroe County Commission District 1 candidates are Adam Reynolds and Cotton Upton, with one seat up for grabs.

Monroe County Commission District 1 candidates for an unexpired term are Luke Bright and Pat King, with one seat available.

Marsha A. Raper is running unopposed for assessor of property.

Candidates for the Monroe County School Board consist of Viola Marlene Prater and Donald E. Weiss for District 1 (one seat available); Curtis C. Dush, Mark B. Ingram, Jason Miller and Lon Shoopman for District 2 (two seats up for grabs); and Sharon M. Freeman, Robert S. Hooper Jr., Freddie Kelley and Sonya Martin Lynn for District 3 (two seats available).

Derek Sircy is running unopposed for constable in District 2 for an unexpired term.

There will also be a sales tax referendum on the ballot, with the question giving voters the chance to voice their view for or against an increase in the sales tax rate from 2.25% to 2.75%.