published Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Region Digest: Drug suspect eludes police

CATOOSA COUNTY, Ga.

Drug suspect eludes police

Police are searching for a drug suspect who fled Tuesday morning when authorities were trying to serve a search warrant at a rental warehouse.

When authorities arrived at the warehouse off U.S. Highway 41, where they believe Jason Alexander Devalle was staying, Devalle fled into the woods, Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force Commander Larry Black said.

A helicopter aided the search for Devalle, but agents with the task force and the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office didn’t locate him, Black said.

Inside the warehouse, police found a mobile home where they believe Devalle was living, Black said. Agents also seized several pounds of marijuana, an elaborate indoor marijuana-growing operation and a number of loaded bongs, Black said.

Warrants for Devalle’s arrest have been issued on charges including possession of marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute and possession of firearms by a convicted felon, Black said.

Anyone with information on Devalle’s whereabouts is asked to call the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office at 706-935-2424 or the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Task Force at 706-638-5570.

KNOXVILLE

Ethics panel vacancies eyed

Spokesmen for the governor and House speaker say they’re working to fill vacancies on the Tennessee Ethics Commission that hasn’t met since November because it doesn’t have a quorum.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the commission has only two members on its six-member board, partly because two appointments by former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen have become invalid.

That leaves the commission, which has not met since Nov. 9, without a quorum for meetings to decide whether violators of ethics laws should be penalized.

However, spokesmen for House Speaker Beth Harwell and Gov. Bill Haslam, responsible for appointing two members each to the panel, say the matter is being addressed. Harwell and Haslam, both Republicans, took office in January.

MARION COUNTY, Tenn.

Center closed for upgrades

The Raccoon Mountain Visitor Center near Chattanooga is closed temporarily for exhibit upgrades.

The upgrades are scheduled for completion by the end of April, and the parking lot at the visitor center will be open during the center closure. Trails and other exterior features remain open.

The visitor center provides information and history about the hydroelectric Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant and is a viewing point for the surrounding state-designated Wildlife Observation Area overlooking the Tennessee River.

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