published Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Rhea County commissioner charged in scuffle

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    Rhea County Commissioner Grover L. Parks, 59, of Spring City, Tenn., is charged with domestic assault and was freed Friday on $3,500 bond.

A Rhea County, Tenn., commissioner up for re-election faces a court date on an assault charge just before voters go to the polls in August.

District 3 Commissioner Grover Leo Parks, 59, of Golden Trail in Spring City, was charged last week with domestic assault after a dispute over rules in a card game got heated and Parks and his brother-in-law wound up in a scuffle.

According to a report filed last Thursday by Rhea County Sheriff's Deputy Ted Byrd, Parks was playing cards at the home of his mother-in-law, Bernice Hartman, when "Mr. Parks became upset over the rules."

Parks and brother-in-law Donald R. Hartman had been drinking beer before the altercation, according to the report.

"Mr. Parks ... agreed that he became angry over the rules of the card game and that he had been drinking beer and that he pushed defensively on Mr. Hartman and he accidentally pushed Ms. Hartman," Byrd states. Ms. Hartman attempted to break up the scuffle and was pushed into a glass door.

Parks, who waited for officers at the end of his in-laws' driveway, was booked at the Rhea County Jail and released on $3,500 bond, records show.

Parks' cellphone number was not working Wednesday and he could not be reached for comment. However, in an interview with WRCB-TV, Parks expressed regret for the incident and apologized to his in-laws, his family, fellow commissioners and Rhea County residents for "any embarrassment that I may have caused them."

Parks is scheduled for a hearing in Rhea County General Sessions Court on Aug. 1, just days before voters head for the polls. He is seeking to retain his commission post in a three-way contest.

Parks admitted it was likely the arrest "will have some effect on my race."

Rhea County Jail records do not show any criminal charges filed against Parks in the last 14 years.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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