published Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Housing authority theft investigated and other news from areas around Chattanooga

Housing authority theft investigated

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — Officials with the South Pittsburg, Tenn., housing authority are tight-lipped about a recently launched investigation into missing money.

Terry Case, the housing authority's executive director, said he couldn't comment on what's going on or whether there had been firings or dismissals associated with the investigation because those are personnel matters.

District Attorney Mike Taylor said an investigation is underway, but his office is not directly involved.

"The allegations are that there are monies missing from the housing authority's accounts," Taylor said. "There are some allegations of misuse of funds and misappropriation of funds."

"There is an investigation going on, but it's being conducted by the state Comptroller's Office and their audit department," Taylor said. He said officials with the housing authority made the review request directly to that office.

Taylor said he was told that the review of the housing authority's financial and banking records "was complicated" and it could be "several weeks" before it is finished.


Driver in 3-car crash dies

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — One of three drivers involved in a three-vehicle crash during the Wednesday morning rush hour in Cleveland died of his injuries at Erlanger hospital, according to traffic investigators.

The crash in the 7400 block of North Lee Highway is being investigated by the traffic unit of the Bradley County Sheriff's Office. Deputies said the accident occurred when a southbound vehicle crossed to the opposite lane of travel and collided with two northbound vehicles.

Each of the three drivers required extrication by fire-rescue personnel.

Medical personnel transported two of the injured drivers to hospitals in Cleveland and Athens, Tenn., for treatment.

The names of the deceased victim and those injured are being withheld pending notification of relatives.


House panel nixes bonus for teachers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A House committee has voted to do away with a proposed bonus for education employees and instead put the money toward that group's health insurance costs.

The House Ways and Means Education Committee voted 10-4 Wednesday for the new version of the Education Trust Fund budget. The spending plan strips away a one-time 1 percent bonus approved by the Alabama Senate. Instead, another $37.7 million, a little more than the cost of the bonus, would go toward the Public Education Employees' Health Insurance Plan.

Republicans said using the money to minimize increases in insurance costs would help both active and retired employees.

Committee chairman Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, said a pay raise does no good if the recipient has to pay all of it toward higher insurance premiums.

"We can stretch that dollar farther to help our education employees," Poole said.

House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, said teachers have gone many years without raises while being asked to pay more for their health insurance and retirement benefits.

He argued lawmakers could find room somewhere in the $5.9 billion budget for an increase.

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