East Tennessee official to start own drug policy - and more Chattanooga region news

East Tennessee official to start own drug policy - and more Chattanooga region news

December 18th, 2013 by Wire Service in Local Regional News

East Tennessee official to start own drug policy

ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. - An East Tennessee official who refuses to enforce a county drug-testing policy says he'll implement his own.

Hawkins County Property Assessor Jeff Thacker told the Kingsport Times-News that he still disagrees with the county policy, but doesn't want it to end up costing the municipality $17,541.

Becky Brock of the Local Government Insurance Pool told a Hawkins County Commission committee on Friday that the county gets a 5 percent discount on workers' comp insurance premiums only if all departments comply with the policy.

"You only qualify for that 5 percent if every employee who benefits from workers' comp benefits is in compliance," Brock said. "We will have to renege that credit if we can't be sure that all county employees are in compliance with the program."

Thacker told the full County Commission on Monday night that his solution would allow the county to keep the discount. He said the drug-testing policy would be in place within three months.

The county's policy says all employees are subject to post-accident drug screenings, while employees in "safety sensitive" positions are screened before being hired and subject to random screenings.

"I am not against drug testing, however, I am against the way that it has been implemented in Hawkins County," Thacker told commissioners. "It is part of my job as the assessor of property to operate my office according to the constitutions of the state of Tennessee and the United States of America -- to protect not only the public from a possible lawsuit but also the rights of the employees who work for the assessor's office."

Civil War-era rifles on display in Georgia

LITHIA SPRINGS, Ga. - Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a collection of Civil War-era artifacts is on display at the Sweetwater Creek State Park.

Officials say a crate of rifles recovered from a Confederate shipwreck is being housed in an aquarium at the park in Lithia Springs.

The water is expected to slowly drain salt and other contaminants that could damage the rifles and the crate they're being stored in. The aquarium is in the lobby of the park's visitors center.

Officials say the rifles have been traced to the CSS Stono, a ship that ran aground in 1863 and was lit on fire years later to prevent the weapons on board from being turned over to Union troops.

Officials say a team of archaeologists found the rifles in the 1980s.

Alabama's largest casino opening

WETUMPKA, Ala. - Alabama's largest casino is opening in Wetumpka.

The Poarch Creek Indians say Wind Creek Wetumpka features 85,000 square feet of casino space with more than 2,500 electronic games. A centerpiece of the new casino is a 16,000-gallon shark tank. The property includes five restaurants, as well as a 20-story hotel that will start opening in stages. The ribbon-cutting was set for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The new hotel and casino replace a smaller casino in Wetumpka. The $246 million attraction is larger than the tribe's Wind Creek Atmore, which had featured the state's largest casino.

Poarch Creek Tribal Chairman Buford Rolin says many tribal members and area residents are starting new jobs at the facility. It will employ 1,100 people in full-time and part-time jobs, he said.