Tennessee woman arrested in Chihuahua killing - and more Chattanooga region news

Tennessee woman arrested in Chihuahua killing - and more Chattanooga region news

April 30th, 2014 by Staff Reports and Wire Service in Local Regional News

Woman arrested in Chihuahua hit

HARRIMAN, Tenn. - A Harriman woman allegedly swerved off a roadway to intentionally hit and kill a neighbor's Chihuahua, according to a Roane County Sheriff's Office report.

Arrested Monday in connection with the April 22 incident was Mary Jessica Runkles, 60, who is charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.

According to Deputy Vianney Del Toro's report, Bridgett Woodward, who is Runkles' neighbor, said she saw Runkles intentionally leave Cofer Circle and swerve to strike "Boots," her daughter's 3-year-old dog.

Woodward told the deputy that she and Runkles "have had ongoing problems for several years," the report states. Del Toro said he saw a tire track and blood near where the dog was found.

Runkles denied leaving the road and striking the dog on purpose, the report states. Woodward later told the deputy the dog had died at an emergency animal hospital in Cumberland County.

Del Toro said Woodward told him her 12-year-old daughter "who was inconsolable, buried Boots in their backyard." Runkles has a June 2 court appearance scheduled.

Teacher finalist in "Live" contest

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A teacher from Cleveland, Tenn., has been selected as one of the national finalists in "Live's Top Teacher Search," a contest spun off the TV show "Live with Kelly and Michael."

Athena Davis, an English teacher at Cleveland High School, is one of five teachers nominated for the award, which honors teachers who help make their schools and communities better.

Davis was nominated by the parent of one of her students, who described her as "an amazing and creative teacher" who "inspires greatness from her students" and "is an inspiration to all who come in contact with her," according to a news release.

She is a graduate of Cleveland High, is in charge of the faculty/student book club and is co-chairperson of the prom committee. She also teaches classes on Holocaust literature.

She was chosen from 12 semifinalists, and viewers picked the finalists through online voting held from last Friday through Monday.

Finalists will travel to New York City from May 12-16 to be showcased on the show, hosted by Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan. The winner will be announced the week of May 19.

The other four finalists for the award are from schools in New York, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina, the release said.

Firefly viewing passes issued

GATLINBURG, Tenn. - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is issuing parking passes for those wanting to see the synchronous fireflies this summer.

Parking passes cost $1.50 and will be available online at www.recreation.gov beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The passes allow visitors to park at the Sugarlands Visitor Center where they will be taken by shuttle to the viewing area.

The firefly viewing will take place from June 4 through June 11. The shuttle service will be the only way for visitors to get to the Elkmont area to see the fireflies during that period.

The parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one pass per household per season.