Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

January 1, 2013

Tornado top story of 2012

February storm claimed two lives

CROSSVILLE — A killer storm Feb. 29 claimed the lives of two Cumberland County women when a tornado ripped through the Rinnie community north of Crossville.

The storm resulted in six people being treated for injuries, seven homes were completely destroyed and more than 50 homes and businesses were damaged.

The storm was named the top story of 2012 by the staff of the Crossville Chronicle.

The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado hit the rural community at about 4:45 p.m. that evening, killing Melissa Carol Evans, 45, and Carolyn K. Jones, 69. The tornado was an EF-2 twister and contained winds up to 125 miles per hour.

The path of the storm began in the area of Keyes Rd. and traveled to Old Coal Springs Rd. with damage spread over a two mile wide and five mile long area from Clear Creek Rd. through the Rinnie community to Catoosa Ridge.

In the aftermath of the storm, the Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster, VOAD, activated so that relief efforts could be coordinated to assist victims. An account was established so those in the community could donate if they so wished, and volunteers pre-certified as disaster responders helped clear debris around homes. Emergency work crews from Volunteer Energy Cooperative and contract workers also descended on the area to clear trees from lines, set new poles, replace transformers and restore electrical service as quickly as possible, with most service restore before the next morning. Cumberland County Road Department also worked through the night to clear roads in the area.

Just days later, severe weather threatened the area, but no devastating damage was reported in Cumberland County, though there was an outbreak of tornadoes across the southeast.

Taft Youth Center closed

Taft Youth Center closed its doors one last time in July, saying goodbye to the final three inmates that had been housed at the 95-year-old facility in Bledsoe County. The Tennessee General Assembly approved Gov. Bill Haslam’s budget, which included savings from closing the facility, in April.

State Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, had been fighting the move for months, arguing the facility served a population of youthful inmates other centers were not equipped to handle and the closure would be an economic blow to the entire region. Taft employed more than 170 people from the Cumberland Plateau and Sequatchie Valley.

Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day defended the move, saying the state’s five juvenile jails operated at only 69 percent of capacity. Taft was the oldest and least efficient among them, she told the House Government Operations committee. Closing the center would reap $4.4 million in savings to the state.

Taft Youth Center served about 150 male students ages 16 through 19. Youth at Taft typically had adult sentences, serious delinquent offenses, were serving a third commitment or exhibited severe behavioral problems at one of the other regional youth development centers.

O’Day said there was also an opportunity to close the center while minimizing the economic impact because a new prison was opening in Bledsoe County that should provide job opportunities for most of the Taft employees.

No decision has been made regarding the use of the facility, which comes with equipment associated with its school and vocational programs and a water treatment plant that serves the adult prison facilities and nearby Fall Creek Falls State Park.

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