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One arrested, another hospitalized after shooting in Etowah

A shooting in Etowah Monday sent one man to the hospital and another to jail.

According to the Etowah Police Department, officers received a call around 10:30 a.m. in the area of 10th Street and Washington Avenue in reference to a gunshot.

Officers reportedly spoke with the complainant, who said that he saw three men standing in the alleyway with one of the men holding a gun.

The complainant allegedly informed the officers that they had heard a gunshot and witnessed the three men run away from the scene, however the officers reportedly did not find any evidence of anyone being shot in that area.

A little later that day, at around 1:30 p.m., another call came in, this time of a male gunshot victim at a residence on County Road 530 in McMinn County.

The officers were reportedly warned that the suspect shooter lives in the city limits of Etowah where the earlier gunshots were reported.

When officers arrived at the scene, they reportedly witnessed the suspect’s vehicle at the residence and made several attempts to have the suspect — later identified as Steve Austin Shadden, 42, of Etowah — leave the building.

Shadden surrendered to authorities roughly 20 minutes later and went with the officers without incident.

He was booked into the McMinn County Justice Center where he was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and reckless endangerment.

The victim was transported to University of Tennessee Medical Center and is in stable condition.

“The victim has come out of surgery this morning and is in stable condition,” Etowah Police Chief Daniel Hampton said on Tuesday. “Detectives are out to get more information from him. This was an isolated incident and there is no danger towards anyone else.”

Decatur summer concert series returns this weekend

The heat of summer once again means music in Decatur as the town’s Downtown Summer Nights concert series makes its return.

The concert series was not held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was confirmed recently that it would return this year with the first concert this weekend.

According to Decatur City Recorder Laura Smith, the opening night will be larger than normal.

“We have Maya Trippe, who is a local singer, Scotty Williams and the Garth Brooks Experience, and Tim Hall & Buffalo Country,” Smith said. “We have three performers this weekend and hope to kick it off strong.”

The town also plans to host performances on June 19, June 26 and July 4.

“We have a lot of good food, craft vendors and sponsors,” Smith expressed. “We are very excited to start the festivals.”

The music is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. each night.

“We would like to ask people to bring their own lawn chairs,” she noted. “The events will be taking place in Downtown Decatur stage on Abel Avenue and Main Street.”

In addition to Downtown Summer Nights, this coming weekend will also host the East Tennessee Catfish Festival.

“There will be a catfish tournament on Saturday for both rod and reel and noodling, which people can still register for,” Smith said. “Mayor (Jeremy) Bivens will be at the event dressed up as a catfish as he has the last few years as well, so we are excited for that.”

She hopes the events will be welcomed after the isolation caused by the pandemic.

“I know people still need to be a little wary of social distancing, but we hope a lot of our population is ready to get back out,” she said. “We feel that this will be a safe place being outdoors and plenty of space for people to space out.”

While the concert series is held in Decatur, Smith stressed that people from all over are welcome.

“We invite everybody to come out regardless of what county you are from,” she expressed. “We would love to have as many as we can. It is a free concert for anybody who would like to join us, so come ready to enjoy yourself, watch good entertainment, purchase a food or snack from vendors and enjoy a little shopping while you are here to support our local businesses.”

According to Smith, TVA, which helps sponsor the concert series, will set up a booth at each event and will bring an electric vehicle this weekend to display and have people be able to take a look at in person.

Other sponsors of the series include: Decatur McDonald’s, Simply Bank, Shaw Industries and The Tennessee Arts Commission.

Felker named first DAISY Award winner for 2021

Starr Regional Medical Center has announced that Jessica Felker, BSN, RN, CIC, has been named the recipient of The DAISY Award for the first quarter of 2021.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses is a recognition program honoring “the super-human work nurses do for patients and families every day.” Nominations for the award may be submitted by anyone who experiences or observes “extraordinary, compassionate care” being provided by a nurse.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all aware of the heroic efforts of our nursing staff, who are always on the front lines caring for the sick and injured at Starr Regional Medical Center,” said Ronald Hall, chief nursing officer at Starr Regional Medical Center. “While it was difficult to select just one nurse to honor with The DAISY Award, I am extremely proud to recognize Jessica Felker for her dedicated efforts in her role as infection preventionist and employee health nurse at Starr Regional.”

Felker’s nomination for the award highlighted her leadership as infection preventionist to “assimilate the best safe practices for preventing spread of the pandemic and providing tireless support and information needed to alter practices in a quickly evolving environment,” according to SRMC officials.

The pandemic also increased the number of responsibilities related to Felker’s role as employee health nurse.

Felker joined Starr Regional Medical Center as a staff nurse in 2015 and assumed her role as infection preventionist and employee health nurse in August 2018. In 2021, Felker earned the certification in Infection Prevention and Control, or CIC®, credential. She lives in Delano with her husband and two children.

The DAISY Award honorees are selected by a committee of nurses at Starr Regional Medical Center who review and consider each nomination. The presentation of the award is a surprise and takes place in front of the nurse’s colleagues, patients and visitors.

Each honoree receives a certificate commending the person for being an “Extraordinary Nurse.” The certificate reads: “In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people.”

Honorees are also given a sculpture called “A Healer’s Touch,” which is hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa.

The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation, based in Glen Ellen, Calif., was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little-known but not uncommon auto-immune disease.

The care Barnes and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families. For more information about the DAISY Foundation, visit DAISYFoundation.org

For anyone who would like to nominate a nurse for The DAISY Award, forms are available in the hospital common areas as well as the nursing units on Starr Regional Medical Center’s Athens and Etowah campuses.

Nomination forms may also be found online at StarrRegional.com

The DAISY Award program is open to nurses only, such as LPNs, RNs, and nurse practitioners. If non-nurses receive a nomination, they will be recognized separately from The DAISY Award program.

McMinn school improvement discussion resumes

The future of the buildings that house the McMinn County school system is once again a topic of conversation.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed talks of school consolidation over the past year. The conversation began again in earnest at last Friday’s McMinn County Commission Strategic Planning Retreat with members of both the commission and the McMinn County Board of Education in attendance.

“What I wanted tonight to be was a real conversation between two boards elected by the same people,” said McMinn County Mayor John Gentry near the beginning of the discussion. “We’ve got a window of time, especially with the federal money that we need to spend, and we want to do it wisely. I feel we have an obligation to our citizens who voted a tax increase on themselves to improve schools and we need to show them a plan how to do that and that we’re going to do that in a serious manner.”

Gentry was referring to the .75% sales tax increase that passed on public referendum last March and the ongoing allocations of federal COVID relief funding. He also noted that the commission and school board are planning to tour each of the county schools to get a closer look at the maintenance issues at each facility.

Gentry then presented a capital plan that estimated more than $53 million could be available over the next eight years that could be dedicated to school improvements. An accumulated balance of $14.56 million spread over several sources is currently available.

He adds to that a yearly $3.6 million allocation for school improvements over eight years that would accumulate $28.8 million by fiscal year 2029-30, bringing the total available to $43.36 million. The combined federal allocations to McMinn County government and McMinn County Schools totals $21.5 million. Gentry noted that if half of the federal money is able to be used for school improvements, more than $53 million total would be available for the project.

“My dream is for us to come together with a 10-year or longer plan that touches every campus location, saves a school in every community that has one, gets new construction, not just fixing, but new construction,” said Gentry. “I think we’re at a transformational time with this amount of money.”

Gentry suggested a comprehensive approach to the discussion beyond just the maintenance concerns at each of the county schools.

“We know that brick and mortar does not make the total education experience,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of other things that we can’t control … but what we can control, we’re going to try to upgrade.”

Director of McMinn County Schools Lee Parkison said he is requesting the project architects re-examine all of the county school buildings and develop a plan for remodeling the existing schools which could be compared to the consolidation plan that was produced almost two years ago.

The existing plan, which was first presented in July 2019 by Mainstreet Studio Architects and MBI Companies, Inc., recommended the closure of six total county schools and replacing them with three new ones.

The first part of the recommendation suggested a 400-500 student middle school to replace Riceville Elementary School. This new school would likely be located on the land Riceville is currently situated on.

The second part of the recommendation was for an 1,800 student Pre-K through 12th grade school to replace McMinn Central High School, Mountain View Elementary School and Englewood Elementary School. The new school would likely be located on the current location of McMinn Central.

The third part of the recommendation would see a 900 student Pre-K through eighth grade school built to replace Niota and E.K. Baker elementary schools.

Rogers Creek Elementary School, which is the newest school in the county, and Calhoun Elementary School would receive “significant renovations” and would be 350-400 student Pre-K through fifth grade schools that would feed into the new middle school.

The McMinn County High School and McMinn County Career Technical Education (CTE) buildings would both receive repairs and improvements.

It was suggested that the new Pre-K through 12th grade school could be split up into separate areas that share facilities, such as a cafeteria and library.

The total cost for the entire scope of recommendations was an estimated $95-$127 million. It was noted at the time that the work could be done in phases.

Details about the discussion between commission and school board members during the retreat will be included in an upcoming edition of The Daily Post-Athenian.