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Covid vaccinations going up again, back to school recommendation

Covid vaccinations going up again, back to school recommendation

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tennessee (WDEF) – The Hamilton County Health Department reports that the number of people getting the Covid vaccine has ticked up this week after concerns of a third wave.

“It is our hope that people are realizing the seriousness of this virus and making a decision to get vaccinated,” says Administrator Becky Barnes.

The Health Department on Friday also issued their back to school guidance for Hamilton County:

 

School Reopening Guidance

 

In alliance with CDC guidelines, the Health Department recommends that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks while inside, particularly in crowded settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained. This recommendation extends to the reopening of schools in Hamilton County.

 

“As schools start to plan for reopening this coming fall, the Health Department recognizes how important it is for schools to consider a safe return for their students and teachers, as well as the importance of in-person instruction,” says Health Department Interim Health Officer Dr. Fernando Urrego. “Assuring that students are able to attend school in-person is a top priority.  In order for a safe return, Covid-19 prevention strategies are critical to protect individuals, especially in areas of high transmission levels.”

 

Given low vaccination rates and recent increases in COVID-19 cases, including in children, schools are encouraged to closely monitor community transmission levels for guidance of adding additional prevention strategies if needed. These measures are to protect those that have not been vaccinated, particularly children under 12 years of age that are not yet eligible to receive vaccine. The Health Department will continue to recommend schools follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated Covid-19 K-12 School Guidance Prevention Strategies.

 

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Eviction moratorium and its conclusion

Eviction moratorium and its conclusion

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)- Buddy Presley With Presley Law Firm said although the CDC eviction moratorium runs through the end of the month, evictions have already started back up.

“There were some federal court cases that determined the CDC did not have authority to issue a moratorium nationwide,” said Presley.

He said North Georgia counties including Catoosa and Walker had far fewer evictions than expected due to rental assistance programs.

“You have some people who are getting their rent paid partially by some different programs. State and Federal level, so I don’t think it’s as bad as they thought it was going to be,” said Presley.

Hamilton County and the surrounding counties did have more than usual.

“In Hamilton county, You’re talking about a docket in size of maybe 100 which is a pretty good size docket of cases,” said Presley.

Presley said since the eviction moratorium is no longer in place in the area, it puts everything back to normal for the property owners and judges.

“Judges are pretty smart and they know that people have been getting some form of payment. So they know that they could actually probably pay the rent and sometimes it’s just a decision not to pay it,” said Presley.

He said are struggling to make ends meet several assistance programs can help preventing boxing everything up and moving due to an eviction.

“Now in this environment, post-pandemic, post-moratorium, there’s even more assistance out there,” said Presley.

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Gang members convicted for drug conspiracy in Knoxville and Chattanooga

Gang members convicted for drug conspiracy in Knoxville and Chattanooga

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WDEF) – A federal jury convicts a number of gang members for trafficking hard drugs in Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Most of the suspects were members of the Unknown Ghost Vice Lords in Knoxville.

But 29 year old Demetrius Bibbs of the Black P Stone Bloods in Chattanooga was also convicted.

Prosecutors say they dealt meth, heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, alprazolam, buprenorphine and marijuana.

The investigation involved the FBI, Postal Service, Tennessee Dept. of Corrections as well as local authorities in Chattanooga and Cleveland.

Eight defendants were tried together over the last two weeks in Knoxville. Seven others had previously pleaded guilty.

They will be sentenced early next year.

“This verdict demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to investigate violent criminal organizations and individuals who engage in this type of illegal activity. The teamwork between our agents and state and local law enforcement partners ensured there are fewer predators
endangering and victimizing the vulnerable and innocent members of our community,” said Joseph E. Carrico, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Knoxville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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City of Chattanooga receives $3.4 million grant for COVID-19 health literacy

City of Chattanooga receives $3.4 million grant for COVID-19 health literacy

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- Mayor Tim Kelly and the city of Chattanooga have been awarded a very large grant to help improve health literacy within the city.

Chattanooga and Memphis were the only cities in the state of Tennessee to receive the funding.

The Health and Human Services Advancing Literacy Grant is a $3.4 million grant that will be used for multiple health initiatives within the city of Chattanooga in under served communities.

Health officials from all over the county met on city hall steps this morning to discuss the new grant as well as the Office of Community Health.

Dr. Mary Lambert, Chattanooga’s Director of Community Health says, “This office will oversee the COVID-19 Care Coalition and that C.A.R.E. acronym stands for COVID, Action, Response and Equity, to address those health disparities, to improve health literacy and to coordinate the city’s response efforts.”

Mayor Kelly says that getting this grant will be able to push forward with closing the health care gaps within multiple communities.

Kelly credits the late Chris Ramsey with bringing the gaps to his attention.

“He dedicated his life to the difficult and essential work of changing that data and closing that gap. These gaps and inequities are not new. But, COVID-19 has renewed our sense of urgency to address these gaps and if this pandemic has taught us anything, its that we are all in this together”, adds Kelly.

The grant is apart of the Biden Harris’ National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann says, “COVID is a problem. COVID is an international problem, it’s a National problem and yes, COVID is a problem right here in Hamilton County and in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We are going to work together to defeat COVID. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats or mayors or congressmen. it’s about our communities coming together and doing the right thing.”

Mayor Kelly hopes the grant will be able to assist with new COVID-19 health initiative’s and old ones such as the Minority Health Fair and Get Vaccinated Chattanooga.

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State, local health officials give update on Delta variant

State, local health officials give update on Delta variant

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – COVID cases are up across the country, and as the Delta variant continues to spread, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
“At the end of June we were looking at how to unwind at Erlanger, some of our COVID policies, and try to get back to normal. And clearly that’s come to a screeching halt,” says Dr. Jay Sizemore, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention with Erlanger.
Hamilton County is no exception to the surge, with 120 new cases reported today. That’s the most number of cases in the area since March.
Dr. Sizemore warns that if vaccination rates don’t increase, it could only get worse.
“Heading into another month or so into the fall, to more indoors, school starting – it could be a mess,” says Dr. Sizemore.
At the state level, things are looking equally as grim.
In a virtual press conference, health commissioner Lisa Piercey discussed Tennessee’s rising infection rates, citing a 200 percent increase since July 1st.
“The average per day over the last seven days is about 700 or over 700 cases a day and that continues to grow. Now to put that in perspective that is about where we were in early May,” said Dr. Piercey.
Some counties are getting hit harder than others, but all have seen spikes in infections.
“Now we are approaching 10 percent positivity rate statewide and we have 10 counties that are at least fifteen percent or more, and a few are even higher than twenty percent,” Dr. Piercey says.
To view the Health Department’s COVID vaccine event calendar, you can visit their website.

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Raising Money And Climbing Poles In Trenton

Raising Money And Climbing Poles In Trenton

It was a very busy Friday for a number of students at the Southeast Lineman Training Center in Trenton, Georgia.

Busy, and hot.

And as the old saying goes, they were able to “kill two birds with one stone!”

Pole climbing.  It’s what students do at the Southeast Lineman Training Center. Part of a 15 week program.

After graduation, they’ll spread out all over the country. Working on the electrical lines that we’ve all come to rely on.

It’s a learning experience. Climbing. Over and over again!

“The first few weeks or so of the program, it’s all about repetition. Many of the students liken it to boot camp,” says Marketing Director Jared Anders.

At first glance, pole climbing looks easy and fun. You strap on the gear and you go up and down a wooden pole.

But when you talk to the people involved with all of this, you quickly find out it’s not only hard, but dangerous.

According to Carson Koloda, one of the students, “you see it second hand. You think you can do it. It looks easy.”

“But when you get your gear on and actually start climbing, you find out it’s a whole new world.”

But there’s more to the story. This is the first ever “Wood-walkers For Water” event. As the school is teaming up with Neverthirst.

That’s an organization that supplies clean water to people all over the world. Specifically in Africa and Asia.

The school will make a donation for every completed climb. It’s a win-win for everybody.

“Not only are we helping these guys get better at their craft, but we’re helping so many people,” says Jimbo Tucker of Neverthirst.

“There are 785 million people still without clean, living water.”

The two organizations are hoping to partner together on a regular basis in the future.

Raising money. While perfecting a craft.

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Weather Update: Saturday’s Forecast – July 24th, 2021

Weather Update: Saturday’s Forecast – July 24th, 2021

Tennessee Valley (WDEF): More Typical Summer Weather On The Way – Meaning More Heat, Haze, & Humidity!

Hazy and hot through your evening. We’ll be mainly dry and quiet tonight which will be perfect for any outdoor events or activities. Lows will near the low 70’s.

Saturday morning will be a mild and hazy start. Towards the afternoon there will be a slim chance for a shower or thundershower with highs near 92, and heat index values as hot as 98.

Sunday morning will start off in the low 70’s and less haze for the day. There will be a better chance for a t-storm for the afternoon with highs near 90 and mainly sunny skies.

Continued hot and humid with widely scattered late day showers and storms a bit more likely for Monday and Tuesday.

Make sure and stay thoroughly – and properly – hydrated.

91 & 71 are our seasonal highs and lows.

Make sure you & your family stay in touch with us. Remember the Storm Team 12 app can always bring you the latest weather alerts for your location as well as Titan Radar. Download it for free from your app store – just search WDEF Weather”. 

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Alabama Governor Ivey Says ‘It’s Time To Start Blaming the Unvaccinated’ for Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Alabama Governor Ivey Says ‘It’s Time To Start Blaming the Unvaccinated’ for Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Birmingham, AL (WDEF) – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey says it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated for the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases in Alabama. The remark came in response to a question on what it would take to get people to get shots.

In the last two weeks, Alabama has seen over 9,900 cases of COVID-19. Alabama health officials said that the vast majority of counties in Alabama are considered to be at high risk for the illness due to the low vaccination rate and spread of the new Delta variant of the virus.

In an interview with CBS42 and local media, Governor Ivey was asked what it would take for people to get vaccinated.

She responded, “I don’t know, you tell me. Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. I’ve done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something but I can’t make you take care of yourself.”

Alabama’s Republican Governor @kayiveyforgov has had enough with unvaccinated people in her state:
“It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.” pic.twitter.com/MCLRJr5GQn

— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) July 23, 2021

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Weather Update: Friday’s Forecast – July 23rd, 2021

Weather Update: Friday’s Forecast – July 23rd, 2021

Tennessee Valley (WDEF): More Typical Summer Weather On The Way – Meaning More Heat, Haze, & Humidity, And A Mainly Dry Weekend!

Expect fair skies to continue through the morning.  Hazy, warm, and muggy with lows in the upper 60’s and low 70’s.

Hot, hazy, and humid again for Friday with mostly sunny skies.  The forecast is still looking dry with highs back in the low 90’s.  Fair, hazy, and muggy again Friday night with lows around 70.

More Summer-like weather for the upcoming weekend with highs back in the low 90’s and lows 70-72.  Only stray late day showers and storms possible, mainly for Sunday.

Continued hot and humid with widely scattered late day showers and storms a bit more likely for Monday and Tuesday.

Make sure and stay thoroughly – and properly – hydrated.

91 & 71 are our seasonal highs and lows.

Make sure you & your family stay in touch with us. Remember the Storm Team 12 app can always bring you the latest weather alerts for your location as well as Titan Radar. Download it for free from your app store – just search WDEF Weather”. 

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Mayor; commissioner speak with Sale Creek community over farm

Mayor; commissioner speak with Sale Creek community over farm

SALE CREEK, Tennessee (WDEF) – Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and County Commissioner Randy Fairbanks spoke to the community about the newly acquired $16 million McDonald farm.
Coppinger and Fairbanks said they wanted to set the record straight after they have heard several rumors about what plans were for the farm.
Coppinger told the area residents that Hamilton County had the first right of refusal for purchase and other private people wanted to buy the nearly 2,000 acres of land.
He said when the country owns it, it gives the taxpayers have a say.
“When we tell you nothings going on believe us. I mean there’s no reason to give you misinformation. But it’s really hard for us to overcome a lot of miss information that goes out over social media and then everybody gets upset thinking somethings going to happen that’s just not true,” said Coppinger.
Coppinger said he expects several more meetings over the next several years with the community to update on what projects could come to the area in the future.

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Teaching kids money habits while they are young

Teaching kids money habits while they are young

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)- Money Lit founder Stephanie Pyke said budgeting money is an important life skill but she feels it’s not talked about enough with kids at a young age,

“I volunteered with the 11th grade and who wants to be a millionaire program and I saw how unengaged some of the teenagers were probably because they’re teenagers. I was like they should really begin younger. Just like anything else that early childhood education piece,” said Pyke.

Through the Money Lit curriculum, she can educate younger kids and teenagers about financial literacy and how to save money for the future.

“Little kids, they’re automatically just, wanna earn money. They’re little entrepreneurs. You don’t even need to teach that to them, that’s innate. If you can catch them at that age it grows with them, they still may know everything when they’re teenagers but it’s in there somewhere when they become adults” said Pyke.

She says introducing kids while they are younger to the meaning of money and saving will help them financially as they grow up.

“It’s not just money life skills we talk about life skills as well. So I kind of blend everyday math with economics. Human capital like your experiences, your education, the skills that you developed through extracurriculars I make that connection to future earnings potential” said Pyke.

She teaches the difference between need and wants and includes knowledge of saving for short and long-term goals.

“Ultimately, the goal is for kids to go out to college with an understanding of how to manage that money and potentially leverage scholarships and grants. Find more importance in that rather than a lot of student debt and taking out a bunch of credit cards. Just having that base knowledge that they don’t start out” said Pyke.

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Weather Update: Thursday Night’s Forecast – July 22nd, 2021

Weather Update: Thursday Night’s Forecast – July 22nd, 2021

Tennessee Valley (WDEF): More Typical Summer Weather On The Way – Meaning More Heat, Haze, & Humidity!

Expect fair skies to continue through the night time.  Hazy, warm, and muggy with overnight lows in the upper 60’s to around 70.

Hot, hazy, and humid again for Friday with mostly sunny skies.  Still looking dry with highs back in the low 90’s.  Fair, hazy, and muggy again Friday night with lows around 70.  More Summer-like weather for the upcoming weekend with highs back in the low 90’s and lows 70-72.  Only stray late day showers and storms possible, mainly for Sunday.

Continued hot and humid with widely scattered PM showers and storms a bit more likely for Monday and Tuesday.

Make sure and stay thoroughly – and properly – hydrated.

91 & 71 are our seasonal highs and lows.

Make sure you & your family stay in touch with us. Remember the Storm Team 12 app can always bring you the latest weather alerts for your location as well as Titan Radar. Download it for free from your app store – just search WDEF Weather”. 

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COVID-19 cases on the rise in Hamilton County

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Hamilton County

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- The health department announced that there has been a 200% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the last two weeks. The City of Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly had to close two separate YFD Centers yesterday for deep cleanings after a COVID case was reported at each location. County Mayor Jim Coppinger says that vaccinations are the key to a healthy Hamilton County.

As of today, 42% of Hamilton County residents have been vaccinated.

“So, the vaccine is very effective.So, I just want to encourage people to look at that as an option and certainly, we want people to protect themselves in anyway that they can”, says Mayor Coppinger.

In Chattanooga, The Frances B. Wyatt Community Center and The Washington Hills Community Center are temporarily shut down for deep cleaning.

The summer camp at Washington Hills will not resume.

Kinnawa Kaitibi, Public Relations Coordinator for Chattanooga’s Community Development says, “We want to make sure that we are doing our part of making sure that our community is safe. making sure that our kids are safe and of course making sure that all of our participants, anyone that goes to our centers and participates in our events, they are being safe. Of course, their safety is our top priority.”

The Frances B. Wyatt Community Center will reopen after sanitation is complete.

Kids that went to The Washington Hills Community Center have the opportunity to attend virtual events organized by the Youth and Family Development Centers.

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Weather Update: Thursday’s Forecast – July 22nd, 2021

Weather Update: Thursday’s Forecast – July 22nd, 2021

Tennessee Valley (WDEF): More Typical Summer Weather On The Way – Meaning More Heat, Haze, & Humidity!

Becoming fair through the morning. It’ll be drier with morning lows in the upper 60’s and low70’s. There will be a LOT of fog all across the area once you get out of the immediate Chattanooga vicinity.

For the afternoon: Lots of sunshine returning.  Hot, hazy, and humid for the afternoon with highs 90-92. The heat index level or “feels-like” temperature will make it seem even hotter. Fair and muggy Wednesday night with lows near 70.

Hot, hazy, and humid again for Friday with mostly sunny skies.  Still looking dry with highs back in the low 90’s. More Summer-like weather for the upcoming weekend with highs back in the low 90’s and lows 70-72.  Only stray late day showers and storms through the weekend. Make sure and stay thoroughly – and properly – hydrated.

91 & 71 are our seasonal highs and lows.

Make sure you & your family stay in touch with us. Remember the Storm Team 12 app can always bring you the latest weather alerts for your location as well as Titan Radar. Download it for free from your app store – just search WDEF Weather”. 

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Hamilton Co. Sheriff’s Office releases History Book

Hamilton Co. Sheriff’s Office releases History Book

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tennessee (WDEF) – The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office just completed a hardbound book commemorating 200 years of service.

The Sheriff shared the book exclusively with News 12 today.

It’s not easy to document 2 centuries of law enforcement into one book but that’s exactly what the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office did.

At more than 400 pages, the book was written and created by the Sheriff’s office and paid for by private money, not the taxpayers.

It’s the Sheriff’s office first commemorative book in 40 years.

The book includes vintage photographs, historical accounts, and has a section on each division within the office.

“I really enjoy that you can go over here and go all the way back as far as you can go in history – 1819 – and get a bio of all these sheriffs, right until the modern day. This is the one we did back in 1991.”

The Sheriff said he will present it to the commission and formally thank everyone who helped put it together.

The book will be officially released in October.

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Tip-A-Cop for Special Olympics

Tip-A-Cop for Special Olympics

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – Law enforcement put a new twist of protect and serve Wednesday.

Chattanooga law enforcement served dinner at a Chuy’s restaurant to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Jennifer McAfee with the special Olympics said this is one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers which helps make sure the athletes pay nothing.

Lt. Justin Kilgore said this is a way to not only help out those competing in the special Olympus it also provides an additional connection with the community.

“I think it’s an officer we all need to get back in some manner. So this is just another way for us to get back and give her time. Fortunately, we have a great administration that allows us to get out and be part of the community and not just to do every day what people think police officers do but be a part of who we workaround,” said Kilgore.

McAfee said they are hoping to raise over two thousand dollars for the Special Olympics.

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Bradley County School System announces Future Ready 1:1 Program

Bradley County School System announces Future Ready 1:1 Program

BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – This past year has been challenging especially for our local school systems but despite all the challenges, the Bradley County School System has continued to advocate for the education of their students by reaching a long awaited goal.

“It’s something we have been working on for a long time. The goal of our district has always been 1:1 where each student has a device,” says Scott Webb, Director of Technology for BCS.

School officials say the pandemic has shown the importance of having easy access to technology to help enrich students’ education. 

“The biggest benefit is going to be daily access. Being able to have assigned stuff at home and students now being able to take the devices home to work on and turn in. It was an important step for us to make because that’s the kind of environment that students are going to grow up in as they progress and move into post secondary. More and more things will become digital in nature,” says Webb.

Over the last year Bradley county schools were able to purchase 6,000 new devices – doubling the number of devices within the district

“Kindergarten and first grade will get IPads. 2 through 12 will be using chrome books. We will start the process of those devices being able to travel home as we progress through the year,” says Webb.

The distribution process will differ for each school and school officials ask that parents and students remain patient throughout the process.

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Bradley County Schools announces Future Ready 1:1 Program

Bradley County Schools announces Future Ready 1:1 Program

BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – This past year has been challenging especially for our local school systems but despite all the challenges, Bradley County Schools has continued to advocate for the education of their students by reaching a long awaited goal.

“It’s something we have been working on for a long time. The goal of our district has always been 1:1 where each student has a device,” says Scott Webb, Director of Technology for BCS.

School officials say the pandemic has shown the importance of having easy access to technology to help enrich students’ education. 

“The biggest benefit is going to be daily access. Being able to have assigned stuff at home and students now being able to take the devices home to work on and turn in. It was an important step for us to make because that’s the kind of environment that students are going to grow up in as they progress and move into post secondary. More and more things will become digital in nature,” says Webb.

Over the last year Bradley county schools were able to purchase 6,000 new devices – doubling the number of devices within the district

“Kindergarten and first grade will get IPads. 2 through 12 will be using chrome books. We will start the process of those devices being able to travel home as we progress through the year,” says Webb.

The distribution process will differ for each school and school officials ask that parents and students remain patient throughout the process.

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Hamilton County Interim Superintendent Announces She Will Not Take Permanent Role

Hamilton County Interim Superintendent Announces She Will Not Take Permanent Role

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The Hamilton County School Board has named Deputy Superintendent Dr. Nakia Towns as the Interim Superintendent in light of Dr. Bryan Johnson stepping down in August.
But the school board’s policy states she will not be considered for the permanent role.
“They really communicated that they would prefer that the interim not be eligible as the permanent superintendent,” says Dr. Towns.
She says the next season of her life has her closer to family in Georgia.
“I really want to help support in this way, through this transition. But I’m also really comfortable that I know that for a long term commitment, which is what the board wants in the permanent superintendent job, I couldn’t make a long term commitment because I want to transition to another location to be closer to my family,” says Dr. Towns.
Dr. Towns professional background includes many years in commercial banking before she segued into education. But being raised by a social worker and education advocate has gave a heart to serve.
“Kind of somewhere in my heart was always that I was going to be a public servant and work to help others like I saw my mother modeling for me,” says Dr. Towns.
She will take the helm on August 18th and her contract will be month to month until the school board finds a permanent replacement.
“Dr. Towns is immensely talented and will do a phenomenal job continuing the work. She’ll do a phenomenal job of transitioning and in support of transitioning the new leader,” says current Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson.

Dr. Johnson told News 12 he will not be playing a role in finding his permanent replacement
His last day as superintendent will be August 17th before beginning his new position with US Express.

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Health officials warn “a third wave is coming”

Health officials warn “a third wave is coming”

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Hamilton County Health officials say they are concerned now about rising Covid cases and hospitalizations in our area.

Both have jumped more than 200% in the last two weeks.

And they are seeing more cases in people under 30 and in families.

Administrator Becky Barnes says the data shows a third wave of Covid-19 is coming.

“We can stop or greatly diminish a potential wave with vaccinations.”

The Department says 42% of Hamilton County residents have now been fully vaccinated.

Barnes says if you have not been vaccinated yet, you should be wearing a mask.

As schools begin ramping up a new year, the Department’s official advice to school systems is taht anyone who has not been vaccinated should wear masks.

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