published Friday, March 29th, 2013

Ex-football stars face drug charges and other news from areas around Chattanooga

Ex-football stars face drug charges

JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. — Two former area football stars were among five people arrested Wednesday on drug charges.

Former Marion County High School and University of Tennessee football player Eric Westmoreland, 36, of Chattanooga, was charged with unlawful possession of controlled substances. He was released on a $3,500 bond.

Robert Robinson, 22, of Stevenson, Ala., who was an all-state running back for South Pittsburg and was MVP in the team's 2007 championship game, also was charged with unlawful possession of controlled substances and he, too, was released on a $3,500 bond.

They and three others were arrested after a stop for a traffic violation on U.S. Highway 72. A deputy called for a narcotics investigator and a drug K-9 unit. Deputies searched the vehicle and found what they said were oxycodone, phendimetrazine and acyclovir.

Samantha Anderson, 37, and Dan Smith, 50, both of Stevenson, were charged with unlawful possession of controlled substances and released on $3,500 bonds.

Tabitha Phillips, 24, of Stevenson, was charged with unlawful possession of controlled substances and illegal possession of prescription medications and released on a $4,000 bond.

Westmoreland, who led Marion County High to three state championships and was on the 1998 UT national championship team, played professional football for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cleveland Browns.

Westmoreland was named to the Baylor School football coaching staff in 2006.

Fire damage set at $12 million

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Sevier County authorities estimate the losses in a wildfire earlier this month at about $12 million.

The Mountain Press reported that figure includes only the value of the cabins destroyed or damaged in the March 17 fire at Black Bear Ridge Resort and not damage to the property.

County Emergency Management Agency Director John Matthews said authorities have revised downward the number of cabins affected by the fire, reducing it from 81 to 73.

The dollar figure is based upon property values on file at the county assessor's office.

There were no deaths and only minor injuries to a few firefighters.

Snow in Smokies closes roads

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Road crews are working to get snow-covered roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park open as the spring tourism season begins.

Park spokeswoman Dana Soehn said the higher elevations of the Smokies have received more than 18 inches of snow this week.

On Wednesday, U.S. 441 was closed between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and Newfound Gap on the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. The Clingmans Dome Road isn't likely to be passable before early next week.

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