Stan Voit: A little bit of this and that for a spring day ...

Mar. 23, 2013 @ 11:06 PM

A little bit of this and that for the start of spring. ...

Rep. Dale Carr made a beeline for me last weekend to give his side of the issue that had ensnared him: the sale of wine in grocery stores. Carr’s House subcommittee failed to advance the bill by one vote, and Carr was on the side that defeated it. He admitted he had gotten an earful from those who support the measure, including the heads of some major grocery chains.

Carr says the measure will likely come back up, but to do that would require someone who voted against it, like himself, to make a motion to revive it. He didn’t say he would do it, nor would he say he would vote for it either in subcommittee or on the floor. He did want it known to his constituents that his vote in the subcommittee to stop the bill was mostly procedural and political rather than rigid opposition to a bill that would merely allow a city with package stores to hold a referendum on allowing wine sales in grocery stores. By the way, Carr donated his time once again to be the auctioneer for the SafeSpace fundraising auction. ...

A reader wanted Sevier County to know that one of three people killed in a March 15 plane crash in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has a local connection. Wallace “Wally” Watson, 66, of Boca Raton died along with his 30-year-old son Kevin and the pilot, Steven Waller, when a 1972 Piper Cheyenne, up for a test flight, fell from the sky as motorists on Interstate 95 watched in horror. Wally Watson had lived in Boca Raton since 1996, and during that same period lived part of the year in Sevierville. He was on the staff of Fort Lauderdale’s Avionics Engineering and, like his son, was a certified aircraft repairman, according to The Palm Beach Post. ...

The Voit household got a new air conditioning unit installed last week, and Sevier County Electric financed it. The utility has a program that will allow a qualified homeowner to get a new and more energy-efficient system installed, and then pay for it through monthly additions to the electric bill. It’s a program available to people regardless of income, if they show an ability to pay it back. The utility and the installer say we might save enough on our utility bill each month to pay for the extra amount added to the bill. Williams Heating & Electric put the system in. By the way, the one installed by our idiot builder eight years ago — the house was nearly finished when we toured it and bought it — was undersized and inefficient. Not the first example of questionable decisions we’ve found with the contractor. ...

A bill sponsored by Sen. Doug Overbey that would have taxed online travel companies on the amount consumers pay for hotel rooms, rather than on the lower amount the companies pay hotels for rooms, has died.The bill was backed by local lodging associations like the one in Pigeon Forge, but the opposition was too great from online companies like Travelocity and Orbitz. Supporters of the bill said that in Sevier County, as much as $300,000 in tax revenue was at stake. Opponents say it would have been unworkable, created new taxes and hurt consumers. ...

Another bill with some local interest also has failed for this year, but will come back next year.  “Amelia’s Law” is named for Amelia Keown, a 16-year-old Blount County student who was killed in a fatal car crash by a driver with a lengthy criminal record. The bill, pushed hard by her grandfather,  professional wrestler Wayne Keown, would tighten the operations of the Board of Probation and Parole in granting parole for certain crimes. The driver in Amelia’s wreck had numerous traffic citations and automobile crashes on his record, and was on parole at the time of the accident. The bill will be held in the Senate Finance Committee until next year since the House bill didn’t advance. ...

I had some delightful chicken and dumplings at First United Methodist Church in Sevierville on Friday, part of a fundraiser for a summer youth mission trip. It was the same recipe used for the church’s fair food booth. Great stuff and a good cause. Besides, I’m a sucker for homemade chicken and dumplings. ...

— Stan Voit is editor of The Mountain Press. His column appears each Sunday. He can be reached at 428-0748, ext. 217, or e-mail to svoit@themountainpress.com. Twitter: @stanvoit.