2021: A year in review
The top 10 stories of the past year

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, December 29, 2021

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The past year has been one filled with good news and bad; fun times and hard times. As we look back on 2021, The Claiborne Progress would like to share with our readers the top stories of 2021 based on visits to our website, www.claiborneprogress.net.
As of Dec. 26, 2021, we have welcomed nearly 600,000 visitors to our site. While there, they have read stories and viewed photographs about local government news, area crime, sports, and more.
Below is a listing of the top 10 stores of 2021, along with the number of visitors who looked at each story on our website, and a brief portion of that story.

10. New Tazewell man dies in crash

New Tazewell man dies in crash

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Web Page Visits – 5,078
Publication date: May 4, 2021
A New Tazewell resident is dead as a result of a two-vehicle accident late Monday afternoon. Kenneth Widner, 53, was traveling southbound on Cumberland Gap Parkway (Hwy. 25E) in Harrogate when his 2013 Kia Forte made connection with the flatbed portion of a semi-truck.
The 2015 Peterbilt straight truck, driven by Christopher Bingham of Harrogate, was sitting stationary in the left-turn lane at the intersection of Hwy. 25E and Patterson Road. Widner slammed into the right rear of the semi’s flatbed with enough force to continue under the bed, shearing off the roof and top of the vehicle, according to THP trooper Chadwick Arnwine.
Widner was pronounced dead shortly after the accident due to the extent of his injuries.

9. $2.5M+ lawsuit alleges CCSO, TPD violated minor’s civil rights

$2.5M+ lawsuit alleges CCSO, TPD violated minor’s civil rights

Web Page Visits – 5,459
Publication date: Nov. 19, 2021
The parents of a 14-year-old have lodged a federal lawsuit against Claiborne County, the city of Tazewell collectively and certain individuals employed with the Sheriff’s Office and the Tazewell Police Department. The suit alleges that their child’s civil rights were violated during an incident occurring on Nov. 8, 2020.
The Official Complaint claims excessive force was used on the juvenile during an early morning traffic stop. The 14 year old and a friend had taken an ATV to go for snacks at a local market, according to the document.
A Claiborne Sheriff’s deputy spotted the ATV that was being driven without its lights in use and attempted a traffic stop. Rather than comply, the juvenile made the decision to keep going. The deputy radioed the incident and was joined by other officers on the prolonged chase over country roads and through yards, eventually halting the ATV.

8. Push on to find Massengill truck

Push on to recover Massengill truck

Web Page Visits – 6,651
Publication date: Feb. 24, 2021
It has been a week since Tazewell resident Aaron Massengill climbed into his pickup truck for the last known time and drove into the night. The 28-year-old’s lifeless body was found nearly six days later along Ferguson Ridge Road.
While the county mourns his passing, family and friends are asking ‘why?’
Sandy Clark, who spearheaded the massive volunteer search effort, took to her Facebook page to encourage anyone knowing the whereabouts of Massengill’s truck to call the authorities.

7. Massengill found, county mourns

Massengill found, county mourns

Web Page Visits – 6,783
Publication date: Feb. 23, 2021
Official word has been released from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation concerning the disappearance of a Tazewell man who went missing on the night of Feb 16.
An intensive search by law enforcement and volunteers has netted the recovery of the body of Aaron Massengill, who was found late Monday afternoon by a resident along Ferguson Ridge Road in Tazewell.
The 28-year-old had been missing for nearly six full days with “zero information” forthcoming as of Sunday evening, according to Sandra Clark who spearheaded the search.

6. Baird resigns from E-911 after ‘demotion’

Baird resigns from E-911 after ‘demotion’

Web Page Visits – 6,825
Publication date: June 4, 2021
Veteran dispatcher Mary Jo Baird has resigned following what is essentially a ‘demotion’ as interim director of the Claiborne E-911 system. The Claiborne Emergency Communications Board decided during its May meeting to appoint Claiborne Sheriff Bob Brooks to the post effective immediately.
One of his first duties was to appoint dispatcher Tammy Day as his assistant, effectively placing Baird back into the dispatcher pool. A 32 year veteran of the service, Baird was appointed interim director when former executive director Roger Hager decided to resign.

5. Grand Jury indicts dentist on sex charge

Grand Jury indicts dentist on sex charge

Web Page Visits – 11,576
Publication date: Jan. 26, 2021
Dr. Melvin Donesky, 61, was indicted by the Claiborne County Grand Jury on two counts of sexual battery of one of his dental practice employees.
Evidence was presented during the hearing from New Tazewell Police Lt. detective Gary Ruszkowski, who is the lead investigator on the case. Donesky was arrested by Ruszkowski on Jan. 26, directly following the issuance of the true bill. Donesky was back on the street about one and a half hours later, having made a $10,000 secured bond.

4. TBI hunts Massengill murderer as county mourns

TBI hunts Massengill murderer as county mourns

Web Page Visits – 11,801
Publication date: Feb. 28, 2021
More than 400 individuals gathered on Saturday to pay their respects to the family of the late Aaron Massengill whose lifeless body was found on Feb. 22 along Ferguson Ridge Road in Tazewell. As the funeral procession made its way to the church, people lined the streets holding signs and balloons with heads bowed.

3. SNAP changes to benefits start Oct. 1

SNAP changes to benefits start Oct. 1

Web Page Visits – 24,921
Publication date: Aug. 31, 2021
For the first time in several decades, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is revising a guideline called the Thrifty Food Plan, which helps determine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits nationwide. The change goes into effect Oct. 1, but University of Tennessee Extension professionals advise families to begin evaluating household food budgets now.

2. Tazewell woman sustains brain injury, taken off life support

Tazewell woman sustains brain injury, taken off life support

Web Page Visits – 25,067
Publication date: July 11, 2021
A Tazewell woman has left a community grieving her loss after a freak fall down a flight of basement steps left her with traumatic brain injuries. Brittany Procy spent nearly two weeks battling for her life in an Intensive Care Unit. Friends and family initially held out hope for her recovery, taking to Facebook to keep everyone updated.
Several posts on July 2 called for prayer when her condition spiraled. About a week later, Procy was taken off life support and given medical comfort with no lifesaving measures in place.

1. Justice pleads guilty to 96 counts of rape, incest

Justice pleads guilty to 96 counts of rape, incest

Web page visits – 37,909
Publication date: June 4, 2021
Dominique Rashad Justice, 28, pleaded guilty today to a total of 96 counts of a sexual nature. Justice admitted to 28 counts of the rape of a child, 48 counts of incest and 20 counts of aggravated statutory rape – all involving his biological half-sister. He was arrested and charged in 2019 for actions that appear to have been committed over numerous years.