Seven arrested at Carden's Bluff camp ground on alcohol charges

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   As summer moves into full swing, many across the nation will be traveling to enjoy parks and recreational areas in the National Forest Service park system. Unfortunately, for some, observing the law won't be a top priority.
   A prime example of "outlaw behavior" occurred Wednesday morning when seven individuals were taken into custody at Carden's Bluff Campground at Watauga Lake.
   Officers of the Carter County Sheriff's Department responded to a call at the campground, which is part of the Cherokee National Forest and located on U.S. Highway 321, before midnight on Tuesday following a 911 Communications Center call stating that several intoxicated individuals were at one of the camp sites.
   "Upon arrival I observed seven subjects, four male and three female, at campground No. 33," CCSD Sgt. Keith Range states in his report. "I approached the subjects and immediately smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage in the area." According to the report, Range also observed several empty alcoholic beverage containers lying on the ground around the campsite.
   After speaking with the individuals, Range placed all seven in custody on alcohol related charges at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
   Daniel Gary Morris, Jr., 21, 106 Robert Ave., Lot 49, Hampton; Michael Gene Morris, 22, 106 Robert Ave., Lot 49, Hampton, and Jeremy L. Stikeleather, 21, of Statesville, N.C. were all arrested and charged with public intoxication.
   According to the Tennessee Code Annotated, "A person commits the offense of public intoxication who appears in a public place under the influence of a controlled substance or any other intoxicating substance to the degree that the offender may be endangered; there is endangerment to other persons or property; or the offender unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity. Public intoxication is Class C misdemeanor.
   Charles E. Weaver, 19, of Statesville, N.C., Amanda Faye Guy, 18, Highway 321, Hampton, and Crystal Gale Roark, 20, 120 Betty St., Hampton, were charged with the underage consumption of alcohol.
   A third female was also charged; however, her identity was not released by law enforcement officers. Tennessee state law prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 21.
   Daniel Morris, Jr., Michael Morris, Stikeleather, Weaver, Guy and Roark are all scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on June 23.
   According to Eddie Graves, Patrol Captain with the Cherokee National Forest's law enforcement division, the consumption of alcohol on national forest land is against the law. "Legally they are prohibited from having alcoholic beverages on the park land," he said.
   Federal law allows special stipulations for prosecuting people found in the possession of alcoholic beverages while in a national park, Graves said, adding that the possession of alcoholic beverages on park land is a Class B misdemeanor that is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine or six months in jail or some combination of the two.
   Graves said he does not see the consumption of alcohol on national park land to be a largely occurring problem for the Cherokee National Forest. "It's about like everywhere else," he said. "There's a lot of people who drink out in public, be it in private establishments or in the national forest."
   A problem with enforcing the law that prohibits alcoholic beverages on national park land is the limited number of officers available to the park service. "We do have a very limited number of officers available and most of them cover approximately 100,000 acres each," Graves said.