PETA is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction on cruelty charges of the person responsible for restraining, beating, and running over a cat whose body was found in the parking lot of the Appalachian Funeral Home on Sunday.

Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter Director Tammy Davis said she also had $500 in local donations for a reward as of Thursday morning.

The cat’s body wasn’t in the parking lot when a funeral home worker arrived at 10:30 a.m., but the employee discovered the cat at around 1 p.m. and called the police. Someone had bound the male orange-and-white cat’s rear legs with duct tape and inflicted severe head trauma, possibly with a screwdriver that was found nearby, and bloody tire tracks indicate that his head was run over.

In a Thursday morning news release, PETA said it is hoping for help from the public to solve the case “before other cats are hurt or killed.”

Anyone with tips should call the Washington County Johnson City Animal Shelter at 423-926-8769 or the Johnson City Police Department at 423-434-6000.

Following a 12-day trial in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, a Chinese national has been convicted of stealing nearly $120 million worth of trade secret information from Eastman Chemical Co. and several other chemical and coating companies.

Dr. Xiaorong You, a/k/a Shannon You, of Lansing, Michigan was convicted of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to steal trade secrets, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage and wire fraud.

According to court records, the stolen information was related to formulations for bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coatings.

Our region was left disappointed last year when Major League Baseball pulled teams from the Appalachian League. A lot of history, and a lot of great nights under the lights were suddeny coming to an end. But, then there was hope, and new Appy League sprang from the ashes with the backing of MLB and USA Baseball, but without their involvement or branding.

The revamped version of the Appy League is almost ready to play, and it will no longer have professional players in their first or second years. Instead, college freshmen and sophomores will fill the rosters of the league with newly named teams in all 10 towns.

The amateur league will have 320 players — 32 on each team — hitting with and pitching to wood bats.

No longer tied to MLB franchises, local organizing groups spent the winter coming up with unique names and logos.

The league’s West Division will be comprised of teams in Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, Elizabethton and Greeneville.

The Johnson City Doughboys are named in honor of a statue of a soldier in Memorial Park, behind the center field wall at their stadium.

The Kingsport Axmen pay tribute to Daniel Boone beginning his wilderness trail in the Model City.

The Bristol State Liners are named for the fact that Tennessee and Virginia meet in the middle of State Street.

The Elizabethton River Riders are named for the recreational activities in the nearby Watauga River and the fact that they are the only team with a river running next to their stadium.

The Greeneville Flyboys name was chosen when it was discovered that an airfield used to sit near where their stadium is.

The East Division consists of the Burlington Sock Puppets, Bluefield Ridge Runners, Danville Otterbots, Pulaski River Turtles and Princeton Whistle Pigs.

The 54-game season begins June 3. An all-star game will be held in the middle of the season and a championship game will determine the inaugural winner of the league.

I don’t know about you, but after the year we’ve had, I’m happy to see baseball back in town.