US Congressman for Tennessee's 7th Congressional District, Mark Green, was at the Stewart Co. Visitors Center for a brief Town Hall discussion, Monday, April 22 at 2 pm. There was a large turnout at the meeting which was listed in the Standard Event Calendar last week. Green talked about the team he has set up and introduced them. Green said, "I believe we have built a very good team, we cover 19 counties, I obviously can't be everywhere at one time. We hired some extra field reps, I believe being responsive to people is the biggest thing that makes an elected or appointed official good at their job." Green introduced Mark Crane as Field Representative for our area. A Retired Night Stalker, with multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Green. His office is located at 128 N. Second St. in Clarksville.
38 year old, Jennifer Ruth Barber of Clarksville, TN, was booked into SC jail, last night, Tuesday April 9 at 11:55 pm, on several counts, including: Manufacture/sell/deliver/possession of Schedule II Substance, promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, possession of a handgun while intoxicated, possession of a weapon during felony, driving while in possession of meth, altering, falsifying or forging an auto title, driving under influence, driving un-insured, unlawful removal of registration decal, unregistered vehicle, unlawful drug paraphernalia, simple possession or casual exchange, speeding 21 miles over the speed limit, and two counts of violation of the light law. Stewart County Public Information Officer, Paulette Redman told the Standard, Barber was pulled over on Hwy 120 in Stewart Co. She had 60 grams of Methamphetamine, a weapon, and $1,300 cash when she was taken into custody. Officer Bo Riner made the stop and Deputy/K9 Handler Shane Keatts brought Stormy, the Sheriff's Office trained dog out and found the drugs. Barber's court date is scheduled for April 16, her total bond is $140,000.
After three commissioners resigned in two weeks, just ahead of the end of their two year terms, the new Stewart County Election Commission met, Tuesday, April 2, at 4:30 pm. There were all new members except for one, long time Democrat Commissoner, Nellie Settle. They met to select a chairman and go over organizational procedures for new commissioners. Three Republican replacements were appointed by the State Election Commission, Monday, April 1, after being recommended by District 75 State Rep., Bruce Griffey. The three, who were expected to be placed on the commission, Tim Borens, Robert Girndt and Carol Lovin were all sworn in at the meeting. Lovin was named Chairman. One surprise, long time Stewart Co. resident, Jane Bagwell, was named by the State Election Commission to replace the Democrat Commissioner who resigned last week. Bagwell was at the meeting but couldn't vote yet because she has not been made official. Settle is considered a hold over and said she will wait to be sworn in with Bagwell. We will have more on the first meeting of the new commission in next week's Standard.
According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District, they are in the process of reclassifying the Lock C site in Montgomery Co., TN, on the Cumberland River, from Multiple Resource Management (MR)-Low Density Recreation to MR-Future/Inactive Recreation Area. A press release sent to the Standard, stated in part, "This designation will allow the Corps to reassign the area to the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Campbell. The Lock C site has historically been used by the Army to transport equipment on the Cumberland River and, in 2018, the Corps issued a Permit to Fort Campbell for the purpose of loading and unloading barges along the shoreline of a 14.64-acre portion of the site. The permitted area has visual remnants of the old lock wall, contains a rudimentary boat ramp, and currently receives light recreational usage from boaters and bank fishermen. The Army has subsequently requested more proprietary control over the area and the Corps has agreed to reassign the area to Fort Campbell. This reassignment would allow the Army to construct security fencing, gates, and barricades to restrict public access to the site."
One of only two Democratic representatives on the Stewart Co. Election Commission turned in her resignation today, effective immediately. Democrat Martha Vaughn turned in a letter of resignation at the local Election Commission office at 1:50 pm, before a 4:30 called meeting. Chairman Kyle Mallory said it was a surprise. The resignation didn't leave enough, a required three Commissioners, for a quorum to vote. They were able to officially lock the ballot boxes after someone from the State Election Commission gave the okay with one Republican Election Commissioner, Mallory, and one Democrat Election Commissioner, Nellie Settle, who has been on the commission for many years. Two Republican Election Commissioners resigned on March 12, 2019. Vaughan resigned today, leaving only two. Mallory said he will not be appointed and there should be four new Election Commission members, three Republicans and one Democrat appointed by the state legislature, April 1, 2019. We will have more on this story in next week's Standard.
Long time Stewart Co. Election Commissioner, Betty Gibbs, and more recently appointed Commissioner, James Adcock, also Chairman, resigned from the commission last week. They both turned in a letter of resignation at the SC Election Commission Office, Tues., March 12, at the regularly scheduled meeting. Their two year terms will be up the end of March. In a copy of the draft, yet unofficial, minutes from the March 12 meeting, it is stated, Adcock asked Election Administrator Daniel Perigo if he had talked to newly elected District 75 State Representative, Bruce Griffey. Perigo answered, "Yes, Bruce called after getting several phone calls from a member of the election commission and other people about upcoming election commission appointments." Adcock asked Perigo, "Did he tell you to call Vincent Gray?" He was referring to County Commissioner, Vince Gray who supported Griffey in the election. Perigo answered, "Yes, he said Vincent Gray is a trustworthy person to call and he knows people in the community." Adcock asked, "Did you talk to Vincent?" Perigo answered, "Yes, he said that if there were any changes, he didn't think I should be worried because I was doing a great job, and if I had problems to call Bruce." According to the draft minutes, Adcock asked the dialogue between Perigo and Gray be added to the minutes and then immediately stated that he and Betty Gibbs were resigning effective immediately and submitted the resignation letter to Perigo, who faxed it to the state, and then sat down. The last notation in the minutes stated, Election Commissioner Martha Vaughn reminded everyone that they needed to adjourn the meeting. Gibbs made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Vaughn and the meeting was adjourned. Perigo said the meeting was properly adjourned, with a quorum, because the State Election Commission hadn't officially accepted the resignations. Election Commissioner Kyle Mallory was absent, leaving four commissioners.
Long time Stewart Co. Election Commissioners, Betty Gibbs, and Chairman James Adcock resigned this week. They both turned in a letter of resignation at the Election Commission Office, Tues., March 12, after the regularly scheduled commission meeting. The letter turned in at the local election office, addressed to James H. Wallace, Jr., State Election Commissioner, signed by both Adcock and Gibbs, but obviously written by Adcock, states, "I regret to inform you that myself and Commissioner Betty Gibbs will be resigning as Stewart Co. Election Commissioners effective immediately. Due to unethical outside political interference, we feel we can no longer effectively, efficiently and ethically perform our duties as commissioner and chairman. The lack of proper protocol, respect and decency with which myself and fellow commissioners are being shown is undeserving of the many years of election commission experience held by this commission." The letter went on to state, "This commission prides itself on fairness and accountability of the election process for the voters of Stewart Co., TN. It is a great disappointment that some do not share in these same goals and values." Republican Election Commissioner, and SCHS teacher, Kyle Mallory, will now be acting Chairman on an interim basis. Mallory has missed many meetings since being named the Republican representative and told the Standard, "I have made various requests to have those meetings moved to a different time than 10 am, that request has been denied. I have not been able to attend due to work. I'm very well aware of how the process should be done, how it has been done and there has been no unethical or illegal act in the appointments of new commissioners. In my opinion, these allegations in the resignation letter are baseless." Mallory went on to state, "Daniel Perigo, in my observations on election day and other encounters has shown integrity beyond reproach and is an extremely hard worker." Mallory did tell us, "I do not know of any unethical behavior of any elected political figure. I do know I am not being re-appointed as a Stewart Co. Election Commissioner in April." This means, there will be no Republican representation. The Election Commission is next schedule to meet on Tuesday, March 26, time to be determined, Mallory said it will not be at 10 am.
Stewart Co. Schools Director Leta Joiner confirmed this afternoon, schools will be closed Wednesday, March 13, Thursday, March 14, and Friday, March 15 due to illness, including strep, both types of flu, A & B, and stomach viruses with a lot of vomiting reported. She said, "We have a high number of staff and students out at all four schools. Dr. Lee said it is the worst he has seen this season with the number of people ill, especially children." According to Joiner, the school system has three stockpiled days left and there is a possibility the days taken for flooding could be waived. Joiner said the high school held ACT tests for Juniors today. All activities on school grounds are canceled for the rest of this week. She wanted to let parents know, 8th Grade Orientation Night at the high school scheduled for Thursday night, March 14 will be re-scheduled.
The Standard received information through a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Conference Call Friday, March 8 about the current river levels in our area. James Everett, Manager of Operations Support for the River Operations Center, stated, "We saw a record rainfall in February, we actually got a break in the weather for about a week here in the first week of March. It allowed us to move large volumes of water through the system." Everett then gave a status update starting with the tributary system and stated, "We used the time we had dry weather to evacuate as much water as possible through those tributaries." Everett discussed how they continue to release a tremendous amount of water out of the Kentucky Dam, and are near to the release of record. Everett stated, "400-430,000 cubic feet per second, which is close to the release rate of record, which we haven't seen since the 1950's. That's about 3 million gallons per second on Kentucky Dam."
We have also been in contact with Scott Brooks, TVA Public Relations Staff, who stated, "In general, on Kentucky we should see levels start to come down now that the levels on the Ohio River are dropping. TVA does not control the water releases during a flood control operation. That is the Army Corps." Water levels for Barkley lake, as of Friday afternoon, were 362.5 feet above sea level, down from a high of 369.1, Monday, March 4. Levels on Kentucky lake were at 362.48, from a high of 368.37 on Monday. Both are steadily dropping, so we should see levels in our area coming down. Summer pool for both lakes in Stewart Co. is 359 feet above sea level.
The Standard was the first media to report on wild hog sightings in LBL in March of 2018. We contacted Chris Joyner, Public Affairs representative with Land Between the Lakes (LBL) after hearing reports of sightings. He replied to our email then, stating, "We have local cooperative farmers that farm in LBL that have reported crop damage from hogs." Now they seem to be growing in population and Joyner said most all of the sightings in LBL were located in Stewart Co. He sent us a video of 23 being trapped, and we posted it to the Stewart County Standard Facebook page. He said they were caught with another three that stayed next to the trap, near Fort Henry Rd. in Stewart County. Joyner said there were a total of 70 trapped last year in LBL, mostly in Stewart Co. We have also received reports of other feral swine in our county. Joyner said the USFS is working on a plan to eradicate them. "It's not an easy solution, we are looking at different alternatives. We have to find out how many we have, collaborate with stakeholders, officials from counties involved, and do an evaluation," he said. According to Joyner, USFS officials met with representatives from Ky. & TN Wildlife Resource Agencies in Nov. and a company that traps them, "Trapping alone is not enough, we are putting together a plan for the next step. A more aggressive strategy is recommended, including shooting them from a helicopter but that would only be pursued after a significant evaluation," he said. Meanwhile, the hogs are multiplying, as sows can have two litters a year with 10-15 in a litter. Joyner said they can be devastating to not only crops but turkey and deer populations as well. They compete for resources and will eat turkey eggs and even turkeys. "They will eat just about anything," he added. Joyner said LBL does not allow hunting of hogs. "Each agency said, 'do not allow public hunting,' it makes it very difficult to trap and eradicate. We are being told the best way is through the air option. We have to prepare for every eventuality. At this point right now, night time targeting or poisoning is not an option. The federal government will not accept the liability of a hunt on federal land. They are known to carry 45 possible diseases that can be transmitted, serious diseases. The only option we have right now is to destroy the animal and leave it in place," he said. Hunting also enables the hogs to learn the best ways to avoid humans according to Joyner.
If you thought you saw Apache Helicopters circling Dover today, you did. Phones were ringing at Dover City Hall about 2 pm, with people concerned about seeing military helicopters circling Dover for nearly an hour. The soldiers on the ground in full gear were not happy to see me with a camera. They were next to City Hall and there were at least three helicopters circling Dover with a crowd gathering across the street at the Shell station. Dover City Police Chief and Administrator, Kim Wallace said they had come in and asked if they could train in the area. At first the soldiers were asking we not take pictures. We were finally able to speak with one of the soldiers who asked we not publish the faces of any of the soldiers. He said they were from the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron or 19th ASOS, from Ft. Campbell.
He stated they were training on communications from ground to air and wanted to be close to Ft. Campbell but also away from base. He said his name was Eddie and they were checking their equipment, more or less practicing in different areas. He did say this was the first time he had been in Dover. According to Ft. Campbell, the mission of the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron, Blue Lightning, is to integrate air and space power into combat plans and operations of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). They provide tactical air control and a weather station for Campbell Army Airfield. The squadron has about 130 people, and are located in several locations around Fort Campbell, KY.
Unfortunately, Stewart County Sheriff Frankie Gray said the body of Matt Hutchins was found in a wooded area adjacent to his property in Big Rock at approximately 11:30 am, Thursday, February 14. Hutchins was reported missing from Walker Ridge Rd. in Big Rock, Friday, Feb. 1, by his companion of 19 years, Shelly Mills. We ran a story of him missing in the Tuesday, February 12 Standard after Mills called the office last week and sounded extremely worried. She said, "I've been with him for 19 years and he's never done anything like this. I talked to him at 3:24 pm, Thursday, Jan. 31, and told him I would be home in a couple of hours." According to Mills, he had just spent $321 on materials to enclose the pump house at their home. Mills added, "When I got home about 6 pm, I expected him to be there but there were no lights on in the cabin and he wasn't there. Mills said both of Hutchins' vehicles were still at the cabin as well as a 4-wheeler. "Matt, his keys, wallet, and a handgun he carried were all that was missing. Gray said the Sheriff's office had checked his phone records and bank account and talked to employees he worked with and anyone who would have had contact with him. Gray said the Sheriff's office wanted to do a more detailed search of the area friends and family had searched already. Gray said, "The TBI and the Sheriff's office will continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, "but there doesn't appear to be any signs of foul play."
The Stewart-Houston Industrial Park, has been granted $35,155, to conduct an archeological survey, prepare topography and grading plan, and perform a rail feasibility study. The grant is one of 13 handed down by TN Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, part of more than $5 million in Site Development Grant funding. According to an email the Standard received from the Governor's office, "The Site Development Grant program is part of the larger Rural Economic Opportunity Act supported by the Tennessee General Assembly for the last three years. The grants are intended to help rural communities overcome barriers to achieve Select Tennessee site certification, and prepare them to receive economic development projects that will create jobs in their communities. The funds assist communities in completing infrastructure needs and making engineering improvements on project-ready sites."
Rolfe said, "When a company is looking to expand or locate new operations in our state, one of the most important assets a community can have to land a project is a shovel-ready site. I am proud of these 13 communities for taking the initiative to be better prepared for economic growth with the assistance of the Site Development Grants." Stewart County Mayor Robin Brandon said, "This Site Development Grant (SDG) allows us to lay the foundational groundwork that is needed to further develop this property. No matter who comes in, federal, state, or private corporation, archeological surveys, environmental impact studies, 10 acre topographical maps, and rail feasibility studies must all be completed. This SDG addresses all of these areas, pays for them, and clears the decks for the Stewart Houston Industrial Park Building. To continue to work to bring industry to our two county's shared economic opportunity zone." All that is required for the grant is for the County Commission to agree to pay $3,900 according to Brandon and he will be presenting it soon.
According to Cumberland Fossil Plant Manager, Michael Rawlings, TVA Civil Projects General Manager, Kristopher Johnson, and Project Manager, Jared Beasley, there will be more than 500 million dollars invested at the Cumberland City Steam Plant site over the next six years. This is just on the property outside the plant, with several environmental projects, including a new landfill, wastewater bottom ash de-watering facility, and wastewater pond re-purposing. The $500,000,000 doesn't include $68 million planned for capital projects inside the plant.
Thursday, January 17, Stewart Co. Safe Baby Court met for an informational session at Juvenile Court, to discuss the positives and negatives of the program. The purpose of this meeting was to reflect and address issues to TN District 18 Senator Ferrell Haile, who helped establish Safe Baby Court at the state level. He led the meeting by letting local officials provide feedback from their experiences. Haile stated, "The Safe Baby Courts are critical to where we go in this state, in taking care of children. This is a power project, there are seven courts in existence now, we're going to lobby for five more, to have a total of twelve in the state and we're going to get that in this years budget." Haile explained how he wanted input to take back to his colleagues, and gave each person a form to fill out for better understanding of how the program is running, along with his contact information. Courtney Lucas, Stewart Co. Safe Baby Court Coordinator, commented on the successes of community resources within the program. Lucas stated, "A lot of our resources are more faith-based. I've had churches contact me and say 'What can we do?' I've also had several individuals call and tell me they have extra funds and want to help a family." Lucas continued to provide examples of churches and families helping in the past. Patricia Miller, Lead Youth Services Officer, stated, "We don't have a lot of businesses that can give a lot... Having this building has been our sole resource. We probably wouldn't be able to have court as much as we do. The county really stepped up in giving us this building." Juvenile Judge, Andy Brigham, was present and explained how wonderful it was to have the building court is held in now. He stated, "She's right, I don't know if we could even think about having any type of recovery court or safe baby court without this facility. Five judges use the other court room and we were always fighting for court time. Now we have conference areas, an interview room, visitation space, and stuff for children to do."
Lucas mentioned how every worker within the program has a long checklist to get done. She said, "I feel like our workers from the department, almost are getting stretched a little thin now, because they take on case loads in other counties... To me it feels like they're almost drowning, and I don't know necessarily what we can do to eliminate their work load." Other entities spoke on their issues with case loads. Haile had someone present to take notes on all issues addressed along with positive remarks. Haile stated, "You're the first group I've talked to and I really didn't know what to expect, but I want to challenge you guys to see what you can pull together." Haile then made a comment which brought tears to his eyes, "To me children absolutely come first, if you're going to fall on one side or the other, about being right or wrong in what you do, fall on the children's side."
The Stewart Co. Sheriff's Office (SCSO) has received many complaints of motorists illegally passing school buses. Sheriff Frankie Gray and his deputies have been riding buses and following in unmarked vehicles. The SCSO will stop and cite all motorists in violation of TCA 55-8-151, passing a school bus. Under this statute, "The driver of a vehicle upon a highway, upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, shall stop before reaching the school bus and the driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer activated." The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting and/or passing a school bus that is on a different roadway. A roadway with a median is considered a separate highway. Fine for passing a school bus unloading and/or loading is $250 plus court costs. The SCSO will continue to watch and monitor the buses to ensure our children and motorist safety.
Derek E. Summers, Mindy Elaine Harris of Woodlawn and Kirby Wallace appeared in Circuit Court in Stewart Co., Monday morning January 14 before Judge Larry Wallace. Harris was represented by attorney Chris Clark, and Summers by attorney Chad Cox. Wallace was represented by attorney Tim Potter. All attorneys waived formal reading of the indictments, entered not guilty pleas, and a court date was set, "for review, possible motions and setting a trial date," according to Judge Wallace for all involved. Date was set for July 24 at 1 pm. During the Kirby Wallace manhunt of 2018, which crossed back and forth from Stewart to Montgomery Counties, many speculated that Wallace must be having help, and perhaps someone was aiding him in alluding police. According to an email received by the TBI, "On September 23, at the request of District Attorney General Ray Crouch, TBI Agents and deputies from the sheriff's office began investigating a homicide that had occurred on Rorie Hollow Road in Indian Mound. During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that stolen property from the homicide was located at the Woodlawn residence of Summers and Harris. The investigation further revealed that Wallace had been at the couple's residence sometime after the homicide had occurred." Both Summers and Harris were charged with accessory after the fact, and were indicted on, "unlawfully, feloniously and with knowledge or reasonable grounds to believe that Kirby Gene Wallace had committed a felony, and with the intent to hinder the arrest, trial, conviction or punishment, did harbor or conceal Wallace." The charge is a Class E Felony.
The Standard learned a body was found early Friday morning, January 11, near the Montgomery Farmers CO-OP Dover Branch. Dover Police Chief Kim Wallace said, "The deceased was a white male with no visible signs of trauma and there was no reason for the public to be concerned." EMS Director Greg Barrow stated the deceased was a 57 year old male and was found in the creek bed between the CO-OP and Workforce Essentials by a girl walking to the bus. He said the call came into to EMS about 6:30 this morning. "There were no signs of trauma but since it was an unattended death with no witnesses who have come forward, we have sent the body off for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death. He was last seen on video in the CO-OP parking lot at 5:07 pm Thursday, January 10," said Barrow. Employees at the CO-OP said the man was seen frequently walking through the area and lived nearby. The name has not been released.
When Stewart County locals think of Land Between the Lakes, we don't think of facilities, we think of the massive wooded area that runs between Barkley and Kentucky Lake in Stewart Co. up to the Ky. State line. LBL is not closed, as some may think. There has been some confusion in our county and surrounding areas after some media reports. While the Government shutdown has closed buildings usually staffed during normal business hours, like the Welcome Stations, The Homeplace 1850's Farm, Golden Pond Visitors Center with the Planetarium and Nature Station, and Piney Campground, LBL is open. It's open for hunting, hiking and driving through. The Bison can still be seen and you can enjoy nature all you want. All main roads are open, just take your trash with you. The Standard has been informed that all facilities and administrative offices are closed but the US Forest Service Law Enforcement is still working in the area, since they are considered essential Government workers.
The 2018 Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Ft. Donelson National Cemetery was held, Sat., Dec. 15. Rain had cleared out and it was dry and sunny by noon for the 3rd annual event. The crowd was estimated at around 200 and there were a record number, 810 Wreaths donated to be placed on headstones. American Legion Dover Post 72 Commander, Don L. Bailey, Jr. opened the ceremony, stating, "Thank you to our distinguished guests and visitors and a special thank you to the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Assoc. TN., Chapter 18, AT&T Veterans TN Chapter, American Heritage Girls Troop TN 1412, and my fellow Legion Post 72/Unit 72 Auxiliary." Bailey then introduced Park Superintendent Brian McCutchen, had everyone rise for the Colors, National Anthem, invocation and pause in memory of service members. Before the many volunteers came to get a wreath to place on one of the more than 1,700 headstones in the National Cemetery, he said, "We understand we have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, but our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms. In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country." Bailey paused, becoming visibly shaken at the thought. He then concluded by saying, "The 2020 goal is to be able to place a wreath at all 1,736 veterans' markers, fulfilling 100% coverage, and leaving none uncovered. Each wreath is a gift of appreciation, from a grateful America."
Stewart County was rocked March 2, 2005, when teenager Jason Clinard shot and killed beloved SC bus driver Joyce Gregory in Cumberland City. March 2, 2019, will mark the 14 year anniversary of the horrific incident, which still burns in the minds of Stewart County school students, staff, and community. Clinard, now 28, is serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder. According to District Attorney General Ray Crouch, after federal appeals were denied, "Clinard then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (federal appellate court) pursuing the claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his juvenile transfer hearing. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held, 'because there is a reasonable probability that Clinard would not have been transferred to adult court absent his counsel's ineffective assistance, Clinard is entitled to a new transfer hearing.'" Crouch added, "The Federal District Court will now conduct a new juvenile transfer hearing, if adequate grounds are found to transfer Clinard to adult court, this will presumably conclude the appellate process and the conviction and sentence will stand. However, if the Federal District Court determines that Clinard should not be transferred, the convictions could be set aside."
This case sets a precedent in our area in two ways: Stewart County was the first county in the nation to experience a bus driver being killed by a student... ever. As reported in the January 30, 2018 edition of the Standard,
Stewart Co. High School Rebel Golfer, Billy Atkins, signed to play Golf at Bethel University, Friday, November 30. He is only the second SCHS Rebel to ever sign to play golf in college. Bethel Head Golf Coach, Larry Geraldi, came for the signing ceremony held in the library at SCHS. Rebel Head Golf Coach Nick Wallace, Principal Ben Duncan, Schools Director Leta Joiner, some SCHS students, Atkins parents, Willie and Donna Atkins and his swing coach, Mitchell Moore, from Hopkinsville, Ky. were also in attendance. I asked Moore about how hard it is working with a high school students swing since they are still growing? He said, "That's a good point because their golf swing is changing. I've been working with him for about three years. He hits the ball pretty hard and solid, so his struggle won't be as hard in college." Wallace, who helped start a golf program at the middle school, said about Billy, "I started working with him when he was in the sixth grade and we had just started a golf program at the middle school. Billy has went to state the last two years. We sent out some videos, info, ACT scores and stuff like that before school started. Within a few days he had six or seven showing interest. He has a high GPA and ACT scores, so he's going to get some golf money, but he's also going to get a lot of academic money." Wallace said with Jacob Rose going there and it being close to home he chose Bethel. Rose signed in March to play basketball for Bethel and Wallace was there as the Head Basketball coach for SCHS. Wallace also said Atkins liked that Bethel uses Paris Landing Golf Course as one of their home courses and that's where Atkins practices. Geraldi said he liked Atkins work ethic and saw him play against and beat his grandsons at Waverly. "I saw Billy play for seven years. He is a good Christian individual with good academics, good work ethic, he's a good golfer and a good person. Golf is important, but those other things are more important, which is why we were interested in Billy," said Geraldi. Duncan and Joiner spoke about how proud they were. Atkins said, "I played on and off with dad and picked it up and knew I wanted to play competitively through the school." Atkins dad, Willie, said in a middle school match, he was driving it 240 and 260 in sixth and seventh grade and averages right at 300 yards now. Billy said his dad wasn't much competition now. We wish him well.
The Stewart Co. Chamber of Commerce selected Dunning Cheatham as the Grand Marshal for this year's Christmas Parade. He is the owner of Cheatham's TV and Furniture on the square in Dover, since 1951. He can often be seen crossing Hwy. 79 in the square to eat lunch at the Dover Grille. Owner John Wilson said, "Dunning came in the first day we opened 23 years ago. He said, 'You ain't got a hamburger steak on the menu? You won't be open long. I added one soo after." Cheatham was the Mayor of Dover in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Parade starts at 2 pm, Sat., Dec. 1, starting on Church Street, passing Dover City Hall, to the light in Dover and then down Spring Street, ending at SC Middle School. This year's theme is "Winter Wonderland". If the parade is canceled for rain Sat., it will be held Sun., Dec. 2, starting at 2 pm. We will post on the Standard Facebook page by noon Sat. if moved to Sun. After the parade, check out the Open House for the Annual Christmas Trees Display at WD Sykes Museum at 174 Church St. Dover. The theme is "A Walk Down Memory Lane- The Sequel". Open House is Sat., Dec. 1 and Sun., Dec. 2 from 1-5pm. The display is open Fridays-Sundays, Dec. 7- Jan. 7, from 10 am- 5 pm.
A murder trial was held in Stewart Co. Circuit Court, Tues., Nov. 13 through Thurs., Nov. 15. The sequestered jury found Gerald Lovelace guilty of First Degree Murder, on three counts, in perpetration of a robbery, aggravated burglary, and theft. The charges stemmed from the death of Donnie Cooksey, found dead in his home in Cumberland City from a gunshot wound on June 7, 2016. John Curtis Perry, Sr., and Ashley Nicole Hankins, two of the five defendants originally charged, were found guilty of the same charges, Fri., Sept. 28. A conviction for first degree murder carries an automatic and mandatory life sentence. Abdullah Powell, the only defendant not convicted in the case, is scheduled to go to trial in Stewart Co., in February. Powell and Lovelace, both of Clarksville, were arrested, Tues., March 28, 2017, by TBI Special Agents. Amy Hankins, Ashley's sister, pled to Facilitation of Second Degree Murder, Aug. 21, 2018. She was sentenced to eight years and called as a witness against the others.
Accused murderer Kirby Wallace appeared in Judge Andy Brigham's Stewart County General Sessions Court for a preliminary hearing at 2:30 pm today, Tuesday, November 6. Defense lawyer for Wallace was Tim Potter and District Attorney Ray Crouch Jr. presented for the State against Wallace, accused in the death of Stewart Co. woman Brenda Smith, who died Sunday, Sept. 23. Wallace's charges include first degree murder, attempted first degree murder along with especially aggravated burglary, kidnapping and arson charges.
Her husband Teddy Smith took the stand first. Crouch asked Smith about that day, when they came home early from church to celebrate he and his mother's birthday. Smith was visibly shaken when recounting the day. He said, "Me and Brenda went home early from church. It was my birthday and my mother's was on the 18th, we were going to my sisters in Clarksville to celebrate." Crouch asked what happened when they got home and said, "Brenda got out and I walked around the car, Brenda was in front of me going up the ramp, he opened the door, grabbed her, and said, if you give me any trouble I'll slit her throat. We walked in and I grabbed him around the neck and was punching him and he stabbed me in the side."
While choking back tears, Smith said Wallace tied both of them up. "He done got me in a closet and tied my feet up with some kind of extension cord and pulled them up to my belt." Smith said he could hear Wallace going through the house while he was in the closet and his wife was tied up on the bed. He said Wallace came back and raked a knife across his throat. "When he came back in he shot me and I was hit on the side of my eye there. Right before he shot. When he went back out Brenda said, 'Teddy he's gonna kill us', she said, 'I love you,' I said, I love you too." At that point he was having a hard time recounting the terror he and his wife experienced in the sanctity and expected safety of their home. "I never heard no more out of her. He told Brenda he was going to burn us." Smith said Wallace poured some rubbing alcohol mixed with lotion for arthritis out on the floor and set it on fire. Then he hit Smith in the head. Crouch had him point out the scar on his head from being hit with a metal object. Smith said he had to have a plate put in his head. He said he could see Wallace start a fire by the doorway from the closet where he was tied up. He also said apparently he had set other rooms on fire. He said, "I heard him leave and I had to get out to get to my son Edward, and I could barely see the front door. Edward could barely get inside the house because of the fire.
One of the last things the DA asked Smith was, "Do you know who did this to you?" Smith said, "Kirby Wallace." Then he pointed him out in the courtroom. When asked if Smith knew him from before, he said his mother and father used to run a grocery store and he remembered years ago, Wallace and his family would get groceries at the store. Wallaces Attorney Potter asked him many of the same questions in different ways and asked if Smith needed a break. He said no, but was obviously upset about the line of questioning about the timeline of events from Potter. We will have more about the cross examination in next week's Standard.
Next, Crouch called 87 year old Clarksville woman Sarah Neblett to the stand. She said she came home from a church service on Thursday afternoon, September 27 and Wallace came up to her after she opened her garage door and forced her inside. She said he told her he hadn't eaten in three days and needed something to eat and drink. She said he was at her house for about four hours and he got nervous after her home phone rang about 7 that night. Neblett said, "He looked around my house and found a 22 rifle and loaded it. He told me, 'I done killed two people.' If you do what I tell you I won't hurt you." She said she was finally able to get loose from the electrical cord she was tied up with but was afraid he was still in the house asleep and so she waited until daylight to call for help. The last thing Crouch asked her was after she pointed to Wallace, "Is this the man who tied you up, broke into your house, ate your food, told you he killed two people?" She answered, "That's right. That's him." Potter had a very short cross examination. She said she lived on River Rd.
The State rested, the defense didn't call any witnesses. Potter asked for Wallace to be returned to the Stewart Co. jail. Judge Brigham said, "There's probable cause to believe these crimes occurred and the defendant committed these crimes. The charges will be bound over to the January term of the Grand Jury." He ruled, there will be no bond on the capital charges 1 and 2. Total bond on non-capital charges including especially aggravated kidnapping, burglary, robbery, and arson totaled $1.4 million. Wallace's lawyer asked for the placement of the defendant to be in Stewart Co. Potter said, "The order said the sheriff has concern about an escape risk. I think the officers here are competent enough to hold him and I think this jail is secure enough to hold him unless the sheriff thinks they can't do it, which is curious that he would believe that." He asked the defendant be held in Stewart Co. or somewhere closer. Crouch said, "It's a question of how many resources have to be used to hold this defendant and keep him and other inmates safe." Brigham said it wasn't his authority but he would request an assessment from Sheriff Gray.
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