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Brownsville takes action on three measures - Zoning, building code, municipal code in focus
March 13, 2013

   The Brownsville City Board made quick work of a short agenda Tuesday. During their regular monthly meeting, aldermen and the mayor agreed to two ordinances that effect zoning and building codes.
Dupree rezone
   City leaders approved the second reading of the ordinance to rezone parts of Dupree Street between East Main and Washington Avenue. According to Mayor Matherne, this ordinance will get the zoning on Dupree in agreement with the actual usage of the properties. It changes the zoning of the houses on Dupree from industrial to residential.
Building Code
   The board also adopted the International Building Code for the city. This measure is important for insurance and city rating purposes and for Brownsville to be in sync with the State of Tennessee’s building codes. This was the first reading on the ordinance; the second reading will be at the April City Board meeting.
Municipal Code
   The city board updated the City of Brownsville’s Municipal Code. According to City Clerk Jessica Frye, the latest Brownsville code on file with the state’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service is dated 1983. Changes and additions to the Code passed in the past 30 years are not included in the comprehensive document and, in fact, they are not compiled anywhere.
   The resolution approves paying $9300 to MTAS to codify and revise Brownsville’s ordinances. Frye estimates the process won’t start for another year or more.
   Once complete, all of Brownsville’s ordinances will be compiled in one document and accessible on-line.

City’s new Internet site up and running/public Wi-Fi coming downtown
March 13, 2013

   Brownsville’s new website is up and running. City Hall has been working on the new, comprehensive site for weeks.
   You can find it at It is also accessed at .
   Mayor Matherne reports that within a couple of weeks, downtown Brownsville will have a free wireless Internet connection. The antennae will be located on the Courthouse.

Brownsville group to Muskogee for cultural exchange
March 13, 2013

   Delta Heritage Center director Sonia Outlaw-Clark told the Board about plans for a multicultural exchange trip to Muskogee, Oklahoma April 12 – 14. The trip will be a follow-up to a visit by Muskogee officials to Brownsville when they were here in September for the Tina Turner Celebration.
   In April, a busload of Brownsvillians will visit Muskogee for its Azalea Fest, Barebones Film Festival, and Chili Cook-Off and will present entertainment at each event.

New businesses opening soon in Brownsville
March 13, 2013

   City building inspector Jerry McClinton reported Tuesday that two businesses are in the process of getting buildings ready for opening.
   • Fast Pace Medical Center will open in the former Payless Shoe store space located near Wal Mart.
   • Valley Irrigation will construct a new building on a 6-acre tract on the bypass near Tennessee Tractor. Valley Irrigation is affiliated with Tennessee Tractor.
   McClinton says a bank is interested in building a branch on the bypass across the street from Wal-Mart and adjacent to the horse arena. McClinton did not name the bank.

Answer to 4-H camp here may be a while coming
March 12, 2013

   “Three to six” location finalist for the UT 4-H camp are likely to be announced sometime in the coming weeks, but probably not by March 18 as previously expected. Mayor Franklin Smith told county budget committee members late Tuesday that 19 communities have submitted proposals and the volume of interest has pushed the first round of decisions back.
   “If somebody beats us they will have offered UT one heck-of-a deal,” Budget Committee Chairman Allen King commented. King helped present the offer to UT officials.
   Haywood County and Brownsville have offered the university a package estimated to be worth nearly $3 million. It includes giving the school all of the acreage in the new industrial park and installing some infrastructure.
   Smith said UT trustees aren’t expected to make a final decision until November. The project is, so far, unfunded. In 2014 UT will ask the state legislature to fund the project estimated to cost $35 million.

County government poised to take big insurance premium hike
March 12, 2013

   County workers' health insurance won’t renew until this fall, but county number crunchers are bracing for a big premium increase. County budget manager Larry Livingston said Tuesday that over $400,000 in health insurance claims means the premiums could increase “30 to 35%.” The county’s insurance premium is “about $35,000” monthly.

Metro government vote probably won’t come until May
March 12, 2013

   Whether to proceed to the next step in the formation of a consolidated government here — a charter commission — probably won’t be decided until May.
   Teddy Waldrop, chairman of the metro study committee commissioned by the county commission about a year ago, made a presentation to the county budget committee Tuesday. The budget committee took no action, deferring to the county commission.
   Commissioners will meet next Monday, but Mayor Franklin Smith says they won’t be asked to vote on the study group’s recommendation that a charter commission be formed. Smith said commissioners need to hear Waldrop’s presentation, read the report and have time for consideration. A public hearing may also be held prior to the commission’s vote.
   The Haywood County Commission doesn’t meet in April, so a vote on the proposal won’t come until May.
   Brownsville’s Board of Mayor and Alderman must also vote to proceed to a charter commission. Brownsville’s board hasn’t yet heard Waldrop’s presentation and it is unclear when they will be asked to consider.
   Budget committee members — all of them county commissioners—discussed the pros and cons of a consolidated government at length Tuesday. The best summation may have come from Joe Stephens who said; “Until we have a charter we won’t know…” what’s best.

Farm ground owners get ready — assessments expected to be way up this year
March 12, 2013

   The price of farmland in Haywood County has been going up in recent years, and county tax assessors are noticing it. At a meeting of county commissioners who serve on the budget committee Tuesday, commissioners said they’re hearing that farm acreage may be assessed at a rate “36%” higher than in years past. The state’s greenbelt law, which provides certain tax advantages for farmland, provides some tax relief to just over 1.2 million acres in Haywood County.

County's budget may end year in surplus
March 12, 2013

   With just over 8 months in the year accounted for, Haywood County government has spent less than expected and income has exceeded expectations. County Budget Manager Larry Livingston said Tuesday that he expects the fiscal year to end with surplus funds.

FEMA has approved moving tornado safe space
March 12, 2013

   The tornado safe space at Haywood Elementary School is presently under construction, but a second tornado shelter previously approved has been on hold until recently. The second space had been planned for Sunny Hill School. But school officials, who changed how the Sunny Hill property is used, decided not to build the structure there, instead asking government funders to allow them to move it to Haywood Middle School (formerly the Junior High).
   Smith said FEMA has approved the change but the contracts haven’t been signed.

Firemen arrived to heavy smoke and flames on Westmoreland Street in Brownsville
March 12, 2013

   A fire well underway before it was noticed did extensive damage to a home at 1150 Westmoreland Street Monday afternoon. The alarm was turned in about 2:45 p.m.
   Firefighters managed to contain most of the fire to a bedroom in Risoberto Sulines’ home. The smoke and fire could be seen from blocks away.
   No one was hurt. Investigators say they are trying to determine the source of the blaze.

Haywood and immediate surrounding counties not in judicial redistricting plan
March 12, 2013

   If a proposed change to judicial districts announced yesterday in Nashville is approved, there will be no changes in Haywood County and the 28th Judicial District in which it resides. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey suggested changes to 8 judicial districts in Tennessee. Only a handful of counties in rural northwest West Tennessee are included in the proposed redistricting.
   Ramsey said reviewing the judicial districts was in order because of population shifts. The last changes were made in 1984.
   The 28th Judicial District is comprised of Haywood, Crockett and Gibson Counties. Voters in the three counties decide who will serve as circuit judge, chancellor, pubic defender and district attorney. The next election is in 2014.
   Ramsey has suggested changes be made in Lake, Dyer, Obion and Weakley Counties. He has proposed other changes in middle Tennessee.

Judicial District redistricting plan could be unveiled this week
March 11, 2013

   A plan that could change who prosecutes, defends and decides certain judicial cases in Haywood County is scheduled to be released this week. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, in a mid-February news release, said his office was working on a judicial redistricting plan. Ramsey says the last time the districts were assessed was in 1984. Published reports say Ramsey is set to distribute a map of his recommendations.
   The 28th Judicial District includes Haywood, Crockett and Gibson Counties. Circuit Judge Clayburn Peeples, Chancellor George Ellis, District Attorney General Gerry Brown and Public Defender Tom Crider manage cases in Haywood County Circuit Court and Chancery Court. It is unclear if changes are in the offing for Haywood County.
   Much like county commissioner or legislative districts, judicial districting depends on population. Ramsey says there have been material shifts in population since the 1984 plan was adopted and that triggered his review.
   All of the offices in the judicial district will be on the ballot in 2014. Public defenders, district attorneys, chancellors and circuit judges run for office once every eight years, so if redistricting is to be accomplished before 2022, Ramsey says, it must happen now.
   You can see the make up of the judicial districts here

South Haywood chase — meth lab seized — man jailed
March 8, 2013

   A police pursuit that started and ended on Perry Road in northern Fayette County crossed into Haywood County for a short time yesterday afternoon. Investigators say the man they were pursuing threw an active methamphetamine lab out of his car during the chase.
   Thomas Houston Johnson, 21, was eventually arrested. Johnson lives on Perry Road in Fayette County.
   An officer attached to a special unit that watches for drug and violent crime offenders noticed a suspicious car on Perry Road. The man driving the car sped away when he realized he was being watched. The chase wound around rural roads including Dancyville-Eurekaton Road in Haywood County where the officer pursuing the vehicle says the man threw a bottle from his car. Haywood County deputies rushed to the scene and found what they say is a meth lab within the bottle.
   Eventually the car chase ended on Perry Road back in Fayette County where the man trying to get away from cops crashed into a utility pole. The driver exited the car and ran into a house. Officers coaxed Johnson from inside the residence without incident. He faces a number of charges including evading arrest, tampering with evidence and possession of drugs.

Reward offered in Haywood deputy sheriff murder
March 8, 2013

   Haywood County Sheriff’s Deputy Ollie Bond was murdered in Jackson on December 7, 2010. The homicide is unsolved, though Jackson police say they have a “person of interest.”
   Yesterday, at a press conference in Jackson, Bond’s family announced they’re offering a $15,000 reward for information that leads to arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
   Bond owned Spanky’s Bar & Grill located on Hollywood Drive. He was shot after breaking up a fight at the bar in the wee hours of December 7.
   At the time of his death, Bond, 41, was working as a sheriff’s deputy here, for the Murfreesboro police department and was the chief of police at Bradford, Tennessee. He was also a captain in the National Guard.

Will prosecutors ask for the death penalty?
March 8, 2013

   Chastain Montgomery’s son was killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers in Mason Tennessee about two years ago. Haywood County deputies had chased the younger Montgomery to Mason after happening upon him driving a stolen truck on Highway 70 West near Brownsville. Chastain Montgomery showed up at the scene of the shooting, and was eventually charged with murdering two women who were working at the post office in Henning. Investigators say the younger Montgomery was an accomplice.
   Federal prosecutors are expected to disclose today whether they are going to pursue the death penalty against the former prison guard. Justice Department officials met in January to discuss whether to seek death at the trial of Chastain Montgomery.

January unemployment rate 7.7 percent
March 8, 2013

Tennessee Gains 7,600 Jobs From December To January
   Tennessee Commissioner of Labor & Workforce Development Karla Davis announced today Tennessee’s unemployment rate for January was 7.7 percent, which increased one tenth of one percentage point from the December revised rate of 7.6 percent. The national unemployment rate for January 2013 was 7.9 percent, and also increased by one tenth of one percent from the previous month.
   Economic Summary:
· Tennessee’s January unemployment rate is the lowest January rate since 2008.
· Over the past year, Tennessee’s unemployment rate declined from 8.2 percent to 7.7 percent.
· The number of employed persons (2,891,100) is the highest since December 2007.
· Total nonfarm employment increased 7,600 jobs from December to January. Increases occurred in administrative/support/waste services, retail trade, and education/health services.
· Total nonfarm employment increased 56,200 jobs from January 2012 to January 2013. Increases occurred in professional/business services, trade/transportation/utilities, leisure/hospitality, and manufacturing.

Sequestration lowers federal unemployment benefits
March 8, 2013

State unemployment benefits are not affected
   The Budget Control Act of 2011, generally known as “sequestration,” requires budget cuts to many federal programs including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. All payments of EUC on or after March 31, 2013, will be reduced by 10.7 percent through September 2013.
   The weekly benefits of approximately 30,000 Tennessee claimants currently receiving EUC or transitioning into EUC from Tennessee Unemployment Compensation program will be affected. The state’s unemployment compensation system, generally the first 26 weeks (maximum) of available unemployment benefits, will not be reduced.
   Claimants will be notified by mail detailing their reduced benefit amount no later than 3-22-13.
   All affected claimants must continue their regular weekly certification as well as satisfy their weekly work search requirement.

Crafters invited to participate in 3rd annual Exit 56 Blues Fest
March 4, 2013

   Calling all arts and crafts vendors. The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is seeking do-it-yourselfers and traditional and non-traditional crafters who create high quality, one-of-kind items to take part in the Exit 56 Blues Fest Arts and Crafts Show May 25, in Brownsville, Tenn.
   The show will run from noon to 6 p.m., and is limited to the first 40 applicants. Application deadline is May 1. The location, just off of Interstate 40 at Exit 56, offers crafters a unique opportunity to showcase their talents and wares to visitors traveling through West Tennessee, as well as residents of the region.
   This is a non-juried event, but special care will be taken to ensure that a good selection is available without an over abundance of any one particular items.
   "The Blues Fest is planned for Memorial Day weekend, which is the first big travel weekend of the year," says center director Sonia Outlaw-Clark. The event attracted more than 800 attendees last year.
   In addition to the Arts and Crafts show, live Blues music will be performed from the porch of the Sleepy John Estes home from noon-10 p.m. A car cruise-in, special exhibits inside the Center and lots of festival foods are also planned for the event.
   Crafters may download an application by visiting the Center's website at and click on the Exit 56 logo. For more information or questions, email, or call the Center at 731-779-9000.

Clark elected to TACVB Board of Directors
March 4, 2013

   Sonia Outlaw-Clark, Director of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, has been elected to the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus Board of Directors. Board members were elected by the membership during their annual meeting at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in September 2012 and officially took office January 1, 2013. Clark will serve a three-year term as the West Tennessee representative. Barry Young, Sumner County CVB Director and Brownsville native, was also elected to a two-year term representing Middle Tennessee.
   TACVB’s board members represent a broad and diverse group of tourism professionals from all areas of the state. Newly elected officers of the Association are Chairman Shelda S. Rees, Chattanooga CVB; Vice-Chair, Kim Bumpas, Visit Knoxville; Secretary Lori Nunnery, Jackson CVB; Treasurer Theresa Harrington, Clarksville-Montgomery County CVB; Immediate Past Chair Rhonda Adams, Dickson County Chamber. Other Board members include Laura Canada, Cookeville-Putnam County (East TN rep); Mark Shore, Williamson County CVB (Middle TN rep); Katy Brown, Oak Ridge CVB; Brenda McCroskey, Sevierville CVB; Calvin Taylor, Memphis CVB; Jennifer Wheatley, Paris-Henry County Chamber; and Melissa Woody, Cleveland-Bradley County Chamber. Affiliate members elected to one-year terms are: Tubby Kubik, Chocklett Press; Craig Richards, Collinson Media; and Mary Steadman, Miles.
   “TACVB is fortunate to have outstanding community leaders willing to volunteer their time and talent to enhance Tennessee’s reputation for hospitality,” said Sheila Leggett, TACVB Executive Director. “The importance of tourism in Tennessee cannot be overstated. It is one of Tennessee’s largest industries, and provides billions of dollars of direct economic impact and sales tax revenues annually.”
   The Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus is a non-profit organization representing the state's official destination management and marketing organizations. It is dedicated to the advancement of issues and activities deemed to be in the best interest of the Tennessee tourism industry and, specifically, the membership of the organization.

County to sell surplus vehicles at auction Friday
March 4, 2013

   The Haywood County Highway Department and Parks and Recreations will hold an auction at 1306 S. Dupree Ave. on March 8, 2013 at 10:00 A.M.
   The following equipment will be auctioned:
2 – 2000 Model 6605 John Deere Tractors with flat mowers
1 – 1999 Model 8160 New Holland Tractors with boom mower
1 – 1996 Model XL 4100 Gradall
1 – 1998 Chevrolet 1 ton truck with dump bed
1 – 1975 Model 930 Caterpillar loader
1 – 1988 Model 2955 John Deere Tractor with boom mower
1 – 1994 Model 7840 Ford Tractor with boom mower
1 – 1991 Jeep Cherokee SUV
1 – 1995 Chevrolet Pickup 1500 4x4
   All tractors have cabs and air conditioning
   The Highway Department and Parks and Recreations reserve the right to reject any and all bids.

Family Dollar Chain to locate here
March 4, 2013

   City planners reviewed and approved a site plan for a new big-box merchant that wants to open a store in Brownsville. Family Dollar plans to build a store on East Main at Park Avenue.
   Family Dollar’s new building will be located east of Park Avenue and on the north side of East Main. Back Yard BBQ will be Family Dollar’s neighbor. According to city planning notes two houses and outbuildings will be demolished and removed to make way for the building that will occupy, including the parking lot, about 1.35 acres.
   In notes to the planning commission, City Planner Sharon Hayes said “…the city plans to work with the developer and BUD for the city to make a street improvement…in order to enhance traffic flow at the intersection turning right from Main Street onto Park Avenue.”
   No construction or opening dates were provided.
Yahoo Finance lists the following information about Family Dollar Stores:
   Family Dollar Stores, Inc. operates a chain of self-service retail discount stores primarily for low- and middle-income consumers in the United States. Its merchandise assortment includes consumables, such as household chemicals, paper products, food products, health and beauty aids, hardware and automotive supplies, pet food and supplies, and tobacco; and home products comprising blankets, sheets, towels, housewares, giftware, and home décor products. The company also provides apparel and accessories consisting of men’s and women’s clothing products, boy’s and girls’ clothing products, infants’ clothing products, shoes, and fashion accessories; and seasonal and electronic products, such as toys, stationery and school supplies, and seasonal goods, as well as personal electronics, including pre-paid cellular phones and services.
   It operates a chain of approximately 7,400 general merchandise retail discount stores in 45 states. The company was founded in 1959 and is based in Matthews, North Carolina.
   At market close Friday, Family Dollar shares traded for $58.69 on the NYSE, has a market cap of $6.8 billion and enjoys $9.6 billion in annual sales. Family Dollar employees 33000 workers.

Joel Southern Appointed Permanent CEO at Haywood Park Community Hospital
March 4, 2013

   Joel Southern has been named permanent Chief Executive Officer of Haywood Park Community Hospital effective immediately. He has served as interim chief executive officer since August.
   “Haywood Park is an important resource to this community,” said Southern. “I’ve enjoyed working with the medical staff, board and employees of Haywood Park over the past six months and look forward to building upon the groundwork we’ve laid together.”
   In his previous role as Chief Nursing Officer at Henderson County Community Hospital, Southern contributed to the hospital’s designation as a Joint Commission Top Performer on Key Quality Measures two years in a row. The hospital was also recognized for excellence in inpatient and employee satisfaction as well as outstanding performance on Core Measures. Before that, as CNO at Parkway Medical Center in Decatur, Alabama, the hospital received the “Best in Value” award and was accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers and as a Bariatric Center of Excellence.
   “Joel’s career has been dedicated to achieving the highest standards of quality and providing patients with exceptional service,” said Michael Banks, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Haywood Park Community Hospital. “His expertise will only enhance Haywood Park’s reputation of delivering the finest care to the people we serve.”
   Southern received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing with concentrations in Hospital and Healthcare Administration from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Metro group votes to advance metro government initiative
March 1, 2013

   Members of county government’s metro government study committee voted Thursday night to recommend that Haywood County’s government explore writing a charter that could consolidate the governmental operations of Brownsville, Stanton and county government. There are 26 members of the group that have studied both sides of the issue for about a year.
   Sixteen committeemen voted to proceed. Nine members of the commission thought the idea of consolidation should be dropped. One committee member has yet to vote, but her vote won’t change the final recommendation.
   About a year ago, Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith appointed the group from a cross-section of residents including representatives from Stanton, Brownsville and rural Haywood County.
   Interestingly, elected officials on the committee were not universally in agreement.
   Voting in favor of the charter commission
John Ashworth
Tom Averyheart (Brownsville Alderman)
Webb Banks (former Brownsville Mayor)
Jim Bell
Freddie Burnette Jr.
Jean Carney
Emma Delk (former Stanton Alderman)
Wally Eubanks (Haywood County Commissioner)
Sharonda Green
Andy Helms
Sam Mathis Jr. (Haywood County Commissioner)
Janice Rogers (Haywood County Commissioner)
Terrance Swift
Keith Zaleski
Teddy Waldrop (chairman and Haywood County Commissioner)
Jerry Wilson (vice-chairman)
   Voting not to advance to the charter commission
Jessica Frye (Brownsville City Clerk)
J.P. Hathcock
Mary Jane Hawkins
Jerry Hollingsworth
Allen King (Haywood County Commissioner)
James Morgan (former Haywood County Commissioner)
John Simmons (Brownsville City Alderman)
O.G. Stewart (former Haywood County Commissioner)
Greg Vanstory (City Planning Board and County School Board)
Next steps
   Chairman Teddy Waldrop said he would present the committee’s findings to the county’s budget committee March 12 and later to the county commission.
   If county commissioners agree to proceed, the next step could be the formation of a charter commission. City governments would also have to agree to be included in the charter group. Eventually, the charter could be put before county voters to decide consolidation.

Lauderdale woman charged in husband’s death
February 28, 2013

   A man killed late Tuesday night in Lauderdale County has ties to Haywood County. Randy Neal was shot in the back with a shotgun at close range at his home on Durhamville Road not far from Ripley. Randy Neal is the brother of Clinton Neal. Clinton Neal is president of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce and holds management positions in county government.
   Randy Neal’s wife, Donna, has been charged with first-degree murder. She was arrested and was still in jail late Wednesday pending a court hearing set for today.
   The Neals had been married for more than 20 years and have two children.
   According to published reports the arrest warrant states Donna “did admit to firing the shotgun and shooting Randy Neal.”
   Donna Neal is 48. Randy Neal’s age was unavailable.

Metro study might end tonight
February 28, 2013

   For more than a year a group of Haywood County citizens has been studying how a metro or consolidated government might benefit Stanton, Brownsville and Haywood County. Their mission may be completed tonight. Insiders say the group is likely poised to make their recommendation at tonight’s session set for 6pm.
   There are three governments operating here. Haywood County, the cities of Brownsville and Stanton all have charters and governments. The metro group has been tasked with deciding if merging the governmental operations will be beneficial to residents.
   The study group can either suggest the idea be dropped or that local governments organize a charter committee. The charter committee would be charged with writing the rules for metro government. If the charter passes muster with elected leaders, then the proposal would be put to voters.
   No one has said what they think the committee will suggest.
   The metro study committee was organized at the suggestion of Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith. The county commission is not bound by the study group’s recommendation.
   Tonight’s meeting will be conducted at the Justice Complex.

HHS places third in Tennessee Academic Decathlon
February 25, 2013

   In the Twenty-eighth Annual Tennessee State Academic Decathlon competition, Haywood High placed third overall, and brought home 24 medals, one plaque, one trophy, and a scholarship. With 66,000 points possible for a team, the HHS team scored only 139.3 points behind the second-place team. The HHS team also tied with Madison Academic Magnet High School to place second in the Super Quiz event.

   Marco Romero and Kia Davis were invited to participate in the prestigious Speech Showcase to deliver their award-winning speeches to the entire group of decathletes from across the state.
   Winning individual medals were the following:
Rashad Mann: Silver Medals in Super Quiz and Social Science
Tressa Perez: Copper Medals in Essay, Science, and Literature, Bronze Medal in Art, Silver Medal in Super Quiz
Emily Pugh: Bronze Medal in Interview, Silver Medal in Super Quiz
Jason Elrod: Silver Medal in Super Quiz
Octavius Lanier: Copper Medal in Interview, Silver Medals in Math and Super Quiz
Brent Ward: Copper Medal in Literature, Silver Medals in Art and Super Quiz
Kia Davis: Bronze Medals in Speech and Interview, Silver Medal in Super Quiz
Marco Romero: Silver Medals in Speech, Math, and Super Quiz
Tony Wilbourn: Bronze Medal in Art, Silver Medal in Super Quiz
   Tressa Perez was also recognized for being the highest-scoring student on the HHS team. As the highest-scoring senior on the HHS team, she was awarded a $300 scholarship. She also received a plaque for being the fourth-highest scoring student in the Honor Division.
   The team and their coaches, Glynn Bridgewater and John Thomas, extend their thanks to all who supported them.

House likely total loss — Wednesday blaze
Updated - February 21, 2013

   When firemen arrived at 1220 Hess Street they found heavy smoke and fire leaping from the single family home. No one was at home and apparently the fire was well established by the time somebody noticed. Firefighters arrived on the scene around noon.

   The home belongs to Annie Gray. Firemen say it was heavily damaged.

Haywood County School board's private meeting yields teacher dismissal
But who is the teacher?
February 19, 2013

   The Haywood County School Board has fired a tenured schoolteacher, and the school board’s lawyer says the system isn't required to release the employee's name. The action came Tuesday afternoon during a called meeting of the Haywood County School Board that was conducted mostly behind closed doors.
   School Board Chairman Harold Garrett recessed the 3pm public meeting to an "executive session" of the board. Garrett refused to allow a reporter to attend the executive session, which was conducted privately in another room, apparently with the school system's attorney in attendance.
   The board resumed their meeting about twenty minutes later and voted unanimously to "dismiss a teacher." The motion to fire did not include the teacher’s name. After the meeting Chairman Garrett told Brownsville Radio that school system attorney Jennifer Craig told board members their private meeting was within the law, and not disclosing the teacher's identity was also appropriate. Craig is affiliated with a Jackson, Tennessee law firm.
   School Superintendent Teresa Russell told the board she was charging the teacher with conduct unbecoming the teaching profession, insubordination and neglect of duty.
   Board members said they also discussed other legal matters with their lawyer, but did not disclose the subjects.

Land sells for $92,000
February 19, 2013

   County government-owned farmland located behind Sunny Hill School was sold this morning at public auction. The 35.67 acre tract brought $92,000. William L. “Sonny” Howse bought the property.
   The land had previously been offered by sealed bid, but was not sold because the bids were too low. The highest sealed bid was just a little over $72,000. Today’s auction started at a minimum bid of $80,000. The public auction was staged in the lobby of the Haywood County Courthouse with County Attorney Michael Banks presiding.
   The land was sold to help fund the local match for tornado safe spaces. At last night’s county commission meeting, officials said construction will resume on the Haywood Elemtary School structure very soon. Work was halted when the project came in over budget. Modifications to the plan and new bids have made the building affordable.

Tina Turner's representative visits Brownsville
February 19, 2013

   The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center was honored to welcome a special guest during the week of January 14, 2013. Rhonda Graam, of Los Angeles, California, spent a week in Brownsville exploring the Center and learning more about the Flagg Grove School restoration project.
   Graam, who is Tina Turner’s assistant and has been with her organization since the mid 1960s, met with local officials and others involved in the school restoration. She took the opportunity to tour Nutbush and the surrounding area where Turner lived during her childhood. Gramm also met with the Joe Stephens family who donated the school, visited the original site of the school and heard about the next phases of the project.
   Her week in Brownsville also included meeting former classmates of Turner and hearing about their school days together at Flagg Grove and visiting cemetery sites of Turner's ancestors.
   In an email to Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark after the visit, Graam says Turner is “thrilled with all the information and my explorations.”
   Restoration efforts continue on the Flagg Grove School. Those wishing to contribute to the project may do so by mail to Friends of the Delta Heritage Center, P.O. Box 1358, Brownsville, TN 38012; or by dropping by the Center at 121 Sunny Hill Cove.

   Rhonda Graam, assistant to Tina Turner, is pictured in front of Flagg Grove School during a recent visit to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, Brownsville.

Delta Heritage Center makes book donations to Library
February 19, 2013

   Librarian Katherine Horn of the Elm Ross Public Library recently accepted the donation of four books from the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. In honor of Black History Month, the Center donated books that document influential Black people in our community. Among the books are Women of Haywood by Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson; I, Tina by Kurt Loder; and Ramblin' On My Mind and Big Road Blues by Dr. David Evans.

   Pictured are (from left) Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark, Center Advisory Board members Carolyn Flagg and Becky Booth and Horn.

Delta Heritage Center makes book donations to HHS Library
February 19, 2013

   In honor of Black History Month, the Advisory Board of the Delta Heritage Center has donated two Blues books by music historian Dr. David Evans to the Haywood High School library. The books, Ramblin' On My Mind and Big Road Blues give new perspectives on the Blues culture and the old traditions and include mentions of Brownsville Bluesmen "Sleepy" John Estes, Hammie Nixon and Yank Rachel.
   Librarian Julie Dahlhauser attended the Center's Advisory Board meeting February 13, to accept the donation.

   Pictured in front of the Blues mural of the Music Museum are (from left) Carolyn Flagg, Joey Conner, Becky Booth, Dahlhauser, Jerry Wilson and Sonia Outlaw-Clark. Not pictured is Sandra Silverstein.

Land auction today
February 19, 2013

   County government owned farmland located behind Sunny Hill School will be sold today (Tuesday) at 11 a.m. The land had previously been offered by sealed bid, but not sold because the bids were too low. Today’s auction will start at a minimum bid of $80,000. The auction will take place in the lobby of the Haywood County Courthouse.
   The land is being sold to help fund the local match for tornado safe spaces. At last night’s county commission meeting officials said construction will resume on the East Side School structure very soon. Work was halted when the project came in over budget. Modifications to the plan and new bids have made the building affordable.

Brownsville & Haywood County submit proposal for UT project
February 19, 2013

   The proposal from Brownsville and Haywood County to locate the University of Tennessee’s Conference Center and 4-H Camp in Haywood County was delivered on Friday, Feb. 15.
   Mayor Franklin Smith said UT officials report that several proposals are on file, meaning a number of West Tennessee locations will be under consideration. Three to five finalists will be chosen by March 15. A final decision is expected in April.
   UT plans to build a $35 million camp and conference center somewhere in West Tennessee. Our community proposes to provide UT with about 475 acres and another $1 million in infrastructure improvements. The total package is worth nearly $3 million.

More megasite details
February 19, 2013

   Last week state government’s Jimmy West provided the Brownsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen with an update on development progress at the megastite. The nearly 4,000 acre tract located near I-40’s Exit 42 is officially known as the Memphis Megasite.
   Last night West provided the same update to county commissioners. In today’s report we provide some details.
   • The State of Tennessee has already invested $110 million in the project: $40 million to purchase the 3,840 acre site, $59.7 million in additional appropriations, and $10.4 milion kicked in from the Tennessee Dept. of Transportation.
   • The Megasite is being designed to pump 3 million gallons of water a day, from the Memphis Sands aquifer which is deep below the site;
   • The wastewater from the megasite will be pumped 14 miles to a new wastewater facility to be constructed on South Washington Street in Brownsville, and then pumped to the sewage lagoons north of Brownsville. The treated water will be pumped into the Forked Deer River;
   • TVA will supply the electricity to the site; they are in the planning and scoping phase, determining the best route for electric lines;
   • I-40 Exit 42 Interchange Improvements will begin early this summer and will be completed summer 2014;
   • State Route 222, which runs through the middle of the site, will be re-routed, running on the far east side of the tract;
   • Texas Gas and ANR gas company are willing to serve the site with natural gas;
   • Millington Telephone and AT&T are capable of providing telecommunications to the site;
   The firm that managed the development of the Nissan site in Canton, MS – Buzz Canup (ca NUP) has been hired to help market the megasite; the website is

County personnel rules changed to help ambulance workers
February 19, 2013

   An amendment to Haywood County’s Personnel Policies was approved by the Haywood County Commmission Monday . The amendment will give paramedics and EMTs 12 hours of sick-leave a month, instead of 8. Paramedics and EMTS work 12-hour shifts and Mayor Franklin Smith explained that making the sick-leave change would keep a 12-hour shift worker from having to use one-and-a-half days of sick leave when they are sick and have to miss their 12 hour shift.

Police seize marijuana — man arrested
February 19, 2013

   About 20 grams of marijuana was confiscated from a man at 417 Bond Street. A police report states Xavier Barken, 21, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to sell. Barken was also charged with possession of paraphernalia. Officers say they also seized a digital scale.
   Separately, patrolman arrested two other young men after a traffic stop. The two men are charged with simple possession of marijuana.

Law enforcement weekend crackdown yields few arrests
February 18, 2013

   About two-and-a-half-dozen law enforcement officers from all over West Tennessee participated in a multijurisdictional police operation in Haywood County Friday. The focus was on outstanding warrants and other crimes, including gang related crimes. The officers conducted bar checks, too.
   Haywood County’s raid was the sixth in a series of police actions coordinated by district attorneys general Jerry Woodall of Jackson and Gerry Brown of Trenton. The prosecutors’ plan is to allow the concentrated force of officers to sweep an area in a short amount of time and make as many arrests as possible.
   Sheriff Melvin Bond said, however, only three people were arrested during the maneuver. In Haywood county officers included the Brownsville P.D., the Haywood County Sheriff’s office, Department of Corrections, TBI and the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control. Officers from Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Jackson PD and the Humboldt police department also participated.
   Officers worked early Friday night into Saturday morning making the arrests.

Fish and wildlife service on to next steps in expansion of wildlife refuges
February 15, 2013

   The regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has sent a letter to landowners and others interested in what the government is contemplating for the expansion of Chickasaw and Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge.
   In her two-page letter Cynthia Dohner directs interested parties to an Internet site that includes a 179-page study. She also invites the public to a meeting in Ripley February 19.
   The report offers the Service’s suggestion for the protection of certain sections of Hatchie River bottom’s eco-system and the expansion of the two national wildlife reserves.
   An earlier letter and subsequent meeting held late last year had some landowners concerned that the government might be about to force them to sell land. In an e-mail received yesterday by Brownsville Radio, Randy Cook, Refuge Manager at the West Tennessee National Refuge Complex, continued to assure that no property will be condemned and no landowners will be forced to sell. Cook says the Service only buys acreage from “willing sellers.”
   According to Cook, the Wildlife Service has no immediate plans to buy any property and there is no money allocated to fund purchases. “We are going through a planning process that, if approved, would allow us to buy property…within the proposed acquisition boundary.”
   At next week’s meeting in Ripley officials will explain their findings and also receive comment. Comments must be submitted by March 29.
   Cook says the final plan will be completed in May and submitted to the Service’s Washington headquarters for final consideration.
Facts about the report and meeting
   What: Public Meeting to discuss US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed expansion boundaries
   Where: Ripley Technology Center, 127 Industrial Drive, Ripley, TN
   When: February 19, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
   Where to find the report: Edited Hatchie Draft CCP.pdf

Hunter education classes scheduled in Haywood County
February 14, 2013

   Got a young outdoorsman in your home? To get set for the 2013/2014 hunting season, anyone born after January 1969 is required, before they may purchase a hunting license, to take the state approved Hunter Education course. Rex Barnes teaches the class in Haywood County.
   Barnes says the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission is now providing most of the course via the Internet and the on-line class is required prior to the final date for testing and practical instruction. This link will take you to the class registration:
   The test and shooting portion of the class will be taught in a 4-hour session March 15 at Zion Baptist Church starting at 6pm. Participants must register on-line prior to the class and also take the class before March 15. For more information, contact Rex Barnes at 772-6240.

HMS Beta Club inducts 64 new members
February 14, 2013

   In a ceremony on February 11 in the Haywood Middle School cafeteria, 64 new members were inducted into the Junior Beta Club. This is the first Beta Club induction at Haywood Middle School that now includes the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. There were 36 sixth graders inducted, 21 seventh graders and seven eighth graders. There are 33 other eighth-grade members.
   HMS Principal Yvette Blue welcomed members, students and guests to the ceremony. Senior HMS Beta members conducted the ceremony and welcomed HHS Beta Club officers Katora Holmes and Molly McAdams as guest speakers. Assistant Principal Charles Byrum also assisted with the ceremony. HMS Beta Club officers are Mikayla Flagg, Elliot Garrett, Victoria Perry, Noelita Hall and Will Chapman. Sponsors for the group are Jane Jameson and Mary Jane Williams.

Senior HMS Beta Club Members

   Cynthia Cardona, Will Chapman, Xavier Currie, Rashadda Dancy, Adara Donald, Trevor Ferguson, Mikayla Flagg, Elliot Garrett, Angel Goodrich, Noelita Hall, Aniyah Harwell, Morgan Hendrix, Isaiah Hess, Brennan Holloway, Taylor Ann King, Stephen Leath, Emily Martin, Pablo Martin, Tachia Middlebrooks, Madison Milton, Telecia Nelson, Cory Newble, Maggie Owen, Victoria Perry, Mary Wyatt Pettigrew, Allison Pilant, Hannah Riley, Pablo Sagahon, Felescia Sanders, Jacob Smith, Brandon Taylor, Taylor Waddell, and Laurel White.

New HMS Beta Club Members

   Brittain Adams, Sam Banks, Mary Ashton Barden, Cornisha Barnes, Riley Barr, Alexiis Bean, Candace Berry, Briana Bond, Keyshauna Bond, Jamal Bunch, Carlisle Clagg, Victoria Colbeck, Jordan Cone, Lashadia Conner, Amelya Cooper, Kendra Currie, Tyler Dickens, Jamya Douglas, Mattie Ford, Leslie Fox, Timothy Frederick, Patrick Gaines, Bria Grant, Haley Hendrix, Alexis Hines, Karoline Hobock, Calen Johnson, Kylah Johnson, Adam Jollo, McKenzie Kelly, Colbie Killen, J. T. Lea, Selena Leal, Kaitlyn Leath, Mikala Leath, Bond Lonon, Destiny McFarland, Tyler Morton, Karsen Neal, James Nelms, Everett Pettigrew, Jackson Pettigrew, Isaiah Polk, Markel Polk, Macy Reed, Ellie Riddle, Grayson Robinson, Jessie Ross, Emily Russell, Sadie Sharpe, Christine Siegler, Hunter Siler, Hunter Smothers, Brierra Starks, Ellington Steele, Jaylon Taylor, Tristan Taylor, Caitlyn Thompson, Janiya Thompson, Sam Thornton, Lane Ward, Kirsten Watson, Alex Williams, and Ashlei Williams.

Drug Task Force hauls in over 300 pounds of marijuana in Haywood County
February 13, 2013

   Sheriff Melvin Bond said two people have spent most of the past week in the Haywood County jail, charged in connection with an I-40 traffic stop and drug bust. Bond said West Tennessee Drug Task Force officer Omar Jundi made the traffic stop February 6 resulting in the arrests.

   Jundi stopped an eastbound U-Haul near mile-marker 47 in Haywood County. The two occupants consented to a search of the vehicle, according to officials. Officers say they found 307.7 pound of marijuana stashed in cardboard boxes inside of a freezer being transported in the U-Haul.
   Alfredo Resendez Pacheo, 30, and Priscilla Virginia Abrego, 29, face charges. Sheriff Bond said Pacheo posted a $50,000 bond Tuesday night and was released. Abrego remains in jail under $50,000 bond.

City and county leaders agree to provide land for University of Tennessee project
February 13, 2013 - Reported by Martha Lyle Ford

   The Brownsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the City of Brownsville and Haywood County government’s proposal to the University of Tennessee to locate a 4H Camp and Conference Center on land jointly owned by the City and County. The 475 acre tract is located in the I-40 Advantage Park which is located at the bypass and Windrow Road
   The proposal deadline is this Friday. Several other West Tennessee counties are also vying for UT’s $35 million investment.
Megasite update
   According to Jimmy West, the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development’s megasite manager, all of the projects to prepare the megasite are moving along on or ahead of schedule. West presented a report to board members Tuesday. Installation of infrastructure including water, wastewater, electricity, railroad access, telecommunications, and gas supply are all in progress.
   Two projects of particular interest involve the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The first is the construction of access from I-40 at Exit 42 to the megasite. Construction will start this summer with projected completion by summer 2014.
   The second project is re-routing State Route 222 which currently runs through the center of the Mega Site. TDOT has completed environmental impact studies and determined that the best route will be for the highway to be shifted to the east, passing near Muex Corner. Negotiations are underway with landowners affected by the re-routing.
   The megasite now has a website. It is
CITY AUDIT Accountants from Cowart Reese and Sargent CPAs presented the City’s financial audit for 2012 to the Board and Mayor. Leaders say Brownsville’s finances are in good shape and there were no findings which required additional investigation.
   The Board unanimously passed, on 1st reading, an ordinance to rezone portions of Dupree Street between North Washington Avenue and East Main Street. The measure is the result of requests made by some of the property owners on Dupree.
   The ordinance would reclassify some properties to bring the zoning designation in line with the properties’ actual use. There will be a public hearing at the next City Board meeting, on March 12th, when the ordinance has a second reading.
   The Board unanimously approved resolutions to allow city officials to apply for a Tennessee Community Development Block Grant for up to $500,000 for improvements and repairs to the sewer system.
   Brownsville will apply for a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to improve the street crossing at Meadow and Key Corner Streets, adjacent to Webb Banks Park. The improvements focus on safety near the Middle School.
   The City will use the funding to build a sidewalk on Meadow Street from the Haywood Middle School entrance to Key Corner Street, and place signs and warning signals on Key Corner at the intersection.
   2012 Stats
Heritage Center
   The Delta Heritage Center hosted a whopping 22,000 visitors in 2012, including guests from 44 different countries!
Central Dispatch
   Total 911 Calls 25,150
   Ambulance 3409
   Animal Control 48
   Fire Department 659
   Sherriff’s Dept 3565
   Police Dept 13,700
   Brownsville Police Chief Chris Lea’s summary report for 2012 presented some interesting statistics:
   There was a 21% decrease in “major crimes” in 2012 from 2011
   Drug Arrests increased 32%, largely due to the addition of a full-time narcotics officer in 2012
   Total car crashes in the City decreased by 24% in 2012
   DUI arrests increased by 22% … Chief Lea said he doesn’t think there are more drunks on the roads, but rather police are doing a better job catching them.
   The BPD secured $88,033 in grants in 2012to provide additional personnel, salaries, upgrade equipment and improve services
   BPD won First Place in the TN Traffic Safety Award, receiving the highest overall score of Tennessee Law Enforcement Agencies in the 25-50 man department size.
   Board approved a permit for Relay for Life, to be held Saturday, June 8 from 5-11 p.m. This will be the first time the event will be held on Court Square. This year’s theme is “Rain or Shine, It’s Relay Time!”

Man implicated in 2010 shooting arrested
February 12, 2013

   Three people were injured by gunfire during a shooting incident almost two years ago on Cobb Circle in Brownsville. Brownsville Police say they have arrested a man they believe was involved.
   Police arrested Shavenon Comage. Comage’s age and address were unavailable at the time of this report.
   Adrian Barken, Prentis Bynum and Latricia Hines were all injured during the incident that occurred in late May 2010. Two of the victims received wounds to their feet — one to the ankle.
   Police have charged Comage with attempted first-degree murder. He is being held under $500,000 bond.

TV missing in two burglaries
February 12, 2013

   A burglary reported yesterday on Lafayette Street in Brownsville. Ruth Byars, who lives at 1021 N Lafayette Street, called police about 5:30 yesterday afternoon. Two televisions were stolen.
   Sheriff Melvin Bond says a burglar visited Finis Thomas Jr.’s home at 497 Givens Road. A TV is missing.

Near 100-year-old home destroyed by weekend blaze
February 11, 2013

   A home was destroyed by fire this weekend. Firemen say I-40 travellers were among those who saw and reported the dramatic fire on Windrow Road. The alarm came in just before 5am Saturday morning.
   The house is located at 3809 Windrow Road and is just yards west of I-40. Mike Brown and his family live there and everybody got out of the inferno without injury. Firefighters say they think the fire may have started around a chimney. According to property data, the frame home was built in 1918. It was destroyed.

Burglars busy on Scott Street
February 11, 2013

   Three vacant apartments were burglarized this weekend on Scott Street. Apartments three, four and five at 811 Scott were forcibly entered. Only a gas wall heater was taken from one of the apartments, but police say the burglars damaged windows and doors.
   Investigators say a stove, refrigerator and heater were stolen from 811 Scott, Apartment 2 but they don’t suspect the weekend burglars are responsible.

Convicted murderer sentenced in Haywood Circuit Court
February 6, 2013

   Shawn Taliaferro will be in jail for decades. This week Taliaferro was sentenced to 44 years for the murder of David Capers.
   Taliaferro shot Capers while the two were riding together in a van near Nutbush. Capers’ body was dumped in a ditch in Haywood County on Highway 19. Both men are from Lauderdale County.
   The sentencing guidelines means Taliaferro will have to serve at least 85% of the sentence. Taliaferro was tried in Haywood County Circuit Court last year. The murder occurred in 2011.

UT project: Brownsville and Haywood County leaders appear all in
February 4, 2013

   With a proposal deadline just a few days away, Brownsville and Haywood County’s political leaders are preparing to offer the University of Tennessee a package worth $3 million. The incentives are an effort to lure a $35 million UT 4-H and conference center to Brownsville.
   At a joint meeting attended by all of the members of the Brownsville City Board and the Haywood County Commission’s budget committee late yesterday, the group unanimously decided to offer UT the entire I-40 Advantage Industrial Park. The property is located south of the Brownsville bypass and west of Windrow Road. The tract extends west to the CSX railroad, crossing Sugar Creek.
   Mayor Jo Matherne proposed the tract be known henceforth as the I-40 Advantage Park, dropping the word “industrial.” If UT takes the deal there will be no land left for industrial development.
   The project includes a 4-H camp but leaders say it is much more. Mayor Matherne said, “Sure it’s a 4-H camp 7 weeks out of the year but the other 45 weeks it’s a meeting and convention center.” They say it could employ up to a dozen workers. Yet leaders don’t have a precise estimate of economic impact.
   Taxpayers, via city and county governments, paid $1.975 million for the 475-acre farm. Monday afternoon political leaders agreed to ante up another near $1 million in additional improvements including installation of utilities and construction of recreational lakes. Mayors Matherne and Smith say they will lobby the Brownsville Energy Authority — asking them for at least $250,000.
   UT has been browsing all over West Tennessee for just the right site. Haywood County is among several West Tennessee suitors eager to host. At least 8 governments may submit a proposal by the February 15 deadline.
   A video presentation about UT’s camps and convention centers can be seen at
   Other notes from the Monday meeting:
• Mayor Smith says though UT is seriously searching for a location, they don’t yet have the money to fund the development. He says university officials will ask the state legislature to contribute the cash.
• The Brownsville/Haywood County proposal would provide the property in a long-term lease. The “dollar-a-year” lease is satisfactory with the developers, according to Smith.
• In addition to the contribution of land and improvements, city and county governments will be giving up just under $30,000 a year in farm rents.
• Local leaders hope the state department of transportation will fund road improvement. The plan is to make Windrow Road a three-lane highway from the bypass to the city limits.
• Mayor Jo Matherne said the city and county will have to begin looking for new land suitable for industrial development. “The need for industrial property is still here,” Matherne said. “We’re going to have to find some more land that’s suitable.” The city and county bought the Windrow Road land because there is little property left in the Dupree Street industrial park.
• Mayor Franklin Smith said the county commission has given him permission to proceed with negotiations but Mayor Jo Matherne said an official word won’t come from the city until their regular board meeting next week. That seems just a formality as all of the city board members were in agreement at yesterday’s meeting. Since yesterday’s session was not an official meeting, a vote could not be held.

School land sale back on — county added value
February 1, 2013

   There have been a lot of land sales at “the east door of the courthouse” over the years — but never one that was helping to provide money for tornado shelters. Until now.
   The 30-plus acre tract is located behind Sunny Hill School. School and county leaders decided to sell the taxpayer-owned farmland to help pay the local match for the multi-million dollar tornado safe spaces planned for two schools. Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith has set February 19 as the date for the public auction. County Attorney Michael Banks will auction the land at 11 a.m.
   The county commission’s budget committee, with only one dissenter, voted to sell the property when sealed bids were opened last month. But the county commission said “no.” Commissioners opposed to the sale rejected the budget committee’s recommendation saying they want more money than the two buyers were willing to pay. The two bids were within a few hundred dollars of each other and were just under $73,000.

Haywood County Schools order investigation - teacher arrested
January 31, 2013

   A Haywood County schoolteacher was arrested Wednesday and charged with statutory rape. This morning a Brownsville Police spokesman said Abby Elizabeth Hooper, 33, was charged late yesterday.
   Police say the charges came as “a result of an investigation ordered by the Haywood County School Board.” No other details were provided.
   Hooper was booked yesterday and after a bond hearing in general sessions court, was immediately released after posting bond.
   The Haywood County School Board released a statement this morning saying, “Authorities are conducting an investigation into this matter. The Haywood County Board of Education has suspended the teacher without pay pending its investigation as well. The school will defer any further comments until the conclusion of the investigation.”

TBI - deputy knew woman was wanted
January 31, 2013

   The TBI issued a news release late yesterday about the sheriff’s deputy indicted Monday by the Haywood County Grand Jury. The release sheds more light on the allegations against former Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Miller.
   Miller, 45, was indicted on two counts of official misconduct and one count of patronizing prostitution.
   According to the TBI release, Miller is alleged to have been having a sexual relationship with a female who had active warrants for her arrest. According to investigators Miller knew the woman was wanted and ”did not perform his duties as a police officer to take her into custody.” The release also states that Miller paid the woman who has not been identified.
   The sheriff’s department has terminated Miller employment.

Highway 70 East wreck - injuries
January 31, 2013

   A lunchtime wreck yesterday snarled traffic and sent at least one person to the hospital. The accident was just east of the Brownsville City Limits on Highway 70East. Sources say a car rear-ended a tractor-trailer truck setting the wreck up to eventually involve one other car.

Deputy indicted by grand jury - fired
January 30, 2013

   A long time sheriff’s deputy has lost his job and faces charges. Monday, the Haywood County Grand Jury returned a true bill against Charlie Miller. Miller has been charged with one count of patronizing prostitution and two counts of official misconduct.
   In a written news release from the sheriff's department, Haywood County Sheriff Melvin Bond said he was alerted to the allegations on November 21, 2012. Bond called in the TBI and district attorney's office to investigate. The news release states that Miller was "terminated by the Haywood County Sheriff's Department due to the fact that he has been charged with crimes of moral turpitude."
   Officials have not provided details of the incidents in which Miller was charged.

Third liquor store uncertain
January 30, 2013

   Brownsville's leaders have told Zone 2 liquor store lottery winner Joe Moore that he can't proceed with his plan to put a store at 915 Scott Street. That's because the address is in a residential zone. Last week we reported that the city has notified Courtney Ann Schroeppel that her application is next in line - she was the number two draw in the lottery last September. City officials have asked if she would like to proceed.
   While Mayor Jo Matherne says she has not heard from Ms. Schroeppel, she does confirm that the address on her application - 1142 North Washington - now houses another business. Whether the business located there is willing to give up the location is unclear but a liquor license applicant isn't allowed to find a new location within the zone. According to the city's rules, they must open in the location listed on the application. Interestingly, the applicants that won the third, fourth and fifth positions in the Zone 2 lottery also planned to establish their stores at 1142 North Washington. Applicant number six, Billy S Butler, listed 2556 North Washington as his planned location. If the 1142 address is unavailable it could be that Butler will get his chance to proceed.
   City leaders are waiting to hear from Schroeppel.

County and city leaders to discuss UT opportunity Monday
January 30, 2013

   Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne confirmed Tuesday that city and county government leaders will meet Monday afternoon to discuss the plan to offer about 200 acres in the Windrow Road industrial park to the University of Tennessee. UT is looking for a location in West Tennessee to build a 4-H camp and meeting center. The university’s investment is expected to be $35 million.
   The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Qualls road burglary
January 30, 2013

   Sheriff Melvin Bond said Lawrence Wayne Woody, who lives on Qualls Road, told deputies yesterday a burglar took an estimated $8,000 worth of items from his home. Electronics, computers, guns and jewelry reported stolen.

School land sale to be scheduled
January 29, 2013

   The county commission’s budget committee met late yesterday and decided to hold a public auction to sell about 35 acres of farm ground owned by the school board. The property is located behind Sunny Hill School.
   The budget committee says the bidding will start at $80,000 — that’s about $8,000 more than the sealed bids the county commission rejected last week. Many commissioners believe the land will sell for more than the two groups submitting the sealed bids were willing to pay.
   Proceeds from the land sale will go toward the cost of multi-million dollar tornado safe spaces to be located at county owned schools. The new structures are paid for mostly using state and federal grant cash.
   The county’s auction will be absolute — meaning the farmland will be sold if someone bids $80,000 or more. The auction is expected to be scheduled for sometime in the next two weeks — though the date and time were not set at yesterday’s meeting.

County to meet with city on 4-H complex
January 29, 2013

   County government officials will urge Brownsville’s leaders to join with them in making about 200 acres available to the University of Tennessee for the development of a 4-H camp and meeting complex. Mayor Franklin Smith wants to offer UT the south end of the new industrial park located on Windrow Road.
   City and county governments own the property. Taxpayers paid $5,000 per acre for the property for the purpose of industrial park development.
   UT is exploring building a complex in West Tennessee and representatives have visited just about every West Tennessee county in search of an ideal location. Haywood County’s site, according to leaders, is ideal based on the university’s specifications.
   If UT should select the property, less than 200 acres would be left for development at the new industrial park site.
   City government must agree for the project to move forward.

2013 Regional Academic Decathlon results
January 29, 2013

   Once again, the Haywood High School Academic Decathlon team proved to be strong contenders. The team competed in the regional contest Saturday, January 26, 2013, and won 27 medals, 3 plaques, and the third place trophy.
   Individual medal winners were as follows:
Brent Ward: Copper Medal in Economics; Bronze Medals in Science, Music, and Super Quiz; Silver Medals in Art and Literature
Tressa Perez: Copper Medals in Science and Literature; Bronze Medals in Art and Super Quiz
Tony Wilbourn: Bronze Medals in Math and Super Quiz
Kia Davis: Copper Medal in Music; Bronze Medal in Super Quiz; Silver Medal in Math
Marco Romero: Bronze Medal in Super Quiz; Silver Medal in Math
Jason Elrod: Copper Medal in Music; Bronze Medal in Super Quiz; Gold Medal in Math
Emily Pugh: Bronze Medals in Math and Super Quiz
Rashad Mann: Bronze Medals in Math and Super Quiz
Octavius Lanier:Bronze Medals in Literature, Economics, and Super Quiz
   Kia Davis won a plaque for being the fifth-highest scorer in her division. Tressa Perez received a plaque for being the fourth-highest scorer in her division, and Brent Ward won a plaque for being the third-highest scorer in his division.
   This year is the 28th year for Academic Decathlon competition in Tennessee. For the twenty-eighth consecutive year, Haywood High School will have a team in state competition. Other West Tennessee schools participating were Madison Academic Magnet High School (first place), Obion County Central High School (second place), and Liberty Technology Magnet High School.
   State competition will be held on the Austin Peay State University campus in Clarksville, February 22-23.
   Mr. John Thomas and Miss Glynn Bridgewater are the HHS Academic Decathlon coaches, and they join the team in thanking faculty, staff, and administrators who has helped in the team’s success.

Congressman Stephen Fincher visits HHS
January 29, 2013


Haywood High School juniors and seniors met U. S. Congressman Stephen Fincher on Monday, January 28, when he visited the school. He spoke to the students about his time in office and about Washington, D. C., and allowed them to ask questions. One student asked about gun legislation and another about healthcare. After the question and answer session, he took the opportunity to talk to some of the students individually and meet the teachers. Congressman Fincher is a native of Crockett County and lives in Frog Jump where he is a managing partner in Fincher Farms, a seventh generation West Tennessee based agribusiness. He was recently sworn in to serve his second term representing the 8th District in Tennessee.

U.S. Attorney calls Brownsville man “prominent member” of drug organization
January 28, 2013

   Mario Seymour, 29, of Brownsville, TN, was sentenced last week to 151 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana. The sentence was announced U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III. Seymour was arrested in Bolivar.
   In an October 11, 2012, appearance before U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen, Seymour pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 280 grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine), five kilograms of cocaine, and marijuana. The plea came as a result of a 2010 arrest.
   Investigators called Seymour a prominent member of a drug trafficking organization and was engaged in actively distributing and, they say, was directing others to distribute crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana. Investigators were able to intercept shipments of crack cocaine and cocaine with the assistance of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
   Seymour got in to trouble again last January when he was found in possession of a handgun, as well as approximately $103,000 in cash, believed to be drug related. The government seized the gun and the cash.
   In addition to the 151-month prison term, Breen also sentenced Seymour to five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

One liquor store open — number two on the way — but what about the third?
January 25, 2013

   Prime Time Liquor, located on Highway 76 at Exit 56, has been open for weeks, and it looks like Uncorked Wine and Spirits, Brownsville’s second store, could open any day. But plans for the city’s third liquor store, as provided by ordinance, apparently haven’t gotten off the ground.
   Joe Moore’s application was the lottery winner for Zone 2 His plan was to open the store on Scott Street. Moore hit a snag when leaders discovered the Scott Street address was improperly zoned. So far Moore has not lobbied the city planning commission to change the zone.
   Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne, responding to a question from Brownsville Radio about the status of Moore’s application, sent an e-mail saying, “ The City communicated to Mr. Moore's attorney that his proposed location does not comply with the permitted zoning uses for residential R-3.  The letter also informed Mr. Moore that the City will give notice to the second name on the list so they can attempt to move forward with their location.”
   Courtney Ann Schroeppel, Coco’s Wine & Spirits, whose application lists 1142 N Washington as her intended address, was the second applicant to be drawn behind Moore in Zone 2. Last fall Schroeppel, who filed applications in multiple zones, was the original winner in Zone 3 but she told city leaders she was withdrawing that application which paved the way for the opening of Prime Time Liquors. Mayor Matherne did not say if she has yet communicated with Schroeppel to learn if she is interested in what apparently is her new opportunity.
   Thomas Russell IV, who will open Uncorked Wine and Spirits at 156 Dupree, said he expects ABC approval of his application at any time and could be open in “a week or so.”

Mayor appoints committees — commission OKs
January 25, 2013

   The membership of all of the Haywood County Commission’s Standing Committees remains unchanged from last year. The committees monitor the work of several county operations ranging from law enforcement to solid waste.
   County government’s most influential committee is budget. The 8-person committee includes Allen King, chairman, Richard Jameson, Robert Green, Jerry Smith, Becky Booth, Jeffery Richmond, Leonard Jones Jr. and Joe Stephens.
   See a list of all county commissioners and their board appointments here
Conservation Board
   Eddie Ferrell was appointed this week to serve on the Conservation Board. He takes the seat previously held by Mike Matheny.

Unemployment rate up slightly in December
January 25, 2013

   County employment rates for December 2012 in Tennessee were released Thursday and most Tennessee Counties’ rates spiked in the final month of 2012.
   The rate decreased in 2 counties and increased in 93 primarily due to normal seasonal employment declines, according to a state spokesman. 
   Haywood County’s rate increased from 10.1% in November to 11.2% in December.
Neighboring counties —
Madison: 8%
Tipton: 9.5%
Fayette: 10%
Crockett: 10.6%
Hardeman: 10.8%
Lauderdale: 13.1%
   Tennessee’s unemployment rate for December remained constant from the November revised rate of 7.6 percent.

December 2012 county unemployment rates
January 24, 2013

   NASHVILLE – County unemployment rates for December 2012, released today, show the rate decreased in two counties and increased in 93 primarily due to normal seasonal employment declines. County unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and reflect seasonal employment changes from month to month.
   Specific county information is available on the Internet; enter
   Tennessee’s unemployment rate for December remained constant from the November revised rate of 7.6 percent. The national unemployment rate for December 2012 was 7.8 percent, also unchanged from the previous month.
   The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.
   Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.7 percent, up from 5.2 percent in November. Davidson County was 6.2 percent, up from 5.7 percent. Hamilton County was 7.2 percent, up from 6.4 percent, and Shelby County was 8.7 percent, up from 7.8 percent in November.

Safe space bids due today
January 23, 2013

   There have been a few bumps in the road for the tornado shelters planned for two schools in Brownsville. The bid for the building planned for Haywood Elementary came in over budget. There wasn’t enough grant and local money to fund the structure.
   This week the sale of farmland was halted by the county commission because enough commissioners thought the land was worth more than what two buyers say they are willing to pay. The money from the farmland — located behind Sunny Hill School— is earmarked to help pay the local match for the shelters. But officials say they think the hurdles are temporary.
   New bids for the construction are due today. At this week’s county commission meeting Haywood County School’s Kenneth Emerson said he believes Henson Construction Company — the tornado safe space planners— have come up with $163,900 worth of savings. Company officials say the changes won’t affect the usefulness of the building.
   Yesterday, Mayor Franklin Smith said the county commission’s budget committee will meet immediately — though no time and date has yet been announced — to determine a minimum price for the farm. He expects an announcement to come next week about the deadline for new bids. Smith’s plan is that the sale of the farm be revisited when the county commission meets next month.

Chamber names Haywood County’s best-of-the-best at Tuesday night banquet
January 23, 2013

   Brownsville Haywood County Chamber of Commerce leadership unveiled the year’s most coveted awards at their annual banquet Tuesday night.
   Awards went to:
Ambassador of the year - Marty Williams  
Volunteer of the Year - Any Wynn  
Educator of the Year - Latricia Bond  
Recycler of the Year - Moore Insurance, Richards / Cummings Real Estate / Delta Insurance  
Small Business of the Year - Conner Real Estate  
Business of the Year - Dr. Clarey Dowling, MD   
Industry of the Year - Lasco Fittings  
Man of the Year - Dr. Jack Pettigrew  
Woman of the Year - Teresa Russell

Haywood County Commission meeting
January 22, 2013 - Reported by Martha Lyle Ford

   The Haywood County Commission and County Mayor met Tuesday evening with 20 commissioners and the mayor present. County Clerk Sonya Castellaw and County Attorney Michael Banks were also in attendance. A crowd of approximately 20 county employees and citizens were in the gallery.
   Mr. Walter Brown opened the meeting with prayer. The minutes from the November commission meeting were approved.
   The two main topics of the meeting were discussion of selling some county farmland and the possibility of having a conference center and 4-H camp in the county.
   First, the land sale: At the November commission meeting, a motion was approved to advertise the sale of 35. 67 acres -- by sealed bid -- of county-owned land behind Sunny Hill School; the money would be used as in-kind matching funds for the Safe Space building project.
   Two bids were received; a bid of $75,107.01 was submitted by Hendrix and Sons, and a bid of $75,025 was received from Hilltop Farms. The high bid worked out to be $2,105.60 per acre. In a meeting earlier in the afternoon, the County Commission Budget committee voted 5-1 to recommend that the property be sold to the highest bidder. Commissioner Richard Jameson was the only vote against the sale at that price.
   Mayor Smith stated that the bids were lower than hoped for; several commissioners commented of area farmland being sold for up to $3,500 an acre. A motion to sell the land to the highest bidder (for approximately $2,105.60 an acre) did not pass. Ten commissioners voted yes, 9 voted no, and one abstained. The next step is that the Budget Committee will meet and set a minimum bid and will re-bid the property with an announcement in the newspaper next week.
   The new bids will be received and opened prior to the next County Commission meeting on February 18.
UT conference center and camp
   The University of Tennessee’s Extension Service plans to build a $35 million conference center and 4-H camp somewhere in West Tennessee and Haywood County is going to submit a proposal that it be here. UT has similar facilities in Greenville in East Tennessee and Columbia in Middle Tennessee.
   The West Tennessee 4-H Center is envisioned to be a large, state-of-the-art educational center for UT’s 4-H camping program and UT Extension’s programming. It will be an educational center in youth development, agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, and resource development. It will also be a place for family reunions, conferences and retreats.
   Some of UT’s specific requirements for a site are: at least 200 acres, a large lake, feeling of seclusion or privacy, close proximity to a hospital, close to interstate, and close to retail stores. County officials recently met with UT officials and showed them two possible Haywood County sites: one is next to the County Landfill and the other is part of the Industrial Park. The Landfill site would require the purchase of additional land from a private landowner; the second site is owned jointly by the City of Brownsville and Haywood County.
   The Commission voted unanimously for County officials to submit a proposal for consideration by the February 15 deadline. The proposal would name the Industrial Park site as 1st choice. The Brownsville City Board will have to agree to propose that site before the matter can go forward.
   UT officials have visited 19 of the 21 counties in West Tennessee. A selection is expected in April
Education Committee report
   The Education Committee and the Budget Committee met jointly on Jan 17… Kenneth Emerson of the Haywood County Schools reported then that the renovations at Haywood High are on track and all work should be completed by August 2013 for the beginning of the new school year. It was also reported that Henson Construction and their engineers have come up with a net savings of $163,900 on the tornado safe shelter project.
   The Education Committee will meet on February 4 to discuss school safety.
Standing Committees approved
   The membership of all of the Commission’s Standing Committees remains unchanged from last year. These memberships were approved by the commission.
Tearing them down
   The old Highway Building on North Washington Street and a house on Poplar Corner Road – owned by the county from a property sale – will be coming down soon. The commission unanimously accepted a bid from Tom Mann to demolish the properties for $6,700. The only other bid was submitted by Tim Guyeski for $19,981.
Conservation Board
   Eddie Ferrell was unanimously approved to serve on the Conservation Board. He takes the seat previously held by Mike Matheny.
Sign resolution (or, The Signs They Are A’Changing)
   A resolution to amend the Haywood County Zoning Resolution establishing additional sign regulations was distributed to Commissioners for their review. The matter will be on the agenda of the next commission meeting on February 18.

School board to open land sale bids today
January 22, 2013

   What will 35 acres of farmland owned by the school board bring at auction? This afternoon at 4:30 sealed bids will be opened at the courthouse.
   The property is located just west of Highway 76 South behind Sunny Hill School. The school board, in cooperation with the Haywood County Commission, decided to sell the farm to raise money needed to match a grant that will fund a tornado shelter at Haywood Elementary and possibly another at the middle school on Haralson Street.
   The last farm sold by county government — located behind the old county jail— brought well over $2,000 per acre. The school property could potentially bring much more.
   The shelters — also known as safe spaces — will double as classrooms and provide additional valuable areas for teaching, according to officials. Some work has been completed on the East Side building but work stopped when bids came in over original estimates. New specifications were written and leaders expect to accept bids Thursday afternoon they hope will be within the grant’s spending limits.

Tennessee unemployment benefit tax information now available
January 20, 2013

1099-G forms provided online and mailed to claimants   Recipients of Tennessee unemployment benefits during 2012 will be able to access the information they need for income tax purposes on the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development homepage: on Saturday, January 19, 2013. They can also go straight to the log-in page:
   By entering their birth date or the same PIN they used to certify or inquire on their unemployment claim, claimants can view a summary of total unemployment benefits paid to them, view the total amount of federal income tax withheld, and print a summary of this information.
   The department also began mailing the IRS Form 1099-G to more than 245,888 benefit recipients on January 14, 2013. The forms will reach claimants no later than January 31, 2013. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward 1099-G forms.
   Recipients of unemployment benefits are not required to submit a copy of their 1099-G form with their income tax return. If claimants do not receive their form in the mail and do not have access to the Internet, any Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Career Center allows use of a computer to print the needed form. Claimants unable to visit a Career Center and not having Internet access may send a written request, including their name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and phone number, with signature, to
Special Services Unit
TN Department of Labor & Workforce Development
220 French Landing Drive
Nashville, TN 37243-1002

Highway 76 South Crash kills three men
January 20, 2013

   Three young men lost their lives on Highway76 South in Haywood County in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The one-car wreck was reported about 3:30 a.m.
   Eddie L. West, 23, Martavius T. Robinson, 23, and Jarves Gause, 24, were all dead at the scene, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s report. All of the victims were from Brownsville.
   The 2000 model Cadillac was northbound on Highway 76 South with West at the wheel when it “lost control and went into a high speed yaw,” according to the trooper’s report. The car left the road, careened down a deep embankment and hit a tree. Sources say all three victims had to be extricated from the wreckage. The wreck occurred between Koko and O’Neal’s lake.
   The trooper says none of the three men were wearing seatbelts.

Shots fired in Kirby Place
January 20, 2013

   No one was hurt and a suspect is being sought in a shooting incident that occurred Saturday night in Brownsville. Two Whiteville, Tennessee, men say “an unidentified suspect” pointed a gun at one of them and fired a shot at the other.
   Martevious Cross said the gun was aimed in his direction and Ladedtrick Allen said the gunman pulled the trigger but missed when he fired in his direction. Investigators say the shooting may have stemmed from an earlier incident involving Allen and his “ex-girlfriend.”
   During the shooting investigation police say they seized a 9mm Taurus semi-automatic handgun from Tearnee Turner of Brownsville but turner was apparently not involved in the shooting incident. Officers stopped Turner who was leaving the area of the shooting in an SUV and discovered the gun in his possession. He is charged with possession with intent to go armed.

Cold weather to greet today’s Dr. King march
January 20, 2013

   It’ll be cold but clear during this morning’s march commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King. Many government offices are closed on this federal holiday. Temperature expected for this morning’s parade will be in the 40’s.
   The City of Brownsville issued a parade permit for today’s march that’s scheduled to begin at 10am the Carver-Dunbar facility of Jefferson and eventually head west on East Main Street, around the square and back to Carver.

Tina Turner expressing interest in her hometown - assistant visits
January 18, 2013
We all know why Tina Turner gave fame to the Nutbush Community — it’s because she was born there. Nutbush City Limits was written and performed by Turner and was a smash hit in the summer of 1973 according to Billboard magazine. However, since leaving here as a child and becoming very famous worldwide, Tina hasn’t seemed to otherwise pay much attention to her old hometown.
   That may be changing. Brownsville Radio learned that Turner sent what could be her closest business associate to Brownsville for a visit, and she spent several days here.
   Community leaders met with Rhonda Graam who Delta Hertiage Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark calls “assistant to Tina Turner.” Outlaw-Clark is Haywood County’s frontline to tourism and spearheaded the effort to begin the restoration of Flagg Grove School, the one-room schoolhouse Tina Turner first attended.
   Outlaw-Clark said Graam, “…has been in town this week learning more about the Delta Heritage Center and its plans for Flagg Grove School. She examined the school and the restoration efforts that have been made so far and heard about the next phase of the project. She also visited the original site of the school and talked with Joe and Pam Stephens and others involved with the school's move and fundraising efforts."
   So this sets us up to wonder. What have Brownsville officials asked of Turner? Sources told us nothing so far except for her best wishes. Why did Turner send her personal assistant to Brownsville? If anybody knows for sure, they aren’t telling.
   Stay tuned.

BB gun incident leads to arrest
January 18, 2013

   Police have charged a man with assault after he allegedly shot another man with a BB gun. According to Police Chief Chris Lea Johnny Baltimore sustained a serious injury when the BB hit him in the eye.
   The incident occurred at Shantia Evans home on South Hatchie about 1:30 a.m. January 15. Lea describes Evans and Baltimore as boyfriend/girlfriend. Police have charged Evans son, Vincent, 21, with the shooting.
   Lea says the shooting wasn’t reported at the time it occurred and officers found out about it 12 hours later when Baltimore went to the hospital for treatment.

Last day to file foreclosure claim
January 18, 2013

   Today is the last day for Tennesseans to file a claim to receive a payment under the national mortgage settlement.
   Borrowers in Tennessee who lost their homes between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011, may be eligible to receive a payment. There are about 37,000 people in Tennessee that faced foreclosure during the period. The nation's five largest mortgage servicers — Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, agreed to the settlement with Tennessee and other states last year.
   Forms can be filed online at The settlement administrator can be reached at (866) 430-8358.

President suggests gun violence rules
January 17, 2013

   Local shooters, hunters and gun owners are all close observers of the government’s new plans to curb gun violence. The efforts to stop crime using guns isn’t limited to just gun aficioandos. From school officials to law enforcement and potential victims of violent crimes the question is - too much or too little? The issue has been front-and-center since the Connecticut schoolhouse slaughter.
   President Obama announced a 23-part executive order yesterday and the White House published a document called Now is the Time. Both are on the subject of new rules that focus on gun ownership in the United States. From making it clear what healthcare workers can do when they fear a person is a threat to new initiatives that will determine who can legally own a gun to what style of guns are legal in the US. Obama is also proposing new spending initiatives aimed at protecting schools. The politically charged plans are being heralded as great work by some and disastrous by others.
   The president signed his 23-point plan yesterday and has insisted Congress act on other parts of the proposal that require their approval. Among those parts is the ban on assault weapons.
   Read the president’s 23 executive orders HERE
   Read the White House Now is the Time Document HERE
   In Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr is proposing a state law to make it a crime in Tennessee for federal agents to enforce any effort to ban firearms or ammunition. The Murfreesboro Republican said yesterday that measure would also require the state's attorney general to defend any Tennessean prosecuted for violating the potential federal gun violations.

Weather - State of emergency
How to get local news should 95.3 go off the air

January 15, 2013

   Tennessee Emergency Management has declared a state of emergency for the entire state as a result of the winter weather.
   Forecasters today have been mostly right on with their predictions. Temps have hovered around freezing and the rain began around noon. It appears frozen precipitation will continue into the night and that will certainly cause some hazards. This afternoon ice began forming on things like trees, power lines and road signs. A heavy accumulation could cause all kinds of troubles including dangerous road conditions.
How to get your news —
   Ice on our station antenna often causes our transmitter to shut itself off. In most cases we can coax it back on the air at a lower power. Should we go off and not be able to immediately return we urge you to take several steps to keep up with local news.
   1) We’ll post breaking news including openings and closings here on
   2) You can download our text alerts at this site and get breaking news texts along with severe weather reports
   3) Listen to our sister station News/Talk 101.5. If for some reason you can’t get 101.5 you can listen by going to and pushing the listen button and hear the station via your computer.
   101.5 also offers an iphone app allowing iphone users to listen via their phone. The iphone app is available at the itunes store and it is free.

Some schools closed Tuesday - NWS warns
January 15, 2013

   Schools are closed (Tuesday January 15) in Haywood County and in Madison County. School officials, acting on an abundance of caution and listening to weather forecasters, made the decision early this morning.
   The real news of the day may develop later. Weather forecasters warned yesterday that a new system might develop today that could dump some ice on us. According to the National Weather Service, the chances have increased. Much of West Tennessee is in the NWS winter storm warning area. Some forecasts suggest temps will never increase much past freezing today and they are also reporting we could see as much as a third of an inch of ice. Stay turned for more information.

Schools double-down on safety - drills this week
January 15, 2013

   Haywood County Schools will be conducting safety drills this week. The Brownsville Police Department will be assisting the schools in some of the drills.
   School officials say to not be be alarmed if you see several police cars or policemen around school buildings this week. The schools will be practicing lock-down procedures and visitors will not be able to enter a school during a practice session. There will be morning and afternoon drills, but none will interfere with regular drop off or pick up time for the students. If you happen to be visiting a school during a drill, be prepared to participate in the drill and follow all directions.

Rain fills ponds and river
January 14, 2013

   Rain - something we haven’t see much of in a long time. Hatchie River water has run out of its banks and farm ponds are full for the first time in months.
   Sheriff Melvin Bond said there has been some minor flooding but only Herbert Willis Road is closed due to water.
   The University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture’s rain gauge - which resides on a far just north of Brownsville - measured 5.24 inches of rain in the last few days. It started raining last Wednesday and finally wrapped up yesterday. The gauge reports 3.11 inches fell Sunday.
   The river gauges report the Hatchie River at 16 feet at Bolivar and about 12 feet at the Highway 76 bridge in Haywood County. The Hatchie has been at a level of 6 to 8 feet for months.

Insouth Bank taps new community president
January 11, 2013

   This time last week Insouth Bank customers were saying farewell to Insouth Community President Allan Callery. Callery retired last Friday after 33 years. Today Insouth President David Prince announced the appointment of Tim Stokely as community president.
   Stokely is well known by Haywood Countians. He’s worked at the bank for 12 years and is a life-long Haywood Countian.

School board takes on bullies
January 9, 2013

   The Haywood County School Board is on its way to taking a tough stand on bullying. This week school board members passed on first reading a new policy on Student Discrimination/Harassment and Bullying/Intimidation and Cyberbullying.
   The policy applies to both students and school system employees. Workers could be terminated if officials determine they have committed an offense covered under the new policy.
   Recently a child in West Memphis Arkansas committed suicide reportedly as a result of bullying.
   The school board will consider final passage of the policy at its next meeting.
   Read the proposed policy here
   See story produced by WMC on the West Memphis incident here

Haywood’s megasite will soon have competitor
January 9, 2013

   A near 3,000 acre tract located just off Exit 42 in Haywood County has been touted as Tennessee’s only certified industrial megasite. But that may be about to change. In a news story published today by the Associated Press, property near Dandridge, Tennessee is close to certification.
   The Jefferson County Economic Development Oversight Committee is pursuing megasite designation for a 1,800-acre-plus site near the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 81, according to the AP.
   Haywood County is home to the South’s sixth megasite. While the Haywood County industrial property is still under development, five certified megasite in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area have been sold to major corporations, including Volkswagen in Chattanooga and Hemlock Semiconductor in Clarksville. All of the megasite in Tennessee have found tenants. The megasites have resulted in thousands of new jobs.
   Although Dandridge may be close to certification, it usually takes years for the sites to become so-called shovel-ready — prepared for industry to occupy. Haywood County has a substantial head start. The state has funded millions of dollars worth of preliminary work on the Exit 42 property including installation of utilities. Dandridge is located east of Knoxville on Douglas Lake. Map Here

Five HHS students earn membership in 30+ Club
January 9, 2013

   Five Haywood High students recently scored 30 or above on the ACT to qualify them for membership in the school’s elite 30+ Club. Three seniors earned this recognition, John Connor Coulston, Amy Davis and Emily Pilant, and two sophomores, Emma Kaye Baumheckel and Ryan Watson.
   Other members of the 30+ Club are HHS seniors Molly McAdams, Rebecca Pearson and Chris Parker; and 2012 graduates Reeves Garrett, Taylor Primrose, Seth Tillman, Kaitlyn Schwarz, Madison Eubanks, Daniel Evans and Kaylee Avant. The club was organized in the 2009-2010 school year with Anna Baumheckel and Andrew Pearson as the charter members. Other members are Audrey Pattat, Alex Primrose, Nathan Peace and Breanne Sills, who graduated in 2010 and 2011.
   Senior John Connor Coulston is the son of Cindy Coulston and the late Jimmy Coulston. He is chief editor for WHHS News, a member of the Beta Club, French Club, Skills USA, the Junior Humane Society and the Library Club. He also serves as sound engineer for the HHS Drama Department. He plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University next fall.
   Amy Davis, the daughter of Stark and Julie Davis, is also a senior. She is a member of the HHS Band, the Yearbook staff, Beta Club and the Library Club. She is also a member of the tennis team and will be in the Drama Department’s play this year and volunteers for the Backpack Project. She attends Skyline Church of Christ in Jackson and plans to attend Harding University, Lipscomb University or Oklahoma Christian University.
   Emily Pilant, a senior and the daughter of Stan and Dee Pilant, is co-editor of the HHS Yearbook staff and is a member of the Bible Club. She attends Victory Life AIG Church in Somerville and sings in the church’s Youth Band and Praise and Worship Team. She hopes to attend Union University and major in English. Emily believes it would be interesting to become a writer one day. She also hopes to travel to Italy, India and New Zealand in the future.
   Sophomore Emma Kaye Baumheckel is the daughter of Ragan and Andy Baumheckel. She is a member of the Mock Trial Team, participated in the HHS Production of Li’l Abner last year and will participate in Legally Blonde this year. Emma is active in the Brownsville Baptist Church Youth Group and has participated in mission trips and helped with Vacation Bible schools. She also volunteers for the Anderson ECC Family Resource Center. Her goals are to graduate at the top of her class, attend a four-year college and major in the healthcare field.
   Ryan Watson, son of James and Rebecca Watson, is also a sophomore. He is a member of the HHS Spanish Club and FFA. He is also a member of Harmony Baptist Church. His plans are to attend college and major in engineering.

(Update, 11-9-2012, 11am) One dead and four injured in I-40 crash
January 9, 2013

   The state trooper investigating Tuesday’s deadly crash on I-40 has identified the victim and those injured. The trooper doesn’t speculate on the reason for the one-car wreck.
   Denetrice M Horton, 21, was killed and four other people were injured. Horton lived in Millington, Tennessee.
   Emergency services were called about 2:50 p.m. to the eastbound lane of I-40 near the 44 mile-marker. All five occupants were thrown from the car during the crash. Three of the victims were seriously injured and airlifted to The Med in Memphis. EMS called three helicopters to the scene. Two other occupants were taken to the hospital by ambulance. Sources say they were not seriously hurt.
   The injured include Kristyn Bennett, 22; Pechone L. Jennings Jr., 22; Antoine L Quin, 20 and Korry E. Harris, 20. All have Memphis addresses.
   The 2003 Mazda M6, driven by Horton, was eastbound when it left the road, according to a THP spokesman. The trooper’s report states use of seatbelts “unknown.”

Brownsville City Board of Aldermen and Mayor
January 8, 2013 - Reported by Martha Lyle Ford

   News from the City Board meeting last night … Martin Luther King Day parade set … city parking regulations changed … and trash pick up is about to cost more.
   The Brownsville City Board of Aldermen and Mayor held its regular monthly meeting last night with all board members present.
   Three special guests assisted with the opening ceremonies of the meeting: Jackson Pettigrew, Justin Jacocks and Everette Pettigrew, members of Boy Scout troop #68, led the invocation and pledge of allegiance. The three young men are working on their Citizenship in the Community merit badge.
   The Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the minutes from last month’s meeting. Reverend OG Stewart presented an application for a parade permit on behalf of the Haywood County Branch of the NAACP. The Aldermen and Mayor approved the permit for a parade honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 21. The parade will begin at 10:00 at the Carver-Dunbar Center on Jefferson Street and will follow its tradition route down Jefferson, up East Main, around the Courthouse and back to Carver-Dunbar.
Two ordinances
   The Board passed two ordinances, both on second readings:
   Ordinance #895 amends the 2012-13 budget, passed in July, and will increase
• Special Projects by $6,000,
• Law Enforcement by $131,358,
• Fire Department by $5,000, and
• Community Development by $2,020,000;
   Ordinance #896 amends various parking regulations within the City of Brownsville and is intended to:
• Encourage appropriate location, design and number of parking spaces to ensure a safe level of service
• Reduce any undue congestion to streets and avoid conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians, and
• Minimize the costs to businesses associated with excess parking.
   The proposed amendments to the city’s parking regulations included in the ordinance came from the work of the Regional Planning Commission.
New Resolutions
   Three new resolutions were introduced and unanimously passed:
   One resolution deals with how much it’s going to cost to have your trash picked up…and it’s getting more expensive. The Board unanimously approved resolution 837 which increases the “rates for residential and commercial refuse collection”. Starting February 1, residential trash pick up from can or carts will increase from $16 per month to $20 per month. Rates for churches will be $22.39 per month … for small businesses it will be $30.81.
   Mayor Matherne noted that this is the first time since 2006 that rates have been reviewed and raised. She added that the cost of trash collection has increased during that time period, particularly the costs of fuel and equipment.
   Alderman Simmons pointed out that the alternative would be for residents to pay a private contractor – such as Waste Management – to deal with their trash. Residents of surrounding towns and cities that use this method end up paying more than Brownsville’s rates and have inferior service.
   A second resolution authorizes the Mayor to submit a grant application to the State for up to $750,000 to fund sidewalks, landscaping and other transportation measures. If the City receives the grant, the plan is to utilize the funds for improvements on East Main Street. The resolution states that the City will be responsible for the local cash match of 20% of the construction costs (up to $150,000) and preconstruction costs, not to exceed a total of $250,000 for all local funds.
   The third resolution adopted a compliance manual regarding Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
   The resolution states: “The following statement shall be deemed as the City of Brownsville’s title VI policy statement: ‘It is the policy of the city of Brownsville to ensure that no citizen shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
   The 19-page manual outlines what the statement means and how it is implemented.
Board appointments
   Alderman Leon King recommended that Joe Crook be re-appointed to the Citizen Review Board for another term. The measure was unanimously approved. Fire Chief Mark Foster reported that the department responded to 35 calls during the month of December: 18 in the county and 17 in the city.
   During the 12 months of 2012, the department responded to 506 calls … an increase of 5 calls from 2011. They also conducted 20 prevention & education programs with impacting 1330 people, and distributed 74 smoke detectors.
   Brownsville Energy Authority reported that beginning January 1, an average residential electric bill in the City will decrease approximately 2.5% due to TVA’s Fuel Cost Adjustment.
   Brownsville Police Chief Chris Lea reported that, overall, the City experienced “a quiet holiday.” Even so, the department responded to 1213 calls for service during December.
   Slum Clearance efforts continue … Code Enforcement officer Rene Hendrix reported that she
• made 6 personal calls to property owners about properties to be properly maintained,
• issued two letters to property owners regarding unmaintained properties,
• addressed 5 properties about trash violations,
• conducted title searches on three abandoned properties (one on Iola, one on Dixon and one on Drake), and
• has 10 files open on junk vehicles.
   A house at 529 Robin Street will soon be demolished.
   During his report, Alderman Leon King expressed his constituents’ concerns about the vacant building at the intersection of Tibbs Road and McLemore Street, known as “the old Cobb property.” Mayor Matherne stated that dealing with the delinquent property is a top priority for the new year.
Building Inspector’s report
   Building Inspector Jerry McClinton gave a report on his department’s activity for 2012. There were 183 permits issued, 67 being new construction permits. All this amounted to over $12 million construction valuation.
Delta Heritage Center
   Delta Heritage Center report showed that the Center hosted over 22,000 visitors in 2012, approximately 2,000 more than in 2011.

   Brownsville City Clerk Jessica Frye reported that the City has collected approximately $4,000 in liquor tax revenue from the one liquor store which has opened to date.
   Vice Mayor Carolyn Flagg submitted a lengthy report for her Ward 2 outlining the many activities and accomplishments of 2012. She also announced that there will be a Neighborhood Watch meeting on February 7 at the WOW beginning at 6:00.
   And Alderman Averyheart said that we are looking forward to the “best year of our lives in Haywood County in 2013!”

Airplane makes emergency landing on I-40 near Haywood line
January 7, 2013

   This morning authorities are trying to figure out how to remove an airplane from I-40. The single-engine Cessna 172 made an emergency landing last night on the interstate near the Haywood/Fayette County lines.
   The airplane is registered to a Fayette County man and records indicate the plane was enroute from Sikeston Mo. to the Fayette County airport on an instrument flight plan. WMC-TV 5 reports the pilots said the engine started sputtering about 8 miles north of the Fayette County airport about 10 last night and the pilot managed to land safely on I-40 in the westbound lane.
   Haywood County authorities were not called to the scene. No one was hurt.

Daytime burglary on Diane Street
January 7, 2013

   A burglar made a large haul from a home on Diane Street yesterday. Police say the burglar entered the home between 11am and 4pm. Missing is a television, video games, computer and a video recorder. No arrests.

Fires start the New Year
January 4, 2013

   The first week of the New Year records significant damage caused by fire. A Brownsville business was heavily damaged by smoke, fire and water Wednesday and a rural home was destroyed Thursday.
   A house owned by Tommy House was razed Thursday. Hazel Baltimore was moving in at the time the blaze was reported. The fire department answered the call late Thursday afternoon on Estes Road. Officials don’t know for sure what started the fire.
   What caused the fire that did so much damage Wednesday to Cuz’s BBQ restaurant on Dupree? Firemen say they think it probably started in faulty wiring. The restaurant was heavily damaged by smoke, water and fire.

Unemployment extended for thousands in cliff deal
January 4, 2013

   Are you one of the tens-of-thousands of Tennesseans that was worried that the so-called fiscal cliff would end your extended unemployment benefits? The American Taxpayer Relief Act, which became law late Wednesday, extends the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) program through January 1, 2014.
   The federal benefits were slated to expire at the end of 2012 with claimants receiving their last payment the first week of January.
   EUC08 is a federally-funded program providing unemployment benefits to approximately 30,000 Tennesseans who have exhausted the first 26 weeks of state benefits (maximum). The legislation only extends the deadline to receive existing federal benefits and does not add additional weeks. Tennessee claimants are currently allowed a maximum of 26 weeks of state benefits and an additional 37 weeks of federal benefits.
   “This has been an uncertain time for those depending on unemployment benefits,” said Labor Commissioner Karla Davis. “I would encourage claimants to focus their job search by using our jobs database at and visiting a Tennessee Career Center.”
   Those presently receiving federal benefits should continue their weekly certification that notifies the department by phone or Internet they are still unemployed. If claimants stop their certification, they will have to contact the claims center to verify their unemployment status and could face a delay in their benefit resumption. Claimants should also continue to complete at least two work searches per week in order to meet the requirements for receiving federal benefits.

Serious injury in Highway 70 crash
January 4, 2013

   A wreck shut Highway 70 down for several hours December 28, 2012. The THP report states the accident apparently occurred as a result of a tractor-trailer truck driver trying to pass a pick-up truck. Both vehicles were traveling west (toward Brownsville). According to the trooper’s report the TT tried to pass the 1984 F100 pickup in a no-pass lane and the trailer of the 18-wheeler struck the truck.
   One person in the pickup was ejected and taken to a Jackson hospital. The trooper’s report does not state his condition. Nobody else sustained serious injuries. The driver of the pickup was from Toone, Tennessee and the TT driver was Coffeeville, MS.

Liquor in Brownsville — now wine in the grocery?
January 4, 2013

   Last year Brownsvillians voted in a referendum to allow package liquor stores in Brownsville and approved the stores by a significant margin. One alcohol seller is open and a second store may be just weeks away. But it could be that you’ll vote again sometime soon — this time to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores.
   Under a new law taking shape before the Tennessee Legislature convenes next week, local referendums would determine if wine could be sold alongside beer in grocery and convenience stores around the state. In exchange, liquor stores could branch out to sell items, like beer, mixers, ice and snacks.
   The measure could also end the current law that allows owners to operate only one liquor store in the state.

Jackson man gets TVA seat
January 4, 2013

   A Jackson, Tennessee man is slated to join the TVA board. The United States Senate has approved his name along with four others. President Obama is expected to pen final approval soon.
   The Senate on Tuesday approved the nominations of C. Peter Mahurin, of Kentucky; Vera Lynn Evans, of Tennessee; Michael McWherter, of Tennessee; and Joe H. Ritch of Alabama to fill vacancies on the nine-member board.
   McWherter, of Jackson, is the son of the late Governor Ned McWherter and an unsuccessful candidate for governor.

Government issues public notices for demolition and tornado shelters
January 4, 2013

   The Haywood County School Board has asked for new bids for their tornado safe space. The bids are due by January 24. The project to build a tornado shelter at East Side School is on hold because the first bids came in over budget.
   County government is going to demolish old buildings taxpayers own located on North Washington. The two metal buildings once housed the county road department and most recently were used for storage.