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County Commission Honors Three for Earning Eagle Scout Award

August 23, 2016
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling with Eagle Scouts James Mathis (left) and James Sherwood (right)

Three members of Boy Scout Troop 347 were honored by the County Commission Monday night for earning the Eagle Scout Award.

The commission adopted resolutions paying tribute to Nate and James Sherwood and to James Mathis.

Nate and James’ parents are Scout Masters Will and Jen Sherwood, and Mathis is the son of Richard and Mary Mathis.

For his Eagle project, Nate Sherwood cleared overgrowth and cleaned directional signs around Center Hill Lake. Working with the Corps of Engineers for approval, Nate was able to help 4 million visitors have better visibility of creeks and landmarks from the water when they are enjoying the lake.

James Sherwood planted a tree at DeKalb West School, added four welcoming benches at the entrance of the building, and created a paved walkway from the concrete to the flagpole as his Eagle Scout project. The tree was planted in memory of three individuals to replace other trees which had been removed with the expansion of the West School building and the flagpole was dedicated as a tribute to former DeKalb West School Principal Danny Parkerson.

For James Mathis’ Eagle Scout project, he planted shrubs around the stage at the park next to the Smithville Fire Department adding beauty to the area.

County Mayor Tim Stribling presented copies of the resolutions to the Eagle Scouts. Nate Sherwood was unable to attend the meeting. His parents accepted for him.

Squirrel Season to Open, Tennessee’s Free Hunting Day August 27

August 22, 2016
Squirrel Season to Open

Tennessee residents are allowed to hunt without a license on Saturday, Aug. 27 which coincides with the opening day of squirrel season.

Free Hunting Day is an event the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency annually provides in hopes of increasing interest in hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of Tennessee’s oldest and favorite traditions. The day serves as an excellent opportunity for persons to experience the enjoyment of the sport.

The TWRA encourages regular hunters to introduce friends and family members (young and old) to the outdoors sport. It is also an excellent opportunity for those folks who have not tried hunting in a while to be reintroduced to the sport.

On Free Hunting Day, state resident hunters are exempt from hunting licenses and WMA permit requirements. Many of the WMAs are open to hunters seeking public access on Aug. 27. Hunters are asked to check the information for particular WMAs in the newly-published 2016-17 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide which is available online at www.tnwildlife.org or copies are available at any TWRA regional office or at most outlets where licenses are sold.

The TWRA offers a reminder that hunter education requirements are not waived for Free Hunting Day. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to have successfully completed a hunter education course. An apprentice license is required for those born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 if the hunter education course has not been completed. This license exempts the hunter from the mandatory hunter education law for one year from the date of purchase, but may only be purchased for up to three consecutive years during the lifetime of the hunter.

Hunters are allowed to harvest up to 10 squirrels a day from the opening day of squirrel season through Feb. 28, 2017 with each hunting day beginning a half-hour before sunrise and ending a half-hour after sunset.

In addition to squirrels, those species that have a year-round season will be open as well. The year-round species include armadillo, beaver, coyote, groundhog, and striped skunk.

For more information about hunting in Tennessee, visit TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org or contact your nearest TWRA regional office.

Chancellor to Rule on Temporary Injunction Wednesday

August 22, 2016
Dwayne Page
Chancellor Ronald Thurman

Chancellor Ronald Thurman will decide Wednesday whether Grant Manning should temporarily be enjoined from keeping a gate across Sunset Drive in the Belk Community.

After hearing from four witnesses this morning (Monday), Chancellor Thurman decided to postpone further proceedings in the case until Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. since he had a previously scheduled trial to preside over in Putnam County Monday afternoon.

The hearing, being held in DeKalb County Chancery Court, is to determine whether the Chancellor should issue a temporary injunction to keep Manning from obstructing Sunset Drive, until a separate proceeding is held on a defense motion to dismiss the case.

Manning’s attorneys, Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed motions on Friday, August 19 to dissolve a “temporary injunction” they thought was already in place against Manning pending Monday’s hearing and to dismiss the county’s complaint. But Chancellor Thurman informed Cripps and Cox Monday that he had not issued any temporary injunction prior to the hearing.

The county contends Sunset Drive is a county road and that Manning cannot legally keep a gate across it. Manning denies the county’s claim asserting that Sunset Drive, a gravel road, runs through his property and is a private drive which belongs to him.

County attorney Hilton Conger filed the petition in Chancery Court Friday, August 5 on behalf of the county and Road Supervisor Wallace "Butch" Agee, the Plaintiff, seeking a temporary and permanent injunction to keep Manning from obstructing Sunset Drive.

Testifying for the county Monday were Road Supervisor Agee and County Highway Department employees Charlie Mai Maxwell and Billy Eudean Pack along with Bart Lay, a landowner in the area.

Both Road Supervisor Agee and Maxwell testified that Sunset Drive appears on the county road map and road list and that someone identifying himself as Grant Manning called the road department earlier this year asking for a load of gravel for Sunset Drive. Agee said although Manning later denied making the call, the load of gravel was taken to Sunset Drive and spread on the road. Pack, a truck driver for the department, said he spread the gravel from Manning’s gate, which was open, down Sunset Drive as far as the load would go. Only one load was delivered. Neither of the witnesses remembered the county having done any other work on that road in previous years

Although they had no answer, Cripps also asked the witnesses why county highway department reports from previous years described Sunset Drive as a 16 foot wide road with an oil surface and that the road once had bridge repair and patch work done on it when there is no bridge on the road and it has apparently always been a graveled driveway.

Lay testified that he bought property at the end of Sunset Drive from Manning’s ex-wife last year and that he has a rental trailer there. He said since the gate has been across Sunset Drive, he can only access his land through a field and that the obstruction has prevented him from being able to rent part of the property. “I had one farm renter who didn’t want to be part of it”, testified Lay.

Agee testified that he has removed the gate twice this year. The gate has since been erected again.

Cripps and Cox are asking that the Chancellor dismiss the county’s complaint on the grounds of “equitable estoppel and collateral estoppel” and that the court enter an order requiring the county to pay all of Manning’s reasonable attorney fees in the amount of $9,500 and any other relief to which he may be entitled.

In the complaint, County Attorney Conger states “Sunset Drive is a gravel road which runs generally north and south through the lands of the defendant (Manning) for a distance of approximately .2 of a mile and has been on the official DeKalb County Road list since January 26, 1998.”

In the answer, Cripps and Cox admit that Sunset Drive is listed on the DeKalb County Road list and has been since approximately 1999 but deny that it is a county road and further deny that it is only two tenths of a mile in length. Cripps and Cox also reference action to approve a final subdivision plat for Manning taken by the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission on July 12, 2004 asserting that the plat contains no public dedication to DeKalb County of Sunset Drive or Hidden Hollow Way by Manning, nor does the plat contain any right-of-way dedication for the two roads.

“When plaintiff’s predecessor (former Road Supervisor) Kenny Edge, the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission, and the DeKalb County Commission took the affirmative action of signing, approving, and accepting Manning’s subdivision plat they did so with full knowledge that Sunset Drive was nothing more than a private “9 foot” gravel driveway. Manning contends that this affirmative action operates to preclude Plaintiff from now asserting that Sunset Drive is a county road,” said Cripps and Cox.

“There has been no other “affirmative action” on the part of the Plaintiff, the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission, or the DeKalb County Commission to declare Sunset Drive a county or public roadway. Further Plaintiff can produce no document evidencing DeKalb County’s ownership interest in Sunset Drive,” Cripps and Cox continued.

According to court documents filed by Cripps and Cox, Manning and his former wife acquired fee simple ownership of four tracts of real property in the Belk community containing a total of 120 acres, more or less, by virtue of a warranty deed on February 26, 1990. In the spring of 1990, Manning began expending his personal funds to purchase limestone and gravel and to pay for grading in order to improve the path that traversed the lands of Manning. In early 1992, at the request of the DeKalb County E-911 Board, Manning named the two gravel driveways traversing his farm “Sunset Drive” and “Hidden Hollow Way”. Neither gravel driveway appears on the DeKalb County Road Names List for 1997. Manning and his former wife were the only interested parties and abutting land owners to the two gravel driveways. The gravel driveway known as “Sunset Drive” first appears on the DeKalb County Road Names List for February 1999. The gravel driveway known as Hidden Hollow Way never appeared on any DeKalb County Road Names List generated during any year from 1990 to present,” Cripps and Cox state in the documents.

According to Cripps and Cox, Manning admits that he erected a gate across “his gravel driveway known as Sunset Drive” on May 18, 2011. But while Sunset Drive now also serves Bart Lay, an adjoining property owner, Manning asserts the gate does not prevent Lay from accessing his land, although there is no other road into the property.

“Specifically Manning admits that Lay owns a parcel of land identified as the “residual adjoining acreage” in the subdivision plat, but avers that the real property owned by Lay is not landlocked because Lay has access to his property along 260 feet of road frontage on Allen Bend Road”, a county road, which intersects with Sunset Drive,” state Cripps and Cox in their answer to the complaint.

In his petition, Conger states “Unless this Court issues both a temporary and permanent injunction, Plaintiff (County) and its citizens will suffer irreparable harm”. But Cripps and Cox deny anyone will suffer irreparable harm. They claims there is only one other property owner that has any identifiable interest in Sunset Drive (Lay) and that he is not landlocked. Cripps and Cox further point out that Sunset Drive is not listed on any United States mail or postal route and also is not listed on any county school bus route. Specifically, the mailboxes for both Manning and Lay are located on the right-of-way of Allen Bend Road. Manning’s private gravel driveway is not currently, and has not been previously, utilized by the public at large. Therefore, there can be no legitimate claim made that Plaintiff or any citizen of DeKalb County will suffer irreparable harm by Manning’s maintaining an obstruction across his private gravel driveway use,” said Cripps and Cox in the answer.

Should the court rule in the county’s favor, Conger states that it would be in the public interest and that Manning would not be prejudiced. Cripps and Cox dispute that claim stating that “It is axiomatic that Manning is prejudiced by any action constituting a “taking” of his private property “without just compensation” within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and by any action which restricts Manning’s lawful use and enjoyment of his property. Therefore, there can be no doubt that Manning is absolutely prejudiced by this extraordinary relief procured by the Plaintiff”.

In November, 2015 the county commission voted to have Manning’s gate removed, but Cripps and Cox contend that the action was taken “without any comment, investigation, or further due diligence to ascertain the actual status of Manning’s gravel driveway known as Sunset Drive, all without affording any prior written notice to Manning. Further, the Plaintiff (Road Supervisor Agee), entered upon the lands of Manning (January, 2016) and removed the gate that he (Manning) had previously erected across his gravel driveway known as Sunset Drive,” Cripps and Cox stated in their answer to the complaint.

After the gate was removed, Conger said Manning replaced the gate across Sunset Drive and locked the gate with a log chain. Cripps and Cox admit that Manning undertook to replace the gate across Sunset Drive but that on or about August 1, 2016, the Plaintiff (Road Supervisor Agee) and law enforcement officers from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department again removed the gate.

The gate was later erected again.

*The following are the minutes from the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission on July 12, 2004 regarding the "Review of the Robert Grant Manning Subdivision Final Plat.
"Judson Howell was present to submit a final plat containing 1 reviewable lot of 1.81 acres that is being subdivided off 120 total acres of the Manning property off of Allen Bend Road. There is an existing building on the lot (3310 Allen Bend Road) with 1 accessory building".

"The lot under review contains road frontage upon Allen Bend Road. However there is an existing gravel drive, Sunset Drive, that is included on this lot, which continues south and branches off into Hidden Hollow Road. The section of Sunset Drive that is included on the subdivided lot also serves as the primary access for the residence at 500 Sunset Drive and 800 Hidden Hollow Way. These two roads are listed on the 911 Map and the Official County Road List and Map".

"The status of these roads was then discussed in detail".

"If Sunset Drive and Hidden Hollow Way are not considered county roads, then access to the two existing homes could be affected if access is controlled by the subdivided lot. Although the gravel drive is utilized for primary access for both residences, the house at 500 Sunset Drive will still contain approximately 261 feet of road frontage on Allen Bend Road, if the subdivision is approved. Consequently, this house is not being landlocked, but the resident will be required to construct a new driveway to Allen Bend Road if the land is further subdivided".

"After further discussion on the matter, staff recommended granting conditional approval for the plat subject to the signatures and the inclusion of a plat restriction on the plat, if these are not county roads, stating that if the property is subdivided further, a new road will be required to be constructed that meets the county road specifications. A motion to that effect was made by Mike Foster and seconded by Jerry Taylor. The motion passed unanimously," according to the minutes.

Woman Injured in Crash

August 21, 2016
Dwayne Page
Woman Injured in Crash

A 26 year old woman was injured in a one vehicle crash Friday on Jacobs Pillar Road.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Martha Almaguer of Smithville was traveling south in a Dodge Ram 1500 Big Horn when she lost control in a curve, went off the right side of the road, and struck a tree. She was taken to the hospital with an ankle injury but wasn’t believed to have been seriously hurt. She was wearing her seat belt.

Family of Student Injured in School Fight Sues for Damages

August 18, 2016
Dwayne Page

A fight among two students at DeKalb Middle School in March has resulted in a Circuit Court lawsuit.

A 13 year old and his parents are suing a fellow 14 year old Middle School student and his parents, Principal Randy Jennings, the DeKalb County Board of Education, and the County Government over an altercation at the school on March 11.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, August 2.

WJLE is not publishing the names of the students because they are parties to a lawsuit as minors nor their parents names since that could essentially identify the students.

The suit claims the 13 year old suffered serious and disabling permanent bodily injuries as a result of the altercation.

The plaintiffs are seeking a judgment against the defendants, jointly and severally, for his bodily injuries, past and future medical expenses incurred or to be incurred for his treatment, past and future expenses incurred for his care and upkeep while incapacitated, past and future pain, suffering and anguish, the loss of future earnings capacity, his permanent injuries including future limitations and restrictions, permanent scarring and disfigurement, past and future loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages, in an amount to be determined at trial.

The lawsuit, obtained by WJLE, alleges “that in the hallway during the March 11, 2016 school day and in conjunction with the change of classrooms by DeKalb County Middle School students, the minor plaintiff was viciously attacked by the minor defendant without just cause or provocation. The defendant’s parents knew or should have known of this child’s tendency to commit assaults or to engage in threatening conduct, and knew or should have known of this child’s tendency to commit wrongful acts. The school administrators and other certified and non-certified personnel for the DeKalb County Middle School were aware of this student’s propensity for violence and his threatening demeanor and conduct toward other students at the school. The minor defendant had bullied and harassed students and employees in the past and, despite protests from other students, the school administrators and other personnel employed by or under the supervision of the defendants failed to take appropriate action to protect the minor plaintiff and other situated parties from this violent individual”.

The suit further alleges that “the minor plaintiff sustained serious and life altering permanent injuries as a result of this assault and the intentional and negligent acts of the defendants.”

“At all times , the minor plaintiff student acted with due care, was without fault or negligence, and did not provoke or insight the attack,” according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs allege that the County, Board of Education, and Principal were negligent for:

*Failure to provide for a safe and secure school and an environment free from attacks, threats, harassment and bullying from third parties, including from other students enrolled at DeKalb Middle School.

*Failure to provide proper supervision of other students and third parties, upon and about the campus and school grounds during the school day, including the student who attacked the minor plaintiff.

* Failure to provide training to certified and non-certified staff and employees of DeKalb Middle School in order to recognize the danger to vulnerable or innocent students from other aggressive and unruly students.

* Failure to adopt, follow and enforce policies and procedures to eliminate incidents or threats of violence, to implement appropriate violence prevention and intervention strategies, and to appropriate necessary funds for the purpose of providing resources for such policies or safety plans.

*Failure to provide a safe and civil environment necessary for students such as the minor plaintiff to learn and achieve high academic standards and to enact, enforce and follow policies prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying pursuant to (state law).

The plaintiffs allege that the parents of the minor defendant are:

*Responsible and liable for their son’s actions

*Responsible for failure to properly supervise their child when they knew or should have known of his violent tendencies or tendencies to commit wrongful acts.

*Responsible for liability due to their son’s tortuous activities that causes injuries to persons or properties of third parties. The defendant parents had an opportunity to control their child but failed to exercise reasonable means to restrain his notorious conduct.

The plaintiffs are represented by Attorneys Howard L. Upchurch of Pikeville and William T. Ridley of Crossville.

An answer to the lawsuit by the defendants has not yet been filed.

Mother Files $10 Million Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Death of Daughter

August 18, 2016
Dwayne Page
Lauren Taylor Agee

A $10 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in DeKalb County Circuit Court by the mother of a 21 year old Hendersonville woman who lost her life on Center Hill Lake last summer.

Sherry Smith of Sumner County brought the lawsuit on July 22 against several individuals claiming that her daughter, Lauren Taylor Agee was killed through the intentional, negligent, or reckless acts of the defendants.

Agee’s body was found on Sunday afternoon, July 26 2015 by fishermen on Center Hill Lake near Still Point Boat Ramp across from Pates Ford Marina.

According to reports at the time, Agee had been enjoying an outing with friends known as “Wakefest” over that weekend and was camping near the edge of a steep cliff overlooking the lake prior to the tragedy.

Defendants named in the lawsuit are Aaron Lilly, a resident of Broward County, Florida; Brixner Heydrich Gambrell, a resident of Sumner County, and others including several persons referred to as “John and Jane Doe” or unknown. Two defendants (who may not yet have been served with the lawsuit) are residents of Rutherford County, Tennessee and Broward County, Florida.

Smith is seeking a judgment against the defendants for compensatory damages in the amount of $10 million; a judgment for punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury trial; and costs and such other further relief that the Court deems just and proper.

The plaintiff seeks to recover damages on account of the injuries to and the wrongful death of Lauren Taylor Agee arising out of the events leading up to and her death on July 26, 2015 at Center Hill Lake in DeKalb County.

Smith alleges that the “intentional, reckless, and/or negligent actions by the defendants, their agents, employees, and representatives proximately caused Lauren Taylor Agee’s injuries and death”.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by WJLE, “ In the early morning hours of July 26, 2015, Lauren Agee was killed through the intentional, negligent, or reckless acts of the defendants”.

“Prior to her death, Agee had attended a three-day event, known as “Wakefest” at Center Hill Lake with Lilly and another man and woman during which time she stayed at a campsite selected by Gambrell and Lilly. The campsite consisted of a tent and two hammocks”.

In initial statements to the authorities, a woman claimed that Agee returned to the campsite with all defendants in the early morning hours of July 26, 2015 after visiting a bar on the lake. The woman claimed that Agee wanted to go home, but that she took Agee’s keys. Upon returning to the campsite, the woman claimed that she and her boyfriend, Lilly, went to sleep in the tent while Agee slept in the hammock with the other man in the group.

The woman further claimed that later that morning, she awoke to discover that Agee was “missing”. She said that Agee’s shoes and belongings were still located next to the hammock and that when she awoke the man with whom Agee had shared the hammock to ask him where Agee had gone, he responded that she had been gone for quite some time but that he did not feel her leave.

In contrast, Lilly and the other man in the group told authorities that they had spoken to Agee’s ex-boyfriend who allegedly told them that Agee had visited him after returning to the campsite with them on the early morning hours of July 26, 2015. The man with Lilly told police that Agee only stayed at the campsite for a few minutes before leaving. But his and Lilly’s accounts to police were inconsistent with the account given by the woman in the group.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants did not alert authorities that Agee was missing. Instead the woman in the group went looking for Agee because she claimed that she expected to find Agee on the lake.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. on July 26, 2015, two fishermen found Agee’s lifeless body floating in the water in a cove.

“Agee had sustained massive trauma to her body indicating homicide," the lawsuit states.

Around the time that Agee’s body was found, Lilly and the other man in the group approached the crime scene and asked responding officers if they had found their “missing friend".

“Defendants have continued to provide conflicting statements regarding Agee’s death and have conspired to hide their involvement in and the true circumstances of Agee’s death. This intentional and outrageous conduct has resulted in severe injury to plaintiff (Smith), including emotional trauma and pain," according to the lawsuit.

Smith contends that the physical injuries to and ultimate death of Agee were the result of intentional action on the part of the defendants and that the defendants acted intentionally with the conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or to cause the harm to Agee, plaintiff, and others, thereby entitling plaintiff to an award of punitive damages.

Smith seeks damages for wrongful death as permitted by Tennessee law including damages for the pain and suffering that Agee experienced before her death, as well as damages for funeral expenses and the pecuniary value of Agee’s life, including loss of earning capacity and the loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and other losses experienced by plaintiff by reason of Agee’s death.

Smith is represented by a Nashville law firm.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker Visits Smithville (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

August 17, 2016
Dwayne Page
U.S. Senator Bob Corker in Smithville

U.S. Senator Bob Corker, speaking in Smithville on Wednesday, said that it's unlikely either Presidential candidate will emphasize what he considers one of the key issues facing the U.S., the federal budget deficit.

"One of the things that won’t be discussed, unfortunately, is the deficit issue and the huge amount of indebtedness in our country," said Corker, who spoke to a crowd of invited guests -- mainly city, county, and state officials and community business leaders during an appearance at the courthouse.

Corker, a Republican and former mayor of Chattanooga, said that the country is $19 trillion in debt, and tough decisions have to be made that are important to the nation’s future. “ Projections are that in ten years the country will be $29 trillion in debt. We have $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities where we’ve made commitments to people that we don’t have the money to honor. I think this is the number one threat to our country. Military leaders that you talk with will say Russia or China is a threat overtime. ISIS is a threat. Certainly Iran getting a nuclear weapon is a threat. But the greatest threat to our nation is our own inability to deal with our fiscal issues. Yet, my guess is that during this campaign there will be zero discussion about that issue which is disappointing,” said Senator Corker.

“This Presidential race has been something very different than what I think a lot of people thought it was going to be a year ago. A big part of that I think has been driven by some of the economic insecurity people are feeling. If you look around our state, people who have high school degrees and have done everything they thought was right in life or even those with a couple of years of community college, in many cases people are just not seeing the opportunities they thought they would see. Wages have been stagnant in many ways and that has spread a lot of concern. The world is changing. Technology is changing and its changing the way we do business and a lot of folks are being left behind. Its creating insecurities and I think in many ways that has affected this race. I hope by the time we all do the early voting or reach the first Tuesday in November we’ll have a good sense of what the main Presidential candidates are going to propose as it relates to economic growth,” said Senator Corker.

Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also spoke about the importance of U.S. leadership in the world. “We’ve had a lot of foreign policy decisions made by people on both sides of the aisle that have turned out to be mistakes and that has caused a retrenchment to take place in many of Americans minds relative to what the U.S. role in the world needs to be. A world without U.S. leadership is a world that I don't think that people here would want to live in. We don’t need to be the cops of the world but we do need to continue our leadership in the world. We cannot just focus within our borders. While we’re paying a lot of attention to this Presidential race, people around the world are doing the same thing even if they don’t agree with us on a number of things because they are aware of the tremendous difference that the United States makes in the world in espousing free enterprise and making sure the world moves more in that direction which has made our nation great. We also need to do what we can diplomatically to try and diffuse conflicts before they turn into a great problem,” said Corker.

Corker’s visit in DeKalb County is part of his four-week, 32 county tour meeting with community and business leaders. The senator is traveling across the state this month to hear from Tennesseans and share his perspective on how to address some of the major challenges facing our nation. The senator has visited 21 counties over the last two weeks and will visit a total of nine counties this week.

Sarah Clark Remembered by State of Tennessee and Co-Workers

August 17, 2016
Dwayne Page
Sarah Marie Bullington Clark
Family of Sarah Clark recently gathered  at the “Sarah M. Bullington Clark Memorial Highway” sign in the Grant Community
Sarah’s co-workers at the Office of Dr. Cliff Duke D.D.S.: Laura Hildreth (RDH), Shawnnie Davis (RDA), Dr. Duke D.D.S., Danielle Reynolds (Office Manager), Laura Mercier (RDH) Gena Cripps (RDA)

A portion of a state highway in her native Smith County now bears the name of an Alexandria woman who lost her life in a traffic accident two years ago.

State lawmakers recently issued a proclamation remembering the life of Sarah Marie Bullington Clark, originally from the Gordonsville area, and renamed part of State Highway 141 near her church in the Grant community the “Sarah M. Bullington Clark Memorial Highway” to honor her.

The crash that took Sarah’s life occurred on Highway 70 in Liberty the morning of Tuesday August 19, 2014 while she was on her way to work at the office of Dr. Cliff Duke D.D.S. in Smithville. She was 36 years old.

As a tribute to Sarah, friends and co-workers at Dr. Duke’s office remembered her on Wednesday, August 17 during their second annual “Smiles for Sarah Day”. “Sarah often volunteered for various charity events. She frequently traveled to other parts of the state to offer her services as a dental hygienist to the less fortunate. As a way to honor her memory, free dental cleanings, x-rays and exams were provided Wednesday to several area residents by Sarah’s friends and co-workers,” Dr. Duke told WJLE.

Sarah Marie Bullington was born on June 17, 1978 to Connie Mauzy Bullington and James Bullington and was the sister of Jonas Bullington and Erik Bullington.

She graduated from Gordonsville High School in 1996 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from East Tennessee State University and a Master’s degree in dental hygiene from the University of Tennessee-Memphis.

Sarah married Thomas Ray Clark on October 21, 2006.

In the state proclamation, Sarah is recognized for her dedication to improving the quality of life for her fellow citizens.

“After receiving her Master’s degree, Sarah established a free dental clinic for homeless persons in Lebanon, Tennessee, a project for which she was selected to represent the University of Tennessee-Memphis before a national academic assembly in Washington, D.C. and for thirteen years, Mrs. Clark worked in the office of Cliff Duke, D.D.S., who noted that “an appointment with Sarah was more about a visit with Sarah than the dental cleaning”.

The proclamation further noted Sarah’s lifetime inspiration to others and devotion to her church “As a lifelong cheerleader, Sarah cheered for sports teams from the age of six through college, and , as she moved through her life, she continued to cheer on her friends, family, and fellow citizens in their personal endeavors”.

“Sarah was a bold Christian and an active member of Lighthouse Community Church in Grant, where she served in a number of capacities and to which she drew hundreds of individuals to come and worship through her spiritual love, encouragement, and humor,” the state proclaims.

The proclamation was signed on June 17, 2016, what would have been Sarah’s 38th birthday, by Beth Harwell, Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives; State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver; and State Senator Mae Beavers.

“It is fitting that members of this legislative body (General Assembly) should honor the memory of this highly esteemed citizen of Tennessee on this special occasion,” stated the proclamation.

(TOP PHOTO: Sarah Marie Bullington Clark

(PHOTO SECOND FROM TOP: Family of Sarah Clark recently gathered at the “Sarah M. Bullington Clark Memorial Highway” sign in the Grant Community

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Sarah’s co-workers at the Office of Dr. Cliff Duke D.D.S.: Laura Hildreth (RDH), Shawnnie Davis (RDA), Dr. Duke D.D.S., Danielle Reynolds (Office Manager), Laura Mercier (RDH) Gena Cripps (RDA)

TWRA Honors Officer Joe Fortner

August 17, 2016
Dwayne Page
TWRA Honors Officer Joe Fortner

Joe Fortner has been honored as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA).

The recipient of the award was announced by Darren Rider, TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division colonel.

Fortner serves as a wildlife officer in TWRA Region III District 31’s DeKalb County. He was selected among other TWRA law enforcement officers to become the state recipient. He will be recognized during the annual SEAFWA meeting in October to be held this year in Baton Rouge, La. While assigned DeKalb County, Fortner works throughout the district’s 12 counties.

Also honored as their respective TWRA region and district selections were Ricky Lyle, Region I and Chase Taylor, District 11; Daniel Plunkett, Region II and Mark Vance, District 21; Marty Griffith, District 32: David Carpenter, Region IV and Jeff Roberson, District 41. The officers were selected for their efforts in teamwork, public outreach, innovation, attitude, leadership, achievements and accomplishments.

“It’s always a difficult situation when one officer is selected out of a group of officers that have all gone above and beyond the duty of ensuring Tennessee hunters, anglers and boaters are provided safe and enjoyable recreational opportunities,” said Rider. “All these officers are to be commended for their professionalism and efforts they displayed this year. All these officers had a fantastic year, but Joe really excelled in all aspects of his job. His achievements and accomplishments were outstanding.”

Among Fortner’s activities this past year, he conducted educational and outreach events that included a kids fishing rodeo, displaying the “Wildlife on Wheels” educational trailer, “Gigging for Grads,” and the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). He also assisted with several county fair exhibits providing information. He taught several hunter education, boater education and trapper education programs.

“Joe’s efforts in excellence and innovation were also great,” said Rider. He covers one of the premier trout fisheries in the state, the Caney Fork River, and has utilized the use of a kayak to reach these large crowds of anglers and paddlers.

“His determined law enforcement efforts resulted in 4,392 hunters, fishermen and boaters being inspected for compliance. These efforts produced a total of 147 court citations and warnings. He also assisted other officers with another 110 citations and warnings. Through his efforts on a simple tagging violation he ending up prosecuting a poaching ring that concluded with nine individuals being charged and found guilty of the illegal killing of 11 deer.

Fortner is a firearms instructor for the agency, assisting with range preparations and semi-annual qualification of all commissioned personnel in Region III.

“Joe is certainly not only a great asset for the Agency but also for the hunters, anglers and boaters that recreate in the state of Tennessee,” Rider said.

Glasby Gets Three Year Sentence for Evading Arrest

August 17, 2016
Dwayne Page
Warren Brandon Glasby

A man who eluded authorities for several weeks, having been involved in two separate law enforcement pursuits and crashes before escaping on foot, was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, August 15.

Judge David Patterson presided.

33 year old Warren Brandon Glasby entered a plea to evading arrest and received a three year sentence to serve at 35% before his release eligibility date. Another case against him has been dismissed. This sentence is to run consecutive to a term he is currently serving. He was given jail credit from October 10, 2015 to August 15, 2016.

The evading arrest charge stems from an incident that occurred on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 in which Glasby wrecked his 2004 Ford Explorer at Liberty while being pursued by a sheriff’s department deputy. Glasby’s wife, Juanita Young was with him at the time and was injured. Glasby fled the scene on foot.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the incident began to unfold at 12:37 p.m. when the Sheriff's Department received a call from central dispatch in reference to a wanted person.

"Dispatch stated that Warren Glasby of Clear Creek Road, Liberty had an assault warrant out of DeKalb County and that he had just picked up the victim from the complainant's home in White County enroute to DeKalb County in a green 2004 Ford Explorer," he said.

"A DeKalb County deputy made contact with the vehicle on Highway 53 in Liberty and observed it pass several cars and take off at a high rate of speed. The officer activated his blue lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the automobile and pursued it onto highway 70 heading west. The suspect then attempted to turn onto Old Highway 96 but due to his high rate of speed, he lost control of the vehicle and it flipped several times, ejecting the female occupant (Young). Glasby then fled on foot toward Highway 96. Officials of the Tennessee Highway Patrol came to the scene to work the accident," said Sheriff Ray.

The wreck was investigated by Trooper Adam Cothron and Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Young, the passenger of Glasby's vehicle was airlifted from near the scene and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

The warrant by THP at the time stated that " Glasby was being pursued by a DeKalb County Sheriff's Department deputy when he turned onto Old State Route 96 from Highway 70 and lost control. Glasby's vehicle overturned and went off an embankment and rolled into a field. During the crash, Glasby's front seat passenger was thrown out of the vehicle through the front windshield causing injuries. Glasby fled on foot. He did not remain with the wrecked vehicle and injured passenger."

Another THP warrant against Glasby alleged that "he failed to give any of his information and he did not render any aid to her (passenger involved in the wreck) though she received critical injuries".

Almost a month later, Glasby was involved in a separate pursuit and crash near Alexandria.

According to the warrants at the time, a Smith County deputy got in pursuit of Glasby on Saturday, October 10 at 12:20 a.m. The pursuit continued into DeKalb County to Goose Creek Road where Glasby drove off the right side of the road into a fence causing damage to both the vehicle and fence. He and a passenger of the automobile both fled the scene. As a result of the Goose Creek crash, Glasby was charged or cited for failure to exercise due care, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, failure to give information and render aid, and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance).


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