Hall of Famer Curtis receives two Million Air awards

Sonny Curtis (center) receives two Million Air certificates from BMI's (left to right) Mason Hunter, David Preston, Nina Carter and Jody Williams for the songs 'I'm No Stranger to the Rain' and 'The Straight Life.' (photo courtesy BMI)
Sonny Curtis (center) receives two Million Air certificates from BMI’s (left to right) Mason Hunter, David Preston, Nina Carter and Jody Williams for the songs ‘I’m No Stranger to the Rain’ and ‘The Straight Life.’ (photo courtesy BMI)

Dickson County resident and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sonny Curtis was recognized recently with two Million Air awards. A member of the late Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets and a hall of fame songwriter, Broadcast Music Inc. recognized Curtis for 3 million radio spins of “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” and 1 million airings of “The Straight Life.” Curtis previously received Million Air certifications for “I Fought the Law,” “Walk Right Back” and “More Than I Can Say.” Curtis has lived in southern Dickson County for almost 40 years. A West Texas native, Curtis was lead guitarist in Holly’s first band, The Three Tunes. Curtis was with Holly on his first trip to Nashville in 1956 to record several songs, then went on to play and tour with several other artists. A few years later, Curtis rejoined The Crickets not long before the 1959 plane crash that claimed Holly, J.P. Richardson and Ritchie Valens. Curtis has written more than 500 songs that have been recorded by artists ranging from Holly and The Everly Brothers to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Grateful Dead, from Bing Crosby and Hank Williams Jr. to Green Day and The Clash. He wrote “I Fought the Law” in 1964 and it became a number one hit for the Bobby Fuller Four. Curtis and fellow Cricket Jerry Allison wrote “More Than I Can Say” for their second album in 1959 and it was a part of the live performances by The Beatles in the early 1960s before spending five weeks at No. 2 on the charts for Leo Sayer in 1980. While in the Army, Curtis wrote “Walk Right Back,” which became a hit for The Everly Brothers. Glen Campbell and Bobby Goldsboro recorded “The Straight Life” in 1969. “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” is the signature song in the short career of the late Keith Whitley. In addition to hundreds of songs, Curtis has written national jingles for companies like McDonald’s, Buick, Honda and others. He wrote and sang “Love Is All Around,” the theme song for the popular 1970s television series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Curtis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association International Hall of Fame in 1991. While Holly was a part of the first class at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, The Crickets were inducted as a group in 2012. Curtis moved to the Nashville area in 1976 and shortly after settled in Dickson County. He continues to tour internationally with The Crickets.

17-2 run sparks Lady Red Hawks; teams head to tourneys

A 17-2 run in the first quarter gave the Creek Wood Lady Red Hawks a lead they would never give up for a 63-40 win over Montgomery Central in Charlotte Thursday. Timely free throws in the fourth period helped the Indians pull away from Creek Wood for a 54-41 District 11-AA victory. The Lady Red Hawks bounced back from their first district loss to Lewis County to stand 4-1 in the conference. The Red Hawks dropped their second consecutive decision to fall to 2-3 in the district. After a pair of three-pointers by the Lady Indians tied the game early 6-6, Creek Wood hit fives treys and Sam Kilian came off the bench with 7 points to spark a 17-2 run to put the Lady Red Hawks firmly in control 23-8. The lead grew to 20 points by halftime, 38-18. Taylor Moore’s 8 points in the third pushed the margin to 55-32 and the 23-point margin stood to the final buzzer. Moore led Creek Wood with 17 points including 5 three-pointers. Raegan Hohl hit 4 treys in her 16 points. Kilian finished with 11 and Lydia Edmondson scored 10. The Red Hawks overcame some early foul trouble to trail the Indians 22-21 at halftime. Coulter Dotson had 10 points in the first quarter and Anthony Neblett stepped up with all 9 of the Red Hawks’ points in the second period. Montgomery Central managed to pad the difference to four heading into the fourth where the Indians connected on 10 free throws to ice the 13-point win. Dotson finished with 24 and Neblett added 11. Dickson County High School will host a pair of non-district doubleheaders with a visit from Beech tonight and the rescheduled games against Harpeth at 2:30 Saturday. Teams head into holiday tournaments next week. The Red Hawks will face Rossview at 8:30 pm Monday in the Rossview Roundball Christmas Tournament. The winner meets the Cheatham County-Central Magnet winner at 8:30 Tuesday while the losers play each other at 2:30. The tournament concludes Wednesday. The Lady Red Hawks will play in the Dyersburg Christmas Classic, taking on Bolivar at noon Monday and the host Lady Trojans at noon Tuesday. The Cougars travel to Columbia where they will play Martin Luther King at 3:30 Monday and Wilson Central at 6:30 Tuesday. The Lady Cougars are off until the Above the Rim Christmas Invitational at Hickman County Dec. 28. Dickson County-Beech will be live tonight on WDKN and 101.5 The One FM, wdkn.com, 1015theone.com and the WDKN app with coverage beginning with the A-1 Signs Pregame Show at 5:45. Dickson County-Harpeth will be live on the RFC Sports Network Saturday with coverage beginning at 2:15.

Dickson council considers changes to beer ordinance language

The Dickson City Council is considering changes to language in its municipal code regarding the definition of a church and criminal offenses that could prevent someone from obtaining a beer permit. At the recent Finance and Management Committee meeting, city attorney Jerry Smith said the city has been working with the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service to review its beer ordinances to see if clarification is needed to help in considering future beer permit applications. Smith identified two sections of the code that he believes could be changed. The first section he addressed is the code’s definition of a church with regard to the city’s 400-foot distance requirement. The code currently identifies a church as a place where religious services are held at least once a week, the premises are occupied for church purposes exclusively and the church is exempt from taxation by the Internal Revenue Code. Smith suggested the council could consider adding a requirement that the church own the property in question. Smith said churches are more frequently starting up in “storefronts” that would prevent retail spaces within the 400-foot distance from getting a beer permit, only to see those churches close or move. By adding a requirement that the church own the property, Smith said it would provide more permanency before excluding locations. The code currently provides that if a church opens within 400 feet of a location that already had a beer permit as of Jan. 1, 1993, it will not preclude that location from having a beer permit unless the beer permit is inactive for six consecutive months. Smith also suggested adding a list of specific criminal offenses for which a conviction would make someone ineligible to hold a beer license. The city’s code currently says no permit shall be issued to any person “convicted for the possession, sale, manufacture or transportation of intoxicating liquor or any crime involving moral turpitude within the past 10 years.” Smith said in 1976 the Tennessee Supreme Court stopped using crimes involving moral turpitude because “it has no satisfactory definition” and is an “inexact standard.” Smith suggested the council should consider changing the language to include a list of specific crimes that would be exclusionary for beer permits. As an example, he presented council members with a copy of Gallatin’s ordinance that identifies those crimes as any misdemeanor conviction involving the misuse of alcohol or drugs within two years or felonies involving alcohol or drugs within 10 years. Most recently, the council denied a beer permit for an applicant who had a DUI conviction, even though Smith advised that would not meet the definition of exclusionary crimes under the city’s current ordinance. The council subsequently issued a permit for that same business under the applicant’s wife’s name. Smith said the courts have found that moral turpitude is “vague and hard to define” and suggested changing to language specifically listing crimes that would be included. The committee voted to have Smith prepare amendments to the beer ordinances addressing the issues he identified to be considered at a future council meeting.

CWHS looks to bounce back against Central tonight

Creek Wood High School looks to bounce back from a pair of district losses when it hosts Montgomery Central tonight. The Lady Red Hawks suffered their first District 11-AA loss at Lewis County Friday night while the Panthers’ sweep left the Red Hawks 2-2 in the conference. Following tonight’s 6 pm doubleheader in Charlotte, the Red Hawks and Lady Red Hawks will head different directions for holiday tournaments next week. The Red Hawks travel to Clarksville where they will play the host Hawks in the Rossview Roundball Christmas Classic at 8:30 pm Monday. A loss means a 2:30 consolation bracket game Tuesday while the winner advances to an 8:30 pm game against the Cheatham County-Central Magnet winner. The tournament concludes Wednesday. The Lady Red Hawks head to a classic in Dyersburg where they will play Bolivar at noon Monday and the host Lady Trojans at noon Tuesday. Dickson County High School hosts Beech Friday and Harpeth Saturday, before the Cougars head to a holiday tournament in Columbia next week, taking on Martin Luther King at 3:30 pm Monday and Wilson Central at 6:30 pm Tuesday. Creek Wood-Montgomery Central will be live on WDKN and 101.5 The One FM, their streams and apps starting with the A-1 Signs Pregame Show at 5:45.

Niles’ trial for double murder scheduled for Dec. 4, 2017

Firefighters at the scene of an April 14, 2015, fire in a duplex on McFarland Lane in Dickson.
Firefighters at the scene of an April 14, 2015, fire in a duplex on McFarland Lane in Dickson.
Lisa 'Mickey' McDonald and Chris Goldtrap (from Facebook)
Lisa ‘Mickey’ McDonald and Chris Goldtrap (from Facebook)
Kenneth Ray Niles
Kenneth Ray Niles

The trial of a man for killing a young couple and setting fire to their apartment has been scheduled for a year from now. During a hearing in Dickson County Circuit Court Tuesday, Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash scheduled the murder trial of 38-year-old Kenneth Ray Niles for Dec. 4, 2017. In the first hearing with Niles’ new attorneys, Lockert-Mash set a deadline for discovery to be turned over and set two dates for any potential pretrial motions. In October, Lockert-Mash appointed Nashville attorneys Paul Bruno and John G. Oliva to represent Niles after District Attorney Ray Crouch Jr. filed notice that he intends to seek the death penalty if Niles is convicted. Niles is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of felony murder, aggravated arson, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary and theft for the April 2015 deaths of 27-year-old John Christopher Goldtrap and 23-year-old Lisa Wade Mackenzie McDonald. Niles was arrested in May 2015 after Goldtrap and McDonald’s bodies were discovered in a burning duplex on McFarland Land in Dickson. Autopsies revealed both victims had been shot in the head. Niles originally was scheduled to stand trial June 6 but it was continued when the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Centerville attorney Kenneth Crites, who had been hired by Niles. Lockert-Mash appointed Dickson attorney Jerred Creasy to represent Niles, but Creasy withdrew in July because of a conflict from having previously represented a witness in the case. Lockert-Mash appointed Clarksville attorney Chase T. Smith and set Niles’ trial for Dec. 5. But Smith withdrew in October after the notice filed by the DA because he is not qualified to represent a defendant in a death penalty case under Tennessee law. Lockert-Mash appointed Bruno as primary counsel and Oliva as co-counsel and set a hearing to issue a scheduling order for Tuesday. Lockert-Mash met with Bruno, Oliva and Crouch in chambers before taking the bench. Bruno said the defense has received discovery from the DA’s office and Crouch said he believes the prosecution has turned over all its evidence. Lockert-Mash set a deadline of Feb. 28 for any remaining discovery to be provided. She scheduled hearings on any pretrial motions for April 7 and Sept. 8 and scheduled the trial for Dec. 4, 2017. While Bruno said the defense has not yet determined its case and potential witnesses, Crouch estimated the trial could take as much as two weeks, including jury selection. Lockert-Mash said she would schedule the trial for the two weeks but also keep the following week’s docket open in case it takes more time. During Tuesday’s hearing, Bruno did not discuss with the judge the possibility of moving Niles, who is being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail. Lockert-Mash is scheduled to be off the bench in January and February for knee surgery and retired Judge George Sexton has been appointed to preside over her dockets during her absence. Investigators say Niles reportedly argued with Goldtrap, who was a cousin by marriage, the day before the bodies were discovered. They believe Niles shot the couple the night of April 13, 2015, and stole firearms, accessories and ammunition, then returned early the next morning to set the duplex on fire to cover up the crimes. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that another person or persons were involved in the crime, but at this point nobody else has been charged. While there are 12 pending homicide trials in Dickson County, Niles is the only defendant facing the death penalty at this time.