5 Dickson businesses cited for illegal sales in ABC sweep

Five businesses in the city of Dickson that hold state-issued liquor or wine licenses were cited for making illegal sales during a recent compliance sweep by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. According to a report supplied to the Drug Free Dickson Coalition, ABC agents visited 20 businesses in the city of Dickson that hold either liquor-by-the-drink, retail liquor or wine-in-grocery-store licenses on Aug. 11. The report says an illegal alcohol sale was made at Nori Japanese Sushi and Grill at 531 Highway 46 S., Colton’s Steak House and Grill at 2431 Highway 46 S., Logan’s Roadhouse at 130 Chandler Drive, East End Liquors at 1409 Highway 70 E. and Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant at 180 Beasley Drive. The Drug Free Dickson Coalition sponsored a June compliance sweep of beer-license holders in the county and five businesses were cited for sales to an underage informant. Coalition Director Mark Cook expressed disappointment in the latest compliance check results. “Looks like one in four sold to minors, we still have a lot of work to do,” Cook said of the ABC sweep. The illegal sales will be referred to the ABC for punitive actions that can include civil penalties, suspension or revocation of the liquor licenses. The ABC is scheduled to meet Tuesday but the violations are not on the most recent agenda. Last week’s sweep is believed to be the first one to include the new wine-in-grocery-stores licenses that took effect July 1. The ABC report says the Food Lion, Kroger, Walmart and Aldi stores did not make an illegal sale during the compliance sweep. Food Lion, Kroger and Walmart began selling wine when the new law went into effect July 1 and Aldi joined them shortly after. Voters in Burns and Dickson approved wine in grocery stores on referendums over the last two years but there are no stores that qualify to sell wine in Burns. Efforts to get the question on ballots in Charlotte and White Bluff were unsuccessful. Charlotte voters will decide a liquor-by-the-drink referendum in November.

3rd Fair victim goes home; lawmaker wants tighter restrictions

Kayla and Briley Reynolds (from Facebook)
Kayla and Briley Reynolds (from Facebook)

The third child who was injured in an East Tennessee Ferris wheel accident was released from the hospital yesterday and a state legislator is calling for tighter regulations on fair rides. 6-year-old Briley Reynolds went home Wednesday from Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City. She suffered what has been described as a traumatic brain injury when she and two other girls fell 35-40 feet from a gondola at the Greene County Fair Aug. 8. Her 10-year-old sister Kayla and a 16-year-old identified only as Charity were released the week before. Following Briley’s release, parents Kimmee and Jason Reynolds appeared on television and held a news conference in which they thanked people for their prayers and support. While Briley was breathing, talking and walking on her own by the time she was discharged, her mother said she is still having trouble organizing her thoughts and will go through extensive therapy. “We have a long way to go,” Kimmee Reynolds said. Kayla suffered a broken arm and other injuries while no information on the 16-year-old’s injuries has been released. Kimmee Reynolds said she and husband Jason were watching the Ferris wheel as a mechanical failure caused part of the gondola to become lodged in the frame and prevented it from pivoting. As it began to descend it tipped over and pitched the girls out before the operator could stop it. Kimmee Reynolds said she saw Briley hit the gondola below hers, then a bar of the frame and then hit the ground where she was knocked unconscious. Inspectors discovered that worn out rivet fasteners were to blame for the accident. The Ferris wheel owned by Family Attractions Amusement Company was being returned to the manufacturer for repairs. Family Attractions Amusement is contracted to provide the midway rides for the Dickson County Fair Sept. 5-10. After all the company’s rides were inspected following the accident in Greeneville, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Amusement Device Unit issued the company a license to continue operating in the state for the next 12 months. Tennessee Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby says he plans to present bills to strengthen the state’s regulations of amusement devices. The Republican, whose 11th District includes Cocke County and parts of Jefferson and Greene counties, said Tennessee is “not inspecting our rides the way we should.” The state had its own inspectors until two years ago when it switched to requiring third-party inspectors who are hired by the amusement companies. Faison said the state should have its own inspectors and he also wants rides to be inspected more frequently than once a year, as currently required. Since the Ferris wheel and other Family Attractions Amusement rides had been inspected June 21 in Illinois, they had been disassembled, moved and reassembled nine times when the Greene County Fair opened. North Carolina requires rides to be inspected every time they are set up. Faison said the state probably doesn’t have the money to inspect rides every time they are assembled, but they should be inspected more frequently and state regulators should have more power to shut down attractions. On Aug. 4, just days before the Greene County accident, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips sent a reminder to all of the amusement device operators licensed in the state about the inspection, safety and reporting requirements. He said the reminder was prompted by four injury accidents on amusement devices that had occurred since July 1. All of the accidents happened in East Tennessee with three on mountain coasters and one on a zipline. Faison said while the state only requires annual inspections, fair operators can require inspections before rides are allowed to operate. Dickson County Fair Association President Steve Manley said last week the board is monitoring the Greeneville investigation and that all rides at the 92nd annual fair will be inspected before they open. The state’s new budget includes two years’ funding for five new positions in the Amusement Device Unit, but a department spokesman says two of those jobs will be administrative and three will be safety consultants, not inspectors. The state is currently developing the job descriptions before filling the positions.

Garrett indicted for felony murder in woman’s beating death

Keianthony Mignon Garrett
Keianthony Mignon Garrett

A man whose DNA was found on pieces of a clothes iron believed to have been used to beat a Dickson woman to death has been indicted for murder. 21-year-old Keianthony Mignon Garrett was indicted Monday by the Dickson County Grand Jury on a charge of felony murder. The indictment charges Garrett killed 51-year-old Cynthia Darlene Green during the commission of the felony of aggravated burglary. The indictment lists an address on Trace Creek Road in White Bluff for Garrett, but during a June bond hearing Garrett testified he was living with the mother of his child at 816B East Railroad St., in the other side of the duplex where Green lived and her body was discovered March 8. TBI Special Agent Brandt Holt testified at a June 3 preliminary hearing that Green appeared to have been severely beaten and there were signs of a struggle in several rooms of her two-bedroom apartment in the Evans Heights area behind the Dickson County Fairgrounds. Holt said Garrett’s DNA was identified on pieces of the broken iron found in the bathroom and the living room area, where Green’s body was found with a coffee table on top of her. Holt testified the TBI Crime Lab found three DNA contributors on the iron pieces, matching Green, Garrett and a third unidentified source. Garrett’s DNA also was found on broken dishes and ceramic pieces throughout the apartment. Holt said in one interview Garrett denied ever having been in Green’s apartment but in a subsequent interview on the day he was arrested admitted he had been inside once. Under cross examination by defense attorney Olin Baker, Holt said the investigation into Green’s death is still open to additional suspects and there is the potential there was “more than one actor” involved. Nobody else has been charged in Green’s death at this time. Felony murder is charged when a death occurs during the commission of a separate felony. It carries the same range of punishment as first-degree murder: life in prison, life without parole or the death penalty. A conviction requires the state to prove the death occurred “in the perpetration” of a separate felony but does not require proof of premeditation. While the indictment charges Garrett with killing Green during an aggravated burglary, Garrett has not been charged or indicted on a burglary charge. At the preliminary hearing, Dickson County General Sessions Court Judge Craig Monsue said Garrett’s criminal record shows “a history of violence towards women” and set his bond at $1 million. Garrett remains in the Dickson County Jail with an arraignment in Dickson County Circuit Court set for Sept. 12.

County renews waste disposal contract with 6% hike

The Dickson County Commission approved a new contract with Waste Management Inc. to dispose of the county’s solid waste. The commission voted unanimously Monday night to approve a 10-year contract that includes a 6 percent increase in the rate per ton of waste. Solid Waste Management Superintendent Jim Lunn said the new contract increases the cost per ton from $28.66 to $30.41. On Monday’s Power Lunch program, Mayor Bob Rial said Waste Management was prepared to extend its existing contract for waste disposal at the same $28.66 rate. But Rial said state auditors directed the county to put the contract out for bids. Waste Management was the only bidder with a $1.75-per-ton rate increase. The Solid Waste Management budget for 2016-17 approved by the commission Monday night increases contract services by $9,000 to $1,129,000, which accounts for 31 percent of the department’s $3.6 million expenses. The budget projects the landfill will receive just more than $1 million in tipping fees at the transfer station on Eno Road, $2.3 million from the $10 monthly sanitation fee and almost $200,000 from other sources, including the sale of recyclable materials. The budget shows a $36,000 deficit being made up from the department’s $2.5 million fund balance. Since the closing of the Dickson County Landfill, the county has contracted disposal services. The county collects household waste at its convenience centers and the transfer station, then Waste Management Inc. hauls it 46 miles to its West Camden Sanitary Landfill in Benton County.

State Route 840 officially changed to Interstate 840

I840State Route 840 is officially being designated as Interstate 840. The 77-mile loop connects Interstate 40 in Dickson County with Interstates 24 and 65 south of Nashville and ends at I-40 in Wilson County. The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced last week it has received approval from the Federal Highway Administration to designate the road as Interstate 840. The TDOT announcement says the agency will begin installing I-840 signage this week and expects the work to be completed late this year at a cost of $230,000. “The change was requested to encourage more economic growth along the corridor and more traffic diversion around Middle Tennessee’s urban core,” according to the announcement. When it was initiated in 1986, the purpose of State Route 840 was to promote economic development by improving access to the many communities along the southern loop and to reduce the amount of traffic moving through Nashville where six major interstates connect. According to the TDOT statement, since the start of construction of the divided highway, more than 20 major industrial sites have opened directly adjacent to SR 840. “Having an interstate designation could encourage more industries to consider locating in Middle Tennessee, which increases employment opportunities for the state,” the TDOT announcement says. TDOT says having an interstate designation also promotes a level of expectation and confidence for drivers. “Motorists can maintain a higher speed and avoid congestion that may be found on state routes. TDOT anticipates the interstate designation will encourage passenger and freight traffic moving through the state to take the route, which will help to reduce congestion in Nashville and surrounding areas,” the announcement says. A beltway around Nashville was first proposed by TDOT in 1975. In 1986, then-Gov. Lamar Alexander proposed a 187-mile interstate loop north and south of Nashville and designated it as the Bicentennial Parkway because he planned for construction to be completed by 1996, the state’s 200th anniversary. The plan originally called for construction of an interstate, but it was changed to a state route because funding for the project came from state revenue. Planning for the southern loop began in 1988 and construction started in 1991. Lawsuits from environmental groups and impacted property owners held up completion of the project until 2012 when the final segment of the 77-mile road was opened. It travels from I-40 in Dickson County on the west side of Nashville through Hickman and Williamson counties before reconnecting with I-40 in Wilson County on the east side of Nashville. The state applied for interstate designation in May 2015 and this month got final approval from the FHA. The northern loop of I-840 remains on paper only. TDOT announced in October 2003 that construction costs and legal challenges have placed the road on indefinite hold.

Resolution honors Wren for 46 years service to county

Mayor Bob Rial honors retiring Assessor of Property Gail Wren for her 46 years of service to Dickson County.
Mayor Bob Rial honors retiring Assessor of Property Gail Wren for her 46 years of service to Dickson County.

The Dickson County Commission honored retiring Assessor of Property Gail Davis Wren in a resolution Monday night. Wren is leaving the office at the end of the month after 46 years. With several family members and co-workers present at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Bob Rial read a resolution recognizing Wren’s contributions, which was then passed unanimously on a roll call vote of the commission, leading to a standing ovation. “You’ve made a real difference in Dickson County,” Rial said after reading the resolution. Wren thanked her late father, Clyde Davis, and the late Sarah Fizer, under whom she worked in the assessor’s office, as well as her co-workers and employees. Wren began working in the assessor’s office at the age of 17 in June 1970 when her father held the position. She remained a deputy in the office until her father retired in 1984 and under Fizer, who served three terms for 12 years. Wren topped a five-candidate field with 33 percent of the vote to win her first term in 1996. She was re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, facing a single challenger in each race except for running unopposed in 2008. She is currently the longest-serving elected county officer at 20 years and her 46 years working for Dickson County is one of the longest terms of service. Clerk and Master Nancy Miller has held that appointed position since 1977 and worked in that office for 43 years. Only Buford “Booty” Reed has held elected office longer, serving as a county commissioner since 1990. With Wren retiring, Jenny Heath Martin won this month’s election to become the next assessor of property, topping two other candidates with 53 percent of the votes. Martin has worked in the assessor’s office under Wren for 14 years. Rial announced that a ceremony to administer the oath of office to Martin and other winners of the Aug. 4 election will be at 9 am Thursday, Sept. 1, the day the new terms start.

Cougars and Red Hawks open season Friday at DCHS

The season-opening football game between Dickson County and Creek Wood high schools is 7:30 pm Friday in Dickson County Stadium. Tickets are $7 and available in advance at both schools or at the gate. The parking lots on the DCHS campus will open at 4 pm and gates open at 5:30. The school has designated the grassy area behind the visitor’s stands next to the lower parking lot as the area for Creek Wood tailgating. Dickson County tailgaters will gather in the area below the senior parking lot. TriStar Bank is sponsoring both tailgate areas and will present $250 donations to each school at the end of the first quarter. The coin toss will take place at 7:25 following the playing of the National Anthem by the DCHS Marching Band. Director of Schools Dr. Danny Weeks will toss the coin with DCHS Principal Joey Holley, Athletic Director Jay Powlas, CWHS Principal Polly Spencer and Athletic Director Markus Peters participating. Following the game, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapters from both schools will hold a Fifth Quarter assembly in the end zone. The Cougars hold a 6-1 advantage in the rivalry series. Dickson County will debut under new head coach Randy Murphree while Chuck Daniel returns as interim head coach of the Red Hawks. The game will be broadcast on all channels of the RFC Sports Network with the Dickson County broadcast team of Robert Freeman and Daniel Brown on 101.5 The One FM, 1015theone.com and The One FM app and the Creek Wood broadcast team of Amp Harrell and Kyle Klotz on WDKN1260AM and wdkn.com. Coverage begins with the A-1 Signs Pregame Show at 7 pm after Murphy’s Matchups at 6:30.

Trial for ’98 murder delayed after judge separates cases

Wallace W. Brasel
Wallace W. Brasel
Thomas Lee Wortham
Thomas Lee Wortham

The trial of two half-brothers for a 1998 murder was postponed Tuesday when the judge granted a last-second request to separate the cases. 47-year-old Thomas Lee “Tommy” Wortham of Bon Aqua and 58-year-old Wallace Wade “Wally” Brasel of Lyles were scheduled to stand trial in Dickson County Circuit Court for the Aug. 20, 1998, murder of 32-year-old Eric Baxter. More than 200 jurors waited in a separate courtroom Tuesday morning while Judge David Wolfe addressed pretrial matters that would end up postponing the trial. Due to a procedural oversight, Wortham had not been arraigned on the superseding indictment that added Brasel as a co-defendant. Wortham originally was indicted for first-degree murder and felony murder in October and defense attorney Mike Flanagan entered not guilty pleas during a Nov. 9 arraignment. A superseding indictment in April added the same charges against Brasel and at a May 9 arraignment Leonard Belmares was appointed and entered not guilty pleas. Although both defendants and their attorneys have been in court for hearings on other matters since then, it was discovered this week that Wortham had never been arraigned on the new indictment. Wolfe formally arraigned Wortham Tuesday morning and Flanagan immediately asked for a continuance, saying Tennessee rules of criminal procedure prohibit a defendant from facing trial the same day he is arraigned. An arraignment is the point when a defendant is formally informed of the charges against him and courts have held that he is entitled to time to prepare a defense. District Attorney Ray Crouch Jr. argued that the superseding indictment only added Brasel and did not change anything about the charges against Wortham for which he was indicted in October. Wolfe said he doesn’t know why Wortham was not arraigned before Tuesday, but said there have been numerous appearances for motions and other matters so the idea of being surprised by the charges is unfounded. Flanagan then asked that the trials of the two defendants be severed. Flanagan said he understands that the prosecution intends to call at least two witnesses who claim to have been in the Hickman County Jail with Brasel when he admitted killing Baxter and that the state’s theory is that it was at Wortham’s direction or he was complicit in the crime. Crouch argued that the motion to sever was not timely in being made the day of trial and that the state was prepared to try both defendants. Crouch said the prosecution had pared its proof down to 73 witnesses and prepared its evidence based on a joint trial and it would be a “huge problem” to tailor its case for one defendant. The prosecutor said certain documents would have to be redacted and recordings edited to remove evidence that could be considered inadmissible in a single trial. After a series of conferences in chambers, Wolfe announced the prosecution has asked for a delay to “reconfigure” its case. While Flanagan had no opposition, Belmares said he was ready to proceed with Brasel’s trial and asked the judge to continue. Belmares said his client is being held on a parole violation warrant based on the charges, which means he has not been able to be released on bond. Crouch said he would proceed with Brasel’s trial if he was willing to sign a waiver on any statements made by his co-defendant that otherwise would not be allowed as evidence. “We’re not in a position to waive any rights,” Belmares said after consulting with his client. Wolfe agreed to sever and reschedule the trials. He scheduled the first trial for Sept. 26 and gave the district attorney’s office 48 hours to notify the court and defense attorneys which defendant will be tried first. He said the second trial will be scheduled after that and any new pretrial motions will be heard Sept. 14. Crouch asked the judge to keep the same jury pool that had been called for August because they already experienced jury selection in the Morris Long murder trial, which could streamline the process. Flanagan argued that the presence of news media in the courtroom means those jurors will know what case is going to be heard and what happened in court Tuesday. Wolfe said any informed citizen called for jury duty is likely to know what case is coming up but said the safer practice would be to bring in a new jury pool in September. The Circuit Court Clerk’s Office sent out more than 700 jury summonses for August and got a pool of a little more than 200 potential jurors. Wortham and Brasel remain in jail on $350,000 bond each.

Commission approves 2016-17 budgets, $2.70 tax rate

It turns out $485,000 is close enough. The Dickson County Commission approved the 2016-17 budgets and set the property tax rate without much discussion Monday night. The $117 million total budgets include the $64.8 million general purpose schools budget that had been the sticking point six weeks into the new fiscal year. At the Budget and Budget Advisory committees meeting Monday, Mayor Bob Rial said the Dickson County School Board presented a revised budget that reduces total projected expenditures by $484,999 to $64,817,675, taking almost $2.6 million from reserves to balance. At its Aug. 1 meeting, the committee had instructed the board to reduce expenses by $500,000. Rial said Monday night that the latest proposal is “within the range of what we were asking them to do.” Without discussion, the five-member Budget Committee voted unanimously during its nine-minute meeting to forward all of the county’s budgets for 2016-17 to the full county commission. During a 20-minute meeting, the 10 commissioners present voted unanimously to approve resolutions making appropriations to the county’s departments, making appropriations to various non-profit organizations and setting the property tax rate at $2.70 per $100 of assessed property value. Commissioner Tony Adams was absent and the 4th District seat remains vacant until Sept. 1. The $2.70 rate is down from the previous rate of $2.90 due to an overall increase in property values. Following a countywide reappraisal program, the state gave the county a certified rate of $2.70 to produce approximately the same revenue as the previous rate. On Monday’s Power Lunch program, Rial said there is about $300,000 in revenue growth projected from the new rate due to new construction. The school board had originally presented a budget requesting $20.3 million in local revenue from property and sales taxes, which is about $1 million more than last year’s budget but less than the $20.9 million it actually expects to have received. Rial proposed increasing the local revenue portion by $500,000 to $19.8 million, saying he is “comfortable” with increasing the county’s maintenance of effort by that amount without having to raise taxes. At first the school board made up the $500,000 by taking more money out of its fund balance, but the Budget Committee rejected that and directed the board to cut expenses without taking more than originally planned out of reserves. Director of Schools Dr. Danny Weeks presented a list of reductions that includes less money for the transportation, maintenance and technology departments, cuts money for a counseling program in the high schools, projects savings in utilities, defers some architect fees to next year and drops a new student resource officer that would have been shared by William James and Charlotte middle schools.

Jury selection begins today in trial for 1998 murder

Jury selection is scheduled to begin today for the trial of half-brothers from Hickman County accused in a 1998 murder. More than 200 potential jurors have been summoned for the trial of Thomas Lee “Tommy” Wortham and Wallace Wade “Wally” Brasel for the murder of Eric Baxter. The jurors have been told to come prepared for being sequestered for two weeks, while attorneys have said the trial could last as long as three weeks. 32-year-old Baxter was found by his mother shot to death Aug. 20, 1998, in their Jones Creek Road home. Wortham, a former Hickman County Sheriff’s Office detective who leased a convenience store from the family business, was indicted in October and Brasel was indicted in April following a 17-year investigation. District Attorney Ray Crouch Jr. and Assistant DA Margaret Sagi are expected to present a case of circumstantial evidence that does not include a murder weapon or any DNA or other evidence directly linking Wortham or Brasel to the crime scene. Wortham is represented by Nashville attorney Mike Flanagan and Brasel by Charlotte attorney Leonard Belmares as the half-brothers are being tried together. Wortham and Brasel are charged with first-degree murder and two counts of felony murder each. The indictment charges both men with the premeditated murder of Baxter and with killing him during the attempted first-degree murder of his mother, Joy Marsh, and during a burglary of their Jones Creek Road home. Because the district attorney’s office has not filed a notice of intent to seek enhanced punishment, if either man is convicted of first-degree or felony murder, he will automatically be sentenced to life in prison. That would mean a minimum of 51 years behind bars before 47-year-old Wortham and 58-year-old Brasel would be eligible for parole. Wortham leased the Tice’s Springs Market on Highway 48 South in Dickson from the West Meade Corporation, for which Marsh was president and Baxter was secretary-treasurer and general manager. According to a lawsuit, he was attempting to buy the market when he missed a payment deadline and the deal was canceled. Wortham sued the company but lost and two months after an appeals court upheld the judgment Marsh returned home to find her son dead from 6-8 gunshot wounds to his head, chest and hand. Dickson County Circuit Court Judge David Wolfe has said he expects to hear testimony until at least 6 pm each day and will hold court on Saturdays since the jury will be sequestered.