Early voting in Dickson, Charlotte open to 8 pm Thursday

Today is the second opportunity for extended hours for early voting for the Nov. 8 election. Polls will be open 10 am-8 pm at the Dickson County Election Office in Charlotte and Restoration Church in Dickson. More than 5,300 early and absentee ballots have been cast so far. Lines up to 30 minutes were reported throughout the day Wednesday when early voting resumed at the Dickson satellite location. Election officials report early voting has been steady and on a record pace since it opened last week. There were 8,711 early and absentee ballots cast in the November 2012 election. Early voting continues 8 am-4 pm Friday and 9 am-noon Saturday at both locations. The deadline to submit an application to vote absentee by mail is Nov. 1. Early voting ends Nov. 3. Polls will be open 7 am-7 pm on Nov. 8. For more information on early or absentee voting, call the Dickson County Election Office at 615-671-1146 or visit dicksoncountyelection.com. The Dickson County ballot includes the elections for President, U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th District and Tennessee House of Representatives in the 69th or 78th district. White Bluff, Burns, Vanleer and Slayden are holding municipal elections and Charlotte has a liquor-by-the-drink referendum.

Teams from US, Europe competing at first SmokeFest

smokefest 16The inaugural Dickson County SmokeFest features professional barbecue teams from across the U.S. as well as Germany and Belgium competing for cash prizes at the Dickson County Fairgrounds this weekend. Presented by the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce and the Dickson County Fair Association, the event Friday and Saturday will include a haunted house, two demolition derbies, costume contest, pumpkin painting, Backyard Cook-off, cruise-in, concessions, craft vendors and the chance to sample two dozen professional teams’ barbecue pork and pick a winner. Combo tickets for admission to both days are available in advance for $20 and include a $3 discount coupon for the limited edition SmokeFest t-shirt. Gates open Friday at 5 pm with a $10 admission. Gates open at 9 am Saturday with free admission. The gate will re-open at 5 pm Saturday with a $15 admission. Parking is a $2 donation to benefit the athletic programs at Dickson County High School. More than 40 professional barbecue teams have registered to compete for $7,500 in cash prizes in a cook-off sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. The teams will begin cooking chicken, ribs, pork and brisket Friday with judging starting at noon Saturday. The Backyard Cook-off features seven teams that will cook chicken and ribs for $1,000 in prizes with judging starting at 2 pm Saturday. Two dozen teams have signed up for the Peoples Choice Award. There are 50 armbands available for $20 each that enable you to sample Boston butts prepared by the teams and vote for the winner. Friday will feature pumpkin painting; food and craft vendors; the Hair Raising Haunted Building in the pavilion opens at 6 pm; Kids Power Wheels Fearsome Demolition Derby at 7 pm in the grandstand arena followed by the Frightening Compact Car Demolition Derby at 8 pm. Saturday features pumpkin painting, food and craft vendors, a cruise-in with classic cars at noon; voting for the People’s Choice Award, judging of the professional and Backyard Cook-off with winners announced at 4:30. When gates re-open at 5 pm, there will be pumpkin painting, food and craft vendors, the Hair Raising Haunted Building opens at 6 pm; a costume contest at 7 pm and the Wicked Stock Car Demolition Derby with cars decorated for Halloween at 8 pm. The Hair Raising Haunted Building features a first section that is child-friendly and a second section that is scarier. Tour participants have the opportunity to exit after the first section. For more information, visit dicksoncountysmokefest.wordpress.com, dicksoncountychamber.com, the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce, Dickson County Fair or Dickson County SmokeFest pages on Facebook, or call 615-446-2349.

YMCA, Drug Free Coalition hosting Spookfest Friday

The Dickson County Family YMCA and Drug Free Dickson Coalition are teaming up to present Spookfest with safe, fun Halloween activities for the family Friday. Spookfest will be 4-8 pm Friday at the YMCA at 225 Henslee Drive in the former Kmart building. The Topless in Tennessee Jeep club will hold its first Jeeps and Treats in the YMCA parking lot 6-9 pm Friday with decorated Jeep owners handing out treats. Admission to Spookfest is a canned or non-perishable food item or donation for the Dickson County Help Center. It will feature a costume contest, pumpkin decorating contest, indoor trick or treating, S’mores, screenings of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and a haunted house presented by the Drug Free Dickson Coalition. The pumpkin decorating contest will feature painted or carved pumpkins prepared prior to the event and entered by 4:30 pm. Lighted pumpkins should feature a battery-operated light and no candles. Ribbons will be awarded at 5:30. Friday also starts the final weekend for the Fright in the Furnace and Haunted Maze. Presented by the Iron Masonic Lodge in Cumberland Furnace, Fright in the Furnace is a haunted house at the lodge at 6400 Highway 48 North. It is open dark to midnight Friday and Saturday and admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Sensing Brothers Post 4641 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars presents its indoor Haunted Maze 6-10 pm Friday through Monday at the post at 215 Marshall Stuart Drive. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children 10 and under. Magic Wheels at 220 Tennsco Drive is holding a Halloween Late Skate 7 pm-midnight Friday. Admissions is $10 plus skate rental.

Driver in fatal wreck charged with forging drug report

Johnny Morgan Dye
Johnny Morgan Dye

A man facing vehicular homicide charges has been indicted for altering a drug screen report that was required as part of his bond. 36-year-old Johnny Morgan Dye faces a Nov. 21 trial on charges of vehicular homicide by intoxication and vehicular homicide by recklessness for the 2014 wreck that killed 22-year-old Jacob T. Akers of Charlotte. The Dickson County Grand Jury indicted Dye last week on charges of forgery of legal paperwork and tampering with evidence. At a hearing earlier this month, Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash revoked Dye’s bond and ordered him to remain in custody pending his trial following testimony that he failed to submit monthly drug screen results and that a 2015 report was altered to reflect a negative result for methadone. John Ethridge, the investigator for the 23rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, testified the toxicology report faxed to the DA’s office for Sept. 29, 2015, showed Dye tested negative for methadone. Natasha Jain, chief operating officer for the Cookeville Medical Center where Dye had his drug screen performed, said the hospital’s report for that day shows Dye tested positive for methadone and the report submitted to the DA was “obviously forged.” Dye testified he doesn’t know how the report was changed and that he gave them to his girlfriend or her mother to fax to his attorney and the district attorney. Assistant District Attorney Jack Arnold told Lockert-Mash his office intended to present evidence to the next session of the grand jury regarding the drug screen report and it returned the two-count indictment against Dye last Tuesday. As part of his bond conditions following his arrest for the July 7, 2014, wreck on Highway 49, Dye was ordered to submit to monthly blood or urine screens. The indictment charges that between Sept. 29, 2015, the day Dye took a drug test in Cookeville, and Oct. 1, 2016, Dye altered the report to be negative for methadone, a class E felony. The second count charges him with tampering with evidence in a criminal proceeding or investigation, a class C felony. A class C felony has a potential punishment of 3-15 years in prison while a class E is 1-6 years. If convicted of either vehicular homicide charge, Dye faces 8-20 years in prison. Dye has been in the Dickson County Jail since his bond was revoked Oct. 3 pending his vehicular homicide trial. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Dickson County Circuit Court Nov. 15 for the forgery and tampering with evidence charges and is under a $20,000 bond. Prosecutors say Dye was under the influence of Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone and amphetamines and driving at a high rate of speed when his Dodge pickup crashed head-on into Akers’ Dodge Magnum on Highway 49 near Charlotte. Dye lived on Colliers Bend Road in Charlotte at the time of the wreck but testified at his hearing earlier this month he was living with his girlfriend in Clarkrange. Akers had recently graduated from Lipscomb University and was preparing to enter medical school at Lincoln Memorial University with plans to become a hospitalist. Three days before the wreck he proposed and got engaged to his girlfriend. Akers’ parents, Carol and Jim Akers, and Lipscomb established a scholarship in his memory for biology students planning to enter the healthcare field.

Florida police say Burns fugitive hanged himself in cell

Christopher Cox
Christopher Cox
Jaclyn Wall
Jaclyn Wall

Florida officials say a Dickson County fugitive apparently hanged himself in a jail cell Sunday. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reports 25-year-old Christopher Cox of Burns was found unresponsive in a one-person cell at the Stock Island Detention Center during a routine cell check. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Cox had been arrested Wednesday following a 14-hour armed standoff with police at a home in Marathon, Fla., and was being held on a federal firearms charge, awaiting extradition to Tennessee. He and his girlfriend are suspected of stealing guns and cash from her parents in Dickson County and had been on the run with her 6-year-old son for the last month. 23-year-old Jaclyn Wall and her son got out of the house at the start of the standoff during which Cox reportedly held a .45-caliber handgun to his head and threatened to kill himself. At one point Cox put the gun down and walked far enough away from it that police felt safe taking him into custody, according to a statement from Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Media Relations Director Becky Herrin. Herrin said a correction officer found Cox hanging in his cell Sunday. “Cox was housed in a single-person cell with no roommate. At 4:10 am this morning, corrections deputies performing a routine check of inmates found Cox hanging from the neck in his cell,” Herrin said. Herrin said deputies began performing CPR and Cox was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 5:08 am eastern time. Herrin said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the death. Dickson County authorities had tracked Cox and Wall to Florida through their cell phones and notified local authorities. Florida police went to a rental home on 50th Street in Marathon in the Florida Keys last Tuesday evening. Deputies removed Wall and her son from the home before Cox pulled out the pistol, pointed it at his head refusing to surrender and began a standoff that lasted until deputies rushed the home at 10:50 am Wednesday after seeing through a window that Cox had put the gun down and was standing near the front door. Police found $90,000 cash in the home, which they believe could be part of a larger amount stolen from Wall’s parents. Wall failed to show up for a custody hearing regarding her son in Dickson County and his biological father was granted emergency custody. The child had been reported missing since Sept. 22 by his father. Wall’s mother’s car was found abandoned at a hotel in Naples, Fla., and the couple told police they had been in Miami where they bought a truck and the handgun. Herrin said Cox told investigators he knew he was prohibited from possessing a firearm but “people were after him and his girl.” Dickson County authorities said Cox and Wall had been staying at her parents’ home in Burns while the parents were on vacation and reported that Wall’s father’s truck and gun safe had been stolen in a late August burglary. Jewelry, guns and $200,000 were reportedly in the safe. The safe and guns were recovered Sept. 5 and Wall told Monroe County investigators they hid the jewelry outside her parents’ home. Because Cox had a previous felony conviction for theft, a warrant obtained by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Dickson County authorities had issued a warrant for Cox for violating a court order and a warrant was issued for Wall for custodial interference. Wall remained in custody in Florida Monday pending an extradition hearing. The 6-year-old has been reunited with his father.