Committee recommends re-appointing 9 judicial commissioners

The Dickson County Commission’s Judicial Committee has recommended the re-appointment of nine of the county’s 10 current judicial commissioners for new two-year terms. At Monday night’s work session, Commissioner Shane Chandler said the committee only received applications from nine current commissioners. There are five at-large judicial commissioners who are on call on a 24-hour rotation to respond to calls. They are Doyle Wall, Rebecca Wright, Michael Adams, Ronnie Morgan and Royce Hafner. Leslie Shelton is a judicial commissioner as part of her duties as a deputy clerk in the Dickson County General Sessions Court. In September, the county commission increased the number of judicial commissioners serving the town of White Bluff from two to four. Public Works Director Jeff Martin, Deputy Recorder Misty Rogers, Municipal Court Clerk Carol Harmon and Brent Aulidge, who works at the Greater Dickson Gas Authority, were appointed to those positions. The committee recommended the re-appointment of Martin, Rogers and Aulidge, but Chandler said it did not receive an application from Harmon, who retired from the city at the end of October. Harmon was appointed to serve on an interim basis through the rest of her term after her retirement. The terms of the current commissioners expire Dec. 31. Chandler said he does not know if Harmon wants to continue as a judicial commissioner or if that duty will fall to Dixie Kerr, who replaced her as municipal court clerk. Chandler said the committee recommends the re-appointment of the nine judicial commissioners who applied and he will find out what will happen with the fourth position in White Bluff. The five at-large commissioners are paid $84.37 for each day they are on duty and that cost is split between the county and city. The town of White Bluff compensates its four judicial commissioners and Shelton is compensated as part of her salary as deputy clerk. The commission voted unanimously to send the recommendation for re-appointment to its Dec. 19 regular session for final approval before the new terms begin Jan. 1. Judicial commissioners determine if there is probable cause to issue an arrest warrant, sign search warrants and set bonds, among other duties. They are required to complete eight hours of annual professional development training approved by the Judicial Commissioner Association of Tennessee.

New regs in place, 1st liquor-by-the-drink app issued

The Charlotte Town Council has approved amendments to its alcoholic beverages ordinances that clear the way for qualified restaurants to apply to the state for liquor-by-the-drink licenses. At a special meeting Tuesday, the council approved an amendment establishing an annual privilege tax for restaurants serving mixed drinks and an amendment changing hours that beer sales are allowed to match the state’s liquor hours. Charlotte residents passed a referendum to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption 289-202 Nov. 8. At its November meeting, the council passed the amendments on first reading and then held a public hearing before passing them on second and final reading at Tuesday’s special meeting. In addition to the various application and permit fees charged by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the town council established a local privilege tax for on-premise consumption that is based on the capacity of the restaurant. For businesses selling liquor and wine, the tax runs from $650 for 40-74 seats to $1,200 for 276 seats or more. For restaurants that choose to sell wine only, the privilege tax goes from $120 for 40-125 seats to $200 for 276 seats or more. The ABC regulates wine and liquor sales for on-premise consumption. Applicants must obtain a certificate of compliance from the town council as part of the state permitting process. The council cannot regulate hours or locations of restaurants with a liquor-by-the-drink license. And restaurants with a liquor-by-the-drink license are exempt from the city’s restrictions on beer sales. So the council amended its beer ordinance adjusting its on-premise and off-premise beer sales hours to match the state’s liquor hours of 8 am-3 am Monday-Saturday and beginning at noon on Sundays. Charlotte voters approved retail liquor sales in 2012 and within a few months The Cellar Wine and Spirits opened. Work on a new Mexican restaurant on Highway 48 began months ago with the liquor referendum pending. Charlotte Recorder Jennifer Carlew said an application for a certificate has been picked up since the final votes on the amendments Tuesday.

Hayes, Murrell and Clark sworn in for new terms

White Bluff attorney Andrew Mills administers the oath of office to White Bluff Town Council members Stephanie Murrell and Dan Clark.
White Bluff attorney Andrew Mills administers the oath of office to White Bluff Town Council members Stephanie Murrell and Dan Clark.
White Bluff attorney Andrew Mills administers the oath of office to Mayor Linda Hayes.
White Bluff attorney Andrew Mills administers the oath of office to Mayor Linda Hayes.

Mayor Linda Hayes and White Bluff Town Council members Stephanie Murrell and Dan Clark took the oaths of office to begin their new terms at Tuesday night’s meeting. Town attorney Andrew Mills swore in the winners of last month’s municipal election to new four-year terms. Hayes won a third term as mayor in an unopposed race while Murrell and Clark topped two challengers to win their second terms on the council. The three remaining council members’ positions will be on the ballot in November 2018. Those seats are held by Connie Reed, Martha Harding and Seth Williams, who was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Brandon Gossett. After being sworn in, Hayes re-appointed Clark as vice mayor and Melody Lewis as town recorder. Hayes promoted several holiday events coming up, including the White Bluff Parks and Recreation Department’s Breakfast with Santa 7-10 am Saturday at the White Bluff Community Center and the White Bluff Christmas Parade at 4:30 pm Saturday. The Bluff House Concert series will feature a holiday sing-along at the Bibb-White Bluff Civic Center Dec. 15 and Sing We Now of Christmas will be an open house and holiday concert featuring several local performers at the Bibb-White Bluff Civic Center Dec. 22. White Bluff Fire Department Chief Eric Deal updated the council on the delivery of the new rescue truck. The 1999 Spartan Wet Heavy Rescue truck arrived last month. Following the council meeting, the White Bluff Beer Board renewed the town’s six off-premise permits and one on-premise permit.

Bernice Stokes is grand marshal for White Bluff parade

Bernice Stokes
Bernice Stokes

Former vice mayor and post office clerk Bernice Stokes will be grand marshal of Saturday’s White Bluff Christmas Parade. The electric parade begins at 4:30 pm at William James Middle School, makes a loop through downtown and ends at the middle school. The theme is “Christmas Tree and Memories.” Mrs. Stokes is a lifelong resident of White Bluff, attending all 12 years of school at what was then William James School. She served on the town council, as vice mayor and was a clerk at the White Bluff Post Office for 25 years before becoming postmaster at Pegram until her retirement. Mrs. Stokes is best known for her quilting and has been featured in numerous displays and on television. She has published a book on quilting, taught quilting classes and founded the Courthouse Quilters Guild. She is a member of the White Bluff Church of Christ. Her granddaughter, Martha Harding, is serving on the town council. In addition to the parade, the White Bluff Parks and Recreation Department is hosting its annual Breakfast with Santa 7-10 am Saturday at the White Bluff Community Center. Tickets are $5 with children three and under free. The Jennie Woodworth Library at the Bibb-White Bluff Civic Center is hosting Dickson County native Debbie Mathis Watts to read her new children’s Christmas book at 3:30 pm Friday. A former teacher at Dickson County High School, Watts has written “What’s in my Stocking?” about a favorite Christmas memory. Copies of the book will be for sale with proceeds to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Harry Murrell Chapter 28 shopping spree for children of local disabled veterans. In addition to the reading, Watts will lead a sing-along and there will be goodies for the children. For more information on upcoming events in White Bluff, call town hall at 615-797-3131 or visit the Facebook pages for the town, Friends of White Bluff, White Bluff Parks and Recreation Department, Bibb-White Bluff Civic Center or the Jennie Woodworth Library.

DCHS and CWHS facing district battles tonight

Dickson County and Creek Wood high schools face district basketball contests tonight. The Cougars and Lady Cougars will be playing their first District 11-AAA games of the season when they host Franklin. Both DCHS teams are coming off non-district wins over Class AA Spring Hill Tuesday. The Red Hawks and Lady Red Hawks head into their fourth District 11-AA doubleheader with a trip to Lewis County. The Lady Red Hawks are undefeated with three dominating district victories while the Red Hawks are 2-1 after surviving with a one-point win over Fairview Tuesday. Dickson County-Franklin will be live on 101.5 The One FM, 1015theone.com and The One FM app. Creek Wood-Lewis County will be live on WDKN, wdkn.com and the WDKN app. Both doubleheaders start at 6 pm with the A-1 Signs Pregame Shows at 5:45.

Suspect in 3-county manhunt arrested in Dickson

Christopher Aaron Gooch
Christopher Aaron Gooch
Courtney Danielle White
Courtney Danielle White

The Vanleer man who has been the subject of a manhunt across three counties was arrested after a brief pursuit in Dickson Wednesday morning. 36-year-old Christopher Aaron Gooch was taken into custody after being surrounded by Dickson Police Department and Dickson County Sheriff’s Office units on Highway 46 near Pizza Hut. Lt. Todd Christian said an off-duty police officer spotted a truck matching the description of one Gooch was believed to be driving and called 911. Christian said responding officers spotted the truck in the parking lot at The Roxy Movie Theatre and a pursuit began during which Gooch allegedly drove at one of the officers and struck a patrol car. Gooch eventually was boxed in by police and sheriff’s office patrol cars on Highway 46 between The Roxy and Oakmont Elementary School and taken into custody without further incident around 11 am, according to Christian. Gooch has been the subject of a manhunt since warrants charging him with stealing a donation jar from a Dickson restaurant were issued. He led police on pursuits in Humphreys and Benton counties, both times escaping into the woods on foot, and escaped from a Camden hotel room Tuesday where he had been cornered by police. Christian said Dickson Police Department officers went to an address for 24-year-old Courtney Danielle White with a warrant for theft Wednesday morning. White had been with Gooch when he was chased by Humphreys County authorities Monday and was arrested after he fled on foot. Police said $220 of approximately $2,000 that was in the donation jar stolen from Camino Real Mexican Restaurant was found in her purse. She told police the rest had been spent on methamphetamine and heroin. White was booked on several misdemeanor charges Monday and released after posting $1,500 bond. Christian said when officers went to serve her with an outstanding theft of property warrant, they developed information that Gooch was in the area driving a possibly stolen primer gray Chevrolet S10 pickup. That information was broadcast to local law enforcement agencies and then a Nixle alert was sent out to the public to be on the lookout for the vehicle. Christian said an off-duty officer was at Oakmont to pick up his child when he got the Nixle message and spotted a truck matching that description in The Roxy parking lot. Christian said two police department patrol cars suffered damage during the pursuit and capture but the officers and Gooch were not hurt. Gooch was booked into the Dickson County Jail Wednesday evening on two counts of theft, two counts of driving on a revoked license, two counts of evading arrest, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, vandalism, reckless endangerment and possession of a controlled substance. He faces a Jan. 10 appearance in Dickson Municipal Court on those charges. He also is being held on a violation of probation warrant with a court date Tuesday and a contempt of court warrant. Gooch is being held without bond. White was being held on $150,000 bond with an appearance in Dickson Municipal Court scheduled for Jan. 10. Christian said the truck Gooch was driving is believed to have been taken from the Bucksnort area but had not been reported stolen and officers were trying to contact the owner. Gooch also could face multiple charges in McEwen, Waverly, Camden, Humphreys County, Benton County and Hickman County.

County considers abolishing powerless road commission

With practically no authority and difficulty in getting people to run for the office and then attend meetings, the Dickson County Commission is considering a proposal to abolish the elected positions on the Dickson County Road Commission. At Monday night’s work session, Commissioner Shane Chandler said he has spoken with Road Superintendent Jerry Burgess about problems he has had getting enough of the six road commissioners to show up to hold monthly meetings. Chandler suggested the county abolish the positions at the end of the current terms in 2018. Burgess said the commission has not met for the last three months because it could not get a quorum to conduct business. Burgess said he has not discussed the proposal with the road commissioners because they haven’t met. Mayor Bob Rial said the Fiscal Act of 1957, under which Dickson County operates, has left the road commission with no legal authority, making it mainly an advisory board. The commission can make recommendations to the road superintendent about road projects and repairs, but he is not obligated to follow them because he is popularly elected. The road commission can review and make recommendations on the department’s annual budget, but the county commission has sole authority to approve the budget. Commissioner Randy Simpkins said he served on the commission when it had more authority but now it might not be as important. “I think what their job primarily is is a voice for the people in their district,” Simpkins said. Commissioner Cotton Dawson said he believes the issue should be looked at more before the commission is eliminated. Dawson said the purpose of the commission still can be served. “I think that was meant to be a good thing and it could be a good thing if they all of them get their act together. There’s got to be something wrong out there,” Dawson said. Budget and Accounts Director Don Hall said road commissioners are paid $75 a month and Rial said they are paid regardless of whether they attend the meetings, for an annual expense of $5,400. In the 2014 election, Dickson County’s Road Commission was reduced from 12 to six members by using the same combined districts as constables and school board members. There was only one contested race on the ballot with the incumbents from the combined districts facing off and there was only a write-in candidate in two other districts. The 4th Road District seat has been vacant since the September death of John D. Baggett. The remaining members of the road commission are Ben Regen (1st Road District), Kenneth Edmisson (2nd Road District), Austin Potter (3rd Road District), Clay Simpkins (5th Road District) and Orval “Bubba” Sesler (6th Road District). An elected position cannot be eliminated during the term. The current road commissioners’ terms expire Aug. 31, 2018. On a voice vote, the commissioners sent Chandler’s recommendation to eliminate the road commission to their Dec. 19 meeting for a final vote.

Police seek info on man seen going through cars

Image from security video shows a theft suspect entering Kay Jewelers.
Image from security video shows a theft suspect entering Kay Jewelers.
Police say the suspect driving this van was observed going through cars in the parking lot at Colton's.
Police say the suspect driving this van was observed going through cars in the parking lot at Colton’s.

Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a suspect believed to have stolen credit cards from vehicles and then used them to make a purchase. A statement from the Dickson Police Department says a male subject can be seen on security video going through cars in the parking lot at Colton’s Steak House and Grill at 2431 Highway 46 South on Nov. 26. The suspect was driving a white panel van with roof racks around the parking lot shortly before 2:30 pm and getting into unlocked cars. Police say he stole credit cards from at least one vehicle. The same suspect is believed to have used one of those stolen credit cards to purchase a trailer at Tractor Supply Company at 715 Highway 46 South the same day. He then attempted to purchase a $2,000 watch at Kay Jewelers at 148 Thornton Drive in The Crossings of Dickson but the credit card was declined and he left without buying anything. Police have released images from security video of the van in the parking lot at Colton’s and the white male suspect with a medium build wearing a stocking cap entering Kay Jewelers. Police ask anyone with information on the thefts or who recognizes the van or suspect to call Det. Mike Phillips at 615-441-9563 or the anonymous tip line at 615-441-9555.

Bell and Paschall head to bowls with different teams

Walt Bell
Walt Bell
Luke Paschall
Luke Paschall

Two Dickson County High School graduates are on the coaching staffs of teams headed to college football bowl games. In his first season as offensive coordinator at Maryland, Walt Bell and the Terrapins will face Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit Dec. 26 on ESPN. Former Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was hired as Maryland’s coach last December following a 3-9 season and one of his first hires was to lure Bell away from Arkansas State. The Terps beat Rutgers 31-13 in their final game to finish 6-6 and become bowl eligible. After winning its first four games, Maryland went 2-6 the rest of the season with all six losses coming against teams going to bowl games, including three teams in the top six spots in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Terrapins fell 38-14 to eventual Big 10 champions Penn State, which faces USC in the Rose Bowl. Maryland had a brutal 149-13 stretch of consecutive losses to Michigan 59-3, Ohio State 62-3 and Nebraska 28-7. The Wolverines play Florida State in the Orange Bowl, the Cornhuskers face Tennessee in the Music City Bowl and the Buckeyes play Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal of the playoff. The other losses came to Indiana, which faces Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl, and Minnesota, which faces Washington State in the Holiday Bowl. With Bell calling plays, Maryland averaged 379.5 yards of offense per game, 205.5 rushing (40th in the nation) and 174 passing (110th), while the defense gave up 433.7 a game. When Bell departed for Maryland, he left behind fellow DCHS graduate Luke Paschall, who stayed with Arkansas State where he is in his third year as wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator. The Red Wolves finished 7-5 and won the Sun Belt Conference title by beating Texas State 36-14. Arkansas State is the only football program in the nation to claim a conference championship five of the last six seasons (2011, ’12, ’13, ’15 and ’16). In its sixth straight bowl appearance, Arkansas State will battle the University of Central Florida in the Auto Nation Cure Bowl at 4:30 pm Dec. 17 in Orlando on CBS Sports Network. The Red Wolves started their season 0-4, including a loss to Auburn, then went 7-1. ASU is 53rd in passing offense at 245.3 yards per game and 102nd in rushing offense at 146.3. Paschall and Bell came to Arkansas State from North Carolina with Blake Anderson. Paschall will be participating in his eighth bowl game while Bell is in his 10th bowl game as a player or coach.

Lewis scores all of VCU’s OT points in loss to Georgia Tech

JeQuan Lewis (1) handles the ball against Georgia Tech. (photo courtesy VCU)
JeQuan Lewis (1) handles the ball against Georgia Tech. (photo courtesy VCU)

Former Cougar JeQuan Lewis scored all of VCU’s points in overtime as Georgia Tech escaped with a 76-73 victory in Richmond Wednesday. Returning from an ankle injury suffered Saturday in a loss to Illinois, Lewis scored 16 points and gave the Rams their last lead and last tie with 3 points in overtime. With its second loss in a row, VCU falls to 6-3. Against Illinois in the Hoophall Invitational in Miami, Lewis rolled his ankle and left the game late in the first half. He returned in the second half but was visibly limping. After entering the game as VCU’s leading scorer at over 15 points an outing, Lewis was held to 3 points on 1 of 7 three-pointers with 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Against Georgia Tech, VCU overcame an 8-point deficit in the second half to tie the game 70-70 and force overtime. Lewis hit a driving layup to give VCU its last lead at 72-70 then followed a Yellow Jacket three-pointer with one of two free throws to forge the game’s last tie 73-73. Georgia Tech took the lead on a Josh Heath jumper with 1:21 remaining and VCU failed to score on five possessions in the rest of overtime while Tech added a free throw. Lewis finished with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 3 of 5 treys, while hitting 3 of 4 free throws. He had 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. VCU looks to snap its two-game skid with a trip to Old Dominion Saturday and will host Middle Tennessee Dec. 17.