Election results certified, winners begin new terms

With the results of last month’s election becoming official, the winners are beginning their new terms and the town of Charlotte is preparing for the start of liquor by the drink sales. The Dickson County Election Commission certified the results of the election at a brief meeting Nov. 21. Administrator of Elections Roxanne Hagewood reported there were 11 provisional ballots that were added to the unofficial totals reported Nov. 8 and they did not affect the outcome of any races. New mayors began their terms in Vanleer and Slayden last week. Jason Weaver officially took over as mayor of Vanleer at the Board of Aldermen meeting Nov. 26. The position had been vacant for two years after Mayor Larry Robertson did not seek re-election in 2014 and nobody ran for the office. The board decided not to fill the vacancy by appointment and Weaver presided over the board’s meetings as vice mayor. Weaver ran unopposed for the two-year term as mayor. The Vanleer Board of Alderman also saw three new members begin their terms. Chris Farmer, Elizabeth “Libby” Gilmore and Ty Weaver took their positions on the board with re-elected incumbents Dwight McIllwain and Ruben Schmittou. Tony Taylor did not seek re-election, Weaver ran for mayor and one seat had been vacant since the resignation of Westley Albright in April. The following night saw Wayne White take over as mayor of Slayden. White was unopposed in seeking the two-year term after two-term incumbent Gary Hodges decided not to seek re-election. Incumbents Mary Smathers and Deborah Smith began new two-year terms and will have to select a third member for the Slayden Town Council after there were not enough candidates on the ballot. At its meeting Nov. 27, the Charlotte Town Council began the process of putting in regulations to allow liquor to be sold for on-premise consumption after voters approved a liquor-by-the-drink referendum by more than 80 votes. The council passed on first reading ordinances setting application fees and the procedures for obtaining a certificate of compliance from the town as part of the application for a license from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Mayor Bill Davis scheduled a special meeting of the council on Dec. 6 for a second and final vote on the new regulations. The Charlotte Town Council does not regularly hold a December meeting. Next week Burns and White Bluff will start the new terms of the election winners. At Monday night’s Burns Board of Commissioners meeting, Landon Mathis will begin his third two-year term as mayor after holding off challenger Stephen Cathey. Incumbent Ed “Shot” Grove will begin his third term on the board of commissioners, Jerry Perella will start his second term and Valton Potter will begin his first full term after being appointed to complete the term of Stephen Hayes. Wayne Lomax joins the board as a new commissioner after Chris Holland did not seek re-election. At Tuesday night’s meeting, White Bluff Mayor Linda Hayes will begin her third term after winning an unopposed race. Incumbent town council members Stephanie Murrell and Dan Clark will begin their second four-year terms after being re-elected over challengers John Edward Bennett and Jason Foriest. State Rep. Mary Littleton of Dickson will begin her third term representing the 78th District in the Tennessee House of Representatives when the 110th General Assembly convenes Jan. 10. Michael Curcio of Dickson will be sworn in as the new representative for the 69th District that day, after winning the seat vacated by eight-term incumbent David Shepard.

Tree lighting, Christmas in Downtown scheduled tonight

A previous year's live nativity at the Dickson County Help Center.
A previous year’s live nativity at the Dickson County Help Center.

Christmas in Downtown Dickson features Santa Claus, refreshments, entertainment, a live nativity, carriage rides, special sales, prizes and the lighting of the city Christmas tree tonight. The downtown event will be 5-9 pm at participating merchants on North and South Main Street, Center Avenue, College Street and Murrell Street. The ceremony to light the city Christmas tree will begin at 4:30 pm in Tom Waychoff Memorial Park at the corner of East College and Main streets. The tree features decorations from students at Centennial Elementary School and the ceremony will feature a performance by members of the Dickson County High School Choir. With his reindeer resting for Christmas, Santa will arrive courtesy of the Dickson Fire Department at 5:00 and be available for pictures at L&K Studios above House Blend with packages starting at $20. The Bank of Dickson is sponsoring free carriage rides starting at the Main Street branch. The Dickson County Help Center will host its live nativity featuring camels, donkeys and sheep. There will be soup and refreshments, live entertainment including performers from The Quest Center and a 50-percent sale in the Thrift Store. There will be refreshments, drawings for prizes and special sales at various downtown businesses, including Friendly Neighbor Store, Lou and Bugs, Three Times a Lady and others. Dave Parks and Band will perform 6-8 pm at Patina V. There will be live music at Home Again Antiques. Zander’s Pizza will offer free face painting for diners. Main Street Interventions will have free hot chocolate. The Clement Railroad Hotel Museum is hosting its Christmas Membership Reception 5-8 pm. There will be music, food and beverages and it is free to all museum members. The annual Santa Paws Christmas Auction to benefit the Humane Society of Dickson County is 12-9 pm at Events on Main. Bidding will take place throughout the day and end at 9 pm with the highest bidders able to pick up their items at that time. The silent auction features a variety of items including gift baskets, merchandise, gift cards, tickets to the Grand Ole Opry and Grand Old Hatchery, a night’s stay at East Hills Bed and Breakfast, meals at local restaurants and more. Special items in this year’s auction include lunch and a tour with Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe and lunches with county Mayor Bob Rial, Charlotte Mayor Bill Davis, White Bluff Mayor Linda Hayes and Burns Mayor Landon Mathis. Santa will be at Events on Main for pictures with pets 4-8 pm.

Children’s and Community choirs concerts next week

The Dickson Training and Children's choirs at a previous Christmas concert.
The Dickson Training and Children’s choirs at a previous Christmas concert.
A previous performance by the Dickson Community Choir.
A previous performance by the Dickson Community Choir.

The Dickson Children’s and Community Choirs will be performing their annual Christmas Concerts next week at The Renaissance Center at Freed-Hardeman University on Highway 46. The Training and Children’s choirs will perform at 7 pm Tuesday and the Community and Chamber choirs will perform at 7 pm Thursday in the Anne Deason Performance Hall. Tickets are $9 to each night and can be purchased from choir members or at the door. All of the choral programs are directed by Chris Greene. The Training Choir is open to children in first and seconds grades and no audition is required. The Children’s Choir features students in grades 3-7 with auditions held each fall. The children will be performing a number of seasonal favorites including “Feliz Navidad,” “Carol of the Elves,” Mele Kalikimaka” and “Christmas in About Three Minutes.” “I’m really excited about our Christmas concerts this year,” said Greene. “We’ve really added a lot to our traditional programs. We continue to have more extensive and charming choreography for the children’s choir, especially thanks to one of our adult choir members, Fara White, who volunteers her time and creativity to help with this program.” The adult choirs are open to anyone 8th grade and older with auditions held each fall. The Community and Chamber choirs will be singing songs such as “Last Christmas,” “Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day,” “Fum Fum Fum,” “O Holy Night,” “Coventry Carol” and many others. “Our adult choirs have become pretty well known for their refreshing blend of humor, choreography and enjoyable music,” Greene said. “Not only that, but they are a very tight-knit group and they really enjoy performing together. The smiles and fun they have on stage are genuine.” Sponsors for this year’s performances are The Community Foundation for Dickson County and the Good Morning Rotary Club. For more information on the choral programs, contact Greene at 615-476-1014 or visit the Dickson Community Choirs page on Facebook.

Creek Wood drops pair to Harpeth, at Camden tonight

Both Creek Wood teams fell behind early and could not rally as Harpeth swept a non-district doubleheader in Charlotte Thursday. A scoreless second quarter put the Lady Red Hawks in a hole they could not climb out of in a 43-34 loss to the Lady Indians. An Elayna Gass three-pointer gave Creek Wood an 11-8 lead at the first-period buzzer but Harpeth blanked the hosts 9-0 in the second period to take control. Creek Wood managed to trim the lead to one heading into the final frame but Maddie Pydrum and Katelynn Staed combined for 13 points as Harpeth pulled away in the fourth. Lydia Edmondson led Creek Wood with 14 points, 6 coming in the fourth period, but Staed had 18 and Pydrum 13 for the Lady Indians. The Red Hawks also fell behind early as Jake Gibbs scored 10 points in the first period to help Harpeth build a 15-7 lead, which grew to 10 points by intermission. Creek Wood slowly chipped away, getting it down to six at the end of the third and then three points early in the fourth on a Coulter Dotson three-pointer. But Cannon Johnson responded with a three-pointer turned into a four-point play on the foul and another trey for a 7-0 burst that built the lead back to 10 points and Harpeth held on for the 59-51 win. Dotson led the Red Hawks with 27 and Dallas Hall had 10. Creek Wood returns to District 11-AA action at 6 pm tonight in Camden. Those games will be on WDKN, wdkn.com and the WDKN app. Dickson County heads to Clarksville for a 6 pm doubleheader with Rossview that will be on 101.5 The One FM, 1015theone.com and The One FM app.

Woman released on probation for vehicular homicide plea

Michelle Marie Widner
Michelle Marie Widner

A White Bluff woman was released from jail Wednesday after pleading no contest to vehicular homicide for a 2015 wreck that killed a motorcyclist. 37-year-old Michelle Marie Widner of Cedar Hill Road was sentenced to eight years on probation for the April 3, 2015, wreck on Highway 70 East that killed 46-year-old Ron Askins of White Bluff. During a hearing in Dickson County Circuit Court Wednesday, Widner pleaded no contest to vehicular homicide by driver impairment and a charge of vehicular homicide by recklessness was dismissed in a plea agreement. Widner was scheduled to stand trial Thursday. Under the agreement, Widner was sentenced to eight years in prison suspended to probation on time served. Her driving privileges will be revoked for five years and she must undergo monthly drug screens. Widner had been in jail since her arrest Jan. 9 and was released Wednesday afternoon, meaning she served just under 11 months in custody. At Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney Jack Arnold said Widner was driving on Highway 70 when she attempted to turn left onto Buddy Road. Her car clipped the rear wheel of Askins’ motorcycle causing it to wreck. He was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he died from head injuries suffered in the wreck. Widner was indicted in December after a blood test showed the presence of Diazepam and Clonazepam in her system. Arnold said Widner had a prescription only for one of the medications and a doctor would have testified at her trial that the combination and levels of the drugs in Widner’s system could have led to errors in perception and affected judgment and reactions. Widner did not speak at Wednesday’s hearing other than to respond to questions about understanding and waiving her rights. Askins’ widow read an emotional statement about the impact her husband’s death has had on her family. Fighting tears, Stacy Askins said her husband had gone for a motorcycle ride to buy Easter gifts when Widner’s actions “turned our lives upside down.” The couple has two boys who were 17 and 6 years old at the time of their father’s death. Askins said her oldest was forced to graduate high school without his father and her younger son will not have a father to teach him about growing to be a man. She said it was “one of the hardest things ever” to tell her sons their father had died and that she will have to “live a life without my best friend.” Askins pointed out that nine months passed between the wreck and the day Widner was arrested and asked why she never reached out to the family to apologize or show remorse. “I pray that you learn from what you’ve done and live a better life,” Askins said. Widner watched and did not reply after Askins read her statement. As a range I offender, Widner faced a sentence of 8-12 years for the class B felony. Vehicular homicide by recklessness is a class C felony with a sentence of 3-6 years for a range I offender.

Library, Extension office closed rest of this week

A section of the library extension wall fell over Nov. 20. (photo courtesy UT Extension-Dickson County Facebook page)
A section of the library extension wall fell over Nov. 20. (photo courtesy UT Extension-Dickson County Facebook page)

The Dickson County Library and Life-long Learning Center as well as all offices inside the building will remain closed for the rest of the week as assessments of the building continue. Mayor Bob Rial said Monday that the county was contracting with a structural engineer to evaluate the building on Henslee Drive after a concrete section of the exterior wall fell Nov. 20. The library was closed last week and announced it would be closed Monday and Tuesday of this week. At that time Rial said a decision on when the library could re-open probably wouldn’t be made until Tuesday. While no announcement has been made by the mayor’s office or the library, the UT Extension-Dickson County Office announced on its Facebook page that its office will remain closed for the rest of this week “due to it still being looked at by engineers and the uncertainty of the structure.” The approximately 10X20 concrete wall section that fell out is on the southeast corner in the section of the building that houses the Extension office. The library announced on its Facebook page Tuesday that the book drop at the building is unavailable and late fees will be waived for all items that are due to be returned while the facility is closed. Rial said Monday the county is developing a plan to ensure the safety of employees and patrons before the facility re-opens. In addition to assessing the integrity of the other wall sections, Rial said the engineer will evaluate the support structure for the cover at the rear entrance. Rial said the plan could include using barriers to create safe zones around the remaining wall sections if the engineer determines that is necessary. Originally constructed in 1973 as a call center for South Central Bell information, the county purchased the building in 2002 for $1.4 million and moved the library from its previous location on Hunt Street. Rial has been discussing the possibility of building a new library and government satellite office in Dickson along with a criminal justice center in Charlotte as part of a long-term capital plan.

Police seeking help to identify jewelry theft suspect

Security video image of suspect in theft at Kay Jewelers.
Security video image of suspect in theft at Kay Jewelers.

The Dickson Police Department is seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect in a possible theft at a new jewelry store. Det. Josh Ethridge is asking anyone who has information on the person shown in images from security video at the Kay Jewelers store at 148 Thornton Drive to contact the department. The heavyset African American male with a gray goatee wearing sunglasses and a black cap is suspected to have committed a theft at the jewelry store between 6:30 and 7 pm Nov. 26. Ethridge said four pieces of jewelry valued at almost $10,000 were taken. The Kay Jewelers store has been open in The Crossings of Dickson a little more than a month. Anyone with information about the suspect can contact Ethridge at 615-441-9565 or call the anonymous tip line at 615-441-9555. Photos of the suspect are available on the Dickson Police Department’s page on Facebook or on WDKN’s website and Facebook page.

 

Woman gets diversion for sexual contact with 15-year-old

A Dickson woman was placed on probation for two years after pleading guilty to having sexual contact with a teenager. 22-year-old April Michelle Franklin of McLemore Street was placed on a judicial diversion and will be eligible to have her record expunged. Franklin entered a conditional guilty plea to a charge of statutory rape in Dickson County Circuit Court Wednesday. She was approved by a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation background check to enter a diversion program under which she will be on probation for two years. If Franklin successfully completes her probation, she can apply to have the arrest and conviction removed from her record. Franklin was indicted in April 2015 for engaging in sexual penetration with a person under the age of 18. At Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney Sarah Wojnarowski said Franklin had sexual contact with a 15-year-old in January 2015 when she was 20 years old . Because she was more than four years older than the victim, Franklin was charged with statutory rape, a class E felony with a potential sentence of 1-2 years in jail for a range I offender. As part of the plea agreement, Franklin also was ordered to have no contact with the victim and Wojnarowski said the possibility of restitution would be reserved.

March trial set for sex offender working as referee

Herman Lee Brown
Herman Lee Brown

A convicted rapist accused of working as a high school referee in Dickson County faces a March trial on eight counts of violating the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry. The attorney for 53-year-old Herman Lee Brown of Woodlawn filed a waiver of appearance and entered not guilty pleas at an arraignment in Dickson County Circuit Court Wednesday. The attorney said Brown remains in the Montgomery County Jail and is facing similar charges in five counties. Brown originally was arrested in April in Robertson County after it was discovered he was on the sex offender registry for a 2000 rape conviction and allegedly was working as an umpire at high school softball games. That investigation led to charges that he worked as a referee at softball, basketball and football games in Dickson, Houston, Stewart and Montgomery counties. He was indicted in October on eight charges for working middle and high school games in Dickson County Aug. 31-Jan. 20. Following his release on $8,000 bond, Brown was arrested in Clarksville Nov. 4 on charges of making false statements on his sex offender registration form by failing to disclose his work as a game official and violating the terms of the sex offender registry. The warrants indicate Brown was convicted of rape and indecent acts with a child while serving on active military duty overseas. Judge Larry Wallace scheduled Brown’s trial in Dickson County for March 21 and set a deadline of March 20 for a plea agreement. Brown remains in the Montgomery County Jail on $200,000 bond and his attorney said he doesn’t anticipate he will be able to post bail. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association began requiring background checks for new officials in November 2015. The TSSAA confirmed Brown registered as a referee and umpire for basketball, football and softball in June 2015 and did not disclose his felony conviction or sex offender status. As a sex offender, Brown is prohibited from coming within 1,000 feet of a school or from employment that would put him in contact with children.

CASA director speaks to Drug Free Coalition tonight

Rachel Spencer
Rachel Spencer

The director of a volunteer group that advocates for children in the court system will be the guest speaker at Thursday’s Drug Free Dickson Coalition meeting. The coalition meets at 6 pm tonight in the conference room of the Dickson County Help Center at 103 West College St. Rachel Spencer, the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Dickson County, will discuss the new program. A chapter of the national organization, CASA of Dickson County provides trained community volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children who come under the jurisdiction of the Dickson County Juvenile Court primarily as the result of abuse or neglect. The program recently graduated its first class of volunteers and has begun accepting appointments by Judge Michael Meise. CASA volunteers are assigned to one case at a time and work alongside the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services case workers, counselors, guardians ad litem, attorneys and other specialists to make recommendations to the court regarding the best interests of the children whether the plan is reunification with biological family or adoption. The CASA volunteer works with the child until the case reaches a permanent resolution. CASA currently has eight volunteers available to the Dickson County Juvenile Court and plans to begin another 30-hour advocate training session in early 2017. CASA of Dickson County operates on donations, grant funds and receives funding from a victims’ assistance fee collected on local court cases. For more information on tonight’s Drug Free Dickson Coalition meeting, contact Executive Director Mark Cook at 615-686-3128 or visit drugfreedickson.com or the coalition page on Facebook. For more information on CASA of Dickson County, contact Spencer at 615-509-5501 or visit casadicksoncounty.org or its page on Facebook.