When the new year rolls around, tradition deems we take one last look back and recall the most memorable moments that shaped the preceding year. Influenced by an old Cherokee Indian Proverb, “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today,” the following is a brief recap of a few of the news events covered by the PULASKI CITIZEN in 2010:
Year Begins on a Sad Note
Still in shock from the October 2009 news of a Giles County mother and her two sons murdered in their home, local residents were faced with mourning another murder victim Jan. 19, 2010, when Brenda Wilburn’s body was recovered from her burned home. Following an investigation by various fire and law enforcement agencies, Robert Wayne Garner, 42, was charged with first degree murder, felony murder, aggravated arson and theft or burglary of $10,000 or more. Garner was also formally charged with aggravated burglary and theft of more than $1,000 in personal property for a crime that occurred in Nov. 2009. Local attorney Stanley Pierchoski was appointed to Garner’s defense by Giles County Circuit Court Judge Robert Jones.
Garner is scheduled to appear before Circuit Court Judge Jim T. Hamilton Jan. 18.
Ardmore’s Bank Robberies
A New York man who was reported missing in that state Jan. 20 was turned over to US Marshals by officials in Cobb County, Ga., Feb. 11 to face federal charges for robbing CB&S Bank in Ardmore, Tenn. Michael Rickard II of Amherst, N.Y., entered a guilty plea in federal court for two bank robberies, which included the Jan. 25 Ardmore bank robbery.
Ardmore Chief of Police David Whitt noted his appreciation for the cooperation between agencies, including the sheriff’s departments in Giles, Tenn., Limestone, Ala., and Cobb, Ga., the police departments in Elkton, Tenn., and Amherst, N.Y., and the Columbia Office of the FBI which worked so closely with the Ardmore department in quickly solving this and another bank robbery that occurred three months earlier at the same CB&S Bank Nov. 6, 2009.
The RBC Bank located at Ardmore Avenue and Sixth Street was the target of yet another robbery July 19. Clay Robertson is accused of entering the bank armed with a small handgun, demanding money from an unidentified teller and fleeing the scene in a 1994 tan GMC pickup truck that investigators later determined had been stolen from City Café.
All the money stolen from CB&S Bank Dec. 6 was recovered and returned to the bank, when Jason Paul Davis, 25, of Huntsville, Ala., was apprehended after a brief high-speed chase. Processed at the APD and transported to the Limestone County (Ala.) Detention Center, Davis was held on a warrant out of the Selma, Ala., where he is the primary suspect in a recent bank robbery in that city as well.
“Because of all the support we have quickly received from the surrounding agencies and departments, we were able to solve this and the previous three robberies,” Whitt said.
Local residents mourned the loss of five young lives in 2009.
Austin Elijah (Duck) Shaffer, 2, son of Stevie Shaffer and Amanda Englett and Jason Murch, all of Pulaski, was pronounced dead at Hillside Hospital July 23 after being found in a swimming pool by a family member.
Former Giles County High School football player, Joshua Smith (Fox), 19, died Aug. 31 at Crockett Hospital in Lawrenceburg after suffering two wounds from a handgun while in a park on Simms Street, located on the southwest side of the city.
One of two teenagers killed in a single-vehicle accident Nov. 26. was a former Giles County student. Misty McWhorter, 17, had been attending the Alternative School where she was completing first semester block credits when she was killed in a single-vehicle accident on Fall River Road in Lawrence County.
Blake Scott Wallis, 16, of Prospect died Nov. 14 of an apparent gunshot wound that occurred Merrill Road in Ardmore, Tenn., while on a hunting trip.
Trenton Christopher (Trent) Holt, 13, died at his home in southern Giles County Dec. 17. by an apparent gunshot wound. The focus of the investigation into teenager’s death is being directed at the firearm, according to Giles County Sheriff Kyle Helton, who said the bolt-action 270 Remington 700 has been sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab for analysis and testing.
All four defendants accused of murder in the Nov. 9, 2008, death of 26-year-old Jonathon Chad Hargrove entered guilty pleas.
Joshua Daniel Suyak of Columbia, who was charged with first degree murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, pleaded guilty to second degree murder. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and is to serve 100 percent of that sentence.
Elam James Farrall of Columbia, who was charged with first degree murder and aggravated burglary made a plea agreement to include aggravated robbery, a class B felony. Ferrall was sentenced to 12 years.
William James McNeely Jr. of Lynnville pleaded to second degree murder was sentenced to 25 years. He is to serve 100 percent of the sentence.
Whitley Kathryn Bauer of Columbia pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit second degree murder, a class C felony, and was sentenced to 15 years. She is to serve no less than 60 percent of her sentence.
Six months after each waived their right to preliminary hearing, two teenagers accused of killing a mother and her two sons appeared in Giles County Circuit Court to set dates for their trials. Matthew James Wood and William Charles Angel, both charged with three counts of premeditated first degree murder, three counts of first degree felony murder, aggravated arson, setting fire to personal property, aggravated burglary, theft and aggravated cruelty to animals, will be tried separately for their alleged involvement in the Oct. 23, 2009, deaths of Deseré Thornton and her sons, Jerrod, 16, and Anthony, 9. Both face the death penalty if convicted.
Jury selection for Wood’s trial is slated to begin Feb. 28 in another county, to be followed immediately by the trial that will be heard in Giles County. Angel has agreed to testify for the state against Wood. Angel’s trial is scheduled to begin in May 2011.
Piece of History Changes Hands
The historic Milky Way Farm was sold April 19 to Charles R. Jones of Nashville, who purchased the 1,000-plus-acre farm from First
National Bank of Pulaski. Jones told the PULASKI CITIZEN, his plans for the farm are not in concrete just yet. However, he wants to capture the farm’s spiritual feeling and atmosphere in a 1936 moment.
“There are three things I want to do,” Jones said. “First, continue the Mars’ vision. I want to preserve the workmanship and hearts of the people who worked there. I want be a place where major companies and corporate leaders could come to make decisions in the manor house around the big table.”
Ballots Are In
The closest political race was for Elkton mayor where Carolyn Thompson had 101 votes to 97 for Payton Blade.
Pat Ford, possibly one of the youngest elected Pulaski mayors had 911 votes and almost 37 percent of the total, to 822 and 30 percent for second place finisher Alderman Vicky Harwell. Ford succeeds Dan Speer, the economic development director for the county, who did not run for reelection.
Giles County Executive Janet Vanzant claimed a third straight term, winning by almost 800 votes over challenger Scott Stewart in the only contested local office race on the ballot.
Ardmore failed to pass liquor referendums that would have allowed the sale of liquor in stores and by the drink in taverns.
Solar Powered Success
Equipped for successful jobs in solar installation and technology, the state’s first 18 Solar Photovoltaic technicians graduated from Tennessee Technology Center-Pulaski one year after the center initiated Tennessee’s first full time comprehensive Solar PV training in October 2009.
TTC-Pulaski Director Jim Dixon said the historic day was made more memorable knowing the graduates were quickly interviewed and put to work by solar companies in Nashville such as Energy Source Partners and Choice Mechanical. Some gained employment locally and are working with local residential licensed electricians.
Vehicle batteries are recharging after Congressman Lincoln Davis threw the switch to power the first solar array in the Southeast in front of several local and state officials at Richland LLC, 1905 Mines Road. The parking area solar array has room for approximately 12 vehicles powered by solar panels in the roof is intended to service the electric car market, which is expected to grow as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt go on the market, followed possibly by other vehicles.
The community benefits from the jobs created, the materials used and the facilities made by having production here, he said.
TVA will buy the electricity produced by the solar array and similar projects.
“This is an example of the way American small business and manufacturing are growing in the ‘new green economy.’” Richland LLC President Jim Greene said.
In the Good Spotlight
A large number of trophies are now calling Giles County home.
Sheriff Kyle Helton was chosen by the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association as its 2010 Sheriff of the Year.
Although the plaque presented at the 39th annual Tennessee Sheriff’s Conference banquet Aug. 12, notes Helton’s outstanding contribution as a sheriff, Pulaski Police Chief John Dickey said the newly re-elected leader is a caring person whose genuine concern for the needs, wants and welfare of others didn’t come from his title, rather the position as sheriff benefits from Helton’s unwavering character.
Helton began his career in law enforcement in April 1989 when he was hired by then-PPD Chief Stanley Newton. In 2000, Helton began serving the department as a Student Resource Officer at Giles County High School, a position he held until being elected Sheriff in 2006.
Giles County was made proud by home-grown farmer Brian Flowers who received the 2010 Outstanding Young Farmer and Achievement Award during special ceremonies at the Tennessee Young Farmer Summer Conference. Flowers, Giles County Farm Bureau’s 2010 Young Farmer of the Year, bested 18 other county contestants in state competition.
Rewards for being named the state winner are many as Flowers has discovered. He received a year’s free use of a brand new
Case/IH tractor for up to 150 hours. He also received: $500 from Tennessee Farm Bureau, $500 from automobile maker Dodge, a fully loaded RTV, his to keep, from Tennessee Farm Bureau, $500 in qualified Farm Bureau services, a year’s contract for a cell phone from American Cellular, an insurance policy to cover the tractor for one year from Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee and a trip to the American Farm Bureau Convention this month in Atlanta, Ga., where he will compete for national honors with other state winners for national awards from Dodge and Case IH.
Garrett Rackley shot a second day round of 72 to finish seventh in the state high school golf tournament.
Ardmore High School’s softball team won the 2010 Alabama Class 4A state softball championship.
Giles County’s 15-year-old Babe Ruth All Stars claimed their second consecutive state championship and earned a trip to the Southeast Regional Tournament in North Carolina, winning seven games in five days by a margin of 85-17. The 12-14-year-old softball All Stars won their second straight Little League Softball State Championship and earned a trip to the regional tournament in Ft. Myers Florida. The 9-year-old All Stars won the Cal Ripken League State Baseball Championship and earned a spot in the regionals in Virginia. The 12-year-old All Stars won the Cal Ripken League State Baseball Championship and moved on to play in the regional tournament in Lakeland, Fla. The 11-year-old All Stars won the Cal Ripken League Baseball State Championship and played in regional tournament in McKenzie. The 7-year-old All Stars won the Cal Ripken League State Baseball Championship.
Serving the County
The PULASKI CITIZEN was recognized during the annual Tennessee Press Association newspaper contest held July 16 in Nashville. In its group, The PULASKI CITIZEN was awarded first place in the Best Spot News Coverage category for entries submitted by the newspaper’s reporter/photographer Tracy Ayers. A judge in the category noted the coverage of the triple homicide of a Giles County mother and her two sons that occurred in their home October 2009 was “heart breaking and very well written.”
The recognition of the PULASKI CITIZEN staff continued with the paper receiving three more awards. Lifestyles Editor Sheila Holden was awarded fourth place for her entry in the Community Lifestyles category. Pulaski Publishing President Hershel Lake and Sports Editor Scott Stewart (then Managing Editor) brought home a fourth place award for editorials. Another fourth place award was claimed in the Best Special Issue or Section category for the paper’s coverage of the State Champion Giles County High School Bobcats football team. Those named specifically for their contribution toward the special section coverage were CITIZEN staff: Stewart, Johnny Phelps, Advertising Manger Martha Horn, advertising representative Donna Yant, Assistant Editor Cary Jane Malone, then Sports Editor Paul Manke and outside contributors Tim Nave and Ken Webb.
Efforts by Ayers to recognize the positive steps being made by local students and educators earned the writer the 2010 Middle Tennessee winner of the Excellence in Education Reporting Award from the Tennessee School Board Association. The award was presented during the South Central Fall District meeting held at Spring Hill Middle School in Maury County.
“I am very proud of our staff as we continue to produce quality material viewed by our peers as some of the best in the state,” Publisher/Editor Steve Lake said.