McNairy County News Current Headlines

From the October 14, 2010 edition

Missing 3-year-old found safe
lost_boyPhoto Submitted
Jayden Knipp and his mother Amanda enjoy a happy reunion.

The McNairy County Sheriff’s Department received a call last Saturday around 12:30 p.m. in regards to a missing child. Phillip and Amanda Knipp of 280 Shane Lane in the Gravel Hill Community reported that their 3-year-old son, Jayden, was missing.
The mother was asleep at the time of the disappearance and the father had gone inside to change the baby’s diaper. When he came back outside he couldn’t find Jayden.
Personnel from the McNairy County Fire Department, Ramer Fire Department, Eastview Fire Department, Chewalla Fire Department, McNairy County Sheriff’s Department and other volunteers joined in the search. The Hardin County Fire Department Search/Rescue K-9 Unit was also called in.
After a search of the immediate area failed to find the child, the search area was widened. Finally, almost three hours after the search began, volunteers that were shouting out Jayden’s name heard him cry. He had traveled almost a mile from his home through the woods behind his house. He was barefooted and had his black lab puppy, Deteffo, with him.
“This was a story that had a happy ending,” said Sheriff Guy Buck. “I want to thank all the volunteers who came out to help us search and especially the Hardin County Fire Department Search/Rescue K-9 Unit. We appreciate everyone’s concern and all their help.”

Miskelly fired
Board now wants to re-hire!
school_board1Photo by Tom Evans
Board Member Jarrell Stanfield receives a standing ovation after stating he made a mistake and would like to rescind his vote to fire Charlie Miskelly.

Fred Carroll named interim director
The McNairy County Board of Education met on Wednesday for a special emergency called meeting.
The meeting was to elect an interim director of schools following the dismissal of Director of Schools Charlie Miskelly at last Thursday’s meeting. Miskelly was dismissed following a 4-2 vote on a motion by School Board Chairman Larry Smith. Jean Jones, Kevin Isbell, and Jarrell Stanfield had all voted with Smith to fire Miskelly.
An overflow crowd was at Wednesday’s meeting in support of Mr. Miskelly. Television crews from WBBJ and WREG were present, along with numerous teachers, principals, and other citizens. Several of the teachers carried signs in support of Miskelly.
The meeting was called to order by Smith and began when board member Tony Chapman stated that he would like to nominate Fred Carroll as the interim director. Carroll, who is currently working in the Adult Education Department, has served as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal and principal in the school system. The roll was called with Kevin Isbell, Chapman, Smith, Jean Jones, Lynn Baker, Frank Lacey, and Jarrell Stanfield all voting “yes” for a unanimous decision. Jarrell Stanfield, one of the members who had voted to fire Miskelly last Thursday and who has only been on the board since the August election, asked to make a statement.
“After thinking about this and talking to a bunch of people, I realize a mistake was made at the last board meeting,” said Stanfield. “I would like to rescind my vote and I have given the board a motion to reinstate Mr. Miskelly for the rest of his term.”
The audience broke out with a loud round of applause and a standing ovation for Stanfield.
Tony Chapman then made a motion to have a special called meeting for Monday, October 25th at 6 p.m. to discuss a new contract for Mr. Miskelly and see if he could be re-hired.
“The only thing we’re supposed to discuss is what’s on the agenda today,” said Larry Smith, as some of the crowd laughed.
Chapman proceeded to read rules about special meetings to Smith as the audience applauded.
Jean Jones, another member who voted Miskelly out then asked to speak.
“On October 14th I voted to terminate the director of schools,” said Jones. “My decision was made hastily and after receiving many calls I will rescind my vote and vote to reinstate Charlie Miskelly.”
Again the audience applauded.
Chapman spoke up to say thanks for all the banks that had offered to give teachers a 30-day no interest loan if they didn’t receive their checks on time, which was a concern since no director of schools was in Place:.
“It’s nice to live in a small town where people can take charge,” said Chapman.
Finally, Larry Smith, who had made the motion to fire Miskelly spoke up.
“I made a motion out of haste and my feelings got in the way,” said Smith.
Following Smith’s statement a motion was made and the meeting adjourned as the audience applauded.
•Last Thursday’s school board meeting
Board votes 4-2 to fire Miskelly
The McNairy County Board of Education met last Thursday evening.
The meeting opened with Shelia Henry of Bethel stating that she was unhappy with a situation that happened at McNairy Central recently. Her grandson had been suspended for five days and was given zeroes for the days missed. Henry thought the punishment was too severe.
The Board approved a motion to spend $30,000 to fix the roof at Selmer Middle School and $14,397.00 to fix their gym floor. The Board also voted to adopt the 2010-2011 School Budget and to appoint a committee to name the Bethel Springs gymnasium in honor of Alvin Wilson. Also approved was Gaggle, which blocks anything bad on the social network myspace, which students and teachers use to communicate.
The Board approved three changes to the Professional Employee Contract, a 2% bonus for employees, a change in the wording of the insurance and a $100 per day for four days for staff development days in the Race to the Top.
The Board voted down the proposal to buy a 1-ton truck for the Ag department. Larry Smith was upset, because, the purchase had been approved without him by Mr. Miskelly.
“I made a mistake and sent out a purchase order without board approval,” said Mr. Miskelly. “It was an oversight on my part and I apologize. If you want to shoot me, shoot me. I stopped payment on the check and no money has been spent.”
Tony Chapman then made a motion that they let bids on the truck for the vocational department. Smith called for the question, which ends all discussion and forces a vote. Chapman’s motion to let bids on the truck failed by a 4-2 vote.
There were then several minutes of discussion on out-of-county students with Chapman and Smith debating the issue in heated tones at times.
Chris Whitten informed the Board that parents had raised $12,800 toward the purchase of an air conditioning system for the Selmer Middle School. The estimated cost is near $20,000. The Board voted to advertise for bids on the unit.
When the final items on the agenda had been discussed Larry Smith shocked those in the audience with a motion.
“I would like to make a motion that we terminate the director of schools contract immediately,” said Smith. “I second that,” said Kevin Isbell.
Chapman made a motion that Smith’s motion be tabled until the next meeting. Chapman’s motion failed 4-2. Smith then called for the question, which ends all discussion and the motion goes to a vote.
“We don’t have all our members here tonight,” said Chapman, in reference to Frank Lacey who was absent. The Board then voted, with Smith, Jones, Isbell, and Stanfield voting to fire Miskelly. Lynn Baker and Tony Chapman voted not to fire. Larry Smith then asked Dr. Brian Jackson, Assistant Director of Schools, if he would serve as interim director.
“Mr. Miskelly has effectively led this school system. I serve as his assistant and that’s not something I’m willing to accept at this moment,” said Dr. Jackson.
Smith then turned to Dr. Brenda Armstrong, Principal of Selmer Middle School, and asked her to serve as interim director.
“I think everyone needs to think on this,” she said. Tony Chapman spoke up to say, “This is complete idiocy, it’s underhanded, uncalled for.”
Smith then advised that the Board would be taking resumes and would get someone in Place: as soon as possible.
Greg Martin, Principal at AHS, spoke up. “Mr. Smith, we’ve got a great school system and both my parents have served as chairman, sitting in the seat where you are. I hope we don’t let personal vendettas tear down this system.”
Mark Massey, who recently served as assistant director, stood up.
“I’ve been around this school system a long time and been a part of it a long time,” said Massey. “Charlie is a good man, a fair man to work for. You just let a good man go. It doesn’t make sense. We’ve never had a better director. I appreciate Brian Jackson for what he did in not accepting the position.”
Massey also warned the members who voted to fire Miskelly that they could be in violation of the “Sunshine Law” if they had discussed his firing prior to the meeting and could be called to testify in court.
Finally, Mr. Miskelly stood up to speak. “Thank you to all who have made comments tonight,” he said. “McNairy County’s school system is the best around because people work their tails off every day. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve as your director.”
On that note, the meeting ended, with the four members who voted to fire quickly exiting the building.

Fire on Murray School Road
barn_fire1Photo by Tom Evans
Firemen battle a blaze at 2223 Murray School Road on Wednesday afternoon.
Members of several fire departments were called out to a grass fire at 2223 Murray Hill Road near Bethel on Wednesday around 1:30 p.m.
The fire, at the home of Bill Starks, burned a small shed and spread to a barn at the back of the property. The shed, which contained two small boats, two lawn mowers, a tractor and other items, was a total loss.
The firemen were able to save the barn, which suffered some damage. No one was home at the time the fire started.
Sergeant Steve Ellsworth of the McNairy County Sheriff’s Department was on patrol in the area when he saw the smoke and called in the fire.
“We don’t know how it started,” said McNairy County Fire Chief Darrell Goodrum. “It’s kind of strange because there was no one home who could have started it.”

Alert officer nabs burglary suspect

Photo submitted
Carlotta Louise Murrell
McNairy County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Steve Ellsworth was on patrol on Sunday, October 10th when he checked out a suspicious vehicle on Sims Road. The vehicle was parked off the road, partially in the woods.
Sleeping inside the vehicle was Carlotta Louise Murrell.
“She only had just enough room in the vehicle for her to sit,” said Sergeant Ellsworth. “It was crammed full of items.”
After some investigative work by McNairy County Sheriff’s Investigator Robert Hitchborn and Selmer Investigator Roger Rickman it was determined that the items in the car were taken from homes that had recently been burglarized.
Murrell, age 30, of Selmer, was taken into custody and charged with aggravated burglary. She has a long history of arrests for various charges.
“We know she broke into several residences in the county including houses on Otis Plunk Road, John Moore Road, Ramer Selmer Road, and Sandy Flatt Road,” said Investigator Hitchborn. “We also have reason to believe she broke into houses on Hwy 57, Dickey Road, and Hwy 45 South.”
According to Investigator Hitchborn, Murrell and an accomplice would drive around neighborhoods. If they saw no car at home and if they didn’t have a dog, they would go up and knock on the door. If no one answered they would then go around back and break in.
Items taken included, flat screen TVs, jewelry, computers, and other items of value.
“They were stealing these items and trading them to drug dealers for crack and other drugs,” noted Hitchborn. “She told us she had a $300 per day drug habit. We also have some items that we don’t know where they came from and we’d like to find their owners.”
Investigator Hitchborn said a pressure washer still in the box, a bicycle rack, and a four-foot sword, were recovered from Murrell’s vehicle. If anyone is missing these items and can identify them they should contact the McNairy County Sheriff’s Department.
“I would advise home owners to take a little time to write down serial numbers and descriptions of their valuables. If possible take a photo or video and put it in a safe Place:,” said Hitchborn. “This will help us get your items back to you if they are stolen and we recover them.”
Sheriff Guy Buck was proud of the arrest and the work of his officers.
“This arrest was possible because of Sergeant Ellsworth’s alertness and some good investigative work by Officer Hitchborn and Officer Rickman of the Selmer Police Department,” said Sheriff Buck. “We are working hard to stop these burglaries in our county. We’ve added Robert Hitchborn as our Criminal Investigator and also hired Brad Johnson and Kevin Thompson as deputies. We’re excited about the experience they bring to our department. We now have 16 deputies, including two investigators, officers on the narcotics unit and we have 13 deputies on the roads. If anyone sees something suspicious going on in their neighborhood please give us a call. With everyone working together we can stop some of these break-ins.”

Durham crowned Miss Tennessee
miss_tnPhoto Submitted
Ashley Durham (front) of Adamsville was crowned Miss Tennessee USA.
Ashley Durham of Adamsville was crowned the new Miss Tennessee USA on Saturday night at Austin Peay State University’s Music/Mass Communications Building. It was the 11th year that Clarksville hosted the Miss Tennessee USA pageant, in addition to the Miss Tennessee Teen USA.
The 44 contestants were first narrowed down to the 15 semifinalists. These 15 then performed the swimsuit competition, breezing across the stage in red bikinis and silver stilettos while flourishing red scarves. After the 15 semifinalists modeled evening gowns, the top five were announced. For the evening gown competition, Durham, set herself apart in a stately black gown with tonal sequins and a fishtail hem.
The competition then moved to the question portion, during which finalists drew judges’ questions at random from a glass bowl. Durham went first, receiving the query, “What does the term ‘woman of substance’ mean to you?” She replied, “That definitely means someone who is not just beautiful on the outside, but on the inside; her inner beauty shows throughout, definitely ... and that is what a woman of substance is to me.” When the judges’ decisions were announced Durham was declared the winner. The 20-year-old Durham graduated from Adamsville Junior/Senior High School in 2008, where she was a varsity cheerleader. She is currently enrolled at the University of Memphis and is majoring in journalism. As the winner, she will represent Tennessee in the 2011 Miss USA live NBC telecast in May 2011. Billionaire Donald Trump owns the pageant. For winning, Durham received varying scholarship amounts from colleges, including Lindenwood University, Austin Peay State University, O’More College of Design, and the New York Film Academy. She will also receive a $2,000 appearance contract provided by Greenwood Productions, Inc., the license holder for the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants in Tennessee and Georgia. Ashley’s parents are Charlotte and Harvey Durham of Adamsville.

W.L. Dowty Playground dedicated
playground1Photo by Tom Evans
The Town of Selmer held a special ceremony last Sunday to dedicate the new playground in the City Park as the W.L. Dowty Memorial Playground. Dowty was a longtime employee of the Town of Selmer and passed away last October after a long battle with cancer.