McNairy County News Current Headlines

From the October 28, 2010 edition

School Board rescinds vote on Miskelly
miskellyPhoto by Tom Evans
Charlie Miskelly shakes hands with School Board Chairman Larry Smith at Wednesday’s meeting.

Charlie back in charge of schools
The McNairy County School Board met in a special called meeting on Wednesday morning for the purpose of rescinding the 4-2 vote on October 14th to fire Director of Schools Charlie Miskelly.
School Board Chairman Larry Smith had made a motion to terminate Miskelly’s contract immediately at the meeting that night. The motion passed by a 4-2 vote, with one of the members absent.
Since that decision to fire Miskelly was announced, the school system has been in turmoil. Numerous teachers, principals, parents, community leaders, and citizens have stepped forward in support of Miskelly over the past several days.
On Wednesday morning it only took a few minutes for the Board to rescind their vote and reinstate Miskelly.
The meeting was called to order with all members present except Kevin Isbell. Interim Director Fred Carroll stated that several teachers wanted to attend, but they felt the best thing to do was conduct classes and educate children.
Mr. Miskelly then stood to address the audience.
“I want to thank you, the Board of Education, and the people for being here,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re on the same page before any action is taken. There are no hard feelings on my part with anyone. No matter if you vote to get rid of me or keep me there will be no hard feelings. We’ll start a clean slate, there’s no going backward. We will work to make this school system better every day. I have the best job in the world because of the people in this room. The Director of Schools has a tough job. If he says yes or he says no he makes a certain group mad. If you vote to put me back you’re making a commitment to me to be the Director of Schools and I’ll do my job. I’ve had the 10 greatest years of my life because of you guys.”
Jean Jones, one of the four members who voted to fire Mr. Miskelly, then made a motion.
“I would like to make a motion to rescind the action taken on October 14th to fire Mr. Miskelly,” said Jones. The motion was seconded by Jarrell Stanfield, also one of the four that voted to fire him. The motion then was voted on and passed unanimously. Mr. Miskelly was reinstated to his original contract that runs through June of 2011.
Stanfield then made a motion to cancel the scheduled meeting for Thursday night to review possible candidates to replace Mr. Miskelly. That motion was also approved unanimously. Jean Jones then asked to address the audience.
“I would like to apologize to Mr. Miskelly and the Board for the vote I made,” said Jones, as the audience applauded.
Frank Lacey thanked Fred Carroll for filling in as interim director. Tony Chapman also commended Carroll for the job he did as the audience applauded Carroll.
“We have 4,000 students and 800 plus teachers and staff,” said Carroll. “Lets get behind this Board and Mr. Miskelly.”
The audience stood and applauded Carroll’s statement.
A motion was then made for the meeting to adjourn. On Monday night the Board met for a work session meeting with a standing room only crowd and several members of the media on hand.
Charlie Miskelly entered room to a standing ovation and loud applause. Chairman Larry Smith called the meeting to order and stated that he had met with Mr. Miskelly, Fred Carroll, and attorney Craig Kennedy in regards to laying the framework for the will of the Board.
Fred Carroll advised the audience that since this was a work session meeting that no business or decisions could be made. At that time Mr. Miskelly addressed the audience. “I don’t have a lot to say,” said Mr. Miskelly.
“Life is good and I’m humbled by your thoughts, prayers, phone calls, and cards. I don’t know how to ever say thank you. Whether you like me or don’t like me, my goal is once this Board does what they need to do we’ll go forward. We’re going to make good things happen in McNairy County.”
The meeting then adjourned.

Citizen of the Year
coty_lockePhoto by Tom Evans
Dwight Locke (left) receives the Citizen of the Year award from Gene Hébert.
Dwight Locke named Citizen of the Year
The Selmer Rotary Club and Selmer Lions Club held their 12th Annual Citizen of the Year Banquet on Tuesday night at the Selmer Community Center. Dwight Locke was named as the Citizen of the Year.
Locke has given of his time and musical talent for many years to help others. His band has played at numerous benefits around the county.
For the past several years he was been a member of the Hee Haw band. Last September, he was involved in a serious accident when a car struck his motorcycle in Henderson while he was on his way to Jackson to visit his sister, who was in the hospital. He suffered life-threatening injuries including 22 broken ribs, a crushed pelvis, two broken legs, and numerous other injuries. He spent over a month in the trauma unit at the MED in Memphis and several weeks in re-hab. He has slowly been recovering for the past year. He performed in this year’s Hee Haw from a wheelchair.
“I am honored to be here tonight,” said Locke. “I don’t know if I deserve this award or not but it’s a privilege to be in the same group as some of the past winners like Darryl Hawkins, who flew helicopters over Afghanistan and Larron King, who delivers meals to the Ronald McDonald House. I’m truly honored.”
Locke was presented his award by Gene He’bert.
The banquet opened with a welcome by Rotary President Karen Lange followed by dinner by La Belle Vie. Larron King, last year’s winner gave the invocation and members of Boy Scout Troop #32 presented the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Entertainment was provided by the “Voices of Hope”, a ladies singing group, from the First Baptist Church in Selmer.
There were seven awards given leading up to the Citizen of the Year Award.

Volunteer Organization of the Year – Lakeview Baptist Church. The award was presented by Jimmy Whittington. Lakeview was recognized for their work following the May 2nd tornado to provide meals for those who were in need.

Law Enforcement Officer of the Year – James Frazier. Sheriff Guy Buck presented the award and noted that Deputy Frazier was an excellent officer and has been in law enforcement for over 20 years. He is currently a member of the McNairy County Narcotics Unit and has been with the McNairy County Sheriff’s Department since 2003.

Youth Volunteer of the Year – Sarah Ford. The award was presented by Molly Cheshier, the Guidance Counselor at McNairy Central. Sarah was recognized for her volunteer work in the school and in the community. She recently collected 600 pairs of shoes and donated them to needy people.

Community Betterment Award – Town of Adamsville. Russell Ingle, Director of Chamber Programs, presented the award to the Town of Adamsville for their Downtown Renovation Project. County Mayor Jai Templeton accepted the award on behalf of the Town of Adamsville.

Youth Volunteer of the Year – Lauren Barber. Lauren’s award was presented by Suzanne Henson, Assistant Principal at Adamsville High School. Lauren was recognized for donating her time to help others. She went on a mission trip to Romania this summer and is very active in her church and in school activities.

Teacher of the Year - Ryan Foret was presented the Teacher of the Year award by Dr. Brian Jackson. The MCHS band had 38 members when Foret took over. It has now tripled in size, winning numerous awards and has become one of the top bands in the state under his leadership.

Emergency Personnel of the Year – Rudy Moore. County Mayor Jai Templeton presented the award recognizing Moore’s outstanding work in coordinating efforts to help those affected by the May 2nd tornado. Moore, who serves as the Emergency Management Director in McNairy County, has served in that capacity for a number of years.

Dog Day in the Park a success
scruffyPhoto by Tom Evans
Izzie (left) meets Scruffy, the honored guest at last Saturday’s Dog Day in the Park.
The first annual Dog Day in the Park last Saturday was a success as over 300 people attended. Dog owners entered their pets in contests for best costume, best tricks, and best of show.

Narcotics Unit makes meth bust

The McNairy County Counter Drug Narcotic Unit made a drug bust this week and seized 1.5 grams of methamphetamine and a small quantity of hydrocodone tablets.
According to Investigator James Frazier officers stopped a vehicle for no tail-lights and after questioning the driver discovered he had no drivers license.
Consent was given to search the vehicle and the drugs were discovered inside the console. There were six individuals baggies with meth inside and five hydrocodone tablets.
Pedro Garcia, who gave a Bethel Springs address, was arrested and charged with possession of Schedule II and Schedule III. Officers Frazier, Kim Holley, Lynn Ingle, and Ted Roberts were in charge of the investigation and arrest.
“This was a case of our narcotics officers getting more drugs off the streets,” said Sheriff Guy Buck. “We’re proud of them and we’ll keep working to remove drugs from our county and punish those who sell them.”

Betty Leonard retires from Pat’s Café
44 years behind the counter
If you’ve been in Pat’s Café in the past several weeks and noticed something missing, it’s because Betty Leonard retired the first week of August.
Betty spent 44 years of her life behind the counter at the corner of Main and Third Streets in Selmer serving customers the famous “slugburgers”, breakfast and other items. She probably served well over a million hamburgers in those 44 years.
Betty and her husband, Oliver, bought the café in October of 1966 on a Friday and opened it up on Monday. Hamburgers were 10 cents and cokes were a nickel.
“We opened up at 3:30 a.m. and didn’t close until 6 at night,” said Betty. “On Saturday’s we would be open until 9 at night. There have been many days when I worked 12 hours or more.”
In 1988, Pat Knight and her husband Harold bought the café from Betty and she soon went to work for Pat.
“I knew what most people wanted when they came in,” Betty stated. “Sometimes they would change their mind and sometimes they would say give me what he’s having. We had a boy that ate 12 hamburgers one time and drunk a quart of milk. Someone bet him he couldn’t do it and he did.”
When asked what she missed most about leaving a place she has spent 44 years of her life at, she said, “I miss the people. There were so many that were regulars, and you get to know them and their family. I miss that part.”
When asked what she was doing in her retirement, she stated, “I’m 87-years-old and I’m doing what I want to do. I’m enjoying life.”
This Saturday night their will be “Pickin’ at Pat’s” and a reception for Betty. Everyone is invited to come and enjoy gospel and bluegrass music by the Holt Family and enjoy some cake with Betty.
Congratulations on your retirement Betty. Everyone misses you and wishes you all the best!

Plane crashes in Alcorn County
Two bodies recovered
A small Beechcraft Bonanza airplane crashed in Alcorn County on Tuesday morning resulting in the deaths of James William Judson, Jr., and his wife Elizabeth Judson of the Atlanta area.
The plane apparently broke apart in the air and then crashed as it approached Kossuth during thunderstorms in the area. The scene of the crash was on County Road 561 about 20 miles from Corinth. The plane had left Olive Branch around 9:30 a.m. and was headed to Atlanta.
The Judsons had been in Memphis to watch their daughter participate in a golf match.

Bethel Springs lawsuit settled
The Bethel Springs Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted 3-2 last Friday to settle a lawsuit filed by former employees Cassie Williams and Rodney Steen.
Williams and Steen were fired in October 2009 and filed the lawsuit last December. They alleged they were fired in retaliation for statements they made in a case relating to racists remarks.
Tennessee Municipal League (TML) will pay for half of the settlement offer of $35,000. The Town of Bethel will pay the other half.
Voting no on the settlement payment were Bobby Gray and Vice-Mayor Bob Graham. Voting yes were Mayor Norma Smith, Shirley Williams, and Vernon Hickman.

Highway Patrol plans roadblocks
Lt. David Killingsworth of the Tennessee Highway Patrol advises that there will be two roadblocks on November 5th in McNairy County.
There will be a “Drivers License” checkpoint on Hwy 57 West at Unity Church and a “Sobriety” checkpoint on Hwy 224 at Old Stage Road.
The purpose of these roadblocks is to promote safety and to ticket those driving under the influence and those driving without a license or on a revoked or suspended license.