Part III: Looking Back on 2022 Headlines
BY DAVID FISHER
Greenfield Guardsman Relinquishes Command During Military Ceremony: The Tennessee National Guard’s 194th Engineer Brigade performed a change of command ceremony at the National Guard Armory in Jackson on Aug. 7.
Col. Michael “Trent” Scates of Greenfield, outgoing commander of the 194th Engineer Brigade, relinquished command to Col. John “Corey” Kinton, who at that time was serving as the Director of Military Support for the Tennessee National Guard.
Col. Scates moved to Joint Force Headquarters in Nashville, where he serves as the Joint Director of Military
Support (JDOMS) for Domestic Operations.
Sheriff Mike Wilson Retires After 46 Years: (Sep. 7) — Retired Weakley County Sheriff Mike Wilson, who has the distinction of being Tennessee’s longest serving sheriff, was honored during a retirement reception held to congratulate him and wish him the best in the future.
After a 46-year career in law enforcement, Wilson, 68, said, “Where I’m at in life right now, I’m ready to go; but at the same time, I hate to go.”
Martin First in State for TVA Fast-Charging Partnership: The City of Martin has added another service to the region, after a ribbon-cutting of an electric-vehicle charging station in the city hall parking lot.
The two “fast” chargers are the first in the state installed through a partnership with Tennessee Valley Authority. Leading that partnership are the Weakley County Municipal Electric System, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Seven Sisters Power Corp. for the pilot program.
County Officials Recognized by Legislative Body: Weakley County Clerk and Master Regina VanCleave and County Veteran Service Officer Ricky Cobb were recognized by County Mayor Jake Bynum and county commissioners during the Sept. 20 meeting of the Weakley County Legislative Body.
As Bynum pointed out, VanCleave recently received a professional commendation for her service as an exemplary president of the Tennessee Association of Property Tax Professionals (TAPTP) at TAPTP’s 2022 conference in Rutherford County.
Bynum said that Cobb, who has served in his position since May of 2020, is one of the best Veteran Service Officers he has ever worked with, and he also cited Cobb’s 23-year service in the Tennessee Army National Guard, including a deployment in Iraq, as well as his extensive career in law enforcement, from which he retired as Sharon’s police chief earlier this year.
$12.3M Grant to Expand Broadband Coverage in Weakley County: For residents still without access to broadband internet service, funding has been made available and plans are being laid to remedy that situation.
State and local officials, West Kentucky & Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. CEO Trevor Bonnstetter, and several others, gathered at the corner of Greenfield Hwy 54 and Lower Sharon Road on Sep. 22 to announce WK&T has been awarded a $12.3 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development under its Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund – American Rescue Plan, for the purpose of expanding fiber broadband internet service in Weakley County.
Local Guardsmen, Volunteers Assist in Hurricane Relief Efforts: Local citizen soldiers were among roughly 1,200 troops from the Tennessee National Guard that departed from multiple locations across Tennessee on Sept. 29 to support response and recovery efforts in Florida, following the landfall of Hurricane Ian.
Civilian volunteers also joined with emergency response agencies from across Tennessee and several other states in providing hurricane relief efforts in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which is described as the strongest storm to impact that state in over 100 years.
Doug Wheaton of the Latham-Dukedom F.D. is one of a number of Weakley County residents helping out with hurricane relief efforts in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
The Weakley County Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team is one of the local organizations sending volunteers and supplies to the Sunshine State.
Dresden Mayoral Candidates Answer Citizens’ Questions at Mayoral Forum: Candidates running for Dresden mayor participated in a mayoral forum on Oct. 8, at the Dresden Senior Citizens Center, moderated by Paul Tinkle. The candidates were incumbent Mayor Jeff Washburn, Brandi George, Mark Maddox, Lyndal Dilday, and Mike Vernon.
Green Light Given for Municipal Complex Plans: On Oct. 11, members of Dresden’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the basic interior design and the footprint of a municipal complex to house a new city hall, police department and fire department, which were destroyed in the Dec. 10, 2021 tornado.
$646,312 in Funding Accepted for Sewer Rehab: The Gleason Board approved a resolution and transfer letter, as required by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, in order to receive $646,312.49 in State TDEC funds for sewer rehab.
$120,000 Grant Awarded for Propane School Buses: (Nov. 3) — Weakley County Schools students will soon be riding on four new propane school buses, thanks to grant funds awarded to the district through the US Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] Clean School Bus Program.
Gleason’s Ag Building Named for Edgar Lee Floyd: During the Nov. 1 meeting of the Weakley County School Board, members voted to name Gleason School’s Ag classroom the Edgar Lee Floyd Agriculture Shop, in recognition of Mr. Floyd’s many years of dedicated service.
Weakley County Election Results; New Mayors Picked in Dresden, Sharon: The final tallies are in for the 2022 midterm elections, and there were some close and hotly contested races.
The City of Dresden witnessed significant turnover with a new mayor and two new aldermen being selected. Newcomer Mark Maddox was chosen as Dresden mayor. In the contest for three Dresden aldermen seats, incumbent Gwin Anderson retained his seat; and newcomers Curtis Doran and Dale Hutcherson claimed the other two alderman seats. The remaining three aldermen seats, which won’t be on the ballot until Nov. of 2024, remain filled by aldermen Willie Parker, Ralph Cobb and Kenneth Moore.
The City of Sharon has a new mayor and two new aldermen. Newcomer Donna Stricklin was elected mayor; and newcomers Joe D. Jones and Monroe Ary secured the two available Sharon alderman seats.
Cpt. Marty Plunk Passes Away Over The Weekend; Local First Responders Say Goodbye to One of Their Own: The Weakley County Sheriff ’s Department reported the loss of one of their own — long-time team member Marty Plunk.
Plunk started his Sheriff ’s Department career on Nov. 11, 1999.
He died Nov. 12, Germantown, at the age of 52. Heart complications led to a lengthy hospital stay and eventually impacted other organs.
Downtown Improvement Grant: The City of Dresden was recently notified that it has been awarded a $100,000 Downtown Improvement Grant for improvements to building facades and outdoor public spaces. This is the maximum amount awarded to any one city in this year’s downtown improvement grant program.
Westview Students, Teachers Spotlighted on Today Show: (Dec. 8) — Westview High School is receiving national attention after a heartfelt video of students honoring their teachers was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show.
The video highlights Westview High School teachers, as senior class students present them with Chargers jerseys as a gift for the positive impact made on their lives. Originally uploaded to TikTok via a Westview High School pep club account that is not affiliated with the school, the video currently has nearly eight million views and around 12,000 shares
Dresden Residents Reflect One Year After the Dec. 10 Tornado; Volunteers Heed the Call, Help Preserve Local History: On the fateful evening of Dec. 10, 2021, a massive storm system spawned 30 tornadoes in six states, leaving 89 people dead and damaging numerous homes and businesses. The event was later declared the deadliest system to hit the nation during the month of Dec. in U.S. history.
Two long-track tornadoes impacted parts of West Kentucky and Northwest Tennessee, with one of those causing damage to 25 Dresden businesses and more than 180 homes in Weakley County.
Nearly one-year later, residents and business owners in Dresden have managed to pick up the pieces, with some businesses already rebuilt and others still under construction.
The Dresden Enterprise, located at 113 S. Wilson Street in downtown Dresden took a direct hit to its storefront, which caused the roof to collapse and left the back of the business open to the elements. The newspaper office was a complete loss as a result of the tornado.
Members of the Weakley County Historical and Genealogical Society volunteered their time to the preservation of historical records in Weakley County.
The process to repair more than 60-plus bound archives of The Enterprise newspaper dating back to the late 1930s took 50-100 man-hours.
Martin Firefighter Honored for Saving Life: The City of Martin recognized the bravery and heroism of one of its own during the Dec. 12 city council meeting.
Firefighter and EMT Kris Adams was honored for the role he played in saving a man’s life following a traffic accident in Obion County.
As Martin Fire Chief Jamie Summers detailed, Adams was driving between Trenton and Union City on his way back from participating in paramedic training on Oct. 20 when he observed the vehicle in front of him run off the roadway and flip over on its side.
Seeing that the vehicle was starting to catch fire, Adams responded by pulling over, running over to the crashed vehicle, climbing on top of it, wrenching the door open, and pulling the driver to safety before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
Avian Influenza Detected in Weakley County: (Dec. 22) — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) launched a service to inform the public, after a new case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was detected in Weakley County. The TDA is launching a service to keep bird owners informed of health threats to their flocks.
Cases of Respiratory Viruses on the Rise in Tennessee: Flu cases across Tennessee continue to rise in numbers. The Centers for Disease Control reported the percentage of patients visiting sentinel clinics in Tennessee with respiratory and flu-like illnesses was 11.9 percent last week. The CDC baseline is 3.1 percent.
Tennessee joined Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Mexico, Colorado and Nebraska with the highest number of cases of flu-type illnesses in the United States.
Gleason City Board Passes On-Premises Beer Consumption: On Dec. 19, the Gleason City Board approved an ordinance allowing on-premises beer consumption on a second and final reading, following a public hearing.
SNOW DAYS 2022 — As far as weather is concerned, the year ended the same way it began, with icy and snowy conditions accompanied by bone chilling temperatures. Nearly seven inches of snow blanketed Weakley County during the first week of January, causing government offices to close, along with countywide school closures. The latter part of December brought with it 2-3 inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures that resulted in frostbite warnings being issued.