Year-In-Review - Top Stories of 2021



WEAKLEY COUNTY (January 5) — The Dresden Enterprise has reported on many important events, during 2021, making it difficult to narrow them down to a few top stories. Several of those articles involved severe weather.

Weakley County has experienced its share of natural disasters during the past year, in addition to the devastating tornado on Dec. 10, which damaged numerous municipal buildings and private residences.

A severe winter storm that moved through the region on Thursday, February 11, was followed by a second round of frozen precipitation February 14 through February 15, that blanketed Weakley and other West Tennessee counties with snow and freezing rain. The storm, which dumped 4 to 6 inches of snow on the Weakley County area and produced record-breaking low temperatures, made driving conditions extremely hazardous.

Another weather-related disaster occurred on May 4th, when a powerful thunderstorm caused extensive to county-owned buildings and equipment.


(1.) - Weakley County Devastated By Powerful Tornado -

Without question, the Dec. 10, 2021 tornado that destroyed or damaged 187 residences and 21 businesses across Weakley County, particularly in and around the City of Dresden, topped them all. Many say it was the worst natural disaster in the city’s history.

Many of those impacted by the storm, not only lost their homes and businesses, but also irreplaceable personal belongings and keepsakes.

The Enterprise reported on the impact of the storm and the emergency response that followed. Local citizens generously donated their time, money and labor to assist tornado victims left homeless by the storm. Working hand-in-hand with state and local agencies, these volunteers have provided food, shelter, clothing and other items for those in need.

Articles published in the Dresden Enterprise examine the various aspects of the storm and highlight local efforts to clear away the debris and rebuild destroyed homes and businesses. Numerous photos showing the widespread devastation throughout Dresden and other parts of Weakley County are heartbreaking.

A few excerpts from some of these stories are as follows:


Tornado Destroys Parts of Dresden


WEAKLEY COUNTY (December 14) — A line of storms stretching from Arkansas to Kentucky came through Tennessee overnight between Friday, December 10 and Saturday, December 11, killing dozens and causing potential record-breaking tornado damage.

Destruction In Northwest Tennessee: West and Middle Tennessee experienced two lines of severe weather that generated heavy rain, powerful thunderstorms, and tornadic activity, which left a devastating path of destruction in its wake, damaging roads, homes, and businesses.

Hazardous travel conditions, power outages, and damage to water infrastructure, have been reported across the affected areas. State and local officials, first responders, charity organizations, churches, and community organizations immediately began recovery and response efforts.

The deadly tornadoes claimed the lives of four Tennesseans – two from Lake County, one from Obion County and one in Shelby County. The storm also caused five injuries in the state, inflicted massive property damage, and left more than 150,000 people without power.

The National Weather Service, which reported the tornado had an estimated peak wind speed of 160 M.P.H., was 1,038 yards wide, and traveled a little over 71 miles in Tennessee.

Local Storm Damage: The storm initially caused EF-1 damage, but gained strength as it progressed towards Dresden, which suffered major damage. According to local news and weather reports, the EF-3 tornado was traveling about 60 miles per hour, when it tore through Dresden and other parts of Weakley County.

Locally, high winds downed electric lines, causing extensive power outages; while fallen trees and debris blocked state, county and municipal roadways.

Dresden City Offices Relocated: In response to the widespread devastation that leveled numerous homes and businesses, including Dresden’s city hall, police and fire departments, Mayor Jeff Washburn stated, in order to continue providing public services, Dresden City Hall has temporarily moved its operations to the Harmon and Lucille McWherter Civic Center. The Dresden Police Department is currently operating out of the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department on Hwy 22, and Dresden Fire Department’s vehicles are being stored inside the Weakley County Rescue Squad garage located at 8220 Highway 22.

Injuries Reported: Lori Smith, marketing director for West Tennessee Healthcare – Volunteer Hospital, said, “Between Friday night following the storm and Saturday morning, we saw a total of 38 patients that came through the ER. All of the patients were tornado victims, and one was a first responder. The type of injuries included lacerations, broken bones, sprained ankles, heart attacks, and head trauma.

Of those injured, three were listed as serious, including a 14-year-old boy, who was paralyzed, but has since been able to move slightly. Additionally, Dresden Police Chief Crocker reported Officer Bryan Chandler, who was nearly pulled up into the toranado, received a minor head injury.

However, Mayor Washburn stated the most significant thing to remember is there were no deaths.

Rescue and Recovery Efforts: “We are very fortunate to have a strong group of volunteers to come to our community and help us,” Mayor Washburn said. “It was such an outpouring of love that you can’t describe.”

The mayor stated he was encouraged to know there are still such good people in this world.

“God’s love really came out in people, and it’s shown every day since then,’ Mayor Washburn said. “It’s overwhelming, and my heart is so full, to see volunteers looking to help other people.”


Community Resilience Coming Out Of Tragedy


DRESDEN (December 11) — For anyone driving into Dresden on Saturday afternoon, the landscape would have been jarring. After passing Mathis Battery (Pikeview Street), cresting the hill, they would have been met with a heart-breaking reminder of nature’s fury.

To the left, a truck lay upside down, its tires punctured and twisted off the rims. A trailer lay on its side, twisted in the center. Vehicles on the lot of Dresden 4x4 were flipped in front, while the background showed busted windows of the business.

To the right, several houses were without rooftops while insulation and other debris littered their lawns. Ahead, power lines lay across the road, their supports bent and broken.

Trees, now snapped in half, scattered the area.


Electricity Being Restored to Tornado-Ravaged Areas


WEAKLEY COUNTY (December 27) — Weakley County Municipal Electric System employees have been working diligently to repair electric lines and restore power to several thousand customers that were left in the dark, after powerful winds generated by an EF3 tornado tore through the region shortly before midnight on Friday, December 10.

According to Weakley County Municipal Electric System Director Faron Collins, the tornado snapped service poles and downed power lines, leaving approximately 12,000 of their customers without electricity.


UT Martin Aiding In Storm Relief


As Dresden, Kenton, Samburg and Mayfield, Kentucky, try to raise the Phoenix from the ashes after deadly tornadoes ravaged the area on December 10, the University of Tennessee at Martin is doing its part to help the recovery.

UTM Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver expressed awe over how serendipitous the school transitioned from educational institution to recovery command center.

“We had (fall-term) graduation Saturday and as soon as that was over, we handed the keys over to the Red Cross,” Carver said.

Since then, about 50 Red Cross volunteers are staying in residence hall.

“We also are providing them space in the University Center so they can have a command center,” Carver said. “We’ve given them storage space and use of the loading docks, too.”

During recent games following the storm, fans were admitted to the game if they provided a donation to those in need. Blankets, water, food, clothing got fans through the gate.


‘Elks on The Shelf’ Spread Holiday Cheer


DRESDEN (December 23) — This year’s Christmas was brightened by the arrival of Santa riding into town on a helicopter before landing at The Elk’s Lodge in Dresden.

The helicopter was piloted by Mike Rinker, and the event was organized by Tammy Erwin and Melanie Baker Jones in collaboration with Elk’s Lodge to spread holiday cheer in storm-damaged Dresden.

Tammy began to organize an event to re-energize children’s excitement and good will in the area. What was hoped to be a small event expanded into an answered prayer for the Dresden community, as a massive influx of donations and volunteer contributions poured in to create a major event at Dresden Elk’s Lodge.

All total, a rough approximate of $50,000 in toys was donated.


Weakley County Schools Helping in Dresden Recovery


DRESDEN (December 11) — Not surprisingly, people are pulling together to restore Dresden to normalcy

after suffering the wrath of a tornado Friday night.

The Weakley County School System has been at the vanguard almost immediately after the storm struck.

About 45 minutes after the storm hit the county seat, Weakley County Director of Schools Randy Frazier and

his wife, Terry, were in their vehicle headed to Dresden to aid in the recovery.

Weakley County Schools are part of the emergency management plan and Frazier was there to help put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

“Part of our responsibility after a natural disaster is to open our facilities and provide shelter,” Frazier said.


WCEMA Seeking Federal Disaster Relief


WEAKLEY COUNTY (December 27) — The citizens of Weakley County, particularly those in the Dresden and Sharon area, are still sorting through the debris left in the wake of an EF3 tornado that reduced many of their homes to rubble and scattered personal belongings and keepsakes far and wide.

According tom Weakley County Emergency Management Director Ray Wiggington, local leaders are working diligently to secure federal disaster assistance to help families impacted by the powerful December 10 storm that left a path of destruction as it traveled across the county and other parts of the state.


Kustoff Surveys Tornado Damage


DRESDEN (December 12) — On Sunday, Tennessee District 8 Congressman David Kustoff visited the storm-ravaged areas of Dresden.

A brief press conference with Kustoff, Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum, Sheriff Mike Wilson, State Representative Curtis Halford, and Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn was held outside the Election Commissions Office.

Congressman Kustoff highlighted volunteer efforts. He said, “The physical destruction is tremendous, but the volunteerism here in this community, and frankly the fact that in Weakley County we don’t have loss of life, this is going to take a long time to recover there’s no doubt about it – at the federal level, we are committed to making sure that Weakley County and all the communities in West Tennessee have the federal resources that they can get, so that they can rebuild.”

County Mayor Bynum made brief remarks, “we are going to rebuild this community and that we will start every single day until the mission is complete.”


Gov. Lee Signs Executive Order For Severe Weather Relief

NASHVILLE (December 13) — Tuesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order 94 to provide operational flexibilities for counties affected by tornadoes and severe weather in Northwest and Middle Tennessee on December 10-11.

“The impact of severe weather in Tennessee and our neighboring states has been devastating,” said Gov. Lee. “We remain committed to providing the necessary resources to assist Tennesseans as they recover from this tragic loss.”

Executive Order 94 declares a state of emergency to facilitate relief efforts.

To respond to this disaster, Gov. Lee specifically requested public assistance for Cheatham, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Gibson, Lake, Obion, Stewart, and Weakley counties from President Joe Biden’s Administration on Monday.

President Biden granted the emergency request Tuesday morning.


Dresden Leaders Discuss Future Of City


DRESDEN ( December 16) — On Thursday, December 16, Dresden City Board members held an emergency

meeting to discuss the latest developments concerning the ongoing tornado recovery efforts and what measures are being taken to resolve the many problems caused by the destruction of numerous homes, businesses and public buildings.


Volunteers Offering ‘The Village’ in Dresden


On 1064 Evergreen St. in Dresden, one group is living up to its name in execution and in spirit. Be The Village is taking in thousands of donations to bring to those affected by the December 10 tornado. “There was an older gentleman with no shoes on walking down the road, so I immediately knew there was going to be a place needed.”

Sandra Taylor’s voice cracks with sympathy as she describes that elderly gentleman.

Be The Village was initially setup to bring aide to foster children, making it generally suited to donation drives, though never have they undertaken such a vast operation as this before. Their normal building was situated beside the now-destroyed Vaughan Brothers building.


Disaster Relief for Health and Healing


In the immediate aftermath of the December 10 tornado, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief began organizing out of First Baptist Church on Morrow Street in Dresden. On location is a white board where tabulated is ongoing volunteer efforts to clear storm-related damage and help those affected by the storm. Volunteers can come to the First Baptist Church and fill out a work form. Tennessee Baptist is not financially responsible — all volunteerism is free of charge.

Tommy and Karen Wilson head the operation. They belong to the Weakley County branch of the Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief. Up to 200 volunteers are organized under their umbrella dedicated to efforts from tarping roofs to clearing yards to various other sundry relief causes


Lodge Members Heeding Brotherly Love Motto


Two or three individuals took the journey to The Elk’s Lodge in Dresden in the aftermath of the December 10 storm. They reached out to first responders and The Red Cross informing them they could come up to their location, which had been unharmed, to work relief efforts out of.

Local high school seniors have volunteered, helping clean The Lodge. Every church has offered to help in whichever way is available.

The Elk’s Lodge estimates they were serving a thousand meals a day over the weekend. Food deliveries estimating at 30 or 40 a day were being conducted. Matt Carroll, Esteemed Leading Knight of The Elk’s Lodge, was in charge of coordinating these efforts.

On Monday, December 20, The Red Cross officially is taking over the relief efforts conducted at The Elk’s Lodge. Meal preparation and offerings will still be conducted for those in need.


Look for the Helpers in Scary Times


One of my favorite quotes is from Mister Fred Rogers, who said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Mr. Rogers, your mother was right. I thought about titling this column, “From the Desk of the Editor.” I couldn’t come up with anything more catchy and less cliché. Ironically, my desk is currently our oversized coffee table in the middle of my living room.

We were blessed, fortunate, spared, whatever the appropriate term may be. After Friday’s tornado pancaked our office in downtown Dresden, we managed to find a way into the back door. The back wall was all that stood up in the storm.

The walls are crumbled and the roof is sitting on the front part of our office. We were spared, however, as our in-house server was able to be salvaged and while my office walls and David Fisher’s walls caved in on top of my desk, we strategically pulled out my computer.

I held my breath for about 20 minutes Sunday evening at home, with a hope and a prayer.

We had just finished typing up children’s Letters to Santa Friday afternoon. That was heavy on our minds Saturday morning as we surveyed the wreckage.

Friday night was eventful. After trying to get in touch with our graphic designer, who lived around the corner from the court square, myself and our sales manager Laura, felt helpless. Awake at 1 a.m. getting bits and pieces from Facebook posts about a tornado that hit Dresden, we attempted to get in touch with Jasmine Williams. She stopped responding to group messages around 11 that night.

I tried to reach out to the sheriff ’s department, but couldn’t get through. After calling the Martin Police Department, dispatch confirmed there was damage and asked that I not try to venture into town. Our concern was the safety of Jasmine.

When text messages finally came through to us, they were broken and sporadic. “Can you help us? Can anyone help us? It’s bad bad. I cut my hand. There’s a gas leak. The fire department got us out.”

Finally, she managed to get a call to us to let us know where she was. Laura’s husband headed that way to get her to their house. Hers was hit by the tornado. He managed to send us a picture of our building, or what remained, about 3 a.m.

It was one of those moments where you lose your breath and your heart stops. To say that downtown Dresden and parts along the way look like a war zone doesn’t accurately describe it. It looks as if a tornado went through the city.

The next morning I received a message from Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn, announcing a press conference at the sheriff ’s department.

The mayor had been renovating an historic house downtown, owned a business downtown and was the former owner of our newspaper. He spent the night in his home, with his children and grandchildren, in the basement. I didn’t have time to gawk at social media images before the press conference Saturday morning and hadn’t actually laid eyes on any damage.

I headed from my house in Martin and headed to my hometown. It was on Highway 22 at the intersection of 22 and 89 that the scene took my breath and my heart stopped. Kountry Korner was a pile of rubble. Trees and power lines were down and pieces of farm equipment littered the fields across from the intersection.

Walking into the sheriff ’s department, there were buckets in the middle of the floor of the lobby, catching water from the rain overnight. Walking into the room filled with comrades and classmates, the mood was somber. Their tired faces said it all.

They had spent hours awake, attempting to go into homes and get people out and to safety, while dodging power lines and debris. Grown men who are the first line of defense choked back tears, shaking their heads. All were shocked and sad.

State troopers were set up at intersections leading to downtown, directing traffic away from an area I hadn’t seen yet. I parked two blocks away and took off on foot with camera in hand, not knowing what I would find. I rounded the corner at the top of Wilson Street and time seemed to stand still.

The cold wind Saturday morning hit my face and dried my tears as I walked in the middle of the street in disbelief.

Businesses leveled, broken power and phone lines, houses missing windows and roofs, trees on their side everywhere.

That was the scene. Surrounding downtown streets were more of the same. While you internally celebrate the fact there was no loss of life as a result of Friday’s tornado, your thoughts then turn to the people who were left homeless. Two weeks before the Christmas holiday and businesses were destroyed. Families are without shelter, sentiments ripped away and carried to only God knows where.

But they are alive. Saturday was a day of shock and awe. We are charged with getting information to people, but how do we get information to our readers who barely had cell service. Helpless sums up the feeling; complete helplessness.

Regrouping on Sunday, some of our team, along with a couple of friends whose brawn and bravery are matched by their wits headed to downtown Dresden to see what we could salvage. We’ve never missed printing an edition, since 1883. This week was going to be no different. We salvaged a computer and a handful of archive books from a hole in the front of the building. Leaving we felt accomplished, although we didn’t know if the computer or server weathered the storm.

It didn’t take long to immediately find the “helpers.” People were set up along the court square handing out food, including James Roy Pope and his family, who hauled a concessions trailer there and handed out food. All the while the rest of his team was in neighboring Martin at the annual Santa’s Village event. People were walking along the square wearing gloves, offering to sift through debris and carry items. The town was flooded with people bringing chainsaws and their volunteer spirit, what our state is known for, to help their neighbors. When they could have been home on a Sunday afternoon spending time with their family or Christmas shopping, they were in Dresden, helping people pick up the remaining pieces of their lives. We met a business owner, Matt, who has a sawmill company in Pillowville. He hauled some of his equipment to Dresden and spent the day helping clear debris.

JK Sadler, a Dresden native, brought some equipment. We found him in the parking lot of Vaughan Brothers, what we remained of it, helping his friend Derek Doster, a fellow business owner in Dresden and one of Sadler’s classmates. From single moms like Kimberly Yazvac of Martin and people from as far as Centerville, Tennessee, we found the helpers. People who had put their daily lives on hold to help those who are mourning the broken pieces of their lives. Businesses that were lost were pretty much a complete loss. What remains of city hall is the front door, with the sky behind it and a couple of 2x4’s, but you can see straight through it. Police cars were damaged and the chief is driving around in a vehicle with busted windows and dents.

The fire department, which was a fairly recent addition to downtown, has bay doors that are caving under the pressure of its weighted top.

Turnout gear and equipment are literally gone with the wind.

These mentions are only a handful of damages sustained in Dresden. Where to go from here? How do you pick up the pieces? Clean up seems such a daunting task and it will be weeks and months before all is cleared and hauled away.

Where do we go from here? We depend on our “helpers.” People in the communities, counties and states surrounding have offered help. We take their help. They are offering to help us carry our loads of burdens. We take the help, even through tears and disbelief.

We have a team of 15 newspapers within our company. When our freelance writers and photographers, along with team members from our sister newspapers offered their help this week, we took it. Weakley County Press General Manager Lynette Wagster called Monday morning. Not to get a story from us or asking us to share anything with them.

She called to offer help and an office space. We took her help. This week’s edition may look a little different. Our small community newspaper doesn’t produce 20 pages each week. But we do our best to preserve our county’s history; to tell the stories of people and places in the community that need to be told. We won’t stop doing that this week, thanks to the “helpers.”

The Volunteer spirit of this great state is very much alive, all across our county. Just take a quick trip to Dresden (be careful to stay out of the way of those who are working non-stop to clear debris, repair power and phone lines). You’ll see the helpers. It won’t take long to find them. They’ll be the ones who are handing out hot dogs, using chainsaws to chop up large trees, hauling debris to the side of streets, packing totes of what remains from people’s homes and businesses. They’ll be handing out essential items to families who have nothing left at the building behind NAPA on Highway 22.

Where do we go from here? Brick by brick, we clean up. We make a list of what is gone, and then we count our blessings. We cry and then accept those shoulders offered to cry on. We help our neighbors. We comfort them; we pray for them.

Then we envision what it will be like when all rebuild. We focus on that vision and let others help us make those dreams a reality.

Thank you for your help; we are able to put one foot in front of the other, albeit baby steps, and we slowly move forward.


(2.) - February and May Storms Causes Extensive Damage -

Winter Storm Causes Wrecks, Closures Around W.C.


WEAKLEY COUNTY (February 16) — A severe winter storm that moved through the region on Thursday, February 11 followed by a second round of frozen precipitation Sunday night through Monday, blanketed Weakley and other West Tennessee counties with approximately half a foot of snow and freezing rain, made driving conditions extremely hazardous.

A 63-year-old record for a daytime high of 12 degrees set in 1958, was broken Monday when the high only reached 9 degrees.

Accidents Over the past several days, slick roads have caused numerous motor vehicle accidents, and resulted in schools and businesses closures.

As of Monday, February 15, the Weakley County 911 Office recorded a total of 26 traffic accidents. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries reported. The vast majority involve vehicles sliding off in ditches.

The increased use of electricity to operate heating systems, resulted in a few, brief outages, particularly in Martin, Christmasville and Palmersville.

All federal, state, county and municipal offices are closed, due to inclement weather. Additionally, Weakley County Schools were closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because of hazardous driving conditions.


Storm Damages Homes, Downs Power Lines


WEAKLEY COUNTY (May 4) — Hurricane-force, straight-line winds resulted in heavy damage Tuesday when severe weather hit the area during the early morning hours.

According to Weakley County Emergency Management Director Ray Wiggington, the “absolute worst” damage in the county was seen at a section of Greenfield Highway 54, just outside of Dresden.

A trailer park on the highway was hit by the strong winds, which downed several trees and power lines. A resident lost her life that morning when a tree fell on her home along Highway 54. A neighbor had his kitchen exposed when a tree collapsed on his trailer tearing open the roof.

Many Weakley County residents woke to no power as Dresden and rural parts of the county suffered downed power lines.

The Weakley County School System cancelled school Tuesday after roadways were blocked and Dresden High School and the bus garage sustained damage.

The Weakley County Health Department, along with numerous businesses, were closed Tuesday morning. Team members with the West Tennessee Public Utility District worked to repair a natural gas leak along Greenfield Highway 54.


Dresden High and Bus Garage Damaged


Weakley County Schools Communications Director

DRESDEN (May 4) — The early morning storms, which felled trees and power lines causing power outages across the county, forced Weakley County Schools Director Randy Frazier to close schools on Tuesday.

A tour of facilities with department heads disclosed the greatest damage occurred at Dresden High School and the district’s Bus and Maintenance Garage.

Roof damage meant three classrooms flooded and the water flowed across the hallway and seeped into the library carpet.

Maintenance Director Wayne Reynolds and his staff had a tarp in place and were in the process of vacuuming the water by midmorning.


Public Works Committee Hears Storm Damage Report


DRESDEN (May 10) — Members of the Public Works Committee heard a report concerning the damage to county-owned buildings and other property inflicted by straight-line winds generated by last week’s powerful thunderstorm. The committee also reviewed the status of the ongoing construction projects at the Highway Department.

According to Highway Department Supervisor Charles Ross, the Highway Department buildings and the School Department’s bus garage suffered extensive damage, which was caused by high winds when a powerful thunderstorm tore through Weakley County at approximately 4 a.m. on Tuesday, May 4.

“We had roofs damaged on three of our buildings, including the new shop, the tire shop building, and the old office building,” Ross said. “Three of the doors on our shop were blown out, and the rest of the doors were damaged.”

He stated the equipment sheds also sustained damage, including one that is brand new and another that’s only five years old. “There was also a shed up on the hill we parked the loader in, and the storm blew it away.”

He added equipment and trucks also sustained damaged. This included broken windows, which were bombarded by flying debris.

“It was pretty bad, but the good thing about it is nobody was here when it hit, or we’d probably had somebody hurt bad, or worse,” he said.

While there was no serious or long term damage to roads or bridges, there was quite a bit of storm debris blocking roads that had to be cleared away in order to make roads passible.


(3.) Suspect’s Body Found at Reelfoot Lake Saturday


DRESDEN (JANUARY 30) — Investigators with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation discovered the body of a suspect sought in last week’s apparent double homicide at Reelfoot Lake Saturday afternoon. District Attorney General for the 27th Judicial District Tommy Thomas confirmed a body positively identified as David Vowell, 70, of Martin, was found in the lake near the scene of the incident around 3 p.m. January 30, Saturday.

An investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, led by the TBI, revealed Zackary Grooms, 25, and Chance Black, 26, both of Greenfield, were shot in a duck blind on Reelfoot Lake in Obion County, located near the Walnut Log area, on Monday, January 25, 2021 around 11 a.m.

As a result of the investigation, the TBI issued arrest warrants filing first-degree murder charges against Vowell in the shooting incident.

Preliminary information from the District Attorney General’s office gives an account of events that potentially transpired the morning of the shooting at the scene.

Grooms, Black and their friend, Jeff Crabtree, were in the duck blind that Monday morning when they were approached by Vowell asking if he could hunt with them. While in the blind with the three men, Vowell reportedly shot Grooms in the chest.

While Black was attempting to help his friend, Vowell stuck the gun in Black’s side and shot him. Crabtree, who is now the main witness in the investigation, intervened, got his friends into a boat and struck Vowell in the head with a gun. Eventually, Crabtree pushed Vowell into the waist-deep water.

Thomas said it appears Vowell was suffering from dementia. He added physical evidence and further facts of the case will show Vowell shot and killed the two victims.

The victims were graduates of Greenfield High School.

Vowell was a retired Martin business owner.


(4.) Dresden Board Approves Final Complete Streets Plan


DRESDEN (November 3) — The Dresden City Board unanimously approved a resolution outlining a Complete Streets Plan, during Monday night’s regular monthly meeting.

After months of planning, obtaining input from local citizens, and reviewing the results of a comprehensive study regarding the most needed street improvements, the board voted to approve the plan, as recommended by the Dresden Planning Commission. Aldermen Gwin Anderson, Lyndal Dilday, Willie Parker and Kenneth Moore voted in favor of the resolution. Aldermen Ralph Cobb and Sandra Klutts were absent.

The Complete Streets Plan, which was funded by a Tennessee Department of Transportation Rural Community Transportation Planning Grant, identifies those streets that need to be upgraded the most, in order to address traffic and pedestrian safety concerns – particularly at dangerous intersections.

This study was paid for with State funding at no cost to the citizens of Dresden.

However, it will be up to the City of Dresden to apply for federal and state grants to help fund these street improvements, as they become available.

The specific areas of focus include: the intersection at TN-22 and Pikeview Street, intersection at TN-22 and Linden Street, and intersection at TN-22 and Evergreen Street.

In addition to these intersections, the study area includes Linden Street between Evergreen Street and TN-22, as well as Evergreen Street between Wilson Park and TN-22.


(5.) Gleason to Acquire Building for Police Station

GLEASON (January 14) — During a special-called meeting of the Gleason Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Thursday, January 14, the board voted unanimously to enter into a lease-purchase agreement for a building located at 210 Main Street to house the Gleason Police Department.

The Gleason Police Department has operated out of a small room inside City Hall since 1963 when the building built. Some officers have described as a broom closet.

The building, which is located directly across from the Bank of Gleason, is a former insurance office.

The cost to purchase the building is $20,000. However, the city has been offered the option of entering into a lease to purchase agreement for property at $350 per month, which totals $4,200 annually.

Chief Eddlemon stated the total annual cost for the lease and utilities amounts to $6,900.


(6.) Dollar General Opens Palmersville Store

PALMERSVILLE (December 13) — Dollar General is excited to announce its store at 6235 Hwy. 89 in Palmersville is now open.

According to Dan Nieser, Dollar General’s senior vice president of real estate and store development, Dollar General plans to create new jobs in the Palmersville community as the store is expected to employ approximately six to 10 people, depending on the individual needs of the store. The Company provides employees with competitive wages, world-class and award-winning training and development programs and benefits including day-one telemedicine eligibility and Dollar General’s Employee Assistance Foundation, as well as health insurance coverage options, 401K savings and retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, paid parental leave and adoption assistance to eligible employees. Interested candidates can review and apply for available positions online.

To commemorate the opening of DG’s new Palmersville location, Dollar General plans to donate 100 new books to a nearby elementary school to benefit students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade.

The addition of the Palmersville store opens the opportunity for schools, non-profit organizations and libraries within a 15-mile radius of the store to apply for Dollar General Literacy Foundation grants.

For more information about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and its grant programs, visit


(7.) Plan for Relief Fund Spending Now Approved


Weakley County Schools Communications Director

WEAKLEY COUNTY (December 2) — Weakley County Schools received word this summer they would be the recipients of a federal grant totaling $8.6 million.

The Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER 3.0) was the third in the series of relief grants focused on addressing the impact of COVID-19 over the next three years.

Between the announcement and final approval of how those funds would be used came many months of research, budgeting, and adjustments. Last week, Angie Rushing, the director of ESSER 3.0 hired to oversee the process, received word that final approval from the Tennessee Department of Education was received. After final approval by the Weakley County Board of Education, purchases can begin.

Rushing noted that according to the grant rules, any ESSER purchases must “directly relate to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operations of schools and address the impact of COVID on students to prevent, and/or prepare for, and/or respond to COVID-19.”


(8.) Dresden Industrial Board Considers Industrial Prospect’s Proposal To Purchase Pad Ready Site


DRESDEN (November 2) — The Industrial Development Board of the City of Dresden met in special session on November 2, 2021 to discuss a counter proposal to a Letter of Intent submitted by Patricia Shevel, regarding purchasing the Pad Ready Site located on Swanson Drive in Dresden.

According to the letter of Intent, Shevel states she is interested in purchasing 35.4 acres of the Pad Ready Site for $145,000 in order to locate a manufacturing industry, and build a 150,000 square foot facility, which would employ 50-65 employees.

The Industrial Development Board reviewed and revised Shevel’s Letter of Intent, in accordance with changes proposed by Attorney Beau Pemberton. These changes were incorporated into a counter proposal.

Colin Johnson made a motion to approve the changes made to the counter proposal and to include a timeframe of 24 months for a facility to be constructed on the site and a manufacturing company to be located in the facility and be operational or the land reverts back to the Dresden Industrial Board.

The motion was unanimously approved.

Attorney Pemberton said he would relay the amended counter proposal to the client’s attorney. He stated the next step would be to sign a purchase agreement once the letter of intent has been signed by both parties.

The Australian-based building products manufacturer that Shevel represents, manufactures hemp-related materials for residential, commercial and industrial construction.


(9.) - Weakley County Schools Expanding Ag Program -

Greenfield Greenhouse Launches with Growth Spurt


Weakley County Schools Communications Director

GREENFIELD (April 16) — Five workers from Scenic Acres in Elkton, Kentucky, drove down the alley on the east side of the Greenfield High School gymnasium early on a Tuesday morning. Less than eight hours later, Greenfield School had a new greenhouse, and students there were anticipating new ag opportunities in the 2021-22 school year.

Teacher and FFA advisor Matt Humphrey Humphrey explained, “Not only is it another platform for learning ag essentials, we will also help introduce business and marketing skills as we develop work-based learning through our plant sales.”

Since building and fully equipping the greenhouse comes at a cost of approximately $20,000, Humphrey started fundraising in the spring of 2019. While local funds within the county school budget covered much of the structure, the essentials such as tables, potting soil, wheelbarrows, carts, pots, tools as well as a hydroponic system and irrigation system will need to be covered by other funds.

Weakley County Schools have two greenhouses already in operation. One is located at Dresden High School. The other is at Westview.


Weakley County Schools’ Farm Expanding


Weakley County Schools Communications Director

DRESDEN (February 19) - Thanks to the patient and persistent pursuit of a dream, community support and a local university committed to the advancement of agriculture, the Weakley County Schools Livestock Production Farm, adjacent to the campus of Dresden High School and managed by DHS faculty and students, is growing.

Jason Kemp, Dresden ag teacher and manager of the Weakley County Schools Livestock Production Farm, retrieves the new pork products available soon to be available for purchase by the public. The receipt of a grant to cover the cost of freezers and local community support mean students will now experience aspects of the entire “farm-to-table” process.

The farm has also recently entered into an agreement with the University of Tennessee at Martin. The pasture land will be managed by UTM, and Weakley County students will have access to dual-enrollment plant science classes.

After successfully supplying all nine school cafeterias with sausage produced from pigs raised by students, the farm is now working with a USDA certified processing plant to offer branded products to the public.

For more information on pricing and availability, contact Kemp at 731-364-5154.


(10.) Voting Centers Approved by Election Commission


Special to The Enterprise

DRESDEN (August 31) — Following a meeting held August 26, the Weakley County Election Commission decided to move forward with what are being called, convenience voting sites (or centers). These voting centers would allow citizens of Weakley County to go any polling place, on election day, to cast their vote. “Instead of everyone being limited to one (voting center), they have access to six or seven places to vote,” John Freeman, Chairman of the Election Commission, says. “Therefore, they have more access to the ballot and it should be easier.”

“The motion for this was made by a sitting Democrat and seconded by a sitting Republican,” Freeman says. The program is about voters, not how people will vote, was the message. “This has been what we have steadily worked towards to increase access to the ballot,” Freeman says.

Chairman Freeman said they were going to proceed with eight polling locations for the convenience voting centers. Just where those locations would be remains to be seen.


(11) - Newspaper Publishers Pass During 2021 -

Ramona Mae Kemp Washburn Former Publisher Of Newspapers Passes Away at 88

McKENZIE (June 28) — Ramona Mae Kemp Washburn, 88, former publisher of the Dresden Enterprise and The McKenzie Banner, died Monday 28, 2021, at her home.

Washburn was born on October 1, 1932, to James Shobe Kemp and Lillie Mae Chapman Kemp, the eldest of five children.

She was born in Weakley County and attended Henry School. She later earned her GED and attended the area state vocational school majoring in office occupations.

She married James L. Washburn in 1948.

Washburn held a variety of jobs over the years, including substitute teacher and seamstress. She will best be remembered as an owner and publisher of The McKenzie Banner and the Dresden Enterprise.

One son, Joel, is the current publisher of Tri-County Publishing. A second son, Jeff, serves as the City of Dresden mayor.

With the passing of her husband in 1985, Washburn became the majority owner of Tri-County Publishing, Inc. She served as publisher of both The McKenzie Banner and the Dresden Enterprise until April 2015.

Along with serving as publisher and co-owner with her sons, she worked as a sales representative for Tri-County Publishing and secretary of API. She was a charter member of the McKenzie Jaycettes, serving as secretary, president, state director and was named Woman of the Year.

She was president of the McKenzie PTA, secretary-treasurer of the Carroll County PTA, president of the Carroll County Democrat Women, member of the Democrat Executive Committee and served on the Carroll County Election Commission.

She was a member of the Homecoming ’86 steering committee, director of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce serving as Membership chairwoman, Cub Scout den mother, member of the Carroll County Voc-Tech School Committee, McKenzie Voc-Tech School Advisory Committee and a member of the VFW Post 4939 Auxiliary.

Besides her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by one brother, Jimmy Fayne Kemp, and one sister, Bonnette Wiles.

Washburn is survived by two sons, Jeffery (Jennifer) and Joel (Teresa) Washburn; four grandchildren Jeremy (Kim) Washburn, Amanda (Kent) Guthrie, Brittany (Jason) Martin and James (Audrea) Washburn; two step-grandchildren Britne Mansfield and Chris Butts; and 13 great-grandchildren: Audrie, Anna Grace, Addison, Amy Kate, Alivia, Bella, Bailee, Lynlee, Conner, Carson, Makenzee, Charles James “C.J.” and Savannah Rose

along with two brothers, Jerry and John Kemp.

Pallbearers are Jeremy Washburn, James R. Washburn, Jason Martin, Chris Butts, Wayford Washburn Jr. and Kent Guthrie.

Brummitt-McKenzie Funeral Home was in charge of funeral services. Burial followed at Carroll Memorial Gardens.


Newspaper Publisher, Owner Dies At Age 70

Dennis Richardson, owner of Magic Valley Publishing Co. and beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away suddenly and peacefully at his Camden home on Monday, July 26.

Born in Nashville on March 23, 1951, he was the youngest of seven children. His father

was a sharecropper who provided well for his family but passed away when Dennis was two years old.

After graduating from Joelton High School, Dennis attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where he studied Engineering. He transferred to UT Knoxville to study Journalism, but returned to finish at UT Martin where he graduated and met his wife, Lisa Hatley.

He began his newspaper career at the Paris Post Intelligencer (PI) as sports editor. After a couple of years at the PI and a short time at the Carroll County News, he was hired as editor of the Weakley County Press (Martin) by Randal Benderman, who became his lifelong mentor in newspaper publishing.

Dennis left the Weakley County Press and moved to Clarksville to work as a copy editor at the state’s oldest continuously publishing newspaper, the Leaf-Chronicle.

Dennis and Lisa became newspaper publishers in 1983 when they purchased the Carroll County News (Huntingdon). Soon after, they incorporated the business as Magic Valley Publishing, Inc. (MVP). Later in 1992, MVP purchased the Carroll Leader merging it with the Carroll County News to create the Carroll County News-Leader.

In 1994, Dennis added the Camden Chronicle to MVP. More acquisitions followed and included: the Print Shop (Waverly), Fulton (Ky.) Leader, Hickman County (Ky.) Gazette, Hickman (Ky.) Courier, Carlisle (Ky.) Weekly, Ballard (Ky.) Weekly, Dekalb Co. News, Crockett County Times, Lake County Banner (Tiptonville), Waverly News-Democrat, Buffalo River Review (Linden), Wayne County News (Waynesboro), Chester County Independent (Henderson), The Leader (Covington), Collierville Herald, Collierville Independent, Bartlett Express, Shelby Sun-Times, Germantown News, Millington Star, Shopper News (Gibson), and the Dresden Enterprise. The company also started a regional travel magazine, Discover West Tennessee, in December 2020.

Dennis was also the owner of two radio stations, WRJB 95.9 FM and WFWL 1220 AM.

During 38 years as an employer, with hundreds of employees over that time, no case comes to the memory of his family where he denied an employee a vacation request, or a pay advance when an employee facing financial hardships requested it.

Many who left the company returned soon after, and several employees have worked for MVP for more than 15 years.

He was a long-time member and deacon at the Camden Church of Christ, a Rotarian, first as a charter member of Rotary Club of Huntingdon and then the Rotary Club of Camden. He served on directorship boards for the Tennessee Newspaper Association, National Newspaper Association, Carey Counseling Center, and various other organizations throughout his life.

He spent several years working as a newspaper broker, first for W.B. Grimes and Co. of New York, then on his own. While working for W.B. Grimes, Dennis brokered the largest newspaper deal in the company’s history in 2012, working day and night for months to close the deal.

He leaves behind his beloved wife of 46 years, Lisa; three sons, Mark (Angie), Matthew, and Daniel (Lena); one daughter, Gerilyn (Clint) Burnett; five granddaughters, Anistyn, Ashby, Emmalyn, Elizabeth, and Ella Richardson; and one grandson, Mason Richardson; and one sister, Ruth Johnson.

Funeral services were held at Plunk Funeral Home in Camden, with interment following at Eastview Cemetery.