Errant Sparks Ignite Field Fire
Alderman Meeting Held Monday Night
Judge Rules Against County Bond Procedure
Sparks Ignite Field Fire
Firefighters rush to douse flames consuming 30 round
hay bales on Bill Thrasher's farm Sunday evening, Feb. 4. According
to reports, Rickman Volunteer Fire Department, Fairgrounds Fire
Department, and all officers with the Overton County Sheriff's Department
were dispatched to a grass fire from East Speck Road to Paran Road
just south of Rickman on Old Highway 42. The fire apparently started
from a wrecker pulling a car without a tire, which threw sparks
causing the dead grass along the road to ignite. The driver of the
wrecker, Frankie Dixon, was cited for reckless endangerment.
top of page
Meeting Held Monday Night
By Dewain E. Peek
Livingston Mayor Hosea Winningham and the Livingston
Board of Aldermen held their regular monthly meeting Monday, Feb.
In old business, Mayor Winningham informed the Board
that a new front-end loader has been ordered.
The Board voted to order a new garbage truck on a
The Board also voted to accept the low bid of Hix
Brothers on a new Ford LJ75 backhoe. The low bid was $36,347, less
$8,000 for the city's old one.
In new business, Mayor Winningham informed the Board
that the Police Department has obtained four former Highway Patrol
cars from state surplus. The cars are being painted and lights and
other equipment are being installed.
The Livingston Housing Authority payment in lieu of
tax was announced.
Mayor Winningham informed the Board that the Town
of Livingston has received the Certificate of Achievement for the
A representative from East Tennessee Natural Gas asked
the Board to sign an agreement to direct the city's current gas
provider to allow East Tennessee's gas into the Livingston tap.
Alderman Robert Jolley made a motion to sign the agreement, and
Alderman Curtis Hayes seconded the motion. Aldermen Jolley, Hayes,
and James P. Lee voted yes, and Aldermen Thurman Langford, Bill
Winningham, and Johnny Halfacre voted no. Mayor Winningham broke
the tie by voting no.
A request from Mr. and Mrs. Tim Williams of Oakland
Park to rezone their property from R-1 to R-2 received no action.
The property was considered for rezoning once before, but was denied
because of opposition.
Mayor Winningham informed the Board that it will cost
$160,000 to put lights on the bypass, a job requiring 81 poles.
No action was taken.
Alderman Jolley informed the Board that six city employees
are not on the books as being hired. The Board voted to retroactively
officially hire the employees on the list, making their hiring date
the day that they started working for the city.
Adlerman Halfacre asked the Board about making a request
to the state to put up signs on the bypass giving a separation of
which way goes to the business district and which way is the bypass.
The Board agreed to ask the state to put up the signs.
Alderman Halfacre also asked about numbering the traffic
lights in Livingston so people can give clearer directions and delivery
drivers can more easily find where they are going. Mayor Winningham
said the city can do that.
The meeting adjourned.
Rules Against County Bond Procedure
By Robert Forsman
Special Judge John Wootten granted a petition Wednesday,
Jan. 31 to stop a bond procedure instituted last year by General
Sessions Judge John Officer.
As part of a lawsuit filed against Overton County,
a group of professional bondsmen petitioned the court to stop the
procedure of allowing defendants to post 10 percent of a bond in
cash to be released from jail.
As an example of the procedure, a defendant under
a $2,500 bond could post $250 in cash to be released from jail.
The $250 would then be deposited in an escrow account at the Clerk
of Circuit Court's office. If the defendant was found not guilty,
the money would be returned. If the defendant was found guilty,
the money would be applied toward fines and court costs.
The attorney for the petitioners argued that law enforcement
officials are good at serving arrest warrants in their counties,
but when a defendant leaves the county or the state, the service
of bail bondsmen are necessary to apprehend the defendant and to
return the defendant to custody.
"I never heard that argument before," Judge
Wootten said. "You're saying professional bail bondsmen have
the authority to apprehend defendants out of state, like in Kentucky.
"Your Honor," the attorney said, "Kentucky
just did away with bail bondsmen."
Representing Judge Officer as county attorney, Daryl
Colson argued against the petition. "Your Honor, the statutes
clearly state that the less onerous conditions be used to get a
defendant in court, that bonds be as low as possible to secure the
appearance of a defendant, that bonds not be punitive. The legislature
has given judges the discretion to determine bail."
The attorney for the petitioners argued that judges
do have the authority to set bond, but not for a percentage of the
bond. Bonds set by judges should be for the full amount, according
to the attorney.
"Years ago," Judge Wootten said, "public
drunks posted a cash bond. If they didn't appear in court, they
forfeited the bond. Is that practice disappearing?"
"I think it has," the attorney for the
"I have listened to the comments made by the
attorneys," Judge Wootten said. "I have reviewed the statutes
applying to bail. I can only commend Judge Officer on using creativity
to collect court costs in Overton County. But I don't believe a
magistrate can do more than set a set amount of bond.
"If it wasn't for the legislative statutes, I
would be inclined to overrule the petition."
Addressing Judge Officer, Judge Wootten said, "I
can clearly say that you can set a bail bond as low as you want."
According to a mutual statement issued by Judge John
Officer and County Attorney Daryl Colson, "Judge John Wootten's
decision was based upon an interpretation of the law and indicated
that the procedure was commendable but would have to be approved
by the state legislature.
"This is only the first round. This is good for
Overton County. As public officials we are not doing our job if
we do not pursue this.
"The procedure was an excellent alternative for
most defendants in most misdemeanor cases, in which there was no
significant risk of flight, no risk to the public safety, and the
appearance in court was likely.
"In the short span that the bond procedure had
been operable, more than $35,000 has passed into the escrow account
to be ultimately used for crime victims, costs of operating the
criminal court system, or returned to defendants whose cases are
dismissed. This money in the future will quite likely pass into
the coffers of the professional bonding businesses operating here.
"The procedure was a tremendous success. We are
going to our representatives to get it reinstated. We have to keep
trying. It's good for the taxpayers. It's good for crime victims.
It's good for those arrested who are found innocent.
"We urge the citizens of Overton County to contact
State Representative John Mark Windle and State Senator Lincoln
Davis to solicit their help in making this procedure possible."
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570