Cross Crowned Fairest Of Fair
Dale Hollow Gator Captured On KY Side
Meth Lab Discovered At Vines Ridge
Trailer Parks On Hilham Highway
Becky Meredith/OCN staff
A house trailer almost but didn't quite make it up
the hill on Hilham Highway, just past the intersection of the highway
and Highway 111 Wednesday afternoon, July 18. The truck pulling
the trailer reportedly ran out of gas, stopped, then rolled backwards
over the right bank. The extent of the damage appeared to be limited
to a broken window and a rather large dent in the front right corner.
Officers of Livingston Police Department responded to the scene
moments later and blocked off the end of Hilham Highway at traffic
light 2. The officials rerouted motorists on Hawkins Road, which
runs beside The Building Center. One concern of Chief Roger Phillips
was that with local factories changing work shifts, a traffic jam
would possibly result before the trailer could be moved. A large
wrecker was soon brought to the scene to move the trailer. One bystander
at the scene commented, "Not exactly a great place for a house
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Gator Captured On KY Side
By Alan B. Gibson Clinton County News Editor Reprinted
Allen Smith, left, and Willard Johnson pose with “Gus,
the gator”. Smith and Johnson recently caught the caiman, which
is related to the crocodile family.
A big net, a hunk of chicken, a towel, and a roll
of electrical tape, along with a short "tussle" in the
water, and the Dale Hollow Gator is "in the bag".
After more than three weeks of stalking and hunting
that included at least a dozen trips to the "gator hole"
on Dale Hollow Lake, "Gus" the gator is finally safe from
harm, and resting comfortably in a tank full of fresh water with
an endless supply of chicken.
Allen Smith and Willard Johnson were involved in
Sunday evening's successful "gator adventure" and upon
arriving at Wisdom Dock with the 40-inch creature alive and well
in an aerated live-well on Smith's boat, it didn't take long for
word to spread about the "catch of the day.”
With flashes popping and cameras whirring, the mooring
area around the Wisdom Dock Lighthouse Restaurant was quickly a
center of activity as word quickly spread of the successful capture
earlier that afternoon
The saga of the Dale Hollow Gator has been circulating
for several months since earlier reports this spring of a sighting
of an alligator-like creature in an area of the lake known locally
as Cope Hollow near the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
Although the existence of an alligator living in
a fingerling of Dale Hollow Lake was somewhat unbelievable to most
who heard it, the story took on a heightened circulation a few weeks
In its July 4 issue, Clinton County News published
a report, along with several photographs taken during a day-long
effort to catch the animal after three locals, Allen Smith, Alan
Gibson, and Fred Groce, made several failed attempts to get the
animal in their small fishing boat.
Since that story first appeared in Clinton County
News, several other newspapers in the Dale Hollow Lake area reprinted
the account and two separate reports of the sighting and attempts
to catch the gator were aired on Nashville television stations.
Sunday's successful venture came after several afternoon
and nighttime trips had also produced results that were little more
than the alligator getting another good meal, compliments of the
group who have now become known in the area as the "Gator Hunters."
Named "Gus" by those who were hunting him,
the gator's favorite food appeared to be Cagle's marinaded chicken
breast, and Sunday's nabbing of the gator by Smith and Johnson began
with the careful placement of several pieces of chicken.
For Smith, the hunt began like most of the others
had, but for Johnson, a first-time gator hunter, it ended up being
a day he will likely never forget.
Placing a large net across the log, Johnson said that
Smith had explained the plan for the day, noting that hopefully,
while crawling up on the log where he had been seen more often than
not, "Gus" would become entangled in the net while searching
out the pieces of chicken that were being left.
After baiting the log with the chicken, Smith and
Johnson, who were accompanied by their wives, Lisa Smith and Sherry
Johnson, left the area for about half an hour in order to allow
the gator to approach the log without anyone being around.
"When we came back, I looked up toward the log,
and there he sat," Smith said Sunday evening as he held Gus
carefully in his hands and allowed onlookers to get a closer look.
Smith said he could tell that the gator was being
held on the log by the net, which had apparently gotten around one
of his legs and prevented him from leaving the area as the boat
"I think it was Allen who said 'we got to get
in the water with him' and I didn't even think twice, I just jumped
in," Johnson said, just before Smith jumped into the conversation
and began reviewing their next actions that resulted in bringing
the gator to the boat.
"I slipped around behind him and told Willard
I was going to grab him by the tail, and when I had ahold of him,
Willard was going to throw a towel over his head and hold him down,"
Smith said, pointing out that as he was now an experienced "gator
hunter", his plan called for him to grab the tail, while he
instructed the newest member of the hunt party to deal with the
"business end" of the animal.
"Worked like a charm," Smith said. "As
soon as I grabbed him, he turned and hissed and just like that,
Willard had him covered up and we had him."
Johnson said that after the pair had subdued the
creature, it briefly began hissing and twisting, but with a firm
grip on both ends, it quickly settled down and seemed content to
be carried to the boat.
Back in the boat, and with a firm grip on the gator's
mouth, Lisa Smith was summoned to wrap the snout shut with several
rounds of electrical tape and with that, the ordeal had come to
In the meantime, the fourth member of the Sunday afternoon
gator hunt was happy to not become a first-hand member of the excitement.
Willard said his wife, Sherry Johnson, spent the entire time at
the back of the boat, as far back in the boat as she could get.
"When we started coming into the boat with it,
Sherry was already back near the motor and she started trying to
find a way to get even farther back," Johnson laughed as he
repeated the story Sunday night at Wisdom Dock.
Sunday's successful gator capturing run had a bit
of a twist of superstition, as well.
Wearing his gator hunting attire, Smith went after
"Gus" in the exact same outfit he was wearing the first
day the critter was spotted in late June – a black Harley Davidson
tank top and a white cowboy hat.
It was also pointed out that both Smith and Johnson
are employed at the Bank of Clinton County, while their wives, are
both teachers at Albany Elementary School.
Sunday's successful gator hunt has also brought forth
several more questions, including how "Gus" ended up in
Dale Hollow Lake, and are there any more in the immediate area.
A closer inspection of the animal by Smith, Gibson,
and several others who had reported seeing the animal earlier, raised
the possibility that yet another similar specimen may remain on
the loose in the same area.
"I'm not sure this is the first one we saw,"
Smith said, noting that the animal photographed several weeks ago
appeared to be somewhat different in color and perhaps longer than
the one caught Sunday.
It could be that more "gator hunts" will
be planned in the future, if it appears that yet another gator is
still living in the area.
Currently, several avenues of getting the captured
animal to a proper environment are being researched by those involved
in the capture, in an effort to not only get "Gus" entered
into surroundings that are more suitable to the normally tropical
environment where they are usually found, as well as insuring that
it is better taken care of and away from potential harm.
Wherever he ends up, we'll be sure his new caretakers
are aware of his acquired appetite for marinaded chicken.
Editor's Note: Bill Moulton of Tennessee Wildlife
Resources Agency has informed Overton County News that the animal
is actually a caiman, a relative of the crocodile. An alligator-like
creature has been reported in Dale Hollow Lake for about two and
a half years.
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Lab Discovered At Vines Ridge
Sheriff Kelly Hull, left, and Reserve Deputy Tom Key
display the methamphetamine paraphernalia seized Tuesday, July 17
from a lab in the Vines Ridge Community.
Becky Meredith, OCN staff
Production of methamphetamine at a lab in the Vines
Ridge Community was brought to a sudden halt Tuesday morning, July
Officials at Overton County Sheriff's Department were
tipped off on the whereabouts of the lab, and upon searching the
location, found methamphetamine had been cooked on the scene.
According to Sheriff Kelly Hull, at best guess, the
confiscated chemicals and cooking utensils had been used for only
one cooking of methamphetamine.
Evidence will be presented to the Overton County Grand
Until the investigation is completed, names of those
in custody will be withheld from the public.
Items seized in the bust will be sent to the Tennessee
Bureau of Investigation to be further verified as methamphetamines,
The Vines Ridge seize was the third bust within a
four-day period in Overton County. Two labs were discovered Friday,
Sheriff Hull urges residents of the county who have
information regarding drug activity and manufacturing in the area
to come forward and report the situation to the Sheriff's Dept.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570