High school students charged with burglary
Overton County Voters moved to new districts
Masters kidnapping case set for new trial appeal
school students charged with burglary
Becky Meredith/OCN staff
Two Livingston Academy students were taken into custody
by Livingston Police Department last week, following a burglary
at Waterloo Tire Company, located on West Main Street, and the recent
vandalism and theft at Livingston Academy.
The burglary at the tire company was discovered Thursday
morning, March 7, when owners Delon and Elzie Clark arrived for
The suspects reportedly gained entry to the building
by prying open a steel side door of the building and took two Kumho
17-inch tires, an audio amplifier, and a small amount of money from
Chief Phillips said last week of the case, "We
got lucky over the weekend. Officers discovered a backpack containing
some of the items taken from the school. Officers followed the leads
from there and, after questioning people, made the arrest.
"Both students were at school when the arrests
were made. According to school staff, students were upset about
the damage to their school and relayed any information they had.
It was one of those tips that made the case"
Thought to be in connection with both of these robberies
are 20 additional burglaries of businesses and vehicles in Clay
County, Jamestown, Livingston, and Cookeville, officials reported.
Three vehicles allegedly used in the burglaries were also seized
in the investigation.
Chief Phillips reported that everything stolen from
Livingston Academy has been returned, with the exception of several
hundred dollars, thought to be spent by the suspects.
He said damage to Livingston Academy might reach $10,000.
Arrested for the robberies of the tire company and
high school were Benjamin Dalton Massengill, 18, of Rock Springs
Road, and a 17 year-old male.
Massengill was charged with eight offenses in Overton
County, including theft of property, burglary, burglary of an auto,
and vandalism. He was arrested Wednesday, March 13 and placed in
Overton County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
He appeared in Overton County General Sessions Court
on Thursday, March 14 for a bond hearing, with Judge John Officer
Massengill's attorney, Michael Giaimo, requested the
$50,000 bond be lowered to $25,000.
Giaimo said, "There are holds on him in Fentress,
Clay, and Putnam for similar offenses. The issue of bond is academic
at this point."
Judge Officer denied the request and asked Assistant
District Attorney Owen Burnett if Massengill would be sent to Fentress
"Not unless he makes bond here," Burnett
Judge Officer scheduled Thursday, March 28 as the
next hearing date for Massengill in Overton County.
The juvenile, whose identity is being withheld by
OCN, will be tried in Overton County Juvenile Court.
Chief Phillips noted appreciation to members of Overton
County Sheriff's Department for assisting in the case.
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County Voters moved to new districts
By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN staff
Reapportionment on the state level will move Overton
County into the 15th State Senatorial District, currently represented
by Charlotte Burks. Just as the county will be moved to a new state
senate district this fall, so will more than 400 Overton County
voters be moved to new precincts where they will vote for new School
Board and County Commission representatives.
Overton County Election Commission Administrator Lucy
Newberry said, "It comes around every 10 years."
Reapportionment follows the U.S. Census. To meet the
one-person, one-vote requirement, each voting precinct within the
county has to be within 10 percent of each other. Results from the
2000 Census will require moving voters from Fairgrounds into Livingston
Ward 3, from Hardy's Chapel to District 5, and from a portion of
District 4 into District 3.
Voting districts have to follow a natural boundary,
so the Election Commission had to run the redistricting along roads
New to Livingston Ward 3 are residents in an area
from the city limits down Upper Hilham Road to Flatt Creek Road
down to Thomas Road then to Hilham Highway on to Zollicoffer Creek
down to Windle Community Road on to Carr Creek then to Highway 111
over to Spencer Road down to Highway 84 and over to County House
Everyone living on the inside of this area should
now be voting in Livingston Ward 3.
Though the precinct is a city precinct, those outside
the city limits will not be able to vote in city elections. The
reapportionment only affects where voters will go to cast ballots
in county elections, and who will represent them on the Board of
Education and on the County Commission.
The entire Hardy's Chapel voting precinct has been
moved from District 4 into District 5.
A portion of Pleasant Valley voters moves from District
4 to District 3. This portion consists of people on the left of
Highway 84, going out of Livingston, on Highland Mountain Road.
The line goes down Rickman-Monterey Highway and down Thorn Gap Road.
So far, the Election Commission has sent notices to
206 voters in District 4 and 192 in District 5. A few notices remain
to be sent out. The Election Commission urges anyone in these affected
areas who has not received a new voter registration card to visit
the Election Office before the August 1 general election.
The reapportionment does not affect the May primaries,
but it will affect voting for school board members and county commissioners
in the fall.
If the move proves inconvenient for some voters, they
can choose to participate in early voting. Early voting is conducted
at the Election Office in the Overton County Courthouse Annex, located
on University Street, beginning 20 days before an election for a
period covering 15 consecutive days. Office hours are 8 a.m. to
11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Deadline to register for the May 7 primary election
is Friday, April 5.
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officer indicted in shooting
Cookeville policeman Zac Birdwell, 30, has been arrested
and charged with assault, after allegedly shooting a fellow officer
in the neck around 2:40 a.m. Sunday, March 3.
Officer Brad Sperry, 30, former deputy at Overton
County Sheriff's Department, had reportedly been with Birdwell at
a party attended by other off-duty Cookeville officers. After the
party, the two went to Birdwell's home, where they got into an altercation.
Birdwell allegedly pulled out a .38 calliber pistol and shot Sperry.
The bullet was reportedly a clean shot, going straight through Sperry's
Sperry made his way to the Conoco convenience store
located on East 10th Street in Cookeville and had someone call 911.
Officer Shannon Smith arrived at the store, helped
Sperry into his car, and drove him to Cookeville Regional Medical
Center where he received treatment for the wound.
Two city police officers went to Birdwell's home and
asked for his badge and service weapons, also taking his squad car.
Birdwell, who failed to appear at a disciplinary hearing
regarding the shooting, was fired Thursday morning, March 7 after
five years of service.
Sperry, who had reportedly been close friends with
Birdwell, stated that he did not know the reason Birdwell shot him.
According to District Attorney Bill Gibson, a full
and thorough investigation of the event was completed by Tennessee
Bureau of Investigation.
A report of the investigation was presented before
Putnam County Grand Jury for consideration on Monday, March 11.
The grand jury handed down an indictment on Birdwell,
charging him with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon by Causing
Serious Bodily Injury.
Birdwell was then processed at Putnam County Justice
Center on Wednesday, March 13.
Out on bond, he is set to appear in court on Tuesday,
DA Gibson said, "I have been closely involved
in this matter from the very beginning. I am familiar with all facets
of the investigation and have been in communication with the victim.
"The Cookeville Police Department and Chief Robert
Terry have acted in the most professional and appropriate manner
possible in stepping aside and requestng an external investigation
by the TBI.
"No law enforcement agency should ever conduct
a criminal investigation involving its own members. To do so would
leave members of the public with possible uncertainties about the
objectivity and influence of internal factors."
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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570