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80 Years Ago

Archives 11-10-2004



Ribbon cutting officially opens Wilder Highway
County sets record with voter turnout
Two Sparta men arrested for recent shooting



Ribbon cutting officially opens Wilder Highway

Becky Meredith/OCN staff
The ribbon cutting held Thursday, Nov. 4 at the bottom of Cub Mountain to celebrate the official reopening of Highway 85 had around 40 persons in attendance. Present were TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely, local dignitaries, Chamber of Commerce board members, Johnny Fred Coleman, of Mid-State Construction, and Tennessee Department of Transportation workers.

The section of Wilder Highway that leads up Cub Mountain is officially reopened, as of Thursday, Nov. 4, when a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the bottom of the mountain to recognize the road's recent repair.

A major landslide in the spring of 1999 destroyed much of the road going up the mountain, forcing those who commute from Crawford, Hanging Limb, Vines Ridge, Cliff Springs, Twinton, Wilder, and Davidson to take an alternate and out-of-the-way route to get to Livingston.

County officials requested help from then TDOT Commissioner Bruce Saltsman Sr. The request, however, was declined.

Richard "Ossie" Mitchell, who was county executive at the time, and Joe Garrett, who was road commissioner then, decided to do something about the state of the road to at least make it usable for local traffic.

A bypass was quickly built around the area where the road caved in, and "Road Closed" signs were posted to discourage through traffic.

The problem was once again brought to TDOT's attention in 2003, during a visit current TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely made to Overton County.

He was taken to Cub Mountain to see the dangerous condition of Wilder Highway. He took immediate action, setting in motion an inspection of the road and development of a plan to improve the road to make it safe.

Initial studies estimated the cost of reconstructing a new road around the slide area at $15 million, according to TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely.

"After careful consideration and study, we determined that the most economical and feasible plan was to just slightly relocate a small portion of State Route 85 and improve the repair and slide area where we could," Commissioner Nicely said. "We wanted to lessen the inconvenience experienced by local motorists."

Using funding acquired from TDOT's maintenance budget, a project to relocate Highway 85 was started in August 2004. This $250,000 project was constructed entirely by TDOT maintenance forces and was completed by the end of last month.

"We are very pleased that the road is open again and to be able to assist the people of Overton County," Nicely said.

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County sets record with voter turnout

Though not reaching the projected turnout of 10,000 voters, the Thursday, Nov. 4 General Election drew the largest voter turnout ever in Overton County, with 8,605 votes cast, outpacing the last Presidential Election in 2000, which drew 7,626 Overton County voters.

Overton County's voters were a minority in Tennessee, choosing Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry by 577 votes over incumbent Republican George W. Bush. Overton was one of only 18 Tennessee counties voting for Senator Kerry. President Bush carried the state by 350,000 votes and went on to win reelection by more than 3 million votes nationwide, taking 286 Electoral College votes to Kerry's 252.

Kerry received 4,518 votes in Overton County, and Bush received 3,941. The 577 vote margin was much closer than in the 2000 Presidential Election when Democrat Al Gore received 1,631 more than Bush.

Independent Ralph Nader received 27 votes in Overton County, Michael Badnarik received 14 votes, and Michael Anthony Peroutka received 10 votes.

Incumbent Bart Gordon easily won reelection to the 6th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating Republican challenger Nick Demas 64 percent to 34 percent. In Overton County, Gordon received 5,733 votes to Demas' 1,596. Independent J. Patrick Lyons received 51 votes, and Norman R. Saliba received 15.

State Representative John Mark Windle received 6,667 complimentary votes in his unopposed bid for reelection.

Locally, Billy James Parrott was elected to fill the vacant 2nd District County Commission seat. Parrott received 716 votes, and Leon Robbins received 534.


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Two Sparta men arrested for recent shooting

Two White County men have been arrested and charged with the October 24 shooting of James David Snell, according to Livingston Police Department.

Snell, 28, of Doak Street, suffered a gunshot to the groin that Sunday afternoon after he reportedly gave directions to two individuals in an early 1990s model white 4-door Chevrolet Cavalier, who stopped near his home at the intersection of Doak and Oakland Park streets.

The victim was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, where he was treated for his injuries. He was reportedly released from the hospital the next day and returned home.

Brandon Sparkman, 19, and Jonathan Parks, 19, both of Sparta, are being held at Overton County Jail under a $50,000 bond.

They were scheduled to appear before General Sessions Judge John Officer on Tuesday, Nov. 9 to answer charges of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

Officials have not yet revealed a motive for the shooting to Overton County News.


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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
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