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80 Years Ago

Archives 06-08-2005



Overton County Museum receives fresh makeover
Former jailer pleads guilty in inmate beating
Perdue Farms project to create 407 more jobs



Overton County Museum receives fresh makeover

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
In an ongoing effort to make Overton County Heritage Museum more attractive for the community, the former Overton County Jail building received a cosmetic makeover last week. Inmates of the new Overton County Jail applied light gray paint over the decades-old brick to make for a more pleasant appearance. The paint was donated, as have been various supplies, equipment, and services in converting the old jail into a more friendly facility, according to Paula Stover, member of the museum committee. Stover said, "Thanks to the generous donations of giving citizens, the museum is taking shape. What we need now is landscaping." For more information on the museum call Stover at (931) 498-2551 or Claudine Bilbrey at (931) 823-7636.



Former jailer pleads guilty in inmate beating

By MARY JO DENTON, Herald-Citizen staff with permission
A former Overton County jailer has pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges related to having jail inmates beat another inmate in Overton County Jail last January.

James Mark Loftis, 38, of Livingston, a lieutenant for Overton County Sheriff's Department at the time, pleaded guilty to charges in "an ongoing federal investigation into allegations of excessive force" at Overton Jail, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Vines and Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Cohen.

Loftis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Ricky Allen Beaty, a Livingston man who was arrested on a domestic violence charge in January.

Loftis admitted he participated with other jail employees in the planned beating of Beaty by two other inmates.

Loftis also said he and another jail employee were “solicited” by a deputy to have Beaty beaten up, according to U.S. Attorney Vines.

Loftis admitted he and another jail employee, after being asked to do so, recruited two jail inmates to beat Beaty and that the inmates believed they would receive "trusty" status in return for the beating, Vines said.

The inmates did beat Beaty, who "suffered two black eyes, extensive bruising, a laceration on his forehead and lost four teeth" in the beating, Vines said.

The other Overton Jail employees who allegedly conspired with Loftis are not named in the news release from the U.S. attorney, nor have they been named in court testimony, but the investigation is not over.

FBI Agent Scott Swallows of Cookeville is investigating the case, and in court testimony, the agent said that at the time Beaty was beaten in the jail, a sheriff's deputy there was dating Beaty's ex-wife.

He said the deputy, referred to in court papers so far only as "Individual A", conspired with James Loftis and another jail employee to arrange the beating.

The agent said Beaty was "repeatedly punched and kicked" by the two inmates as he "lay on the ground attempting to shield himself from their blows."

After the beating, Beaty was taken to the jail's medical room and given first-aid, and the two inmates who beat him were taken to a break room and given cake and coffee and allowed to smoke cigarettes, the agent alleged.

After he was released from jail later that day, Beaty went to the hospital emergency room for treatment. He also apparently lodged complaints and contacted a lawyer.

By February, the FBI was investigating the incident, and that investigation has continued and is still continuing, officials said.

Agent Swallows declined any comment on the case, referring the Herald-Citizen to the court records. He did say that District Attorney Bill Gibson has also been involved in conducting the investigation.

Loftis is to be sentenced later this year and could get 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, U.S. Attorney Vines said.

Overton County Sheriff's Investigator John McLeod, who said he was speaking for Sheriff Bud Swallows, told the Herald-Citizen that jailer Loftis resigned his job on April 7.

McLeod said an internal investigation into the matter is being conducted at Overton Jail, and said he is in charge of that investigation and that it is in cooperation with the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"This Department is cooperating fully with the investigation, and it is the policy of this department not to comment on any on-going investigation," McLeod said.

He said that after Loftis resigned on April 7, "We have had no further contact with him."



Perdue Farms project to create 407 more jobs

Perdue Farms announced Friday, June 3 that it has undertaken a $17 million expansion at its Monterey further-processing plant that will create more than 400 jobs.

The expansion, which will increase the company's capacity to produce sliced, deli-style meats primarily for foodservice operators, will begin operation in mid-November.

George Rawlston, vice president of prepared foods operations, said the company's partnership with the state of Tennessee was one of the main reasons behind the decision to build the slicing operation at its Monterey plant.

"This partnership is about more than bricks, mortar, and machinery," Rawlston said. "Perdue is making this $17 million investment in Middle Tennessee in part because of a partnership with the state of Tennessee. That partnership means employment for 407 people. And Perdue Farms knows it has a great workforce here in Middle Tennessee."

Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (ECD) is providing on-the-job training assistance for the 407 positions, which will be filled by a combination of existing associates and new hires, and will provide initial screening of all applicants for the new jobs.

By the time the expansion becomes operational, Perdue will have increased its employment at the Monterey plant from 1,806 associates in November 2004 to more than 2,150.

ECD Commissioner Matthew Kisber said, "We are glad that Perdue has decided to expand its operations here. The Governor's Jobs Cabinet Approach to job creation is producing positive results. The cooperation between the state and local community to help bring training, recruitment, and tax savings not only led to new, better paying jobs for Tennesseans, but helped to save those already there."

Rawlston said the expanded slicing operation is part of Perdue's commitment to keep pace with changes in the food industry.

"Sliced meats represent the fastest-growing category in food service, so this expansion is an investment in the future of this plant," Rawlston said. "Perdue Farms is dedicated to developing new products, implementing new processes, and expanding capabilities to remain a leader in our industry."

The expansion includes construction of a 16,000 square-foot addition to the plant, and conversion of 15,000 square-feet of existing space. The completed operation will have the capability to produce up to 35 million pounds of sliced meats per year. The 85 year-old company is based in Salisbury, MD.

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