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Archives 11-12-2008

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Take home policy will continue for bus drivers
First official trees planted Saturday
Body identified as Jennifer Hughes Cornell

Barack Obama elected 44th U.S. President
County Commission approves Sheriff’s Dept.-TDOT agreement


Take home policy will continue for bus drivers
By Dewain E. Peek
and Becca Savage,
OCN staff

Overton County Board of Education has put to rest speculation about not allowing bus drivers to take buses home, for this year.

The School Board voted down that option during the Monday, Nov. 3 regular monthly meeting, with all members present.

When the measure was brought up for consideration Board member Mark Peek said, “We need to end this discussion for the bus drivers and for everybody else so they know what’s going on, with the understanding that if the day comes through when gas is $5 a gallon again that we may have to do this.”

He said the budget process is where this should be looked at.
Board member Houston Robbins concurred that it should be looked at in the budget.

“We may have to do something in the upcoming year,”Robbins said.
Peek added, “We’ve got a budget committee that studies the budget. Let’s do this in a budget. Instead of doing it in the middle of a year, do it the right way.

“I never said we don’t need to do it, but I’m saying maybe we need to do it into a budget and not in the middle of the year.”

Board member Ray Smith agreed that the situation should be resolved for this year, saying, “I want to settle their minds tonight.”

Board member David Sadler brought up a concern about compensating
drivers who live close to the county line, pointing out that it not only would cause a fuel expense for them, but that it would take up much of their time to go to and from their homes to pick up a bus to run their routes.

“There’s less vandalism on the buses when they’re in their private care,”
Sadler pointed out. “It just don’t make sense to me for them to have to do all that driving and not be compensated. They don’t get much anyway.”

Board member Sam Pendergrass acknowledged that distance driven to the bus drivers’ homes does not cause excessive wear on the buses.

“Mileage on the buses don’t really matter anymore because in 15 years you don’t put enough miles on them to even wear them out, even with them driving them home,” Pendergrass said.

All School Board members voted against prohibiting bus drivers from
driving the buses home.

The School Board then considered parking maintenance and bus garage
service vehicles at the shop rather than driving allowing personnel to drive them home.

Peek said, “I’d like to go back to my statements, I’m not saying this is a
good idea or a bad idea, but I think this should be handled in our budget process.”

Board member Howard Miller, who presented cost information on allowing the vehicles to be taken home, said, “I think it’s money well spent.”

Board member Lenard Ledbetter mentioned that Transportation Supervisor Noah Hinson had started a bus at Wilson Elementary in the morning, but would have had to come back to Livingston to get a truck and would have started the route about a half-hour or more late if the proposed policy was in effect.

The measure failed with Board members Dolphus Dial, Lenard Ledbetter, Larry Looper, Howard Miller, Mark Peek, Houston Robbins, David Sadler Sr., and Ray Smith voting no, and Kelly Hill and Sam Pendergrass voting yes.

With the new meeting night of the first Monday of the month coinciding
with the Livingston City Council meeting, and the School Board wishing to change the regular monthly Board of Education meeting night from the first Tuesday of the month as stated in the School Board policy, the Board voted to amend Policy 1.400 School Board meeting time to set the meeting date as the first Thursday of each month.

Kelly Hill, Larry Looper, Howard Miller, Mark Peek, Sam Pendergrass,
and Houston Robbins voted to change the meeting night to Thursday, and Dolphus Dial, Lenard Ledbetter, David Sadler, and Ray Smith voted to leave the meeting night at Tuesday.

This was the first reading of the policy change and it will have a second
reading next month. The next regular monthly meeting will be on the first Thursday in December.

A memorandum of understanding between the Town of Livingston and Overton County Board of Education was approved to provide a certified SRO (student resource officer) for Overton County Schools. The cost to the Board is $17,500, as previously agreed upon in a prior work session.

Logan Carpenter of Livingston Police Department and John McLeod of Overton County Sheriff’s Department are the provide SRO duties in Overton County.They teach D.A.R.E. classes and “No Bullying” in the schools, and also provide a law enforcement presence at Livingston Academy.

Director of Schools Mike Gilpatrick said, “They do a wonderful job and the kids think a lot of them.”

Overton County School System’s quarterly report was approved.

Overton County Schools Safety and Emergency Preparedness Plan was approved.

An overnight trip was approved for Hilham Beta Club to attend the Beta Convention at Opryland Hotel on November 24 and 25, as requested by Principal Vickie Eldridge.

The School Board also approved the Livingston Academy Band trip to Atlanta, GA, on April 3-5, as requested by Principal Harold Watson.

The resignation and retirement of Linda Langford was accepted, effective October 25.

In executive action, the date for the Livingston Middle School Beta Club trip was changed to May 5 and 6 instead of May 7 and 8, as requested by Principal Rick Moles, due to Habitat being full.

The following low bids for paving were approved:
•A.H. Roberts Elementary School – H&E Construction, $18,750;

•Livingston Middle School – Highways Inc., $31,500;

•Rickman Elementary School – Highways Inc., $48,000;

•Wilson Elementary School – H&E Construction, $2,600.
Director of Schools Gilpatrick issued the Director’s Report to the School Board. Actions taken by the school director are as follows:

•Maternity leave was granted to Peggy Garrett, from December 1 through February 27.

•Elizabeth Delk was hired, effective October 16, as an elementary K-6 instructor at Allons Elementary to replace Rebecca Jenkins, who has been reassigned as reading coach and intervention, as recommended by Principal Melissa Savage.

In the work session before the regular School Board meeting, Allons Elementary School Principal Melissa Savage gave an update on the school.

“Our attendance is up this time,” she said.

She also informed the Board members that landscape work has been
completed to remove an old pond on the school grounds.

A.H. Roberts Principal Teresa Johnson also gave the Board an update on her school and the discussion turned to the recent evacuation because of smoke in the vents from a nearby fire.

She told the Board that the evacuation went well considering all that was involved.

Director Gilpatrick said, “We are required to have our crisis safety plan and evacuation plans and sites, all of that, and you pray that you will never have to really execute one of those.

“I’d like to compliment the Livingston City Police Department. Capt.

Emerton gave us a call and let us know, and Fire Chief Rocky Dial. They were having trouble with the blaze, the wind shifted, then we assessed the situation and had to put the plan into effect.

“I just want to say, my compliments, it went very smoothly.”

Gilpatrick presented Principal Johnson a certificate for her and her staff congratulating them for a job well done.

He said, “We practice these things but until something like that happens you never know.”

Gilpatrick said the entire school was evacuated in about 30 minutes.

He also presented a certificate to Livingston Academy Principal Harold Watson for the job his staff for taking care of the alternative site planning.

Director Gilpatrick said, “It was just phenomenal to see the plan at work.”

The bus drivers were also complimented by Principal Johnson and Director Gilpatrick on their quick response.

Livingston Academy Principal Harold Watson addressed the Board and asked for weights machines to be used by the 922 students at the school.

He asked for $20,000 to purchase the equipment, which he said will be located inside the school.

Watson also asked for stripper and wax for new tile that has been installed in the school.

The Board agreed to allow bids to be taken on the weight machines and then look at whether to make the purchase this year or later.

Derrick L. Clemow of Upland Design Group gave an update on possible
building projects the Board of Education’s building committee have been considering. The committee has been looking at the potential of a 7 through 12 at Rickman and an elementary school in the north part of the county.

Nothing definitive has been decided by the committee.

Board member Howard Miller said the committee may have a recommendation for the School Board by the December or January School Board meeting.

Terry Melton addressed the Board about sports scheduling conflicts concerning the Junior Wildcats football program and school basketball programs. A committee was formed to look into setting sports schedules for elementary schools for next year.


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First official trees planted Saturday


Darren Oliver photo
Leadership Overton Class of 2008 members perform the first planting of official county trees at Willard Winningham Memorial Park, near the Livingston Academy campus on Saturday, Nov. 8. The Yellowwood and Fringe trees were recently voted to be the official large and small trees of Overton County. A plaque will be dedicated at the park in the spring. The trees are also being planted at all the elementary schools in Overton County.

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Body identified as Jennifer Hughes Cornell


A body found November 2 in a sink hole in Clay County has been identified as Jennifer Hughes Cornell, 30, of Vaughn Lane, who had been reported missing on October 30.

According to reports, medical examiners in Nashville used dental records to make a positive identification of the body as Cornell. Along with that announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 4, the autopsy findings indicate that Cornell died of blunt force trauma.

Billy Jason Hancock, 34, is charged with aggravated kidnapping of Cornell. He appeared in Overton County General Sessions Court on Thursday, Nov. 6 and Judge John Officer appointed Assistant Public Defender Art Johnson to represent him.

Hancock is next scheduled to appear in court in January, and he remains in Overton County Jail without bond.

The search for Cornell began Thursday, Oct. 30 after Overton County Sheriff’s Department received a call to Vaughn Lane in the Hilham area reporting that she had not shown up at work. When officers arrived at Vaughn Lane, her vehicle was found approximately 100 feet from her residence, with the engine running and her purse in the vehicle.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, an Overton County Rescue Squad member located her body in a sink hole off Willow Grove Highway on Colson Lane in Clay County, approximately 500 yards from Hancock’s home, though not on his property, according to reports.

According to reports, Hancock is the father of Cornell’s 16 year-old daughter. Though some reports have referred to Hancock as a former boyfriend, longtime friends of Jennifer Hughes Cornell have stated she never actually dated Hancock, though she did know him when the two were teenagers.

The daughter of Keith and Judy Hughes, and the wife of Steven Cornell,
Jennifer Hughes Cornell, was the mother of two children. A fund for the children has been set up at Bank of Overton County.

Barack Obama elected 44th U.S. President


For only the third time in Overton County election history, absentee and early voting outnumbered election day voting on Tuesday, Nov. 4 for the State and National General Election. The first time early voting outnumbered that of election day was the August 2004 General Election, and the only other time was the June 2008 Livingston Municipal Election.

A total of 8,176 people cast votes in the election, and 4,188 voted early or absentee, leaving 3,988 to go to the polls the day of the election.

In the national election, Barack Hussein Obama II was elected to become the 44th President of the United States, and the first of black heritage in the country’s history.

Though more Overton County voters preferred Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 election, Republican John McCain received 55% of Overton County presidential votes this time, with 4,495 to Obama’s 3,418. Overton County reflected the voting in Tennessee, which gave its Electoral College votes to McCain.

The only Overton County precincts giving an edge to Obama were Hilham (350-339) and Independence (196-159).

Republican Lamar Alexander won his bid for re-election to the U.S.

Senate, and Overton County chose Alexander almost 2-to-1 over his Democrat opponent, Robert D. Tuke, with 4,218 votes for the incumbent to 2,308 for the challenger.

Alexander said, “I thank the people of Tennessee for giving me the opportunity to serve them in the United States Senate for another six years.

“I will do exactly what I pledged to do during the campaign: I will work across party lines to get results on the big issues facing our country, and there certainly are plenty of those, starting with the economy, energy independence and health insurance.

“With big issues will come big differences of opinion, but my differences will be based upon principle, not partisanship.”

Democrat Bart Gordon was re-elected to the 6th District of the U.S. House
of Representatives for a 13th term, and Overton County concurred with 83% voting for the incumbent.

Gordon said, “I am pleased residents of Tennessee’s 6th Congressional
District continue to place their confidence in me. I have always worked hard to ensure Middle Tennesseans have a strong voice in government, and that’s something I will continue to do.

“It is time to put the election behind us and work in a bipartisan manner to effectively get our economy back on track and moving. I am doing everything possible to improve the lives of Middle Tennessee residents because I have never forgotten where I come from or who I work for.”

Incumbent Democrat John Mark Windle was re-elected to the 41st Representative District of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Overton Countians gave him 99.48% of their votes cast in that race.

Overall in the state races, Republican victories in state legislative races increased the party’s majority in the state Senate and gave Republicans a majority in the state House for the first time since 1968.

For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans hold a majority in both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Robin Smith, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, said, “The election of a Republican majority in the General Assembly is historic in its own right, and even more so given the strong Democratic tide across much of the country. Our victories send a national message that Republican values still resonate with mainstream America.

“The power of a consistent conservative Republican message –- low taxes, small government and respect for life – once again demonstrated its power to attract a majority.”

Republicans held a majority in the state House for two years after the 1968 election, but had not held a majority in the state Senate since Reconstruction until the 2006 election.


County Commission approves Sheriff’s Dept.-TDOT agreement
By Dewain E. Peek,
OCN staff

Overton County Legislative Body held the regular monthly meeting Monday, Nov. 10, with County Commissioner Jeff Staggs absent.

A proposed agreement between Overton County Sheriff’s Department and Tennessee Department of Transportation was approved for the sheriff to supply inmate labor to pick up trash along the state highways in the county.

Sheriff W.B. Melton said, “In the first year, with this proposal, we think we’ll make $26,068. That is with buying a truck and then the other things that we’ve got to have.

“They will furnish the signs and the vests for us.”

TDOT will pay $8,637.77 to the Sheriff’s Department if the agreement is approved by the state. Sheriff Melton suggested paying for the truck with the first three month’s proceeds. The trash pick-up will be from March to November.

“The second year, the county should receive $46,068 profit, after paying expenses,” Sheriff Melton said.

One corrections officer would be needed for the program, according to Sheriff Melton. Six inmates would perform the labor. Litter pickup would be done nine times a year along approximately 140 miles of state highway in Overton County.

County Mayor Kenneth Copeland was re-appointed as chairman of the County Commission.

Debra Maberry was re-appointed as budget director.

Overton County Schools Quarterly Report was approved.

The County General Quarterly Report was also approved. Sales tax and gas tax are coming in slowly, according to Budget Director Maberry.

A resolution for an industrial grant for Cooper Recycling was adopted.
Commissioner Ben Danner asked, “Does that cost the county anything?”

Mayor Copeland said the county would not be out any money and added, “Any match will be paid by Cooper Recycling.”

A resolution was also adopted for a CDBG grant for Cooper Recycling.
In committee reports, Commissioner Billie G. Phipps reported, “We had a meeting, the building committee did, and the architect has proposed right now, we’ve got two proposals to build a K through 8 in the northern part of the county somewhere and a 7 through 12 school in Rickman. That’s what they’ve proposed.

“We’re meeting again tomorrow night on it. So, I don’t know where it’s going to go.”

Commissioner Alan Atnip asked, “In these meetings, do they ever say, you know, where’s this money going to come from?”

Commissioner Phipps answered, “That’s what we’re talking about.”

Commissioner Atnip wondered aloud if the money is expected to come from the taxpayers.

Director of Schools Mike Gilpatrick was in attendance and Commissioner Darwin Clark asked him, “Where’s the money going to be coming from.

Has that been discussed or anything?”

Gilpatrick answered, “No, as far as appropriating any money for the building program, that hasn’t been discussed.”

Director Gilpatrick mentioned another area of funding that would need to be looked into.

“My concern is, our BEP funds, even if we build, are not going to increase that much in the upcoming years because our population growth is not beyond the two percent a year over the past, I don’t know how many, years,” Gilpatrick said. “So, not only do we have to look at what it’s going to cost to fund it, but we’re going to have to look to see what it’s going to cost to run it.”

Commissioner Jean Moore asked if the high school is overcrowded right now.

Gilpatrick answered, “It’s crowded. Of course, it was designed with narrow halls.

“It’s down a little bit from what it was last year, but to say that you don’t need room wouldn’t be accurate.”

He said the school system is out of space at most of the schools except Wilson Elementary.

Commissioner Gregg Nivens reported that the Public Safety Committee has five candidates for the ambulance director position.

“We’ll probably be shortly hiring one,” he said.

Commissioner Stanley Carter Jr. gave a report from the budget committee, saying, “I try to keep reiterating to everybody, that, you know, money’s short. If you have money in your budget that you can move around from one place to another, that, we will look at. But if you are asking for new money, there’s no new money there to be getting.”

The meeting adjourned.

 


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