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80 Years Ago

Archives 03-01-2011


Dynamite, pipe bombs lead to arrest
Dodge meets ditch after leaving rainy road
Mother charged after 4 year-old found wandearing streets
Governor introduces legislative package

Dynamite, pipe bombs lead to arrest

By Lyndon Johnson,
OCN staff

An Overton County man was arrested last week after authorities found a “case and a half” of dynamite stored in a freezer on his back porch and a pipe bomb, blasting caps, and an alleged marijuana growing operation in his house, according to Overton and White county sheriff’s departments.

Authorities say they believe Douglas Wright, 50, of 1246 Jamestown Highway, Livingston, may be connected to a pipe bomb that was brought to a bank in Sparta on Valentine’s Day. White County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation of that incident reportedly led them to Wright’s home, where they along with Overton County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Bomb and Arson Division, Tennessee Highway Patrol Investigative Division, and federal agents asked to search the home on Wednesday evening, Feb. 23.

According to Detective Chris Isom with White County Sheriff’s Department, Wright “consented to the search.

“We found more dynamite than I’ve ever seen in my life,” Isom added.
According to Sheriff W.B. Melton, the search of the residence turned up a “case and a half of dynamite” in a chest freezer that was located on the back porch of the residence.

“Some of the sticks were the big sticks, commercial type,” Melton said.

“And actually, one of them makes six sticks of dynamite. [Bomb and Arson Division Investigator] Gary Whitaker told me how many, I believe it was 26 of those big sticks, and I forget how many little ones.”

Whitaker could not be reached for comment before deadline, but Melton said it was illegal to possess dynamite without the proper permits and training. Tennessee Code Annotated 39-14-702 says, “a person who possesses any component or part of an explosive including, but not limited to, a fuse cap, detonator or wiring, with the intent to produce or manufacture an explosive device” has committed a criminal offense.

“You and I can’t just go buy dynamite,” Melton said. “Used to, I know my dad got some to blow rocks out of the ground, but that was years and years ago.”

Melton said Wright indicated he stole the dynamite from Swift Construction, a firm based in Cookeville that specializes in excavation, demolition, and land clearing.

Swift Construction Owner Matt Sommers indicated in a brief phone interview that Wright had been an employee of the company before he bought it a little more than a year ago, but hasn’t worked there since he bought the company.

Sommers said, “We just hire it out anytime we have any blasting. There’s a lot to it as far as getting certified. There’s insurance, and all that kind of stuff. We don’t fool with dynamite for this reason.”

Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, authorities could not tell Overton County News whether Wright was certified to handle dynamite per Tennessee law, but did indicate it was illegal to make pipe bombs, regardless.

Melton said the amount of dynamite found in Wright’s possession could, in his opinion, “level the square up there and everything around it, if the person had known how to use it.

“That’s a heck of a lot of dynamite,” he added.

After the dynamite and other explosives had been confiscated and sent to the Bomb and Arson Division for testing, Wright was arrested on Friday, Feb. 25 and charged with possession of a prohibited weapon/pipe bomb, according to a release from Overton County Sheriff’s Department. His bond was set at $100,000, which was posted in “15 minutes,” according to Melton.

He was scheduled to be arraigned in Overton County General Sessions Court today.

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Dodge meets ditch after leaving rainy road

Lyndon Johnson photo
Onlookers including tow truck driver Michael Bybee and Overton County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Carr survey the scene of a one-vehicle crash that left a car in a ditch full of water near Eagle Creek on Thursday, Feb. 24. According to Carr’s crash report, the black 2008 Dodge Avenger was being driven north on Willow Grove Highway by Ashley E. Hargis, 19, of Albany, KY, when rain-slick conditions caused the car to skid out of control while negotiating a curve.
“The tires on Vehicle 1 [the Dodge Avenger] had very little tread,” Carr’s narrative said. Hargis was uninjured, according to the report.

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Mother charged after 4 year-old found wandearing streets
By Lyndon Johnson,
OCN staff

A Livingston woman was arrested and charged with child neglect after her 4 year-old was found wandering the streets near Tennessee Technology Center unattended recently according to Livingston Police.

According to a report filed by Livingston Police Officer Logan Carpenter, it started with a call for assistance from Officer Jerry Rhoton. Carpenter responded to the call at the Technology Center.

According to Carpenter’s narrative, he was told by Rhoton that Technology Center maintenance person Ronnie Smith “had found a 4 year-old juvenile in the front entry around 6:05 a.m. and stated that the child told the maintenance man that her mother had dropped her off.

“Mr. Smith kept an eye on her, and when no one had come in for her at 6:43 a.m., he called Mr. Ralph Robbins, who is in charge of the Technology Center,” the narrative continued.

Officers took the child and a nurse from the Technology Center, who was not named in the report, the area of Lee Drive, where the child had indicated she lived by pointing “in the general direction of” the area, the report said.

Upon approaching the apartments on Lee Drive, the child pointed to the left side of apartments, where officers noticed the residence at 905 Lee Drive had an open door.

Carpenter knocked on the door and announced it was the police department. Dorothy Neal “finally answered the door and was asked if she had a child” whose name matched the one the little girl had given police, the report said. She allegedly indicated she did. Upon asking her if she knew where the child was, she allegedly stated she did not, then “pointed to a recliner by the door with a pillow in it and stated that [sic] where the child had been sleeping.

“The mother then asked with no apparent concern where her child was,” the report said.

The report said Neal was asked to go to the police department, but she became aggressive, yelling “leave me alone” and then slamming the door in the officers’ face “without even asking for her child to be returned.”

Attempts by officers to make further contact with Neal were reportedly met with a similar reaction.

She was charged with child neglect.

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Governor introduces legislative package

Governor Bill Haslam introduced on February 17 his legislative package for the 2011 session, focusing on educating the workforce, identifying the best teachers and revising the state’s civil justice system.

The legislation seeks to do the following:

•Make tenure tied to classroom performance; extend probationary time from three to five years.

“An effective teacher should lead every classroom, and we should recognize them,” Haslam said. “At the same time we should take steps to address those teachers who consistently fail to measure up to the standards we all want for every child. That should be the measure for tenure.”

•Lift the cap on charter schools and allow open enrollment.

“Charter schools represent one way to improve the learning experience,” Haslam said. “We are asking for the cap on the number of charter schools to be removed and to allow open enrollment.”

•Allow the state’s Achievement School District, part of First to the Top, to authorize charter schools.

“In our Achievement School District that is part of First-to-the-Top, we support extending to the ASD the ability to authorize charter schools,” Haslam said. “But the learning experience is not complete after a high school education. We need to encourage people to attain an advanced degree from a community college or one of our 4-year institutions.

•Extend use of the lottery scholarship for summer courses and cap the total number of hours based on required degree completion.

“With the Complete College Act that recognizes retention and graduation, we are requesting an extension of the lottery scholarship to summer courses and capping the total number of hours based on required degree completion,” Haslam said.

•Limits non-economic damages for both healthcare liability action and other personal injury actions.

“Another step toward making Tennessee competitive within the Southeast, we are requesting revisions to the state’s civil justice system,” Haslam said.

•Limits and clarifies standards for assessing punitive damages.

“The legislation will provide certainty and predictability for businesses and insure that we are competitive with our neighboring states,” Haslam said.

“The revisions will establish limits on non-economic damages for both health care liability actions and other personal injury actions. Limits will also be placed on punitive damages, and standards will be clarified for assessing such damages. Also the venues in which a legal action can be filed will be clarified.

•Limits appeal bond amounts.

“Our legislation being filed with the Tennessee General Assembly is tightly focused on opportunities to enhance job creation and is one piece of our agenda to make Tennessee more competitive in the Southeast,” Haslam said.


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