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80 Years Ago

Archives 04-19-2011


Lost & Found
Man dies in Jamestown Highway fire Sunday
Unemployment remains at 9.5% in March

Lost & Found

Lyndon Johnson photo
From left, Cookeville High School teacher Keith Brown and Vice Principal Lane Ward walk toward a rescue squad worker after emerging from the woods nearby, with both Ward and the rescuer reaching out their hands in preparation for a greeting. After an overnight manhunt that involved police, fire, ambulance, and rescue squads from three counties plus a helicopter search by Tennessee Highway Patrol, the men emerged from the woods on a property located on River Lane near the Hardy’s Chapel community Monday morning at approximately 9:40. The two had been kayaking Flat Creek when Ward’s kayak became disabled after a collision with rocks, stranding the two on shore in an area that was unfamiliar to them.

Lyndon Johnson photo
Before launching a mass search party Monday morning, a host of emergency officials from Overton, Putnam, and Jackson counties gather at a staging area at Campground Church to pore over a map of the area where Brown and Ward had been kayaking.

By Lyndon Johnson,
OCN staff

A Cookeville High School vice principal and his longtime friend, a teacher at CHS, were lucky to escape with their lives after attempting to kayak Flat Creek near Hardy’s Chapel Sunday evening.

Vice Principal Lane Ward and social studies teacher Keith Brown reportedly set out with kayaks from the vicinity of Flat Creek bridge on Highway 136 between Hilham and Hardy’s Chapel thinking they would come out at the Hardy-Reagan Bridge that crosses Roaring River. What the two said they didn’t realize was that the bridges crossed two separate bodies of water flowing in opposing directions. Instead of coming out at the Hardy-Reagan Bridge, the two soon found themselves merging with a swift-moving and rain-swollen Roaring River, moving away from their intended landing point and contending with multiple falls and sharp rocks along the way.

According to a joint media release from Putnam and Overton County emergency management agencies, “They put their kayaks into the water at Flat Creek Bridge...at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. After moving down the river for a short time, they came upon an unfamiliar waterfall that caused Ward’s kayak to crack.”

Ward was able to free himself from the damaged kayak and make it to shore, where Brown was waiting for him, the release said. Ward sustained only minor scrapes and scratches. Finding themselves in unfamiliar territory a good distance from any roads, the two said they started planning how to get back to their vehicles– one parked at Hardy-Reagan Bridge, the other at Flat Creek Bridge.

At approximately 8 a.m. Monday morning, officials from several county emergency management agencies, rescue squads, and fire departments were gathered at Campground Church near the intersection of Campground Road and Highway 136 strategizing how best to find the men when word came in that two kayaks had been spotted overnight by a Tennessee Highway Patrol aerial search helicopter. Both were reportedly severely damaged, and with reports that the pilot had not seen either of the missing men and that call logs showed only incoming calls to one of the men’s cell phones, rescuers feared the worst.

What rescue crews didn’t know was that the men had walked through the afternoon until they found what they initially described as a “hay barn.”

After finding it, the two said they ventured further to try to find a house from which they could call for help because they had no cell phone service.

They said they had seen the lights of what was possibly a house in the distance, but soon discovered that a bluff stood between them and it. With darkness quickly falling, they said they decided not to try scaling a bluff in the dark, instead opting to stay in the shelter of the barn overnight.

Ward said, “We came upon a little shack and decided to stay the night there, then try to find our way back after daybreak. We are just very blessed.”

After getting through a cold night by covering themselves with hay found in the barn, the two said they emerged at dawn and scaled the bluff, eventually finding their way to a residence on River Lane just as rescuers were passing by on their way to a river access point on the property nearby.

Overton-Pickett E-911 Director Chris Masiongale said, “These are two very lucky gentlemen who made a smart decision to stay put for the night.”
Lane threw up his hands and exclaimed, “You found us!” as the convoy of rescue squad trucks stopped in front of the residence. The two said they had attempted to get out into open areas and flag down the THP helicopter, which had reportedly been searching the area since 5 a.m., but to no avail.

“We are just really glad that these guys were not hurt and they are able to rejoin their families and friends this morning,” Masiongale said Monday.

“We were planning for the worst, but hoping for the best.”

Brown and Ward said they had known each other for more than 20 years and had several stories about things they had done over the years, but that they had never been in this kind of predicament. They thanked all the emergency officials who had been searching for them and apologized for any inconvenience. Many rescuers reassured the two they shouldn’t apologize, and that they were just glad both men were alive and well.

Rescuers from Overton, Putnam, and Jackson county rescue squads in addition to Putnam and Overton county sheriff’s department officials, Livingston Police Department officials, Hilham Volunteer Fire Department responders, and CHS Principal Wayne Shanks and School Resource Officer Bill Harris were on the scene Monday morning as crews prepared to search for the two missing men.

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Man dies in Jamestown Highway fire Sunday

Dewain Peek photo
The remains of a home at 1449 Jamestown Highway where authorities say a man perished in a fire early Sunday morning, April 17. The cause of the fire is undetermined, officials say.

By Lyndon Johnson,
OCN staff

A man was killed in a fire on Jamestown Highway early Sunday morning, according to reports from Alpine Volunteer Fire Department and Overton County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Alpine volunteer firefighter Jamie Ledford, fire crews were dispatched to 1449 Jamestown Highway at 3:40 a.m. Sunday, April 17.

The blaze required backup from Fairgrounds, Rickman, and Hilham VFDs, Ledford said.

According to Ledford, there were two people in the home at the time of the fire.

“The lady got out, but the man didn’t get out,” Ledford said. Overton County Sheriff’s Department said the deceased man’s identity was not being released until officials were able to confirm his identity via dental records.

According to OCSD Detective Greg Cooper, the man was originally from a different state, so sheriff’s department officials had to wait for the out-of-state dental records to come back. He said they found the man in a bedroom of the home, along with a dog described as a labrador breed and 10 to 12 pups that appeared to be newborn. None of the dogs survived.

“We feel pretty sure we know who [the man] is, but we want to be 100 percent sure,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the woman who escaped was Sandra Barney, 56.

Ledford said the home was owned by one Kenneth Boles, but the home was not his residence. Cooper said the property was being rented by Barney.

According to both OCSD and Alpine VFD officials, the cause of the fire is still under investigation, though Cooper said, “We don’t believe at this time that foul play was involved.”

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Unemployment remains at 9.5% in March
For the second month in a row, Tennessee experienced substantial employment growth, according to Tennessee Commissioner of Labor & Workforce Development Karla Davis.

“Tennessee had 17,400 more people employed in March than in February,” Commissioner Davis said. “The state also saw healthy growth in the number of people joining in the job search. Tennessee’s civilian labor force grew 0.5% from February to March as 16,300 more people looked for jobs.”

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for March was 9.5%, unchanged from the revised February rate. The national unemployment rate for March 2011 was 8.8%, down 0.1 percentage point from the February rate of 8.9%.

Month-to-month increases occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 7,200 jobs, and trade, transportation, and utilities, up 3,100. Health care/social assistance and durable goods manufacturing both increased by 2,300.

Declines took place in private educational services, down 600 jobs, and finance and insurance, down 400. Information, non-store retailers, and health/personal care stores all lost 200.

Year-over-year increases took place in educational and health services, up 11,400 jobs. Professional and business services were up 6,400, and mining and construction were up 6,000. Transportation and warehousing increased by 4,700, a signal of economic improvement. Durable goods manufacturing was up 3,300 over the year.

Employment decreases were in nondurable goods manufacturing, down 2,700 jobs, and retail trade, down 1,700.

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Overton County News
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Livingston' Tennessee 38570
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