2020 Year in Review – Chester County News

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Jan. 2
Former Henderson Police chief laid to rest

Jerome Payne Hurst, 84, of Henderson passed away Tuesday noon Dec. 24, 2019 at Henderson Health Care Center. Henderson Police officers escorted the body of former police Chief Jerome Hurst to his resting place at Chester County Memorial Gardens Thursday, Dec. 26 following his funeral.
Henderson firefighters hoisted a flag over the highway in his honor. Hurst served with the police department for 26 years.
 
Jan. 9
 Henderson Police Department seeks information in Saturday’s Save-A-Lot armed robbery

A recent armed robbery at Save-A-Lot at 129 Whitley Ave. in Henderson is under investigation by the Henderson Police Department.
According to a press release, officers with the Henderson Police Department responded to report of an armed robbery at Save-A-Lot, just after 7 p.m. Saturday.
Reportedly, a black male, wearing all black with a bandanna on his face entered the store and approached an employee’s register, displaying a gun and demanding cash. After taking an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect left the store, and was said to have been seen running behind the building.

Jan. 16
Multi-vehicle wreck at Third and White in Henderson

At about 8 a.m. Jan. 8, a three-vehicle wreck occurred at the intersection of Third St. and White Ave., leaving one vehicle on its side. Four occupants were involved in the crash.
According to a report from the Henderson Police Department, Sarah Allen of Enville was traveling east on Third St. and was attempting to cross White Ave. when she struck a vehicle traveling North on White Avenue. That vehicle then knocked into the path of a vehicle traveling South on White Ave. causing one of them to turn onto its side.
One person was reportedly transported by Med-Center EMS for what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.

Jan. 23
“Be the best of whatever you are” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Program…

Henderson City Hall opened its doors to the community Sunday for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Program. This is the first time it was held in the Henderson City Hall.
The messenger of the program was Apostle Frank Holiday of Greater Evangelical Ministries of Selmer.
Holiday spoke on Martin Luther King’s legacy of racial equality.
An excerpt of his message is “Whatever your color is, you can say ‘I’m proud.’”
He focused most of his message on King’s “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” speech.
Holiday referenced Dr. King’s text and told the audience to “be the best of whatever you are.”

Jan. 30
Recycling Hub adds on education/observation classroom

What better way would it be for students to understand the importance of recycling than to have them see the recycling process in person while they are young.
The new Education and Observation Room of the West Tennessee Regional Recycling Hub allows students and even adults to learn about recycling in a new manner.
In the classroom, students and others who visit learn about recycling, landfills, litter prevention, composting and our environment.
The class room was built with a Special Litter TDOT grant of $181,693.00 received by the Recycling Center in 2019.

Feb. 6
84th Annual Bible Lectureship underway at Freed-Hardeman University

The 84th Annual Bible Lectureship at Freed-Hardeman University was this week and will end tonight, Feb. 6.
People come from all over the nation to experience these lectures, make connections, learn more about the Bible and more.
Reed Swindle, Freed Hardeman alum, gave tips to teens during the Teen Lectureship that will help them in studying the Bible. His tips were to approach every passage with these five questions: Who wrote this or who said this? What did they mean? What are the truths and implications? What is the significance? And how do I apply this. Swindle preaches at the Foote Street Church of Christ in Corinth, Mississippi.

Feb. 13
STEMC shows care for Chester County

Four Chester County organizations received grants from Southwest Tennessee Electric’s Southwest Members Care program.
The organizations are: Chester County Senior Center, Chester County Fire Department, Chester County Library and Chester County 4-H.
This is the second round of grants being donated through the program which launched in September 2019.
Eleven grants were given in total.
SMC is a program which rounds electric bills of its participants up to the next dollar, and the change is used toward charitable causes of organizations and other entities across Southwest Tennessee EMC’s service territory.
 
Feb. 20
Keep Chester County Beautiful earns national award

Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, presented Keep Chester County Beautiful with the America Recycles Day Award at the Keep America Beautiful National Awards Ceremony, KCCB also received the 2019 President’s Circle Award recognition at the Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Conference, which recently took place in Memphis, Tennessee. The President’s Circle Award recognizes exemplary performance by certified affiliates of Keep America Beautiful in creating clean, green, and beautiful communities. Keep Chester County Beautiful was one of more than 50 individuals or organizations recognized at Keep America Beautiful National Awards for their commitment and passion.

Feb. 27
Local police make one arrest for truck theft in Chester County

On Nov. 21, 2019 a 2005 Chevrolet 2500 was reported stolen from the area behind Magic Valley Car Care on U.S. Highway 45 North.
The owner of the vehicle stated the vehicle was having mechanical problems and had been left on the property in mid-September. Employees at the business told police it had last been seen around the first week of October.
Three days after being reported stolen the vehicle was found abandoned in the South Eastern part of Chester County 
During the course of the investigation, Colton Scott Henley was developed as a suspect and warrants were issued.
Henley, 22, of 5620 Sunshine Road, was arrested on Feb. 14 and charged with Theft of Property over $2500.00.
He was released from the Chester County Jail on Feb. 17 after posting a $1000.

March 5
Chester County High School alum Presley Connor named U.S. Delegate, attends Global conference

Presley Connor, Chester County High School valedictorian of the class of 2019, has her mind set on a safer world with less fatalities from car accidents.
Now a freshman at Freed-Hardeman University, Connor is already leaving her mark on the world. As an active member of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), she was able to become a U.S. delegate overseas and advocate traffic safety at Stockholm, Sweden at the Second World Youth Assembly for Road Safety on Feb. 18.
As a U.S. delegate, Connor said that she focused on “how we can get policy makers to implement laws that reduce distracted, drowsy, drugged, and drunk driving, because these issues still appear to be the most prevalent, and yet also the most overlooked.”
During the WYA for Road Safety, 160+ young leaders from 75 different countries worked together to unite the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provided by the United Nations with their traffic safety programs.

March 12
Tony Hysmith named Chamber’s Outstanding Citizen

Tony Hysmith, right, was named the 2020 Henderson-Chester County Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Citizen at its Membership and Awards Banquet last Tuesday. Fellow Chamber board of director Johny Farris had the honor of presenting the award to Hysmith, who was also named the Chamber’s Board of Director of the Year.
“I have always known him to be someone who is honest, trustworthy, and kind and always doing what is best for Chester County,” Chamber Board of Director Johny Farris said.
 
March 19
COVID-19: Virus causes worldwide havoc

Originating in Wuhan, China in early December, the Coronavirus, COVID-19, has spread across the globe causing close to 200,000 people to be ill and close to 8,000 die.
COVID-19 reached the United States on January 20 in Washington State when a 35-year old man whom traveled to China returned and had been infected.
Now, as of Tuesday afternoon, the illness has killed 100 Americans.
Both the state and nation are in the state of emergency while the state has 74 confirmed cases and the United States has over 5,000 cases.

March 26
Local educator, county commissioner becomes Chester County’s first COVID-19 victim

A Chester County educator at the Chester County Junior High School was diagnosed Friday with the county’s first case of COVID-19.
Todd Lewis, the Dean of Student Life at CCJHS and a Chester County Commissioner was the first patient at Jackson Madison-County General Hospital to be treated for the virus.
He remains hospitalized in isolation at press time.
So far Lewis is the only county resident to contract the virus that has become a world wide pandemic.
Chester County Director of Schools Troy Kilzer II said in a letter to staff, faculty and students that he had been notified by State Health Officials notifying him that a staff member at CCJHS had tested positive.
Members of the local community gathered at the Chester County Courthouse lawn Sunday to pray for Lewis and the community.
 
April 2
Grace Baptist Church hosts drive-in church service in Chester County

Due to the required social distancing, many church congregations have canceled gatherings and holding services; however, Pastor Marcus Kelley and his congregation at Grace Baptist Church in Pinson creatively managed to gather together to worship Sunday March, 29, all while maintaining a distance from each other. They had a “Drive-in Church Service.”
The worship led by Scott Diffee and sermon by Pastor Kelley was done on a stage outside of the church and could be heard in a multitude of ways.
One could “drive-in” and listen to the service from their vehicles or listen to it being broadcasted from FM radio as well. It was even broadcasted over Facebook.
Between the two services that were held, over 100 cars were at the drive-in.

April 9
Lewis released from hospital following bout with COVID-19

Chester County’s own Todd Lewis was able to return home the morning of Thursday, April 2, after fighting for his life against COVID-19 for a few weeks.

April 16
Hidden Heroes: 911 Dispatchers of Chester County

When burglary occurs; when there is a crash; when someone dials 9-1-1; and more, there are people that help save lives, yet do not get recognized as often; the dispatchers.
Working day and night around the clock, even on holidays, if it were not for these hidden heroes our local firemen, police officers, EMT’s, etc., would not be notified about our local emergencies in time.
The trained professionals take on the 13th most stressful job in the nation everyday as they sit behind their communications desk.
They face situations requiring them to make difficult, sometimes life and death, decisions over the phone. Some emergencies require immediate action, and emergency responders have not had time to arrive. The operator must take over and advise the caller which actions to take. Dispatchers must remain calm, themselves, during these situations; a skill we must acknowledge and appreciate.
 
April 23
Chester County Schools remain closed/ businesses start to reopen

Tennessee school districts received news from Lee on Wednesday, April 15, that he recommended that they remained closed for the remainder of this academic year. In response to his announcement, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association announced that all remaining TSSAA events for the 2019-20 school year are cancelled. This includes spring sports and the postponed state basketball tournament.
Also, on April 15, Lee announced free COVID-19 testing will be available for any Tennessean, regardless of traditional symptoms, as the Unified-Command group ramps up an aggressive effort to expand testing capacity across the state.
Additionally, he said that State Parks will start to open their gates back up this Friday, April 24.
During his press briefing, Lee stated the number of cases of those who have recovered exceed the number of active cases.
Most businesses in 89 of the 95 Tennessee counties will be able to resume business May 1, and some businesses will be able to start as early as April 27.
Most Chester County offices will reopen May 1 while following state, national and medical guidelines Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson said.

April 30
East Chester Elementary in Henderson suffers electrical fire

The City of Henderson Fire Department responded to a classroom fire at East Chester Elementary at 9:21 Friday morning.
According to a report, upon arriving on the scene, firefighters discovered smoke coming from room 21 on the south side of the building.
E & T Contracting was in the midst of sterilizing the east wing of the building with ozone disinfectant treatment for the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The fire did not spread to other rooms, however nearby rooms also suffered minor smoke damage.
After further investigation, the fire was deemed to be electrical in nature. Laptops or tablets were stored and charging on a rolling cart which was found melted to the tile, determined to have been very near to or at the origin of the fire.

May 7
Local Chester County commerce gets back in shape

No Xcuse Fitness members can continue their workout schedules with the fitness center once again open for business. Tennessee commerce is working hard to get back in shape following the recent announcement by Governor Bill Lee that businesses such as gyms and retailers be permitted to reopen within certain guidelines.

May 14
March for Ahmaud Arbery

Chester County residents walked around Henderson for about two miles on Saturday, May 9, in support of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery of Georgia who was assaulted, shot and killed by white father and son Gregory, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34. The walkers join many others across the nation in support of him. The walkers have traveled 2.23 miles in recognition for the day it took place, February 23.

May 21
Weekend wreck claims four, one critically injured in Chester County

Chester County mourns the loss of four young lives after a wreck occurred on Highway 200 at about 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. According to an updated Tennessee Highway Patrol’s report, driver Tyler Stablein, 22, and driver Kaylee Daniel, 16, were traveling on Highway 200 when both vehicles collided with one another in an offset head-on collision. Passengers with Kaylee were Cayla Lenon, 16; Roselyn Roberts, 17; and Kristen Daniel, 14.
The crash resulted in the death of Kaylee, Lenon, Roberts and Stablein.
Kristen remains in critical condition in the ICU at the Med in Memphis.

May 28
Principal Ricky Catlett to leave Chester County High School

Chester County High School Principal Ricky Catlett announced Tuesday, May 26, that he will be leaving his position as principal at CCHS on June 30 to be Deputy Superintendent at Jackson-Madison County School District.
He leaves after being principal for six years.
In his letter of announcement, he stated he loved working for the school and enjoyed the atmosphere of love and education that was created at CCHS while he has been there. He said it is from the unity he has had with his faculty, the students, parents and the Chester County community.

June 4
Gov. Lee announces Tennessee Business Relief Program

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced a new relief program for Tennessee businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds through the Department of Revenue directly to small businesses that qualify.

June 11
Chester County takes a stand against racism in CommUnity event

The nation recently witnessed racism in one of its ugliest forms, murder. George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minnesota was killed in the result of being pinned down as a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck. His pleas to be unpinned as he repeated “I can’t breathe,” were not enough to earn him basic human rights.
His death sparked another pivotal point in the “Black Lives Matters” movement not only in the U.S. but worldwide. First there were protests, then there were riots and looting.
On the evening of Sunday, June 7, Chester Countians gathered at Chester County High School to pray and have conversations about racism in America.

June 18
Chester County honors American Flag on Flag Day

Chester County residents honor the nation with hands over their hearts as they sang the national anthem and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

June 25
Henderson Juneteenth Celebration/ March

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to be pressed on the society, more and more U.S. citizens have become aware of the long-running African American holiday Juneteenth.
Juneteenth, short for June 19, is the celebration of honoring the end of slavery in the United States. June 19 was the day federal troops entered Galveston, Texas in 1865 to make sure all enslaved people became free. This is a two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation declared all slaves of the Confederate states free on January 1, 1863.
Henderson/Chester County residents came together to have this celebration of African American freedom at the North Chester soccer field.

See the Jan. 7 Edition for the second half of the 2020 Year in Review