2020 Year in Review – a continuation of news from 2020


July 2
Chester County High School Class of 2020 finally celebrate

The seniors of Chester County High School faced having the their last days of high school along with their spring sports and prom taken away from them due to the Coronavirus. On top of it all, they had to delay their graduation multiple weeks. Nonetheless, they were finally able to celebrate this past weekend. They started with a walkthrough on the East Chester Elementary playground on Saturday as teachers from their past congratulated them, and afterwards they drove their decorated cars from the Henderson Church of Christ to the high school. Then, they were congratulated by the community in a cruise-in parade. On Sunday, they had their baccalaureate. Monday started with the senior breakfast and senior walk down Main Street followed by a prayer at the flag pole and that evening was the moment they have been waiting for, their graduation commencement.

July 9
Trash talking at
county meeting

The Chester County Commission met Tuesday, July 7 in order to approve a multitude of topics on the agenda.
The most important item that was on the agenda was the approval for the resolution for funding of the Solid Waste Department.
The county mayor and commissioners will meet to discuss how to fund increasing solid waste costs. One of the options, as Solid Waste Recycling Coordinator and Executive Director Amber Greene stated is “a proposal to add a solid waste fee of $1.85 per week ($96 per year) for residents, businesses and factories — everyone who creates trash.”
This proposed fee from the county is totally separate from the city and will affect everyone who lives in Chester County.
The City of Henderson has partnered with Chester County’s West Tennessee Recycling Hub to provide city residents with blue carts obtained with grant money. The city collects the carts and delivers recycling to the West Tennessee Recycling Hub. The goal of the program is to eliminate the amount of trash that city residents are adding to landfills.

July 16
Traffic Study at Crook and Second: COVID delays opening of splash pad in Chester County

Scott Sewell of Henderson addressed the Mayor and Board of Aldermen during their meeting last Thursday, July 9, introducing the idea of possibly changing the intersection of Crook Avenue and Second Street to a four-way stop; currently it’s a two–way stop.
Sewell explained that he has witnessed the intersection being confusing as some treat it as a two-way stop and others treat it as a four-way stop.
He also mentioned many elementary aged children live and play nearby. Thus, he believes a four-way stop should be implemented in order to make the intersection less confusing and safer for the children.
Also during the meeting, Mayor Bobby King announced that the Splash Pad at Gene Record Memorial Park is finished.
Though finished, after discussion among the board, it was decided that due to the rise of Covid-19 cases, the splash pad will not open yet.

July 23
Chester County School Board to make changes for school year

As school time comes around, the Chester County Board of Education had to make decisions on when and how they were going to open up the schools in the Chester County School District.
At the time of the meeting, Chester County Director of Schools Troy Kilzer II said delaying school was not an option.
However, due to multiple complaints and concerns by parents, the school board scheduled another meeting Monday July 27 to revisit and possibly change decisions on when school will start back and if virtual options will be available to the students.
During their regular school board meeting on Thursday, July 16, a handful of parents expressed their thoughts on why the current plan of starting school August 4 and having no virtual options, in their opinions, was not a good idea.
The parents in the audience asked why school could not be delayed until the county sees a decline in cases or the State of Emergency is over on August 29.
They also wanted a virtual option for the students.
Kilzer in response said that it would not be fair to provide a virtual option for the students, because he said only a third of the county has the internet access to do so. The current plan just had the virtual option for those in medical need of it at the point of time.
Now, after more concerns reached the board over the weekend, if they decide to give a virtual option, they came up with a set of rules/ guidelines on how the virtual option might look.

July 30
No action toward Chester County Solid Waste funding

The Chester County Commission held the quarterly meeting on Monday, July 27, and one of the main items on the agenda was to revisit the Solid Waste Trash fund.
The Solid Waste fee of $96 is one of the options considered to provide funds for Solid Waste to pay for trash to be put in landfills.
Mayor Barry Hutcherson decided no action should be taken until more information such as the number of trash-producing homes can be given.
County Trustee Lance Beshires along with Bernard and Greene stressed that this decision can not be put off much longer.

Aug. 6
Ready, set, go!

If one passed by Chester County High School Saturday evening, they may have wondered why a truck was racing around the school’s parking lot.
The CCHS Automotive class built a truck to burn some rubber at the 2020 Pro Touring Truck Shootout in Bowling Green, Kentucky this weekend. They will be participating in the Novice Class against 80 other entries. During the autocross competition, they will be the only high schoolers participating.

Aug. 13
Bobby King, Beverly Morton reelected to office in Chester County

This year’s election was a big one for the Henderson/Chester County community.
Henderson Mayor Bobby King was reelected into office after winning the election against Donna Butler, 590 – 508.
Beverly Morton won the Chester County Assessor of Property position by a huge margin. With 2429 votes, she beat Darryl Thompson – 778, Broderick Eugene Beecham – 89 and Irene Rinks – 81.

Aug. 20
City of Henderson to improve quality of
animal shelter

The Henderson Mayor and Board of Aldermen moved to take action in improving the dog shelter after a couple of the shelter’s volunteers addressed them about the needed repairs and other tasks that will help the shelter be in better condition.
A list of these tasks are: to pressure wash, repaint, get a new roof, get a new water heater, replace fencing, put up a new fencing area for the dogs and have dog flap doors.
Henderson mayor Bobby King along with the aldermen admitted that the city has not kept up the maintenance for the shelter.

Aug. 27
Former Chester County pharmacy owner passes away

Former City Drug Store owner Michael Wright Haithcoat passed away Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020 after a battle with cancer.
He began working at the pharmacy in 1976, retiring in 2016.
He was born on Dec. 13, 1946 in Columbia. His parents, who preceded him in death, were J.W. and Luna Haithcoat. He was the only child of J.W. and Luna and loved to play baseball throughout his youth.

Sept. 3
Save-A-Lot in Henderson to close doors

Henderson Save-A-Lot recently announced that they will be permanently closing their doors on September 12. Until then, the hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The grocery store has been a part of the Henderson/Chester County community since February 2001. It is currently providing jobs for 10 employees. The Save-A-Lot corporate office did not respond to requests for additional information.

Sept. 10
Henderson celebrates longest serving Alderman

On Friday Sept. 4, Henderson officials and residents came to city hall to celebrate the service of Johny Farris as a Henderson Alderman.
Farris has served on the board of aldermen for 28 years which is the longest a person has served in Henderson history.

Sept. 17
Chester County Solid Waste fee finally
settled at $7 a month

During the Chester County Commission’s quarterly meeting, Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson and the commissioners were faced to make a decision on the Solid Waste fee that has been discussed for a few months now after being tabled a couple times.
Commissioner Sandra Highers made the motion to pay $7 dollars a month and it was settled with a vote of 16 in favor and two against it.
All that is left is for a Private Act to be written and approved so that the trustee’s office can put it on the tax statement for it to take place.
After all business is done, if the Private Act is approved, said collections are estimated to start September or October of 2021.

Sept. 24
Wreck stalls traffic

During the afternoon of Friday, September 18 a two-vehicle wreck occurred on Highway 45 South. Names and conditions of the vehicle occupants have not yet been released by Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Oct. 1
New ambulance
facility opens in Chester County

On Friday, Sept. 25, Chester County held a ribbon cutting for the new ambulance facility that was built on South Church Avenue.
According to the contract between Jackson Madison County General Hospital and Chester County, Chester County paid for the cost of the project in exchange for ambulance services.
In total, the project cost a million dollars. The cost of construction was $877,000. The cost for the architects/ engineers was $71,593. The cost of the land was $18,000. Lastly, the cost of landscaping and asphalt was $33,407.

Oct. 8
Crook and Second becomes four-way stop October 12

After the request from citizens on Crook Avenue, and an in-depth traffic study by the Henderson Police Department, the Board of Mayor and Alderman approved on September 10, 2020 making the intersection of Crook Avenue and Second Street a 4-Way Stop.

Oct. 15
Henderson Police Department traffic stop results in fatal shooting

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating an officer-involved shooting that happened in Bethel Springs, McNairy County on Monday, Oct. 12.
Current information from TBI states that at 1:14 a.m. that day, a call from a citizen about a possibly, impaired driver caused the Henderson Police Department to force a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 45 in Chester County.
The authorities determined later in the investigation that the vehicle was driven by 24-year-old Anthony Jones.
The report said that HPD then pursued Jones who, at times, drove over 100 miles per hour.
TBI said that Jones eventually crashed the vehicle in the 5700 block of Highway 45 in Bethel Springs.

“He then exited the vehicle and portrayed, with actions and statements, to have a firearm. Two Henderson officers gave verbal commands to Jones, which he disregarded. Officers attempted to subdue Jones with a electroshock weapon, which proved to be ineffective. The situation escalated further, resulting in one of the officers firing two shots from a service weapon, striking Jones,” TBI said. “Despite lifesaving efforts at the scene by officers and EMS, Jones later died at a hospital in Corinth, Mississippi. A firearm was not recovered at the scene.”

Oct. 22
Record turnout for early voting in Chester County

Voters were able to start making their way to the polls last week as Wednesday, Oct. 14, marked the first day of early voting for the Nov. 3 2020 Election.
That day, a total of 465 votes were cast in Chester County. On top of that, 207 votes were sent in by mail prior to Oct. 14. The Chester County Administrator of Elections, Kathy Vest, said these are record numbers in comparison to recent years. In 2018, there were only 205 votes on the first day, and only 333 votes were made on the first day of early voting for the 2016 Presidential Election.

Oct. 29
Area residents protest for Anthony Jones shooting

protestors gathered outside City hall and the Henderson Police Department in hope that they can hear answers to the many questions regarding the Henderson Police officer-involved shooting that occurred on Oct. 12.
The shooting, which involved officers Kyle Carter and Danielle Cook, resulted in the death of Anthony Jones.
The protestors demanded that the officers be suspended without pay, pending the investigation.

Nov. 5
Henderson Stamping owner buried Wednesday

Henderson Stamping owner and founder James Ray “Jimmy” Porter, 75, died Oct. 31, 2020 at his home in Finger.
In 1981, he founded Henderson Stamping. For 39 years, located on Hwy. 45 in Henderson, Henderson Stamping and Production, Inc. has made its home. Having created a business plan to provide medium- and high-volume stampings, he and Betty incorporated Henderson Stamping in 1981.
Nov. 12
Chester County breaks voting record: Over 70 percent voter participation

Chester County at the end of early voting set records after 50.11 percent of registered voters cast their ballots for the 2020 Presidential Election. The county continued to break local voting records election day.
At the end of the day, there was a total of 7,629 voters who cast their ballot in person or by mail putting the voting participation percentage at 70.5 percent.
The last time the record was broke was during the 2016 Presidential Election in which 6,407 votes were cast, about 60 percent of the registered voters.

Nov. 19
Solid Waste fee offical after Private Act approval

Discussion on whether or not a fee would be collected to dispose of solid waste came to a close during the Chester County Commission quarterly meeting on Monday, Nov. 17. The Chester County Commission and the Chester County Solid Waste Department first approached the community about the need of a solid waste fee in July. After a few months of heavy discussion for and against the fee and how much it should be, after hearing out the community, a vote by the commission at their quarterly meeting on Sept. 14 resulted in the approval of the fee being $7 a month. The only step left to make the decision final was the approval of the Private Act that would allow the Chester County Trustee Office to collect the fees. This act needed to be approved so it could go to the state legislature in January.
With 17 commissioners present, John Welch being absent, the Private Act was approved in a 14-3 vote with Jerry Lowe, Al McKinnon and Joseph Melaro voting against it.

Nov. 26
Chester County Health Dept. administers free flu shots

With the flu season beginning, the Chester County Health Department administered 53 free flu shots Nov. 19 at the Henderson Farmers Market Pavilion. Pictured is Laurie and David Novak in their vehicle as Ashley Burke administers the flu shot to Laurie.
Dec. 3
Local pastor Marcus Kelley buried Saturday

Marcus DeWayne Kelley, 48, of Pinson passed away Nov. 23, 2020 at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. Funeral services were 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, at Grace Baptist Church with Pastor Ronnie Coleman officiating. There was a private family interment at the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads.
Dec. 10
Campus-changing gift announced during FHU Benefit Dinner

The Freed-Hardeman University Annual Benefit Dinner for scholarships, held Friday night, Dec. 4, raised more than $1.5 million to assist students. The total exceeded last year’s total, despite the challenge of hosting it during a pandemic.
Actor and activist Gary Sinise was the featured speaker, but as one might expect in 2020, it was not the usual speaker presentation. Instead of traveling to Henderson as had been planned, Sinise delivered his remarks live but from a distance.
Highlights of the evening included announcements regarding the future of FHU. Continuing their years of philanthropy to Freed-Hardeman, as well as many other entities, alumni John W. and Rosemary K. Brown have made yet another major commitment to the university. The couple has pledged $15 million over the next five years, making it the largest single gift in the history of the university.
Dec. 17
Gus claims to honors in pet photo contest

Gus garnered a total of 98 votes, claiming the number one spot Inthe Chester County Independent’s recent pet calendar contest by 111 votes. 
Dec. 24
CC Sheriff’s Dept. and TBI investigate fatal hit and run

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, TBI special agents are investigating a homicide after a man’s body was discovered near Nolen Road in Chester County Sunday morning. The deceased individual has been identified as thirty-five-year-old Benny Wayne Maness.
TBI reported Tuesday evening that “during the course of the investigation, Agents and investigators developed information that identified Todd Allen Robbins (thirty-two-year-old)as the individual responsible for the homicide.”
Robbins was arrested for one count of First Degree Premeditated Murder and one count of Felony Murder. 
TBI said the warrants were served Tuesday evening at the Henderson County Jail where he is being held on an unrelated charge.
Dec. 31
Southern Prep Academy forced to close

Southern Prep Academy of Henderson, the daycare/ afterschool center, officially announced its closing to its stakeholders on Saturday, Dec. 26 and to everyone else via Facebook Monday, Dec. 28.