2021 – Chester County Year in Review

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Following is a glimpse of the 2021 Chester County Independent news

January 7
COVID-19 vaccine phases released

The City of Henderson Fire Department recently welcomed Fire Chief Greg Lipford to the helm with the retirement of Fire Chief Glenn Bryan. Other changes to the full-time crew include the promotion to Deputy Chief for Kevin Roeder and the hiring of Captain Kyle Connor. Those continuing in service as officers are Captain Michael Welch and part-timers Lt. Bill Baldy, Lt. David Hughes, Lt. Chaplain Gary Roeder and Safety Officer David Novak.

January 14
Henderson City Judge Sherrod sworn in

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, G.W. “Chip” Sherrod III was sworn in as Henderson City Judge by Chester County General Session Judge Larry McKenzie at the Criminal Justice Complex. He enters the position after it became vacant with the retirement of Henderson Judge Eddy Patterson.

January 21
CCJHS receives TVA STEM Grant for robotics classes

Recently, the Chester County Junior High School received the Tennessee Valley Authority STEM Classroom Grant. TVA, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization, awarded $800,000 in grants to educators in public schools to develop science, technology, engineering and math education projects across the Tennessee Valley. With more than 600 applications including submissions of projects to further STEM education initiatives, CCJHS was one school to be awarded $5,000 toward the school’s robotics classes.

January 28
CC Schools receive TN Exemplary ACCESS Districts award

The Chester County School District received their banner for being selected as one of only five districts to be identified as a Tennessee Exemplary ACCESS District.

February 4
FHU’s Annual Bible Lectureship Goes Virtual

The 86th Annual Bible Lectureship at Freed-Hardeman University, Feb. 7-11, 2021, has been re-envisioned in order to continue offering spiritual enrichment—just not in person. Instead of thousands of visitors in Henderson, Lectureship guests will watch from their homes or offices via live streaming.

February 11
Henderson Regions branch to close

Regions Senior Vice President – Media and Public Relations Manager, Jeremy King, released on Feb. 9 that the Henderson Regions branch will close Friday, May 21 at 2 p.m. and merge into Regions’ South Side Jackson branch at 1666 South Highland Avenue.

February 18
Arrests made in narcotics search warrants

On Wednesday, February 10, officers with the Henderson Police Department, Chester County Sheriff’s Department and Jackson-Madison County Metro Narcotics Unit executed two search warrants at locations inside the City of Henderson.
One took place at 864C Woodland Drive and the other at 351 Steed Street. Both were part of an ongoing joint investigation by the three agencies.
According to the report, the two searches netted large amounts of illegal Marijuana, THC Products, mushrooms, paraphernalia and cash. Greater than one pound of marijuana, over 250 THC vapes and cartridges, over 40 pre rolled marijuana blunts, multiple jars of THC wax, over 50 packages of candy-style edibles, and over $50,000 cash. All of the listed items were seized plus other evidence and two vehicles.

February 25
Chester County Solid Waste partners with TDOT to provide schools with water bottle stations

Chester County Solid Waste Department has partnered with TDOT’s Beautification Office to provide six water bottle filling stations to the Chester County School District. Due to COVID safety guidelines, the school district needed to restrict the use of standard drinking fountains in their schools. Students are now required to bring a reusable bottle each day to be refilled throughout the school day.

March 4
Land cleared for Hampton Inn

On Friday Feb. 26, the demolition of three houses at the corner of Main St. and US Hwy 45 began on property owned by David Hunt to start the development process for a Hampton Inn that will be constructed on the 45 bypass.

March 11
Showcasing local talent through unique sculptures

Several local organizations and individuals have come together to honor the community’s musical and artistic talent — both past and president — with unique sculptures. Those partnering on the 2021 Henderson/Chester County Recycled Sculpture Project include: Chester County High School, TCAT Crump, Chester County Solid Waste Department, Keep Chester County Beautiful, City of Henderson and Mayor Bobby King, Henderson/Chester County Chamber of Commerce, Henderson Arts Commission, and TDOT Beautification Office.
Chester County High School welding students and their instructor, Derick Gibbs of TCAT Crump, have been constructing two eight-foot-tall sculptures of guitars made from recycled metal since January 2021.

March 18
Local governments to receive over $5 million in COVID Relief funds

Between Henderson and Chester County, local governments will be receiving $5.05 million in COVID relief. Henderson will be receiving 1.7 million while Chester County will be receiving 3.35 million.

March 25
Greenway and Cox recognized as top two of Class of 2021

Chester County High School celebrated and recognized the valedictorian and salutatorian of the CCHS Class of 2021 on Friday, March 19. Megan Greenway, daughter of Keith and Melissa Greenway, is the CCHS Class of 2021 Valedictorian. Following Greenway in the class ranking is Ava Cox, the CCHS Class of 2021 Salutatorian who is the daughter of Clay and Stephanie Cox.

April 1
CCHS and CCJHS receive $6,500 in grants

The Chester County Junior High’s Robotics classes and Chester County High School’s Coding classes will be able to enhance their education with the help of funds from grants through the Tennessee Valley Authority and Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation. Chester County’s Junior High’s Robotics program, instructed by Dr. Colette Carrabba and Lindley Carpenter, received the max amount of $5,000 in grant money. The high school’s information and technology teacher Adele Ellington applied a grant of $1,500 for her Computer Science Foundations, Web Design and Web Development classes.

April 8
Brothers plan to open Mifflin Store in May

Mifflin residents will soon have a new convenience store in their community.
In the beginning of May, brothers Chris and Scott McCaskill will open the Mifflin Store which will be located at 9000 State Route 200 in Luray.
The upcoming convenience store, in addition to gas, plans to serve breakfast along with pizza, hamburgers, fried chicken, fried catfish and sandwiches for lunch.
In the back will be pool tables for locals to enjoy.
Furthermore, they plan to reopen the dance hall that the Mifflin community used to enjoy.

April 15
Running for a cause – Crockett resident runs 100 miles for CC Carl Perkins

Running 100 miles is definitely a feat. Running 100 miles within 24 hours is phenomenal. But what truly rises greater than it all is when you run 100 miles within 24 hours to raise awareness for a cause that is dear to you. Randy Broadway of Bells, Tennessee did just that.
Broadway, out of the love of his heart, ran from Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame to Beale Street in Memphis for the Chester County Carl Perkins Center and to raise awareness in preventing and dealing with child abuse in West Tennessee.

April 22
Celebrating the life of AJ

On the evening of Wednesday, April 14, the life of 16-year-old A.J. Flatt was celebrated and remembered in a balloon release ceremony in front of Chester County High School. His family, friends, fellow band members and others joined each other in comfort. Everyone who spoke mentioned how his personality of always keeping those around him entertained and laughing will be treasured in their hearts and missed. Pictured below is the crowd gathered around his band gear and above, the group releasing the balloons in his memory.

April 29
Gov. Lee removes local authority for mask mandates

On Tuesday, April 27, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the end of statewide public health orders and signed Executive Order 80 to address economic and regulatory functions. EO 80 also ends the local authority to issue mask requirements in the 89 counties directed by the state health department.
“COVID-19 is now a managed public health issue in Tennessee and no longer a statewide public health emergency,” said Gov. Lee. “As Tennesseans continue to get vaccinated, it’s time to lift remaining local restrictions, focus on economic recovery and get back to business in Tennessee.”
EO 80 contains the following provisions and is effective through May 31, 2021:
Removing Local Mask Authority – While Tennessee has never had a statewide mask mandate, EO 80 removes the local authority for county mayors in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to require face coverings throughout their jurisdictions.

May 6
Chester County community shows love for Anistyn

Chester County has again come together for a good cause.
Anistyn Newsom, two-year-old daughter of Katie and Kelby Newsom, was diagnosed with having a deformity on her brain, called Cortical Dysplasia, which was causing her Epilepsy.
This diagnosis came after seizures began occurring in January of 2021. Eventually after trips to both Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt Monroe Carrell Children’s Hospital, the family was given the news.
Now, after having Anistyn on two anti-seizure medications, she is still having seizures about everyday and sometimes multiple times a day.
The family was informed a seizure response dog would be beneficial to Anistyn.
The dog would be able to do everything from allowing her to be more comfortable in the hospital setting, occupying her attention while getting IVs and blood draws as well as EEG testing and other procedures necessary for her Epilepsy, being capable to retrieve her emergency rescue medication for seizures lasting more than 5 minutes and will know to alert the Newsoms if she has a seizure.
Having that type of dog is very expensive though. The family would need $10,000 to cover the costs.
So in hope to get help from the community, Katie shared their story on Facebook and asked for donations through GoFundMe from anyone who wanted to help.
Chester County businesses and individuals both saw the call for help and the community has gathered to do all possible for this child.

May 13
One dead in drug-related shooting

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with Henderson Police Department and Chester County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a shooting incident that occurred last Tuesday evening, May 4.
According to a press release from TBI, the shooting occurred just before 6 p.m. in the 500 block of Pinehurst Dr. during a suspected drug deal.
The shooting resulted in the death of 21-year-old Danial Jacob Riley of Henderson.
TBI’s report states “Riley and another individual were able to flee the scene after shots were fired and call 911 near Mifflin Avenue and Steed Street. It was later determined a second individual, a juvenile, was struck by gunfire during the incident and has been hospitalized for treatment.”
The officers identified the shooter to be 18-year-old Timvoise De’Shad Lambert of 541 Pinehurst Dr.

May 20
CCHS celebrates graduation of Class of 2021

The Chester County High School Class of 2021 was able to celebrate their graduation at Freed-Hardeman University’s Loyd Auditorium on Monday, May 17. This ceremony took place after an academic year that occurred in the midst of a pandemic. Chester County Schools, though taking necessary precautions such as wearing masks, were able to have a traditional school year of attending classes in-person for the entire school year.

May 27
Splash pad opens in time for Memorial Day Weekend

The splash pad at Gene Record Memorial Park opened on Monday, May 24, in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
The Splash Pad and seating were funded by private donors from the community.
For all who plan to take their children to the splash pad, a video of some of the rules can be found on the Gene Record Memorial Park Facebook page. Rules can also be found on the fence in front of the splash pad.

Children were able to play under the sun at the splash pad in Gene Record Memorial Park on opening day, Monday, May 24. Ricky Jones prepares to squirt another child with a water gun.

June 3
Community salutes fallen heroes

The Henderson American Legion Post 157 gathered with the community to give a “Salute to Fallen Warriors” with the annual Memorial Day service held Monday, May 31. The service included a Memorial Day tribute video, proclamations by Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson and City of Henderson Mayor Bobby King, remarks about the day from Henderson American Legion Post 157 Commander Chris Dunbar, Joyce Martin reading the war poem “In Flanders Fields” and each military branch’s song.
Each song was introduced by a local citizen who served in the respective branch as follows:
Landon Damesworth – Army, Stark Davis – Air Force, Steve Kitchen – Coast Guard, John Dawson – Marin Corps and Brian Hogg – Navy.

June 10
Montagues’ book circles beyond us

Brad and Kristi Montague of Henderson continue to make a name for themselves worldwide.
On May 18, they released their new book “The Circles All Around Us,” and the amount of books sold already has stunned them, they said.
This week, in the June 6 issue of the New York Times Best Seller’s List, the book can be found in the top five books in the Children’s Picture Books category. The rankings reflect sales for the week ending May 22, 2021 which was the book’s first week.
“We were thrilled to see our names on the New York Times Bestseller list,” said Kristi who illustrated the book. “For such a gentle book to have such a big impact gives us hope that we can create big things even though we are in a small town.”

June 17
Clearing the Coop – Details behind Tyson coming to Chester Co. explained to Chester County residents

Chester County residents, especially those in Montezuma, were upset when they heard Tyson Foods was looking to build a facility in the Montezuma area.
Facebook posts were shared, and an abundance of comments were made. The majority of people who participated in the discussion were against Tyson being in the area, with a small few being fine with it.
Those who were not in favor of it made a “No Tyson in Chester County” group and started to gather signatures for a petition as well.
Gayle Cox of Montezuma explained why she did not want Tyson in Montezuma. She said that she heard from others that have dealt with Tyson, and they said the smell is “horrific” within at least five miles, waterways could be ruined if anything is dumped in them, roadways could be damaged from trucks and there is the possibility of property values decreasing.
“I don’t want to see the devastation come to this long-time, quiet, rural farming community,” Cox said.
Talk among the community about the potential factory was nonstop. The situation changed once residents heard that Tyson was no longer looking at the property. The Tyson representatives, according to Barry Smith, Chester County Commission Pro Tem and Commissioner of District 5, said that they were no longer interested due to the site being too close to the subdivision.

June 24
Motion to consider purchase of Regions building passes; 9-8 vote

The Chester County Commission met on Monday, June 21 for a special called session, and they were accompanied by about 50 other Chester County residents in the audience. Most of the audience attended for the item on the agenda which mentioned the county considering purchase of the vacant Regions building.
Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson brought this to the community’s awareness during the May Chester County Commission meeting in which he said the county was interested in purchasing it.
The building, if purchased, would be bought with the American Rescue Plan funds (Covid-19 relief money) that the county received from the federal government. No county funds will be used toward the purchase. In voting, the motion passed with nine for considering buying the building and eight were against.
Commissioners for considering the purchase of the regions building were: Larry Blackstock, Andrea Holland, Ann Moore, Carolyn Higgins, Russell Clayton, Jerry Emerson, Sandra Highers, Diane Jordan and Mike Alexander.
Commissioners against the motion were: Johny Garner, Jerry Lowe, Al Mckinnon, Jackie Butler, Joseph Melaro, Barry Smith, Tim Crowe and Todd Lewis.

July 1
CC Youth Theatre performs Disney’s Frozen Jr.

The Chester County Youth Theatre put on Disney’s Frozen Jr. on June 25-26 and it was a magical show.
From cast to wardrobe, to makeup and more, the audience of friends and family enjoyed it so much.
Over 1,000 people came out to watch young actors and actresses put on this performance, and $13,000 was raised for CCYT.
“Thank you to the community of Henderson for the over 1,000 people in attendance of our shows and helping us raise $13,000 for Chester County Youth Theater,” CCYT Director Becky Hartle said. “I couldn’t help but to think about how God has blessed me tremendously with giving me exactly the right people and opportunities to make CCYT grow each and every year. I thank Him for it all. I thank Henderson for the love and support of the arts and our CC kids since the very beginning.”

July 8
Bayless named as fourth runner-up in Miss TN Pageant

This past week, 21-year-old Abbie Bayless, who graduated from Chester County High School in 2018, competed in the Miss Tennessee Pageant for 2021.
After competing for Miss Tennessee in 2019 and earning third runner-up, she planned to compete again in 2020 when she earned the title of Miss Greater Gibson County. However, due to the Coronavirus, the Miss Tennessee pageant was not able to be held until this year. Thus, she held the title of Miss Greater Gibson County for two years.
This year, she was able to place as the fourth runner-up and make it in the top five again.
Bayless said she was happy she made it that far due to the tough competition.
“The competition this year was incredibly tough. There were so many amazing deserving women. There were women that had been competing for five years and it’s only my second year,” she said.

July 15
Cash celebrates a century of memories

The possibility to be able to live up to 100 is rare. It’s even rarer for someone to live that long and still have the ability to take care of themselves.
This weekend, Chester County’s own Inez Cash will be turning 100 on July 17, and the community will be celebrating with her.
Cash, of Enville, has good health and still is able to take care of herself.
She said she is grateful to be able to see 100 years old.
“I’m just happy I’m still here and as good shape I’m still in,” Cash said. “So far I got mind enough to take care of my business.”
“I just try to live a good life each and every day.”

July 22
County tables vacant property purchase

The controversy on whether the county should or should not spend the county’s American Rescue Plan money (COVID-19 Relief money) on the vacant Regions bank building continues.
Mayor Barry Hutcherson asked the commission to table the decision until more guidelines are released. Hutcherson said that the U.S. Treasury is expected to give final guidance on the ARP funds in September.
In the last commission meeting, it was passed that the commission would consider use of the funds to purchase the vacant Regions bank building. Additionally, it was previously said that the comptroller indicated the building could be purchased with the funds to provide county employees’ offices more space for social distancing and the drive-thru would allow for help if another pandemic was to arise.

July 29
Commissioner Blackstock dies after serving 35 years

Larry Faye Blackstock, 79, of Henderson passed away in his home in Enville Monday morning. The long-time commissioner has been serving on the Chester County Commission since he was elected in 1986. “He’s been through a lot of ordeals we’ve had in the county. He’s been a faithful commissioner. He’ll be missed,” said Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson.

August 5
Disney travelers host Woody and Jessie – Miller’s art recognized locally and beyond
Mary Kathryn (MK) Miller had no idea a project from junior year was going to get her art recognized by people from Henderson and beyond.
That year, her class’s homecoming theme was Toy Story so she drew and created life-sized versions of Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear to help out with the decorations. After homecoming that year, she brought them home.
Now, during the summer before her freshman year at Freed-Hardeman University, Miller and her family decided to decorate their window at Disney’s Pop Century Resort with Woody and Jessie though Buzz Lightyear could not make the trip.
Woody and Jessie were unable to fit in the car ride back to Henderson, but they have been passed around from host to host since.
“I was sad when I didn’t have enough room in my family’s car for Woody and Jessie to come home with us, but it seems like they’ve found a home at the resort! It’s so fun to hear that they’re still being passed around,” Miller said.
According to Mary Kathryn’s mom, Mary Beth Connor Miller, there is a list of people wanting to host Woody and Jessie all the way through December.
Mary Beth has just been thrilled to see her daughter’s work loved by so many people.
“I love all the compliments from others and it is crazy how excited some people have gotten when I tell them they are on the list,” she said.

August 12
Champions!

Chester County was put on the map this year after the local Dixie Belles and Dixie Sweetees both won their respective World Series. This is the first time in Chester County History that two teams won the same year. On top of that, though this is not the year that they played, the 1978 Ponytails team was awarded the World Series trophy as well since their opponents in the championship cheated by having older girls play. That made three teams earn the title of World Series Champions in the time period of about a month. “It’s just a great thing for Chester County Youth Sports,” said Chester County Dixie Youth President Mike Neisler. According to Neisler, this makes four teams total in Chester County that have won the World Series. Pictured above on the left are the Chester County Belles after they won their World Series in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.

August 19
Local educator wins 5-night vacation

Teachers have reinvented their classrooms in all kinds of ways this year and continue to be an integral part of keeping communities moving. Margaritaville believes it is time to pay it forward. The global lifestyle brand is celebrating all educators, from teachers to school counselors, who have helped families navigate a difficult year with their first ever “Educators: Our Everyday Heroes” Giveaway. Fifteen educators, plus one grand prize winner, were nominated from May 3 to June 24 from around the U.S. to win an escape to a Margaritaville destination.
Natalie Cravens, third grade teacher at West Chester Elementary, was one of the educators that won a getaway.
She won a 5-night stay for up to 4 people at Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana all-inclusive resort.

August 26
Chester Co. residents voice opinions on how to spend COVID-19 Relief
“There are no bad ideas.” That’s how Chester County Commissioner Joe Melaro opened a Town Hall Meeting at Besso’s Thursday evening.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways to best utilize the $3.3 million in ARP (COVID relief) fund that county is slated to receive.
A group of about 35 included interested citizens, along with city and county officials.
Melaro opened the floor, and no one was shy about pitching their suggestions to the group.
The most popular suggestion was the overwhelming need for local childcare/daycare services. Most agreed that the lack of these services had a negative impact on everyday lives and the local economy.

September 2
Eleven arrested in Jackson human trafficking operation

A two-day joint undercover operation by special agents with the TBI Human Trafficking Unit and Human Trafficking Task Force and the Jackson Police Department, in conjunction with Operation United Front, a 12-state human trafficking operation led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, has resulted in the arrest of 11 men accused of seeking illicit sex from minors. This operation was worked in conjunction with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office Metro Narcotics Unit, the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, and the Office of 26th District Attorney General Jody Pickens.

September 9
Matheney is West TN Grand Division Teacher of the Year

During the Tennessee Department of Education’s annual Excellence in Education celebration on Tuesday August 31, the TDOE recognized finalists who were named 2021-22 Teacher of the Year for the three grand divisions of the state.
Brianne Matheney, a high school English teacher at Chester County High School in Chester County Schools, was recognized as the grand division winner for West Tennessee. Matheney now has the opportunity to serve on the TN Teacher Advisory Committee throughout the remainder of this school year.
“I am incredibly humbled and honored to receive recognition at the state level and represent West TN teachers,” Matheney said.

September 16
Keestone Academy
childcare facility coming to town

A number of suggestions have been made in discussions of how to use the COVID-19 economic recovery funds locally, one of the most common being the need for additional childcare services. This need is not only a concern of parents of young children, but also local businesses, potential businesses and more. Their pleas were heard and will soon be answered.
Dr. Carlos Schmitt and his daughter Carla Schmitt are preparing to open Keestone Academy, a full-service childcare center in Henderson/Chester County.
Dr. Schmitt said that his decision to start a daycare came after he heard about the desperate need of childcare service at Commissioner Joe Melaro’s August 19 Town Hall meeting.

September 23
Henderson honors
Hometown Heroes

The week of the annual Chester County BBQ Festival kicked off with the Henderson Hometown Heroes Parade which was sponsored by Freed-Hardeman University.
The parade had military, law enforcement, first responders and others participate to honor Henderson/ Chester County heroes that have served their communities whether it be near or far.
Following the parade, emergency vehicles set up for a “Touch-a-Truck” event at Henderson Church of Christ.

Retired military personnel were featured in the Hometown Heros parade Monday night, waving to the community cheering them on from the sides of Main St. Pictured in front center is retired Marine Corps SSgt. Henry Brown. Also included are, from left, Jackie Brown, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Linda Harris, retired U.S Army Sgt. Audria Dunn and retired Marine Corps MSgt. Gloria Holiday.

September 30
To quarantine or to not quarantine – Board of Education tables consideration of adjusting quarantine procedures

The battle between learning loss and health continues.
After a long discussion among Chester County Board members, concerned parents, nurses, and school administrators the board of education scheduled to meet Friday Oct. 1 at noon for a work session on deciding if any adjustments will be made to the current Chester County Schools quarantine procedures.

Read the rest of the 2021 Year in Review in next week’s issue of the Chester County Independent.

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