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Six Years After the Tornado... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, February 4, 2014


It was a long road to recovery after a tornado shook Macon County on February 5, 2008, and the only way to truly understand the magnitude of what happened is to start from the very beginning.

E-911 Director Steve Jones stopped by the Macon County Chronicle last Saturday afternoon and six years after a massive twister touched down in our county we discussed that fateful day and how it changed our lives forever. Macon County had to rebuild lives and bury their dead.

“It was a different kind of February day – unusually warm for that time of the year and breezy,” said E-911 Director Steve Jones. “Like everybody else we were at home that night on Akersville Road, and Hunter, Latise and I were just fixing to go to bed.”

Jones said he had just sat down on the edge of the bed when he heard this roaring sound and went to the window and looked out. “I saw the glow in the sky and I was stunned. Trees were bending in the wind and it sounded like a train coming through.”

“When I realized it was a twister we started looking for the safest place in the house which was a closet, but by the time we got inside it was gone,” he said. “Although we could feel the vibrations, it was actually gone as fast as it came.”

Frantic, as soon as the winds subsided Jones rushed next door to check on his parents, who were safe. “When I looked up the road, I saw major TVA power lines laying on the ground and I got on my cell phone (which was still working at that time) and called dispatch. I told them they needed to get Tri County in route but of course at that time nobody could get up and down the road.”

After the funnel cloud barreled on down the road, Nicky and Paula Roark, who lived on the Williams Road called Steve on his cell phone and said their home had been destroyed and they were hurt. “She thought her husband’s back was broke and her and their children were also injured,” he continued. “They wanted to know if I could come and get them and I said we’d head that way.”

Jones got his Kawasaki Mule ATV and him and Latise started down that way. “I didn’t see a lot of damage around my house, but when we traveled down Akersville Road toward Tuck Road we started seeing all the damage.”
The director said trees were snatched from the ground, power lines were down, homes were lifted then tossed in the air and the tattered landscape looked like a war zone. “That’s when we started seeing injured people coming out of what was left of their homes as we made our way to where the New Zion Baptist Church had once stood.”
Steve said when they got to the Roark’s they found Nicky, Paula and their three children, the youngest was only 9 months old. “They were all scared to death and after they were all loaded in the back of the Kawasaki, I brought the family back out to a waiting ambulance, that couldn’t get down there because of the power lines across the road.”

Tri County Electric was overwhelmed with everything going on, but they had one of their large trucks to pick up those lines so the ambulances and other emergency traffic could get through. “Latise went to work at the hospital and I went back into what was later termed “Ground Zero” and brought four more people to waiting ambulances.”

By this time a house to house search had begun and Jones said it was the first time in his life (he had been trained in triage and mass casualties) that he actually triaged, looked at somebody and said ‘these are your injuries, you are going to be okay, somebody else will be here to take care of you’ and went on to the next person. “I was still on the Akersville/Williams Road area and we checked every house, ditch, field, barn and shed in the storm’s path, however by day break multiple volunteers became involved and the search was broadened to areas harder to reach. I went to the ambulance service where our office where our E-911 Office was and started setting up.”
”TEMA got there and I talked with an official and I told him to set up in the EMS rooms,” said Jones. “I contacted NCTC and they started setting up phone lines and just in a short period of time we had a ECO (Emergency Operation Center) up and operating. Other departments were working at their locations. EMA Director Keith Scruggs (also Lafayette Fire Chief) came over, set up and started operating there at the ambulance service building. Therefore, the EMS became the operating center.”

The THP also came in set up and said they were there to help.

When a disaster happens, Keith Scruggs makes the calls asking for help. “He is very knowledgeable and stays up to date on everything including the different agencies,” Jones said. “The EMA Director and Mayor Shelvy Linville became the two contact people. Once the mayor declared a state of emergency, EMA Director Scruggs began asking for help. He then involved TEMA and they contacted FEMA.”

They started setting up everything that had to be done. “The first thing was to make sure that all the injured people had been taken care of, and then came the grim task of recovering the bodies of the people who died in the storm. Shortly after we had a map put together and we came up with the swath that was seen across the tornado map. We flew the route with a THP pilot and the National Guard.”

Director Jones said the thing that was so great was how everybody worked together. “It was a community that came together.”

During the next few weeks agencies were setting up short term recovery, long term recovery and everything they did had to be documented so the county and agencies could be reimbursed through federal funds. “Keith Scruggs and I worked together very well during the disaster. “My department is a support department of all the agencies.”

Steve said he experienced massive injuries and mass casualties and although he had extensive training, you are never really prepared for something of this magnitude. “We all think it can’t happen to us, but it can,” he added. “I have always said in my career that people don’t realize that in a split second life can change forever, either with an injury or illness. IT doesn’t matter how much money you have, how rich you are, it can all change and people need to appreciate their lives.”
”When the cyclone went through it didn’t matter if you lived in the strongest brick structure or a mobile home, they were both destroyed. Mother Nature doesn’t pick and choose.”

“The disaster has made me think a lot more,” Steve said. “Through the years I have seen a lot of tragedy, but that is part of what you have to deal with in the emergency service field.”

“Today, people are much more cautious of the weather,” he said. “We are getting grants now to help build our emergency services. We are in the process of redesigning our communication by installing 14 outdoor warning sirens across the county. So, when you are inside you have your TV or weather radio and when you are outside you have emergency warning sirens. We are also building a staging area/morgue as well.”
”I want to commend our EMS, legislative leaders, mayors, city councilmen, county commissioners, and all the utilities who worked for hours on end trying to get everything back up and operational. It was just amazing how quickly everything was fixed.”

“When all was said and done the citizens of this county should be proud of their leadership and emergency service that came together and worked through this,” commented Jones. “The people should be proud of themselves, helping each other and working together.”

“At the time of the twister Macon County didn’t have an official E-911 Emergency Operation Center. We received a CDBG Grant and the new E-911 building located next to the Justice Center was completed in 2012 at a cost of $1,000,000 including equipment. This was a 100% grant and we consolidated the 911 dispatch, Sheriff’s Office and the ambulance services and it is called 911 Central Dispatch, which all resulted from the tornado disaster.”

The E-911 building is equipped with two overhead projectors, three large screen TV’s that can be on multiple news channels at a time and they are also connected to computers. “We have a 70 inch touch screen that can have an overlay over it. We are setting up to have video sent to us and during a disaster all department heads will coordinate from the 911 Center. You are never truly prepared for a disaster, but you can make sure you have everything ready.

“Be proud to live in a community where people can come together as quick as they did after the tornado. “I’m proud of the people of Macon County. Mother Nature didn’t defeat us, she made us stronger by giving us an insight to what can happen, to be better prepared next time. We can’t control her, can’t control the weather and unfortunately we have slipped into the tornado belt. We know what she is capable of and now we

 have all had a taste of a disaster is all about.”

It’s been a long road to recovery for Macon County and a lot of time and effort has been put forth and sacrifices made to rebuild our community, along with the three churches that were destroyed. It was amazing how everyone pulled together and if you drive through the areas that were affected six years ago, you will see that the rebuilding process was remarkably and definitely worth the effort as our community has moved toward brighter days.






Vehicle Flips Twice, Driver Injured PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jessie Williams   
Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Aimy Walker, of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, was transported to Tompkinsville Medical Center (TMC) to be treated for a head injury following a single-vehicle wreck on Gamaliel Road last Tuesday, January 28.

According to the accident report, Walker was traveling north on Gamaliel Rd. when she ran off the side of the road, dropped off the shoulder and overcorrected to the left.

Walkers 1994 Jeep Cherokee then traveled off the west side of the roadway and flipped twice before coming to a rest on its top against a tree.

Walker requested to be transported to TMC.

Responding to the scene were the Red Boiling Springs Fire & Rescue Squad and Macon County Sheriff’s Department officer Brad Murphy. Danny Fisher of the Tennessee Highway Patrol was the investigating officer.

Walker was not restrained at the time of the accident and charges are pending.

Scam...Scam...Scam $$$$ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LPD Detective Jason Roberts is pictured with boxes of merchandise involved in a scam. (Photo by D. Gregory)

As scams continue to filter across the United States, Detective Jason Roberts, of the Lafayette Police Department, has uncovered more victims after a phone call from a man in Austin, Texas. He wants to warn everybody to beware of anything unusual that immediately sends up a red flag!

Detective Jason Roberts received a call from a man in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, January 22, telling him that he was one of the many victims of the Target Security Breach. “This thing is huge,” said Roberts, “and it seems to be part of a much broader scam.”

“The Texas man told me that he had purchases on his credit card bill that he didn’t make and that some of the packages came to an address here in Lafayette,” the Detective said. “After I listened to his story I decided to go to the location that was listed on his card, along with this female name, that I won’t disclose.”

Roberts went to the residence inside the Lafayette city limits and the person’s name he had was definitely living there. “I spoke to this individual and she did have these packages,” he said. “Two were in her car and another one was inside the house. Her story was that she was doing this for a friend.”

According to this female, she met this guy on the Christian Mingle web site and they started e-mailing and texting back and forth. She says he told her his name and that he is a 47-year-old American who used to live in Colorado, used to be an airline pilot, but was now working for a mining company in the Ukraine. “She told me that was how the relationship started and began building,” the detective said. “She was very vulnerable and he was saying all the right things to her – anything from scriptures in the Bible to how blessed they were to actually meet and a lot of other stuff. She became a victim herself.”

The detective says that this man told her that some of his co-workers, who were also miners in the Ukraine, wanted to know if it would be alright if they had some deliveries sent to her house. “She said yes,” Roberts continued. “So they sent these packages to her house and she was re-packaging them and condensing them into one big box, to help them with shipping costs. She was suppose to send them, but at the time according to her, she didn’t know where. She told me that she just needed some money to send them. Everything she got she still has.”

“Later on she called me and said she had just received another package. I told her not to open it and just leave it in the box and I would see if I could return it.”

According to Detective Roberts he found out that she had sent this male individual $3,000 by Western Union to an address in the Ukraine. “Because of her vulnerability he got access to her bank account. She sent him money a second time and after that he wiped out her account.”

“These people prey on vulnerability,” added Roberts, “and if someone comes along and says the right things, things perhaps you have always wanted to hear: Bam! Hook, Line and Sinker!”
Roberts at first thought the female subject was the one involved in the crime, but he now realizes that she is an even bigger victim than the guy from Texas who called him.

He explained to the woman what she had gotten herself involved in and what he was doing. “She was still having conversations with this man for me, so I could get the address where the packages were suppose to be sent. But the address I obtained is in the Ukraine.
”I have involved the FBI, because it it goes international it is beyond me,” explained the Detective. “I expect many more cases like this coming up.”

Detective Roberts says that this is a huge warning for people, especially the elderly to watch out for scams. Don’t accept any kind of money or check, don’t put money on a green dot card. Beware of anything that you have to send.”
The detective said this is the same concept that recently happened at Cathy’s Florist, only this is on a much bigger scale. This money is sent overseas rather than the US because it can’t be tracked.

“I want to get this out to everybody, please beware because we are starting to see this a lot more,” he said. “They are hitting people on the Internet, and you need to be cautious because they are taking advantage of people on chat lines and facebook.

“God sent this person to me for me to help, said Roberts. “She knows she is being scammed. I told her to just cut off anything involving his name. What she has lost, she probably won’t get back. Just don’t lose anymore.”

The merchandise inside of these boxes included watches, rings, cell phones, clothes, shoes, coats, electric dog collars, and many other items.

Macon County Recognized at State Fair Convention PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pictured Sitting (L-R): Mike Wells, Bill Wells, Sally Wells, Max Wells; Standing (L-R): Carol Wells, Mark Wells, Kathy Wells, Tonya Wells, and Marty Wells. (Photo submitted)

Macon County was well represented at the 92nd Annual Tennessee Association of Fairs Convention that was held the weekend of January 18th with Sally Wells receiving the prestigious Thornton Taylor Award. She was honored for the work she has done for the Tennessee Association of Fairs and the Macon County Fair for 31 years.

Macon County received several other awards with the Fair Catalog designed by Cindy Gregory Patterson, Put It In Print, winning 1st place. Doug Holder won 2nd place in the recycled item category and Wanda Sandifer won 3rd place for her hand pieced and hand quilted quilt.

Attending the convention from Macon County were Sally & Bill Wells, Lisa Yokley, Tonya Butler, Wynona and Eddy Clayborne, Jeff & Debbie Hughes, Marilyn Murphy, and Steve & Beverly Walker.

McKenzie Sullivan represented Macon County in the Fairest of the Fair State Pageant.

Sally Wells has been a member of the Macon County Fair since it was organized in 1983. “She is an outstanding lady, who has devoted over 30 years of service to the Macon County Fair,” said Steve Walker. “She worked with all department chairs and she always prepared and submitted all reports to the Region and State. Sally was very devoted to the Fair.”
Mrs. Sally and her husband Bill Wells have three sons, Mark and his wife Kathy; Marty and his wife Tonya; and Mike and his wife Carol. They have three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Sally is very proud of her family but they are extremely proud of her and her accomplishments with the Macon County Fair.

“A quote from Ms. Sally, “I like being around people. Being involved is a good way to get to know people and give back a little to the community. As a matter of fact, I think I have gotten back a lot more than I’ve put in.”

Added Walker, “When people in Macon County think of the Fair, Mrs. Sally Wells comes to their thoughts. As one of the founders, she has been loyal and dedicated to the Macon County Fair. The success of the Macon County Fair would not have been possible without Sally Wells.”

The Macon County Fair Board would like to thank the community for their continued support of the fair along with the following individuals and businesses: Doug Holder, Wanda Sandifer, Pam Stubblefield, Barry Hiett, Rick Waller, James Christain, Kim Montgomery, Macon County Coordinated School Health, Macon Bank & Trust and Macon County Special Education Program.


Several Face Meth Related Charges PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, January 21, 2014


LPD Officer Jeff Hix found more violations than he bargained for after a traffic stop on Wednesday, January 15, led to the arrest of several individuals on meth-related charges, which were initiated in conjunction with the Macon County Sheriffs Office.

Around noon on January 15, LPD Officer Hix made a traffic stop on a vehicle at Highway 10 and 52. According to Chief Deputy Bryon Satterfield, of the Macon County Sheriffs Office, the K-9 Gordy unit was called to the scene along with additional MCSO deputies.

“Evidence and information was gathered that led to indications of production of methamphetamine,” said Satterfield. “The investigation led MCSO deputies, LPD officers and also THP Trooper Danny Fisher to the 2000 block of Highway 10 South, where K-9 Gordy was deployed.”

“Gordy hit on a vehicle outside of the residence and when it was searched several components were discovered that were needed to manufacture methamphetamine,” continued the Chief Deputy. “Also upon search of the residence at Colter’s Trailer Park additional meth components were found and finished product of meth was recovered.”

The investigation continued to another residence near the Macon-Trousdale line, where another dwelling was searched and a green leafy substance, believed to be marijuana, was found.

“The Tennessee Meth Lab Clean Up vehicle was called to the first residence for clean up of the meth lab,” stated Satterfield, “and the residence was quarantined.”
At the time of the investigation the following individuals were arrested by the LPD and MCSO: Micah Brentlea Burnley, Joann Mashell Darley, Terrisa L. Green, Chris David Maness, Donald Curtis Walker, James Charles Jackson, and Danielle Blair Hilderbran. Charges range from DUI, to manufacturing methamphetamine.

This is still an active and on-going investigation and Sheriff Mark Gammons and Lafayette Police Chief Stacy Gann would like to commend all the officers, deputies, and correctional officers for a job well done.

Agencies responding were the Lafayette Police Department, Macon County Sheriffs Office, THP and the Meth Task Force.

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