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Friday, December 2, 2016

Grooms Held Without Bond

By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director

Union City, Tenn.-The suspect in the arson fires in Obion County Thursday is being held without bond in the Obion County Jail.

Mark Grooms of Obion County was arrested and charged with six counts of arson after he was arrested Thursday afternoon on a country road near Hornbeak.

Grooms was arraigned today before Obion County Judge Jimmy Smith, who ordered that he be held without bond until his next court date on December 9.

The fire departments in Union City, Samburg, and Hornbeak, along with the Forestry Service, were kept busy all day Thursday putting out fires that were allegedly set by Grooms. Grooms is alleged to have started fires on the side of roadways and started fire to hay bales by pouring gasoline on them and starting them on fire. 

Grooms has a prior criminal record and was arrested last year on drugs and weapons charges after he was found walking down Interstate 155 in Dyer County with a loaded handgun in one hand an axe in the other.

Grooms was charged in that incident with public intoxication, possession of a weapon with intent to go armed, possession of marijuana, possession of meth, possession of a weapon while under the influence, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and introducing contraband into a penal institution.


Dresden Wins State Championship

The Dresden Lions have won the Class 1-A State Championship. The Lions beat Greenback by a score of 62-27. Dresden Player Dresser Winn was named Offensive Player of the game and Blasé Cashion, also of the Lions, was named Defensive Player of the game.

179 Graduate From DARE Program

Sheriff Belew and his K9 Si congratulate Jordan Baker on her graduation. (McFarlin photo).

By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director

Paris, Tenn.-Today was a big day for the 5th graders in the Henry County School System, as 179 students from Harrelson, Henry and Lakewood Elementary Schools received their graduation certificates in a ceremony held at the Henry County High School.

Countywide DARE Essay Winner was Mackenzie Petronico, daughter of Patrick and Jennifer Petronico of Paris, who read her essay to the audience. DARE Officer Bruce Alexander presented her with a ribbon and a stuffed lion of Daren, the DARE Mascot.
Other award-winners were:

Best Workbook Awards: Harrelson, Shelby DeMorato; Henry, Ray Harmon; Lakewood, Amber Brush.
Best Pledge Awards: Harrelson, Braiden Newell; Henry, Hailey Crouch; Lakewood, Celia Lamkin.
Best Essay Awards: Harrelson, Karson Marshall, Henry, Draco Clak; and Lakewood, McKenna White.

Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew congratulated the students and told them, “You cannot be successful in life unless you are drug-free.”

Presenting the Keynote Speech was High School Senior Knox Davis, who told them that being drug-free was the way to success on the football field and the classroom for him. He said their friends will tempt them, but it’s much cooler to be the guy who is a success rather than the guy who does drugs.

Handing out the diplomas and congratulating each student were Belew and his K9 Si, Chief Deputy Damon Lowe, Captain Adam Jenkins, Lt. Lance Perry, Director of Schools Dr. Bruce Norton and the school principals.

Countywide Essay Winner Mackenzie Petronico. (McFarlin photo).

Decking The Halls At UC Christmas Parade

Union City, Tenn.-A large crowd braved chilly weather for Thursday night’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade through downtown Union City. Several local choirs sang for the Christmas Tree Lighting, followed by the parade, which featured numerous entries all decked out for the holidays. In photos are the high school marching band and State Rep. Andy Holt. (Mitzi Hailey photos). 


Preparing For “Cops And Kids”

Paris, Tenn.—The little elves at the Henry County Sheriff’s Office were busy Thursday packing up holiday goodies for the kids who will participate in Saturday’s “Cops And Kids” shopping trip sponsored by the local Fraternal Order of Police. From left are Jim Hopper, Chris Thompson, Reginald Wiseman, Jill Thompson and Sophia Holcomb. 


Suspect Arrested After All Day Fires In Obion County

By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director

Union City, Tenn.-An Obion County man is in jail after his arrest Thursday on arson charges for allegedly setting fires throughout the county. 

And, with the current drought conditions and the situation with the wildfires in East Tennessee, county officials are just thankful the suspect was caught before anyone was hurt or any structures caught on fire.

Mark Grooms of Obion County was charged with six counts of arson and is being held in the Obion County Jail.

Union City Fire Chief Kelly Edmison told WENK/WTPR this morning that the county’s firefighters were busy all day yesterday putting out fires. “We were alerted to it by our first 911 call. Someone called and said they saw a guy wearing a gas mask setting a fire on the side of the road along Church Rd. From that point on, there were multiple fires all day long.”

Edmison said it appeared that the suspect was pouring gasoline on the side of the roadways and setting fire to it and had set fire to hay bales, too.

“We’re just lucky no structures started on fire,” Edmison said. “The fires came close to a couple of structures, but they were contained in time.”

The fire departments from Samburg, Hornbeak, Union City, the Obion County Rescue Squad and the Forestry Service were all involved in putting out the fires, he said.

“We were glad that the Forestry Service in our area still had the resources left in our end of the state to send people to help with this,” Edmison said. “It was just a case of everyone working together.”

Grooms was reportedly arrested around 4:30 p.m. in a field near Hornbeak.


State Championship Games Televised

The Blue Cross Bowl TSSAA State Championship games will be televised today and Saturday on WUXP-TV (Channel 13 on Charter).

The Class 1A game between Dresden and Greenbeck will be at 11 a.m. today, followed by the 3A championship at 3 pm. Between Alcoa and Liberty Magnet; and the 5A game between Farragut and Independence at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, the 2A game between Marion County and Trezevant will be at 11 a.m.; followed by the 4A championship between Knox Co. and Memphis East at 3 p.m. and the 6A game between Oakland and Whitehall at 7 p.m.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Singing Out At Christmas Tree Lighting

Union City, Tenn.-The Union City Elementary School Voices chorus was in good form tonight performing at the Christmas Tree Lighting that preceded the annual parade in downtown Union City. More photos from the festivities will be posted Friday. (Brent Hinson photo).

Night For Accolades At County Schools

Teacher Angela Yearry, left, with Student Diamond Nored. (McFarlin photo).

By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director

Paris, Tenn.-It was a night for accolades at Thursday night’s Henry County School Board meeting as Students Diamond Nored and Caleb Orr received the Patriot Pride recognition; the Henry County High School cross country team and Family Resource Center Director Becky Holland were recognized.

Nored’s design was selected by the board for the County Schools’ Christmas card and her designs will be spotlighted at the high school. Digital Art Design Teacher Angela Yearry made the presentation to Nored and Director of Schools Dr. Brian Norton told her, “Your Christmas card will go into a lot of homes and businesses in the county.” Orr wrote the greeting for the cards but could not be at the meeting.

Cross Country Coach Lance Winders presented the cross country team with a specially-made video of their achievements. He noted that the team has competed at state two years in a row and finished third each year. “We can now say that our team is one of the best teams in the state,” he said.

Board Chairman Doug Braden told the team. “We’re proud of you. You’ve represented Henry County and the school well.”
Holland was recognized as the Seventh Day Adventist Church Person of the Year and Dr. Susan Burton noted that Holland works hard for the school and accomplishes a lot behind the scenes in her work with other organizations.

Holland noted, “We couldn’t do all we do without the community organizations that help us.”

Following approval of second reading of a policy governing naming of facilities, the board follow a recommendation by Dr. Norton to reject a request to rename the baseball field for the Paris Thunder Baseball Team.

Dr. Norton said after review, he did not feel the request met the requirements of the policy.

In other business, the board also approved a proposed 2017-2018 school calendar which shows the first day of school (abbreviated) as August 4 with last day for students (abbreviated) as May 24. Fall break October 9-13; Spring break March 26-29; Christmas Break December 20-January 1; and Graduation Day for Class of 2017 as May 18.

Dr. Norton said it’s being approved earlier than usual so can move forward in making plans for professional development.

Cross County Coach Lance Winders showing a video of the team. (McFarlin photo).

Puryear Man Charged With 21 Counts Animal Abuse

Sheriff Monte Belew, left, displays the mug shot of Travis Hale at news conference, as Investigators Scott Wyrick, David Doyle and Captain Adam Jenkins look on. (McFarlin photo).

By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director

Paris, Tenn.-In a case that Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew called “shocking”, a Puryear man has been charged with 21 counts of animal abuse and cattle theft.

Travis Hale, age 23, of 960 Rose Lane in Puryear, is being held in the Henry County Jail on $125,000 bond following his arrest by deputies.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Sheriff Belew said deputies were called to Hale’s farm on Tuesday afternoon on a request from the Kentucky State Police with a cattle theft report. Cattle belonging to Gary Brame of Kirksey, Ky., had been stolen and the KSP investigation led them to the Puryear farm. The theft involved 48 head of Black Angus cattle.

Once on the property, deputies and Puryear Police found numerous head of dead cattle, cows and calves laying all over the farm and others in a state of severe starvation. There was no food or water for them, Belew said.

“It just shocked me going into that barn and see all those dead cattle laying all around. It just took your breath away just to see that,” Belew said. “I’m not sure I’ve seen this amount of animal abuse before. If we hadn’t been out there investigating the theft and found all this, the death count would have been a lot higher. Especially with the cold weather and no proper care, water or food for the animals.”

Belew said, “This absolutely is a gross negligence case that would shock the conscience of anyone. These were deplorable conditions that would absolutely shock you.”

Belew, alongside Chief Deputy Damon Lowe, Captain Adam Jenkins, and Investigators David Doyle and Scott Wyrick, displayed photos of the scene, with dead and starving animals, on a screen for the media on hand for the press conference. Media included reporters from Paducah and Jackson.

“This is an unusual case just from the theft standpoint itself,” Belew said. “You don’t see many cases of cattle rustling anymore and that’s exactly what he was doing.”

Belew said the utilities at Hale’s farm had already been cut off and deputies and officers had to work there the first night in the dark. “A family member of Mr. Hale has agreed to take over the care of the animals,” he said.

After officers found the dead and dying animals, a call was made to investigators from the sheriff’s office to respond to the scene. Investigators arrived to find 21 deceased head of cattle. Puryear Volunteer Fire Department filled all the water troughs with fresh water and food was put out for the animals.

Deputies were assisted by Dr. Chuck Lyons and Mineral Wells Animal Clinic with an attempt to save the ones which could be saved, Belew said.

Wyrick and Doyle worked the scene and were able to locate about half of the stolen cattle Tuesday night. Belew said they located tags belonging to the cattle when they were stolen and had been removed. “These tags were collected and verified they belonged to the victim and proper owner of the cattle,” he said.

The State Veterinarian Dr. Tom Bates came to the scene Wednesday morning, at which point an additional 10 stolen animals were located on the property, which is 200-plus acres.

Belew, along with Paris Fireman Roger Clendenin, County Commissioner Don Jones and Tom Petit rode on horseback and found more in remote areas of the property. 

Belew noted that the mistreated cattle belonged to Hale himself and that the cattle stolen from Brame had not had been on the property long enough to be mistreated. 

Belew thanked the KSP, Puryear Police, Clendenin, Petit, Jones, Dr. Lyons, and Puryear Fire Department for its help at the scene.

Belew said he anticipates more charges will be filed, possibly against accomplices in the incident.

He said 125 head of cattle remain on the property.

Photos of dead and dying animals at the Hale farm. (HCSO photos).


17 Applicants For Chamber Director

Paris, Tenn.-A total 17 applications have been received for the position of Executive Director of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. Wednesday evening was the deadline for receipt of the applications.

Henry County Alliance CEO David Hamilton said of the applicants, 12 are local residents and five from out-of-state.

He said the applicants show a wide range of experience, including Chamber and business backgrounds.

Hamilton said a Chamber committee has been set up to review the applications and set up the process for interviews and selection of the next director. Long-time Executive Director Jennifer Wheatley resigned last month.

Collection Drive For Wildfire Victims Set

Martin, Tenn.-WLJT-TV and Crosswind Church are organizing a collection for the victims of the wildfires in East Tennessee. Donations are being accepted of a long list of items that are needed.

Crosswinds Pastor Rev. Jeremy Powell said the collection drive was initiated by church members concerned with the situation in East Tennessee. “It’s like most of the projects we have. A church member or two will share what God has placed on their heart and we have the ability and time to be able to run with it.”

Items will be collected at three drop off points: Union City Elementary School, Crosswinds Church and WLJT’s offices in Martin. From there the items will be taken to Dresden Middle School and then onto East Tennessee.

Deadline for items to be dropped off is noon Monday.

Items that are being collected:
New coloring books and children's toys
New men's, women's and children’s clothing, jackets, and shoes, and t-shirts.
New undergarments, any size (including socks and bandanas)
New towels and wash clothes
Toiletries including chap stick and eye saline solution (for first responders)
Unopened pet food, dog/cat treats, clean used blankets or towels for animal shelters. 
Bottled water and sports drinks
Cards or notes of support to Firemen, First Responders and families affected by the disaster are appreciated as well.
You can drop items off at:
Union City Elementary School, 1100 South Miles Ave. (during school hours)

Crosswind Church 4440 Barham Road, Union City (Thursday and Friday from 9 am to 5pm, Sunday from 8am to noon, and Monday from 9am to noon)
WLJT, Clement Hall at UTM 210 Hurt Street, Martin (Thursday and Friday from 8 pm to 5 pm and Monday 8 am until noon.)
Please have items dropped off at locations by noon on Monday.
Items will be taken to Dresden Middle School and delivered to East Tennessee on Tuesday morning.


Jackson State’s Paris Site To Hold Open House

Jackson, Tenn– Jackson State Community College’s new educational site in Paris will hold an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony from 3-7 p.m. December 14.

Potential students interested in enrolling are especially asked to attend. Dean Patrick Davis said local officials, including City Mayor Carlton Gerrell and County Mayor Brent Greer, played an important role in helping the school establish a site in Paris. “They’ve been exceptional in making sure we’re off to a good start,” Davis said.

Beginning with the spring semester, Jackson State will occupy five rooms in the Central Community Service Center at 55 Jones Bend Road, bringing new academic opportunities to an underserved area of the state.

“The open house is an opportunity to tour the facility and classrooms,” Davis said. “But most importantly, it’s an opportunity to meet our exceptional staff and the instructors who will be teaching the classes they plan to take. Come by and see the classes that we’re offering, and if we’re not offering what you’re looking for, we need that information, too.”

Specific classes will be determined by need, but students will be able to take advantage of more than 20 general courses that span Jackson State’s educational spectrum, including business, math, humanities, social/behavioral sciences, and science. The college will also offer emergency medical technician courses.

Representatives from all areas of the college, such as admissions, financial aid and faculty, will attend to provide information on courses and programs. They will also help students enroll for the spring semester.

“The Paris open house will provide a chance for residents of Henry County and the surrounding areas to learn more about Jackson State and what it has to offer in Paris and throughout the institution,” Bailey said.

The Central Community Service Center facility has two large classrooms that will be used for traditional face-to-face teaching. And, students will be able to take upper-level courses with distance learning software in three smaller rooms that accommodate a smaller class size.

The college expects 50 to 75 students the first semester and plans to grow the enrollment to as many 200. “We really want to start small and grow the program based on the needs of residents,” Davis said.

The Paris location will focus on nontraditional students – people who go back to school to start a new career or need additional training to advance into a higher-paying job – in addition to the traditional college-age students. The college will work with area employers to create courses to meet the needs of the Henry County workforce.

The location will allow residents in rural Northwest Tennessee to take advantage of Tennessee Promise – a last-dollar scholarship program for community colleges and colleges of applied technology – without driving to Jackson. Students will be able to take college courses in high school through dual enrollment or earn an associate degree and join the workforce or transition into a four-year university.


Vandal Pours Items Over Store Shelf

By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director
Union City, Tenn.-A Union City man who poured medical supplies all over a shelf at Walgreens and then opened food item containers and starting eating them in the store was arrested Wednesday afternoon.

Ben Sanders, age 46, of 3109 North County Home Rd., was charged by Union City Police with vandalism and disorderly conduct.

According to the police report, Sanders took a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide, a can of Tinactin jock itch spray and a can of Saline wound wash and sprayed and/or poured the items on a shelf, causing monetary damages of $146.18.

Sanders then opened a bag of almonds and ate some of them, then opened a Hershey’s candy bar and took a bite of it.

“Bomb-Like” Objects Found In McKenzie

McKenzie, Tenn.-Two “bomb-like” devices that fell out of an overturned vehicle in McKenzie were sent to the Jackson Bomb Squad for analysis following a one-vehicle accident on Forrest Avenue.

Officers arrived at the scene to find the 1997 Ford Explorer flipped on its side and found two possible pipe bombs that had fallen out of the vehicle.

Driver Michael Pierce, age 28, of Huntingdon, told officers that the devices were fireworks.

A check on Pierce’s license revealed that it was not valid and had been revoked for a DUI arrest in Colorado.

The devices were described in the police report. One was approximately 18 inches in length and was completely bound in black electrical tape with three fuses combined into one fuse. The second object was three inches long with two fuses bound into one fuse.

“Velveteen Rabbit” At KPAC

Paris, Tenn.-The Krider Performing Arts Center (KPAC) has the perfect family event for the holidays this weekend. The Velveteen Rabbit will be performed Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale now at the Paris Civic Center on Volunteer Drive.

The play is an enchanting version of the classic story which has something for all ages. It seems there is a life to the playthings on the floor and in the toy cabinet when the lights go out in Andrew’s nursery.

Tickets will also be available at the door.

Reserved Seating $10.00 
Adult General Seating $ 8.00
Child/Student General Seating $ 5.00

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Paris Woman Arrested At Motel


By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director

Paris, Tenn.-A Paris woman was arrested on a long list of charges after a motel operator was alerted to possible drug activity in one of the rooms at the local motel.

Arrested was Dorothy Marie Mazza, age 27, of 70 Bob White Lane, Paris. The charges include possession of meth with intent to sell or manufacture; simple possession ofmarijuana; possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or manufacture, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia; criminal impersonation and two counts of contempt of court.

Paris Police were called to Paris Inn and Suites on E. Wood St. after the manager reported a strong odor of marijuana coming from a room. When officers arrived, they also noticed the odor and found two people in the room: a woman who then identified herself as Sherrie O’Connor and a male juvenile. The woman was quickly identified as Mazza from her driver’s license.

A female deputy was called to the scene to conduct a search of Mazza and found marijuana and meth on her. Also found in the room was a set of digital scales, plastic baggies and a .22 caliber rifle.

Bond totaling $13,000 was set.


Hunters For The Hungry Donations Coming In


Nashville, Tenn.-State Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, has once again made a generous donation to cover the cost of processing donated deer to provide healthy meals for hungry neighbors in his district in Houston, Humphreys and Montgomery Counties. It’s part of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Legislative Challenge, held every year during white-tailed deer season and it supports the Hunters For The Hungry program.

“Leaders like Rep. Reedy help ensure that hunters can donate deer at no cost, processors are able to prepare the meat and distribute it to soup kitchens and food banks in the area, and hungry Tennesseans are being fed,” according to Hunters for the Hungry Program Manager Matt Simcox. “Each year, we challenge legislators to see who can deliver the biggest impact in their districts, and tens of thousands of meals have been provided as a result.”

Hunters for the Hungry provides funding to more than 80 wild game processors across 67 Tennessee counties. The processors receive donated venison from hunters during white-tailed deer season, package the lean, organic meat for free or at a reduced rate, and make it available to local food banks and kitchens.

Rep. Reedy’s donation will be directly applied to pay processing fees, allowing hunters to donate deer at no cost. Last year, his support covered the processing of approximately 10 deer, which provided about 1,600 healthy meals to Tennesseans in crisis.

Rep. Reedy is asking those in his district to consider making a generous donation of their own so more families and children can receive this much-needed relief. He cited statistics showing across his district, which includes Houston, Humphreys, and Montgomery counties, that more than 16 percent of the population is food insecure. To make a donation online, go to  



Bethel Collecting Supplies For Wildfire Victims

McKenzie, Tenn.-Bethel University is collecting supplies for everyone affected by the fires in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. A drop box for supplies has been placed in the lobby of the Vera Low Student Center.

Items needed: all sizes of diapers, water, hygiene products, canned food, snack food, jackets (all sizes), warm clothing, shoes, gloves, scarves, hats, cat and dog food, cat litter.


Make Ornaments At Paris Landing Saturday

Buchanan, Tenn.-Paris Landing State Park will host a Christmas ornament craft afternoon this Saturday, December 3. The event will be held from 2-5 p.m. and will be overseen by Gina Lowry. Lowry asks everyone to meet in the lobby at the Paris Landing Inn.

Lowry said, “This is a chance to give your Christmas tree a heartfelt touch of homemade by joining us to make ornaments.” For information call 731-281-6611.


Santa Claus’ Hours In Paris

Santa and Mrs. Claus cuddling at North Pole Family Fun Day Saturday. (Shannon McFarlin photo).

Paris, Tenn.-Hours that Santa will be in his house on the Henry County Courthouse lawn are: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and 2-4 p.m. on Sundays. The last day for Santa to be in his house this year will be December 18.


Ronnie Milsap To Perform At The Dixie

Huntingdon, Tenn.-Legendary Singer-Keyboardist Ronnie Milsap will perform at The Dixie in Huntingdon at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 3. Milsap has 40 Number 1 hits and six Grammy Awards to his credit. 

In addition to his Grammy Awards, Milsap won eight Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year. He also is a 40-year member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Tickets for Milsap’s show are $45 each. Contact The Dixie box office by calling 731-986-2100 or at


Silas Winders Finishes First In S.C. Race


Charlotte, N.C.—Silas Winders of Paris finished first overall in the Boys Freshman Race at the 38th annual Foot Locker South Regional Cross Country Championship in Charlotte over the weekend. Silas was competing with 153 runners.


His brother, Titus, finished 15th overall in the Boys Seeded Race.


The National Foot Locker Championship is held in San Diego, CA in December. The top 10 finishers in the seeded race from each region qualify. The south region includes 15 states. Titus missed qualifying by only five places. He was in 28th place at 2 miles and in 21st place with 300 meters to go. He passed 6 runners down the stretch to finish in 15th. TN finished 5th as a team. He will be one of the top returners next year.


Silas ran in the All Freshman race. He was in 4th place at the 2 mile mark and side by side with another runner with 300 meters to go. Silas pulled away down the stretch to win by 5 seconds. He received another award for being one of the top five TN runners which placed second as a team. Silas also won the 13-14 age group race last year.


Both boys were the first runners in their race from TN.

Coloring Contest Announced

Paris, Tenn.-A coloring contest to celebrate the 10th Annual Holly Jolly Christmas Parade will be held for children in Henry County. 

The contest is divided into two age groups with a coloring page for kindergarten-second graders and a different page for third-fifth graders. Coloring sheets should be returned to the locations above before 4:00 pm on Saturday, December 10, the day of the parade in downtown Paris.

Sponsored by K & B Supplies for Success, coloring sheets will be available downtown at K & B, The Toggery, Jack’s Java, the Downtown Paris Association Facebook page or

“The winner in each age group will receive a huge basket of fun art supplies from our store including colored markers, crayons, drawing pads, construction paper, paints, modeling clay and more,” said Brenda Evans of K & B. “To make things even sweeter, there will be candy and other Christmas goodies.” Each basket has a retail value of $75. 

Henry County High School art students created and submitted a number of coloring sheets. A panel of judges chose two sketches, one for each age group. “I am proud of student artist Brianna Belew, whose sketches were chosen for both age groups,” according to HCHS Art Instructor Greg Chandler. “A large number of art students participated in this project; it was a great learning experience for them. We enjoy partnering with the DPA and giving back to our community,” he said.

“After the coloring sheets are judged, we plan to post as many pages from our young artists as possible in our front window for Santa to see when he is in Downtown Paris on weekends,” said Evans. 

For more information on the contest call Evans at 731-540-1222 or the DPA Office at 731-653-PARIS (7274).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jury Trial Ends With Guilty Plea

By Shannon McFarlin WENK/WTPR News Director

Paris, Tenn. – A jury trial being conducted in Henry County Circuit Court ended with a guilty plea to another charge by the defendant today.  

Joseph Loog, also known as Joseph Roper, of Lone Oak Rd., pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. He had been charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. 

Loog was arrested in 2015 at his home by the Metro Crime Unit and charged with possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession of meth.

The jury trial began this morning and was expected to last two days.

According to County Circuit Court Clerk Mike Wilson, the negotiated plea agreement was entered into by the Assistant District Attorney General Paul Hessing and Attorney Chad Cox on behalf of Loog “following the testimony of witnesses which revealed a potential problem identifying the controlled substance allegedly involved in the case.”

The case was being tried before Judge Donald Parish.  

The Criminal Justice class from Henry County High School was present in court along with their teacher, Diane McCord, for the entire case.


Lights And Santa At Discovery Park In December

Union City, Tenn.-The second annual “Let It Glow Light Show’ will be held at Discovery Park of America in Union City throughout December. 

In addition to the light show, Santa is visiting in Dinosaur Hall on Saturdays December 3rd, 10th and 17th   from noon until 5 p.m.  Guests are invited to bring their own camera and get photos of their little ones in Santa’s lap.  There is a mailbox in the lobby of Discovery Park where children can leave their letter to Santa.  All letters with a legible return address will receive a reply.

The annual Light Show also is sponsored by the city of Union City.

Discovery Park Grounds Director John Watkins, who is from Paris, said this year’s show will be even bigger and better than last year’s show, with over 500,000 lights, which comes to about 30 miles of lights if you stretch them out end-to-end.

 “New to the light show are a couple of themed areas featuring Charlie Brown and Rudolph,” Watkins said.  And the drive through light tunnel is back, since it was a crowd favorite last year. 

Another new addition this year is the opportunity to purchase 3-D glasses for the passengers in the vehicle.  Watkins said that the only thing better than a light show, is a light show viewed through 3-D glasses.  “Those fun little glasses really make the lights come to life,” Watkins said.  Additionally, guests driving through the light show can tune their radio station to the park’s FM frequency and might just notice that the lights and the music have a lot in common! 

The “Let it Glow Light Show” will be open from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. most December evenings, but will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas day and New Year’s Eve.  Cost is $5 per vehicle, $10 for a 15-passenger bus and the 3 D glasses are available for passengers for $2 each.

On Saturday, the 3rd of December, the award winning David Johnson Chorus is spreading Christmas cheer in Dinosaur Hall with performances at the top of the hour throughout the afternoon, beginning at 11:00 and ending at 4:00.  The more intimate 2:00 p.m. show will take place in the Chapel. The Chorus is sponsored by Clark Cattle Company of Sharon.

On Sunday afternoons, the park’s staff will present Polar Express at the Train Depot.  The tickets for this event went on sale in June and it is sold-out.  “We added additional shows and times this year,” said Event Director Lauren Jones.  “This is a very popular event, and we encourage anyone who can’t get tickets this year to watch our website or sign up for our newsletter so that they know when the tickets go on sale next year,” she added.  Polar Express is sponsored by Simmons Bank.

The December Wine and Paint class will inspire the artist in you as you paint a lovely Christmas branch with an ornament.  This picture is perfect for decorating or giving away! The painting class will be held on December 9th from 6:30 until 8:30 in the LEC room. Cost is $25 for members and $30 for non-members and includes all supplies. 

On Saturday, December 10th, “Laughing all the Way,” tells a musical story of the history of the Christmas Carol.  “It was a crowd favorite last year, so we’re bringing it back,” said Education Director Polly Brasher.  The show promises to be festive and fun and will take place at 11:30 and again at 2:30 in the Reelfoot Room.  It is free with park admission. 

On Sunday, December 11th, you will want to load up the children and head to Discovery Park so that they can meet “Ready, Jet, Go!” live and in person!  This famous PBS character is sponsored by WLJT and will be out and about from 1:30 until 3:00 that day.  Bring your kids, and bring your cameras to see this popular character come to life!  It’s free with park admission!

From lights to Santa, shopping to music, Discovery Park of America offers something for everyone during December.  For more information, visit the park’s website  Discovery Park of America is located at 830 Everett Blvd.


Bassmaster Tourney Set For Kentucky Lake

Paris, Tenn. — Amateur anglers from around the U.S. will gather at Kentucky Lake from Wednesday through Saturday this week for the 2016 Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship.

According to Henry County Alliance CEO David Hamilton, the first two days of the tournament will attract around 200 two-person teams to the fishery. Teams are composed of anglers from various independently operated team trails sanctioned by B.A.S.S.

The Henry County Alliance will host the tournament.

After the Toyota Bonus Bucks Team champions are crowned at the end of the second day, members of the top three teams will then fish individually in the Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-Off, with the winning angler earning a spot in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe near Houston, Texas.

This will be the third year for the Toyota Bonus Bucks Team Championship, and the 12th time B.A.S.S. will hold a professional tournament on Kentucky Lake — a giant impoundment of the Tennessee River straddling the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. Last year’s team championship was held on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, and approximately 400 anglers participated.

Hamilton said, “The Henry County Alliance is happy to partner with B.A.S.S. as we showcase Kentucky Lake, one of the top fisheries in the country, at the Toyota Bonus Bucks Team Championship. Previous Bassmaster anglers have brought in total weights of more than 95 pounds, and we are looking forward to seeing the big bass anglers will weigh-in at this tournament, as well.”
Paris Landing State Park will be the location for takeoffs at 6:30 a.m. CT, with daily weigh-ins following at 2:30 p.m. CT.


Dr. Gardner Rhea Jr. Dies In S.C.

Easley, S.C.-Former Paris Physician Dr. William “Gardner” Rhea, Jr., of Paris, died at home in Easley, SC on Thanksgiving morning. His death was the result of pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs. 

Born at Nobles Hospital in Paris on Christmas Eve 1933, Gardner is survived by his wife, Joan Sullivan Rhea, a brother, James Travis Rhea, M.D. of Boston, MA, four children, Alice Rhea Batey of Greenbrier, TN, William Gardner Rhea, III (Malia) of Omaha, NE, John Campbell Rhea (Tara) of Angel Fire, NM, Charles David Rhea (Fuki) of Redmond, WA and their mother Mary Rhea Cooper of Ormond Beach, FL. 

Gardner’s father, Dr. William Gardner Rhea Sr., delivered him.

He was stepfather to his wife's children, David Lee Watt (Leilani) of Easley, SC and Benjamin Patrick Watt (Alisha) of Pickens, SC. He was also stepfather to Beth Alexander and Stacey Carver. Gardner had nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Betty Rhea Wilder.

William Gardner Rhea Jr. was Director of the Surgical Residency Training Program at Greenville Hospital System from 1978 - 1990.
Memorial services for Gardner will be held at 2 pm on Saturday, December 3rd, at Saint Luke's Episcopal Church in Boone, NC. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations in his memory to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60601 [

Christmas Bazaar Is Saturday

Paris, Tenn.-The Lee Academy for the Arts will hold its annual Christmas Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Several vendors with homemade crafts will be on hand. The event will also feature musical performances throughout the day and excerpts of The Nutcracker will be performed by Dancing Generation Studio.


Community Christmas Concert Is Sunday

Paris, Tenn.—The Paris-Henry County Arts Council will be hosting its 49th annual Community Christmas Concert from 3-5 p.m. Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Paris. The concert is entitled “Christmas Praise” and is under the direction of long-time Paris Piano Teacher Peggy Williams.


McKenzie Hometown Christmas Activities Set

McKenzie, Tenn.—McKenzie’s Hometown Christmas celebration begins this week with numerous activities, including the Lions Club Christmas Parade on Saturday. The week begins with the Twinkle Ball at Bethel University on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Breakfast With Santa will be held at 8 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturday, December 3, at the Farmer’s Market across from city Hall. Have breakfast with Santa, visit his workshop and have your picture taken with him.

McKenzie’s Hometown Christmas Opening Ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, on the downtown square with musical entertainment, followed by a bake sale and auction from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market.

Amusement rides, a petting zoo and games also will be set up until 7 p.m., with the Air Evac Lifeteam set to land downtown at 2 p.m. Santa will visit the Farmer’s Market from 2-4:30 p.m.

Other downtown activities include a magic show and classic car show through the afternoon.

The Christmas Parade begins at 5 p.m. and will move through downtown. 

Christmas With Renaissance at Bethel will be held on Sunday, December 4, with a matinee at 2 p.m.


Winners Of Elks Hoop Shoot Announced

Paris, Tenn.-The Paris Elks Lodge 816 held its annual Hoop Shoot at the Henry County High School recently.  

The age brackets were 12-13 year old boys and girls; 10-11 boys and girls and  the 8-9 boys and girls

Fifty plus young ladies and gentlemen showed up to show off their skills with the basketball.  The first-place winners will shoot again at the  District Shoot in Trenton on December 10th.

If the local first-place winner wins in the District Shoot in Trenton, they will go to the State Shoot in Franklin the beginning of February. From there if they win they will be back in Paris for a four-state shoot-off. This is held in Paris annually and brings shooters from TN, KY, AR and MO. 

The winner from the four-state shoot-off will then be going to Chicago in the spring for the National Shoot Off.    

The winners are:

8-9 Girls: first, Rhianna McDougal; second, Shaniya Fayth England; third, Marley Edwards.

8-9 Boys: first, Carson Card; second Martez Rack; third, Tisbum David.

10-11 Girls: first, Akeylah Diggs; second, Capreec Long; third, Brooke Blankenship.

10-11 Boys: first, Aidan Harris; second, Carter Hedges; third, Benjamin Davis.

12-13 Girls: first, Ava Kate Bomar.


Visit Cuba, Trinidad With UTM

Martin, Tenn. – Community members interested in visiting Cuba can reserve spaces in an upcoming University of Tennessee at Martin travel study. The trip is planned for May 7-17, 2017, and will cost approximately $4,255 plus a $40 fee for trip insurance. The cost includes a round-trip flight, hotel stay, excursion fees and some meals. Participants will need current passports. A $500 non-refundable deposit is due to the UT Martin Center for International Education by Dec. 2, 2016.

The trip will focus on agriculture in Cuba, such as organic farming and sustainable agriculture, while also studying the country’s changing economy, culture, history, music and art.

While in Havana, participants will visit Organoponico Vivero Alamar, Cuba’s most successful urban cooperative agricultural project. The group will also tour the Museum of the Revolution and the Partagas Tobacco Factory in Old Havana and spend time at the Fabrica del Arte Cubano for live music, art and dancing.

Travelers will also stay overnight in both Playa Giron and Trinidad. During their time in Playa Giron, participants will have an opportunity to snorkel in the Cueva de los Peces and visit the Bay of Pigs Museum. While in Trinidad, the group will take a guided walking tour of the Plaza Mayor and Romantic Museum before spending the evening listening to live music at Casa de la Musica.

Participation in the academic course is not required for non-students; however community members wishing to learn more about the areas featured may enroll in agriculture 230.

For more information or a complete itinerary, contact Jessica Crews Garcia, UT Martin Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, at, or call the UT Martin Center for International Education at 731-881-1023.

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