Local News Articles

Assessor of Property Race May Be Contested

November 17, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Assessor of Property race may be contested in the March 6th DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

Incumbent Timothy (Fud) Banks, Scott Cantrell, and Jonathan Bryan Keith have picked up qualifying petitions from the DeKalb County Election Commission Office. Candidates for this office and all seven constable positions have to be qualified to run by noon on Thursday, December 8.

The term of each office is four years.

Incumbent fourth district constable Paul Cantrell and fifth district constable Mark Milam have turned in their qualifying petitions to seek re-election. Others who have picked up petitions for constable are Incumbent Johnny King in the seventh district, Incumbent Wayne Vanderpool in the third district, and Richard Bullard in the sixth district.

While the local Democratic Party will be selecting its nominees through the primary process, the DeKalb County Republican Party will choose any nominees it has by convention.

"Petitions can be picked up for all of the local offices on the March ballot," said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. The qualifying deadline is NOON, December 8, 2011. The same
qualifying deadline will apply to the Republican Party nominees (chosen by caucus) and Independent candidates.

Any Republican and Democratic nominees for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable will face off in the August 2012 DeKalb County General Election.

Sosa Gets Two Years In School Statutory Rape Case

November 16, 2011
Dwayne Page
Roel Celaya Sosa

A man charged with having sex with a fifteen year old girl during a "Read Night" at Smithville Elementary in March received a two year sentence for statutory rape Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Judge David Patterson presided.

25 year old Roel Celaya Sosa pleaded by information to the offense. He must also register with the state as a sexual offender. Sosa has been given credit for time served

Detective Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department, who investigated the case, told WJLE that on the night of the offense, March 7, the fifteen year old girl was at the school to look after her younger brother who was participating in"Read Night", a teacher supervised program where parents and students come to school after hours and read together. The mother of these two children had apparently dropped them off at the school and then returned later to pick them up.

After arriving at the school that night, the fifteen year old met up with Sosa and they separated themselves from others in the building. The sexual encounter allegedly took place in an unoccupied classroom. According to Detective Holmes, a custodian later saw Sosa and the victim standing in the hallway and told them they were not supposed to be there.

The next day, Detective Holmes said the custodian informed Principal Dr. Bill Tanner of the incident and he contacted the victim's mother. She then reported it to School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead, who contacted the Department of Children Services and Detective Holmes.

45 year old Mark Goodson pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence to serve 30% before his release eligibility date. He was fined $2,000. The sentence is to run concurrently with a violation of probation against him in another case. Goodson was given jail credit of 32 days

Goodson was charged in a seal indictment as the result of an undercover drug investigation by the Smithville Police Department. According to Detective Matt Holmes, a confidential source purchased two dilaudid pills from Goodson on March 4 at a location within one thousand feet of Smithville Elementary School.

28 year old Courtney A. Paris pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale to run concurrently. She received a four year sentence with one year on community corrections and the remaining three years on state probation. Paris was fined $2,000.

On Thursday, August 26th, 2010 K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow arrested Paris for possession of drug paraphernalia. The Smithville Police Department was assisting probation officers on a home visit at a local motel where Ms. Paris gave them consent to search. In a bathroom drawer, police recovered two used hypodermic needles and four cut straws containing residue. Warrants were taken Friday, September 3rd, 2010 against Paris for the drugs found in the room. Upon serving the warrants, Detective Matt Holmes, Corporal Travis Bryant and Officer David Phillips searched Ms. Paris' apartment and recovered drug paraphernalia and a schedule III drug.

31 year old Nena R. Chapman, charged with theft over $10,000, was granted pre-trial diversion probation for three years under a memorandum of understanding. She must make restitution to the victim in the amount of $3,758 and perform 40 hours of community service work.

Chapman was a co-defendant in the case with 30 year old Joseph Daniel Richardson.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that on Monday, April 4th Richardson allegedly entered a residence on Dry Creek Road with the intent to commit a theft. Richardson apparently made entry by pushing on the locked back door with his shoulder. Items taken were twenty five dollar gold pieces on a chain, two and a half dollar gold pieces on a chain, five dollar gold pieces on a chain, approximately one hundred fifty pieces of miscellaneous items, a medicine organizer, and a quilt. All items were valued at $15,070 dollars. Chapman allegedly took some of the jewelry and sold it at a local business.

In May, Richardson pleaded guilty by information to one count of aggravated burglary and one count of theft over $10,000. He received a three year sentence in each case, all suspended to supervised probation except for 180 days to serve. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other and concurrent with a violation of probation case against him. He was given jail credit from April 5th to May 20th.

45 year old Sean William Cavanaugh pleaded by information to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended except for 48 hours to serve and then he will be on supervised probation. Cavanaugh was fined $365 and he will lose his license for one year.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, June 25 a deputy was called by another officer working a wreck on Sparta Highway to check on a possible intoxicated driver in the area. The officer made contact with the driver, Cavanaugh and detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Cavanaugh submitted to several field sobriety tasks and performed poorly on them. He refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.

32 year old Bradley H. Pugh pleaded by information to initiation of a process to manufacture meth. He received an eight year sentence, suspended to probation. He was fined $2,000. Pugh will enter spring 2 life for intensive long term rehab. He was given jail credit of 37 days.

Sheriff Ray said that on October 10 a deputy was called to check out a vehicle parked on the side of Seven Springs Road. When he arrived, the officer found Pugh, unconscious behind the steering wheel. After waking up Pugh, the deputy obtained from him consent to search and found coffee filters and batteries inside the vehicle. In the back of the truck, the officer found a plastic tote and two bags containing chemical products that were altered for the manufacture of methamphetamine. A prescription bottle bearing Pugh's name was found in the bag with the chemicals. The deputy also discovered a loaded handgun on the drivers side of the truck.

29 year old Bradley S. Redmon pleaded guilty to assault. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days and was given credit for 247 days of time served.

State Treasurer Discusses Options for Implementing Federal Health Care Reforms if Found Constitutional

November 16, 2011
Dwayne Page

Officials in states across the country including Tennessee will be anxiously awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision next year on the constitutionality of the federal health care reform law, which was passed by Congress last year.

The court said Monday it will consider a challenge to the Obama administration's health care law next year. The justices agreed to hear the claim by Florida and 25 other states that the health care law violates the Constitution..

The court will consider the primary question of whether Congress went beyond its constitutional authority when it included the "individual mandate" in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the individual mandate, nearly all individuals must either be covered by health insurance or pay a fee.

The court also said it would consider whether portions of the law might survive if the individual mandate is struck down. Even if justices eventually strike down part of the law, other parts could remain intact. The court will also be considering a challenge to the law's expansion of Medicaid coverage.

State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. speaking at a public forum in Smithville Tuesday evening, said if the law is found to be constitutional it could be costly to Tennessee. One option in implementing the reforms, he said, would be for the state to establish a health insurance exchange program.

Primarily what the health insurance exchange would do is bring together private health insurance companies along with a government health insurance option to compete for business among individuals and small businesses. To be in the health insurance exchange the health insurance policies offered cannot exclude someone for pre-existing conditions. The idea is to provide more competition thus bringing down the price for health insurance. "If it does come out as being constitutional, the whole program, then there are a couple of big things we'll need to look at in Tennessee," said Lillard. "One is whether Tennessee will operate an insurance exchange. In that bill, one of the concepts of it is either each state or the federal government, if a state refuses do to it, is operate an insurance exchange for citizens in that state. The concept is that private insurers will offer their products in this exchange making it easy to compare policies, compare coverage, compare strength of companies, etc and buy that. There also is another element to it where if you are below a certain level or certain multiple to poverty rate you can get a refundable tax credit that, in effect, supplements your insurance premium. One thing that is interesting about this for government is that in our local government health insurance plan right now, we have some employees and probably some on the state plan that would qualify for this credit either partially or to a great degree. They might be better off to opt out of the state's health plan and the state's local government health plan and go into the exchange to get their credit which they wouldn't get if they stayed on the state plan. They could get their credit and buy their coverage there. It would end up cheaper in the long run by doing that. So that's one concept of the whole thing," said Lillard.

"The other concept is just the cost that the state will have. Under the federal health care legislation, the federal government does not pay for all the costs of the insurance. I wish they would get in the deal to pay for 100% of everything they send down the pike as a state or local government mandate. You can look at the Medicaid program. The TennCare program. That's a federal/state program and its largely controlled by federal regulations. The federal government pays two thirds of it and Tennessee pays roughly a third of it. The current estimate that we have in state government is that it will increase state expenditures about $1.2 billion between the years 2014-2019. That's a little more than $200 million a year. So that's another one of those back of the envelope budget challenges. If the supreme court does uphold the legislation, Tennessee state government is going to have to figure out a way to deal with that cost," said Lillard.

"Governor Haslam and his people have been going around the state and having meetings with medical providers and stakeholders in Tennessee about whether Tennessee should run an exchange or whether we should let the federal government run it. There is some cost in running an exchange. It's beneficial perhaps but it does have some requirements to it. My understanding is the feedback from this (meetings) is that most people who are stakeholders, including citizens, providers, and insurance companies, would prefer the state of Tennessee run an exchange in Tennessee rather than have the federal government run it. Again, that decision has not been made at this point," said Lillard.

The law has been in effect since March, 2010, and has dozens of provisions. Many are already in operation, including federal help for community health centers, tax breaks for small businesses that offer employees health insurance and allowing dependent children up to age 26 to stay on their parents' policies.

Funding is already being given to states to create the health care exchanges that will help consumers shop for coverage.

Starting in 2014, the law's individual mandate covers nearly everyone living in the United States except illegal immigrants, prisoners and some people with religious exemption. Those without insurance will pay a penalty on their tax return, pegged to their annual income.

Opponents of the law say the requirement violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution,
The clause grants Congress the authority to "regulate commerce ... among the several states." This also means, though, that the clause withholds power from Congress if something isn't commerce. The coming Supreme Court fight will revolve around which category the individual insurance mandate falls into.

Home Heavily Damaged by Tuesday Night Fire

November 16, 2011
Dwayne Page
Fire at Home of Misty Wilson at 450 West Main Street

A fire caused extensive damage to a residence at 450 West Main Street, Smithville Tuesday evening.

Central dispatch received the call at 6:36 p.m.

Smithville Volunteer Firefighters responded to the scene along with the Smithville Police Department and DeKalb EMS.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker told WJLE that the home belongs to Jimbo Pack and the Pack family but that his daughter Misty Wilson lived there. Wilson was not at home at the time of the fire but she returned later.

A passerby spotted the blaze and called 911.

Chief Parker said the fire apparently started in the kitchen area and spread to other rooms of the home. The cause, he said, could have been electrical in nature but has not been determined with certainty. No one was injured.

Shehane Charged with Theft and Evading Arrest

November 15, 2011
Dwayne Page
Clent Shehane

Smithville Police have arrested a 26 year old man for allegedly stealing an automobile and selling it as scrap.

Clent Shehane is charged with theft over $1,000 and evading arrest. He is under a $7,500 bond and will appear in court December 1.

According to Chief Randy Caplinger police received a report of an auto theft on Wednesday, October 12. Upon further investigation, officers discovered that Shehane allegedly sold the vehicle to a local recycling center for scrap. A warrant was taken for his arrest on Tuesday, October 25. Shehane was spotted by police on Monday, November 7 riding a bike on South College Street. Apparently trying to avoid being arrested, Shehane dropped the bike and ran off into the woods. He later emerged on Short Mountain Street. An off duty Alexandria Police Officer, who was in the area at the time, kept Shehane from escaping and he was taken into custody by Smithville police.

Meanwhile, 26 year old Stephen H. Pugh of Liberty was issued a citation on Friday, November 11 for possession of drug paraphernalia. He will be in court December 11

Chief Caplinger reports that a police officer pulled over Pugh on East Bryant Street. Pugh had an active violation of probation warrant against him. During a search, the officer found on Pugh a hypodermic needle.

55 year old Ricky Alan Braswell is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on December 7.

Chief Caplinger reports that on Friday, November 11 a police officer was summoned to 513 South Congress Boulevard to investigate a disturbance. The officer arrived and made contact with Braswell who had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He submitted to a breath test.

25 year old Candice Deshay Daniels of Lancaster is charged with public intoxication. She is under a $1,000 bond and will be in court on December 7.

According to Chief Caplinger, an officer was called to the Discount Tobacco Outlet on West Broad Street Friday, November 11 to investigate disorderly conduct. Upon arrival, he made contact with Daniels who was unsteady on her feet and had slurred speech. She allegedly told the officer that she had taken four pills.

34 year old Bridget Nicole Vientos is charged with simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. She is under a $1,500 bond and will be in court on December 1.

Chief Caplinger said that an officer was called to check out a fight in the parking lot of Temple Baptist Church on Miller Road on Wednesday, November 9. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with Vientos and a man in the parking lot but they were not fighting. Vientos consented to a search and pulled out of her pocket a pill believed to be hydrocodone.

28 year old Charles Dwayne Self is charged with driving on a revoked license. He is under a $3,000 bond and will be in court on December 1.

Chief Caplinger reports that a police officer recently observed an automobile traveling at a high rate of speed on Smith Road. He stopped the vehicle and found that Self was driving on a revoked license.

36 year old Karen Lynn Welsh is charged with public intoxication. She is under a $1,500 bond and will be in court on November 17.

According to Chief Caplinger, police were called to Walmart on Saturday, November 5 to check out a person in the store who seemed to be intoxicated. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with Welsh who was unsteady on her feet and she had slurred speech. Welsh allegedly told police that she had earlier taken some prescription medication.

39 year old Anna Claire Byars was issued a citation for shoplifting on Monday, October 31. She will be in court December 11. She was at the Dollar General Store and allegedly tried to steal several items by concealing them in her purse.

20 year old Gregorio Cruz Van Loo is charged with shoplifting and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He will be in court on December 11.

Chief Caplinger said that Van Loo allegedly tried to shoplift items from Walmart on Sunday, October 30 by concealing them on his person. He committed the offense in the presence of a minor who was with him.

58 year old Kathy Ann Taylor is charged with driving under the influence. She is under a $1,500 bond and will be in court on November 17.

Chief Caplinger said that police were called to the Walmart parking lot on Sunday, October 30 to investigate a two vehicle accident. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with Taylor, who was one of the drivers involved in the mishap. She was unsteady on her feet and had slurred speech. Taylor allegedly told the officer that she had taken a valium and hydrocodone. She submitted to field sobriety tasks but was unable to successfully complete them.

Career Coach Mobile Unit Returning to Smithville

November 15, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Career Coach mobile unit will be in Smithville Wednesday, November 16 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Smithville Head Start Center at 118 Kimberly Lane.

A service of the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Career Coach adds a valuable dimension to its services to reach people across the state who do not have a Career Center in proximity to their homes or places of employment.

"We want to make Career Center services accessible to job seekers and employers in their home communities," said Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis. "The mobile units will offer the same services available to our customers as when they walk into one of our Career Centers located across the state."

The mobile units are set up as computer lab classrooms, each having 10 workstations that are equipped with a laptop with high-speed Internet connection. At one end of the coach is the instructor's workstation that is connected to a 42" flat-screen TV with SmartBoard® overlay and a DVD/CD player. The coaches are equipped with a wheelchair lift, and the workstations are ADA compliant.

"The mobile units serve multiple purposes," said Lynn Gibbs, coordinator for the middle Tennessee coach. "Job applicants can register for work and search available openings online. They can also take part in the three workshops we offer – résumé preparation, job search skills, and interviewing skills."

In addition, Gibbs said the department is inviting employers to use the coaches for recruiting, pre-employment screening, taking job applications onsite, and interviewing applicants. "New businesses can use the coaches as a working space when facilities are still under construction, yet the company needs to start hiring. Employers can also
conduct company training classes, since the buses have learning-support technology."

Labor's Adult Education division plans to use the mobile units for enrollment pre- and post-testing, orientation, administering the Official GED Practice Test, and offering GED Fast Track classes.

Because 31 of the state's 95 counties have limited Career Center services, the coaches extend job recruitment and training activities to those areas. These 31 counties have little or no Labor staff present, although Work Investment Area staff may be available. "It's hard enough to be unemployed, but having to drive 30 to 50 miles to a Career Center creates an extra hardship, with gas costing more than $3 a gallon," said Gibbs. "We hope when people see the mobile units they will be a positive sign that jobs are not far behind."

Counties served by the middle Tennessee coach are the following (underlined counties have limited Career Center service): Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Davidson, DeKalb, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Moore, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren, Wayne, White, Williamson, and Wilson.

The cost of the three coaches in the fleet is about $188,000 apiece. Funding for the mobile units came out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) $4.6 million for Re-Employment Services that Tennessee received. The additional total cost per program year to operate all three units, including maintenance and staff, is $513,000.

Besides being used for Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development activities, first priority use of the coaches will be for national, state, and local emergencies. For example, in the event of another disaster such as the Nashville flood in May 2010, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency need to use the coach would
take precedence over any scheduled departmental booking. The bus is equipped with high-speed satellite Internet and modern radio communications.

If you're an employer who would like to use the Career Coach to interview employees for a new or expanding business or use the bus as a training classroom, go to the Web site at www.getonthecoach.tn.gov/ or call (615) 741-0634. You will be able to check availability and request reservation for an event.

If you would like to ask questions of the Department of Labor and to see photos of the Career Coach, visit the Facebook site at www.facebook.com/GetOnTheCoach.

Sykes Arrested after Allegedly Breaking into a Home

November 14, 2011
Dwayne Page
Scott Lynn Sykes
Joseph Matthews Giles, II
 Walter D. Crawford

A 38 year old Smithville man was arrested Friday after trying to flee from a home he had allegedly just burglarized on Big Hurricane Road.

Scott Lynn Sykes of Alexander Street, Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary, vandalism under $500, resisting arrest, and evading arrest. His bond totals $12,500 and he will be in court on November 17.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Friday, November 11 Sykes allegedly broke into a home on Big Hurricane Road by kicking in the back door, causing less than $500 in damage to the door. A deputy was called to the residence and upon arrival, he saw a man running out of the back door of the home and into the woods. The officer caught up with the suspect, Sykes, and placed him under arrest. Sykes resisted, refusing to be handcuffed. The officer took him to the ground and forcibly handcuffed him. According to Sheriff Ray, Sykes had allegedly stepped in some fresh white paint while he was at the residence. He still had some white paint on his boots when he was arrested.

Meanwhile, 18 year old Joseph Matthews Giles, II of Foster Road, Smithville is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Bond for Giles is $1,000 and he will be in court on December 1.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Sunday, November 13 Giles went on a date with a 14 year old female and spent the night with her at his grandmother's home without the permission of the girl's mother.

45 year old Walter D. Crawford of Bluhmtown Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $500. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on November 17

Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, November 2 Crawford took from property on Blumntown Road, a door, a large window, and two small windows all valued at over $500.

Crawford is a co-defendant with 43 year old Raymond Earl Tague of Bluhmtown Road, Smithville who was arrested last week and charged with theft of property over $500 in the same case. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court November 17.

Community Improvement Award Presented to Girl Scout Troop 343

November 14, 2011
Girl Scout Troop 343

The Chamber of Commerce recently presented a Community Improvement Award to Girl Scout Troop 343 for the nice improvements made to the Town Cemetery in Downtown Smithville.

The Girl Scouts made this contribution as part of their Silver Award Project. After meeting with Mr. Tommy Webb and researching how to safely clean tombstones, they went to work. Tombstones were cleaned, a sunken grave and holes were filled, old vines from the fence were removed, 3 small trees were cut down, and trash and fallen limbs were collected and removed. Girl Scout Troop 343 would like to express their appreciation to Mr. Tommy Webb for his help, to Mr. Jewell Redmon for donating the topsoil, and to the City of Smithville for providing water

Pictured l-r:
Front row: Ashley Phillips, Zoe Cripps, Katherine Parsley

2nd row: Baylee Phillips, Callie Cripps, Karen Johnson, Susan Webb, Rachel Fuson, Sophie Cripps, Chloe Cripps, Kristen Parsley

Back row: Alan Webb, TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee & President of Town Cemetery; Steve White, chair, TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee; Wade Smith, TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee; Rob Willingham, Chamber Board Member; and Suzanne Williams, Chamber Director and TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee

USDA Announces Disaster Assistance Sign Up for 2010 Crop Losses

November 14, 2011

DeKalb County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Donny Green today announced that the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program enrollment for 2010 crop year losses begins November 14, 2011.

"Producers across the state experienced several natural disasters during the 2010 crop year that caused hardship and financial losses to many agricultural operations," said Green. "The SURE program provides assistance to producers when disaster strikes, so I strongly encourage producers with 2010 crop losses to contact the DeKalb County FSA office to learn more about the program," he said.

To qualify for a SURE payment, the producer's operation must be located in a county that was declared a disaster for 2010 and have at least a 10 percent production loss that affects one crop of economic significance. Producers with agricultural operations located outside a disaster county are eligible for SURE benefits if they had a production loss greater or equal to 50 percent of the normal production on the farm.

To meet program eligibility requirements, producers must have obtained a policy or plan of insurance for all insurable crops through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and obtained Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage on non-insurable crops, if available, from FSA. Eligible farmers and ranchers who meet the definition of a socially disadvantaged, limited resource or beginning farmer or rancher do not have to meet this requirement. Forage crops intended for grazing are not eligible for SURE benefits.

For more information on SURE program eligibility requirements contact the DeKalb County FSA office at (615) 597-8225, extension 2, or visit the website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/sure.

Community Observes Veterans Day

November 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Ronnie Goodwin

Members of the community joined the American Legion Post #122 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7623 in a Veterans Day observance Friday morning at the 303 building downtown Smithville.

The program featured performances by the Smith Family, singing gospel and patriotic music, and members of the DCHS band. Local minister Charles Olson opened with prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance led by Doyle Smith. Anthony Rosolowski led the audience in singing the Star Spangled Banner and Susan Hinton read a poem by an unknown author called "You Can't Tell a Vet Just By Looking".

"He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carrier didn't run out of fuel."

"He is the barroom loudmouth whose behavior is outweighed in the cosmic scales by four hours of unparalleled bravery near the 38th Parallel in Korea."

"She is the nurse who fought against futility in Da Nang and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years."

"He is the POW who left one person and came back another"

"He is the drill instructor who has never been in combat, but has saved countless lives by turning no-accounts into Marines."

"He is the parade-riding legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand."

"He is the white-haired guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp."

"A vet is an ordinary and extraordinary human being, someone who offered his life's vital years in the service of his country."

"He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. We will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude we owe."

Ronnie Goodwin, the featured speaker, called for unity in America again and encouraged each of us to personally thank veterans for their sacrifices. "What is it that burns so bright in people like you that you would give everything you have, that you would risk your very lives not for just this country but to go around the world countless times to fight for freedom for other people who would love to have what we have and all too often that we take for granted?"

"What can we do or say this morning that could come close to saying thank you? I don't know."

"One thing I think we can do is to start living what we say we believe as Americans. This country has been divided in recent years probably more so than at any time since the Civil War. We hear of red states and blue states. Liberal and conservative. Rich and poor. My dad (who is a World War II veteran and ex-POW) was in my office one day. When he went out I heard him talking to a man in the lobby. It was a political discussion. Dad said my young friends and I went to Europe and fought and my buddies died. They didn't die for red states or blue states. They died for the UNITED STATES."

"We need to come together and show the world again what we're about. A simple thank you wouldn't hurt either. Besides a close family member, how many of us know a veteran and take the time to walk up and say thank you with a firm handshake. Not for saving the world. Goodness knows they've done that. Not for preserving the liberties we love. That's a given. But look them in the eye and say thank you for ME. FOR ME. That I can get up and breathe the air of freedom and live in the greatest country that the good Lord as ever let stand. Its that simple," said Goodwin.

Following the program, a wreath was placed at the veterans memorial monument on the south side of the courthouse near the eternal flame. The wreath was laid by veterans Edward Frazier, Ronnie Redmon, Jimmy Sprague, and Tom Skelenka along with Captain Scott Emmons of the Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Captain Emmons conducted his first tour of duty in Iraq from July 2009 to August 2010 and his preparing to return there.

(TOP PHOTO: Left to right- Ronnie Redmon, Jimmy Sprague, Captain Scott Emmons, Edward Frazier, and Tom Skelenka)


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