Local News Articles

Man Airlifted After Friday Evening Wreck

May 28, 2010
Dwayne Page

A 28 year old man was injured in a car wreck Friday evening on Highway 56 near the DeKalb/Warren County line.

Central dispatch received the call at 6:32 p.m.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Shaun Travis Hill of Johnson City was traveling north on Highway 56 in a 1990 Chevy Lumina Mini-Van when he crossed over the center line into the oncoming lane, went off the left shoulder, and struck a mail box post. The mini-van then traveled north a short distance in a ditchline and struck a culvert, causing the vehicle to roll over on it's passenger side. The accident occurred just inside the DeKalb County line.

A passerby stopped to render assistance to Hill until EMS arrived. Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded to perform extrication services, cutting out the windshield so that Hill could be removed on a backboard and treated at the scene by EMS. Hill was later airlifted on site by a Life Force helicopter ambulance. He was believed to have been flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Trooper Jennings says charges are pending against Hill.

DeKalb April Jobless Rate Holds Steady at 10.9%

May 27, 2010
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's April unemployment rate was unchanged from March at 10.9% and only slightly higher than the rate for April, 2009 of 10.7%

The local labor force for April was at 9,630. A total of 8,580 were employed and 1,050 were unemployed.

DeKalb County and Macon County tied for having the fourth lowest unemployment rates in the Upper Cumberland region for April at 10.9%.

The other counties ranked as follows from highest to lowest:
Pickett- 15.2%
Van Buren- 13.2%
White- 13.1%
Clay- 13.1%
Warren- 12.4%
Smith- 12.4%
Jackson- 12%
Fentress- 12%
Cumberland 10.8%

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was 10.5 percent, down from the March rate of 10.6 percent. The United States unemployment rate for the month of April was 9.9 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for April show that the rate decreased in 89 counties, increased in three counties and remained the same in three counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 7.1 percent, down from 7.4 percent in March. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 20.3 percent, up from 19.8 in March, followed by Marshall County at 17.3 percent, down from 18.4 percent in March.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 8.2 percent, unchanged from March. Davidson County was 9.0 percent, down from 9.1 in March. Hamilton County was at 9.0 percent, down from 9.4 in March, and Shelby County was 10.3 percent, down from 10.5 in March.

The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

May 27, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Budget discussions continued this week, with conservatives standing firm against any wasteful projects and tax increases. Lawmakers have maintained, throughout budget discussions, that raising taxes on economic-weary Tennesseans and additional money spent on wasteful projects are irresponsible. Their plan calls for significant reductions in discretionary spending, no tax increases, and leaving the Rainy Day Fund at a healthy level.

Flood relief plans have been discussed this week during budget negotiations as lawmakers recognize the need for aid. Proposed methods for funding flood relief proposals include using cash from the state's Rainy Day Fund, using a portion of stimulus money, and through various tax relief measures.

Lawmakers will continue to hammer out details next week, as the General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget each year. Each General Assembly is allowed to meet for 90 session—or legislative—days over the course of two years. After session on Thursday morning, the House has only three legislative days left to finish business. The Senate has only one legislative day remaining. Lawmakers can continue session after the legislative days are depleted, but cannot receive per diem beyond 90 days.

The Governor’s original budget proposal totaled $28.4 billion, including over $130 million in tax increases. House leadership previously denounced the Governor’s plan to implement an additional $85 million tax on single article sales as a way to balance the budget. This tax proposal was in addition to $50 million the Administration called for by increasing taxes on cable, long-distance telephone services, and free continental breakfasts that hotels and motels sometimes provide.

Resolution commends immigration policy, passes House

The House passed House Joint Resolution 1253 Monday evening commending Arizona for their bold move on immigration policies. Arizona recently passed a law that allows law enforcement officials to require citizenship documentation on any citizen that is detained or arrested. The resolution passed with a 67-27 vote.

The recent immigration policy adopted by Arizona has received national attention. In a poll conducted by MSNBC, NBC, and Telemundo, 61 percent of Americans support Arizona's actions. Lawmakers have defended the law’s importance from both an immigration and economic standpoint. Individual states and municipalities across the country have implemented a slew of illegal immigration laws in the last few years following inaction by the federal government.

To read the resolution in its entirety, please visit http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/106/Bill/HJR1253.pdf. The resolution has been sent to the Senate for action.

Lawmakers debate traffic cameras on House floor, implement moratorium

Lawmakers debated whether or not to allow traffic cameras on the House floor at length this week. House Bill 2875 was originally introduced to allow the formation of “automobile clubs and associations,” but lawmakers attempted to add a flurry of amendments to the bill that aimed at restricting the use of traffic cameras, imposing new regulations on them, or banning them outright.

After hours of debate, an amendment was added that will place a moratorium on the devices so that lawmakers can conduct a study. After January 1, 2011, no local government may place or operate traffic cameras on any highway that is maintained using state funds unless the location has been adopted by ordinance or resolution.

Numerous bills were filed this year to either ban or lessen the impact of traffic cameras in Tennessee, after public outcry reached a fever pitch. Cities and counties in Tennessee have increasingly turned to the automated systems for surveillance of intersections and roadways. The Tennessee General Assembly studied the use of traffic cameras over the summer and fall of 2009. Lawmakers echoed criticisms from constituents that in addition to a violation of rights, the motivation behind the cameras is money, not safety. Proponents of the cameras argue that safety is the priority in using the cameras. The bill recommended by the committee stalled earlier this year, but the amendment passed Thursday contains similar wording.

In case you missed it...

House Bill 270 stipulates that voter registration forms must include a statement warning applicants that giving false information to register to vote or attempting to register when not qualified is a Class D felony. The application must also include an area where the applicant has to affirm that he or she is lawfully present in the United States. This voter protection measure is likely headed to a conference committee after a series of amendments were added in the Senate. The state's Attorney General recently opined that problems may exist within the amended version.

Despite the economic downturn, Tennessee has fared better than most states. Jackson National Life Insurance Company has finalized a deal to locate a regional headquarters in Cool Springs. The company said it is aiming to hire 400 people by next January, and eventually have a total staff of approximately 750. Nissan is breaking ground this week on a lithium-ion battery plant that will provide power for electric vehicles. Roughly 250 construction workers will be needed for the project.

Several more counties were added to the federal disaster designation list this week, including Giles, Henry, and Campbell Counties. The total now stands at 48 and residents in designated counties may apply for help with debris removal and restoration efforts. Residents seeking help should call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-621-FEMA.

Keeping in mind Memorial Day, I would like to mention that last week we buried Billy Anderson from Smithville, Tennessee. This 20 year old husband, father, son and soldier gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. May we always take time to pause, look an American Soldier in the eye and say thank you for your service.

Tigers Season Ends in the State Tournament

May 26, 2010
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Tigers were eliminated from the TSSAA Division I Class AA state baseball tournament Thursday afternoon in Murfreesboro, losing to Knoxville Gibbs 12 to 2 in five innings.

Gibbs scored twelve runs on eleven hits while the Tigers scored two runs on five hits. Neither team committed an error. The game ended in the fifth inning due to the ten run rule.

Gibbs scored one run in the first inning, three runs in the second inning, six runs in the third, one in the fourth, and one in the fifth inning.

DeKalb County scored two runs in the fourth inning.

Hunter Graham the losing pitcher, went one inning, faced nine batters, and gave up three earned runs on one hit. He walked three and three were hit by a pitch. Chris Powell came in for one and a third innings and faced nine batters. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on four hits. He struck out one and walked one. McCullough Wallace went two thirds of an inning. He faced seven batters and gave up two earned runs on two hits. He walked one and there was one hit by a pitch. Evan Curtis then came in for one inning and faced eight batters. He gave up two earned runs on four hits and there was one hit by a pitch.

Corey Atnip had two singles
Tyler Kent, single
Tyler Caldwell, single
Andrew Atnip, a single and an RBI
Steven Howell, RBI

The Tigers went 2-2 in the tournament, losing to David Lipscomb 2 to 1 in ten innings on Tuesday night, beating Jackson Southside 5 to 0 on Wednesday morning, defeating David Lipscomb 2 to 1 on Wednesday night, and losing to Knoxville Gibbs 12 to 2 on Thursday in the final four or semi-finals.

The following is a summary of the other three games the Tigers played in the State Tournament beginning with the match against David Lipscomb on Tuesday night in which DeKalb County lost 2 to 1 in ten innings.

David Lipscomb scored one run in the fifth inning and one run in the tenth inning. DeKalb County scored one run in the third inning.

Garrett Hoke, the losing pitcher, went nine and a third innings and faced 38 batters. He gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits. He struck out eight and walked four.

Destry Wiggins, single
Shane Salley, single
Tyler Caldwell, two singles
Cody Puckett, single
Andrew Atnip, single

On Wednesday morning the Tigers defeated Jackson Southside 5 to 0 in the loser's bracket. DeKalb County scored one run in the first inning, two runs in the second inning, and two runs in the fourth inning.

Cody Puckett, the winning pitcher, faced 29 batters. He gave up four hits, struck out three and walked three. Two batters were hit by a pitch.

Tyler Kent, single
Corey Atnip, a double and RBI
Tyler Caldwell, two singles
Cody Puckett, single
Andrew Atnip, single
Travis Neal, single and RBI
Stephen Howell, double and RBI

On Wednesday night, the Tigers had a rematch with David Lipscomb and won 2 to 1.

DeKalb County scored one run in the third inning and one run in the fourth inning. David Lipscomb scored one run in the fourth inning.

Shane Salley, the winning pitcher, faced 29 batters. He gave up one earned run on five hits. He struck out four and walked three.

Destry Wiggins, single
Shane Salley, double and RBI
Tyler Kent, double
Tyler Caldwell, single
Andrew Atnip, single
Travis Neal, single

The Tigers conclude the season with an overall record of 21-7. They finished second in the regular district season, won the district and region tournament championships, won their sub-state game, and finished in the final four of the Division I Class AA state baseball tournament.

Smithville Electric System Commemorates 41 Years of Service

May 26, 2010
Dwayne Page
John Robert Nixon (Left) Dr. W.E. Vanatta (Right)

Smithville Electric System held a small luncheon Wednesday to commemorate 41 years of service to the City of Smithville.

Two of the directors, John Robert Nixon and Dr. W.E. Vanatta, who have been on the SES board since it was established in 1969, were also recognized for 41 years of service.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson presented plaques to each man which reads " Your dedicated service and conservative leadership has helped make Smithville Electric System what it is today. Your commitment is greatly appreciated by the City of Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen, 2010."

Nixon, who has also served as chairman of the board since it's beginning, says he appreciates all the employees and supporters from the City of Smithville and Smithville Electric." I also want to thank our vice chairman who is not here today, Dr. W.E. Vanatta. He is not feeling well. I want to give him as much or more credit for the growth and prosperity of Smithville Electric as any of the rest of us. We started out here in 1969 with Dr. Vanatta, John Bill Evins, Bill Maffett, Clarence Braswell, and myself on the board. Some of those are not with us anymore and we sure do miss them but their replacements have all been excellent people that had one thing in mind, the growth of the city of Smithville and Smithville Electric. We want to thank everybody for this. We have one of the lowest rates. We were, out of 154 distributors, the twelfth lowest in rates. We have maintained a good crew to take care of people after hours and if it weren't for the squirrels we wouldn't have any power outage much."

After the regular board meeting, fellow SES board members visited Dr. Vanatta in his home to make the award presentation. Dr. Vanatta said he was grateful to them. "I want to thank the Smithville Electric System. I want to thank the mayors over the years that's re-appointed me on the electric board. I have so many people to be grateful to. They have all been cordial and easy to work with. I couldn't ask for a better bunch."

Smithville Electric System is governed by a five member board of directors, who are appointed by the Mayor. In addition to Nixon and Dr. Vanatta, other current members of the board are Tony Hagan, Walter Burton, and Smithville Alderman Cecil Burger.

The SES Manager is Michael E. Parker.

DeKalb County Bids Goodbye to PFC Billy Anderson

May 25, 2010
Dwayne Page
Final Goodbye to PFC Billy Anderson
Flag Presented to Mother of PFC Anderson, Marlene Goodwin (Photo Provided)
Flag Presented to daughter of PFC Anderson, Lilly Grace Anderson
Soldiers Prepare for 21 Gun Salute at Cemetery (Photo Provided)
Patriotism on Display
Old Glory
Show of Support

The people of DeKalb County bid goodbye to their hometown hero PFC Billy Gene Anderson Tuesday afternoon.

The memorial service for PFC Anderson was held at the New Life United Pentecostal Church in Smithville followed by a long procession to the Dismal Cemetery near Liberty

From the church on South Congress Boulevard to West Broad Street in Smithville and at many other places along the route, people lined the roadside, gathered in front of businesses, or just sat in their vehicles to view the funeral procession as it passed by. Many waved flags and displayed signs in tribute to the fallen soldier who was killed in Afghanistan last Monday.

Bobby Thomason and Michael Hale officiated at the funeral.

Thomason, pastor of the Covenant Baptist Church where Anderson was a member, said Billy was a good young man who made good choices in life. "Billy was well loved by his family and friends. He was a young man, full of life. He was humble but always ready to help and respond to whatever it might be."

"As a young boy, he gave his life to Jesus Christ at Bible school and I had the privilege of baptizing him. I thought he made good choices in his life. He accepted Christ. He chose to serve his country, to be a young man willing to sacrifice for the love of his country and even though he is gone from us in body he will always be with us in spirit. He was a hero in our midst."

Hale said Billy realized there was a cost in serving his country, but he was willing to make the sacrifice. "The reason Billy was willing to go and fight was because he loved you and I. He cared enough about the freedoms that we have that he was willing to go and lay down his life that we could enjoy our freedom. Billy realized that there was a cost but he cared enough about his family. He cared enough about DeKalb County, the State of Tennessee, and the United States of America to say I'm going to defend what we have and he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice."

Chaplain Larry McCarty from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, quoting from the scriptures, said Billy lived the passage in second Timothy, " I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. Billy did that. The challenge for us is to do the same."

Brigadier General Robin Akin presented PFC Anderson's military awards to the family including the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NATO Medal, and Combat Action Badge.

Song selections for the funeral included recorded music by Tim McGraw "If You're Reading This, I'm Already Home", Toby Keith's "An American Solider" and "Crying for Me" , among others. Thea Tippin sang a song in person as part of the memorial service.

Members of Anderson's unit from Fort Bragg served as pallbearers during the funeral and at the cemetery. Just before burial, an American flag which had draped the casket was folded and given to Anderson's mother Marlene Goodwin. Two other folded American flags were presented to Anderson's wife Caitlin and eight month old daughter Lilly Grace.

In addition to the flag presentations, the military service at the cemetery featured a twenty one gun salute and concluded with taps.

Several white doves were also released during the graveside service.

County Commission Pays Tribute to Eagle Scout James Runyon

May 24, 2010
Dwayne Page
Eagle Scout James Runyon with his parents, Greg and Cheryl Runyon and County Mayor Mike Foster

The DeKalb County Commission adopted a resolution Monday night paying tribute to Eagle Scout James Runyon.

The resolution reads as follows: "Whereas, it is fitting that the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor should announce their pride, respect, and honor in the young people of our community who so capably fulfill their requirements and duties to reach lofty goals and levels of achievement.

Whereas, James Runyon has performed the years of tasks to work his way to the highest honor bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America. James Runyon has worked to a level achieved by a very select few and has earned the Eagle Award.

Whereas, the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor wish to thank James Runyon, his family, other scouts who helped, and his leaders for the honors they have brought to themselves and DeKalb County.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the DeKalb County Commission that May 24th, 2010 be officially named Eagle Scout James Runyon Day.

Be it further resolved that this accomplishment be spread across the records of this meeting and preserved as a lasting part of our appreciation to Eagle Scout James Runyon."

Foster informed the commission that Runyon finished his requirements for attaining Eagle Scout on April 26th, 2010. "For his project, James oversaw the installation of the brick patio in front of Justin Potter Library. He had already turned fifteen when he joined the boy scouts. He has put in countless service hours with his church and the boy scouts. He enjoys camping, swimming, canoeing, bike riding, and competing in the Iron Man triatholon at summer camp. One of the merit badges he completed was cycling. He had to complete 140 miles of bike riding. One of those was a fifty mile bike ride in less than four hours. He and his parents, Greg and Cheryl live on Cill Street.

Twenty Three Cast Ballots on the First Day of Early Voting for Smithville Municipal Election

May 24, 2010
Dwayne Page

A total of 23 people cast ballots on the first day of early voting for the Smithville Municipal Election Wednesday, May 26th. Twenty one voted by personal appearance and two by absentee ballot.

The DeKalb County Election Commission reports that the City of Smithville has a total of 3,076 registered voters.

Here's a break down of the registered city voters by age group:

Ages 18-20: 144 registered voters
Ages 21-30: 509
Ages 31-40: 432
Ages 41-50: 552
Ages 51-65: 730
Ages 65 and over: 709

Female registered city voters also outnumber males 1,739 to 1,336

Of course it's unknown how many people will vote in the upcoming Smithville Municipal Election, but the turnout seems to have been trending upward in recent years.

In 2006 a total of 696 people cast ballots to elect a mayor and two aldermen. The following year, 738 turned out to elect three aldermen. In 2008, 963 voters went to the polls to choose a mayor and two aldermen. Last year, a total of 811 cast ballots. Even though the turnout was down a bit last year compared to 2008, it was still somewhat higher than in 2006 and 2007.

The record also shows that in each of those years from 2006 to 2009, most of the people who voted, did so during the early voting period.

In 2006, 425 voted early and 271 cast ballots on election day.
In 2007, 555 voted early and 183 election day
In 2008, 684 voted early and 279 election day
In 2009, 590 voted early and 221 election day

This year's city election begins with early voting Wednesday, May 26th through June 10th.

Voting times are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the first floor of the courthouse. No voting on Memorial Day, May 31st.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 15th. Each term is for two years. The terms of office for those elected will begin on July 1st.

The candidates for mayor are incumbent Taft Hendrixson and challengers Debi Loring DePriest and Bruce Medley.

Candidates for alderman are incumbents Cecil Burger and Stephen White and challenger Shawn Beckham.

Three Arrested after being Accused of Cooking Meth at Dry Creek

May 24, 2010
Dwayne Page
Terry Wayne Daniels
 Timothy Wade Ford
Lydia R Judkins
Jonathan Kyle McCormick
Brandon Wayne Hutchings
Melisha Cantrell
Donna Sue Blankenship Overall
 Earnest Paul Barnwell

Three people accused of cooking meth at the swimming hole on Dry Creek at Dowelltown were arrested on Friday, May 21st by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

34 year old Terry Wayne Daniels of Cemetery Street, Alexandria and 39 year old Timothy Wade Ford of Brush Creek Road, Brush Creek are charged with manufacture of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine). Bond for each is set at $50,000 and they will appear in court on June 17th.

23 year old Lydia R. Judkins of Jefferson Road, Smithville is charged with manufacture of a schedule II drug methamphetamine and introduction of illegal drugs into a penal institution. Her bond was set at $60,000 and she will appear in court on June 17th.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, deputies received information on Friday of persons cooking methamphetamine at the swimming hole on Dry Creek Road in Dowelltown. After arrival, the officers found Daniels and Judkins and spoke with them. During the conversation, noises could be heard coming from nearby. When one of the officers checked the area, he found Ford and in his possession were items that are used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Authorities obtained consent to search and found where Ford was located and in Daniels' vehicle items such as a 2 liter bottle, tubing, drain cleaner, gloves, cold packs, jars that contained 2 layered liquids, coleman fuel, funnels, alcohol, electrical tape, and other items used to manufacture methamphetamine. Ford also had in his pant's pocket a bag that contained a powdery substance believed to be ephedrine.

Meanwhile, as an officer was transporting Judkins to jail, he noticed her moving in a suspicious way. When Judkins was brought into the jail and released to a female correctional officer, she was striped search. During the search, the female correctional officer spotted an item in one of Judkins' body cavities but Judkins refused to give up the object. A search warrant was issued and she was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital for the removal of the object. While there, Judkins was asked to get undressed and while doing so, the female correctional officer noticed Judkins with something in her hand. The correctional officer retrieved the item and it was found to be a prescription bottle. Found in the bottle were drugs such as dilaudid, diazepam, marijuana, and methamphetamine.

In another case, 27 year old Jonathan Kyle McCormick of Allen Bend Road, Smithville is charged with simple possession of a schedule II drug (morphine) and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court on June 17th. According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy while on patrol on Monday, May 17th spotted a vehicle setting beside the roadway on Students Home Road. The officer approached the owner of the vehicle, McCormick, and noticed him trying to hide something under the seat. After receiving consent to search, the officer opened the door and spotted a hypodermic needle beside McCormick's seat. The needle was filled with a liquid substance. A green pill believed to be morphine was also found in the floor board. McCormick had in his pocket another morphine pill, a spoon, and cut straws.

21 year old Brandon Wayne Hutchings of Young Ridge Road, Sparta was charged Monday, May 17th with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Sheriff Ray says that on May 12th, detectives received a report of a burglary and theft from a tackle shop on the Nashville Highway. Through an investigation, it was determined that Hutchings had entered the business by breaking out a front window and while inside he took lots of fishing lures, flashlights, and the building's security system all valued at $2,100. The items have since been recovered. Hutchings is being held without bond and he will appear in court on June 10th.

Three people were arrested last Tuesday, May 18th at the home of 37 year old Melisha Cantrell on West Main Street, including Cantrell, 40 year old Donna Sue Blankenship Overall, and 35 year old Earnest Paul Barnwell. Cantrell is charged with unlawful possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine), possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax) for resale, and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for her was set at $10,000 and she will appear in court on June 17th. Overall is charged with unlawful possession of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid) and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $5,000 and she will appear in court on June 17th. Barnwell is charged in warrants issued against him in a May 7th case.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy and a Smithville Police officer went to the home of Cantrell to execute a state warrant on Barnwell who was staying there. There, they saw Overall sitting in her vehicle in front of the home with the interior light on. They also noticed that she was holding a loaded hypodermic needle. After obtaining consent to search, the officers retrieved the needle, which was filled with a yellow liquid believed to be dilaudid. Overall was placed under arrest along with Barnwell, who was found in the residence.

Sheriff Ray says two of the three warrants against Barnwell stem from a case on May 7th in which a deputy spotted him driving a motor vehicle and tried to stop him. When Barnwell stopped, he got out of the vehicle, fled on foot, and escaped in the woods. The deputy then returned to the jail and took warrants against him for a third offense of driving on a revoked license and evading arrest. Bond was set at $4,500 on those charges.

While in the home where Barnwell was found, officers obtained consent to search from Cantrell, the owner, and found 179 hypodermic needles, some used cut straws, and baggies containing a white powdery substance believed to be methamphetamine. Cantrell also had a box that contained 11 pills and 8 half pills believed to be Xanax and a small plastic wrapper with a white powder believed to be methamphetamine.

Caitlin Anderson "I'm Hurt, He was like my Sunshine"

May 23, 2010
Dwayne Page
Caitlin and Lilly Grace Anderson
Marlene Goodwin, Mother of PFC Billy Anderson

"I'm not angry because it was his time to go. But I'm still hurt. He was like my sunshine. He was my ray of hope and he was taken too suddenly." That from Caitlin Anderson, widow of 20 year old PFC Billy Anderson. Both she and Billy's mother, Marlene Goodwin sat down with members of the Nashville television media and WJLE Sunday afternoon at DeKalb Funeral Chapel to reflect on the life of husband and son.

Click here to see pictures from Sunday's events

Caitlin Anderson, who is also 20 years old, says she will probably never get over the pain of losing her husband this way, but the loss is very unfair to her almost nine month old daughter, Lilly Grace, who will grow up without him. "It's very unfair. It's unfair to me to miss out on my best friend and the chapters of our life. It's mainly unfair to my daughter who is going to grow up without him physically being here. I'm not angry because it was his time to go. He was called and he knew from the very beginning what he was doing. Like I said, being a military family, that is something you are faced with. The thought of death. You always know that risk whenever you tell them bye for their tour, you know that could be the last time you tell them bye. Unfortunately, that's just part of the job. I believe he had accepted that."

Caitlin says her husband was a kind, good hearted man. " He (Billy) was such an amazing man. He was an amazing soldier. He was very strong but the other side of the soldier was someone who was so intelligent and musically inclined and so loving and nurturing and he was a strong Christian person. He was the kind of person that you could be having the worst day in the world, everything could have happened wrong and he could just tell you something silly or just tell the funniest joke or make an odd face and you'd just feel better. He could walk in a room and you'd feel warm. He was just a wonderful person."

When asked about how Billy might have reacted to the way the community turned out for him Sunday, Caitlin said he would have loved it. "He wanted to be recognized, not in a selfish sense or self centered way, but he wanted people to know that there is just cause out there. It's not just soldiers being bad. He did like the admiration."

Caitlin says she and Billy became friends in high school but didn't develop a romantic relationship until after their high school years. She says they became reaquainted at a party. They were married in June 2009.

Billy was unable to obtain leave to get home for the birth of his daughter. In fact Lilly Grace was already about two and a half months old before he got to spend time with her. It was on the occasion of his graduation from basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where Caitlin, the baby, and other family members went to visit him.

Caitlin recalled the last time she spoke with Billy. "He called me the night that it happened. It was probably about seven hours before at around 10 p.m. Sunday night. He said he was not going to be able to get on the Internet for a while but that he was going to try to keep his phone charged. He didn't know if he was going to have electricity where he was going. He said his phone was dying and he had to hurry up but before the phone cut off he told me that he loved me and that he loved Lilly and said to kiss Lilly for him."

Goodwin told reporters that she feared for her son's safety in the Army and didn't want him to enlist, although she respected his decision to serve his country. "I did not want him to go into the service. It's not that I'm not patriotic. It's just from a mother's standpoint because I was afraid for him. Not that he (Billy) is any better than any of those soldiers over there. He's not. My heart goes out to every person that has someone over there. My heart breaks for them because this is my worst fear and it's come home."

Goodwin said her son was a Christian and while she was at first angry with God, she prayed for forgiveness, knowing she will see Billy again in heaven someday. She added that Billy was a good son and father and he loved his family." My son is the kind of son any mother would hope for. He was the sweetest boy. He was a good father. He could not hardly wait to get home to his family. That's all he talked about."

While she is no longer angry with God, Goodwin remains unhappy with segments of the Army. "As far as being angry at the Army, I'm not angry at any soldier. I love everyone of them. But as far as being angry at recruiters, they lied to my son and that hurt me. I won't say all recruiters, but I didn't like my son being lied to. I didn't like the fact that they lied to me too. They told my son that he could come home whenever his baby was born. Billy would have never left Caitlin if he had known that whenever the baby was born that he could not come home. It's a shame that these recruiters are allowed to go into these schools and promise these young boys money. A lot of them don't have scholarships and they come from families like ours that don't have a lot of money. They promise them college and money. I don't mean to put down the Army. I'm just saying there's always a few bad apples in the bunch. It's probably not even the recruiters, it's the ones who are telling them what they've got to do to get these young people to enlist. That makes me mad. That is wrong."

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a brief press release on Friday concerning the death of PFC Anderson.

According to the DOD, PFC Anderson, who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, died May 17, in Badghis province Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with improvised explosive devices.

He was assigned to the 508th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The funeral for PFC Anderson will be Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. at the New Life United Pentecostal Church. Michael Hale and Bobby Thomason will officiate and burial will be in the Dismal Cemetery. Visitation will be Monday from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. at DeKalb Funeral Chapel. Visitation Tuesday will be from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the service at the church.

Anderson enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 26th, 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan on January 13th, 2010. Anderson was due to return home in July.

Several awards have been bestowed upon PFC Anderson including the Bronze Star Medal, posthumous; the Purple Heart Medal, posthumous; Army Commendation Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal, posthumous; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a Bronze Service Star; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Medal; Overseas Service Ribbon; NATO Medal, posthumous; Combat Action Badge; posthumous; Parachutist Badge, basic; Weapons Qualifications Badge; and Overseas Service Bar.

Anderson was a member of the Covenant Baptist Church.

He was preceded in death by his father, Steve Goodwin; his maternal grandparents, Edwin "Cruse" and Connie Inez Lattimore Wheeler; and his paternal grandfather, Walter L. Goodwin.

Anderson is survived by his wife, Caitlin Anderson of Smithville. A daughter, Lilly Grace Anderson of Smithville. His mother, Marlene Goodwin of Alexandria. His paternal grandmother, Louise Goodwin of Liberty. One sister, April and her husband Chad Walker of Alexandria. Two brothers, Bobby Joe and wife Tabitha Anderson and John and wife Claire all of Smithville. Special nieces and nephews, Thea, Hunter, Nik, Macy, and Summer. His father-in-law and mother-in-law, Jimmy and Gina Lewis of Smithville. A sister-in-law, Chelsie Lewis of Smithville. A host of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends also survive.

DeKalb Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.


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