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TOP STORIES FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2004

  Proposed Wheel Tax Headed to Referendum
Highway Department Recommends Property Tax If Wheel Tax Fails
 
 
  
By Joel Washburn
washburn@mckenziebanner.com
  

Ben Cunningham of Tennessee Tax Revolt hands signed petitions to Linda Radford, administrator of elections in Carroll County.

It looks like Carroll countians will decide the fate of a proposed $10 hike in the wheel tax during a special referendum. A total of 1,405 persons signed a petition to allow the citizenry to vote on the new tax and also halt the January implementation of the tax. A provision in Tennessee law allows the citizenry to call for a referendum following the county commission's approval of a wheel tax hike.

County commissioners voted twice in consecutive monthly sessions to hike the wheel tax by $10, making the local wheel tax $30 and the total cost of licensing a passenger vehicle at $54, including the $24 state fee. The estimated $240,000 generated by the $10 wheel tax hike would go for bridge construction and rural road maintenance, said county Mayor Kenny McBride.


Linda Radford, administrator of elections in Carroll County, said she verified 951 signatures of registered voters before stopping her count. A total of 912 signatures of registered voters was required to call for the referendum on the issue.

The county is now awaiting a ruling by the Tennessee Election Commission to clarify the "calling for an election," said McBride. The county commission will convene on December 13 to determine the next action.

Following the call for a referendum, the Carroll County Highway Committee voted to recommend an 11 percent increase in property tax should the wheel tax hike fail. Tuesday, the committee asked McBride to draft the resolution for consideration during the January session of the county commission. Voting for the resolution to hike property taxes 12 cents were Virgil Coleman, Harold Baker, Wayne Kirk, Johnny Blount, Gaylon Sydnor, and Virgil Coleman. Ben Surber voted no.

McBride said the Highway Department presently has 39 road workers, which is down from 50 some five years ago. Effective January 1, 2005, 30 of the 39 will be placed on mandatory layoffs for the month of January. "We have good men and good roads," said McBride. However, the mayor noted the cost of 50 percent increase in the cost of fuel and the tripling in price of steel culverts is greatly affecting the budget.

Members of the Tennessee Tax Revolt, a non-profit organization based in Middle Tennessee, helped organize the petition drive. The group provided downloadable petitions on the Internet and established roadside tables to encourage the signing of the petition. Group representative, Ben Cunningham, also placed ads in this newspaper encouraging persons to sign the petitions.

As for Tax Revolt Tennessee getting involved in local politics, McBride said, "If they want to get involved in county government, they need to help pay the costs." He said he would like to see the group start by paying the $15,000 cost of holding a special election in the county.

"We have three major sources of funding," said McBride.

Those are property tax, wheel tax, and sales tax. The local option sales tax is already at its maximum level of 2.75 percent following a referendum by the people.

The cost of a wheel tax would be paid by a majority of the people in the county, whereas a property tax hike will be paid by approximately 40 percent of the population, said McBride. The current tax rate is $1.06 per $100 assessed value.

"I cannot, in good conscious, support a property tax hike," said McBride. "That will be left to the County Commission."

The $1.09 tax rate is set until July 2005 when a new fiscal year begins. However, the county is projecting a deficit budget for fiscal year 2004-2005 after the unusually high number of homicides and associated costly autopsies, and the higher fuel cost to operate the sheriff's and highway departments and school buses. McBride said the county's finances are "healthy" at this time, but a few big costly items could change the financial situation.

One example he cited was the cost of a bridge in Road Commissioner Scotty Bailey's district. The original cost was estimated at $234,000. The current cost estimate is $635,000. The county's share of the project escalated $80,000, said McBride. Another bridge over the Big Sandy on Westport Road is estimated to cost a total of $1,060,000, with a local cost of $212,000. McBride indicated the replacement costs for that bridge could also escalate.

In 1992, the county commission approved a $20 wheel tax, which was defeated by the people in a referendum. Commissioners countered that defeat with a 32-cent property tax hike. Property taxes have not been increased since 1992, however, the local option sales tax was hiked during former County Executive Billy Murphy's administration.

 
     
 

County's Seventh Homicide.....
Huntingdon Man Fatally Shot at Home

 
 
  
By Linda Bolton
linda@mckenziebanner.com
  

A Huntingdon man was fatally shot at his home early Friday morning, marking Carroll County's sixth homicide since May 15.

The victim, 33-year-old Bobby Lee Petty, Jr. called 911 to summon help following the 7:13 a.m. shooting. A Carroll County Sheriff's Department dispatcher called Huntingdon Police Department, stating that a man had been shot at 299 McCall Street, which is part of Drew Court housing project in Huntingdon.

Petty reportedly worked at home as a computer programmer for Host and Stream Internet Company in Nashville.

According to Cantrell, the victim told the 911 dispatcher he "had been shot and needed help", but didn't remain on the line.

Sgt. Randall Dunn and Officer Clint Todd arrived on the scene to find Petty standing at the front door. Baptist EMS arrived moments later to begin readying the victim for transport to Baptist Hospital.

The victim remained conscious enroute to the hospital and was able to speak to medical personnel, but began going into cardiac arrest as he entered the hospital parking lot, said Cantrell. Medical personnel performed CPR for some 28 minutes, however Petty was pronounced dead in the hospital emergency room at 7:59 a.m., he said.

Authorities are following up on leads in the case to "see what develops," said Lt. Johnny Hill of Huntingdon Police Department.

According to Cantrell, Petty sustained a single gunshot to the chest from a small caliber weapon. The bullet pierced the heart and right lung, he said.

The body was sent to the state chief medical examiner's office in Nashville for an autopsy. Following examination, Dr. Staci Turner ruled the death a homicide, Cantrell said.

Authorities stated they are not sure what part of the house Petty was wounded, however, Lt. Hill stated it may have occurred in the back of the home because that's where the victim made his 911 call.

No weapon was found at the Petty home. The victim was alone in the home when officers arrived on the scene.

However, Lt. Hill noted that Petty's ex-wife, Janet, and the couple's son and two daughters reside at the same address. An obituary form from Casey Funeral Home in Henderson, who is in charge of Petty's funeral services, listed Janet as "a special friend and fiancée." (See separate obituary elsewhere in this edition).

Petty's son is the 15-year-old juvenile who is charged with vehicular homicide in the death of Audrey Phillips, 52, of Huntingdon. The youth is now 16 years old. The death was the result of a May 15 accident on Highway 77 as Ms. Phillips was on her way to retrieve mail from the mailbox. The juvenile reportedly struck a mailbox and went into a ditch prior to hitting Phillips with his 1994 Ford Escort.

District Attorney Steve Jackson stated the juvenile is still charged with vehicular homicide and was scheduled to appear Thursday in Carroll County Juvenile Court for a final hearing in the case. However, due to circumstances involving the case with his father, the juvenile hearing has been postponed until a later date.

Other murder cases that have been under investigation by Carroll County authorities since September 24 include:

* Jessica Dawn Julius, 17, of Huntingdon and her unborn baby were killed on September 24. Although Carroll County Sheriff Bendell Bartholomew remains hopeful that new leads will develop in the case, the murders remain unsolved at this time.
* Denise Tegethoff, 26, and Jayden Tegethoff, 1, of Huntingdon, were killed on October 1. Charles Gadlen, Jr. of Huntingdon has been charged with two counts of first degree murder.
* Betty Crocker, 59, of McKenzie was killed on October 4. Her ex-husband, Bobby Crocker has been charged with first degree murder.

In other cases, Brad D. Baker, 31, of Huntingdon was killed by a passing motorist while walking his bicycle on U.S. Highway 70/State Route 001 on September 24. Danny Joe Shepherd, 44 of Trezevant has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injury in the case. No vehicular homicide charges have been filed in the case.

Authorities are also still seeking information concerning the disappearance of Janie Sue Grooms Lindsey of Atwood on October 10. Lindsey's vehicle was later recovered and sent to Nashville for forensic investigation. Two weeks ago, a TBI forensic team searched the Cedar Grove residence of the person reportedly last known to be with Lindsey.

Persons having information concerning the Petty case or any of the other unsolved cases, are asked to contact the Huntingdon Police Department at 986-2906, Carroll County Sheriff's Department at 986-8947, or Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

 
     
 

Grand Opening for Call Center is December 15

 
 
  
Grand opening ceremonies for the new Department of Human Services call center in McKenzie will be December 15, according to Billy Barksdale, executive director of the McKenzie Industrial Board (IDB). The center will be located in the former J&J Supermarket building on South Main Street.

As many as 111 employees are slated to work at the facility, said Barksdale. That is approximately 30 more than previously announced. Workers will answer questions about TennCare and Families First at the call center. Employees will work in shifts to serve the citizens of Tennessee. Employees are currently training at the Tennessee Technology Center in Lexington. Full operations at the facility is slated for December 1.

McKenzie Industrial Board leased the former supermarket building from Barbara and Greg Blackburn and then subleased it to the state of Tennessee. The IDB has made more than $316,000 in improvements to the facility. "This has brought the building back to life", said Barksdale, who as a teenager worked in the building as a supermarket sack boy.

Construction on the interior is slated to be completed this week with the installation of office furniture to follow immediately.

Local contractors have performed the bulk of the work, said John Baumgardner, chairman of the IDB. Micah Beasley Construction is the main contractor for the project.
 
     
  McKenzie's Hometown Christmas December 3 & 4  
 
  
Christmas is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with friends and neighbors at McKenzie's Hometown Christmas December 3 and 4, downtown in McKenzie.

New this year on the downtown square will be bungee jumping as well as a mechanical bull. Carnival rides and concessions will take place on College Drive, next door to City Hall, with games geared toward children ten and under.

Other activities beginning with the 5:30 Friday opening ceremonies, include Relay for Life's "Love Lights a Tree" ceremony, storytelling at the McKenzie Memorial Library, and SUW wrestling (featuring local stars Brimstone, Mike Sledge, Bull and Bad News Bennett) across the street from City Hall. Friday night and Saturday "The Predator" monster truck is back as well as Santa's Walk, featuring a "winter wonderland" of trees decorated by local groups and organizations. The walk leads to the caboose where children may visit Santa on Saturday afternoon between the Junior Parade at 1:00 and the Lions Club Christmas Parade at 4:00. Smitty Carter will be grand marshal of the parade.

The popular McKenzie Tour of Homes takes place both Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. 'til 8 p.m. Horse-drawn carriage and train rides are also available both days, starting as early as 10 a.m. Saturday and lasting 'til 8 p.m. both days.

Saturday only, Arts and Crafts in the park will coincide with live entertainment on Banner Row. Taste of Christmas Country Store, Bake Sale and Bazaar takes place at the First Methodist Church Saturday from 10 a.m. 'til 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from Debbie Broadbent (352-5418), Diane Stafford (352-3426), of the church office at 352-2456.

Also off the beaten path, the bluegrass band "Southern Grass" performs at Bethel's Dickey Fine Arts Building at 7 p.m. Tickets for that event are $8 for adults and $3 ages 12 and under. Admission at the door is $10 and $5. Tickets are available from any Lions Club member or at City Florist.

The McKenzie Lions Club presents McKenzie's Hometown Christmas with the assistance of other local sponsors including the city of McKenzie, Tennessee Quality Homecare and Hospice, Lakeside Retirement Community, Gary Simmons Lease and Sales, Inc., McKenzie Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, Carroll Bank and Trust, Pepsi, Sonic, and McKenzie Regional Hospital.
 
     
 
These stories and more exclusively in the print edition:
 
     
 
  • McKenzie Plans Big Turnout for Guard Departure
  • City Christmas Bonuses Met by Holland Donation
  • Tucker Elected Vice Mayor
  • Company A Makes Final Preparations for Mobilization
 
     
     
       

Phone (731) 352-3323 or Fax (731) 352-3322
washburn@mckenziebanner.com

 


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