Among the happenings in 2018 was Ryan Robinson completing the restoration of the Illinois Central Railway caboose in Virginia Weldon Park.

Elections, new businesses, debate over a countywide ambulance service and best measures for school security, and festivals were among the items grabbing headlines in 2018. Here’s a sample of the stories. You can see the full year’s recap in the printed Press of Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.

JANUARY

The county received its first snows of the year mid-month, with accumulation reports ranging from 1 inch to 7 inches for the first event. After a second wave of snow, authorities advised people to stay off the roads.

The C.E. Weldon Library Foundation elected Nick Dunagan its new president.

A house fire in Sidonia resulted in no injuries but complete destruction of the building.

Weakley County Municipal Electric Service reported it was not a viable option for the utility to provide fiber optic internet service to the county, due to sparse population in many areas.

FEBRUARY

The Press presented its Prep Football Player of the Year honor to senior linebacker/running back Hudson Nanney of the Dresden Lions.

Weakley County received national attention when its new county seal was highlighted in the National Association of Counties newspaper.

Economic Development Director Brad Thompson recently announced the approval of over $100,000 in grants to help facilitate upgrades in downtown Martin.

MARCH

The Greenfield High School girls’ basketball program accomplished something no other school in the county has been able to do – it sent two of its players, Chloe Moore and Tess Darby, to Murfreesboro for the 34th Annual TSSAA Miss Basketball Awards ceremony at the Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

The City of Martin opened bids for the new fire station on the west end of town and the cost came in higher than expected, the mayor said.

The City of Sharon made a decision that meant it would longer be without a police chief, and citizens expressed relief at the re-hiring of Ricky Cobb.

Sheriff Mike Wilson also told the public safety and finance committees that he would ask again for school resource officers throughout the county, including one more for Martin, at a cost of about $50,000 an officer for training, equipment, salary and benefits.

The City of Martin was ranked the 17th safest town in Tennessee, according to the National Council for Home Safety and Security.

West Tennessee Healthcare announced it had signed an asset purchase agreement to acquire three hospitals from Nashville-based Community Health Systems Inc., including Volunteer Martin.

APRIL

An inmate at the Weakley County Jail, Danny Joe Boane, 35, went into cardiac arrest and died. Earlier that week Clinton Laster, an inmate with trusty status, escaped from the jail and was taken back into custody. He was found in possession of evidence bags from the jail’s evidence room.

The City of Dresden agreed to settle with Universal Contractors for delays and repairs on construction of the Green Rail Trail.

The Greenfield board approved a new name for the Greenfield tennis complex, new red lights, new hours for city hall, and new signs honoring veterans.

The Weakley County Chamber of Commerce presented the Emerging Leader Award to Josh Pirtle, the Youth Achievement Award to Christene “CeCe” Spencer, the Business of the Year to Huffstetler and Sons Seed, and named Robert Nunley Weakley Countian of the Year.

Another year of failure in the administration of statewide testing of students meant Tennessee schools wouldn’t be held accountable for student progress.

MAY

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam came to Martin to announce Dong-A, a South Korean company that makes parts to be used in appliance and automotive manufacturing, was coming to Martin Industrial Park. It was expected to generate a $10 million payroll.

Levi Dees, a Greenfield High School guard/forward on the basketball team, was named Weakley County Press’ Player of the Year.

Martin Middle School Principal Nathaniel Holmes retired after over 44 years in the Martin educational system.

The 2018 Tennessee Iris Festival in Dresden honored local farmers.

Greenfield Fire Chief Bob Dudley said the Greenfield Fire Department had secured a Class 3 rating from the Insurance Services Office. The designation could translate into lower insurance rates for residents and businesses, said Dudley.

Rachel Melton of Sharon received a Paul and Martha Meek Leadership Award during the University of Tennessee at Martin spring 2018 commencement exercises.

Education was at the top of the list when candidates came to Martin to discuss their priorities during a gubernatorial forum, sponsored by the WestStar Leadership Program.

On May 11 John Liggett, the county finance director, published a request for proposals (RFP) for county ambulance services. Weakley County Ambulance’s 10-year franchise agreement with the county was due to expire in 2018.

Larry Gatlin, the Jackson Symphony, Switchfoot, Foreigner, 38 Special and Gretchen Wilson were among the entertainers announced for the Tennessee Soybean Festival in September.

JUNE

The long-awaited McDonald’s in Greenfield opened its doors.

Bob Snuck came on board April 30 as the new manager of Everett-Stewart, bringing with him over four decades of experience.
At the request of the newly formed Charger Foundation, with the affirmation of all principals affected and the City of Martin board, “Chargers” was designated as the mascot and team name for all Martin schools, a decision approved by the school board.

Weakley County Sheriff Mike Wilson proposed adding six more school resource officers through the sheriff’s department, at a projected cost of $382,380 for the first year.

The Weakley County Commission’s finance, ways & means committee approved the selection of Weakley County Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical service to the county, but without its previous $300,000 subsidy.

The University of Tennessee at Martin officially became the first state school in Tennessee to train and equip housing hall directors with Narcan opioid overdose prevention kits.

The Prairie Farms Fulton facility announced it would end production effective June 30.

The impact of tariff wars between the U.S. and China led to agricultural market losses, particularly among soybeans.

In a special called meeting of the Weakley County School Board on Monday, the 2018-19 budget for estimated revenue of $31,511,389 was approved.

According to the release of the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, Weakley County children were shown to be healthy, but relatively poor. They were getting a good education and strong support from their families and community, the study showed.

JULY

Weakley County Commission approved a budget that included school resource officers and a 2-percent raise for all county employees in the general fund and highway department.

Martin Housing Authority went smoke-free in all its facilities.

Mike Peery was named the new general manager at WLJT.

Sharon received a grant to buy new brush-fire equipment.

Gleason received a new public works truck.

MTD announced the addition of 200 jobs in Martin.

Weakley County received a $15,000 ThreeStar grant for improvements to the Workforce Development program.

The Prairie Farms facility in Fulton, Ky., closed, highlighting the changing industry that has seen Weakley County dairy farms reduced from more than 100 in the 1970s to only three today.

The City of Martin Public Library Foundation unveiled its fundraising thermometer at the corner of University and Lindell in Martin to reflect its progress toward a $1.5 million goal for the new library.

Jamison Peevyhouse, the county’s former emergency management director, was named the new president of the National Emergency Number Association.

The Press staff earned recognition from both the Tennessee Press Association and the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.

A University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture report reveals agriculture supplies 4,003 jobs to Weakley County.

All county deputies were certified in the use of naloxone for overdoses.

AUGUST

The Weakley County Economic Development Board hired Shelby Spurgeon to fill the position of economic development director.

County Mayor Jake Bynum and Weakley County Sheriff Mike Wilson were re-elected. Bobby Dunlap, Colton Nanney, David Bell and Donnie Essary were added to the county commission. David Hamlin won the open school board seat. April Wright Jones was elected as the new register of deeds.

The former Long John Silver’s building on University in Martin was torn down to make way for the incoming Cook Out, one of 233 restaurants in the chain.

One hundred percent of UTM’s nursing graduates 2018 class passed their National Council Licensing Examinations.

UTM was one of 14 institutions statewide to receive a 2018 Veteran Reconnect Grant. The grant totaled $78,570 for the Martin school.

“Passing the Torch of Greatness” was the theme of the annual reunion of the Weakley County Training School that included a parade, park activities and a dinner where the Rev. Harold Conner was remembered and celebrated.

Records were broken at the Eighth Annual Joey Guest Poker Run and Sons of The American Legion 5K benefiting 8-year-old Hudson Hayes. A check for $20,000 was presented to the family.

Donna Winstead Snyder who first went to work in the county register’s office in 1974 retired.

Doris Deck Owen was named as the 2018 grand marshal of the 45th Annual Tater Town Special. New events for the week included a block party, escape room and a scavenger hunt for hidden “tater” statues.

Alexander and Kate Bynum and Jake and Alyssa Bynum established the Wendell Alexander Scholarship Endowment at UTM in memory of the longtime local resident and businessman.

Ryan Robinson completed the restoration of the Illinois Central Railway caboose in Virginia Weldon Park.

SEPTEMBER

The state’s Department of Tourist Development announced that visitors spent a total of $20.48 million in Weakley County in 2017, a 3.6 percent increase.

The 25th Tennessee Soybean Festival celebrated at a lunch where Brad Thompson and Stephanie Scott were named the Pilot Club’s King and Queen Bean, MTD received the Big Bean award, Jeff Capps was inducted into the Soybean Hall of Fame, Parks Wells and Kenneth Moore were announced as grand marshals of the parade, Coca Cola was recognized as the Big Harvester sponsor and Danny Donaldson received the service award.

Will Clark, former first baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals, spoke at the Martin Wildlife Society fundraiser for the Phillip Trey Lindsey Scholarship Endowment.

Martin Agape House and WE CARE Ministries received grants from Catholic Charities of West Tennessee.

Among the winners at Tennessee Soybean Festival activities were Guitar as Art best of show, best theme, people’s choice Kaitlyn Frandsen, James Moore and Violet Durden; Froggyland’s Got Talent, Ryker and Julie Cagle; Truck and Tractor Pull, Sam Green, Daniel Bugg, Brad Deckard, Will Scruggs, Randy Thomas, Steve Rice; Miss Tennessee Soybean 2018 Katie Hodges; and Sidewalk Chalk Art, Laura Sterrett, Zoe Hogan, Maclin Moore, Gentry Lassiter and the Dodson family.

The ribbon was cut on the newly-dedicated monument to U.S. Army Airmen who lost their lives in a plane crash near Palmersville in 1943.

The West Tennessee Dairy Show drew entries from three states and included 58 head of cattle.

UTM and Jackson State signed a dual enrollment agreement.

Martin Fire Department and West Tennessee Healthcare responded to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

The McKenzie Regional Hospital closed its doors.

Stanley Black & Decker announced a 20-percent stake buy-in of MTD.

The Sharon Corn and Music Festival added a Southern Hospitality Tasting Party, more music, a horseshoe and washer contest and a cow drop. Sue and Bruce Johnson served as the parade grand marshals.

The Big Cypress Tree Fall Festival offered presentations on wildlife and live music.

Randy Boyd was named UT’s interim president.

OCTOBER

Martin resident Mitzi Calhoun and Relay for Life honorary chairs Randy and Terri Goodlow Frazier of Gleason, Amy Earls Cox of Sharon, Mary Sullivan Balentine of Greenfield and Joe Lofaro of Martin shared their stories of battling cancer as part of the annual Relay for Life activities. Organizers celebrated surpassing last year’s total with $101,000 collected by teams from across the county.

Martin Housing Authority tapped Pam Bratcher as its next executive director.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security made $2 million grant to WLJT to fund a pilot project that will deliver private, secure communication between first responders and their management teams in case of an emergency or natural disaster.

The Northwest Tennessee Children’s Book Festival featured Will Hillenbrand, an award-winning illustrator of more than 65 books for young readers.

Greenfield celebrated 30 years of fire prevention festivals with the 2017-2018 Greenfield High School Girls State Class A Basketball Champions and GHS cheerleaders serving as the parade’s grand marshals. State Fire Marshal Gary Farley recognized the Greenfield Fire Department and Chief Bob Dudley for the “tremendous feat” of such long-term awareness building.

Nearly 750 schoolchildren and adults enjoyed a tour of the Gleason Clay and Imerys operations as part of Minerals Day.

Gleason Police Chief Jeff Hazlewood announced his retirement at the October city board meeting.

Members of the Weakley County Municipal Electric System went to aid in power restoration after Hurricane Michael shut down much of the southeast.

Weakley County Prevention Coalition named Courtney Echols as the new program director, replacing the outgoing Suzanne Harper, who now works in marketing and public relations at Twin Oaks Technology.

According to the Community Assessment report published by Northwest Tennessee Head Start/Early Head Start, a larger percentage of children in the area live in poverty than in the state at large, and face health and safety challenges where they live.

NOVEMBER

Efforts in 2017 to improve energy efficiency in Weakley County Schools netted almost $100,000 in savings, according to Director Randy Frazier. And board members received an additional reward in the form of a $45,199 check garnered from tax credits for energy savings programs.

Winners in the Nov. 6 election in Weakley County included Randy Brundige, Scott Robbins, Thomas Tansil Jr., Mark Galey, Bobby R. Morris II, Jan Coats Johnson, Ali Stalter, James G. Roberts, David Belote, Terry Hankins, Jeff Washburn, Gwin Anderson, Lyndal Dilday, Sandra Klutts, Cindy McAdams, Monroe Ary, Jill Holland, Bobby Young, Andy Holt.

Studies showed more than 5,000 Weakley County residents needed assistance to put food on their table.

The Martin City Board held its first meeting in the new justice center on North Lindell Street. Outgoing Alderman Rex Pate was recognized for 40 years’ service in that position.

Greenfield Police Sgt. Brian Cooper received a plaque and praise for his two decades of service to the community as he prepared to take on the role of school resource officer at Greenfield School.

An inch of snow brought hazardous travel conditions throughout the county.

Megan Cox, 24, of Camden, a senior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, died when her car slid out of control on icy roads.

The Weakley County Commission voted to sign a new contract with Weakley County Ambulance Service, the non-profit organization that had provided emergency transports for many years.

University of Tennessee System Interim President Randy Boyd spent his first “day on the job” meeting with various constituent groups on the UT Martin campus.

West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications announced it would receive a $3 million grant to construct a 1-gigabit-per-second-capable broadband network that will be accessible by more than 406 unserved homes and businesses in the Dukedom area.

DECEMBER

Beta Club members from across the county brought home plaques recognizing their accomplishments individually and as groups after attending the state Beta Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

Cody Stewart was tapped to assume the role of School Resource Officer for Martin Primary School.

Gleason native Marty Poole’s family film Bernie the Dolphin came to Martin’s Cine Theater. Poole wrote and produced the movie.

An unpredictable wave of precipitation had meteorologists constantly changing their forecasts and resulted in traffic accidents and 8,500 WCMES customers losing power.

Will Crews earned the Spelling Bee Champion prize in the Weakley County competition.

The School Board approved purchasing the parking lot in Greenfield that was created by the Booster Club.

Santa’s Village at UTM drew nearly 17,860 visitors and collected more than 15,000 cans of food for needy families.

The Security Bank and Trust Company contributed $15,000 to the Martin Public Library Foundation for the construction of the new library pushing the total to over $900,000.

West Tennessee Healthcare Volunteer Hospital partnered with WE CARE Ministries for the healthcare facility’s first ever coat drive.

94 of the 199 Weakley County seniors who retook the ACT for free in October received word that they had improved their scores. Last year, the county finished 23rd out of 131 public school systems across the state with a composite ACT score of 21.1.

Gleason hired Paul Eddlemon as its new police chief.

An $867 billion bill strengthening and stabilizing many farming subsidies, legalizing the production of hemp and bolstering farmers markets passed. The new farm bill and a new $40 million multi-purpose processing facility in Mayfield are anticipated to help encourage Weakley County farmers to consider planting the newly approved crop.

Weakley County Prevention Coalition named Tkaira Davis as the new Program Coordinator.

Fifty underprivileged children from Weakley County received the chance to shop for Christmas as the Weakley County Sherriff’s Department, Martin Police, Dresden Police and Weakley County Circuit Court Clerk’s office and the 911 Center pooled resources to ensure a brighter Christmas. Greenfield Police Department conducted a toy drive and shared the results with Greenfield School’s Angel Tree project.

The Weakley County Press announced a partnership with the Harlem Globetrotters to promote reading and reward two reading champions with the chance to become junior reporters when the internationally celebrated team brings it antics to UTM on Jan. 25.

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