REMEMBER WHEN – Former county mayor Ron Gifford (left) made headlines early on in 2010 when he picked up qualifying papers in an attempt to unseat current county mayor Houston Patrick in the Democratic primary. He opted not to seek the seat at the advic
The Press 1/4
The year 2010 brought with it many stories of triumph as well as sorrow in Weakley County as the Weakley County Press looks back on what made headlines throughout the year.
From stories that spilled over into 2010 from the previous year to stories that remain unresolved as of the start of the 2011 year, this is a compilation of headlines that The Press staff felt made significant waves in this community.
Jan. 19, 2010 – On the heels of a long-term employee buy out, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. during negotiations with USW Local 878 Steelworkers started out the year with an impasse as Union workers rejected a contract that would have outsourced another 21 jobs at the Union City plant.
At the beginning of February, Goodyear-USW ratified an agreement that would offer buy outs to 10 of those associates holding positions that were to be outsourced. The remainder of the workers were reportedly re-located within the local plant.
Jan. 28, 2010 – After three years since the beginning of the “mold lawsuit wars” between two families and the Weakley County Department of Education were waged, an agreement was reached between all of the parties that would grant $650,000 as well as another $45,000 in attorney’s fees to the two families.
Julie Joost, mother of Caleb Joost filed suit against the WCSB, claiming mold housed inside of Westview High School had compromised her son’s immune system and made him terminally ill. A second parent, Carol Hinman, filed a similar suit with similar claims regarding her son, Griffin Pochop. It took months of courtroom battles, hours of testimony and mountains of paperwork before the monetary agreement was reached between the parties.
In the meantime, Circuit Court Judge William Acree ordered the school be remediated of mold.
The Joost family reportedly received $500,000 while Hinman reportedly was granted $150,000.
March 11, 2010 – It was that early in the year when fresh-at-the-helm Weakley County Director of Schools Randy Frazier announced the time for a stricter dress code policy for Weakley County students was on the horizon.
Frazier revealed that neighboring school districts with stricter dress codes had been studied and a new proposal was being drawn for the Weakley County school system. At just the mention of students possibly being told to wear “uniform-style” clothing to school, parents against the measure quickly formed a Facebook page denouncing the possibility of a stricter dress code.
Parent and teacher input was gathered over the course of the next few months before the dress code policy was tweaked to allow jeans and a variety of solid-color polo-style shirts.
The new policy went into effect at the start of the 2010-11 school year.
March 23, 2010 – The community was shocked to discover sexual accusations made against a teacher and high school soccer coach.
Long-time educator and athletic coach Stan Vickers was charged by the FBI and later indicted on accusations of transporting a 14-year-old Martin Middle School student in 2003 across state lines to engage in sexual activity.
In October 2010, Vickers entered a guilty plea and is scheduled for sentencing in federal court on Monday.
April 13, 2010 – It was certainly an emotional election year across the nation in 2010 as voters made their presence known.
The scope of emotion wasn’t that different in Weakley County although a Democratic primary had the potential to become competitive when information was reported that former county mayor Ron Gifford had picked up qualifying papers to unseat current county mayor Houston Patrick. Taking the advice of his doctor, Gifford opted not to seek the seat.
Only a few months later, however, the community was in mourning to hear of Gifford’s loss when he passed in April.
April 29, 2010 – It wasn’t long after Vickers arrest by the FBI when another authority figure was the target of similar indictments. Joseph Spellings, an Army captain and UT Martin ROTC instructor from Trenton was charged with transferring obscene materials to a minor with the intent to coerce the juvenile into engaging in sexual activity. He pleaded guilty in October to the one count of the indictment. Spellings is set to be sentenced in federal court next week on Friday, Jan. 14.
This is only a preview of the first half of the year. Pick up Thursday’s edition of The Press to re-cap the headlines from the second half of 2010.