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Dan Smith reports all survivors are ‘healing well’ three weeks after fiery plane crash in Alabama

Sharon and Dan Smith (from Facebook)

Sharon and Dan Smith (from Facebook)

Andy Smith (from Facebook)

Andy Smith (from Facebook)

Katey Hargrove (from Facebook)

Katey Hargrove (from Facebook)

The Dickson residents injured in a plane crash in Alabama three weeks ago today are slowly recovering from their injuries and the pilot says they are all “blessed” to have survived the experience. Dan Smith, who was flying the single-engine plane from Panama City to Dickson when it lost power and crashed in Helena, Ala., on July 31, sent an email update to several friends and local media Wednesday evening on the progress he, wife Sharon, son Andy and his girlfriend Katey Hargrove are making in the long, painful recovery from multiple injuries. Smith said he and his wife went to a specialist in Franklin Tuesday where the latest x-rays show they are “healing well.” Sharon Smith suffered six broken ribs, a fractured collarbone, broken vertebra and punctured lung that required surgery in a Birmingham hospital. She also had a plate inserted to mend her collarbone. “She is in much less pain than a couple day(s) ago,” Smith writes in an email he said he had to type with one hand due to his injuries. He has a splint on his fractured left arm that he says has helped reduce the pain. He is wearing a special shoe on his broken right foot and a boot for his left foot where he suffered a crushed heel. “They are still painful but nothing like they were,” he writes. 19-year-old Andy Smith had a 3X4-inch piece of his fractured pelvis removed in surgery and his father writes doctors believe some of it might grow back. Smith writes that he and his wife were “cut and bruised head to toe,” but most of that has gone away. “It will be 6-8 weeks for all of us before bones heal and we return to something resembling normal,” Smith writes. He said Sharon and Andy go to a spine specialist Friday for an update on the broken vertebrae in their necks. 17-year-old Hargrove is recovering from a broken back. She managed to walk wearing a back brace and with a walker just days after the crash but has not been able to return to Dickson County High School for her senior year. “We are all in good spirits despite it all and happy to be here,” Smith says in his email. “If you look at the plane wreckage it is amazing anyone lived to tell the story. We all are blessed.” The Federal Aviation Administration has not released the results of its investigation into the crash. Smith reported that his 1978 Piper began to lose power and he was trying to make an emergency landing at the Bessemer Airport when the engine shut down completely and the plane crashed in a yard outside Helena. Trying to avoid any houses, the plane clipped a tree and crashed upside down in a garden of day lillies. Smith has said witnesses on the ground reported seeing smoke coming from the underside of the plane before it crashed and the plane was immediately engulfed in flames. Smith and his son worked to get Sharon and Katey out of the plane and two men who heard the crash and rushed to the site helped pull them all to safety away from the plane before it was consumed by fire. The Smiths own and operate Dickson Athletic Club and O’Rourke’s Irish Pub and had recently announced plans to open House of Brews on South Main Street.

Grocers organization working to submit petition to get wine in grocery stores on Dickson ballot Nov. 4

A statewide organization of grocery stores hopes it has gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on selling wine in grocery stores before voters in the city of Dickson on Nov. 4. A non-profit group called Red White and Food, formed by the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, has organized petition drives across the state to put referendums on this fall’s ballot after the Tennessee General Assembly settled the long-time debate over wine in grocery stores by leaving it up to the voters. According to the legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in March, municipalities that already have retail liquor sales or liquor by the drink sales can vote on whether to allow grocery stores to sell wine. In Dickson County, the cities of Dickson, Burns, White Bluff and Charlotte are eligible to hold a referendum. The organization has been collecting signatures at the Kroger store in Dickson with a deadline of turning in the petition by noon today. In order to get on the ballot, the petition must have the signatures of registered voters who live within each municipality equal to at least 10 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the 2010 gubernatorial race. In Dickson that means 318 signatures while it is 32 in Burns and Charlotte and 74 in White Bluff. If the election commission certifies the petitions, the question will be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot only for voters in the qualified municipalities. If the referendum passes, then stores with at least 1,200 square feet of retail sales floor space that generate at least 20 percent of their revenue from sales of food and food ingredients could begin selling wine in July 2016. Some stores that are within a certain distance of existing liquor stores would have to wait until 2017 for wine sales. As part of the compromise bill, liquor stores also are allowed to begin selling items other than alcohol. While the Red White and Food group has been working with Kroger to organize the petition drive in Dickson, other individual petitions have been started in Burns, White Bluff and Charlotte. All petitions must be turned in to the Dickson County Election Office by noon today and will be reviewed to make sure they meet the minimum requirement before being certified for the Nov. 4 ballot.

Attorney tells Dickson City Council that abstentions will be counted as ‘no’ votes from this point forward

Dickson city attorney Jerry Smith informed the city council Monday night that councilmen who abstain from voting on resolutions and ordinances will be counted as voting “no,” despite a 12-year-old resolution that those votes would not be counted. The issue of how abstentions are to be recorded has been debated for decades and in 2002 the council passed a resolution that any council member who abstains from a vote would be recorded as not voting. But following consultations with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service and other research, Smith told the council at its special session Monday night that even with the resolution an abstention is still to be counted as a “no” vote regardless of the reason a council member abstains. Mayor Don Weiss Jr. said an MTAS attorney “signed off” on the resolution in 2002 but Smith said that lawyer is gone and the current legal counsel has a different interpretation. “From this day forward, unless we get a different opinion, an abstention, even for noble reasons, is going to be tallied as a ‘no’ vote,” Smith said. Council members sometimes abstain from votes because they have a direct or indirect conflict. For example, Councilman Scott England abstained from a vote on a rezoning request at Monday night’s meeting because as a realtor he is involved in the property transaction. Other members abstain from voting on certain issues because of a conflict with religious, moral or personal views. Councilman Dwight Haynes, who is a preacher, regularly abstains from any vote regarding the granting of permits for alcoholic beverage sales. While Weiss said the council has been recording votes the same way since he first joined in 1987, he said the new interpretation of the law will not require the council to revisit any votes that took place prior to receiving notice on Monday night. The mayor said the reason for the 2002 resolution was to give council members a way to deal with their conflicts without having to be recorded as voting against something they actually support. While Smith said he continues to work with MTAS on finding a way to deal with those situations, Weiss said his only recommendation is that if a council member feels he cannot vote on something due to a direct or indirect conflict, but does not wish to be recorded as abstaining, then he can leave the council chamber for that vote and be recorded in the minutes as present but not voting. The city’s charter requires that any ordinance or resolution presented to the council must pass with a majority vote of those members present, and not a majority of the full eight-member council. Five members of the council constitute a quorum, meaning only three votes would be needed for passage in that event, instead of every measure requiring five votes for passage.

Zoning amendments for family crisis shelters clear final hurdle at Dickson council’s special session

house of hope logoNew regulations that will allow family crisis centers and other emergency shelters in the city of Dickson were approved on second and final reading at Monday night’s special session of the city council. The seven members present unanimously approved amendments to the city’s zoning ordinances that will allow temporary housing shelters as a special exception in R-3 zones, which are for multi-family residential use such as apartments and condominiums. Now that the amendments have been approved, the House of Hope and New Beginnings can begin the process of seeking a zoning change for the Church Street property where the non-profit group plans to establish a shelter for homeless families. House of Hope has an option on the former Jackson Academy/Dickson General Hospital building, which is currently zoned B-2, which is downtown commercial. The amendments originally proposed would have allowed shelters in B-2 and B-3, or highway commercial, zones, but some council members did not believe that was appropriate and the amendments were sent back to the planning commission. The amendments were changed to R-3 zones and as a special exception each proposed facility will have to be reviewed by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals. Now that the new regulations are in place, the current owner of the Church Street property will have to seek a zoning change to R-3, then the sale will have to be completed before House of Hope and New Beginnings applies to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a special exception. The amendments passes 7-0 with Councilman Joey Turbeville absent and Councilman Scott England, who voted against the amendments two weeks ago, changing his vote in favor of the proposal Also at Monday’s special session, the council approved on second and final reading an ordinance to rezone 34 acres on Gum Branch Road from agricultural to industrial. The property owned by the Dickson County Industrial Development Board will be added to the site of the future Dal-Tile ceramic tile plant expected to begin construction soon. England abstained from the vote due to a business conflict.

From pancake breakfast to movie in the park, Charlotte Festival offers full day of fun Saturday

Food, fun, fellowship and live music highlight the annual Charlotte Festival being held on the historic Courthouse Square this Saturday. From a pancake breakfast to kick things off, the annual parade, a full day of music to a free movie in the Charlotte Ball Park at dark, the Charlotte Festival presents something for everyone to enjoy. The day starts at 8 am with a pancake breakfast at the Charlotte Fagan’s Methodist Church at 3158 Vanleer Highway. The annual parade forms on Hayshed Road and at 10 am starts its procession to the Courthouse Square. Following the parade, the activities are centered on the square where food booths, games, inflatable fun and other vendors will be set up throughout the day. Festival-goers can escape the heat by playing bingo inside First Federal Bank on the square starting at 11 am. The stage in front of Charlotte Town Hall will feature a variety of entertainment throughout the day. Raw Country kicks things off at 10:45, followed by Larry Fleet at noon, Sylvester Caldwell featuring Dave Lagness at 2:35, Tim Daley at 3:45 and Motherlode at 4:45. The music stops briefly at 1:15 when the Charlotte Lions Club will hold a series of cake walks and Boy Scout Troop 641 will hold a toy walk. At dark, the festival concludes with the Charlotte Volunteer Fire Department hosting a free movie at the Charlotte Ball Park on Highway 48. The family classic “Finding Nemo” will be shown on an outdoor screen while the fire department operates a concession stand. For more information on Saturday’s Charlotte Festival, contact Charlotte Town Hall at (615) 789-4184.

Red Hawk and Cougar freshmen meet tonight; Charlotte and William James in action at 6:30

In a preview of Friday night’s Week Zero showdown, Creek Wood and Dickson County will actually meet on the football field tonight for a freshman game. The Red Hawk freshmen travel to DCHS for a 6 pm kickoff. Following tomorrow night’s regular season kickoff at 7:30 in Dickson County Stadium, the Red Hawks and Cougars will meet again at 6 pm Monday for a junior varsity contest. Dickson County holds a 4-1 advantage in the county rivalry with the Red Hawks getting their first win in the series last year. Tickets for the game are $6. Tonight in middle school action, Charlotte Middle School hosts Clarksville Academy and William James Middle travels to Hickman County. Both games start at 6:30 pm. Dickson Middle School is off this week.

With qualifying deadline tomorrow, still nobody running for mayor on Nov. 4 ballot in Vanleer

With qualifying for the Nov. 4 ballot ending tomorrow, there is still nobody who has started qualifying to run for mayor of Vanleer. The deadline to turn in a petition to be on the ballot for the municipal election of a mayor and five aldermen is noon Thursday. As of Tuesday morning, the Dickson County Election Office reports nobody has even picked up a petition to seek the two-year term as mayor in Vanleer. The only candidates to pick up petitions for the five seats on the Vanleer Board of Aldermen are the five incumbents, one of whom faces charges of online solicitation of a minor for sex. According to the election office report, qualifying petitions have been turned in by Wes Albright, Raymond Fletcher, Ruben Schmittou and Jason Weaver. Incumbent Dwight McIllwain has picked up a petition but had not turned it in as of Tuesday morning. Fletcher was appointed in 2013 to complete the term of Donald “Bubba” Tinsley, who resigned shortly after being replaced as chief of the Vanleer Volunteer Fire Department. Albright faces a Dec. 15 trial on charges he solicited sex from a detective posing online as a teenager. Two years ago, there were 11 candidates seeking the five seats. Mayor Larry Robertson is not seeking re-election because he is moving outside the town limits. His opponent from two years ago, former Mayor Bobby L. Averitte, died in May. If nobody turns a petition in with 25 signatures of registered voters to run for mayor, the race will then be open to write-in candidates. The deadline to register as a write-in candidate is noon Sept. 15.

Landon Mathis files petition to seek second term, eight pick up papers to run for Burns commission

Burns Mayor Landon Mathis and all four incumbent commissioners have started the process of qualifying for re-election on the Nov. 4 ballot. One other candidate has picked up a petition for the mayor’s race and four other candidates have papers to run for the two-year terms on the Burns Board of Commissioners. According to the Dickson County Election Office, Mathis turned in his petition to seek a second term Tuesday. Dean Spurlock picked up a petition to run for mayor June 30 but as of Tuesday had not returned it. The deadline to turn in a petition to be on the ballot for the municipal election of a mayor and four commissioners is noon Thursday. Incumbents Bill Allen, Ed “Shot” Grove, Steven Hayes and Chris Holland have started the process to seek re-election. Also picking up petitions to run for the commission are Ricky Carpenter, Lewis Orcutt, Jerry Perella and Tase Sturgill. Orcutt previously served as a commissioner before unsuccessfully running for mayor in 2012. Sturgill was with the Burns Police Department for seven years before resigning in November 2012 a year after being named chief. Sturgill said he resigned in anticipation of Mathis selecting Paul McCallister as chief but the day before his resignation he was named in a police report as having sent explicit text messages and photographs to a woman. As of Tuesday morning’s election office report, only Hayes had turned in his completed petition. The deadline to turn in a petition is noon Thursday and the deadline to withdraw from the ballot is noon Aug. 28.

Seven candidates turn in petitions to run for three seats on White Bluff council in Nov. 4 election

Seven candidates have turned in their petitions to run for three seats on the White Bluff Town Council on the Nov. 4 ballot. The deadline to turn in a petition to be on the ballot in White Bluff is noon Thursday. As of a Tuesday morning report from the Dickson County Election Office, seven candidates have picked up petitions and all seven have returned them. Incumbents Oscar Martin and Martha Beth Harding have turned in petitions to seek re-election. Harding ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate in 2012 after missing the qualifying deadline, then was appointed in July 2013 to finish the term of Lil Cauthen following her resignation. Also turning in petitions to seek the four-year terms are Roberta “Sissy” Allen, Brandon Gossett, Ellen Campbell Marsh, Connie Reed and Sheila Street. Reed previously served on the council and Marsh finished fourth in a five-candidate race for two seats in 2012. Vice Mayor Todd Hamilton has not picked up a petition to seek re-election as of Tuesday. White Bluff voters will fill three seats on the five-member council in November while the mayor’s seat and two other council positions will be on the ballot in 2016.

Only incumbents seeking to be on Nov. 4 ballot for mayor, council in Slayden with deadline Thursday

As the deadline approaches to get on the Nov. 4 ballot, only the incumbent mayor and town council members have started the qualifying process in Slayden. Voters in Dickson County’s smallest municipality will elect a mayor and three council members for two-year terms. Attorney Gary Hodges was elected without opposition to his first term in 2012 and is the only person to have picked up a petition to run for mayor, but had not turned it in as of Tuesday. Incumbent council members Tammy Potts, Mary Smathers and Debbie Smith have picked up the only petitions so far to seek the three council seats, but only Smith has returned a petition as of Tuesday. Smathers and Potts were the only council candidates on the ballot in 2012 when Smith and Jerry Trotter chose not to seek re-election. After the election, Smith was appointed to fill the vacant seat. Smathers had been appointed to the council to fill the vacancy created when Roger Harrison became mayor following Michael Davenport’s resignation in 2011. The deadline to get on the Nov. 4 ballot in Slayden is noon Thursday and the deadline to withdraw is noon Aug. 28.