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FACES AND PLACES DECEMBER 2011

Sheriff J.T. “Pancho” Chumley

A supplement to THE LEADER


CONTENTS FACES & PLACES ▨ DECEMBER 2011

The focus of this publication is to feature information on notable Tipton Countians - community volunteers, unsung heroes, influential community leaders - as well as historical sites, businesses and some of Tipton County’s hidden gems. Discover Tipton County’s finest faces and places!

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A MODEL FOR PROTECTING EARTH Oleo Acres takes farming back to its roots and teaches conservation

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BEING PART OF A TEAM New superintendent Buddy Bibb discusses his team mindset and changes in education A MAN OF MANY HATS Daryl Walker does not only work for the Town of Atoka, but also in many other capacities

‘NEW TIME’ FOR COVINGTON Coach Marty Wheeler leads football team to state semifinals

THE CIVIL WAR IN TIPTON COUNTY What began 150 years ago is being commemorated in Tipton County

IN PANCHO WE TRUST Q&A with Sheriff Pancho Chumley, one of the most popular people in the county

TEACHING A NEW GENERATION Covington artist Barbara McBride enjoys art and teaching rising artists

CITY’S PAST FOUND Covington’s first park is the final resting place for notable residents and only one African-American

NEW PARK OPENS A decade-long promise is fulfilled in Drummonds in November as the new park opens for business

FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN Osaka, Japan native Kazuo Kuno moved to Tennessee and operates a popular golf course

SMALL TOWN CHARM From entertainment to eateries and retail shops, the historic court square has it all

ONE STEP FROM THE MAJORS Munford graduate Cody Overbeck finds success in minor league baseball

BUS DRIVER HONORED BY NAACP Jim Ruth didn’t set out to help further the Civil Rights Movement, but he did

View this magazine online at www.covingtonleader.com ABOUT DISCOVER TIPTON COUNTY This special annual publication of The Leader is made possible by many advertisers and contributors who want to help you get to know the people and places in your community. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided. The Leader reserves the right to determine the content included within this publication. All advertising information is the responsibility of the individual advertiser. Appearance in Disscover does not reflect the endorsement of the product and service by The Leader. This publication is copyright 2011 Tipton County Newspapers LLC. Reproduction without written permission is prohibited. The Leader is published 52 times a year; annual in-county subscriptions are $36. Visit us at 2001 Hwy. 51 South, Covington, TN 38019 or online at www.covingtonleader.com.

PUBLISHER Brian Blackley, General Manager bblackley@covingtonleader.com

A DV E RT I S I N G Bonnie Nutzell bnutzell@covingtonleader.com

LEGAL NOTICES, BILLING Michelle Bradley, Office Manager mbradley@covingtonleader.com

P RO D U C T I O N Echo Day, News Editor eday@covingtonleader.com

Andy Posey aposey@covingtonleader.com

CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Teri Jennings, Reception tjennings@covingtonleader.com

Jeff Ireland, Sports Editor jireland@covingtonleader.com

COMMERCIA L PRINTING Shane Waits, Manager swaits@covingtonleader.com

Sherri Onorati, Staff Writer sonorati@covingtonleader.com

Richard White, Print Assistant

Sara McKee, Graphic Design smckee@covingtonleader.com

Tyler Lindsey, former staff writer, and Taylor Smith, a former editorial intern, also contributed to this publication.

THE LEADER 2001 Highway 51 South Covington, Tennessee 38019


PLACES THE FARM

A model for protecting Earth BY SHERRI ONORATI

OLEO ACRES TAKES FARMING BACK TO ITS ROOTS, TEACHES CONSERVATION On the edge of Tipton County is a wonderful secret many are just now discovering. It’s a place where visitors can step back in time and experience how farming was done in the days of our country’s infancy, when people had to grow or raise their food and working a farm was done manually by beast and human. Oleo Acres is a family farm owned by Tim and Betty Ammons located on the border of Tipton and Haywood Counties at 269 McDonald Rd., just off Hwy 179 and Bud Eubanks Road. In fact, the county line divides the farm and today it resembles little of what it looked like when the Ammons family bought it in 1973. “We moved out here when the

farm had been worked to death,” said Ammons. “There was one tree in front and a small Locust grove in the back. I created the wood lots and I have to give credit to the Tipton County school system because in the ‘60s, at the very beginning of the environment movement, one of my class projects was to find the source of pollution and eliminate it and that’s what got me started in going green.” Ammons and his wife wanted to teach children how to farm the old-fashioned way and how to live and survive on the land without causing harm to it. “We wanted to open the farm up and start teaching the kids the way the farms used to be, that we can’t find anymore,” said Ammons. “We wanted to teach them about being green and how to reuse and recycle materials.”

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Ammons definitely practices what he preaches. All of the out buildings on Oleo Acres have been salvaged and recycled. The farm’s smokehouse used to stand in Mercer, Tenn., a part of an old barn that was to be burned down and he turns old tires into planters. He grows vegetables and raises and cares for a host of animals, many of which were also “recycled.” Additionally, he grows sorghum and harvests it using a mule and press built in the Civil War era. “We got the [smokehouse] and put it back together like a jigsaw puzzle,” he added, laughing. “Instead of throwing the tires away in landfills, use them. They make great planters and you can decorate them. Many of our animals come from places where they were thought to be of no use Continued on page 5 »

Above, a Civil War era sorghum press, built in 1864 and brought back to working condition, is in operation on Tim and Betty Ammons’ farm on the Haywood-Tipton county line. Top photo, Tim Ammons feeds the sorghum while Muley, the mule, works the press. SHERRI ONORATI/THE LEADER

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anymore but they all still have a purpose. ” Ammons allows school tours, scouts and church groups to camp and explore the farm and he uses the buildings and animals to teach children important life lessons. He also hosts several activities each year, including spooky trails during Halloween, Scout Day and an annual Sorghum Fest. “We’ll explain why they salted and smoked meat back before they had refrigeration. We have two goats that we use to teach kids about special needs people. One is a La Mancha goat with no ears; if this were a person we’d ask what’s wrong with her but there’s nothing wrong with her, that’s just the way she is, she’s just like every other goat with the exception this particular breed has no ears. We teach kids that just because someone is missing an arm or leg doesn’t mean they’re different. They may look different but they are also the same as anybody else.” Given the family name is Am-

mons, one might wonder where the name of the farm came from and why it isn’t called Ammons farm. “When my father first bought the farm in 1973, he got it at a lower than normal land value,” explained Ammons, laughing. “Back then, Oleo Margarine’s slogan was ‘we’re one of the cheaper spreads.’ My dad thought that was perfect because of what we bought it for and said that we ought to call this Oleo Acres and that’s what stuck.” Ammons is slowly moving away from modern conveniences and his goal is to use Oleo Acres as a teaching tool to show others the benefit of going green also. “When you put poisons in the ground, poisons on your food and then you eat it, you’re just poisoning your body. We eat some from the store but I’d say 95 percent of what my family eats comes from this farm and it’s been that way since the ‘70s. I buy flour, salt, and jalapeño Cheetos, can’t do without

On Scout Day, Ammons shows members of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts how to make taffy from sorghum; once the sorghum cooled, the scouts paired up and began pulling the taffy. SHERRI ONORATI/THE LEADER

those,” he added, laughing. “I’ve always wondered if it was paying off and this year after I had my physical, I know it is. It’s a lot of work but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. “My main goal is to try to save my little section of the world and try to educate others on how to save theirs. This was a barren wasteland when we moved out

here and you wouldn’t have seen crickets or seen birds; now we have hawks, owls, and wildlife. With help, the earth can rejuvenate and be productive again. All of my teachers in my early school years had a huge impact on my life, especially Mrs. Wakefield from Covington Grammar; I’d like to bring them out to the farm and tell them, ‘This is what you did.’”


FACES THE COLLECTOR

A lifelong love affair with The Night Before Christmas BY SHERRI ONORATI

Like most collectors, Covington resident and retired teacher Kyle Witherington collects items that have special meaning for her. One of her most favorite collections is one she started collecting in the mid-1970s before she even realized she was collecting it. Like thousands of children around the world, Witherington grew up listening to The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. “My daddy read to us on Christmas Eve night,” said Witherington. “Every year, we’d read the Bible story, “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” the “Sugar-Plum Tree” and then he’d read “The Night Before Christmas.” There were four of us girls and we cuddled up on the couch and he would read to us that poem, then we would hang our stockings and go to bed.” With each year’s reading of the world’s most famous poem about Santa Claus, Witherington’s father, Dr. Jack Witherington, began a lifelong infatuation for the beloved Christmas classic. “It just brings back a lot of good memories of my childhood. My mother was a Christmas fanatic and she passed that along to me and my sisters,” she said. “Christmas is really a special time because it’s full of innocence, magic and wonder, happiness and joy.” Written in 1823 by Clement C. Moore (1779 –1863) for his ill daughter, “The Night Before Christmas” was a tale concocted to entertain a child confined to a sickbed but soon became an American classic, which influenced the world’s image of Santa Claus. Because she loved the story so much, Witherington found herself with a couple of copies of the tale by the time she was 24 and realized she had a collection in the making. “My most favorite book of all is the one my daddy read to me and my sisters when we were little,” Witherington said, smiling. “My mom kept telling me I wouldn’t get it but I got it in my late 20s and I was so excited.” Although the poem is the same in each book, Witherington’s collection highlights the different illustrators who have brought the book to life for her. “I actually have several favorites,” she said. My Tasha Tudor book, Jessie Willcox Smith, Jan Brett and I even have one by Grandma Moses.” DISCOVER: FACES AND PLACES DEC. 2011

Kyle Witherington reads from the same The Night Before Christmas book that her father used to read to her to children during the Dickens’ Christmas event on Saturday, Dec. 10. To the right of Witherington is some of the more than 200 books in her collection, some dating back to the 1800s. SHERRI ONORATI/THE LEADER

Each year, Witherington and her family and friends add to her collection of more than 200 books and other memorabilia, which is on display all year long. “I find them in antique stores and people give them to me. They are special to me because people write in them when they give them to me and that tells me they were thinking of me. My mother always gave me a copy of the book, but then she kind of quit because she didn’t know what I had and now I don’t know what I have!” she added, laughing. Witherington enjoys reading the poem to children in hopes of instilling a love of the beloved classic in future generations; and she recently read it during Covington’s first Dickens Christmas on the historic square. “I found out that some children have never heard of “The Night Before Christmas” and it’s so hard for me to believe that because I grew up with the poem and so have my children,” she said. “If you don’t read it to your children you need to go home and do it now,” she added, laughing. “It’s such a wonderful story to share.” 6

Another book in Witherington’s prized collection is not a version of The Night Before Christmas, but a book which details the history and origins of the story. Called The Visit, the 2001 book is the story handed down by the Moore family as told by his great-great granddaughter Dinghy Sharp. Written by Mark K. Moulton and illustrated by Susan Winget, the book reveals the memories and tales told to Sharp by her grandfather, the grandson of Clement C. Moore. Witherington said when she bought the book, she wrote to Lang Books, the publisher, and told them of her collection and how special the poem was to her. Robert Lang, president of the publishing company, sent her a special edition of the book and had the author, illustrator and the great-great granddaughter of Clement C. Moore sign the book for her. “How nice that we all share the love of Christmas and giving,” wrote Sharp. “Enjoy this book – it is a story of love.”

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places West tennessee detention facility

More than a prison WTDF encourages community involvement By Jeff Ireland

The Corrections Corporation of America West Tennessee Detention Facility in Mason is, first and foremost, a prison that houses dangerous criminals. With 600 beds, the facility detains prisoners from the U.S. Marshal’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security, most of whom are awaiting trial or assignment to another prison. Steve Owen, senior director of public affairs for CCA, makes no bones about that. “Safety and security is, of course, our number one priority,” Owen said. But what makes the prison a little atypical is that prison officials make community involve-

ment a big priority. “It’s very important for us to be a part of the community,” Owen said. “Those housed there aregenerallyfromotherareas,but a lot of the employees are local. We encourage them to be a part of the community.” TheWestTennesseeDetention Facilityregularlyhostscommunity luncheonswherepatronsarewelcome to tour the facility. “We like to keep people up to speed with what we’re doing,” Owen said. “We have people speak at civic clubs and charity events. It’s an important part of the culture.” The facility’s employees are involved with the Tipton County

Chamber of Commerce, Mason Police Department reserves, Covington Police, FOP, March of Dimes, Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the Covington Lions Club, just to name a few. Considering that majority of the prison’s inmates come from government agencies, the West TennesseeDetentionFacilityhelps overcrowding at federal prisons. “We’re an important resource

tothefederalgovernment,”Owen said.“We feel like we’re an important part of the solution.” Corrections Corporation of America houses approximately 75,000offendersanddetaineesin more than 60 facilities with a total capacity of more than 80,000. CCA partners with all three federalcorrectionsagencies,nearlyhalf of the U.S. states and more than a dozen local municipalities.


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faces the coach faces the coach

‘new time’ for covington Coach Marty Wheeler leads football team to state semifinals by jeff ireland

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hen Marty Wheeler was hired in 2009 to lead the Charger football program into the future, the recent past was pretty ugly. After an unprecedented run from 1997 to 2005 saw Covington make the playoffs every year, including five semifinal and two state title game appearances, the Chargerspostedback-to-back2-8 seasons. Things were not looking good. Enter Wheeler, who had been the head coach at Ripley from 2006-08 after serving as an assistant at Covington under Jake Linville. Covington went 2-8 in Wheeler’s first year, but things got going the next year when the

Coach Marty Wheeler talks to the Chargers after the team won their quarterfinal game against the Chester County Eagles. The Chargers made the state semifinals for the first time since 2005 and finished 11-3 overall. phil ramsey/phil ramsey photography

Chargers won five games and made the playoffs for the first time since 2006. This year it all came together as the Chargers went 11-3 and advanced to the state semifinals. “I think expectations weren’t

high for some people when I first came back,” Wheeler said before the 2011 season started. “‘But you can tell expectations are back to where they used to be. There are a lot of folks expecting us to have a good football team, and

we’re expecting the same thing.” In a manner of speaking, order was restored to Charger football. In addition to getting back to the semifinals, Covington’s rushingattackresembledtheone from the “old days,” with three backsrollinguphugeyardageout of the Wing-T, the same offense used during the Chargers’ run that began more than a decade ago. Ironically, the success of years past was brought back by forgetting about the past. “I think when I first came back, I spoke a lot about the past,” Wheeler said. “Then I realized that none of these kids were old enough to remember that … It dawned on me they were looking right through you when talked about that. So we made a pact this year that we don’t talk about the past anymore. We talk about what we’re going to do here, now. It’s a new time here.”


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faces the administrator

Unexpected opportunities Ellis grad marks 37th year as ttc-covington administrator By Jeff Ireland

When Glenn Baker graduated from George R. Ellis High School in Munford in 1968, a career in education was not the plan. Upongraduation,Bakerjoined the Army before taking classes at Tennessee Technology Center and State Technical Institute in Memphis. He also worked in the fabrication business for a time before an opportunity presented itself to become a sheet metal fabrication teacher at TTC in Covington. “I was approached and recommended by in instructor,” said Baker. “I had some other opportunities to think about too. After a lot of thought and talking with my wife, I chose to teach.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Baker, 61, has been at TTCCovington for 37 years now. After serving as an instructor for 23 years, Baker became an administrator at TTC-Covington in 2000andhascontinuedhiseducation at the University of Memphis and Dyersburg State Community College. He currently serves as the center’s training coordinator and recruiter. Baker is a very busy man. He is a past president of the Covington-Tipton County Chamber of Commerce and the CovingtonRotaryClubandagraduate of the Tipton Organized to Advanced Leadership (TOTAL) and

West Star programs and serves as a deacon at Bright Hill Baptist Church. He’s also on the community board at Patriot Bank. Baker and his wife Linda, who reside in Brighton, have three grown sons and four grandchildren. Looking back on the path that his career has taken, he points to his time as a student at the Tennessee Technology Center as a good starting point. “I never really thought this was what I was going to end up doing for a living,” Baker said. “I’ve really enjoyed it, though. Looking back, I think it was a good choice.”


faces the sheriff

In Pancho we trust A Q&A with Sheriff Pancho Chumley, the man who is, arguably, the most popular man in Tipton County.

Elected sheriff in August 2006, J.T. “Pancho” Chumley has become one of Tipton County’s most beloved citizens. Recently we sat down and talked to the sheriff about his challenges, his brother’s death and why crime is on the rise in Tipton County. In true Pancho fashion, he didn’t hold anything back. Echo Day: When

you ran for sheriff in 2006, did you think you’d win? Pancho Chumley: I didn’t know. I’d left here after 17 years to run; law enforcement is my life; I don’t like it, I love it. I love what I do. When I left, it was one of the most trying times I’ve ever had, personally and professionally, because people would say, “Do you think you’re gonna win?” That was the question. The answer, for me, was I don’t know. How do you know? I just got out and worked as hard as possible and had a lot of good friends to help me and you never know until the election day’s over. I didn’t know. It made me very nervous. ED: What

was it like to find out that you did win? PC: I was very relieved that I had a job, that was the number one thing. I was ready to go to work. I’m very humble and so thankful that people thought enough of me to go on and elect me and entrust me in the law enforcement of this county.

ED: What,

do you believe, are your biggest accomplishments thus far? PC: My number one thing is staff retention, retaining the good people Tipton County has come to know as law enforcement officers, and having salary adjustments where staff retention could stay in place; that was one of the things I ran on. It’s staying true, but one of the things we talk about today is that if you don’t keep good people and retain the staff that you have and have them well-trained, then nothing good can continue to happen. ED: And

what challenges do you face? PC: The law enforcement environment is a changing environment, everything changes from day to day. No two calls are the same, out on the street on the patrol level. No two days are the same in the jail. It’s always something changing in law enforcement. The challenge that I face is getting enough people to take care of the crime that’s going on. People always ask me how things are going and I have a little something I say – “It’s nothing people and money can’t take care of …” – and it’s true. My biggest challenge is, somewhere, as we speak, there’s someone, somewhere, doing some type of criminal activity; I want to make sure that I have enough people to be adequately staffed to take care of what we’re

Above, Sheriff Pancho Chumley leads a burglary suspect to a patrol car after the man, later identified as Nathan Cook, was found hiding in a field off of Yarbrough Lane. Cook and three others led deputies on a pursuit through North Covington in November 2009. echo day/THE LEADER

supposed to take care of in this county as far as crime goes. I want to rid this county of crime as much as possible, so it’s a challenge to me to get what we need in order to take care of what we need to take care of. We need more people. We answer 3,500-4,000 calls a month. I need more people to do the right job all the time, not just some of the time, and make sure they’re compensated. Tipton County is suffering tough economic times as well as the nation; that’s one reason I don’t get the amount of money I need to get more people, but I’m asking and I’m

sure the commission, once we get into better shape with the economy, that they’ll give me the money to get more people and keep this county as crime-free as possible. ED: You

have a very successful inmate labor program. What is the reason you put inmates to work? PC: We’re trying to offset money from the taxpayers, that’s usually our number one answer. We’re trying to teach some people some skills to let them know that the things they can go do for a hobby, like gardening, Continued on page 11 »

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that they didn’t even know; we had some inmates who didn’t even know how to weed the garden. They didn’t mind working, they just didn’t know, so we try to teach them skills besides some of the habits that got them into jail. We’ve painted bridges, we’ve painted some roadways where there have been some bad things on them, we do litter, we do anything that we can get our hands into that will make them work to give back what we can to the taxpayers. It does offset the taxpayers, but I like them working, I do not like them sitting. That’s something I don’t like; I want them moving, I want them working. You can ask the inmates: this is not a hotel atmosphere nor will it be as long as I have anything to do with it. I don’t want them to have all of the luxuries that they would have at a five-star hotel or at home, by no means; my thing is this: jail is not supposed to be the place that they come to just for R&R, like laying on the beach. If they’ve done the crime, they

have to be punished for it. ED: You have been likened to

Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Maricopa County, Arizona, famous for his tent cities and no nonsense approach when dealing with a variety of topics. How do you feel about that? PC: That’s flattering – he’s one of my heroes. I like his tough, no nonsense approach as well. I think this country needs a lot of Sheriff Joes, not just in the sheriff positions; they need a lot of Sheriff Joe attitudes on the supreme court as well. ED: Why do we have so much

crime? PC: Why do we have so much crime? Well, why not? Are they being punished? Whenever you have somebody that (is accused of ), let’s use one of the most extremes, murder, rape, child molestation, and they confess to it, and they say they’ve done it, then what’s wrong with a speedy trial? Let’s move them on down and

out of the way and get them out of here. And when I say let’s get them out of here, I don’t care how they take it. That means completely, that means no chance of whatever percent; if they get 100 years, then that’s 100 years. If they get life, that means life … without the possibility of parole. And if that means the death penalty, I’ll pay for the electricity. That’s where we’re at. There’s a bunch of people in this county that I can go talk to or send you to that will tell you they can remember when the could leave their vehicles unlocked and they will tell you they can remember when they could leave the door to the house unlocked. It’s not that way anymore. Why? In my opinion, people are not punished according to the crime they commit. And they need to start being punished. The courts do their job, but they have a guideline to go by and that guideline they go by … what if they get the maximum at suchand-such percent? The whole

thing needs to be looked at. When they break down the percentagesandpeoplethathave killed someone … they committed murder and sometimes out in 10 years … that don’t calculate with me. And then what have you done? You’ve let a murderer rest up for 10 years and let them come back out to do something else. ED: You’re very popular, even

with the inmates; why do you think this is? PC: I think that’s a sign of professionalism with my staff. They’re going to treat people like they want to be treated. Over the years, there’s times when I’ve had to do my job … somebody broke the law, and yes, an arrest had to be made, but there didn’t have to be any bad words exchanged, there didn’t have to be any mean faces exchanged, they knew it, we knew it and everything moved along. Being nice don’t cost a thing. Continued on page 12 »


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ED: Why’d you choose law

enforcement? PC: When, as a child … my brother was in law enforcement and I always kinda looked up to him and I liked what I’d seen. If I could take a bad situation and make it better and this was a prime job to do that. I’d seen him take some bad things and make them better and bring some relief and that’s what I wanted to do, so I followed in his footsteps. ED: Your brother, Charles

“Lanny” Bridges, a Covington police officer, was killed in the line of duty; how did that affect you in terms of your career? PC: August 14, 1997 – when that happened, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. He got killed doing the same thing I’d done and … has that changed me? Yeah, it changed me forever. I worry about my people. We have deputy sheriffs who are issued three guns: shotgun,

And when I say let’s get them out of here, I don’t care how they take it. That means completely, that means no chance of whatever percent; if they get 100

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years, then that’s 100 years. If they get life, that means life … without the possibility of parole. And if that means the death penalty, I’ll pay for the electricity.

- Pancho chumley

rifle and a pistol; they’re given a several-thousand-pound patrol car, big stick, little stick, guns, whatever … they’re not out there to use those as ornaments; they’re out there because the likelihood of using them could

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arise. I worry about them; that’s one of the toughest things … worrying about my people and makingsurethattheycomehome safe because I’ve seen where that didn’t happen, on more than one occasion, and the look in the family’s eyes always burns in my mind. I don’t ever want to see that with my people, that’s why we train them so much and try to give everything we can to make sure they stay safe, be nice, do the right thing and take care of business. ED: You don’t seem to take too

much time off – why is this? PC: That’s part of it: if you can’t accept that, this job’s not for the person who’s in it. The thing about Tipton County, the people pretty much demand that you work for a living and I don’t blame them. That’s the way I was brought up, so it’s not too much of a demand for me. Here’s something I’ve learned

over the last two decades: if people call, no matter how minor or major it may seem to others, it’s major to them. I don’t have 9-5 office hours, I don’t have a Monday-Friday, I have a job as sheriff and that encompasses 24 hours, 7 days a week. ED: When you’re out and

about, you always seem happy to shake hands with people and greet them. Can you go anywhere without seeing someone you know? PC: I hope I don’t! [laughs] I like to know as many people as I can because it helps so much. People can tell if you really like what you’re doing and if you have a false face, people can read through that; I like what I do and I’m blessed with the job. I think it was meant for me and I think that during the time in 2006 … when you asked me what if I didn’t get the job … that makes me want to work harder, harder, harder. ■


PLACES IN MEMORIAM

City’s past in Munford Cemetery BY SHERRI ONORATI

Covington’s first park is final resting place for notable residents – and only one African-American It is the oldest cemetery still opened for public burial within the City of Covington and was once considered the city’s first park. Established in 1854, the principal cemetery in Covington was first known as Covington Cemetery. Its name was changed in the 1870s to Munford Cemetery in honor of Colonel R. H. Munford, a former mayor of Covington and Tipton County court clerk. Munford saw the addition of greenery after the death of his beloved wife Sarah. “He was probably retired at the time,” said Tipton County Genealogist David Gwinn and Covington cemetery clerk. “Munford had the distinction of beautifying the grounds, adding trees and bushes.” According to Gwinn, in the early days, the cemetery was more like a park with residents tending their family graves after Sunday

church. “People would go up there on Sunday afternoons and beautify their family’s graves,” said Gwinn. “Young people went up there to spend time together. It was really the first park Covington ever had.” Today, the 20 plus acres which makes up the cemetery is owned by the city. Originally, more than half was once owned and managed by Maley Funeral Home, which deeded the land to Covington in the 1980s. “Over half was owned by Maley’s beginning after the turn of the century,” explained Gwinn. “They purchased additional land and developed about 2,000 lots but then deeded it to the city in 1986.” Munford Cemetery is the final resting place of several notables in Tipton County and Covington history and although the cemetery wasn’t established until 1854, there are several tombstones that show an earlier date of death because they were disinterred from family cemeteries and reburied in Munford. General Jacob Tipton, for whose father

the county is named is buried there along with his wife who decreed in her will that he be reburied in Munford; as well as Congressman Charles B. Simonton, Francis Boyd Calhoun, the author of Miss Minerva and William Green Hill, and William Green Hill, the little boy made famous by Calhouns’s book. “Francis Boyd Calhoun’s grave went unmarked for several years until a Covington book club put a headstone on her site,’ revealed Gwinn. “Her family never placed one and they’re the ones who inherited all the proceeds from her book.” Gwinn also revealed another surprising fact about Munford Cemetery. “There is only one black person buried in the cemetery,” said Gwinn. “Her name was Ada Coward Rhodes and she was a mammy to the Roper Family. They loved her just like their mother and they insisted when she died that she be buried on the family lot.” In its early days, Munford Cemetery also had a potter’s field; a section reserved for burials of the poor, indigent, inmates, etc., Continued on page 14 »

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Civil War graves mark the passage of an era and stand as a reminder of Tipton County’s earliest years in Munford Cemetery. Pictured below right, is the death certificate of Ada Coward Rhodes, the only black person buried in Covington’s historic cemetery. SHERRI ONORATI/THE LEADER

Continued from page 13

burials of the poor, indigent, inmates, etc., until the establishment of the county’s poorhouse farm. “They were buried in the front of the cemetery, next to the highway,” said Gwinn. “Back then, it faced the railroad which was a very undesirablesection of the cemetery. There are very few stones left but there’s no telling how many are buried there.” Even though it’s estimated that there are more than 20,000 people buried in the cemetery, the city still has burial lots available for residents of the city and county. Monies derived from lot sales are marked for the perpetual care fund, which is used for the partial upkeep of the cemetery, taxpayers’ make-up the difference. “We mow the grass and try to keep it cleaned up as best we can,” said Gwinn, “but the monuments are the responsibility of lot owners.” Although Sunday picnics in the cemetery are no longer in style, strolling about the cemetery, whether it’s for exercise or a history or genealogy lesson, is still an enjoyable pastime for many. “The people who developed Covington and the county are buried here in Munford Cemetery,” said Gwinn. “Many families may have moved away but the headstones are a reminder of their time here in Tipton County and a look into our past.”


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faces the proprietor

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by jeff ireland

Fairway to heaven “He started building Forrest Hill Golf Course in Drummonds,” said Kazuo, “and put all the money he made with (the) sawmill into this business.” The result was a 6,609-yard golf course built into the rolling hills of Southwest Tipton County. Upon building the course, Hiroshi, according to Kazuo, tried to sell the course for about $3 million, but found no buyers. So Hiroshi and his son worked out a deal for Kazuo to buy the course from Hiroshi. Kazuo has made many improvements to the course over the years. The fairways have been graduallywidenedandChampionship Bermuda replaced bent grass on the greens in 2007. Today the only public golf course in Tipton County draws golfers from all over West Tennes-

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There’s culture shock and there’s severe culture shock. In 1996, Kazuo Kubo moved from Osaka, Japan, population 2.6 million, to Drummonds, an incorporated area with less than 3,000 people. Upon packing his bags and moving to Drummonds with his new wife, Yukie, he spoke next to no English and took over the ownership and operation of Forest Hill Golf Course from his father, Hiroshi Kubo. Hiroshimovedstatesidein1970 and started a sawmill company in Forrest City, Ark. The company specialized in making golf club heads from persimmon trees. “In 1992 he closed the sawmill because titanium took over the persimmon market,” Kazuo said. A year later, Hiroshi shifted gears.

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see and Arkansas and plays host to dozens of scrambles and tournaments every year. Kazuo, his wife and their two children – Kouki, 13, and Maria, 10 – live in a house that overlooks the 10th fairway and the driving range. His children, both of whom were born here, attend Tipton County schools and also travel to Japan every summer to attend classes there. Kazuo, 43, is also involved in exporting wood that is cut in North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi back to his home country. He is not a U.S. citizen, but has been here 15 years on an investment visa. When he first came to the United States he took English classes at the University of Mem-

phis and has gradually picked up the language. “If I have the chance (to become a U.S. citizen) someday,” Kazuo said, “I would like to.”


PLACES THE LAKE

BY SHERRI ONORATI

THE CARLSBAD OF AMERICA

Glenn Springs, located in Drummonds, was once a thriving resort area for West Tennessee families and known for its medicinal properties. In its heyday it boasted a hotel, dance pavilion, movie theater and skating rink, bath houses and camping area and was called the “Carlsbad of America.” A farmer named Ballard came across the spring while searching for water for his farm in the 1860s, but the healing properties of the water were not revealed until the land became the property of Samuel P. DISCOVER: FACES AND PLACES DEC. 2011

Glenn of Fayette County. By 1880, Glenn Springs was in business and guests had use of a five-acre lake built for their enjoyment. After Glenn’s death, the area passed into the hands of Dr. A. B. Blaydes. Blaydes, a physician and spa enthusiast, spent thousands of dollars to develop the spring and for several years after, Glenn Springs was a mecca of family entertainment. Today, Glenn Springs Lake covers approximately 310 acres and falls under 16

the purview of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. The facilities include two fishing piers, including a handicapped accessible fishing pier, a covered boat dock with spot for 32 rental boats, two launching ramps, a bait and tackle shop, a clubhouse, restrooms and two picnic pavilions. Fishing enthusiasts will find numerous largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish within the lakes boundaries. Glenn Springs is located at 284 Grimes Rd. in Drummonds. For more information on Glenn Springs, call 901-835-5253. Continued on page 14 »

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places the arena

Horsin’ around by jeff ireland

Quick trivia question: What facility in Mason draws approximately 7,000 people, many of whom are from out of town, annually? The answer: the Coyote Run Arena. From October to April, the Coyote Run Arena, located at 4393 Gainesville Rd. on 65-plus acres, hosts barrel shows every other weekend, drawing 500-600 contestants from states like Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi. Many of those out-of-towners stay in hotels in Covington and Atoka. “We bring a tremendous amount of business to Tipton County,”said Aubrey Lemmon, the arena’s owner. “They eat. They buy gasoline. We’re very grateful for that.” The arena hosts all other kinds of events as well. Events that include professional riders are

hosted from time to time as well. But what Lemmon probably likes the most about his arena is how it caters to young people. “We have a lot of youngsters that come here,” said Lemmon. “My daughter tells me not to call them kids because those are billy goats … One day those kids are going to grow up and we hope that they keep coming, and they have parents who are interested too.” Hosting a kids’ camp is a big part of what the Coyote Run Arena does, as are riding lessons. The Ponytails Saddle Club, which is for beginning riders ages 6-12, is very popular It offers introduction to equine safety and western riding. In addition to all the events, many people take advantage of the riding arenas and the boarding facility for horses. A74,500-footcoveredridingarenaisamong the amenities, in addition to a smaller outdoor arena. Both are open seven days a week. Sincethearenaopenedsevenyearsago,the facility has become more and more popular, according to Lemmon. “We get a lot of recognition from out of state,” said Lemmon, noting that there is not

anothersimilararenaincloseproximity.“We’re getting more and more well-known around here too.” For more information about the arena, call Lemmonat355-3429orlogontocoyoterunarena.net.


FACES THE BASEBALL PLAYER

A 2004 graduate of Munford High School, Cody Overbeck has been an all-star player in the minor league and is currently playing for the Reading Phillies, a Triple A affiliate for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Overbeck one step from majors BY JEFF IRELAND

Over the last 10 years, Tipton County has produced a lot of talented high school baseball players. Several have gone on to play in college and a handful have been drafted. As time has gone on, Cody Overbeck, a 2004 graduate of Munford High School, has proved to be the most successful of the bunch. Last summer, Overbeck was promoted to Reading, the Triple A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, putting him one step away from the major leagues. Between Double A Lehigh Valley and Reading last year, Overbeck hit .277 with 24 homers and 72 RBIs. His homerun to-

tal tied him for first on the team and his RBI total was third. Through it all, Overbeck, 25, has remained humble. “I really don’t know,” Overbeck said when asked to explain how he has proved to be the best baseball player to come out of Tipton County the last decade. “I got lucky being able to go to Ole Miss. There have been a lot of really talented players.” Since being drafted out of Ole Miss in the ninth round in 2008, Overbeck has hit 72 homers and driven in 262 runs. He’s been named an all-star and player of the week twice. He recently completed play in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .321 in 24 games.

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Cody’s father, Donnie Overbeck, who still lives in Tipton County, remembers very well some of the talented teams his son played on at Munford High School. The Cougars advanced to the state tournament each season from 2002 to 2004. When Cody was a sophomore and junior, there were players on the team who got more attention from college and pro scouts. “He just doesn’t quit,” Donnie said. “He always steps it up a level. He gets off to a slow start, then he’ll adjust and come on. He stays patient, focused and determined. You’ve just got to live it … and love it. I’ve seen some other guys get burned out pretty

quick.” Cody, who has played third and first base during his minor league career, still has to make the biggest leap of his career to make it to the big leagues. Ryan Howard, a three-time allstar and former National League MVP, is entrenched at first base for the Phillies. Several guys have played third for the Phillies the last few years, so there could be an opening there at some point. And guys get traded to different organizations all the time. In the meantime, Cody, will keep pursuing the dream. “I’ve moved up a level every year and I’m so close,” Overbeck said. “I’m just going to keep working hard.” www.covingtonleader.com


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places the technology center

Providing postsecondary options by jeff ireland

With unemployment rates at record highs, job skills are more important than ever. And teaching specialized job skills is what the Tennessee Technology Center in Covington is all about. “A lot of our students now are coming from plants and companies that laid them off,”said Glenn Baker, the training coordinator and recruiter at TTC-Covington. “They come out here to upgrade their skills to be more competitive in the job market. They might have 15 or 20 years of experience, but might not have documentation.” Many of TTC’s programs are self-paced, meaning those with experience can hit the ground running, and not have to wait for beginners. TTC also caters to young students “For that reason,” Baker said, “It appeals to

a lot of people that age.” TTC also caters to young students. High school students can take part in the dual-enrollmentprogram,whichallowsthemto attend classes at TTC while still in high school and earn credits toward graduation from TTC. There are currently students from all threeTipton County high schools enrolled in programs like automotive, welding, industrial maintenanceandheating,ventilation,air-conditioning and refrigeration. “We’re pretty diverse as far as age goes,” Baker said. TTC also offers business system technology,computerinformationtechnology,machine tooltechnology,weldingtechnology,technologyfoundations,basiccomputerskillsandpractical nursing. Online courses are also available. When compared to tuition costs for four-

year schools, TTC is a bargain. For example, the 20-month automotive technology course costs $6,537 and there’s a 12-monthweldingtechnologycourseavailable for $3,935. Students and graduates of TTC have been very successful of late. This past year two students advanced to the Skills USA state competition. Job placement rates at TTC are very high, jumping from 72 percent in 2009 to 82 percent last year. Last year’s course completion rate rose to 88 percent, much higher than most four-year school figures. “We feel like we have a lot to offer to students of all ages,” Baker said, “whether you’re starting a career or trying to improve your position in the workplace.”


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faces the superintendent

Bibb: ‘Being part of a team is important’ by echo day

Being a part of a team is importanttonewsuperintendent Dr. William E. “Buddy” Bibb, a man who has team photos from his days as an early-1980s Brighton Elementary School basketball coach hanging in his new office. As heard of the largest employer in the county, Bibb knows theteamatmosphereisimportant and he says the whole system goes through trials and triumphs together. “You get excited about (the band)winningthenationalchampionship, the football teams (had) a great season … and then when things don’t go well, I think the whole community feels the same way, because we’re all part of the community. I feel like we’re a

team – the central office staff, the school system, the whole county; I think we just view ourselves as a team. Teams win and teams lose; one day you win, one day you lose. I think it’s just part of life.” Since taking the reins in July, Bibb has already had his ups – the Munford band winning the national championship and the system receiving great test scores, for instance – and he’s had his downs, too. In November, a middle school teacher was indicted on 53 combined counts of statutory rape and providing alcohol to minors. It wasn’t the way he thought he’d begin his career as superintendent. “You hate to see that hap-

Dr. Buddy Bibb, Tipton County Schools Superintendent, strives to make the system operate as a team. “Teams win and teams lose,” he said, “I think it’s just part of life.” echo day/THE LEADER

pen, but I think, by and large, the general public is smart enough to knowthatsomethinglikethat’san isolated case,” he said. “We’re the largestemployerinthecounty,we have 1,500 people; the public is smart enough to know that’s just one person and most all of our people get up and go to work in

the morning and they do a great job.” What sets others apart, he said, is their commitment to making the best choices for the 12,000 students who attend Tipton County’s schools. “I think our folks are here for Continued on page 21 »


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the right reasons – and that’s our students.Unfortunatelythingslike that do come to our attention and we’re going to do the right thing. We’ll let the courts decide.” Bibb said ensuring the safety of students and maintaining a high level system are his top priorities. “Any time there’s an opening we want to hire the very best person that we can – whether that’s a teacher,principal,cafeteriaworker or bus driver. Keeping things at a high level … once you get there, that’s the expectation. People out there expect our school system to be good since it has been in the past. We’re going to continue to work toward that.” Though he’s been at the helm only five months, Bibb said good achievementscoresareamonghis proudest accomplishments so far. “We’re proud of whatever the students achieve – classroom first, then things like athletics and extracurricular things, student conduct. I’m most proud of our

students and the way they work every day. I’m proud of our teachers and staff.” Among his challenges, in addition to staff retention, is the new evaluation system put in place by Tennessee’s Race to the Top program. “It’s a lot different than the one we had in the past; every teacher is evaluated this year so there’s a lot more on the principals,” he said. “The teachers have responded well and our administrators are working hard. Tennessee raised the standards a couple of years ago, so even though we may not have straight A’s on our report card doesn’t mean our students aren’t learning because the work is harder now. We’re more concerned with what our kids are learning in the classroom than what grade we get on the report card.” This school year there are five new principals and other personnel changes have been made, but Bibb said there haven’t been, and

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You get excited about (the band) winning the national championship, the football teams (had) a great season … and then when things don’t go well, I think the whole community feels the same way, because we’re all part of the community.

discover: faces and places dec. 2011

- Dr. Buddy Bibb won’t be, too many other changes made locally. The changes, he said, are those made at other levels. “We’ve got a lot going on at the state and federal level. Tennessee has asked the federal government for a waiver on No Child Left Behind, so there’s going to be some changes there that will filter down.” The way the old NCLB act was written, said Bibb, 100 percent of students had to be

proficient in reading and math by 2013-2014 school year. “That’s just an unreachable goal. We all want all of our students to be proficient, that just can’t happen.” Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan predicted that if the NCLB law was not changed or revised, 80 percent of the nation’s schools would be on the failure list. Bibb said Duncan will not know until after the first of the year whether or not the waiver will be granted. Evaluating himself, Bibb says things have been challenging. “It’s been challenging, but I like a challenge. I’ll go back to the team concept: I feel very fortunate to be part of a good team. Everybody up here at the central office has been great, the school staff, the community … we’ve got a lot of good things going on in Tipton County. I feel blessed to be a part of it. I try to do what I’m supposed to do and take one day at a time.”


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faces the new mayor

A man of many hats by sherri onorati

Daryl Walker is a man with many talents. In

addition to being a husband and father, he’s been a teacher, coach, principal and administrator for more than 34 years, an insurance salesman, a business owner and now a mayor. And each position, he says, is proof to him that he is following the path laid out for him by God.

Daryl Walker was sworn in as Atoka’s first new mayor in 41 years in December 2010 with his wife Jackie, his college sweetheart, by his side. echo day/THE LEADER

Originally from Independence, Miss., Walker grew up knowing that one day he would become a teacher. Initially attending Northwest Mississippi Junior College on a football scholarship, Walker transferred to Delta State University after an injury on the field ended his playing days. After college, Walker, who married his college

sweetheart, moved his family to Ripley, Tenn., where he stayed for 18 years as a world geography and history teacher and football coach. In 1993, he was hired as the principal at Munford High School. “I taught history and world geog-

raphy and I loved it,” said Walker. “I loved the coaching part because I love football. I wish I could have continued teaching and coaching but at that time they didn’t pay teachers very well and I had a family to take care of, so I had to Continued on page 23 »


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of God’s plan,” he added, smiling. In 2001, Walker moved to the Tipton County Board of Education as the new pupil services director. Under Walker’s supervision is the Tipton County Alternative Learning Center and Court School. “I deal with students who make poor choices,” explained Walker. “It’s not that they’re bad students, they’re not; they make poor choices and if that poor choice goes against board policy, then I have to look into it.” Walker says his move to the board has been a natural progression in his career as an educator. “We are still accountable to those children,” he said. “A lot of kids need that one on one attention. Each one is treated the same way, they wear a uniform and it has a good effect. We have had valedictorians and salutatorians that have made poor choices, but they come back and do a great job. We try to educate everybody and give them the best education we can.” Along with being an educator, Walker has been a business owner for many years and currently owns two car washes, along with his wife Jackie, in Munford and Atoka. “I’d always wanted to be a business owner,” Walker said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher but I enjoy it. My father told me, ‘Son, don’t depend on the government all your life,’ and I took that at heart. It gives you some satisfaction but with the economy it fluctuates, people are going to have groceries, they’re going to get their gas and they’re going to have a place to live; washing the car is down the line but it’s helped me to understand business.” Walker’s newest role is as the mayor of the town of Atoka. Elected in November 2010, Walker said he had been considering a run for several years. “I had been thinking about it for several terms and thought that after talking to people in the community that they were ready to go in a different direction,” he said. “Not that the direction we were going in was bad, but just in a different direction. We needed to be more transparent.” A year into his four-year tenure, Walker’s administration has incorporated many changes. Among them is the ability to pay for utilities by credit card or on the Internet. “We were the only town without that ability,” he said. “We’re also trying to update the town’s infrastructure. We’ve added the Park and Rec Department because Atoka’s population is 62 percent 45 years old and younger and there are a 1,000 kids at Atoka Elementary. We need to provide them some recreation, and not just baseball; we’re providing soccer, arts and for the older folks, aerobics.” According to the latest census, Atoka’s population stands at approximately 8,600 people. “They say we’re the second largest city in Tipton County,” Walker said proudly. “Probably 25 percent of that is military families, with the rest being local and people moving into Tipton County looking for a better way of life. People love the small town atmosphere or they believeTipton County schools are the best for their children. Atoka sells itself.” Although all of his roles have been fulfilling, Walker said being an educator has been one of the greatest aspects of his life. “You can help a lot of people in positive ways as an educator,” he said. “I chose to treat every student like they were one of my kids. Education is not only the A’s and B’s, it’s the spiritual part of it, the social part and the book sense part that makes all of us. “I’m at a point in my life where I can retire and once you get to that point, you can look back to see what you have done. And I wouldn’t have done anything different in my life except for maybe

◄ Walker and wife Jackie dance during the opening ceremony for Atoka’s Centennial Celebration on June 24. echo day/THE LEADER

starting a business earlier, but it all fell into place. Ripley was a good place to my family. Tipton County has been a great place for my family. West Tennessee has been good to my family, it really has. I have satisfaction in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing.”


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places the past

150 Years ago

Remembering the Civil War in Tipton County by taylor smith

Jamie Ralyea, daughter of Darcy and Rick Ralyea of Munford, fires a gun at Randolph during the Tipton County Civil War Encampment on May 14, an event that commemorated the 150th anniversary of the start of the war between the states. Rick Ralyea/Courtesy Photo

White tents of infantry and artillery units dotted the landscape below the bluff as the boom of cannons and blasts of muskets filled the air. It isn’t 1861 – it’s 2011. May 14 and 15, uniformed Confederate re-enactors performed military drills all day for approximately 300 visitors along the second Chickasaw Bluff. The 90-foot dirt fortification was re-created to give visitors a glimpse of how one of the six Confederate river batteries would have looked at Randolph in 1861.The re-enactors participating in the encampment were members of the 51st Tennessee Infantry of Memphis, the Bankheads Battery of Memphis, and two companies of the Tennessee Artillery Corps of Tipton County. The event was an official Tennessee Civil War SesquicentennialCommemorationofTennessee’s first military action of the War Between the States when, on April 24, 1861, State forces occupied Continued on page 25 »


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Randolph in the name of the Southern Confederacy. Between April and August of 1861, the installation – named Fort Wright – was constructed to allow the firing of cannons on Union ships and troop transports coming down the Mississippi. On top of the bluff, breastworks and batteries were also built to defend the river fortifications from a Union land attack from the north and east. Almost 5,000 Confederate soldiers came to Fort Wright for military instruction and practiced constructing artillery batteries. In addition to the reenactments, David Gwinn, Tipton County Genealogist and local historian, gave tours of the Confederate gunpowder magazine adjoining the Fort Wright Historic Site Overlook on Randolph Road. A memorial service was also held on Sunday to honor the memory of 25 soldiers who died at the fort during the war. At the commemoration, Graydon Swisher II spoke on behalf of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways, one of the sponsors for the event. Russell Bailey,

Tipton County historian, represented Jeff Huffman, Tipton County Executive, and spoke on the history of Fort Wright. During the next five years, Civil War Sesquicentennial events will take place throughout Tennessee and in Tipton County. On May 29, the 34th Annual Memorial Service honoring the Soldiers of the War Between the States was held in the R.H. Munford Cemetery at 2 p.m. The cemetery, located on Hwy 51 South and Garland Avenue, is the final resting place for 217 Confederate and 8 Union veterans. Their graves were marked with flags and decorated with flowers to honor their valiant memories. In addition, there was a salute to the U.S. and Confederate flags, roll call of the soldiers’ names, a military salute, and the playing of “Taps” by Stephen and Alex Schuetrumpf of Boy Scout Troop 260. After the service, birthday cake and refreshments were served to attendees in honor of the birthday of Confederate General Cadmus M. Wilcox, who served in the Mexican War and Civil War.


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faces the environmentalist

Environmentalism takes root with young student by tyler lindsey

Environmental awareness is becoming an increasingly relevant issue among the adult population nowadays. However, let it be known that this ideal is far from being lost on the much younger demographic. On May 5, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) joined Hannah Grace Henderson, then a second grader at Austin Peay Elementary, and her class to plant trees on the school’s property. It all started when Hannah wrote a letter to TDOT a year ago, expressing concern about the trees that had been cleared as part of a construction project on State Route 14 near her school. “We passed some men cutting trees down on Highway 14 clearing the land and she got very upset,” said mother Mindi Henderson. “She was adamant that I pull over and tell

TDOT workers plant trees at Austin Peay Elementary School in May in response to a letter from second grader Hannah Grace Henderson, left. Jenifer waits/courtesy photo

them to stop.” Jenifer Waits, who last year taught Hannah, gave her students a writing assignment on a topic of their choice; Hannah wrote on the eliminated trees and her displeasure at such acts.

In her letter, Hannah wrote, “I do not like the way you are cutting down the trees in front of my school. I like birds and you are destroying their home. Please stop right now.” “It’s a surprising thing to come from a Continued on page 28 »


faces the artist

Teaching a new generation of artists by tyler lindsey

For the past three years, McBride has enjoyed teaching an adult class privately. At right, Carolyn Ramage, who has been under instruction of McBride for three years, receives her teacher’s commendation on a painting she’s working on. Tyler lindsey/the leader

“That one I painted while I was in Korea,” said Barbara McBride, cultured painter and creative community figure, upon being asked about an oil painting hanging in her house. She, apparently, has been doing it since before she can remember; that is to say, all of her life. However, she didn’t take her first art class until her senior year of high school in Covington. “I was always drawing, especially in high school,” she said. “I started painting in college.”

McBride went on to earn her bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Tennessee. Explaining whether she had any other interests to pursue in college, she quickly said, “No. I never really thought about it. I’ve never considered anything else.” From this period on, nearly wherever McBride found herself, she taught art classes. In 1963, because of a longing to see the Far East, she joined the American Red Cross. After arriving in Korea, it wasn’t long before she began painting there and eventually began exhibiting her work there. Her art subjects encompassed observations of the natives in each location. Due to a juxtaposition of cultural backgrounds, her painting style which began to resemble her environment.

“When I was in Korea, I painted with a palette knife in bright, bolder colors.” She explained that her education is unique in that she was taught expressionism first and then realism instead of the usual teaching of realism first. During her traveling with the Red Cross, she taught art for the Army Education Center and gave tours at different art museums around the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. After Korea, McBride made Berlin her home for four years where she again exhibited her work and watched her style evolve into more earth tones and muted colors. One of McBride’s favorite stories took place in Germany. “I had a show in Berlin and

sold an abstract painting titled SevenWomen,ThreeBoots,anda Bridge. It cause more conversation than any other painting there because nobody could find them. They really weren’t there. I thought it was the funniest thing.” In 1980, McBride received her master of arts in economics from Memphis State and moved back to West Tennessee. From there, McBride tied herself up in mortgage lending while teaching at Memphis State as well as taking commissioned art projects. These jobs included paintings of houses and eventually led to her current specialty of portraiture in acrylics. “Now I paint with acrylics because they’re so light. It’s good to do portraits with because of that,” she said. Continued on page 28 »

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second grader,” said Mindi. “But it’s not surprising I do not like the that it came from Hannah. way you are cutting That’s just the type of person she is.” down the trees in Waits got in touch with front of my school. Mindi encouraging them to send it to TDOT. After I like birds and you moving up through district offices to Nashville are destroying their headquarters, the letter home. Please stop prompted TDOT officials to respond to Hannah on right now. this issue. The correspondence Hannah Grace Henderson explained plans to come to her school at Austin Peay Elementary along with the board’s permission to plant trees, letting Hannah even plant her own. “She will be a big environmentalist I think,” said Mindi. “She plants her own garden and is a strong animal lover and when she thinks something is wrong she is very determined to correct it.” When asked if Hannah is satisfied, Mindi responded with a laugh and said,“She feels better, but she still wishes they hadn’t cut those trees down.”

Most recently, she has made it a mission of hers to stir artistic creativity in the youth of Tipton County. For the past three years, McBride has taught privately out of her home studio. Monday-Thursday, she teaches a children’s summer art camp in the afternoons in week-long increments which she says the children love. On Tuesday mornings and Wednesday evenings she instructs an adult class. Her niece, Cejae Hall, serves as a prime inspiration in this and other endeavors. Last year, Hall expressed a deep longing for a way for her and her friends to be a part of a theatrical production. McBride, a member of the Tipton Arts Council, decided she’d try to make it happen. Last year, the first Theatrical Summer Camp was a hit with “101 Dalmatians.” Acclaim for the production buzzed ever since and this summer the TAC and CIAA collaborated again to help students put on “The Jungle Book.” “I think it’s wonderful. The Tipton Arts Council said if I coordinated it then they’d do it. After the teachers at CIAA and the school board were up for it, we started planning it. The main thing is for children to realize that if they wish we as a community had something that we don’t, then they should voice it to an adult. We’re filling a huge need and it’s important. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be doing this.” McBride has also taught economics at Dyersburg State Community College Jimmy Naifeh Center where she has coordinated the art exhibit for 13 years. Any artist interested in showing their art at DSCC or in taking art classes can contact McBride at 901-237-4006.


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faces the singers

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REUNITED BHHS, CHS alumni reunite for former chorus director by tyler lindsey

Russell Phelps, right, directs the chorus comprised of former students throughout his 32year career. The group is singing, “From Sea to Shining Sea.” Tyler Lindsey/the leader

Old schoolmates Janet Phelps Sparkman and Ellen Clark had no idea the reunion would be so successful when they got the idea to bring past Byars-Hall High School and Covington High School chorus students under director Russell Phelps together for one more performance. On June 11, past students who dotted Phelps’ 32-yearlong tenure from 1957-1989 at BHHS, which became CHS in 1971, came together for a day-long reunion in celebration of the director’s long-lasting influence. From 9-11 a.m., the 40 schoolmates who dedicated the time were given a chance to catch up with each other and with Phelps after all those years that had passed. As 2 p.m. rolled around, Phelps was all business as the group held a two-hour rehearsal of familiar selections they had performed over the years. The group seemed apprehensive at first, but they soon fell back into the swing of things. “After we started, it felt like we were back in class with Continued on page 31 »


PLACES THE NEW PARK

County Executive Jeff Huffman receives a gift from principal Patricia Mills and the students of Drummonds Elementary during the grand opening of Drummonds Park on Friday, Nov. 18. ECHO DAY/THE LEADER

Park now open in Drummonds BY ECHO DAY

For Drummonds residents, the new park has been a much-anticipated addition to the community. And the process to build it, said County Executive Jeff Huffman, began many years ago when the county purchased 29.5 acres along Tate Road in 2000. “We bought that much in the beginning because we had the vision of putting a park here in this area of the county; this is what we call a planned growth area,” Huffman said. “So now (that we have) the park, the fire station, the ambulance and the sheriff ’s substation, we’ve been able to create some services to this area of the county that weren’t here before and we’re proud of that.” Construction on the park began in July 2010 and was completed last month. It includes an 18-hole disc golf course, regulation soccer field, paved quarter-mile walking track, playground, six pavilions, picnic tables, restrooms, amphitheater, mile-long hiking trail DISCOVER: FACES AND PLACES DEC. 2011

The playground at the newly-opened Drummonds Park has been constructed to meet regulations set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act. It includes a hard surface, for instance, instead of pea gravel. ECHO DAY/THE LEADER

and is compliant with regulations set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act. “We’re also proud of the fact that this park was created with children with disabilities in mind in particular,” said Huffman. “We got a call that the picnic table was too long for the seats; well, the reason the picnic table is too 30

long for the seats is so children can roll their wheelchair under the table; it’s one of those details we don’t really think about.” At a public meeting prior to construction, residents voiced a need for a playground with a hard surface to accommodate children in wheelchairs. “Children with disabilities have trouble with pea gravel if they’re in a wheelchair. The surface cost about $74,000, but it’s going to be there for a long time and it will give children in wheelchairs access to the playground.” Drummonds Elementary Principal Patricia Mills said the park makes Drummonds an even greater place to be. “We consider this to be our backyard and we want you to know that we take it as a very serious charge,” she told Huffman and members of the county commission during the park’s grand opening ceremony. “Our generation of grown-ups has built this park Continued on page 33 » www.covingtonleader.com


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Continued from page 29

each other,” said Clark. “Mr. Phelps started in with the jokes and chiding. It made us want to sing well for him.” The repertoire of the evening included “From Sea to Shining Sea,” “Sine Nomine,” “The Rainbow Connection,”“May Day Carol,” “Somewhere Out There” and “My Eternal King.” Clark said the groupwasworriedwhetherornot they would live up to the level of difficulty, but, when asked about them, Phelps quickly gave his af-

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firmation. “The group that came together for the reunion concert was the best chorus ever,” he said. “I don’t know how they could’ve improved; I was amazed.” That the group amazed Phelps is noteworthy in itself; he comes from a musical family and is sure he inherited his musical ability from his lineage. After he graduatedhighschool,hesaidhewasn’t sure what he wanted to do. “I knew I had talent in music, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to

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do with it. I then decided I did not want to perform and that I would enjoy teaching.” After graduating from high school in 1945 from Mayfield High School in Kentucky, Phelps earnedhisbachelorsdegreefrom Murray State University and took a job teaching in Tunica, Miss. In 1949, after a year, he was drafted as an assistant chaplain for the Korean War during which he married in 1951.The next year he was able to come back to Tunica where he taught until 1957 when he started at Byars-Hall High School. During his stint at Tunica he earned his masters degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Throughout his years as chorus director at BHHS and CHS, Phelps said from year to year his teaching took on new meanings. “I loved watching my students mature in their musical knowledge during their years in high school. Now, the most gratifying thing is during times like this reunion when they come back and

tell me how much being a part of the chorus meant to them. When I hear that it influenced their lives in a good way, I can’t ask for anything else. I’ve had students tell me that it was what kept them in school.” The look of admiration in their eyesastheysnappedpictureswith their old director revealed that their love for the man and the music has never died, but will live on and will surely be passed to their children. “Having them come back on Saturday and directing them was very emotional for me. It was the mostpleasantexperienceI’veever had.” These people who were students so long ago under Russell Phelps took on their smiling youthful faces once again Saturday night after the concert was over as they hugged and chatted. Old inside jokes were brought up again as laughter shook the walls of that chorus room, walls embedded with the signature of Phelps’ music.


PLACES THE COURT SQUARE A TASTE OF

Small town charm BY ECHO DAY

Most small towns have them: quaint little court squares, those shops and restaurants and businesses that surround the home of county or city government, the courthouse. Court squares, or town centers, were once the heart of cities or towns and were used for public gathering. With this tradition coming to a close, Covington’s historic court square saw a decline in use, however, since 2005, the city’s center has seen a regrowth and renovation. Today it is the home of many county offices, law offices, restaurants, retail shops and more.

support the American Cancer Society. Kid Bounce Mania, recently opened on W. Court Square, caters to the county’s children, offering a place to bounce and play video games while parents shop. Every Saturday in May and June, the square comes alive with the sounds of local artists, such as Ronnie Twisdale, during the Music on the Square summer concert series. This event usually begins the first Saturday in May and continues through the last Saturday in June. RETAIL Shopping is, perhaps, the biggest attraction for visitors and the shops on the square have a wide variety of wares for sale. And if you’re looking for antiques, you won’t have to look too far: the square is home to R&R Antiques and Collectibles, Grain Antiques, Past Times Antiques, Upscale Resale, Hatchie River Emporium and Covington Realty & Antiques. Don’t miss one-of-a-kind pottery, garden art, frames, home decor, fashion

and more from stores like Patina, Buckaroo Hatters, Kathryn’s Flowers, Old Town Hall, Alicats, Jezabel’s, LeChic, Copper and Clay, Eva Belle’s, Merle Norman, Freckled Frog and Something Special. HUNGRY? The square has you covered! From fine dining to dessert and coffee, there’s something for everyone. Eateries include Coffee in the Attic, Old Town Hall Cafe, Lucci’s Pizza and Pasta House, Lil Milano’s Express, Court Square Cafe and Dizzy Daizy.

ENTERTAINMENT Covington’s Historic Court Square is home to the Ruffin and Ritz theaters. Several times during the course of a year, the Ruffin (www.ruffintheater.org) hosts plays, pageants and other events, such as the annual “Hee Haw Howdy” fundraiser to

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for this whole community, and especially these children, and we take it as an important charge to teach them to be good stewards of this park so years from now it still looks like it did when we built it and when we dedicated it on this day.” In drawing up the plans, Huffman said he wanted to make sure the park was convenient for parents as well as make sure all of the features would all be used. “The playground is inside the The nearly 30-acre park walking track.We wanted to make it includes: convenient for parents who want to walk. Their children are right there ▪18-hole disc golf course where they can be watched.” ▪ regulation soccer field The park cost $1.36 million dol- ▪ paved quarter-mile lars, Huffman said. Last year, the walking track county executive said the county ▪ playground has saved money for the project ▪ six pavilions and construction of the park would ▪ picnic tables be paid for using money from the ▪ restrooms general fund. ▪ amphitheater Huffman said he was excited ▪ mile-long hiking trail about the park and it was clear he ▪ ADA-compliant wasn’t the only one. “It means a lot because our kids are closer; we don’t have to go to Millington anymore, we don’t have to go to Munford’s school anymore, we can come here,” said parent Kimberly McPeak. “It’s really beneficial to our children because they can play closer to home and it’s safer, it’s wide open. It’s more us. And it’s extraordinary.” The park is located on Tate Road, off of Drummonds Road, behind the Quito-Drummonds Volunteer Fire Department.


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faces the bus driver

Freedom Riders, NAACP honor bus driver The year was 1961 and the Civil Rights Movement was already in full swing. Lead by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), on May 4, seven blacks and six whites set out on a bus trip from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans, La. to test the Supreme Court’s 1960 decision that interstate passengers had a right to be served without discrimination. A similar movement in Nashville desegregated lunch counters and movie theaters in the city; Freedom Riders hoped to further defy Jim Crow laws in the Deep South, and their efforts transformed the Civil Rights Movement. Met with violence in Anniston, Ala. – from firebombs to brutal mob beatings – the riders split into two groups before eventually abandoning their movement. And though CORE ended its freedom

rides, others stepped in to continue the organization’s efforts. Student activists from Nashville’s A&I State University (now Tennessee State) traveled to Jackson, Miss. And that’s when they met Jim Ruth, a 21-year-old Trailways bus driver. “They had a full bus load of AfricanAmericans and whites,” Ruth said. “We stopped in Jackson, Tenn. and picked up some shaving cream from my mother and daddy; they met me at the bus station in Jackson and we went to Memphis.” After a stop in Memphis, Ruth drove the group to Batesville, Miss., then on to Jackson. “I let ‘em off the bus, parked the bus at a motel and gave ‘em my phone number,” he said. “When they got ready to go back to Nashville, they called me.” Ruth was the first Trailways driver to Continued on page 34 »

Jim Ruth, 71, shows off the award he received in November from the NAACP for driving Freedom Riders to Jackson, Miss. Sherri onorati/the leader


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discover: faces and places dec. 2011 Continued from page 34

I wasn’t worried about problems … if they were going to die, I was going to die with them.

transport Freedom Riders. Other drivers, he said, refused the trip, but he readily accepted. “I didn’t care who I was haulin’, but out of all of the years I drove for them, all of the schools I hauled to Washington, D.C. and New York and Boston, they were the best group of people I ever hauled.” Ruth, who has lived in Brighton since 1997, said he wasn’t afraid of encountering violence. “There’d already been some buses burned at Greyhound, so (Trailways) didn’t send their best bus, but we made it just fine … didn’t have any trouble going down there or coming back,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about problems … if they were going to die, I was going to die with them. We didn’t have one bit of trouble.” On Nov. 5, Ruth was honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Nashville for the part he played in the Civil Rights Movement.

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trailways driver jim ruth

Ruth as a Trailways driver in 1961. courtesy photo

The event, attended by hundreds, honored the 50th anniversary of the freedom rides. Ruth was humbled by the honor. “Me being an old country boy, I’d never been honored like that. I was a celebrity they said, but I’m still plain ol’ Jim Ruth. I’ve had a great life, I have no regrets for anything I’ve done,” he said. “I never thought 50 years later they would be looking for me … never

in my world. There’s nothing you can say; I’m just happy that I made a difference in something and in somebody’s life.” During the event a documentary on the Freedom Rides was shown to those in attendance, stirring up memories from the Civil Rights era that made him emotional. “They started showing this bus pulling into the bus station and you would get off and there was a sign that said ‘Colored People’ here and ‘White People’ here and I started crying.” Ruth said a Greyhound manager sitting at his table told him,

‘It’s alright, Mr. Ruth. You done the right thing.’ A 1956 graduate of Chester County High School, he grew up in Henderson and was the president of his senior class. Ruth began driving buses in 1961 and continued to drive for Trailways until December 1963, when an accident at Bailey Station near Collierville left him partially paralyzed. He was also a truck driver for 44 years. Now widowed and considered fully disabled, Ruth lives on John Hill Road and attends Munford Church of Christ. He says he’s proud of the contribution he made, however small or large it may seem. He is sincerely flattered to be honored by the NAACP and the very people he drove to Jackson, Miss. 50 years ago. “I don’t know how a king feels, but I know how Jim Ruth felt. And it’s just ecstatic, I guess. My wife, my mother and daddy … they’d all be very proud of me.”


Discover: Faces and Places 2011  

The focus of this publication is to feature information on notable Tipton Countians - community volunteers, unsung heroes, influential com...

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