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120 Deena Cove Covington, TN 38019 901-476-9700

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FACES & PLACES AUTUMN 2010 The Leader is proud to present its first Discover Faces and Places magazine. Faces and Places is a special publication made possible by many advertisers and contributors who want to help you get to know the people and places in your community. 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. PUBLISHER Brian Blackley, General Manager

Tyler Matheny, 5, son of TJ and Gwen Matheny of Munford, enjoys the annual Celebrate Independence event in Munford in July 2010. Photo by Echo Day.

P RO D U C T I O N Echo Day, Staff Writer Tiffany Holland, Staff Writer Tyler Lindsey, Staff Writer


Hatting buckaroos worldwide Covington business makes, sells cowboy hats all over the world


Window of the past Fortification provides remnant of, window into Civil War era



A simple kind of man Former college running back Johnnie Jones believes there’s no place like home

for Bozo’s owner John Papageorgeon

Old Trinity in the Fields Built in 1847, Old Trinity has seen many generations of worship and is now used for an annual pilgrimage

Wild & scenic 6 The Hatchie River is the only river in West

There’s a new dean 21 15 in town Dyersburg State Community

Barbecue is its 5 business Barbecue is a way of life

Tennessee still untouched by channelization

College’s new dean breathes new life into the Jimmy Naifeh Center

Back to basics 19 Retired MLB pitcher Aaron Fultz returns to Atoka and takes on a new challenge


The bread and 11 butter of the South Longtime Leader columnist leads a quiet, but purposeful, life in rural Tipton County

becoming a thing of the past, but two stations in Tipton County keep the tradition alive What’s in a name? 17 Turkey Scratch? Idaville? The history of some of Tipton County’s infamous names

A D V E RT I S I N G Beverly Miller Andy Posey COMMERCIAL PRINTING Shane Waits, Manager Richard White, Print Assistant

The man with the plans Even in difficult economic times, Duane Lavery is working to bring industry and business to town

Rewriting history There’s no place 7 The discovery of a fossil in Full service with a 22 like home Brighton could rewrite history 16smile books Full-service gas stations are Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Life on the islands Not much has changed on Reverie and Centennial Islands in the last century

Sara McKee, Graphic Design

Naifeh spends a lot of time in Nashville, but prefers his time in Covington On the Cover A cannon sits on the bluff at Randolph, overlooking the Mississippi River. Photo by Tyler Lindsey.

L E G A L N OT I C E S Kathy Griffin, Office Manager C L A S S I F I E D A D V E RT I S I N G Teri Jennings, Reception Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided. The Leader reserves the right to determine the content provided within this publication. All advertising information is the responsibility of the individual advertiser. Appearance in Faces and Places does not necessarily reflect the endorsement of the product and service by The Leader. Faces and Places is copyright 2010 Tipton County Newspapers LLC. Reproduction without written permission is prohibited. If you have any questions or comments about this publication please call The Leader office at 901-476-7116 or send an email to

THE LEADER 2001 Highway 51 South Covington, Tennessee 38019 w w w. c ov i n g t o n l e a d e r. c o m


Hatting buckaroos worldwide


hile many cities have tried to lure the rare store, Buckaroo Hatters, away from Tipton County, owner Mike Moore is staying put and keeping his custommade hat store in Covington. Paintings of cowboys, movie stars and historical gentlemen adorn the store, all wearing the type of hats the store is widely known for making. Moore began the business years ago as a side project in his garage because of his passion for making large western hats. As his knowledge and interest grew, so did the number of customers, which allowed him to open up Buckaroo Hatters. The store has now been in business for almost seven years. It was recently located across from the Ruffin Theater on West Pleasant on the Square, but that store


04 AUTUMN 2010

was outgrown due to sales, largely from out-of-state. Buckaroo Hatters did not move far, though. It is just down the street next to Upscale Resale and across from the Hatchie River Emporium and Haberdashery. Moore has also added some western vintage wear, southwestern pottery and will be putting in an art gallery. There are also historical artifacts unique to the area and Moore himself uses sewing and hat making equipment from the wild west era, which are beneficial for the type of work it takes to making the perfect hat. Moore is one of only 200 custom hat makers in the United States and the only one in Tennessee. The nearest is located in Oklahoma City, according to Moore. People from all over the world contact him for hats, FACES & PLACES

which can come in any size, shape of color and are guaranteed to not bleed. It takes him several hours to make sure everything on the hat, from the brim size to the sweatband, is perfect for each individual customer. Moore runs Buckaroo Hatters part-time but hopes he can one day run it full-time and turn his passionate interest into a full-blown career. The hours are 10-5 p.m. on Saturday and 11-4 p.m. on Sunday, but Moore said, “We really close when the customer decides to leave. You won’t ever hear me ask anyone Buckaroo Hatters has recently moved a new location on the square, giving to leave five minutes before to owner Mike Moore additional space closing time. I will stay and talk for his wares. Photo by Echo Day. with them until eight if that is stay much later than eight. what they want.” For more information on Judging from his knowledge and passion for hat making and Buckaroo Hatters, the website western culture, Moore could is


Barbecue is its business

Because of Tipton County’s next-door proximity to Memphis, barbecue proves to be a staple and a way of life in the area north of Shelby County. Perhaps no other place in Tipton County knows more about this subject than Bozo’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q. Serving barbecue since its establishment in 1923, Bozo’s rivals the pork mainstays of Memphis, being nationally recognized as experts in this pork-driven gastronomic field. In the early 1920s, the Williams family of Mason founded the eatery that cooked and served in a wooden shack across the street from where it resides today. In 1925, the location moved to

Papageorgeon repaired the famous neon sign that quit working eight years ago.

COV I NGT ON The Heart of Tipton County

another small building that shared a Shell gas station. The original owner, Mr. Williams, died in 1935 and left 11 children to carry on. Six years later, a fire moved them to another building. It was in this time during World War II that owners added salads and other sandwiches. But still, their barbecue remained king. The historic restaurant has changed hands a couple times until 2008 when its current owner, John Papageorgeon, bought the barbecue landmark. “The place has a lot of history,” said Papageorgeon. “The product had always been wonderful, but I knew that I could enhance it.” True, Papageorgeon has had experience in the food business. Having been employed by Backyard Burger for a number of years, he knew that he had something more to share with the world. “The history intrigued me,” he said. “Becoming a part of it was the best thing I’ve ever done. My grandfather had a diner, so I already loved the business.” Cooking and preparing food is one of his lifetime loves, but there’s something more to Bozo’s than savory barbecue for Papageorgeon. “My favorite thing about it is the customers and the history they bring and add to it. Sure, we make a good product, but it’s all about the people.” Drop by for some good food and good conversation at their location at 342 Highway 70 South in Mason.


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People in the city often like to drive to the country for the weekend to take in the beauty and comfort found in natural settings. Here in Tipton County, that drive isn’t as far since the historic and scenic Hatchie River resides nearby. Creating the line between Tipton and Lauderdale County, the Hatchie is the only major stream in West Tennessee that has never been impounded, channeled elsewhere or been modified by any other unnatural sources. The word “hatchie” means river. And it is the longest free-flowing tributary from the mighty lower Mississippi. Because it is mostly untouched from human activity, the river has become a haven for wildlife and has one of the widest varieties of catfish in the country. People floating down the river have come to appreciate the quiet atmosphere and the clean landscape for which the Hatchie is known. Far from the “party” rivers which infest much of the Southwest, the Hatchie is known for its 06 AUTUMN 2010


subtlety. River guests can float down the streams for days and catch glimpses of wildlife, from rare birds to river otters. Fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts flock from all over the Southwest to boat this scenic river and many in Tipton County are highly appreciative of the historic river that rests in their own county. With the urban areas advancing the way they are, even in rural counties like Tipton, the Hatchie River provides many with a way to get away from everything and take advantage of the scenic beauty on the river. After all, it is one of the few places left that has a feel of the early settlements. The one problem with the Hatchie River’s restoration is the heavy sedimentation. However, the Nature Conservancy in West Tennessee has created a plan to reduce the sediment flows into the river so people will get a chance to experience the Hatchie for many more years.




All Jim Leyden wanted was a swimming pool, but he ended up with the world in his backyard. This summer, while digging a drain line, an unusual discovery was made by subcontractors. Leyden was at work when he received the phone call. “My wife (Deanne) thought they were kidding her,â€? said Leyden, a sailor stationed at NSA Millington. “They were taking pictures ‌ she was surprised to see this huge tooth.â€? The large molar – and the jaw it was once attached to – is believed to belong to a pre-historic mammal called a trilophodon and

its discovery by pool contractors created a worldwide media buzz. Scientists believe trilophodons, a close relative to mastadons and predecessor to the modern elephant, lived in North America approximately 10 million years ago. The species is believed to have migrated to Asia, Europe and Africa after a drop in sea level during the Tortonian epoch. A swamp-feeding animal, the trilophodon had a long, pointed chin, short trunk and four tusks – two short tusks on the bottom and two larger tusks from the skull that curved downwards and were covered in enamel. Memphis Pink Palace Conservator Roy Young believes

Deanne and Jim Leyden are pictured with the trilophodon fossil found in their backyard in late June 2010. The discovery of the fossil created a worldwide media buzz and could rewrite history.

(Continued on page 8)

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TRILOPHODON (Continued from page 7)

the fossils found in Leyden’s yard belonged to an adult standing 7-8 feet tall, 12-15 feet long and weighing up to two tons. The wishbone-shaped jaw is two feet long and 18 inches wide; one large tooth, measuring six to eight inches, was broken off during the digging but one is still attached. The discovery is scientifically and historically significant because it is the first trilophodon found in the Mid-South. “I have not seen this guy before in the Mid-South,” Young said. “I was quite surprised.” Other trilophodons have been discovered in Nebraska and Texas in addition to several countries in the Eastern hemisphere, like Austria, France, Germany, Pakistan and Kenya. In 1900, a mastadon was excavated on Reverie Island, one of the two islands belonging

to Tipton County which now reside on the west side of the Mississippi River. The jawbone was found 8-9 feet underground, which leads Young to believe it is no older than 2 million years and as young as 30,000 years. This summer’s discovery could rewrite the history of the trilophodons. The jawbone is now in the possession of Young and the Pink Palace, where it will be tested to try to determine its age. The couple doesn’t plan to further excavate the property, citing costs and the uncertainty of the presence of other fossils. Pre-historic teeth aren’t the only thing the Leydens have found – they’ve also found themselves in the global media spotlight. News of the discovery spread like wildfire and the

The trilophodon jawbone was on display at the Pink Plalace in Memphis this summer.

story has been carried by CNN, NBC Nightly News, AOL News and dozens of other websites and blogs worldwide. The AOL News story is even linked as a reference to the Wikipedia article on trilophodons. “This thing has really blown up,” said Jim, fielding another phone call from another longlost friend who’d seen the television coverage. “I had no idea it’d get so big.” The story also brought some ribbing from co-workers who began calling Jim “Dinosaur Boy” and “The Dinosaur Whisperer.” He shrugs it off with an

embarrassed smile, knowing full well it will soon blow over. And though the discovery of a dinosaur jaw in their backyard was wild, the media attention has been wilder. In early July, the Leydens appeared on the popular morning show FOX & Friends on the Fox News Channel. Deanne was so excited she could only smile when FOX & Friends is brought up. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d find pre-historic bones in our backyard,” she said. “This is amazing.”





on the islands



Not much changed on Centennial Island during the life of the late Elizabeth “Sissy” Tipton. “We got electricity,” she said, laughing, in a 2008 interview with The Leader. “And there are far fewer folks around now.” Centennial Island, now home to less than 10 people, is one of two islands considered to be part of Tipton County, though both now lie on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River. Settled more than 160 years ago, the area was originally known as Devil’s Elbow because it was the sharpest bend on the Mississippi River, says Joann Moore, the local

historian and island resident since 1959. In 1846, landowner John Trigg gave 500 acres to his daughter, Lucy Stockley, as a wedding gift. Moore says Stockley didn’t think Devil’s Elbow was a gentile enough name and thus named her land Corona. Thirty years later, the mighty Mississippi changed Devil’s Elbow and Corona. “On March 7, 1876, the river suddenly and violently changed its course, flowing backwards like it did during the earthquake,” says Moore, referring to the New Madrid earthquakes that caused the river to flow backwards, creating Reelfoot Lake in 1811-1812.

Within a 24-hour period, the river had severed the land from the mainland of Tennessee. In his book Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain wrote of the island: “In times past, the channel used to strike above Island 37, by Brandywine Bar, and down towards Island 39. Afterward, changed its course and went from Brandywine down through Vogelman’s chute in the Devil’s Elbow, to Island 39--part of this course reversing the old order; the river running UP four or five miles, instead of down, and cutting off, throughout, some fifteen miles of distance. This in 1876. All (Continued on page 10)

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At left, a bell at Corona was once used to notify field workers when meals were being served. It was last used during a fire that destroyed the commissary. Center, a historical marker on Centennial/Corona Island. At right, Joann Moore is pictured in front of her Corona Island home in 2008. Photos by Echo Day. (Continued from page 9)

that region is now called Centennial Island.” And in the 134 years since, the island, which can only be accessed by land by traveling through Arkansas, has retained its pleasantness and privacy, says Moore. Though residents love the slow pace, life on the island can be difficult. “We have problems out here that people in the city don’t even dream of,” says Moore. In a city such as Covington or Atoka, a grocery store is only a few minutes away. For residents of Centennial Island, a close grocery store would be a luxury; they travel to towns such as Wilson, Ark., which is approximately 18 miles away, to do their grocery shopping. Residents say the nearest gas station is more than 20 miles away, in Turrell. When people who live in a city don’t feel like cooking, they can go to a fast food restaurant, but this is not so for island residents. “We can’t do that,” says Moore. “I keep a well-stocked freezer.” The nearest schools are also in Wilson. When there are children are living on the island, the state of Tennessee reimburses the state of Arkansas for expenses incurred, such as busing students. 10 AUTUMN 2010

Additionally, there are no paved roads on the island. “It would be nice if the roads were paved,” remarked Moore. “We’ve been here for 160 years and the roads are still like they were 100 years ago.” The reason the roads are not paved, says Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman, is because of the high frequency for flooding. “One of our biggest expectations is floods,” said Moore. “There have been so many, I’ve lost count. You never get accustomed to them and the older you get, the more difficult it is to cope.” Moore says the floods cause “very uneasy” feelings. “The river flooding is a major problem. I keep plenty of food, lights and I have an extensive library. Sometimes the roads are cut off. You’re totally surrounded by water.” To help withstand the floods, when she and her late husband, Sam, built their home, they “built it up, Louisiana-style.” Living quarters are on the second floor. Fire protection and water lines are two things that other Tipton County residents expect, but not on the island. If a structure catches fire, it burns down. This has happened to several


homes and even a commissary on the island. Instead having a water system, island residents have wells and water purification systems. Voting has become another issue, says Moore. They have lost their voting precinct and now must travel to Reverie Island, 30 miles away, to cast their ballot in person. “There are not many of us, but our votes are just as important,” adds Moore. “We treasure our right to vote, too. We can cast absentee ballots, but there’s just something about doing it in person that I love.” To help with this problem, officials with the election commission have decided to travel to the island one weekend prior to election day, so residents may cast their ballot in person. Life on Centennial Island is much different from life in the rest of Tipton County, but its peacefulness and privacy are among the reasons the residents - and visitors - enjoy it. “I have heard about the islands ever since I was a little boy growing up in Tipton County, and I’ve always wanted to come here,” said Action News 5 personality and Covington native Justin Hanson. “It’s like a paradise over here!”


of the SOUTH


For more than 50 years, her name has appeared in The Leader nearly every week. As a columnist, she has relayed hometown news from outlying communities in Tipton County to those with little contact with the outside world. While she’ll say that many have touched her life, she also has been a big impact on as many lives. True, Bernadine McAfee lives a quiet life in the countryside off of Highway 59, but her duty and purpose rings loud and clear in the county. She’s still going strong despite many close calls over 75 years. As a young girl, she volunteered often at the church next door to her house. Everything went along smoothly. Usually, that is. “I used to build fires in the church fireplace during the wintertime back in the 1940s to warm it up for churchgoers,” said McAfee. “Well, one day men came running and shouting. Turns out I had caught the wood-shingled roof on fire! Their eyes were big as fried eggs.” McAfee endured many childhood mishaps. But it wasn’t until she was in her teens that

she became interested in writing. “When I was about 14 or 15 years old I began to write and I liked it,” said McAfee. “I started writing to those serving in our military and just kept with it.” As she grew into her twenties, McAfee was propositioned with the opportunity to write a news column for outlying communities in Tipton Counties including Randolph and now Gilt Edge. “It’s one of the highlights of my week to sit down and write these columns,” said McAfee. “My favorite thing to write about are most definitely children and the elderly, but I’m always listening for things to write about.” An encourager of many, including wellknown columnist and author Otis Griffin, a survivor of brain aneurysms, during which she technically died and came back to life in 1987, and a source not just of news but of joyful, funny and down-to-earth anecdotes and colloquialism, Bernadine McAfee remains a steadfast beacon to many not just in this county but to this region, personifying what it means to grow up in the Southern way.

Bernadine McAfee sits in her rocking chair while reading The Leader. She has written for the newspaper for more than 50 years.

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Tipton County plays host to many places that enable people, historians and enthusiasts alike, to peer into the county’s deep and, oftentimes, long-forgotten past. Perhaps one of the most potent artifacts of residual history is the powder magazine at Randolph, the once-promising community believed to rival Memphis for metropolitan prominence in West Tennessee. Now deep in the woods on the second Chickasaw Bluff, the Randolph powder magazine exists as the only remnant left of Fort Wright, a Civil War fortification and the first military training facility of the Confederate Army in Tennessee. On January 20, 1861, Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Joseph Wright was enacted by Tennessee Governor Isham G. Harris to initiate construction of a fortification at Randolph. The establishment would act as a buffer to North forces headed to attack Memphis by way of the Mississippi River. Six months later, despite construction lagging behind, 50 cannons along with ammunition were ready at Fort Wright. As a result, a magazine was built to store arms like cannonballs and especially

The entrance to the magazine was excavated in 1986 and made accessible.

Here, the wall that splits the two chambers is shown with a hole punched through it by Union forces.

12 AUTUMN 2010


gunpowder while keeping it all dry. The magazine was essentially a two-chamber housing built underground into a hillside. The entrance was placed on the side opposite of the gun emplacement and earthen, U-shaped redoubt to avoid ignition by stray sparks. The chambers were ventilated, however, with crooked vents to redirect sparks. An interesting fact lies in the pre-emptive nature of the project. The establishment is the only powder magazine built by the State of Tennessee prior to its secession from the Union. Ft. Wright never fired a single shot when the North came downriver in June of 1892. Confederate forces abandoned the fort, but both forces sporadically occupied the position. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, in command in Memphis, sent a company to Randolph in 1862 to destroy the fort. The powder magazine, ruined after holes were punched in its interior walls to let moisture in, remains the only physical structure left of Fort Wright along with its breastworks. Today, upon visiting the old storage chamber, one can almost hear the the blast of cannonball and the cries of soldiers as a Union flotilla looms in the smoke and fog upriver like it did all those years ago.




very year local Episcopalians make the annual pilgrimage to historic Trinity in the Fields Church, located on Charleston-Mason Road near Mason. The church is actually only used once a year on Trinity Sunday, which is the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. In the year 1847, Major William “Buck” Taylor gave the Episcopal Church one acre of land near his residence upon


which a small church was built. It was named Trinity and is known as Trinity in the Fields today. It is said that Mr. and Mrs. George T. Taylor, who lived on a nearby plantation, were largely responsible for providing the slave labor to built the church. In 1854, services were started for the black servants on alternate Sundays. The old Trinity register shows that 378 slaves were baptized at Old Trinity. In 1859, the church had 40 white (Continued on page 14)

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Old Trinity in the Fields was built in 1847 and features gothic style architecture. A small church, it is used only once each year for the annual Trinity Sunday Pilgrimage. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Photo by Tyler Lindsey.

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communicants and 21 black communicants. During the Civil War years, services were continued, however, at the close of the war, federal troops burned down the parsonage. White and black membership grew rapidly after the war. In 1870, a much larger Trinity was built in Mason. The building of the church would not have been possible without the financial support of Col. John Jett of Calvary in Memphis and Col. George Taylor and his wife, Mary Goodloe Somervell. The black congregation continued to worship at Old Trinity until 1873 when they erected St. Paul’s with over 100 members. In 1940 they moved to their current location near what used to be Gailor School.

Trinity in the Fields is rumored to be haunted and over the years many tales have emerged of suspected paranormal activity. And while teenagers and other thrill-seekers regularly visit the grounds during the witching hour with hopes of seeing evil apparitions, others say the spirits are holy ghosts. Through the efforts of Judge John Y. Peete, son of Eleanor Taylor Peete, an annual pilgrimage to Old Trinity was begun and the grounds were restored. When Judge Peete died, a fund was left to care for Old Trinity. Since then, the congregations of Trinity and St. Paul and family members of early ancestors of Old Trinity have come together to worship on Trinity Sunday.

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The grave of Roberta Somervell Peete is most commonly associated with Old Trinity. According to the statue, Peete died suddenly at Dawson Springs, Ky. on Sept. 3, 1912. Photo by Echo Day.



There’s a new

DEAN in town...

Dyersburg State Community College has gained a strong footing in the economic communities of western Tennessee as Dr. James Frakes took on the new position of Dean of the Jimmy Naifeh Center at Tipton County a few months ago. In a roundabout way, Frakes’s new position is a sort of combination of two former job titles. He is coming in behind Doug Teague, Dean of Business and Technology, and Janet Newman, Director of the Jimmy Naifeh Center at Tipton County, both of whom have retired. The melding comes as a result of the continued realization that DSCC plays an increasingly important role in

providing higher education for people in the surrounding communities. “At this point in my career, this job is very exciting to me,” said Frakes. “There have been some great leaders before me like Janet Newman and it is remarkable to follow in their footsteps.” Frakes has been with DSCC for 16 years, starting in 1994 as director of the Title 3 Program which sought to improve and strengthen the academic quality through federal grants. He also worked with the office for institutional advancement. There, he said he learned a lot about advancement functions including marketing and grants. After four

Dr. Frakes represents a refreshing spirit of leadership to many not only for DSCC but also for West Tennessee.

(See Frakes, continued on page 16)

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At one time in recent history, any resident or passer-by could pull into any business that sold gasoline and not only have their gas filled at desired levels, but also have their air pressure checked, windshield washed, oil checked and then fix any low maintenance problems found and more. Nowadays, gas station customers pull into establishments throughout Tipton County only to pay for service they do themselves and less. However, this story is not so with two particular shops in Tipton County. Pulling into Pop’s Amoco/BP in Munford and City Service Station in Covington is like coasting into the 1950s in many ways simply because they are the last two full-service stations left

A shop employee at City Service Station wipes a customer’s windshield clean with a squeegee, a rare service at gas stations nowadays.

From left to right, Charles Stafford, brother of the owner, Jerry Stafford, middle, and shop employee Gervais Bradshaw love coming to work everyday to provide service for customers that they remember growing up.

in Tipton County. “Customers don’t even have to get out of their car,” said Karl Collins. Likewise, Jerry Stafford said, “We offer this to people just to give excellent service as a courtesy.” Collins, owner of City Service Station, goes to work every day at 203 Highway 51 South in Covington and will have done so for 23 years on Dec. 1 of this year. Having been in business so long, Collins was asked why he offers this service year after year when businesses everywhere around him are departing from such practices. “This is what I was raised in. When I was growing up, every gas station offered full service,” said Collins. “I enjoy the personal, one-on-one contact with people. You don’t have that with other places. Stafford, owner of Pop’s Amoco/BP, wholeheartedly agrees. Having been in business for 14 years this November, Stafford and employee, Gervais Bradshaw, strive to provide ease in the day of every customer. Stafford’s 45-year experience shows its true colors every time an automobile pulls in. “We always try to just provide authentic, good service for the people of Tipton County,” said Stafford. “I especially enjoy helping the elderly.” Both businesses offer brake work, tire maintenance, car cleanup, oil changes and tune-ups. Visit City Service Station is at 203 Highway 51 South in Covington and Pop’s Amoco/BP at 1315

FRAKES (Continued from page 15)

years, he became the director over the small business development center. After working with the business communities for 10 years, Flakes feels wellequipped with handling the duties for which the dean is responsible. “When I worked as director for the small business development center, I decided that higher education is where I wanted my career to stay,” said Frakes. With a background in economic development, he began pursuing a doctorate 16 AUTUMN 2010

degree in higher education through the University of Memphis while working at DSCC. In 2005, he obtained his doctorate. “I was completely immersed in the educational culture,” said Frakes. “Going through school while working for DSCC enabled me to keep in touch with students and realize their needs.” In turn, the services offered by DSCC supplement the local economies by returning educated students to today’s workforce. Yet, Frakes wholeheartedly promotes life-


long learning and plans to lead by example to further the culture of education in Tipton County. It’s no coincidence that this ideology is Frakes’s forté. “We will strive to continue the trend here at the Jimmy Naifeh Center to branch out and educate students especially with the prosperity in our nursing and EMT programs,” said Frakes. “I want to help DSCC be a catalyst for the growth in the healthcare industry as well as in other areas in western Tennessee.”



What’s in a Name? Tipton County’s roadways, communities and municipalities have interesting, less-than-ordinary names whose meanings are often the topic of conversation. Where did these names come from? Historian David Gwinn weighs in to settle the debate.

Tipton County is home to many streets and communities with names that tell the rich history of the county’s colorful past.

• Turkey Scratch Rd. - When the community of Turkey Scratch existed, hillside dwellers described the area as a place where nobody could make a living except for a turkey and even it would have to scratch it out. • Gilt Edge - This area was named for a popular product, possibly shoe polish sold in the once-existing post office. • Idaville - The community was named for Ida McCain, the daughter of the postmaster who had a store there. • Atoka - The word atoka is a Choctaw word meaning “ball court” or, more specifically, pertaining to the judgement seat at a ball court, like a referee. The town received this name from the railroad company which laid track in 1873 in Tipton County. The company got the idea from Atoka, Okla.

• Brighton Contrary to popular belief, Brighton does not get its name from the town in England. The town is named for the first conductor of the newly established Covington-Memphis railroad in 1873. • Munford Colonel R.H. Munford of Covington, from whom Munford Cemetery get its name, was both Tipton’s county court clerk and Covington’s mayor. Postmaster C.B. Sale suggested renaming the growing community of Mt. Zion after R.H. Munford because Sale’s daughter boarded with Munford’s family while attending Tipton Female Seminary. • Millstone Mountain Legend has it, it is named for a rock conglomerate located in the area that excavated rock used for millstones.

Background photo shows Jones running the ball during a game against Vanderbilt University. The photo appeared in a Dec. 5, 1984 special publication of The Leader.


Johnnie Jones, left, now works as a school resource officer with Tipton County Schools. In the mid-1980s, Jones was one of the best running backs in the country while attending college at the University of Tennessee. Photo by Tiffany Holland.

A Simple Kind of Man


Whenever the Tennessee Volunteers football team has a bad game, Johnnie Jones said he hears a lot of cajoling from other people. “People will always say something,” said Jones with a wide grin. “Especially when they play Alabama. People will joke with me and talk about my college days.” This is because Jones was the leading rusher for the University of Tennessee under coach Johnny Majors from 1981-85 and was a contender of the Heisman trophy his senior season. In one of his most famous plays, he ran for 66 yards to snap a tie and give Tennessee an upset win over the University of Alabama in 1983. Jones grew up in Munford and went to Munford High School where he was a star athlete. He originally wanted to be a mechanic and went to UTK on a football scholarship still with these intentions. After some injuries to other running backs, Jones got his day in the spotlight and became one of the best running backs in the school’s lengthy football history. He 18 AUTUMN 2010

became the first 1,000-yard rusher for UT and was the most valuable player in the Citrus Bowl. Jones said his favorite game was against Vanderbilt University where he hit 1,000 yards. “The offensive line wanted it as much as I did,” said Jones. “They would keep telling me how many yards I had to go.” Despite his success in a wildly popular sport, Jones said he has always been a simple guy and would call home to talk to his family a lot, preferring the quiet small town life to everything else. Even after Seattle drafted him in the fifth round, Jones still kept his old truck he had in high school and still has the truck to this day. After playing professional football for a while, Jones came back home in 1991 and wanted to go into law enforcement. It was then that he became a resource officer for the school system and has been there for six years working often with troubled youth. He is married to Trena Jones and has three daughters, one of whom goes to Munford Middle School. He also works with the running backs at MHS in his spare time. Even though


his football days are over, he still goes to UT football games when he can, especially to see former players and friends. Many of his previous football records have been broken since he played but some are still there including the record with all-time rushing attempts per game with 41 attempts and 248 yards in 1983. He is the fourth all-time in career rushing with 2,852 yards. Jones said he does not miss living in the limelight of his college football days and enjoys being back in his hometown. “Every time you go somewhere, you see somebody you know,” said Jones. “There is no other place like that for me. Even when I was away, I stayed on the phone and tried to know what was going on here. I went places where I didn’t know a soul and I missed my family. I’m so glad to be back.” Considering his work ethic and infectiously upbeat personality, the people of Tipton County are glad Jones is back as well.


Back to



He’s been all over the country, has pitched in a World Series game and played ball with some of the best players in recent history, but South Tipton County is where Aaron Fultz calls home. “I’ve lived in a lot of cities all over the country, but there’s nowhere I’d rather be,” he said. “I always wanted to come back here when I retired. It’s just home.”

A 1991 graduate of Munford High School, Fultz signed with Louisiana State University, but attended Lambuth for a semester and played with North Florida Junior College before being drafted by the Giants in 1992. Fultz, a left-handed pitcher, played in the minor leagues for another eight years before being called up to the big leagues in 2000.

(Continued on page 20)

Returning to South Tipton County after retiring from Major League Baseball, Aaron Fultz is dedicating his time and talent to helping improve the skills of young ball players. Fultz is pictured here with Ty Warmath, son of Brad and Paige Warmath.





Born: Sept. 4, 1973 in Memphis Bats: Left Throws: Left

Win-Loss: 25-15 ERA: 4.26 Strikeouts: 394

Giants (2000-2002) Rangers (2003), Twins (2004) Phillies (2005-2006) Indians (2007)

(Continued from page 19)

“When I was a kid, my dream was to play in the big leagues,” he said. “When you get that call, you’re just excited. It’s your dream.” Fultz played with the San Francisco Giants for three years, Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins for a year each, Philadelphia Phillies for two years and Cleveland Indians for another year before retiring. In 2002, while with the Giants, he pitched in the World Series against the Angels. Hearing his name in the lineup, he said, was one of “the coolest things ever.” Other highlights of his career in baseball include winning the state championships as a senior in high school (he was also ranked #8 in the country). At Munford High School, Fultz’s #12 jersey has been retired and the road leading into Valentine Park has been named in his honor, but away from home Fultz was more humble.

“He never wanted anyone to know who he was,” said wife Christy. Having been able to fulfill his dream, Fultz wants to give the same opportunity to Tipton County children. “My goal is to make sure these children now have the same opportunity,” he said. “I want to teach them the fundamentals I’ve learned through my travels and experience.” In September, Fultz Baseball and Softball Academy opened on Cobb Avenue in Atoka with a mission to help local ball players improve their skills. He has teamed up with Tucker Ashford, a Covington native who played third base in the major leagues in the 1970s and ‘80s. Fultz teaches pitching, Ashford and his daughter teach hitting. “We teach them the basics of pitching and hitting, but the mental part of the game is more of what we offer,” Fultz said. “That’s my specialty. I wasn’t the biggest,

the strongest and I couldn’t throw harder than a lot of guys, so I had to be smarter.” While Fultz hopes his clients have fun playing the game, he also hopes they have fun learning to improve their techniques. “I want to teach them the right way and I hope they learn in a way that will be beneficial to them.” So far, with only a few months in, it seems to be working. “He really sees the improvement in the children and it’s so rewarding for him,” Christy said. “They look up to him so much. When he gives them attention, they’re so proud of themselves.” Returning to a place that has never forgotten one of its favorite sons also makes Fultz proud, Christy added. “He’s really proud people here know who he is, this is who he cares about.” For more information on Fultz Baseball and Softball Academy, call 901-840-4300 or visit


The Man with the Plans


In times of economic downturn, Duane Lavery has one of the toughest jobs around. As the chief executive officer of HTL Advantage, Lavery is in charge of recruiting businesses to come to Tipton, Haywood and Lauderdale counties. Lavery’s biggest project at HTL is specifically preparing the new megasite for business in Haywood County. Located close to the Tipton County line, the megasite stretches over 3,800 acres of land and is being groomed for potential businesses to house an infrastructure for industry. The executive subcommittee of the State Building Commission voted unanimously on Sept. 29, 2009, to approve the expenditure of $40 million to purchase the megasite. However the site is currently being improved so that a company can build on the land almost immediately. Lavery said there is a lot that needs to be done but is op-

timistic on how this is going to provide a surplus of jobs and economic growth to the economy. “It was the megasite that really led me here,” said Lavery. “It intrigued me the most. It is going to be a huge benefit for the area.” Originally from Arizona, Lavery worked on building renovations before moving to Tipton County to head HTL. Since then he has overseen several business come to the county and others expand, even during the harsh economic climate. The Unilever plant that has hundreds of jobs in Covington is currently undergoing a $100 million expansion, which Lavery helped facilitate. Lavery can also be seen working with education and other local businesses in the county. Businesses looking for a place to build or rebuild want to plant roots in

a county that is a good fit in all areas, including quality education, entertainment, a good number of skilled workers and plenty of other factors. Therefore, Lavery has to know about everything each city has to offer. While he might not be running for an elected office or coaching a sports team, Lavery is someone in Covington most people will know, especially once the big businesses begin moving back in.


There’s No Place Like Home


Although he has been a state representative for 36 years and was the former speaker of the house of Tennessee, people in Tipton County are still going to call Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh just “Mr. Jimmy” when he’s in town. And even though he is one of the most powerful men in the state, the Covington native has not forgotten his roots. “This is my home,” said Naifeh. “It will always be my home and I haven’t forgotten that. I will be here even after I am out of office.” Naifeh is the son of Oney Naifeh, the previous owner of Naifeh’s grocery store. His brother, nephew and their wives currently run the store, helping to make Naifeh one of the best-known names in Tipton County. After growing up working in his father’s store and graduating from Byars Hall High School (now Covington), Naifeh attended

the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and then joined the Army. He has held dozens of leadership positions in his hometown until his run for state representative almost 40 years ago. In 1991, he was elected speaker of the house and is the longest serving speaker in Tennessee history. Since that time, Naifeh has given a great deal back to the city he calls home. Every year Naifeh and other community leaders work to give millions of dollars in state and federal funding to city projects. In fact, in his Covington office he once met with a man who wanted to move a new company to a new area. That man was E.F. Stallings and Naifeh convinced him to bring his business to Covington, and, with that, the Slimfast factory at Unilever came to town. Right there in his office came the decision to add a major new company and hundreds of new jobs for people in the county. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the

last time, that Naifeh brought business and change to his hometown. According to Naifeh, his proudest accomplishment since his time in office was putting the Jimmy Naifeh Center of Dyersburg State Community College in Covington. DSCC now has more students than the original campus in Dyer County. Naifeh was one of the main contributors of putting the campus in Covington, according to County Executive Jeff Huffman. “I’ve made so many friends here over the years, and there are so many new amenities and businesses coming up,” said Naifeh. “I also have real estate here and I’ve got family here. It is just a good place to live. I can’t imagine ever leaving.” “Mr. Jimmy,” as he is known by people in town, has made such a huge impact of the people of Tipton County, he can be sure that the people of his hometown cannot imagine him leaving either.

Up for re-election in 2010, Naifeh is shown campaigning at the Bald Butcher in Covington.

22 AUTUMN 2010



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Discover Faces & Places - Autumn 2010  

Special publication of the leader

Discover Faces & Places - Autumn 2010  

Special publication of the leader