Take a look back at some to the biggest headlines and news of 2017 from the pages of the Humboldt Chronicle.
Over 1,500 jobs coming! Tyson to locate in county industrial park
The biggest news to hit Gibson County in decades was announced in November. Tyson Foods will build a new plant at the Gibson County Industrial Park on the northern side of Humboldt and bring over 1,500 jobs to the area. Approximately 250 guests and dignitaries attended the announcement held in the Humboldt Medical Center’s conference room with. “This is a historic day for Humboldt and Gibson County,” Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes said during the announcement. “Tyson Foods’ tremendous capital investment and job creation will have a long lasting, positive impact in our community for years to come. I could not be more excited, and I want to thank Tyson Foods for their commitment to our city and county.”
Shaq scores, NBA legend helps Humboldt athletics
Hundreds of basketball fans packed into the Oman Arena to see NBA legend, Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal was the keynote speaker at the Viking Athletics Gala last Saturday night.
O’Neal played basketball at Louisiana State University (LSU) under head coach Dale Brown and assistant coach Ron Abernathy. Abernathy, now the Humboldt Viking basketball coach, has remained close to Shaq over the years. “I got a call on my red phone at my house, the red phone is for family and friends,” O’Neal said Saturday evening before taking the stage at Oman Arena. “Ron Abernathy, my coach at LSU called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m working in a county school in Tennessee. I need you to help me out with a fundraiser’.” O’Neal praised Abernathy saying his former coach was instrumental in the basketball star becoming the character known as Shaq. O’Neal obliged and came to Humboldt headlining the gala and basketball camp earlier that morning. He said he wanted to show his support and help the children out any way he could.
Mayor Marvin Sikes re-elected by landslide
Humboldt voters spoke loud and clear when they took to the polls November 6. Mayor Marvin Sikes was re-elected by a landslide. Mayor Sikes, seeking a second term, campaigned on keeping the momentum and progress moving forward. And 75-percent of the voters agreed. Sikes was challenged by businesswoman, Tammie Porter. The Humboldt City Board will look exactly the same with all five candidates being re-elected. Four of the five contestants, Donna Johnson, Leon McNeal, Bob Pruett and Don Graves, were unopposed in their respective wards. Only James Shivers’ seat for Ward 1 saw competition with former alderman, Bobby Barnett. Four of the five school board seats were up for grabs. Two newcomers, Lori Coleman and Valeria Smith-Wedley, unseated the incumbents Phillip Hardee and Chuck Samples. In Ward 1, three candidates were in competition for the school board seat. Incumbent Terry Johnson received the most votes but did not obtain the amount of votes needed to win the race, 50-percent plus one vote. Johnson won the December runoff election over Thomas Red Porter. Wayne McLemore, who was appointed as interim school board member replacing Lee William, ran unopposed to fulfill the final two year’s of the term. Also on this year’s referendum was a vote to keep or to repeal liquor by the drink. In a close vote with a difference of 48 votes, Humboldt will continue to allow liquor by the drink.
Vikings claim district championship with a thriller
The Humboldt Vikings claimed their first District 14A title since 2013 with a thrilling 71-68 win over the Union City Tornadoes. The game was marred late with technical fouls on both squads in the last two seconds of the ballgame. Humboldt was in foul trouble all night long as Coach Ron Abernathy showed why he was the District 14A Coach of the Year by using his bench to its highest potential. In the end, the Vikings were victorious 71-68.
Vikings tame Tigers, will host sectional game
It had been four years since the Vikings were able to hoist the Region 7A plaque as the Humboldt Vikings destroyed the Halls Tigers 89-45. The Vikes jumped out to a 9-2 lead, led by 19 points at halftime, led by 36 after three quarters, and rolled to an impressive 89-45 win over the Tigers to claim the Region 7A title.
Vikings dominate in OT, headed to the ‘Boro
The Humboldt Vikings are good but to win it all you have to a have a little luck along the way. At home against the Middleton Tigers, Lady Luck was shining brightly as a free throw was wiped off the score board to keep the score at 72-72 forcing overtime. The Vikings outscored the Tigers 14-8 in OT and with the 86-80 win and were Murfreesboro bound.
Fisher named WTSF Honoree
Over the years, local photographer Rick Fisher has taken thousands upon thousands of pictures, possibly millions. And many of those shots were the official Strawberry Festival photographs and pictures of festivals. To recognize all his talent and commitment to dozens of festivals, Strawberry Festival President Ashley Culpepper and General Chairman Melissa Swingler proudly announced last week that Fisher is honoree of the 80th West Tennessee Strawberry Festival this year.
Chamber director Williams submits resignation
Lee Williams left his post as executive director of the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce. Williams accepted a job in Fort Worth, Tex. Williams was raised in Humboldt and is a 1999 HHS graduate. “I hate to leave a commitment—it’s the hardest thing to decide,” Williams said. “I didn’t take it lightly. I wanted to finish that commitment. It was a hardest decision.” Part of that commitment is to the school system where Williams is a member of the school board. He was first elected in 2011 and again in 2015. He still has over two and a half years left on his term. “I wanted to see the completion of the school’s building project we started,” Williams explained. “I want to work with Dr. Hamlett with her new contract. There are lots of things I wanted to see through.”
Humboldt has first homicide in 2 1/2 years
Humboldt police investigated two shootings on January 31, 2017. Humboldt police officers responded to Westside Dr. near McLin St. and found a black male, Mariquiaus Pettigrew, age 24 of Humboldt, with multiple gunshot wounds after an apparent altercation. Pettigrew was transported for medical treatment and at last report had been released from the hospital. Kenneth Marvin Price, age 34 of Humboldt was identified and charges for attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon (felony). Later that evening at approximately 8:30 p.m. officers arrived on 13th St. and found a black male, identified as William Bryant Vinson, age 27 of Humboldt, inside a residence, with multiple gunshot wounds. The victim died at the scene. Humboldt police believe the two shootings are related and investigating the retaliation as a homicide.
McLemore appointed to fill school board vacancy
Long time educator, Wayne McLemore, was appointed by the city board to fill the vacancy on the school board by a vote of 4-1 with school board member/alderman Leon McNeal casting the “nay” vote.
80th Strawberry Festival dedicated to Gibby Gibson
The late Earnest Henry “Gibby” Gibson Jr. may have never had the opportunity to serve as president or general chairman of the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival, but that does not mean he was not involved. In fact, Gibby loved the festival. This is why Strawberry Festival President Ashley Culpepper and General Chairman Melissa Swingler selected Gibson as the 80th Strawberry Festival Dedication.
Hostess Princess crowned
Hadley Lindsey was selected to reign over the 81st Strawberry Festival as Hostess Princess. She is the daughter of Brad and Kristie Lindsey.
Church member sues over Sugar Creek name
A member of a historic Humboldt church that recently changed its name has filed a lawsuit asking for a new vote on the matter. Harold Gunn, a local attorney and longtime member of First Baptist Church of Humboldt, filed the lawsuit. He charges that, in March this year, an illegal and void vote was taken of the membership to change the name of the church to the Church at Sugar Creek. One of the major points of the lawsuit is that the election was not handled correctly. “It makes no sense to sign the ballots,” said Gunn. “They should hold another (vote) and do it right.”
Champion brings star-studded camp to Humboldt
Former Humboldt Viking and UT Volunteer Toby Champion had nine of his friends come to Humboldt for a football camp at the HJSHS football field. About 40 kids participated from various towns at the all day camp on Saturday. Those running the camp were (front row from left) former University of Tennessee players Bobby Graham, Corey Larkins, Travis Stephens and Herman Lathers; (back row) Toby Champion, Eric Westmoreland, George Kidd, Fred White, John Finlayson and Eddie Moore.
Humboldt memorializes Professor Stigall
History was made in Humboldt when August 5 was proclaimed as Thomas Marion Stigall Day. A dedication ceremony was held at Stigall Primary School that included the unveiling of a portrait of the famed Humboldt educator. Humboldt alderman and school board member, Leon McNeal, spearheaded the dedication ceremony with assistance from Humboldt superintendent of schools, Dr. Versie Hamlett, and Tom & O.E. Stigall Ethnic Library and History Museum board members, Johnny Cyrus and Jerry Marable. The school library was packed with dozens of former Stigallites, elected officials (both aldermen and school board), school representatives, Humboldt citizens and Stigall supporters attending the dedication ceremony.
Chuck McGill Highway
A three and a half mile stretch of Hwy. 186 in Madison and Gibson counties has been memorialized, honoring one of the area’s favorite musicians. The Chuck McGill Memorial Highway became reality and McGill’s legacy will be etched in history. A dedication ceremony was held September 9 at Pine Hill Park in Three Way, Tenn. McGill’s wife, Paula Bridges McGill, along with daughters Katie and Emily, wanted to do something in his honor. After talking with several friends, renaming a section of Hwy. 186 seemed fitting. Through the help of friends, Tennessee Department of Transportation was contacted regarding memorializing the stretch of Hwy 186. State Senator Ed Jackson led the charge and enlisted State Representative Jimmy Eldridge from Madison County, along with State Senator John Stephens and State Representative Curtis Halford from Gibson County to assist. Senator Jackson brought the name change to the Senate floor earlier this year and got approval.
Publisher April Jackson retires
April Garner Jackson retired as publisher/editor of the Humboldt Chronicle and Tri-City Reporter, the newspapers. Jackson has been with the Tri-City Reporter in varying roles since 1996. She has been with the Chronicle on and off since the early 1980s. She first began writing for newspapers at a young age, beginning with the Trenton Gazette in 1973 as a senior at Peabody High School.
Winery under new ownership
Humboldt’s most famous beauty queen, former Miss Tennessee Rita Howard, is no longer the queen of Crown Winery. The Humboldt winery and vineyard have new owners. Scott and Dawn Fallert, and Andy and Christine Horner purchased Crown Winery and HRH Vineyard on September 22. They are excited about continuing the winery’s success and building it up to be even more successful.
State ranks Humboldt schools exemplary
On Friday, October 20, the Department of Education announced annual accountability determinations to school districts that reflect performance and growth. “For the 2016-17 school year, the final accountability determinations for Humboldt City Schools are as follows: Achievement Status – ‘Achieving’, and Subgroup Status – ‘Exemplary’ with a Final Determination for HCS as ‘Exemplary’,” Dr. Hamlett proudly announced. The Department of Education ranks its findings in five classifications. Exemplary is the highest rating followed by Achieving, Progressing, In Need of Improvement and In Process.
Wade named editor
Longtime newspaperman, Danny Wade, was named editor of the Humboldt Chronicle. Victor Parkins, owner of The Chronicle’s parent company, Gibson County Publishing, made the announcement. Wade has decades of experience in the newspaper field. With the retirement of editor/publisher April Jackson last week, Wade has assumed duties as editor. “I’m honored to be named editor of the Humboldt Chronicle,” Wade said of his promotion. “Our readers will notice little change, if any, with April’s retirement.”