Year in Review, 2017

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

GIBSON COUNTY WELCOMES TYSON – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Doug Ramsey, group president of Poultry for Tyson Foods (upper photo; center, left and right respectively) are joined by several elected officials and Tyson Foods representatives during Monday morning’s announcement of Tyson coming to the Gibson County Industrial Park. Over 1,500 jobs are expected once the poultry plant is operating.

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

SHAQ AND THE MAYOR – NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal was the keynote speaker Saturday evening at the Vikings Athletic Gala held at Oman Arena in Jackson. Toward the end of the program, Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes joined O’Neal on stage where he presented him with a key to the city.

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

FAMILY CELEBRATION – Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes (back, center) had plenty of support from his family last Tuesday night as election returns were coming in. Sikes hosted an election night get-together attended by dozens and dozens of his supporters. His family celebrates shortly after it was announcd Sikes had won his re-election bid as mayor of Humboldt.

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.

ALL ACADEMIC TEAM – Every senior on the Vikings’ squad was named to the All-Academic team. They are (from left) manager Trey Reid, players Jarred Walker, Kortland Martin, Devonte Bennett, Carlton Childs and Izaya Brown.

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.

DISTRICT CHAMPS – The Humboldt Vikings proudly display their District 14A championship plaque at the Elam Center at UT Martin. The Vikings were 71-68 winners over Union City to claim their first district title in four years.

Fisher named WTSF Honoree

FESTIVAL HONOREE – West Tennessee Strawberry Festival president, Ashley Culpepper (right) and general chairman, Melissa Swingler (left) proudly announce Rick Fisher as honoree of the 80th annual Strawberry festival. Fisher has been the festival official photographer for decades. He holds a copy of the magazine with Territorial Queen Fran Harper on the cover, his first festival queen to photograph.

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

CHAMBER DIRECTOR – Humboldt Chamber of Commerce’s Lee Williams is leaving his position as executive director and will be moving to Fort Worth, Tex. to work with an engineering firm. Williams is also on the school board and will vacate his seat, leaving two important positions to fill.

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

Kenneth Price Jr. is wanted by Humboldt police for attempted first degree murder.

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

NEW BOARD MEMBER – Humboldt alderman, Bob Pruett (left), congratulated Wayne McLemore after the city board voted 4-1 to appoint McLemore to fill the vacant seat on the school board. Lee Williams held the school board seat but resigned after he accepted a job in Fort Worth, Tex. McLemore will serve the rest of this year until a new school board member is elected in November, who will serve the remaining two years of the unexpired term Williams vacated.

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

E.H. “Gibby” Gibson Jr.

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

HOSTESS PRINCESS – Hadley Lindsey was selected to reign over the 81st Strawberry Festival as Hostess Princess. She is the daughter of Brad and Kristie Lindsey. The Hostess Princess court are (from left) 4th Maid Mattie Harris, daughter of Shane and Jennifer Harris; 2nd Maid Amanda Simmons, daughter of James and Angela Simmons; (Hostess Princess Hadley); 1st Maid Logan Cloud, daughter of Chuck and Christie Cloud; and 3rd Maid Camryn Brown, daughter of Jeff and Amy Brown.

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

PROCLAMATION – During a reception last Thursday for April Jackson, retiring publisher/editor of the Humboldt Chronicle, Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes read a proclamation stating October 19 as April Garner Jackson Day in Humboldt. Dozens of Jackson’s friends and family attended the reception in her honor. Jackson has worked in the newspaper industry since her high school days at Peabody. During her career, at one time or another, Jackson worked at every newspaper in Gibson County.

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

CHEERS – Crown Winery’s new owners Scott and Dawn Fallert (left), and Andy and Christine Horner (right) along with previous owner Rita Howard (center) raise a toast to new beginnings and continued success. The two couples purchased the vineyard and winery last month.

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.”

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