The stories that touched White County most in 2016

By | December 29, 2016 6:18 am

The stories that generated the most interest in 2016 were marked by loss of life, whether life seemingly taken too soon, or by force of murder.

The controversy surrounding a law enforcement officer’s arrest, and the privatization of a beloved local state park also enflamed readers, who have shared the stories across social media.

The top 10 stories this year are:

(10) June 9: Alley hires attorney to handle issues with Calfkiller Brewing Company

Andy Alley, former county commissioner and a resident of the Blue Springs community who passed away a few months ago, appeared at a meeting of the White County Beer Board with his attorney to voice complaints about Calfkiller Brewing Company, which is located adjacent to his residence.

Don Sergio and Dave Sergio, owners of Calfkiller Brewing Co., had applied for an on-and-off-premises permit, but unforeseen delays had caused the beer board meeting to be rescheduled several times.

John Meadows, attorney for White County, said Alley wanted to oppose the beer permit because of a potential traffic hazard from the increased business at the location.

The board advised Don and Dave Sergio to resubmit their application with the correct distance from the Alley property line to be discussed at the next meeting of the board.

(9) April 15: Pedestrian struck by truck on Country Club Road

At approximately 4:38 a.m. on April 15, Sparta-White County Rescue Squad, White County Sheriff Department, South Group fire personnel, and White County Emergency Medical Services were dispatched to the area of 2303 Country Club Road for a motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian. A male subject, later identified at Nicholas Culver, was reportedly run over by a pickup truck. The incident was being described as a hit and run. A BOLO (be on the lookout) was issued for a yellow Dodge truck, with Dekalb County registration. The truck was later located in Doyle, and two suspects were later arrested for their alleged involvement in the case.

(8) Nov. 3: Emergency services personnel respond to multiple-vehicle crash on Hwy 111

At approximately 9:40 a.m., South Group fire personnel, Sparta Police Department, White County Sheriff Department, Sparta-White County Rescue Squad and White County Emergency Medical Services responded to a multiple vehicle crash involving an 18-wheeler on Highway 111 near the intersection of Winding Lane. Multiple patients were transported by EMS for medical treatment for injuries suffered in the crash. Teresa Rains, 47, of Doyle, was later pronounced deceased due to injuries suffered in the crash.

(7) Jan. 6: Former police lieutenant indicted

A former Sparta Police Department lieutenant Robert Eugene Hall, 68, of Sparta, was arrested on an indictment issued Jan. 4, 2016, by the White County Grand Jury.

He was charged with theft of property ($60,000-$250,000); theft of property ($60,000-$250,000 conspiracy) and forgery (two counts).

According to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, investigators with the Special Investigation Unit of the State of Tennessee Comptroller’s Office began to investigate allegations of theft committed over a period of time spanning from January 2007 through December 2013, by Robert Hall, a former Sparta police officer, and Gary Bradley, a deputy with Washington County Sheriff Department. The victim of the theft was Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Officers Association, a non-profit corporation. Both men were officers of the corporation during that time period.

(6) Dec. 19: Fall Creek Falls privatization moving forward despite public outcry

It’s not been a popular topic with Van Buren County residents, but the state’s plan for the privatization of Fall Creek Falls State Park is officially moving forward, with a request for proposals posted on the state’s website ( on Dec. 14.

The RFP is for a concession contract for the redevelopment and operation of hospitality facilities at the park. Those facilities include the inn, restaurant, gift shop, conference space, cabins and golf course, according to the RFP.

(5) July 19: Possible juvenile drowning at Cane Hollow

Sparta-White County Rescue Squad, White County Emergency Medical Services, White County Sheriff Department and Cassville Volunteer Fire Department have been dispatched to Cane Hollow Road, where a juvenile has reportedly gone under the water, and has been under for at least 10 minutes. The juvenile was later recovered by Rescue Squad personnel.

(4) May 12: SkyAnn Wilson: The death of a rodeo princess

Dresden Police Department released details on the automobile crash that took the life of 18-year-old White County High School senior SkyAnn Rebecca Wilson, who had been in town for one of her many rodeo compeitions.

According to the crash report, the incident occurred at approximately 1:05 a.m. on Sunday, May 8. Wilson was traveling north on Highway 22 in a 2016 Ford F-350, when her vehicle traveled off the west side of the road. The reports states that the driver side front of the vehicle impacted with a curb, hit a tree, then came to final rest on a curb.

Investigating officer Tyler Verner, of Dresden Police Department, says the department believes Wilson fell asleep while driving.

Wilson was wearing her seatbelt.

Wilson and her juvenile passenger were both transported by LifeFlight medical helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where Wilson passed away.

(3) April 28: Lisa K. Young found guilty of murder

According to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, a jury found Lisa K. Young, 44 of Sparta, guilty in the Feb. 2014 murder of Jill Farley, of Cookeville.

Assistant District Attorney General Bruce MacLeod says Young was found guilty of first degree premeditated murder, second degree murder and aggravated assault. She was given a mandatory life sentence for the first degree murder charge, and fined $50,000 for the first degree murder charge, $50,000 for the second degree murder charge and $10,000 for the aggravated assault charge. She will be sentenced for the assault charge on June 3.

Young was the third person arrested in connection with the incident, and the second court case to be resolved.

(2) April 14: KoltLee Whitson deceased following pursuit with White County deputies

A Sparta man is deceased following a pursuit with White County Sheriff Department deputies, in which officers state the suspect, Koltlee Whitson, 26, shot at them when they attempted to conduct a traffic stop on his vehicle on April 13, 2016.

According to a press release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the incident began at approximately 3:30 p.m. within the city limits of Sparta.

WCSD deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Whitson’s Chevrolet vehicle for a reported outstanding warrant out of Putnam County. Whitson’s vehicle was reportedly first located on Highway 111 South, turning onto Bockman Way.

Whitson then reportedly gave chase as officers approached, traveling north on Churchill Drive, turning onto North Spring Street, and then north on Roberts Matthews Highway.

During the course of the 13-mile pursuit, pursuing officers state that Whitson fired shots at them from his vehicle with a handgun.

Whitson then drove to an area near his parents’ farm, on Post Oak Bridge Road, and reportedly turned his vehicle around.

TBI’s press release states, “A deputy exited his vehicle in an attempt to stop Whitson, after which Whitson pointed a handgun at the deputy. The deputy fired upon Whitson as he drove by him. Whitson continued to drive a short distance away to the intersection of Post Oak Bridge and Walnut Grove Road, where he rammed the truck into an unmarked police vehicle before coming to a stop after leaving the roadway.”

White County Emergency Medical Services was dispatched to the scene, and according to TBI, the emergency responders found that Whitson had suffered at least two gunshot wounds.

EMS then transported Whitson to the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport, where a Life Force medical helicopter transported him to Erlanger Hospital, in Chattanooga.

Whitson reportedly passed away in the early morning hours of April 14, 2016, according to family members.

(1) April 19: Johnny Moore killed in Crossville highway crash

A two-vehicle crash on Crossville Highway, at approximately 5:25 a.m. on April 19, took the life of a Crossville man, according to the investigating officer of the crash, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper David Hickey.

Hickey reported that the front of a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 truck, driven by Johnny Samuel Moore, of Crossville, impacted with the side of a 2010 commercial semi truck driven by William Michael Knoer. Moore’s vehicle then continued down the side of Knoer’s truck and into the trailer.

Moore passed away. His passenger, Connie Gail Batey, was treated for very serious injuries.

Sparta-White County Rescue Squad, BonDeCroft Volunteer Fire Department, Eastland Volunteer Fire Department, White County Sheriff Department and White County Emergency Medical Services were dispatched to the scene. A Life Force Medical Helicopter also responded to transport a patient to Erlanger for medical treatment. A Life Star medical helicopter responded to transport the second patient to UT Knoxville for treatment.

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