#10 Wells Elected County Executive
Former 12th District County Commissioner Herschel Wells Sr., became Warren County’s newest county executive when he handily defeated Republican foe John Shields and a field of independents.
Wells finished with 4,546 votes, more than double the 2,119 votes accumulated by Shields.
Butch Bullen, who publically pulled out of the race but was kept on the ballot, managed 608 votes to finish third.
Wells advanced to the general election by emerging victorious over Kenneth Rogers and other candidates in the Democratic Primary in May.
Wells replaces two-term County Executive John Pelham, who chose not to seek a third term. Pelham has returned to private business.
With his election, Wells is overseeing a 24-member Warren County Commission which has 10 new members.
#9 Deputy Injured in high speed chase
A fugitive faces 30 years in prison after he intentionally slammed into a pursuing deputy during a high-speed chase near Viola in November.
The fugitive, Steffen Matthew Brady, faces a lengthy list of charges, including felony assault and evading arrest for crashing into deputy Billy Joe Crouch during the chase. Brady’s passenger, Tammy Crusinberry, entered a guilty plea to lesser charges in December and was given 12 days in jail.
Brady refused to pull over on Post Road when lawmen tried to stop him. Both he and Crusinberry had outstanding warrants against them. Brady then led officers on a high-speed chase down Viola Highway and into neighboring Grundy County before doing a U-turn and again returning to Warren County.
A roadblock was set up just outside Viola but he was able to evade it by veering into a bean field. Deputy Crouch was trying to pull around Brady to conduct a rolling roadblock when the fugitive slammed into the deputy’s SUV, causing it to roll over. The fugitives were caught about a mile down the road.
In addition to charges coming from the wreck, Brady faces charges for operating a meth lab at Green Acres Apartments. Their residence had been raided just a week before the high-speed chase. Crouch, while back on duty, remains under the care of a doctor due to the concussion he suffered in the crash.
#8 Candidate Gore indicted for fraud
A local candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives was indicted for defrauding a local business and then stealing the identity of a lawmaker he once worked for.
The candidate, Kristopher Gore, 26, claimed on state financial records to have raised $51,000 for his campaign for the office of 43rd District State Representative, an office that serves White, Grundy and a large part of Warren County. Gore was seeking the Democratic nomination for the 43rd District, a nomination that was won by the eventual winner of the seat, Kevin Dunlap.
Gore’s candidacy was crushed before it got started after allegations were made he had committed two crimes, both involving fraud.
In June, Gore was hit with identity theft charges for allegedly using information taken from state Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston. Gore, prior to announcing his candidacy for the local office, had worked for Windle.
Investigators say Gore used the stolen information to try to get credit on a truck from Edd Rogers in the amount of $46,800. Gore worked at Edd Rogers at the time. His attempt at stealing the state lawmaker’s identity was caught by the Special Identity Crimes unit that is part of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, as Homeland Security was moving in on the candidate, the TBI, at the request of District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis, was looking into fraud that Gore allegedly perpetrated against other local businesses, namely Custom Vinyl Signs and Collins River BBQ. Gore is accused of passing over $15,000 worth of bad checks at Custom Vinyl for campaign signs.
The TBI says he did more than just pass bad checks. He also showed a forged document to the owner of Custom Vinyl to convince her he had money in the bank to cover the bill for his signs. Investigators say Gore made up the document. Gore also passed a bad check for BBQ at Collins River BBQ for one of his fundraisers.
Gore will face trial in March.
#7 School begins new major building projects
Warren County Commission members voted in August to spend $4.9 million in building improvements to Irving College School, Warren County High School and Bobby Ray Elementary.
The building projects have already met their share of challenges and construction hasn’t even begun.
Of the $4.9 million, Irving College is set to receive a $3 million expansion. However, what was expected to be eight new classrooms has already been trimmed to two classrooms and a new gym. The school system’s attempt to buy additional land for school expansion was stopped when an adjacent property owner asked too much in price.
Bobby Ray’s gymnasium is expected to receive an $800,000 upgrade in a project where attention has already turned to cost. The architect has described the gym renovation as the most challenging project of his career.
Warren County High School is set to receive a $1.1 million athletic center which includes an indoor, 40-yard practice facility. The addition is being touted as a wellness facility.
The building projects are the most significant undertaken by the school system since a new school was built in Morrison and a massive addition was added at Dibrell three years ago.
Preliminary designs for the three projects have already been submitted to the Warren County Board of Education.
#6 New business locates in Warren County
The Industrial Development Board announced in January that Warren County had landed a new manufacturing employer in Michigan-based DN Plastics.
The company, started in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1998, is a tier 2 automotive supplier that produces plastic resin and synthetic fiber components. One of its major customers is VIAM Manufacturing in Manchester.
The announcement was touted as a major win for Warren County in its quest to bring new jobs to the area. The new plant fits right in with Middle Tennessee’s already thriving automotive industry.
Much of 2014 was spent constructing DN Plastic’s 110,000-square-foot facility on Manchester Highway in Morrison. The company received its certificate of occupancy in October and has been working since that time to test equipment and get its first production line operational with a handful of employees.
The Industrial Development Board worked to borrow $1.2 million for the building, an amount which will be paid back by DN Plastics over the course of its lease. Per that lease agreement, DN Plastics is to have 25 employees by its first year of operation, which will be December 2015.