Remembering The Year Past

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Editor’s note: Today, The DAILY LEADERbegins a series of stories recapping the year past. Today’s featurecovers the first quarter of 2011. 


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    The year began quickly as the statewide and local elections wereset in motion, the courts continued to pursue cases from theprevious year and the mystery of a three-year old disappearance wassolved.


    January saw many big events from the beginning of elections to theopening of new King’s Daughters Medical Center facilities and a newheadmaster stepping in at Brookhaven Academy. Officials facedtrials and two murder cases were wrapped up.

    Elections took off at a fast pace. The first Monday marked theopening day of qualifying for local races, and, within one hour, 12officials had already signed up. Among the 12 were foursupervisors, both constables, the sheriff, coroner and one justicecourt judge, along with one tax office candidate and two supervisorchallengers.

    By Jan. 5, the Secretary of State delivered three ballotinitiatives to lawmakers. After acquiring the necessary number ofsignatures, the voter ID, personhood and eminent domain initiativesreached referendum status.

    Wrapping up January, Cindy Hyde-Smith announced she would berunning for the office of the Commissioner of Agriculture andCommerce. At the time, she served as District 39’s senator,covering all of Lincoln and Lawrence counties and some of SimpsonCounty.

    Meanwhile, the court system was busy with trial proceedings. Theoriginal embezzlement indictment of Terry Lynn Watkins, LincolnCounty circuit clerk, was thrown out due to ambiguity in thewording. The case went back before the grand jury.

    TyQwan L. Berry, 21, of 100 Fred Walley Drive, was sentenced to 30years in prison after entering a guilty plea on the charges ofmanslaughter and conspiracy to commit capital murder in the 2009death of James Braswell.

    The Hammond case wrapped up in January when 22-year-old DrewHammond was convicted of manslaughter in the case of William”Bubba” Thompson, 45. The state argued the crime was committeddeliberately and pushed for a murder charge. The defense argued itwas a case of self-defense. The jury rejected both scenarios andchose a middle charge. He was sentenced to a 20-year prison term,with 10 years suspended and five years of post-releasesupervision.

    Throughout the month, the community welcomed several changes. Thenew KDMC Medical Clinic, built near Wal-Mart, replaced the QuickCare Clinic to meet primary care needs in the area. The new fitnessfacility opened on Jan. 6 after a $750,000 renovation. In the firstweek of opening, the fitness center had added 50 new members.Finally, BA welcomed Mike Sumlin as headmaster. He had previouslyspent 15 years in Mississippi private schools.


    February brought around harsh winter weather, court proceedings,campaign additions, along with a leadership change in theBrookhaven School District. It also brought closure to a three-yearold missing person case.

    Virginia Ratliff’s remains were found in Jefferson County. Ratliff,who suffered dementia, was found near her lost vehicle more than300 feet west of the intersection of Highway 28 and Highway 33. InFebruary 2008, she had left her home in Brookhaven to meet herhusband in Jackson, and she was never seen again.

    The month began with a series of cold weather systems, whichaffected the community greatly. Dropping temperatures andprecipitation mixed to create dangerous icy conditions causingschools to cancel classes and officials warning drivers to avoidthe roads. The colder-than-usual temperatures caused the board ofaldermen to amend the policy on paying employees during inclementweather. It was decided that nonessential workers, who do not workin times of bad weather, would still be paid, while essentialemployees, who are required to maintain the city, would getadditional vacation time.

    The cold weather did not, however, stop more election campaignsfrom starting. Bill Boerner, Sally Doty and Michael Smith announcedtheir candidacies for the Senate District 39 position. TillmonBishop, Lincoln County chancery clerk, announced his campaign forre-election but switched his political affiliation from Democraticto Republican.

    After announcing her plans for re-election, Watkins was indictedfor a second time for 14 counts of embezzlement from the circuitclerk’s office.

    February ended a lot gentler than it began as Brookhaven SchoolDistrict Superintendent Lea Barrett held her last school boardmeeting before retiring. Lisa Karmacharya took over the position atthe beginning of March.


    March was a busy time for the court system as two indictments werehanded down along with one guilty verdict. The 2011 electioncontinued to evolve and, two new facilities opened inBrookhaven.

    Robert M. Wilcher, 21, of 619 North Laura St., was indicted for onecount of murder in the case of Domanic Richardson’s death during anincident in Cloverdale.

    In other court-related news, Ahmad R. Butler, 22, of 920 ChippewaSt., was indicted on escape and murder charges. He was alleged tohave escaped the Lincoln County Jail in September and was believedto have been involved in the earlier death of Anthony Nichols.Justin Barron was found guilty of the murder of Matthew AlanMiller, his stepfather. The shooting occurred when Barronintervened in an argument between Miller and Barron’s mother.

    The first day of March was the deadline for qualifying for theyear’s local elections. This showed two incumbents would bestepping down. Nancy Jordan, Lincoln County tax assessor/collector,decided to retire after 26 years in the tax office. Post TwoLincoln County Justice Court Judge Ann Reeves chose not to run forre-election after serving one term.

    Mid-March, the Temple B’nai Shalom in Brookhaven was reopened asthe Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society and JewishHeritage Museum. The 115-year-old building holds photographs ofearly Brookhaven as well as Jewish artifacts from the templeitself.

    March closed with the opening of the new Brookhaven Sports Medicineand Orthopaedic Clinic. The clinic welcomed Dr. John Turba as afull-time orthopaedic surgeon.