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A Look Back at 2023’s Top Stories Continues

As Perry County settles in to the routines of 2024, the Buffalo River Review will continue to share over the next couple of weeks excerpts from some favorite stories and photos from 2023.
July 2023
Thanks to a state grant secured by Circuit Court Judge Michael Spitzer, the 32nd Judicial District—Perry, Lewis, and Hickman counties—will have its own Mental Health Court.
The full-funded grant (no local match) totals $103,991 in a one-time allocation, with no guarantee of renewal, though officials are hopeful that if the court is successful, the grant will be renewed. If not, the counties in the 32nd District are not obligated to fund the court.
The state selected Lewis County government to administer the funds which are being distributed by the Department of Mental Health & Substance Services.
Judge Spitzer said, “The purpose of a Mental Health Court is to provide safe and effective treatment and supervision to eligible defendants, as opposed to the local jail or prison. Being able to identify such people will decrease the burden on the criminal justice system and local jails.”
Perry County Sheriff Nick Weems was pleased to learn about the development, telling the Review, “I’m glad the state is doing something. Mental health care is horrible in Tennessee.”
County Mayor John Carroll said the 32nd Judicial District “will benefit” from the new court, and he was “happy to hear about the funding.”
July 2023
The Perry County Commission, in an eight to three vote on Monday, July 17, 2023, approved the 2023-2024 budget with no property tax increase, but drew just over a million dollars from fund surplus to help complete utilities extension and cover the cost of pay raises for Sheriff’s officers.
The property tax was set at $2.2964 per $100 of assessed value—but a slight adjustment was made in the distribution: county general will still receive the lion’s share, $1.3612, but the amount of the tax levy going to Perry County Schools was reduced by almost two cents to 0.5721 cents, with the 0.0184 cent cut going to solid waste, 0.3631 cents.
Before Monday night’s action, the county had roughly $4 million in unused fund balance.
The $1 million taken from those reserves includes:
–$400,000 each to the City of Lobelville and Town of Linden to complete utilities extensions;
–$220,595 in additional money to the Sheriff’s Office for hourly pay increases.
August 2023
Not only has the Perry County Sheriff’s Office been awarded a $300,000 grant to fully-fund five School Resource Officer positions for the 2023-24 academic year, but the funds have already been deposited, according to Sheriff Nick Weems.
The Sheriff’s Office applied for the funding earlier this summer, and anticipated approval, but at the July meeting of the Perry County Budget Committee in July, the okay had not yet been received when the committee—and later that same evening—the full Commission approved covering the SRO salaries out of the county fund balance with hopes that the grant would come through.
Perry County has one SRO each at Linden Elementary, Linden Middle, and PCHS. At Lobelville School, two SROs are because of the seventeen miles’ distance and longer response time from the Sheriff’s Office.
August 2023
During the 2023 TNSTRONG Youth Summit, June 4-6, teens from across Tennessee—including Perry County’s Sasha Moore—gathered in Chattanooga to have the opportunity to learn from leading tobacco prevention experts as well as network with like-minded peers.
The goal was for participants to depart feeling fueled and equipped to reach peers and adults in the continuing effort to protect people from the harmful effects of tobacco use.
Over the three-day summit, youth had the opportunity to participate in a poster contest to showcase the impact of tobacco products, prevention, advocacy, policy, and community activities has on our state.
August 2023
Better foot care and mental conditioning, coupled with experience, made it possible for Jarrod Richardson to complete last month’s grueling 314-mile Vol State walk across Tennessee, but it was the memory of a life tragically cut short that kept him going.
For the second time in four years, Jarrod disembarked from a ferry on this side of the Mississippi River, opposite the starting point of Dorena Landing, Missouri, and began this long journey that would end at The Rock atop Sand Mountain in northern Georgia.
Among the highlights of his trip, Jarrod said making it to the Bench of Despair in Culleoka was important because it marked being well beyond halfway, and crossing the beautiful Blue Bridge in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, is considered “the beginning of the end,” the home stretch of the journey, about a dozen or so miles from The Rock finish line.
Jarrod also spoke fondly of all the new friends he made along the way, such as Carmel Reed. The two met the day before the race, then discovered they had a similar pace and goals.
That camaraderie was important: “We stayed together the entire race. I really don’t know if I would have made it if we hadn’t been together.”
But when he did reach the top of Sand Mountain?
“I felt accomplished. I did it. I reached a longtime goal for me.”
September 2023
The Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal is an expression of appreciation from the South Korean Government to U.S. servicemen and women to honor them for their sacrifice and service in Korea during the “Forgotten War.”
On September 18, 2023, Dan Riley, Perry County Veterans Service Officer and member of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 1123, posthumously presented to the family of the late J.T. Craig, wife Patricia, and daughter Kay, the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal. Mr. Craig, a Perry County native, served in the U.S. Army, 1950 to 1952 as a Radio Repairman. ‘
September 2023
The State Fair Hay and Field Crops Contests are “in the bag,” and Perry County producers filled the bag full to make this contest another record-breaking contest year.
A total of 1,346 statewide entries were received at the fair. Field Crops had a whopping 711 entries and Hay had 635.
Perry County was well represented with 59 entries.
In the Warm-Season Perennial Grass Round Bale lot, Top 10 Perry County producers are Tim Byrd (second place), Craig Byrd (third), Robbie Tucker (seventh), and Jackie Byrd (eighth).
In the Warm-Season Perennial Grass Round Bale lot, Top 10 Perry County producers are Will Southall (fifth) and Mike Southall (tenth).
September 2023
Visitor spending in Perry County jumped from $4.6 million in 2020 (during the pandemic) to $6.5 million just two years later, according to figures released this week by Tourism Economics.
Governor Bill Lee and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell made the announcement at Hospitality TN’s Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism in Knoxville that ………………………


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