The Herald Citizen

Posted September 22, 2015 at 7:21 pm

The Wayne County Board of Education met in special session on Thursday, September 10 and approved a 1.6 cent tax increase on real and personal property.

The board set the tax rate for real and personal property at 44.5 cents per hundred dollars assessed value.

The rate last year was 42.9 cents.

A public hearing regarding the four percent tax increase was held prior to the special meeting.


A new flag was raised over Conley Bottom Resort on Thursday, September 10, as it became the first “Clean Marina” on Lake Cumberland. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with local officials, attended the ceremony recognizing the designation.

It’s all part of the effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to recognize and support marina operators and owners who voluntarily strive to protect the waters of the Cumberland River Basin and going “clean and green.” Conley Bottom Resort becomes only the eighth marina in the Cumberland River Basin watershed that has received the certification of “Clean Marina.”

The Cumberland River Basin Clean Marina Partnership is a voluntary program implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and its watershed partners to promote environmentally responsible marina and boating practices. This program, established in support of the National Clean Boating Campaign, helps marina operators protect the very resource that provides them with their livelihood: clean water.

It is designed as an ongoing program to reduce water pollution and erosion in the Cumberland River watershed. The effort encourages boater education, coordination among state agencies and better communication of existing laws, and offers incentives for creative and proactive marina operators.

The program has established a list of seven management measures that are identified as priorities in order for the marina to fly the flag of a “Clean Marina.” These criteria include sewage management; fuel control; solid waste, petroleum recycling and disposal; vessel operation, maintenance, and repair; marina sitting, design, and maintenance; storm water management and erosion control; and public education.

The steps to becoming a designated Clean Marina are straightforward, beginning with a pledge, which is a commitment to controlling pollution and erosion at their facility and promoting water-protective behavior with the boating public.

The benefits of achieving “Clean Marina” designation are many. By participating, marinas demonstrate their commitment to addressing water quality issues.

Wendy Askins, the former director of the Upper Cumberland Development District who was indicted nearly two years ago on various federal and state charges, was scheduled to change her plea last Monday afternoon, September 14 in federal court.

But late Friday, Aleta A. Trauger, the federal judge hearing the case, abruptly granted Askins’ motion to continue the trial–but the documents detailing the motion and reasons behind it are sealed.

“The docket speaks for itself,” Keith Throckmorton, court clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, told the Herald-Citizen Monday morning, September 14. “The judge granted the motion and that’s all I can say.”

This is the fourth time the trial has been delayed since Askins was indicted in late September 2013. No reset date has been set as of press time.

Askins was indicted on numerous federal offenses–from theft and conversion of government property in excess of $1,000, bank fraud and money laundering–all surrounding the property formerly known as Living the Dream.

Askins, along with her former deputy director Larry Webb, are accused of creating a scheme from February 2010 to February 2012 to convert more than $670,000 of government funds intended for UCDD and its related agencies for the use of the property, which was owned by Askins and Webb.

Webb pled guilty to the bank fraud charge last month and is to be sentenced in November. As part of the plea agreement, he would testify against Askins if the case were to go to trial.

Askins was also indicted on a number of state charges shortly after the federal indictments were handed down, including theft of over $60,000, money laundering and forgery brought forward by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with the Office of the Attorney General and Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

The state’s next court date in this case is January 25, 2016 in Putnam County criminal court.


Three different law enforcement agencies apprehended three different felony fugitives in Putnam County over the weekend, including a Georgia man convicted for child molestation and threats of acts of terrorism.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested James Willis Pharis, 41, of Cataula, Georgia., when the fugitive came through a sobriety checkpoint on highway 56 near Baxter on Friday night, September 11.

In addition, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department arrested Amber Frady, 25, of Baxter, and the Cookeville Police Department arrested Jonathan Lee Willis, 29, of Newport, North Carolina.

Both of those arrests were made on Sunday, September 13.

According to warrants filed by the THP, Pharis was arrested at the sobriety checkpoint on Friday after troopers could smell an odor associated with an alcoholic beverage.

Sgt. Dwaine Jennings reports that Pharis was requested to step out of his vehicle so a series of field sobriety tasks could be administered, and the man complied.

A total of four tasks were administered, and Pharis reportedly failed to complete them satisfactorily.

“The subject was unsteady on his feet and had red, watery eyes,” Sgt. Jennings reported.

Pharis was advised of the implied consent law, and he agreed to submit to a blood test to determine the levels of possible intoxicant present in his system.

A check for warrants on the man found he had a first offense of driving under the influence in Georgia last year.

In addition, it was discovered that he was wanted in that state for failure to register as a sex offender after being convicted of child molestation.

“The subject was also charged and sentenced on charges of terroristic threats and acts,” according to the warrants on file.

He reportedly fled the state of Georgia to try to avoid prosecution for failing to include his information on the sex offender registry, making him a felony fugitive from justice.

A communications officer from the Harris County Sheriff’s Department reported to THP that the Georgia agency would be willing to extradite.

Pharis was being held in the Putnam County Jail and was expected to be in general sessions court on Monday, September 14 to begin the extradition process.

He is also charged with DUI, and his bond was set at $2,000 for that charge. He is scheduled to appear on that charge December 18.

In addition, Lt. Pat Storie and other deputies from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department apprehended Frady on Sunday, September 13.

Frady, of Baxter, is wanted in Polk County, Florida on charges of fraudulently using an identification, forgery, and giving a false name to law enforcement.

A communications officer from the Polk County Sheriff’s Department said they would be willing to extradite.

Frady was taken to the Putnam County Jail, and she was expected to appear in general sessions court on Monday, September 14 to begin the extradition process.

Officer Chris Lynn responded to a Scenic Drive location Sunday night, September 13 on a report that Willis, who was reportedly wanted in North Carolina, was at that address.

“I arrived in the area and made contact with a male, who identified himself to me as Jonathan Willis,” Officer Lynn reports.

A warrants check revealed that Willis was wanted on a felony violation of probation for previous drug charges.

Officer Lynn transported Willis to the Putnam County Jail, where he and the other felony fugitives recently arrested was to be held until other agencies arrive to take custody.

Willis was also to be in Putnam General Sessions Court on Monday, September 14 to begin the extradition process.