Lebanon Police Department announced Thursday it will join nearly 10,000 other law enforcement agencies nationwide in support of an intensive crackdown on impaired driving Sept. 1-5, known as Labor Day High Visibility Enforcement.
The problem of impaired driving is a serious one. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the number of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in America fell from 2008 to 2009, but the numbers are still too high.
In 2009 alone, 10,839 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was at or above the legal limit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The age group with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes was the 21-to-24 age group.
All too often, innocent, law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences and the loss of loved ones due to this careless disregard for human life. Because were committed to ending the carnage, were intensifying enforcement during the crackdown. Since twice as many alcohol-impaired accidents occur over the weekend and four times as many occur at night, we will be especially vigilant during these high-risk times when impaired drivers are most likely to be on our roads, said Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen.
Across the country, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher. According to the latest data, nearly a third of fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a BAC above the legal limit an average of one fatality every 48 minutes.
The crackdown will include law enforcement officers in every state, Washington, D.C., and many U.S. cities and towns.
LPDs Bowen said officers will be aggressively looking for all impaired drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone they find driving while impaired regardless of age, vehicle type or time of day. The Department will be conducting impaired driver saturations through out the Labor Day holiday weekend and will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint on Friday, Sept. 2, on Highway 70 in Lebanon.
Our message is simple and unwavering: if we find you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions, Bowen said. Even if you beat the odds and manage to walk away from an impaired-driving crash alive, the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can still destroy your life.
According to the LPD, violators often face jail time, loss of their driver licenses, or being sentenced to use ignition interlocks. Their insurance rates go up. Other financial hits include attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of job or job prospects.
When family, friends and co-workers find out, violators can also face tremendous personal embarrassment and humiliation.
Driving impaired is simply not worth all the consequences. So dont take the chance, the chief added.
Next school year, students at Lebanon High School will walk into the doors of a brand new state-of-the art facility, and plans for the old LHS are calling for a new Wilson County Middle School to alleviate overcrowding at elementary schools and move the county to a unified middle school curriculum, but when that will happen is up in the air.
Mike Davis, director of Wilson County Schools, said that in 2006 the county school system drew up a 10-year Capital Outlay Plan which included building the new LHS and moving students from the old building by the 2012-2013 school year.
Those plans are drawing near to a reality, but Davis indicated the plans for the old high school arent going to happen in the near future. The 2006 Capital Outlay Plan had the old LHS being converted into a county middle school, utilizing the newer portions of the building.
We never intended to put students back into those old sections, Davis said, referring to the original portions of the LHS building constructed in 1952.
Instead, portions of the building constructed in 1972 and 1995 would be utilized as a new middle school and would undergo their own renovations to include various improvements.
Davis said they would have access to the new high school by June 1, 2012 and would be able to start moving a wealth of material from the old school into the new. From desks to chairs, tables, filing cabinets to file servers and more, Davis said the move would take several months and would most likely not be concluded by the start of the school year.
Two months just isnt going to get it done. Well be moving things out of there next year up until the fall, he said.
So where would that leave the old high school? Davis said they plan on tearing down the portions built in 1952 and renovating the grounds and remaining portions of the building. Those demolitions and renovations would cost the county school system about $12 million.
During that process, Davis said all environmental issues, such as asbestos, would be dealt with according to regulations, and most of the areas of the old school that possibly contain asbestos would be demolished. The main portion that he proposed using as the middle school, the front two stories of the building, were already compliant with all regulations.
When all renovations were completed, Davis said they planned on moving sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from Tuckers Crossroads Elementary, Carroll Oakland Elementary and Southside Elementary into the building, filling it with around 700 students.
The move would alleviate overcrowding at those three schools and allow the county to eliminate all temporary classrooms at those schools. Davis said it would also make room for growth at the three schools.
This would be the right thing to do for the students, Davis said, pointing out that Lebanon Special School District recently did the same thing by opening Winfree Bryant Middle School.
The county system already has two middle schools, West Wilson and Mt. Juliet Middle, the latter of which is in the old Mt. Juliet High School. Having all sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in middle schools, Davis said, would allow those students to experience a more advanced curriculum.
Davis said Tuckers, Carroll Oakland and Southside all have small band programs, but by combining those middle school students into the old LHS building, it would make for a larger and better middle school band program.
According to the county schools director, the move would enhance the curriculum because new laws are requiring that teachers be certified in individual subjects for their grades and the curriculum will soon become more advanced for teachers who are only instructing sixth through eighth grades.
Also, the old LHS contains classrooms and especially science labs that would allow those students a chance to have more advanced science lessons.
The student-to-teacher ratio for a middle school is also different than a K-8 school, Davis explained. He said if they moved those students into the old LHS, they would have to hire about 25 teachers.
It would also cost additional funding for personnel and hiring all the people needed to open a new school, Davis said.
While he felt the plan was the right way to go and was positive about its possibilities, he said he didnt think it would happen anytime soon. The school board and Wilson County Commission would be the deciding bodies on when or if the old LHS is used as a middle school.
We need to take some time to gather all of the facts, Davis said.
In the meantime, Davis said there are no plans for Lebanon Highs old campus once the students are moved into the new building across town. He said there wouldnt be any action taken until the school board and county commission decide the best course of action.
By PATRICK HALL, staff writer.
Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In observance of Labor Day, all state and federal offices will be closed on Monday, Sept. 5 for the holiday.
Also, the United States Postal Service will not deliver mail on Monday and all local government offices in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown and all county government offices will be closed as well.
All Wilson County, Lebanon Special School District Schools and Cumberland University will be closed for the holiday.
The Wilson Post will also closed on Monday, but the newspaper office will reopen at 8 a.m., Tuesday.
The staff of The Post wishes you a safe and happy Labor Day holiday weekend.
A Lebanon man on parole for previous drug convictions was arrested Tuesday on federal charges after a multi-jurisdictional investigation involving the Lebanon Police Department, Crossville Police Department, Putnam County Sheriffs Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA.
The suspect, Latone Britton, 31, of 405 South Greenwood in Lebanon, was arrested by narcotics investigators with LPD on Tuesday.
Lebanon officers stopped a vehicle occupied by Britton on Tuesday, a news release from the LPD said. A search conducted by K-9 Officer Kevin Ragland and K-9 Cheyenne reportedly led to the discovery of approximately 7 ounces of powder cocaine, more than $1,000 in cash and a handgun. A subsequent search of a residence in Cookeville led to the discovery of several thousands of dollars in cash, marijuana and cocaine.
Britton is currently on parole for a 2005 cocaine conspiracy conviction and a 2008 cocaine possession conviction, the news release said. The 2008 charge was related to an incident that occurred in October 2006 in which Britton was shot at 215 Jennings Ave., Lebanon. Police said they believe that drugs played a part in the shooting.
These type of dangerous career criminals are the individuals we seek to receive maximum sentences in hopes of reducing violent crime and narcotic sales in our community, said Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen. We feel these types of arrests send a strong message about the overwhelming consequences other repeat offenders could face.
I am very proud of the hard work and dedication of these officers. It is important that we have a strong working relationship with other agencies because it allows us the capability to conduct these multi-jurisdictional investigations. I appreciate the excellent investigative work of all the officers involved. Without this work, police believe that the cocaine recovered was set to be distributed on the streets of Lebanon, Bowen said.
Britton has been federally charged with conspiracy to deliver cocaine and remains in Federal custody. He will face additional charges, including Weapon Possession by a Felon and Career Offender.
Britton faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 40 years in Federal prison for the conspiracy charge and could face an additional 15 years for the Career Offender charge.
From Post staff reports
Two Region 4A heavyweights square off tonight as Gordonsville invades Wilson County to take on Friendship Christian School. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Pirtle Field. Live radio coverage begins at 7 p.m. on 104.1-FM The Ranch.
Friendship (1-1) is coming off a 21-7 victory last week at White House-Heritage, a game that found the Commanders turning the ball over five times.
We had two touchdowns called back and all the turnovers, FCS coach John McNeal said, to come away with a win under those circumstances was a big deal.
Gordonsville (0-1) is coming off a gut-wrenching 15-14 double overtime loss to arch-rival Smith County High -- a game that found the Owls converting a do-or-die two-point conversion at the end of the second overtime.
Gallatin at Lebanon -- Buoyed by the return of several players from the suspended list, look for Gallatin to play with renewed vigor tonight as they take on longtime rival Lebanon High. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Noke-Lasater Field. Live radio coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on WANT FM-98.9. A live video feed is available at www.atwsportscastcom.
Gallatin comes in 2-0 overall / 1-0 in District 9AAA play after downing Springfield 36-20 a week ago. The Green Wave played without starting quarterback Tremaine Smith, but managed to click on all cylinders against the Jackets.
The kids Gallatin didnt have available against Springfield will be back for them Friday, LHS coach Troy Crane said. They are a scary-good football team. Its not just on one side of the ball. They are a complete team, offense, defense and kicking game.
Lebanon will be without the services of soph wide receiver Taylor Bryan who will miss the next several games with a hairline fracture in his tib/fib plateau.
Watertown at Huntland -- Idle last week, Watertown spent a lot of time making in-house corrections as the Purple Tigers will travel to Franklin County tonight to take on Huntland.
After looking at our film from the Cannon County game, we felt like wed be best served spending time working more on Watertown than ourselves, head coach Gavin Webster said. But that was last week. Weve since turned all our attention to Huntland.
The Tigers will be without the services of two-way senior lineman Cody Hamlet
who injured his foot in a weight room accident. It was one of things, a freak accident, Webster said, it looks like Cody will be out 4-6 weeks. Weve talked about things like this to the kids, that when youre second on the depth chart you better make sure youre ready -- because youre just one play away from getting in there.
Other games tonight include: Mt. Juliet hosting District 9AAA rival Portland, Wilson Central at Hendersonville and Mt. Juliet Christian Academy at Ezell-Harding.
Mt. Juliet stands 2-0 after blistering McGavock while Portland is 0-2 after a 22-3 loss to White House. Central is looking for its first win after a 21-17 loss to LaVergne and MJCA (0-2) hopes to find the win column after a loss to RBS.
By TOMMY BRYAN, sports editor