Void of major debate, absent of overwhelming argument, 2012 wasn’t necessarily a year of searing topics in Lynchburg. Instead, the past 12 months were filled with stories of both tragedy and triumph, both pain and jubilation. Here’s a look back at the 10 stories that commanded our attention, touched our hearts and hopefully made us take a deeper look at ourselves and our family.
1. Farmer’s Bank of Lynchburg: Farmer’s Bank of Lynchburg became the 31st bank in America to fail, as it was taken over by the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions in late June. According to the state, the department took over the bank due to “impaired capital, unsound condition and the bank’s inability to continue normal operations.” The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Clayton Bank and Trust, of Knoxville, to assume all the deposits of The Farmers Bank of Lynchburg. The bank reopened a day after its doors were shuttered and is still in operation as a member of the Clayton Bank and Trust family.
2. Joe Strasler: Moore County High School junior Joe Strasler, 16, was killed in a two-car accident early on Feb. 15, sending shock waves through the tight-knit MCHS student body and faculty. Strasler was an honor student and a Moore County baseball player, who was well liked among his peers. A day later, that overwhelming fondness was shown as the MCHS girls basketball team played for the District 9-A championship at Middle Tennessee Christian School. The two teams stood in solidarity to honor Strasler before the contest. In October, the Metro Moore School Board approved plans to build an indoor hitting and pitching facility on the Moore County campus in Strasler’s honor.
3. Moore County football team: The Raiders won District 9-A with a perfect 10-0 record, beating defending state champion Wayne County, defending district champ Eagleville, as well as rivals Cascade and Huntland along the way to earning a No. 2 state ranking by The Associated Press. But after claiming a first-round bye in the TSSAA Class 1A playoffs, Moore County was stunned by Eagleville in a down-to-the-wire thriller. Was it really a penalty? Was it a touchdown? Was the final pass of the season hauled in out of bounds? Regardless of conspiracy theories, the Eagles won a thriller and moved on, ending Moore County’s magical season in the process.
4. MCHS softball team: At Chapel Hill, the Moore County High School softball team ended Forrest’s seven-year district win streak. The Raiderettes’ 7-1 victory over the Lady Rockets marked Forrest’s first district loss since 2005. Fueled by an influx of eighth-graders, including pitcher Kasey Harvey, and a strong junior class, the Raiderettes meshed well and played their way to a runner-up finish in regular-season District 9-A play. After a stellar postseason run, the Raiderettes eventually lost to Silverdale Academy 12-9 in the TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.
5. The Jack: Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue; 20 international teams – from Aruba, Denmark, Poland and points in between; 68 domestic teams from California to Connecticut; more than 75 judges sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society; and one Grand Champion. Pig Skin BBQ, from Rockwell, Iowa, earned the title of Grand Champion at the 24th edition of The Jack, the most prestigious barbecue competition in the world, held Oct. 27-28 at Wiseman Park. Colder-than-normal temperatures greeted contestants and fans this year, but that didn’t deter the spirit of what has become Lynchburg’s signature event.
6. Kayla Qualls: 2007 Moore County High School graduate Kayla Qualls was found dead in her vehicle in Franklin County on Nov. 26. A Tullahoma man, Michael L. Curtis, 49, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ms. Qualls. Curtis is said to be the father of Qualls’ former boyfriend and the grandfather of her two children.
7. Wales-sippin’ whiskey?: According to a story first reported in the Sky News in the UK, a Welshman named Mark Evans claims to have the original recipe for world famous Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7. Evans said he found the recipe in a family heirloom and that his ancestor originated the now-famous whiskey in 1853 in West Wales. Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett refuted the claim. “It’s a good story, but one based in fancy rather than fact, as the dates don’t match historical records,” said Arnett.
8. Moore County High School girls basketball team: The Raiderettes beat Middle Tennessee Christian School to win the District 9-A and Region 5-A titles, before falling to Summertown in the TSSAA Sectional game at Motlow College. The team climbed as high as No. 2 in The Associated Press Class A poll, and finished with a 32-4 record, but fell one game short of a TSSAA State Tournament appearance.
9. Mary Motlow: Moore County native Mary Motlow, a relative of world-famous distiller Jack Daniel, was among three people who died on Dec. 11 in a head-on collision in Bedford County, two miles south of Shelbyville. Also killed were Morris Parker, of LaVergne, and Eric Holestak, of Murfreesboro. Motlow was a fixture in Lynchburg. She was the granddaughter of Lem Motlow, who took over the distillery from his uncle in 1907. One of four children, Ms. Motlow was the daughter of Conner Motlow and Rose Motlow.
10. District Attorney General Charles Crawford: Crawford resigned, effective July 31. Crawford served the 17th District, which includes Moore, Lincoln, Bedford and Marshall counties. Shortly after tendering his resignation, Crawford said he was taking a teaching position at Fayetteville High School. In mid-July, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced that Lincoln County native Rob Carter, 31, would replace Crawford. “Robert represents the full picture of what we were looking for as the new district attorney general, and I appreciate his willingness to serve the citizens of the 17th District,” said Haslam.
********* Other stories that captured our interest during 2012 included: Moore County High School’s 2012 graduating class raked in nearly $1 million in scholarships. A combined $949,000 was awarded to 52 MCHS students, including 44 Hope Scholarship recipients. … Wayne Harrison, the state’s longest running property assessor retired, effective Aug. 31. Darin Harrison was elected as Moore County’s new assessor of property. … Moore County basketball players Rachel Garland and Sarah Raby signed with Trevecca University in Nashville. Garland was named a TSSAA 2011-12 Miss Basketball finalist. … Moore County’s Frontier Days celebrated its 50th anniversary in June, making it one of the longest standing traditions in the county. … Prayers for Molly signs were at every corner, as people rallied around young Molly Hankins, who suffered from a rare form of cancer. Molly’s spirit helped unite a community. Not yet six months old, she lost her battle on April 11.
By ROBERT HOLMAN, MCN Editor