Year in review: A look at the top stories of 2013

Like in most places, Wilson County had its ups and downs in 2013. The county saw its share of crimes, but it also saw some major victories. The following stories were compiled from those that resonated most with our readers and were then ranked in a Top 10 format based on blind votes from Lebanon Publishing Company staff.
Dec 31, 2013


10. Director of Schools eliminates positions, prompting lawsuits

Wilson County Director of Schools Tim Setterlund eliminated two positions in the Central Office in September, prompting the individuals whose positions were affected to file lawsuits.

Supervisor of Special Education Jill Micco's position was eliminated Sept. 12, and Supervisor of Career and Technical Education Bill Moss's position was eliminated a day later, leaving both without jobs. Both Micco and Moss filed suits in Wilson County Chancery Court against Setterlund and the Wilson County Board of Education alleging wrongful termination.

9. Lebanon teens capture evidence in parasailing accident

Two Lebanon teens, Grace Gallaher and Hayley Gatlin, were vacationing in Florida in July when they witnessed an accident involving two parasailers.

Gallaher snapped a photo of the parasail as it went by over the ocean before its connecting line broke. The teens gave the photo to a Panama City news station, which then provided the photo to investigating authorities.

8. Meth lab explodes in motel

An active meth lab exploded at the Traveller's Inn in Lebanon in November, blowing out the door and wall of a motel room. Lebanon police officers responded and the state Meth Task Force cleaned up the hazardous materials.

Two suspects, Gary Bennett, 36, of Carthage and Samuel Forrester, 36, of Carthage, were charged with numerous offenses, including manufacture of methamphetamine more than 0.5 grams, promotion of methamphetamine production and reckless endangerment, among others.

7. Murder suspects indicted in shooting death

Derrick Devaughn Carr, 20, of Nashville and Shawn Derrick Betty Jr., 20, of Nashville, were arraigned in September in the shooting death of Andre Logue of Lebanon.

The shooting happened Aug. 10. Both suspects had fled the scene following the shooting and were eventually found in Michigan and extradited back to Lebanon.

6. Police investigate deadly shooting

Lebanon police investigated the shooting death of Ronald Lyn Johnson, Sr. Johnson was shot Oct. 12 on Joseph Street in Lebanon. Around two weeks following the shooting, the Lebanon police issued a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting. Police still have not identified a suspect.

5. Lebanon High School graduation leaves out many parents

Lebanon High School’s graduation ceremony left many parents and family members angry as the school had to move its ceremony indoors due to the threat of bad weather.

Originally scheduled to be held on the football field, a storm front forced school administrators to move the ceremony to the gym, and many parents were unable to make it into the high school due to high volumes of traffic. Many parents were asked to watch the ceremony in the school’s lobby on a video feed due to fire code purposes.

4. UAW strikes at TRW in Lebanon

The United Auto Workers began a strike at the TRW plant in Lebanon Aug. 24 to push the company for higher pay, as well as better health care and retirement benefits. After more than two weeks of striking, union officials and the company agreed on a new contract.

The new contract included a 6 percent incremental pay raise over five years for the nearly 400 workers, as well as improvements to the 401(k) plan.

3. Wilson Central High School wins Celebrate My Drive

Wilson Central High School garnered the top number of pledges in the State Farm Insurance Celebrate My Drive contest. All of the area high schools participated, but Wilson Central finished No. 1 in the nation.

The victory earned the school $100,000 and a private concert from original American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. The concert is scheduled for sometime in the spring.

Lebanon High School finished in the top 10 and also earned $100,000 in the contest. Mt. Juliet High School finished in the top 100 and won $25,000. 

2. Teen charged in wreck that killed former Lebanon High School teacher, coach

Former Lebanon High School teacher and coach Randy Vanatta was killed in a two-car crash in March. The driver of the other vehicle, Lebanon High School student Darius Johnson, was charged with vehicular homicide by recklessness in June. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges.

1. Tornado wreaks havoc on Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet

An EF-2 tornado tore a path through Mt. Juliet in January, causing damage to many of the businesses in the area, as well as the Mt. Juliet League Park.

Businesses including McDonald’s, Publix and Dollar General were just a few of those affected in the storm. Dollar General was damaged to the point where its owners decided not to rebuild. The Mt. Juliet League Park was victim to another natural disaster, having been flooded just two years prior.


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