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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Top Stories of 2012: A tragic discovery brings closure

Thursday, December 27, 2012

(Photo)
Kristy Smelcer, sister of Bobby Smelcer, hands out signs before a November march through Shelbyville for Tennessee's missing. Bobby Smelcer's skull was found in Duck River in April.
(T-G Photo by David Melson) [Order this photo]
Changes in the administration of local schools, allegations of inappropriate conduct by a teacher and a scout leader, and the sad resolution to a missing persons case are tied for the sixth, seventh and eighth places in the Times-Gazette's annual countdown of the year's top stories as chosen by a vote of various T-G staffers.

First, a reminder of the stories revealed Wednesday:

10) Cascade Band wins state championship (20 points, 1 first-place vote)

9) Presidential election (22 points)

Now, the next three items in the countdown:

6-tie) Principal shuffle

24 pts.

From May through October, Bedford County Schools saw several changes in administration at local schools.

In May, Dr. Tracy Lampley, first-year principal at Harris Middle School, announced she had accepted a position in the Franklin County school system. James J. Sullivan, one of two assistant principals at HMS, was later named principal.

Robert Fraser, also an assistant principal at HMS, joined the staff of Cascade High and Middle Schools this summer, effectively swapping roles with Dr. LeEllen Carter, who is assisting Sullivan at Harris. Priscilla Van Tries was hired in the second AP position at HMS.

After Sharon Edwards' resignation, Tim Harwell was named principal at Cascade High School, leaving open the head position at Thomas Magnet School, which was filled by Dulcie Davis. Patsey Thomas assumed Davis' former role as assistant principal at Eakin.

In October, Davis returned to lead Eakin Elementary, with Mindi DeWitt moving from the AP position to principal at TMS.

6-tie) Inappropriate contact alleged

24 pts.

The band and choir director of Community High School in Unionville was charged with one count of solicitation of a minor in August.

Stephen B. Givens, 34, of Smyrna allegedly sent multiple texts and asked for photos from a student, investigators said. The incident ended with a plea agreement in which Givens lost his teaching license and was sentenced to serve nine months of an 11-month, 29-day sentence.

Just as Givens' case was being resolved, local scout leader and Liberty School teacher Travis Spivey was charged with inappropriately touching a teenage boy (who was not one of Spivey's students or Boy Scouts at the time). Spivey is on administrative leave pending a resolution to the charge.

6-tie) Skull found in river identified as Smelcer's

24 pts.

A human skull was discovered west of Shelbyville in the Duck River in April, and investigators identified it as that of Bobby Smelcer, missing since November 2010. But additional searches failed to turn up the rest of Smelcer's body, or any other clues about what happened to him.

"We as a family, have mourned the loss of Bobby since we discovered that he was missing," Karen Harris, Smelcer's sister, said in a statement released on behalf of the family after the news was announced.

"Today we have news that Bobby has been found -- not alive and happy, as we had hoped and prayed for. But with the discovery of his remains, our hearts bleed for him.

"We do not know how he died or if he suffered, we do know that we, as a family strong, and with determination, will bring him home to a final resting place. Even though the recovery efforts continue, we pray for justice for Bobby."

Smelcer's family had joined with the families of two other missing persons, Antonio Taylor and Shelley Mook, to promote awareness of the "Shelbyville Missing."

Approximately 100 people marched across Shelbyville on Nov. 10 to promote awareness of missing and murdered people across Tennessee, including Smelcer, Taylor, Mook, and children Chloie Leverette and Gage Daniel, whose story will be addressed in another item on the list.

As stated on Monday, the top story ballot was being finalized just as the school shootings and threats were breaking news. They were not included in the voting.

--Original reporting by David Melson and Tracy Simmons contributed to this story.

FRIDAY: A brave young man's decisionSchools issues involving principals, instructors make newsSmelcer's skull discovered,

but searches find no clues