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Dixon Commissioner passes away
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First term Dixon Commissioner James “Don” Poe passed away last Tuesday at Baptist Health in Madisonville of unspecified causes, leaving a vacancy on the city’s governing body.

Poe was born on July 15, 1954 in Providence. He was a U.S. Army veteran and spent many years working as a deputy jailer at the Webster County Detention Center in Dixon, the position from which he retired.

Prior to going to work at the jail, Poe owned and operated a gym in uptown Providence, where he also worked as a personal trainer.

Poe ran as a write-in candidate during the 2020 election. He told the J-E earlier this year that he hoped to run for mayor of Dixon in 2022.

Members of the Dixon Commission voted on Monday night to name Jeff Graham to fulfill the remainder of Poe’s term, which will end in December 2022. To see more on that meeting, see story on Page A2.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069

Slaughters honors song writer with new signage
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The city of Slaughters is honoring its most famous son with the addition of signs which were installed at the entrance to town last week.

City commissioners voted earlier this year to recognize country singer/songwriter Chris Knight with signs that advertises the community as his hometown.

“I appreciate it very much,” said Knight. “Its good to be recognized. I grew up around Slaughters, and I still live in the area. I feel very honored.”

Although not extremely well known around Webster County, Knight has been an active member of the Nashville country music scene for the last 30 years. After securing a spot on songwriters’ night at the Bluebird Cafe, he caught the eye of music producer Frank Liddell, who signed him first to a deal with Bluewater Music, and then Decca Records.

Throughout his career, Knight has been best known as a songwriter, penning songs for numerous artists, including John Anderson, Blake Shelton, Confederate Railroad, Gary Allen and Cross Canadian Ragweed. The biggest, however, was the single “She Coundn’t Change me” which peaked at number two for duo Montgomery-Gentry in 2001.

As a performer, Knight has had his biggest success on the outlaw country circuit, which calls Texas home. He’s been so successful there, in fact, that he was named an “Honorary Texan” in 2006 by then Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069

Willson took the long way into the entertainment industry
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Webster’s Dictionary defines a renaissance man as a person with many talents or areas of knowledge, and if anyone in Webster County fits that definition, its Luther Willson, who will begin work later this year on a film that will likely become one of the Hallmark Network’s beloved Christmas movies in 2022.

Willson’s story began in the mid-1970s when he graduated college and began touring as a songwriter and drummer for the rock band Tracks. While touring regionally, the band tried unsuccessfully to promote their single ‘Lady of Darkness’ to major record labels. Despite developing a following, getting radio play across the region and getting some favorable looks from labels, the song and band never took off.

“We had some success,” Willson said. “We were on the road for over a year. Then I decided to come home, get a job and grow up.”

In 1978, Willson met Ricky Sisk, a man who would become not only a lifelong friend but his manager and promoter. He began helping schedule performances locally, and in 1980 helped Willson secure a songwriters contract with Nashville publisher Tessalou Music. Among the songs written during this time period were ‘Another Country Love Song’ and ‘Again Tonight.’

During this period Willson also began touring with a cover band named The Breed.

But by 1983, he was once again looking to get off the road.

“I had the opportunity to get into oil and gas and started a company with my father,” Willson said. “At that point, I just kind of got out of the music business.”

Giving up on his music dreams, Willson started what some might call a normal life. He worked. He raised a family. He even served on the Webster County School Board from 1992 through 2004, the last two years of which he was chairman of the board.

In 2014, 31 years after he walked away from a career in the music industry, the business came calling again. That year Willson played a reunion concert with The Breed, which led to him reconnecting with Sisk. He then performed in a reunion with Tracks, which caught the attention of a record producer.

“Danny Ramsey, who owned a recording studio in Nashville, asked me about the song ‘Still Waters’,” Wilson said. “He convinced me to go into the studio and record it. He told me then that things had changed since I started. If you had a song, you had to have a music video.”

While exploring his options for filming a music video, almost by accident Willson was handed a minor role in a film called ‘The Silent Natural,’ a feature about William Hoy, Major League Baseball’s first deaf player.

The film featured Marshall R. Teague of ‘Roadhouse’ and “Armageddon.” The two quickly became friends on the set.

From there Willson said networking began to take effect. He’d get word of a new project from someone he’d worked with on the previous project.

Following ‘The Silent Natural’, he played roles in two short films, ‘Detective O’Malley: A Family Affair’ and ‘Grievance,’ the latter of which has been nominated for awards at Christian film festivals.

David Risotto, the director of ‘The Silent Natural’ then called him for what might be the funniest role of his career. He was coming to Webster County to make a short film about the Harp Brothers, two serial killers who hunted the western Kentucky area in the late 1700s. Knowing that Willson lived in the county, he asked him to come on board as a consultant.

“The opening scene of the movie starts with a hitchhiker getting picked up in front of the Harp’s Head historical marker in Dixon,” Willson said. “For the scene they decided to use my truck with me driving, because traffic was pretty heavy that day. Because of that, I got credited with a stunt driver role.”

‘Harp Brothers’ was released in 2020 and is now available on DVD.

This year Willson landed two movie roles. The first, ‘The Final Sunset’ is currently filming at Copper Canyon Ranch on the edge of Christian and Todd County.

“Its a western done the old way,” he said. “Its the type of movie where the hero gets the girl in the end and everybody is happy.”

While most people have not heard of Copper Canyon, Willson said it may be one of the best kept secrets in the region.

“They come up from Nashville and film a lot of music videos there,” he said. “Florida Georgia Line filmed their video for ‘Dirt’ there. Christian Slater has done scenes there. And that’s where we filmed the ‘Silent Natural.’ ”

However, its his next film that Willson believes could be the most successful. ‘Rose Garden’ will begin filming in the Indianapolis-area this December. The Christmas-themed film is already being considered for a time slot in the Hallmark Network’s annual Christmas Movie marathon, which runs from Thanksgiving until New Years.

Although he couldn’t say much about the movie or his role, he promised that it would be a tear jerker.

“I’ve been very fortunate that some good strong people in the film industry have approached me about being a part of these projects,” Willson said. “The characters I play, they are a special niche type character, not leading roles. But to be honest, at my age, I’m not looking for a Brad Pitt type role.”

Much of Willson’s music, including his single ‘Lady of Darkness’ with Tracks can be found on Youtube. ‘The Silent Natural’ is available on Amazon.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069

Upgrades to Clay City Park
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Volunteers from the community began removing dirt from the main field at Clay City Park last Thursday. Officials say that after years of use, the field had begun to develop a problem with rocks. The dirt being removed will be used by the city for future projects.

New soil for the field is being brought in from Camden, TN as the expense of the park board and the city. Mitchell Brothers Seeds and Williams Farms are providing transportation of the new soil to reduce costs for the city and park board.

Area residents also volunteer the equipment being used for removal of the old surface.

Growing COVID-19 changing local meetings again
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Growing concerns about the rise in COVID-19 numbers has once again began to affect how governmental bodies in Webster County do business.

Last week the Webster County Board of Education required masks during its bi-weekly board meeting, while city councils began to face the topic this week. A Sebree City Council meeting scheduled for Monday was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, while Providence City Council chose to hold their bi-weekly meeting online.

That meeting is the first for the city to be held in that format in over a year. Like most other governmental bodies in the state, the city began holding online meeting in late March 2020, but returned to full in-person meetings as of July 6, 2020.

Due to state law, any meeting held outside of the normally scheduled date, time and location is considered a “special called meeting.” In that format, governmental bodies are only allowed to discuss the topic that is on the agenda for that meeting.

For Providence, the lone item was an amendment to increase the city’s budget for the current fiscal year from $7,639,484 to $8,004,707.

The change reflected an increase of $388,309 in revenue from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and a loss of $23,885 in revenue from ground ambulance service fees.

The meeting was adjourned shortly after the amendment received unanimous approval from members.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069