Victim’s mother asks city support
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jan 29, 2013 | 1734 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City's new street sweeper
At-large councilman George Poe climbs behind the wheel of the city’s new street sweeper Monday afternoon. The sweeper and a new knuckleboom were on display Monday between the Council work session and regular meeting. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
view slideshow (2 images)
The mother of a young man killed 2 1/2 years ago by a driver under the influence asked Cleveland City Council members Monday to write the governor and state legislators urging them to support a law bearing his name.

Danny and Kim Ledford’s 24-year-old son, Dustin, was killed July 10, 2010, in a head-on crash shortly after 911 dispatchers issued a “Be On the Lookout” for a vehicle traveling north in the southbound lane.

Council members asked for time to study, formulate and consider Ledford’s request at the Feb. 11 meeting.

Councilman Bill Estes said the bill will change several times before it reaches the governor’s desk. He proposed supporting a position rather than the bill as currently written.

According to reports, Tiffany Levi Isaza, 29, was driving under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine.

“She had a blood alcohol of .24 and she also had methamphetamine in her system,” she said during the Council work session. The legal limit is .08. “Dustin’s Law is something State Rep. Eric Watson has helped me come up with.”

The bill states that anyone who measures .20 blood alcohol or higher; or has a blood alcohol content of .08 and tests positive for methamphetamine, is guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide.

“Right now in Tennessee, you have to have a prior conviction to be charged with vehicular homicide,” she said. “As intoxicated as she was, there needs to be stiffer penalties.”

Bradley County deputy Capt. Buck Campbell, who accompanied Ledford to the Council meeting, said, “This is a good law. We learned through the process of the investigation that a person who is barely intoxicated and someone who registers double gets the same punishment, and that’s not fair.”

He said the bill removes the provision of a prior conviction before elevating the charge to vehicular homicide.

“This lady got 10 years for this. I recently went before the parole board and it was less than two years. I’m just amazed that someone can take someone else’s life and in less than two years, be eligible to get out [of prison].”

He said the community should stand up for stiffer penalties and write letters to the state encouraging passage of Dustin’s Law.

In another discussion, Jim Payne asked for city approval to erect a state historical marker at the site of the old Allen Elementary School and Eastside High School on 4th Street, where Public Works is located.

He said the site was a centerpiece of education in Bradley County from 1910 until 1916 when Bradley High School opened on North Ocoee Street where Ocoee Middle School stands. In 1916, Eastside was renamed Allen School after Superintendent R.T. Allen. It served students in first through eighth grades until 1973 when other schools were built and it was torn down, except for the gymnasium, which is in use by the city Public Works Department.

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson commented that College Hill was built in 1924 from the Allen School blueprint.

On another item, Jonathan Jobe, director of the Development and Engineering Services Department, said TDEC is satisfied with the wetlands mitigation project at Rolling Hills. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation inspected the mitigation site Jan. 15.

“The site had to be graded to get it to hold water to get it to turn into a wetland,” he said.

TDEC added piezometer (groundwater measuring instruments) and diversions to channel water to the center of the property to hasten the growth of wetland vegetation. The project is also showing good sheet flow.

“They were pleased with the project and told SM&E, who is our site consultant, to proceed with planting. That’s a big step. That’s our next step is to plant all wetland trees and grasses,” he said. “We’ve come a long way and we’re almost to the end.”

After planting is finished, a cart path will be restored as a walking trail.

Jobe said about 4,000 whips (small trees) will be planted. He expects only about 400 will survive.

The city of Cleveland purchased 21 acres of the former Rolling Hills Golf Course for the mitigation program in late 2009. The Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority signed the wetlands mitigation agreement with TDEC in late November 2009. That agreement approved $310,000 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to purchase the property from Ron Barker.

Barker bought the property for a small development, but he abandoned the plan after neighbors objected.

An expanded cart path will circle the site. There will be a 3-foot buffer zone on either side of the path that will be kept mowed by the city of Cleveland, much like the walking path alongside Home Depot off Paul Huff Parkway.

Mosquitoes and other insects will be controlled by natural means. The water features will be fed by underground streams that will keep them from becoming stagnant.