Merger Considered

Gibson EMC and Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC Consider Merger/Consolidation

Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC boards are currently in discussions regarding a possible merger/consolidation.

The two cooperatives have been working closely together for years on joint projects including information technology and fiber systems. With the recent resignation of Hickman-Fulton RECC President and CEO Greg Grissom to become President/CEO of Pennyrile Electric, leadership of the two systems have agreed that now is a good time to explore the opportunity of an expanded and long-term working relationship.

The boards of both cooperatives met in December and authorized a preliminary financial study. They also agreed that a merger/consolidation would only be considered if it ultimately would save members money through economies of scale, protect local jobs -including those held by the employees of both systems, and create a better utility through the expansion of resources and expertise.

The electric systems of Gibson EMC and Hickman-Fulton RECC connect along the Tennessee and Kentucky border. Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC serves about 3,700 residents and businesses in Fulton, Hickman, Carlisle and Graves counties in Western Kentucky and portions of Obion and Lake counties in Northwest Tennessee. Gibson EMC serves about 35,000 members in parts of eight Northwest Tennessee counties (Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion and Madison).

Memories of the 1973 HCHS Basketball State Tournament

Former basketball players and cheerleaders of this team, graduates of HCHS Class of 1973 and all associated

with this special time are encouraged to be a part of a special recognition January 9 at 6 pm

 By Gaye Bencini

 It was 1973.

There were no malls, no cell phones, iphones, or ipads. There was no Internet, period.

Some of the young men in Clinton would often gather during after-school hours in the building that once housed Kane School to play basketball in the gym. Sometimes they’d meet at the outdoor basketball court at the elementary school, or maybe the basketball court at the home of Sam and Jane Harper.

All that practice, even if it was perhaps done for leisure, played a role in honing the basketball skills of these young men, who would eventually lead Hickman County High School to the State Championship Tournament at Louisville’s Freedom Hall.

Henry Edwards, who currently serves as athletic director of Hickman County High School, wants to honor the basketball players and cheerleaders of the 1973 team during the HCHS Homecoming coming up soon on Jan. 9, 2015. All 1973 graduates and those associated with this special time in Hickman County School history are welcome to be a part of it.

With the help of Todd Johnson, Laura Berry and Carolyn Alexander, Edwards has been able to contact the team members.

Dale Ray, who was the head coach, and Randy Pruitt, who was the assistant coach, have also been invited to come.

"We are going to honor this team at half-time of the boys’ varsity game Jan. 9," he said.

That night the first game, a freshman boys’ game, starts at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity boys, and then the recognition of the HCHS Basketball Team of 1973 and those associated with that will take place. Between the girls’ and boys’ basketball games, the 2015 Homecoming Ceremony will take place.

"It’s going to be a big night," Edwards said.

Other basketball teams that have been honored at HCHS have included 1959-60, 1969, and 1992. The 1992 team is the only one to play at Rupp Arena, and the 1973 team is the only one to play in Freedom Hall.

Edwards, who graduated from high school around that time, has enjoyed reminiscing with the players and talking about the upcoming event. Former players Sidney Spates, Derrick Fitts, Wallace Grundy, Isaac Childress, Ricky Weatherspoon, Ray Allen, James Jordon, Chuck Amos, David Rodgers, Joe Spraggs, Ray Allen, Paul Rushing, and Ricky Weatherspoon have all been receptive to coming. The late Reggie Grundy and the late Ricky O’Mar were also a key players on this team.

"The coaches and cheerleaders plan to come, and we’re looking forward to a big night," Edwards said.

"That team won 25 games and lost seven," he said. "This was a very, very unique team," Edwards said. "During that span, our high school went through four head coaches."

At that time, coaches were always looking to move up the ladder or move on to other places.

Coach Dale Ray had been working at Ballard County prior to his employment at Hickman County.

Randy Pruitt was already in the school system having taught and coached at Columbus School. He came to the high school to assist head coach, Dale Ray.

"These guys had played together ever since junior high," Edwards said.

"Everybody knew we’d have a good team that year, but we never knew what the results would be," he said.

Those results were very good, to say the least.

"We went into the district tournament, and we beat Fulton City that year, pretty soundly in the first game of the district tournament," he said.

"Ironically, we lost to Carlisle County; they beat us pretty soundly in the district finals."

Carlisle County came out the winner; Hickman County came out the runner-up. Going into the regionals as a runner-up, they played Calloway County the first game.

"They had beaten us twice that year," Edwards said.

"We turned around and beat them seven points, the first game of the regional."

"What was so unique about the team was there were four or five guys who could lead us in scoring, every game, and that’s what you’ve got to have- that teamwork."

In the second game of the regional tournament, Hickman County played Mayfield and beat them by 16 points.

"Isaac Childress, the main player on the team, had 20 points," Edwards recalls.

"That was almost a flawless game for us. Shooting, percentage-wise, we missed very few shots all night long."

Next came the regional finals, the chance to go to the state tournament held then in Freedom Hall in Louisville, and Hickman County would meet up again with Carlisle County.

"It was a back and forth game all night long," he said.

"Isaac Childress went to the free-throw line 16 times, and he made all 16, and I think that record still stands for 1st Region Finals Regional Basketball.

"We wound up beating Carlisle County four points," Edwards said. The game was held in the Racer Arena, and it was packed.

 State Tournament Bound 

"We get to the state tournament, and this is before consolidation across the State of Kentucky," Edwards said.

"We played Clay County the very first game. We beat them 61 to 59 after they were leading us by double digits throughout the game."

Next they played Maysville.

"They also had us down 17 points at one time during that game. We came back and beat them by two points in double overtime," Edwards said.

"The way we won the game, at the end of the second overtime, Ricky Weatherspoon was fouled, his time had expired. He goes to the free-throw line with no time on the clock, and sinks two free-throws to win the game. In that particular game, Isaac Childress had 25 points, and Weatherspoon had 16."

Next came the Final Four of the State Tournament.

"Louisville Male was between us and the finals," Edwards said.

"Louisville Male, which is a very large school, had a front line of 6’8", 6’7", and 6’6". Louisville Male had a player that wound up playing for the University of Louisville. Our tallest player was 6’2". We led them for three and a half quarters, and then right at the end of the third quarter, Isaac Childress went down with a knee injury. He had a bad knee that had been operated on when he was a junior. He went down in the third quarter with the knee injury and never came back. After he went down, we were still ahead three at the end of third, but they wound up beating us by 10 points. Until he went down, we were leading all the way through," Edwards said.

Even at that, it was quite an accomplishment getting to the Final Four of the State Tournament.

"The team showed a lot of good defense and a lot of ball control. They were very unselfish," he said.

This team finished in a tie for third place in the state that year in boys basketball.

Ricky Weatherspoon was the first recipient of the prestigious Ted Sanford award given out every year at the state tournament for the last 41 years.

"We were a small school, but we won the hearts of the people that were there, and everybody kind of got behind us. It was an exciting time and brought our community together," Edwards said.

After the team is recognized at Homecoming on January 9, they are invited to gather for a reception in the high school library, where anyone is welcome to drop in, visit, and reminisce with them!




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