CHPD allegedly finds meth, whiskey in car of second school contractor

Jeff Bobo • Sep 22, 2017 at 8:30 PM

CHURCH HILL — A second out-of-state contractor installing bleachers at Carters Valley Elementary School was arrested Thursday after police observed him driving a Kia and recalled from the previous day's investigation he had no driver's license.

Church Hill Police Department Detective Ethan Mays then conducted a traffic stop on Jentry Phillip Wedge, 25, of Umatilla, Ore., and allegedly found him to be in possession of about a half-gram of meth, a meth pipe and a bottle of whiskey.

On Monday, Church Hill police received information that some of the contractors installing bleachers at CVES were involved in drug activity.

Tipsters told police that some, but not all of the contractors, had used meth with and sold meth to some Hawkins County residents.

As a result of an investigation, it was determined that Joshua David Howard, 34, of Warmsprings, Ga., was a fugitive out of Georgia on a probation violation warrant from a conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

When Howard was arrested at the school Wednesday evening, he allegedly had a meth pipe in his possession. Police also checked the IDs of other contractors at the school, at which time Mays discovered that Wedge didn't have a driver's license.

While patrolling around 4:45 p.m. Thursday, Mays reportedly observed Wedge driving a Kia at Minor's Market on Highway 11-W.

After getting gas, Wedge backed out of the parking lot and onto Lyon's Park Avenue, where Mays conducted a traffic stop near Volunteer High School.

A backpack in the passenger seat allegedly contained a two-thirds empty bottle of whiskey, a meth pipe and a silver cylinder that contained meth.

Wedge allegedly admitted the backpack was his, and he was charged with driving without a license, possession of an open alcohol container, possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A total of five contractors had been working on the CVES bleacher project and were staying at the Church Hill Inn.

Summer Harley "Red" Moore, 21, of West Valley City, Utah, was not one of the workers, but she was staying with one of the workers. She was charged with drug possession Wednesday after one pill believed to be the Schedule I narcotic ecstasy was allegedly found in her motel room.

Hawkins County Director of Schools Steve Starnes told the Times-News on Thursday that upon learning of Howard's arrest, he suspended all work on the CVES bleachers.

Starnes noted that as part of the standard terms and conditions for Hawkins County construction bids, companies with five or more employees must submit a drug-free workplace affidavit, and all companies must require all persons or employees to pass a criminal history background check who would be accessing school grounds when children are present.

Starnes said the contractor was responsible for conducting background checks on their employees or anyone accessing school grounds, and it was their understanding that the subcontractor had conducted the required background checks on their workers before they came to Carters Valley Elementary School to install the bleachers.

The workers had no contact with students, and an SRO was on duty the two days they worked on campus, Starnes added.                                     

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