HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - Tempers are flared up in Hawkins County over memorials for dead family members -- apparently the same roadside memorial has been removed five times when family members continue to replace it.
This is about property rights and right of way issues when you get right down to it. But that doesn't even begin to take the sting out of what has happened, no matter who you ask.
Worley Taylor is one man who will stand his ground, especially when it deals with his family's honor. This whole situation is over a car wreck that claimed the life of his grandson, 33-year-old Trinity Taylor, back in 2009.
He remembers when he first heard the news. "A preacher said he was behind that van, it just went crazy," Taylor said. "I don't know what went wrong."
Since that time, Mr. Taylor has erected several roadside crosses in honor of his grandson, only to have them removed.
He complained to the sheriff's department only to be told he is in the wrong. "Now I can't have a cross to remind me my grandson left me," Taylor added. "Everybody else can have it but I can't have it? I put it up five or six times. This last time they took a back hoe, pulled it up and destroyed it."
As it turns out, Taylor wasn't the only one calling the authorities. "We received a complaint from one of our property owners on Carters Valley Road that a memorial had been placed onto his private property and he had removed it," Hawkins County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Tony Allen said.
Taylor was trying to stay in the right of way, but by law that doesn't matter. "The right of way does not include for people to come onto someone else's private property and erect memorials," Allen continued. "It is set up for county road departments, state road departments and utilities."
And although there is a right of way, the property owner does own all the way to the road.
Officers tell us this is a tough case and they feel for the Taylor family. "I'm sorry that this happened in his life but also these property owners have rights too," Allen said. "They have rights to own land and to be able to govern that land, and not to have private citizens come onto their land and do what they want."