Pastor cited in indecency sting
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
The president of Hartselle's Camp Meeting and pastor of a local church was among those cited in an indecency sting at a national wildlife refuge.
Rev. Gradson Tanner, pastor of Salem United Methodist Church, was among 27 people cited for public indecency at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. Public complaints led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alabama State Conservation Officers to teamup for a covert operation designed to curb illegal activities in the area. The park, which spans Morgan and Limestone counties, has been the site of several such stings in the past.
The citations were issued July 20-23 from alleged activities at the Beaverdam Boardwalk area and the Handicapped Accessible Fishing Pier/Environmental Education area.
Tanner, who was cited at the fishing pier, said he was traveling to his farm when he stopped at the pier to see what type of fish were biting.
Tanner said he'd fished at the pier several times and there were four and five people there that day.
"I went to the edge of the woods," to use the restroom, Tanner said. Officers wearing camoflauge approached him after he used the restroom.
Tanner was one of five local men cited in the sting. Others are Walter E. Brannan, 47, of Hartselle; Jimmy A. Meares, 62, of Somerville; Ronald D. Collins, 53, of Hartselle; and Byron L. Roberts, 42, of Hartselle.
Attorneys with the Northern District of Alabama said some of the 27 people charged face additional citations for unprovoked contact with an officer, trespass on a National Wildlife Refuge, interfering with a governmental operation and one assault on a Federal Officer. One individual faces additional charges with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.