Local News Articles

Drug Defendants Sentenced in Criminal Court

March 15, 2014
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

Several drug defendants were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Friday, February 21 after entering pleas under negotiated settlements.

Judge David Patterson presided.

47 year old Patricia Lynn Durham pled guilty to promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine and received a two year sentence, suspended to time served. She will be on probation for the balance of the sentence. She was also fined $2,000 and given 64 days of jail credit. Durham was one of five people arrested by the Sheriff's Department on drug charges after a detective found a meth lab at Durham's Smithville residence last summer.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 a drug detective went to Durham's residence for a knock and talk. After receiving consent from Durham to do a search, the detective found a one liter cook bottle, a 20 ounce bottle containing a bi-layered liquid, two lithium batteries, a bag of white powder believed to be Pseudoephedrine weighing 29 grams, 12 hypodermic needles, a visine bottle containing acid, and several other items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to Sheriff Ray, a co-defendant with Durham, Sherry K. Malone admitted to the detective that the meth making components found belonged to her. The others were charged because they were in the same room where the items were located. Malone pled guilty on February 21 to attempted initiation of a process to manufacture meth. She received a six year sentence but was released with time served. She was fined $2,000. Malone will be on probation for the balance of her sentence. She was given jail credit of almost six months from August 7, 2013 to February 21, 2014.

45 year old Jason Ervin pled guilty to manufacturing marijuana and received a three year suspended sentence . He will be on two years of supervised probation and one year of good behavior probation. Ervin was fined $2,000. Named in a grand jury sealed indictment last year, Ervin was alleged to have knowingly manufactured a Schedule VI controlled substance by cultivating not less than ten nor more than nineteen marijuana plants on or about July 2, 2013 constituting the offense of Manufacturing Marijuana.

38 year old Stephen Jason Moore pled guilty to the manufacture of a schedule VI drug (growing marijuana). He received a three year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. Moore was fined $2,000. His sentence is to run concurrently with another case against him in which he received probation.

28 year old William Carl Fredrick, indicted for manufacture of a schedule VI drug (growing marijuana), was approved for Judicial Diversion and given a one year suspended sentence. He was fined $2,000.

21 year old Natalie Gail Barrett pled guilty to attempted sale of a schedule I drug (Mushrooms). She was approved for Judicial Diversion and received a six year sentence, suspended to probation. Barrett was fined $2,000.

Moore, Fredrick, and Barrett were among thirty three persons named in sealed indictments handed down by a special called session of the Grand Jury in August 2013 as the result of a lengthy investigation by the Sheriff's Department into the illegal sale of narcotics and other crimes committed in DeKalb County.

34 year old Paul Allen Willingham pled guilty to attempted possession of a schedule IV drug with intent to deliver. He received a two year sentence, all suspended but he must complete the drug court program. He was fined $2,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 10, 2012 Willingham came to the jail to serve a weekend sentence. Upon a search of the crotch area of his underwear, officers found three cellophane wrappers with pieces of xanax and twelve whole xanax pills, which is a schedule IV drug. The case was investigated by drug detectives of the sheriff's department.

26 year old Justin Cantrell pled guilty to delivery of a schedule II drug. He received a four year sentence to run consecutively with a violation of probation against him in another case but instead of jail, Judge Patterson furloughed Cantrell to Mission Teens. Cantrell will be placed on supervised probation upon successfully completing the program and following the recommendations. He was fined $2,000. Cantrell was given 143 days of jail credit.

46 year old Tammy Lynn Caldwell pled guilty to two counts of delivery of a schedule II drug and received a ten year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other to serve at 45% before parole eligibility.

48 year old Ralph Pease, Jr. pled guilty to simple possession of a schedule II drug and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days but he will be on six months of supervised probation and six months of good behavior probation. He was fined $750.

39 year old Autumn White pled guilty to two counts of possession of a schedule II drug for resale. She received a four year sentence in each case all suspended to supervised probation. The two sentences are to run concurrently with each other. White was fined $2,000. She was given jail credit from February 13, 2013 to December 9, 2013.

In one of the cases, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that White was charged on Friday, February 1, 2013 with simple possession and possession with intent to resell a schedule II controlled substance after drugs were found on her person. According to the warrant, White was placed under arrest at the police department after she was found with marijuana at Wal-Mart. After being placed in custody, White was searched by a female correctional officer at the police department and a baggie was found on her person. Authorities later noticed that Ms. White, while still in custody, appeared to be trying to recover something from her body. As officers approached her, she attempted to swallow a plastic baggie containing pills and eight small bags containing less than one gram of methamphetamine with a total weight of three grams.

37 year old Joe Nathan Jones, Jr. of Clarksville pled guilty to one count of criminal attempt to sell over .5 grams of a schedule II drug (crack cocaine) and sale of under .5 grams of a schedule II drug (crack cocaine). He received a three year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other to serve at 30% before parole eligibility. The sentence is to run consecutively with another sentence against him. Jones was fined $4,000.

61 year old Danny Reeder, indicted for sale of a schedule IV drug, was approved for Judicial Diversion and received a two year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. He was fined $2,000. Reeder was among twelve people named in sealed indictments on drug charges following a year long undercover investigation by the Smithville Police Department. The indictment against Reeder alleged that "On or about August 6th, 2012, Reeder did sell and deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance (Lorazepam)." Lieutenant Matt Holmes said Reeder sold ten pills to a confidential source from the parking lot of a local business.

Peace Named Corps Nashville District Employee of the Month

March 15, 2014
By Lee Roberts, Nashville District Public Affairs
Park Ranger Sarah Peace

Park Ranger Sarah Peace, a natural resource specialist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s Center Hill Lake in Lancaster, Tenn., is the Employee of the Month for January 2014.

Peace is being lauded for serving as project lead for water safety and environmental education programs at the lake and taking the initiative to form a Junior Ranger Program in partnership with DeKalb West Elementary School.

At the school, Peace shares her expertise about water safety, natural resources, hydropower, wildlife, Corps history and other topics with the second-grade students. She spends time in the classroom and the kids occasionally take field trips to locations around the lake to learn about the Corps of Engineers’ missions.

“Sarah’s superb commitment to water safety and involvement with the local community reflect positively on her,” said Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander.
Hudson said Peace’s dedication goes beyond this new program, noting that she recently coordinated the Caring Adults Touching Children’s Hearts (CATCH) fishing event and an Environmental Awareness Day and scheduled weekly water safety programs at Lighthouse Christian Camp.

Peace has been a park ranger with the Corps for five years and at Center Hill Lake for almost a year. Before that she served two years at Cordell Hull Lake, which is just down the road in Carthage, Tenn., and previously worked at Lake Cumberland in eastern Kentucky.

During the recreation season, Peace said she embraces her responsibility to look after the safety of people who come to recreate and play in the water.

“I enjoy meeting people and having influence on their lives while they’re out there – I want them to have fun while they’re at the lake and I also want to make sure they are safe and just enjoy everything that we have to offer,” Peace said. “I like seeing happy people and knowing I helped with that.”

She said being a park ranger has transformed her into a “people person.” That makes her happy and, according to her supervisor, well suited to working with kids and the public in general.
Kevin Salvilla, Center Hill Lake natural resource manager, said Peace has formed strong relationships with community civic organizations and received great support from the entire staff.

“In terms of educating the public on the benefits of Nashville District’s multipurpose lake projects, Ranger Sarah Peace is one of the most dedicated and creative individuals I know,” Salvilla said.

Salvilla added that the staff at Center Hill Lake is proud to work alongside Peace and often compliment her initiative and can-do attitude.

“Center Hill Lake is lucky to have Sarah as a member of the team and we are looking forward to her initiating many great water safety and environmental education programs in the future,” Salvilla said.

Peace said her selection as employee of the month came as a surprise, but noted that it is nice being recognized for her work with kids, which is the activity where she gets the most reward.

“I just love seeing them, like how excited they get to learn about something that’s not just sitting in the classroom writing on the board,” Peace said. “And they get to learn a bit more about the Corps and the rangers and see what we’re doing.”

Peace also gives credit to her coworkers and supervision that often help her with the community initiatives.

DeKalb January Jobless Rate Drops to 6.9%

March 15, 2014
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for January was 6.9%, down from 7% in December and below the 9.1% rate in January, 2013.

The local labor force for January was 9,160. A total of 8,530 were employed and 630 were without work.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for January was fourth lowest in the Upper Cumberland Region. Here is how the fourteen counties ranked from highest to lowest:
Pickett: 13.2%
Van Buren: 11.5%
Clay: 10.5%
White: 9.4%
Jackson: 9.3%
Overton: 9.3%
Fentress: 8%
Warren: 7.9%
Smith: 7.5%
DeKalb: 6.9%
Macon: 6.6%
Putnam: 6.4%
Cannon: 5.1%

County unemployment rates for January 2014 show the rate decreased in 34 counties, increased in 49 counties, and remained the same in 12.

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.3 percent in January, down from 5.6 percent in December. Knox County’s January rate was 5.5 percent, down from 5.7. Hamilton County was 7.1 percent, down from 7.2. Shelby County was 8.6 percent, down from 9.1.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for January was 7.2 percent, which is five tenths of one percentage point lower than the December revised rate. The national unemployment rate for January 2014 was 6.6 percent, down one tenth of one percentage point from December.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

City and County Seek THDA Grant Funding to Upgrade Housing

March 14, 2014
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is applying for a grant that will rehabilitate dilapidated homes at no cost to the homeowner.

During a special meeting Thursday the Smithville Aldermen authorized city officials to submit an application for $500,000 in funding through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s Home Grant program, which will help bring dilapidated homes up to code.

The county commission passed a resolution last month to apply to the program as well.

Homeowners who have at least one codes violation will be able to submit an application. Once received, the applications will be ranked based on a number of criteria, such as household income and the home’s location. Approved houses will be upgraded at no expense to the homeowner, with a maximum amount that can be applied toward each house.

Funding restrictions apply, such as the home must be owner occupied (not a rental) and funds must be limited to existing structures.

Funding can only go toward homes that can be rehabilitated to meet housing codes using up to the limited amount.

Cities and counties who apply will learn if they are approved for the grant this May after a THDA board meeting.

In other business, the aldermen adopted on second and final reading an ordinance changing the title of Hunter Hendrixson from Secretary-Treasurer to City Administrator. An ordinance was also adopted on second and final reading to require paper ballot voting for city property right's voters in the Smithville Municipal Election in August.

Still No Takers on DCHS Building Trades Home

March 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
Still No Takers on DCHS Building Trades Home

Almost a year after being completed, still no bids have been received on the latest home built by students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program.

The board of education originally voted to accept sealed bids on the home in May, 2013. The minimum bid is $17,100.

The home, built on campus at DCHS, is described as a 26' x 56' or 1456 square foot (dried-in) house with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms with shower units, living room, kitchen, utility room, three walk-in closets, and a 25 year three tab shingled roof. The house has no plumbing or electric. The purchaser must move the home off the school property within thirty days or be subject to a $100 a day penalty.

The house expenditures totaled $14,829.

School officials plan to again place advertisements that the home is for sale.

In his monthly report on personnel, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby announced Thursday night during the school board's regular monthly meeting that the following persons have been employed as substitute teachers since last month: Joyce Robertson, Sydney Gremmels, Kendra Boody, Avery Brown, Kristin Cook, Shelly Cross, Annette Davis, Anna Dillard, Jennifer Ferrell, Tonya Hale, Emily Mayo, Mark Pafford, Rannie Phillips, Melissa Wallace, and Alyssa Young.

D.Y. Young, substitute bus driver.

Jasmine Vazquez, transferred from substitute to regular teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Hannah Mummert, transferred from substitute to regular teacher at Smithville Elementary School; and Nadina Manganiello, transferred from substitute to regular teacher at DeKalb West School.

Leave of Absence:
Amy Fox, SPED Compliance Monitor, leave as requested
Lori Alexander, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, leave as requested

Walter C. Phillips, school bus driver, retiring at the end of this school year
Tom Hill, teacher at DeKalb Middle School retiring
James Caplinger, Smithville Elementary School custodian.

Action on building new restroom facilities near the DCHS Baseball/Football fields has been put on hold until more information can be obtained on plumbing and electrical needs. Director Willoughby said it was too soon to act right now.

Election Deadline Approaching

March 13, 2014
Dwayne Page

Petitions for the non-partisan school board seats and the Smithville and Dowelltown Municipal Elections on August 7th are available through noon on April 3.

Five school board seats are up for election including the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Seventh Districts. Each term is for four years. Those positions are currently held by John David Foutch in the First District, Charles Robinson in the Second District, Kenny Rhody in the Third District, Billy Miller in the Fourth District, and Johnny Lattimore in the Seventh District.

The other two positions are held by W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the Fifth District and Doug Stephens in the Sixth District. They are currently in mid-term and won't be up for re-election until 2016.

The election commission has issued petitions to the following persons for the school board:

First District: Matthew Boss and Danny Parkerson. Boss has returned his petition.

Second District: Charles Robinson and Jerry Wayne Johnson

Third District: Kenny Rhody, Jim Beshearse, and Jonathan Willoughby. Beshearse has returned his petition.

Fourth District: Billy Miller. He has also returned his petition

Seventh District: Johnny Lattimore, Shaun Tubbs, and Brandon Cox.

A Mayor and two Aldermen will be elected on August 7th in the City of Smithville, each to serve a four year term. Those positions are currently held by Mayor Jimmy W. Poss and Aldermen Tim Stribling and Jason Murphy. Stribling will not be running for re-election. He is seeking the County Mayor's office.

The election commission has issued petitions to the following persons:

Mayor: Wallace Caldwell and Jimmy W. Poss. Caldwell has returned his petition.

Alderman: Jason Murphy and Gayla Hendrix. Murphy has returned his petition.

Three Aldermen will be elected in the Dowelltown Municipal Election on August 7th.

The election commission has issued petitions to the following persons:

Brad Driver, Keith Farler, and Ronald Griffith.

Persons wanting to run in the Republican or Democratic Primaries for state offices on August 7th have until noon April 3 to qualify.

Petitions have been filed with the election commission by the following candidates:

Republican State Executive Committeeman-District 17: Albert McCall of Lebanon and Dwayne Craighead of Celina

Republican State Executive Committeewoman-District 17: Jennifer Winfree of DeKalb County and Pat Fields of Wilson County.

State Representative-District 40: Terri Lynn Weaver of Smith County (Republican)

State Representative-District 46: Mark Pody of Wilson County (Republican)

State Senator-District 17: Mae Beavers and Clark Boyd both of Wilson County (Republicans)

State Representative-District 40: Sarah Marie Smith of Smith County (Democrat)

State Representative-District 40: Krista Eickmann of DeKalb County (Independent for the November State General Election). Petition issued but not yet filed.

Alexandria Man Gives Back After Facing Lymphoma

March 13, 2014
Dwayne Page
Justin Paschal

More than one million Americans are living with a blood cancer; and every four minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer. To support its mission to find cures for blood cancer patients, and ensure access to treatments, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is launching its 24th annual "Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY)" fundraising campaign, enlisting influential and compassionate community leaders as candidates competing to raise funds for blood cancer research and cures. MWOY candidates across the country compete in honor of a local boy and girl who are blood cancer survivors, to raise the most funds for blood cancer research. Every dollar counts as one vote, and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of the campaign. The top local fundraisers in the country win the national titles.

In the spirit of giving back, Justin Paschal of Alexandria will join forces with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) during the months of April, May, and June in a spirited ten-week fundraising competition to earn the LLS's Man of the Year title, by raising funds for blood cancer research.

Paschal decided to get involved in the cause to help others after learning only three months ago that he has Hodgkins Lymphoma. "I found out eight days before Christmas that I had Hodgkins Lymphoma," said Paschal in an interview with WJLE Wednesday. " I started my chemotherapy January 8th. I am three months into it right now. My treatments last until the middle of June and then I'll be finished with my chemotherapy. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society every year has a ten week fundraising campaign called the "Man and Woman of the Year". All of the proceeds raised go straight to (LLS) for cancer research, for blood cancers like Lymphoma which is what I have. After I was diagnosed in December and overcoming the initial shock of learning I have this so young at age 27, I decided I wanted to do something to reach out and help others that are fighting blood cancers so I contacted the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I had a couple of phone conversations and meetings with them and they actually nominated me for "Man of the Year" this year. It's an honor to be nominated. In my opinion there is no better cause than raising money to fight cancer," said Paschal.

Fundraising efforts locally will begin on Saturday, April 12 at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria with a Poker Run and Campaign Kick-Off Party. " The campaign runs from April 10 through June 19 and we have planned three different events for April, May, and June. On April 12 we're going to have a Campaign Kick-Off Party at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria. We'll start the morning with a motorcycle Poker Run. Registration will be at 10:00 a.m. and the first bike out will be at 11:00 a.m. The first bike in will be at 2:00 p.m. I haven't confirmed it yet but we may have some celebrity guest appearances on motorcycles. Since everyone doesn't have a bike, once the motorcycles get back we'll have a fun family day at the fairgrounds. We'll have a LIVE band, an auction along with face painting and bounce houses for the kids. Ventriloquist David Turner and Friends of Alexandria will be here. It's going to be a good time," said Paschal.

Other fundraising events will be held on May 31 and June 14th. "We'll have a 5K Run that morning (May 31) and then at 6:00 p.m. we'll have a band come in and perform for us at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Lebanon. On June 14th, we'll be at Hidden Harbor Marina on Center Hill Lake for another Poker Run. We've got three big events over the next three months and we hope to see everybody out there," he said.

Paschal looks forward to representing our community in the 2014 Man and Woman of the Year campaign. "It's a friendly competition. The men compete against the men and the women compete against the women. It's all in fun and all the money goes to (LLS). The slogan of the campaign is "Everybody wins if Cancer Loses". We're all in it for fun but the money is going to a great cause," said Paschal.

Four Persons Involved in Head-On Crash

March 12, 2014
Dwayne Page
Four Persons Involved in Head-On Crash (Photo by Ken Underhill)
Two Injured in Ford Taurus (Photo by Ken Underhill)

Four people were involved in a two car crash Wednesday morning on Vaughn Lane near Zelenka Nursery.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 20 year old Omar Ramirez of Doyle was traveling west on Vaughn Lane in a 2004 Dodge Stratus when he failed to negotiate a curve to the right, left his lane of travel and crossed the center line. Ramirez's car struck an eastbound 1997 Ford Taurus head-on, driven by 32 year old Anahi Palacios-Cruz of McMinnville.

Palacios-Cruz and a passenger of her car, 48 year old Maria Felix Terraz of McMinnville were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. A passenger of Ramirez's car, 22 year old Charles Harrison of McMinnville received minor injuries.

According to Trooper Jennings, both drivers were cited for driving on a suspended license and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). Ramirez was also cited for failure to maintain his lane of travel.

City Repeals 1980 DUD Water Rate Ordinance

March 12, 2014
Dwayne Page

Although it will apparently not factor into the outcome of the DUD's current lawsuit against the City of Smithville, the aldermen last week voted to abolish a 34 year old ordinance which Chancellor Ronald Thurman referenced on February 28 in ruling for DUD's petition seeking a temporary injunction against the city over its water rate.

The 1980 ordinance, which set the rate to the DUD at that time, also provided that a 30 day notice would be given the DUD if the city were to modify the rate. It also established a cut off provision if the DUD did not pay its water bill within seven days of billing.

During the hearing last month, Chancellor Thurman found that the city violated Section 18-502 of the Smithville City Code, which requires the City of Smithville to give the DeKalb Utility District 30 days' notice in advance of a rate change. The city gave the DUD only 16 days' actual notice in advance of the rate change, effective January 1st. The Chancellor also found that the city had not given proper justification for arriving at the $5.00 rate. In granting DUD's motion for a temporary injunction, Chancellor Thurman barred the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gives proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons.

From 2004 to 2013, the DUD had a water contract with the city to purchase water starting at $1.60 per thousand gallons the first year. The rate increased by five cents per thousand gallons each year through the end of the ten year agreement. The rate in 2013, the last year of the contract, was $2.05 per thousand. City officials contended that no 30 day notice of a rate change was necessary since it was known that a new rate would be implemented once the contract expired on December 31, 2013.

Even though the city had a water contract with the DUD for ten years which apparently took precedence, the mayor and aldermen had never repealed the 1980 ordinance.

Without a new water contract having been entered into between the city and DUD, the aldermen voted on December 12, 2013 to set the DUD rate at $5.00 per thousand gallons, effective January 1, 2014. While the new rate was imposed January 1, city officials say they have not yet sent the DUD a bill for the higher charges, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The DUD filed a Chancery Court lawsuit last month seeking relief from what it called an "unreasonable water rate" and asked the court to put down a temporary injunction to keep the city from charging the $5.00 rate and to keep the city from cutting off service to the DUD pending the outcome of the litigation. In the lawsuit, DUD claimed that the city had violated its own ordinance by not giving the utility the proper 30 day notice of a rate change. The Chancellor agreed.

To keep this issue from possibly arising again in the future, the aldermen at their March 3 meeting, voted to repeal the ordinance to get it off the books. "This should have been taken off our books years ago. On the advice of our city attorney (Vester Parsley, Jr.), the board needs to repeal this ordinance and make it null and void," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

Early Voting Hours Set for May Primaries

March 11, 2014
Dennis Stanley

Early Voting hours for the upcoming May primaries in DeKalb County have been released by the DeKalb County Election Commission.

Early voting for the May DeKalb County Democratic Primary and the 13th Judicial Democratic and Republican Primary will begin April 16 and run through May 1 (no early voting will be held on Good Friday).

In order to make it as convenient as possible for all voters, the election commission voted to set the following hours:

Mondays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. to Noon.

The election commission encourages voters to put these times on their calendar for future reference.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, reminds voters the May elections are Primary elections and voters will have to declare in which election they wish to participate.

“There are a few questions and a little confusion any time there are primary elections,” Stanley said. “State law prohibits someone from voting in both primaries on the same day, so voters have to choose one or the other.”

For voters who choose the Democratic Primary, their ballot will include the local (county) races as well as the Democratic nominees in the 13th Judicial District election. Voters who choose the Republican Primary will only get the Republican candidates for the 13th Judicial District offices, as county Republican nominees were chosen by party caucus and will not appear on the ballot until August.


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