Local News Articles

City Employee Involved in Wreck

May 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
The Pontiac Grand Am, driven by 38 year old Bonnie Harris of Smithville, was traveling west on East Broad Street (Highway 70). 28 year old Ronald Harris of Smithville was a front seat passenger.
60 year old Jimmy Taylor of Smithville, a city employee, was driving a 2007 Chevy Silverado

Three people, including a City of Smithville employee, were involved in a two vehicle accident Wednesday morning at the intersection of East Broad Street and Bright Hill Street.

Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 60 year old Jimmy Taylor of Smithville, a city employee, was on duty driving a 2007 Chevy Silverado. As Taylor crossed East Broad from Bright Hill Street heading north, he struck a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am in the driver side door. Taylor, blinded by the morning sun, said he failed to see the car approaching.

The Pontiac Grand Am, driven by 38 year old Bonnie Harris of Smithville, was traveling west on East Broad Street (Highway 70). 28 year old Ronald Harris of Smithville was a front seat passenger.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene to provide extrication services. They removed the driver side door of the car to have better access to Ms. Harris.

The Smithville Police Department were also there to provide assistance with traffic control.

Taylor and Ms. Harris were taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital.

DCHS Class of 2017 Thanks Community for Support of Project Graduation

May 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Madison Butler

Members of the DCHS Class of 2017 wish to thank you for your support of Project Graduation.

More than $33,000 has been collected through various fundraisers since the beginning of the school year.

Madison Butler, a DCHS Senior, urges you to stop by any DeKalb County branch office of Liberty State Bank to make a donation. “I am the 2017 Senior Class President, a baseball manager, a member of HOSA, Student Council, FFA, and the National BETA Club at DCHS. More importantly, I am a member of the 2017 graduating class. I would like to express a huge heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has supported our efforts in raising money for the Project Graduation event to be held the night of graduation, Friday May 26. Without the help and support of our families, friends, co-workers, churches, and local businesses we would never have been able to reach our goal. We still have our account at Liberty State Bank if you would like to stop in and make a donation. We look forward to our futures and we thank you very much,” said Butler.

Project Graduation will offer food and fun activities for the graduates. It is designed to keep them safe from the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol.

Legislation to Force Lisa Peterson Off Election Commission Stalls

May 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins with Democratic members of the DeKalb Election Commission Jackie Smith and Lisa Peterson (right)

Proposed state legislation apparently intended to prevent Lisa Peterson from continuing to serve as a member of the DeKalb County Election Commission has failed to get through the Tennessee General Assembly.

State Senator Mae Beavers initially sought legislation to bar anyone from serving on a county election commission if he or she has ever been in litigation against that particular election commission and lost the case. The amendment to Senate Bill 0925 stated that “no person may serve as a member of a county election commission if the person has been a plaintiff in litigation against the county election commission on which the person seeks to serve and the court ruled in favor of the county election commission”.

DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins cried foul accusing Beavers of targeting one person, Peterson, in seeking such action

Peterson, a former Administrator of Elections in DeKalb County, mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge after she lost her position when Republicans took control of the election commission in 2009.

Wilkins recently recommended Peterson for a term on the local election commission to replace Richard Hearon Puckett, who resigned. The Tennessee Election Commission, which has the final say, approved Peterson’s appointment.

After Senator Beaver’s proposed amendment stalled in the House, the measure was sent to a conference committee for changes a majority of lawmakers could support. Versions the committee considered were as follows:

* A former administrator of elections appointed pursuant to § 2-12-116 shall not serve as a member of the appointing county election commission.

* A former administrator of elections appointed pursuant to § 2-12-116 shall not serve as a member of the appointing county election commission for a period of five (5) years after the person leaves office as administrator of elections.

*A former administrator of elections appointed pursuant to § 2-12-116 shall not serve as a member of the appointing county election commission for a period of ten (10) years after the person leaves office as administrator of elections.

Again the measure stalled but could be taken up again next year.

Alligator Snapping Turtle Found at Center Hill Lake

May 10, 2017
Measuring Carapace-Wildlife diversity biologist Chris Simpson and Putnam County wildlife officer Mike Beaty measure the overall length of the alligator snapping turtle.
Genetic Sample- Wildlife diversity biologist Chris Simpson takes a genetic sample that might reveal more information.
Skull-The hooked beak is just one of the identifying characteristics of an alligator snapping turtle.

When the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers received photos of what they thought was an alligator snapping turtle on Center Hill Lake, they quickly called Putnam County wildlife officer, Mike Beaty. Beaty, like all TWRA officers, holds a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and was quick to use his knowledge. He knew this was a species of greatest conservation need (GCN) in Tennessee and he quickly met the Corp and contacted his colleague TWRA, Region 3 wildlife diversity biologist, Chris Simpson.

Alligator snapping turtles are found primarily west of the Tennessee River in West Tennessee, with a few occurrences that stretch along the Cumberland River system. Populations declined because of overharvesting for consumption prior to protection. TWRA, Region 1 has been working with this species since the 1990’s with restorative efforts continuing today. The most recent sighting outside its current range occurred in Davidson County in 2016. Alligator snapping turtles prefer slow moving waters with soft substrate. These turtles are not as long lived as other large turtles such as ocean turtles. Males live an average of 26 years and females live an average of 23 years (Niemiller, Reynolds, Miller, 2013). The alligator snapping turtle is the largest turtle in Tennessee with an average carapace length of 20-24 inches.

Wildlife diversity biologist, Chris Simpson gathered data from the Center Hill Lake alligator snapping turtle, which included a carapace measurement of 19 and a half inches and an overall length of 48 inches. The turtle was fairly decayed and could not be weighed. It is thought to be a male. Genetic material was also collected for further analysis.

How the turtle came to be at Center Hill Lake could remain a mystery. Did someone illegally release the turtle and if so when? Center Hill Lake dam was built in 1948. The turtle would not have been in the area prior to the building of the dam. However, this species naturally occurred in the Cumberland River system prior to the building of the dam. Genetic testing might reveal the waterway of origin. For now, the mystery will continue. Simpson stated, “Dealing with these situations and cataloging information is truly enjoyable. Any information we can gain on a GCN species is valuable”.

Sightings can be reported by contacting TWRA

For more information on GCN species, including the alligator snapping turtle visit: http://tnswap.com/ Sightings can be reported by contacting your TWRA regional office.

Photo Captions:

Measuring Carapace-Wildlife diversity biologist Chris Simpson and Putnam County wildlife officer Mike Beaty measure the overall length of the alligator snapping turtle.

Genetic Sample- Wildlife diversity biologist Chris Simpson takes a genetic sample that might reveal more information.

Skull-The hooked beak is just one of the identifying characteristics of an alligator snapping turtle.

Liberty Woman Charged with Grand Theft

May 10, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jessica Jo Bates

A Liberty woman is in trouble with the law in Warren County after she was caught shoplifting more than $1,100 worth of merchandise from Walmart in McMinnville.

39 year old Jessica Jo Bates will make a June 27 court appearance in Warren County on a charge of grand theft.

Walmart security reported that Bates first paid for two loaves of bread and then put them in a shopping cart filled with other items she had not paid for. As she tried to leave the store with the merchandise, Bates was stopped.

According to a report in the Southern Standard, Bates allegedly tried to get away with 41 DVD movies, 20 infant shorts and 20 infant shirts, 36 two-liter bottles of SunDrop, 25 household cleaning items, two 50-pound bags of dog food, three cartons of ice cream, and two cases of herring and salmon.
Because she tried to steal so much merchandise, Bates was charged with the felony offense of grand theft which carries a penalty of one to two years in prison.

State Representative Mark Pody responds to the Passage of the IMPROVE ACT

May 9, 2017
Mark Pody

Members of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly have officially passed House Bill 534, the “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads, and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy (IMPROVE) Act.” Governor Bill Haslam introduced the Gas Tax in January in order to help fund the state’s $10 billion backlog of road construction projects.

This raises the gas tax by 6 cents and the diesel tax by 10 cents over the next 3 years. Registration fees for most cars will also increase by $5, commercial automobiles by $10 and other large vehicles will be paying $15 extra. Electric cars will see a new $100 registration fee.

"I have always said we must find a dedicated source of funding in order to pay for our roads and bridges in Tennessee. After hearing feedback from our community voicing strong opposition to the plan and the tax increases it contains, I did not support the increase in gas taxes. Instead, I supported an alternative plan that also would have created a reliable funding source for infrastructure without raising taxes on any Tennesseans. However, a majority of my colleagues disagreed with my decision, the Gas Tax Increase passed, and Governor Haslam signed the bill last week," said Representative Mark Pody

"The passage of the new infrastructure funding bill means the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and our local governments will have more money to spend on road projects — TDOT will see increased revenue of $240 million per year. In total, counties across the state will receive $79 million and cities will see a revenue increase of approximately $35 million per year to use for local road and infrastructure projects. In DeKalb County alone, the county will receive an extra $146,539 thousand in Diesel Taxes and $409,103 thousand in Gasoline Taxes," Pody continued.

Breakdown below:

City/County Location Diesel Gasoline

DeKalb County $146,539 (Diesel) $409,103 (Gasoline)
Smithville $ 11,790 (Diesel) $ 32,729 (Gasoline)
Alexandria $ 2,514 (Diesel) $ 6,979 (Gasoline)
Dowelltown $ 924 (Diesel) $ 2,565 (Gasoline)
Liberty $ 807 (Diesel) $ 2,240 (Gasoline)

The legislation will help fund 3 projects identified by the state as needed for future development.

Route Project Description
0A095 Holmes Creek Road bridge over Fall Creek
0A330 Old Dry Creek Road bridge over Dry Creek
US70(SR26) Nashville Highway from West of Wilson County
Line to near SR-96 in Dekalb County

"The Gas tax bill does reduce taxes by more than $300 million annually. These tax breaks include a 1% reduction on the sales tax on food. The legislation will also help all Tennesseans by lowering some high taxes on Tennessee manufacturers. We need businesses that provide high paying, steady jobs here in this state. Finally this act adds a set schedule to eliminate the Halls Income Tax. I agree with all these reductions and have fought for them," said Representative Pody.

"Having all these different issues on the same bill is another reason for my opposition to the act. One big difference between Nashville and Washington, D.C. has been how Tennessee considers and votes on legislation. In Washington, they combine many issues and laws together. This makes it very hard to keep pork and special interest projects out of good pieces of legislation. We all have seen these silly and expensive projects come out of our nation’s capitol. Back home, we traditionally take up each issue individually. That process has set us apart from the rest of the nation. We did not follow that procedure on the Gas tax increase," Pody added.

"Even though we have some positive things that will come from the Gas Taxes — sadly, it also means increased taxes for each of us. The families of our community have been consistent expressing opposition to an additional tax increase throughout this entire process. In a year where we are experiencing a historic budget surplus, we should have chosen to fund our roads and bridges within our current budget and not raise taxes at the expense of Tennesseans across our state. As always, I remain committed to listening to the voice of our community throughout the remainder of the 2017 legislative session and the years ahead,"Pody said.

Mark Pody serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Consumer & Human Resources Committee. He is also a member of the House Consumer & Human Resources Subcommittee and House Insurance & Banking Committee. He lives in Lebanon and represents House District 46, which includes all of Cannon and part of Wilson and DeKalb Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Mark.Pody@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7086.

Smithville Elementary School Recognizes Students of Month

May 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Elementary School Recognizes Students of Month

Smithville Elementary would like to recognize our Students of the Month for May. These students were selected for their outstanding character, academics, and other traits that make them an all-around excellent student. Selected as Students of the Month for May are:

Pre-K: Luke Pedigo
Kindergarten: Misael Matuz
1st grade: Elijah Weigele

2nd grade: Allison Estes

David Turner and Friends to Entertain during Older Americans Day

May 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
David Turner and Friends

The month of May is recognized nationally as Older Americans Month, a time when the vast contributions older adults make to their families, communities, and the nation are acknowledged.

Justin Potter Library will partner with the Alexandria and Smithville Senior Centers in the national celebration by hosting Older Americans Day. The event will be held at the DeKalb County Complex Theatre area located at 712 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville on Wednesday, May 17 at 11:00 a.m. This year's theme is "Age Out Loud".

The featured entertainment will be local ventriloquist David Turner. There will be displays, door prizes, goody bags, and sack lunches for the older adults to enjoy. Everyone who is an older American is invited to this free event. The library will be closed from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for the event.

For more information, call the library at 615-597-4359.

Legislature Approves Proposed Changes in Liberty Election Cycle

May 9, 2017
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee General Assembly has adopted legislation sought by the Liberty Mayor and Aldermen to amend the city charter changing the timing of municipal elections so that all seats are filled in the same election every four years and authorizing the mayor and aldermen to receive pay for attending monthly city board meetings.

The city charter amendments must now be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the legislative body of the Town of Liberty before they can take effect.

Under the legislation approved by the State House (88-0) and Senate (32-0), the next municipal election in Liberty would be on the first Thursday in August 2018, and every four (4) years thereafter, to fill the office of mayor and five (5) aldermen.

Under the existing charter, Liberty elects its city officials in a four year cycle but in back to back years. For example, three aldermen were elected in 2016 and this year (2017) a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected. Without a change the cycle would be repeated in the years 2020 and 2021.

In order to get all future city elections on a four year cycle, the Liberty mayor and aldermen want to reschedule this year’s city election to August, 2018 to coincide with the county general election.

Under the proposed city charter amendment, the mayor and aldermen so elected in August, 2018 shall hold their respective offices for a term of four (4) years and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. In order to have the elections for the board of mayor and aldermen coincide, the terms of the mayor and two (2) aldermen who were elected in the election held in August 2013 shall be extended for one (1) year to August 2018.

The board of mayor and aldermen, after each of their respective elections, shall take office on or before the first succeeding Monday night, at which time the board shall meet, organize, and begin the discharge of its duties.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen also want the power to authorize a payment to the mayor and each alderman for their attendance at meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Such payment shall not exceed forty-five dollars ($45.00), may not be paid to the mayor or to an alderman more often than once a month, and is conditioned on the mayor and alderman's attendance at the regular monthly board meeting.

If the Board votes to authorize payment to the mayor and aldermen, such payment shall not take effect until after the next regular election after such authorization vote has occurred.




Woman Found with Meth and Heroin During Probation Search

May 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jamie Renee Ashford
David Harold Pack
Jacob Fisher Murphy
Michael Blair Lawson
James Grady Warner

A Smithville woman was found with methamphetamine and heroin during a probation search at her home last week.

46 year old Jamie Renee Ashford of Miller Road, Smithville is charged with possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) for resale. She was also cited for simple possession of a schedule I drug (heroin), and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is May 18.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_22.pdf (2.87 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on May 2 a detective and deputy went to Ashford’s home to conduct a probation search on someone at that residence. After receiving consent to search, the officers found a small camouflaged bag containing five bags of a crystal like substance, a set of digital scales, and corners of sandwich bags used to sell small quantities of drugs. The bags of drugs weighed 0.03 grams, 0.03 grams, 0.03 grams, 0.04 grams, and 9 grams. The officers also found 0.02 grams of heroin. Ashford admitted that these items belonged to her. She was placed under arrest.

55 year old David Harold Pack of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown is charged with a domestic related aggravated assault. His bond is $10,000 and his court date is May 18. Sheriff Ray said that on April 27 a deputy was dispatched to Pack’s residence due to a physical domestic. A detective conducted an investigation and found that Pack allegedly assaulted his daughter by trying to strangle her, hitting her with a bamboo stick, and pulling her hair.

20 year old Jacob Fisher Murphy of Payton Lane, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 8. Sheriff Ray said that on May 7 a deputy was patrolling Sparta Highway by Sligo bridge when he spotted Murphy driving a red Buick. Knowing that Murphy does not have a valid driver license and that he has been stopped several times for that offense, the officer pulled over Murphy and placed him under arrest. Murphy’s license was suspended for failure to appear for a trial in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on October 19, 2016.

27 year old Michael Blair Lawson of Old Hickory, Tennessee is charged with public intoxication, domestic assault, and being a fugitive from justice. His bond totals $56,500 and his court date is May 18. Sheriff Ray said that on May 6 a deputy was dispatched to Evins Mill where a man was reported to be unruly and trying to fight others. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Lawson who was unsteady on his feet and had a strong odor of alcohol on him. Lawson’s girlfiend also reported to the deputy that Lawson caused bodily harm to her child by spanking him on the butt leaving a bruise. Lawson allegedly bribed the child saying he would buy him a fidget spinner if he would not say anything to anyone about the spanking. However, the child reported it to his mother. A computer check was conducted and revealed that Lawson is wanted in Monongalia County, West Virginia for a failure to appear for a night time burglary and a third offense of driving under the influence. Lawson is to be extradited back to West Virginia.

53 year old James Grady Warner of Big Hill Road, Liberty is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is May 18. Sheriff Ray said that on May 7 a deputy responded to a residence on Lonnie Cantrell Road due to a physical domestic. A woman told the officer that Warner pushed her into a dresser causing her to fall out of a doorway onto the ground. The woman further stated that Warner broke a dinner plate over her back and closed a truck window on her fingers dragging her about 10 feet down the driveway causing scrapes and bruises on her hands, arms, and back.


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