Local News Articles

Woman Arrested for Selling Pills to Off Duty Drug Detective

June 8, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Stephanie Marie Jagneaux
Michael Brandon Redman
Forest Andrew Mathias
Jim Thomas Flesher, III
Travis Lee Baisden
Nathan Joe Trapp
Tisha Elaine Burns
Laura Ann Smith-Gaskins

A woman trying to sell drugs picked the wrong customer with whom to do business, an off duty Sheriff's Department drug detective.

43 year old Stephanie Marie Jagneaux of Student's Home Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Percocet), sale and delivery of a schedule IV drug (Xanax), and sale and delivery in a drug free zone. Her bond totals $75,000 and she will be in court August 13.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Jagneaux approached the detective Sunday night, June 7 not knowing who he was and asked if he wanted to purchase some Percocet and Xanax pills she was trying to sell. The detective, who also didn't know Jagneaux, arranged to meet her early Monday morning in the parking lot of PeKing Restaurant where the transaction took place within 1,000 feet of the Smithville Elementary School building. After selling the detective three Percocet and two Xanax pills, deputies quickly arrived on the scene and took Jagneaux into custody.

Meanwhile, a prisoner has been charged with assaulting a correctional officer in the jail annex.

30 year old Michael Brandon Redman of McMinnville is under a $2,500 bond and he will make a court appearance June 18.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, June 8 Redman put a covering over a surveillance camera after he was placed in the holding tank following his involvement in an altercation inside the annex.

Redman refused when asked by a correctional officer to uncover the camera. Redman then grabbed the officer from behind his head when he entered the cell leaving scratches on his neck.

21 year old Forest Andrew Mathias of McMinnville is charged with a third offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $2,000 and he will make a court appearance August 27.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, June 1 a deputy stopped a white car for a light law violation. The driver, Mathias, could not produce a driver license. A computer check confirmed that his license were suspended for a truancy law violation on March 21, 2011. Mathias also has two previous violations for driving on a suspended license in DeKalb County.

19 year old Jim Thomas Flesher, III of Village Place, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance June 18.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, June 3 a deputy was dispatched to Redman Road on a public disturbance complaint. Upon arrival, the officer found Flesher hiding in the woods. Flesher had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was staggering while walking and his speech was slurred. For his safety of that of the public, Flesher was placed under arrest for public intoxication.

28 year old Travis Lee Baisden of Eagle Creek Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court June 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, June 4 a deputy was dispatched to Eagle Creek Road on a physical domestic complaint. Upon arrival he spoke with Baisden's mother and another man who said that Baisden had assaulted her. According to the mother, she and Baisden began arguing. After he spat in her face three times, she grabbed him by the throat and they started fighting. The woman had several marks and bruises on her head and body. Baisden was determined to have been the primary aggressor and he was placed under arrest.

32 year old Nathan Joe Trapp of Magness Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for violation of the implied consent law and driving on roadways laned for travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court August 27.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, June 6 a deputy stopped a white vehicle traveling east on Highway 70 due to a traffic violation. After stopping the vehicle the officer spoke to the driver, Trapp. His speech was slurred. He admitted to having taken Suboxone. Trapp submitted to and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to take a blood test.

44 year old Tisha Elaine Burns of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with evading arrest. She is further cited for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine). Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court June 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, May 26 a deputy conducted a traffic stop on J. Hutchings Road. Burns jumped out of the automobile and ran in an attempt to escape from law enforcement. The officer caught up with her and placed her under arrest. In addition to the evading charge, she was served with another active warrant against her. During a search of Burns' pocketbook, the officer found a small amount of methamphetamine.

46 year old Laura Ann Smith-Gaskins of Floyd Drive, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was dispatched to Floyd Drive on Wednesday May 27 in reference to a verbal domestic complaint. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Gaskins and her mother. As the officer read Gaskins her rights, Gaskins allegedly made statements to the deputy about wanting to kill the children that were there.

City Installing New Automated Read Water Meters

June 8, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Matthew Johns of Advanced Utility Services (left) and City employee Riley Bullard (right) installing new automated read water meters
City Installing New Automated Read Water Meters

The City of Smithville is in the process of replacing all customer water meters with new automated read meters.

In January, the aldermen accepted a bid from Advanced Utility Services of North Little Rock Arkansas to supply approximately 2,500 new meters at a cost of $532,600. The project is funded under a USDA Rural Development grant/loan program.

The new meters are expected be more accurate to help prevent water loss. According to city officials, the system is expected to save the city time, money, and wear and tear on city vehicles. "Instead of taking seven working days to have two men read meters, it will only take one day with these meters. Labor wise it will save a lot of money over time. From what we understand in talking to other utility districts, automated meters are a lot more accurate and usually revenue increases," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

The new system also keeps a 90 day history of customer's water usage and sensors are on the meters to alert city officials in the event of tampering or unusually large amounts of water usage.

Any city employee no longer needed to read meters will be reassigned to other positions in the public works department. No one will lose his job due to the new system.

City officials also stress that no increase in water or sewer rates would be needed to pay for it.

According to City Public Works Director Kevin Robinson, Advanced Utility Services has until August 16 to complete the project under terms of its contract, but work is ahead of schedule.

Eight Year Old Boy Seriously Injured in Boating Accident

June 6, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

An eight year old White County boy was seriously injured in a boating accident Friday afternoon on Center Hill Lake.

According to the TWRA, the boy was with family and friends aboard a moving pontoon boat when he fell into the water and was struck by the propeller as the vessel traveled over him. The accident reportedly occurred about a mile downstream of the Ragland Bottom Recreation area.

The boy was placed back on the pontoon and brought to shore at Ragland Bottom where he was picked up by DeKalb EMS and transported to a helicopter landing zone set up just east of Sligo bridge in a field off the highway. From there he was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital.

The youngster reportedly suffered several serious injuries and at last report was still critical but stable.

The accident was investigated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and the Midway and Johnsons Chapel Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Community Remembers Colten May with Candlelight Vigil and Balloon Release

June 6, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Balloon Release in Remembrance of Colten May
Candlelight Vigil held to Remember Colten May

Just four days shy of what would have been his second birthday, caring members of the community joined friends and family of Colten May in a remembrance program Saturday evening.

The observance, held downtown at Evins Park, featured prayers, words of encouragement from Chris Moore of the Smithville Church of God, and LIVE music, along with a candlelight vigil and a balloon release in remembrance of Colten and to promote child abuse awareness.

Colten died on Sunday, May 17. His mother's boyfriend, 23 year old Cody Key was indicted two days later for felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of the child. Colten's mother, 19 year old Jessica May was indicted on a charge of aggravated child neglect.

"I don't want you to walk away from here today just with a heavy heart and say I've done my part because I attended this service. I want you to find your courage," said Jennifer Wilkerson, Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center, who was the keynote speaker for the program.

"I challenge each and every one of you to get involved. To contribute in some way. Ask yourselves what can we do and how can we prevent this from happening again? Find the courage to educate yourself about the signs and the symptoms of abuse. Find the courage to get involved with programs in the community. Find the courage to develop the prevention programs in your community. Talk to your children and listen to what they have to say. Most of all I encourage you to report abuse. The law in Tennessee says that any person who has a suspicion that child abuse is occurring is required by law to report that abuse. If you suspect that something is going on with a child, report it. If you report it, you could possibly save a life. This is how we can honor Colten May," said Wilkerson.

Woman and Two Children Injured in UTV Rollover Accident

June 6, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Woman and Two Children Injured in UTV Rollover Accident
Three Hurt in Polaris UTV Rollover Accident on Dry Creek Road

A 60 year old woman and two children were injured in a UTV rollover accident Friday afternoon on Dry Creek Road near Dowelltown.

Barbara Poss of Dowelltown was operating a Polaris UTV heading south with two children passengers aboard when she went off the right side of the road and plunged down a steep embankment. As the UTV overturned, the children, both girls ages 10 and 11, were thrown off. Poss was trapped underneath the UTV as it came to rest upside down. A passerby and two county volunteer firefighters, who arrived in their own vehicles, came to the aid of Poss and were able to lift the UTV off of her as the county fire department's rescue truck was enroute. Poss and the children were brought back up to the road and transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

The accident was investigated by Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were also on the scene. Poss was issued several traffic citations.

School Board Adopts Revised Budget for 2015-16

June 5, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Board members W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Shaun Tubbs, Jerry Johnson, and Jim Beshearse
Board members Danny Parkerson, Kate Miller, and Doug Stephens

The Board of Education is curtailing some costs in its proposed budget for the 2015-16 year.

After the county budget committee Tuesday night, June 2 rejected the original spending plan offered May 28, the school board Thursday night, made some cuts.

In the revised version adopted Thursday night, the board is cutting the request for two RTI positions down to one, hoping federal money can be used to fund the other. No local money will be included to cover extended contracts which are no longer funded by the state. The board has decided to save $4,100 by no longer having a billboard on the side of the road near the high school, which has been there for the last several years showing a picture of high school graduates with the theme "Education Counts in DeKalb County". And the board is freezing funding for five positions in the school system, which have been left vacant with the recent retirement or resignation of former employees. While the funding for those five jobs will remain in the budget, it will not be spent unless the school system's average daily membership numbers increase, requiring them to be filled. The board is also considering dropping its association with AdvancED for accreditation of the schools which would save the school system money. In the school transportation category, the board had budgeted $250,000 for the purchase of two buses but the cost is not expected to be that much. The board has cut $20,000 from that line item of the budget.

The board is still asking that a computer teacher be added at Smithville Elementary School, a new part time janitor position at DeKalb West School, a new school nurse, technology and equipment upgrades, additional supplies for classrooms and intervention programs, a deaf education contract, a new scrubber, and a few other proposed new expenditures.

Even with the changes, the school system is still expected to overspend it's budget. Last year, the school board had to appropriate about $250,000 from its fund balance or reserves to cover expenses. At least the same is expected again this year.

The board's revised proposed budget will be presented to the county's budget committee Tuesday night, June 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the courthouse.

Randy Caplinger Files Lawsuit Against City of Smithville (READ ACTUAL COMPLAINT HERE)

June 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger
Sarah Cripps

Former Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger is taking his case against the City of Smithville to court.

Caplinger's attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court on Thursday, June 4.

(CLICK PDF LINK BELOW TO READ THE ACTUAL LAWSUIT)

caplinger complaint and _001.pdf (3.22 MB)

"We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," said Cripps in an interview with WJLE Thursday.

In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking for a declaratory judgment "to construe the charter for the City of Smithville and to determine which provision controls and governs the number of votes required by the Board of Aldermen to ratify or confirm the mayor's decision to remove an employee of the city". Cripps and Cox are also urging the court to find that the Board of Aldermen violated a section of the charter by not convening a meeting to ratify the mayor's suspension of Caplinger without pay prior to the due process hearing. They are further asking that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause".

After a seven hour due process hearing Friday, May 8 the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Caplinger. Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Jason Murphy voted in favor of the mayor's action. Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller voted against it.

But the vote itself became an issue and is one of the key components of the lawsuit.

Cripps and Cox insist that the city's charter requires a two thirds majority vote (four out of five) to confirm a mayoral termination. And Aldermen Jacobs and Miller said at the due process hearing that they had spoken with legal representatives of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) who told them that according to the city's charter, four votes were required to approve the action of the mayor.

Article III of the Smithville City Charter regarding Organization and Personnel. Section 3.01, subsection (2) states that "All officers and employees of the city, except as otherwise specifically provided by ordinance, shall be appointed and removed by the Mayor but only with the approval of at least two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council present voting upon the appointment or removal, and the employees shall be under the direction and control of the Mayor."

But during the due process hearing City Attorney Vester Parsley cited another section in the charter, which seems to conflict with Section 3.01 in that it allows for only " a majority of the board" to approve removal of employees by the mayor. Parsley recommended that the aldermen follow this section of the charter.

The section of the charter to which Parsley referred is Section 3.08 in Article III which states that "The appointment and promotion of employees of the city shall be on a basis of merit, considering technical knowledge and education required to perform satisfactorily the work, experience in the particular or similar line of work and administrative or supervisory qualifications. The Mayor, or the City Administrator, if established by the Board, may, with the approval of a majority of the Board, make appointments, promotions, transfers, demotions, suspensions, and removal of all employees".

In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking the court to preserve both sections of the charter but to find that Section 3.01 (requiring a 2/3 super majority vote) controls because it is more specific than Section 3.08. "Essentially what we are asking the court to do here is to tell us what provision of the city charter controls the removal of officers or employees of the City of Smithville, such as Chief Randy Caplinger. We contend that Section 3.01, subsection (2) controls. We have two statutes that appear to be in contradiction to one another. What we're asking the court to do is construe both of those statues in such a way that both of them can remain standing. In other words, the scope of Section 3.01, subsection (2) is very narrow. It deals with the ultimate employment actions that anyone can take which is appointment and removal. For those ultimate employment decisions that can be made by the mayor that section tells us that those must be approved by a super majority vote by the board. Section 3.08 is much broader and more general in its scope. It is much more far reaching in that it controls appointments, suspensions, demotions, promotions, and lateral transfers from one department to another. Furthermore it differs from the prior section (3.01) in that it says these decisions can be made unilaterally by the mayor or city administrator. The third way this section (3.08) differs is that it says these decisions must be ratified only by a simple majority of the board. What we say is both of those sections can stand if the court holds that the more specific statute controls. To hold that the general statute controls would result in a complete nullification of the entirety of 3.01, subsection 2 so we wouldn't be allowing both sections to stand. We are saying that applying that concept of statutory interpretation the more specific statute controls (3.01)," said Cripps.

Cripps and Cox also contend that the aldermen violated section 3.08 of the charter in that they failed to convene for a vote to ratify the mayor's unilateral suspension of Caplinger prior to the due process hearing. "We are saying that Chief Caplinger's employer, being the City of Smithville violated the provisions of the city's own charter in that they violated Section 3.08. How did they do that? Well on March 13 the mayor suspended Chief Caplinger and the Board, as required by Section 3.08 is supposed to convene a meeting and call for a vote on the question of whether or not to ratify the suspension of an officer or employee. The Board failed to abide by its own city charter. We contend therefore that this renders the suspension of Chief Caplinger a nullity and it renders it invalid," said Cripps.

"The final facet of our suit deals with a petition for other relief where we are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," Cripps concluded.

The City has not named a successor to Caplinger and Captain Steven Leffew remains as the “officer in charge” of the department.

School System Professional Personnel Hired for 2015-16

June 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. Danielle Collins

Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins has signed contracts with the Professional Personnel for the 2015-2016 school year.

Dr. Collins presented a list of the employees to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Certified personnel at each school are as follows:

DeKalb County High School-
Angie Anderson, Charlotte Blaylock, Danny Bond, Amanda Brown, Kathy Bryant, Chelsea Burch, Kevin Burchfield, Kelley Burgess, Jeanine Cantrell, Todd Cantrell, Gary Caplinger, Mary Anne Carpenter, Andrew Cook, Joe Pat Cope, Carla Crabtree, Lisa Craig, Patrick Cripps, Bethany Davis, Deborah DePriest, Andrew Dixon, Brittany Dixon, Donna Emmons, Marshall Ferrell, Tina Fletcher, Amanda Fuller, David Gash, Josh Gulley, Sara Halliburton, Susan Hinton, Sonja House, William Jennings, Natasha Judkins, Dylan Kleparek, Brad Leach, Lynus Martin, Martisha Maxwell, Taylor McDaniel, Rebecca Miller, Lori Myrick, Rolando Navarro, Jenny Norris, Scott Odom, Nallely Ortega-Prater, Shelly Painter, Walteen Parker, Linda Parris, Leslie Parsley, John Pryor, Mary Anne Puckett, Jane Rice, Marilyn Roberts, Melissa Ruch, Derek Schatz, Daniel Seber, Michael Shaw, Tracy Slone, Steve Trapp, Chris Vance, Michael Whitefield, Shea Wiegele, and Sara Young.

Northside Elementary School-
January Agee, Marla Beshearse, Kelly Birmingham, Mollie Bratten, Linda Bush, Shanea Cantrell, Megan Carroll, Trent Colwell, Michael Crockett, Alisha Day, Ashley Dean, Tabitha Farmer, Danny Fish, Jerry Foster, Carrie Gottlied, Amy Green, Amanda Griffith, Jennifer Griffith, Melissa Hale, Cynthia Hale, Jessica Hale, Patty Hale, Kirsten Hankal, Jennifer Herndon, Greg Hibdon, Lorie Isabell, Karen Jacobs, Shelly Jennings, Kristy Lasser, Lisa Mabe, Jama Martin, Amanda Mathis, Libby McCormick, Elizabeth Nolt, Josh Odom, Beth Pafford, Deb Poteete, Amy Raymond, Dr. Gayle Redmon, Ashley Reeves, Melissa Roysdon, Carol Sampley, Tammy Sims, Julie Styer, Carol Tripp, Kristen Van Vranken, Betsye Walker, Ginger Wenger, and Sandy Willingham.

DeKalb West School-
Joey Agee, Jessica Antoniak, Doris Cantrell, Jenny Cantrell, Jeanna Caplinger, William Conger, Kim Crook, Martha Damron, Tonya Ellis, Janet England, Sabrina Farler, Karen France, Ricky Hendrix, Cathleen Humphrey, Regina Kent, Nadina Manganiello, Shelia McMillen, Diana Moon, Amanda Mullinax, Tammy Payne, Brenda Pedigo (part-time), Cynthia Preston, Lori Pryor, Cynthia Pulley, Kelly Pyburn, Jennifer Shores, Teresa Sullivan, Shelia Vanatta, Natasha Vaughn, Susan West, Vicki Wilson, and Amy Young.

Smithville Elementary School-
Misty Agee, Ashley Barnes, Renee Beaty, Kelly Birmingham, Lindsey Bouldin, Whitney Brelje, Beth Cantrell, Alyssa Conger, Tiffany Cowart, Vicky Duke, Melba Farmer, Tina Gash, Sydney Gremmels, Vicky Hawker, Bradley Hendrix, Holly Hendrix, Mary Henny, Tanya Howard, Kelly Huling, Ana Jarvis, Amanda Johnson, Angela Johnson, Jennifer Judkins, Karen Knowles, Carrie Lee, Leah Magness, Kristen Malone, Adrienne McCormick, LeVaughnda Midgett, Hannah Mummert, Lisa Neal, Macy Nokes, Allison O'Conner, Susan Palmer, Joy Parker, Layra Parker, Jane Ramsey, Amanda Rhoady, Allison Rigsby, Bethany Rigsby, Heather Shehane, Jessica Styer, Carol Tallent, Ashlee Thomason, Janet Trapp, Carol Tripp, Julie Vincent, Sherian Waggoner, Tiffany Wheatley, Kristy Williams, Janet Woodward, Christie Young, and Crystal Young.

DeKalb Middle School-
Josh Agee, Lori Alexander, Suzette Barnes, Cassandra Binkley, Amee Cantrell, Nancy Cowan, Margaret Coyle, Amanda Dakas, Tena Davidson, Courtney Davis, Jenny Elrod, Holly Espinosa, Amy Farler, Jason Farley, Suzanne Gash, Lesa Hayes, Lori Hendrix, Cecilia Jenkins, Randy Jennings, Bryan Jones, Michelle Jones, Amy Key, Natalie Kintz, Michael Lewis, Michael Littrell, Martha Melching, Debra Moore, Justin Nokes, Emily Phillips, Justin Poteete, Anita Puckett, Cody Randolph, Candice Scrabo, Penny Smitty, Tonya Sullivan, Kitty Thomas, Felicia Warden, Tad Webb, Jennifer West, Rebecca Whimpey, Kathryn Wisinger, and Alicia Wittenberg.

Central Office Staff-
Gina Arnold, Katherine Ballard, Lisa Bell, Michelle Burklow, Dr. Danielle Collins, Lisa Cripps, Amy Fox, Amy Lattimore, Joey Reeder, Dee Anna Reynolds, and Lori Rogers.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education voted to grant a professional license to the following teachers upon the recommendation of Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins:

Molllie H. Bratten, Megan Carroll, Bethany Davis, Amy Key, Mary Ann Puckett, Julie Styer, Sara Young, Kelley Burgess, Trent Colwell, Suzanne Gash, Diana Moon, Michael Shaw, Ashlee Thomason, Amee Cantrell, Gary Caplinger, Sara L. Halliburton, Joshua Odom, Heather Shehane, and Jalene Vanatta.

According to Dr. Collins, these teachers have successfully completed the statutory apprentice period of three years as required for license advancement. "It is my recommendation that these teachers be recommended for professional license," wrote Dr. Collins

Meanwhile, those who have resigned or retired since last month are as follows:

Mike Eaton, resigned, maintenance worker
Carl Malone, retired, custodian, DCHS
Dorothy Colvert, resigned, teacher, Northside Elementary School
Sharon Washer, retired, cook, Northside Elementary School
Susan Palmer, retired, teacher, Smithville Elementary School
Hannah Mummert, resigned, teacher, Smithville Elementary School
Tara Smith, resigned, County-Wide
Dan Hooper, resigned, teacher, Northside Elementary School

Support Staff Hired for New School Year

June 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. Danielle Collins

Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins has employed the support staff for the 2015-2016 school year.

The personnel report was submitted to the Board of Education during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting

Those employed at DeKalb County High School are:
Rena Adcock, Vicky Atnip, Wanda Bradford, Kathy Chapman, Kenderly Cripps, Debbie Eaton, Regina Estes, Beverly Ferrell, Darnette Hibdon, Melissa Hicks, Deborah Magness, Thomas Maney, Charles Martin, Marsha Martin, Paulette McDonald, Rhonda Merriman, Sara Parker, JoAnn Pittman, Brian Reed, Denise Rutland, Vicky Sandlin, Carol Swope, Norman Underhill, Tiffanie VanWinkle, Jamie Wright, and Debbie Young.

DeKalb Middle School:
Sue Arnold, Jennifer Benton, Pauline Braswell, Anita Conley, Tammy Ferrell, Fay Gilreath, Doris Graham, Jeremy Haas, Connie Haggard, Debbie Knowles, Tammy Maynard, Angie Moore, Chris Moore, Lisa Norton, Paula Pinegar, Pauletta Ruffner, Mary Sanders, Teresa Spenser, Vicky Walker, and Polly Wilkins.

Smithville Elementary School:
Janis Barnes, Brenda Beth Cantrell, Katherine Collins, Debora Cunningham, Cindi Dias, Darlene Evans, Jennifer Gay, Betty Griffith, Jean Hayes, Milinda League, Sara Lomas, Talitha Looney, Pat Milam, Tera Mooneyham, Eden Nokes, Michelle Overstreet, Holly Owens, Rebecca Parker, Rhonda Pelham, Amelia Phillips, Freeda Phillips, Lori Poss, Stephanie Reeder, Brenda Rigney, Jennifer Roller, James Storie, Peggy Sutton, Amanda Trapp, Mary-Margaret Tripp, Tammy Tyler, Danny Van Dyne, and Celia Whaley.

Northside Elementary:
Pam Baines, Sue Close, Evril Cubbins, Tena Edwards, Terrie Ford, Robbie Joan Frazier, Gary Good, Phyllis Hallum, Sherry Judkins, Melinda Lattimore, Sunshine Martin, Thelma Martin, Rebecca Moss, Lynn Pichey, Jo Dean Redmon, Tenille Rowland, Ruby Thomason, JoAnn Vanatta, Kim Violet, Deneene Willingham, and Rita Young.

DeKalb West School:
Holly Bain, Brenda Bandy, Donna Driver, Dorothy Duggin, Janet Fish, Pauline Frazier, Stephanie Fuson, Shelly Gibson, Lisa Hale, Donna Hale, Jennifer Martin, Nancy Mulloy, Faye Nixon, Tina Paschal, Rhonda Pilgrim, Elizabeth Redmon, Beverly Starnes, Kristi Sullivan, and Rena Willoughby.

County Wide Positions:
Chandra Adcock, Heather Billings, Teresa Billings, Chance Bomen, Kristen Braseel, W.C. Braswell, Cindy Childers, Tommy Clark, Christie Colwell, Billy Curtis, Bettye June Dodd, Christie Driver, Wade Ferrell, Julie Fitts, Greg Frasier, LeAnne Frasier, Yvonne Hale, Rebecca Hawkins, Terry Hicks, Lois Hilderman, Earl Jared, Freda Johnson, Tammy Judkins, Jenean Lawson, Debbie London, Shirley Mathis, Brelle McCormick, Donna McManus, Elsie Miller, April Odom, Shirley Ours, Walter Phillips ,Danny Pirtle, Jr., Melissa Pirtle, Jo Dean Redmon, Joyce Robinson, Roger Sharp, Cindy Taylor, Kimberly Turner, Barbara Vanatta, Jamie Vickers, Robin Warren, Judy Wiggins, and Joannie Williams.

Transportation:
Danny Bond, Dwayne Cantrell, Shara Cowan, Suzanne Dunn, Debbie Eaton, Ricky Edwards, Marshall Ferrell, Julie Fitts, Tina Fletcher, Linda Fowler, Bill Fowler, Lynn Griffith, Orlando Guzman, Donald Haggard, Darnette Hibdon, Melissa Hicks, Kathy Jacobs, Danny Jenkins, Dwight Knowles, Daniel Lawson, Donnie Lewis, Bobby Martin, Roy Merriman, Michael Merriman, Ronald Merriman, Linda Gail Pack, Melissa Peranteau, Jimmy Poss, Myron Rhody, Corine Seifert, Jimmy Sprague, Carol Swope, Ken Taylor, Bobby Taylor, B.J. Thomason, Tony Trapp, Danny Washer, and Angela Wilkerson.

New Industry Off to Great Start

June 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chris Vanatta (left) and Tim West
Cabinets made by Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc
Kitchen Cabinets made by Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc

Smithville's newest industry is off to a great start

After only eight months in operation, Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc. is already preparing to relocate to a larger facility within the next two weeks.

The company, manufacturer of custom cabinets, began operations in October after renting the old popcorn factory building on Miller Road. The owners, President Tim West and Vice President Chris Vanatta soon realized that the facility would not be large enough to meet the growing demands for their products. They have since purchased the old Texas Boot building just down the street.

Both West and Vanatta spoke with WJLE in an interview Tuesday.

"We opened October 1, 2014 and began setting equipment. We started with Chris and I and two other employees setting equipment. In November 2014, we started up production with one set. In December we began taking on two or three sets per week (smaller jobs). By January 1 we were in full production. We're outgrowing this location. This building (old popcorn factory) is 32,000 square feet. We're using 23,000 square feet of it. We're going to need more square footage in order to be able to hire the people and put in the extra processes to get the job done," said West.

"Within the next week or two, we'll be relocating to the old Texas Boot building. We're currently moving things but we won't be completely up there for probably two weeks," added Vanatta.

According to West, the company currently employs around twenty five people but plans are to add hundreds more over the next few years. "Our first year is going well. We started laying foundations in the very beginning in putting things in place. But the sales grew so fast that between Chris, myself, and another office person we could not keep up with it so we've had to bring extra people in to do separate jobs. We were trying to wear many hats and do several different jobs. It didn't take but a few months to outgrow that. Our ultimate plan is going to be like a seven to eight year plan. We'd love to get to a $50 million dollar a year company, which would employ 350 plus people based on those sales," he said.

While the industry is capable of dealing directly with the consumer for custom work, they primarily sell to distributors and designers. " It's mainly custom cabinets but we do basically any type of cabinetry or wood work that they need for their house including trim, book cases, entertainment centers, vanities, etc. People can come by and tell us what they need. We would need a set of drawings and any pictures of what you would like. We can show you some door styles and color blocks but we're not a design house. We are doing a few local jobs but most of ours is through distributors," said Vanatta.

Master Custom Cabinetry currently does business in six states. By bringing in revenue from other places, West said the company is contributing to the economy in Tennessee. "We're currently selling in six states and bringing in revenue from other states that is distributed a lot here in Tennessee not only with employment, but we deal with local businesses, hardware, and supply places. We try to do everything we can locally as far as buying from local vendors. The majority of the other vendors we do have as far as hardwoods and plywood and things of that nature. They are all Tennessee based. So we are distributing the money back into the state of Tennessee," West said.

Master Custom Cabinetry is an equal opportunity employer and while skilled laborers are preferred, on the job training is available. "We have some people that have training in a specialized field. For example, in our finish department, we have people with training in finish, but we also have hired people we are training in finish," said West.

"We want to start training people three deep. For example, if you have one guy that's over the cutting department, we want him to train two other people so that if he gets sick or goes on vacation, it's not a big deal. He can leave without having to worry about the job getting done. If you've got two other people filling in for him, it keeps the production and flow going. We don't want people to work harder. We want to make it to where they can work smarter and enjoy what they are doing," West continued.

As for wages, West said the industry is competitive with others in the area and plans to offer attractive benefits to employees. "We're trying to be competitive. Our wages depends on their experience as to where we start them out at. Our very entry level jobs start at $8.50 per hour. We look at it at 30 days as far as how fast they progress and then every six months we review their performance and set goals for them. As long as they make the goals and they're at work like they should be then they will get their raises every six months until they top out. We're still in the process of determining where that top out is. We also want to try and give the employee a bonus two times a year for the person who is working on the floor. We want to be able to give them a bonus at Christmas and when they take their vacation," added West.

"One of the best benefits we're going to try to do as a company is we're only going to shut down during the Christmas holidays. We will probably shut down for three or four days during the Christmas season to let the whole company off. As far as the summer vacation, what we're going to do for the employees is let them plan a time when it is convenient for them and their spouse or family. They'll be able to plan their vacation when they need it or when it will be best for them. We're going to work with them on that. After they are here for one year, they will have one week of paid vacation. Probably after three years, they'll get two weeks. We're still trying to determine where that three week vacation mark will be. We haven't decided on that," said West.

Currently , the company works one shift but it may have to alter that as the business continues to grow. "When we go up there (new location) our main goal is to have one shift but there will be times when we will be running either a split shift or two shifts and we may even work toward having a full second shift at some point," said Vanatta.

"Our normal work schedule week is Monday-Thursday. We work 10 hour days. That's our 40 hours. If we have overtime to do, we have Friday left for that. At this point we've had to work about every Friday," added West.

Both West and Vanatta said they want their company to be family friendly and supportive of the community. "We try to create a family atmosphere. In the morning, we have meetings for those who want to participate. We actually have a prayer meeting. We pray for any family needs they have. We want to be a Christian based company and put God first in everything we do. We truly want to be a community based company. We want to support the community. We want to give back to this town and the people," West concluded.

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