Local News Articles

Wendy Askins, Mike Foster, Larry Webb Indicted by Federal Grand Jury

September 26, 2013
Dwayne Page
Wendy Askins
Larry Webb
Mike Foster

A federal grand jury has indicted three former officials from the Upper Cumberland Development District, including DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster in an alleged conspiracy into the misappropriation of federal funds stemming from the Living the Dream project.


ucdd-indictments.pdf (679.76 KB)

Former UCDD executive director Wendy Askins and former assistant director Larry Webb of DeKalb County are charged with conspiracy, embezzlement, bank fraud, unlawful monetary transactions and making false statements.
Foster, who formerly served as chair of the UCDD board, was also indicted along with Askins for making false statements to the agency's board of directors.

According to the sixteen count indictment, Askins and Webb and others "conspired and perpetrated a scheme to convert over $670,000 of government funds intended for the Upper Cumberland Development District, the Cumberland Regional Development District, and Cumberland Area Investment Corporation to the use of Living the Dream, which was owned by Askins and Webb," according to the indictment.

Askins was the Executive Director of UCDD and was responsible for the day to day operations and management of UCDD, CRDC, and CAIC. Webb was the Deputy Director of UCDD and was responsible for assisting Askins.

Living the Dream consisted of three Tennessee Corporations, Living the Dream/Independent Living for Seniors, Inc (a non-profit), Living the Dream/Retirement Living for Seniors, Inc. (a non-profit), and Living the Dream/Independent Living for Seniors, Inc. (A for-profit), which were incorporated either solely by Webb or by Webb and Askins. In general, the stated purpose of Living the Dream was to provide affordable housing. In this regard, Living the Dream (LTD) was empowered to acquire, rehabilitate, own, operate, maintain, manage, lease, sell, mortgage, and otherwise dispose of such housing facilities, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that "Askins and Webb incorporated LTD as either a non-profit or profit entity and caused funds from UCDD and CRDC to be transferred to LTD, without seeking the approval of the UCDD or CRDC Board of Directors."

"Askins and Webb caused LTD to purchase property using funds that were transferred from UCDD's bank account without the prior approval of the UCDD, CRDC, or LTD Board of Directors and sought and obtained bank loans and lines of credit to renovate tghe property by using property and bank accounts of UCDD as collateral for the loans. The loan proceeds were then transferred to LTD without prior approval of the CRDC Board of Directors," according to the indictment.

"In order to hide, conceal, and cover up the illegal activity, Askins and Webb directed other individuals to alter official minutes of UCDD meetings and to delete audio recordings of meetings. Askins then lied about the alterations and deletions. Askins advised Webb and another that they should get their stories straight before a UCDD Board meeting and prepared a false statement which was read to the meeting by Mike Foster," as alleged in the indictment.

"On January 19,2012, during a specially called UCDD Executive Committee Board meeting, Foster read a prepared statement regarding the LTD project and the Board's approval of the transfer of $300,000 from UCDD to CRDC on February 16, 2010. Foster recommended the retroactive approval of the altered February 16, 2010 minutes and the Executive Committee voted to retroactively approve the minutes," according to the indictment.

The indictment against Foster alleges that "On or about January 19, 2012 Askins and Foster aided and abetted by each other, did willfully and knowingly make and cause to be made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations to wit: Askins and Foster stated and represented to the UCDD Executive Committee of the Board of Directors that the UCDD Executive Committee had discussed and intended to approve the transfer of UCDD funds to CRDC for the purpose of the LTD project at the February 16, 2010 UCDD Executive Committee Board meeting. Whereas, in truth and in fact, Askins and Foster then and there knew well and believed, the UCDD Executive Committee had not discussed nor intended to approve the transfer of UCDD money to CRDC for the LTD project on February 16, 2010."

Askins and Webb were placed on administrative leave in February 2012, pending an internal investigation.

Two months later, as that internal investigation was being finalized, both submitted their resignations.

If convicted, Askins faces up to 225 years in federal prison and $6.75 million in fines on all charges. Webb faces 220 years and $6.5 million in fines.

Foster faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the one count.
ucdd-indictments.pdf (1 MB)

DeKalb Household Hazardous Waste Collection Set for Saturday

September 26, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

The State of Tennessee has set the Hazardous Waste Collection Day for Saturday, September 28 for DeKalb and surrounding counties. This collection will take place at the lot between DeKalb Farmers Coop and the Smithville Church of God on West Broad Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Typical items for disposal include cleaning fluids, pesticides, mercury thermometers and thermostats, fluorescent bulbs, lithium and button batteries, aerosols, adhesives, medications, brake fluid, swimming pool chemicals and paint thinner. Business waste from conditionally exempt small quantity generators is now acceptable for a fee and by appointment. To request a price quote and schedule an appointment, please contact 615-643-3180. Items not accepted include ammunition, explosives, alkaline batteries, paint, electronics and medical waste.

"We'll take computers, computer components, televisions, batteries, herbicides, insecticides and those kinds of things. If you have some medicines you want to get rid of, bring those and we'll properly dispose of them," said County Mayor Mike Foster.

"We're going to have some people there from the landfill too so if you have a question about anything that you think might not be hazardous household waste, bring it anyway. We'll have a can there," he said.

When transporting materials to the site, it is important to place containers in sturdy boxes lined with newspaper to prevent spills and cross-contamination in the trunk of a car or back of a truck. Be sure to keep materials away from children and pets. Materials should be kept in the original container whenever possible. If not, place the waste in a plastic jug with a secure lid and label its contents.

Waste collected at the Hazardous Waste Day is disposed of according to State of Tennessee recommendations. Lead-acid batteries and mercury are recycled. Paints, kerosene, contaminated motor oil, gasoline, solvents and other flammable or combustible liquids are blended to make a fuel for industrial kilns and boilers. Liquids such as antifreeze and cleaners are treated to make them less hazardous. Most pesticides, herbicides, aerosol cans, cleaners, waxes and flammable materials (not suitable for fuel use) are burned in special high temperature incinerators equipped with monitoring instruments and air pollution control devices. In the rare case that materials collected are not suitable for other disposal methods, they will be placed in a secure chemical landfill. This is also used for residues produced by other treatment methods.

“Disposing of hazardous waste by burning, dumping onto the ground or down the sink, or putting in the trash can or directly into the landfill is unacceptable because those methods can cause irreversible environmental damage to the air and groundwater,” Foster said.

Willoughby Says State Education Commissioner "Out of Touch"

September 25, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby
Kevin Huffman

Saying State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is out of touch with educators, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has joined dozens of other Superintendents across the state in signing a petition that has been sent to Governor Bill Haslam.

The petition originated with Dan Lawson, director of the Tullahoma City Schools but Willoughby wholeheartedly supports it.

The petition alleges that Huffman's office "has no interest in a dialogue" with local officials and the superintendents' efforts to improve their schools are being thwarted by low teacher morale because of policy changes on the state level.

In a recent indepth interview, Director Willoughy and members of his central office staff went into more detail with WJLE about issues of concern not completely covered in the letter to the governor.

"We would like for the Commissioner of Education to have a dialogue with the people in the trenches. The people who are doing the work. We would like for him to listen to us and take in what we're saying and just not give a canned speech back to us. That's what we feel is happening," Willoughby said. "When we do have an opportunity to tell him our concerns, which in my opinion are very few times, he says he listens but in my opinion it goes in one ear and out the other. The majority of the people in the field of education have been in it for years and years and have a lot to offer and a lot of experience. They should be heard," he said.

According to Director Willoughby, educators are concerned that the commissioner is trying to implement too many changes too quickly, not giving local school systems time to adjust. In some cases, educators are outright opposed to changes being proposed. "What the letter (petition) is basically saying is that we would like for the Commissioner to slow down on everything he is trying to implement. "Teacher evaluations, curriculum and content, and test changes. All of this is happening at once. Teachers and kids can't keep up," he said.

"When the teacher evaluation system started it created a hardship especially for school systems like ours that didn't have assistant principals (to help with the evaluations). " I don't think our Commissioner realized there were schools in Tennessee that did not have assistant principals. During the training process for the evaluation, administrators went to the training. Teachers saw a 45 minute video and then after the next couple of weeks, administrators were in their classrooms evaluating them (teachers). I don't think that's a proper way to implement something. It was basically shoved down everybody's throat. If he (Commissioner) would come and be in the schools and actually see what our children and teachers are doing in the classroom, maybe he would appreciate that more," Willoughby said.

"Our goal as administrators is to help teachers become the best they can be," said Director Willoughby. "We have some teachers who are fantastic when they start out teaching and they do wonderful. Others improve with time. This administration seems to think when you start you had better be close to on top," he said. But instead of being attentive to the needs of educators, state officials have created a climate of uncertainty for many, tying teacher licenses to student test data, according to Gina Arnold, Special Education Supervisor. " We were trained with a new teacher evaluation model, which was a national training model. But Tennessee redesigned it and tweaked it to be a way to link how a teacher is doing with punishment repercussions for not scoring a certain score or doing a certain thing. No other state has used it in this way. Tennessee now uses it as a punishment," said Arnold.

Under the proposed changes to teacher licensure, which will be implemented July 1, 2015, the three most recent years of performance data will be reviewed at the time for professional license renewal. In order to renew a professional license, an educator must have earned a 2 or better on the overall evaluation and individual growth score (if applicable) for at least two of the last three years. If the teacher has not met performance expectations, the professional license will be extended for one year under review status. If the teacher has not met performance expectations through the TEAM evaluation model at the end of the review status period, the license may not be renewed.

This type of evaluation isn't fair to anyone, according to Willoughby but especially to special education teachers. "When you're asking them (special education students) to learn and grow at the same rate as others and you're going to withhold their (teachers) license (if they don't), it doesn't seem like it's right to me. In certain cases, you (teachers) would be able to appeal that or go back to college. But, for example, if a teacher in Metro Nashville lost their license because of test scores, they could not come to another county and apply to teach because they wouldn't have a license," said Director Willoughby.

"In our training they said for this (evaluation) to be valuable for teachers, it has to be used in a way for them to be able to strengthen an area that they may be weak in and not feel like they're not going to be rehired because of it or lose their license. In no other profession can you lose your license in this manner. You shouldn't lose a license based on a score on one test . When you're measuring overall quality, that is just one piece," added Arnold.

Teachers' groups have also criticized Commissioner Huffman for calling for changes to the minimum teacher salary schedule for new teachers, reducing steps in salary increases from 21 to four and eliminating incentives for doctorate degrees and post-master's training.

" He (Commissioner) would like a new teacher to start at a certain salary and not get an increase until their sixth year and the next increase would not come until their eleventh year which would be top out. In my opinion that would be the wrong thing to do.," said Willoughby. "Young teachers who have just graduated from school and have debt. You (commissioner ) are not going to give them a pay raise for six years and you're expecting us to recruit more people into the teaching field? This Commissioner of Education is out of touch," said Willoughby.

"Under the current pay scale there are gradual step increases over twenty one years of service. The proposal is to bring it down to four levels," said Arnold. "Right now if you have a bachelor's degree, that's one scale. If you have a Master's degree, that's another. If you have an EDS, an educational specialist or doctorate, there is a scale for that. Currently, the level of pay increases each time you improve your degree," she said. "Under the proposed new scale, someone with a Master's degree would get the same increase as someone who has a Doctorate degree. People are not going to advance their degrees (under proposed new pay plan). They're not going to go back and get additional training because it will not benefit them financially to do so," said Arnold.

Director Willoughby said he and other educators also don't like the idea as some have proposed of using public tax dollars to help fund private and charter schools through vouchers and other means. " I don't have anything against private schools. If anyone wants their child to go to a private school, that's fine but I do not think it is proper to take public money and fund private schools or charter schools. That takes money away from our public schools. Charter schools are not public schools and the states does not hold private and charter schools to the same accountability standards as public schools," he said.

Willoughby also takes issue with whether Commissioner Huffman should have the authority to override decisions of local school boards who don't want charter schools in their districts. "In Metro-Davidson County last year, a charter school had requested to be approved through the board of education. The board turned it down. When the board turned that down, the Commissioner of Education withdrew $3.2 million from Metro-Davidson County. That doesn't seem to be the right thing to do. Metro has many charter schools and they were only asking that this charter school follow the same regulations that the other charter schools follow," said Willoughby.

Arnold said she would like to see the state shift its focus more toward funding better resources for classrooms. "A lot of money has been put into creating more rigorous assessments but I would like to see more funding filtered to classrooms where teachers could have the resources they need to have more books, computers and enough technology for the kids," said Arnold.

"We're asking our teachers and children to compete with schools that have tools that we're not going to be able to afford (in DeKalb County). "A child will read off an IPAD when they don't read as much out of a book. Technology has changed so much and we need the resources to change with it. In 2015 we're supposed to give all-online tests. I sure hope that happens. I don't know how every child will be able to take all of their assessments (if it doesn't happen). If the state is going to demand that we do something by passing these policies and making these changes, then they need to fund it," Willoughby said.

"Our teachers and administrators are working extremely hard. Harder than they ever have. They're held more accountable than they have ever been held accountable. I think they are also less appreciated by the state than they have ever been appreciated," said Director Willoughby.

Despite concerns, Willoughby admits progress has been made in education but he would like state education officials to give credit for that where it is due, to teachers. "I regret that when our Commissioner talks about progress that has been made, it comes across that he is taking credit for that. The credit should be given to the teachers and the administrators that are in the schools. I feel that he does not recognize the hard work teachers are doing because he hasn't been in the schools to see the hard work they are doing," Willoughby concluded.

The petition letter to the Governor states as follows:

"The superintendents who have chosen to sign this document have enjoyed hundreds of years of experience and have led schools in the state of Tennessee to accomplish tremendous outcomes. Each signee aspires to accomplish more and utilize state and community resources to continue with the challenging task of comprehensive and sustained school improvement. The schools we are working to improve are in the communities where we live and serve our children".

"As leaders, we have participated in some of the most comprehensive reform efforts in our nation. Our participation has been intentional with a goal of providing a brighter future for the children in our charge while improving increased economic, educational and social opportunities in our state."

"During the last year, the signees have developed a belief that the office of the Commissioner of Education in this administration has no interest in a dialogue with those of us providing leadership for school systems. We have begun to feel that the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education considers school teachers, principals and superintendents impediments to school improvement rather than partners. While no superintendent will have all the answers, we are confident that many of the efforts underway by our state would be enhanced by our active voice and genuine participation in the decision development process."

"Superintendents have attempted to accomplish participation in the decision making process through the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, through the Superintendents Study Council and through more informal measures. Instead of a receptive ear, our overtures have been met with scripted messages and little interest in accomplishing great change by changing culture."

"It has become obvious to the signees that our efforts to acquire a voice within this administration is futile. We have been patient, professional and focused on the needs of each of our communities but the expertise we have and the passion we feel must become a part of the efforts to improve Tennessee education."

"The superintendents signed hereto have been willing to take this extraordinary step not as an act of resistance rather as a plea out of a sense of responsibility for each of the communities we serve. Today we feel that we are not respected or valued and that the unique culture of our state is not valued. Today, we feel that we are unable to lead many improvement efforts due to our change of attempting to address morale issues of many of our employees who feel voiceless and powerless."

"We are not content with the current leadership and feel that we are not best serving our state in this manner. We request that Governor Haslam and members of the Tennessee General Assembly consider carefully and prayerfully the future of free public education in our state and address our concerns and the concerns of many of our parents, teachers, and principals," the letter concluded.

Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen Sworn Into Office, New Fire Chief Appointed

September 25, 2013
Dwayne Page
Bennett Armstrong, Pat Jackson, Addie Farley, Jim York, Tony Tarpley
Brian Partridge (left), Jim York (center), Gene Bonfoey (right)
Ria Baker Receives Plaque from City for serving  Seven Years as Mayor

Newly elected Alexandria Mayor Jim York was sworn into office Tuesday night during the regular monthly meeting of the city council.

City attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. administered the oath of office to York, who succeeds Ria Baker as Mayor. She served for seven years. Baker was presented a plaque for her years of dedication and service to the city.

York was elected mayor earlier this month to a four year term. Alderman Pat Jackson was also elected to a four year term.

The council Tuesday night appointed incumbent aldermen Tony Tarpley and Addie Farley to remain on the board and chose newcomer Bennett Armstrong to fill another vacant alderman seat.

Tarpley was named for a four year term. Farley and Armstrong are to serve two years, filling unexpired terms.

All were sworn into office by City attorney Parsley.

One of Mayor York's first actions was to name a new fire chief.

Gene Bonfoey submitted his letter of resignation after giving his monthly report. Bonfoey, though stepping down as chief, said he still wants to be involved with the department. Bonfoey recommended that assistant chief Brian Partridge get the position. Mayor York concurred and appointed Partridge the new fire chief.

Both Bonfoey and Partridge said the city fire department is in need of more volunteers. The department currently has only about ten active members.

Meanwhile city recorder/clerk Ashley Roth announced her resignation, effective October 15.

Mallory Sullivan Claims Region Golf Title, Advances to State for Fourth Year

September 25, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mallory Sullivan Wins Region Golf Tournament

DeKalb County High School's Mallory Sullivan, won the Region 4-A/AA Golf tournament Monday at White Plains in Cookeville with a 3-under 69.

With the victory, Sullivan becomes the first female DCHS golfer to advance to the state tournament in all four years but it is the first time she has won the region tournament.

Another DeKalb County golfer, Payne Denman advanced to the state tournament in all four years in the boys competition during his years at DCHS. He is now a junior at Middle Tennessee State.

In Monday's round at White Plains, Signal Mountain’s Bethany Burns came in as second medalist with a 1-under 71, while Macon County’s Kaitlin Cartwright shot a 72.

Macon County claimed the team title with a 158, edging Signal Mountain (163) by five strokes. Other teams participating in the tournament were Clay County (171), Central Magnet (173), Chattanooga Christian (182) and DeKalb County (187).

The individual girls state qualifiers included Sullivan, Burns, Central Magnet’s Abbey Burgdorf (74) and Savanna Strode (81) of Clay County.

DeKalb County's Lexy Spry had a score of 118.

For the boys , Notre Dame (295) claimed the team title followed by Signal Mountain. They were followed by Macon County (302), Goodpasture (311), Central Magnet (336) and Jackson County (366).

Chattanooga Christian’s Lake Johnson won the individual title with a 5-under 67. Macon County’s Larken Whittemore was a stroke behind at 4-under 68, and Signal Mountain’s Sullivan Baker was next at 3-under 69.

Others who carded under-par rounds were Notre Dame’s Alexander Riddle (70) and Reese Scobey (71), and Chattanooga Christian’s Scott Stevens (71).

DeKalb County's Ethan Roller shot a 78 and Dylan Young an 80

Johnson, Whittemore, Baker and Stevens were the boys individual state qualifiers.

The Class A/AA state tournament is next Tuesday and Wednesday at Manchester’s WillowBrook.

Sullivan finished 11th in the state tournament as a freshman, she was the runner-up as a sophomore and tied for 14th as a junior.

Estes Dies in Truck Wreck

September 24, 2013
Dwayne Page
Nathan Estes

A 38 year old Smithville man died in a pickup truck crash on Highway 264 (Temperance Hall Road) in Smith County Tuesday morning.

Dead is Nathan Estes.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Estes was driving north in a 2000 Chevy pickup truck when he ran off the left side of the roadway and struck a tree. The truck then skidded sideways, flipped, and came to rest against another tree. Estes was partially trapped under the vehicle. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

According to the THP, the accident occurred around 6:45 a.m.

The crash was investigated by Trooper Gerald Carter, Trooper Tommy Cooper, and Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Estes was a member of the Mount Hope The Baptist Church and he worked as a miner at Nyrstar Zinc Mine in Smith County.

The funeral will be Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at the Chapel of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Dwight Knowles will officiate and burial will be in DeKalb Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Thursday from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.; Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.; and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.

He was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, John Estes and his maternal grandparents, Sterling and Roberta Martin.

Survivors include his mother, Rita Estes Martin; his father, Phillip and wife Billie Estes; and three brothers, Andy and wife Emily Estes, Dustin Estes, and Gage Estes all of Smithville. Two step-sisters, Tammy Eaton of Watertown and Penny Edwards of Smithville. One step-brother, Stephen Patterson of Smithville. Paternal grandmother, Eleaise Estes of Liberty. An aunt, Donna and husband Dwight Knowles of Smithville. An uncle, Russell Estes of Dowelltown. A niece, Andrea Kate Estes of Smithville and special loved one, Makayla Cornett Bain of Smithville.

Love-Cantrell Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Sheriff's Department Makes Three Arrests for Domestic Assault

September 23, 2013
Dwayne Page
Casey Marie Givens
Donald Avery Donaldson
David Lynn Martin
Abigail Vogel

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made three arrests in recent days for domestic assault.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 28 year old Casey Marie Givens of Dale Ridge Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on September 26. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, September 16 a deputy was called to a residence on Dale Ridge Road to check out a complaint of domestic violence. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Givens' mother who said that she tried to defend herself as Casey came toward her. She claims Casey threw a pen at her but missed and that is what started the fight. According to Sheriff Ray, others in the home witnessed the incident and related what happened to the officer on the scene. Givens was determined to be the primary aggressor and she was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Donald Avery Donaldson of Johnson Chapel Road, Sparta is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court September 26. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, September 18 a deputy was called to a residence on Johnson Chapel Road in answer to a domestic complaint. The officer spoke with a woman who claimed she had been assaulted by her boyfriend, Donaldson. The woman had scratches around her eye and back. She also had a swollen place on her arm as if she had been bitten. The woman was transported to the emergency room of the hospital for treatment. Donaldson was determined to be the primary aggressor and he was brought to the jail for booking.

David Lynn Martin of Bethel Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court October 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, September 20 a deputy was dispatched to Martin's residence to check out an assault call. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with 33 year old Abigail Vogel who had scratch marks on her neck, leg, and back. She claimed that Martin pushed her out the door and that he had broken a TV set and the windshield in her vehicle. Martin was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. Meanwhile, Vogel, who was apparently not supposed to be at this residence, was arrested for violation of an order of protection. According to Sheriff Ray, Vogel has had an order of protection against her since April. Vogel was brought to the jail for booking. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on October 3.

52 year old Wilma D. Chupp of Dean Acres Lane, Liberty is charged with two counts of theft of property under $500. Her bond is $2,000 and she will be in court on September 26. Sheriff Ray said that Chupp took money from a purse twice at a residence off of Dale Ridge Road on the same day, Thursday September 12. According to Sheriff Ray, Chupp signed a statement admitting to having taken the money from this residence on these and other occasions.

64 year old Jerry Lynn Burger of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court October 3. He was also issued citations for leaving the scene of an accident, failure to maintain his lane of travel, and no insurance. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, September 20 Burger was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 but after stopping, an officer saw Burger get out of his vehicle and fall down. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he appeared to have used the bathroom on himself. No field sobriety tasks were given due to his level of intoxication but Burger did submit to a blood test. He was brought to the jail for booking and then transported to the emergency room of the hospital for further evaluation. According to Sheriff Ray, several persons claimed they saw Burger run off the road and hit a sign.

58 year old Floyd Eugene Lockhart of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with violation of the sex offender registry. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court October 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, September 20 Lockhart was in the same residence with a four year old male and his grandmother . As a sex offender, Sheriff Ray said Lockhart is to have no contact with any child under the age of eighteen. Lockhart was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

29 year old Megan Ann Tramel of Midway Road, Smithville and 38 year old Earnest Paul Barnwell of Lee Street, Sparta are each charged with criminal trespassing. Bond for each is $2,500 and they will be in court October 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, September 21 a deputy was called to check out a suspicious vehicle at the Lake Motel. Upon arrival, the officer discovered that the vehicle belonged to Tramel. Knowing where Tramel's family lives, the deputy went there and found Megan Tramel and Earnest Paul Barnwell. Both Tramel and Barnwell had previously been ordered by a family caretaker to stay away from the residence. Tramel and Barnwell were arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

41 year old Kristie Renea Waggoner of Grandview Drive, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. She was further issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. Her bond is $4,000 and she will be in court October 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, September 21, a deputy responded to a domestic call on Winter Drive. Upon arrival, the officer saw Waggoner sitting in the driver's seat of her car with the engine running. She was holding an infant child in her lap. While speaking with her, the deputy smelled an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle. The deputy asked her to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tasks but she refused to submit to the tests. She was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. While Waggoner was talking with the officer, he could smell alcohol on her breath. After speaking with Waggoner and observing her actions and behavior, she was placed under arrest. She refused to submit to a blood test. Because of a previous DUI against her and the fact that she had a child with her on this occasion, Waggoner was served with a search warrant to obtain a blood draw.

43 year old Anna Faye Colburn of King Ridge Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. She was also issued citations for possession of drug paraphernalia (two hypodermic needles and a cut straw). Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court October 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, September 21 a deputy was dispatched to the area of New Home Road on a disturbance call. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with Colburn who had reported to be running across yards in the rain. She was very unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. Colburn was placed under arrest.

Dillard Wins Re-election to DTC Board of Directors

September 22, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jimmy Oakley, Roy N. Pugh, David Parker, James H. Dillard, Jr.

James H. Dillard, Jr. of the Gordonsville Exchange won re-election to the DTC Communications Board of Directors Saturday beating challenger Ronnie Burton.

Dillard received 266 votes and Burton garnered 115 votes.

The other three incumbent directors up for re-election all won without opposition including Roy N. Pugh from the Auburntown exchange with 229 votes; Jimmy Oakley from the Temperance Hall exchange with 231 votes and David Parker from the Woodland exchange with 218 votes.

The results of the election were announced Saturday during the annual meeting of DTC Communications at the fairgrounds in Alexandria

All four directors elected Saturday will serve for three years.

The DTC Communications Board of Directors, in addition to Pugh, Dillard, Oakley, and Parker is made up of Ronnie Garrison of Smithville, Randy Campbell of Liberty, Bennie Curtis of Alexandria, Terry McPeak of Norene, Charles Dwight Vinson of Milton, and Greg Rogers of Woodbury.

Senior Class Takes Top Float Award at DCHS Homecoming Parade (SEE VIDEO HERE)

September 20, 2013
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County High School students celebrated the last day of Spirit Week with a Homecoming Day parade Friday afternoon.

The Tiger football team's homecoming opponent Friday night is the Cannon County Lions and the floats in the parade had a Tiger versus Lions theme.

The parade featured Homecoming Queen Ashley Medlin and her attendants, the DCHS Fighting Tiger Band, lots of decorated cars and trucks, county and city law enforcement officers, and fire fighters, among others. The event concluded with a pep rally on the square led by DCHS Football cheerleaders.

Winners in the Float Competition were:
First Place: Senior Class- "Tigers Launch the Lions
Second Place: Junior Class- "Tigers Battle the Lions"
Third Place: Freshman Class-" Taking Over, Tiger Pride Rocks"
Fourth Place: Sophomore Class- "Tigers Rope the Lions"
Fifth Place: FCCLA Club- "Ok: Tigers Blow the Lions Away"

Best Decorated Automobiles:
First Place: Cason Oakley
Second Place: Harlli Silcox
Third Place: Kaylyn Thompson

Two Teens Accused in Assault and Robbery of a Smithville Woman

September 20, 2013
Dwayne Page
Chief Randy Caplinger and Lieutenant Matt Holmes

Two teenage boys accused of forcing their way into the home of a Smithville woman and then assaulting and robbing her late Wednesday night were taken into custody while at school Thursday.

Lieutenant Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that the two boys are currently in state custody at the Juvenile Detention Center in Cookeville and have been named in petitions accusing them of committing delinquent acts. The crimes of which they are accused of committing include especially aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and felony theft.

Because the two boys are juveniles, Lieutenant Holmes would not disclose their names. The name of the victim is also being withheld.

According to Lieutenant Holmes, the incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 18 at the woman's Smithville residence. He said the victim, who lives alone, heard something outside and when she opened the door to look outside, the two boys, who were wearing hockey masks forced their way in and assaulted her. " Upon investigation, I found out that the victim heard a noise outside the back of her residence," said Lieutenant Holmes. "She looked out but didn't see anyone. She went to open the door. As she cracked the door open, two masked men forced their way into the residence. One of the suspects tackled her to the ground, pepper sprayed her multiple times, and tried to insert a wash cloth in her mouth to keep her from screaming," he said

"One of the suspects ransacked the house and stole a 38 caliber revolver and multiple other items," he said. The total value of the stolen items came to around $600.

The woman, though injured in the attack with cuts, scrapes, and bruises, was apparently not seriously injured and declined medical attention. She remains terrified and still suffers from affects of the pepper spray attack.

Though the two boys were carrying razor knives at the time of the attack, they apparently did not use them on the woman.

"We worked the case until about four in the morning (Thursday) and started back again later in the day," said Lieutenant Holmes. We went to Walmart and were able to trace the sale of the hockey masks back to the juveniles who had bought them prior to the incident," he said.

" We located them (the two suspects) at the high school and placed them under arrest in the classroom on Thursday. Our fear was that they may have brought the gun to school but as it turned out they did not have the gun at school. It was found at their home," said Lieutenant Holmes.

"We found in the attic of their residence the two hockey masks and a loaded 38 caliber handgun and other items that were taken from the victim's home. We also found some pepper spray," Lieutenant Holmes continued.

He said the boys live together in the same household but are not related. Neither of the boys is related to the victim. The two boys live in the same area of the city as the victim but police would not disclose the name of the street or neighborhood where the attack occurred.

Lieutenant Holmes, who was assisted in the investigation by Detective Brandon Donnell and Corporal Travis Bryant said police believe the two boys committed the crimes hoping to find money and drugs.

The two boys also allegedly tried to break into another residence in the same area the night before on Tuesday but were unable to make entry.

Lieutenant Holmes urges citizens to call police if you hear or see anything suspicious near your home or in your neighborhood. "If anyone hears something outside, never open your door. Call police and have us check it out," Lieutenant Holmes concluded.


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