Local News Articles

County Denied Tennessee Clean Energy Grant

July 30, 2016
Dwayne Page

The county’s application for a grant to replace roofs at two area community centers has been denied.

County Mayor Tim Stribling informed the county commission Monday night that plans were for the county to use the Tennessee Clean Energy Grant to replace roofs at the Snow Hill and Silver Point area Community Centers.

“We did a resolution a few months ago for the roof at the Snow Hill Community Center and for the roof at the Silver Point Community Center,” said Stribling.

“We received the following letter. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s office of sustainable practices has reviewed your Clean Energy Grant proposal. This year our funding request exceeded our budget by $6.2 million and we were not able to fund every proposal we received. The staff carefully evaluated each proposal and unfortunately we were not able to fund your project at this time.”

“We’ll put these two projects out for bid and get a price on what it will cost to replace the roofs at Snow Hill and Silver Point,” Stribling concluded.

Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday July 29-31

July 28, 2016
Dwayne Page
Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday July 29-31

Before you start your back to school shopping, mark July 29-31 on your calendar.

That's this year's tax-free weekend in Tennessee, where shoppers won't have to pay sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less.

During these three days Tennessee shoppers can save nearly 10 percent on certain purchases.

“I want to encourage Tennessee families to take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday because it was created with them in mind,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “The weekend provides savings for families, especially as students are starting the new school year, and the holiday can provide relief on clothing, school and art supplies and computer purchases.”

The holiday begins Friday, July 29 at 12:01 a.m. and ends Sunday, July 31 at 11:59 p.m. During the designated three-day weekend, consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less.

Please visit the Sales Tax Holiday Web site at www.tntaxholiday.com to learn more about the items exempt from sales tax.

Examples of exempt items include:

•Clothing: Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms whether athletic or non-athletic and scarves

•School Supplies: Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and scissors

•Art Supplies: Clay and glazes; acrylic, tempera and oil paints; paintbrushes for artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors

•Computers: Central processing unit (CPU), along with various other components including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and preloaded software (Note: While the CPU may be purchased separately, other items must be part of a bundled computer package in order to be eligible.) iPads and other tablet computers are eligible for tax exemption, while smart phones and video game consoles are not.

Riverwatch Trace Dropped from the County Road System

July 28, 2016
Dwayne Page

The County Commission Monday night rescinded action taken a year ago to add Riverwatch Trace to the County Road list.

The vote was 9-2-2.

The Mountain Harbor Property Owners Association originally sought to have Riverwatch Trace added to the county road system last year. After a favorable recommendation by the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission, the County Commission voted to make it official in July, 2015.

In the months since, members of the Mountain Harbor Property Owners Association have had a change of heart and recently petitioned the planning commission to ask the county commission to rescind the action taken last July and to make Riverwatch Trace a private road again.

After a May public hearing, in which there was no public opposition expressed, the planning commission voted in July to recommend to the county commission that action be taken to remove Riverwatch Trace from the county road system.

According to County Mayor Tim Stribling, the county has not spent any money on the road since it was added to the road system last July and that the county would no longer be responsible for its upkeep if removed from the list.

Sixth District County Commissioner Betty Atnip objected to the request. “Once its accepted as a county road, everybody in the county owns it. Legally we can’t give it back to them,” she said.

Atnip made a motion that Riverwatch Trace not be removed from the county road system but the motion died for the lack of a second.

The commission then voted to rescind its action from last July and to remove the road from the list. Commissioners Betty Atnip and Mason Carter voted against it. Commissioners Joe Johnson and Jerry Adcock passed.

Danny Cowan Appointed Judicial Commissioner

July 28, 2016
Dwayne Page

The county commission Monday night filled a judicial commissioner vacancy.

Danny Cowan was named to replace Harvey Barnes who recently announced his resignation effective July 31. Barnes had served since his appointment last September.

County Mayor Tim Stribling said the judicial committee reviewed the applications still on file from the last time there was a vacancy and recommended Cowan to the county commission. “The committee met and pulled out five applications, looked at them and reviewed them, and then contacted them and asked if they were still interested in being considered again. We heard back from all but one. They said they would. The committee has selected Danny Cowan as a judicial commissioner.

The county commission approved the appointment.

The county has three judicial commissioners including Cowan, Richard Jennings, and Tammy Ashburn.

Judicial commissioners are responsible for the issuance of criminal arrest warrants upon finding probable cause. They are subject to call at all hours of the day and night. Judicial commissioners serve at the pleasure of the county commission and their terms of office can be one year to four years. These three judicial commissioners serve one year terms.

Two Days Left to Early Vote

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page

A total of 810 people have cast ballots with two days left of early voting for the August 4 elections.

One hundred forty nine voted Thursday including 144 in person and 5 by absentee.

That brings the twelve day total to 758 who have voted in person, 42 by absentee, and 10 at the nursing home

The vote totals in each election are as follows:
Tennessee Democratic Primary: 309 (total)
Tennessee Republican Primary: 389 (total)
DeKalb County General Election Only: 112 (total)

Smithville Municipal Election: 305 plus 55 property rights voters for a total of 360
Dowelltown Municipal Election: 4 plus 2 property rights voters in Dowelltown
Liberty Municipal Election: 12

Early voting runs through July 30 on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse. Hours are Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. until Noon. Five elections are set for August 4---the DeKalb County General Election, the Tennessee Republican and Democratic Primaries, and city elections in Smithville, Liberty and Dowelltown

All DeKalb Students To Again Be Offered Free Breakfasts and Lunches

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Amy Lattimore

All students in the DeKalb County School System, regardless of income, will again this year have access to free breakfasts and lunches when school begins in August.

"Due to the success of the Community Eligibility Provision last school year, the school nutrition program is pleased to continue to provide all school meals at no cost to all students. We hope that parents will continue to support this opportunity by encouraging their students to eat school meals,” said Amy Lattimore, School Nutrition Supervisor.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. CEP eliminates the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meals, relying instead on information from other means-tested programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The school system had already been offering free breakfasts under the Universal Breakfast Program but opted into the free lunch program during the fall of 2015 hoping to get more students to participate. Under CEP, the school system is reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students identified as eligible for free meals. To keep the program financially self supporting, the number of students taking part must remain at a higher level.

Auto Dealers Urged to Attend New Dealer Drive-Out EZ Tag Demonstration

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
James L. (Jimmy) Poss

County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss is asking all Auto Dealers in DeKalb County to attend a new Dealer Drive-Out EZ Tag demonstration. This will be conducted Thursday July 28 at 9:30 a.m. in the meeting room adjacent to the UT extension office at the county complex. This new option is available but not currently mandated for all dealers. It has numerous benefits and features for dealerships that will be explained in detail. The customer will still assume a temporary tag fee. However, there is NO software cost to the dealer. Dealers are only responsible for their computer, laser printer and blank synthetic paper required for printing tags. Participating dealers find that the program is fast, efficient, and time saving

Still No Court Filings from County to Have Gate Removed

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Still No Court Filings from County to Have Gate Removed

The county commission last month voted to take a landowner in the Belk Community to court for blocking a county road with a gate. But four weeks later, nothing has yet been filed with the court and members of the county commission and an affected property owner in the area want to know why.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip asked why County Attorney Hilton Conger has not yet filed the lawsuit against the landowner, Grant Manning, seeking an injunction to keep him from having an obstruction (gate) across Sunset Drive which is located off Allen Bend Road in the Belk Community. Not only is the gate still across the road, Atnip said Manning has now put a lock on it.

“We’ve already voted to have the gate removed but now Mr. Manning has locked the gate. Our attorney has done nothing that we find in pursuing what this legislative board said to do to help this situation out so there is still a gate across a county road and now it is locked,” said Atnip.

Bart Lay, another property owner in the area, said he is frustrated that county officials are not doing more to have this gate taken down. “This has been going on for nine months. I have been patient. You voted last month to file an injunction and ask for a temporary restraining order and the case heard. We’re talking about a two or three day process. I don’t know if it’s a personal issue or what is going on but nine months is plenty long enough to wait for this gate to be removed. County officials in my opinion have not done their job,” said Lay.

County Attorney Conger was not present for the meeting Monday night but County Mayor Tim Stribling said he would bring this matter to Conger’s attention.

“The county attorney is not here tonight. He won’t be back until the end of the week. I would assume he will file the lawsuit that we asked him to. But when he gets back in town I’ll make this a point for him to file whatever he has to file that the commission voted on last month,” said Stribling.

Last November, The county commission went on record to direct the Road Supervisor to take the necessary action to have the gate removed.

The gate was later taken down but it has been erected again.

Manning disputes the county’s claim that Sunset Drive is a county road and in an email response to WJLE last fall, Manning said the gate had been up for over four years and that he had maintained the road since 1990.

County Attorney Conger met with County Mayor Stribling and the county commissioners in closed session a few days before the regular monthly meeting last month to give them legal advice about what to do in resolving this case going further. The following Monday during the June meeting, Stribling said Conger gave three options; to do nothing and let the affected property owner deal with it himself by possibly filing a lawsuit against Manning; for the county to file a lawsuit seeking an injunction for Manning to remove the gate; or for the county to seek a declaratory judgment from the Chancery Court on whether Sunset Drive is a county road and if so the length and width of the road.

Sixth district commissioner Atnip made a motion last month to exercise the second option for the county to seek a court ordered injunction against Manning. Second district commissioner Joe Johnson offered a second to the motion. Sixth district commissioner Jeff Barnes asked if another solution could be reached to avoid the county having to pay expensive legal fees over this issue. He said the other affected landowner, Lay, has apparently agreed to help develop another road into the area and bypass Sunset Drive if the county would put down the gravel.

But Atnip and Johnson said such action would set a precedent the county might later regret. “Are we going to do that every time somebody blocks a county road? Build another one around it? I think we’d be setting a precedent here. I think we need to go (to court) even if it costs us a little money. We’ve got to stop blocking county roads,” said Johnson.

The county commission adopted Atnip’s motion to take Manning to Court.

Man Sentenced For Crimes Related to Shooting at Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
James Paris Goff

A 19 year old man charged in a shooting last year at the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.

James Paris Goff entered a plea to one count of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault and received a two year sentence to serve. He is to report to jail on August 4. Goff must also make restitution of $1,575 to a victim in the case.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the incident occurred on Monday evening, May 11, 2015 after Goff and some friends arrived by boat to the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area. While there, Goff and another man got into a fight. After the altercation, Goff left the area by boat but returned later in a vehicle armed with a handgun. Goff again confronted the same man with whom he had fought earlier and showed him the gun.

Goff then turned the gun on three other people who were leaving the area in an automobile and fired several rounds at them. One of the bullets penetrated the vehicle and struck the rear seat passenger in the back. The driver and front seat passenger were not hit.

After the shooting, Central Dispatch was notified and alerted the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. "We received a call at 7:36 p.m. from central dispatch that a man had been shot at the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area. The shooter and victim had already left the scene prior to law enforcement's arrival. We met officers of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department who responded for mutual aid or backup purposes. We then started an investigation into the shooting. DeKalb EMS was also summoned but they did not transport anyone because the victim was already gone. During the investigation, deputies and detectives from both the DeKalb and Putnam County Sheriff's Departments were able to find the victim at a family member's house in Cookeville. The victim was then taken to the hospital in Cookeville and later transported by ground ambulance to a medical facility in Nashville where he was treated and released. The investigation resulted in the arrest of Goff," said Sheriff Ray.

The two original charges against Goff for aggravated assault were for his confrontation with the first victim and for wounding the other person in the shooting. The original reckless endangerment charges were for Goff's putting the lives of the other two persons in the vehicle in danger by firing shots at them.

The names of the victims were not released.

Two Arrested in Separate Cases of Credit/Debit Card Theft and Fraud

July 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Thomas Bryan Malone
Jennifer Lynn Bullard
Justin Dwayne Spann
Scott Tyler Faulkner
Byron Shone Henry
Ronald Wayne Jernigan, Jr.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has made two recent arrests in separate cases of credit/debit card theft and fraud.

37 year old Thomas Bryan Malone of Lebanon is charged with one count of theft of property under $500 and eight counts of fraudulent use of a credit/debit card. His bond is $22,500 and he will make a court appearance on August 11. After being incarcerated Malone was charged with vandalism under $500 for damaging a surveillance camera in his jail cell. His bond on that charge is $2,500 and he will be in court on August 18.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, July 4 Malone allegedly stole a Visa credit card and used it at several businesses on July 4 & 5 to make purchases. According to Sheriff Ray, Malone used the stolen card at the following places: July 4 at Citgo to make a one dollar purchase; July 4 at Citgo for $13.72; July 5 at Opry Mills Factory Nike Outlet for $240.28; July 5 at Zips 2 for $34.83; July 5 at McDonalds for $28; July 5 at Lids Store for $60.06; July 5 at Finish Line Store for $103.78; and July 5 to make a one dollar purchase at a soft drink vending machine.

In the vandalism case, Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, July 22 while in his jail cell Malone could be seen on video surveillance stepping up onto a bunk bed and then hitting the camera numerous times with his fist causing damage to the camera.

Meanwhile, 33 year old Jennifer Lynn Bullard of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property under $500 and seven counts of fraudulent use of a credit/debit card. Her bond totals $12,000 and she will make a court appearance July 28.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 17, 2015 Bullard allegedly stole an SSI debit card and used it at several locations on December 17, 18, & 31 to make purchases. According to Sheriff Ray, Bullard used the stolen SSI card at the following places: December 17 at an ATM in Smithville and took $203.50; December 18 at an ATM in Smithville for $23.50; December 18 at an ATM in Smithville for $203.50; December 18 at Walmart in Smithville for $182.44; December 18 at a Smithville ATM for $17.24; December 18 at Sunco in Smithville for $7.96; and December 31 at a Smithville ATM for $201.75.

27 year old Justin Dwayne Spann of Dickson is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $5,000 and he will make a court appearance on July 28. Sheriff Ray said that on November 24, 2015 Spann allegedly took a Cotter Utility Trailer from a location on Sparta Highway. The trailer is valued at $1,500.

37 year old Scott Tyler Faulkner of Nashville is charged with introduction of contraband into a penal institution. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is August 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, July 20 Faulkner arrived at the sheriff’s department to visit an inmate. While being checked in at the front desk, Faulkner asked to use the bathroom and then was stopped in the hallway by the jail sergeant for a random search. When the sergeant asked if he had anything in his pockets, Faulkner replied that he had some tobacco and Tylenol. Found in Faulkner’s right lower cargo pants pocket was a package wrapped with black tape which contained loose tobacco, rolling papers, a cigarette lighter, a suboxone strip, 45 red round pills believed to be Acetaminophen (500 milligrams), and three white oval pills thought to be Tizanidine (4 milligrams).

19 year old Byron Shone Henry of Cassville is charged with underage driving while impaired. He is under a $2,500 bond and his court date is August 18. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, July 22 a deputy was dispatched to Hunt Hollow Road on a complaint of a person, behind the wheel of a white four door car, making threats toward members of the New Frontiers Boys Home. Upon arrival the officer observed a vehicle matching the description pulling out of the Boys Home. The deputy pulled over the automobile and spoke with the driver, Henry who had an odor of alcohol on his person. His eyes were bloodshot. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Henry performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was placed under arrest.

25 year old Ronald Wayne Jernigan, Jr. of Woodbury is charged with driving while revoked. His bond is $2,000 and he will be in court on August 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, July 23 Jernigan was observed operating a vehicle in a public parking lot. A computer check confirmed that his driver license were revoked in Cannon County General Sessions Court for failure to appear in court on June 4.

45 year old David Everette Phillips of Cantrell Road, Smithville is cited for driving on a suspended license, not wearing a seat belt, and for no insurance. His court date is August 10. Sheriff Ray said on Tuesday, July 19 a deputy observed Phillips driving on Highway 56 South and he was not wearing a seat belt. The officer pulled over Phillips and spoke with him. Phillips said he had no insurance on the vehicle. A driver license validation was conducted on Phillips and it revealed his license were suspended.


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