Local News Articles

District Attorney Randy York Announces New Anti-Drug Campaign

October 17, 2012
Randy York

District Attorney Randy York and fellow Tennessee district attorneys have kicked off a statewide campaign to fight the rising rates of prescription medication and synthetic drug abuse among Tennessee’s youth. The campaign is called Deceptive Danger, because Tennessee’s youth is deceived into thinking that any substance prescribed by a doctor or purchased in a convenience store is safe. Campaign materials include a new educational DVD, two posters and a brochure. In addition, the district attorneys will be making presentations and distributing the materials to public middle and high schools across the state, supported by a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education.

The Deceptive Danger campaign follows an increase in prescription medication and synthetic drug abuse in Tennessee. The rise in prescription drug abuse prompted law enforcement to focus their attention on fraudulent prescriptions, the operations of pain management clinics or “pill mills,” and those dealing prescription medications illegally.

Tennessee lawmakers enacted stricter and more specific laws earlier this year dealing with synthetic drug use as well. The new laws make the sale and use of all synthetic drugs illegal. Previously, synthetics manufacturers were continuously skirting the law by changing the chemical composition of the synthetic drugs. The unknown composition of synthetic drugs makes them especially dangerous, and their effects are unpredictable. Deceptive Danger complements these law enforcement and legislative actions with increased public awareness.

“The selling of synthetic drugs and the abuse of prescription medications are problems in our district and the state of Tennessee,” said General York. “The goal of the Deceptive Danger campaign is to educate Tennesseans on these issues, and to eliminate these dangers from our state.”

The Deceptive Danger DVD shows real Tennesseans fighting through potentially deadly addictions to prescription medications and synthetic drugs. Their stories reveal how devastating these addictions are. The video contains information about the dangers of prescription medication and synthetic drug abuse and the legal consequences of using and selling these substances.

“Prescription medication and synthetic drug abuse is a growing problem in Tennessee, and one that we must curb as quickly as possible,” said Guy Jones, deputy director of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference. “The Deceptive Danger campaign gives our DAs a chance to show young Tennesseans the repercussions of using these drugs that may appear relatively harmless to them at first. Everyone needs to know these drugs are very dangerous.”

For more information about Deceptive Danger or to schedule a presentation for your school or organization, please contact General Randy York at (931) 528-5015.

About Deceptive Danger

Deceptive Danger is a prescription and synthetic drug use education campaign organized by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference in 2012. It is designed to inform young Tennesseans of the dangers of these drugs before they face dire consequences. This campaign includes an educational Deceptive Danger DVD, a poster focused on prescription drugs, a poster focused on synthetic drugs, and a brochure covering both prescription and synthetic drug use and the legal consequences. For more information about Deceptive Danger, visit www.tndagc.org.

DeKalb/Cannon County Amateur Radio Club Participates in Emergency Exercise – “Winter Storm 2012”

October 17, 2012
by: 
William Freddy Curtis
KD4WFE-Clarence Gilley and KG4IKT – Jeff Estal
W4ODB – David Brown -Portable Amateur Radio Setup
N4WJT – Billy Hooper- Portable Amateur Radio Setup

Members of the DeKalb/Cannon County Amateur Radio Club participated in an emergency exercise on Saturday, October 6th, 2012. The Simulated Emergency Test exercise was titled “Winter Storm 2012.” The drill was conducted in association with DeKalb & Cannon County EMAs. The exercise scenario was a Winter Storm entered Tennessee from the West near Memphis and moved into Middle Tennessee West of Nashville by noon on Saturday. The storm shut down all major Interstates and Highways across West Tennessee and Middle Tennessee. There was major widespread Power Outages across West and Middle Tennessee during the next several hours which included Cannon and DeKalb counties.

Local Amateur Radio Operators utilized local radio repeaters and then utilized their emergency skills for stations in point-to-point contact. Portable High Frequency and VHF/UHF stations and antenna systems were constructed, evaluated for performance, and deployed at several locations including DeKalb West School, Woodland School, and atop Short Mountain. Emergency Amateur Radio stations at Cannon County High School, DeKalb Community Hospital, and Stones’ River Hospital were also activated and evaluated for effectiveness.

The Amateur Radio station at the DeKalb County Emergency Operations Center located at the Smithville Fire Hall was the Command Center for the exercise.

Communications were sent to the State Emergency Operations Center at TEMA in Nashville, Tennessee via wireless computer-radio access. These messages relayed the latest emergency status in DeKalb and Cannon Counties. This involved the following process: Messages were sent from either the DeKalb EOC or a mobile station setup atop Short Mountain. It was transmitted by HF radio to an automated station in another part of the U.S., outside the local simulated disaster area. It then went via one of five hardened servers located worldwide (for redundancy), and then into the regular Internet, to be delivered via e-mail anywhere that e-mail is available. Thus, if the Internet were down locally or even regionally, by using the Winlink 2000 system, we would still have some e-mail capabilities. This is in addition to and separate from the usual local and area VHF/UHF operations.

A total of 14 Amateur Radio Operators from throughout Middle Tennessee checked into the emergency radio network. Local amateur repeaters were utilized, as well as, VHF/UHF and High Frequency point-to-point contact. Those local DeKalb /Cannon County Amateur Radio Operators involved in the exercise included W3HKG – Bob Mitchell, N4WJT – Billy Hooper, KD4WFE – Clarence Gilley, N4LZY - Jerry Elkins, KK4GBO – James Young, AC4QP – Buck Barton, KG4IKT – Jeff Estal, W4ODB – David Brown, KK4JUO – Wade Campbell, NN9J – Steve Kujawski , NF9G – Kathy Kujawski, and KC4GUG – Freddy Curtis - DeKalb & Cannon County Amateur Radio Emergency Coordinator. Additional stations checking into the radio network were KD4WX – John O’Conner ARRL – ARES District 6 Emergency Coordinator, KK4ISW – Dallas Rife of Shelbyville, and WB4CWS – Gary George of McMinnville.

The club would like to thank DeKalb County Emergency Management Director Charlie Parker, Faye Morse – Cannon County EMA Director, DeKalb Community Hospital, and Stones’ River Hospital for their support of local participation in this annual state-wide exercise.

The DeKalb County Amateur Radio Club is an organization of Amateur Radio operators from DeKalb/Cannon and Surrounding Counties and is an affiliated club of the American Radio Relay League. The next club meeting will be on Thursday, October 25th, 2012 - 6:30 PM at the DeKalb County Complex, 722 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville. Any person interested in Amateur Radio is invited to attend.

Picture Captions:

Picture 1
KD4WFE – Clarence Gilley and KG4IKT – Jeff Estal - Portable Amateur Radio Setup atop a very foggy Short Mountain at the SET Exercise on Saturday, October 6th, 2012.

Picture 2
W4ODB – David Brown – Portable Amateur Radio Setup in a portable trailer at Woodland School in southern Cannon County, TN.

Picture 3
N4WJT – Billy Hooper – Portable Amateur Radio Setup under the pavilion at DeKalb West School in Liberty, TN.

Early Voting Begins Wednesday, Election Officials Expecting Good Turnout

October 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Barack Obama
Mitt Romney

Early voting begins Wednesday, October 17 for the November 6 balloting and based on the recent rate of new voter registrations, turnout could be heavy for this election.

"There has been a tremendous amount of interest in this particular election," said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. "Since the August election, we have registered over three hundred new voters. That may not sound like a lot but it is a lot for a county this size in a period of time that short. So we know there is going to be heavy interest. In fact, in the Presidential election in 2008 over seven thousand votes were cast here during that race. That included early voting and election day. We hope that to avoid possible long lines on election day, people will come out and vote early," he said.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW SAMPLE BALLOT)
Sample Ballot

Stanley said the schedule of early voting for this election offers a variety of times to make it as convenient as possible for the voters. "Early voting will start October 17 and run through November 1. There are various times for early voting. All early voting is being done on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse. The hours for early voting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.; on Mondays from noon until 5:00 p.m.; on Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.; and on Saturdays 9:00 a.m. until noon. This gives voters a variety of times to choose to come and vote. We have three or four days of mid morning voting and two days of afternoon voting so this should be ample opportunity for voters who work during the day or who work out of town to get here and vote during one of those time periods including Saturday morning. We hope that people will vote early," said Stanley.

Remember to make sure your address is correct on your voter card before election day. "We're going to have a lot of voters this time that probably have not voted in an election or two and they may have moved," said Stanley. "The best way to handle that is to come and vote early. If you come and vote early we can change your address right here and then there is not a major problem. If you wait until election day, you may end up going to two different precincts because your voter card may say you vote at DeKalb Middle School but you moved and didn't tell us and didn't get a new card so you may have to go to the county complex or somewhere else to vote. You may have to go to two places. So look at your voter card. See where your precinct is and see what the address is on that voter card. If that is not your current address you need to contact us. The best way to solve that problem is to come by our office and fill out a new voter registration card with the new address or come and vote early. We can do everything then. If you wait til election day, you may be going to two different places," said Stanley.

Remember voters at the polls must show a valid state or federal-government issued photo I.D. to vote. For more information call the election commission office at 597-4146 or visit www.dekalbelections.com. Tweet at http://twitter.com/dekalbelect

Sample ballots are available for voters who want to see how the ballot is laid out ahead of time. "There will be a sample ballot on the wall of the courthouse during the early voting period," said Stanley. "There will be sample ballots at the voting precincts on election day. If you would like to see a sample ballot in advance we have one on our website at www.dekalbelections.com. WJLE has used the sample ballot on their website before so there are ways to look at the races. Also just remember, depending upon where you live, depends on whether or not you will vote in the liquor referendum and depending on where you live will depend on whether or not you vote for a state representative in district 40 or district 46," said Stanley.

DeKalb County voters may cast ballots for President of the United States, a U.S. Senator of Tennessee, U.S. Representative of the Sixth Congressional District, and State Representatives of the 40th & 46th districts. City of Smithville voters will also decide the outcome of a liquor referendum.

In the Presidential race, the ballot includes:
Electors for Mitt Romney for President and Paul Ryan for Vice President (Republican Nominee)
Electors for Barack Obama for President and Joe Biden for Vice President (Democratic Nominee)
Electors for Virgil Goode for President and Jim Clymer for Vice President (Constitution Party Nominee)
Electors for Jill Stein for President and Cheri Honkala for Vice President (Green Party Nominee)
Electors for Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson for President and Luis J. Rodriguez for Vice President (Independent Candidate)
Electors for Gary Johnson for President and James P. Gray for Vice President (Independent Candidate)
Electors for Merlin Miller for President and Virginia D. Abernethy for Vice President (Independent Candidate)

Candidates for the U.S. Senate are:
Bob Corker (Republican Nominee)
Mark E. Clayton (Democratic Nominee)
Kermit Steck (Constitution Party Nominee)
Martin Pleasant (Green Party Nominee)
Shaun E. Crowell ( Independent Candidate)
David Gatchell (Independent Candidate)
James Higdon (Independent Candidate)
Michel Joseph Long (Independent Candidate)
Troy Stephen Scoggin (Independent Candidate)

U.S. House of Representatives (6th Congressional District)
Diane Black (Republican Nominee)
Pat Riley (Green Party Nominee)
Scott Beasley ( Independent Candidate)

Tennessee House of Representatives (40th District)
Terri Lynn Weaver (Republican Nominee)
Sarah Marie Smith (Democratic Nominee)

Tennessee House of Representatives (46th District)
Mark A. Pody (Republican Nominee)

City of Smithville
Liquor Referendum
"To permit retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the City of Smithville"

"Not to permit retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the City of Smithville"

Smithville Property Rights Voters To Cast Absentee Ballots in City Liquor Referendum

October 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

Smithville property rights voters wishing to vote in the city liquor referendum and who have not received an absentee request should contact the DeKalb County Election Commission Office.

While registered voters who live inside the corporate city limits may vote in the referendum either by machine on election day or during early voting, city property rights voters may only vote in the referendum by absentee ballot. However, those voters may still come to the polls to cast ballots in the Presidential race and other offices in the November 6 election.

"If you are a resident of the city, (a registered voter living inside the city limits) you can vote in that referendum issue on machine either during early voting or election day," said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. "If you are a property rights voter for Smithville, the only way you can vote in the referendum is by absentee. That's a paper ballot
by mail," he said.

Smithville aldermen recently adopted an ordinance addressing this issue only for this election hoping to make the process go smoother. " If you recall sometime ago the City of Smithville adopted an ordinance that for this election only property rights voters would have to vote in the liquor referendum by absentee," said Stanley. "That eliminates a voter
who waits until election day from having to go to two precincts. For example, someone may be voting for President at their residential precinct at Blue Springs but their property being in Smithville, they would have to come to town and vote. So we eliminated that issue when the city board adopted that ordinance. Remember, if you are a property rights voter, you only vote in the referendum by absentee," he said.

Stanley stressed that while eligible city property rights voters may only vote by absentee for the liquor referendum, they may still vote by machine for candidates listed on the ballot. " This has no impact whatsoever on your normal election voting," said Stanley. "What I mean by that is you still vote for President, U.S. Congress, and State Representative at the
place of your normal county voting or you can come to the courthouse and vote early on the machine. The only issue is if you are a property rights voter and you want to vote in the referendum you have to do that by absentee," he said.

City property rights voters should have already received their absentee applications by mail. "We mailed out absentee requests to all the property rights voters that we have registered," said Stanley. "We hope that we mailed them out to the correct address. If you did not get an application to vote in the referendum and you are a property rights voter, let us know and we will get you one and once we get that back we will get you the ballot. The ballot you receive for property rights voters is only for the referendum. The Presidential election and all the other races are not on that ballot,' he said.

Remember voters at the polls must show a valid state or federal-government issued photo I.D. to vote. For more information call the election commission office at 597-4146 or visit www.dekalbelections.com. Tweet at http://twitter.com/dekalbelect

Former NFL player Michael Cobb Addresses Student Athletes at DCHS

October 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Former NFL Player Michael Cobb Signs Autographs at DCHS
Former NFL player Michael Cobb Addresses Student Athletes at DCHS
Former NFL player Michael Cobb Visits DCHS

Former Michigan State University and NFL player Michael Cobb visited DeKalb County High School Tuesday morning where he addressed a group of local student athletes, coaches, teachers and sports enthusiasts.

These days, Cobb is busy throwing out ideas to help young people make positive choices.

Cobb was an All-City football and basketball player while growing up in Youngstown, Ohio. He was All Big-10 in 1975 and '76 while playing football at Michigan State.

Cobb (6-foot-5, 244 pounds) was a first-round draft pick (22nd overall) of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1977 and went on to play four other seasons with the Chicago Bears. He also played in the United States Football League (1983-84), where he led the Michigan Panthers with 62 catches and helped win the first-ever USFL championship. He also played for the Birmingham Stallions before retiring when the USFL folded after the 1985 season.

"We have to be very, very careful of who we listen to and who we respond to," said Cobb, who said he was led astray by his aunt in his childhood days. "For some reason, I had the wisdom enough to realize that I needed to listen to people that really cared about me and not the people that were trying to lead me in the wrong direction.

"It was a combination of events that made me see the light."

Cobb has been to more than 3,000 schools and talked to over 1 million students.

"I'm just reinforcing things kids have already heard or are starting to tune out," said Cobb, who has been touring the country for more than 25 years. "It never gets old.

"I change my talk when I speak to older groups, but the truth is universal. People are seeking the truth and when they hear it, 90 percent respond."

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver joined Cobb on his visit to DCHS and at other schools in her district.

Four Arrested on Burglary and or Theft Charges

October 15, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joel Thomas Hayes
Ryan Lee Walden
Daniel Ray Page
David Tyler Hutchins
James Frederick Summers

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested four men last week on recent burglary and or theft charges.

In the first case, 34 year old Joel Thomas Hayes of Bobby Hayes Road, Dowelltown and 28 year old Ryan Lee Walden of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown were charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Bond for each is $10,000 and they will be in court on October 25. They were arrested on October 12.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, October 4, Hayes and Walden allegedly broke into an outbuilding on Dale Ridge Road by cutting a lock off the front door. They allegedly stole a welding tank and cart, a chainsaw, tackle box, water tank, a battery charger, windows, and several other items all valued at over $1,000.

The case was investigated by criminal detectives of the sheriff's department.

In the second case, 35 year old Daniel Ray Page of Highland Road, Rock Island was charged with theft of property under $500. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court October 25. Page was arrested on October 12.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, October 5, Page allegedly stole from property on the Cookeville Highway, a file box and a freezer, valued at less than $500, and sold those items to a recycling center.

In the third case, 18 year old David Tyler Hutchins of Woodbury Highway, Liberty was charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on November 29.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, October 12, Hutchins allegedly broke into an outbuilding on Green Hill Road in Liberty by kicking in the front door. He allegedly stole a chainsaw, leaf blower, a cordless screw driver set, battery charger, and various other items including a 1997 Honda Four Wheeler, all valued at over $1,000.

Meanwhile, 34 year old James Frederick Summers of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with a fourth offense of driving on a revoked license and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. He also has two capias warrants against him for failure to appear. His bond totals $16,000 but he is being held without bond on one of the failure to appear warrants. His court appearances are set for October 25 and November 14.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 10 a drug detective spotted Summers operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70. Having prior knowledge that Summers' license were revoked, the officer stopped Summers' vehicle. The drug detective received consent to search and found a 44 magnum handgun under the driver's seat along with four rounds of ammo. A computer check confirmed that Summers' license were revoked for DUI and other prior offenses. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Ina Ruth Bess Thanks Evins and School Board for Honor

October 15, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ina Ruth Bess and W.J. (Dub) Evins III
Ina Ruth Bess Auditorium

Five and a half years ago, the DeKalb County Board of Education named the theater at DCHS in honor of Ina Ruth Bess.

Although Ms Bess has always been appreciative that the school board would pay her such an honor, she had never publicly thanked the board.

Recently, fifth district school member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III visited Ms Bess at her home. Ms. Bess said she wanted to personally thank him. "I consider it a great honor," said Ms Bess.

Having retired at the end of the 2006-07 school year, Ms. Bess completed almost 60 years as an educator, a profession she began in 1948. Much of her career was spent at DeKalb County High School, where she taught and directed class plays over the years. "I directed plays ever since I began teaching high school in 1954. I had a play about every year," she said.

During his brief visit with her, Evins recalled having been in plays directed by Ms. Bess during his high school days. "I never had a lead role because I didn't want it. Pat Wallace and I were in a (play) at one time. We were supposed to be caretakers of an insane asylum. We were coming to get a couple of people who were needing to go to the asylum. But from the looks of things when the play was going on, we were the ones who should have been put in the straight jackets instead of them. I didn't want a major role. I enjoyed it just as much (having a small role). I appreciate all she (Ms Bess) did all those years. I don't now how she dealt with us but she tolerated us and must have enjoyed it," he said.

On another occasion, Evins remembered that a cast member failed to show up on the night of a play performance and how that Ms. Bess had him (Evins) go looking for that student. "Sam Morgan Love. He's deceased now. But it was time for him to go on stage. Eddie Hyde and John Ours were already on stage but Sam was no where to be found. Ms. Bess summoned me up. It was a little while before I had to go on stage so I got in my $750 Mustang and went looking for Sam. I found him at the Dairy Queen. There was an audience full of people and John and Eddie did a great job (killing time). They just made up lines as they went. There was a scene where they went to bed and were talking in their sleep, having dreams or nightmares. So the lights went off and on. They did a great job (killing time) for ten or fifteen minutes until I could find Sam Morgan. But when I found him and got him back, Ms Bess got a hold of him. She got him out there on the stage and he knew he was in trouble after the play was over," said Evins.

"Another disaster is when a character didn't show up for a night performance for the audience," said Ms. Bess. "We waited and waited but he didn't show up. No one (cast member) wanted to do it because they already had parts. My grandson Scott Bess was there so he put on this gun holster and went out there with a play book and did this guy's part. It was hilarious. They all enjoyed it. We offered to give (public) their money back but they said no that was really good," said Ms. Bess.

If there was anything she enjoyed more than the play performances, it was play practices. "Play practice was fun. We laughed a lot and fussed a lot," said Ms. Bess. "It (practice) was after school and at night. Two or three nights a week, and the rest of them after school," she said.

"I'm amazed she (Ms. Bess) pulled it off as many times as she did," said Evins. Most of the time they (plays) were flawless. There's always going to be a time when somebody may forget a line but when it really came down to it everybody had respect for her. We all did (respect her) in the classroom and in the auditorium. She did a great job and she didn't have to. She did it because she loved it," he said.

As for naming the theater in honor of Ms. Bess, Evins said "I only wish it had been done sooner".

Woman Charged with Child Abuse

October 15, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Connie J Clayborn
Nicholas D Sapp

Smithville Police have charged a woman with child abuse for taking drugs in the presence of a juvenile.

61 year old Connie J Clayborn was arrested on Tuesday, October 9. Chief Randy Caplinger said that on Thursday, October 4th an officer was called to a residence concerning a possible overdose. Upon arrival the officer spoke with employees of the Department of Children Services who were on the scene. Clayborn told DCS staff that she had taken drugs while a juvenile was present. After obtaining a warrant, Clayborn was arrested without incident. Her bond is $1,500.

27 year old Nicholas D Sapp is charged with four counts of passing a forged prescription at a local pharmacy. According to the warrants, Sapp passed two prescriptions on September 15 from the office of Dr. Graf Hilgenhurst. The pharmacy filled the prescriptions. The doctor's office later notified the pharmacy that the prescriptions were a forgery. Sapp was arrested on Saturday, October 13 after he returned to the pharmacy trying to pass more forged prescriptions written on Dr. Hilgenhurst. Bond for Sapp is $20,000 and his court date is November 8.

42 year old Ceylon E Taylor Jr. was arrested for disorderly conduct on Saturday, October 6. The warrant states that police were dispatched to a residence on Meadow Brook Drive to answer a domestic call. The officers separated the parties involved in the dispute but Taylor showed up, became very upset and began screaming out loud. An officer told him several times to calm down but he would not comply. Taylor's bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on November 1.

25 year old Terri M. Brucker was arrested for domestic assault on Saturday, October 6. The warrant states that officers were dispatched to a fight call at a residence and upon arrival found Brucker lying on the ground and a family member beside her. Upon separating them and speaking with each of them it was determined that Brucker was the primary aggressor. She had punched the victim in the face several times causing injury. Bond for Brucker is $2,500 and her court date is November 1
.
19 year old Skyelar Patrick was arrested for domestic assault on Monday, October 8. Patrick was invited to the residence of a family member and while there a conflict occurred and Patrick punched and choked the victim. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is October 25.

18 year old Alexis Carrasco was arrested for DUI on Sunday, October 14. The warrant states that Carrasco, operating a motor vehicle, was sitting at a traffic light and that he failed to drive through, even after the light had changed twice allowing him to proceed. Carrasco had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on October 25.

Anyone having information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that would help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

State Comptroller Report Finds Former UCDD Director Used Public Funds to Support Lavish Lifestyle

October 15, 2012
Wendy Askins

The Upper Cumberland Development District’s (UCDD) former executive director Wendy Askins called an independent living facility for seniors “one of the sweetest projects in the history of [her] career.” However, only a small handful of seniors lived in the facility after it was completed. And their accommodations were significantly less luxurious than those Askins and her daughter enjoyed after they moved into the publicly-funded facility’s main living quarters.

A report released today by the State Comptroller’s Division of Investigations identified numerous UCDD transactions that did not appear to serve a public or governmental purpose. The report concluded that the volume and type of inappropriate transactions identified indicates that the UCDD board of directors failed to uphold its duty to follow sound business and accounting practices, to ensure that all disbursements were appropriate, and to act in the best interests of the district and its goals.

Development districts are created to promote economic growth and development and to serve those in need within each district’s boundaries. The vast majority of funding for the Upper Cumberland Development District and its programs comes from taxpayer dollars from state and federal government.

The Living the Dream Project was designed and planned by Askins while she served as executive director of the UCDD. The Comptroller’s investigators questioned numerous transactions Askins ordered which did not appear to be in the development district’s best interests. The investigators pursued a trail of improper spending on a project that appeared to primarily benefit Askins and certain members of her family.

Askins personally selected tens of thousands of dollars in upgrades for the main area of the home which she and her daughter occupied by themselves. Askins paid more than $6,000 for steam showers for both her and her daughter’s bathrooms, more than $1,500 for a double-sided fireplace in the home’s main living area, nearly $1,000 for a fireplace in her own master bedroom, and more than $7,000 for decorative fountains. Askins also spent more than $25,000 on a curved staircase for the home which led to her daughter’s upstairs living area.

By last February, the project had a price tag of nearly $1.4 million, the Comptroller’s report revealed.

Among the many unnecessary purchases for the Living the Dream home, Askins and various family members received more than $24,000 in direct personal benefits from transactions she orchestrated with the development district. Askins used nearly $10,000 in district funds to purchase used furniture, televisions and exercise equipment from herself for use in her Living the Dream home and more than $14,000 to purchase other used furniture and items from her immediate family. She also submitted a false reimbursement request and received nearly $3,000 from UCDD for catering expenses related to a political campaign event not associated with the development district. Additionally, Askins reimbursed herself $1,229 for other personal expenses such as fuel for her personal out-of-state travel and her personal credit card fees.

In 2011, Askins spent $2,000 in UCDD funds to purchase a 3-D capable computer and $99 for 3-D glasses, and incurred over $600 in costs for ring-back tones, premium texts and music downloads on her district cell phone, according to investigators.

The Comptroller’s report further details that at its 2010 annual meeting, the UCDD treated board members and approximately 80 other guests to food and entertainment at a local winery. This meeting alone cost the agency more than $6,200 and appear to further no public or governmental purposes.

Investigators attribute the magnitude of such waste and abuse to the fact that Askins and her deputy director had unfettered discretion to spend public funds on a far-too-wide range of items and that board members were not providing adequate oversight to protect the public’s interests.

“Even though the board may not be directly to blame for such rampant misuses of public funds, it was inherent in their fiduciary responsibilities to supervise Wendy Askins, the Living the Dream project, and to ensure that all development district funds were spent entirely for the benefit of those who are served by the district,” said L. Rene Brison, Assistant Director of Investigations for the Comptroller’s office.

“These types of abuses of the public trust are likely to outrage many citizens who live within the Upper Cumberland Development District boundaries – and rightfully so,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Every public dollar that’s spent for the personal benefit of a government official is one less dollar that can be spent to benefit the people who need government services. I hope and trust that the Upper Cumberland Development District will put safeguards in place to guard against this type of waste and abuse in the future.”

To view the full report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/ia/20121015UCCDaudit.pdf

To view photos of the contrasting accommodations of the UCDD’s executive director and the senior citizens who lived in the Living the Dream facility, go to:

http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/NR/20121015TheLivingTheDreamPro...

Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award to Parsley

October 13, 2012

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce recently presented a Community Improvement Award to Attorney Vester Parsley, 111 W. Main St., Smithville for the exterior improvements made to his building including new paint, colorful plants, and beautiful signs.

The purpose of the Community Improvement Award is to encourage and recognize improvements giving DeKalb County an enhanced and value added appearance as well as increasing service and organizational offerings to its citizens. If you would like to make a nomination, please contact the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce at (615)597-4163.

Pages

Follow Us


facebook.jpg

News Feed
feed.png

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree