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Askins to Report to Federal Prison January 9

November 16, 2016
Dwayne Page
Wendy Askins

Wendy Askins is to report to federal prison on January 9

The former director of the Upper Cumberland Development District will be spending eighteen months in a minimum security federal women’s prison in Alderson, West Virginia.

Askins entered a plea on August 31 to two counts of theft from a federally-funded entity stemming from the “Living the Dream investigation and was sentenced on October 28. The sentence will run concurrently with a state sentence after her plea in Putnam County Criminal Court on October 31 to forgery over $60,000. After her release, Askins will be on supervised probation for two years. She must also pay restitution of $233,000 to the UCDD.

Meanwhile, her co-defendant, Larry Webb, will be sentenced December 8. His sentencing was originally set for Monday, November 14. Webb pleaded guilty August 7, 2015, to one count of bank fraud.

According to a report in the Herald Citizen, the anticipated offense level is seven, which carries a guideline range of up to six months. Under the plea agreement, Webb should be sentenced to time served and three years of supervised release.

County Clerk to Host Blood Drive and Organ Donor Awareness Event

November 16, 2016
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss

As “the Season for Giving” draws near, DeKalb Countians are invited to participate in a special Blood Assurance blood drive and public awareness observance for Tennessee Organ Donor Services.

The event, sponsored by DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, will be held on Tuesday, November 29 at the Smithville Senior Citizens Center in the County Complex. The mobile blood drive, conducted by Blood Assurance, will take place in front of the Senior Center from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. It’s being called the “DeKalb County Neighbors Helping Neighbor’s Program”. Along with the blood drive, information will be shared by representatives of Tennessee Donor Services and Donate Life Tennessee on the importance of organ and tissue donation including personal stories from donor recipients and families of donors.

The holidays seemed the perfect time to schedule such an event, said County Clerk Poss, during a season when people are in the spirit of giving and sharing. “Thinking of the upcoming holidays Thanksgiving and Christmas, I immediately think of joyful memories many make with family and friends. I am also mindful of others during this time and throughout each year who are in need of donation whether it be blood, bone marrow or organ,” he said.

“Most of us consider gifts as personal items we can touch, see, smell, taste or physically use, all purchased with money. For many it’s not until adulthood before we realize our most important gift is life and good health. As we approach the upcoming seasons let us remember through Christ’s gift of his bloodshed, death and resurrection he paid our expense and again offers each another free gift of forgiveness of sins and everlasting life only by accepting him as our Lord and savior,” Poss continued.

“Blood Assurance is the local supplier of blood and blood products in Smithville to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. We also provide blood directly to other area hospitals in McMinnville and Sparta but we are the regional blood center that gives back all of the blood locally. We have blood drives throughout the year across all of our territories. Blood Assurance is in five states including Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina. We have centers and mobile blood drives,” said Mindy Quinn, Marketing Manager of Blood Assurance.

“I have been a blood donor for about 4 years know. I have donated to both American Red Cross and Cookeville Blood Assurance. Either is doing good work for others. However; I prefer donating to Cookeville Blood Assurance when possible. By donating through Cookeville Blood Assurance they provide their collections to several surrounding local hospitals and families in our area,” Poss said.

“The importance now is the time of year. Once the holidays kick in, donations start to slow down. The holidays are also when usage from area hospitals goes up because more people are traveling and on the road and unfortunately there will be more crisis situations from vehicle accidents and things where hospitals need to ensure that the supplies are there. We reach out to our communities, especially around Thanksgiving and then straight on through winter time to make sure that we are able to provide the blood supplies that are needed,” added Quinn.

“Individuals need to be age 18 or older to donate blood or 16 or 17 with parental consent. We do a mini-medical with everyone that comes in so you don’t necessarily have to worry about where you’ve been traveling. But as long as you have parental consent and you weigh at least 110 pounds or more, you are eligible to come in and give. All donors who give blood will be given a long sleeved tee shirt. It’s our “Peace, Love, Blood Donation” tee shirt and everyone will also be entered in a drawing to win a “Family Four Pack” to Rock City. We’re hoping for at least 30 donors on that day,” said Quinn.

While the need for blood donors is great, so is the need for organ and tissue donors. “Right now in the United States there are over 120,000 people waiting for that life saving transplant and in Tennessee there are 2,900. Most of them are waiting for a kidney transplant. The need is great. Nationally 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant. That could be your neighbor, the people who wait on you in the grocery store, or checks you out. It could be a church member. Organ and tissue donation touches all of us at some point in time whether we realize it or not,” said Sharon Pakis, Public Relations Education Manager for Tennessee Donor Services and Donate Life Tennessee.

“County Clerk Poss has invited us to come up and spend the day on Tuesday, November 29. For us it’s to educate people in DeKalb County on the importance of organ and tissue donation and how signing up or saying “yes” to organ and tissue donation allows you to save lives or enhance lives through donation. We will have two individuals with us. One is an organ recipient whose life was changed by the gracious gift of someone who donated an organ. The other one is an individual whose family member was either an organ or tissue donor. They are going to do presentations at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to tell their stories and help people understand the importance of organ and tissue donation,” Pakis continued.

“After attending my first organ donor meeting I was overwhelmed by their services and the gratitude of both recipients and the donors’ families. The stories shared were absolutely amazing. To hear a recipient give thanks to a donor and their family for extending a loved one’s life by donating a heart, lung, kidney, or whatever the organ, bone or tissue may be can only be realized and truly appreciated by seeing, hearing and feeling the love shared from both sides,” said County Clerk Poss.

“Nationally our goal is to have over 50% of Americans signed up as organ and tissue donors because 98% of the people in the United States say they support organ and tissue donation but nationally only 50% have signed up. In the state of Tennessee, we are at about 39%. We are a little below the national average and we would like to be at least with the national average. In DeKalb County 32% of individuals who are over the age of 18 with a driver license or state ID have registered to be an organ and tissue donor,” said Pakis.

“You may sign up to be an organ and tissue donor when you get or renew your driver license or you may go to www.donatelifetn.org and register online. This puts your name into the official Donate Life Tennessee Organ and Tissue Registry. It’s very easy. We invite people to come out on November 29 and learn more about organ and tissue donation and find out how they can save lives. We are excited about the opportunity and we hope to see a lot of folks from DeKalb County,” added Pakis.

"Please support and take part in this event. Every person matters. Come out and give blood or just experience the amazing stories that will be shared from both organ and tissue donor recipients and donor families. We will begin donating blood at 1:00 p.m. ending around 6:00 p.m. The Tennessee Organ Donor Services will have a table set up with educational materials and representatives will be available to answer questions about how their services extends the lives of many in need. We will also have snacks and refreshments available. We look forward to the community’s support,” County Clerk Poss concluded.

"Fill the Police Car" Collection Drive Seeks Food, Toys, and Coats

November 15, 2016
The Smithville Police Department is partnering with Cash Express to "Fill the Police Car" on Black Friday, November 25th at 126 E. Bryant Street.  Fill the police car with food, toys, and coats.

Cash Express will be hosting a "Fill the Police Car" event on Black Friday, November 25th at noon until? at their business location 126 E. Bryant Street. The Smithville Police Department is partnering with Cash Express in this event and providing the vehicle to fill up with food, toys, and coats. Please stop by with your gift of love and grab a bite to eat as there will be food available.

The food collected will be donated to "God's Food Pantry" where it will be distributed to families that need help with food. The coats will be donated to local schools to provide warmth to children that do not have one and adult coats will be donated to the Clothes Closet where citizens will be able to obtain one from them. The toys will be donated to St Gregory's Catholic Church where they will be distributed to families that are in need of something extra this year.

If anyone is unable to stop by Cash Express during the event and wants to help someone this year, you can drop off any of your items at many local businesses. Collection boxes are set up at 150 businesses in DeKalb County so there is one or more available near you. The collection boxes will be taken up by December 9.

For questions concerning this event, you may contact Jamie Dawson or Athena Knauer at Cash Express, 615-597-3427.

Byrge Gets Three Years Probation for Theft

November 15, 2016
Dwayne Page
Nicholas Byrge
Jeffrey Sanders
Scott Pedigo

In DeKalb County Criminal Court last Tuesday, 26 year old Nicholas Byrge entered a plea by information to theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He was given jail credit from July 14 through November 8. He must make restitution of $1,850 and is under a restraining order to keep away from the victim. Byrge must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. Byrge is alleged to have stolen on May 16 a Bushmaster .223 rifle and a .22 rifle valued at over $1,000.

43 year old Jeffrey Sanders entered a plea by information to possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and received a three year sentence to run concurrently with a violation of probation against him. He must serve at least 30% of the term before his release eligibility date. Sanders was given jail credit from August 8 through November 8. The offense occurred on July 25.

26 year old Nicholas Byrge entered a plea by information to theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He was given jail credit from July 14 through November 8. He must make restitution of $1,850 and is under a restraining order to keep away from the victim. Byrge must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. Byrge is alleged to have stolen on May 16 a Bushmaster .223 rifle and a .22 rifle valued at over $1,000.

49 year old Scott Pedigo entered a plea by information to reckless driving and received six months on probation supervised by CPS. Smithville Police said that on February 11, 2015 Pedigo was found to be unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle. After being awakened, Pedigo submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. His speech was slurred and he was very unsteady on his feet.

Governor Issues Regional Ban on Burning in 51 Counties Including DeKalb

November 15, 2016
Dwayne Page

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued a proclamation declaring a regional ban on burning in 51 counties including DeKalb in response to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires throughout Middle and East Tennessee.

Effective immediately, residents in counties covered by the regional ban are not permitted to conduct any open-air burning. The ban includes campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, household waste or construction debris. The ban will remain in effect until December 15. The counties under the ban are listed below.

Currently the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) Division of Forestry is fighting 67 wildfires across nearly 16,000 acres in the Cumberland and East Tennessee districts.

A violation of a burn ban is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months, 29 days in jail.

Robertson and Sumner counties continue to be under a burn ban issued by TDA Commissioner Jai Templeton. A governor’s ban includes municipalities, whereas a commissioner’s ban is superseded by municipal ordinances.

Residents in counties not included under any of the current bans must obtain a safe debris burning permit to burn brush, vegetation, household waste or construction waste. The TDA Division of Forestry, however, does not expect to issue any permits until the state receives substantial precipitation. A violation of burning without a permit is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor which carries a fine of $50 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Daily updates on the wildfire situation, active burn bans and tips to protect your home and property can be found at www.burnsafetn.org.

Counties under a regional burn ban:
















































Van Buren




Two Dump Trucks Overturn in Saturday Accident

November 14, 2016
Dwayne Page
2015 Mack dump truck driven by 61 year old Bobby Hughes of Lebanon (Donny Green Photo)
2015 Mack dump truck (Donny Green Photo)
 2016 Kenworth dump truck, driven by 53 year old Harlan Galinelli of Gallatin (Donny Green Photo)

Two dump trucks loaded with dirt overturned in a bizarre accident Saturday afternoon on Rutherford Lane off Coconut Ridge Road.

Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 61 year old Bobby Hughes of Lebanon was driving a 2015 Mack dump truck down a steep hill on Rutherford Lane trying to negotiate a curve when he was rear ended by a 2016 Kenworth dump truck, driven by 53 year old Harlan Galinelli of Gallatin. Both trucks belong to the Hunt Construction Company of Wilson County.

According to the investigation, Galinelli lost control and ran into Hughes’ truck causing it to overturn on its side in the roadway. Galinelli’s truck then went off the road, plunged some 100 yards down an embankment, and overturned on its side.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s Extrication and Rescue Team were called to the scene to help free Hughes, who was trapped in his truck. He was taken by DeKalb EMS to a nearby helicopter landing zone and flown to Tri Star Skyline Medical Center in Nashville where he was treated and released.

Galinelli was transported by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital where he was treated and released.

According to Trooper Delong, Galinelli has been cited for failure to exercise due care. A citation is pending against Hughes for not wearing his seat belt.

Meanwhile, in a separate accident, three people were involved in a one car crash at around 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning on Students Home Road.

Trooper Delong said 21 year old Brandon Winne lost control of his 2015 Ford Fusion while trying to negotiate a curve. The vehicle went off the road, through a barbed wire fence, and hit a tree. Winne and front seat passenger Thomas Bowen were taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital. A back seat passenger, Titus Ekumdayo was not injured.

According to Trooper Delong, alcohol was a factor in the crash and Winne is facing charges of violation of the open container law, failure to exercise due care, and not wearing a seatbelt.

Nichols Arrested in Pickup Truck Break-In

November 14, 2016
Dwayne Page
Robert Lee Nichols, Jr.
David Ray Johnson
Clay Andrew Bain

An arrest has been made in a recent pickup truck break-in.

37 year old Robert Lee Nichols, Jr. of Hodges Road, Smithville is charged with burglary, theft of property under $500, vandalism, and driving on a suspended or revoked license. His bond is $11,500 and his court date is December 1. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Wednesday, November 9 Nichols and another person broke into a 1998 Nissan Frontier and stole a machete and foldup chair. Entry was made by breaking out the glass window to the truck. The next day, Thursday November 10, Nichols was arrested after being stopped on Hodges Road for driving on a revoked license. The case was investigated by a detective of the sheriff’s department. No other arrest has yet been made.

54 year old David Ray Johnson of Forrest Avenue, Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation and evading arrest. He is further cited for simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana), driving on a suspended license, and driving with expired tags. He will make a court appearance on December 16. Johnson is being held without bond due to violations of court orders.

Sheriff Ray said that on September 8 a detective responded to McDonalds in reference to a wanted person (Johnson). The officer spotted Johnson sitting inside a vehicle and approached him. Johnson told the officer his name was Kenneth Jones. Authorities later learned that Johnson lied about his identity. Because of a medical condition, Johnson was admitted to the hospital that day.

The sheriff’s department did not encounter Johnson again until Sunday, November 13 when a deputy tried to stop a white Honda for a registration violation. When the officer turned on his emergency equipment, the Honda accelerated heading west on Main Street in Dowelltown. Although the Honda disappeared from his view, the deputy continued west on Main Street until he came upon the scene where the car had crashed. Johnson, the driver, got out of the vehicle and tried to hide in a rock ravine. He was placed under arrest. Found near Johnson was a pill bottle bearing his name, containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

25 year old Clay Andrew Bain of Lakeview Drive, Smithville was charged on Thursday, November 10 with vandalism. His bond is $5,000. Sheriff Ray said that on August 25 while two correctional officers were transporting Bain to the Robertson County Jail, Bain began kicking on the back window of the car until he broke the frame away from the car door and bent the outer door body.

Thomas Named Upper Cumberland 911 Dispatcher of the Year

November 14, 2016
Dwayne Page
DeKalb ECD Director Brad Mullinax presents award to Dispatcher Tony Thomas (right)

The 2016 Upper Cumberland 911 Dispatcher of the Year Award goes to Tony Thomas of DeKalb County

Thomas, an employee of the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (Central Dispatch/911 Center) recently received the award for his outstanding performance during two events that both involved assisting in the life saving efforts of multiple children in DeKalb County responses.

The award reads "The Upper Cumberland 911 Directors awards you for your outstanding service to DeKalb County and the Upper Cumberland Region. We would like to thank you for your outstanding service and devotion to our profession."

Thomas was nominated for the award by Brad Mullinax, Director of the DeKalb ECD.

“For this year's dispatcher of the year award, DeKalb County would like to nominate Mr. Tony Thomas with DeKalb County 911. Tony has been employed with DeKalb County 911 for the last 12 years. He has served as Supervisor, TAC, Alt TAC and addressing coordinator for our agency. He always goes above and beyond the call of duty to help do anything that I ask him to do. Additionally, I routinely receive compliments on Tony from the general public on how well he does his job and how professional he sounds on the radio,” wrote Mullinax in making the nomination.

“In addition, he has been involved in two recent incidents in which his actions helped save the lives of many in our county. First, Tony and his partner were recognized as part of the State of Tennessee "Star of Life" award winner for the entire State of Tennessee on May 5 2016. The actions of everyone involved, including Tony, helped save the life of a severely injured eight year old boy in June of 2015. Secondly, and more recently, Tony was on shift and part of another award winning incident in August of 2016. This incident occurred in rural DeKalb County and involved a multi-injury accident involving three children that were all air lifted by multiple aircraft to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. This event also recently received the Upper Cumberland 2016 "Call of the Year" award. He is known for being able to maintain his composure and the accuracy of his work. I am very proud that he is a part of our agency,” Mullinax continued.

“Many times the efforts of the silent heroes go un-recognized in these type events. The heroic efforts of Tony and many others in our field play an important role in the outcome of the event. Therefore, I would like to recognize and formally nominate Tony for the 2016 Upper Cumberland 911 Director's Dispatcher of the Year,” concluded Mullinax.

Local Nurse Killed in Friday night Crash

November 14, 2016
Dwayne Page
Tammy Greco

A 46 year old Smithville woman died from injuries in a two vehicle crash Friday night on Highway 70 at Liberty.

Dead is Tammy Renae Greco. She was a nurse at the Family Medical Center.

Greco was a rear seat passenger of a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, driven by her husband, 44 year old Daniel J. Greco. Their son, 24 year old Christian D. Greco was a front seat passenger. They were traveling east on Highway 70.

A 17 year old female of Gordonsville was driving the other vehicle, a 2009 Dodge Avenger heading west on Highway 70.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the juvenile's car crossed through the east bound lanes, struck and bounced off the eastbound guardrail, and hit Greco’s car in the passenger side. The Dodge Avenger came to rest in the east bound lane and Greco’s car came to a stop on the shoulder of the west bound lane.

Tammy Greco was ejected from the Chevy Equinox. Christian was also injured. Both were transported from the scene by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone near DeKalb West School and airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital. Tammy later died.

Daniel Greco was not injured. The juvenile was taken by private vehicle to the hospital where she was treated and released. All had been wearing their seatbelts except for Tammy Greco.

According to the investigation, the crash was due to the teenager having fallen asleep while driving. She has been cited for failure to exercise due care.

The accident was investigated by Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

Tammy was a member of the First Assembly of God. She was preceded in death by her father, Donald McCormack and a brother-in-law, Chuck Canady.

Survivors include her husband of 26 years, Danny Greco; a son, Christian Greco; and a daughter, Shelby Greco all of Smithville. Two brothers, Donnie and Melissa McCormack of Ripley and Joe and Michelle McCormack of Watertown. A sister, Melissa Canady of Dyersburg. Mother, Brenda Hart of Dyersburg. Mother and step-father in-law, Charlotte and Michael Nadeau of Florida. Father and step-mother in-law, John and Zenny Greco of Arizona. Sister and brother-in-law, Julie and Shawn McFay of Texas and brother-in-law, Kevin Greco of Arizona.

Love-Cantrell Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Complete arrangements will be announced later.

Operation Christmas Child Accepting Donations

November 13, 2016
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County residents will have the opportunity to donate Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, beginning Monday, November 14.

Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse is the world’s largest Christmas project that collects and distributes gift-filled shoeboxes for needy children around the world. Since 1993, more than 113 million boxes have been distributed in more than 130 countries. Each year, the project mobilizes more than 100,000 volunteers in the United States.

The week of November 14th through Monday, November 21st, is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. The drop-off/relay center for this area is located at the Indian Creek Baptist Church, 967 Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville, Tennessee, and is a convenient place for churches, clubs, schools, businesses, and individuals to bring their filled shoe boxes.

The local drop off center will be open, as follows:

*Monday, November 14 through Friday, November 18 – 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

* Saturday, November 19 – 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

*Sunday, November 20 – 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

*Monday, November 21 - 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

You may select from the above dates and hours to deliver your filled shoe boxes to the center.

This holiday season you can experience the true meaning of Christmas with a child in need by simply packing your shoeboxes with toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and other small gifts.

For further information please contact:
Sue Puckett:
615/597-7370 (office)
615/597-7325 (home)
615/464-7700 (cell)
suepuckett@dtccom.net (e-mail)


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