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Local News Articles

County Commissioner Announces Resignation

February 19, 2016
Dwayne Page
Elmer Ellis Jr.

A long time member of the county commission has announced his resignation.

Elmer Ellis, Jr., who has served as a commissioner in the 1st district for more than nine years, is stepping down. He made the announcement during an all committees meeting of the county commission Thursday night.

Ellis said he and his wife are soon moving to Texas to be near their daughter due to his wife's health.

Ellis was first elected to the county commission in August 2006. He was re-elected in 2010 and in 2014. His last meeting with the commission will be Monday night.

Filling the vacancy is expected to be discussed during the regular monthly meeting Monday night. Ellis' term expires August 31, 2018

DeKalb Prevention Coalition Recovery Church Planning Workshop Friday

February 18, 2016
Monty Burks

The DeKalb Prevention Coalition has re-scheduled the Recovery Church planning workshop for Friday, February 19, 2016, at the DeKalb Community Center in the History room at 12:00pm. The event will include lunch and is to help the interested churches fill out the application to become a certified recovery church as well as to answer any questions or overcome any obstacles your church or faith based organization may be facing in this process. Monty Burks, who is the Director of Faith Based Initiatives for The State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) will be there along with a Certified Recovery Church Pastor to help.

When you successfully complete the certification process, you will be added to the statewide recovery support network, and most importantly, opening your arms to individuals seeking substance abuse services. Church and Faith-Based Organization leadership will be trained in the following areas:

•Providing Spiritual/Pastoral Support.
•Viewing addiction as a treatable disease, not a moral issue.
•Embracing and support people in recovery and walk with them on their journey.
•Providing a visible outreach in the community.
•Sharing recovery information.
•Hosting recovery support groups.

If your church or faith based organization is interested in becoming a Certified Recovery Church please go to and fill out the questionnaire or you can contact Norene Puckett at 615-215-8690 or

*An RSVP is not required, but appreciated, please contact Norene Puckett.

Brewer Gets Three Years Probation for Burglary

February 18, 2016
Dwayne Page
Dustin Matthew Brewer
Craig Yarbrough

A 27 year old man charged in a recent burglary and theft investigation entered a plea Friday, February 12 in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

Dustin Matthew Brewer of Barnes Mill Road, Smithville entered a plea by information to burglary and received a three year sentence suspended to probation. He must complete the Safe Harbor Treatment Program and make restitution to victims in the following amounts: $359, $120, and $170. Brewer was given 81 days jail credit.

Brewer's wife, 24 year old Brandi Louise Brewer is charged in the same case with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Her case remains pending in court.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on or about Monday, November 9, 2015 the Brewers allegedly broke into a building on South Tittsworth Road and stole two chainsaws, an air compressor, an air tank, two wrench sets, an Impact socket, a socket wrench, a hammer drill, a jigsaw, and a 12 volt drill. The total value of the stolen items comes to $1,374. Some of the goods were recovered and identified by the property owner.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff's Department detective.

Meanwhile, a man accused in a suspected theft of approximately 175 credit cards valued at more than $15,000 and other Walmart merchandise almost two years ago was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, February 12.

54 year old Craig Yarbrough of McDonald, Tennessee entered a plea to two counts of theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case suspended to probation. The two sentences are to run consecutively with each other for a total of almost two years.

A co-defendant, 44 year old Lorie Denise Maclean entered a plea last June to one count of theft over $500. She received a one year sentence, all suspended to TDOC supervised probation. The term is to run concurrently with a Cumberland County case against her. Maclean was given twelve days of jail credit.

The two were arrested by Smithville Police during a theft investigation on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Wal-mart.

Corporal Travis Bryant told WJLE that Smithville Police were called to Walmart after a woman (Maclean) tried to leave the store with stolen merchandise. "She (Maclean) was caught trying to push items out of Walmart in a shopping cart. But when a loss prevention officer of the store tried to stop her, she abandoned the cart, ran to her pickup truck and drove away. She also left behind her boyfriend, Yarbrough, who was still inside the store," said Corporal Bryant.

After police were notified, Corporal Bryant and Lieutenant Matt Holmes responded and pulled over Maclean's truck at the intersection of Broad Street and Anthony Avenue. As Maclean was placed under arrest, officers noticed items inside her truck that aroused their suspicion. They executed a search warrant and found around 175 American Express prepaid credit cards totaling $15,525 that had apparently not been activated along with approximately $2,700 worth of other merchandise. Police suspect many of these items may have been stolen from various Walmart stores in Tennessee and in other states.

Watkins Gets Two Years for Auto Burglary and Theft

February 18, 2016
Dwayne Page
Dra Watkins
Garrett Michael Buckmaster

A 22 year old man accused of breaking into and stealing items from several automobiles last summer was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, February 12.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

Dra Watkins entered a plea to auto burglary and theft over $1,000. He received a two year sentence to serve in each case to run concurrently with each other. He was given jail credit from July 19, 2015 to February 12, 2016.

A co-defendant, 25 year old Garrett Michael Buckmaster entered a plea by information in November to three counts of burglary and received a three year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to a two year sentence he is serving in Putnam County. He was given jail credit of 111 days.

According to Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew, the arrests resulted from an investigation by Lieutenant Matt Holmes, Detective Brandon Donnell, and Officer Lance Dillard. Many victims came forward last July to report damage to and missing items from their vehicles. Items from some of these thefts were recovered at the home where Watkins and Buckmaster were residing. Detective Donnell made the arrests on Wednesday, July 22.

Meanwhile in other cases, 24 year old Hillary Elizabeth Knowles entered a plea by information to burglary and theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence in each case suspended to probation. The sentences are to run consecutively with each other for a total of six years and consecutive to a violation in General Sessions Court . She is to make restitution to victims in the following amounts: $111.50, $7.29, and $50.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on September 13, 2015 Knowles and 25 year old Christopher Alan Medlin allegedly broke into an outbuilding at a residence on Oak Place Drive and took property valued at $550 including a Troybilt pressure washer and a tool box full of various tools. Medlin allegedly admitted to selling the stolen property. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective. The case against Medlin remains pending in court.

45 year old James Madison Currie entered a plea to sale of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a three year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He is requesting judicial diversion. The indictments allege that Currie knowingly sold a schedule II drug, to wit: Dihydrocodeinone on or about the 29th day of January, 2015 and the 5th day of February, 2015,constituting the offense of sale of a schedule II controlled substance, to wit: Dihydrocodeinone.

44 year old Jimmy Chris Haggard entered a plea by information to reckless driving and received a sentence of six months on supervised probation. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 25, 2015 a deputy stopped a dark colored SUV for a light law violation. Upon speaking to the driver, Haggard, the officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol on Haggard's person and that his eyes were bloodshot. Haggard admitted to having consumed seven beers. He performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and was arrested. In the vehicle with Haggard was his friend's eleven year old child. Haggard was charged with reckless endangerment for putting the child's life in danger by driving under the influence with the youngster in the SUV with him

Skinner Enters Plea in Dairy Queen Theft Case

February 17, 2016
Dwayne Page
James Anthony Skinner

A 21 year old man who allegedly participated with his girlfriend in a theft from the Dairy Queen last May appeared for sentencing in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, February 12.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

James Anthony Skinner entered a plea to theft of property over $1,000 and received a two year sentence on supervised probation. He was granted judicial diversion and must make restitution.

Skinner's co-defendant in the case, 21 year old Rebecca Dawn Duffield, a Dairy Queen Manager at the time of the crime, entered a guilty plea in December to theft of property over $1,000 and received a two year sentence but was granted judicial diversion. She is on supervised probation by TDOC. A vandalism charge against her was dismissed. She is to make restitution to the Dairy Queen in the amount of $380.27.

According to Smithville Police, Duffield and Skinner were inside the Dairy Queen on Sunday night May 3, 2015 cleaning up before closing when they stole more than $6,800 from the safe and then ransacked the office. Before they drove away in a blue Dodge Durango, Skinner was observed by a witness breaking out a glass in the drive through window apparently to give the impression that someone had broken into the business. The witness notified police and Officer Joey Myers responded to the scene at around 11:55 p.m.

Upon further investigation, Captain Steven Leffew said that the Durango was found parked at a residence on Short Mountain Highway and that both Skinner and Duffield were inside the home. Lieutenant Matt Holmes was informed that Duffield had just closed up the Dairy Queen and left moments prior to the incident. Lt. Holmes went to the residence and requested permission to search both the home and the Durango where evidence was collected. Police recovered over $6,800 which was returned to the owners of the Dairy Queen.

Two Men Sentenced in Burglary at Broad Way Market

February 17, 2016
Dwayne Page
Anthony W. Hale
Jeremy W. Fenton

Two men charged in a December burglary and theft at Broad Way Market in Smithville were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, February 12.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

24 year old Anthony W. Hale and 38 year old Jeremy W. Fenton each entered a plea by information to burglary and theft under $500.

Fenton received a five year TDOC sentence in the burglary case to serve 120 days. He is to make restitution of $220 jointly and severally with Hale. Fenton received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in the theft case suspended to probation. The two terms are to run concurrently with each other. He was given jail credit of 58 days.

Hale was sentenced to three years for burglary suspended to supervised probation. He also got a sentence of 11 months and 29 days for theft also suspended to probation. The two terms are to run concurrently with each other. Hale is seeking judicial diversion.

Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins said that at 1:56 a.m. on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 police were dispatched to Broad Way Market due to a burglar alarm. Upon arrival, officers noticed the front door broken and a large rock lying on the floor inside the store. The owner provided video surveillance footage which showed two persons making their way through the store and taking 10 cartons of cigarettes. Later that day detectives identified the men and spoke with them at their residence. Another person, 36 year old Tara Kay Campbell gave police consent to search the premises where they found the stolen carton of cigarettes taken from Broad Way Market along with two scales used in illegal drug activity and four hypodermic needles. As a result of the investigation, Hale and Fenton were placed under arrest. Campbell was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Hollingsworth Gets Four Year Sentence in Meth Case

February 17, 2016
Dwayne Page
Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth

A Smithville man allegedly caught operating a meth lab last April was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, February 12.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

34 year old Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth entered a plea to attempted initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. He received a four year sentence to serve and was given jail credit from April 20, 2015 to February 12, 2016.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, April 20, 2015 a sheriff's department detective and a deputy went to property on Possum Hollow Road where officers believed methamphetamine was being manufactured. Upon arrival, they found components used to manufacture meth stashed under a log in the woods. While there, the officers saw Hollingsworth coming through the woods. Both officers watched as he went straight to the components and began the manufacturing process. The officers approached Hollingsworth and found him holding a one pot bottle. Hollingsworth was then placed under arrest. Found in the area with Hollingsworth were acid, lighter fluid, drain opener, funnels, tubing with two bottle caps on the end, coffee filters, lithium strips, lithium batteries, empty cold packs, three bags, etc.

Petition Seeks Another Liquor by the Drink Referendum

February 16, 2016
Dwayne Page
Petition Seeks Another Liquor by the Drink Referendum

It has failed at the polls twice before but a local businessman is hoping third time's a charm in trying to get liquor by the drink in Smithville restaurants.

Randy Paris has started another petition drive calling for a public referendum to allow the licensed sales of liquor in restaurants within the City of Smithville.

The petition seeks to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in the City of Smithville. Only 80 valid signatures are needed to get the referendum on the ballot in conjunction with the Tennessee General and US Presidential Election on Tuesday, November 8.

In 2012 a referendum to get liquor in Smithville restaurants failed by a vote of 402 to 333. Two years later, a similar referendum failed by just 15 votes, 412 to 397. In the same election November 2014, Smithville voters narrowly approved another referendum to allow retail package stores to sell liquor within the city. The vote was 406 to 401.

Smithville now has two liquor stores.

Paris said he believes liquor by the drink would boost the local economy and generate more tax revenue.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections said that "State law allows individuals to submit a properly worded petition calling for such a referendum. In this case, the referendum is for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises within the Smithville City Limits."

"Based on TCA 57-3-196(C), the petition must be signed by 10% or more of the registered voters voting for Governor in the last election in the city," Stanley said.

If the petition is returned by the deadline and includes the required number of signatures by registered voters in Smithville, the issue will be placed on the November 8 ballot.

TCA 57-3-101 (A) states that "alcoholic beverage means and includes alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, high alcohol content beer, and every liquid containing alcohol, spirits, wine and high alcohol content beer and capable of being consumed by a human being, other than patent medicine or beer, as defined in 57-5-101 (b).

If approved by the voters, the City of Smithville would have to establish an ordinance regarding city regulations but the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission would have the sole authority over the issuance of liquor licenses to eligible Smithville businesses for consumption on the premises.

Over Two Hundred Vote Early

February 16, 2016
Dwayne Page

Over 200 voters have now cast ballots in the Presidential Preference and DeKalb County Democratic Primaries.

Early voting continues through February 23.

Early voting numbers through Wednesday, February 17:

Total Voters--277
In Person---263

Republican Primary---193
Democratic Primaries--84

Local voters are reminded that February 23 is the last day the election commission office can receive a written request for an absentee ballot. The request may be received by mail, by fax or by e-mail with an attached document that includes a scanned signature. A request which contains the required information serves as an application for ballot.

“Because February 23 is fast approaching, we encourage voters who can and wish to vote by absentee to get their requests in as soon as possible,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. “We cannot process an application after that date so we encourage voters to get those requests in well in advance.”

Meanwhile, several petitions have been issued and some returned for the upcoming August County General and Smithville, Dowelltown and Liberty elections.

Petitions have been issued for the following:

School Board District 4—Kate Miller

Scholl Board District 5—W.J. (Dub) Evins and Barry Mabe. (Evins’ petition has been returned and verified)

School Board District 6—Doug Stephens

Smithville Aldermen:

Shawn Jacobs, Josh Miller, Danny Washer and Gary Durham (Miller’s petition has been returned and verified)

Dowelltown Mayor—Pam Redmon

Liberty Aldermen—Eddie Blair, J.D. Bratten and Jason Ray.

The qualifying deadline for the above races is NOON April 7.

DeKalb County Celebrates Tennessee Quit Week

February 16, 2016
L-R: Ashby Woodward, Nursing Supervisor; Tim Stribiling, County Mayor; Hilary Luckett, Health Educator

DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribiling has proclaimed February 22-26 Tennessee Quit Week in DeKalb County. The theme for this new campaign is “It’s Quittin’ Time in Tennessee” to celebrate Tennesseans who have quit using tobacco products and inspire more people to join them.

“We support anyone who lives in, works in, or visits DeKalb County and wants to stop using tobacco as part of our efforts to make this a healthier community,” said Tim Stribling. “We’re also encouraging our local health care providers to talk with patients about tobacco use and share resources for quitting with those who use tobacco.”

Tennessee Quit Week is part of a statewide effort led by the Tennessee Department of Health to raise awareness of the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine and other free resources available to help Tennesseans quit smoking and/or using other tobacco products. These proven, effective services can double a tobacco user’s chances of quitting.

“We are here to encourage, support and assist anyone trying to break the addiction to nicotine and move toward a life free from smoking, dipping and/or using other tobacco products,” said DeKalb County Health Department Director Michael Railling “We know how hard it can be to kick the habit. Call or come see us, call the QuitLine, talk with your health care provider – do whatever it takes to learn about all of the options available that can help you succeed!”

Smokers can call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine, use a web-based program or attend in-person counseling services and may receive free FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy. Call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to speak with a counselor who will help you assess your addiction and help you create a quit plan. For more information and resources including an online cessation tool, visit

Why Team Up to Quit?
•Patients who work with their health care professionals are ultimately more successful in attempts to quit tobacco use.
•Tobacco users who receive treatment report higher satisfaction with overall health care received compared to untreated tobacco users, according to the U.S. Public Health Service.
•Smokers who quit can add up to 10 years to their life expectancy.

Visit the Tennessee Department of Health online at

Connect with TDH on Facebook and Twitter @TNDeptofHealth!


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