Local News Articles

Man Arrested in December Robbery at Sonic

February 9, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Eddie Leroy Taylor
Craig Anthony Hill

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has apparently solved a December 2nd robbery at the Sonic Drive-In with the arrest of a 42 year old Smithville man.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Eddie Leroy Taylor of A.B. Frazier Road is charged with aggravated robbery.

According to detectives, Taylor who was dressed in camouflage and wearing a mask, attacked a 17 year old car hop who was serving a customer. Taylor allegedly grabbed the employee's money belt and threw the car hop to the ground. Taylor then dragged the employee across the concrete parking lot until the money belt broke lose causing bodily injury to the car hop. Taylor then fled with the money belt which contained approximately $75 in cash.

In addition to the aggravated robbery, Sheriff Ray says Taylor is also charged in two other recent theft cases.

According to detectives, Taylor took a drill belonging to a work crew doing electrical work on the First Baptist Church building on Church Street in Smithville. The drill has not been recovered.

Meanwhile, Taylor and another man, 37 year old Craig Anthony Hill of Holmes Creek Road, Smithville, have been charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000..

Sheriff Ray says detectives charged Taylor and Hill after an investigation into a break in on Floyd Drive in Smithville where over $2,800 worth of power tools were stolen. The two men allegedly cut a pad lock off of a utility trailer to gain access. Hill allegedly pawned some of the tools in McMinnville. Many of them have been recovered.

Bond for Hill was set at $125,000. Taylor's total bond is $240,000. Both will appear in court on February 12th.

Meanwhile, deputies arrested 35 year old Jimmy B. Martin of Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville last Wednesday for a 3rd offense of driving under the influence. Deputies spotted Martin's vehicle on Highway 70 East and observed him swerving from the yellow line to the white line. After stopping the vehicle, officers noticed that Martin had slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. Martin also failed field sobriety tasks. Martin has two other DUI convictions in DeKalb County. His bond was set at $4,500 and he will appear in court on February 12th.

37 year old Mary June Wright of Keltonburg Road, Smithville turned herself in at the DeKalb County Jail Thursday to serve 10 days as ordered by the courts. Upon searching Wright, a female correctional officer found that she had a package that was wrapped in cellophane containing tobacco, a lighter, 5 pills believed to be Hydocodone, 15 Klonopin pills, and numerous particles and powder believed to be Klonopin. Wright was charged with introduction of drugs into a penal institution. Wright's bond was set at $7,500 and her court date is February 26th.

On Friday, 42 year old Fowler Stoney Ramsey of Rolling Acres Road, Smithville was charged with theft of property under $500. Detectives say Ramsey stole a leaf blower at a residence on Rolling Acres Road in Smithville on January 23rd. The leaf blower has since been recovered. Ramsey's bond was set at $5,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

On Saturday, deputies responded to a domestic call at a business on Highway 53 in Alexandria. Through an investigation, officers learned that 23 year old Ronald L. Haller of Hickory Hill Lane, Hermitage had assaulted a female after they had run out of gas on Nashville Highway. Deputies say Haller pulled the female out of the vehicle by her legs and beat her head against the top of the vehicle. Officers saw signs of the assault on the victim's legs and elbows. They also detected a strong odor of alcohol on Haller's person and he had red watery eyes.

Haller was charged with domestic assault and public intoxication. His bond was set at $4,500 and he will appear in court on February 26th.

Two other people who were with Haller and the female, 19 year old Richard A. Ellithorpe and 20 year old Jaquice E. Carr both of Sports Road, Mt Juliet were charged with under age consumption after deputies detected an odor of alcohol on their persons. Bond for both was set at $1,000 each and they will appear in court on February 26th.

Habitat for Humanity Names New Officers and Board Members

February 7, 2009
Habitat Officers for 2009- Tom Janney, Sharon Evans, Lisa Garrison, Glenda Davis

The Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, Inc. has announced its new officers for the 2009-2010 year.

Tom Janney is the new president. Sharon Evans, vice president; Lisa Garrison, secretary; and Glenda Davis, treasurer.

Meanwhile, new members of the local Board of Directors of Habitat are Adela McGeehin, Michael Carpenter, Lisa Garrison, Hearon Puckett, Kim Wheeler and Larry Green.

Retiring after serving six years on the Board of Directors are Marie Blair, Nolan Turner, Nancy Lewis and Gary Johnson. Other retiring directors are Jason Lohorn and Steve Osment.

Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry, providing families in need with the opportunity for affordable home ownership.

Volunteers and donors assist in building the homes and Habitat for Humanity sells the homes to the Partner Families at cost with no-interest mortgages.

Is Your TV Going to Work after June 12?

February 6, 2009

To prevent more than 6 million U.S. households from having their television service cut off on February 17th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation today to extend the nationwide digital television (DTV) transition to June 12, 2009.

“Without this extension, close to 40,000 Tennessee households would not been able to watch TV after February 17th,” said Congressman Bart Gordon. “While most people won’t be affected by the DTV transition, the 115-day extension will give people who have rabbit ears on their TV sets time to get converter coupons and purchase equipment they need to ensure their TV continues to work.”

Television stations were scheduled stop broadcasting analog signals and exclusively broadcast in digital on February 17, 2009. After that date, analog televisions that rely on antennas would have gone black unless they were connected to a digital-to-analog converter box.

“It is important for everyone to figure out if they are going to be affected by the transition,” said Gordon. “If you have already made the transition, this delay will not affect you at all. Also, if you have a digital television or a television connected to cable, satellite, or other pay TV service, you do not need to do anything.”

For viewers who are using an antenna and have an analog TV they purchased before 2004, you will need a digital-to-analog converter box to continue to watch broadcast television on that set after June 12th. If you have not gotten a converter box yet or applied for a converter box coupon, call 1-888-388-2009 or go online to www.dtv2009.gov.

Currently, there is a waiting list of over 3 million households nationwide for converter box coupons from the federal government, which includes 39,593 Tennessee households according to the Department of Commerce. In addition, there is converter box shortage of at least 2 million units. For these reasons, the transition deadline was extended to June 12th.

For people who are on the waiting list, you should receive a coupon soon. The Economic Recovery bill currently being debated includes provisions that will increase the number of coupons the federal government is able to give to consumers. Converter boxes cost $40-70, and the government is offering two $40 coupons per household to purchase boxes.

The House-passed bill, which the Senate approved last week, now goes to the President, who is expected to sign it into law. For more information about the DTV transition, go to www.bart.house.gov/dtv.

Class of 2009 Honor Students Named at DCHS

February 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kesha Staley- 2009 DCHS Valedictorian
Kelly Merriman- 2009 DCHS Salutatorian

DeKalb County High School has released the names of this year's Honor Students including the 2009 Valedictorian Kesha Staley and the Salutatorian Kelly Merriman.

Staley is the daughter of Tim and Debbie Staley. She is in the DCHS Band, French Club, Literature Club, FBLA, HOSA, and Beta Club.

Merriman is the daughter of Ronald and Denise Merriman. She is in the Literature Club, French Club, FBLA, Yearbook Staff, Science Club, and Beta Club.

Students among the top twenty senior academic ranking from numbers one to twenty are as follows:

Kesha Staley, Kelly Merriman, Brooke Pack, Jordan Howe, Anderson Webb, Megan Pack, Rebecca Lawrence, Victoria Bennett, Thomas West, Amanda Reed, Kara Young, Megan Merriman, Jessica Strickland, Krysta Ferrell, Shay Sullivan, Ryan Leiser, Avarie Maynard, Carrie Herrin, Amanda Price, and Tiffany Winchester.

Students earning "Highest Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.8 to 4.0 in alphabetical order are:

Rosemary Apple, Victoria Bennett, Nicole Burger, Allison Curtis, Justin Dunaway, Josh Emerton, Macy Felts, Krysta Ferrell, Caleb Gash, Carrie Herrin, Jordan Howe, Matthew Lawrence, Rebecca Lawrence, Ryan Leiser, Avarie Maynard, Kelly Merriman, Megan Merriman, Jeff Miller, Megan Osborne, Brooke Pack, Megan Pack, Amanda Price, Amanda Reed, Kesha Staley, Jessica Strickland, Shay Sullivan, Anderson Webb, Thomas West, Tiffany Winchester, and Kara Young.

Students earning "High Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.6 to 3.79 include Russell Ambrose, Adam Arnold, Corey Dodd, Cody Hawkins, Dustin Lattimore, Josh Lester, Anna Little, Malinda Mofield, Nathan Neal, Brandon Owen, Corey Poss, and Nikita Young..

Those earning "Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.2 to 3.59 include Preston Adcock, Emilee Anderson, Kirt Bandy, Carolyn Bass, Brian Bates, Chynna Cade, Courtney DeHoet, Kayla Hale, John Herriott, Shane Hickman, Turner Hobby, Amber Judkins, Lauren Kemp, Alisha Majors, Kimberly Majors, Whitney Moss, Justin Poteete, Jessica Richards, Francisco Rodriguez, Stephen Rogers, Logan Roller, Sonny Stults, Allyson Trapp, and Luke Willoughby.

The Class of 2009 at DeKalb County High School will graduate in May.

Hall Residence Destroyed By Fire

February 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire early Thursday morning destroyed the home of Martha Hall at 3754 Holmes Creek Road.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says the call came in at 1:35 a.m. and members of the Main Station, Cookeville Highway, and Short Mountain Highway Stations quickly responded.

According to Chief Green, Ms. Hall was at home asleep when she was awakened by an alarm and her barking dog. She discovered a large fire in the front portion of her home and escaped with her dog. Ms. Hall ran to a neighbors house and knocked on the door, but could not awake them, so she got in her car and drove to DeKalb Market to call for help.

Chief Green says the fire was well underway by the time firefighters arrived and they could not save the home or any of the contents.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze, to keep it from spreading to a neighbor's house about thirty feet away.

Ms. Hall and her dog made it out of the burning home without any injuries.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.

Three Qualify to Run for Alderman in Smithville Election

February 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Incumbent Alderman Willie Thomas, former Alderman W.J. (Dub) White, and Gary Durham are the first candidates to officially qualify to run in the Smithville Municipal Election in June.

Three other persons have also picked up qualifying petitions but have not yet returned them including Incumbent Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr., former Alderman Aaron Meeks, and Shawn Jacobs.

Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections, says candidates have until NOON on Thursday, March 19th to qualify. The deadline to register to vote in time for the election is May 18th.

Three Aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 16th. The positions are currently held by Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan, and Willie Thomas. Each term is for two years.

DeKalb County Gets Two Ambulances for Price of One

February 3, 2009

In these tough economic times, being creative can get you more than what you originally planned for. Today, Congressman Bart Gordon announced that DeKalb County was awarded $100,000 in federal funds to retrofit two trucks into two ambulances.

“Instead of purchasing a new ambulance for $115,000,” explained Congressman Gordon, “DeKalb County will purchase two new trucks and place refurbished boxes from older ambulances they already have on the new trucks at a cost of $60,000 each.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency (USDA-RD) awarded DeKalb County a $83,000 loan and a $17,000 grant. The loan is repayable over 10 years at 4.75 percent. DeKalb County will provide matching funds of $15,000.

“DeKalb County has found a way to stretch $100,000 in federal funds,” added Gordon. “It’s like getting two ambulances for the price of one.”

“When your budget is like ours, you really have to watch it,” said DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster. “These funds will really help us get equipment that’s relatively expensive. We’re very grateful.”

In addition to purchasing two trucks, the county plans to buy other emergency equipment, including a two-way radio, cardiac monitor, patient ventilator, compact and portable suction units, and a medical chair with straps.

“In emergencies, minutes count and a well equipped modern ambulance provides EMTs with the tools they need save lives,” said Robert Connelly, Jr., USDA-RD’s Acting State Director for Tennessee. “We're lucky in Tennessee to have a strong congressional delegation, led by Congressman Gordon. They make sure RD has the financial resources to improve the quality of life for people in our rural communities.”

DeKalb County has operated an ambulance service since October 2007.

Congressman Gordon Comments on DeKalb County’s Current Economic Situation

February 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

With the statewide unemployment rate at a 22-year high, Tennessee’s Labor and Workforce Department announced that DeKalb County’s unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 9.2% from the month of November to December.

“More than 100 people in DeKalb County alone lost their jobs in one month,” said Congressman Bart Gordon. “My heart goes out to each of these workers and their families. I have heard from a number of people who live in DeKalb, and we all share the concern that things are going to get a lot worse before the economy recovers.”

According to the preliminary statistics from Tennessee’s Labor and Workforce Department, 940 people are currently unemployed in DeKalb County. Many more people have either stopped looking or are underemployed. In November, the number of unemployed persons in the County was 835. These figures stand in stark contrast to the economic situation in December of 2007 when the unemployment rate was 5.0% in DeKalb County.

“We are at the defining moment in this economic crisis – if we don’t pass an Economic Recovery bill, the next two years are going to be painful for Middle Tennesseans and people across the country.”

Economists from across the political spectrum have stated that the current economic situation is likely to last for another two years unless strong action is taken. Many have indicated that unless the government intervenes, the nationwide unemployment rate could reach, and possibly exceed, 10%.

“It is about jobs, jobs, jobs – we must do everything we can to create more jobs in Tennessee and throughout the country,” added Gordon. “Last week, the House started the process of crafting an Economic Stimulus package. I am committed to working in a bipartisan way with my House and Senate colleagues, and the President, to ensure that the bill is improved. The final form should include a combination of tax cuts and smart spending initiatives that will effectively help to get our economy back on track.”

The House and Senate are working to pass a final draft of the Economic Stimulus package and have it ready for President Obama’s signature before President’s Day on February 16th.

City Council Moves to Rezone Property for Apartment Complex

February 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night adopted on first reading an ordinance to rezone property
that may soon become the location for an apartment complex for low-income grandparents raising a child.

The two acre site, owned by Bruce Medley and David Bryan , is located at 721 Bright Hill Road and to the rear of Fiddler's Manor and other property owners on Walker Drive.

The Smithville Planning Commission voted on January 5th to recommend to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen the re-zoning of the property from R-1 low density residential to R-3 high density residential.

The proposed Fiddlers Manor Annex would actually be situated on 1.76 acres of the property. Site plans have not yet been considered for approval by the planning commission.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a $1.67 million grant to build eight apartments in Smithville for low-income grandparents who are raising a grandchild.

The grant was awarded to the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) as part of HUD's Demonstration Program for Elderly Housing for Intergenerational Families.

UCDD was one of only two organizations to receive HUD's Demonstration grant (the other organization is based out of Chicago).

Larry Webb who runs the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation – UCDD's nonprofit housing construction partner – explained, in a prepared news release, that the grant money will be used to build six two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units. Rent will be based on 30 percent of the grandparent's income minus any medical expenses they have. In addition, UCDD will pay the utility bills.

The proposed re-zoning of the property will be up for second and final reading passage following a public hearing at the next city council meeting on Monday, February 16th at 7:00 p.m.

In other business, the Aldermen approved the list of officers and members of the Smithville Fire Department for 2009 as presented in a letter by Chief Charlie Parker.

Officers and members of the department are:

Chief Charles Parker; Honorary Assistant Chief Robert Eller; Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale; Captain Jeff Wright; Lieutenants Danny Poss, John Poss, Donnie Cantrell, and Kevin Adcock; Firefighters, Anthony Wright, William Brown, Davey Ferrell, Charles Young, Wallace Caldwell, Dusty Johnson, Gary Johnson, James R. Hunt, Stephanie Brown, Stephanie Wright, Joseph Hall, and Glenn Lattimore; and Photographer, Greg Bess.

Glen Lattimore is a new member who has met the 90 day requirements of the department and has been approved for membership.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson wanted to appoint Walter Burton to replace the late John Bill Evins as a member on the Smithville Electric System Board but the aldermen said no. The vote was 3 to 2. Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins, Sr. voted against the appointment while Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger voted in favor. The position will remain vacant for now.

Meanwhile, the city apparently gets good marks in it's latest compliance evaluation of the wastewater treatment plant.

During the city council meeting Monday night, Mayor Hendrixson read a letter from an official of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Cookeville Field Office. "On January 15th, personnel from the Tennessee Division of Water Pollution Control conducted a compliance evaluation inspection at the Smithville Wastewater Treatment facility. The purpose of this inspection was to determine compliance with the NPDES discharge permit and to evaluate the reliability of the data submitted on the monthly operation reports."

"The Smithville Wastewater Treatment Facility is operating under a permit re-issued in 2007. The permit and laboratory records were available for review at the facility. The review of the MOR for the year 2008 was conducted. No affluent violations have been noted. The wastewater treatment plant laboratory was found to be clean and well equipped. with an established quality control and quality assurance program in place. Calibration records indicate the laboratory instruments are being properly maintained.. I would like to thank Mr. Bobby Pinegar and his staff at the Smithville Wastewater Treatment Facility for their time and courtesy during the inspection."

Mayor Hendrixson, after reading the letter, added " I, for one, would like to congratulate Mr. Bobby Pinegar, Mr. Gary Prater, and Mr. Anthony Haseman for their diligent work at our wastewater treatment plant. There were no violations found."

Aldermen Vote to Budget $1.4 Million in Available Funds for Water Plant Rehab

February 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Greg Davenport-Consulting Engineer for J.R. Wauford Company

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night voted 3 to 2 to budget $1.4 million from almost $4 million in water and sewer fund reserves in order to make renovations to the water treatment plant.

The money will be set aside during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1st.

Alderman Tonya Sullivan, who brought up the issue, thanked the board for taking this action in a prepared statement after the meeting. "I would like to thank the board for having the insight to take swift action to ensure the safety of our water. Safe drinking water is at the forefront now with the board committing $1.4 million for the next budget year for the water treatment plant renovations. This board put a good foot forward in securing safe water for all citizens in DeKalb County. The leadership that was exemplified will make a lasting impact on generations to come."

Aldermen Sullivan, Jerry Hutchins, Sr. and Willie Thomas voted in favor while Aldermen Cecil Burger and Steve White voted no.

The city recently applied a second time for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund the water plant rehab project and Alderman White said he was concerned that if the city commits to spending this much money now it might jeopardize the city's chances of getting the grant.

Meanwhile, the aldermen also voted 5 to 0 to have the city's engineering firm, the J.R. Wauford Company provide an updated report at the next meeting on the upgrades that need to be made at the water plant and the cost estimates.

The most recent report by Wauford on the condition of the water plant was released in January 2008.

Alderman Sullivan said she toured the water plant on January 19th, 2009 and saw for herself the conditions there.

The following is an exchange between Alderman Sullivan and Mayor Taft Hendrixson during Monday night's meeting

Alderman Sullivan:"The state of the water department, on the day that I went, looked like a makeshift water department. Mr. Mayor, how many times have you been to the water plant?"

Mayor Hendrixson: "Well, I don't know how many times."

Alderman Sullivan: "What state did you find it in when you went? When I went, there was standing water, electrical panels, there's equipment that's leaking and not functioning properly. There are infractions from the state that are in here (January 2008 Wauford engineering report) that have not been repaired. There are recommendations from Wauford that call for a renovation of this plant. We've not taken action on that and this report has not been made available to this board."

Mayor Hendrixson: "I asked (January 2008) that we put $900,000 out of city money (matching funds) to get a CDBG Block Grant for $500,000"

Alderman Sullivan: "But we didn't" (get the grant)

Mayor Hendrixson: "We didn't but we're putting in again (for the grant)"

Alderman Sullivan: "This water plant is in a state of emergency. Had that ice storm hit Smithville instead of Kentucky (last week) we would be the ones without water because you don't even have generators down there."

Mayor Hendrixson:" There's never been one (generators) down there."

Alderman Sullivan: "No, but they (generators) are in the (Wauford) report. They are recommended to be there."

Mayor Hendrixson: "Yes"

Alderman Sullivan: "Mayor you are jeopardizing 15,000 people by not taking action."

Mayor Hendrixson: I can't take action myself Ms. Sullivan, the board has to do this."

Alderman Sullivan: "Okay, that's my intent tonight. If we had fixed the problems as they happened as opposed to letting it go long term we wouldn't have to spend $1.4 million."

Mayor Hendrixson: "What did you find we needed to fix?"

Alderman Sullivan: Well sir, I think everything that the engineering firm has recommended, we need to fix."

Mayor Hendrixson: "I agree and I want to do it."

Alderman Sullivan: "Is there a reason during your tenure that you haven't fixed it or brought it before this board to fix?"

Mayor Hendrixson:"I'm trying to get a half million dollar grant. I brought this before the board."

Alderman Sullivan: "You have the money in the bank to fix it."

Mayor Hendrixson: "We do"

Alderman Sullivan: "Then that's what we should be doing, we shouldn't wait until it falls apart and we're in a state of emergency, such as Kentucky is in, before we do this."

Mayor Hendrixson: "I don't think it's (water plant) about to fall apart at any time. It does need some repair and I want to do it. I've proposed to put $900,000 out of city money."

Alderman Sullivan: "But you didn't propose to start action."

Mayor Hendrixson: "No I wanted to wait to see if we could get a half million dollars given to us."

Alderman Sullivan: "Alright, but we didn't get it."

Mayor Hendrixson: No, but we're trying again.'

Alderman Sullivan: "We can't keep waiting."

Greg Davenport, consulting engineer for the J.R. Wauford Company, also addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night concerning the condition of the water plant. "It was originally constructed in 1966 and it was updated in 1978 as well as the pumps at the intake or pump house at the lake."

"Smithville was successful in obtaining about $2 million in CDBG grants for rehabilitation of the sewer system over the last ten years. Then as the cat kind of got out of the bag on sewer rehab, Smithville came to me and said ‘what should we do?'. I said well your water plant needs some work so lets put in a CDBG grant for that. This application was filed probably in January, 2008. That has become a highly competitive program and I believe Smithville missed it (getting grant) by one municipality. In other words, if there were thirty in there and you guys were number sixteen, then fifteen and up got funded."

Concerning findings at the water treatment plant, Davenport said "as part of the report, we went through each of the unit processes and more or less determined some of the weaknesses that the plant has. As you can see in the report, it's about $1.4 million worth of work. Some of the things that are wrong at the plant, in my opinion need to be fixed immediately, like the switch gear problems down there at the high service pumps. The water in the slab. That needs to somehow be addressed. It's unsafe."

"Some of the things that need to be done are not really what you'd call emergency items, but they need to be done. For instance, the plant control system. It needs to be renovated and updated to what I call state of the state. The filter under drains have been in there since 1978. They are porcelain style and with grout they are prone to crack. Is it creating an unsafe condition for the citizens as of this minute? My opinion is no but it's undesirable."

"The standby power is an item that could create a catastrophe. The probability of that is not very high. I can't answer how expeditiously you should pursue those things. All I can do is present the risk to you. And the risk is if you have a major ice storm, you could be without water. But that is not something that the state wrote you up for per se in their report. It's something that they would like to see."

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