Local News Articles

Mayor Updates Aldermen on Tax Collections During Brief City Council Meeting

March 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen met briefly Monday night at city hall.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson gave a report on sales tax and property tax collections. "Over the last three months they (sales tax collections) have declined by about $20,000 for three months, which is not as bad as it is some places. But the way the trend is going, it will probably be more than that."

"As of today (Monday), we've collected about 90% of property taxes (for the year). There's about a 10% delinquency today which is fairly good for property tax collections. I think there's probably one or two of the larger ones that will come in within a day or two and that will cut it (delinquency) way on down."

Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson updated the aldermen on a new lease agreement with a tenant at the airport, who is renting a hangar and office space. "We've had a guy come in. He's out of New Mexico but he lives here in Smithville now and he's contracted with Averit Express, but he has some private planes. He is going to rent the airport hangar, the 8,000 square foot facility along with some office space for $500 per month, which is what we gave (agreement) to our last tenant. If they get enough people interested, they are thinking about offering a flight school. I believe they will be a good asset to the city and to the airport. They just started during the month of March, leasing out the airport for one year, and then we will go from there."

The city's agreement is with Phil D'Alfessio, President of D'Alessio Enterprizes, Inc.

D'Alessio will be leasing an 8,000 square foot hangar and a 20 x 39 foot office area at the airport at $500 per month beginning March 1st, 2009 for twelve months. D'Alessio will use the property for the storage of his aircraft and may, with written approval of the city by the Secretary–Treasurer, sublease a portion of the hangar for aircrafts other than those owned by D'Alessio.

According to the lease agreement, "D'Alessio shall be responsible for his own natural gas and any fees related to hookup of services. It is further understood and agreed that D'Alessio shall pay the city 20% of the monthly electric bill for the hangar and adjoining office space during the terms of this lease. D'Alessio may use an oil burning heater located inside the hangar, but all maintenance and service including fuel or repairs shall be the sole responsibility of D'Alessio. The city shall be responsible for providing water to the facility."

"The city shall be responsible for any major structural repairs to the exterior or interior. D'Alessio shall be responsible for the general maintenance of the lease property and to keep it clean during the terms of this lease."

"D'Alessio shall obtain and maintain a liability insurance policy in the minimum amount of one million dollars. Such policy shall name the city and the Smithville Municipal Airport, their officers, agents, employees, and assigns as additional insureds to the full extent of D'Alessio's insurance coverage. Such insurance shall include contractural liability insurance to insure D'Alessio's obligation to indemnify and hold the city, its agent and its employees harmless. Further, insurance shall include coverage for any aircraft present upon the premises by virtue of any sublease entered into by D'Alessio and any other party."

Either party may terminate the lease by giving sixty days written notice with or without cause.

(Click here to listen to the March 2nd Smithville City Council Meeting http://www.wjle.com/node/6973)

Chicken Barn Destroyed by Fire

March 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire Monday night destroyed a chicken barn and gutted a well house belonging to Tony Davis in the Blue Springs Community.

Captain Mark Young of the DeKalb County Fire Department says firefighters were called to the scene at 9:40 p.m. located at the intersection of L. Hendrixson and W.L. Davis Road.

Young says the fire was well underway by the time it was discovered and reported and firefighters were unable to save the chicken barn. Some young chickens perished in the fire and other contents of the barn were destroyed.

The cause of the fire is officially undetermined.

Members of the Blue Springs, Keltonburg, Short Mountain Highway, and Tanker #1 responded.

No one was injured.

Smithville Police Charge Woman with Aggravated Robbery of Discount Tobacco Outlet

March 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tiffany Gora

Smithville Police have charged 25 year old Tiffany Gora in the February 21st armed robbery of the Discount Tobacco Outlet Store at 302 West Broad Street, Smithville.

Gora is charged with one count of aggravated robbery. She is currently incarcerated in Coffee County, where she is charged with committing a similar offense on February 24th at a Discount Tobacco Outlet Store in Manchester.

According to Chief Richard Jennings, Gora has confessed to the Smithville robbery. "Detective Jerry Hutchins, Jr went to the Coffee County Jail this morning (Monday) and obtained a full confession from her. Gora stated that she was the person who robbed the tobacco store here in Smithville and that after the robbery she used the money to buy narcotics."

Chief Jennings says police initially thought a man committed the robbery based upon a statement given by the store clerk on the night of the incident. " There was a surveillance video in the tobacco store. Detective Hutchins reviewed the surveillance video but it didn't tell us a whole lot. However, we were suspicious on the front end because the person who performed the robbery never spoke. It was a female who did the actual robbery and I think she was afraid that if she spoke they would realize it was a female."

According to Gora's statement to police, she used a toy gun to commit the Smithville robbery. "The gun was a toy gun, a wooden gun painted black, not a real firearm. But it doesn't make any difference, it's still robbery and carries the same penalty as an actual weapon", said Chief Jennings.

Detective Hutchins says Smithville Police and authorities in Coffee County worked together to solve the crimes. "They knew who it was or had a name. I helped provide some information to locate them. They obtained the tag number off of a vehicle used in the robbery up there so their information and mine together solved the cases."

Detective Hutchins' report on the robbery, based on the store clerk's account, states that on February 21st at 5:43 p.m. I arrived at the Discount Tobacco Store. Upon arrival I made contact with the store clerk, Carolyn Frances Humphrey, who advised me that she was over by the coffee station on the east side of the store when a young man came into the store. He pointed a gun at her and motioned her over to the register. She complied. When she got to the register, he motioned for her to open it and give him the money. Ms. Humphrey stated that he never said a word. She then said that after he took the money he left eastbound on foot. He was described as a white male, 18 or 19 years old, about 160 pounds, 5 foot, 8 inches tall, with brown hair and looked like he needed a shave. The gun looked like a semi-automatic. She said he got about $200 to $225."

Chief Jennings, on Monday, would not disclose the exact amount of cash taken, saying it was several hundred dollars.

The Manchester Times reported last week that Gora and 39 year old Donald Taylor of Manchester are charged in the Coffee County case. Bond for each is $50,000 bond and they will be in Coffee County General Sessions Court March 4th.

According to the report, Gora allegedly went into the store around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday (February 24th) armed with a handgun and demanded money from the clerk. Gora, who was dressed in camouflage, left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash. But on her way out, she dropped the gun, before getting into a waiting Ford F-150 pickup truck, driven by Taylor, and leaving the scene.

They were spotted Thursday morning and taken into custody by Manchester Police and officers of the Coffee County Sheriff's Department

Police say Gora used a BB gun during the robbery and, according to an investigator, the two admitted to committing the crime to get money to buy drugs to further their habit.

Arrests Made in Rash of Theft and Vandalism Cases-Sheriff Says More Forthcoming

March 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dewey Jackson Forshee III
Troy Lee Cunningham, Jr

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has been investigating a rash of recent theft and vandalism cases and some arrests have been made, with more to come.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 19 year old Dewey Jackson Forshee III of Hillbilly Lane, Smithville was arrested Saturday in a vandalism case which occurred on October 20th 2008. Through an investigation, detectives learned that Forshee and a male Juvenile went to a farm on Cookeville Highway and entered a barn. While inside, the two vandalized a pickup truck by cutting the tires and keying obscene gestures into the paint. The two also cut the tires on a tractor and a trailer and stole an all terrain vehicle out of the barn and rode it around on the farm. Before they left, the two set fire to a round bale of hay. Forshee was charged with burglary, vandalism, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His bond is $11,000 and he will appear in court on March 12th. Detectives will also seek petitions on the juvenile.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Sheriff Ray says detectives arrested 21 year old Troy Lee Cunningham Jr. and 19 year old Amanda Brook England, both of A.B. Frazier Road Smithville, and charged them with theft of property under $500 after they were found in possession of a marine radio that was stolen. Bond for Cunningham and England is set at $25,000 each and they will appear in court on March 12th.

According to Sheriff Ray, the case unfolded after detectives received reports of theft and vandalism cases at Four Seasons Marina. The officers gathered evidence at the crime scene and picked up Cunningham, England, and two juveniles for questioning. At press time Monday, Sheriff’s Department detectives were still gathering information that will link some or all of the suspects and others to many of the vandalism and theft cases in the City of Smithville and at multiple marinas, businesses, nurseries, and smash and grabs in different areas of the county. More arrests are pending.

Sheriff Ray says if you have traded or bought radio equipment such as car or marine amplifiers, car or marine radios, fishing equipment, ski equipment, Global Positioning Devices (GPS), and or guns, to please call the Sheriff's Department and let detectives look at the items to make sure they are not stolen. Most stolen items have serial numbers that have been or will be entered as stolen into the NCIC system so if the serial numbers are run through the database, they will come back stolen.

Meanwhile in other cases, 25 year old Gregory Dean Schlenker of Circle Drive, Dowelltown was stopped last Monday on Highway 70 West after deputies received a call that he was intoxicated. After stopping Schlenker, the officers noticed he had an odor of alcohol on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Schlenker submitted to field sobriety tasks and failed them. He was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail where he was booked for driving under the influence. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

Deputies arrested 24 year old Kevin James Tate of Rocky River Road, Spencer last Tuesday after a vehicle in which he was a passenger was stopped on Short Mountain Highway. Deputies received consent to search the vehicle and patted down Tate for weapons. The officers found a plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Tate was arrested and charged with simple possession of marijuana. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

Also last Tuesday, deputies stopped 41 year old Napoleon Wainwright of Dunlap Lane, Woodbury for violation of registration and driving on the wrong side of the roadway. The officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on Wainwright's person. He was also unsteady on his feet. Wainwright submitted to field sobriety tasks and failed them. He was placed under arrest for driving under the influence and he was issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law because he refused to take a blood test. Wainwright's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

Three people were arrested Sunday after a traffic stop. Sheriff Ray says deputies stopped a vehicle on West Broad Street in Smithville for a traffic violation. Upon receiving consent to search, officers found a cigarette pack containing pills believed to be hydrocodone in one of the rear door handles that was within reach of small children under the age of five who were passengers in the vehicle. The driver, 29 year old Jeremy Edward Woodard of Page Drive Smithville was charged with simple possession, driving on a revoked license, and reckless endangerment. Two passengers, 27 year old Gary Thomas Woodard and 20 year old Tonya Lynn Goodall, also of Page Drive, were charged with reckless endangerment. Jeremy Woodard's bond was set at $5,500 and bond for Gary Woodard and Tonya Goodall was set at $2,500 each. All three will appear in court on March 19th..

31 year old Wesley Lynn Chandler of Page Drive Smithville was also arrested recently after he was involved in a two car motor vehicle accident on Old Sparta Highway. After the accident, Chandler left the scene but was picked up within minutes by a deputy at Chandler's home. Chandler had an odor of alcohol on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. He submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. After entering the booking area of the Jail, Chandler was found to have a hydrocodone pill hidden in a key chain in his pocket. Chandler was charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and introduction of drugs into a penal institution. Chandler's bond was set at $8,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

DCHS Teacher Selected to Present at NCHE Conference

March 2, 2009
by: 
Donna B. Emmons
John Isabell (Photo by Lifetouch)

John Isabell, social studies teacher at DCHS, has been selected to present at the National Council for History Education conference in Boston on March 12-14.

For the past two years, Isabell has been a participant in the TEACH grant program through Vol State Community College, which will pay his expenses.

Isabell's proposal is based on his research on 1930's social and labor activist Myles Horton and the Highlander Folk School. Horton, from Monteagle, Tennessee, and his Highlander Folk School were key components to the success of the civil rights movement, according to Isabell.

DeKalb Middle School Students Win at National History Day Competition

March 2, 2009

DeKalb Middle School eighth graders were winners at the National History Day regional competition held Friday at MTSU. They will now advance to the State competition April 4, 2009 at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville.

National History Day is a curriculum enhancement program that engages students in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics. Students may chose research papers, dramatic performances, imaginative exhibits, multimedia documentaries and websites based on research related to an annual theme. These projects are then evaluated at local, state and national competition. The 2009 competition theme is "The Individual in History; Actions and Legacies."

The eighth grade regional winners from DeKalb Middle School are:

Katie Haggard, Chelsea Lewis and Cecilia Maciel, 1st. place in the Drama Category
Martelia Tallent, 2nd. place in the Exhibits Category
These students were under the direction of Mrs. Vicky Terrell

Jonathan Page, Hunter Collins and Evan Curtis, 1st. place in the Website Category
Gage Brown, Lucus Phillips and Cole Parsley, 2nd. place in the Website Category
Destiny Caldwell and Abbey Caldwell, 3rd place in the Documentary Category
These students were under the direction of Mrs. Anita Puckett

Other DMS students competing at MTSU were Ethan Shaw, Jacob Parsley, Ben Pafford, Anna Fox, Ashton Waggoner, Ashlee Gunter, Tyler Vanhoose and McKayla Funk

Director of Schools and Members of School Board Attend "Day on the Hill"

March 1, 2009
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and School Board Chairman Charles Robinson-
Charles Robinson, State Senator Mae Beavers, and School Board Member Kenny Rhody

Members of the DeKalb County Board of Education joined school board members from across the state in Nashville on Tuesday, February 24th for a day of legislative networking at TSBA's annual "Day on the Hill" event. This year, featured program speakers included Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Kent Williams, Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham, and House Education Committee Chair Harry Brooks.

"Day on the Hill" is designed for school board members and superintendents to study pending education legislation and discuss priorities with local legislators. The event began with a breakfast at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel and was followed by visits to legislators' offices and committee hearings.

Kenny Rhody, Third District School Board member, said in a prepared statement that " As your Tennessee Legislative Representative, I along with Charles Robinson, Chairman of the DeKalb County School Board, and Mark Willoughby, Director of Schools, had the pleasure to represent DeKalb County Schools, at the annual Day on the Hill sponsored by the Tennessee School Board Association, where your school board members and directors are turned loose on Capitol Hill to meet with and discuss issues that affect the needs of the children of DeKalb County. We had the chance to sit down with Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Senator Mae Beavers and other dignitaries that affect our concerns. The issues this year that will affect us most are the stimulus package that is now law and will help our education system statewide."

"Day on the Hill provides a terrific opportunity for school board members throughout the state to
promote public education and seek assistance from the General Assembly with one collective voice," said David Pickler, TSBA President and Shelby County school board chairman. "We look forward to partnering with the General Assembly to continue to improve the quality of our schools in Tennessee and showcase the many successes of public education in our state."

In addition to the elected vs. appointed superintendent issue, TSBA hopes the General Assembly will have a serious discussion of Tennessee's system of funding public education at the local level.

2007's adoption of the Basic Education Program (BEP) 2.0, provided much-needed revenue to school systems and a substantial step toward more appropriate funding for education in the state; however, several local governments used the increase to reduce local effort to public education. At a minimum, TSBA believes local governments should have to provide an inflationary adjustment to schools each year to recognize natural increases in education costs. In addition, TSBA would like to see school boards have more fiscal autonomy in school budgeting. Tennessee is one of only 11 states in the country where boards of education have no ability to raise revenue for schools.

"Boards of education have embraced accountability, but accountability without the authority to address funding to meet the very performance standards that have been mandated is, in our opinion, unreasonable," said Smith.

Smith added that the association will continue to urge legislators to recognize the importance of local management of schools and resist attempts to remove local flexibility. "There is no ‘one-size-fits-all' solution in public education," said Smith. "All of our priorities are designed to give school boards the flexibility, authority and tools they need to do the best jobs for their individual students and communities, all of which have their own unique strengths and challenges."

The Tennessee School Boards Association, a statewide, nonprofit organization, is a federation of the state's local school boards. It serves as an advocate for the interests of Tennessee's public school students and school districts.

Five Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election to Date

February 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Five people have qualified to run for alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election so far.

The latest person to get in the race is Incumbent Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr. Others who have qualified include Incumbent Alderman Willie Thomas, former Alderman W.J. (Dub) White, former Alderman Aaron Meeks and Gary Durham.

Three other persons have also picked up qualifying petitions but have not yet returned them including Incumbent Alderman Tonya Sullivan, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer

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.

Smithville Garbage Truck Involved in Wreck

February 27, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Garbage Truck Involved In Wreck
Smithville Garbage Truck Hits Rock Bluff-
Dodge Durango Damaged after Collision with Garbage Truck

The operator of a City of Smithville garbage truck was involved in a wreck with a Dodge Durango around 11:40 a.m. Friday morning on Highway 70 east near Sligo bridge.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 57 year old Ronnie Walker of Smithville, a city employee, was operating a 1999 freightliner garbage truck going west on Highway 70. Another city employee, 39 year old Jerry Rackley of Smithville, was a passenger in the truck. The two were apparently returning from the landfill where they had dumped a load of garbage.

Meanwhile, 33 year old Allison Long of Sparta was going east on Highway 70 in a 2007 Dodge Durango.

According to Trooper Jennings, Long claims as she was negotiating the curve coming down the hill, she saw the garbage truck in her lane. As she applied her brakes, the Durango slid on the rain slick highway and struck the side of the truck at an angle in the westbound lane. Long's vehicle came to a final rest in the ditchline facing a rock wall. The truck continued west for a few feet and also went off the road in the ditchline and struck the rock wall.

Walker and Rackley were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. Long was to have gone to the Cookeville hospital by a private vehicle.

Neither of them were believed to have been seriously injured.

Trooper Jennings says Walker was cited for failure to exercise care.

DeKalb Middle School holds Basketball Banquet

February 27, 2009
DeKalb Middle School Basketball MVP Award Winners and Coaches

The DeKalb Middle School basketball program held its basketball banquet, Thursday night, at the Smithville First United Methodist Church Christian Fellowship Center.

Eighth grade guard, Cody Puckett, was named the Most Valuable Player for the Saints, this past season, while eighth graders, Chelsea Lewis and Lydia Foutch, shared Co-MVP honors for the Lady Saints. Emily Webb, meanwhile, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader.

In addition to the MVP award, Puckett - who averaged 15.2 points per game for the Saints, this season - was also named Best Offensive Player, and was recognized with a trophy for earning All-Tournament honors at the James C. Haile State Invitational Tournament. Puckett started all but one game in his three-year career at DMS.

Other Saints awards were as follows:

Hardest Worker - Kalab Ferrell

Most Improved - Eli Lomas

Team Player - Alex Hall

Hustle Award - Dillan Reeder

Best Sixth Man - Braxton Howell & Lucas Phillips

Best Passer/Ball-Handler - Evan Curtis & Stephen Howell

Best Rebounder - Braxton Howell

Best Defensive Player - Hunter Graham

For the Lady Saints, Lewis also earned the awards for Best Defensive Player and Most Assists, while Foutch was named Best Rebounder and took the award for Most Steals.

Other Lady Saints awards were as follows:

Best Passer - Abbey Caldwell

Best Sixth Man - Loren Cripps

Most Improved & Coaches Award - Veronica Ingram

Best Offensive Player & Free Throw Shooter - Cori Jennings

Jennings also earned a trophy for making the All-Tournament team at the James C. Haile State Invitational Tournament.

Other Cheerleading awards were as follows:

Most Improved - Mariah Jones

Most Spirit - Callie Gash

Coaches Award (the D.E.A.R. award) - Ashley Medlin

Each individual player, cheeleader and manager were also recognized with a certificate of participation during Thursday night's banquet. Awards were presented by DMS coaches, Josh Agee and Joey Agee.

(Pictured: Front Row-left to right, Lydia Foutch (Lady Saints Co-MVP), Chelsea Lewis (Lady Saints Co-MVP), Emily Webb (Most Valuable Cheerleader). Back Row- left to right, Saints Coach Joey Agee, Cody Puckett (Saints MVP), and Saints Coach Josh Agee)

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