Local News Articles

Christmas Comes to Smithville (VIEW VIDEO OF ENTIRE PARADE HERE)

December 8, 2013
Dwayne Page
First Place Float-Matthews Family

Hundreds of enthusiastic kids and grown ups alike braved the cold weather Saturday for the sights and sounds of the Smithville Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department.

Winning first place among the float entries was the Matthews Family for their theme "The True Meaning of Christmas". Second Place went to Girl Scout Troop #1915 and the Calvary Baptist Church Float received third place for the theme "Go Tell It On The Mountain".

The Spirit Award, presented by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, went to Girl Scout Troop #2020.

This year's parade featured other floats, horseback riders, horse drawn wagons, boy and girl scouts, vintage automobiles, emergency vehicles, local politicians, and of course, Santa Claus. The Grand Marshalls of the parade were Mr. and Mrs. DeKalb County Butch and Cynthia Agee. State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver also rode in the parade.


M2U01348 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Alleged Major Dilaudid Dealer Busted in Thursday night Raid

December 6, 2013
Dwayne Page
Tommye Lou Bell
Dilaudid Pills and Cash Seized in Drug Raid

Calling her one of the top Dilaudid drug dealers in the county, Sheriff Patrick Ray and members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested 52 year old Tommye Lou Bell at her travel trailer residence at 136 Hawkins Drive Thursday night while executing a search warrant.

During the raid, officers found 135 Dilaudid pills and recovered almost $1,400 in cash, believed to be from drug transactions.

Bell is charged with possession of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid) for sale and delivery. She is under a $20,000 bond and will make a court appearance December 12. She could also lose the travel trailer home where she was living. The Sheriff's Department hopes to have it seized.

Sheriff Ray told WJLE that the Sheriff's Department's drug detectives have had Bell under surveillance for some time and Thursday night officers executed a search warrant at Bell's home. " She is a well known drug dealer. Bell is considered one of the top Dilaudid drug dealers in the county," said Sheriff Ray. "Through our surveillance, we observed well known drug addicts coming and going from her home, staying only a short time. Through our lengthy investigation, we were able to do undercover drug buys at Bell's home," he said.

"While executing the search warrant Thursday night, we found that Bell had a bottle on her person containing 130 Dilaudid pills. We also found a small container in a living room chair that contained five Dilaudid pills. Along with the 135 Dilaudid pills, we were able to seize $1,394 in cash. We are in the process of checking with the state to seize her residence which is a travel trailer," said Sheriff Ray.

According to Sheriff Ray, Dilaudids are $40 to $60 per pill on the street. He said this raid produced between $5,400 and $8,100 worth of pills.

The case was investigated by drug detectives of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Two Injured in Wreck Near Walmart

December 6, 2013
Dwayne Page
Smithville Firefighters help DeKalb EMS load wreck victim into ambulance

A crash on West Broad Street near Walmart Thursday night resulted in injuries to two people.

49 year old Michael Langtimm and 67 year old Marilyn Leck both of Smithville were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Sergeant Andy Snow of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that Langtimm, driving a 2008 Ford Escape, was exiting the Walmart parking lot at the traffic light. From the turning lane, Langtimm was attempting to make a left turn to go west on Broad Street when he was struck in the driver side door by a 1998 Toyota pickup truck, driven by 39 year old Brad Johnson of Smithville who was traveling east on Broad Street.

Leck was a passenger with Langtimm. 46 year old Robert Rochefort of Smithville was riding with Johnson.

The Toyota truck came to rest facing west on the highway. The Langtimm vehicle came to a stop off the highway on an embankment.

Langtimm was trapped inside the Ford Escape. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication Team were called to the scene and removed the driver's side door of Langtimm's vehicle so that they could get him out.

Johnson and Rochefort were not injured.

“Rockin’ Around the Angel Tree” to be Presented Next Thursday

December 5, 2013
Dwayne Page

How would you like to help some less fortunate children in our community, while enjoying a night of great entertainment in the process? On Thursday night, December 12th, you will have that opportunity.

A musical concert titled “Rockin’ Around the Angel Tree” will be presented on that night, beginning at 7:00 p.m., with all proceeds raised from the event going to benefit the DeKalb County Angel Tree project. Several performers from the local area – and potentially some other special guests – will take the stage at the DeKalb County Community Center on South Congress Boulevard for a night of rockin’ fun, all to benefit a good cause.

Tom Duggin and Tim Colwell featured in video below were guests on WJLE's Chamber Chat Program Wednesday morning with Suzanne Williams and Jen Sherwood.

M2U01346 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

No tickets will be sold to the event, but donations will be asked for at the door. Attendees are asked to give what they are able to, with no minimum donation required. Seating for the show will be limited, and attendees will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. The Community Center auditorium will hold roughly 400 people for a performance.

Many of the gifts for this year’s Angel Tree will be purchased by the time of the concert, but remaining gifts will be purchased with the money raised, and the remainder of the proceeds will go into an account to give Angel Tree organizers a head start on the 2014 holiday season.

The night of entertainment will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m., featuring local performers Brad Hennessee, Jamie Nokes, Sabrina Kirksey and Demytris Savage among others, with other special guests potentially performing. The night of entertainment will conclude with a rockabilly-style Christmas performance featuring Tom Duggin and TCB (the Tim Colwell Band ). The band consists of lead guitarist Tim Colwell, keyboardist Steve “Kujo” Kujowski, bassist Brian Benedict, drummer Michael Young and rhythm guitarists Nick Nokes and Brad Hennessee.

So, put on your Santa hats and your dancin’ shoes, and come out for a rockin’ good time, again with all proceeds to benefit the DeKalb County Angel Tree Project. Remember the date, Thursday night, December 12th, at 7:00 p.m., at the DeKalb County Community Center auditorium for the first-ever Rockin’ Around The Angel Tree.

For more information, contact the center at 597-2121.

DA Randall York to Run for Circuit Court Judge in 2014

December 5, 2013
Dwayne Page
Randall York

District Attorney General Randall A. York , who serves DeKalb and six other counties in the 13th Judicial District, has decided to run for another office next year, instead of DA.

York announced Tuesday that he will be seeking the position of Circuit Court Judge, Part II, the seat currently being held by long time Judge John J. Maddux, Jr.

Judge Maddux announced last week that he is retiring from the bench and will not be seeking re-election in 2014.

York has served as District Attorney General for the 13th Judicial District for the last five years.

Governor Phil Bredesen appointed York as the District Attorney General in September 2008 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of William E. Gibson. York was elected in 2010 to fill the remaining four years of Gibson's unexpired term.

York and his family reside in Crossville but his wife, Judy is originally from DeKalb County. "My wife is from Smithville, the former Judy Dodd. Her mother Genelle Dodd is from Liberty. I have two children, John and Anna," he said.

In making his announcement, York said he gave it a lot of thought before deciding to run for the judgeship, rather than for District Attorney General.

“This decision to run for this office was not made lightly, but was made after considerable prayer and thought by me and my family,” General York said. “The decision to run for this office was a bittersweet decision. I am excited about the opportunity to run for this office and serve the people of the 13th Judicial District in a different capacity, but it is also a sad decision because I will be leaving my position as District Attorney General.”

In his time as DA, General York led the office as it became the first DA’s office to become digital, led efforts to establish the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center, helped establish the Upper Cumberland Drug Court and reestablished the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force.

“It has been an honor and privilege to hold this office for the past five years,” General York said. “Over the past five years, I have worked diligently to restore the integrity and dignity to the Office of the District Attorney General. I have had the opportunity to work with an incredible staff and cooperating agencies.”

York is licensed to practice in all Tennessee courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has served on the Executive Committee of the District Attorneys General Conference, currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Tennessee Bar Association and the Human Trafficking Task Force through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and was appointed and served on the Tennessee Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee.

“I hope to follow in the tradition of great jurists that I have practiced before including Judge John Turnbull, Judge John Maddux, Judge Tom Hale, Judge Leon Burns and Chancellor Vernon Neal,” General York said. “I also look forward to serving with our existing judges and Chancellor.”

Elderly Woman Seriously Injured in Alexandria Wreck

December 4, 2013
Dwayne Page
Chevy Lumina Driven by Mildred Spencer
2001 Toyota driven by Phyllis Asberry
Lumina crashes through rock fence and into a creek bed after collision

An elderly woman was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga after being seriously injured in a two car crash Wednesday evening at the intersection of Highway 53 and New Hope Road in Alexandria.

Central dispatch received the call at 5:42 p.m.

82 year old Mildred Spencer of Alexandria was traveling east from East Main Street crossing Highway 53 toward New Hope Road in a 1999 Chevy Lumina when her car was struck in the passenger side by a 2001 Toyota, driven by 52 year old Phyllis Asberry of Brush Creek who was traveling north on Highway 53.

The accident was investigated by Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The Asberry car came to rest off the east side of Highway 53 facing south. The Spencer car went off the east side of Highway 53 and crashed through a rock fence and into a small dry creek bed. Spencer was trapped inside the car. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication Team were called to the scene and removed the driver's side door of Spencer's car. She was then removed from the vehicle and taken by DeKalb EMS to meet a Life Force helicopter ambulance which landed on Highway 53 near the crash site.

Asberry was not transported by EMS and was not believed to have been seriously hurt.

Others on the scene were members of the Alexandria Police and Fire Departments and the Sheriff's Department.

Smithville Fire Department to Apply for FEMA Micro Grant

December 4, 2013
Dwayne Page
Fire Chief Charlie Parker

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department is making application for a FEMA Micro Grant under the Assistance to Firefighters Program to purchase new Jaws of Life extrication equipment.

The aldermen authorized the filing of this grant application Monday night during its regular monthly meeting at the request of Fire Chief Charlie Parker.

The $25,000 grant would require a $1,250 local match. Chief Parker said the funding would pay for most of the new equipment needed to replace the older tools, which have been in use for nearly thirty years. " We're looking to write this grant to replace our Jaws of Life equipment. The tools we have we purchased 28 years ago. We are still using them. We've added to them twice through the years but we've still got an old set. We're looking at a new system that cost close to $40,000, which is pretty expensive. It's not something we can buy a little bit at a time because the new system doesn't interchange with the older stuff. The one we're looking at, you've got to buy a new generator, cutter, and spreader and all that," he said.

While the grant will cover most of the expense, Chief Parker said the department will still need some accessories to go with the new system. "Once we get into it, we can add some pieces but the initial set is a lump sum deal. We're looking at applying for this $25,000 grant. We could buy the cutter, spreaders, generator, and hoses for $32,000 to get us started and add to it later. The $25,000 grant would go a long way toward paying for it. Our portion for matching the micro grant would be $1,250. If we decide we can afford to do it, I'd like to put another $3,000 with it and get the rest of the stuff but that would have to be voted on separately by the board. We do have the money in our budget to pay the grant match. There's $10,000 in capital outlay for the department, which is plenty to cover it," said Chief Parker.

Meanwhile, Chief Parker said he has heard nothing yet from the department's application for a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant, which was filed a few months ago. This grant, if approved, would fully fund the hiring of two firefighters for up to two years at no costs to the city. The city applied for the grant last year but did not receive approval for funding.

Chief Parker said he is hoping for better fortunes this time. "We applied for the SAFER grant earlier this year. We have not been turned down yet so we're still in the running," he said.

Dixon Gets 35 Year Prison Sentence in Double Murder

December 3, 2013
Dwayne Page
David Howard Dixon
Ervin Raymon Beacham
Jose Sagahon Ticante

The man charged with the fatal shooting of two men at a residence on Tommy Harrell Street in Smithville almost sixteen months ago may spend the rest of his life in prison.

45 year old David Howard Dixon, who was indicted on two counts of first degree murder in November 2012, pleaded guilty Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court under a negotiated settlement to two counts of second degree murder in the August 7, 2012 deaths of 55 year old Ervin Raymon Beacham and Jose Sagahon Ticante.

Judge David Patterson sentenced Dixon to 35 years in each case to run concurrently with each other for a total of 35 years. The term is also to run concurrently with a sentence he is serving for violation of probation. Dixon, who has been incarcerated since the day of the murders, has been given jail credit for those sixteen months behind bars. After being arrested in the case, Dixon was initially held in the DeKalb County Jail without bond for violation of probation and for failure to appear. He was later transferred to the Henderson County Jail.

State prosecutors called only one witness Monday to testify as to the proof in the case, TBI Special Agent Dan Friel.

Dixon was represented by Allison West, assistant District Public Defender.

After being alerted to the shooting, the Smithville Police Department responded to Beacham's residence at 311 Tommy Harrell Street on August 7, 2012 and discovered Beacham shot to death on the couch in his home. Ticante was also found murdered and his body hidden under a tarp and some lumber in the backyard of the residence. TBI investigated the murders with the Smithville Police Department, DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and the 13th Judicial District Attorney General's Office.

"He (Dixon) shot Mr. Beacham twice in the chest with a 22 caliber pistol," said Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong in an interview with WJLE on Monday. "He (Dixon) then shot Mr. Ticante once in the chest with a pistol. After the shooting, he (Dixon) pulled Ticante's body from the house and put it in the back yard underneath a stack of lumber. Dixon later sold a pistol and offered a bill of sale with the pistol with his name on it. TBI, the Smithville Police Department, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department investigated the case and quickly identified Dixon as a suspect. Dixon was picked up and interviewed. He confessed on three different occasions to shooting these two men. The bodies were examined by the medical examiner's office and found to have been shot with a small caliber weapon in the torso area," he said.

Although Dixon confessed to the killings, Strong said he gave no reason to investigators as to why he committed the murders. "We didn't establish a motive. That's all kind of speculation. We wouldn't want to say what we think (the motive was) because we don't know that," he said.

Months after being indicted and arraigned for the double murder, Dixon underwent an evaluation by a Clinical Psychologist at Plateau Mental Health Center in Cookeville to determine his competency to stand trial.

In a letter to the court, Dr. Sandra DeMott Phillips, the Clinical Psychologist who conducted the evaluation, wrote that Dixon "has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against him".

Dr. Phillips further wrote "After completion of the evaluation, it is my opinion that at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the alleged offenses, severe mental disease or defect did not prevent the defendant (Dixon) from appreciating the nature or wrongfulness of the alleged acts."

In July, a December 2 trial date was set for Dixon.

Had he gone to trial and been convicted on the original charges of first degree murder, Dixon could have been facing life with or without parole.

The range of punishment for second degree murder is 30-50 years but under this plea agreement, Dixon is getting a total sentence of 35 years of which he must serve at least 85% or 29 years and nine months before his release eligibility date.

Dixon has a lengthy criminal history in DeKalb County including charges for possession of a handgun while under the influence, manufacture and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance, assault, public intoxication, violation of an order of protection, aggravated assault, theft, domestic assault, and simple possession.

Mayor and Aldermen Call Special Meeting to Set DUD Rate

December 3, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mayor and Aldermen

The DeKalb Utility District's current water purchase contract with the City of Smithville is due to expire December 31 and no new agreement has been reached between the parties.

During Monday night's regular meeting, the Mayor and Aldermen set a special meeting for Thursday, December 12 at 5:00 p.m. at city hall to set a new rate for the DeKalb Utility District if the two sides cannot agree on a new deal before the deadline.

The City has offered two alternatives for the DeKalb Utility District to consider on a possible new water purchase agreement. The DUD has not yet responded.

"We've given them (DUD) every opportunity to come before us or meet with us and work with us to thrash it out and they're not wanting to do it. I think we ought to have a special called meeting and set the rate and be done with it," said Alderman Danny Washer Monday night.

As WJLE first reported on November 19, City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. sent a letter to DUD manager Jon Foutch, dated Thursday November 14, setting out the proposals being offered by the city for the DUD board to consider.

One of proposals calls for a new ten year deal with the city to charge the DUD $2.20 per thousand gallons for five years and $2.40 per thousand gallons for an additional five years. While these rates are below the city's current cost of producing water, according to a recent study done by Warren and Associates, the city is willing to make this deal provided that the DUD abandon plans to build its own water plant and buy a certain amount of water over the next ten years from the city.

The city offered the same deal to DUD in April. City officials said DUD was willing to accept the rates but did not want to be held to the minimum purchase part of the offer.

In its second proposal, the city seeks to negotiate a new rate based on the sale of three DUD metering points to the City of Smithville.

During a workshop with the mayor and aldermen on Monday night, November 11, the city's utility engineer J.R. Wauford said that if the DUD were willing to sell the city the water lines and customers connected to at least three of its metering points, the city could be in a position to negotiate the price it charges the DeKalb Utility District.

If the DUD rejects either of the proposals and there is no new agreement by January 1, the city may begin charging the DUD $7.50 per thousand gallons, the same rate it charges water customers outside the city.

Some DUD customers are concerned that the city may shut off the water supply to DUD if no agreement is reached by December 31.

Mayor Jimmy Poss said the city cannot legally turn the water off, nor does it wish to. "I have had some concerned people who are afraid we're going to cut their water off. We're not going to do that. We can't do that but I am concerned about people thinking that," said Mayor Poss.

Rockwood Crash Claims Smithville Woman

December 3, 2013
Dwayne Page

A 65 year old Smithville woman lost her life in a two vehicle traffic accident on Sunday, November 24 on Gateway Drive in Rockwood.

Dead is Linda Summers.

According to an accident report filed by Sergeant Kelly Pittman of the Rockwood Police Department, Mrs. Summers was a passenger of a 2002 Ford four door sedan, driven by her husband, 70 year old Bobby Summers of Smithville. Mr. Summers, who was south on Gateway Drive, allegedly turned left at a traffic light and into the path of a northbound 2003 Chevy Silverado pickup truck , driven by 74 year old Thomas Mack Wright of Spring City, Tennessee. Wright's wife, 75 year old Dorothy M. Wright was a passenger with him. The truck T-boned the Summers car in the passenger side, where Mrs. Summers was seated.

She was taken by ambulance to the UT Medical Center in Knoxville where she died. No one else was injured in the crash.

In the report, Wright stated that he was traveling north on Gateway Drive when Summers pulled into his path. Wright said that his traffic light was green prior to and while the crash occurred. Summers stated that he observed what he thought was a northbound vehicle in the stopped position on the south side of the traffic light. He stated that he thought or assumed that the northbound vehicles traffic light had turned red. Summers stated that he went to proceed on through the intersection and that's when he was struck in the passenger side by Wright's truck.

A witness to the crash stated that there was a car stopped facing north bound but it made a right turn into a parking lot.


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