Local News Articles

State Senate Approves Resolution Setting up Special Committee to Investigate Removal of Gibson

April 11, 2008

The State Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) held a special committee meeting this week to hear a resolution that would set up a special committee to investigate the removal of William E. Gibson from the office of District Attorney General of the Thirteenth Judicial District by the Tennessee. The Thirteenth District includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White Counties.

Sponsor of the resolution, Senator Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) told Chairman Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and members of the committee, “improprieties have occurred. “They are clear and undisputed,” he said.

“This would create a committee and proceed with the process,” said Chairman Beavers. “They will than have an investigation and make a recommendation to the full Senate. The House will also participate as five members will be selected by each Speaker, House and Senate, to serve on the special panel. Then the report of the committee would come before both bodies for a vote.”

The Committee approved the resolution on Wednesday and sent the measure to the full Senate, where it was approved on Thursday. The resolution sets up the procedure to investigate the removal. Tennessee’s Constitution provides that attorneys for the state may be removed from office by a concurrent two-thirds vote of both Houses of the General Assembly, each House voting separately.

Gibson has been sanctioned with the temporary removal of his law license by the Board of Professional Responsibility which supervises the ethical conduct of attorneys. Kyle said the actions of the Board were due to several reasons, including Gibson “using his position to influence the outcome of a case.”

Action by State Senate Committee Would Deter “Sanctuary Cities” for Illegal Aliens in Tennessee

April 11, 2008

The State Senate and Local Government Committee has approved legislation to cut off economic and community grant money to any Tennessee city that might declare itself a "sanctuary city" for illegal aliens. The bill aims to deter the creation of any local zones where aliens could live illegally in the state.

Sanctuary communities are a danger to the public because illegal immigrants who commit crimes are able to repeat their offenses instead of being dealt with by immigration officials,” said Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet). “San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and many more localities are evolving into ‘city-states.’ They've sprung up all over the country, declaring their independence from the rule of law. During a time when our borders are being used as gateways for terrorists and other illegal activities, there is no reason for knowingly providing illegal aliens with sanctuary from prosecution.”

A sanctuary city is a term given to a city in the United States that follows certain practices that protect illegal aliens. The term generally applies to cities that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to cooperate with federal immigration laws. This most commonly occurs when cities do not allow police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status.

Thirty-eight cities in the U.S. have been recognized as sanctuary cities. However, many sources have identified over 200 city or county governments nationwide as practicing such policies. Thus far, no Tennessee city has been identified in these groups.

“The legislation is a preemptive measure to guard against adoption of any policy by cities in the state to provide a sanctuary for illegal aliens in Tennessee,” said Senator Beavers. “This would enable police to do their job and see that criminal aliens are not allowed to live invisibly among our communities in violation of our laws.”

Issues in Brief

DUI / ignition interlock -- The Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would require ignition interlock devices to be installed on motor vehicles driven by DUI offenders with alcohol concentration levels exceeding .20, or for repeat offenders. The bill requires the Department of Safety to create an interlock indigency fund for offenders who cannot afford the installation of the interlock equipment by adding a $50 alcohol and drug addiction treatment fee for DUI offenders. Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) said, “We have research from the Highway Safety Administration that shows that ignition interlock devices are one of the most effective ways to keep drunk drivers from continuing to drive intoxicated. Unfortunately, they’re significantly underused across the state. Passage of legislation to require use of these devices will greatly help in our efforts to get drunk drivers off our roads.”

DUI / education – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that gives judges the option to order DUI offenders to attend victim impact panel programs. The bill authorizes the court to assess a fee of no less than $25, but no more than $50, to offset the cost of participation.

McDonald Withdraws as Candidate for State Representative

April 10, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

One of the candidates for State Representative has pulled out of the race.

Citing personal reasons, George McDonald of Riddleton has withdrawn as a candidate for the Democratic nomination to succeed Frank Buck

That leaves seven Democrats, two Republicans, and one Independent candidate.

Democrats hoping to win their party's nomination on August 7th include Cleveland Derrick Bain of Smithville, Jeff Barrett of DeKalb County, Steven K. Cantrell of Smithville, Gayla C. Hendrix of Smithville, Carl (Hix) Jones of Westmoreland, Dean Sircy of Westmoreland, and Sarah Marie Smith of Carthage.

Candidates seeking the Republican nomination for State Representative on August 7th include Nicky Rittenberry of Lafayette and Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster.

The winners of the Democratic and Republican Primaries in August will run against each other in the November State General Election along with Ray Amalfitano of Dixon Springs, who will be an Independent candidate for State Representative.

Willoughy Hires Certified Personnel for 2008-09 School Year

April 8, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has signed contracts with the Professional Personnel for the 2008-2009 school year.

Willoughby presented a list of the employees to the Board of Education Tuesday night.

Certified personnel at each school are as follows:

DeKalb County High School-

Angie Anderson, Lori Barnes, Danny Bond, Amanda Brown, Kevin Burchfield, Boyd Cantrell, Harriett Cantrell, Jeanine Cantrell, Mary Anne Carpenter, Patrick Cripps, Dixie Crook, Jared Daniels, Linda Dean, Donna Emmons, Marshall Ferrell, Tina Fletcher, Amanda Fuller, Judy Fuson, Wayne Fuson, David Gash, Michael Hawkins, Marie Hill, Susan Hinton, Sonja House, John Isabell, Lori Isabell, William Jennings, Dylan Kleparek, Brad Leach, Deborah Loring, Lynus Martin, Rolanda Navarro, Jenny Norris, Scott Odom, Rebecca Oliver, Lori Page, Shelly Painter, Walteen Parker, Linda Parris, Rebecca Purdue, Kristin Reagh, Joey Reeder, Leslie Rice, Melissa Ruch, Frederick Sanders, Daniel Sebers, Larry Steffee, Amy Tobitt, Steve Trapp, Chris Vance, Michael Whitefield, Carol Williams, Charlotte Wruble, Melvin Young, and Kathy Hendrix.

Northside Elementary School-

Joyce Alexander, Rebecca Baugh, Lisa Bell, Marla Beshearse, Kelly Birmingham, Kathy Bryant, Linda Bush, Wendy Colvert, Michael Crockett, Amanda Dakas, Alisha Day, Holly Espinosa Jerry Foster, Carrie Gottlied, Amy Green, Amanda Griffith, Jennifer Griffith, Jessica Hale, Patty Hale, Karen Jacobs, Kristy Lasser, Amanda Mathis, Libby McCormick, Pamela Miller, Louise Owen, Joy Parker, Amy Raymond, Bethany Rigsby, Melissa Roysdon, Tammy Sims, Jama Todd, Carol Tripp, Cheryl Vance, Julie Vincent, Betsye Walker, Tad Webb, Ginger Wenger, Sandy Willingham, and Gayle Redmon.

DeKalb West School-

Pat Allen, Doris Cantrell, Jeanna Caplinger, William Conger, Kim Crook, Martha Damron, Genrose Davis, Tonya Ellis, Janet England, Sabrina Farler, Carol Hale, Lesa Hayes, Ricky Hendrix, Regina Kent, Kathy Lawrence, Michael Littrell, Shelia McMillen, Melanie Molander, Tammy Payne, Debra Poteete, Cynthia Preston, Lori Pryor, Joyce Robertson, Susan Robinson, Pam Sanders, Lori Sexton, Jane Watson, Vicki Wilson, Amy Young, and Danny Parkerson.

Smithville Elementary School-

Sharon Anderson, Ana Bain, Renee Beaty, Kelly Birmingham, Kim Brown, Vickie Burton, Beth Cantrell, Laura Carter, Alisha Cheatham, Layra Crook, Trena Curtis, Sue Driver, Vicky Duke, Wanna Foster, Kelli Foster, Amy Fox, Misty Franklin, Tina Gash, Amanda Hardiek, Vicky Hawker, Bradley Hendrix, Holly Hendrix, Mary Henny, Jill Herren, Betty Hickey, April Hines, Anna Johnson, Sabrina Kirksey, Karen Knowles, Carrie Lee, Lisa Mabe, LeVaughnda Midgett, Margaret Nichols, Christina Ontiveros, Lisa Pack, Beth Pafford, Jane Parsley, Kristy Parsley, Jennifer Peek, Mary Pugh, Lori Purnell, Jane Ramsey, Amanda Rhoady, Carol Tallent, Jan Thomas, Janet Trapp, Carol-Ann Tripp, Fay Turner, Sherian Waggoner, Janet Woodward, Crystal Young, Christie Young, and Billy Tanner.

DeKalb Middle School-

Joey Agee, Josh Agee, Jan Alexander, Ashley Barnes, Pat Barnes, Lori Cloyd, Lisa Craig, Lisa Cripps, Jennifer Davenport, Tena Davidson, Nancy Dillon, Lori Hendrix, Tom Hill, Michelle Jones, Gail Kirksey, Mike Littrell, Michael Lewis, Debra Moore, Rebecca Oliver, Karen Pelham, Anita Puckett, Judy Redmon, Kevin Rigsby, Joyce Robertson, Candice Scarbro, Mike Schockley, Penny Smitty, Jenny Stephenson, Lori Sexton, Tonya Sullivan, Kitty Thomas, Vicky Terrell, Jennifer West, and Randy Jennings.

Central Office Staff-

Gina Arnold, Katherine Ballard, Michelle Burklow, Clay Farler, Carol Hendrix, Danielle Collins, and Mary Nelle Summers

County Wide-

Penny Bileyu, Tonya Dickens, Judy Malone, Lori Rogers, and Peggy Semmes.

In other business, Director Willoughby recommended that the following teachers be granted tenure because they have successfully completed the statutory apprentice period of three years as required for tenure:

Ana Bain, Layra Crook, Donna Emmons, Holly Espinosa, Christina Ontiveros, Kristy Parsley, Karen Pelham, Bethany Rigsby, Fredrick Sanders, Lori Sexton, Amy Tobitt, Steve Trapp, Betsye Walker, and Vicki Wilson.

The school board approved the tenure status of those teachers.

Meanwhile, Director Willoughby updated the board on other personnel moves since last month.

Gordon Williams has been employed as a substitute bus driver and Colleen Eslick has been named a substitute Deaf Interpreter for the 2007-08 school year.

Holly Bain, an Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School, and Lesa Hayes, teacher at DeKalb West School, have been granted a leave of absence as requested.

Donna Davis, teacher at DeKalb West School, is retiring.

Three teachers have resigned, Alisa Rice, Christine Rivers, and Eric Helton.

The board approved an overnight trip request for members of the golf team to participate in a golf tournament August 10th-12th in Chattanooga (TGF-Baylor Preview Golf Championship).

An overnight trip request was also approved for FFA students to attend the State Forestry Camp at Fall Creek Falls State Park June 1st-7th and the FFA State Leadership Camp in Doyle July 7th-11th.

In other business, board member Kenny Rhody says the state has authorized making all school zones in DeKalb County 25 miles per hour.

Currently, there are different speed limits in three of the school zones.

Rhody says the Smithville Elementary School zone will also be relocated from South Congress Boulevard to East Bryant Street and Walker Drive. "I spoke with Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings this week about the progress of getting all of our school zones with one speed limit. He spoke to the state commissioner from TDOT. He came down here and reviewed our proposal. I met with Sheriff Patrick Ray, Chief Jennings, the City Manager, and Mr. Willoughby. We looked at our proposal. As many of you know we have one school zone on a three lane highway (Northside Elementary) at 30 miles per hour. We have one at the West School that's 25 mph and the one at the high school is 15 mph. I spoke with Sheriff Ray and Chief Jennings and we talked to the guy with the state. He agreed to make them all the same. They agreed on 25 miles per hour for all the school zones and the one on South Congress will be moved to behind Ace Hardware on Bryant Street all the way through and then on Walker Drive, where the actual school traffic is to start with."

McMinnville Man Injured In Tuesday Wreck

April 8, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 19 year old McMinnville man was injured in a one car accident around 1:49 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 56 south near Magness Road.

Trooper Charlie Caplinger of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Jeffrey Allan Hillis was driving north on Highway 56 in a 1996 Pontiac Grand Am, going to work, when the car dropped off the right shoulder of the road, went into a ditch, struck a driveway culvert, and then overturned clipping a utility pole. The car came to rest on it's top off the road.

Hillis was taken by DeKalb EMS to Riverpark Hospital in McMinnville with a dislocated shoulder and other minor injuries.

Others on the scene providing assistance were members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Traffic was re-routed for several hours during the investigation and cleanup.

County Beer Board Denies Permit

April 7, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Beer Board Thursday night denied a permit for Paul David Maynard, Sr. to sell beer both on and off the premises at a business, yet to be built, called the Do-Drop-In Dinner and Dance on the Liberty to Dismal Road.

Maynard was not present at the meeting but several people from the community were there to express their opposition including members of the nearby Fullers Chapel Methodist Church and the Cooper's Chapel Baptist Church.

In order for an applicant to qualify for a county beer permit, the business must be at least 300 feet from the nearest residence and no closer than 2,000 feet from a church or place of public gathering.

A neighbor, Glen Wilson, said the proposed establishment is less than 300 feet away from his home. Others claimed that the property was also too close to the Fuller's Chapel Methodist Church. Some warned that increased traffic on this narrow road could also create more safety hazards including the possibility of alcohol related accidents because of this business

In addition to the distance problem, the board found that because the establishment has not yet been constructed, Maynard's application lacked sufficient information as to the actual physical address of the business.

Lattimore Faces Sentencing In Drug Case

April 7, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A DeKalb County man, who stood trial last Thursday in DeKalb County Criminal Court, was found guilty on some of the drug charges against him.

Eddie Lattimore was charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia (syringes), possession of a schedule II controlled substance (dilaudid) with the intent to sell and deliver, possession of a schedule II drug (morphine) with intent to sell and deliver, and unlawful possession of a weapon.

A jury found him guilty of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of possession of a schedule II controlled substance (dilaudid) with intent to sell and deliver. However in the other drug case, the jury convicted him of the lesser offense of simple possession of morphine and found him not guilty of the weapon charge.

Lattimore was arrested on December 31st, 2006 following an undercover investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, at the time, said county officers went to the home of Lattimore at 3785 Pea Ridge Road to execute a search warrant following an extensive investigation of Lattimore and surveillance of his home on suspicion of drug dealing which led to two undercover drug buys of dilaudid.

Lattimore was arrested at the scene. Officers found some dilaudid, morphine, syringes, and seized more than $7,400 in cash. Authorities also found a 9 millimeter pistol in an outbuilding on Lattimore's property.

Lattimore was fined a total of $7,500 by the jury and he will be sentenced by Judge Leon Burns, Jr. on June 20th. Lattimore has other drug charges pending against him.

Six More Persons Picked Up on Grand Jury Sealed Indictments

April 7, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested six more people on sealed indictments returned by the Grand Jury last week.

Most are charged as a result of an undercover drug investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the latest to be picked up include:

34 year old Lisa Ann Dillon of Page Drive, Smithville- Theft over $10,000, and Destruction of valuable papers with the intent to defraud. Her total bond is $2,500.

Dillon was an employee at Insta Cash in Smithville. Sheriff Ray says Dillon was indicted because she was taking previous accounts and making ficticious loans in the account holder's name and keeping the money for herself. After the loans went through, Dillon would then shred all the paper work. After an audit, it was found that over a 4 month period of time, Dillon took in excess of $15,000.

45 year old Linda West Barrett of Webb Lane, Smithville- Sale and Delivery of a Schedule II Drug (2 counts) (Dilaudid). Her bond is $25,000

21 year old Kara Funk of Kings Court Circle, Smithville- Sale and Delivery of a Schedule VI Drug (Marijuana). Her bond is $10,000

22 year old Corey Winchester of Bright Hill Road, Smithville- Sale and Delivery of a Schedule IV Drug (Xanax) and Sale and Delivery of a Schedule II Drug (Oxycontin).Total Bond $20,000

27 year old Amanda Certain Tarpley of Kings Court, Smithville- Sale and Delivery of a Schedule IV Drug (Xanax). Total Bond $10,000

41 year old Ed Tarpley Jr. of Kings Court, Smithville- Sale and Delivery of a Schedule IV Drug (Xanax). Total Bond $10,000.

All will appear in Criminal Court for arraignment Monday, April 14th at 9:00 a.m.

Meanwhile, in other cases, 27 year old Timothy Shane Likens of Dearman Street, Smithville was charged on April 1st with Violation of the Sex Offender Law.

Sheriff Ray says Likens was a registered sex offender here in DeKalb County and was listed on the registry at the Dearman Street address. Deputies have checked for Likens at this address several times and Likens was never to be found. After an investigation into Likens' whereabouts, he was found to be living in Westmoreland. A warrant was issued for Likens for violation of the sex offender law. His bond is $10,000 and his court date is April 10th.

On April 3rd, Deputies received a call to respond to Allen Bend Road, Smithville to a possible burglary in progress at an abandoned house.

Sheriff Ray says upon arrival, deputies found the front door of the residence open and broken glass from the front door on the ground. After a search of the residence, officers found 21 year old Phillip Martin of Old Bildad Road, Smithville and 23 year old Crystal Dawn Butler of Allen Bend Road, Smithville, hiding behind an indoor air unit in the attic area of the home. Deputies also smelled marijuana in the room and Butler had in her possession a bong and a small amount of marijuana. Martin was placed under arrest and charged with burglary. Bond for Martin is $5,000 and his court date is April 17th. Butler was charged with burglary, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $7,500.00 and her court date is April 17th.

Legislation protects public from sexual predators on work release

April 5, 2008

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that makes persons convicted of sexual offenses ineligible for work release. The bill applies to sex offenders housed in local jails, private prisons or state correctional facilities.

"These offenders should not be out on work release," said Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers ."It is too big a risk that could endanger our citizens."

Studies show that sex offenders are rarely, if ever, rehabilitated. This is one of the reasons Tennessee and other states have set up a sex offender registry.

"There are too many cases of sex offenders who repeat their crime," Beavers added. "We must make public safety our first concern."

Meanwhile, legislation that would prohibit the diversion of gas tax money from being diverted from the state's road fund to the general fund to pay for other state government expenses was approved this week in the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill would eliminate the authority of state government to divert approximately $13.7 million in the highway user fees this year.

"Tennessee has a user ‘pay as you go' road program," said Senator Mae Beavers "We have not had to rely on bonds or indebtedness like so many other states to fund our highway program. If funds continue to be diverted, it will upset this balance and lead to many problems. It also leads to even more traffic congestion and an inadequate road system, which Tennessee had before we adopted this system."

The Department of Transportation only spends the funds that are available through its dedicated revenues, the highway user taxes and fees, and federal funding. Called "dedicated funding" since users pay for the roads through gas taxes and fees, a portion of the gasoline tax also goes to cities and counties in Tennessee to fund local roads.

"We must also compete in a very competitive economic climate to bring jobs to our communities," Beavers added. "We need the infrastructure to bring new and better paying jobs into Tennessee. Erosion of our road money is a big problem in this effort."

The Highway Fund would receive approximately $11.4 million of the shifted funds under the bill, SB 2953. Local governments would receive the remaining $2.3 million.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to strengthen penalties against the worst drunk drivers by lowering the level Tennessee considers "extreme drunk driving" from .20 to .15. The bill would add up to seven more days of jail time for offenders who are convicted of an extreme drunk driving charge.

"This bill is one of a package of proposals that we are pushing this year," said Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), sponsor of the bill. "Fifty-two percent of drivers that were involved in alcohol-related fatalities had BAC levels at or above .16. Drivers at this level are 382 times more likely to be involved in a crash. We need to focus our resources on getting these offenders off our roads."

Tennessee is one of few states in the nation that sets the standard at .20, a level when many drunk drivers lose consciousness. There were 1,287 fatalities on Tennessee roads with 509 due to alcohol-related crashes, a 7.6 percent increase from the previous year. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths among persons between the ages of 3 and 33, with 50% of them being alcohol-related crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted studies showing extreme drunk driving laws work. NHTSA includes the .15 standard for extreme drunk driving in its model legislation for a comprehensive approach to lowering the incidence of DUI in states. Currently, Tennessee has only five of the eleven elements proposed by NHTSA in their model bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) will have a special meeting on Wednesday to consider a resolution calling for removal of William E. Gibson from the office of District Attorney General of the Thirteenth Judicial District by the state of Tennessee. Tennessee's Constitution provides that attorneys for the state may be removed from office by a concurrent two-thirds vote of both Houses of the General Assembly, each House voting separately. The resolution calling for removal, if approved, could be on the floor as early as next Thursday. The thirteenth district includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White Counties

Senator Jim Tracy won Senate approval of legislation he sponsored that would end the rights of a member of the General Assembly to continue receiving healthcare benefits if they are convicted of a felony for misuse of their office. The bill requires the state to end the benefits upon conviction or upon a plea of guilty to such charges if the charges are in relation to the member's official capacity as a legislator.

Senator Randy McNally guided legislation through the full Senate this week that adds abuse of inhalants to the state's DUI laws. The bill authorizes various forms of education and treatment; and requires investigation involving inhalant abuse. Inhalants produce an effect that may be similar to alcohol intoxication. Police are seeing a proliferation of this dangerous practice, including a case earlier this month where a driver who had been "huffing" a pressurized dust remover crashed into a Rutherford County special education school bus.

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