Local News Articles

Downtown Building Renovated for Community Events

December 3, 2008
Dwayne Page
Bobby McCormick, Mike Foster, Pat and George Bullard (Photo by Suzanne Williams)

DeKalb County now has a building available for non-profit groups to have special community events, thanks to George and Pat Bullard of the Lifeworks and Healing Stones Foundation.

An "Off the Beaten Path Studio" Reception and Exhibition was held Tuesday evening at the newly renovated building formerly owned by Lavelle Smith and located on the north side of the public square, next door to the Chamber of Commerce office.

After purchasing the property from the Smith family, the Bullards started a renovation of the building, which has recently been completed. "Pat and I were driving around and saw Lavelle's building, which we had taken notice of for years. There were some folks here working with a project called "Empty Bowls" and we were looking for a place for them to have a studio in a public setting, so we found this building and later talked to Will Smith, Lavelle's son and then to Mrs. Smith and the family agreed to sell it to us and that's really how it came about," according to George Bullard.

"That was the inspiration for the beginning of this building, because of our interest in the "Empty Bowls" Project and our partnership with the state craft organization. We were already working up here with the Butternut Valley UT project so the artists of Smithville, we already knew. But it's now evolved into something quite different. It will be what the community wants it to be, primarily starting with the craft artists, but really the kind of thing we welcome are community oriented non-profit efforts", said Pat Bullard

County Mayor Mike Foster, who donated some of his time to help project manager Bobby McCormick in the renovation, says the building is something of which the community can be proud. "It's about 5500 square feet, about 105 feet by 50 feet. There's also a little green space off to the side of the building behind the Chamber building. It's kind of a unique green garden space that adds to it. It's really a pretty building and I'm happy to donate my time to them to help do this because they (Bullards) have done a lot of really good things for the community and we appreciate that so much."

George Bullard says both he and Pat want to thank Foster and McCormick for their help. "It wouldn't have gotten done without Mike and Bobby. They have built it for us. Bobby has been here everyday and has really helped to shepherd the thing along. We're really grateful for that."

For more information concerning the use of the new Healing Stones/Lifeworks Building, contact Project Manager Bobby McCormick at 597-5418.

Rodriguez Indicted for Attempted Second Degree Murder in Stabbing Case

December 2, 2008
Dwayne Page
Juan Lorenzo Rodriguez

25 year Juan Lorenzo Rodriguez, charged with stabbing Gustaro Sanchez over a year ago at Pirtle's Nursery, was indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury this week on a charge of attempted second degree murder.

The warrant, at the time of Rodriguez' arrest in May states that " On October 28th, 2007 at Pirtle's Nursery on Highway 146 in DeKalb County, Rodriguez did stab Gustaro Sanchez several times in the neck, abdomen, and head and cut him twice across the abdomen and left him for dead."

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the fight was over a female and Sanchez was cut with a knife.
Sanchez was found in the driveway of a barracks where migrant workers reside at Pirtle's Nursery .According to Sheriff Ray, someone at the barracks heard Sanchez screaming in pain, discovered him lying in the driveway, and called 911

Sanchez, who has apparently recovered from the attack, suffered numerous stab wounds to his chest, back, and head area. He was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and then flown by Life Flight to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville in critical condition

Rodriguez, a resident of 500 Skyline Drive, McMinnville, was arrested in May of this year on other charges by Warren County Sheriff's Investigators after he attempted to allude law enforcement officers there. Rodriguez was later turned over to DeKalb County authorities.

Rodriguez and all others indicted by the Grand Jury this week will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 15th at 9:00 a.m.

Others indicted and their charges are as follows:

Bradley R. Herriott- statutory rape (4 counts)

Carmelino Sanchez Rodriguez- statutory rape

Jose Luis Chevez Castillo- rape

Todd Allen Bussiere- violation of the sex offender registry act

Nicolas W. Robinson- theft over $1,000

Cindy Estes- possession of a schedule V and IV controlled substance, introduction of drugs into a penal institution, and public intoxication

Melisa J. Petty-possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery and possession of drug paraphernalia

Jeanna T. Bain- possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery

Michael Teachout-aggravated burglary, theft over $1,000, driving under the influence (3rd offense- two charges), violation of implied consent (2 charges), evading with a vehicle, violation of the financial responsibility law, and prior DUI's,

Roxanne Hendrixson- introduction of contraband in a penal institution and public intoxication

Amy Janette Lawson (also known as Amy J. Vanderpool)- theft over $500 (2 charges), joyriding, theft under $500, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft over $1,000

Michael E. Brown- theft over $10,000 and theft under $500

Brian Pack- forgery (6 counts), and theft over $500

Johnny Trapp- hindering a secured creditor

Tammy D. Curry- driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia

Joshua E. Neal- aggravated robbery, aggravated assault (2 charges), theft over $500, vandalism under $500, theft under $500

Philando Fullilove- aggravated assault, aggravated robbery, vandalism under $500, and theft under $500

James Leduc- worthless check (4 counts)

John D. Anderson- passing a forged prescription

Waylon Farless- theft under $500

James E. Carroll- aggravated assault (2 counts)

Carlos S. Acosta- driving on a suspended license

Brian Scott Cannon- driving under the influence, violation of implied consent, prior DUI's

Jason Ross Frizzell- driving under the influence, DUI per se (over .08%), DUI per se (over .20%) violation of the open container law

David H. Pack- disorderly conduct

Alfredo P. Bazaldua- driving under the influence (1st offense) and DUI per se

Danny L. Atnip- possession of drug paraphernalia

Scottie L. Sykes- violation of the open container law, theft over $1,000, and possession of drug paraphernalia

Christine P. Petty- driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, prior DUI's, and violation of the implied consent law

Shannon L. Newby- theft over $1,000 and theft over $500

Joseph M. Edge- burglary and theft over $1,000

Royce A. Foster, Ricky Estes, and Tony L. Edge- burglary (3 counts) and theft over $1,000 (3 counts)

John E. Cummings, Wendy Y. Whittemore, and Toni J. Cummings- aggravated burglary (3 counts) and theft over $1,000 (3 counts)

Michael Teachman- driving under the influence (3rd offense), violation of implied consent, and prior DUI's

Steven R. Smith- driving under the influence and driving without a license.

Jefry Vincent Overall- driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, possession of a schedule II and IV controlled substance, prior DUI's, prior driving on a revoked license, and violation of implied consent.

Jimmy L. Estes- possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale (2 charges), possession of a schedule IV controlled substance for sale, and public intoxication.

Richard B. Turner- public intoxication (2 charges) and criminal trespass.

Michael E. Ingram- driving under the influence, violation of implied consent, and prior DUI's

Comer T. Vance- theft under $500 and shoplifting

David L. Martin- aggravated assault (2 counts), driving under the influence, violation of implied consent, vandalism over $500, and prior DUI

Ryan E. Herron- hindering a secured creditor

Thomas Vickers- driving on a revoked license

Anna Darlene Cahill- forgery and passing a forged instrument

Ellis Dywane Mullins- driving under the influence by allowance

David Vaughn- driving under the influence with a minor, violation of implied consent, reckless endangerment (3 counts), and violation of the financial responsibility law

Lisa Michelle Porterfield- driving on a suspended license (1st offense)

Jeremy Scruggs- driving under the influence and violation of implied consent

Marty Neal- driving under the influence, violation of the open container law, and violation of implied consent.

Christopher W. Miles- possession of drug paraphernalia

Justin A. Cantrell- driving under the influence

Sandy D. Wheeler- driving under the influence, violation of implied consent, possession of drug paraphernalia, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Three people were named in sealed indictments. Their names will be released after they are arrested.

County Firefighters Respond to Early Morning Chimney Fire

December 2, 2008
Dwayne Page
County Firefighter Working on Chimney Fire (Photo by Callie Matthews)

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department snuffed out a chimney fire early Tuesday morning at the residence of James Pack at 153 Arrowhead Drive.

Lieutenant Bradley Mullinax says "We received the call about 5:11 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Upon arrival we found smoke coming from the chimney of the residence. It was very difficult to extinguish the fire due to the type of construction of the fireplace. We were able to contain it to the fireplace area and but there was minor smoke damage in other areas of the house."

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Midway, and DeKalb Fire Main Stations responded and rendered assistance. No one was injured.

(Photo provided by Callie Matthews)

Corps Grants Permit for Floating Water Pump if Needed for Intake Operation

December 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted a permit for the City of Smithville to install a temporary floating pump to support the multiport raw water intake operation at Center Hill Lake for the city's water supply.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson, during Monday night's city council meeting, read a letter dated November 20th from Michael T. Abernathy, Chief of the Real Estate Division. "This supplemental agreement grants the City of Smithville permission to add a temporary floating raw water intake to their existing facilities. The temporary raw water intake will encompass an additional 0.01 of an acre, more or less, of Tract H-803 within the confines of the Center Hill Lake Project. The system will not be installed unless the Center Hill Lake elevations approach levels that would prevent the removal of water via the existing intake. Current rehabilitation work at the Center Hill Dam may make this necessary."

Corps officials have said that the absolute minimum lake elevation which will allow the existing intake to function hydraulically is 618.0 Mean Sea Level (MSL). If the lake level were to fall below 618 (MSL), a floating pump most likely would be needed to support the intake operation.

Mayor Hendrixson says he is hopeful the floating pump won't be needed. "Hopefully, we won't have to do this. They (Corps Officials) don't know and I don't know. Hopefully, if we do (have to install the floating pump) they will give us ample time. We have sent off for some prices on proposals. We haven't asked for bids, just proposed prices on these pumps. They should be back in by December 18th. I will keep you (aldermen) informed on this. I believe the (lake level) was a little under 622 MSL today (Monday). If we start getting rains, we won't have to have it (floating pump). We have an idea it's going to cost somewhere around $100,000 for everything, which is not as bad as I thought it would be."

Grand Jury Complimentary of County Jail Operation

December 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

Members of the Grand Jury toured the DeKalb County Jail Tuesday and issued a favorable report on their findings.

The report states that "At 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, December 2nd, the Grand Jury toured the DeKalb County Jail. Our tour was led by Sheriff Patrick Ray. We found the jail to be clean, adequately maintained and well operated. We appreciated the Sheriff's efforts to run an efficient jail with attention to cost savings wherever possible, such as buying used vehicles, writing grants for equipment, and growing a garden. The medicines appeared secured and inmates attended to for medical care and basic needs, such as meals and bedding. Special commendations should be noted for the privilege system where inmates earn opportunities for privileges that can be taken away, the Tuesday night religious program and the food that is provided. It might be considered to provide a drug rehabilitation program. In all, we were satisfied with the jail and it's operations."

"Official statutory bonds for county officials were reviewed. All bonds presented to the Grand Jury were current and appeared in good order."

The report was signed by the Grand Jury Foreman and all members of the Grand Jury.

Grant to Help Smithville Grandparents Raise Grandchildren

December 2, 2008

More grandparents are responsible for raising their grandchildren than ever before. However, many of these grandparents are retired and struggling with the cost of raising a child. Today, Congressman Bart Gordon announced that 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 numbers are staggering – more than 101,500 children are being raised by a grandparent in Tennessee,” said Congressman Gordon. “While I am happy UCDD received this grant, more needs to be done. If a grandparent steps forward to raise their grandchild, we have a responsibility to make sure the grandparent isn’t overwhelmed financially as a result.”

The grant was awarded to the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) as part of the HUD’s Demonstration Program for Elderly Housing for Intergenerational Families. This program is intended to assess the best way to assist the more than 6 million children in the United States being raised by a grandparent. If the UCDD program is successful, it will potentially be used as a model for assisting other grandparents throughout Tennessee and the rest of the country.

“This grant will help us build upon our previous work,” said UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins. “Not only will we be able to help grandparents pay for expenses such as school supplies and clothing for their grandchildren, but we will be able to build and provide them with safe and affordable living environments. I would like to thank Congressman Bart Gordon and his staff for their support and help in getting this project funded.”

UCDD was one of only two organizations to receive HUD’s Demonstration grant (the other organization is based out of Chicago). UCDD received the grant in part because of its previous efforts to assist grandparents raising their grandchildren. Since 2000, UCDD has received grant money from the Tennessee state government as part of the Relative Caregiver Program and developed a program to assist low-income grandparents to pay for their grandchild’s basic needs.

Larry Webb who runs the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation – UCDD’s nonprofit housing construction partner – explained 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.

“I am confident that UCDD will develop a successful program with this HUD grant,” said Gordon. “When they do, I will work to ensure that they receive additional grant money to expand their program and help the many other grandparents who have stepped in to raise their grandchildren.”

UCHRA Receives Additional $2.3 Million In Low-Income Energy Assistance

December 2, 2008
UCHRA Receives Additional LIEAP Funding

“The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) has received an additional $2.3 million in Low-Income Energy Assistance funding for low-income consumers,” Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director, announced.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services has informed UCHRA that funding for its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been increased to $3,772,800, an increase of $2.3 million above its original allocation for the year that ends June 30, 2009. “The increase in LIHEAP funds allows UCHRA to serve almost 9,000 households in the 14-county area,” explained Bennett.

In DeKalb County, approximately 544 households will be served expending $176,882. Currently, UCHRA has funding available to approve all eligible applications that have been received in their offices. Bennett encouraged individuals who meet program guidelines to apply for funding this year, even if they have not previously been served. The increased funding is the result of actions taken by Congress to assist low-income families during the current economic crisis. UCHRA Board Chairman Mike Foster, County Mayor of DeKalb County, said “the UCHRA Board is pleased with this new allocation to serve all those eligible for assistance during these difficult times.”

The LIHEAP program provides financial energy assistance to eligible low-income households one time during the year. To qualify for assistance, a household’s income must not exceed 125% of the US poverty level. For example, a family of four can earn a monthly household income of up to $2,208.33. Priority for service is based upon a point system. Points are awarded based upon each household’s percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines (125% maximum), and points are awarded for the percent of a household’s income used for home energy costs.

“Households with vulnerable household members receive additional points for the following: elderly member (60+), disabled member, children less than 6 years of age, member referred by Adult Protective Services, and six or more individuals. First priority for service is given to households with the highest total points, and UCHRA works down the list until all available funds are spent. Assistance benefit levels (based on priority points) range from a one-time payment of $300 to $375 made payable to the household’s designated vendor and can be used for electricity, natural gas, LP gas, kerosene, wood, or coal,” Lee Webb, UCHRA Community Services Director, stated.

Emphasis is being placed on recruiting income-eligible families with children under the age of 6 to apply for LIHEAP assistance. Even though the point system appears to have favored elderly individuals, this year elderly households as well as families with young children will receive assistance. The point system will allow 15 points for elderly individuals (60+), 15 points for individuals with disabilities, and 15 points for families with children. “Everyone who meets the income eligibility criteria should receive assistance,” stated Michael Nesbitt, Smith County Mayor and UCHRA Aging Community Services Committee Chairman.

“Upper Cumberland families in need have been on the increase. This increase in funds represents a successful effort on the part of the UCHRA Board and staff to provide more LIHEAP program funds for qualifying families. This infusion of additional funds has come at the best possible time,” remarked Brock Hill, Cumberland County Mayor and UCHRA Finance Committee Chairman.

All UCHRA county offices are accepting LIHEAP applications between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. DeKalb County UCHRA is located at 527 West Main Street, and the telephone number is (615) 597-4504.

(Pictured front row, from left to right are John B. Mullinix, Fentress County Executive, Mike Foster, DeKalb County Executive and Chairman of the UCHRA Board of Directors, Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director, Michael Nesbitt, Smith County Mayor and Chairman of the UCHRA Aging and Community Services Committee, Curtis Hayes, Mayor of Livingston – Pictured back row, from left to right are Ray Ringley, Overton County Human Resource Representative, Kim Blaylock, Putnam County Executive, Ruth Ann Woolbright, Putnam County Human Resource Representative and Lee Webb, UCHRA Community Services Director.)

Two Enter Pleas in Criminal Court

December 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

Two people appeared for sentencing in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday before Judge Leon Burns, Jr.

23 year old Brandon C. Bias pleaded guilty to escape and driving on a suspended license.

He received a one year sentence on the escape charge, all suspended to TDOC probation except for 60 days. He must pay $100 to the economic crime fund.

Bias also received a sentence of 5 months and 29 days on the driving offense, all suspended. He must pay a fine of $50.

The sentences are to run consecutively

27 year old Sabina Solano pleaded guilty to attempt to sell a schedule II controlled substance and theft over $1,000.

She received a two year sentence in the drug case, the first year of which she will be in the community corrections program with the balance on DOC probation. She received a two year sentence in the theft case to run concurrently with the drug case. She must make restitution of $490 to DeKalb Community Bank and $120 to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. She was given 30 days jail credit.

Solano also pleaded guilty to an amended charge of casual exchange. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, to serve 30 days on weekends beginning December 5th, with the balance on probation to run concurrently with the community corrections in the other drug case. She must pay a $750 fine and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and perform 40 hours of public service.

Sheriff Ray Offers Tips to Guard Against being a Victim of Crime

December 1, 2008
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

It's the holiday season and Sheriff Patrick Ray wants to remind you of some tips to guard against being a victim of crime.

Sheriff Ray says “This time of the year, we are asked to donate money to certain groups of people or civic organizations, including some within the county. There are scammers who are calling people within the county and asking for donations. If you want to make monetary donations to these groups, be sure the groups are legitimate and make sure they are collecting donations. Ask the caller to give you a phone number where you can call back and make the donations. Then hang up and investigate by calling the organization to make sure they are taking donations."

Sheriff Ray adds "Also this time of the year is when we see a rise in burglaries within the county. Statistics show that burglaries account for nearly one-third of the index of crimes in the United States. We as law enforcement officials ask you to be alert within your neighborhood.
• Always lock your doors and windows when you leave your home.
• Leave a key to your residence with a family member or trusted friend.
• When not at home, use a timer to turn lights off and on within your residence.
• Make sure to secure items such as four wheelers, go carts, motorcycles, and lawn mowers in a garage or chain them to a tree.
• Recognize suspicious activities such as strange vehicles driving slowly back and forth on the roadway or strange people going door to door, especially the rear doors of homes.
• Be aware of people selling items such as power tools, guns, or jewelry at a very low price. These items may be stolen.

If you see a suspicious person or vehicle within your neighborhood, get the basics- Who, What, When, and Where. Know WHO the person is and get a good clothing description as well as the make, model, color, and tag number of the vehicle when available. Know WHAT the person or vehicle was doing, and WHEN this occurred. Know WHERE the person or vehicle is or where they were last seen. While all this information is very valuable to law enforcement, you should never put yourself in danger to retrieve this information.”

Call the Sheriff's Department for more information or to report a crime or suspicious activity at 597-4935.

Intoxicated Woman Found with Pills in her Pocket

December 1, 2008
Dwayne Page

An intoxicated woman at the courthouse last week was found to have pills in her possession.

28 year old Cindy Armstrong Lemons of Whorton Springs Road, Smithville was arrested in the case.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies were summoned to the DeKalb County Courthouse Tuesday where someone had spotted a woman who appeared to be very intoxicated. The caller advised that a lady was unsteady on her feet and had a very slurred speech. When Deputies arrived they found Lemons, who was placed under arrest for public intoxication. Upon a search incident to arrest, deputies found two pills in her front pocket. The pills were identified to be Hydrocodone a schedule III drug. Lemons was charged with public intoxication and simple possession of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone).Her bond was set at $2,000 and she will appear in court on December 4th.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, 18 year old Dustin Allen Pedigo of King Ridge Road Dowelltown was spotted by a deputy on Highway 70 west. Pedigo's vehicle, which was weaving, ran off the roadway striking the sidewalk. Pedigo was stopped and he submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Pedigo was charged with driving under the influence and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on December 11th.


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