Local News Articles

Woman Charged with Felony Child Abuse by Sheriff's Department

February 25, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 26 year old woman was charged with felony child abuse last week after she was found passed out in her vehicle with a 23 month old child in the back seat wearing no coat, socks, or shoes.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Lori Ann Lewis of Sparta Highway, Sparta was charged on Wednesday, February 20th with a felony count of Child Abuse and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Sheriff Ray says a deputy was attempting to serve a warrant at Lewis' home when he noticed Lewis passed out in a vehicle in the driveway. The officer also heard a small child crying. Lewis was passed out in the vehicle with the driver's side window down and the child, 23 months old, was sitting in the back seat with no coat, socks or shoes on. The temperature outside was 40 degrees. Also in the passenger side seat was a Ziploc bag containing a hypodermic syringe and a straw. Lewis' bond was set at $30,000 and her court date is February 28th.

Meanwhile, 39 year old Mark A Stults of South York Street Grimsly, Tennessee was arrested Sunday, February 17th for Theft of Property over $500 and Aggravated Burglary. Sheriff Ray says York entered a home on Vickers Ridge Road, which is located in the Austin Bottom Area, and took numerous items such as a guitar, assorted tools, and knives. Most of the property has been recovered. Stults' bond was set at $40,000 and he will appear in General Sessions Court February 28th.

32 year old James Steven Leduc was charged on Thursday, February 21st with one count of Aggravated Burglary and two counts of Theft of Property over $500. Sheriff Ray says Leduc broke into a home on Nashville Highway in Alexandria and while inside, stripped the copper wiring from the home. Leduc also went to Old Casey's Cove Road, Smithville, where a residence had burned, and stole copper wiring from the remains of that home. Leduc's bond was set at $35,000 and his court date is March 13th. The Alexandria Police Department assisted in the case.

50 year old Marc Jenkins of Shady Lane, Smithville was charged on Saturday, February 23rd with driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. Jenkins was the driver of an automobile which was involved in an accident on Highway 70. Sheriff Ray says Jenkins was found to be under the influence of alcohol after county deputies had him perform field sobriety tasks, which he failed. Jenkins also refused to submit to a blood alcohol test. Bond for Jenkins was set at $1,000 and his court date is March 27th.

Call In For Coverage To Help Uninsured Adults and Children Enroll in Cover TN

February 23, 2008

Cover Tennessee will hold a live call-in event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST on Saturday, March 1, to provide information about or enroll qualifying, uninsured Tennesseans in its family of programs: CoverTN, CoverKids, CoverRx and AccessTN.

During Cover Tennessee’s Call In For Coverage, callers will simply dial 1-866-576-0028 to speak one-on-one with program representatives who can answer questions about the programs and help uninsured adults or children enroll.

“I hope every uninsured Tennessean will take a few minutes on March 1 to call Cover Tennessee and find out if they qualify for one of the programs,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “It will be an easy way for those struggling to obtain health insurance to get coverage for themselves, their employees or their children.”

Those interested in enrolling should have basic information available when they call, such as Social Security numbers and income information to enroll CoverKids, CoverRx and AccessTN, and federal employer identification numbers and Tennessee employer account numbers to enroll
in CoverTN.

Cover Tennessee is Governor Bredesen’s multi-pronged effort to extend health insurance to uninsured children and adults in Tennessee.

CoverTN offers basic, affordable health coverage for employees of Tennessee’s small businesses, the self-employed and individuals working at companies that do not provide employer-sponsored health insurance.

CoverKids allows qualifying children 18 and under to get free, comprehensive health insurance for preventive health care services such as vaccinations, doctor visits, prescriptions and hospital visits.

CoverRx, a pharmacy assistance program, provides Tennesseans access to affordable prescription medications.

AccessTN offers health insurance to Tennesseans with uninsurable or catastrophic health care conditions.

For more information on any of the Cover Tennessee programs, visit www.CoverTN.gov or call 1-866-COVERTN.

Cell Phone Numbers May Now Be Included On Do Not Call Registry

February 23, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Cell phone numbers will be released to telemarketers soon.

You may place your cell phone number (as well as your home number) on the National Do Not Call Registry.

To do so, visit the Do Not Call Registry Web Site at: https://www.donotcall.gov/register/reg.aspx

You may register up to three phone numbers at a time. You simply put in the phone numbers you want placed on the registry and enter your e-mail address. You will receive an e-mail with a verification link for each of the phone numbers you register. Click on the link or copy and paste the link into your browser address bar and the registration is complete. You MUST click on the link within 72 hours to complete the registration.

Or you may register by calling 1-888-382-1222. You must call on the phone you are registering.

You may verify a registration at: https://www.donotcall.gov/confirm/conf.aspx

The Federal Trade Commission launched its national "Do Not Call" registry five years ago prohibiting telemarketers from calling consumers who have placed their telephone numbers on the list.

Congressman Bart Gordon says "Middle Tennesseans are harassed daily with annoying telephone calls from telemarketers,". "I cannot count the times I have tried to sit down with my family to enjoy a meal only to be disturbed by a call from a telemarketer. That's frustrating."

Tennessee has a "Do Not Call" registry enforced by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

"The national registry is not intended to preempt Tennessee's registry, or any state's registry," Gordon said. "In fact, the federal government is working with states that have such registries to coordinate efforts."

To be included on both the federal and state lists, Tennessee residents must contact both the FTC and the TRA. To get on the state's "Do Not Call" list, contact the TRA by mail at 460 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, Tennessee 37243; the Internet at the TRA's Web site or by calling toll free at 1-877-872-7030.

The state of Tennessee is also enforcing its "Do Not Fax" program. It is designed to prohibit organizations and people from sending unsolicited faxes to any Tennessee resident.

The law requires the organization from which unsolicited faxes originate to establish and print on each faxed page a toll-free fax number that consumers may use to inform the fax-sending organization of their desire to be removed from the organization's fax-solicitation database.

Those Tennessee residents who are interested in the "Do Not Fax" program may visit the TRA Web site or e-mail the agency at Tennessee.Do-Not-Fax@state.tn.us.

"These rules should give all of us relief from this kind of intrusion into our homes," Gordon said. "And they should help protect us from abusive and deceptive telemarketing practices."

Judkins Airlifted to Erlanger Hospital After Friday Morning Wreck

February 22, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

One woman was injured Friday morning in a wreck on Four Seasons Road.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 42 year old Priscilla Ann Judkins of Bethel Road, Smithville was traveling east in a 1998 Ford Windstar Mini-van when she lost control, skidded off the left side of the road, and went through a fence. The vehicle overturned and came to rest on the passenger side.

Central dispatch received the call at 9:36 a.m.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team were called to the scene and cut the top off of the mini-van so Judkins could be more easily removed from the vehicle.

She was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Goodwin inks scholarship papers with TN Wesleyan

February 22, 2008

DeKalb County High School senior, Grant Goodwin, will continue his golf career on the collegiate level. On Thursday, Goodwin signed scholarship papers with Tennessee Wesleyan, an NAIA school located in Athens, Tennessee.

Goodwin won 83 matches in his four-year career at DCHS, which is the most of any golfer during the tenure of current golf coach, Chris Vance, who has guided the program since 2001. Goodwin also owns ten team records and ten individual records with the program. He becomes the third DCHS golfer in the last four years to move on to the collegiate level, joining Madison Denman and Tara Cantrell.

Goodwin helped lead the Tiger golf team to a program-high 49 match victories during the 2007 season. The team also won District and Region Tournament championships, and earned a berth to the TSSAA State Tournament, where they finished in third place. In Goodwin's four years on the squad, the Tigers were 156-61-5 (.720 winning percentage) as a team.

Goodwin, the son of Joey and Kathy Goodwin of Smithville, said he chose Wesleyan over a handful of other school which showed interest. "Lambuth University in Jackson made a really good offer, but Wesleyan really stood out because I liked the campus. It's a small school, and the atmosphere there reminds me of Smithville. I really liked that."

The senior is excited to take his game to the next level. "It's always been my dream. When I was in Middle School, I quit everything else to concentrate on golf. I wanted to get a scholarship and I've accomplished that."

Coach Vance has seen much improvement in Goodwin's game during his time at DCHS, and believes he will do well at the next level. "Grant came in his freshman year with aspirations of playing well and winning tournaments and championships. He realized his senior year, or maybe even at the end of his junior year, that he needed to pick up his work ethic. He did that, and it payed dividends for him."

Vance says Wesleyan is a good school, particularly from an academic point of view, and thinks Goodwin has an exciting opportunity ahead of him."Tennessee Wesleyan is a very good school, education wise. They have a good golf program, and their coach is very excited to have Grant coming. He's very optimistic about the impact Grant can have on their golf team."

Eddie Hobson, who has worked with Goodwin on improving his game, sees many good traits in Goodwin, and believes he will excel in whatever he does."His character is impeccible. He's an excellent student. I don't believe anyone has ever had any trouble out of Grant, at all. If I ever had a son -- which I was very fortunate to have two daughters -- I think Grant would be a good role model for a son. Grant has always told me, he wants to be an athlete, but at the same time, he wants to be a good student-athlete, and I think he should be commended for that."

Tennessee Wesleyan is a four-year school, and is a member of the Appalacian Athletic Conference. The golf team's head coach is Mike Poe. The school enrolls roughly 880 students.

Smithville Police Stop Truck for Expired Tag and Find Marijuana

February 22, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 39 year old man was arrested Thursday night by Smithville Police after the officer found marijuana and drug paraphernalia during a routine traffic stop.

Chief Richard Jennings says David Leon Pirtle of 834 Gentry Avenue is charged with possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) for resale and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $30,000 and he will be in General Sessions Court on the charges February 28th.

Chief Jennings says around 7:28 p.m. on Thursday Bradley Tatrow, the Smithville Police Department's K-9 officer, stopped Pirtle on Jackson Street after noticing a temporary tag that had expired on a 1994 Ford F-250 pickup truck that Pirtle was driving.

As Officer Tatrow inquired about the expired drive out tag, he noticed a book of rolling papers on the dash board of the vehicle. Upon receiving consent to search, he recovered five- quarter ounce bags of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. This was found in a metal tin box in the seat of the vehicle. A further search of the truck produced a box of clear plastic sandwich bags, two sets of scales, and more rolling papers.

Pirtle was arrested and charged and his truck was seized by the Smithville Police Department.

New Driver License Station Open

February 20, 2008

The Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) is opening a new Driver License Station in McMinnville and closing the one currently located at 167 Cadillac Lane. The new facility will be
located at 1350 Sparta Street, McMinnville, Tennessee.

The center on Cadillac Lane will be closed on Friday, February 22. The modular building is located on the campus of Motlow State Community College and has housed the Warren County Driver License Center for nearly 20 years. The move gives TDOS the opportunity to move into a
larger space that will allow the agency to serve customers more efficiently. It also clears the way for the school to proceed with its expansion plans on campus.

The new center will open for business on Tuesday, February 26. Hours of business will continue to be Tuesday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Customers may also utilize Driver License Centers in Manchester, located at 945 Jack Welch Drive, serving customers Tuesday
through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and in Cookeville at 4600 Jefferson Avenue, Monday through Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Project Graduation Seeks Support

February 20, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Plans are underway for Project Graduation on May 23rd, the night of Graduation for the Class of 2008 at DeKalb County High School.

Jessica Dyer, a member of the class, says Project Graduation is a night of celebration and fun for the graduates. "Project Graduation is a drug and alcohol free event and it takes place right after graduation. It keeps the students off the roads on a night when it's really easy to make some bad decisions."

Tyler Cripps, another member of the class, says Project Graduation is held on campus under adult supervision. "Project Graduation starts as soon as graduation is over and it will last until the next morning. There will be adult supervision so parents don't have to worry about their kids running wild in the school. There will be teachers, administrative staff, and parents there to help watch over everybody."

Dyer says the graduates also have a chance to win prizes during Project Graduation." Everybody who participates in fund raising activities for Project Graduation, making posters, or anything like that, gets their name in a drawing for TV's, MP3's, gas cards, and gift cards to places like Old Navy and Wal-mart. There's just some really good prizes. Anyone who would like to make a donation to Project Graduation can go to the drive through at DeKalb Community Bank and just say this money is for Project Graduation. An account is already set up and your donation will be deposited right into that account. We meet about two times per month. We talk about our shirts, what kind of shirts we're going to make, our fundraisers, and we try to plan to make it good for all the students.'

Dyer says a male beauty contest is also set for March 1st as a fund raiser for Project Graduation. "We're having a male beauty pageant on March 1st at 6:00 p.m. at the gym. The senior guys will be dressing up like females. We're going to have a top ten. They will perform a talent and there will be a question round. From the top ten we'll pick the winner and he will be Mr. Project Graduation 2008. He will get a certificate and a little crown. Admission is $5.00 but kids age 10 and younger will be admitted free. The entry fee is $2.00 for any senior guy who wants to enter that."

The next Project Graduation meeting will be held at the Smithville office of DeKalb Community Bank March 3rd at 6:00 p.m.

Two Dump Trucks Loaded with Limestone Involved in Tuesday Morning Wreck

February 19, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two truck drivers, hauling a load of limestone, were involved in a traffic accident Tuesday morning on Highway 70 at Liberty.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 28 year old Jamie Norrod of Smithville was driving west in a 2006 Mac dump truck when he rear-ended a 2004 Sterling dump truck, also going west, driven by 51 year old Bobby Ray Taylor of Liberty.

Both Norrod and Taylor had earlier loaded their trucks with limestone from the Rogers Group Company on Highway 53 for a custom delivery to a contractor on Coconut Ridge in Smithville. One man was driving for Rogers Group and the other for the Hillis Group of Sparta.

However as the two trucks were heading east on Highway 70, Taylor began having mechanical problems so he decided to turn around to head back to Rogers Group. To make sure Taylor made it back safely, Norrod also turned around and followed him.

As they got to Liberty, Taylor's truck began emitting a thick black smoke and it eventually stopped in the highway as the engine quick running. Because of the smoke, Norrod couldn't see that Taylor's truck had stopped and he rear-ended it, pushing it forward some 160 feet before the two trucks came to a stop.

Norrod was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where he was treated and released. Taylor was not injured.

Trooper Tisdale says an environmental crew of Goodlettsville was summoned to the scene to clean up oil and fuel which had spilled out onto the highway from the trucks.

The loads of limestone also had to be dumped and re-loaded onto other trucks.

TDOT closed both westbound lanes of traffic during the investigation and cleanup, forcing motorists in either direction to use the eastbound lanes.

Trooper Tisdale was assisted at the scene by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, DeKalb County Emergency Management Coordinator Charlie Parker, and DeKalb EMS.

City Officials Working to Settle Pay Dispute Over Police Investigator Position

February 19, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

When the Smithville Aldermen hired Jerry Hutchins', Jr as police investigator last month, they did not specifically address his rate of pay, apparently unaware that the city budget currently does not provide a pay scale for the position of "investigator".

On Monday night, the board voted 5 to 0 to start Hutchins at a sergeant's rate of pay, $11.89 per hour and increase it to $13.13 per hour after sixty days. In the meantime, the board will work on establishing a pay scale for the "investigator" position and possibly act on it at the next meeting. Once the pay scale is set, Hutchins may earn more than sergeants pay. City attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. is expected to do some research on what the city has paid other officers in the past who have performed similar duties based on their experience. Mayor Taft Hendrixson says he will check back with several other law enforcement agencies he recently contacted to obtain actual amounts on what they pay their investigators.

The man Hutchins' is replacing, Captain Steven Deffendoll, who apparently also worked as an investigator, was making $15.95 per hour up until he resigned last fall.

Police Chief Richard Jennings, during the interview process last month, recommended Hutchins for the job and asked that he be hired at the same rank and pay as Deffendoll based upon his years of service.

After he was hired by the board, Chief Jennings says the mayor told him that Hutchins should go to work at the rank of a sergeant. " His start date was Monday, (February 18th), but the mayor asked me to wait and not start him until Tuesday (February 19th) because his rate of pay was in question and it was going to be brought up before the board tonight (Monday).

Since Deffendoll was making $15.95 per hour, Alderman Willie Thomas made a motion that Hutchins start off making $15.95 and that his pay be increased to $17.19 after sixty days on the job. Alderman Tonya Sullivan seconded the motion. Alderman Jerry Hutchins' Sr. also voted for it but Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger voted against it.

The measure passed on a 3 to 2 vote.

However, following the vote, Mayor Hendrixson cast a veto of the board's action saying starting Hutchins' pay above other employees in the department was unfair. " After making inquiries to several law enforcement agencies and after reviewing the current pay scale for our other officers, especially Lieutenant Leffew, who is an eight year veteran of our department, It is my opinion that the pay rate for an investigator should be no more than that of sergeant's pay. My inquiries included the Cookeville Police Department, which pays it's investigators less than sergeants, the Lebanon Police Department and the McMinnville Police Department, which both pay investigators comparable to sergeants. I also contacted the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, which pays a few cents more per hour to an investigator, and the Smith County Sheriff's Department, who also pays investigators at a rate comparable to sergeants pay. I do not believe that raising the investigator pay above that of sergeant would be doing Lieutenant Leffew or our other officers right. Sergeant's pay starts at $11.89 per hour and after 60 days goes to $13.13 per hour. The investigator will top out at $15.95 after four years of service as stated in the Smithville wage chart for this fiscal year, that being that of sergeant."

The board, on a 3 to 2 vote, failed to override the mayor's veto. Aldermen Thomas, Sullivan, and Hutchins voted to override, but Aldermen White and Burger voted to sustain the veto. Four votes are required to override a mayoral veto.

Alderman White then made a motion to set Hutchins' pay at $11.89 cents per hour, the same as a sergeant's starting pay, and raise it to $13.13 after sixty days. However the vote failed 3 to 2. Aldermen White and Burger voted for it, but Aldermen Thomas, Sullivan, and Hutchins voted against it.

Alderman Sullivan took issue with the Mayor, saying while he was opposed to offering Hutchins $15.95 per hour, he was apparently willing to make that same offer to another applicant for the job, Danny Holmes of Baxter. "He was offered 15.95 per hour. I have contacts in Cookeville that verify that".

Mayor Hendrixson responded "This man was a 30 year veteran. I talked with him about several dollars, different things, but he couldn't be hired at any price. He wouldn't move to this county."

Alderman Sullivan also complained that Mayor Hendrixson, while compiling information from other law enforcement agencies on what they pay their investigators, did not obtain actual dollar amounts so that the aldermen could make a comparison.

Alderman White then confronted Sullivan about her support of Hutchins, claiming he has no prior
police investigative experience and that while he may have done some private investigations for people in another county, he is not licensed by the state as a private investigator.

Alderman Sullivan said she believed Hutchins met the qualifications.

During the January 29th meeting when Hutchins was hired, Mayor Hendrixson said the job description specifications for the city investigator position stated that applicants must have been a POST certified officer for eight years with three years of investigative experience as an investigator.

Hutchins told the aldermen at that meeting that he has more than three years of investigative experience and cited letters of recommendations he has received from people he has worked for, having done part time private investigation assignments.

Chief Jennings also claimed that during his previous tenure as chief, Hutchins worked in the police department for up to fifteen months, doing investigative work

With the pay dispute still unresolved, Alderman Hutchins Monday night asked what Jerry Jr. was supposed to do about a job, since he had already resigned from his position with the Wilson County Sheriff's Department.

Chief Jennings suggested that the aldermen follow the mayor's recommendation for now and start Hutchins at the rate of $11.89 cents per hour until the issue is settled by the board.

The board voted 5 to 0 in favor of that recommendation.

In other business, the aldermen voted 4 to 1 to hire new police officers Matthew Farmer and Scott Davis. Both Farmer and Davis earn a starting pay of $10.63 per hour, which will increase to $11.89 upon completion of the 60-day probationary period. Mayor Hendrixson says Farmer is a ten year veteran of law enforcement, having worked in White and Putnam County while Davis has been in law enforcement for four to six years, having worked for the Berryhill and Murfreesboro Police Departments. Both are certified officers. Aldermen White, Burger, Sullivan, and Hutchins voted to hire the officers. Alderman Thomas voted no.

The aldermen also voted 4 to 1 to award a two year airport hay contract to Burnace Vandergriff of V & V Farms, the highest bidder at $775 per year. Vandergriff will pay the city this amount for the right to cut the hay from the city airport property grounds. The city accepted sealed bids. Others submitting bids were Jerry Johnson at $625 per year, Hugh Washer at $501 per year, and Bruce Medley of B & M Livestock at $475 per year. Aldermen White, Burger, Sullivan, and Hutchins voted to award the contract to Vandergriff. Alderman Thomas voted no.

The city recently advertised seeking applicants for a newly created certified water plant operator position at the city water plant. No one applied. Alderman Sullivan Monday night asked that the position be advertised in newspapers of surrounding counties. Aldermen Sullivan, Thomas, and Hutchins voted in favor. Aldermen White and Burger voted no saying another new position at the water plant was not needed.

The aldermen adopted on second and final reading, a proposed ordinance to rezone property belonging to the First Assembly of God from R-2 Medium Density Residential to B-2 General Business. The property is located at the intersection of Bryant and Murphy Streets with Bright Hill Road. The vote was unanimous and there was no opposition expressed during the public hearing.

The aldermen, however, took no action on a proposed ordinance to change the name of Calhoun Street to Bill Bing Drive. Mayor Hendrixson and Alderman White say members of the Calhoun family have contacted them objecting to the change. Mayor Hendrixson brought up the issue at the last meeting after receiving a request from members of the Bing family that the street be renamed in his honor. Both the Calhoun and Bing families have owned property on that street.

Alderman Sullivan requested that the old fire horn siren on top of city hall be used to alert the public anytime there is a tornado warning for DeKalb County. Many years ago, the fire horn was sounded at noon each day and during fire calls. If the fire horn can't be used, Sullivan wants to check into purchasing a new tornado siren alert.

Alderman Sullivan also wants the city to do some clean up and repair work at the Smith Road city park to make it a safer place for children to play. She says the shelter needs an upgrade and new lighting should be installed.

The aldermen approved on first reading an ordinance to rezone a portion of property belonging to Johnny Paul at 426 West Broad Street from R-1 Low Density Residential to B-2 General Business. Mayor Hendrixson says this property, known as Sexton's car lot, is already partially zoned B-2 but the rest of it is currently zoned R-1. Mayor Hendrixson says the owner of the property wants the entire property zoned B-2 (commercial). Second and final reading on the proposed ordinance will be scheduled at the next meeting on March 3rd.

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