Local News Articles

Smithville Police and Federal Agents Raid Local Business

May 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Investigators and Federal Agents of the US Department of Treasury (IRS) raided a local business last Tuesday.

Smithville Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano says the business, known as Tienda Mexicano Sante Fe at 411 Short Mountain Road, has been under constant surveillance for the last three months by both agencies.

As a result of the investigation, Sandra Delafuente was charged with operating without a valid city occupational license to do business in the city. Other charges may be forthcoming.

Chief Stufano says \"Smithville Police had the business under investigation for approximately three months due to numerous citizens' complaints that official misrepresentations were being made to the Latin community. The business provides Notary, basic Administrative help for those needing help with Spanish translation. Citizens were complaining that representatives of the business were soliciting money from \"illegal aliens\" in exchange for Visa documents and \"Green Cards. Authorities also received complaints that representatives of the business were claiming to be attorneys and could secure immigration status for illegal's. A records check of the business with the Tennessee Department of Licensure did not show anyone having a valid law license to work in Tennessee.\"

Chief Stufano says \"Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service followed up with the investigation and found a variety of financial concerns with the business and its representatives. Agents raided the business confiscating files, computers and numerous documents. The business was then closed and posted with US Government Investigative Seizure placards. The case is continuing.\"

Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon 50 year old Forrest Byrd of 815 Dry Creek Road, Smithville was arrested for Sale and Delivery of Schedule III Narcotics and Public Intoxication. Chief Stufano says officers originally responded to the address on an unwanted guest complaint. Upon arrival they found Byrd heavily intoxicated and in possession of Hydrocodone tablets. He was subsequently arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail. His bond is set at $26,000.

On Monday morning, 30 year old Bridgette Judkins was arrested for Simple Possession of Narcotics and Driving on a Revoked License. Officers responded to a citizen's complaint of possible illegal narcotics activity in the area of Short Mountain Street and Highway 70. Upon arrival they met with Judkins. A records check disclosed Judkins had a Revoked Driver's license. Upon her arrest she was found to also have a bag of suspected marijuana on her person. Judkins was arrested and transported to the Police Department and released with citations to appear in court.

Chief Stufano says Smithville Police are committed to investigating all crimes committed within the city and greatly appreciate the active stance the citizens are taking in the Crime Watch Program. Due to concerned citizens tips and confidential information Smithville Police have been able to successfully resolve numerous investigations.

Police Take Precautions In Dealing with Despondent Man

May 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police were summoned to the 500 Block of South College Street Monday after a concerned mother living in Lebanon had called to report that her 37 year son was despondent and threatening suicide.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says \"Upon arrival to the scene, Police found the man's step-mother in the yard stating that she also believed that her stepson was suffering from depression and did in fact have a loaded gun in the house. Officers quickly cordoned off the street in front of the residence in order to contain the incident. Further investigation and conversation with the biological mother via phone noted that her son made a threat to her that he would \"use his toe to pull the trigger\". Police were positioned throughout the neighborhood, especially along the south side of the residence which bordered the ball-field where over 200 people were in attendance at a game.\"

As a precaution Paramedics were summoned to standby. After almost 45 minutes the man was talked out of the house by Chief Stufano.

Chief Stufano a trained FBI Hostage Negotiator and former US Homeland Security official has been involved with negotiating numerous airline hijackings during his tenure. Chief Stufano stated \"my main concerns included the innocent by-standers, the officers and the victim\". \"However long it took to resolve the situation we were prepared to wait to reach a peaceful solution\"

Officers were able to successfully gain entry into the house and secured three shotguns and a loaded pistol one of which was near the subjects' bed. With the help of neighborhood residents who allowed officers access to their homes to setup perimeters, a potentially lethal event was averted. Officers at the scene were able to talk to the man and the parents to a successful resolution without further incident.

Chief Stufano stated that he \"credits the Neighborhood Watch Program for much of the department's continued success and thanks the citizens for their input and help.\"

DARE Graduation Held at Northside Elementary School

May 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

One hundred seventy three fifth graders at Northside Elementary School participated in a DARE graduation ceremony Monday.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was conducted by DARE Officer Tim Hearn of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Each student prepares an essay during the course and those with the best essays from each class are recognized and awarded.

This year's essay winners at Northside were Kelsey Evans, Zachary Poss, Cody Hattaway, Ashley Hershman, Karem Bain, Devin Summers, and Kaylee Hale.

Each of those students read their essays during the DARE graduation program.

Judge Bratten Cook II presented checks for $50 each to two of the seven DARE essay winners, Karem Bain and Devin Summers, whose names were drawn for the special awards.

DARE Officer Tim Hearn, during his remarks, told the students that he has presented them a plan and hopes that they will apply it to their lives.

Completing his first year as a DARE officer, Hearn says he believes the program was very successful and feels like he has gained 173 new friends.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, who also spoke during the DARE graduation, told the students that \"D.A.R.E. is a cooperative effort by the DeKalb Sheriff?s Department, DeKalb County School System, parents, and the community?all of us working together to help you make the right choices concerning drug use. I ask you today students, to take this valuable information and apply it to your lives, now and forever.\"

With the help of the DeKalb County Mayor, Mike Foster, and the DeKalb County Commission, money from the Sheriff's Department drug fund account was used to fund this year's DARE Program at Northside Elementary School and DeKalb West School, after the state cut funding for DARE.

Other elected public officials on hand for the DARE graduation program, in addition to Sheriff Ray and Judge Cook, were Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, and Trustee Sean Driver.

Gordonsville Police Officer Charged with Burglary and Theft at Joint Offices of MTUD & DTC

May 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Gordonsville Police Officer, Christopher Shannon Harris, has been charged with a burglary and theft last week at a joint office building of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas and DTC Communications in Smith County.

The warrants state that \"On or about Wednesday, May 9th, Christopher Shannon Harris did, without the effective consent of the property owner, enter the joint office building of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas and DeKalb Telephone Cooperative, located at 126 JMZ Drive in Gordonsville, when not open to the public, with the intent to commit a felony and or a theft.

The warrant further states that \"While on duty as a Patrol Officer with the Gordonsville Police Department, Harris entered the building through an unlocked door, unhooked the video cameras and took them. Harris also took money, approximately $215 from a wooden filing cabinet, multiple batteries, size D and AAA and six computer hard drives.

According to the warrant, Harris has given a written statement to a Special Agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in which he has admitted to these facts.

Officer Harris is also charged with the burglary and theft of merchandise from three other Gordonsville businesses including Petty Pools and H & H furniture either on Friday night or Saturday morning, May 4th or 5th, and Lakeside Auto Transport on Tuesday, May 8th.

Early Voting Dates set for Smithville Municipal Election

May 16, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Early Voting dates and times have been set for the Smithville Municipal Election.

Early voting will be held Wednesday, May 30th through Thursday, June 14th from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Hours on Thursday will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Election Day is Tuesday, June 19th from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

All voting, both during early voting and on election day, will be in the basement courtroom of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Three aldermen will be elected, each to serve a two year term, beginning July 1st.

Incumbents Aaron Meeks, W. J. \"Dub\" White, and Paul Young are being challenged by Jerry Hutchins' Sr., Shawn Jacobs, Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Todd Van Dyne.

DeKalb County Voters To Decide Sales Tax Referendum Today

May 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County voters today will decide whether to increase the local option sales tax from 1.5% to 2.75%.

The special election on the sales tax referendum is being held today and voting will take place at all sixteen precincts in the county from eight a.m. until seven p.m.

A total of 562 cast ballots during early voting April 27th through May 12th.

If approved, the overall state sales tax rate in DeKalb County would go from 8.5% to 9.75%, however the county commission has pledged to reduce the property tax rate by nineteen and a half cents.

The rate was increased by 39 cents last September.

Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections reminds you that the polling place for Temperance Hall has been moved from the Temperance Hall Community Center. The new polling place is the Temperance Hall Methodist Church located at 113 Hayes Ridge Road.

Peterson adds that all voters should present some form of identification when they arrive at the polls to vote.

WJLE will have LIVE coverage of the election returns Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. on AM 1480 and FM 101.7 and LIVE audio streaming at www.wjle.com

The wording on the ballot will read:

\"SHALL RESOLUTION 21-2-2007-1 PASSED BY THE DEKALB COUNTY COMMISSION ON FEBRUARY 26, 2007 PROVIDING FOR AN INCREASE IN THE LOCAL SALES TAX FROM 1.5% TO 2.75% WITH ONE-HALF (1/2) REQUIRED BY LAW AND THE REMAINDER AS PER AGREEMENT CONTRACTS, BE APPROVED?

Scholarships Awarded To Members of DCHS Class of 2007

May 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Several members of the Class of 2007 at DeKalb County High School received scholarship awards during Thursday's annual Senior Awards Day program.

Colleges, universities, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations presenting awards and their recipients are as follows:

Middle Tennessee State University:
$5,000 Neill Sandler Scholarship- Jessica Berry
$2,500 Sydney & Elizabeth McPhee Scholarship- Jessica Berry
$12,000 Academic Service Scholarship- Kendra Adcock
$6,000 Academic Service Scholarship- Gwen Michaels
$2,400 per year Dream Scholarship- Brittney Bell

Tennessee Tech University:
$4,000 per year Academic Scholarships- Andrew Moore and Zach Davidson
$1,000 Engineering Scholarship- Chris Young
$20,000 Education Scholar Scholarship- Ashleigh Wright

University of Tennessee:
$3,000 per year Academic Service Scholarship- Courtney Rhody
$1,000 Valedictorian Alumni Scholarship- Courtney Rhody

Tusculum College:
$2,941 per year- Josh Stone

$1,000 NADC- High School Select Scholarship- Thomas Hale

Tennessee Temple University:
$5,500 Scholarship- Kayla Ottinger
$7,000 Scholarship- Heather Cantrell

U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar/Athlete Awards- Kristen James & Josh Howe

U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Awards- Josh Stone & Kelsey Foutch

U.S. Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Awards- Andrew Moore & Courtney Rhody

Semper Fidelis Music Award- Kendra Adcock

DeKalb Community Hospital:
$1,000 Scholarship- Courtney Rhody

Smithville Women's Club:
$500 Scholarship- Samantha Daniel

Lucille Stewart Memorial:
$2,000 Scholarships- Kelli Bess and Nathan Thomason

Matthew McAfee Memorial:
$2,000 Scholarship- Claire Garrett

Luigi's/Bumpers:
$1,000 Scholarship- Rebecca Hendrixson

Charlene Morrison Johns Memorial:
$500 Scholarships- Kayla Kilgore and Andrew Moore

Agee Oil Company:
$1,200 Scholarship- Kristen James

Wal-Mart;
$1,000 Scholarships- Kristen James & Brandon Shaw

DeKalb County Scottish Rite Club:
$1,000 Scholarship- Ashleigh Wright

Eddie Crips Memorial:
$1,000 Scholarship- Justin Nokes

Liberty State Bank;
$1,000 Scholarships- Rachel Garrison & Nicole Macy

Kenny and Kyle Robinson Memorial:
$1,000 Scholarship- Justin Nokes

Jolly Angels:
$1,000 Scholarships- Tera Campbell & Martha Robertson

Jeff Garrett Memorial:
$500 Scholarship- Claire Garrett

Comcast;
$1,000 Scholarship- Brandon Shaw

DeKalb Funeral Chapel:
$500 Scholarships- Corey Bradford, Amy Ashford, & Kayla Kilgore

Love-Cantrell Funeral Home:
$500 Scholarships- Cheslie Ford & Jessica Bain

Allen Hooper Memorial:
$500 Scholarship- Ryan Childers

DeKalb Farmers Coop:
$500 Scholarship- Danny Pirtle

DCHS Class of 1966:
$500 Scholarship- Chase Tramel

DeKalb County Soil Conservation:
$500 Scholarship- Ryan Childers

First Bank:
$500 Scholarship-Ashley Rowland

Smithville Rotary Club:
$500 Scholarships- Brandon Shaw & Anna Trapp
$100 Math Award- Kristen James
$100 Vocational Award- Thomas Hale

DeKalb Retired Teachers Association:
$500 Scholarships- Heather Cantrell & Justin Nokes

Smithville Business & Professional Women's Club:
$500 Scholarships- Michelle Scott & Kendra Adcock

Leadership DeKalb:
$500 Scholarship- Rachel Garrison

Leadership DeKalb Alumni Association:
$750 Scholarship- Rachel Garrison

DeKalb Foundation:
$500 Scholarship- Martha Robertson

DeKalb Republican Women:
$500 Scholarships- Sarah Nunley & Kelli Twilla

Ken Johnson Scholarship:
$1,000 Scholarship- Michelle Scott

Amvets Post #101:
$250 Scholarship- Claire Garrett

Amvets Post #101 Ladies Auxiliary:
$250 Scholarship- Jamie Johnson

DeKalb County Fire Fighters Association:
$750 Scholarship- Josh Tramel

DCHS Class of 1969:
$250 Scholarship- Tera Campbell

Elzie & Nell McBride Memorial:
$500 Scholarship- Ashley Rowland

DCHS Student Council:
$250 Scholarship- Rachel Garrison

Studio Six Photography:
$150 Scholarships- Courtney Rhody & Jessica Berry

FCCLA:
$500 Scholarship- Tiffany Walls

DeKalb County Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Sales Tax Hike

May 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Despite a very light turnout, DeKalb County voters Thursday overwhelmingly voted in favor of raising the local option sales tax rate in DeKalb County from 1.5% to 2.75% .

The sales tax referendum passed 1,011 votes (71%) to 409 votes (29%)

A majority of voters in all sixteen precincts cast ballots in favor of the sales tax hike.

Here's a breakdown by precinct:

Alexandria: 47 For, 15 Against
Temperance Hall: 22 For, 6 Against
Edgar Evins State Park: 8 For, 0 Against
Liberty: 56 For, 19 Against
Dowelltown: 31 For, 10 Against
Snow Hill: 30 For, 19 Against
Middle School: 86 For, 33 Against
Cherry Hill: 16 For, 7 Against
Rock Castle: 46 For, 4 Against
Courthouse: 57 For, 23 Against
Johnson's Chapel: 20 For, 9 Against
Elementary School: 52 For, 26 Against
Belk: 36 For, 13 Against
Keltonburg: 38 For, 18 Against
Blue Springs: 27 For, 7 Against
Church of Christ Annex: 54 For, 21 Against
Absentee/Early Voting: 385 For, 179 Against

County Mayor Mike Foster says the sales tax increase will go in effect with the new fiscal year starting July 1st. The overall state sales tax rate in DeKalb County will increase from 8.5% to the maximum of 9.75%

The County Commission has also pledged to reduce the property tax rate by at least nineteen and a half cents per $100 of assessed value in the new budget year, which begins July 1st.

Thirty Six Students Graduate from DARE Program at DeKalb West School

May 18, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Thirty six fifth graders at DeKalb West School participated in a DARE graduation ceremony Thursday.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was conducted by DARE Officer Tim Hearn of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Each student prepares an essay during the course and those with the best essays from each class are recognized and awarded.

This year's essay winners at DeKalb West were Cassie Cain and McKenzie Poteete

Judge Bratten Cook II presented checks for $50 to both Cain and Poteete.

DARE Officer Tim Hearn, during his remarks, told the students that he too was once a student in the DARE program. \"This day is special for me because this is my first DARE graduation at the West School as a DARE officer and because twelve years ago, I sat in this same gym and graduated from the DARE program myself. I want you to take the knowledge and skills you have learned and use it to remain true to your commitment to avoid drugs and violence.\"

Sheriff Patrick Ray, who also spoke during the DARE graduation, congratulated the students on their accomplishments. \" Over the last few weeks, Deputy Tim has taught you lesson plans and how to focus on four major areas. He has provided you accurate information about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. He has taught you good decision making skills. He has shown you how to recognize and resist peer pressure, and he has given you ideas for positive alternatives to drug use.\"

\"Deputy Tim has also shown you ways for positive self esteem and how to make positive decisions on your own. Through role-playing, lectures, question and answer, and use of the specialized DARE workbooks, you have been taught the negative consequences of drug use.\"

\"If the need ever arises that you need someone to talk to, someone to cry on, or just to talk to in general, you will always be welcomed to talk to Deputy Tim or me. Thank you and congratulations on this special day.\"

With the help of the DeKalb County Mayor, Mike Foster, and the DeKalb County Commission, money from the Sheriff's Department drug fund account was used to fund this year's DARE Program at Northside Elementary School and DeKalb West School, after the state cut funding for DARE.

Other elected public officials on hand for the DARE graduation program, in addition to Sheriff Ray and Judge Cook, were Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, Trustee Sean Driver, County Mayor Mike Foster, Assessor of Property Timothy \"Fud\" Banks, and Constable Wayne Vanderpool.

Kristen James & Andrew Moore Receive White Rose Awards At DCHS Graduation

May 18, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Members of the Class of 2007 said their goodbyes to DeKalb County High School on the occasion of their graduation Friday night.

Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Kristen James and Andrew Moore while the Citizenship Award was presented to Brandon Shaw.

The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for outstanding achievement and leadership, academics, and other activities. The Citizenship Award is given to the senior who has demonstrated outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to DeKalb County High School.

A total of 146 students received diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby as their names were called by Principal Kathy Hendrix.

In remarks to the Class, Valedictorian Courtney Rhody admonished her fellow graduates to appreciate the journey as they focus on their destination. \" I can vividly remember as a kid riding in the car, strapped in the backseat and literally every two minutes asking ARE WE THERE YET? HOW MUCH FURTHER? And I can remember my granny telling me, look out the window, Honey,look at all the pretty trees and flowers and horses and cows, enjoy the view. I'm just now beginning to realize exactly what she meant. It's all about appreciating the journey and not getting overly focused on the destination. We can all benefit from that philosophy, take the time to enjoy the view. Think of life as a terminal condition because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived. Laugh at most things in life, cry at a few, and be neutral at hardly anything. And most importantly, enjoy the journey.\"

Salutatorian Kendra Adcock urged the class to treasure the memories of their years at DeKalb County High School. \" As you look back on the last four years, I'm sure you will all remember them differently. Some of you will think of them as the best four years of your life and others, the worst. Some of you will think of them as the most fun you ever had. Some of you will remember the friendships you created, or all the things you have learned and will carry them with you wherever you go. As you all leave tonight, you will each embark on your own journeys. You will visit many new places and meet a lot of new people, but through it all, I hope you will not forget what you have learned here at DeKalb County High School. Do not look at this as just the end of four high school years, look at today as the beginning of the rest of your life.\"

Class President Ashlee Moss encouraged the seniors to trust in the Lord. \" As we cross the stage tonight, we are beginning a new journey, the journey of the rest of our lives. Always remember to ?Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths' (Proverbs 3:5-6). God bless each and every one of you and know that you will always be in my thoughts and prayers.\"

Principal Kathy Hendrix, in her remarks to the class, admonished the graduates to not be discouraged on the path toward their goals. \"Life offers many challenges and opportunities. It is the same with people who succeed in anything. Rarely is the first effort a great success. You are standing on the shoulders of your ancestors. If you really look, you can profit by the successes and the failures of older people. Let us hope that you will do this. Hold fast to the principles that you have been living by. Honesty, goodness, humility, perseverance, hard work, patience, and faith are important attributes for anyone to have and I encourage you to continue to develop these characteristics. These will enable you to take full advantage of offers that may come your way. The faculty and staff at DeKalb County High School join with your relatives and many other friends in wishing you success and happiness. I encourage each of you to be good citizens and to be life long learners.\"

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