Local News Articles

DUD Claims City Not Providing "Full and Accurate Information" on Water Cost Study

February 18, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Utility District
City Hall

Officials of DeKalb Utility District are not happy with comments made during the last meeting of the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen accusing the DUD of being unwilling to share in the cost of a water study with the city.

DUD officials, in a letter to City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr., claim that he (City Attorney Parsley) and Hunter Hendrixson, the city secretary-treasurer, have not provided the city council with "full and accurate information" concerning the DUD's position on this matter.

The DUD letter, signed by Board Chairman Roger Turney and manager Jon Foutch, has also been sent to each alderman.

In the letter, DUD officials pointed out that a standard contract was sent by DUD to the City of Smithville on August 28, to initiate discussions regarding a new water purchase contract and that it was clearly spelled out that the parties (City and DUD) were to "agree" on an entity to perform a Cost of Service Study and that the entity "shall be unbiased as reasonably possible".

Furthermore, DUD officials claim the representatives of the entity the city has hired to perform the cost study is not an "unbiased" nor an "independent entity" in that "David Pine and Jerry Warren of Warren & Associates are expected to be called as expert witnesses in the Utility Management Review Board (DUD rate review) proceeding (April 4 in Smithville) and will be presenting evidence against the DUD on behalf of the City of Smithville"

During the last city council meeting on Monday, February 4, city officials said they were "disappointed" because DUD officials had stated in its contract proposal, that DUD would share in the expense of a study to determine how much it costs the city to produce water. The results of such a cost study will likely be used by the city to help establish new rates to be charged the DUD in any new water purchase agreement. In a letter to city officials on January 29, manager Foutch wrote that the DUD was not agreeable to share in the expense of a cost study performed by Warren & Associates and proposed using instead the Jackson Thornton firm. City secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, during the February 4 meeting, said the study by Warren & Associates was already underway. The cost to perform the study is $7,500.

On February 6, City attorney Parsley sent a letter to Foutch expressing the city's displeasure with the DUD decision not to share in the cost of the water study. In the letter, Parsley wrote, " The City of Smithville was very disappointed in your response to the City hiring Warren & Associates to conduct the cost study for the City of Smithville. Your previous letters had not set out any particular firms or conditions for hiring someone to do the cost study. The City was under the impression that we were going to share equally the expense of the cost study. Hunter (Hendrixson) had previously attempted to contact the Jackson Thornton firm that you mentioned in your letter. However, they did not return his call until after Warren & Associates had been retained. The City feels that DUD has at least a moral obligation to pay one-half of the $7,500 cost for Warren & Associates to perform the cost study, However, since Warren & Associates has already started the work the City will fulfill its obligation to pay them as contracted," wrote Parsley.

The following is the full text of DUD's letter in response to Parsley, signed by Turney and Foutch:

"On behalf of the DeKalb Utility District, I (Foutch) wish to respond to your letter of February 6, 2013. The "disappointment" of the City of Smithville was no doubt created by the misinformation and lack of information that you (Parsley) and Hunter Hendrixson have shared or failed to share with the city council. It is clearly evident from your letter, as well as the relentless information in the media regarding the efforts on a proposed contract, that the city council is not receiving full and accurate information. Therefore, I am providing each alderman a copy of this letter so that there can be a full understanding of what has transpired in this process.

For your benefit and the benefit of the recipients of this letter, I wish to point out the following:

1. On August 28, 2012, a rather standard contract was sent by DUD to the City of Smithville, to initiate discussions regarding a water purchase contract. Included in that contract, specifically on page 4 and 5, it was clearly spelled out that the parties were to agree on an entity to perform a Cost of Service Study and that the entity shall be unbiased as reasonably possible"

2. On January 3, 2013, after waiting over four months for some type of information on whether the proposed contract was agreeable and whether a cost study was going to be done, a letter was sent by the Chairman of DUD addressing this issue once again. In that letter, a copy of which was mailed to all aldermen, it was clearly spelled out that DUD is willing to share one-half of the cost of an "independent entity" to conduct a cost study of the city's water production operation. It was referenced in that letter that as of January 3, 2013, that DUD had received no input as to whether that offer was acceptable or whether any effort was being made to have a cost study accomplished.

3. On January 7, 2013, I (Foutch) understood from comments made at the council meeting that a cost study was going to be pursued and that Mr. Hendrixson would contact DUD accordingly. On January 24, 2013 after hearing nothing about the study, proposed entity or cost, I called Mr.(Hunter) Hendrixson to ask about the progress of a study. On that same date, he faxed to me one sheet of paper that included the business card information for Jerry Warren and David Pine of Warren & Associates. I told Mr. Hendrixson in this phone conversation that DUD would have to be agreeable with the entity to perform the cost study if they were going to pay one-half of the cost. Mr. Hendrixson agreed and provided no opposition.

4. On January 25, 2013, after trying to find information on Warren & Associates, I (Foutch) called Mr. Hendrixson and told him that DUD would not be willing to share in the expense of Warren & Associates due to us not having any information regarding their expertise and credentials in performing cost studies. At no time did Mr. Hendrixson provide me with any credential-type information on this entity and clearly no information like was discussed at the city council meeting on February 4, 2013.

5. On January 28, 2013, Mr. Hendrixson called wanting me to respond by letter regarding the denial of DUD in not agreeing to share the cost of the work of Warren & Associates. At that time, Mr. Hendrixson stated that the city had not yet made up their mind on what they were going to do regarding this study but that he would provide our letter to the city council and be back in touch on their response. Again, no information at all was provided regarding Warren & Associates. Pursuant to Mr. Hendrixson's request, I (Foutch) provided a letter setting out DUD's position on the use of Warren & Associates and proposing other experienced entities that would be agreeable for the cost study work.

6. On February 1, 2013, in the contested case matter pending before the Utility Management Review Board, which the City of Smithville has requested to be allowed to intervene and present evidence at that hearing, Mr. Hendrixson, on behalf of the City of Smithville, signed written interrogatories, which disclosed David Pine and Jerry Warren of Warren & Associates as being persons expected to be called as expert witnesses in the UMRB proceeding and would be presenting evidence on behalf of the City of Smithville. This information was not discussed at the council meeting of February 4, when the credentials of Warren & Associates were questioned.

Clearly with Warren & Associates being the paid expert witnesses of the City of Smithville, they would not be an "unbiased" and "independent entity" as referenced earlier in the proposed contract. Evidently you (Parsley) and Mr. Hendrixson failed to advise the council on what experts had been paid on behalf of the city to attempt to defeat the efforts of DUD on the construction of a water treatment plant, but instead tried to get DUD to help fund such an effort. You and Mr. Hendrixson, while touting the credentials of this entity on February 4, for some reason completely failed to mention the hiring of them as experts in the pending matter.

7. On February 4, 2013, when the council met I (Foutch) heard information regarding Warren & Associates for the first time, and information that was clearly contrary to what I had been earlier told. It appeared to me from statements made by you (Parsley), Mr. Hendrixson and the mayor, that Warren & Associates had already started working on the cost study and were "already underway" and had been working on the study for at least three weeks. Again, no mention of this was made to me in my earlier mentioned phone conversations with Mr. Hendrixson. There was also much information shared at the council meeting as pertains to the experience and credentials of Warren & Associates but this had never been shared with DUD. You made many strong assertions that at no time did DUD ever place any requirements on their agreement to share the cost of a study. You evidently did not wish to share with them the proposed contract terms mentioned above or the correspondence regarding the required independence of such a study," wrote DUD officials.

The DUD letter to city officials further stated, "It is very troubling to hear the inaccurate information coming from the council meetings and from representatives of the city regarding this issue, but even more so when it is known that the information will be shared with the public via media outlets in a way that provides false or incomplete information. It has always been specifically pointed out both in the proposed contract and in follow up letters that DUD would share in an independent unbiased study and that continues to be DUD's position. As referenced herein, Warren & Associates does not meet that criteria and DUD respectfully cannot agree to use them."

"While it is disappointing that the City of Smithville has chosen to spend tens of thousands of dollars on public relation efforts and attorneys to defeat the business decisions of the DUD board on "its" future plan for "its" customers, it would be nice if full and complete information was provided to those in authority at the city who must make the final decisions on the best course of action for its citizens," wrote DUD officials.

Concerns Raised About Motorists Passing School Buses Illegally

February 17, 2013
Dwayne Page
Motorists Urged to Obey Bus Stop Signals as Shown Here
Jimmy Sprague and THP Lt. Ray Robinson

The most dangerous part of a school bus ride is getting on and off and if motorists don't stop for buses when they're supposed to the potential for a tragic accident increases.

Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System, said he is concerned that too many motorists are failing to stop when school bus lights and stop signs are deployed as students get off and on buses in school parking lot loading zones and on roads, including four lane highways. " Highway 70 is considered a driveable median and when that bus accuates its stop sign and red lights, all four lanes east bound and west bound do have to stop. They don't proceed on until the stop sign is pulled in and the lights are off and the bus is proceeding on. When that happens, vehicles can move along also," said Sprague.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant Ray Robinson, director of the State Department of Education's Pupil Transportation Division recently joined Sprague in making an appeal to local motorists to keep an eye out for children. "The penalty for passing a stopped school bus is a class-A misdemeanor and that penalty is actually from $250 up to $1,000," said Lt. Robinson.

Unless motorists heed the warning, Sprague is concerned that accidents will occur that could injure or kill someone. "It would be a hard thing as a parent to have to live with (a child injured or killed) but if you were the person in the car that run the bus stop sign and caused such an accident imagine having to live with that," said Sprague

A 12 year old was killed in Greene County in April, 2012 after the child was run over by a school bus.

According to Lt. Robinson, laws exist to protect children getting on and off the bus. Tennessee law requires that:

Vehicles must stop before reaching a bus that has its flashing red warning lights and/or stop signal arm extended (B). Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.

Vehicles traveling in the same and opposite direction as the bus on an undivided road are always required to stop. (The four lane Highway 70 is an undivided highway and all motorists traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus stops to pick up and drop off children)

Vehicles traveling on a divided, or separated, highway do not have to stop when meeting or passing a bus on the other side of the road.

Drivers never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.

"In December 2012, twenty eight states took part in a stop signs violation count in one day," said Sprague." Out of twenty eight states, 100,000 buses in one day recorded 88,000 illegal passes. I could probably find ten a day right here in DeKalb County. I just want people to realize that this is a very serious situation. We're talking about our children here," said Sprague.

And the problem is not just on the highways according to Sprague. "We're having issues at the DeKalb Middle School/DCHS parking lot where parents are dropping off students and blowing through our bus loading and unloading zones, which at the high school is in front of the cafeteria and at the middle school is at the front door. The danger is with pedestrians walking, faculty going to and from cars, or children running between school buses to get to a car. It's the same as on the road. If that school bus stop sign is out and those red lights are flashing, you need to stop," said Sprague.

Violators are subject to citations by local and state law enforcement authorities if caught. Bus drivers and motorists can also report passing vehicles, according to Lieutenant Robinson. "The department of safety has a form. If someone drives by a school bus while it is loading or unloading, the driver of that school bus or anyone else can actually get the tag information off of that car and send that tag information to me. I will in turn write a letter to the owner of that registered vehicle and explain to them what the law says about passing by stopped school buses. Obviously, I'm not going to cite somebody I did not see commit a violation. But that's another educational opportunity that we have. So if someone in DeKalb County gets a letter in the mail, signed by me, its not for monetary reasons, its for education," said Lt. Robinson.

Legislation Allows Cities to Apply for REDLG Loans/Grants to Aid in Economic Development

February 17, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mark Pody

Legislation is moving through the committees of the General Assembly that would make funding of up to one million dollars available for economic and industrial development to Smithville and other cities across the state on behalf of local utilities who wish to apply through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.

State Representative Mark Pody made the announcement Friday during a visit to Smithville.

According to the Tennessee General Assembly's website, this bill (House Bill 0051 and Senate Bill 0078) authorizes all municipalities to participate as a borrower and a lender in the rural economic development loan and grant program (REDLG). Under current law, the program is only available to cities in six Tennessee counties.

Present law authorizes any municipality in Hardeman, Lincoln, Dickson, Campbell, Rhea, or Marion county to promote economic and industrial development through participation both as a borrower and a lender in various programs established by the rural electrification administration or other federal programs.

This bill rewrites this provision to instead authorize each municipality in this state to promote economic and industrial development through participation both as a borrower and a lender in the rural economic development loan and grant program established and administered by the federal rural development administration.

"The bill should be going to the calendar and rules committee next week and probably to the House floor the following week. Its going to allow Smithville to apply for up to one million dollars from Rural Development. It's a zero percent loan for areas that want more development. This will be opened up to cities in all ninety five counties. I'm hoping that any cities that want to do it will be jumping on and applying for it quickly in getting the money because it is a limited amount of money so its almost going to be on a first come, first served basis. Its used to attract industry and develop areas," said Representative Pody.

According to USDA, the RED Loan program provides zero interest loans from the
USDA to local utilities which then provide loans to local businesses; the local business
directly repays the local utility who then repays the USDA.. The maximum amount of a RED Loan is $1,000,000.

• The RED Grant program provides grants to the local utility which then establishes a
revolving loan program. Upon termination of the revolving loan fund, the grant is
repaid by the local utility to the USDA.. The maximum amount of a RED Grant is $300,000.

• In the event a loan recipient defaults on a loan, the local utility will be responsible for
repayment to the USDA, resulting in a possible increase in local government

• The USDA requires a participating local utility to provide a 20 percent match of funds
for which the utility is applying.

• In the event a local utility opts to participate in the REDLG program, and it is
successful, it is reasonably assumed there will be an increase in local government
revenue resulting from an increase in local business success.

Register of Deeds Warns Property Owners of Scam

February 16, 2013
Dwayne Page

Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen is warning DeKalb County property owners to beware of a scam that could cost you eighty three dollars if you should fall for it.

McMillen told WJLE Friday that he has received calls in recent days from people inquiring about a letter sent to them which appears to be a bill or "Deed Processing Notice" from the Property Transfer Service in Washington D.C.

This notice encourages the recipient to send eighty three dollars to obtain a copy of his or her grant deed and property profile. The letter even includes a self addressed envelope for you to send your money to the Property Transfer Service Deed Processing Center in Westlake Village, California.

McMillen urges you not to reply to this request and don't send them any money. He said the information they seek to sell you is already available to you free of charge in the Register of Deeds Office.

Sheriff Reports Mail Box Vandalism

February 15, 2013
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

Sheriff Patrick Ray is asking for your help in solving a recent rash of mailbox vandalism incidents.

"We've had multiple reports of mailbox vandalism in the areas of Jacob's Pillar Road, Blue Springs Road, the Old Blue Springs Road, Bethel Road, Banks Pisgah Road, and Whorton Springs Road," said Sheriff Ray.

"We do have a suspect vehicle, a smaller truck. It's a white truck, believed to be a Ford Ranger. We ask you to be aware of your surroundings and if you have seen a vehicle damaging a mailbox or should see a mailbox vandalism, call the sheriff's department at 597-4935 or call the crime tip line at 464-6400," he said.

"These vandals are going around in this smaller truck and using some kind of bat or stick to bash in mailboxes. We ask that you keep your eyes and ears open and if you hear or see anything suspicious we urge you to call us at the sheriff's department," said Sheriff Ray.

L.B.J.& C. Accepting Applications for Head Start

February 15, 2013
Dwayne Page
LBJ & C Head Start Center

L.B.J.& C. Head Start is currently accepting applications to provide free comprehensive child development services to children 3-5 years of age from low-income families in a full day program. Services are also offered to meet the special needs of children with disabilities. L.B.J.& C. Head Start helps all children succeed.

L.B.J.& C. Head Start provides children with activities that help them grow mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. The L.B.J.& C Head Start recognizes that, as parents, you are the first and most important teachers of your children. They will welcome your involvement in L.B.J.& C. Head Start activities, and will work as partners with you to help your child and family progress.

Children who attend L.B.J.&C. Head Start participate in a variety of educational activities, receive free medical and dental care, free healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe environment.

L.B.J.& C. Head Start staff members will offer your child love, acceptance, understanding, and the opportunity to learn and to experience success.

For more information contact the Smithville Head Start Center at 615-597-5168.

Two Injured in Traffic Accident on Highway 70 at Snow Hill

February 15, 2013
Dwayne Page
2008 Toyota Corolla driven by Tina Cazee
2005 Toyota Camry driven by Peggy Duke Hicks

Two people were injured in a traffic accident Tuesday night on Highway 70 at Snow Hill.

Trooper Jeremy Wilhite of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 73 year old Peggy Duke Hicks, driving a 2005 Toyota Camry, pulled from Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) into the path of a 2008 Toyota Corolla, driven by 55 year old Tina Cazee, who was traveling west on Highway 70. Both Hicks and Cazee were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment.

The accident occurred around 6:50 p.m.

DCHS Building Trades Home Could be Finished by April

February 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
Building Trades Instructor Gary Caplinger (wearing glasses) giving instruction
Building Trades Class in Action
Building Trades Home Under Construction at DCHS
Members of DCHS Building Trades Class

Students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program are making great progress on the latest home now under construction.

Up until two years ago, all homes built through this program were constructed on lots which had been purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed.

But now for the second time, a home is being built on campus at DeKalb County High School. When it is completed, the house will be sold and the owner will have it moved to his or her own lot.

Class instructor Gary Caplinger told WJLE Thursday that students began work on the home, a 1,456 square foot structure, in the latter part of fall and expect to have it finished by April. "It's a three bedroom, two bath house. Its 26 x 56. We're at the point where we lack having one small wall having all the interior walls, all the walls done and completed. The next step is we're going to align the walls and get them straight. After we do that we'll probably put on the house wrap. And then we'll start putting the trusses up. After that we'll put the decking on and the shingles and then we'll probably pretty much be finished at that point. We will set the windows and doors and do the house wrap on the exterior part. This house will be finished for vinyl siding," he said.

Before the first on-campus home was built in 2011, Career and Technical Education director Brad Leach addressed the school board on the reasons for building these houses at school. "The on-site building brings the building back to the campus at the high school. The students don't need transportation. Tools don't have to be transported. Everything is done right there close to the building trades classroom. The students are within walking distance. Its actually in between the band tower and the bus garage. We have a permanent footer and foundation where the house is constructed. After that, whoever wants to buy the house, they are responsible for paying for the house at the price that the construction teacher sets. The buyer is then responsible for all costs of moving the house and taking the house to wherever lot they want to put it on," he said.

Since the home will have to be moved, some finishing work will be required by the owner once its relocated. "Its to be roughed in on the inside. It will be roughed in for plumbing. It will have the windows and doors in it and the roof will be covered. It will have a shingled roof. Its just a basic house. The reason it's a basic house is because when you go to move that and you've done a lot of interior work you could have some problems inside so its just a basic shell. I would call it a dried in house with the rough ins done," said Leach.

"The buyer will have a lot already purchased most likely," said Caplinger,. "He will build a foundation and he will set this house on his foundation. I think its really a good deal for anyone that's looking to buy rental property or maybe they want to live in it. It is a good cheap way to go. Hopefully, when we get this one finished and put it on the market and sell it maybe we can start a new one by the fall semester," said Caplinger.

Once completed, the school board will likely accept sealed bids on the sale of the home. Money from the sale will go back into the building trades program to start another house.

Postal Service Proposes to Reduce Hours at Silver Point Post Office

February 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
Silver Point Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service is looking to reduce the operating hours of the Silver Point Post Office, similar to the plan recently enacted at the Alexandria Post Office.

A public meeting was held on Tuesday, February 5 at Silver Point to give postal customers in the area a chance to express their views.

The Silver Point Post Office is currently open from 6 a.m.-noon and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 6 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturdays.

The proposed changes would leave the post office open 7:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays and from 6 a.m.-11 a.m. on Saturdays.

More than 750 surveys were recently mailed to Silver Point residents, and of those who responded, 85 percent indicated they preferred the realignment of open hours rather than the other options which included providing mail delivery service to residents and businesses by rural carrier or highway contract route, creating a "village post office" by moving post office facilities to a local retailer, library, town hall or government center, or offering service from a nearby post office, the closest of which would be 12.5 miles away in Smithville, 12.8 miles away in Chestnut Mound or 13.2 miles away in Cookeville.

Changes at the Alexandria Post Office took effect, Saturday January 26, providing six hours of window service each weekday. The facility retail hours are now from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. with lunch from noon until 1:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Saturday window service hours were not reduced and access to delivery receptables were not changed as a result of the POST Plan realignment of weekday window service hours at Alexandria. Customers still have access to their mail receptacles 24 hours a day and Post Office Box mail is still available daily for pick-up by 10:00 a.m. Monday-Friday, and at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.

David Walton, spokesman for the Tennessee District of the United States Postal Service, in a telephone interview with WJLE last Thursday, said the Silver Point Post Office is among 13,000 across the country being considered for shortened retail hours."Back in May of last year, the Postal Service announced a new strategy in which we looked at the smallest post offices across the country and decided to reduce the retail hours at 13,000 of them nationwide. Before we proceed with this, what we're doing is going into these communities and we're holding community meetings. Originally we wanted to close about 300 post offices nationwide but we got such a push back from communities who wanted to keep their post offices open. So what we tried to do is create a strategy that would be a win-win situation for both the postal service and communities. So before we make any changes, we're going into these communities and holding a community meeting. Prior to that meeting, we will send out a letter letting customers know what our intentions are. But in that letter is a survey and its giving customers four options, one being that they can keep the post office in their town open at reduced hours, or there's three other options but all of those entail closing the post office. Most of the time, these communities opt to keep their post offices open but at reduced hours. The Silver Point meeting was held on Tuesday, February 5. Normally what happens at these meetings, usually about a week or so thereafter, they will post at the post office the decision, whether it is to keep the post office open at reduced hours or whatever it is that the community has decided. Normally, the soonest that those changes could take effect would be in thirty days but some times it is much longer than that," said Walton.

According to the United States Postal Service website, the postal service is currently projecting a $14 billion net loss in fiscal year 2012. In order to help reverse their losses, many offices across the country are attempting to shorten their open hours instead of closing down completely.

Silver Point postal customers with questions or concerns may call 931-858-4950 and leave a message to pass on to the corporate office, where the final decision of new hours will be made no sooner than 60 days after last Tuesday's meeting. After two years, the Silver Point Post Office will be up for evaluation again, and any changes made will be based on the location's revenue between now and then.

DeKalb Sheriff's Department Makes Arrest in Three County Pursuit

February 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Sheriff's Department Makes Arrest in Three County Pursuit
Dodge Dakota
Site of Manhunt on Bright Hill Road
State Trooper sits by Guardrail where Brown Crashed
Brown's truck hits Guardrail on Bright Hill Road
Dodge Dakota being towed from Bright Hill Road
Van Buren County K-9 Truck also damaged

The man who led authorities on a three county pursuit Wednesday afternoon has been arrested thanks to an investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

35 year old Howard Eugene Brown of Green Acre Drive, Smithville was found at home with his wife Wednesday evening. He had apparently returned home on foot after crashing and bailing out of the pickup truck he was driving on Bright Hill Road. Brown was taken into custody by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, who had developed him as a suspect during an investigation. The sheriff's department already had an active violation of probation warrant against Brown.

After Brown was taken to the DeKalb County Jail Wednesday night, Van Buren County authorities were notified and they returned to Smithville to interview Brown. During the questioning, Brown admitted that he was the man they were chasing in the pursuit. Van Buren County officials plan to charge Brown with driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, and evading arrest. Other charges may also be brought against him in the case. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Brown is on probation for criminal impersonation, theft, and aggravated criminal trespassing.

Sheriff Ray told WJLE that the pursuit began in Van Buren County Wednesday afternoon after a K-9 officer there, driving a Dodge Ram 4 x 4 pickup, stopped to check on a black Dodge Dakota pickup truck that had stopped on the side of the road. "The Van Buren County K-9 officer was driving by and saw a truck sitting on the side of the road," said Sheriff Ray. "It was a black Dodge Dakota pickup. He (officer) thought it was a stranded motorist. He (officer) pulled in behind the truck and activated his blue lights. The driver of the truck got out and approached the officer. The officer asked the man if he was having trouble. The man said no, that he didn't want to text while driving. The officer ran a (computer) check of the license plate on the truck and asked for a driver's license (computer) check based on the license plate information. The check revealed no drivers license. The driver then jumped in the truck and took off," said Sheriff Ray.

After his arrest, Brown told investigators that he had just finished shooting up drugs right before the officer stopped to check on him, according to Sheriff Ray.

The Van Buren County K-9 officer initiated a pursuit which turned onto Highway 111 north into White County and then west on Highway 70 from Sparta. White County authorities joined Van Buren County in the chase and notified DeKalb central dispatch at 12:43 p.m. that the pursuit was approaching DeKalb County. Members of the Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department were planning to set up at the intersection of West Broad Street and Congress Boulevard when word came that the pursuit had reached Smithville but had turned from Highway 70 onto Evins Mill Road. Local officers then repositioned themselves to other locations hoping to intercept the pursuit.

The chase continued on Evins Mill Road, to Cripps Lane, and then onto Bright Hill Road. An off duty state trooper of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Dewaine Jennings was at his residence on Bright Hill Road when he heard about the approaching pursuit. He got a spike strip from his patrol car and placed it on Bright Hill Road in front of his house. When the truck came speeding by, it hit the spike strip and some of the tires blew out. The truck then sped out of control as it approached the sharp curve on Bright Hill Road and struck a guardrail. The Van Buren County K-9 officer's vehicle also received some minor damage when it too apparently sideswiped the guardrail.

According to Sheriff Ray, after the truck came to a stop, the man (Brown) bailed out the drivers side door of the truck, jumped over the guardrail and disappeared into the woods on foot. A search immediately ensued by officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Smithville Police Department, along with K-9 units from Van Buren and Putnam Counties and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Sheriff Ray said the K-9 dogs picked up the man's scent and followed a trail through the woods to Highway 56 near Harney's Nursery and the New Life United Pentecostal Church, where the dogs lost the scent. Authorities suspect that the man (Brown) crossed the highway and then walked to his home on Green Acre Drive, a short distance away.

Smithville Elementary School, which is in the area of the search, was placed on lock down status until dismissal time at 2:45 p.m. as a precaution. As schools closed for the day, Smithville Police, the Sheriff's Department's School Resource Officer, and constables were nearby monitoring school traffic as parents picked up their children while other students boarded buses to go home.

Initially, Van Buren County authorities thought the suspect in the pursuit was another man, Ray Underwood. Sheriff Ray said he expressed doubts about that after viewing the video from a camera in the Van Buren County's officer's vehicle. After the truck wrecked, the video shows the man getting out of the vehicle and escaping on foot. But Sheriff Ray said the blurry image captured on the video appeared to be someone other than Underwood. He said the man's build did not fit Underwood's profile.

After launching its own investigation and developing Brown as a suspect, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department went to Brown's home on Green Acre Drive to serve the violation of probation warrant on him. Although Brown was home, his vehicle was not there. Investigators noticed that Brown had scratches on his body. Brown's wife told investigators that Brown said he had been to Dunlap that day and had not driven home in the truck. According to her, Brown said he had encountered a passing police pursuit on the way home and apparently had to leave the truck behind after being forced off the road.

The truck Brown was driving is apparently registered to an Hispanic man in Davidson County. Sheriff Ray said Metro-Nashville will be asked to help locate the owner of the truck.

"I am very proud of my department for working throughout the day and well into the night on this case until the one responsible for this senseless crime was arrested," said Sheriff Ray.

"My department and I felt very early on into the investigation that the accused subject (Underwood) was not the individual involved in this crime and with the use of our investigational resources, we not only cleared this individual (Underwood) that was accused of this crime, but was able to apprehend the proper person (Brown)," added Sheriff Ray.


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