Local News Articles

Gainesboro Man Charged with Sixth Offense of Driving on Suspended License

March 9, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Terry Russell Whittaker, Jr.
Gary Jason Britt

A Gainesboro man has been charged with a sixth offense of driving on a suspended license.

27 year old Terry Russell Whittaker, Jr. is also cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and for improper passing. His bond is $15,000 and he will be in court March 26.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, March 2 a sheriff's department detective spotted a vehicle driving at a high rate of speed on Highway 70 east and observed it pass another automobile in a no passing zone. The detective stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Whittaker who admitted that he did not have a valid driver license. A computer check confirmed that Whittaker has a suspended license for failure to pay fines due to a traffic violation. Whittaker also has five other driving while license suspended charges and convictions on his record. During a search of the vehicle, the detective found two hypodermic needles that Whittaker said he used for Subutex. Whittaker was placed under arrest.

32 year old Samantha Bee Florida of Turkey Branch Road, Liberty is cited for a light law violation, simple possession of a schedule II drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court March 26. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, March 3 a deputy observed a car with a tail light out. He made a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Florida. After receiving consent to search, the officer found a syringe loaded with 60 units of morphine along with five other empty syringes, a spoon, and a straw which contained a white powdery substance.

32 year old Charles Michael Blanchfield of Nashville Highway, Dowelltown is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. He will be in court July 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, March 8 a deputy drove up to the Shell station on Highway 70 where the tenants reported to the officer that a vehicle had been setting at the pumps for over an hour. The deputy performed a welfare check on the driver of the automobile, Blanchfield. The officer also conducted a search of Blanchfield and his vehicle and found two syringes.

47 year old Gary Jason Britt of Belk Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and reckless endangerment. He was also cited for Driving on Roadways Laned for Travel. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court May 7. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, March 8 a deputy spotted a Ford pickup truck failing to maintain his lane of travel on Highway 288, crossing the yellow line several times. The officer made a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Britt who had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Britt performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and he submitted to a blood alcohol test. Britt's 13 year old daughter was in the truck with him at the time he was driving impaired, placing her in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Senator Beavers Supports Closed Primaries

March 9, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Senator Mae Beavers

Should you have to declare a political party affiliation to be able to vote in a primary election?

State Senator Mae Beavers believes you should and she has filed legislation, which if approved by the general assembly, would require close primaries.

The bill states that any person registered to vote prior to July 1, 2016, shall declare a statewide political party affiliation at the first primary election in which the person casts a vote which is held following such date. The county election commission shall then add that information to the voter’s permanent registration record.

A qualified voter who desires to declare a statewide political party affiliation prior to a primary election or to alter a previously selected statewide political party affiliation may do so in accordance with state law.

A voter choosing not to select a statewide political party affiliation shall not be eligible to vote in a primary election. "I'm all for that bill. Both parties have crossovers at times. For example, in our county (Wilson) with the Republican party because we're over 100,000 (population) we're having to have precinct elections to elect our executive committee for the party. Because of some people that have been crossing over to vote in the Republican Primary, those people have been able to come in and vote in our executive committee election. That should not be happening. I think it (closed primaries) is a good move. Many other states have it already and it allows just the people within your party to be able to vote in primaries," said Senator Beavers.

The bill has been placed on the Senate State and Local Government Committee Calendar for Tuesday, March 10.

Meanwhile, Senator Beavers said she and State Representative Mark Pody are co-sponsoring legislation to prohibit a relative of an elected official from serving on an election commission. "We actually have that in one of our counties right now although an elected official right now cannot have someone work the election. So it only makes sense that they can't be appointed to the election commission because if you have a relative on it, really they're going to be barred from doing their job anyway on election day simply because they are related to somebody on the ballot," she said.

Schools to Host Parent-Teacher Conferences

March 9, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Schools will host Parent-Teacher Conferences this week.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, March 10 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 12 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Due to weather all report cards will be delayed one week

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, March 16 and at all other schools on Tuesday, March 17.

Home Health Nurse Escapes Serious Injury in Wreck on Icy Road

March 7, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Home Health Nurse Escapes Serious Injury in Wreck on Icy Road

A Home Health Nurse enroute to see a patient lost control of her vehicle due to ice on Adamson Branch Road Friday morning. The 2001 GMC Yukon overturned on its side. The driver, 32 year old Margaret Becerril of McMinnville was not seriously hurt.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Becerril was driving west on Adamson Branch Road when her vehicle slid off the side of the ice covered road on a downhill grade, struck an earthen embankment, and overturned onto its side. The Yukon then slid another 30-50 feet before coming to a stop, according to Trooper Johnson.

Initial reports were that the woman may have been trapped, but Trooper Johnson said Becerril managed to get out of the vehicle on her own. County Fire Chief Donny Green and Joe Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad reached the site in four wheel drive trucks but because of the icy condition of the road, neither an ambulance nor other emergency vehicles could get there. Members of the Rescue Squad eventually were able to access the scene with a gator and used it to transport the woman back down the hill to an awaiting ambulance.

She was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. According to Trooper Johnson , the woman was not hurt in the accident, but may have sprained her ankle while getting out of the vehicle.

Senator Beavers' Resolution to Elect State Attorney General Approved in Judiciary Committee

March 5, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mae Beavers

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday that would allow Tennessee voters to decide if they want to elect the state’s attorney general. Senate Joint Resolution 63, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers would begin the process of amending the state constitution, which if approved, would go to voters in the 2018 general election.

“Tennessee is the only state in the nation in which the people have neither a direct nor indirect voice in the selection of their attorney general, and we are the only state that gives that power to our Supreme Court,” said Senator Beavers.

Senator Beavers’ resolution calls for the AG to serve a six-year term, but would limit it to two consecutive terms. The resolution requires approval by the 109th General Assembly currently in session, and the 110th which will take office in 2017, before going to voters in a statewide referendum.

"I told the committee that I believe that it was even more important now that we pass a constitutional amendment to elect the Attorney General since the people voted for Amendment 2 (last November Election) and gave away their right to select Supreme Court Justices to the Governor," said Senator Beavers in an interview on WJLE Thursday morning.

Senator Beavers said that when Tennessee’s Constitution was written, calling for nomination of the AG by the state’s Supreme Court justices, the court was popularly elected. Forty-three states already select their attorney generals through popular election. In six other states, the AG is selected by either the elected governor or the elected state legislature.

“I feel that the citizens of this state ought to have a ‘say-so’ in the highest legal office in Tennessee. Our Constitution says that the Supreme Court Justices shall be elected by the people. And then the framers of our Constitution in all their wisdom thought that it was fine for the Supreme Court to select our Attorney General. As I told the committee, the system became broken when the Tennessee Plan was passed. I believe that was unconstitutional. It did not follow the Constitution in what it said about us electing our judges. We have a body (Supreme Court) that is appointed by the Governor and we have them selecting our Attorney General. That is a huge conflict of interest for a man appointed by that body to practice in front of that body. The Attorney General is our attorney. The people's attorney," said Senator Beavers.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor where it will be heard on three readings before taking a final vote. It will then travel to the House of Representatives for approval there.

Chattanooga Radio Celebrity Returns Home to Smithville

March 5, 2015
by: 
Ralph Vaughn
Tommy Jett (aka) Tommy Reynolds
Ralph Vaughn

Tommy Jett, a legend in Chattanooga area radio broadcasting returns to his Smithville roots on Friday, March 13 to autograph copies of a new book "The Jett Age: Flying with Tommy Jett.

Jett (aka) Tommy Reynolds, and Ralph Vaughn, the author, will be at F.Z. Webb & Sons Gifts from 2:00 until 6:00 p.m. to personally sign each copy. The price is $20.

The book is a collaboration between the two men which began almost three years-ago after Jett had a near-death experience from a traffic accident. Vaughn said, "Tommy and I dedicated the book to God for giving him a miracle. Our prayer is that every reader will be blessed from reading the biography."

Vaughn adds, "The Jett Age was a period in time when Tommy ruled the airwaves in the Chattanooga/Mid-South radio market. He was almost bigger than life; flamboyant personality; witty charm; keen sense of music; knowing exactly what the audience wanted to hear; cool words that captured the imagination of listeners; a believability that listeners bought into because his salesmanship was from someone who was trusted.

"At Live concerts, sock hops and personal appearances, Tommy Jett stood above the crowd. There was no doubt that he was geared for show biz with rings on every finger and sunglasses. His persona made him THE MAN.

"The Jett Age: Flying with Tommy Jett weaves a story of a young man who loved the world of music and entertainment; found his identity behind a microphone; built a fan-base that was almost unbelievable.

"His career was further celebrated in 2013 when Tommy was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.

"Both Tommy and I look forward to seeing family and friends. It will also be a "homecoming" for Tommy, who left Smithville 50-years ago to make a name for himself in radio."

Chamber Banquet Set for April 14

March 5, 2015
Becky Magura

The annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet is set for Tuesday, April 14 at the DeKalb County Complex in Smithville.

“We are excited to again host this enjoyable and informative event. We invite the all the public to share in this fun-filled night of dining, entertainment, and Chamber video presentation of the past year’s events and activities as well as other updates including the introduction of our new Board, 2015 Officers and recognition of our retiring board members,” says Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams. “A common misconception is that this is an event for Chamber members only,” says Williams. “All are welcome to come. This is a wonderful networking opportunity and a great way to see some of the positive things that are happening in our county.”

The special evening begins at 5:30 PM with a “Silent Auction.” The dinner and program start at 6:00 PM. Dinner music will be performed by Tomomi McDowell. Josh Issac will sing the National Anthem as Boy Scout Troop #347 presents the flags. The delicious meal will be prepared by Chef Jason Evans of The Inn at Evins Mill. Leadership Director Jen Sherwood and the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2015 will serve the meal. “No Strings Attached” from New Hope Baptist Church, Alexandria will perform.

The keynote speaker for the evening will be WCTE TV President/CEO, Becky Magura. With over 32 years of experience in production, educational outreach and management at public television station WCTE, Becky brings to any project a level of commitment necessary for success. In 2006, Magura became WCTE’s 4th General Manager and has led the station team through digital transition in transmission and production as well as securing a second WCTE satellite studio. Nationally, she serves as a member of the National PBS Board and on the Association of Public Television Stations Board of Trustees.

At press time, Corporate Sponsors for this event are Caney Fork Electric, Cumberland Insurance, DeKalb Community Bank, DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications / DTC Wireless, Fast Pace Urgent Care, Federal Mogul, FirstBank, Liberty State Bank, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas “Project Hometown Help,” NHC Healthcare, Regions Bank, Tenneco, and WalMart.

Being a Corporate Sponsor is not only a great way to support the Chamber and its many programs, but a wonderful marketing opportunity for you. The cost of corporate sponsorship is $250. Please see some of the advantages below:

•As a Corporate Sponsor, your business’ name will be included in the Chamber Banquet Tabloid which will be distributed to thousands of homes as an insert in the Smithville Review and used as the program at the banquet.

•Corporate Sponsor employees will be recognized during the banquet.

•Corporate Sponsors will be highlighted in the video presentation.

If you would like to place an ad in the Chamber Banquet Tabloid, it will be inserted in the April 8th edition of the Smithville Review plus used as the night’s program. Deadline to place your ad in the tabloid is March 13th. To donate a silent auction item or door prize, place an ad in the tabloid, or become a Corporate Sponsor, contact the Chamber office at 615.597.4163 or email dekalbtn@dtccom.net.

Banquet tickets prices are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling the Chamber at 615.597.4163 or from the Chamber Board of Directors. Or, you can stop by the Chamber office located in the DeKalb County Courthouse, Room 201. You don’t have to be a Chamber member to attend. Everyone is welcome!

Special thanks to our Annual Banquet Committee Members: Shannon Atkins, Joan Barrett, Jane Brown, Shan Burklow, Beth Chandler, Sherry Harris, Kathy Hendrixson, Jen Sherwood, Susan Young, and Julia Cantrell Vanderpool for all the work they do to ensure a successful night. We are also so grateful to Tenneco and Appalachian Center for Craft for co-sponsoring the banquet decorations and to DTC Communications for providing the eco-bags.

"We are going to have a great time and hope you can be a part of the Chamber’s 52nd Anniversary," said Williams

Jim Judkins to End His Tenure as DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman

March 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jim Judkins

After serving as Chairman of the DeKalb County Democratic Party for the last five years, Jim Judkins has decided not to seek another term.

Judkins, who is completing his third term, will pass the gavel to his successor when members of the party convene on Saturday, March 21 for a re-organizational meeting at the courthouse.

The local attorney said while he has enjoyed the privilege of leading the party, he needs to devote more time to his growing law practice. "I've enjoyed it. I've tried to reach out and let Democrats know they are welcome to participate in local party politics. But being chairman of a political party is a whole lot more work than people think. I've been in for three terms and I think that's a pretty good run but my law practice is growing and for the time being I need to spend more time at work. But I'll be around if they need me," Judkins told WJLE.

While he is pleased that Democrats still hold most public offices in DeKalb County, Judkins said he would like to see the party have more success on the state level. "In my time we have tried to focus on the state and local party and especially on local county candidates. Fortunately, the party still has a stronghold on the majority of DeKalb County offices. The local and state offices are where I would like to see the local party continue to put efforts in. We're still running good here in the county but certainly we would like to have the state legislature back," he said.

Judkins also points to passage of state legislation repealing an antiquated law on the selection of local party leaders as perhaps the most significant achievement during his tenure as chairman. "In 1949 the legislature passed a private act and what that said was the DeKalb County Democratic Party Executive Committee had to consist of 40 members and those members had to run from districts, many of which today no longer exist, and they had to run every two years. Before that act was repealed if you wanted to serve on the executive committee, which is like our board of directors, you had to go to the election commission and get a petition to run. The problem we had with that is sometimes we could not find people to run. But when we could, your name would be placed on a ballot and voters voting in the Tennessee Democratic statewide primary would elect you. We certainly had problems with that so we received an Attorney General opinion and he stated that the legislature cannot tell a political party how they should choose their leaders. During the last session, the state legislature repealed that old private act. They overturned it. It was a great showing of bipartisan cooperation because it was done so unanimously or very close to being a unanimous vote in both houses. Essentially what that means is that we can now caucus instead of being required to have countywide elections to elect our leaders. That's what we're doing on March 21. We'll be having a re-organization convention and we'll be caucusing and choosing our new executive committee members and the new officers of the party, " said Judkins.

Judkins is among six people who have served as chairperson of the DeKalb County Democratic Party over the last century. The others were Tom Webb, Ed Fuqua, M.T. Puckett, Fay Fuqua, and Judkins' grandfather McAllen Foutch.

And like his grandfather, who once served in political office as a state legislator and was Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Judkins would also like to have a career in politics someday. "I definitely have aspirations to seek political office at some point in the future," he said.

The Biennial Re-organizational Convention to elect new DeKalb Democratic Party leaders will be Saturday, March 21 at 10 a.m. The meeting will take place at the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Local Democrats will elect a new Chairperson, Vice Chairperson(s), Secretary, Treasurer, and the executive Committee for DeKalb County for a two-year term.

Members will also discuss the party’s agenda and events for 2015. This meeting will be open for all attendees to express their ideas and thoughts about the future.

All Democratic residents who are eligible voters of DeKalb County are urged to attend.

For more information, contact Chairman Jim Judkins at 615-597-9777.

US Postal Service to Adjust Hours at Dowelltown and Liberty

March 3, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Notice Posted at Dowelltown Post Office
Dowelltown Post Office
Liberty Post Office

Several months after reducing the daily operating hours in a cost saving measure, the U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to tinker with the schedule again at the Dowelltown and Liberty Post Offices, effective Saturday March 21.

This time the move is being done not to further reduce retail window hours but to adjust them to comply with recent updates to collective bargaining agreements, according to David Walton spokesman for the Tennessee District of the U.S. Postal Service. The Smithville and Alexandria Post Offices will not be affected.

"The Dowelltown and Liberty Post Offices are adjusting their hours because of recent updates to our collective bargaining agreements and transportation network changes," Walton told WJLE.

Still, postal customers might find these new hours less convenient for them.

Notices have been posted at both locations but no public hearings will be held this time. "Public meetings were held when we reduced hours at these offices. However, in this case we’re not reducing any hours, only making minor adjustments to the current retail hours," said Walton.

New hours effective March 21:

Dowelltown Post Office
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 and 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday (Currently morning hours are 8-11 a.m. and afternoon hours are 12:30- 3:30 p.m.)
8:00 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday (no change)

Liberty Post Office
7:45 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:45 p.m. Monday thru Friday (Currently afternoon hours are 1:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m. Monday-Friday)
7:45 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday (no change)

Last year the Postal Service changed both the Dowelltown and Liberty Post Offices from a full eight hours to six hours a day at the retail windows with no change in Saturday hours. A similar plan was enacted earlier at the Alexandria Post Office.

Benefit Scheduled for Family of Two Year old Child Who Died Tragically Sunday

March 3, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kayden Ray Fults
Kayden Ray Fults

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a benefit spaghetti dinner and silent auction for the family of two year old Kayden Ray Fults, who died Sunday after apparently suffering an injury in a fall from a bunk bed at his Smithville home. The child was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital where he passed away.

Fults is the son of Mark Johnson, a DeKalb County Firefighter from the Short Mountain Station, and Kaycie Lynn Fults.

Funds raised from this benefit will help with the funeral expenses.

The event is set for Saturday, March 21 from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Complex at 712 South Congress Boulevard. The price is $6.00 at the door or tickets may be purchased in advance for $5.00 each. Any and all donations including items for the silent auction will be accepted and greatly appreciated. Dinner will include spaghetti, salad, bread, drink, and dessert of your choice.

All proceeds collected will go directly towards paying for funeral expenses.

If you would like to make a monetary donation, please send a check or money order to: Woodbury Funeral Home, 504 W. Main St, Woodbury, TN. 37190. Please make sure to note in the memo that donation goes to Kayden Ray Fults funeral expenses.

For more information or tickets please contact: Robin Summers (615-605-9783) or Chief Donny Green (615-464-7176)

In addition to his parents, Kayden is survived by siblings: Landon & Adrian Fults, Karlee & Joshua Johnson, Brooklyn Barnes all of Smithville; Grandparents: Jacky Fults of Smithville, Melissa Foster (Kenny) Young of Shelbyville, Kathy Johnson (Rick Hindsley) of Smithville; Great Grandparents: Viola Foster of Woodbury; Martha Fults of Smithville; Carmine Bain of Dowelltown; Special Cousins: Matt, Angie, Jacob & Emma Campbell of Woodbury; Uncles and Aunts: Cody & Tyler Fults of Shelbyville, Mary Johnson of Woodbury, Fairy Johnson of Smithville and Angela Ferrell; Cousin: Bridget Fults.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Bobby Johnson and great grandfather, Roy Fults and Max Foster.

Funeral Services will be 2 pm Friday at the Chapel of Woodbury Funeral Home with Bro. Greg Mitchell officiating. Interment will follow in the Hale Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be from 4 pm to 8 pm Thursday. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Woodbury Funeral Home to help the family with funeral expenses.

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