Local News Articles

Smithville Man Charged In Rash of Burglaries

September 28, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 20 year old Smithville man has been arrested on multiple counts of burglary and vandalism as the result of an investigation by the Smithville Police and DeKalb County Sheriff's Departments.

In a prepared news release, Thomas J. Stufano, Executive Officer of the Smithville Police Department, says Brian Dewayne Thomason of 439 Morgan Drive is charged with one count of aggravated burglary of a dwelling, two counts of vandalism to a structure and five counts of burglary of vehicles occurring on West Spring Street, Fisher Avenue, Short Mountain Street, Anthony Avenue, Kendra Drive, and Meadowbrook Drive. Additional charges could be filed pending a further investigation.

Thomason was booked into the DeKalb County Jail with bail set at $32,000.

According to the news release, \"On Wednesday, September 27th at approximately 11:20 p.m. police officers and sheriff's deputies working a Burglary Task Force in the 300 block of West Bryant Street were able to positively identify and arrest a suspect who had eluded authorities for almost three weeks.\" The suspect, Thomason, is accused of breaking into seven residences and automobiles.

\"Based on leads, reports and witness statements over the last three weeks concerning the escalating rise in burglaries in the area, officers canvassed the neighborhoods speaking to residents and tracking prospective movements of the suspect. With the cooperation of good neighbors and concerned citizens coupled with fast police response times and effective report writing, Task Force Officers working the cases were able to easily identify the suspect.\"

\"Smithville Police Sergeant Steve Deffendoll, Officer Bill Elliott, Officer Lelani Defore, and DeKalb County Sheriff's Detective Chris Russell were able to closely align and track the suspect's movements over the past three weeks that plagued these quiet residential areas.\"

\"Incidental to the arrest, Mr. Thomason voluntarily cooperated with the investigation identifying additional areas he had either broken into or attempted to break into but had been stopped by vigilant neighbors who called the police. During his interview, Thomason stated that he was able to keep track of police response times in order to time his get away by using a portable handheld police scanner.\"

Stufano's news release states that \" In speaking to the victims and neighbors, all were highly in favor of the city's new Crime Watch Program due to roll out shortly. This nationally recognized crime prevention program trains citizens on how and what to look for when reporting incidents. Additionally, home and business inspections are performed to help provide a safer living or working environment. Simple methods such as replacing outside light bulbs that have burned out or trimming hedges that block windows, and making sure your car doors and windows are locked are things citizens can do to deter crime in their area.\"

Pending Appeal, Patterson Soon To Assume Bench As New Criminal Court Judge

September 29, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Almost two months after the August 3rd election, it appears there is now a winner in the race for Criminal Court Judge Part II in the 13th Judicial District.

Retired Nashville Judge Ben Cantrell, appointed to hear the election contest lawsuit filed by Lillie Ann Sells, dismissed the case Wednesday night after hearing two days of testimony in the Putnam County Chancery Court hearing.

Judge Sells, who lost her re-election bid to challenger David Patterson by 10 votes, asked that the election be voided

Sells filed her \"contest of election\" suit on August 17, alleging that various irregularities occurred in the voting on election day and asking the Chancery Court to review her allegations and either declare her the winner or order a new election.

Among her allegations are claims that convicted felons voted in one county, that voters applying for absentee ballots were not required to furnish their Social Security numbers, that voters spent too much time in the voting booths in some instances, and that a non-resident of the district was allowed to vote in one county.

Judge Cantrell ruled that he could find only one or two votes that shouldn't count. One of those ballots was cast by a convicted felon in White County. The other was an absentee ballot signed by someone who assisted the voter, with no witness signature present.

The other contested ballots had missing information, such as a Social Security number, reason for voting absentee or dates of the voter's absence.

Many of the requests or applications for absentee ballots were elderly voters, who are allowed by law to vote absentee if they are over 65 years old. However Stephen Zralek of Nashville, Sells' attorney, said that those votes should not be counted when the voter's age is not specifically listed as the reason for voting absentee, even though the voter's birth date is clearly on the application.

Zralek claimed that those missing items were necessary in order to process applications for absentee voting, according to the law governing absentee ballots. Zralek contended that the strict rules of absentee voting should be followed, saying, \"The violations of the statute affect the freedom and purity of the ballot. Either the law is strictly complied or it's not.\"

Defense attorneys argued that Sells' complaint over the election alleges no fraud or purposeful wrongdoing on the part of administrators or voters in that election.

Judge Cantrell sided with the defense saying there was no proof of any fraud, no allegations of any fraud and no proof of conspiracy. The judge said he didn't believe that the statute requires applications for absentee ballots to list Social Security numbers.

Sells has 30 days to appeal Judge Cantrell's decision.

John M. Roberts of Livingston has been serving as an appointed interim judge, pending the outcome of this case.

Bain Named DCHS Homecoming Queen

September 30, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The 2006 Homecoming Queen at DeKalb County High School is Jessica Bain.

Bain is the 17 year old daughter of Larry and Teresa Johnson and Harold and Debbie Bain of Smithville.

Bain has been a DCHS football cheerleader for four years serving as co-captain her senior year. She was an All-American cheerleader nominee for three years. Bain was also a member of the Lady Tiger basketball team her freshman year.

Bain is a member of FBLA, the Literature Club, French Club, Science Club, and she is the treasurer of the HOSA Club. She has received the TSSAA academic achievement award for three years and was named \"Most Improved Cheerleader\" her freshman year. The football team voted her \"cutest' her freshman year and \"Most Compatible\" her junior year at the football banquet. She was voted \"Most Popular\" by her senior class.

Bain attends the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The Senior Attendant is Martha Ilean Robertson, the 17 year old daughter of Bill and Joyce Robertson of Smithville and the late Judy Robertson.

Robertson has been a DCHS football cheerleader for four years serving as captain her senior year. She has been an NCA All-American cheerleader nominee for four years and was named to the NCA All-American cheering team her Junior and Senior year. She was chosen by her squad as \"Most Spirited Cheerleader\" her junior year. This year, her squad won the Top Team trophy at NCA camp.

Robertson is a member of FBLA, the Literature Club, French Club, FCA, and Science Club. She is an active member of the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church and their youth group.

She was chosen by the faculty as a Top 20 Senior and she received the TSSAA academic achievement award for three years.

Robertson is the youngest of eleven children.

The Junior Attendant is Geri Anna Wilson, the 16 year old daughter of Don and Vicki Wilson of Dowelltown. She is the older sister of Bruce Wilson, also of Dowelltown.

Wilson has been a football cheerleader for three years. She was nominated for homecoming attendant her freshman and junior years and was an NCA All-American cheerleader nominee her sophomore year. She has received the TSSAA academic achievement award for two years and was voted \"Most likely to succeed\" by the football team her sophomore year.

She is a member of FCA, FBLA, French Club, the Literature Club, Science Club, BETA Club, and Student Council. She attends the Smithville First United Methodist Church and is a member of the Smithville Church of God youth group.

Jessie Young Strickland is the Sophomore Attendant.

She is the 15 year old daughter of Jerry Strickland, Jr. of Alexandria and the late Melissa Strickland. She has an older sister, Kristen Strickland. She is a member of the FCCLA, Science Club, and the Literature Club. She enjoys playing softball, volleyball, and tennis. She attends the West Main Street Baptist Church in Alexandria.

Brittany Leeann Brown is the Freshman Attendant.

She is the 14 year old daughter of Glenn and Teresa Brown of Alexandria. She is a member of the DCHS football cheerleading squad. She was nominated for the NCA All-American cheerleading team this year.

Homecoming activities will be held at DCHS all week. The annual Homecoming Day Parade will be Friday, October 6th.

The parade will leave DCHS at 12:20 p.m. and arrive at Smithville Elementary School by 12:40 p.m. The parade will then move to Northside Elementary School by 1:00 p.m. and then make it's way to the public square by 1:30 p.m., led by the high school band.

The Tigers will host the Upperman Bees Friday night in the Homecoming Game at 7:30 p.m.

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching For November Elections

September 30, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

If you want to become a registered voter in time for the November 7th Tennessee General Election, you have one more week to do so.

The deadline for voter registration in person is October 6th. If by mail, it must be postmarked by October 8th.

Early Voting will be October 18th through November 2nd.

The election will be held for the purpose of choosing a Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, State Senator, and State Representative..

The candidates for Governor are Democratic Incumbent Governor Phil Bredesen versus Republican challenger Jim Bryson. Independent candidates are David Gatchell, Maurivauna Stout Leinoff, Charles E. Smith, Howard M. Switzer, and Carl \"Twofeathers\" Whitaker.

Candidates for the United States Senate are Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford, Jr., Independent candidates are Emory \"Bo\" Heyward, Gary Keplinger, and Christopher Joseph Lugo.

Candidates for State Senator of the 17th District are Republican Incumbent Mae Beavers and Democratic challenger Bob Rochelle.

Candidates for U.S. Representative of the 6th Congressional District are Democratic Incumbent Bart Gordon and Republican challenger David R. Davis. Independent candidates are Robert L. Garrison and Norman R. Saliba.

Candidates for State Representative of the 40th District are Democratic incumbent Frank Buck versus Republican Terri Lynn Weaver and Independent Carl Jones.

DCFD Firefighters Complete Live Firefighting Weekend

October 1, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

During the weekend September 22-24, seven DeKalb County firefighters completed the Live Firefighting Course at the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The 22 hour course applies hands-on skills firefighters learned in the Basic Firefighting course.

Assistant Chief and Training Program Coordinator Roy Merriman says that Travis Johnson, Bobby Koger, Andy Pack, Jason Rice, Jonathan Scurlock, C.J. Tramel, and Calvin Tramel successfully completed the weekend training that involved rigorous hands-on drills that tested the firefighter?s skills. ?Our department is extremely proud of these men?s commitment to develop and improve their firefighting skills. Because of this commitment, our department is better prepared to handle the various emergency situations that we are faced with,? says Asst. Chief Merriman.

Chief Donny Green also commends these seven dedicated firefighters. ?In the end, it means that we are providing a higher level of service to the citizens we protect. It also means that we are doing everything we can to make sure our firefighters are trained to the fullest extent to allow them to do their jobs safely. Our goal is that everyone goes home at the end of the day. Training is a great place to start to make sure this happens,? added Chief Green.

DeKalb County Fire Department currently has 68 volunteer firefighters and officers that are 100% volunteer. The department works out of 10 stations that are strategically located throughout DeKalb County.

Estes Judged Top Field Commander in Medium Class at Lebanon Band Contest.

October 2, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Fighting Tiger band traveled to Lebanon on Saturday to compete in the 21st Annual Blue Devil Invitational.

The band took the field at 3:30 p.m. and performed a great show. After the last band had performed, the senior band students, guard captains, and field commander took the field for the award ceremony.

The band received an excellent rating. The DeKalb County group placed 4th in a very competitive medium class. Out of 22 bands at the competition, the Fighting Tiger Band ranked 7th. They scored higher than all small and large class bands. \"The scores were very close. We were hurt by little things. Little things that can and will be fixed before next weekend\", said director Chuck Gilbert.

The best news of the day was the announcement of Dustin Estes as the top field commander in the medium class. Later, when the scores were reviewed, it was announced that Dustin had received the highest score overall at the contest with a 95 out of 100.

This Saturday, the band travels to Vanderbilt University to compete. Anyone wishing to travel with the band and would like more information can call the band office at 597-7213 or check the band's website at www.dekalbband.com.

Sheriff's Department Makes More Burglary Arrests

October 2, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged a father and son in connection with a recent burglary at a residence in Liberty.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 46 year old Ricky Allen Ashford, Sr. of 120 Lavergne Street, Alexandria, and his son, 27 year old Ricky Allen Ashford II of 131 East Main Street, Liberty have each been charged with aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000.

Sheriff Ray says the burglary occurred a couple of weeks ago and some long guns, ginseng, and other items were stolen from the residence.

The Ashford's are each under a $40,000 bond and will appear in General Sessions Court on October 26th.

Meanwhile in a separate investigation, the Sheriff's Department has taken juvenile petitions against three juveniles charging them with vandalism over $500 and theft under $500.

Sheriff Ray says two 16 year old's, one from Liberty and the other of King Ridge Road, Smithville, and a 17 year old Brush Creek youth allegedly went to a home in Liberty on September 22nd and vandalized two vehicles parked there by taking a key and scratching down the sides and beating them with a metal bar. They also allegedly squirted milk, ketchup, mayonnaise, and bathing lotion inside the vehicles and in the cd players of the radios. Several cd's were also stolen from the vehicles.

Four Smithville Firefighters Graduate From Academy

October 4, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Four members of the Smithville Fire Department recently graduated from the Tennessee Fire Service Academy in Bell Buckle.

Gary Johnson, Stephanie Brown, Randall Hunt, and Kevin Adcock, completed the three day \"Live Burn\" weekend learning the techniques of extinguishing Liquid Propane, Natural Gas, and other fuel enriched fires. They also practiced basic survival skills including search and rescue of victims from burning buildings in zero visibility.

With the recent graduates, the Smithville Fire Department has had 90% of it's members complete Fire School and 80% obtain State Licensure as either a Paramedic, EMT, or First Responder. For more information on the Smithville Fire Department you can visit their website at www. smithvillefire.com.

Two Injured In Liberty Accident

October 4, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two people were injured in a traffic accident around 9:00 p.m. Tuesday night on old Highway 96 at Liberty.

Trooper Shannon Brinkley of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Flint W. Gilley II of 1745 Bethel Road, Smithville was traveling south on Highway 96 in a 1994 Saturn when his vehicle impacted an oncoming 1998 Ford Escort driven by Jeffery M. Stone of 576 Prater Road, Smithville in the northbound lane.

Trooper Brinkley says after the collision, Stone's car came to rest in the northbound lane and Gilley's vehicle veered across the northbound lane and struck a guardrail.

Stone was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. Gilley, who was cited for driving left of center, suffered a slight ankle injury but refused treatment.

Governor Announces Disaster Relief For DeKalb County

October 4, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen today announced the state is providing $3.6 million in disaster assistance funding to many Tennessee communities that suffered damages due to thunderstorms, flooding, and high winds and tornadoes in 2003. Under the plan, the state will provide retroactive matching funds to eligible agencies and local governments in 70 counties that were declared federal disaster areas in 2003. These payments will restore a portion ? 6.25 percent ? of the total eligible damages in these counties that were not provided when the previous administration suspended state payments for disasters during a period of budget crisis.

?Responding to a disaster can impose immense financial costs on a community if they are forced to shoulder that burden alone,? said Bredesen. ?It is only proper Tennessee continue to place a priority on assisting those communities and the public agencies that have been hardest hit during a disaster. Now that we have regained control of our state?s budget and restored fiscal discipline, it?s time to restore these funds to the communities that need them.?

DeKalb County will receive $17,167.66 for damages that occurred during the disaster which was declared on May 8, 2003. This figure is the combined total from among the eligible parties in this community.

Governor Bredesen has already restored the state?s policy of paying half of the 25 percent of local matching funds required to receive federal public assistance disaster funding for future emergencies. That announcement was made following the deadly tornadoes in April of this year.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency will provide budget oversight for issuance of the funds.

The federal public assistance program provides funding for debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings, public utilities and public recreational facilities.

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