Local News Articles

Aldermen to Act Soon on Re-Appointment of City Judge

August 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Hilton Conger

The term of Smithville Municipal Judge Hilton Conger ends this week and while Conger will most likely be re-appointed to a new two year term, the aldermen have not yet addressed the issue.

Conger's current two year term expires August 31st.

His salary as City Judge is $1,000 per month.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen are scheduled to meet in special session Monday night at 5:00 p.m. at city hall, but only for the purpose of a public hearing and second reading action on an ordinance requiring absentee only voting for city property rights voters in the city liquor referendum in November. The next regular meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen is Monday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall. There will be no meeting on Labor Day, September 3.

The Municipal Court, up until 2002, had the same jurisdiction in city criminal cases as the General Sessions Court, and the City Judge held court several times each month with the City Attorney serving as Prosecutor.

After changes were made in the City Charter, the City Court's jurisdiction was reduced to mostly minor traffic offenses and city ordinance violations. The court now convenes usually once per month.

The City Judge, previously elected by city voters to an eight year term, now serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, appointed to a two year term.

Conger was last elected as City Judge in 1998. He was named to his first appointed term in 2006 and re-appointed in 2008 and 2010.

The changes in the City Charter, regarding the City Court, came following a State Attorney General's opinion in the fall of 2001 that only the District Attorney General and his staff had the responsibility of prosecuting state criminal action in municipal courts.

Coffee County Escapee Captured in DeKalb County After Pursuit by Law Enforcement Officers

August 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Andrew Cope

An escapee from the Coffee County jail was captured Saturday afternoon in DeKalb County after crashing the stolen car he was driving on Bright Hill Road following a pursuit by law enforcement officers.

31 year old Mark Andrew Cope, who walked away from a work detail in Manchester on Thursday, was spotted in Warren County Saturday. He was driving a green 2003 Chevy Cavalier.

Warren County officers were in pursuit of the car on Highway 56 when the chase crossed into DeKalb County. Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department also joined in the effort to get the vehicle stopped.

Trooper Jennings told WJLE Saturday that Cope led authorities from Highway 56 onto South College Street in Smithville where an officer had blocked the road. Cope then turned east onto Dearman Street from South College Street, crossed South Congress Boulevard (Highway 56) from Dearman, and then continued east on Dearman Street. From Dearman, Cope got onto Bright Hill Road and subsequently wrecked, going off the road and hitting an embankment before stopping. Cope jumped out of the car but officers quickly converged before he had a chance to flee.

Cope was placed under arrest and turned over to Warren County authorities. No one was injured.

Tigers Maul Bulldogs 65-0

August 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Tigers Maul Bulldogs 65-0

The DeKalb County Tigers cruised to a 65 to 0 road win at Clay County Friday night to go 2-0 on the young football season.

DC got on the board with 8:38 left in the first quarter on a ten yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lucas Phillips to Cody Puckett. The P.A.T. by Ben Driver was good and the Tigers led 7-0


In the second period, Lance Ball caught a four yard touchdown pass from quarterback Phillips with ten minutes left to put the Tigers up 13-0. The P.A.T. try by Ben Driver was no good.

With 6:38 left in the half, Chris Chapman scored on a four yard run. Driver's P.A.T. was good and the Tigers led 20-0.

The Tigers got a safety with 4:36 left in the second period as the Clay County quarterback fumbled near the goal line and the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone. The score was 22-0.

On the ensuing free kick, Will Molander raced 62 yards for a touchdown. The P.A.T. by Driver was good and DC built the lead to 29-0.

Sonni Fullilove added another touchdown for the Tigers on a 22 yard pass play from quarterback Phillips with thirty five seconds until halftime to give the Black and Gold a commanding 36 to 0 lead.

In the third quarter, Sonni Fullilove scored on a 14 yard pass play from quarterback Phillips with 5:55 left and the Tigers moved out front 43 to 0 after the Ben Driver P.A.T.

With 11:47 left in the fourth period, Devonta Milan scored on a 67 yard touchdown run. Driver's P.A.T. was good and DeKalb County led 50 to 0.

Milan scored again later on a nine yard run. Driver picked up the ball on a bad snap on the P.A.T. try and raced for the endzone, scoring on the two point conversion to put the Tigers up 58-0.

The last score of the night came on a 40 yard touchdown run by A.J. Mooneyham. The P.A.T. by Driver was good and for the second week in a row, DeKalb County has held it's opponent scoreless, this time winning 65-0.

Next Friday night the Tigers open the district schedule at Cannon County.. WJLE will have LIVE coverage from Woodbury at 7:00 p.m.

Pealer And Her Mother Reinstated at UCDD, Federal Lawsuit Settled

August 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Ashley Pealer

The Upper Cumberland Development District has reinstated two employees who were recently let go from their jobs and has reached a settlement agreement with one of them in her federal lawsuit against the agency

Ashley Pealer and her mother Kathy reportedly returned to work earlier this week.

Ashley Pealer filed the lawsuit against the UCDD; the man who fired her, Randy Williams, who was UCDD's interim executive director at the time; and Mike Gannon, chairman of the UCDD board. Pealer claimed her personal cell phone messages and Facebook account were hacked, a violation of her Constitutional rights.

Pealer was represented by W. Gary Blackburn of Nashville.

Allegations involved violations of the Stored Communications Act and the Wiretap Act, allegedly committed by Williams and Gannon.

Pealer claimed that after she was fired, her cell phone, issued to her by UCDD, was taken from her; that some three hundred pages of her private text messages, which were stored through Verizon, were accessed by the defendants, printed and published to various persons. Pealer alleged that at least one of the defendants used her private password to invade and access her Facebook account as well. The Defendants also allegedly intercepted a private email communication to Pealer's Facebook account, according to the lawsuit.

Pealer claimed the purpose and intent of this behavior was to embarrass and intimidate her in retaliation for her refusal to participate in or remain silent about the illegal behavior of former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins, and to determine the extent to which she (Pealer) was involved in disclosing illegal conduct to the news media.

Board members seeking reinstatement of Pealer and her mother finally received the necessary votes to forward that recommendation on to UCDD's new executive director Mark Farley.

DeKalb Unemployment Rate Climbs to 8.7% in July

August 24, 2012
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Unemployment Rate for July was 8.7%, up from 8.3% in June but still below the 9.3% rate in July, 2011

The local labor force for July was at 9,710. A total of 8,860 were employed and 840 were without work

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for July was fifth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region. Here's how they rank highest to lowest

Pickett County- 13.8%
Van Buren-12.6%
White- 12.5%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for July 2012, released today, show the rate decreased in 20 counties, increased in 59, and stayed the same in 16.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for July increased to 8.4 percent, up from the June revised rate of 8.1 percent. The national unemployment rate for July 2012 was 8.3 percent, 0.1 percentage point higher than the June rate.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Davidson County was 7.4 percent, up from 7.3 percent in June. Hamilton County was 8.4 percent, up from 8.3 percent, and Shelby County was 9.7 percent, unchanged from the June rate.

Work Searches Now Required to Receive Tennessee Unemployment

August 23, 2012

Beginning September 1, 2012, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development will begin implementation of the Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012 requiring all unemployment claimants in Tennessee to demonstrate valid work search activity and maintain a work search log. Failure to comply with the new law will result in a loss of benefits.

Notices will be mailed next week to all claimants receiving Tennessee Unemployment Compensation informing them of the new requirements to continue receiving benefits. Those receiving federal extended unemployment benefits are already required to document work search activity.

“The Accountability Act is aptly named as it raises the bar of accountability for those receiving unemployment benefits,” said Labor Commissioner Karla Davis. “Documenting three work searches each week will require a small effort, but the consequences of not doing them are very serious.”

Labor and Workforce Development will conduct random audits of 1,000 claimants’ work search documentation each week to verify work search activity. If work search claims are found to be fraudulent, the department will stop a claimant’s benefits immediately and can suspend payments for eight weeks.

Claimants are required to conduct three work searches each week. A valid work search activity is considered any of the following:

Registering at www.jobs4tn.gov and applying for jobs online

Completing a job application in person or online

Mailing a job application and/or resume, as instructed in a public notice

Making in-person visits with employers who may have job openings

Sending job applications to employers

Interviewing with potential employers in person or by telephone

Registering for work with private employment agencies, placement services or hiring unions

Using the employment resources available at Tennessee Career Centers that may lead directly to a job
Attending job search seminars, career networking meetings, job fairs or employment-related workshops that offer instruction in improving individual skills for obtaining employment

Claimants who don’t receive guidance and work search logs in the mail can find information both on the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Internet site at www.tn.gov/labor-wfd or at the nearest Tennessee Career Center. For Career Center locations visit http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/cc/cccounty.shtml.

Tennessee’s 2012 Free Hunting Day is Saturday, Squirrel Season Opens

August 23, 2012

All Tennesseans are reminded that Saturday, Aug. 25 is Free Hunting Day in Tennessee when state residents may hunt without a license. The annual event coincides with the opening day of squirrel season.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of Tennessee’s oldest and favorite traditions. The day serves as an excellent opportunity for persons to experience the enjoyment of the sport. Regular hunters are encouraged to introduce friends and family members (young and old) to the outdoors sport. It is also an excellent opportunity for those folks who have not tried hunting for some time.

On Free Hunting Day, state resident hunters are exempt from hunting licenses and WMA permits requirements. Many of the WMAs are open to hunters seeking public access on Aug. 25. Hunters are asked to check the information for particular WMAs in the newly-published 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide which is available online at www.tnwildlife.org or copies are available at any TWRA regional office or at most outlets where licenses are sold.

Hunter education requirements have not been waived for Free Hunting Day. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to have successfully completed a hunter education course. A one-time, one-year apprentice license is required for those born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 if the hunter education course has not been completed.

Hunters are allowed to harvest up to 10 squirrels a day from the opening day of squirrel season through Feb. 28, with each hunting day beginning a half-hour before sunrise and ending a half-hour after sunset.

In addition to squirrels, those species that have a year-round season will be open as well. The year-round species include armadillo, beaver, coyote, groundhog, and striped skunk.

For more information about hunting in Tennessee, visit TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org or contact your nearest TWRA Regional Office.

DeKalb Man Charged Under New State 911 Call Law

August 22, 2012

A DeKalb County man, arrested in a Cookeville domestic assault case, has also been charged there under a new state law, which makes it a crime to prevent someone from calling 911 for help

36 year old Alan Matthew Mooney of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown, is charged
with domestic assault and with "interference with an emergency call" in the case, according to a report in the Herald-Citizen of Cookeville.

The charges stem from an August 11 incident at the Cookeville, residence of Mooney's estranged wife.

According to a report by Cookeville Police Officer Adrienne Lintz, Mooney allegedly went to his wife's home to pick up their two children and became embroiled in an argument with her after demanding to see her phone

"She said he had her in a bear hug from behind and pulled the phone from her hands as she was attempting to call 911."

Mooney then allegedly took the phone, one child, and the woman's keys and left the area in her vehicle. Baxter Police later picked him up at Love's Truck Stop in that town, Officer Lintz's report says.

Officer Lintz took the woman to the location to retrieve her child and her car and then transported Mooney to the Putnam County jail, charging him with domestic assault and interfering with an emergency call.

His bond was set at $1,500, and he has a Sept. 10 court date.

The new state law went into effect July 1, making it a criminal offense to prevent someone from making a 911 call or from seeking help in an emergency.

The new law says, "An individual commits an offense if the individual intentionally renders unusable a telephone that would otherwise be used by another individual to place a telephone call to 911 or to request assistance in an emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity, the primary purpose of which is to
provide for the safety of individuals

Federal Mogul to Maintain Strong Workforce in Smithville, Despite Relocation of Some Jobs

August 21, 2012
Dwayne Page

Some sixty to seventy jobs created at Federal Mogul in Smithville within the last year due to flooding in Thailand will soon be returning to Asia, according to Jim Burke, director of corporate communications for Federal Mogul.

Those jobs, along with the loss of 120-125 others being re-located to Mexico will have an impact on the workforce here, still Federal Mogul intends to keep approximately 700 jobs with no plans of pulling up stakes in Smithville. "We did notify our employees that we will be moving some of our work to other facilities, but relative to the entire workforce in Smithville, its only a small amount," said Burke.

According to Burke, the creation of those jobs here from Thailand was never intended to be permanent. " Due to the flooding in Thailand, we moved some of that work to Smithville for a period of time. That move was never expected to be permanent. We do a lot of work for customers in Asia so it makes more sense to move those jobs back to Asia, which is where they came from in the first place about a year ago," said Burke.

As for the relocation of jobs to Mexico, Burke said those will be moved for "logistical reasons"

Funny Musical "Forever Plaid" to be Presented Labor Day Weekend in Smithville

August 21, 2012
Funny Musical  "Forever Plaid"  to be Presented Labor Day Weekend in Smithville

Towne Centre Professional Productions Presents "Forever Plaid" by Stuart Ross August 31 through September 3 at the DeKalb County Complex Auditorium on South Congress Boulevard.

Enjoy a special Labor Day weekend performance of this wonderful and heart-warmingly funny musical.

Show Times:
Friday, August 31, 7:30 pm
Saturday, September 1, 7:30 pm
Sunday, September 2, 2:00 pm
Monday, September 3, 7:00 pm

Forever Plaid synopsis
The setting is simple: four microphones, a piano and the bass. From the back of the house we hear heavenly voices chanting. Four men carrying candles and dressed in white dinner jackets walk through the audience, singing, "Deus Ex Plaid." Francis, the leader and most confident member of the group, leads them through the audience, "Holy Canoli! We're finally back on earth." For, once upon the time, on February 9th 1964, this semi professional harmony group was on their way to their first big gig at the airport Hilton cocktail bar, Fusill-Lounge. While driving in their cherry-red 1954 Mercury convertible, they were rehearsing their finale, "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing." They were just getting to their favorite E flat diminished seventh chord when they were slammed broadside by a school bus filled with eager Catholic teens from out of Harrisburg. The teens were on their way to witness the Beatles make their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan show, and miraculously escaped uninjured. The harmony group, however, was killed instantly.

While they're still technically dead, they have their voices, and bodies, and dinner jackets. They talk to the audience trying to figure out what year it is. 2012! To fight the tension caused by 40-plus years in limbo, they decide to sing. "And now, for the first time on this or any other planet. Forever Plaid!" Though they never got to do the show when they were alive, the stars have conspired with the expanding holes in the ozone layer to do the show now. Singing in the closest of harmony, squabbling boyishly over the smallest intonations and executing their charmingly outlandish choreography with over-zealous precision, the "Plaids" are a guaranteed smash, with a program of beloved songs and delightful patter that keeps audiences rolling in the aisles when they're not humming along to some of the great nostalgic pop hits of the 1950's.

For tickets, call Towne Centre Theatre at 615-221-1174 or online at www.townecentretheatre.com

Brentwood Arts Society was established in 2004 with the purpose of promoting the Arts in Middle Tennessee, providing opportunities for local artists and performers to display their talents and to provide programs in the arts for young people. The first program was to provide financial and other support to Towne Centre Theatre at 136 Frierson Street in Brentwood, Tennessee. Since 2006, TCT has provided local artists with gallery space to exhibit their work to the public and underwrote the production of six plays a year in the theater. Next year, TCT is expanding to 7 shows a year, providing even more opportunies for local actors, artists and theater-goers.

TCT was built in 1885 and served as Williamson County School, a one room, wood frame schoolhouse. In 1905, the building was purchased by the Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church and, with several alterations and additions, was a church for 100 years until 2005. That year the building was purchased by Investors Towne Center Partners I, LP and converted into a small community theater with a gallery room for art exhibits, and lease to the Brentwood Arts Society. The Society has a desire to preserve history, promote the arts and improve the culture of our communities.

The Society's future plans for the Brentwood area include a larger facility with two auditoriums, ample visual arts exhibition space, classrooms and meeting rooms. Professional theater, art classes, camps and events of various types would find a home at this facility.

Brentwood Arts Society, in association with Towne Centre Productions, plans to present a series of events in Smithville, Tennessee in the Dekalb County Community Center Theater. The first event, a musical play called "Forever Plaid" will run this Labor Day Weekend. Other events through the winter are on the drawing board and, pending good community support, will be produced on weekends just before Halloween and Valentines Day, and for three weeks after Thanksgiving Day. There will be roles available for local actors, especially children, in the Christmas production set for the three weeks after Thanksgiving. This is professional theater and an excellent opportunity for local residents to experience live theater close to home. Other future productions in Smithville, and at nearby Lakeside Resort, are being considered.


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