Local News Articles

Another Home Healthcare Worker In Trouble with the Law

March 26, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Another home healthcare worker is in trouble with the law.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 36 year old Tammi Kelsor of Miller Road, Smithville was charged Saturday with theft of property under $500 after she allegedly stole a bottle of prescription pills from a lady in her care on the Old West Point Road.

Sheriff Ray says Kelsor allegedly took the woman's prescription for a muscle relaxer to the Family Medical Center Pharmacy where she had it filled. She then kept the medication and even ingested some of the pills.

Her bond is set at $1,000 and she will be in court on the charge April 5th.

Meanwhile on Friday, 44 year old Bobbie Andrews of Jackson Street, Smithville was arrested and charged with driving under the influence while 35 year old Rhonda Lucci of Cookeville Highway was charged with driving under the influence by allowance (allowing someone to drive her truck knowing the driver was intoxicated).

Sheriff Ray says a county deputy pulled over the truck on Highway 70 east after he saw it weaving along the road. Andrews was driving but the truck belongs to Lucci.

Bond for both women is $1,000 each and they will be in court on the charges April 19th

County Commission Renews Pledge To Cut Property Tax Rate If Voters Increase Sales Tax

March 26, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The county commission Monday night, following a public hearing, again went on record pledging to reduce the property tax rate by a minimum of nineteen and a half cents, if the people of DeKalb County will vote to increase the local option sales tax from 1.5% to the maximum of 2.75% in a public referendum set for May 17th.

Last September, the commission raised the property tax rate by 39 cents to $1.90 per $100 of assessed value, after a public referendum to increase the sales tax rate failed at the polls in August. A reduction of nineteen and a half cents would roll the property tax rate back to a little over $1.70 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The commission, in February, authorized a second public referendum on the proposed sales tax hike and voted unanimously to go on record pledging to cut the property tax rate by nineteen and a half cents, if the referendum is approved. Monday night's vote by the commission was a renewal of that committment.

All county commissioners present for the meeting voted to make that pledge including Elmer Ellis, Jr., Mason Carter, Jack Barton, Bobby Joines, Jerry Scott, Randy Caplinger, Wayne Cantrell, Jeff Barrett, John Green, Jeff Barnes, Marshall Ferrell, Larry Summers, and Willie Thomas. Chris Smithson was absent.

The DeKalb County Election Commission has set the date of the election for Thursday, May 17th.

This will be a county wide election. Early voting will begin Friday, April 27th and end Saturday, May 12th.

On election day, May 17th, the polling places will open at 8 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

The wording on the ballot will read:

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

County Mayor Mike Foster says under the proposal, a greater number of people, particularly tourists, would shoulder the tax burden while giving property owners a tax break. \"If tourists spend their money here, and we increase the sales tax, it would benefit us tremendously, and you let those people and those who work here but are not residents of DeKalb County pay their share. We would have to pay the sales tax too but if you look at the average homeowner and they get a $100 tax break, they would have to spend an extra $10,000 on something that pays sales tax to get back to being where they are now. We feel like the property owners are paying their share, and to give them a tax cut, we think is fair.\"

Foster says overall the plan is actually more of a tax swap than a tax increase, with the proposed extra sales tax revenue to offset the proposed cut in the property tax rate, but it would provide sufficient funding to meet county needs for four to five years without any additional tax increases. \"We're estimating around $700,000 to $750,000 in new sales tax revenue under the proposal. We were estimating about $260,000 from Wal-Mart, but we are also realistic in that we know other businesses are going to lose some revenue, and that's the unknown. I've talked to some business people, whose revenue is off considerably. So if we estimate that Wal-Mart will generate $260,000, there will probably be somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000 lost in other businesses, so we've taken that into consideration. But we still feel like that it will conservatively bring in about $700,000.\"

Foster added that the proposed new revenue would not be enough to absorb the entire 39 cent property tax increase adopted last September

Only two people spoke during the public hearing.

George Davis said he favors the sales tax hike as a means of giving property owners some tax relief, but Joe Collins strongly voiced his opposition to both the proposed sales tax increase as well as the 39 cent property tax hike. Collins blamed Foster for supporting a 36 cent tax increase during his first term in 2003 and the 39 cent tax hike last year, after he was re-elected. Collins said the tax increase was not needed.

Foster says despite the tax increases, DeKalb County is still among the lowest taxed counties in the state. \"There are no free lunches. It's got to come from somewhere. Fentress, Macon, Overton, and Smith Counties which are of similar size to DeKalb County, are getting an average of over $1.2 million more in sales tax revenue than DeKalb County and their property tax rates are considerably higher than ours and several of them have wheel taxes. We have no wheel tax. I am proud of the job the county commission does in managing things. Is it a perfect world? No. Is there some waste? Absolutely. Where can you cut it (budget)? Cut positions. We've got the same number of positions we had eight years ago. We've added zero positions. In fact we've cut two positions this year. I don't know how we stop inflation nor how we deal with anything except reality and that's what these people(county commissioners) have tried to do.\"

Smithville Fire Fighters Respond To Early Morning Alarm at Walker Manufacturing

April 3, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire alarm after 3:00 a.m. today (Tuesday) at Walker Manufacturing on East Broad Street.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker says the blaze started in the industry's air filtering system. \"The system that filters the air out got some sparks or something in it which caused the fire. There's about sixty filters in that particular unit and that's where the fire was located just outside the building.\"

\"Smoke from the fire was forced inside through the vents and duct system. We did have to evacuate the building because there was a lot of smoke in there for a little while. We got everybody out and no one was hurt. We got all the burning filters pulled out and wet down to extinguish the fire and pressure fans inside the building were turned on to clear the smoke.\"

DeKalb Emergency Management District Approved For Homeland Security Grant

March 29, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Emergency Management District has been approved for a Homeland Security Grant for 911 Mapping Software.

Brad Mullinax, DeKalb County ECD Director, says \"The software will allow us to update and correct map errors on a more frequent basis, assist with the county Reverse 911 system, and assist with many regional projects in the Upper Cumberland Region.\"

Mullinax says \"Our agency will be able to provide emergency responders with more accurate map of emergency incidents. The grant is 100% funded by the Department of Homeland Security with no local match funds.\"

In a letter to Mullinax, Corey Gruber, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Grants and Training for Homeland Security, writes, \" I am pleased to inform you that your application submitted under the fiscal year 2006 Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program has been approved. Through CEDAP, your agency will receive the ArcGIS Geographic Information System Software Package.\"

\"CEDAP provides emergency response agencies with the equipment and technology they need to fulfill their homeland security mission. It is an important component of a larger, coordinated effort to strengthen our Nation's overall preparedness baseline. CEDAP's primary focus is to enhance regional response capabilities, mutual aid, and interoperable communications in jurisdictions ineligible to receive assistance under the DHS Urban Areas Security Initiative.\"

Bass and Foutch Receive Allen D. Hooper Memorial MVP Basketball Awards

March 30, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeAndre Bass and Kelsey Foutch received the Allen D. Hooper Memorial Most Valuable Player Awards during the annual DeKalb County High School Basketball banquet held Thursday night at Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The MVP trophies were presented by Chad Kirby of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The awards are named in memory of Kirby's grandfather.

Kirby also presented the Allen D. Hooper Memorial Most Valuable Cheerleader Award to Amber Evans.

Tiger Coach Lynus Martin presented the individual awards to members of his team. This year's winners are:

Best 6th Man- Hunter Stewart
Most Improved Player- J.J. Herriott
Best Practice Player- Zach Rowland
Smartest Player- John Malone
Hustle Award, Best Athlete, Best Passer, and Best Ball Handler- Travis Woodward
Best Offensive Player, Best Defender, Best Rebounder, Tiger Charge Award, and MVP- DeAndre Bass.
Best Attitude- Thomas Hale
Best Free Throw Shooter- Keith Johnson

The individual Lady Tiger Awards were presented by Coach Amy Tobitt. This year's winners are:

Best Practice Player and Best Attitude- Victoria Bennett
Best Defender- Kayla Fish
Best Rebounder- Crystal Street
Most Improved Player and Best 6th Man- Lauren Hansard
Hustle Award- Kelsey Foutch
Best Athlete and Best Offensive Player- Katie Herman
MVP-Kelsey Foutch

Cheerleader Coach Walteen Parker presented the individual cheerleading awards. This year's winners are:

Most Improved- Amanda Ours
Captain Award-Courtney Rhody
Tiger Spirit-Courtney Rhody
MVP- Amber Evans
Dance-Amber Evans
Jump- Lacey Parchman
Stunt: Spot- Lacey Parchman
Stunt:Base- Alison Curtis
Stunt:Flyer- Heather Luna

One year cheerleading awards went to Caroline Carter, Kendra Foutch, and Amanda Ours. Two year awards were presented to Rosemary Apple, Jessica Cook, Alison Curtis, Brittnee Linn, Heather Luna, and Mindy Mofield. Three year awards went to Amber Evans and Lacey Parchman, and a Four Year Award was presented to Courtney Rhody.

Smithville Police Department Sponsors Display To Help Prevent Drunk Driving

March 30, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Thomas Stufano says the residents and merchants of the City of Smithville are serious about the ill effects of Driving Under the Influence.

In a current campaign Smithville Police in cooperation with the Dekalb County School Board and the Tennessee Governor?s Highway Traffic Safety Office are promoting the ill effects of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) by placing an illustration vehicle involved in a serious accident in the Food Lion parking lot and at DeKalb County High School. This promotion also includes corporate sponsors including DeKalb Tire and Service, Bradley Printing Company, the Movie Gallery and Food Lion.

Chief Stufano says the campaign is to promote safe driving practices specifically DUI and aligns with the annual Dekalb High School graduation and prom festivities in April. Smithville Police have made over (74) DUI arrests in the last year within the city limits and have been awarded a government Traffic Enforcement Grant to cover overtime for extra patrols. He says \"The City leadership is committed to the program with the Police Department having recently appointed Officer Mac Judkins as the department?s Traffic Enforcement Officer.\"

In the current ?Booze It & Lose It? program administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Tennessee Governor?s Highway Safety Office, flyers are being distributed advising that:

?A first-time DUI conviction will take your license away for an entire year.In addition, a first-time DUI conviction will put you in the county jail or workhouse for at least 48 hours.

?The average American has a 30% chance of being killed or injured by a drunk driver in his or her lifetime.

?Someone dies from an alcohol-related crash every 33 minutes and someone is injured every two minutes.

?A DUI driver on the average drives their vehicle 80 times a year DUI

Chief Stufano says \"Smithville Police are grateful to the residents and merchants of Smithville for their active participation in calling in suspicious activity and drunk driving. It is everyone?s business to help identify those that are senselessly hurting our love ones when they elect to drink and drive.\"

Hendrixson and Stanley Crowned Little Miss & Mister

April 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Deering Grace Hendrixson and Triston Bailey Stanley were selected Little Miss and Mister DeKalb County Saturday night at the Spring Blossom Pageant.

Hendrixson, the five year old daughter of Tiffany Hill Hendrixson and Darbie Hendrixson, succeeds the retiring Little Miss, Elizabeth Grace Guinn, the five year old daughter of Kendra and Ricky Guinn.

Stanley, the five year old son of Kym Curtis and Steve Stanley, succeeds the retiring Little Mister, Elijah Thomas Hall, the five year old son of April and Joseph Hall.

First runner-up in the Little Miss pageant was Melanie Odom, the six year old daughter of Tatiana and Shayne Odom. Second runner-up was Abigail Hope Taylor, the six year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor. Third runner-up was Sarah Anne Colwell, the six year old daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell. Fourth runner-up was Madison Elaine Colwell, the six year old daughter of Gabriel and Heather Colwell.

Brittney Lynn Edwards was chosen Miss Manners. She is the four year old daughter of Ricky and Amanda Edwards..

First runner-up in the Little Mister pageant was Malachi Harrison Hall, the four year old son of Joseph and April Hall. He was also named Mister Manners.

Six Injured In Traffic Accidents

April 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Five people were involved in a two vehicle crash Saturday afternoon at the intersection of Highway 96 and U.S. 70 in Liberty.

Trooper Brian Raymond of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 52 year old Sandra Hudson of Lower Helton Road, Alexandria was in a 2003 Dodge Caravan attempting to turn west on U.S. 70 from Highway 96 when she crossed into the path of an eastbound 1996 Suzuki Rodeo SUV, driven by 21 year old Jessica Tittle of Mill Street, Dowelltown.

Trooper Raymond says Hudson was ejected from the vehicle upon impact. Her husband, who came upon the wreck, put her in the back of his pickup truck and rushed her to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Tittle and her two children, 4 year old Ethan Tittle and 2 year old Anthony Tittle, and her mother-in-law, 39 year old Betty Lott, were taken to the hospital by EMS where they were treated and released.

Trooper Raymond says Hudson was charged with failure to yield the right of way.

Others on the scene rendering assistance were members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb and Wilson County EMS.

Meanwhile, a 33 year old Cookeville man escaped serious injury in a traffic accident Friday afternoon on Highway 56 near Puckett's Point Road.

Trooper Raymond says Jeromy York of Salem Road, Cookeville was traveling north in a 1999 Sterling Dump truck pulling a skidder on a trailer.

Trooper Raymond says as York was rounding a curve, the load shifted and the chain, anchoring the skidder, broke causing it to roll off the trailer. The truck then went out of control and overturned coming to rest on it's side.

York received minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital by EMS.

Traffic was tied up for several hours with only one lane of travel open most of the time during the investigation and cleanup.

Members of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene rendering assistance.

Call from Concerned Citizen Leads to Two Arrests on Drug Charges

April 2, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police arrested two persons on drug charges Friday as the result of a call from a concerned citizen .

Chief Thomas Stufano says Smithville Police Investigators working an undercover operation responded to the Walmart parking lot after a citizen called reporting that numerous people were getting in and out of two vans bearing out of state plates. \"Upon arrival and contact with the occupants, officers detected a strong odor of marijuana emanating from inside one of the vans. Further investigation noted that the occupants had been smoking the substance and were intoxicated as a result. The subjects were arrested and additional drugs were found.\"

Stufano says \"Smithville Police were advised that the defendants were in the area selling magazines door to door. A check with the city clerk's office could not provide a valid occupational license for the sales.

Arrested were 23 year old Veronica Ferrer of 3730 South Delsea Drive in Vineland New Jersey and 22 year old Cedric Antoine Sims of 604 North Avon Street in Rockford, Illinois. Both listed their occupation as Sales Managers supervising a crew of approximately 6 people each working in this area.\"

The two were charged with Simple Possession of Drugs and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond each. The vans were also towed.

In another case, Smithville Officers working an enhanced DUI enforcement detail Sunday night, spotted 31 year old Cristobal Vazquez of 261 Park Drive, Rock Island driving his vehicle in a reckless manner and at a high rate of speed on Highway 56.

Chief Stufano says \"Upon stopping the vehicle, officers smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Vazquez' breath. Standardized sobriety tests confirmed that he was intoxicated. Also present at the scene was a substantial amount of a schedule III & IV narcotics along with some cash. Vazquez was arrested for DUI 2nd Offense and Possession of Schedule III & IV controlled substance for resale. He was transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $13,000 bond. Vazquez was also ticketed for Violation of the Open Container Law, Unregistered vehicle, No License and No Insurance. The Vazquez' vehicle was impounded pending forfeiture under the state's DUI & Drug Law. He admitted to the officers that he was an illegal alien from Mexico working at one of the local nurseries.\"

In other news, the Smithville Police Department is stepping up it's DUI enforcement as summer approaches. High Schools are getting ready to graduate and parties and proms have already been planned. In a planned effort by the Smithville Police and the Tennessee Traffic Safety Council, literature and visual effects are being used to convey a strong public safety message. Parents are encouraged to set workable parameters with their children during party seasons that involve driving a motor vehicle.

Some Prom and Graduation Celebration tips include:

? Make sure your teen has a plan for the evening and that you know the plan.
? If your teen is driving, check the brakes, fluids and tires before they use the vehicle.
? Tell your teen not to drink and drive and lead by example.
? Limit the number of passengers your teen is allowed to transport.
? Take stock of the alcohol in your home.
? If you're using a limousine service-allow no booze or drugs. Ask parents and passengers to sign a contract allowing the driver to phone the parents if alcohol or drugs are detected.
? Work with the school or a post-prom party host to have food, activities and a safe place for the teens to gather afterwards.
? Communicate with other parents and school officials.
? Insist that your teen and his/her passengers wear a seat belt and again lead by example.
? Parents remember to enforce the rules that you set.
? Teens remember to follow the plans you made with your parents.

Chief Stufano says \"the Smithville Police Department commends our merchants and residents for their strong support in keeping our roadways free from Drug and Alcohol abuse. Your reporting of suspicious activity is making a difference!\"

Sergeant Leffew Named Smithville Police Officer of the Month

April 10, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Sergeant Steven Leffew has been named Smithville Police Officer of the Month

The commendation, presented to Sergeant Leffew by Police Chief Tom Stufano, Mayor Taft Hendrixson, and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, states that \"On behalf of the City of Smithville Police Department I would like to commend you for your recent actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as Police Sergeant. Your determination and efforts for the months of March and beginning of April regarding the restructuring of the Police Evidence & Property room has streamlined our evidence procedures. Your tireless efforts in this endeavor coupled with your assigned patrol supervision duties has shown that you have exceeded this department's expectations in quality service to our citizens and your fellow employees.\"

\"Due to your professional training, the many hours of dedicated service on your own time and the professionalism displayed know that you are making a difference for the citizens of Smithville in our joint efforts to protect and serve our community. Your professionalism enabled the citizens of Smithville, your fellow co-workers and guests of our area to know that the Smithville Police Department is always striving for quality service and protection. You have served with distinction and are a credit to your professionalism as a Smithville Police Officer.\"

\"Additionally, your work ethic and tenacity during the month of March/April has shown your true commitment to the citizens we serve and your fellow officers.\"

\"I appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this Commendation becoming apart of your permanent personnel record for all to see.\"

\"Congratulations on a job well done!\"

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