Local News Articles

Smithville Police Make Arrest In Prescription Fraud Case

April 9, 2012
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police have arrested a local man in a prescription fraud case.

20 year old Chase Groshon of Evins Mill Road, Smithville is charged with passing a forged prescription at Rite Aid Pharmacy. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on April 12.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that Groshon allegedly passed a forged prescription for roxicodone 30 milligrams (150 pills) using the name of Nashville physician Dr. Gita Mishra. A total of $125.88 was paid for the prescription by Groshon and $61.98 by Tenn Care. The incident occurred in December.

Smithville Police became aware of the incident after Murfreesboro Police Detectives made an arrest of another man there on drug charges who implicated Groshon as the source of the narcotics. Police investigated Groshon and determined that he was not a patient of Dr. Mishra and that he had passed the forged prescription here.

23 year old Christine Moore is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger reports that early Saturday, March 24 just after midnight police went to a residence on South Mountain Street in response to a 911 hangup call. The officer arrived and found Moore, along with a man and a five year old child. It was determined that an altercation had taken place between Moore and the man. He said it started as a verbal argument earlier in the evening but later turned physical when she allegedly smacked the man in the face with her open hand and had allegedly hit both the man and the child with a belt.

27 year old Rhonda Goff and 31 year old Nicka Barrett were cited for shoplifting on Friday, March 23. They will be in court April 12. Chief Caplinger reports that a Walmart employee saw the women putting items from the store in a purse. After being stopped the women allegedly produced the stolen items from their purse.

Meanwhile, Chief Caplinger wishes to thank local businesses who donated food, cash, and prizes for the recent "Night out with the Police and Fire Department" get together with the public.

Special thanks to Florence & White Ford, El Rancho Mexican Restaurant, Tractor Supply, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts, Dollar General Store, Family Dollar, Gentleman's Barber, The Tannery, Bumper's Drive-In, Potter's Home Center, Tangles Salon and Spa, Wal-mart, DeKalb Community Bank, and Liberty State Bank.

Easter Egg Hunt Held Saturday at Greenbrook Park

April 7, 2012
Dwayne Page

The AmVets Post 101 Ladies Auxiliary hosted the 5th annual Easter Egg Hunt at Greenbrook Park on Saturday for children up to twelve years old.

The event also included an egg coloring contest, a coloring book contest, and refreshments.

Prizes were awarded in three age groups, one to four years old, five to eight years old, and nine to twelve years old.

The Easter Bunny also made an appearance during the Easter Egg Hunt

Two DeKalb County Men Charged in Sparta Armed Robbery

April 7, 2012
Dwayne Page

Two DeKalb County men were taken into custody in Warren County Wednesday morning after allegedly committing an armed robbery at the Sparta Discount Drug Store in White County.

34 year old Christopher Morris Stanley and 33 year old Ricky Allen Ashford, II were reportedly arrested separately after a foot chase off Shady Rest Road near the VFW in Warren County. They are being held in the White County Jail facing charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. They will also face charges in Warren County for trying to flee from authorities.

Stanley and Ashford allegedly robbed the pharmacy at gunpoint, demanding cash and drugs. The incident occurred after 9:00 a.m.

The Sparta Expositor reports that according to police, the store clerks described the suspects as dressed in dark colors with long sleeves, gloves and ski masks. They also said one suspect had a handgun, and the other had a device that appeared to be a taser. Before officers arrived, the suspects reportedly fled the scene in a black Chevrolet Impala heading north on Spring Street in Sparta. A description of the vehicle was reported to White County authorities and a BE ON THE LOOKOUT or BOLO was issued. The car was later spotted by a Warren County constable near Rock Island.

The Southern Standard reports that "officers converged on the area and a chase ensued onto Shady Rest Road, which runs nearly parallel with Sparta Highway just outside the McMinnville city limits."

The men abandoned the vehicle on foot into the woods between Shady Rest and Sparta Highway. One of the men was soon apprehended and the other man was captured after a tracking dog led officers to him. The men were found with cash, drugs, and a handgun.

City May Set Up Porta Potties For Swimming Pool Crowds This Summer

April 6, 2012
Dwayne Page

Should porta potties be set up to accommodate anticipated larger crowds at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool this summer?

The aldermen Monday night decided to check with the health department to find out if inspectors would approve porta potties, even if only on a temporary basis until the city decides if it wants to build a permanent restroom facility there.

Restrooms are already available at the golf course for swimmers but after an increase in pool activity last summer, Alderman Steve White said more restroom facilities are needed. The issue has been raised more than once in recent months but so far no action has been taken.

Alderman White, who presided over the meeting Monday night in Mayor Taft Hendrixson's absence due to an illness, brought up the subject again. 'We talked about this back in December, and here it is April and we're still not any further along than what we were then," said White

Alderman Danny Washer suggested that since pool season opens soon, the city should look into the possibility of setting up porta potties, at least for this year to gauge how much they are used and to perhaps look at a long-term fix for next year, if there is a need. "To see how its going to work out, why not get porta potties for this year, because its going to push us right now," said Washer. "Try porta potties that are handicapped accessible. They have them. They come with sinks in them. They maintain them and everything. Try that for this season and see how that works out and that will give us plenty of time to see what we need to do for next year," said Washer.

Alderman White objected to the porta potty idea, saying he thought it might pose a sanitary health concern and environmental risk to the pool, especially if vandals were to turn them over. "I would be definitely against the porta potties just because of the sanitary part of it, with it being a temporary thing, and the vandalism thing. I'm also pretty sure that the porta potties would not be approved by the health department either," said White.

Alderman Gayla Hendrix said porta potties might be the answer in the short term, especially during peak usage times at the pool, until a plan can be drawn up and proposed for permanent restroom facilities. She said the aldermen need to see a plan that includes costs estimates and where such a building would be erected on the grounds. "As he (Washer) was saying for this season, maybe try this especially during the busiest weekends. But we need to see a plan. We discussed maybe something like they have at the lake, concrete blocks with maybe two women and two mens (restrooms). Where are you going to put it? Are you going to put it in front of the pool? Are you going to put it behind the pool? We don't have a drawing. We don't know what we're looking at. We don't know how much money and pool season starts in six weeks," said Hendrix.

Alderman White replied "What I'm talking about is something similar like we did out there at the airport (park). With our employees doing most of the work, probably five to six thousand dollars would fund a four commode bathroom."

Alderman Hendrix asked "Why don't we check on the cost of having the handicapped accessible porta potties for the busiest times and weekends at the pool? Then Hunter (Hendrixson) can look up what it cost to build the bathrooms at the airport park. We can look a little bit closer at the pool area and come up with a feasible place to put it. I think the front of the pool would not be a good idea. I think that would look bad. Maybe if we can get an estimate on prices and get a design and a place, it might be something we can have completed by the end of the season. We're coming up here and discussing it but we're not bringing any concrete information," said Hendrix.

Meanwhile, Alderman White said existing bathroom stalls at the golf course will have to be modified to make them handicapped accessible, but he added that this would not be too expensive.

The city is also apparently making plans to purchase a portable chairlift to make the pool more handicapped accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ADA requirements were to have been met by March 15th, but officials say the U.S. Justice Department has granted the hotel industry at least a 60-day extension for complying with a new rule aimed at making existing hotel pools compliant. City officials say that extension also applies locally.

Beer Board Keeps VFW on Suspension for at Least Another Month

April 5, 2012
Dwayne Page

The VFW Club will be without a beer permit for at least another month.

Quartermaster Thomas Skelenka appeared before the DeKalb County Beer Board Thursday night to inquire about when the VFW can get back its permit. Until then, the club cannot sell beer.

The beer permit was suspended last month following an undercover investigation into allegations of illegal sales of liquor. Agents of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission raided the VFW club on the Sparta Highway March 15 seizing gambling machines, a raffle prize, and cash.

Operators of the VFW allegedly kept selling liquor, even after letting their liquor license expire.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said he was instructed by former beer board chairman Mack Harney to take the VFW's beer permit after operators of the club were issued citations for selling liquor without a license and for possession of gambling devices. Sheriff Ray said he retrieved the permit and surrendered it to the county clerk, pending a final decision by the beer board.

Skelenka told the beer board that while the club can remain open, it cannot survive financially without a beer permit. He said membership has dropped off and unless business picks up and new members can be recruited, the club, which has been in operation since 1946, could go bankrupt and close its doors.

Beer Board members Thursday night voted to have county attorney Hilton Conger attend the next meeting in May to render a legal opinion on how to handle the situation with the VFW since the allegations have to do with liquor and gambling, something the beer board has no control over. The question beer board members want to know is whether the actions of the VFW constitute a violation of their beer permit and whether the beer board should impose further sanctions or civil penalties.

AS WJLE first reported last month, Special Agent Brad Allison said the investigation by the ABC began after complaints surfaced about the VFW. "The Alcoholic Beverage Commission received an anonymous complaint about the VFW in Smithville selling liquor without a license. The complaint was given to the ABC Cookeville Office who researched to see if the VFW currently had a liquor license and they did not. At that time they executed an undercover operation at the establishment and were able to purchase liquor from the bartender inside the VFW. After purchasing the liquor, they then prepared and executed a search warrant on Thursday, March 15. At that time during the search warrant, there were approximately fifty bottles of liquor that were seized; four gambling machines; several envelopes with various amounts of money in the envelopes with some labeled "race boards", some labeled "dice". There was a TV seized that was in a box labeled "raffle" with the amount of the price for the raffle tickets written on the box," said Allison

As a result of the investigation, bartender Brian Soye was cited for unlawful sale of alcohol and quartermaster Thomas Skelenka was issued citations for storage of alcohol for sale and possession of gambling devices. All are misdemeanor offenses.

Beer Board Member Takes Issue with County Commission

April 5, 2012
Dwayne Page

As the DeKalb County Beer Board voted Thursday night to issue permits to five businesses, one member spoke out against the county commission for the way they went about changing the minimum distance regulations in February.

Second district beer board member Frank Thomas said he wasn't pleased that the county commission voted to make the change on a night when two members of the commission, previously opposed to it, were absent. "The wool was pulled over our (beer board members) eyes by changing the distance from 2,000 to 800 feet. It was sneaked in on us," said Thomas.

Even though the issue was not on the agenda, the commissioners in February, by a vote of seven to five, adopted a motion to reduce the minimum distance requirement from 2,000 feet to 800 feet between stores seeking to sell beer and places of public gathering such as churches and schools.

Last December, some members of the commission tried to change the distance requirement from 2,000 feet to 400 feet but that proposal died on a seven to seven tie vote. All members were present that night but eight votes were needed for passage and County Mayor Mike Foster refused to break the tie.

"The commission voted on it and had a tie vote (in December)," said Thomas. "The county executive could have broke the vote (tie) either way but he wouldn't. He said he didn't want to make nobody mad either way. But he didn't give a damn who he made mad down here (beer board). But then it come up again (in February) when they (county commission) found out two of them wouldn't gonna be there at the meeting. One of them (commissioners) had to be out of town on a trip. The other was out of town on account of sickness,' said Thomas

The 2,000 foot distance regulation is the maximum allowed under state law and it had not been changed since the county adopted it in October 1939, until the meeting in February.

During Thursday night's meeting, the beer board voted to issue an on and off premises permit to Viva Gail Johnson at Jewel's Market and Pizza at 600 North Congress Boulevard; to Araceli Godinez Soto of Nicole's Market at 7221 Short Mountain Highway, Smithville; and to the North Alabama Bank and Bank of Lincoln County for Back 9, LLC doing business as Riverwatch at 167 Highland Trail, Sparta (DeKalb County)

The beer board also voted to issue an off premises permit to Jesus Villa at the Stop Market , LLC at 3794 Short Mountain Highway, Smithville; and to Debra Sacran of D & D Market at 7166 Short Mountain Highway, Smithville.
All applicants apparently meet all the requirements, including the new minimum distance regulations.

The vote was four to one to issue a permit to Jewels Market and Pizza, Nicole's Market, and D& D Market. Board member Frank Thomas asked for a roll call vote and he "passed" when his name was called. These three businesses had been unable to sell beer under the 2,000 foot rule.

The vote was five to nothing to issue permits to the Back 9, LLC, and the Stop Market. Thomas voted in favor apparently because those locations have had permits to sell beer in the past and now have new operators making application.

Meanwhile, two other businesses are seeking an on and off premises permit to sell beer, the Company Store near Cove Hollow and the Sharpe Lodge on the Cookeville Highway. The beer board Thursday night accepted the applications and will take a final vote on issuance of the permits at the next meeting in May. The Company Store already has an on premises permit, but is now seeking to sell beer for consumption off the premises as well.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of long time member and chairman Mack Harney of the seventh district, who stepped down after last month's meeting. The board also named member Edward Frazier as the new Chairman and Robert Rowe as Vice Chairman.

Sixth district board member Harrell Tolbert last month announced his resignation from the board. Because of redistricting, Tolbert has been moved from the sixth district to the fifth district and can no longer serve the sixth district as a beer board member. The county will have to appoint a new member to succeed both Tolbert and Harney.

Darrin Vincent To Speak at Chamber Banquet

April 5, 2012
Darrin Vincent

Darrin Vincent of the award-winning bluegrass duo, Dailey and Vincent will be the keynote speaker for the Chamber of Commerce Membership Dinner and Awards Banquet set for Tuesday, April 24 at the new County Complex, 732 South Congress Boulevard. Vincent and his daughter Victoria will also be providing musical entertainment for the program.

Dailey and Vincent took home seven awards at the 2008 International Bluegrass Music Awards Show including Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year.

"We are excited to again host this enjoyable and informative event. This year, we are celebrating our 49th year as a Chamber. We invite you to share in this fun-filled night of dining, entertainment, and the latest updates from the Chamber including the introduction of our new Board members and 2012 Officers,” said Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams.

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. Victoria Vincent will sing the National Anthem as Boy Scout Troop #347 present the flags. The delicious meal will be prepared by Chef Jason Evans of The Inn at Evins Mill. The Leadership DeKalb Class of 2012 will serve the meal.

Leadership DeKalb Alumni will announce their “Legacy” and “Community Leader of the Year” awards.

Corporate Sponsors for this event are Caney Fork Electric, DeKalb Community Bank, DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications / DTC Wireless, FirstBank, Liberty State Bank, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, Regions Bank, and WalMart.

Please contact the Chamber office at 597-4163 for more information, to donate a silent auction item, door prize, or to become a Corporate Sponsor. Banquet tickets prices are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling the Chamber or from the Chamber Board of Directors.

Evins and Hale In The Race for Fifth District School Board Seat

April 5, 2012
Dwayne Page
W.J. (Dub) Evins, III
Kevin D. Hale
Doug Stephens

Fifth district school board member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III will be challenged for re-election in the August 2nd DeKalb County General Election.

Kevin D. Hale will be running against Evins for the position. Today (Thursday) at noon was the qualifying deadline.

Meanwhile, Doug Stephens, recently appointed by the county commission to fill the unexpired term of Bruce Parsley on the school board in the sixth district, will be unopposed in the August 2nd election. Boyd Trapp had picked up a qualifying petition from the election commission but did not return it.

The terms of the school board positions are for four years.

The last day to register to vote in the school board election is July 3.

Meanwhile, a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected in the Dowelltown Municipal election on August 2 but only two candidates names will be on the ballot. Incumbent Mayor Gerald Bailiff and Incumbent Alderman Joe Bogle will be seeking re-election unopposed. Incumbent Alderman Elizabeth Redmon did not qualify to seek re-election. No one else qualified to run either. Today (Thursday) at noon was the qualifying deadline.

The terms of office of the mayor and aldermen in Dowelltown are for four years.

In Liberty, three aldermen will be elected. The seats are held by Todd Dodd, Dwight Mathis and Paul M. Neal. Dwight Mathis, Paul M. Neal and Jason Ray all qualified to run for alderman. Dodd will not be seeking re-election. Today (Thursday) at noon was the qualifying deadline

The terms of office for the mayor and aldermen in Liberty are for four years.

The last day to register to vote in that election is July 3.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver in the 40th district and State Representative Mark Pody of the 46th district will be running unopposed in the August 2nd Tennessee Republican Primary.

Wesley Duane Hodges of Gallatin and Sara Marie Smith of Carthage will be seeking the Democratic nomination for State Representative in the 40th district in the August 2nd Tennessee Democratic Primary.

The qualifying deadline was noon today (Thursday). The last day to register to vote in that election is July 3.

The term of office of the State Representative is for two years.

Petition Drive Seeks City Referendum on Allowing Liquor Sales in Restaurants

April 4, 2012
Dwayne Page
Petition Drive Seeks Referendum on Liquor Sales in Smithville Restaurants

A local businessman has started a petition drive calling for a public referendum in the Smithville Municipal Election June 19 to allow the licensed sales of alcoholic beverages including liquor in city restaurants.

The petition, circulated by Randy Paris, seeks to "authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in the City of Smithville". Only 90 valid signatures are needed to get the referendum on the June 19 city election ballot.

The petition states "we, the registered voters of the City of Smithville, do hereby request the holding of a local option election to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in the City of Smithville as provided by law".

Paris, in a telephone interview with WJLE Wednesday, said this is a way to boost the local economy and bring in more tax revenue. "We're a tourist town. We have a ton of people who come from Nashville, Murfreesboro, Lebanon, and other places to use our lake and this is a way to capture some of this outside money. When I had the boat dealership (Smithville Marine), the majority of my business and the sales tax that I collected was from out of town like Nashville, Brentwood and Murfreesboro who use the lake. This is a great opportunity to generate some revenue. There's so much money being left on the table. It'll help the development of the town as a whole," said Paris.

"This would allow a restaurant to serve wine or beer with your meal," said Paris. That opens up the door for other businesses to locate in this town. The city can use that (tax) money for a lot of good things," he said.

While the move is certain to generate opposition, Paris said he expects to receive more than enough signatures on the petition to get the measure on the city ballot June 19. "There is a whole lot of support," he said.

Paris owns a laundry mat and car wash, and he rents out several commercial properties in the area. His wife also operates a local business.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections said that "State law allows individuals to submit a properly worded petition calling for such a referendum. In this case, the referendum is for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises within the Smithville City Limits."

Under the law, Stanley said such a petition must be presented to the election commission office no later than 45 days before the Smithville Municipal Election, which is set for June 19.

"Based on TCA 57-3-196(C), the petition must be signed by 10% or more of the registered voters voting for Governor in the last election in the city," Stanley said. "There were 891 registered Smithville voters who voted in the November, 2010 election, thus the petition will only require 90 valid signatures."

If the petition is returned by the deadline and includes the required number of signatures by registered voters in Smithville, the issue will be placed on the June 19 ballot.

TCA 57-3-101 (A) states that "alcoholic beverage means and includes alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, high alcohol content beer, and every liquid containing alcohol, spirits, wine and high alcohol content beer and capable of being consumed by a human being, other than patent medicine or beer, as defined in 57-5-101 (b).

The City of Smithville has a beer board that issues permits to eligible applicants for the sale of beer within the city limits. But the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission would apparently have the sole authority over the issuance of liquor licenses for consumption on the premises.

Fire Chief Says City Still in Running for FEMA SAFER GRANT

April 4, 2012
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Fire Department has not yet heard from its application for a FEMA SAFER grant for hiring of full time firefighters.

While Mayor Taft Hendrixson believes Chief Charlie Parker filed for the wrong grant and has no chance of it being approved, Parker said Monday night, the city is still in the running. "Mayor Hendrixson had been advised from Congressman Black's office and sources in Washington that we had applied for the wrong grant completely," said Chief Parker. "That was not my understanding but I didn't have the paperwork with me at the last meeting. On page three of the guide under the eligibility requirements it says volunteer fire departments may apply for funding in the following categories: #1 is "Hiring of Firefighters Category (hiring career firefighters)". The second category is the "Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters". You can apply for both if you do two applications. As I stated at the last meeting, I was really under the gun trying to do this and I barely did get the one in that I chose to. On the last page of that guide, it also has the "Specific funding parameters". It says that "10% of the grant monies is set aside for grants awarded to volunteer or mostly volunteer departments for hiring of firefighters." So in my thinking, that means they're setting 10% money back to hire new hires for volunteer departments. That's the reason why I decided to go for the grant that we did. The mayor has said we had no chance. We may get turned down tomorrow. I don't know. But as of 6:00 p.m. this evening (Monday) we've still not received any turn down notice or denial of the grant. To my knowledge we're still in the running," he said.

Chief Parker said the grant would fund up to three positions. "What I have proposed in this grant is for an administrative person and two forty hour per week positions. We'd have an administrator to take care of some of the paperwork and then we would have two people here on a forty hour per week job. That's basically forty hours per week during the day. We're extremely short during the daytime hours. Most of these guys and gals work at the factories and its getting to where they can't leave(work) anymore. Its hard on the factories to let some of them out because they have production they have to meet so unless its something extremely important, its hard for them to leave. Most of the maintenance has to be done during the daytime. So if we can get two people on a forty hour per week job we can take care of some of the maintenance and testing. Right now, if we need supplies, bulbs, things like this, somebody has got to take off during the day and go to the parts store or go to the shed. We need somebody to do that during the daytime. There's a lot of little things that eats up time that really nobody thinks about. We've got to do something. If we can get a two year period where we can prove ourselves (with paid firefighters) we may be able to lower our ISO ratings. I've talked to our ISO representative. If we added some people, even on a forty hour a week basis, it would go toward our ISO total scores to help us lower that, which would in turn lower insurance rates for everybody. There's several people in the city that may never need a fire truck. But when you need one, you want one then and you expect it then. There are a lot of people who don't have need of our services. That's great. But most everybody does pay insurance and if we can help lower the insurance rates for your home or business that's a benefit year after year. We're striving for better fire protection for the city of Smithville. We've got to find that niche that we can afford. I feel the people of Smithville need good fire protection. I think they deserve it. When industry comes to town, they look at these things. When they decide to relocate, they look at fire protection. They look at insurance classifications. They look at several things when they come in so we want to do our part to try and make it appealing to industry to relocate here too," said Chief Parker.


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