Local News Articles

Suspected Drug Dealer Gets Three Years Probation

May 29, 2012
Dwayne Page
Teresa Thomas

A suspected drug dealer, arrested by Smithville Police in a drug bust in January, was given three years probation in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Friday.

36 year old Teresa Thomas appeared before Judge Leon Burns, Jr. and pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule III and VI controlled substance with intent to sell. She received a three year sentence in one case and two years in the other, all suspended to supervised probation. The sentences are to run concurrently for one three year term. Thomas was fined $2,000 and was given jail credit from January 27 to May 25, 2012.

Thomas was arrested on Friday, January 27 in the housing projects on Morgan Drive.

Acting on numerous citizen complaints about suspected drug activity from this residence, Chief Randy Caplinger said Smithville Police conducted an undercover drug investigation, using an informant, who went to Thomas' home on Tuesday, January 24 and made the drug buy.

A search warrant was prepared and served on Thomas at the residence on Friday, January 27. According to Chief Caplinger and Detectives Matt Holmes and Brandon Donnell, police found in Thomas' purse nineteen baggies of marijuana each weighing one gram; ten baggies of pot each weighing two grams; and one baggie containing five grams of marijuana. Also found in her purse were twenty five and a half hydrocodone pills and two and a half suboxone pills. A further search of the home turned up another thirty grams of marijuana, cut straws with residue, a pipe, multiple prescription pill bottles without their labels, two pill crushers, two marijuana cigarettes, scales, two boxes of sandwich bags apparently intended for packaging drugs, and a notebook containing the names of people who allegedly owed Thomas money for drug transactions. An undisclosed amount of cash was also seized. Because children were present in the residence at the time of Thomas' arrest, the Department of Children Services was notified.

Thomas was taken into custody and charged in the case. Police said during the interview, Thomas allegedly admitted to police that the drugs and paraphernalia found in the home belonged to her.

In addition to Chief Caplinger and Detectives Holmes and Donnell, Captain Steven Leffew, K-9 Officer James Cornelius and Officer Matt Farmer assisted in the case.

Meanwhile, two other people were sentenced in court Friday, as the result of drug investigations by the Smithville Police Department, 24 year old Ben Pascal and 41 year old Timothy Lawson.

Pascal pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence. He was fined $2,000 and ordered to make $50 restitution to the Smithville Police Department. Pascal must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. The sentence is to run concurrently with a violation of probation against him. He was given jail credit of 213 days.

Pascal was one five people named in grand jury sealed indictments in December as the result of an undercover drug investigation by the Smithville Police Department. Chief Randy Caplinger said the investigations were conducted by Detectives Matt Holmes and Brandon Donnell with an informant making the drug buys. A TBI agent worked with the detectives in one case. Pascal was charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. He was indicted with a co-defendant for allegedly selling and delivering dilaudid, a schedule II controlled substance on August 25.

Lawson pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received five years in each case to be served consecutively for a total of ten years. Lawson must serve at least thirty percent of the sentence before his release eligibility date. He was fined $2,000 and was given jail credit from November 28, 2011 to May 25, 2012. Lawson's probation was revoked for an earlier charge of sale of a schedule III controlled substance and he must serve the balance of his original three year sentence in that case. Again, the revocation is to run concurrently with the sentence he received on Friday.

Lawson was originally charged with three counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance in a drug free school zone. The indictments allege that Lawson sold and delivered morphine on July 27, August 4, and August 23. The alleged drug buys took place at the City Walk Apartments, located near Smithville Elementary School.

Detectives Donnell and Holmes went to City Walk Apartment Monday, November 28 to serve the indictments on Lawson but no one came to the door, even though they saw who they thought was Lawson inside. After forcibly entering, the detectives found Lawson who was hiding in the apartment.

Probation for 30 year old Mary Tanner Curtis was revoked Friday.. She must serve the balance of her original six year sentence for attempting to initiate a process to manufacture methamphetamine. She was given jail credit from February 2, 2010 to May 22, 2010 and from April 2, 2012 to May 25, 2012. Curtis may be furloughed to the "DC4" drug court but she must successfully complete the program. If so she may be placed back on probation.

Probation for 35 year old Andy Certain was revoked and he must serve the balance of his original sentence of two years for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He was given jail credit from December 4, 2011 to February 3, 2012 and from May 10, 2012 to May 25, 2012. Certain may be furloughed to an approved long term inpatient rehabilitation program.

Probation was partially revoked for 21 year old Ray Underwood. His original sentence was two years for promotion of the manufacturing of methamphetamine. He must serve 180 days in the county jail and then be released to probation again. He was given jail credit from March 1, 2012 to May 25, 2012. His probation will be extended by one year or until costs and fines are paid in full.

DeKalb Jail and Annex Again Meet Minimum Standards for State Certification

May 29, 2012
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Jail and Annex

The DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have again met minimum standards for certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the Tennessee Corrections Institute recently performed an inspection of the DeKalb County Jail and the DeKalb County Jail Annex.

In a letter to Sheriff Ray, TCI Executive Director Beth Ashe, wrote that "The inspection revealed that this facility meets all minimum standards. This status shall be reported to the board of control at its next meeting. After approval from the board of control, you will receive a certificate of certification. You are to be congratulated for attaining this degree of professionalism in your organization," wrote Ashe.

Inspector Joe Ferguson, in the report, wrote that "On May 22, 2012 the DeKalb County Jail and Annex were inspected. " There were no apparent violations found. I recommend continued certification for 2012," he wrote.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Ferguson " went around to all the cells, checked out refrigerators to make sure they were at the right temperature, checked the menu at the jail, and he went through all of our paperwork. After his review, Ferguson recommended the jail and annex for re-certification," he said.

The DeKalb County Jail and Annex have a certified capacity of 102 beds.

Meanwhile, in his latest report on crime news, Sheriff Ray said that 30 year old Halton Wayne Hicks of West Main Street, Dowelltown is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on June 7.

On Tuesday, May 15, an officer having prior knowledge that Hicks' license were suspended, pulled him over after observing Hicks driving on West Bryant Street. Hicks has two offenses of driving on a suspended license pending in court. He was arrested and brought to the jail.

54 year old Steve Edward Crutcher of Echol Heights, Liberty is charged with a sixth offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court June 7.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, May 24, a deputy having prior knowledge that Crutcher's license were revoked, stopped Crutcher after observing him driving on Highway 70. Crutcher admitted to the officer that his license were revoked. A computer check confirmed that his license were revoked for driving under the influence and other offenses in Trousdale, Rutherford, Wilson, and Sumner County.

30 year old Amber Marie Johnson of Gainesboro, named in a January grand jury sealed indictment, was arrested on Thursday, May 24. She is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (cocaine) and introduction of contraband (cocaine) into a penal institution. Her bond is $60,000 and she will be in court on June 26.

33 year old Jack Mullican, Jr. of Meadow Brook Drive is charged with a second offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on June 7.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, May 24, an officer having prior knowledge that Mullican's license were suspended, pulled him over after observing Mullican driving on Juniper Lane. A computer check confirmed his license were suspended for failure to satisfy a citation in April, 2011 in DeKalb County. Mullican has prior offenses in Wilson County and another case of driving on a suspended license pending in General Sessions Court here.

Sheriff Pleased with SRO Program

May 29, 2012
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

Sheriff Patrick Ray has been pleased with the School Resource Officer program at DeKalb County High School and would like to see another one in the school system.

Sheriff Ray said grant funds have been sought in recent years for another position without success. "We tried to apply for another SRO two or three years ago, but we did not get that position. We would like to see another SRO in our school system. We would like to see one stationed at DeKalb West School who could also help with schools in Smithville We will probably try again for a grant," he said.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Whitehead, School Resource Officer at DCHS, has filed his year end report with Sheriff Ray.

In his letter to Sheriff Ray, Officer Whitehead reported " As you can see, it has been a very busy year. I have made many arrests and sometimes we tend to think the worst of our school system because of those arrests. Regardless of the numbers, I feel that the school resource officer program is a great asset to the DeKalb County school system. We should not look at only the arrests and evaluate the success or failure of the program, but the overall results both good and bad. I have met with many students and dealt with all kinds of problems throughout this school year. I feel that due to this contact that I have helped these students deal with some problems that the school system just does not have time to deal with. I also feel that just my presence at the school does wonders for the student body. I hope that the school system and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department continues to see the importance of the school resource officer program and what benefits it can obtain from having it. I have enclosed a copy of the 2011-12 school year SRO report. I hope that my reports will help show that there is a need for a second school resource officer in our school system," wrote Whitehead.

The report is as follows:

42 misdemeanor arrests at school (juvenile petitions)
9 drug arrests
27 assists with patrols or with detective divisions of the sheriff's department or police department
776 advisory sessions with students (six of those were with students families and three with law enforcement officers)
236 advisory sessions with parents.
382 advisory sessions with a teacher or staff member
37 classroom lectures
32 special school events attended
30 court appearances
28 motorist assists in parking lot of school
8 club meetings attended
46 cigarette citations
9 fights
Total value of reported stolen property $2,627, of which $2,415 in property was recovered.
Some alcohol, marijuana, pills, and bb gun seized from the school.
15 unruly juveniles dealt with

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 7.5% in April

May 29, 2012

DeKalb County's April unemployment rate dropped to 7.5%, down from 8% in March, and well below the 9.1% rate in April, 2011.

The local labor force for April was at 9,810. A total of 9,070 were employed and 740 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for April tied for third lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region with Cannon and Macon. Here's how they rank highest to lowest

Picket County- 12.1%
White- 10.6%
Van Buren-10.5%
Clay- 9.1%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for April show the rate decreased in 84 counties, increased in five counties, and remained the same in six counties.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for April fell to 7.8 percent, down from the March revised rate of 7.9 percent. The national unemployment rate for April 2012 was 8.1 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the March 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 5.8 percent, up from 5.6 percent in March. Davidson County was 6.5 percent, down from 6.6 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.0 percent, down from 7.3 percent, and Shelby County was 8.3 percent, down from the March unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.

Fallen Heroes Remembered

May 28, 2012
Dwayne Page
Carlton Miller, Joe Goodwin, and Edward Frazier Lay Wreath
Carlton Miller, Joe Goodwin, Edward Frazier, Ronnie Redmon
Major Jerry Parker and Edward Frazier

Members of our community paused to recognize fallen heroes during a Memorial Day program held Monday morning at the new auditorium in the county complex on South Congress Boulevard.

Following a program of patriotic music and songs by Josh Gulley and Susan Hinton, guest speaker Major Jerry Parker paid tribute to those who served our nation and particularly those from DeKalb County.

"Today is Memorial Day. One of two national holidays when we honor those who serve in the Armed Forces. On November 11 each year we honor our living veterans. Six months later, we honor and remember those who are no longer with us, especially those veterans who gave their lives on the field of battle," said Major Parker.

"America is only 236 years old. But since July 4, 1776, there have been 1-million, 317-thousand 812 Americans killed in action in our armed forces. That figure does not include the many thousands listed as missing in action," he said.

"Memorial Day has gradually changed from a day of remembrance to a day best known now as a day for the beginning of the summer season and for the Indianapolis car race and the Coca Cola 600 stock car race. However, there are still communities such as DeKalb County, which take time from the Memorial Day weekend activities to remember those who have served in our armed forces and who now lie silently in the grave waiting for the resurrection," said Major Parker.

"While we are gathered here today, let us take time to remember the men from DeKalb County who gave their lives in battle in foreign lands and on far away oceans. Most of them were in their late teens or early twenties. We see their names on a plaque at the courthouse and we see their pictures on the wall at schools and in churches. Or in a living room, where a grieving mother after all these years, still mourns for her boy who never came home," he said.

"These men from DeKalb County who died in service to our country did not want to die. But when they were called to duty, they did not flinch and they did not back down when they laid their lives on the line. They were and are our heroes today. We look at their faces in the pictures and notice how young they were. They never grew old. They are forever young. In some ways they are our greatest generation because they gave two lives for their country. They gave the life they had and they gave the life they never had so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in America and here in DeKalb County," said Major Parker.

"I believe our fallen veterans from DeKalb County would not want us to be sad faced on this Memorial Day. They would want us to enjoy the benefits of freedom they fought for and died for. I think they would also want us to remember them and what they did for us," he said.

"As we leave here today to join family and friends at picnics, cookouts, and other Memorial Day activities, let each of us with real gratitude in our hearts promise that our fallen veterans will always be remembered and never forgotten," said Major Parker.

Major Parker, who was born and raised in Chattanooga, graduated from UT Chattanooga and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, assigned to the 4th Infantry Division. He served a year in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious service in combat. He later entered the active Army Reserve for six years and served as a Company Commander and as a Brigade staff officer with the rank of Major. He is also a retired Vice President of American General Life and Accident Insurance Company.

The program also included an invocation by Chuck Olson, Pledge of Allegiance by Doyle Smith, a remembrance of local servicemen by Judy Redmon, and the laying of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial Monument in front of the courthouse. Emma Rigsby played taps on her trumpet at the conclusion of the program.

Motorcycle Operator Involved In Crash Faces Drug Charges

May 28, 2012
Dwayne Page

A Nashville man involved in a motorcycle accident on Saturday will be headed for court once he gets out of the hospital.

49 year old John Roland is being charged with possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Those items were found on him after he crashed his motorcycle on Dale Ridge Road Saturday evening.

According to Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Roland was traveling north on a 2001 Suzuki motorcycle when he went off the road while trying to negotiate a curve to the left. He failed to maintain his lane of travel, left the road on the right and struck an earthen embankment. The motorcycle came to rest in a ditch.

Roland was taken by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone set up in a field at the top of Snow Hill near the convenience site. He was airlifted from there by Vandy Life Flight and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital. He is believed to have suffered a broken leg, cuts, and abrasions.

Sheriff's department deputies and the Liberty Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene

Local Librarian Completes Specialized Training

May 27, 2012
Terri Lynn Weaver, Kathy Hendrixson, Mae Beavers

Thirteen distinguished library directors in Tennessee graduated from the Public Library Management Institute recently, increasing their knowledge and understanding of the unique role libraries fulfill in their communities.

Kathy Hendrixson, director of Justin Potter Library, was one of the graduates.

“Librarians across the state should look into this program, if they haven’t already,” Senator Mae Beavers said. “This kind of training helps provide better service to the people who are paying for our public libraries.”

Representative Terri Lynn Weaver also commented on Ms. Hendrixson’s efforts.

“I’m proud of Ms. Hendrixson for going the extra mile to get this training,” Representative Weaver said. “That type of dedication is what defines a public servant.”

Secretary of State Tre Hargett applauds Ms. Hendrixson for her commitment to the success of public libraries.

“I commend Ms. Hendrixson on this accomplishment,” Secretary Hargett said. “Our public libraries are more than places to check out books. Libraries also provide valuable services such as job training and Internet access. DeKalb Countians are fortunate to have a library director willing to demonstrate the additional commitment needed for our libraries to reach even greater heights.”

The Public Library Management Institute, started in 1995, is a three-year program for library directors who do not have master’s degrees. Each year, participants gather at Fall Creek Falls State Park for a week of intense training sessions and networking with fellow library directors in similar situations. Participants are from small towns all over the state.

“Over the years of the program, library directors develop skills in public speaking, personnel management, using technology effectively and managing change, among other things,” State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill said. “All of these skills are essential for guiding public libraries through their transition into the digital era.”

“This management course gives library directors the tools they need to help transform their libraries into community hubs,” said Wendy Cornelisen, who coordinated the most recent training program for the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Including the 13 most recent graduates, the program has graduated 157 people since its founding.

Nomination Period Begins for FSA County Committee Election

May 26, 2012

Donny Green, DeKalb County FSA County Executive Director, announces that the nomination period for the 2012 Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee Election is underway. The nomination period continues through August 1, 2012.

"I encourage all producers to participate in the county committee election process by nominating candidates by the August 1 deadline," said Green. "We are counting on as much participation as possible, because county committees are an important link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We have seen a trend in recent years of increased nominations of minority, beginning farmers, and women producers and we hope that will continue."

Committees apply their judgment and knowledge to make decisions on county commodity price-support loan eligibility, establishment of allotments and yields, conservation programs, disaster programs, employment and other farm program-related issues. Nationwide, there are more than 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to five members who are elected by eligible local producers.

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate.

For the 2012 Election, nominees must reside in Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 1 which is described as the area that includes:

East of a line where Hwy. 146 crosses the Cannon County line; following Hwy. 146 North to Hodges Rd.; thence north to Tabernacle Rd.; following Tabernacle Rd. to Dry Creek Rd.; east of Dry Creek Rd. to Hwy. 70 West; south of Hwy. 70 to Hwy. 96 (Dale Ridge Rd.); thence north to Hwy. 96 to Hwy. 141 (Wolf Creek Rd.) to Center Hill Dam; from Center Hill Dam following Center Hill Lake southwest to include the area south and southwest of the lake to Sligo Bridge; thence following Hwy. 70 East in a westward direction to the intersection of Hwy. 70 and Hwy. 56; thence the area west of Hwy. 56 South to the Warren County line; north of the Warren/DeKalb County line back to Hwy. 146 at the Cannon County line.To view a delineated map of LAA # 1, you can visit the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency.

LAA # 1 generally covers the communities of Blue Springs, Short Mountain, Snows Hill, Phillipi, Puckett's Point, Midway, and the city of Smithville.

Individuals may nominate themselves, or others, as a candidate. In addition, eligible candidates can be nominated by community-based and other organizations in the county where the election is being held before the close of the nomination period, especially groups representing socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. Nominations and elections are open to all eligible candidates and voters without regard to race, color, religion, nation origin, age, sex, marital status or disability. The nomination form (FSA-669A) is available at USDA Service Centers and online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/elections.

Ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters in LAA # 1 on November 5, 2012. Completed ballots must be returned, either in person or postmarked, no later December 3, 2012. For more information about FSA county committees, visit the DeKalb County USDA Service Center or call 615-597-8225, extension 2.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. PHONE-(615) 597-8225 AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER FAX-(615) 597-8484

New Law Makes It Easier To Vote Absentee Ballot

May 26, 2012
Dennis Stanley

A new law now makes it easier to vote an absentee ballot, at least for persons of a certain age.

Governor Bill Haslam recently signed into law a measure adopted this winter by the legislature that lowers the absentee voting age from 65 to 60. The law goes into effect immediately and is set to expire in five years.
In summary, the measure “allows persons age 60 and older to vote absentee upon request, instead of age 65 and older.”

“This measure brings some consistency to the state’s Photo ID law,” said Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections.

“Voters who cast ballots by the absentee process do not have to provide a photo ID,” said Stanley, “and a driver’s license is one of the most used forms of photo identification for those who vote at the polls. Currently, Tennessee law does not require motorists age 60 and over to have a photo on their driver’s license. This bill lowers the absentee voting age to coincide with the driver’s license law.”

Meanwhile, Stanley said absentee requests for the June 19 Smithville Municipal Election are now being accepted. The last day to request an absentee ballot is June 12 and all ballots must be returned to the election office by the close of the polls on June 19.

“There is a process for voting absentee, but it is a simple process,” Stanley continued. “A voter must request an absentee ballot by filling out a particular form or mailing a letter to the election office with specific information.”
“The request must include the voter’s name, the address on the voter’s registration card, an address to mail the absentee ballot, the voter’s social security number, the election in which they wish to vote and the legal reason for voting absentee,” he said.

The legal reasons for voting absentee include: age 60 and over, the voter will be outside the county during the early voting period and election day, a doctor’s statement stating the voter is medically unable to vote in person, the voter is a member of the military or a family member to the member of the military, he/she reside in a licensed facility that provides relatively permanent domiciliary care, the voter is hospitalized, the voter is a caretaker of someone who is hospitalized, ill or physically disabled, the voter is disabled and their polling place is inaccessible, the voter is a candidate, an overseas citizen, an election official or will be on jury duty in a state or federal court, and the voter has a Commercial Driver’s License and will be out of the county during the early voting period and election day.

The form must be signed by the voter and the election office will then verify the signature and information on the form before mailing the ballot.

Easterwood Injured in Go-Cart Accident

May 25, 2012
Dwayne Page

A 48 year old man was injured in a go-cart accident Thursday night on Holmes Creek Road.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Thomas Daniel Easterwood was south on Holmes Creek Road on a large go-cart when he hit loose gravels on the right shoulder, lost control, crossed back over the roadway, and overturned. The go-cart came to final rest on its side at the edge of the road in the grass. The mishap was reported around 7:37 p.m.

Easterwood was airlifted from the scene by an Air Evac helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. He reportedly suffered non-life threatening injuries including a compound fracture of an arm, bruises, and road rash.

Members of the Sheriff's Department, Smithville Police, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.


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