Local News Articles

Change Your Clocks, Change Batteries in Smoke Detectors Sunday

October 29, 2008
Dwayne Page

Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman would like to remind Tennesseans to "Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries" this Sunday for Central Standard Time.

Most home fires occur at night when people are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause you to sleep more deeply, making the chances of survival worse. A working smoke alarm will double your survival chances by giving you the critical time needed to escape before it's too late.

Nationally, more than 90 percent of all homes have smoke alarms, but it is estimated that one-third of them don't work due to old or missing batteries. It is critical to replace batteries regularly—even if they appear to be working fine. Twice a year is recommended. This reduces the "chirping", indicating low batteries. All too often, the battery is removed and not replaced, putting the occupants at risk. There's no way to predict when a fire will occur, and one night without a working smoke alarm is dangerous. Replacing batteries during daylight savings time is an easy way to remember that task.

Here are some other helpful hints on the importance of smoke alarms:
• Smoke alarms should be installed in every sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
• Smoke alarms need to be cleaned and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions.
• Have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and teach it to your children.
• When the smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place.
"Smoke alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly, and be tested monthly to ensure you have the protection you need when you need it," says Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman. "Use the extra hour when we fall back to make sure your home and family are fire safe."

Many local fire departments have supplies of donated smoke alarms, and departments will help install them in the homes of the elderly and disabled. For more information, visit www.tennessee.gov/commerce.

Smithville Police and DeKalb Sheriff's Department to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints

October 28, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will be conducting saturation patrols along with sobriety checkpoints for the Halloween weekend in an effort to keep the roads safe from drunk drivers and trafffic offenders while children may be present after dark. In the course of the upcoming year, the Smithville Police Department and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will be working closely with the Governor's Highway Safety Office in an effort to keep the roads safer and the fatalities to a record low in Tennessee history.

Clearing Begins on Property for Star Expansion

October 28, 2008
Dwayne Page
Property being cleared for Star expansion
County Mayor Mike Foster

A bulldozer operator Tuesday began clearing the site where Star Manufacturing plans to expand it's operation.

The county commission Monday night authorized the expenditure of funds which have been in the budget since last year to assist Star with it's plans.

County Mayor Mike Foster says the money will be transferred to and later be repaid by the county industrial development board. "In the budget, under the category ‘ property acquisition of land', is the money that we put up for the earnest money, to do topo mapping, the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP permit), and some of the other things that you (county commission) authorized us to spend as our incentive for Star. It wound up being $57,000 which will eventually be transferred to the Industrial Development Board, and they will repay this money that we're spending now so that it is spent out of the right pocket. It was authorized fully and completely last year on page 54 and this year on page 56 (of the budget). We got the SWPPP permit. They're going to start clearing the boundary of the property tomorrow (Tuesday) morning in order to put in the silt fence. I had conversations today (Monday) with the people at Star and they said to proceed with the clearing, which is wonderful news because we thought it might be put off a few months because of the economy being the way it is, but I think they are ready to proceed."

"What I'm asking for tonight is authorization to spend the money that's already in the budget. It's to authorize the expenditure, to do the SWPPP permit and the clearing of that land to get it prepared for site prep which will be done by the company."

Star Manufacturing, a division of the Middleby Corporation, last month announced plans to expand it's Smithville operation and create another 200 jobs.

A new building for the expansion will be constructed on a 50 plus acre site on Coconut Ridge Road, just a short distance from the present location on Hobson Street.

Frank Ricchio, President of Star Manufacturing, made the announcement saying "Star is purchasing 58 acres just up the street from our current plant here and we're looking forward over the next couple of years to start expanding manufacturing. We hope to add another 100 to 200 thousand square feet over the next several years. I think we have about 235 employees here in Smithville and there's a potential over the next 12 to 24 months for (adding) a couple of hundred jobs or maybe a little more than that."

In other business, the county commission Monday night authorized in-house billing at the county operated ambulance service.

County Mayor Foster says for the last year, the county has paid a Georgia company to do the billing. "By error, they (Georgia company) started our (fiscal) year on June 1st, instead of July 1st, and our reports have been out of sync with them. He (state auditor) suggested that we start our own billing process here in the county now, since we've been through it a year. The committee Thursday night voted to do that and to recommend to the commission that we do that. Right now we're paying about $42,000 to $46,000 a year for this company in Georgia to do the billing. By doing the billing in-house, the first year we'll save about $4,000. The next year we'll save about $12,000 because once we buy that software from EMS Consultants then there's only a yearly update rather than the one time purchase. So it will actually save the county about $12,000 once we get into the second year. It will require a secretary. This person would be hired there (ambulance service) and we'll have to adjust the revenue there from contracted services into an employee position there."

Meanwhile, Foster says tire dumping is still occurring in DeKalb County. "We're still getting some illegal dumping of tires, especially at Caplinger Hollow and in the Smith Fork area. There is a reward if anyone sees somebody doing that. We would like to spend that money to catch whoever this is. If you see a vehicle in your community that's loaded with tires and maybe pulling a trailer, please call and we'll offer a reward. Hopefully the word is getting around. The Sheriff's Department and TWRA have caught some people and I think that will help. It's just an unnecessary and tragic thing we need to get stopped."

In a brief report on the landfill, Foster says "the cell excavation is just about complete and we will be ready, hopefully, within two weeks to start putting the liner in."

Young Hunters Harvest 100 Deer During Juvenile Hunt

October 27, 2008
Dwayne Page
TWRA Officer Tony Cross

Young hunters harvested 100 deer in DeKalb County Saturday and Sunday during the Juvenile Hunt.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross says a lot of hunters took advantage of the Young Sportsman Hunt." The kids had a pretty good weekend. They harvested exactly 100 deer in DeKalb County over those two days. Our total harvest for the first segment of the archery season, prior to that (juvenile hunt), was 99 so we've taken right at 200 deer now."

Meanwhile, the second segment of the archery season began Monday, October 27th and runs through Friday, October 31st.

The first segment of Tennessee's Muzzleloader/Archery Deer Season opens on Saturday, Nov. 1 and goes through Sunday, November 9th in all three of Tennessee's deer hunting units, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

The statewide bag limit for antlered bucks is three. Hunters are also allowed to take up to four antlerless deer in Unit-A (DeKalb County) during this segment of the muzzleloader season.

TWRA Officer Cross says if you haven't already harvested your limit, you may take up to three bucks during this hunt. "You are allowed to harvest all three of your bucks (limit) with a muzzleloader, if you want to. If you haven't taken any bucks with a bow yet, you can harvest all three bucks with a muzzleloader. Of course, that would prohibit you from being able to take any with a gun because the year long statewide limit is three bucks. The antlerless bag limit for the muzzleloader segment is a total of four deer."

"There's two different muzzleloader segments, November 1st-9th and December 8th-14th. You are allowed a total of four antlerless deer for those two weeks. So if you harvested one during this first segment, you would still have three remaining in the second segment, or two and two, or three and one, or you could take all four of them during this first segment, but you wouldn't be able to harvest any doe or antlerless deer in the second segment. Just remember that there's a three buck bag limit for the entire year. If you want to harvest all three during the muzzleloader season, then that is legal. However, the stipulation that you may only harvest one buck per day is still in effect. So even if you do take them all with a muzzleloader, you can still only harvest one buck per day."

Muzzleloading firearms of .40 caliber minimum plus long bows, compound bows and crossbows are legal hunting equipment for this season.

Resident hunters ages 16 through 64 must possess, in addition to other appropriate licenses, an annual big game license for the equipment used. Lifetime Sportsman license, Junior Hunt/Trap/Fish, Adult Sportsman license and Permanent Senior Citizens license holders are not required to purchase supplemental big game licenses.

In addition to private lands, including public hunting areas, several wildlife management areas (WMAs) will be open to hunters during this muzzleloader season. Hunters need to refer to the 2008 Hunting and Trapping Guide for a listing of these WMAs or go on line to TWRA's Web site at www.tnwildlife.org.

Meanwhile, Officer Cross says you still have a chance to purchase left over permits for the fall turkey hunt, which begins November 15th. "On Wednesday, October 29th the left over permits for the fall turkey hunts will go on sale, beginning at 8:00 a.m. DeKalb County had 112 left over permits for the hunt. You can either go on line and complete your application. If you have a sportsman's license or a lifetime sportsman's license, it's free. It doesn't cost you anything. If you have just a regular hunting and fishing license and a big game stamp, it's still a $20 permit fee. You can also go to a license agent that has the REAL system machine and they can apply for you too."

"Just Say No to Drugs" Dance Scheduled for High School Students

October 27, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Children's Service Council, Sheriff Patrick Ray and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Old El Paso Taco Company, and Smithville Wal-Mart have teamed together to host a "Just Say No To Drugs” dance and party on November 8th, from 5:00 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County High School. This event is for all high school students who attend the DeKalb County High School.

DeKalb County Children's Service Council member Clata Redmon says "We would like to let our teenagers know that we believe in them and would like to provide a safe place and event for them to have fun with their friends."

Sheriff Ray says "I am very pleased to be able to play a part in this dance. This will be a great place for our children to come and dance and have fellowship in a drug-free environment. This event has been made possible by donations from business and civic organizations to the DeKalb Children's Service Council. We hope to be able to have dances for the other schools in the future."

Sheriff Ray adds that his department will be providing security at the dance. Only students with valid DeKalb County High School student ID's will be allowed to enter this event. All school rules and policies will be enforced. Any student who has not turned in a parental permission slip should contact School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead for further details.

The DeKalb County Children Service Council is asking that businesses, industries, churches, organizations, or any individuals who would like to make a monetary donation for this and other events for the youth in DeKalb County to contact them at 597-7991. Monetary Donations are tax deductible. A list of all that made donations to this event will be announced later.

Smithville Man Charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery on a 12 Year Old Girl

October 27, 2008
Dwayne Page

A Smithville man was charged with aggravated sexual battery on a child last week after he allegedly had improper contact with a 12 year old girl during the summer.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says detectives charged 44 year old Jack Davis Taylor Jr. of Dry Creek Road, Smithville on Wednesday, October 22nd with aggravated sexual battery on a child. Sheriff Ray says through an investigation, detectives discovered that on or about June 5th of this year, Taylor was with a 12 year old female on Dry Creek Road. He allegedly unhooked her bra, rubbed her back and the back area of the child's legs, and the buttocks area. The child reportedly told Taylor to stop, but he refused. Taylor's bond was set at $25,000 and will appear in court on October 30th.

Meanwhile, in other cases, 37 year old Mary J. Wright of Keltonburg Road, Smithville was arrested Monday, October 20th after she was found to have taken items from a home on Barnes Mill Road with the intent to commit a theft. Sheriff Ray says detectives, through an investigation, found that Wright entered the Barnes Mill residence and took the owner's jewelry, several DVDs, coins, and credit and debit cards. All items were valued at over $1,000. Wright then went to a business on Highway 56 south in Smithville and tried to use the stolen credit and debit cards to purchase items, but the business refused to sell her the merchandise on the cards. While at the business, Wright also placed a clock and two greeting cards under her coat and walked out of the business without paying for them. Detectives charged Wright with attempted fraudulent use of a credit card and two counts of theft of property. Her bond was set at $7,000. She went to court on October 23rd and pleaded guilty to the charges. Wright is already on probation for shop lifting here in DeKalb County.

Sheriff's Deputies arrested 34 year old Brandon Zay Stringfellow of Southside Drive, McMinnville on Friday, October 24th for DUI after deputies responded to a call on Highway 70 east. Sheriff Ray says officers found Stringfellow in his vehicle, in a ditch, on Highway 70. Stringfellow submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Stringfellow's bond was set at $1,000 and will appear in court on December 11th.

34 year old Jamie Lynn Panter of Elmwood Drive, Rock Island was charged Monday, October 20th with criminal impersonation after deputies went to Lake Motel on an investigation. Sheriff Ray says Panter told officers his name was Toby Hillis. After learning that Panter had given them the wrong name and that Warren County had warrants on him for two counts of violation of probation, he was placed under arrest for criminal impersonation and his bond was set at $2,500, Panter will appear in court on December 11th.

On Saturday, deputies received a call concerning a reckless driver on Highway 70 east. Sheriff Ray says officers found the vehicle and stopped it for weaving. The driver, 47 year old Felix Sosa of South Mountain Street, Smithville was charged with driving under the influence. Sosa submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Sosa admitted to drinking at least three beers earlier that night. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on December 4th.

Deputies arrested 21 year old Ryan Edward Herron of McMinnville Highway, Smithville Sunday for aggravated burglary and theft of property under $500. Sheriff Ray says through an investigation on a theft report, Herron was found to have entered a room at the Lake Motel without the owner's consent. While inside, Herron took two cell phones from the room and later sold them to another individual. The cell phones have since been recovered. Herron's bond was set at $6,000 and he will appear in court on November 13th.

21 year old Timothy James Howard of Upper Helton Road, Alexandria was arrested Sunday after Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic call on Upper Helton Road. Howard was found on the front porch of the home in an intoxicated state. Sheriff Ray says upon being placed under arrest, Howard became combative and belligerent causing the deputies to have to use force to put handcuffs on him. Howard was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest and his bond was set at $2,000. He will appear in court on November 13th.

Sheriff's Deputies arrested 21 year old Steven Patrick Krick of Gordon Adcock Road, Smithville Monday after deputies found Krick passed out under the steering wheel of a vehicle on Highway 56 south. Sheriff Ray says Krick's vehicle was still running when the officers found him. Upon a search of Krick's vehicle, a pill bottle containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana and a marijuana pipe were found in the console. Krick was charged with driving under the influence, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on December 4th.

Firefighters Visit DeKalb West School

October 27, 2008
County Firefighters Visit DeKalb West School

Lieutenant Brad Mullinax, Firefighter CJ Tramel, and "Sparky" of the DeKalb County Fire Department visited with DeKalb West School students in PreK-3rd grades Wednesday, October 22nd for Fire Prevention Month.

More than 3,900 Vote Early

October 25, 2008
Dwayne Page
Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections

DeKalb County is following the trend statewide as large numbers turned out early to cast votes in the November 4th General Election.

A total of 3,979 people in DeKalb County took advantage of early voting, which ended on Thursday, October 30th. A total of 3,816 voted in person and 163 voted by mail.

Lisa Peterson, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections, says turnout locally is on pace to be greater than in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections here. "When comparing the voter turnout for this election versus the past two Presidential elections, it is clear that we are having a higher than usual voter turnout. For the November 7th, 2000 Presidential Election, the total voter turnout was 6,439. A total of 2,212 people cast their ballot during the early voting/absentee period and 4,227 voted on Election Day. In the November 2nd, 2004 Presidential Election, the voter turnout was 7,276. A total of 3,142 voted during the Early Voting/Absentee period and 4,134 voted on Election Day."

Offices on the ballot in DeKalb County are U.S. President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives (6th district), and Tennessee House of Representatives (40th district).

Peterson says the early voting process has gone smoothly so far. "I believe most people have been pleased with how fast the line is moving. We have not experienced long lines during the Early Voting period here in DeKalb County. I urge the voters of DeKalb County to take advantage of the Early Voting period. All early voting is done in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. I've had several calls from folks asking if they can early vote at their community precincts, but there is a central location for early voting and that is at the courthouse. No special reason is needed to vote during early voting, any registered voter in DeKalb County can come during the voting hours and vote."

The early voting hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

On election day, November 4th, the precincts will be open throughout the county beginning at 8:00 a.m. and they will remain open until 7:00 p.m. Anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Peterson says anyone who would like a sample ballot may view one on the election commission website at www.dekalbelections.com or you may stop by the election office in the basement of the courthouse. "We have sample ballots, voting instructions and voting schedules available in the hallways for anyone that wants one. There is also an instructional video running in the hallway that demonstrates how to use the voting machine. Our election workers are well trained and will give instructions to the voters. If anyone has any questions or problems while voting, it is important to ask the election worker for assistance before pushing the red CAST VOTE button on the machine."

Peterson says Tuesday, October 28th is the last day the election commission can receive a request or application to vote by mail. "Most of the votes cast during the early voting period are cast by machine although there are some voters who are eligible to vote by mail. The most common reasons we have seen are those that are age 65 or older, or who are outside DeKalb County during all voting periods. Tennessee does require that a person submit a written request if a person desires to vote by mail. We've had votes cast by mail from as far away as Mozambique, Japan, and Iraq for this election."

According to Peterson, "A request can serve as an application for a ballot if it contains the following: The voter's name and address here in DeKalb County where they are registered, their mailing address where we need to mail the ballot, their social security number, the election they want to vote in, the reason they want to vote by mail, and the voter's signature."

"The election statutes have several acceptable reasons including voters who are over 65 years of age, persons who have been absent from DeKalb County during the entire voting period and expect to be absent on Election Day as well, persons who are hospitalized, handicapped, or disabled or the caretaker of someone who is, persons who have a commercial driver's license and expect to be away during the entire voting period, and college students and/or their spouses."

"If anyone is in the hospital in DeKalb County, they may call the office and we will personally bring them a ballot. The request should be made before Election Day. The counting board convenes on Election Day and counts all paper ballots cast in the election. If voters are in the hospital outside DeKalb County, they can send a written request or fax a request and get a ballot mailed to them at the hospital outside DeKalb County. The address to mail a request is DeKalb County Election Commission, P.O. Box 543, Smithville, Tennessee, 37166. The fax number is 615-597-7799."

Anyone who wants more information about absentee voting can call the office at 597-4146 or refer to the election commission website at www.dekalbelections.com and from the homepage click on "Absentee Voting" from the menu on the left side of the page.

Five People Sentenced in Criminal Court Friday

October 25, 2008
Dwayne Page

Five people were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday.

Judge Leon Burns, Jr. presided.

33 year old James Leduc pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated burglary, one count of theft over $10,000 and two counts of worthless check. Leduc received a six year sentence in the burglary and theft cases to run concurrently, all suspended except for 244 days to serve. Leduc received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each of the worthless check cases to run concurrently with each other, but consecutive to the six year sentence. Leduc must make restitution to the victims and perform 40 hours of community service work. He was given jail credit of 179 days.

34 year old Tracy D. Schunke pleaded by information to three counts of forgery and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. She received a two year sentence in each forgery case to run concurrently, all suspended except for 120 days to serve. The sentence is to run consecutively to the drug case, in which Schunke received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days. Schunke must make restitution of $490 and pay a fine of $150.

25 year old April Lynn Anderson pleaded guilty to auto burglary and received a two year sentence on supervised probation by DOC. She must make a $100 contribution to the economic crime fund. Anderson was given jail credit of 11 days.

28 year old Crystal Thompson pleaded guilty to casual exchange and received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days. She will be on unsupervised good behavior probation and must pay a $250 fine.

59 year old Harold G. Blackwell pleaded guilty to compounding and received a sentence of six months of supervised PSI probation and six months of unsupervised probation. He was fined $50 and must perform 10 hours of community service work.

DeKalb County Tigers Beat Sycamore War Eagles 20-6 at Pleasantview

October 24, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigers defeated the Sycamore War Eagles 20-6 at Pleasantview Friday night to run their season record to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in Region 4-3A. With the win, the Tigers have earned a spot in the State Play-offs in two weeks.

The Tigers took the opening kick and marched 58 yards in six plays to score the first touchdown of the game. Quarterback Hunter Poteete threw an eight yard touchdown pass to Matthew Lawrence. Zach Taylor converted on the P.A.T. and DeKalb County led 7-0 with 9:59 left in the first period.

After a stalled Sycamore drive, the Tigers got the ball back and scored on their second offensive series. Nick Lester caught a three yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Poteete, capping a 48 yard drive and with 4:04 left in the first period, DeKalb County led 14-0 after Taylor converted on the P.A.T.

The score at the end of the first period was 14-0, DeKalb County.

After intercepting a DeKalb County pass, Sycamore moved 60 yards in 12 plays to get on the scoreboard late in the second period. The War Eagles capped the drive on a 9 yard touchdown run. The P.A.T. attempt was no good and DeKalb County's lead was cut to 14-6 with 49 seconds left before half time.

The Tigers, facing 4th and 15 from the Sycamore 28 yard line, attempted a 45 yard field goal just before the end of the second quarter, but Zach Taylor's kick fell short.

The halftime score was DeKalb County 14, Sycamore 6.

Neither team scored in the third quarter and the score remained DeKalb County 14, Sycamore 6 to start the fourth period.

DeKalb County stretched their lead with 8:36 left in the game. Facing fourth and goal from the one yard line, Matthew Lawrence took it in for the score. Taylor's P.A.T. attempt was no good but the Tigers led 20-6.

The final score, DeKalb County 20, Sycamore 6.

The Tigers will conclude the regular season next Thursday night, October 30 at Macon County. The State Play-offs begin in two weeks.

In other region play this week, Whitehouse defeated Station Camp 21 to 20 and Greenbrier beat Macon County 14 to 6. Pearl Cohn had the week off.

The current standings in Region 4-3A are as follows:
Whitehouse: 8-1 overall (5-0 in region play)
Station Camp: 6-3 (4-1)
DeKalb County: 7-2 (3-2)
Sycamore: 5-4 (3-3)
Greenbrier: 5-4 (2-3)
Macon County: 1-8 (1-4)
Pearl Cohn: 1-8 (0-5)


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