Local News Articles

Woman Seriously Injured After Car Crashes into Concrete Bridge Support

February 10, 2011
Dwayne Page
Jessica Renee Owen Injured After Car Crashes into Bridge Support
Jessica Renee Owen Injured After Car Crashes into Bridge Support

A Smithville woman was seriously injured Wednesday night during the snow storm after her car ran into a concrete bridge support at the College Street overpass on West Broad Street and then spun into the path of a DeKalb County Highway Department pickup truck.

Central dispatch received the call at 6:50 p.m.

Sergeant Jimmy Jones of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 33 year old Jessica Renee Owen was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. The driver of the truck, 30 year old Phillip Wayne Waggoner of Smithville, was reportedly treated and released at the local hospital.

According to Sergeant Jones, Owen was traveling west on Highway 70 in a 1992 Chevrolet Lumina when she came up behind the 2001 county owned Dodge Ram pickup. Both vehicles were traveling west in the left (inside) lane. Owen later told Sergeant Jones that she felt like traffic was moving too slowly so she pulled out in the turning lane to pass Waggoner. Owen was just getting by Waggoner, when her car struck the bridge support. Upon impact, Owen's car spun into the path of Waggoner's truck and while he had applied his brakes, Waggoner could not avoid running into her vehicle.

Owen, who was not wearing her seatbelt, apparently suffered serious injuries as her head struck the windshield.

According to Sergeant Jones alcohol was involved in the crash and Owen has been charged with driving under the influence, improper passing, violation of the seat belt law, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), and two misdemeanor drug possession charges.

Waggoner, who was not at fault in the collision, was wearing his seatbelt.

Tractor Supply In Smithville to Open Saturday

February 10, 2011
Smithville Tractor Supply Store

The new Tractor Supply Company store in Smithville will open for business Saturday, Feb. 12, according to Store Manager Lynn Adcock.

“We can’t wait to swing open the doors and start welcoming customers into the store,” said Adcock. “We look forward to serving our neighbors in Smithville and the surrounding communities.”

Tractor Supply Company is the largest retail farm and ranch supply store chain in the United States and has been operating in Tennessee since 1959.

The new Smithville Tractor Supply Company store is located in the former Chevrolet Dealership at 620 W. Broad St., and has 18,153 square feet, including a sales floor and support service space. A fenced exterior space offers a display area for items such as fencing, sprayers and livestock equipment. The store currently employs 14 full- and part-time team members.

Festivities are being planned for a grand opening February 17th-20th.

Tractor Supply Company, listed on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange as TSCO, operates more than 960 stores in 44 states. Tractor Supply Company stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers and ranchers. The company also serves the maintenance needs of those who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses.

Tractor Supply Company stores are located in the outlying towns in major metropolitan markets and in rural communities. The company offers a comprehensive selection of merchandise for the health, care, growth and containment of horses, livestock and pets including select Purina and Nutrena brand feeds; a broad selection of agricultural products; and tools and hardware selected for our customers’ needs. In addition, the company sells light truck equipment, work clothing for the entire family, and an extensive line of seasonal products including lawn and garden power equipment products. For more information on Tractor Supply, access the website at www.TractorSupply.com.

Several Drug Cases Settled in Criminal Court

February 9, 2011
Dwayne Page

Several people were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday. Judge David Patterson presided.

28 year old Bradley Redman pleaded guilty to promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine. He received a two year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation by community corrections, except for time served. Redman was fined $2,000. He was given jail credit from November 8th, 2010 to February 7th.

32 year old Shawn Patton pleaded guilty to attempted initiation and received a six year sentence. He was fined $2,000. Patton was given jail credit from May 3rd, 2010 to February 7th.

36 year old Kevin D. Bogle pleaded guilty to attempting to initiate the manufacture of meth and received a six year sentence to serve in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. He was fined $2,000. He was given jail credit from May 3rd, 2010 to February 7th.

47 year old Gary Ponder pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a four year sentence to serve at 30% before release eligibility. He was fined $2,000. Ponder was given jail credit of 244 days.

40 year old David G. Vanatta pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance (Hydromorphone) and received an eight year sentence to serve at 35% (time served). Vanatta was fined $4,000 and he must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment, perform 100 hours of community service, and reimburse the buy money. The sentence is to run concurrently with any violations or other charges in effect. Vanatta was given jail credit of 298 days.

23 year old Lydia Judkins pleaded guilty to initiation of the manufacture of meth. She received an eight year sentence, all suspended to probation, supervised by community corrections. She was given credit for time served and fined $2,000. Judkins was given jail credit from October 10th, 2010 to February 7th.

62 year old Paula Smith pleaded guilty by information to reckless driving and received a six month sentence, all suspended to supervised probation.

40 year old Vickie Cantrell pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance. She received a five year sentence to serve at least 30% before release eligibility. She was fined $2,000.

40 year old Timothy Joe Young pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell over 50 grams of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a fifteen year sentence as a range one offender. The sentence is to run concurrently with a case against him in Davidson County. He was given jail credit of 260 days.

28 year old Michael E. Lattimore pleaded guilty by information to promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine. He received a two year TDOC sentence, suspended to 177 days of time served with the balance on supervised probation. He must pay a $2,000 fine. Lattimore was given jail credit of 177 days.

34 year old Jimmy Estes pleaded guilty by information to auto burglary and received a two year sentence, all suspended to time served. He was given jail credit from November 7th, 2010 to February 7th.

33 year old Jason Cripps pleaded guilty to theft over $500 and received a one year sentence at 30%, all suspended to supervised probation.

48 year old Danny Caldwell pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule III controlled substance. He received a two year sentence in each case suspended to supervised probation. The sentences are to run consecutively for a total of four years. He was fined $2,000.

37 year old Steve F. Mabe, Jr. pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to sell a schedule II controlled substance and received a two year sentence in each case, but he will be on probation. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other but consecutively to other cases against him. Mabe was fined $2,000 and he must reimburse for drug buys. He was given credit for 301 days of time served.

Chase Bryant Wins County Spelling Bee

February 8, 2011
Dwayne Page
Spelling Bee Winners Chase Bryant and Kirkland Smallwood
County Spelling Bee Champion Chase Bryant
County Spelling Bee Runnerup Kirkland Smallwood

Chase Bryant, a seventh grader at DeKalb Middle School, won the 8th annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee Tuesday night at DeKalb County High School. This is the second county spelling championship for Bryant, who also won the title two years ago.

Bryant, the 13 year old son of Donald and Teresa Bryant of Dowelltown was among thirty nine students from the fourth grade to the eighth grade who participated in the contest.

He correctly spelled the word "interrupt" in the ninth round and "karate"" in the tenth round to claim the championship.

Twelve year old Kirkland Smallwood, a seventh grader at DeKalb West School, was the runner-up in the contest. He is the son of Jimmy and Jennifer Smallwood of Liberty.

(The following video clip features Kirkland Smallwood (#25) and Chase Bryant (#30) during the 8th round of the County Spelling Bee Tuesday night, February 8th)

Students from DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, and Northside Elementary School recently competed at the school level to become eligible for the county competition.

Along with students from thirty nine other counties, Bryant and Smallwood will compete in the Tennessean Regional Spelling Bee on March 2nd at Belmont University in Nashville.

The winner of the Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

The purpose of the County Wide Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling skills, increase vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

Participants in this year's County Wide Spelling Bee were:

Northside Elementary School:

Fourth Grade- Madison Colwell, Madelyn Hale, Holly Hall, Dulce Maciel, Ashley Phillips, and Derek Young

Fifth Grade- Kayla Belk, Madison Cripps, Abbie Fontanaz, Olivia Fuson, Austin Johnson, Hayley Martin, Allison Maynard, and Shauna Pedroza.

DeKalb Middle School:

Sixth Grade-Halle Burton, Madison Dickens, Alyssa Sewell

Seventh Grade- Chase Bryant

Eighth Grade- Lenzi Dickens, Matthew Foutch, Justin Johnson, Lauren Kilgore, Brooke Reffue, Makayla Starnes, Jacob Washer

DeKalb West School:

Fifth Grade- Ethan Martin and Stacy Taitum

Sixth Grade- Maegan Harris, Bailey Redmon, Hunter Robinson, and Paige Snyder

Seventh Grade- Mary Belle Mofield, Kirkland Smallwood, Morgan Vickers, and Matthew Winsett

Eighth Grade- Leah Burchfield, Justin Cummings, Brandon Elandt, and Nikki Hunt.

Twenty six students advanced to the second round including Leah Burchfield, Hayley Martin, Jacob Washer, Bailey Redmon, Madison Cripps, Stacy Taitum, Brooke Reffue, Hunter Robinson, Derek Young, Maegan Harris, Mary Belle Mofield, Matthew Winsett, Ethan Martin, Ashley Phillips, Kirkland Smallwood, Lenzi Dickens, Chase Bryant, Justin Cummings, Shauna Pedroza, Olivia Fuson, Allison Maynard, Lauren Kilgore, Paige Snyder, Austin Johnson, Molly Hall, and Madison Colwell.

Sixteen students made it to the third round including Leah Burchfield, Hayley Martin, Jacob Washer, Bailey Redmon, Hunter Robinson, Derek Young, Maegan Harris, Mary Belle Mofield, Matthew Winsett, Kirkland Smallwood, Lenzi Dickens, Chase Bryant, Shauna Pedroza, Lauren Kilgore, Paige Snyder, and Austin Johnson

Seven students advanced to the fourth round including Leah Burchfield, Haley Martin, Kirkland Smallwood, Lenzi Dickens, Chase Bryant, Lauren Kilgore, and Paige Snyder.

Advancing to the fifth round were Leah Burchfield, Hayley Martin, Kirkland Smallwood, Lenzi Dickens, Chase Bryant, and Lauren Kilgore.

Spellers in the sixth round were Leah Burchfield, Kirkland Smallwood, Lenzi Dickens, Chase Bryant, and Lauren Kilgore.

In the seventh round, the remaining spellers were Leah Burchfield, Kirkland Smallwood, and Chase Bryant.

Bryant and Smallwood each advanced to the eighth and ninth rounds, before Bryant won the championship in the tenth round.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew Promoted to Captain of Smithville Police Department

February 8, 2011
Dwayne Page
Captain Steven Leffew

A fourteen year veteran of the Smithville Police Department is being promoted.

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night voted 5-0 to promote Lieutenant Steven Leffew to the rank of Captain.

The recommendation was made by Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks and Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger.

In making the recommendation, Meeks said "all of you are very familiar with Lieutenant Leffew and the work he has done over the years. I believe he has been with us for fourteen years. On two separate occasions, he has acted for us in the position of "officer-in-charge" of the police department and did an admirable job in both instances. I had the opportunity to work with Lieutenant Leffew the last time he was "officer-in-charge" and saw what he actually got done. You wouldn't believe the pile of trash beside the police department that they took out from back there. I commend all of the officers for that work. But I also commend Lieutenant Leffew for being available, ready, and willing to work for us at any time. I've never heard him complain, grumble, or gripe about having to do anything. He's done an outstanding job and we would like to promote Lieutenant Leffew to Captain."

Chief Caplinger added that "Lieutenant Leffew has truly been my right hand since I've been here. I've known Steven since he went to work as a police officer. I was stationed here as a trooper. I've never had any problem out of him. He's been admirable over these years. He's been professional. Steven has been to some of the classes where a lot of people hasn't been. He's well trained. One of the most elite classes in the United States for a police officer is the Police Staff and Command from Northwestern University. That's a highly sought after position. It's a school that not everyone can get into. It's important enough that it was nine months long when it was first offered and Steven completed that. He did it admirably. He is certified as a meth clandestine lab technician. He's a certified training officer, certified chemical weapons instructor, certified defensive tactics instructor and he has served twice as an interim chief and did an admirable job. I couldn't ask for anyone to be more deserving of this position and I would ask for your vote and support to promote him to captain for the Smithville Police Department."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson also praised Lieutenant Leffew. "He's a big help to everyone here. You can ask him for anything and he'll try to do it for you. He never complains. I would recommend that this happen also myself."

Meanwhile, he gets to keep his job, but city secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson will have to serve out a five day suspension without pay for allegedly "deliberately falsifying city records" in violation of city rules of conduct based on findings in a recent state audit.

Click here to read state audit report

The Smithville aldermen Monday night voted 3 to 2 to impose the suspension, based upon a recommendation of city attorney Vester Parsley, Jr., which will begin at the discretion of Mayor Taft Hendrixson. Aldermen Aaron Meeks, Shawn Jacobs, and Cecil Burger voted for the suspension but Alderman Stephen White and W.J. (Dub) White voted against the suspension because they wanted to fire Hendrixson.

Prior to the vote on the suspension, Alderman Stephen White made a motion to dismiss Hunter Hendrixson. Alderman W.J. (Dub) White seconded the motion but Aldermen Meeks, Jacobs and Burger voted against firing him so White's motion failed on a 2 to 3 vote.

City attorney Parsley explained to the aldermen earlier in the discussions Monday night that according to city ordinances regarding rules of conduct, Hunter Hendrixson could receive a suspension without pay for three or five days or even some other punishment based on the violations. Parsley recommended that the board go with either a three or five day suspension in this case. According to the ordinance, if the mayor investigates and determines that there is some merit to the allegations, he has an obligation to bring it to the entire board of alderman and to give notice to the secretary-treasurer of the allegations (state audit findings). Mayor Hendrixson apparently met that requirement of the ordinance and notified Hendrixson and members of the board.

In the letter to Hunter Hendrixson, Mayor Hendrixson wrote that "I have determined that it appears you may have violated the City of Smithville rules of conduct by deliberately falsifying city records and there has been an intentional deviation from established work procedures without authorization in that you signed my name to a check dated April 17th, 2010 without my permission, also you made certain payments to Smithville Golf Management and an insurance company without authorization and failed to bill Smithville Golf Management for water usage from September 2008 through July, 2010, all of the above without authorization from myself or the Board of Aldermen. You shall be awarded the opportunity to present your position in this matter. You may have an attorney present to represent you. This matter will be placed on the agenda for the regular board meeting to be held on February 7th at 7:00 p.m. at its regular meeting place."

City attorney Parsley said while these allegations may have amounted to a violation of protocol, there was no criminal activity in that "there was no benefit to Hunter" in his actions.

However, Alderman Stephen White suggested that Hendrixson has overstepped his authority on more than one occasion and that he should be held accountable. He also stressed that the city charter, which supercedes city ordinances, provides for termination in the case of "insubordination". "There are more than just two incidents where this has happened. The insubordination of carrying out the board's wishes and policies is something that has taken place again and again over these years. I don't know how many times we have heard Hunter say "I took it upon myself". He's taken a lot of these things and made them his decision and acted outside his authority."

White continued, "The board voted to enter into a contract with Smithville Golf Course Management contingent that they retain a $10,000 deposit. But that was never secured. You (Hunter) and the mayor signed the contract with them but it wasn't supposed to be signed until that was secured. Then, in just a very short time, You (Hunter) were writing checks and the residents of Smithville were paying bills for this group of people (Smithville Golf Management). That was not the city's responsibility. You (Hunter) was paying insurances, paying fees for permits, and all these other things, reimbursements for this and for that. Then by your (Hunter's) own admission, you (Hunter) took it upon yourself again to take their water meter off of the billing cycle. You (Hunter) say it was just an oversight but it kept happening with this one group of people. You said you weren't hiding anything but you never did bring it to the board over this two year period. You never mentioned it to any of us. You hid it from myself, the mayor, and the rest of the board by just signing checks with just your signature on them. You knew you were doing wrong and you were covering up. You even forged the mayor's signature on one of them. I don't see but one action to take. I'm going to move that we dismiss you."

In his defense, Hendrixson explained his actions, but also apologized to the board and vowed that this would never happen again."I was approached by Farron (Hendrix) before the pool opened. I don't know the exact date. But they were ready to turn it in (give up the lease). It's no secret that there is political bad blood between some people and the guys who worked over there (golf course). I found myself in a position, do we want the pool maybe to not even open and for the golf course to close? Their insurance had been dropped and they (golf course tenants) came to me about a week or week and a half before the pool was to be opened. They weren't going to open it because they couldn't find anybody to cover the insurance. I took matters into my own hands. That's what I did. I should have come to the board but I found myself between a rock and a hard place and I've owned up to it. There was nothing malicious. There was nothing of personal gain. I just tried to keep it going. I knew they were probably going to turn in their lease. I just wanted to get through the pool season. That's basically what it was. I did what I did. I did it the wrong way. I chose the wrong avenue to follow to get it done instead of coming to the board. I've not helped out any other businesses. I've manned up to this. If there's going to be a reprimand, I want to close this out tonight. I want to get some closure and move on. It's been lingering for six months. Trust me, it'll never happen again. I don't want to be in this situation again. I'm just ready to move on and take my medicine. You have my promise that it won't happen again and I apologize."

Alderman Shawn Jacobs told Hunter that he was not being singled out when the board sought the state audit, but added that based on the findings, Hunter should have known what he did was wrong in regard to the golf course lease. "You were not singled out as a focus of this, Hunter. We had some serious concerns about several things going on financially, some of which may or may not have involved you at all. I'm sorry if you felt singled out because you were not the focus of this. It was certainly not a witch hunt. But we felt like we had seen enough and I quite frankly had some serious reservations about some of the recommendations of one of our auditors. That's another reason we had this audit. We had some people in the audience question the advice of one of our financial people. One of our contract people. We wanted to make sure that we had a good handle on the city's finances and to make sure that there wasn't other fudging going on in other places that had nothing to do with the golf course. I assure you it was not my intent nor do I think it was anybody on this board's intent to single you out. Having said that, I think you had to know you were violating the terms of the lease. You had to know that this was wrong and you violated the trust of the board. That's something I think you're going to have to earn back. I appreciate your being forthright. You've been a lot of help to me. I've been new on the board. I've been pleased with your performance but again I think this is a situation where we wanted to make sure we did what was right toward you and anybody else and for the City of Smithville. We had a responsibility but we wanted to make sure we had all the facts."

Tony Poss addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night concerning the golf course. "I'm requesting your permission to use the golf course, if it's open this spring. We've had several calls about our youth golf league. We want to have sign ups on March 5th & 12th. We want to see if we can use the driving range and possibly the pro shop to do sign ups if it's available. We're just wanting to see if we can be on the property."

Alderman Aaron Meeks suggested that a decision on Poss' request be delayed until the city decides on what to do about the operation of the golf course. Meeks also called for a workshop to review the three proposals that have been submitted. "I think we should decide what we're going to do on whoever is going to be in charge of it before we give anybody permission to use it. I'm not trying to put Tony off or to delay anything but I don't want to get the cart before the horse either."

Meeks continued "As I understand it right now, there have actually been three proposals to operate the golf course. I believe the Smithville Golf Course Management had given us a proposal. Tony Poss had given us a proposal. And now we have a new proposal. I would suggest if it was agreeable with all the other members that we have a workshop as quickly as possible and choose one of the three or some other alternative to get the golf course open and running. This needs to be done as quickly as possible since the golfing season will be upon us quickly."

The aldermen agreed to have the workshop Thursday night, February 10th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall. A special meeting may also be held within the next two weeks to make a final decision on the operation of the golf course this season.

Loader Charged with Theft and Felony Evading Arrest

February 7, 2011
Dwayne Page
Jeremy D. Loader

A local man is facing theft and evading charges after trying to outrun the law in the pickup truck he allegedly stole.

27 year old Jeremy D. Loader of Bethel Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and felony evading arrest. Loader is under a $10,000 bond and he will be in court on February 17th. He was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia after a hypodermic needle containing a yellow residue and a cut straw were found on him during his arrest. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that "we received information that Loader had stolen a vehicle from North College Street in Smithville. I gave that information to the deputies and one of them met Loader driving a 1994 Ford Ranger on Underhill Road. When the officer turned around and activated his emergency equipment, Loader accelerated. The pursuit continued about four miles from DeKalb County into Warren County. Before terminating the pursuit, the officer obtained the tag number on Loader's vehicle and returned to the jail and took warrants against Loader who was later arrested January 31st on Bright Hill Street."

42 year old Ricky Lynn Murphy of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with disorderly conduct. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on February 24th. Sheriff Ray said that on January 31st, Murphy came to DeKalb County High School after his son had been arrested. He was talking very vulgar in front of children and he allegedly told the arresting officer that he (officer) was not taking his kid anywhere. The school resource officer signed a warrant against Murphy for disorderly conduct because of his actions at the school.

52 year old Billy Ray Huddleston of Adcock Cemetery Road was issued a citation recently for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and he will appear in court on February 16th. Sheriff Ray said that a deputy responded to a wreck in which Huddleston had struck another vehicle while crossing Highway 70 on Adcock Cemetery Road. Huddleston, at the time of the accident, could not provide valid insurance.

51 year old Richard Dean Lagle, II of Westmoreland was issued a citation for not having a drivers license, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), and failure to maintain his lane of travel. He will appear in court on March 2nd. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, February 5th, Lagle was traveling west on Highway 70 near Allen's Ferry Road when he failed to maintain his lane of travel. After being stopped by an officer, Lagle could not produce a drivers license nor show proof of financial responsibility.

21 year old Cody Murphy of Sparta Highway, Smithville was issued a citation for operating an all terrain vehicle on the highway. He will be in court on February 16th. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, February 5th, an officer saw Murphy operating an ATV on Midway Road, in violation of the law.

Methamphetamine A Growing Concern

February 7, 2011
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Meth Lab Components
Meth Lab Components
Meth Lab Components

Although prescription pills may still be the drug of choice among many users and dealers in this area, Sheriff Patrick Ray said the manufacture and use of methamphetamine is on the rise again based upon the discoveries of meth labs that the sheriff's department has made in recent months and the arrests that have followed.

In a recent interview with WJLE, Sheriff Ray talked about the growing meth problem and how the public can be of help to law enforcement. The following is a question and answer report from that interview:

Q: Sheriff Ray, what is the drug of choice among illegal users and dealers in DeKalb County?

A: "Drug users' drug of choice within the county is still prescription drugs but methamphetamine is working it's way back to the top here and across the state. For example in the year 2009, there were 1,322 meth labs statewide. In the year 2010 there were 1,969. Just in January and February this year, we're already seeing an increase from last year during January and February so there's no telling what the total count will be this year."

Q: Compare methamphetamine to cocaine?

A: "Methamphetamine is close to what cocaine is. Cocaine is more of a rich man's drug. One thing that methamphetamine does that cocaine doesn't is make your high last longer. Where cocaine might last an hour and a half, methamphetamine will last for hours. It is cheaper and it's easier to find than cocaine. You actually have to find a dealer that does cocaine. The purity of the methamphetamine is more than the cocaine"

Q: How potent is methamphetamine?

A: "A lot of people will get hooked on methamphetamine, especially women trying to lose weight. If a woman wants to lose weight quick and if they ever try meth, many times they're hooked and can't come back off it. You'll see a lot of people who had some kind of drug habit, maybe a prescription drug habit, who had a buddy doing methamphetamine so they tried it because of their friend and became hooked on it themselves. Most of the time the only other drug we find from a meth addict, other than meth, is marijuana. The reason for that is anyone on meth may stay awake for days at a time and never sleep. But when they get ready to crash or sleep, they'll smoke that marijuana and it'll bring them back down because marijuana is a depressant."

Q: What other affects does methamphetamine have on people such as paranoia?

A: "We have received calls from people on methamphetamine who think we're watching them or that we're in black ninja suits and shooting red lasers through their windows. These are the kinds of people law enforcement often deal with who are a threat because we don't know what's going through their mind. When we go up and knock on a door to maybe serve a civil paper on them, they might think we're there to harm them. It can be a dangerous situation."

Q: Explain how methamphetamine is made

A: "Most everything that is used for meth ingredients can be bought from any retail store including red devil lye or draino, pseudoephedrine, tubing, electrical tape, lithium batteries, and cold packs. Those are just a few of the things that are used. With the lithium batteries, they'll remove the lithium strip, cut it up in pieces, and then place it in a bottle to produce a chemical reaction resulting in heat. That way a heat source, such as a stove eye burner, is not needed. Around here, we find they're using cold packs in the cooking of meth, which they can easily obtain from a medical department of a retail store. Ninety nine percent of these things can be bought at any of our local retail stores."

Q: State laws are in place to help control the sale of pseudoephedrine, so how are the makers of meth, able to get around this law?

A: " In 2005, the state passed the methamphetamine drug act where you have to show a photo ID before purchasing pseudoephedrine. They (store clerks) take down that information. But in an effort to get around this, many meth makers are now engaging in what is called "smurfing". For example, there may be five or six people in a group who will go into a certain store and each will buy their maximum quantity of pseudoephedrine. Then they will go to another store and do the same thing. That's done a lot by people who either cook or use methamphetamine. Sometimes the cook will actually share a part of his batch of meth with these people so they will continue to help him obtain the pseudoephedrine. Some stores also have restrictions on lithium batteries. They'll only sell one person just so many batteries at one time. We encourage all stores to do that. I think it's everyone's responsibility to help control this."

Q: Can you talk a little about the "shake and bake" meth labs?

A: "The new shake and bake method is not like the red phosphorus method. The shake and bake is real easy and quick to do. You don't need as many of the ingredients as the red phosphorus labs and the shake and bake can actually be done in an automobile while driving down the road, with only one or two people in the back seat making the meth. What they will often do to keep law enforcement officers from finding their discarded materials is they'll throw them out the car window. If somebody comes by and throws out something like this in your front yard, leave it there and call us because it could be toxic or explosive. Within the last couple of weeks we've had some people to call the jail wanting us to come and look at things they've found. We encourage people not to bring those things to the jail. The reason for that is, some of the layered liquid you'll see will be in mason jars or some of it might be in plastic bottles. That stuff settles in the bottom. Of course, there's pressure inside of those cans and bottles so when you agitate it by hauling it down the road and it bouncing around because of the movement of the vehicle, that material could explode or it may cause severe burns if it gets on your skin, so again we ask everybody to leave that material right where it is if they should come across it. Just call us. We don't do quarantines on ditch lines or property, such as yards. We only quarantine homes where meth labs are found. So if somebody comes by and throws out something in your front yard, we're not going to quarantine your property just because we found that bottle there. We encourage people to call us and let us come and look at it. If it's something we can dispose of ourselves, we will. Or if we need to call in a hazmat crew to pick it up, that's no cost to the owner. We get federal grant funds to dispose of methamphetamine labs and their components."

Q. Why do homes where meth labs are found have to be quarantined for a period of time?

A. One of the questions I get asked, especially by people who are in the rental business who rent mobile homes, apartment complexes, or houses is about the quarantine that we do on places where we find methamphetamine labs. When we find a lab there, we will quarantine the house. That's not the property around the house, that's just the house itself. After we do the quarantine, we will send a letter to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. We will also send it to the Register of Deeds. When we send it to the Register of Deeds, anybody say five years down the road who wants to come back and buy a piece of property can go up to his office and look in a file and see if we've ever gotten a methamphetamine lab there. We also send a letter to the landowner. In that letter, it states what the landowner has to do to make the residence safe to live in again. One of the things the landowner has to do is to hire a hygienist who is state approved to come and assess the property and determine which tier it rates. A low tier consists of a home which has had a minimum of methamphetamine exposure which might could be cleaned up by say cleaning the carpets, cleaning the walls, and painting the walls. A high tier means that the landowner will be required to pay a contractor, certified by the state in hazardous materials to come in and gut the entire inside of the residence, including the walls, interior walls, ceilings, and insulation, and put back new. After all that is completed the hygienist will come back and re-test that building. If the home is safe for someone to come back into and live then the hygienist will send a certificate to the jail and we will release that hold on the house. The landowner may then rent it back out, sell it, or do what he needs to."

"If somebody is wanting to buy or rent something and they have suspicion that methamphetamine is being cooked there, they need to do some research, because during that process of manufacturing methamphetamine, poisonous gases are produced and those gases, called phosphine, will lay low to the floor of the home. If they have infant children crawling over that carpet, the children may be breathing in poisonous gases whereas adults in the room, five or six feet tall, won't be as close to the floor. They may still be consuming some of those gases but probably not as much as an infant. So we encourage people to check out the home they're wanting to rent or buy, ahead of time to see what's been there. Of course, if someone has already been exposed to those chemicals or fumes they'll suffer from the same health problems as someone who cooked the methamphetamine. They may have respiratory problems, skin irritations, and vomiting because of the gases. We don't know about the long term health affects of methamphetamine because it's only been around since the late 1990's. But in years to come I think we'll see huge affects on people that's been exposed to methamphetamine."

Q: Would you be willing to meet with civic groups and others if they want to learn more about methamphetamine or other drugs?

A: "Yes, if any civic organizations, churches, or anyone else wants us to come and do a meth presentation for them, I have a power point on about every drug we see here in DeKalb County and methamphetamine is one of them. We will be glad to do our presentation for any group. We'll then have a question and answer session. We just want them to know about the harmful affects drugs has on our communities and some prevention they can help us with."

Q. What should the public be looking for in their neighborhood if they suspect someone may be running a meth lab?

A. "We would like to ask the public, if they have suspicion that somebody may be cooking methamphetamine, to call us. I've always had an open door policy. People may come in and talk to me or call me on the phone and if they don't want to leave their name, that's fine. We want any information as to what illegal activities may be going on in the county. The public is our eyes and ears. They sometimes see things and hear things that law enforcement don't see or hear. They (public) need to look for things like windows being blacked in the home or people coming outside to smoke. What we've seen recently is that these meth labs will be in a back bedroom, that'll be where they do the cooking, and there'll be an exhaust fan back there that will blow these poisonous gases out from the home to the outside. Not only are those poisonous gases posing a health problem for the persons cooking the meth, it also poses a problem for the neighbors because all of those gases will settle on vegetation, such as people's gardens and their lawns and toys where children play. It exposes the whole neighborhood. So please call us if you see things like exhaust fans running, blowing out hot air on a twenty degree night because something is probably not right there. All of the calls we receive remain confidential so give us a call if you see something suspicious."

Q: Any final comments?

A: "One thing I would like to encourage everybody to do is look at the methamphetamine task force website at www.rid-meth.org. On that website, you can go into it and report somebody who might be using or manufacturing methamphetamine. You can also search meth labs, just for DeKalb County on there. It tells places where we've found methamphetamine labs and places that have been quarantined. It also tells what law enforcement departments seized those meth labs. It includes a list of the quarantine clean-up contractors. It's updated monthly so you can keep up with how many meth labs are being found all across the state."

For more information, contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 597-4935.

Joyce Ferrell in "Right Place at Right Time"

February 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Joyce Ferrell

Her six year old son Brayden calls her a hero, but Joyce Ferrell doesn't necessarily see herself that way. She's just glad to have been in the right place at the right time Friday afternoon when a pre-kindergarten student from Smithville Elementary walked away from school without anyone knowing he was gone.

The child, four year old Kameron Luther, was in his pre-kindergarten classroom when he slipped away during the students nap time. According to principal, Dr. Bill Tanner, the child's teacher had gone to the restroom and was out of the classroom at the time, and the educational assistant, who was in the room, didn't see the child leave apparently because the lights were out and the room was dark.

The little boy had already apparently crossed Bryant Street and was near the Region's Bank branch ATM location when Ferrell drove by and spotted the child. In an interview with WJLE, Ferrell said she immediately stopped to talk with the boy, sensing something was wrong. "I asked him where his mommy was and he just shrugged his shoulders. He was just dressed in jeans and a shirt. He had on no jacket and of course it was cold outside. I asked him if he was in school and he told me no. I asked him his name and he said it was Kameron Luther and he was four years old. I just thought I had to get him back to his parents, so I put Kameron in my vehicle. I asked Kameron if he knew where he lived and he told me yes. As we were going down the road he pointed to where he lived but to me it just didn't look like it (where he lived) because it was like a factory of some sort with a storage building. So I told Kameron that we were going to the police station and he got excited. He said "Am I going to meet a real policeman?" I said yes."

After meeting with the police, Ferrell said she took Kameron back to school where Mr. Tanner was waiting.

Ferrell said she received a call from Kameron's mother Friday evening, thanking her for "saving my son". When asked if she felt like a hero, Ferrell said "I don't know, I just felt in my heart that I was doing the right thing. I was just in the right place at the right time."

SES Teacher and Assistant May Be Reprimanded after Pre-K Child Leaves School Unnoticed

February 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Dr. Bill Tanner

A Smithville Elementary School teacher and her educational assistant may receive a written reprimand from school officials after a four year old child left his pre-kindergarten classroom and the school building Friday afternoon without anyone noticing.

The child, Kameron Luther, was picked up by a passing motorist, Joyce Ferrell near the Regions Bank branch ATM location on Bryant Street. Ferrell took the child to the Smithville Police Department, who then alerted Dr. Bill Tanner, principal of the school.

Dr. Tanner told WJLE that the teacher was out of the classroom when Kameron left and the educational assistant, who was still in the room, did not notice the child leave since it was nap time for the students and the lights were off. "The little boy was in his pre-k class and they were taking a nap. The (teacher's) aide was in the room watching the children but the lights were out and it was dark in the room. The children were laying on the floor on their little cots and he (Kameron) was over by the door. The teacher had stepped out of the room. I think she was going to the restroom. After she left, he (Kameron) decided he was going to go home. He was over by the (classroom) door and he slipped out. He went out of the pod area, came down the front hall, and went out the door (to the school) and left. He (Kameron) went down to where the Regions' branch office is on Bryant Street. Somebody (Joyce Ferrell) picked him up as he was trying to cross the road. She saw him and thought that he had slipped away from home. She stopped and talked to him for a few minutes. He couldn't tell her where he lived so she took him to the police station. They (police) contacted me. All of this occurred between a fifteen to twenty minute time period from the time he went out the door until the police called me."

Dr. Tanner said he is thankful that the child was unharmed and for the actions of Mrs Ferrell. "This is something that you never want to happen and it scares you to death when it does happen. But the little boy is okay and I'm proud that Mrs. Ferrell did what she did. I want to thank her a thousand times. We're going to do everything we can to make sure this never happens again."

Because of this incident, Dr. Tanner said that the teacher and educational assistant responsible for the child may receive a reprimand."There will be some repercussions because of this. A written reprimand is probably what we're talking about because it's our job to make sure that the children don't escape the building. We can't lock the doors from the inside but it's the teacher's responsibility to make sure that the children are safe."

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE that policies and procedures will be reviewed with school staff in an effort to try to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

Neither Dr. Tanner or Director Willoughby would identify the teacher and educational assistant.

Smithville Police Department Crime News

February 4, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has released it's latest arrest report for the week

Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 33 year old Ozell Kay Meeks of White Street was cited for theft of merchandise on Friday, January 28th. Officer Matt Farmer responded to Dollar General Store for a possible shoplifter. Store employees advised the officer that Ms. Meeks had taken some items and placed them in her purse. Four items found in Ms. Meeks' purse matched the description of the items given by store employees. Her court date is March 3rd.

60 year old Donna Marie Ashburn of Baron Bluff Road was arrested on Friday, January 28th for a second offense of driving under the influence. She was also cited for violation of the implied consent law. Officer Matt Farmer received a call of a possible DUI. When Officer Farmer located the vehicle, he noticed it cross the center line while approaching on-coming traffic. After Officer Farmer pulled over Ms. Ashburn, she put her vehicle in reverse and started backing up forcing the officer to back up his vehicle to keep from being hit. While speaking to Ms. Ashburn, Officer Farmer noticed she had slurred speech and seemed to be confused. She performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and refused to submit to a blood test. Her bond is $2,000 and her court date is February 17th.

47 year old Michael John Bafundo of Franklin was arrested on Saturday, January 29th for driving under the influence. Bafundo was operating a motor vehicle when he was stopped by Officer James Cornelius for speeding. Upon further investigation, Officer Cornelius found Bafundo to be unsteady on his feet. Bafundo submitted to field sobriety tasks but he performed poorly. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on February 17th.

75 year old Joseph Charles Edge of Creek Road was cited for theft of merchandise on Monday, January 31st. Officer Scott Davis responded to Rite Aid Pharmacy for a possible shoplifter. Officer Davis confronted Mr. Edge and asked him if he had anything that did not belong to him on his person. Edge responded "no" but added that Officer Davis could check. Officer Davis recovered two boxes of allergy medication from Mr. Edge's pockets which had not been paid for. Edge's court date is February 17th.

Samantha Bee Florida of Alabama was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia on Wednesday, February 2nd. Officer David Phillips was dispatched to Rite Aid in reference to a shoplifter. The manager reported that the suspect, Samantha Florida had taken some batteries into the bathroom. She consented to a search and two needles were found in her purse. Florida's court date is March 3rd.

Meanwhile, anyone with information on any offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.


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