Local News Articles

Sixty Three Indicted by DeKalb County Grand Jury

April 5, 2011
Dwayne Page

Sixty three people were indicted by the April term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday including sixteen who were named in sealed indictments.

All those indicted will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 11th at 9:00 a.m.

The names of the defendants and their charges are as follows:

Gary R. Ashford- Possession of a schedule VI controlled substance and a second offense of driving under the influence

Roy D. Atnip- Driving on a revoked license

Clay A. Bain- Possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, evading arrest, and possession of a weapon

Linda C. Barrett- Tampering with evidence, possession of a schedule II and III controlled substance, and possession of paraphernalia

Aaron Preston Battle- Theft over $1,000

Jerry Anthony Bogle- Driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law

Virginia Ruth Carrier- Theft under $500

Scott B. Carroll, Jr., Wesley J. Hayes, and Francisco I. Bustamonte- Initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine and reckless endangerment

Sandra L. Clark and Robert E. Rochefort- Initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine, tampering with evidence, possession of an illegal weapon, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and possession of paraphernalia

Lois Nicole Cobble and Carlos L. Godsey- Child Abuse

Melvin L. Crips, Jr. and Tracy L. Haynes- Theft over $10,000 and Theft over $500

Charles J. Davis- Initiation of the Manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Donna Sue Estes- Possession of Paraphernalia

Amanda Farless- Initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine

Mark Fish, Jr.- Rape

Timothy W. Ford- Possession of contraband in a penal institution

Christopher J. Garrett, Brandon J. Gurley, and Jamie L. Hodges- Initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine and failure to carry a driver's license

Steven B. Goad- Vandalism over $500 and Leaving the scene of an accident

Nun'ez Gutierrez- Aggravated assault

Donald Ray Henson- Vehicular Homicide, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene

Greta Lynn Higgins- Driving under the influence

Harold L. Hutchings- Initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Roxanna N. Landis, Craig Hill, and Ricky Estes- Aggravated Robbery

Matthew Malachi Lawson- Theft over $1,000; Possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale; possession of a schedule IV controlled substance for resale; possession of paraphernalia; sale of a schedule II and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance; and aggravated burglary and theft over $500

Matthew M. Lawson and Chris M. Pack- Aggravated burglary and theft over $10,000

Joshua L. McCowan- Theft under $500 and possession of paraphernalia

Justin Lynn Murphy- Manufacturing a schedule VI controlled substance, possession of a schedule II, possession of a schedule IV, and possession of paraphernalia

Micah D. Murphy- Driving on a revoked license

Amy G. Odell- Initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia

Tommy Parsley- Evading arrest and a sixth offense of driving on a suspended licensed

Stephen Hunter Pugh- Possession of paraphernalia

Tony J. Reeder- Driving under the influence (4th offense), violation of the implied consent law, evading arrest with a motor vehicle, and resisting arrest

Justin H. Robb- Attempted aggravated robbery

Jeremy S. Shelton- Possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale and theft under $500

Sharon K. Skinner- Possession of paraphernalia

Brian Thomason- Auto burglary (7 charges), theft under $500 (8 charges), criminal simulation, and vandalism under $500

James H. Thomen- Driving under the influence

Ray D. Underwood- Promotion of methamphetamine

Juan Adam Valdivia- Driving on a suspended license (3rd offense)

Auston Corley Wood- Theft under $500

Sebrena Michelle Wright- Introduction of drugs into a penal institution

The names of those charged in sealed indictments cannot be released until they are arrested.

Henson Indicted for Vehicular Homicide

April 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Donald Ray Henson
Priscilla Judkins

A 51 year old man, involved in a fatal hit and run accident last September on Broad Street in Smithville has been indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury.

Donald Ray Henson is indicted for vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in the death of 44 year old Priscilla Judkins. Henson will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 11th.

According to Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer, Henson was traveling east on Broad Street in a Dodge Caravan when he rear-ended an eastbound 1994 Toyota pickup truck, driven by Randy Paris, who was stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Broad and South Mountain Street.

Central dispatch received the call at 9:12 a.m on the morning of September 15th.

Officer Farmer said after crashing into Paris' truck, Henson left the scene, still heading east on Broad Street. Paris received minor injuries in the collision but refused EMS transport to the hospital. His truck received considerable damage.

Sheriff Patrick Ray then had a close encounter with Henson. According to the sheriff, he was driving west on Broad Street near Bumper's Drive-In and had pulled into the turning lane to make a turn when he saw the eastbound Dodge Caravan, also in the turning lane, fast approaching him. Sheriff Ray said he quickly maneuvered into the westbound lane and the van went on by him, still heading east.

Sheriff Ray said he turned around to catch up with the van and saw it turn into the parking lot of Curve's on East Broad Street. When he pulled in behind the van at Curves', Sheriff Ray said the man behind the wheel was trying to drive the van up an embankment. The van rolled back and came to a stop in the parking lot.

Sheriff Ray said when the driver got out of the van, he also noticed a woman passenger who appeared to be seriously injured. He called for an ambulance.

Henson was placed in custody by Smithville Police at the scene and Judkins was taken by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. She was later airlifted by a helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville where she died.

Henson, who was believed to have been intoxicated at the time of the crash, told police that his brakes "went out" and that his accelerator "hung". He also had in the van several cans of beer, three empty liquor bottles, and at least one bottle of Tequila which was half full.

Three Indicted for Aggravated Robbery of Liberty State Bank

April 4, 2011
Dwayne Page
Craig Hill
Ricky Estes
 Roxanna Landis

Three people believed to have been involved in the robbery of Liberty State Bank at Liberty last August have been indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury.

38 year old Craig Hill, 45 year old Ricky Estes, and 26 year old Roxanna Landis all of Smithville have each been indicted on the charge of aggravated robbery.

All three will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 11th at 9:00 a.m.

Hill, who is accused of actually committing the robbery in which $6,000 was taken, turned himself in at the DeKalb County Jail on Saturday, August 14th, eleven days after the robbery on Tuesday, August 3rd.

Estes and Landis were arrested on August 20th.

After Hill's arrest, Sheriff Patrick Ray said that "On August 3rd, through an investigation into the robbery, Hill was identified through (bank surveillance) video tapes and other investigative tools to be the person responsible for the robbery. Lawmen had been searching for Hill ever since. Hill, who had been living out of town since this incident, came to the DeKalb County Jail to turn himself in on a violation of probation warrant. While there, he was questioned by Sheriff's Department Detectives about the robbery and admitted his involvement in the robbery of Liberty State Bank".

The warrant for his arrest alleged that "On or about the 3rd day of August 2010, Craig Anthony Hill did enter the Liberty State Bank in Liberty Tennessee presenting the teller with a note stating "Give me the money in 20's and 100's, I have a gun" thus putting the teller in fear of her life. The teller at that point took the cash from her drawer and gave it to Craig Hill as instructed. The amount of money taken during the robbery was in excess of $6,000."

According to Sheriff Ray, Estes "aided in the robbery of Liberty State Bank by being involved in the planning of the robbery and driving the get away car. He also shared in the proceeds from the robbery."

Sheriff Ray added that Landis "aided by being involved in the planning of the robbery, freely leaving in the get away vehicle, and sharing in the proceeds of the robbery".

Another Round of Storms Cause Property Damage in DeKalb County

April 4, 2011
Dwayne Page
Garage at the home of Woody Adcock collapses during severe thunderstorm
Front porch chairs piled up together from high winds at home of Woody Adcock
Barn Heavily Damaged on Jefferson Road

Just twelve days after fierce winds from a severe thunderstorm dipped down in Alexandria causing property damage, DeKalb County was hammered again by another round of storms Monday afternoon with the Jefferson and Keltonburg communities taking the hardest blows this time.

Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, said high winds uprooted trees, blew off shingles, metal roofing and guttering from homes, and ripped off tin from barn roof tops and outbuildings. One of the worst hit areas was at the residence of Woody and Carolyn Adcock on Jefferson Road where a free standing garage behind the house collapsed onto the vehicles parked inside.

Parker said the damage from this storm appeared to have been caused from straight line winds. "We had reports of a possible tornado in the Jefferson area but it appeared to be straight line winds and very high gusts of winds. There was some very strong winds with it. The winds blew over and broke several trees and limbs. There was some damage around Creek Road in the Keltonburg community and back down on Jefferson Road. I have a list of about ten different locations that had some damage to either the barn, outbuilding, or to the roof of the house. Most of the damage was minor to moderate. No houses were destroyed and there were no reports of any injuries. There were some power lines down and tree limbs across them and some residents were without power for a while because of it."

Parker added that heavy rains during the storm also caused a few problems in the Smithville area. "There was a tremendous amount of rain with this system and a lot of standing, puddling water. It was hard to drive in during that time and some motorists said they felt like they were floating because there was so much water out there. No major flooding was reported and no one had to be evacuated. It was primarily on roadways and areas that typically have problems with high water like West Main Street."

Crews from Caney Fork Electric Cooperative and DTC Communications were called out to repair lines and restore service to those affected by the storms.

Hedge Crowned Junior Miss of Spring Blossom Pageant

April 2, 2011
Dwayne Page
Junior Miss Kelsey Sueanna Hedge
Junior Miss Kelsey Sueanna Hedge and Runners-Up
Junior Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic

Thirteen year old Kelsey Sueanna Hedge of Smithville is the new Junior Miss of the Spring Blossom Pageant, which was held Saturday night at the high school and sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

Hedge, daughter of David and Trina Hedge, succeeds the 2010 Junior Miss Haley Marie Hale, the fourteen year old daughter of Melissa and Chad Hale.

Hedge was also named Miss Photogenic.

First runner-up in the pageant was Tyra Graham of Smithville, the twelve year old daughter of Doris and Kyle Graham.

Fourteen year old Mariah Faith Jones of Smithville was second runner-up. She is the daughter of Melissa and Bill Jones.

Alyssa Kayleen Funk of Dowelltown, the fourteen year old daughter of Emily Funk, was named third runner-up.

Twelve year old Rachel Olivia Fuson of Smithville, daughter of Missy and Joe Fuson was the fourth runner-up. Fuson was also named Miss Congeniality

Others making up the top ten in no particular order were Bethany Brooke Poss, the thirteen year old daughter of Lori and John Poss of Smithville; Morgan Marie Vickers, the thirteen year old daughter of Wanda Sue and Joseph Vickers of Liberty; Brooke Danielle Roller, the thirteen year old daughter of Rose and Richard Roller of Smithville; Kacie Brooke Bain, the twelve year old daughter of Christy and David Bain of Smithville; and Hannah Walker, the twelve year old daughter of Misty and Scott Walker of Smithville.

Junior Miss Top Ten from dwayne page on Vimeo.

A total of seventeen young ladies participated in the pageant. Other participants were Alexis Kasara Davis, Hailey Nicole Glass, Meranda Kay Atnip, Amisti Jae Loftis, Casey Elizabeth Vickers, Bethany Burke, and Ashley Celestino.

TOP PHOTO: Junior Miss Kelsey Sueanna Hedge

CENTER PHOTO: Jr. Miss Top Five left to right: Rachel Fuson (4th runner-up), Mariah Faith Jones (2nd), Kelsey Sueanna Hedge (Queen), Tyra Graham (1st), and Alyssa Kayleen Funk (3rd runner-up)

BOTTOM PHOTO: Miss Congeniality Rachel Fuson (left) and Miss Photogenic and Junior Miss Queen Kelsey Sueanna Hedge

Puckett Wins Little Miss Title

April 2, 2011
Dwayne Page
Little Miss Addison Jean Puckett and Runners-Up
Little Miss Photogenic and Miss Personality
Little Miss Addison Jean Puckett

Six year old Addison Jean Puckett of Smithville is the 2011 Little Miss of the annual spring pageant sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

She was crowned Saturday night at DCHS.

Puckett, daughter of Jimmy and Anita Puckett, succeeds the retiring Little Miss Kenlee Renae Taylor, the five year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville.

Five year old Carlee Elizabeth West of Smithville, daughter of B.J. and Megan Stewart, was named first runner-up.

Second runner-up went to Natalie Snipes, the six year old daughter of Tim and Michelle Snipes of Smithville.

Third runner-up was Katherine Dell Gassaway of Smithville, the six year old daughter of Kelly and Julianna Gassaway.

Six year old Haidyn Renee Hale of Smithville was fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of Chad and Melissa Hale of Smithville.

Rounding out the top fifteen in no particular order are Alexis Riley Hawkins, the four year old daughter of Stephanie and Josh Hawkins of Smithville; Addison Grace Miller, the four year old daughter of Amy and Josh Miller of Smithville; McKenzie Faith Sanders, the six year old daughter of Misti and James Sanders of Smithville; Allyson Roxanne Fuller, the five year old daughter of Amanda and Anthony Fuller of Cookeville; Kathryn Alysse Hale, the five year old daughter of Yvonne and Shannon Hale of Smithville; Addison Gray Roller, the six year old daughter of Chana and John Roller of Smithville; Peyton Elizabeth Norris, the five year old daughter of Jenny and Johnathon Norris of Smithville; Jenna Elizabeth Wright, the five year old daughter of Nicole and Jeff Wright of Smithville; Kylee Raegan Cantrell, the six year old daughter of Michelle and Paul Cantrell of Smithville; and Elaina Bryce Turner, the five year old daughter of Shane and Regina Turner of Smithville.

Little Miss Top Fifteen from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Kiley Isabella Speaks, the six year old daughter of Donna and Justin Speaks of Smithville, was named Little Miss Personality and Addison Gray Roller, the six year old daughter of Chana and John Roller of Smithville was selected Miss Photogenic.

The pageant featured thirty eight contestants. Other participants were Lydia Grace Johnson, Addison Hale, Jaylynn Nichlos, Micah Bogle, Katelyn Knight, Courtney Elizabeth London, Katie Patterson, Ashlynn Knight, Katherine Irene Knowles, Leah Michelle Hayes, Melanie Bogle, Briahna Ryan Murphy, Nadia Celeste Creek, Madelyn Rose Ray, Graceson Elise Boyd, Elizabeth Carlene Gaines, Ella Rea Florida, Hannah Dawn Hall, Kendall Michelle Davis, Lora Lin Kilgore, Katherine Ann Vickers, and Jazmine Elaine Wagner.

TOP PHOTO: Little Miss Top Five left to right: Haidyn Renee Hale (4th runner-up), Natalie Snipes (2nd), Addison Jean Puckett (Queen), Carlee Elizabeth West (1st ), and Katherine Dell Gassaway (3rd runner-up)

CENTER PHOTO: Miss Photogenic Addison Gray Roller (left) and Little Miss Personality Kiley Isabella Speaks (right)

BOTTOM PHOTO: Little Miss Addison Jean Puckett

Kirby Captures Little Mister Crown

April 2, 2011
Dwayne Page
Little Mister Trevor Matthew Kirby
Little Mister Top Five
Mr. Photogenic and Mr. Personality

Five year old Trevor Matthew Kirby of Smithville was crowned Little Mister of the annual spring pageant held Saturday at DeKalb County High School sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

Kirby, the son of Cindy and Clent Shehane, was also named Mister Personality of the pageant. He succeeds the 2010 Little Mister, Anthony Gage Trapp, the seven year old son of Amanda and Tony Trapp of Smithville

Six year old Holden Craig Trapp was named first runner-up in the pageant. He is the son of Amanda and Tony Trapp of Smithville.

Andrew Reece Vickers of Smithville was the second runner-up. He is the six year old son of Crystal Vickers

Little Mister Top Five from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Third runner-up went to Brayden Seth Creek, the six year old son of LuAnne and Barnie Creek of Dowelltown.

Dylan Chase Bogle of Smithville was fourth runner-up. He is the four year old son of Shanna and Chris Bogle.

Meanwhile six year old Kolter Garrett Kilgore was chosen as Mister Photogenic. He is the son of John and Ginda Kilgore of Smithville.

The pageant featured nine little boys. Others in the pageant were Jase Glendon Bain, Toby Lee Hayes, and Landon Speaks.

TOP PHOTO: Little Mister Trevor Matthew Kirby

CENTER PHOTO: Little Mr. Top Five left to right : Dylan Chase Bogle (4th runner-up), Andrew Reece Vickers (2nd runner-up), Trevor Matthew Kirby (King), Holden Craig Trapp (1st runner-up), and Brayden Seth Creek (3rd runner-up)

BOTTOM PHOTO: Mister Photogenic Kolter Garrett Kilgore (left) and Mister Personality and Little Mister Trevor Matthew Kirby (right).

A Look at the Tennessee Legislature

April 2, 2011
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver:

Tennessee Celebrates One Year Anniversary of Key Education Victory

On Tuesday, Tennessee marked a key anniversary in the State’s efforts to comprehensively reform education. One year ago, leaders in the General Assembly and throughout the government learned Tennessee would be awarded the coveted funds associated with “Race to the Top” –- a federal program designed to increase competitiveness and ingenuity in education.

Tennessee was one of only two States to be awarded the funds. Lawmakers convened for an extraordinary session to craft “First to the Top,” legislation to ensure Tennessee has the foundation and framework in place to secure these funds. By placing first, Tennessee is given millions of dollars to increase student achievement and encourage teacher excellence.

The reforms in education are part of a larger focus by the General Assembly to make Tennessee the number one State in the South for high quality jobs. Education reforms that raise standards and ensure each student is taught by an excellent teacher are a long-term solution to building a better-equipped and diverse workforce in Tennessee.

In a meeting that marked the anniversary, the Governor discussed the improvements Tennessee has made in the last year. Key stakeholders in winning and executing Tennessee’s First to the Top plan participated in the discussion by taking stock of the great progress Tennessee has made and recognizing the work yet to be done for the children of Tennessee.

“Race to the Top has made Tennessee the focal point of education reform in the nation, and I am thankful to those who worked so hard for this incredible opportunity,” the Governor said. “After a year we are in a position to bring real reform to our schools, and I am very encouraged about where we are and where we are going.”

Currently, we are working through several education reform initiatives. The Legislature passed tenure reform last week and soon plans to take up measures for charter school reform and equal access legislation for all educators. The bills will all prioritize student achievement as the top focus in the State’s education system.

House Begins Work on Common Sense
Voter Photo ID Plan

On Thursday, the House took a major first step towards enacting a common sense reform that was a cornerstone pledge to voters last fall. HB 7 passed the State & Local Subcommittee and is expected win approval from the full Committee next week.

The legislation simply requires a voter to present qualified photo identification before voting. Voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots. Most Members of the General Assembly highlighted this legislation as a top priority and believe the bill instills integrity in our electoral process.

The sponsor of the legislation remarked, “Last year, we told Tennesseans we will take steps to ensure validity and integrity are part of our voting system. This legislation provides a simple check and balance at the ballot box to make sure every Tennessean’s vote will count. This is a common sense reform citizens have asked for time and time again. I am proud our Majority is working hard to live up to the pledges we make to voters.”

Legislature Makes Major Move to Fix Legal Loophole with Common Sense Reform

In the mid-week, the House Judiciary Committee passed the “Exclusionary Rule Reform Act” which will close off a technicality from being abused by some of Tennessee’s most violent criminals.

The Chairman of the Committee sponsored the legislation after advocating for the legal fix over the last few years. News reports have highlighted an alarming trend of criminals using the exclusionary rule to get evidence gathered against them thrown out of court. This legislation merely codifies a good faith exception to the rule which provides judges an avenue to keep the evidence when a minor, technical mistake was made in the course of the investigation.

The Chairman stated, “I have worked hard over the last few years to clarify this particular area of the law so court cases will be able to proceed. There is no excuse for a harmless and minor glitch, which has no bearing on a criminal investigation and case, to be the reason a violent criminal escapes prosecution. This common sense fix will ensure the integrity of our judicial system and let victims of crime know their attackers will be brought to justice.”

The legislation will soon go to the full House of Representatives for a vote on final passage.

Representative Terri Lynn Weaver Releases Statement on HB 1085

(NASHVILLE, March 31, 2010) – The House State and Local Subcommittee yesterday passed a major initiative sponsored by Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R—Lancaster) that will help the State track student enrollment and chart the cost of illegal immigration for taxpayers.

HB 1085 simply requires persons enrolling children for the first time in public schools to submit the student's social security number, a visa as issued by the United States, or certain birth certificates. Additionally, it requires schools to submit certain enrollment information to the Department of Education for inclusion in the department's annual report.
Rep. Weaver released the following statement about the bill’s movement:

“I’m encouraged by the action taken by the subcommittee. I believe this is a strong first step towards ensuring our valuable resources are only being used for Tennessee citizens.

“Our General Assembly is committed to strong oversight of the use of taxpayer dollars, especially when it comes to education. We pledged to safeguard our State’s fiscal resources and this bill is consistent with that philosophy. As we work towards overall education reform, we must be confident that every dollar is being spent wisely.”
In Brief…

-In the House Finance Subcommittee, legislation known as the “Empowering Educators with Equal Access” reform was passed through to the full Committee. The House Speaker ensured passage of the much-needed reform by casting the decisive vote in the Subcommittee.

-Late on Wednesday, legislation to stem the tide of illegal immigration in the State was passed in the House State & Local Subcommittee. The three pieces of legislation make up a comprehensive plan for greater enforcement and stronger guidelines on illegal immigration. The sponsor stated, “By taking a comprehensive approach that targets three distinct areas of the law, we can bring the reform demanded by so many of our citizens. I believe this plan will place Tennessee at the forefront of State efforts to combat illegal immigration and provide a blueprint for other States to follow.”

-The First Lady of Tennessee sat down with parents and guardians at Algood Elementary School in Putnam County on Monday. She invited parents of school-age children to participate in the roundtable discussion as part of her effort to learn how the state can encourage parental and community engagement. During the visit, the First Lady learned about the Algood school’s unique plan to improve parent and family participation, having adopted the Putnam County Schools Family Engagement Plan. “Education is a shared responsibility by the schools, parents, and communities, and I’m very impressed with the school system’s family engagement plan,” said the First Lady. “It recognizes that parents and guardians are a vital part of a child’s learning, and creates a comfortable environment for parents and teachers to work together.”

-The House will soon vote on a measure to protect teachers from being disciplined for pointing out weaknesses in scientific research. The legislation encourages critical-thinking skills in the classroom and merely requires public schools to “create an environment” in which teachers “respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.

Kindergarten Pre-Registration Set for April 29th

April 1, 2011
Dwayne Page

Smithville Elementary School and DeKalb West School will have Kindergarten pre-registration for the 2011-12 school year on Friday, April 29th from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

A child must be five years of age by September 30th, 2011 to be eligible to enter Kindergarten for the 2011-12 school year.

Please bring your child's birth certificate (must be original and not the mother's copy), immunization record, social security card, and proof of residency (this may be a utility bill, rent, etc.)

Smithville Elementary Kindergarten teachers will be giving a pre-kindergarten screening on April 29th. It is necessary that you bring your child with you to pre-registration.

Smithville Elementary School will also have an open house for students attending Kindergarten in the fall on Thursday, April 28th from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Parents and students are invited to tour the school and meet the kindergarten teachers on this day.

Governor Haslam Proclaims April as Tennessee Safe Digging Month

April 1, 2011
Dwayne Page

Governor Bill Haslam has issued a proclamation announcing April as Tennessee Safe Digging Month. The proclamation reminds Tennessee homeowners and professional excavators to call 811 before starting any outdoor digging project.

April marks the start of spring digging season, so Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District, Tennessee 811 and Governor Haslam are encouraging homeowners to call 811 before they dig to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. A utility line is damaged by digging once every three minutes nationwide, and one-third of these incidents are caused by failure of the professional excavator or homeowner to call 811 before beginning their digging project.

When calling 811, homeowners and professional excavators are connected to Tennessee 811, which notifies the appropriate utility of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint. Once lines have been accurately marked, digging can begin around the marked lines.

”We join the governor in strongly encouraging individuals and companies to call 811 before they begin digging,” said Kathy Quartermaine, Damage Prevention & Education Manager at Tennessee 811. “By having underground lines marked, homeowners are making an important decision that can help keep them and their communities safe and connected.”

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, necessitates a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, building a deck and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting. There is no charge for the phone call or locating the utilities.

Visit www.call811.com or www.tennessee811.com for more information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.


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