Local News Articles

Pease Arrested on Fugitive from Justice Warrant

June 16, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department picked up a man last week on a fugitive from justice warrant who is wanted for questioning in a murder case in Florida.

21 year old Brandon Christopher Pease of Mine Lick Creek Apartments which is located in the Austin Bottom area of DeKalb County, was arrested Tuesday on a fugitive from justice warrant. Sheriff Ray says Pease was picked up because authorities in Marion County Florida wanted him for trespassing in an occupied structure. Pease was also wanted for questioning about a murder in Marion County, Florida. Pease has signed his waivers for extradition and is willing to return to Florida. He is being held under a $10,000 bond in the DeKalb County Jail.

Also on Tuesday, 47 year old Gary Wayne Cantrell of Page Drive Smithville was charged with driving under the influence. Sheriff Ray says a deputy observed Cantrell on Highway 70 East driving in the wrong lane of traffic. After stopping the vehicle, Cantrell was given field sobriety tasks which he performed poorly. Cantrell did admit to drinking beer. Cantrell's bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is June 26th.

27 year old Jason Ross Frizzell of Maple Street Cookeville was charged Sunday with driving under the influence. Sheriff Ray says Frizzell was pulled over on Highway 56 North. He had apparently passed out under the steering wheel of his vehicle because deputies had a difficult time trying to wake Frizzell. After waking him up, Deputies thought Frizzell seemed confused and he also had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Frizzell submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. He was placed under arrest for DUI and also he was written a citation for an open container of alcohol in his vehicle.

Fiddler 5K Set for July 5th

June 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

The annual Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, will be Saturday, July 5th, the weekend of the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree.

The deadline for pre-registration is Monday, June 30th. Race entries will also be accepted on Saturday, July 5th, at the race check-in, located on Highway 56 North, ¼ mile North of Smithville, in front of the Family Medical Center.

All pre-registered participants must check-in at 6:30 a.m. All other participants must register at 6:00 a.m.

The entry fee is a donation of at least $15.00 for pre-registration and $20.00 for those who register after June 30th (walkers and runners).

The race begins promptly at 7:00 a.m., rain or shine, on Highway 56 North in front of the Family Medical Center. The race ends on Church Street.

Age divisions for the 5K Run are as follows: 12 to 18, 19 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 and up (women only), 50 to 59, 60 to 69, and 70 and up (men only).

T-Shirts will be given to all participants on the day of the race. Awards will be given to the male and female individuals with the overall best times in the 5K Run and the best times in each of the 5K age divisions.

All proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.

For more information, call 597-7370. Registration forms are available at www.smithvilletn.com. Click on the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree button, then Fiddler 5K Run.

School Board to Consider New Employment Contract with Director Mark Willoughby

June 13, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education is considering entering into a new employment contract with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

The issue was discussed at an informal workshop Thursday evening attended by board members John David Foutch, Charles Robinson, Kenny Rhody, Joan Draper, and Johnny Lattimore.

Willoughby's current three year contract with the board took effect July 1st, 2006 and is scheduled to expire June 30th, 2009.

Because it was not a regular or special called meeting, no vote could be taken, but board members seemed to be in agreement with a proposal to terminate Willoughby's current contract, which still has one year left, and enter into a new three year deal with him, effective July 1st, 2008 to June 30th, 2011.

Terms and conditions would be basically the same. Willoughby's base salary, beginning July 1st, would be $85,308 plus another state required $1,000 as a CEO. He would get a three percent increase each year of the contract following an annual favorable evaluation.

In the current contract, the school system funds Willoughby's total family health insurance package. However under the proposed new agreement, the school system would instead pay a part of the coverage but would add $5,103 to Willoughby's salary pushing his pay to more than $90,000 a year. Officials say this would be a benefit to Willoughby for retirement and tax purposes and it would increase the retirement paid by the system by $327 per year.

The board will formally consider Willoughby's contract at a special meeting on June 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the board of education building.

Record Early Voting Turnout Reported for City Election

June 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

If early voting is an indication, the city election Tuesday may be decided by a larger number of voters than the last several municipal elections.

A total of 683 people cast ballots during the early voting period from May 28th through June 12th, a new early voting record for a Smithville Election.

On Thursday, the last day of early voting, 82 people voted including 80 by personal appearance and 2 by mail.

The daily numbers of people voting from Wednesday, May 28th to June 12th are as follows:

Wednesday, May 28th- 58 (56 by personal appearance and 2 by mail)
Thursday, May 29th- 66 (64 by personal appearance and 2 by mail)
Friday, May 30th- 36 (33 by personal appearance at the courthouse and 3 by personal appearance at a retirement home)
Saturday, May 31st- 37 (36 by personal appearance and one by mail)
Monday, June 2nd- 44 (43 by personal appearance and one by mail)
Tuesday, June 3rd- 43 (43 by personal appearance and 0 by mail)
Wednesday, June 4th- (37 by personal appearance and 0 by mail)
Thursday, June 5th- (49 by personal appearance and 0 by mail)
Friday, June 6th- (49 people voted by personal appearance and 2 by mail)
Saturday, June 7th- (23 people voted by personal appearance and 0 by mail)
Monday, June 9th- (23 people voted by personal appearance and 0 by mail)
Tuesday, June 10th- (54 people voted by personal appearance and 4 by mail)
Wednesday, June 11th- (43 people voted by personal appearance and 0 by mail)
Thursday, June 12th- (80 people voted by personal appearance and 2 by mail)

Prior to the start of early voting, 33 persons voted by mail or by personal appearance at nursing and retirement homes.

In the city election last year in which three aldermen were elected, a total of 738 people voted including 555 early voters and 183 on election day.

In 2006 in which a mayor and two aldermen were elected, a total of 696 voted including 425 early voters and 271 on election day.

Numbers of voters in city elections from the year 2000 to 2005 are as follows:

Year 2005: 70 voters including 28 early voters and 42 on election day
Year 2004: 800 including 450 (early) and 350 (election day)
Year 2003: 450 including 231 (early) and 219 (election day)
Year 2002: 833 including 442 (early) and 391 (election day)
Year 2001: 473 including 218 (early) and 255 (election day)
Year 2000: 642 including 313 (early) and 329 (election day)

Election day is Tuesday, June 17. Voting will take place in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. The polls will open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. Everyone waiting in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote. To vote in the Smithville Election you must be a registered voter and be a resident of the city or be registered as a property rights voter. Please bring identification with you when you come to vote.

The absentee counting board will convene Election Day to count the paper ballots cast for the Smithville Election. The early voting machines will be tallied and the results announced as soon as possible at the close of the polls.

WJLE will have LIVE election return coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse or hear the results LIVE on-line at www.wjle.com

Election Commission Issues Statement About Possible City Election Voting Irregularities

June 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission is investigating allegations of illegal practices by persons engaging in voter intimidation, procuring votes, violations of the boundary line and other prohibited actions related to elections and voting.

In a prepared news release, the election commission asks that "anyone with knowledge of voter fraud to contact the Election Commission at 597-4146 or stop by the office between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday."

The commission, in the news release, states that ‘"the election laws are quite specific about what is allowed and which practices are illegal. Unfortunately some people have been "playing the dirty political game" for many years and seem to believe they have the knowledge to circumvent the law or believe themselves to be above the law. "

"In accordance with T.C.A. 2-7-111 there is a 100 ft campaign free zone established at the polling place. Within the boundary there may be no display of campaign posters, signs or other campaign materials, distribution of campaign materials or solicitation of votes. T.C.A. 2-19-119 specifies that a person is committing a misdemeanor by violating 2-7-111 while boundary signs are posted during voting hours."

"T.C.A. 2-19-115(3)-It is illegal for any person directly or indirectly, personally or through any other person to practice intimidation upon or against any person in order to compel such person to vote or refrain from voting. If someone comes to your residence and refuses to leave until you sign an application for voting or to receive an absentee ballot, they are breaking the law."

"A person is allowed to assist a person to vote, with the person's permission. T.C.A. 2-19-110 states the person giving assistance should not abuse this assistance and should not cast any vote contrary to that voter's wish."

"It is illegal for any candidate to bargain for support according to T.C.A. 2-19-121. That person may not pay, promise or agree to enter into any contract with any person to vote for or support any particular policy or measure. Likewise T.C.A. 2-19-122 states it is unlawful for any person to demand that any candidate shall promise or agree in advance to support any individual policy or measure in consideration of the vote or support, financial or moral, of such person in any election."

" T.C.A. 2-19-126 states it is illegal for any person directly or indirectly, personally or through another person to induce voters to vote or refrain from voting by paying, loaning or contributing anything of value, or to offer or promise any place, office or employment in order to induce someone to vote or refrain from voting."

"It is illegal for anyone to accept any money, gift, loan or other valuable thing, T.C.A. 2-19-127. This includes food, money, alcohol or anything of value. Trading goods or services to induce someone to vote is also a violation."

"However, 2-19-137 exempts those from prosecution who testify against other persons violating these statutes, except for perjury."

"If a person has received compensation for voting and tells the truth they will not be liable to indictment, prosecution or punishment for the offense with reference to which such testimony was given."

"Elections are the cornerstone of democracy. It has been said that elections are the great equalizer. All votes are counted the same. It does not matter whether you are old or young, male or female, black or white, rich or poor, all votes are equal. The commission asks that if you have been a party to or witnessed voting irregularities or violations of the voting laws to please contact the DeKalb County Election Commission office and speak with the Administrator of Elections, Mrs. Lisa Peterson. The office is located in Room 104 in the basement of the Courthouse The phone number is 597-4146 and the fax number is 597-7799."

DCHS to see familiar faces in football

June 12, 2008

The DeKalb County High School Tiger football team will see some old, familiar faces when they hit the gridiron for the 2009 season. After TSSAA adopted the new plan for the next classification period - 2009-13 - the Tigers will be back in District 8-AA with Smith County, Livingston Academy, York Institute, Cannon County, Jackson County and Macon County.

"I like what it will do for us in the regular season," Tiger head football coach, Steve Trapp, said. "It puts us in a better situation. Financially, it will help bring more revenue to our games, and it brings back the old familiar rivalries we once had in football."

The new plan, known as the Z-Plan, re-groups all of Tennessee's high school football teams into three classifications for the regular season, but will expand to six classes for the playoffs. For DeKalb County, the Tigers will be considered a 4A team, but could be classified as either a 3A or 4A team for the playoffs, depending on who makes it into the field.

In Class AA, there are 16 districts, and the top two teams from each district receive an automatic playoff berth. Of those 32 teams, the top 16, in terms of enrollment, will be grouped in the 4A division, while the remaining 16 will be placed in the 3A division. Then, 32 more teams will receive wild card berths, based on their win-loss records, and again, the top 16 in enrollment will be placed in 4A, while the remaining 16 will round out the 3A playoff field.

Of the teams in the new district, DeKalb, Livingston and Macon are classified as 4A, while the remaining four teams are 3A.

In basketball, baseball and softball, the teams will be the same as in football. The biggest change will be Upperman dropping to Class A, while Jackson County moves back up to Class AA.

The Z-Plan, which passed by a 5-to-4 vote of the TSSAA Board of Control, will take affect in the 2009-10 school year. The full plan, along with completed classifications, should be approved during the November meeting of the Board of Control.

School System Promotes Education with Billboard sign

June 12, 2008
Dwayne Page
School System Promotes Education with Billboard sign

The DeKalb County Board of Education and Director of Schools are putting education on display this summer.

A billboard on the west side of the Smithville city limits has been rented by the school system from Lamar Advertising which will feature a group picture of several recent honor students at DeKalb County High School with the slogan ""Education Counts in DeKalb County."

The billboard has been rented for twelve months at a total cost of approximately $4,000 to be funded from the "communication" line item of the school budget.

(Click on the picture to get a larger view)

School Board Considers Light Agenda

June 10, 2008
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel to the Board of Education Tuesday night.

Those who have resigned since the last meeting are as follows:

Rob Robinson, Special Education Assistant at DCHS
Alisha Rice, teacher at DeKalb County High School
Barbara Johnson, teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Christine Rivers, teacher at DeKalb County High School
Kristen Reagh, Band Director at DeKalb County High School
Eric Helton, teacher at DeKalb County High School
Amy Fox, Special Education Teacher
Shane Cook, Transportation Supervisor

Those who have been transferred include:

Peggy Semmes, teacher, transferred to DCHS
Penny Bilyeu, teacher transferred to DeKalb Middle School
Judy Redmon, transferred to a teacher position at Northside Elementary School
Sabrina Farler, transferred to Assistant Principal at DeKalb Middle School
Joy Parker, teacher transferred to DeKalb Middle School
Tad Webb, teacher transferred to DeKalb Middle School
Mike Shockley, teacher transferred to DCHS

Those employed for the 2008-09 school year since last month are as follows:

Carol Sampley, teacher at Smithville Elementary School
Viva Gay Vickers, substitute bus assistant
Michael Kingsbury, driver special education car
Ray Robinson, substitute custodian
Wayne Taylor, substitute custodian
Kelly Driver, part-time Physical Therapy Assistant

Three special guests attended Tuesday night's school board meeting as part of the evaluation process in the local board's efforts to be named a "Board of Distinction."

Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III welcomed Mike Holland and Larry Judkins of the Warren County School System and Dan Schlafer of Cumberland County, who are all Level III members of the Tennessee School Board's Association. "We as a board in DeKalb County are undertaking a role which has been set out and set forth by the Tennessee School Board's Association for Boards of Distinction. I think we can meet the criteria that it takes to become a Board of Distinction. We have a good working relationship with one another, with our school system, and with our community. One of those criteria for that is to have Level III TSBA board members evaluate us and how we conduct our board meetings."

In other business, the board adopted a request from DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix and Career and Technical Director Brad Leach for "Database 3725" to remain a one-credit course at DCHS. The state only requires that this class award one-half credit for the competencies taught. The application for approval of special courses provides information of a proposed enhanced curriculum to increase the course to one-credit.

The board also granted approval to add an additional course to the Career and Technical Education schedule of courses at DCHS. The course to be added is "Keyboarding/Document Formatting 3775". The course will award one-half credit to students in the Business Technology program of study area. Keyboarding/Document Formatting will give students a greater knowledge and additional skills in the areas of Microsoft Office, Excel, and PowerPoint as well as continued keyboarding skills. This course is also included in the Business, Management, and Administration career cluster program of study sequence.

DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix reported to the Board that enrollment numbers are up for Summer School this year. "I think the first day or two we had over 90 students. Last year, we probably had about 50 students."

Director Willoughby added that because of grant funds, the school system has been able to provide transportation for some students attending summer school classes, which may be a factor in the larger enrollment.

Board member Charles Robinson reported that the board has authorized funds to rent a billboard from Lamar Advertising on the west side of the Smithville city limits to display a group picture of 31 seniors who recently graduated from DCHS. These are the seniors who earned a grade score average of 93 or above. The billboard will read "Education Counts in DeKalb County." Robinson says the sign may be in place in time for the Fiddler's Jamboree for everyone to see including tourists as they arrive in town.

In other business, the board adopted a partnership agreement with L.B.J. & C. Headstart to establish working procedures in the provision of services to preschool children eligible for special education in compliance with regulations, federal, and state laws.

The board approved an agreement between Tennessee Tech University and DCHS for the utilization of $9,172 in grant funds to provide upkeep and maintenance of a greenhouse in growing hydroponic vegetables as part of the agriculture/vocational class instruction.

Under MTUD's Project Hometown Help Program, $2,500 in funding will be used to help support the Education Celebration which is held at the beginning of the school year.

The board renewed it's shelter agreement with the American Red Cross. Under the agreement, the Red Cross is authorized to use Board of Education buildings, grounds, and equipment for mass care shelters in the event of a major disaster.

The board granted permission for the DCHS football cheerleaders to attend cheerleading camp at Vanderbilt University July 13-16. Permission was also granted for school system buses to transport 4-H students to Junior 4-H Camp at Crossville, leaving June 16th and returning on June 20th.

Several budget amendments were adopted to close out the fiscal year including a transfer of $30,000 from the fund balance to diesel fuel ($22,000) and vehicle parts ($8,000) to accommodate expenditures.

The county commission will also be asked to approve these proposed budget amendments.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests in Drug, Theft, Public Intoxication, and DUI Cases

June 9, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made several arrests within the last week on charges ranging from theft to DUI, public intoxication, and various drug charges.

28 Year old Joey Phillip Phelps of Windy Cut, Dowelltown was arrested Monday, June 2nd for theft of property over $500 and burglary. Sheriff Patrick Ray says Phelps kicked in the front door of Nichole's Market on May 30th, went in to the store, and stole the cash register valued at over $500. Phelps' bond was set at $25,000 and his court date is June 19th.

55 year old Kathy Phillips of Windy Cut, Dowelltown was arrested Wednesday after she was stopped on Highway 70 for a traffic offense. After speaking with Phillips, the deputy noticed Phillips had glassy eyes and she was unsteady on her feet. Sheriff Ray says Phillips admitted to taking Xanax earlier in the day. Phillips was arrested for DUI and bond was set at $1,000. She will appear in court on July 24th.

24 year old Veronica Esther Ross of Bryant Street San Francisco California was arrested Wednesday after a vehicle was stopped on Dry Creek Road in Dowelltown for a traffic offense. Ross was a passenger in the vehicle. After the stop, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department K-9 drug detector dog "Banshee" alerted on the vehicle. Ross then produced from a back pack she had in the vehicle, a plastic bag containing mushrooms, a schedule I narcotic. Ross was placed under arrest for possession of a schedule I drug, mushrooms, and bond was set at $2,500. She will appear in court June 19th.

39 year old James Lee Adcock of Jefferson Road was stopped Wednesday on West Bryant Street in Smithville. After Adcock gave the Deputy consent to search his vehicle, the officer found a plastic bag under Adcock's seat. Also found in the console of the vehicle, were rolling papers. Adcock was charged with simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia (rolling papers). Bond for Adcock was set at $2,000 and his court date is June 26th.

On Thursday, 33 year old Tracy Dionne Schunke of Smithville was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, evading arrest, introduction of drugs into a penal institution, and failure to appear. Sheriff Ray says a deputy spotted Schunke on Old Mill Hill Road Dowelltown. He had a warrant on her for failure to appear in court on a theft of property warrant. After the Deputy stopped her, the officer exited his patrol car and Schunke drove off. She went approximately ½ mile before stopping again. During a search, the officer found 2 used hypodermic needles and a cut straw in her purse. After entering the DeKalb County Jail, Schunke also produced 1 ½ Dilaudid pills from between her legs. Schunke's bond was set at $54,500 and her court date is June 26th..

47 year old Tammy Burton of Pea Ridge Road Liberty was involved in a one car accident Saturday on Pea Ridge Road. Burton was arrested for driving on a revoked license. Her license was revoked for a DUI on November 7th, 2006 in Cannon County. Her bond was set at $1,000 and her court date was set for June 26th.

Also on Saturday, 36 year old Michael Douglas Howard of Maples Street, Alexandria was charged with public intoxication after deputies responded to a complaint at Avant Circle in Alexandria. Upon arrival, officer found Howard lying on the complainant's back steps passed out. The complainant did not know Howard. He had a strong odor of alcohol on his person and was unable to walk. Howard's bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is June 26th.

DeKalb County Woman Charged With TennCare Fraud

June 6, 2008

A woman from DeKalb County has been charged with TennCare fraud related to selling prescription drugs in Macon County that were paid for by TennCare.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of 24-year old Jamie Kay Hatcher, of Smithville. The arrest was the result of a joint effort with the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force. She turned herself in at the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.

An indictment accuses her of fraudulently obtaining a prescription for the painkiller Hydrocodone on two separate occasions using TennCare to pay for the prescriptions, and then selling a portion of the pills.

“The illegal trafficking of prescription drugs is a problem we’re dealing with in Tennessee, just as other states try to tackle the problem,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “But in TennCare, people who participate in selling drugs paid for by taxpayers should understand that we are vigorously enforcing the state laws we’ve worked for that make this a serious crime.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Tom P. Thompson is prosecuting.

The OIG, a law enforcement agency separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has worked cases leading to the arrest of almost 700 individuals for TennCare fraud, with over $800,000 paid in restitution to TennCare, and total estimated cost avoidance in TennCare of over $75 million, according to latest figures.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or log on to www.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud".


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