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Local News Articles

Hagan Home Heavily Damaged by Fire

May 4, 2009
Dwayne Page

A Sunday evening fire caused extensive damage to the home of Tony and Frankie Hagan at 220 Holmes Creek Road.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says the Hagans were at home at the time and reported the fire around 7:32 p.m. They escaped unharmed.

Chief Parker says the fire heavily damaged the kitchen and utility room area on the first floor and caused some damage to the second floor. The residence also received some smoke and water damage.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

DCHS Senior Awards Day set for May 15th

May 3, 2009
Dwayne Page

Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be awarded to members of the Class of 2009 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards Day program, set for Friday, May 15th at 8:30 a.m.

Representatives of colleges, universities, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations will be making the presentations.
WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

In addition to the awards by colleges and universities, local scholarships expected to be presented include the following:

DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications, Jolly Angels, Smithville Women's Club, DeKalb Retired Teachers, Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship, The DeKalb Farmers Coop, The Kyle and Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship, The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award, The Hunter Davis Memorial Scholarship, Courtney Pirtle Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb County Republican Women's scholarship, the Beecher and Wilma Moss Scholarship, AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship, The DeKalb County Soil Conservation District Scholarship, The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship, the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Alan Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, the Jeff Garrett Memorial Scholarship, the Middle Tennessee Times Scholarship, the Charlene Morrison-Johns Memorial Scholarship, and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

May 3, 2009
State Senator Mae Beavers

Legislation that would change Tennessee’s current process for selection of state’s Supreme Court judges was approved by the Senate Government Operations Committee this week. Sponsors say the bill reflects the intent of the constitution that judges are to stand for contested elections.

The legislation provides for the governor to select Supreme Court justices without being filtered and narrowed down to a panel of three selected by the Judicial Selection Commission. The Judicial Selection Commission is made up of members of special interest groups. The legislation also envisions passage of a Constitutional resolution that would allow the people to decide on how judges should be selected in the future, by retention or by popular vote.

The action comes as a result of last year’s vote not to continue the Judicial Selection Commission, the central provision of the state’s current “Tennessee Plan” for selection of Supreme Court and appellate judges. Under the Tennessee Plan, which was adopted in 1994, the governor must choose from three candidates for the state’s appellate and Supreme Court from a list presented by the Judicial Selection Commission. After appointment, the judges then stand for yes-no retention votes at the end of their terms.

Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers said that she looks forward to discussing the bill further in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. “I believe our current system of selecting judges does not remove politics from the system, but only allows the politics of specific interest groups to be represented,” said Beavers. “I hope we can have a system where the most qualified judges are selected and accountable to the people of Tennessee, as well as a system that adheres to our Constitution.”

Under the bill approved last week, once the current Tennessee Plan process expires in June, the governor would be allowed to make the appointment solely at his discretion until 2014 when the judges could face challengers at the end of their terms. The next step would be the referendum vote to allow Tennesseans to decide whether to amend the constitution to restore the current system of retention elections for Supreme Court justices. This bill would bridge that time gap by giving the governor the sole authority to select and appoint vacancies on the high court in the meantime.

Meanwhile, The Senate Finance Committee has approved a resolution claiming Tennessee’s “sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” The proposal, SJR 311, is designed to send Congress a message that the federal government has overstepped its Constitutional bounds by mandating a massive amount of federal policies upon the states.

The federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states, not vice-versa. It was such an important point with the founders that they specifically provided for this sovereignty in our Constitution.”

The resolution also points out that Article IV, Section 4 says, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” In 1992, the United States Supreme Court ruled in New York vs United States, that Congress may not commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states.

The resolution concludes by giving “notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.” Upon passage, the resolution will be sent to the President of the United States, Congressional leaders and the Tennessee Congressional delegation.

Twenty-eight states have approved similar resolutions.

Bills in Brief

Confiscation of Weapons / Martial law -- Legislation limiting the power of government to confiscate firearms and restrict the sale of ammunition during martial law was approved this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, SB 1992, prohibits the confiscation of weapons from law-abiding citizens or restricting the ability to purchase guns and ammunition during times of martial law. The law already makes that provision in cases of a natural disaster or declared emergency.

Escape from police custody -- Legislation that strengthens penalties against those who escape arrest was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. The bill, SB 388, provides that a person commits the offense of escape if they knowingly escapes the lawful custody of a law enforcement officer. A violation of this bill would be a Class A misdemeanor regardless of whether the person was being held for a misdemeanor, civil offense, or felony.

Aggravated Robbery -- Legislation was approved by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee would make offenders who commit aggravated robbery ineligible for parole or early release. The bill, SB 241, requires the offender to serve 100 percent of the their sentence if, on or after July 1, 2009, the person commits aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, regardless of whether he/she has a prior conviction for aggravated robbery.

Charter Schools – Legislation that strengthens Tennessee’s public charter school law was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week. The legislation, SB 2133, widens eligibility, clarifies funding and addresses rules for renewal of the public charter schools. Tennessee currently has one of the most restrictive public charter school laws in the nation.

Relay for Life set for Friday

May 2, 2009
Dwayne Page

DeKalb Countians will rally in the fight against cancer during the 12th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life Friday, May 8th at Greenbrook Park.

More than 30 Relay for Life teams will be set up offering food and lots of fun filled activities. A large silent auction will also be held.

Over $100,000 was raised last year.

In this overnight family-oriented event, participants walk relay-style around the track and take part in fun activities off the track. Cancer survivors will take center stage around 6:00 p.m.during the opening ceremony to receive medallions and to give a personal testimony as to just how long they've been a survivor.

The walking track will also be lined with luminaria in honor or remembrance of those who have battled cancer. This ceremony of light symbolizes the hope and courage with which we all continue to fight cancer

Chris Summers, Community Representative with the American Cancer Society says "Relay For Life is a unique opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those we've lost, and fight back against the disease. Many of the participants are cancer survivors."

Funds raised at Relay For Life will enable the American Cancer Society to support local services and resources for cancer patients and their families. Funds also support critical cancer research and community education programs designed to teach people how to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

For more information, please contact Ivadell Randolph at 597-5296

DeKalb and Cannon Awarded $830K for Water Extension Projects

May 1, 2009

The current economic downturn has forced many counties across Tennessee to put much needed infrastructure improvement projects on hold. However, Congressman Bart Gordon announced today that DeKalb County and Cannon County will together receive $830,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for several water extension projects.

“There are too many residents in DeKalb and Cannon who do not have access to clean public water services and have to rely on wells and springs,” said Congressman Gordon. “While this money will allow the counties to extend water services to more households, I am committed to obtaining the additional money needed so that every household has access to public water services.”

The USDA’s Rural Development (USDA-RD) agency awarded DeKalb and Cannon $625,000 in federal loans and $205,000 in grant money – together, this totals $830,000 for the water projects. In DeKalb, the money will be used to extend more than 10 miles of water lines. The extensions will occur along Dry Creek Road and Alexandria to Dismal Road. In Cannon, more than 6 miles of water lines will be constructed along Hurricane Creek Road and Bryson Hollow Road.

DeKalb and Cannon received the funds from the Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants program at the USDA-RD. The mission of this program is finance the construction, extension, or improvement of water and waste disposal systems in rural areas and towns.

Liberty Man Dies in Four Wheeler Crash

April 30, 2009
Dwayne Page

A 26 year old man died in an all terrain vehicle accident around 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon in Liberty.

Dead is Jamie Carl Hale of 148 Hale Road, Liberty.

Trooper Darrell Knowles of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Hale was operating a 1996 Yamaha Banshee westbound on West Main Street in Liberty when he crossed Highway 53 and struck a guardrail. Hale was thrown some 37 feet. He was not wearing a safety helmet.

Members of the Liberty and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with DeKalb EMS, and the Sheriff's Department. A Life Force helicopter ambulance was summoned and landed near the scene, but Hale died before he could be airlifted.

The accident was investigated by Trooper Knowles and THP Sergeant Billy Prater.

Hale's death marks the third fatality on DeKalb County roads this year.

Courthouse to Get Security Cameras

April 29, 2009
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Mike Foster at County Commission Meeting

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night authorized the purchase of security cameras for the courthouse.

County Mayor Mike Foster says a system can be purchased for around five thousand dollars."
It's a sixteen camera/DVR camera kit, web ready. It's got all the wires, security lock box, mounting bracket, 32 inch flat screen TV, wall mount for TV, power strips, connectors, conduit, and networking on-line viewing, which means you can be at home and if you know the code you can check in and see if anything is going on at the courthouse. The screen has sixteen squares and you can see wherever you want to look."

" We just bid for eight cameras but as the need arises we can put more on. The cameras would be placed at each of the three exterior entrances, two would be installed in each of the courtrooms, and then there would be another one in the archives."

" It (recording) will recycle every seven days. It will keep a record for seven days and erase it a week later. So if you had some kind of a problem (in the courthouse) you would know what happened up to a week."

Foster said he would try to get some courtroom security money to help pay for the system.

Persons becoming sick or injured and needing an ambulance while actively doing volunteer work for the county would get a break on their bill under a measure adopted by the county commission Monday night.

County Mayor Foster raised the proposal which will " waive ambulance service fees of anyone doing volunteer service for the county after their insurance has paid whatever it will pay. The rest of that fee will be waived for ambulance service. It will be for somebody who is volunteering their time, like a volunteer fireman, or whoever, but they would have to be actively engaged in volunteering for something at that time."

Another ambulance service related issue was tabled until next month. County Mayor Foster says under this proposal, the county would pay approximately $4,000 for the training if an EMT wishes to go to paramedic school. "Then they (EMT) would sign a contract guaranteeing to work for DeKalb County for a period of three years. If they do not (work for three years), they would be responsible for paying back a pro rated amount to the county. If they were fired for cause, they would have to pay back the entire $4,000."

Again, no action was taken.

The state is considering establishing statewide residential building codes

County Mayor Foster addressed the issue Monday night."Governor has introduced legislation that would make Tennessee a leader in energy efficiency, residential building codes, and clean technology."

"As a part of this proposal, the state would enact statewide residential building codes for the first time. These codes are proposed to reduce our high per capita energy consumption, reduce the state's high rate of fire fatalities, and protect residents from shodding building construction."

"County associations representatives have demanded that counties not bear any new costs related to this change. So far, the legislation as written, does not put any additional costs on the counties. Those counties that have building code programs may continue to enforce them if they choose, or if they do not have the codes, the state will enforce these codes much like they already do with the state's Fire Marshal office for electrical inspections"

"We would rather the county enforce this (building codes) rather than the state come in here and do it. We would have some local person that would use some oversight and common sense when enforcing these regulations if you (county commission) chose to do that. We already have the books on file and we just need your (county commissioners) input as to what all you require a permit for if you decide to do that."

No action was taken

Alexandria Aldermen Adopt Ordinance to Regulate Parking on City Streets

April 28, 2009
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Mayor Ria Baker and City Attorney Vester Parsley
Alexandria Aldermen Maureen Tubbs, Shelia Clayborn, and Derrick Baker
Alexandria Aldermen Eddie Tubbs and Tony Tarpley

The Alexandria City Council Tuesday night adopted on second and final reading regulations regarding parking on city streets.

The ordinance reads as follows" Whereas, the Town of Alexandria regulates the parking within the city limits; and

Whereas, there is no current code or ordinance regarding parking in the middle of the street.

Now, therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the Town of Alexandria that the Alexandria Municipal Codes is hereby added to as follows:

Section 1. Section 15-613: Stopping, standing, or parking on roadway. Upon any street or highway no person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the roadway or street, but in every event an unobstructed width of the highway opposite a standing vehicle shall be left for the free passage of other vehicles and a clear view of such stopped vehicle shall be available from a distance of 200 feet in each direction upon such highway.

Section 15-614. Obstructing traffic. No person shall park any vehicle upon a street in such a manner or under such conditions as to leave available less than ten feet of the width of the roadway for free movement of vehicular traffic.

Section 15-615. Parking on narrow streets.

(a). The city manager or his designee is hereby authorized to erect signs indicating no parking upon any street when the width of the roadway does not exceed 20 feet, or upon one side of a street when the width of the roadway does not exceed 30 feet.

(b) When official signs prohibiting parking are erected upon narrow streets as authorized in this section, no person shall park a vehicle upon any such street in violation of any such sign."

The ordinance will take effect upon installation of posted street signs.

In other business, the aldermen granted Police Chief Mark Collins' request to purchase some new digital radios and traffic cones for the department. Chief Collins says the city has applied for a grant to help fund the purchase of the radios.

The aldermen awarded a bid to Roof Fix Incorporated for $6,200 to re-roof the city sewer plant.

Monica Thompson was hired by the aldermen to do some part time work in the office at city hall on Mondays and Thursdays. She will also be offered the city recorder position.

The city is looking to hire someone to pick up garbage, replacing Phillip Golden, who has quit. The position will be advertised.

Two Men Arrested in Break-In on Adcock Cemetery Road

April 27, 2009
Dwayne Page
Jerry D. Cantrell
Cody L. Murphy

Two men were arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department Thursday after a burglary and theft on Adcock Cemetery Road.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 19 year old Jerry D. Cantrell of Adcock Cemetery Road, Smithville and 19 year old Cody L. Murphy of Sparta Highway, Smithville are charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property under $500.

According to Sheriff Ray, officers received a complaint call on Adcock Cemetery Road of a break in at a home where thieves made off with the owner's TV and DVD player. Through an investigation, deputes discovered that Cantrell and Murphy went to the residence and used a credit card to gain entry to the home. They removed the TV and DVD player and then went back to Cantrell's residence where they hid the items underneath the home. The stolen items have been recovered. Bond for both men was set at $15,000 each and they will appear in court on April 30th.

Meanwhile, 31 year old Samuel McClure Jr. of Harrison Avenue, Murfreesboro and 29 year old Joshua Edward Dennis were arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of theft of property under $500 and one count of burglary. McClure's bond was set at $5,000. Bond for Dennis was set at $12,000. Both men will appear in court on April 30th.

Sheriff Ray says these two men were allegedly with 30 year old James Ricky Ashford of Burnwood Trailer Court, Murfreesboro when deputies made a traffic stop on Sunday, April 12th on Highway 96 in Liberty and found stolen goods in Ashford's truck.

According to Sheriff Ray "County deputies were on patrol in the Snows Hill and Dowelltown area when they made the traffic stop and noticed a leaf blower and a tool box in the back of the vehicle that Ashford was driving. After an in-depth investigation, officers discovered that Ashford and two other persons (McClure and Dennis) had been riding around looking for items to steal here in DeKalb County. They even went to a store in Smithville and purchased a pry bar to use as a tool to gain entry into locked buildings, vehicles, and trailers. Officers learned that the three men went to a residence on Dry Creek Road in Smithville and broke the lock off an enclosed trailer and stole a leaf blower valued less than $500. The men then went to a location on West Main Street, Smithville and removed from the owner's vehicle, a tool box containing various tools.

Deputies made the owners aware of the thefts after making this discovery.

Ashford was arrested first. He was charged last week with two counts of theft of property under $500 and one count of burglary. His bond is set at $7,000 and his court date is April 30th.

In another case, deputies stopped 31 year old Billy Keith Watts of Lebanon Highway, Carthage for driving offenses on Wednesday, April 22nd. Upon speaking with Watts, officers noticed that he had slurred speech and was confused. Watts submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. He was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and issued a written citation for violation of implied consent for refusing to submit to a blood/alcohol test. Watts' bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on May 7th.

Also on Wednesday, deputies arrested 24 year old Joshua Ryan Cripps of Hodges Road, Smithville for public intoxication, simple possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Cripps came into the DeKalb County Jail in an intoxicated state. Cripps had slurred speech and at times would pass out. After placing Cripps under arrest, deputies found a plastic bag containing marijuana in his front pants pocket. Cripps also had in his possession rolling papers and a cut straw containing a white residue. Bond for Cripps was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on May 21st.

Deputies arrested 25 year old Bradley Wayne Ferrell of Tubbs Street, Liberty on Saturday after he was stopped for running off the roadway on Highway 70. Officers detected a strong odor of alcohol on Ferrell's person and he had slurred speech. Ferrell submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Ferrell was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and his bond was set at $3,000.. He will appear in court on May 28th.

On Sunday, officers arrested 50 year old Karen Louise Moffitt of Baker Mountain Road, Spencer after she was stopped on Highway 56 for erratic driving. Moffitt submitted to field sobriety tasks which she failed. She was very unsteady on her feet and her speech was very impaired. Moffitt did admit to deputies that she was mixing beer with her prescriptions. Moffitt was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and her bond was set at $1,500. She will appear in court on May 7th.

A look at the Tennessee Legislature

April 27, 2009
Terri Lynn Weaver
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Immigration measures see passage

Legislation has been supported by members for several years, dating back to the “Tennessee Trust” initiative House lawmakers proposed in 2006 as a “contract” with voters. As a candidate then, I remember standing with House members during that press conference on the Hill back in 2006. Now as the Representative of the 40th district, illegal immigration remains a high priority with me and the people of whom I work for in Macon, DeKalb and Smith Counties.

English in the Workplace, House Bill 480, was overwhelmingly approved this week by the Employee Affairs Subcommittee. The bill closely mirrors legislation brought to the U.S. Senate in 2008 by Senator Lamar Alexander, who said that the legislation was necessary to prevent frivolous lawsuits targeting businesses that felt English should be spoken on the job due to safety concerns. “Protecting English in the Workplace” now faces the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee.

Sanctuary Cities, House Bill 1354, cleared the Criminal Practice and Procedure Subcommittee and will now face the full House Judiciary Committee. A “sanctuary city” is a term given to a city in the United States that follows certain practices to protect illegal aliens. This bill would cut off economic and community grant money to any Tennessee city that might declare itself a “sanctuary city” for illegal aliens.

Though House Bill 841, which I presented last week in subcommittee, was placed off notice, by no means does that mean my bill is mute. It will come back to subcommittee in 2010 where I intend to prove the fiscal note wrong. A bill that is already law and could save the state of Tennessee millions must be enforced. I am honored to stand in the ranks of others in the General Assembly who are working towards this same goal, deal with the drain on local revenues due to illegal immigration.

House passes legislation to honor fallen Tennessee National Guardsmen
House Bill 1346 passed on the House floor Thursday, with an overwhelming number of House members applauding the measure, and signing onto the legislation as co-sponsors. The bill requires the Adjutant General to notify the Governor in the event of the death of any Tennessee National Guard member that is called into active military service and who is stationed outside the United States. In any month in which one or more notifications of death are given to the Governor, the Governor will be required to proclaim a day of mourning and order the state flag to be flown at half mast to honor the deceased National Guard member or members.

Common-sense legislation dies in Elections Subcommittee
House Bill 639 presented in the Elections Subcommittee that would require photo ID to vote did not pass in subcommittee. This bill is needed to combat voter fraud and ensure that every vote counts. This bill is the third common sense voter legislation to protect the integrity of elections. As a member who supports this legislation many of us have vowed to revive it in another form.

All in a weeks work…
House Bill 107 that would prohibit sending or reading text messages while driving cleared subcommittee and will now move to the house floor. In my opinion, texting falls under the “distraction driving” statue. So my question is how will anyone determine if one is answering or texting on the phone? Common sense says DO not Text!!! Ummmm… what do you think?

House Bill 431 was passed by the K-12 Education Subcommittee this week, and seeks to expand the recognition of homeschoolers’ diplomas. The bill requires that diplomas issued by home schools be recognized by all state and local governmental entities as having the same rights and privileges of diplomas issued by public school systems.

This past week I presented House Bill 842 that would allow homeschoolers to participate in after school academic activities such as band, theatre, and the arts. Another fellow Representative is carrying the athletic side of the bill. Working on setting up a pilot program to showcase a win win scenario for public schools and the homeschooler, let it be known I support wholeheartedly the teachers and the schools in my district. Myself a teacher who taught my son from third to twelve grade as a homeschool mom, I take very seriously the education process of our children. With that said serving on education Committee and K-12 subcommittee is an honor indeed!

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”Mark Twain


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