Local News Articles

DeKalb County to Receive Federal Grants

September 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

State Senator Mae Beavers has announced that DeKalb County will be receiving two grants to help fund various public safety and law enforcement initiatives. Senator Beavers stated her appreciation for the work of United States Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker to make these federal funds possible in Tennessee. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding for the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO).

“DeKalb County law enforcement officials have worked diligently to ensure that the safety of the citizens remains their utmost priority. I believe that one of the government’s most important functions is to keep its citizens safe; and these grants will assist the Alexandria Police Department and Smithville Police Department in accomplishing their objectives,” stated Beavers.

In order for agencies to receive a grant award, they must successfully apply for funding based on problem and statistical need. The GHSO notified agencies across the state that applications were being accepted for highway safety grants. Applications were reviewed and scored by the GHSO and external highway safety advocates. The agencies that met the criteria for funding received awards.

The grants will be distributed as follows:

DeKalb County- Alexandria Police Department- High Visibility Law $5,000 Enforcement Campaign.

DeKalb County-Smithville Police Department- High Visibility Law $5,000 Enforcement Campaign

The grants are awarded annually and serve to advance the commitment to save lives and reduce injuries on Tennessee roadways.

Dental Records Needed to Identify Fire Death Victim

September 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

Dental records will be needed to identify the body found in the charred rubble of a home burned to the ground Thursday on Tranquility Way near Center Hill Lake.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the state medical examiner conducted an autopsy but the body was burned beyond recognition so dental records will be used to make a positive identity.

According to Sheriff Ray, the autopsy revealed evidence of smoke inhalation, which may have caused or contributed to the victim's death.

Sheriff Ray is now releasing the name of the person who lived at the residence, Cliff Thornley of 625 Tranquility Way, but can't say for certain yet if the body found is that of Thornley.

The investigation continues, but Sheriff Ray says the preliminary findings indicate no sign of foul play. He says this appears to have been an accidental fire, the cause of which is officially undetermined. It appears the fire may have started in the front portion of the home.

The Thornley residence was completely destroyed in the blaze.

Hilham Woman Receives Minor Injuries In Friday Morning Wreck

September 14, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 50 year old woman received minor injuries in a one vehicle accident Friday morning on Highway 56 North at Hurricane Bridge.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Jane Hall of Hilham, Tennessee was driving south on Highway 56 in a 1998 Ford Explorer around 8:51 a.m. when she lost control while negotiating a curve on the north side of the bridge and overturned one time. The vehicle came to rest on it wheels.

Hall was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Autopsy to Determine Identity of Fire Death Victim

September 13, 2007
Dwayne Page

A body found in the charred rubble of a home burned to the ground Thursday has been sent to Nashville for an autopsy by the State Medical Examiner to determine the identity and the cause of death.

In the meantime, Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department has set up the Critical Incident Response Mobile Command Trailer at the location until the on scene investigation has been completed. Investigators from the Sheriff's Department, State Fire Marshal's Office, TBI, and State Bomb and Arson Squad began sifting through the debris Thursday until dark and will resume the task Friday morning looking for clues as to what started the fire, and to determine if there was any foul play associated with it.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green says the fire was reported around 7:43 a.m. Thursday morning by neighbors who spotted the blaze coming from the residence of 625 Tranquility Way, located near Center Hill Lake, off Holiday Haven Drive.

Officials fear that the body found in the rubble is that of a disabled man who lived alone at that residence, but authorities will not reveal his name until identification of the body has been established.

Green says the home was fully engulfed in flames by the time it was discovered and firefighters were unable to save it. The garage next to the house was also destroyed in the blaze along with a pickup truck parked inside.

Members of the Cookeville Highway Station, the Main Station at King Ridge Road, the Midway Station, and Tanker truck all responded to the fire along with DeKalb EMS, the Sheriff's Department, and the Tennessee Forestry Division.

Evins Named Chairman of School Board

September 13, 2007
Dwayne Page

Fifth District School Board member W.J. (Dub) Evins III was elected Chairman of the Board of Education Thursday night.

The board re-organizes each September, naming a chairman, vice-chairman, and an assistant secretary.

Evins succeeds Seventh District member Johnny Lattimore who has served as chairman of the school board for the last two years.

Second District member Charles Robinson was re-elected Vice-Chairman and Sixth District member Linda Fuston was re-elected Assistant Secretary for the year.

In other business, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented the board his monthly written report on personnel moves made since the August meeting.

Those employed include:

Jared Daniels, math teacher at DCHS (replaces Clay Dickerson who resigned); Rob Robinson, special education assistant at DCHS (replaces Rebecca Satterfield who resigned); Tonya Roberts, special education assistant at Smithville Elementary School (replaces Tina Miller who resigned); Tracey Ludwig, transportation driver; and Jackie Rigsby, transportation driver.

Approved substitute teachers added to the list include:

Carolyn Allen, Kenneth Allen, Guylene Atnip, Suzette Barnes, Galen Brown, Carolyn Caldwell, Nancy Cantrell, Jesse Marie Cripps, Faye Evans, Betty Fisk, Debbie France, Leanne Frasier, Kelly Frazier, Robbie Joan Frazier, Doris Graham, Johnna Goff, Vicki Haggard, Judith Hale, Brenda Henry, Jean Hope, Milinda League, Cody Martin, Jeania Poss, Phyliss Reed, Kimberly Rhea, Beth Rhody, Teresa Spencer, George Sperry, Tammy Turner, Tammy Vanatta, Wanda Vickers, Susan West, Tom Werling, Helen Wilson, Nancy Young, Kimberly Young, Darcie Cripps, Elaine Perricone, and Amanda Vaughn.

Those granted a leave of absence as requested include Gina Arnold, Special Education Supervisor and Katherine Ballard, Special Education.

Those who have resigned include Rebecca Satterfield, special education assistant at DCHS; Tina Miller, special education assistant at Smithville Elementary School, and Clay Dickerson, math teacher at DCHS.

In other business, the board appointed Trustees to the Sick Leave Bank.

The purpose of the sick leave bank is to provide sick leave to contributors who have suffered an unplanned personal illness, injury, disability, or quarantine and whose paid leave is exhausted.

The sick leave bank shall be administered by a committee of Trustees. The committee shall be composed of five members: two members appointed by the board, two members appointed by the Teachers Association and the Director of Schools who shall serve as chairperson.

The two teacher members appointed as Trustees are Michael Hawkins and Jennifer Peak and the two board members are Joan Draper and Kenny Rhody.

The request for the Sick Leave Bank was presented to the board last August by John Isabell, former President of the DeKalb County Education Association. Isabell said "A Sick Leave Bank serves the purpose of allowing teachers to contribute some of their stored up sick leave days into a pool that would allow teachers who are experiencing a catastrophic event, such as a sickness in the family or sickness to themselves, who have exhausted their own sick leave, the ability to go into that pool and use some of those days."

Officials say the Sick Leave Bank is a voluntary statewide program for certified employees of Tennessee Public Schools, established by state law. Members donate earned sick leave to the bank and are then eligible to supplement normal paid sick leave if diagnosed or an immediate family member is diagnosed with a serious or catastrophic illness.

A participant shall not receive any sick leave from the Bank until after having exhausted all accumulated sick, personal, and or annual leave including all paid extensions.

Members must submit an application to the Sick Leave Bank Trustees for review. Medical documentation must accompany the application.

The employee will be notified in writing the status of the application.

King Retires as General Manager of Caney Fork Electric Coop

September 12, 2007

Hubert A. King, III, General Manager, of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, Inc. has announced his retirement after 35 years of service effective December 31, 2007.

On October 8th, Mr. King will commence his accumulated and earned leave and William S. (Bill) Rogers, Assistant General Manager, will assume responsibilities on that date as the General Manager on an interim basis.

Mr. King has served as General Manager of the cooperative for the past eleven years of his tenure with the cooperative. His deep understanding of working with people has led him to excel in steering the cooperative to a higher level of quality service to the membership. In his time of service to the cooperative, a new highly technical two way automated meter reading system was being installed. Many other upgrades to the cooperative’s system occurred during this time including improvements to three of the cooperative’s offices.

King has served as a board member of the Warren County Industrial Board, was a member of the McMinnville Noon Rotary Club, a board member of Central Service Association headquartered in Tupelo, MS, a board member of the United Utility Service located in Kentucky, and a board member of the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association. He also held numerous committee positions with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

The Board of Directors of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, Inc. and it’s employees wish to thank Hubert for his many years of dedicated service to the cooperative and it’s membership.

Linder Airlifted After Monday Afternoon Wreck

September 10, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 20 year old man was injured in a one car wreck Monday afternoon on the Old Snow Hill Road near Dowelltown.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Brandon Keith Linder of Smithville was driving a 2005 Nissan Sentra west on the Old Snow Hill Road when he failed to properly negotiate a curve, left the road on the north side, overturned once, and came to rest on the driver side up against two trees.

According to Trooper England, a school bus driver passing by saw the car and reported the accident.

Linder was extricated by members of the DeKalb County Fire Department's Extrication unit. The Liberty Fire Station was also on the scene and helped set up the helicopter landing zone on Highway 70.

Linder was airlifted by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Trooper England says Linder had no drivers license

State Lawmaker Charged in DeKalb & Wilson Counties

September 10, 2007
Dwayne Page

Democratic State Representative Rob Briley of Nashville, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been charged with DUI, evading arrest, and vandalism, among other traffic offenses as the result of incidents in DeKalb and Wilson Counties on Saturday afternoon.

The first involved a "hit and run" in DeKalb County around 4:31 p.m.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE Monday that the 40 year old Briley was eastbound on Highway 70 at Dowelltown in a 2005 Nissan Xterra SUV when he rear-ended an eastbound 2007 Chevy Colorado pickup truck, driven by 56 year old John P. Mitchell of McMinnville.

Passengers with Mitchell were 50 year old Janice Mitchell and 9 year old Sabrina Flanagan both of McMinnville.

Briley was traveling alone.

No one was injured in the accident.

According to Mitchell and another witness, Briley made a U-turn in the highway after the collision and fled the scene going west toward Watertown.

Mitchell said he pulled into the turning lane after the accident, but when he saw the driver of the other vehicle was not going to stop, he drove to the shoulder of the road, where he parked and called 911 to report the hit and run.

Trooper England says a plastic cover over the front bumper came off of Briley's vehicle during the crash and clung to the ball of the trailer hitch on Mitchell's truck.

After Trooper England learned that Briley was arrested in Watertown and that his vehicle fit the description of the one involved in the hit and run, he took the bumper cover found at the crash scene to Watertown and matched it with Briley's Xterra.

Trooper England says he went to the Wilson County Jail, where Briley was taken after his arrest in Watertown, and issued him citations for failure to give immediate notice of an accident, leaving the scene of an accident, a separate citation for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, and following to closely.

Briley will appear in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on the citations December 5th.

After the hit and run in Dowelltown, Briley was pulled over by Watertown Police Officer Ricky Lucy, Jr. for traveling 72 mph in a 45 mph zone

In addition to being charged with evading arrest, Briley allegedly failed three field sobriety tests and was charged with DUI. He also allegedly refused to take a blood or breathalyzer test and was charged with violation of the implied consent law.

Watertown Police say they found a bottle of Maker's Mark whiskey as well as various prescription drugs inside Briley's SUV.

In Lucy's report, Briley listed taking anti-depressants as a medical reason for not being able to perform the field sobriety tests, saying they made him "dizzy."

The state lawmaker was later charged with vandalism by Wilson County authorities after he allegedly damaged a door to a patrol car by repeatedly kicking the door and window frame as he was being taken to jail.

Sheriff Ray Warns Residents To Beware of Scam

September 10, 2007
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray is warning DeKalb Countians about a recent scam.

According to Sheriff Ray "Victims in the County have been calling me about receiving checks in the mail and a letter telling you to deposit the checks, how much money to keep, and where to forward the remaining money. One victim had gotten e-mails and telephone calls from the scammer." Sheriff Ray says "This is a scam, so do not cash the checks. The checks are no good and you could be responsible for paying the money back. Some of the checks have been up in the thousands of dollars. If you receive one of these checks, you may contact me or someone from my office or simply destroy the checks by tearing them up. Our office has contacted the F.B.I. about this scam."

Meanwhile, in other crime news, On Monday, September 3rd, 47 year old Mike Alton Baugh of Atelia Drive, Antioch, Tennessee was arrested on Highway 70 west for 2nd offense DUI, Violation of the Implied Consent Law, Driving on a Revoked Driver's License, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Violation of the Open Container Law, Simple Possession of a Schedule VI Drug (Marijuana), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Baugh and a female passenger were in a 1998 Dodge pickup truck towing a pontoon boat traveling west on Highway 70 West. Baugh and the passenger started throwing each other's belongings out of the windows of the vehicle. Baugh suddenly jerked his vehicle around to make a u-turn in the middle of the road when the pontoon boat he was towing came off and landed in a private drive. Baugh returned to where his items where thrown out, retrieved the items, and left his passenger beside of the pontoon boat. Baugh fled the scene and was eventually stopped in Liberty. Baugh was intoxicated and had in his possession a small amount of Marijuana, hemostats, a pair of alligator clips, and a half bottle of wine. A check of Baugh's license revealed it was revoked due to a DUI. Baugh's truck was also seized. Bond was set at $6,000 and he is to appear in General Sessions Court October 10th.

52 year old Larry Dale Lepley of Miller Road Smithville was charged Wednesday, September 5th with Violation of The Sexual Offender Act. Lepley's listed address was checked and deputies found out that he had moved and failed to report his new address. Bond for Lepley was set at $10,000 and his court date is September 20th.

26 year old Julie Elaine Moore of Cookeville Highway Smithville was charged Friday, September 7th with 2 counts of forgery. Moore took two stolen checks and passed them at a business in Liberty. The checks were in the amount of $100.00 each. Her court date is September 13th and her bond is $10,000.

19 year old Samantha Rene Devault of Highland Drive Smithville was arrested Saturday for Theft of Property over $500.00. Devault stole three diamond rings, valued at over $500.00 from a residence on Shady Drive Smithville. The rings have been recovered. Her bond was set at $10,000 and her court date is October 11th.

On Sunday, September 9th , deputies were dispatched to Jacobs Pillar Road Smithville in answer to a call of a suspicious vehicle setting in the middle of the road. When Deputies arrived, they found 26 year old Luis Alberto Villanunva passed out in the vehicle. Villanunva's vehicle was running, in gear, and Villanunva had his foot on the brake. Villanunva was arrested for DUI 1ST offense and Driving without a license. His court date is October 4th and his bond is $1,000.

Center Hill Team Makes Recommendations To Ensure Dam's Safety

September 9, 2007
Dwayne Page

An independent team of engineers has reviewed planned repairs to Center Hill Dam and made key recommendations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to U.S. Representative Bart Gordon.

The recommendations made by the peer review panel include an immediate reduction in the water level at Center Hill Lake to reduce pressure on the dam.

"The Corps should take every reasonable precaution to protect the lives and property of those who live downstream of Center Hill Dam," said Gordon. "While the Corps tells me a dam break is unlikely, the results would be devastating."

Last month, Gordon went to the dam and met with Corps officials regarding the planned repairs. The $240 million, six-year rehabilitation will involve the addition of grouting to voids where seepage is occurring in the earthen dam. Installation of a concrete cut-off wall into the rock foundation of the dam will provide another level of defense against future seepage.

Problems with seepage have been a problem at Center Hill Dam since its completion in 1951. The most recent rehabilitation to the dam occurred in 1992, when grouting was added to combact seepage.

"Addressing the seepage problems will greatly enhance safety for the Middle Tennesseans who live downstream, as well as for the many people who visit the lake each year," said Gordon. "While the rehabilitation will cause temporary headaches, the end result will be a safer place for recreation and residence."

While Corps officials say there is no immediate danger of the dam failing, they are monitoring the seepage so that emergency actions could be taken to lessen the possibility of a catastrophic breach occurring.

A catastrophic dam failure could result in significant damage and loss of life if water from Center Hill Lake were to flood downstream communities.

The Corps is planning to hold public meetings later this year in downstream communities and is working with the Department of Homeland Security to provide residents with maps depicting potential flooding in the event of a failure at the dam.

A copy of the full peer review report is available at the Corps' web site at www.Irn.usace.army.mil/CenterHill.


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