Local News Articles

Judge Hands Down Sentences In Criminal Court

October 31, 2006
Dwayne Page

Several defendants charged in various crimes appeared for sentencing Friday in DeKalb County Criminal Court before Judge Leon Burns, Jr.

36 year old Royce Avoin Foster pleaded guilty to burglary and received a four year sentence to serve in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. He was given credit for 153 days of jail time served.

46 year old Sammy Gene Taylor pleaded guilty to burglary and evading arrest. He received a three year sentence to serve 60 days in the DeKalb County jail with the balance on probation supervised by DOC. He must perform 100 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on the evading arrest charge but that will run concurrently with the burglary conviction. The case will run consecutive to any other sentence against him. He was given credit for 52 days of jail time served.

29 year old Christopher Hall pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000, eight counts of burglary, and one count of evading arrest. All the cases will run concurrently. He received a four year sentence all suspended except one year to serve either in jail or at Teen Challenge. He must pay restitution in the case.

40 year old Martin Riley pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence reduced to time served with the remainder on DOC probation. He must make restitution of $3,600 and perform 100 hours of community service work and agree to testify against another person in the case. The sentence will run consecutive to any other case against him in Wilson County. Riley must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments.

23 year old Johnny Devault pleaded guilty to conspiracy/introduction of contraband into a penal facility. He received a three year sentence, all suspended to DOC probation, supervised by community corrections. He will be on community corrections probation during the first year of his probation. He must complete 100 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments. He was given 36 days of jail credit.

26 year old Kim (Kym) Curtis, charged with criminal conspiracy, was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding for a period of two years. During this time, she must perform 100 hours of community service work.

Aubrey Beene III pleaded guilty to a second offense of driving under the influence and driving while revoked.. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, suspended to 60 days to serve and he has lost his drivers license for two years. He was fined a total of $660 and was given five days of jail credit.

21 year old Steve F, Mabe, Sr. pleaded guilty to forgery and received a two year sentence, all suspended to probation.

47 year old Anna Adams pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale. She received a four year sentence, suspended to probation. The case is to run concurrent with another case against her. She must pay a fine of $2,000.

27 year old Natasha Helms pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to probation. She may be released from probation if all fines and court costs are paid after six months. She was fined $150

35 year old Audrey Ledbetter pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to 10 days to serve with the balance on PSI supervised probation. She must pay a fine of $750. The ten days will be suspended upon her being admitted into the Putnam County drug court. Ledbetter must complete 25 hours of community service work and complete an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments. The sentence is to run consecutive to a Putnam County sentence against her.

36 year old Clinton Maples pleaded guilty to three counts of worthless check and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days with 30 days to serve in each case with all counts running concurrently but consecutive to any other case against him including one in Warren County. He will then be on PSI probation and he must make restitution of $180.34.

30 year old Brian Roberts pleaded guilty to assault and evading arrest and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case with both to run concurrently. He will be on PSI supervised probation. Roberts must complete 25 hours of community service work, undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments, and complete behavioral management classes.

33 year old Ruthie Shoemake pleaded guilty to prescription fraud and received a three year sentence, suspended to 30 days to serve with the balance on BOPP supervised probation. The 30 days may be served on weekends. She must complete 100 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments.

39 year old Marilyn Strayn pleaded guilty to possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to 30 days to serve with the balance on BOPP supervised probation. She must pay a fine of $150 and stay out of the Fred's Department Store. Strayn must also complete 25 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments. The case is to run consecutive to another sentence against her.

Stufano Named Smithville Police Chief

November 1, 2006
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville has named Thomas J. Stufano as the new Police Chief, effective November 1st.

Chief Stufano, who has been working in recent months as the city police department's executive officer, brings with him 26 years of law enforcement and executive management experience in local, state, and U.S. government venues.

He will be leaving the U.S. government where he worked as a Division Supervisor with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Chief Stufano was also a Senior Manager with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration working as a primary Executive/Instructor in airport security explicity dealing with terrorist and clandestine intervention of destructive devices into U.S. Airports.

He was instrumental in helping resolve a number of international hijackings from Cuba to the Key West International Airport. Most recently, he was commended by both the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security for his discovery and investigative follow-up regarding an extensive fraud case against the U.S. government during the Katrina disaster.

In addition to his vast experience, Chief Stufano holds a Master in Business Administration degree in Military Management from Touro University in New York and is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Command and Staff College and the U.S. government's Emergency Management Institute.

FirstBank Acquires Seven AmSouth Branches

November 2, 2006
Dwayne Page

FirstBank announced today (Wednesday) an agreement to acquire seven branch offices in Middle Tennessee from AmSouth Bank.

Included in the deal will be customer deposits of about $400 million. The 58 AmSouth employees at the branches will become FirstBank associates, officials said.

When given final approval by state and federal banking regulators, the acquisition will bring Lexington-based FirstBank?s total assets to more than $1.9 billion. Closing is expected in early 2007.

?We are very pleased to increase our statewide franchise by joining these markets, and we want to welcome the AmSouth employees as associates and members of the FirstBank family,? said FirstBank Chairman Jim Ayers. ?This acquisition allows us to offer the products and services we provide to more people in more communities in Tennessee.?

The new FirstBank branches will be in Crossville, Dayton, Fayetteville, Paris, Shelbyville, Smithville and Woodbury. FirstBank will acquire all seven AmSouth branches being divested in Tennessee.

FirstBank President and CEO Doug Cruickshanks said they will move quickly to make the former AmSouth associates and customers feel at home, and that customers will be contacted regarding any changes.

?We feel very confident that our new FirstBank customers will be very happy with the services and products we offer,? Cruickshanks said. ?With more than 40 locations now across the state and nearly $2 billion in assets, FirstBank can service almost any customer need in these markets, including large loans, but still deliver in our unique community-banking style.?

FirstBank is the largest independently owned bank in Tennessee and upon completion of this acquisition will have 43 locations and approximately $1.9 billion in assets.

As the leader among Tennessee?s community banks, FirstBank offers its customers a broad line of financial products and services, and actively promotes initiatives that improve the quality of life for Tennesseans, with an emphasis on education in the communities it serves. Jim Ayers is owner and chairman of FirstBank and founder of the Ayers Foundation.

To read more about FirstBank, a wholly owned subsidiary of First South Bancorp, Inc., visit its Web site at www.firstbankonline.com.

Morgan Avenue Woman Arrested In Drug Bust

November 3, 2006
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police arrested a Morgan Avenue woman Thursday night in a drug bust at her residence.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says Glenda Diane Stanley of 440 Morgan Avenue is charged with possession of drugs for resale. Her bond is set at $50,000.

In a prepared news release, Chief Stufano says over 114 unregistered prescription pills, cash, and a gun were recovered as a result of an investigation by Sergeant Steve Deffendoll and Officer Marcus Caldwell using the department's newly certified Drug Enforcement K-9. The pills, hidden throughout the residence, were allegedly being sold as illegal controlled substances.

Stufano says confidential sources stated that the drug activity was excessive with people coming and going at all hours of the night and usually staying for 2 to 3 minutes and then leaving.

Officers also recovered a large cache of jewelry believed to have been exchanged for drugs, in lieu of cash.

Chief Stufano says the jewelry will be crossed referenced with other police agencies to determine if it has been reported stolen elsewhere.

The case remains under investigation.

Chief Stufano says the Smithville Police Department is committed to aggressively investigating all drug activity within the city limits and urges all citizens to report anything suspicious occurring in their neighborhoods.

Local Man Arrested On Drug Charge By Smithville Police

November 4, 2006
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police arrested a local man around 1:54 a.m. Friday morning on a drug charge.

Chief Thomas Stufano says James Robert Davis II of 1638 New Home Road was arrested for driving on a suspended license while impaired and a narcotics violation.

Stufano, in a prepared news release, states that \"Upon responding to the area of the Hardee's parking lot, officers found Davis asleep at the wheel of his 2001 Lexus. After the initial investigation the city's new Drug K-9 was brought to the scene and found that Davis was also in possession of marijuana and a large amount of cash that was tainted with drug residue.

Davis was arrested and booked into the DeKalb County Jail with a bond of $2,000. His car was towed and seized under the state's forfeiture act.

Bain Crowned Fall Fest Queen

November 5, 2006
Dwayne Page

17 year old Jessica LeAnn Bain was crowned Fall Fest Queen at the conclusion of Saturday night's pageant, sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.

Bain is the daughter of Larry and Teresa Johnson and Harold and Debbie Bain of Smithville.

She succeeds the retiring queen, 19 year old Whitney Rice, daughter of Brenda Rice of Sparta and the late Bobby Rice.

The first runner-up in the pageant was Britany George, the 14 year old daughter of Becky and Joel George of Smithville.

Second runner-up was 14 year old Laura Caroline Carter, daughter of Johnny and Laura Carter of McMinnville.

16 year old Sarah Elizabeth McBride was the third runner-up. She is the daughter of Lisa and Michael McBride of Smithville.

15 year old Rosemary Apple was the fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of Nick and Claire Apple of Smithville.

Others rounding out the top ten were Amber Evans, Jessica Cook, Brittney Cantrell, Keisha Poss, and Loni Easterwood.

The title of Miss Congeniality went to 17 year old Ashlee Nichole Moss, daughter of Greg and Wendy Moss of Alexandria.

A total of twenty four young ladies were featured in the Fall Fest Pageant, held at the DeKalb County High School gymnasium.

WJLE Adds Audio Streaming As A New Service To The Public

November 6, 2006
Dwayne Page

WJLE has added another dimension to our service to the public through LIVE streaming of the radio broadcast, limited to talk programs such as local newscasts, ballgames, election returns, and city council, school board, and county commission board meetings.

Dr. W.E. Vanatta, President of Center Hill Broadcasting Corporation, says \"WJLE has two slogans on our web site that helps define our purpose. (1) You tell us and we will tell thousands and (2) The voice of the Center Hill Region.\"

\"To our sponsors you tell us what you have to sell or the services you render and we literally will tell thousands. This has proven true as we often hear comments such as \"I heard it on WJLE\".

The second slogan helps define our service area.

Vanatta says,\" We have resisted offers to sell the station on numerous occasions in keeping with our desire to keep a local \"flavor\" in the services we provide such as LIVE board meetings, election returns, ball games, obituaries and local news, while at the same time not neglecting the coverage of the latest world and state news via the Tennessee Radio Network and Fox News.\"

\"In keeping with our desire to better serve our area we broadcast on AM 1480 khz and FM 101.7 khz, maintain a web page (www.WJLE.com), and now in keeping with our aim and purpose to better serve you we have added another dimension, namely limited audio streaming. To those who may not be informed, this entails putting our audio signal on the computer which affords world wide coverage. A solider in Iraq recently reported hearing the DCHS ball games via www.WJLE.com.\"

Vanatta explains, \"The streaming may be accessed by clicking the microphone icon box in the upper right corner of web page then scrolling down and clicking the other microphone icon. This activates the sound availability on your computer.\"

\"We thank our sponsors , listeners, Dwayne and loyal staff for making this possible. We also thank you our loyal listeners for making \"I heard it on WJLE a truism, that is often heard......Keep listening!\"

Police Department Conducts Neighborhood Crime Watch Meeting

November 6, 2006
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department had it's first city wide Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting Saturday night at city hall.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says the meeting was a success with residents and leadership from both Smithville and Liberty in attendance.

The focus of the meeting was to explain how the community can assist the police department by working together in combating crime. The presentation focused on being a Crime Watch neighbor and how being a good neighbor means watching out for one another's property and by reporting suspicious activity to the police.

This nationally recognized program has been very effective in reducing the amount of suspicious activity in city neighborhoods and businesses.

Chief Stufano says, ideally, residents in a good Crime Watch neighborhood should know the three neighbors across the street from their homes, on each side, and the three neighbors behind your residence.

Heightened awareness and the reporting of suspicious activity to the police will ultimately improve response times for service. Citizens can be assured that when they report suspcious activity, their names will be held in strictest confidence.

Other information presented by Chief Stufano included the rising instances of identity theft and Operation ID which inscribes information onto your personal items for easy identification in case of loss. The meeting also afforded the public an opportunity to see the new Drug K-9 handled by Detective Sergeant Steve Deffendoll.

Chief Stufano says \"In a recent rash of burglaries in the south end of the city, neighbors were able to give excellent descriptions of the suspect that had eluded police for over three weeks. Their support was instrumental in helping catch this subject.\"

Additional meetings will be scheduled and all residents are encouraged to attend.

Voters To Make Their Decisions Tuesday

November 6, 2006
Dwayne Page

Voters across the state will elect a Governor and a United States Senator Tuesday.

DeKalb County voters will also help elect a U.S. Congressman, State Senator, and State Representative.

Two proposed amendments to the State Constitution will also be decided during the election, one called the Marriage Protection Amendment, and the other that would give local governments the authority to provide Property Tax Relief to senior citizens.

The candidates for Governor are Democratic Incumbent Governor Phil Bredesen versus Republican challenger Jim Bryson. Independent candidates are George Banks, David Gatchell, Maurivauna Stout Leinoff, Charles E. Smith, Howard M. Switzer, and Carl \"Twofeathers\" Whitaker.

Candidates for the United States Senate are Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford, Jr., Independent candidates are Ed Choate, David Gatchell, Emory \"Bo\" Heyward, Gary Keplinger, and Christopher Joseph Lugo.

Candidates for State Senator of the 17th District are Republican Incumbent Mae Beavers and Democratic challenger Bob Rochelle.

Candidates for U.S. Representative of the 6th Congressional District are Democratic Incumbent Bart Gordon and Republican challenger David R. Davis. Independent candidates are Robert L. Garrison and Norman R. Saliba.

Candidates for State Representative of the 40th District are Democratic incumbent Frank Buck versus Republican Terri Lynn Weaver and Independent Carl Jones.

Polls at all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County will be open Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. WJLE will have LIVE election return coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. from the courthouse. The LIVE broadcast may also be heard via audio streaming at www.wjle.com

A total of 2,574 DeKalb County voters have already cast ballots during the early voting period October 18th through November 2nd.

City To Select Airport Manager

November 7, 2006
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen have decided to hire an Airport Manager at the Smithville Municipal Airport rather than lease the facility to a fixed based operator.

The issue was discussed during Monday night's meeting.

A committee made up of Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Secretary-Treasurer Burnace Vandergriff, and Alderman Cecil Burger will review the three applications received and select a new Airport operator, after receiving input from members of the airport committee, who will be serving in an advisory capacity.

A background check will also be conducted on the three applicants for the job.

The city board, in September, accepted a bid from Highland Aviation of Crossville to become the new Fixed Based Operator of the Airport, subject to the new tenant's approval after a review and inspection of the property.

However, the city board, in October decided not to enter into a contract with Highland Aviation after City Attorney Sarah Cripps reported that a background check had been conducted on the company. Cripps says she learned, as a result of that background check, that officials of Highland Aviation had made several misrepresentations to the city.

Cripps told the mayor and alderman last month that Paul Sutta, the chief financial manager for Highland Aviation, was a convicted felon and has served a nine month sentence in a federal facility for fraud. Cripps says she learned that Highland Aviation has been dissolved as a corporation since 2002 and that the company was indebted to a fuel supplier by over $50,000.

Cripps recommended, after conferring with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), that it would be in the city's best interest to hire an Airport Manager rather than lease the airport to a Fixed Based Operator.

An Airport Manager would be a city employee and answer directly to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen and the city would receive all fees generated from the airport through fuel sales, etc.

In other business, the city board formally voted to hire Thomas J. Stufano as the new Chief of Police.

Stufano was appointed to the position November 1st, subject to being hired by the city board.

The vote to hire Stufano was 4 to 1. Aldermen Steve White, W.J. \"Dub\" White, Aaron Meeks, and Cecil Burger voted to hire Stufano. Alderman Paul Young \"passed\".

Stufano will be paid $708.80 per week or $17.72 per hour.

The city board, in other business, approved an ordinance on first reading to abandon Ken Circle between the intersection of Dry Creek Road and the intersection of Ed Taft Drive. The ordinance states that Ken Circle was never developed or used as a roadway and no landowner would be landlocked by the abandonment of it.

Second and final reading passage will be scheduled following a public hearing at the next meeting on Monday, November 20th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.


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