Local News Articles

One Man Seriously Wounded in Sunday Assault-Two Men Charged in the Case

December 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

A Holmes Creek Road man was seriously wounded in an assault Sunday and the two men accused of attacking the victim have been arrested.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says upon arrival at the scene on Holmes Creek Road, officers found the victim, 29 year old Billy Joe Madden bleeding from wounds on his head and his neck. After an investigation by deputies,, 43 year old Walter Hartman of Man Hill Road, Dowelltown and 24 year old Johnny Lynn DeVault of Talpha Drive, Dowelltown were arrested.

Sheriff Ray says it is alleged that Madden was at home and was attacked on the outside of his residence by Hartman and DeVault. Hartman allegedly held a knife to Madden's throat and told Madden if he moved, he (Hartman) would cut his throat. As Hartman held Madden, DeVault allegedly struck Madden on the head with a tire iron causing Madden to suffer bodily injury.

After the attack, DeVault and Hartman fled the scene and Madden went into his residence, awoke family members who were asleep in the residence at the time, and told them to call for help. Madden was transported to Vanderbilt Hospital by air ambulance. Hartman and DeVault were arrested a short time later.

Hartman was charged with Especially Aggravated Kidnapping and DeVault was charged with Aggravated Assault. Bond for both was set at $50,000 each and both are scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on December 20th.

Meanwhile, 44 year old Bruce Graustein of Statesville Road, Watertown was arrested on Tuesday, November 27th for theft of property over $1,000

Sheriff Patrick Ray says a theft was reported last Tuesday from a Walker Creek residence. Someone had entered a building and stolen numerous shop tools, including, an air compressor, chainsaw, and other hand tools.

Later that day, the DeKalb Sheriff's Department received a tip where Graustein lived and found that he had possession of the tools and was painting the stolen tools in an attempt to disguise their identity. Local officials contacted the Wilson County Sheriff's Department and deputies there found Graustein and the stolen tools.

Through an investigation, DeKalb County Detectives learned that Graustein had worked on the victim's home at Walker Creek a few weeks ago and had knowledge that the victim would be out of town.

Graustein's bond was set at $10,000 and his court date is December 6th.

Liberty Celebrates Christmas with Sunday Parade

December 2, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Town of Liberty and Liberty State Bank hosted their annual Christmas Parade Sunday and a large crowd turned out to share in the fun and excitement and the chance to win cash, country hams, and other prizes.

Laura Faber of Fox 17 News in Nashville was the Grand Marshal of the parade and she rode into town in Bill and Carol Tate's convertible. The parade also featured floats, the DCHS band, horseback riders, vintage automobiles, tractors, and Santa Claus among many other attractions.

The Liberty United Methodist Church won the float competition and the Cooper's Chapel Baptist Church took second place.

Ron Griffith of Dowelltown won first place for best vintage automobile in the parade with his 1964 Chevy Nova wagon.

Eric Peterson of Smithville received second place for his 1957 Chevy truck

In the tractor category, first place went to Jackie Bryson of Auburntown for his Oliver Tractor and Joe Vickers of Liberty took second place for his 4020 John Deere tractor.

The Liberty elves (J.T. and Peggy Pursell) won first place in the miscellaneous category and MaKenzie Gibson received second place.

Prizes were awarded by the Town of Liberty, Liberty State Bank, and Johnson's Heating and Air.

Look for more pictures of the Liberty Christmas Parade on this web site

Two Injured In Accident After Christmas Parade- Operator Charged with DUI

December 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two people riding in the Smithville Christmas Parade Saturday were injured and the operator of the vehicle was arrested after he lost control, went off the road on Webb Street, and wrecked after the parade ended.

39 year old Curtis Lee Adams of Dearman Street was charged with driving under the influence.

Those injured, Todd Van Dyne and Haston Austin Waggoner, were taken to DeKalb Community Hospital. Waggoner was treated and released but Van Dyne was later transferred to Cookeville Regional Medical Center for further treatment.

Adams was operating an ST 4 x 4 all terrain utility vehicle pulling two small trailers loaded with people, including children, when the accident occurred. Adams had already gone around the public square during the parade. After the parade at the time of the accident, Adams was east on Webb Street near the intersection of First Street. Officer Travis Bryant says the ST 4 x 4 went off the right side of the street, over an embankment, and struck a tree. The trailers jackknifed and some of the passengers were ejected. Van Dyne was pinned between one of the trailers and the utility vehicle. Officer Bryant says the trailer had to be moved to free Van Dyne from the wreckage.

Officials say Adams was no longer in the parade route when he wrecked, since the parade is basically over after it reaches the public square area.

Officer Bryant's arrest report states that " At approximately 1:47 p.m. I responded to Webb Street in response to a motor vehicle accident involving a Christmas Parade float. Upon arrival, I made contact with Curtis Adams, who was the driver of the ATV. As I was gathering information, I spoke with Adams, who appeared to be impaired. I asked him if he would submit to field sobriety tests to which he agreed but he advised me that he had back problems. Adams had slurred speech, was unsteady on his feet, and his pupils were dilated. I advised him that he was under arrest for DUI. He did submit to a blood test."

According to the Affidavit of Complaint filed by Bryant, " Adams had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and did take a blood test. Mr. Adams has a prescription for hydrocodone by a doctor."

Adams' bond is set at $1,000 and he is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on the charge January 3rd.

Smithville Parade Kicks off Holiday Season

December 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

Hundreds lined the downtown streets on a pleasant Saturday afternoon for the annual Smithville Christmas Parade.

As always, the parade featured floats, vintage automobiles, motorcycles, local kings and queens, scouts, horseback riders, the DeKalb County High School Fighting Tiger Band, among many other entries. Of course, the highlight of the parade was the appearance of Santa Claus who rode into town on a fire engine tossing candy left and right to everyone along the parade route.

The Grand Marshal of the Smithville parade was Meteorologist Kelly Cox of NewsChannel 5.

The Cooper's Chapel Baptist Church won first place in the float competition.

DeKalb Community Bank took second place for their float and Walmart received third place and also won the Spirit Award.

The Smithville Parade is sponsored each year by the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department.

Look for more pictures of the Smithville Christmas Parade on this web site

Gordon Encourages Attendance at DeKalb Meeting on Center Hill Repairs

December 1, 2007

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled a public meeting in DeKalb County regarding repairs at Center Hill Dam, and U.S. Representative Bart Gordon is encouraging residents to attend.

"It's important for residents to know how repairs at Center Hill Dam will affect them," said Gordon. "I hope people will go to these meetings and get answers to their questions about the work."

On December 3rd, the Corps will hold a public meeting at the Temperance Hall Community Center at 2760 Temperance Hall Road. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Flood inundation maps will be available at 4:00 p.m. The maps show an estimate of what area would flood based on various failure scenarios at Center Hill Dam.

Construction on Center Hill Dam was completed in 1951. Over time, limestone and sinkholes have taken a toll on the dam and caused seepage.

The rehabilitation plan recommends installing permanent cutoff walls and supplemental grouting into the main embankment and saddle dam foundations to stop the seepage. The plan also recommends replacing the powerhouse station service generator to enhance flow for water quality downstream of the dam.

In August, Gordon went to the dam to meet with representatives from the Corps and local officials about the possible impacts on nearby communities.

"The Corps tells me the dam is in no immediate danger of failure, but these repairs are necessary to ensure the continued safety of residents, " said Gordon.

Gordon Encourages Attendance at DeKalb Meeting on Center Hill Repairs

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled a public meeting in DeKalb County regarding repairs at Center Hill Dam, and U.S. Representative Bart Gordon is encouraging residents to attend.

"It's important for residents to know how repairs at Center Hill Dam will affect them", said Gordon. "I hope people will go to these meetings and get answers to their questions about the work."

On December 3rd, the Corps will hold a punlic meeting at the Temperance Hall Community Center at 2760 Temperance Hall Road. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Firefighters Respond to Wednesday Blaze at Griffith Home

December 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

County volunteer firefighters were called to the residence of Leann Griffith on Highway 70 near Liberty Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Donny Green says a passerby reported the fire after seeing smoke coming from the eaves of the house, which is located just past the intersection of Highway 70 and 96. No one was home at the time of the fire

County firefighters quickly responded and were able to confine the fire damage to the back bedroom, however the home received a lot of smoke and heat damage throughout the structure.

Engines from the Liberty and Main Station responded along with the department's tanker truck.

Chief Green says the cause of the fire is under investigation.

No one was injured.

Patterson Named Tiger Football MVP- Gibbs Gets Most Valuable Football Cheerleader Award

November 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

Collin Patterson was named Most Valuable Player of the 2007 DeKalb County High School Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet held Thursday night at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The award was presented to Patterson by Coach Steve Trapp, who spoke with WJLE after the program. " Collin did a lot of good things for us. He played a pivotal role in our offense. He was kind of Poteete's outlet. Poteete kept a lot of plays going in scrambling around. He could always find #7 out there and a lot of things he (Patterson) did for us he adlibed, breaking off his routes, coming back and finding a hole. He's just got a high football IQ on both sides of the football. He just had a great senior year for us. Patterson had 43 receptions, which was number one in our region. He had 563 yards. He had close to 80 tackles on defense, two picks, a couple of tackles for losses. He was up there in the top of a lot of our statistics. He wasn't designated as one of our four team captains but he was definitely a leader for this football team."

Meanwhile, Jackie Gibbs was named Most Valuable Cheerleader. The presentation was made by Cheer Coach Amanda Fuller. " Our Most Valuable Cheerleader is just awesome. She's everything you would expect a cheerleader to be in a tiny little package. She can stunt. She can tumble. She can dance. She can cheer and she's done it all of her life."

Other individual Football Player Awards are as follows:

Offensive Player- Hunter Poteete
Offensive Lineman- Mykel Cantrell
Offensive Back- Matthew Lawrence
Receiver- Abram Edwards
Defensive Player- Corey Cripps
Defensive Lineman- Dustin Bogle
Linebacker- Brent Collier
Defensive Back- J.J. Herriott
Special Teams Player- Juan Ruiz and Tyler Woods
Most Improved- Steven McCormick
MVP- Collin Patterson
Tiger Pride Award- Adam Emerson

Individual Cheer Awards are as follows:

Best Stunts- Nique Tubbs
Most Spirited- Gerianna Wilson
Best Jumps- Jackie Gibbs
Best Dance- Macy Felts
Most Improved- MaKayla Poss
MVC- Jackie Gibbs
DEAR (Dedication, Enthusiasm, Attitude, and Responsibility)- Avarie Maynard

Although the Tigers finished 2-8 this season Coach Trapp believes the team made significant progress. "As the season progressed, we definitely started clicking and doing some things offensively. Again, it was just things that has hurt us in the past, hurt us this year. A bad thing would happen and we kind of got knocked back by it, but we seemed to rebound more from it this year. We were competitive in every game. Statistically, we were just as good as the team that won our region. The only thing that hurt, we were 2-8. It's just developing a winning attitude, believing that you're going to win when you step out on the field, getting ultimate support from everybody that's around the organization. That's what we need to work on and that's what we're going to continue to work on."

Autopsy Finds Sosa's Baby was Stillborn- Murder Charge Against Her Dropped

November 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

The baby was stillborn.

The second degree murder charge against 18 year old Lillian Elizebeth Sosa has been dismissed because an autopsy has determined that the baby she gave birth to last month at the El Rancho Restaurant where she worked was never alive.

Assistant District Attorney General Bill Locke made the Thursday in DeKalb County General Sessions Court as Sosa stood before Judge Bratten Cook II.

Locke told Judge Cook that since the state can't prosecute Sosa on the murder charge, the D.A.'s office has now charged her with abuse of a corpse.

An interpreter translated the announcement to Sosa who speaks little or no English.

Locke later talked with members of the local media about the case. "We got the autopsy back from Dr. (Bruce) Levy's Office (State Medical Examiner) concerning this child. It was their opinion and what they would testify is that the child or baby never was alive so therefore the murder case had to be dismissed since the child never was alive. I guess technically you can't kill something that's never been alive so we had to dismiss the murder charge but we have filed charges on the abuse of a corpse today. We felt like the way the facts and circumstances behind how this baby was disposed of was criminal and we're going to prosecute it and go forward with that."

Bond for Sosa on the abuse of a corpse charge is $25,000. and she remains in jail. Locke says the range of punishment for that offense is from one to two years in prison.

When asked if Sosa is here legally, Locke responded, "I think she's illegal. We'll notify Immigration but whether or not they do anything, I don't know, but we can notify them and I think that's in the works."

Sosa was arrested last month after she gave birth to a child and then dumped it in a ladies restroom trash can at the El Rancho Restaurant at 1101 West Broad Street.

According to Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, Sosa apparently locked herself in the ladies restroom of the restaurant and gave birth to the child on Friday night, October 26th. She then came out of the restroom, told her boss that she needed to leave because she was sick, and called for someone to give her a ride home. Sosa's aunt reportedly came to the restaurant and picked her up.

Jennings says the child was discovered around 9:20 p.m. by a waitress, Karla Leon, who went into the ladies rest room to clean up, as staff were preparing to close the restaurant for the night.
Leon then reported her discovery to the manager and they called 911. Customers had already left the restaurant when she discovered the body.

Agents Billy Miller and Dan Friel of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were notified and joined the Smithville Police Department in the investigation later that night, and after interviewing employees, decided they needed to talk to Sosa.

After discovering where she lives, Sheriff Patrick Ray went to the address on Talley Road and picked her up around 4:00 a.m. Saturday. She was brought to the Smithville Police Department, where she was interviewed by the TBI agents.

During the questioning of Sosa through an interpreter, agents determined she was a likely suspect in the case and took her to DeKalb Community Hospital for an examination. The emergency room doctor found that she had recently given birth and suggested that she undergo emergency surgery, because she had suffered some potentially life threatening complications during the delivery.

Sosa was then transported to the Cookeville Hospital early Saturday morning, October 27th. She came through the surgery fine and was released on Monday, October 29th after which she was taken into custody.

The infant, a male, fully developed child, weighed 5 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Chief Jennings says it appears the mother carried the child about eight months.

EMS personnel initially thought the baby was alive but Locke says the autopsy concluded that the child was dead at the time of birth. "Initially when the charges were brought, going by what we had to go on that night and of course it was very traumatic for everybody involved to see this situation, I guess indications were that maybe they thought the baby might have breathed or been alive but upon further investigation it seems that the autopsy findings would be correct. We don't have anybody that would say the baby was alive and then with the autopsy findings saying the baby never was alive, there's no way to proceed with that."

County Seeks Alternative to Property Tax Freeze for Senior Citizens

November 28, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission is trying to figure out a way to give property tax relief to eligible senior citizen property owners without having to adopt the property tax freeze which was overwhelmingly approved by voters at the polls last November

Counties and cities in Tennessee can now freeze the property tax rates for eligible homeowners 65 and over. State lawmakers gave local governments the authority to enact the tax freeze during the legislative session

The adoption of a property tax freeze by local governments is the final step in an effort to limit the impact of rising assessments and property taxes on seniors with fixed incomes. The process began with Constitutional Amendment No. 2 which received an 83 percent "yes" vote statewide in the 2006 general election.

In DeKalb County, the vote was 4,125 (83%) to 805(16%) in favor of the Constitutional amendment

County commissions and city councils are now authorized to freeze the property tax rates at their current levels for homeowners with combined incomes at or below $24,000 a year.

The freeze would mean eligible homeowners would not have to pay higher taxes the next time a local government increases property tax rates.

County Mayor Mike Foster raised the issue during Monday night's county commission. Foster and Steve Bates, the county's financial advisor, say only a few counties in the state have adopted the measure, because of the complexities of the program and the cost of administration. "It's a really complicated thing (tax freeze). I think only six other counties have adopted it so far. It basically says that a household can make no more than $24,000 and must meet all the other requirements. It only covers your primary residence and up to five acres of land, so if you own a farm it won't apply to that. It will only apply to five acres. It will mean that the Trustee would probably have to hire two more employees (to administer the program) because every year, every person who wishes to apply for that (tax freeze) has to re-apply. They have to bring in proof, such as their income tax statements, on a yearly basis, and it has to be itemized."

According to Foster, the cost of administering this program would most likely exceed the savings to the taxpayers. "One county was going to return about $30,000 to the people who applied but it was going to cost about $50,000 to do it."

Foster says the county will come up with a plan that mirror's the state property tax relief program, to serve those that the tax freeze Constitutional amendment is intended to help." We already have a property tax relief program in place by the state. Under the program the household cannot make over $24,000 and it sets a value on the house. You cannot exceed that value for that house. We currently have about 306 people that are in that program. What some of the other counties are doing is giving them a (local) tax break tied to this (state program). It takes the burden off the taxpayer of having to bring their records in each year and upgrade it. If we're giving them whatever percentage of money they'll be saving anyway, then they don't have to jump through all these hoops and we don't have to hire two or three people to work in the Trustee's office."


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