Local News Articles

Teachout Injured in Thursday Night Accident

April 20, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 23 year old Smithville man was injured in a crash Thursday night around 10:48 p.m. on the Jefferson Road.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Michael Frederick Teachout was traveling west on Jefferson Road in a 1996 Honda Civic when he left his lane of travel, entered the eastbound lane, exited the roadway to the left, slid sideways and made an angle impact with a large tree. Teachout was partially ejected out of the passenger side window.

Teachout was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Others on the scene providing assistance included DeKalb EMS, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, and the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Trooper Jennings says Teachout has been released from the hospital.

He says speed and alcohol were contributing factors in the accident and charges are pending.

Two Arrested on Drug Charges Thursday by Smithville Police

April 19, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department made two drug arrests Thursday.

28 year old Crystal L. Thompson of 633 Highland Drive is charged with simple possession.

In his report, Officer Matt Farmer states that he was called to a disturbance at the Dairy Queen in Smithville on Thursday at 10:37 p.m. Upon arrival, the officer approached a female (Thompson), who was involved in the disturbance, and noticed that she kept putting her hands in her jacket pockets. He asked her to pull her hands from her jacket pockets. When she did, a small plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana, fell out. During a search subsequent to arrest, the officer also found on Thompson two empty green capsules with residue, believed to be morphine, labeled Kadian 100 milligram. Further charges may be pending.

Thompson is under a $1,000 bond and her court date is May 1st.

Meanwhile in a separate case, Smithville Police arrested 18 year old Adam Colton Ware of 45 Chapel Hill Road, McMinnville and charged him with simple possession of a schedule VI drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.

K-9 officer Bradley Tatrow, in his report, states that on Thursday at 11:53 p.m. he observed a vehicle traveling on Broadstreet which did not have a license tag on it and the driver appeared not to be wearing a seatbelt. After stopping the vehicle and talking to the driver, Officer Tatrow says he smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. As he looked in the backseat where passengers were seated, he saw a package of rolling papers sticking out from under one the passenger's legs. Upon receiving consent to search, Officer Tatrow found a baggie of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana in the floor board in the back seat. The package was found directly under where the back seat passenger (Ware) was sitting.

Ware is under a $2,000 bond and he will be in court on the charges April 24th.

Mother and Daughters Involved in One Vehicle Crash

April 18, 2008
Dwayne Page

A mother and her two daughters were involved in a one vehicle crash Friday morning on Highway 56 south near Smithville Nursery.

Lieutenant Brian Lawson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 36 year old Tammy Patrick of Smithville was driving south on Highway 56 in a 1998 Mercury Villager Mini-van when the vehicle dropped off the roadway, struck a culvert, and overturned before coming to rest in the southbound lane on it's wheels facing west.

Patrick and her daughters, 13 year old Maggie Parsons and 6 year old Chloe Patrick were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Lieutenant Lawson says Ms Patrick was treated for some scrapes and bruises while the six year old may have suffered a broken arm. Parsons was apparently uninjured.

Both Ms Patrick and Parsons, a front seat passenger, were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash while the six year old was a rear seat passenger, restrained in a booster seat. Both airbags deployed upon impact.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication Team was called to the scene to remove the mother from the van. Green says although she only had minor injuries, Ms. Patrick was entrapped by the driver's side door and the door had to be forced open by the department's extrication unit. The Keltonburg Station of the DeKalb County Fire Department was also on the scene to render assistance.

Illinois-Indiana Earthquake Felt in DeKalb County

April 18, 2008
Dwayne Page

A strong earthquake that rattled parts of southern Illinois and Indiana early Friday morning was felt in DeKalb County.

The quake, given a preliminary magnitude of 5.4, occurred about 6 miles from Mount Carmel, Illinois, 66 miles from Evansville, Indiana and about 131 miles east of St. Louis, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It took place about 2 miles underground and struck about 4:36 a.m.

Clata Redmon, who resides on Barnes Mill Road in the Jefferson Community, says she was awakened by popping sounds in the house. "It was about ten minutes til five this morning when I was asleep and something woke me up. It sounded like a popping sound here at the house. I decided to get up an investigate but I didn't find anything. It only lasted maybe three or four seconds. When I got up and turned the television on I noticed they said that in Evansville, Indiana there had been an earthquake so I realized that's what I experienced here. That's the only thing I know would make the house pop like that. The house didn't shake, it was just popping."

Central dispatch reported receiving a few calls from concerned persons inquiring about what was happening.

The quake occurred in the Illinois basin-Ozark dome region that covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas and stretches from Indianapolis and St. Louis to Memphis, according to the USGS.

DUI Bills Progress in State Senate Judiciary Committee

April 18, 2008

The State Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would add vehicular homicide as a result of the driver's intoxication and aggravated vehicular homicide to offenses requiring mandatory sentencing. The bill requires those convicted to serve 100 percent of the sentence imposed by the court, less sentence credits earned, which assures that at least 85 percent will be behind bars.

The bill was sponsored after the death of David Hudson, of Piney Flats, who was hit crossing a Johnson City street in December by a man whose blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. The man, who was charged with vehicular and aggravated vehicular homicide, had four previous DUI convictions dating back to 1989.

Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) who also support the measure said, “We must get these repeat offenders off our roads. We have several bills before our General Assembly this year that would provide comprehensive reform of our DUI laws.”

Also approved by the Judiciary Committee was a bill that would increase DUI fines by $250. Part of the money would be kept in the local communities where the crime occurred for housing offenders or law enforcement needs. The other half would be used for alcohol or drug addiction treatment. The bill is expected to provide $1.5 million to the state and $1.5 million to local governments.

Finally, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to ban open containers of alcohol in vehicles. The bill, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) would allow Tennessee to have control over $12 million in federal highway funds, which the state does not currently have due to not being in compliance with federal safety laws.

“The law presently on the books is merely an invitation for someone to drink and drive as long as there’s a passenger that they can ‘pass the bottle’ to if they get pulled over by law enforcement,” said Beavers. “This legislation will provide safety for our citizens and help us access needed road funds.”

Two bills stiffening penalties for crimes against law enforcement officers were approved this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. One bill would provide that a killing of a law enforcement officer during perpetration of a felony would be elevated to first degree murder under the felony murder rule, making it a death penalty offense.

The bill would apply to cases, like one in involving the shooting of Trooper Calvin Jenks, who was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop near the intersection of Highways 14 and 54 in Tipton County. During the stop, Trooper Jenks smelled marijuana from the vehicle and was told by the driver that there were drugs in the center console. When he asked the passenger if he had any drugs, the man produced a handgun and opened fire, striking Trooper Jenks once in the head and once in the body.

The second bill, sponsored by Senator Beavers would create a new felony offense for assault on an officer.

Both bills would apply in cases of the intentional killing of an officer. It also applies to cases where the officer was killed in the line of duty.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation requiring those convicted of aggravated robbery or especially aggravated robbery offenses to serve 100 percent of the sentence, less sentence reduction credits of up to 15 percent to keep them on the straight and narrow while in jail. Senator Beavers said the bill is modeled after a Florida law passed in 1999 that significantly reduced armed robberies after its implementation. Currently, those convicted of armed robbery in Tennessee are eligible for release after serving 30 percent of their sentence.

The committee heard testimony from Mary Anne Purcell, whose fiancé was killed last fall in an armed robbery of the Nashville restaurant he managed. The killer and his accomplice got away with only $200. Purcell said current sentences are ineffective to deter the crime. She said the brief jail time served by most are a “slap on the wrist” and often embolden gang members to continue a life of crime, as their status is raised by serving time behind bars.

“We must address the serious crime of armed robbery,” said Senator Beavers. “Our current laws are not working as a deterrent. This legislation would keep these criminals off the streets and protect our citizens.”

Spring Sales Tax Holiday begins Friday, April 25

Tennessee’s spring sales tax holiday is set to begin at 12:01 on Friday, April 25 and will end at 11:59 on Sunday, April 27. During this designated three-day weekend, consumers may purchase selected clothing, school supplies and computers without paying Tennessee’s state and local sales tax on the items. It applies to clothing priced $100 or less per item and computers priced $1,500 or less. This holiday also includes purchases of qualified items sold via mail, telephone, e-mail, or Internet if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the exemption period for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the exemption period.

“I hope that as many people as possible will take advantage of this sales tax holiday,” said Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet). “It will hopefully provide a boost to the economy, while helping our citizens enjoy some tax relief.”

Senator Beavers sponsored the bill in 2007 that created this sales tax holiday and also reduced the sales tax on food by .05%.

Details about the state's special Sales Tax Holiday are available at the state’s dedicated Web site, www.tntaxholiday.com. The Tennessee Department of Revenue also offers assistance to consumers via e-mail, Salestax.Holiday@state.tn.us, and through its toll-free statewide telephone hot line, (800) 342-1003. Staff is available to answer questions Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. (Out-of-state and Nashville-area callers, please dial (615) 253-0600.)

Issues in Brief

Notary public – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation this week to require any person who is a notary public to be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

Lethal injection ruling – The U.S. Supreme court has cleared the way for states to carryout their death penalty statues with a ruling on Wednesday that lethal injection does not violate the U.S. Constitution. Tennessee had stayed executions while the nation’s high court considered the Baze v. Rees case that claimed lethal injection was “cruel and unusual.” The legislature has worked diligently to address barriers to carrying out the death sentence and for restoration of Tennessee’s death penalty law by changing the method of execution from electrocution to lethal injection during the 1998 session. Before that time, the state has not executed a prisoner convicted of capital crimes in 38 years. Edward Jerome Harbison had been scheduled to die in January for the beating death of an elderly woman. The execution of Paul Dennis Reid, who was sentenced to death for multiple fast food restaurant killings, was also stayed due to the Supreme Court case.

Handgun permits – Legislation that would send $15 of the handgun permit fee to county sheriffs, who must do a background check on applicants, passed the Senate Finance Committee this week. The sheriffs have been conducting the background checks without being reimbursed by the state while extra money collected above the cost of processing the permit has been accumulating in a reserve account. Testimony in the committee revealed that $5.5 million has gone into a reserve account due to excess charges of the $115 initial handgun permit fee.

Sex offenders – The Judiciary committee voted to approve legislation that requires sex offenders to report to Tennessee’s Sexual Offender Registry all name changes or names different than those listed on their original registration form. The bill would make it clear that sex offenders cannot change their name to skirt the law regarding sex offender registry requirements.

Tax Season Paying Off For Children In Need

April 17, 2008

The federal Income Tax Refund Offset program is paying off for thousands of Tennessee children.

The Department of Human Services has intercepted 20,000 tax refunds totaling more than $26 million so far this year. Those numbers are expected to double in coming weeks, as non-paying parents file their income tax returns.

The state works with several federal agencies, including the IRS, to intercept tax refunds from parents who owe, but are not paying their child support. Any parent who owes more than $500 on his or her child support case is subject to the federal Income Tax Refund Offset program.
“It’s just incredible that some parents expect to get a refund check from the federal government when their children have gone without support for months, and even years,” said DHS Commissioner Gina Lodge. “The tax intercept program makes it easy for the state to help children whose parents are not helping them. We’re especially pleased to see the increase in number of returns and dollars collected for the children and families who need them.”

The number of tax refunds the state is intercepting has more than doubled in just two years, and the amount of money has also risen dramatically--up from $15.7 million in 2006 to $26.4 million so far this year. While the average intercepted check amount is $1,200, the state has claimed refunds as high as $18,000. The program has been in effect since 1981.

Congress recently closed a loophole in the law that prevented states from intercepting IRS refunds after a child turned 18-years old. This has allowed many more refunds to be distributed to the families who struggled through the years, waiting for child support that never came or came sporadically. DHS is expected to collect another $20 million in coming months when the federal rebate checks are sent out to Tennessee households. The Department of Human Services continues to see increases in its child support collections overall. More than $350 million in child support has been collected so far this state fiscal year. There are currently 267,000 child support cases under order in Tennessee.

For more information on the Tennessee Child Support Program, visit: http://www.state.tn.us/humanserv/child-support.htm

Several Appear in Criminal Court for Sentencing

April 15, 2008
Dwayne Page

Several people were sentenced by Judge David Patterson under negotiated settlements in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.

23 year old Travis Tramel pleaded guilty to failure to appear and received six months on supervised probation to run consecutive to any other sentence against him.

31 year old Andy Certain pleaded guilty to simple possession and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve. The fine was waived. The case is to run concurrent with a violation of probation against him. He was given credit for 112 days of jail time served.

24 year old David M. Caldwell, charged with theft over $1,000, was granted judicial diversion for a period of three years. He will be on supervised probation and must perform 100 hours of community service work. He must also make restitution of $1,500 jointly and severally with the co-defendants in the case.

24 year old Ashley Nicole Owen pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and was given a two year sentence all suspended to TDOC supervised probation. She must pay restitution of $1,956 to the victim and perform 100 hours of community service work. She was given five days of jail credit. Forgery and Criminal Impersonation charges against her were dismissed.

43 year old Jeffery Ponder pleaded guilty to simple possession and received six months to serve day for day. His fine was waived. The sentence is to run consecutive to any other sentence against him. He was given jail credit of 128 days.

26 year old Elizabeth Chalfant pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery and received a two year sentence in each case, all suspended. The cases are to run concurrently but consecutive to other cases against her. She will be on probation and must make restitution. She was given jail credit of 103 days.

37 year old Lois McCloud pleaded by information to possession of drug paraphernalia. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to time served. The case is to run concurrent with another sentence against her in Putnam County. She was given jail credit of 11 days.

20 year old Michael D. Dirden, charged with filing a false report and theft over $1,000, was granted judicial diversion for a period of three years. He will be on probation and must perform 100 hours of community service work. He must also make restitution of $2,067. Dirden was given jail credit of 13 days.

19 year old Anthony Tramel, charged with aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000, was granted judicial diversion for a period of four years. He must make restitution of $1,500 and perform 100 hours of community service work.

Castillo Charged with Rape

April 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged a 29 year old man with the rape of a woman at her home.

Jose Luis Chavez Castillo of 920 Short Mountain Street will appear in General Sessions Court on May 29th on the rape charge. His bond is $50,000.

In his report, Officer Bradley C. Tatrow states that "On April 14th at approximately 2:50 a.m., I responded to a possible rape. Upon arrival, I made contact with the victim who advised me that an Hispanic male, whose name she thought to be Luis, had come into her home and forced her to have sexual intercourse with him. She advised me that he called her earlier in the night and said he wanted to come over to talk to her just as friends. She stated that the male subject came over to talk to her. She advised me that while he was at her home, she went into a bedroom to check on her son and he followed her in and shut the door behind him. She said he threw her on to the bed and forced her to have intercourse with him. He then ran out the door and left in his green station wagon and went in the direction of his residence on Short Mountain Highway. The victim was taken to the emergency room of the hospital for an examination. Castillo was later arrested at his home. DNA evidence was collected from both the suspect and victim.

The case was investigated by Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins, Jr.

Meanwhile, Kelly Ann Gibbs of Evins Mill Road was arrested Thursday and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court on the charge April 17th.

In his report, Officer Randy King states that "On April 10th, I was dispatched to Smith Road (park) along with Officer Travis Bryant. Upon arrival, I spoke with Gibbs. She had been reported as missing to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. I spoke with Lou Steinsiek, Gibbs' mother and the owner of the (Gibbs) vehicle. Steinsiek advised that her daughter had left in the vehicle at approximately 4:30 p.m. the day before. Steinsiek advised me that she did not want her daughter to have her vehicle and gave me and Officer Bryant consent to search it. Upon a search of the vehicle, Officer Bryant seized two syringes in the vehicle. Both were found on the seat. One had residue and the other was new. I asked Gibbs if she had anything else on her person. Before being taken to jail, she handed me a syringe from her bra that was wrapped in a blue eye glass cloth."

In a related case, 46 year old Danny Ray Ponder of Old Mill Hill Road was also arrested Thursday and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on the charge April 17th.

In his report, Officer Travis K. Bryant states that "On April 10th, at 1:30 p.m. I responded to the park on Smith Road. Upon arrival I made contact with several subjects, one of them being Ponder. We obtained permission to search the vehicle from the owner and Ponder was asked to step out of the car. Ponder was sitting on the passenger side front seat and in the driver's seat in his immediate access were a jacket with two needles on it. The driver stated that the needles belonged to Ponder.

In another case, 22 year old Robert Terry Maxwell of Wenger Lane was charged with simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $1,000 in each case and he will be in court on the charges April 24th.

In his report, Officer Bradley Tatrow states that " On April 10th at 9:47 p.m., I observed a vehicle traveling east on Highway 70 with a driver not wearing his seatbelt. Upon stopping the vehicle (at Juniper Lane and West Broad Street) I made contact with the driver (Maxwell). Upon consent to search the vehicle, I recovered a small baggie of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana and rolling papers (in glove box). After securing the items, I returned to the vehicle. I smelled the strong odor of marijuana and had a suspicion that there was more in the vehicle. Upon K-9 Astro being deployed, he indicated on a gate very near the vehicle. A small baggie of a green leafy substance was recovered from a crack in the gate. Maxwell admitted that the substance belonged to him and he gave a written statement to that fact."

Meanwhile, on April 10th, Officer Scott Davis was dispatched to 520 West Main Street in reference to an automobile burglary.

In the report, Officer Davis states that " Upon arrival, I made contact with the complainant. She stated that while she was in the hospital, an unknown person broke into her vehicle (broken driver side window) The amount of the damage to the victim's vehicle is estimated at $150. Property missing includes a black pocket book, an agner billfold, $25.00, a check book, a Goody's credit card, a Pay Pal credit card, a deed to property, and other miscellaneous items (papers).

Sheriff Ray Says Thieves May be Reading Your Classified Ads

April 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray is warning you to be careful about how you advertise items for sale from your homes, such as motorcycles, ATV's, and vehicles because it could entice thieves to steal them when you are unaware or away from home.

Sheriff Ray says "We have found out through our investigations that people who post items for sale on the Internet, newspapers, or radio and post their home phone number or home addresses, may be giving thieves valuable information. Thieves are taking the listed phone numbers and querying them through search engines on the Internet and finding out the location of the items. Then the culprit will use mapping systems on the Internet for directions to the home and attempt to steal the listed items. Items such as ATV's, motorcycles, and vehicles are among the most favorite because most people leave these items parked in yards to advertise them for sale. Sheriff Ray asks you to post a cell phone number instead of your home phone number and never post your address for someone to look at."

Meanwhile, in other crime news, 65 Year old Phillip Roger Gravel of Andrew Street, Smithville was charged last Monday with driving on a suspended driver's license. Sheriff Ray says deputies, with knowledge that Gravel's license was suspended, stopped him on Restview Avenue after noticing him operating a motor vehicle. Gravel's bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is May 15th.

58 year old Jose Contrera of Old Smithville Road, McMinnville was arrested Wednesday for no driver's license and leaving the scene of an accident. Sheriff Ray says deputies responded to a call on Highway 56 South where Contrera had hit a vehicle. Instead of staying at the scene of the accident, Contrera decided to leave. Contrera was found at a factory on Highway 70 West and was arrested. Contrera's bond was set at $2,000 and his court date is set for April 23rd.

Also on Wednesday, 30 year old Aron Dewayne Ponder of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown was arrested on a sealed indictment from the April Term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury. Ponder was indicted on one count of attempt to sell a schedule II drug (Oxycontin) and one count of attempt to deliver a schedule II drug (Oxycontin). Ponder's bond was set at $10,000.

26 year old Christina Love Johnson of Kendra Drive, Smithville was arrested Thursday on a sealed indictment from the December 2007 term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury. Johnson was charged with possession of a schedule VI drug for resale, possession of a schedule VI drug for delivery, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Johnson's bond was set at $5,000.

On Friday, 34 year old Martinez Velasquez of Bright Hill Road, Smithville was arrested for a first offense of driving under the influence and no driver's license. The Sheriff's Department responded to a call on Highway 70 East about an accident. After an investigation into the accident, officers found that Velasquez had run a vehicle off the road way and that he was intoxicated. Velasquez also did not have a valid driver's license. He was arrested and a bond was set at $2,000. His court date is May 15th.

Burton and Ray Honored at GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

April 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Republican Women's Club hosted the Fifth Annual Lincoln Day Dinner Friday night at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

Two long time party leaders, Walter Burton and Ernest Ray were recognized for their devotion and service.

Burton is a former DeKalb County Republican Party Chairman, a former Volunteer Firefighter, and he is a member of the Smithville Industrial Development Board. Burton is owner and operator of Voyager Carpets.

Ray is a former teacher, principal, and Superintendent of Schools.

Both were presented plaques by party treasurer Dennis Stanley.

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey was the keynote speaker at the dinner.

Ramsey talked about recent Republican gains in the State House and Senate and issues over which Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill disagree, including how to address Illegal Immigration.

The State Senate is divided with 16 Republicans, 16 Democrats, and one Independent, while in the State House, Democrats have a four seat majority.

Ramsey says Republicans have a chance to pick up seats this year in both the House and Senate including the seat Frank Buck is giving up.

Other speakers during the dinner included Robin Smith, Tennessee GOP Chairperson, State Senator Mae Beavers, and Conservative Radio Talk Show Host Steve Gill, who served as the master of ceremonies.


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