Local News Articles

Two Alleged Marijuana Dealers On Trial In Federal Court

February 2, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two alleged marijuana dealers in Warren and Cannon County are on trial in Federal Court in Chattanooga.

48 year old Jeffory Carl Young of Short Mountain Road, Woodbury and 53 year old Morris Edward Roller of Lance Road, McMinnville were each indicted in May by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to distribute over 2,200 pounds of marijuana and a multi-count indictment for distribution of marijuana.

The men, business partners, operated farmland on the Warren-Cannon County line.

The case stems from a two and a half year old undercover investigation by the Warren County Sheriff's Department, the Southeastern Drug Enforcement Agency, the Middle Tennessee Drug Enforcement Agency, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Agency, and the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Officers say they made many undercover buys leading up to the raids in May.

DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray worked for the Warren County Sheriff's Department at the time and was involved in the investigation.

A state witness testified this week that Young and Roller trafficked over 100 pounds of marijuana every two weeks for several years.

During the arrest in May, authorities seized 31 parcels of land, equaling 1900 acres with a tax appraisal of $2.5 million; more than $10,000 in cash; and over ten pounds of marijuana.

Investigators also confiscated two farm tractors, a round hay baler, semi-truck, a ton truck, and a bob cat loader, all believed to have been purchased with proceeds from the sale of drugs.

The Tennessee Department of Revenue has also levied a $60,000 tax against the two men

The trial is set to resume Tuesday. If convicted, Young could be in prison for the rest of his life and Roller could get a 25 to 30 year federal prison sentence

Sheriff Ray says more arrests may be forthcoming as a result of this investigation, including some from DeKalb County.

USDA Releases Payments for 2007 Tobacco Transition Payment Program

February 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, announces that annual payments for the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, for the 2007 payment year, were released Thursday, January 25. DeKalb County quota holders and producers will receive $496,726 in 2007 program year payments. Green says that direct deposit transactions should arrive in bank accounts within 3 business days while mailed checks should arrive within 10 business days for quota holders and producers who have enrolled in the program.

The Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP), also called the \"tobacco buy-out,\" helps tobacco quota holders and producers transition to the free market.
The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-357), signed by President Bush on Oct. 22, 2004, ended the Depression-era tobacco quota program and established the TTPP. The program provides annual transitional payments for 10 years to eligible tobacco quota holders and producers. Payments began in 2005 and continue through 2014. Payments are funded through assessments of approximately $10 billion on tobacco product manufacturers and importers. The remaining payments will be made in 7 annual installments that are issued in January of each year.

For more information on the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, please contact the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency at 615-597-8225, extension 2.

Revenue Department Extends April 15 Filing Deadline

February 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

Tennessee taxpayers will have until Tuesday, April 17, 2007, to file state taxes due April 15, the Tennessee Department of Revenue announced today. The revenue department's decision to extend the filing time follows an announcement earlier this year by the Internal Revenue Service that it was changing its federal income tax deadline nationwide to April 17 for this year only.

The April 17, 2007, deadline will apply to the following: Hall income tax and franchise and excise taxes.

?We will follow the IRS?s lead in regard to the April 17 filing deadline. As always, we encourage taxpayers to utilize our online tax filing applications,? said Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 92 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the department collected $10.3 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.8 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2005-2006 fiscal year. Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.Tennessee.gov/revenue.

Drivers License Roadside Safety Checkpoints Scheduled Friday

February 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting driver license
roadside safety checkpoints Friday, June 15th on State
Routes 53, 56, 83, 96, and 146 in DeKalb County.

Recognizing the danger presented to the public by unqualified
drivers, Troopers will concentrate their efforts on vehicles being
operated by drivers who would violate the driver license laws of

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has found these driver license
roadside safety checkpoints to be an effective means of enforcing driver
license laws of Tennessee while ensuring the protection of all motorists.

Stepped Up Police Visibility and Enforcement Efforts Lead To Several Arrests

February 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Officers working traffic enforcement and drug interdiction were busy over the past few days in stepped up efforts to have more police visibility.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says on February 2nd Officers stopped 38 year old Celina Rena Tate of 848 Foster Road in Smithville leaving the Bridgeway Motel at 4:30 a.m. on a reported Domestic disturbance complaint. During the course of the investigation Officer?s found that Tate was under the influence of a drug or alcoholic beverage and was acting in a disorderly manner by beating on motel doors disturbing patrons. A records check disclosed that this was Tate?s 3rd offense for driving under the influence. She was eventually charged with DUI 3rd Offense, Refusal to Sign a Citation, Disorderly Conduct and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Syringes), and Simple Possession of a Scheduled III Drug. She was transported to the Dekalb County Jail under an $8,500 Bond. Tate?s vehicle, a 2000 Chevy S-10 4x4, was seized under the State?s Seizure Statute.

Meanwhile, Chief Stufano says on February 4th, 25 year old Juan A. Hernandez of 962 Blue Springs Road was stopped for a traffic infraction when Smithville Officers learned that Hernandez did not have a license due to it being revoked for a DUI. He was arrested and charged with a traffic citation and Driving on a Revoked License. He was transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond and his vehicle, a 2002 Chevy Avalanche, was seized under the State?s Seizure Statute.

Also on February 4th, 19 year old Leon Birlain of 122 Delano Street in McMinnville was arrested for having an open container of an alcoholic beverage while driving, speeding and he did not have a valid Driver?s License or Insurance. Smithville Officer?s working a dedicated traffic enforcement detail on Highway 70 originally stopped Birlain for speeding. He was eventually arrested and transported to the Dekalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond.

In a separate case 33 year old Jason Cripps of 774 Four Seasons Road was arrested for Theft under $500.00 from the Walmart store on Highway 70. Smithville Police responded to the store after a Night Manager stated that Cripps was seen concealing a Dremmel Power tool under his clothing and leaving the store. He was eventually stopped and the item recovered. At the time of arrest Cripps had $420 in cash on him. He was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond.

Chief Stufano says traffic enforcement efforts over the weekend yielded 18 citations for speeding infractions, no driver?s license, no insurance and DUI. The Smithville Police Department is committed to providing the citizens and guests of Smithville a safer driving experience and would like to thank the motoring public for helping identify those drivers that put us in jeopardy.

Mobile Home Destroyed In Early Morning Fire-Two Escape Unharmed

February 6, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two people escaped injury in a mobile home fire early Tuesday morning at 230 Huddleston Loop off Adcock Cemetery Road.

Captain Jeff Williams says firefighters received a call at 3:45 a.m. to come to a trailer belonging to Melissa King being rented by Billy C. Cantrell.

Cantrell and his caretaker Cissy Petty, who were inside the trailer at the time of the fire, escaped unharmed but the mobile home was destroyed.

Captain Williams says Petty told firefighters that she was on the couch asleep when she awoke to the screams of Cantrell, who was in the same room, lying in a hospital bed, which had caught fire.

Firefighters speculate that Cantrell, who was on oxygen, may have been smoking in bed.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Midway Stations responded along with a tanker truck. DeKalb EMS was also on the scene as a precaution.

DeKalb County Gets Two New Physicians

February 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County has two new doctors, Podiatrist Dr. Timothy R. Merrell and Dr. Jyotheen Karam, Board Certified Nephrologist of Nephrology Associates, PC in Nashville.

Dr. Merrell specializes in medicine and surgery of the foot. He treats conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, heel pain, neuroma, ingrown toenails, and diabetic foot care.

Dr. Merrell received his medical degree from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa. He completed his residency program in the James H. Quillen VA Medical Hospital. Dr. Merrell has had a successful practice in Fayetteville, Tennessee for the past nine years.

Dr. Merrell is married to Marnie Merrell and has two great children. His daughter, Rae, is studying to become a Registered Nurse and his son, Blake, is a member of the United States Air Force. His interests include playing the guitar, mountain bike riding, scuba diving, fishing and organic gardening.

Dr. Merrell will be seeing patients at the Family Medical Center.

Dr. Karam specializes in the care of patients with kidney diseases and high blood pressure.

Dr. Karam received his medical degree at the India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India in 1995. He completed his internal medicine residency at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2001. In 2003, he received a nephrology fellowship and joined the faculty at SUNY Buffalo - where he taught until moving to Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Karam will see patients at the Medical Specialty Office.

Fire Damages Two Storage Buildings At Bluhmtown Road Residence

February 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at 1:36 p.m.Wednesday at 600 Bluhmtown Road.

Chief Donny Green says some burning trash on the property apparently spread to a storage building and a smaller utility building next to it causing significant damage to both structures. He says firefighters were able to save the buildings and the contents, including tools, workout equipment, beds, and other miscellaneous items were also salvageable.

The fire apparently did not threaten the residence on the property, which belongs to Al Mahan but is being rented by Pam Gaus.

A relative and neighbor of Ms Gaus, Jason Gaus spotted the fire and reported it.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Blue Springs, and Cookeville Highway Stations responded along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department. No one was injured.

Studio Six Photography Announces Fashion Show Cover Model Winners

February 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

Isabella McCoy of Alexandria and Hannah Watson of Smithville were announced as the official Cover Models of the 2007 Studio Six Fashion Show during a LIVE radio broadcast Wednesday on WJLE. Contestants were voted on by the public through the Studio Six Photography website. The ballots were drawn from two age categories: Ages 6 to 15 and 16 to 20.

\"We were amazed at the response and thousands of votes we received. We personally did not know how this would go, but the success was overwhelming. The fashion show committee was very nervous leaving our cover models up to chance,\" Beth Chandler and Amelia Lynn of Studio Six stated. \"We both agreed that a younger age category needed to be included so that all ages would have an opportunity to win. We could not be happier with the winners. The billboards and promotion will be fabulous because of them!\"

Voters purchased ballots for 25 cents with all proceeds going to the Education Foundation of DeKalb County partnering with Operation Head to Toe. Over 90 children were clothed this year and multiple scholarships given through these two important charitable organizations working specifically for DeKalb County.

\"Now that our Cover Models are in place, our next step is to contact local businesses to help us sponsor the show to raise even more money for these wonderful organizations,\" said Shan Burklow, owner of Studio Six Photography. \"Groups or individuals that would like to volunteer their time or money will have a great time doing something beneficial for their county. Busineses should be on the lookout because I will be coming soon.\"

The cover models will be used in all fashion show publicity including billboards, website, tickets, posters, and all advertising materials. The billboards featuring the 2007 Fashion Show Cover Models will go up March 1st but you can check out a preview on the Studio Six website February 13th. The show will be held Thursday, March 29th at 7:00 p.m. downtown Smithville. Tickets are on sale now at Studio Six Photography or can be purchased online at www.StudioSixLimited.com.


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