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Food Pantry Gets New Name

September 11, 2016
Dwayne Page
The First United Methodist Church Food Pantry is now “God’s Food Pantry, Christians Working Together”.
Food Pantry Gets New Name

The First United Methodist Church Food Pantry is now “God’s Food Pantry, Christians Working Together”.

A group of friends, volunteers, and supporters gathered at the food pantry location at 430 East Broad Street Friday for the unveiling of a sign bearing the pantrys new name.

Since its beginning, the pantry has been known as the First United Methodist Church Food Pantry, a prime supporter. But the name has been changed to reflect the wider support from the community and other churches in the area. “ Now its God’s Food Pantry because of the multitude of churches now funding it. There are people in the community, businesses, and others who give us donations,” said Pat Zornow, a volunteer.

“The people who the food pantry are honored to feed have named the pantry. The people call the food pantry “God’s Pantry” because without it, they would not have enough food to feed their families or themselves. They say that God runs the pantry as they post prayers on the outside of the pantry building. So, the name “God’s Food Pantry” was given,” said Zornow.

For nearly a decade the pantry has served the less fortunate of this community and beyond with food and other essentials to help meet their needs.

“When the pantry first opened its doors nine years ago, it was called the First United Methodist Church Food Pantry. It had its beginning at the Methodist Church. However because of space issues, the pantry was later moved to its first community location at 107B East Bryant Street. Due to an increasing need for more services and additional space, the pantry was later moved again and now is located at 430 East Broad Street,” said Zornow.

“Each year our population increases. We started out with 999 people that year. Now we’re serving thousands. We saw almost 20,000 last year alone. They come from all counties,” Zornow said.

During the calendar year 2015, the pantry served 6,393 families or 19,608 individuals including 4,927 senior citizens and 7,003 children. So far this year, 5,229 families have received food or 14,223 individuals including 4,046 senior citizens and 4,572 children.

The pantry is staffed by volunteers and supported totally by donations from the community, churches, and businesses. It does not receive any local, state, or federal government funding. The money raised goes toward purchasing food from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and to assist families in specific situations in paying utility bills and rent.

“The First United Methodist Church allocated the pantry a budget which in essence covered the costs of the utilities. The rent costs were agreed to be paid by several individuals so as not to take from donations to the pantry,” said Zornow.

“We do housing, rent, and utilities for families. We also buy Food Lion gift cards and gas cards for them. We have had quite a few people, especially the elderly who can’t afford even to drive daily for chemo treatments,” Zornow said.

In addition, the pantry works each year with St. Gregory’s Catholic Church in providing hot meals over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year to persons enrolled in the Meals on Wheels Program who would not have food over the holidays. Individuals who are delivered food boxes twice a month through the pantry and the homeless additionally receive hot meals.

Christmas presents are also provided each year to less fortunate children up to the age of 18 who may not otherwise get a gift during the holidays.

Over the years the costs to operate have increased along with the number of people served by the pantry. Last year, $14,234 was paid to Second Harvest to purchase 136,334 pounds of food not including the costs for paying utilities, rent, and motel lodging for homeless persons and for the costs of Food Lion and gas cards. So far this year, $10,354 has been spent to buy 111,344 pounds of food plus other costs.

If you would like to support the food pantry with a donation or if you wish to receive assistance call 615-597-4961 or 615-714-1242.
You may also call the Smithville Police Department at 615-597-8210 and ask for Chief Mark Collins or Captain Steven Leffew.

Food is distributed on the first and third Friday of every month from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. “We have two Fridays. The police have also been addressing a lot of the emergencies at night. People can call them. You may also call the First Baptist Church or the First United Methodist Church,” said Zornow.

“We consider it a privilege to be able to work here and help other people. We feel like we’re doing God’s work. We know we’re helping a lot of people,” said Hilda Oakley, who has been a volunteer for the pantry for more than eight years.

Suspected Marijuana Dealer Arrested by Sheriff's Department

September 10, 2016
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray and Detectives Robert Patrick, Jimmy Martin, and Stephen Barrett confiscate 12 marijuana plants 6-7 feet tall at the home of Michael Duane Kingsbury on Jefferson Road
Sheriff’s Department confiscates 209 baggies of processed marijuana with an estimated street value of $14,000 at the home of Michael Duane Kingsbury on Jefferson Road
Michael Duane Kingsbury

A suspected marijuana dealer found with $14,000 worth of marijuana and $10,000 in cash was arrested Friday night at his home by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department

66 year old Michael Duane Kingsbury of 1359 Jefferson Road, Smithville is charged with manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana) and possession with intent to sell marijuana. His bond is $10,000 and he will make an appearance in General Sessions Court September 29.

After receiving a tip that Kingsbury had been growing marijuana, Sheriff Patrick Ray said detectives went to his home to investigate, executed a search warrant, and found 12 marijuana plants from 6-7 feet tall growing in a garden spot next to the house and more than 209 baggies of processed marijuana in the home along with drug paraphernalia. The pot had an estimated street value of $14,000. Detectives also recovered $10,000 in cash.

“Friday at around 3:47 p.m. a detective with the Sheriff’s Department went to the home of Kingsbury acting on a tip of him growing marijuana. The officer pulled up in the driveway and noticed some marijuana plants to the side of the house in a garden spot. He drove down Jefferson Road and also could see some of the plants from there. The detective went back to Kingsbury’s home and a female answered his knock on the door. The officer asked her for consent to search but she refused. The detective then summoned a deputy to the home to secure the scene while he went to the Sheriff’s Department to obtain a search warrant,” said Sheriff Ray.

When officers returned to the home and executed the search warrant, they found the marijuana. “ At 7:50 p.m. Friday night we executed a search warrant at Kingsbury’s home and found 12 marijuana plants in a garden spot beside of the house. The plants ranged in height from 6-7 feet tall. A search of the home turned up 209 baggies of marijuana, 190 of those were quarter ounce bags of processed marijuana and 19 were half ounce bags of processed marijuana with an estimated street value of $14,000. Also in the home the detectives found drug paraphernalia and $10,000 in cash,” said Sheriff Ray.

Kingsbury was arrested and taken to the Sheriff’s Department for booking.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray says if anyone has information on any crimes to please call the department's anonymous drug tip line at 615-464-6400 or call him at the Jail at 615-597-4935. All calls are kept confidential.

Smithville Police Arrest California Fugitive

September 9, 2016
Dwayne Page
Eric Wayne Robertson
Christopher Lee Lewis
Heather D. Fralix
Marty B. Tallent

Smithville Police arrested a fugitive from California while investigating a local domestic complaint on Wednesday, September 7.

42 year old Eric Wayne Robertson is being held without bond on a Fugitive from Justice warrant and his court date is September 15. He is to be extradited to California.

Police conducted an identification check Wednesday with Central Dispatch while investigating a domestic call involving Robertson and through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) learned that Robertson had warrants against him out of California for a parole violation. California authorities confirmed through NCIC that they would extradite Robertson. He was taken into custody by police.

32 year old Christopher Lee Lewis was arrested Friday, September 2 for aggravated domestic assault and cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. Police responded to a physical domestic complaint and upon arrival observed Lewis and the victim arguing. According to the officer, it appeared that the victim was trying to leave and Lewis was preventing her from doing so. During the investigation it was determined that Lewis had grabbed the victim by the throat and pushed her into a wall. Upon incident to arrest, an ink pen body containing a white powdery substance was found in his front pants pocket. Lewis’ bond is $3,000 and his court date is September 15.

40 year old Heather D. Fralix was arrested Saturday, September 3 for simple possession of Schedule II & IV drugs and she was cited for driving on a revoked license, no tail lights and driving while in possession of methamphetamine. Police spotted Fralix driving without working tail lights on the vehicle. A computer check revealed that her license were revoked for fleeing and evading police. Upon a consent to search, a pill bottle was found. The bottle had no prescription printed label on it but held 60 round pills believed to be Carisprodol. She was also found to be in possession of a crystal like substance believed to be approximately 1 gram of methamphetamine. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is September 29.

50 year old Marty B. Tallent was arrested Sunday, September 4 for evading arrest. Police were called to Wal-Mart regarding a trespasser. Management had asked Tallent to leave the premises but he refused. When an officer observed Tallent talking with people in the parking lot he activated his siren to get Tallent’s attention. Upon hearing the siren, Tallent looked back and took off running. The officer exited his patrol car and called for Tallent to stop, but he kept running. Another officer was able to cut Tallent off in the parking lot where he was detained and arrested for evading. Tallent’s bond is $2,500 and his court date is September 29.

Evins Re-Elected Chairman of School Board

September 9, 2016
Dwayne Page
Doug Stephens, W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, and Shaun Tubbs

Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III has been re-elected Chairman of the Board of Education.

Evins was named by his fellow board members to serve another year as chairman during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting.

Sixth district member Doug Stephens was re- elected Vice-Chairman and Seventh District member Shaun Tubbs was re-elected Assistant Secretary.

The board re-organizes each September electing officers to serve for the year.

In other business, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps gave his monthly report on personnel moves since last month.

Amanda Johnson and Kim Violet were each granted a leave of absence as requested.

Kenderly Cripps has been transferred from DCHS Bookkeeper to the Central Office, replacing Joyce Robinson

Nathaniel Kennard, a teacher; Dan Hooper, an educational assistant; and Joyce Robinson, federal bookkeeper have resigned.

Although the school system provides free breakfast, a “grab-and-go” breakfast program has been launched this year at DeKalb Middle School which allows students to take their breakfasts from the cafeteria to the classroom.

According to Director Cripps, this pilot program has already been a tremendous success with the rate of students eating breakfast at the school almost doubling and it may be started at other schools in the system next year.

Because of its success, the school board has added a new part-time position at the DeKalb Middle School Cafeteria to be funded from the Food Service Budget.

The board adopted a resolution in support of reading initiatives to reach the goal of children being able to read at or above grade level by the end of the 3rd grade.

Fourth district member Kate Miller read the following resolution:

“Whereas, the children of our community are our most precious resource; and

Whereas, our children’s education is their key to success in life; and

Whereas, research tells us children who read at or above grade level by the end of the 3rd grade have a better chance for success in school and life; and

Whereas, children who are read with 20 minutes a day from birth are more likely to have the skills needed to succeed in school and life;

Now, therefore we, the members of the DeKalb County School Board do resolve that we support the goal of having 90% of our students reading at or above grade level by the end of the 3rd grade; and we support the Children’s Reading Foundation of DeKalb County to help achieve such goals; and we encourage parents and caregivers to read aloud with children 20 minutes a day from birth;

Resolved this 8th day of September, 2016.”

The school board budgeted more money to help meet increased costs for employee medical insurance this year, still employees may have to pay more out of pocket to cover higher premiums. The board approved the increases Thursday night.

“As everybody knows the state has increased insurance across the board for educators. We have been working with our partners and in order for us to meet the Affordable Health Care Act the premiums are set before you (school board)”, said Director Cripps.

“Do you have an idea of how much they did increase,” asked Board Chairman Evins.

“From six to twenty percent,” replied Director Cripps

Road closure scheduled for inspection of Center Hill Dam

September 8, 2016
Dwayne Page

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District announces that the section of State Highway 141/96 that crosses over Center Hill Dam will be closed to all traffic 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 12-15, 2016 while engineers conduct an inspection.

Pedestrians and bicycle traffic are also not allowed across the dam. The closure provides for the safety of employees while making room for the equipment utilized during the inspection.

The road will be barricaded at the Center Hill Dam overlook and the 141/96 intersection.

Concerns or questions about the road closure can be addressed to the Center Hill Resource Manager’s Office at (931) 858-3125.

(For more information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and http://www.facebook.com/lakebarkley, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)

Repaving of Downtown Streets to Begin Tuesday

September 8, 2016
Dwayne Page

The Tinsley Asphalt Company has completed milling downtown city streets and paving is expected to begin Tuesday, September 13.

According to City Public Works Director Kevin Robinson, Officials of Tinsley have informed him that the work is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday but that is subject to change. The project should be completed within a few days thereafter.

In addition to the public square around the courthouse, streets to paved are Don Cantrell Street by City Hall, West Walnut Street, East Main Street, West Main Street, and West Market Street. The work is being done in sections and only the sections being worked on will be closed. The remainder of the square and streets are open

The courthouse and all businesses in the area will also remain open during this period

Elderly Woman Uninjured As Car Plunges Down Embankment

September 7, 2016
Dwayne Page
Jean Hampton's 2013 silver Toyota Prius in creek (photo by Will Judkins)
Jean Hampton's 2013 silver Toyota Prius plunges down embankment (photo by Will Judkins)
2013 Prius pulled from creek by DeKalb Tire & Service (photo by Smith County Insider)

An 85 year old Lebanon woman was released from the hospital this morning (Wednesday) after a two vehicle accident on West Broad and Anthony Avenue in which her car plunged down an embankment to a creek.

Jean Hampton was helped from her vehicle and back up the embankment by members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb EMS. Hampton was then transported by ambulance to the hospital for observation. She was not believed to have been injured.

Patrolman Will Judkins of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that Hampton was traveling east on Broad Street in a 2013 silver Toyota Prius when her car was hit in the rear passenger side by a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, driven by 64 year old Deborah Kaye Agee of Smithville.

Officer Judkins said Agee was north on Anthony Avenue but had come to a stop before entering Broad Street. According to Agee, she looked west and saw the approaching Prius but thought she saw the right turn signal light on indicating that the car was going to turn onto Anthony Avenue. She then pulled out onto the highway and struck the Prius. Agee was not injured. After impact, the Prius went off the right side of the highway and down an embankment before coming to a stop in the creek with ankle deep water.

Man Flees Scene After Two Vehicle Crash

September 7, 2016
Dwayne Page
2001 Saturn driven by 32 year old Marco Vinicio Aquirre of Smithville
1997 Ford Explorer, driven by 29 year old Ricky Wilbert Hendrixson of Smithville

Smithville Police investigated a two vehicle personal injury crash Saturday night on South Congress Boulevard in which one of the drivers fled the scene on foot.

The wreck occurred in front of Jewel’s Market.

According to the investigation and witness statements, 32 year old Marco Vinicio Aquirre of Smithville was traveling north on South Congress Boulevard in a 2001 Saturn when a southbound 1997 Ford Explorer, driven by 29 year old Ricky Wilbert Hendrixson of Smithville turned left into Jewel’s Market in front of the Saturn causing a collision.

30 year old Dely Raquel Bustillo of Smithville was a passenger of the Saturn and was taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital.

39 year old Jesse Cox of Smithville was a passenger with Hendrixson.

Police report that after the collision, the driver of the Ford Explorer (Hendrixson) fled on foot. The passenger (Cox) remained on the scene and told officers that Hendrixson left the scene because he believed he had a warrant against him.

Neither Aquirre, Hendrixson, or Cox were injured in the crash.

The accident was investigated by Officer Harley Lawrence of the Smithville Police Department. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.

Jury Convicts Man of Liquor Store Burglary

September 6, 2016
Dwayne Page
Amail John Land

A man charged with breaking into Center Hill Wine and Spirits and taking two bottles of vodka last September stood trial and was found guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court Tuesday.

After deliberating for less than an hour a jury of ten men and two women convicted 51 year old Amail John Land of burglary, vandalism, and theft and imposed a total fine of $3,250. The trial was covered exclusively by WJLE

Following the verdict, Judge David Patterson scheduled a sentencing hearing of December 12 for Land and revoked his bond. He will be incarcerated at the DeKalb County jail until that hearing.

Land, who was seated beside his legal representatives District Public Defender Craig Fickling and Assistant Allison West, became upset upon hearing that his bond was being revoked and pointed toward the Smithville Police Detectives who testified against him, Brandon Donnell and Matt Holmes, and said “I hope you’re happy now. This is not over yet. You’re going to lose your jobs over this”. Judge Patterson then ordered the court officer to remove Land from the courtroom and to take him into custody.

Land is facing the possibility of being sentenced as a career offender. According to Stephanie Johnson, Assistant District Attorney General, Land has eleven prior felony convictions, including ten for burglary and the state will be seeking the maximum sentence for Land which is twelve years to be served at 60%.

During the trial Tuesday, the state called three witnesses, James Bradshaw, the owner of Center Hill Wine and Spirits along with Detectives Donnell and Holmes.

Land did not testify in his own defense and no other witnesses were called to testify on his behalf.

“The proof the jury heard today (Tuesday) was that on September 25, 2015 the defendant (Land) threw a rock through the door of Center Hill Wine and Spirits on South Congress Boulevard at around 5:00 a.m. The victim (Bradshaw) received notification from his alarm company that morning that his business had been broken into. He immediately responded as did law enforcement. They viewed some surveillance footage from a store security camera. Law enforcement officers recognized the defendant (Land) as being depicted on that footage and attempted to make contact with him. Later that afternoon the defendant (Land) came back in the store and the owner (Bradshaw) immediately recognized him from the security footage and notified law enforcement that he was back in the store. Law enforcement conducted an interview and the defendant (Land) made the admission to breaking the door and taking two bottles of vodka from the business,” said Assistant D.A. Johnson.

However in her closing remarks to the jury, Assistant Public Defender West took issue with the police investigation in this case, saying the detectives failed to preserve evidence and produce recordings of interviews with the defendant and that they had not presented sufficient proof to convict Land.

“The police have a duty to preserve evidence. You heard testimony from two officers who have a good deal of training and experience who know that it is important to keep records and to keep recordings with suspects and witnesses yet they didn’t do that. They knowingly chose not to do that because Mr. Land didn’t say what they wanted him to say when they spoke with him. That’s a failure of them to perform their duties. They have a duty to gather evidence,” said West.

“Initially when the defendant was interviewed in the interview room at the police department, Land denied any involvement in this offense and that is why that interview was not recorded. It wasn’t until later during a more casual point when they were about to book him that Land made this spontaneous admission to this offense,” said Assistant D.A. Johnson.

The crime was also captured on video from the store’s surveillance camera but that was lost later when Bradshaw inadvertently erased it as he was trying to preserve it. “He wasn’t familiar with his surveillance system at that point. It is a very sophisticated system and he had only been open two weeks. But officers were able to capture some still photographs from that video footage which showed the defendant outside the door with a rock in his hand,” said Johnson.

West, during her closing remarks to the jury, said regardless of what happened to it, the video no longer exists and that it could have been useful to the defense.

“You didn’t get the see the surveillance video today. It was deleted. By mistake yes but deleted none the less. If we had it here today there would be no question who is responsible for this. We probably wouldn’t be here having to decide these things because it would be clear that Mr. Land is innocent of these charges,” said West.

She said the investigators also “dropped the ball” in other aspects of the case. “They haven’t brought this rock in that was supposedly used to break the window at the liquor store. They haven’t presented you with a picture of the broken glass. There is no evidence that Mr. Land was found with these vodka bottles. There are a lot of things in this case that are missing and it is because of the police officers’ failure to complete their duties. The evidence today is that the police dropped the ball here. There is not enough evidence before you today to convict Mr. Land of these crimes,” West concluded.

In her closing remarks to the jury, Assistant D.A. Johnson said the Public Defenders for Land were trying to shift the blame from their client to the police. “The defense would like you to focus all your attention on the police officers. They want you to blame the police because they didn’t record an interview where the defendant denied any involvement. Detective Donnell testified that during that initial interview the defendant denied being involved in this offense. They want you to forget the fact that we have these photographs which clearly depict the defendant. The detectives immediately knew who they were looking for. The proof is overwhelming and undeniable in this case. It’s overwhelming against this defendant. He (Land) burglarized Mr. Bradshaw’s business and stole from him, but they (Public Defenders) want you to lessen his accountability for those crimes. The state has shown you enough proof that your mind can rest easy that the defendant is guilty,” concluded Johnson.

Three Involved in Labor Day Crash

September 6, 2016
Dwayne Page
Tina Kessler and daughter injured in 2012 Chrysler 200
John Corey Vickers' 2000 Honda Accord
Trooper Brandon Jackson takes John Corey Vickers into Custody

Three people were involved in a two car crash Labor Day on Highway 70 east near the old Ragland Bottom Restaurant location.

Trooper Brandon Jackson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 36 year old John Corey Vickers of Auburntown was traveling east in a 2000 Honda Accord when he apparently came across the double yellow lines of the highway and struck a westbound 2012 Chrysler 200, driven by 48 year old Tina Kessler. Her daughter, a minor, was a passenger with Kessler.

According to Trooper Jackson, Kessler saw Vickers’ car coming across and tried to pull off the road to avoid the collision.

She and her daughter were taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital where they were treated and released.

Vickers was placed in custody at the scene and taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and for a blood withdrawal. He was later charged with driving under the influence due to drugs and cited for failure to exercise due care and for an expired tag.


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