Local News Articles

Mid TN Hay & Forage Day April 21

April 10, 2015

The 2nd annual Middle Tennessee Hay and Forage Day set for Tuesday, April 21 at Jimmy Herndon’s farm in Smithville offers farmers insight to a number of pasture, hay, and beef cattle production concerns.

The field day is scheduled to get underway with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the program starting at 9:00 a.m. There is no registration fee for the event, and a sponsored lunch will be provided. The Herndon farm is located at 371 Herndon Lane in Smithville.

Bruce Steelman, UT Extension Cannon County Agent, is a member of the planning committee for the field day. “The purpose of field days is to provide a hands-on learning experience for producers to learn the latest research based information from UT Extension. The hay and forage day has a wide variety of topics that should be a benefit to most every beef and forage producer in the area,” stated Steelman.

The list of programs include a pasture weed control demonstration showing use of common pasture herbicides with speaker Dr. Neil Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is a Weed Management Specialist with UT Extension. Several herbicides were sprayed in March to show effects on common pasture weeds, such as buttercup, dock, and thistle. Participants at the field day will get to view the effects of the demonstration plots.

Mr. Larry Moorehead, the UT Extension Agent in Moore County, will be discussing hay storage and feeding. Mr. Moorehead is known throughout the region for his hay storage programs.

“Bull Selection, Critical to Optimizing Performance” will be the topic presented by Mr. Kevin Thompson. To help producers in decision making when purchasing a bull, Mr. Thompson will have multiple bulls on site and will go over EPD’s in selecting the correct bull for your situation. Mr. Thompson is the Director of the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center in Spring Hill, where the University of Tennessee houses its bull test station.

Other speakers on the program include Mr. Mark Powell from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to discuss the Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Program. Mr. Powell is the state wide director of the TAEP. A hands-on boomless sprayer calibration demonstration will be led by UT Extension Agent Chris Hicks. Mr. Hicks is located in Smith County and has conducted numerous sprayer calibration workshops in the area.
“Mr. Herndon and his family have been gracious to let us conduct the weed management demonstration plots at his farm and host this event. He has been a great cooperator to help make this a successful event for all the attendees,” stated Michael Barry, UT Extension DeKalb County Agent.
The inaugural Hay and Forage day was held last year at David and Patricia Hutton’s farm in Morrison. UT Extension Warren County Agent Heath Nokes, recalled “Over 100 producers attended the event with more than seventy percent reporting an increase in knowledge of forage quality techniques, rotational grazing, herbicide application, and sprayer calibration.”

The field day is a multi-county program of Cannon, DeKalb, and Warren County UT Extension offices. For more information, contact Bruce Steelman (615)563-2554, Michael Barry, (615)597-4945, or Heath Nokes (931)473-8484. This program, like all UT Extension programs, is open to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability or veteran status.

Alexandria Police Department announces SAFE Campaign Participation

April 10, 2015
Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins

The Alexandria Police Department will be partnering with the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office for the 2015 Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE) Campaign. The SAFE campaign is designed to increase seat belt and child passenger safety restraint usage in Tennessee. Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to participate by planning and implementing occupant protection initiatives in their communities.

Last year, Tennessee reached it highest seat belt use rate in history at 87.71% . “ We are excited to see that more people are making the right choice to buckle their seat belt, “ said Governor’s Highway Safety Officer Director Kendell Poole. “ However, historically we’ve seen that approximately fifty percent of our fatalities statewide are unrestrained. This shows us that we still have work to do. Partnering with law enforcement to back up our educational messages is the best way for us to achieve additional increases in seat belt use.”

This is the second year that the Governor’s Highway Safety Office has sponsored this campaign. Last year yielded the following results:
•1,718 child restraint violations
•30,147 seat belt citations
•773 other seat belt enforcement activities

Chief Mark Collins says the Alexandria Police Department is pleased to support the Safe program in Alexandria, to insure the safety of our citizens. Chief Collins says proper Seat Belt and Child Restraint use is vital to reducing injuries and fatalities in crashes.

It is vitally important that all drivers and passengers buckle up every trip, every time. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles from home at speeds less than 40 miles per hour.

The SAFE campaign will be ongoing now through July 31st. Agencies participating in the voluntary campaign become eligible to win one of two fully equipped police vehicles at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Challenge in August.

Man Gets Probation in Child Sex Crime

April 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
Thomas Copenhaver

A 45 year old man, accused in a child sex crime, was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday, April 8th after pleading guilty to the charge of sexual battery.

Thomas Copenhaver received a six year sentence suspended to supervised probation except for time served. He had been in jail for almost sixteen months from December 10, 2013 to April 8, 2015. His name will be on the state's sexual offender registry. Copenhaver was indicted by the Grand Jury in April 2014 for aggravated sexual battery in this case.

Copenhaver was accused of a child sex crime involving a family member (niece).

Meanwhile, in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 6th, 38 year old Stacey Ashford pled guilty to delivery of a schedule III drug and received a three year sentence, suspended to judicial diversion probation. She must pay a $2,000 drug fine. Ashford was given 51 days jail credit.

38 year old Martha Silcox pled guilty to three counts of vandalism over $1,000. She received a total sentence of five years on probation. Silcox was given two years in two of the cases to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the third case, in which she received three years.

21 year old Killian Blake Ellis pled guilty to three counts of vandalism and received a total sentence of five years on probation. Ellis was given three years in two of the cases to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the third case, in which he received two years.

26 year old Christine Moore pled guilty to attempted sale of a schedule III drug. She received a two year sentence, suspended to supervised probation. She was fined $2,000. If fines and costs are paid, she will be on unsupervised probation for the second year of the sentence. Moore was given 31 days jail credit.

27 year old Philando Darnell Fullilove pled guilty to sale and delivery of a schedule II drug. He received a four year suspended sentence to run consecutive to another sentence he is currently serving. Fullilove was fined $2,000. He was given jail credit from January 30 to April 6, 2015.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby to Step Down Thursday, April 16

April 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

Mark Willoughby's last day as Director of Schools will be Thursday, April 16.

Director Willoughby has agreed to terms in a negotiated settlement as offered by the Board of Education. The agreement was signed today (Thursday) by Director Willoughby and Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, on behalf of the School Board.

"I wish Mr. Willoughby only the best in his retirement and hope he enjoys being with his family," said Chairman Evins.

Under the agreement, Willoughby's tenure as Director will end by the close of business on Thursday, April 16. He will be paid his salary and receive all insurance benefits through June 30th, the day Willoughby had announced last month to be the date of his retirement. Funds are already in the school system's budget to pay Willoughby.

An interim Director is expected to be named by the Board of Education on Thursday, April 16.

Willoughby has served as Director of Schools since July 1, 2006. His current contract, approved last year, was supposed to run through June 30, 2017.

The actual "buyout" agreement is as follows:

Negotiated Settlement Agreement Release of All Claims

"Know All Men by These Presents:

"That, Mark B. Willoughby, Director of Schools for the DeKalb County, Tennessee school system (hereinafter, "Mr. Willoughby" or "Releasor") , for and in consideration of the sums stated herein, does hereby release and discharge the DeKalb County, Tennessee Board of Education from the present contractual agreement to serve as Director of Schools."

"For, and in consideration of the execution of this Release, the School System agrees to pay to Mr. Willoughby:

(1) The salary established for the position of Director of Schools that he formerly occupied, such salary amount being the same as the salary rate paid upon the effective date of the purchase of his contract, and for a period extending through June 30, 2015;

(2) All insurance benefits in effect on April 6, 2015 through and including a period ending on June 30, 2015

(3) During the term of this agreement, no additional personal leave days shall accrue and salary and benefit payments shall not increase or decrease.

(4) Such salary and benefits shall be paid upon the regularly scheduled dates established by policy or practice for all currently employed licensed personnel."

"Mr. Willoughby shall return keys, computers, telephones, credit cards, other property of any sort or type and any other school owned or leased assets in his possession to the secretary to the Board by the close of business on April 16, 2015."

"The parties further agree that they will not disparage each other in any manner or medium of communication, to any persons or entities, regardless of whether they are public or private, or of a professional or personal nature."

"This Release is entered into in the State of Tennessee and shall be construed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of Tennessee. Any legal proceeding brought to enforce or interpret the provisions of this Release shall be brought in the trial courts for DeKalb County in the State of Tennessee. The parties consent to jurisdiction and venue in said court."

Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday

April 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday

As part of its community outreach ministry, the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church is sponsoring a drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning rain or shine.

In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, the church plans to prepare enough food boxes to serve up to 288 families regardless of their income status, on a first come, first served basis.

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the food will be delivered from 9:00 a.m. until noon. Unlike most food distributions, those being served by the mobile pantry will not have to get out of their automobiles. They will drive thru in a pickup line and volunteers will deliver the food directly to their vehicles, placing the food boxes either in the back seat or trunk. Cars will line up facing north on College Street across from the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

"It's a mobile food pantry but it's also a drive thru. The recipients will stay in their cars. They will line up starting at 8:00 a.m. on College Street and when we have everything prepared and organized we'll start the line moving, hopefully around 9:00 a.m. Recipients will drive through. As they enter in we'll have a team there to put a box of food in their cars, either in their back seat or trunk," said spokesman Eddie Merriman.

"We will line up right across from the church (Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church) on College Street. We'll start registration at 8:00 a.m. We'll need the name of the recipients and how many families are being served. We're limited to two families per vehicle to make sure we have enough food," added spokesperson Teresa Trapp Brown.

According to Merriman, the food boxes will be large enough to feed a family for up to a week. "We have a pretty good list of food. It's a lot of basic staples including canned goods, dried goods, and we'll have some dairy products along with some produce to give away. We'll have enough food for up to 288 families. When you complete going through the line, you will have a really good sized box of groceries. It's more than bread. We'll have things like canned green beans, peanut butter, a bag of potatoes, dried pinto beans, canned corn, canned chunk chicken, and some cakes and pies. We don't know everything we'll get until that morning. But it'll be a lot of good stuff to make meals to feed a family for probably a week," he said.

Although the mobile food pantry is sponsored by the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, others may make donations or volunteer to help. "We partner with Second Harvest. We basically buy a 53 foot trailer of food. We'll have about 20-24 pallets of food. The food costs us $2,000 and $500 for transportation but that feeds a lot of families. We would be willing to accept any donations. If anyone wants to help we sure would appreciate it," said Merriman.

Others have already volunteered to help on Saturday. "It's not just our church. Almost every church in this town has come together and will have volunteers to help. That is such a blessing. It's not about a church. It's about being the hands and feet of Jesus," Merriman said.

The church is hoping to have more mobile food pantries in the future.

For more information call 615-464-7896

Judge Says Cookeville Boat Dock Must Pay Property Taxes

April 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Circuit Court Judge Amy V. Hollers
Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.

A judge has ruled Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. must pay the ad valorem (property) taxes on the boat dock property that it has refused to pay since 1998. The total tax bill owed comes to more than $200,000 including interest and penalties

Circuit Court Judge Amy V. Hollers has found the boat dock’s claims that such a tax was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and was discriminatory under Tennessee’s Constitution are not valid.


2011cv42opinionandorder_rad66098.pdf (1.28 MB)

In her ruling, Judge Hollars wrote “neither the Supremacy Clause nor any principle of state law prevents DeKalb County from assessing Cookeville Boat Dock for its ownership interest in the boat dock facilities. The court must reject Cookeville Boat Dock’s constitutional challenge to the assessment of ad valorem taxes on its property.”

The boat dock had argued such a tax could be characterized as “double taxation” since it pays fees to the United States Army Corps of Engineers which are used, in part, to pay DeKalb County a sum in lieu of taxes. The owners of the dock further argued a section of Tennessee’s Constitution “violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States by discriminating against a lessee of the United States in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee.

The judge said the boat dock’s attempt to “raise a ‘double taxation’ argument fails because the amount received by DeKalb County from the lease payments to the federal government is not a tax by the county.”

She went on to rule that “it is well-established that the Supremacy Clause does not prevent a state or local government from imposing a tax on an individual or a corporation ‘using government property in connection with a business conducted for its own private gain.’”

In conclusion, Judge Hollars ordered that the boat dock “pay the unpaid ad valorem taxes assessed for all years in question, together with all applicable penalties and interest.”

From 1998 through the 2013 tax year, owners of Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. have been named as defendants in DeKalb County Chancery Court lawsuits filed against delinquent taxpayers. The amount Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. owes through 2013 in delinquent taxes comes to $195,959.89 (taxes on personal property and leased property including the base tax plus interest and penalty, attorneys fees, and court costs). Further penalties are assessed each month. Additionally for the 2014 tax year, the Trustee's Office reports that Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort Inc. owes a total $8,460 (including interest and penalty for April)

In a Chancery Court delinquent tax lawsuit, the marina owners claim that they can't be forced to pay ad valorem (property) taxes on constitutional grounds. But in 2013, Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. (Bob) Cooper, Jr. gave an opinion that the marina's claim is without merit and should be dismissed by the court.

The attorney for Cookeville Boat Dock, Jon E. Jones of Cookeville contends the owners of the marina are being discriminated against in that the county is trying to force them to pay ad valorem taxes on the boat dock facility which is leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (federal government property) while other properties in Tennessee leased from the state or local government entities (under Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution) are exempt from payment of ad valorem taxes. This, he claims is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution making the tax assessment against Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. invalid. In 2013 Jones filed an amended answer to the county's Chancery Court lawsuits against delinquent taxpayers including Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort along with a counter complaint seeking a declaratory judgment for his clients.

In her "Opinion and Order", Judge Hollars gave a narrative of the case as follows:

"Cookeville Boat Dock, Inc. owns and operates a commercial boat dock and concession on land that is leased from the federal government, Cookeville Boat Dock has been assessed ad valorem taxes on the boat dock property since 1998. Because Cookeville Boat Dock has not paid these taxes, the boat dock property has been included in the delinquent tax proceedings covering years 1998 through 2011. Cookeville Boat Dock has not been assessed for the underlying real estate, which is owned by the federal government, or for any leasehold interest in the real estate. Instead, Cookeville Boat Dock has been assessed only for the buildings and other structures that make up the boat dock property. Public records list Cookeville Boat Dock as the owner of this property."

"Cookeville Boat Dock has not challenged the tax assessments before the county board of equalization or appealed any county board action to the state board of equalization. Cookeville Boat Dock has not paid the taxes under protest or instituted a suit against the taxing authority to challenge the imposition of the tax as "unjust or illegal, or against any statute or clause of the constitution of this state."

"Instead, Cookeville Boat Dock moved to dismiss "all claims for collection of real property taxes against it", arguing that, for tax years prior to the effective date of the statute's 2004 amendment, Tennessee Code Annotated (state law) did not apply "to boat docks, marinas, or other related structures, and such properties were not taxable as real property". Cookeville Boat Dock also raised what might be characterized as a "double taxation" or "taxation equivalence" defense in these delinquent tax proceedings. In support of this argument, Cookeville Boat Dock noted that, pursuant to its lease for commercial concession purposes, it must "pay fees to the United States Army Corps of Engineers which are used, in part, to pay DeKalb County a sum in lieu of taxes". Much later, in June of 2013. Cookeville Boat Dock filed an Answer and Counter Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, wherein it asserted that Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States by discriminating against a lessee of the United States and in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee, its counties, its municipalities, or other local governmental entities. Cookeville Boat Dock asks the court to declare (1) that Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee is invalid, and (2) that the real property subject to Cookeville Boat Dock's lease for commercial concession purposes is exempt from ad valorem taxation. The State of Tennessee, through the office of the Attorney General, answered Cookeville Boat Dock's Counter-Complaint and submitted a Brief defending the constitutionality of Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution. Therein, the State asserted that Cookeville Boat Dock's constitutional challenge is without merit and procedurally barred. After submitting trial briefs, DeKalb County and Cookeville Boat Dock requested that the court decide the legal issues based upon the briefs submitted."

Election Commissioners Reappointed

April 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Barbara Vanatta, Walteen Parker, Jim Dean, and Harry Lasser
 Richard Hearon Puckett

The current members of the DeKalb County Election Commission have been reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission.

The state election commission made these appointments on Monday April 6.

The term of each member is for two years.

Members of the DeKalb County Election Commission are Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, Jim Dean, Harry Lasser, and Richard Hearon Puckett.
Vanatta and Dean are beginning their fourth terms. Parker has served since 1992. All three are Republicans. Lasser, a Democrat, is starting his third term. Puckett, also a Democrat, is beginning his second full term after filling a vacancy.

Since the state legislature is made up of a majority of GOP lawmakers, Republicans have the right to hold majority memberships on the Tennessee Election Commission as well as all county election commissions in Tennessee. The appointments to local commissions are made by the state election commission.

Regarding the political division of county election commissions, state law states that " three members shall be members of the majority party and two members shall be members of the minority party".

"The members of the majority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."

"The members of the minority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."

"When members of another statewide political party are required to be appointed to a county election commission, they shall be nominated by the party's state primary board."

"Before appointing county election commissioners, the members of the state election commission shall consult with the members of the general assembly serving each of the counties as to the persons to be appointed to the county election commissions".

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Election Commission will hold its next meeting April 16 at the Election Commission Office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

The board will likely reorganize and appoint the Administrator of Elections.

Grand Jury Returns No True Bill in Cases Against Three People

April 7, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Grand Jury returned a "No True Bill" in cases against three people Monday.

A "No True Bill" is a legal procedure to dismiss charges against a defendant when the grand jury does not find enough evidence or probable cause to charge the defendant with violating a law.

A "No True Bill" was returned in the case against 28 year old Jordan Adams of Smithville who had been charged with attempted second degree murder in the shooting of 39 year old Jamie Murphy on Juniper Lane last August. Adams was also charged with reckless endangerment.

The Grand Jury also returned a "No True Bill" against 74 year old Frank Thomas of Liberty. Thomas was accused of pointing a gun at another motorist (family member) while chasing after him in his vehicle at high speeds on Highway 56 South in September. Thomas had been charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

No indictment was returned against Tamyra Taylor, charged with driving under the influence, wrong address on her drivers license, seatbelt violation, and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance).

Dowelltown Man Indicted on Child Rape Charges

April 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Jonathan Everett Jay

The DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday returned child rape indictments against a Dowelltown man for allegedly touching his eight year old niece in a sexual manner on two occasions last summer.

20 year old Jonathan Everett Jay of Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown will be arraigned on Monday, April 13.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, September 11, 2014 a Sheriff's Department Detective responded to a residence on Snow Hill Road regarding a sexual assault of an eight year old girl. According to the mother, the child said that her uncle (Jay) had touched her inappropriately. The detective and a member of the Department of Children's Services spoke with the child and she confirmed what her mother had reported. When confronted Jay agreed to speak with the detective at the Sheriff's Department. After reading Jay his rights, the detective began the interview during which time Jay allegedly admitted to having had sexual contact with the child on two occasions, Wednesday August 27 and Thursday, September 11.

Jay is one of 48 people indicted by the grand jury Monday. Eleven persons were named in sealed indictments. Arraignment for all defendants will be Monday, April 13.

Those indicted and their charges are as follows:

James Lee Adcock: aggravated burglary and theft over $500

Leslie Arnold: driving under the influence (2nd offense), driving on a revoked license, open container, and failure to maintain lane

Lavar Bass: theft under $500

Cynthia Carter: driving on a revoked license (2nd offense) and financial responsibility

Anthony Colwell and David Roger Petty: aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000

Anthony Colwell: burglary and theft over $1,000

Jackson Cripps: evading arrest, drag racing, and speeding

Johnny Lynn Devault: domestic assault and aggravated assault

Margie Grace Drennan: possession of paraphernalia

Bobby Duggin: aggravated burglary (2 counts), theft under $500, and theft over $500

Justin Dale Estes and Ashley Nicole Estes: introduction of contraband into a penal institution and child abuse/neglect

Deborah Lynn Ferrell: driving under the influence, violation of registration, financial responsibility, and failure to maintain lane

Royce Avon Foster: burglary and theft over $1,000 and driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Don Diamond Groshon: assault

Zackary Nathaniel Hale and Brandon Scott Kidd: driving under the influence, DUI by allowance, vehicular assault, incorrect address on license, financial responsibility, and failure to maintain lane

Nichole Breann Higgins: initiation of methamphetamine and child abuse/neglect

April Lee Hollingsworth, Don Diamond Groshon, James Lee Adcock: initiation of methamphetamine, resisting arrest, and possession of prohibited weapon

Jonathan Everett Jay: rape of a child (2 counts)

Terry Knowles: driving on a revoked license, child restraint device, and window tint

Molly Sue Lawrence: forgery (2 counts)

Curtis Allen Lloyd: possession of a schedule II drug over .5 grams

Brittany Lynn Lee: theft over $1,000 and theft over $500

David Linnear: driving under the influence and failure to obey traffic signal

Jo Ann Luna: forgery and resisting arrest

Melinda Beth Murphy: forgery (3 counts)

David Michael Roger Petty: driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Dennis Jason Reeder: driving under the influence (2nd offense), violation of the registration law (2 counts), failure to exercise due care, and financial responsibility

Michael Shone Saylors and Ashley Dawn Saylors: initiation of methamphetamine and aggravated child abuse (2 counts)

Sara Nicole South: theft over $10,000, a second offense of driving on a revoked license (2 counts), registration violation, possession of a schedule II drug, possession of paraphernalia, and seatbelt violation.

Sonny Alan Stults: driving under the influence, financial responsibility, and failure to maintain lane

Tara Jane (Atnip) Summers: reckless endangerment

Deborah Thistlewaite: driving under the influence, possession of a schedule VI, and possession of paraphernalia

Nathaniel Tippens: auto burglary (6 counts), theft under $500 (6 counts), theft over $500, vandalism under $500

Joshua McNeil Vincent: driving on a suspended license, financial responsibility, and seatbelt violation.

Charles Henry Ward: driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane, and no driver's license

Christopher Sam White: theft under $500 and initiation of methamphetamine

Michelle Yarbro: introduction of contraband into a penal institution

Cripps Critical of City Plans to have Morning Hearing for Police Chief

April 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sarah Cripps
Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger will soon be afforded a due process hearing before the Board of Aldermen on whether he should be reinstated after Mayor Jimmy Poss fired him last month. But before Caplinger gets that hearing, the Mayor and Aldermen have to agree on when to have it.

The city administration seems intent on conducting the hearing in the morning hours at city hall but that is not going over well with the attorney representing Caplinger, Sarah Cripps nor with Alderman Shawn Jacobs, who says he can't attend a morning meeting because of his work schedule and is asking that it be held at a more convenient time for himself and all others involved including the public.

Caplinger's due process hearing had been scheduled for a special meeting Friday, April 10 at city hall starting at 10 a.m. but Cripps, in a letter to City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said she and her co-counsel Brandon Cox were not available at that time. She suggested having it on Friday, April 24.

Cripps is also wanting to have the hearing when Caplinger's supporters can attend. In her letter to Parsley, Cripps alleges that the city's decision for a morning hearing is to avoid that. "You (Parsley) informed me that Mr. Caplinger's due process hearing will not be conducted at the City Council's regularly scheduled meeting but, instead will occur at a "special meeting" held in the morning hours. In view of the demonstration of such strong public support in favor of Chief Caplinger's retention, I am not at all surprised that the City of Smithville has taken the decision to conduct the due process termination hearing "in the morning hours" as to avoid the penetrating and unremitting gaze of the public. In this regard, Chief Caplinger again respectfully requests that he be afforded a hearing before the three person board or commission as required by Smithville City Code Section 4-205(7) prior to conducting a hearing before the entire City Council," wrote Cripps.

She also wants City Judge Hilton Conger to serve as Parliamentarian at the hearing and be designated to rule on any evidentiary and legal issues which counsel for either side may raise during Chief Caplinger's due process hearing.

Cripps addressed the Mayor and Aldermen briefly with her concerns during the regular monthly meeting Monday night . "We're here to say that we have been advised that the meeting on Chief Caplinger would be in the morning (hours). We are requesting that it be held at a regularly scheduled meeting of this body which would be in the evenings so that everybody could go. It was explained to our office that the meeting couldn't be held in the afternoon because the mayor drives a school bus for the board of education and Alderman (Danny) Washer also drives a school bus so they were not available. I was disappointed in the attempts, which I regard as reprehensible to hold a meeting of this magnitude in the morning at a time when it really makes a mockery of the term "public" hearing because two of the aldermen we know have prior commitments. It appears as though it's an attempt to circumvent the real intention of city code 4205 and to have the outcome foreordained. I just want to encourage everybody to govern in the sunshine and to make your decisions under the gaze of the public," said Cripps

"Sarah we have other meetings in the mornings that probably you are not aware of. This is not the only time," said Mayor Poss.

According to the new city charter adopted in 2013, Regular city council meetings are to be held once per month at 6:00 p.m. but special meetings may be called as needed either by the mayor or any two aldermen, giving at least 48 hours notice.

Alderman Jacobs said that he could not attend a morning meeting and added that he didn't understand why it could not be scheduled in the late afternoon or in the evening at a time when the mayor and the entire board of aldermen could attend which would also make it more convenient for the public. "The meetings we have had (previously) in the mornings were when I was able to attend in the mornings due to my work schedule. Now my work schedule has changed and I can only attend afternoon or evening meetings. My being able to attend afternoon or evening meetings is no different from you (Mayor) and Mr. Washer being able to attend morning meetings. I think as a member of this board I am entitled to be at any meeting and I think any effort should be made to let all members of the board be present. I too find it reprehensible that there seems to be no effort to accommodate those of us who are unable to attend. It certainly doesn't look good upon the city that it's going to be held when perhaps members of the public who would like to be here aren't going to be here. I think there may be some legal concern with this being scheduled (in the mornings). I think we're in some gray territory as far as whether this is even legal or not," said Alderman Jacobs

Mayor Poss asked Alderman Jacobs, "Have you checked with anybody to see if its legal?"

Alderman Jacobs replied "I have not because I hope we would all be ladies and gentlemen enough and be concerned enough about our responsibilities to the residents of the city that we could work out a time like we've always done. Before we've always worked to try to accommodate each other's schedule. I don't see why we can't do it this time. Any afternoon or evening I can be here. My work is out of town and I can't take mornings off because that's when the heaviest part of my work is done. I don't understand why we can't have an evening meeting. It seems like it would be more convenient for everybody including the public," he said.

"I don't think a meeting has been scheduled yet has it?" asked Alderman Gayla Hendrix. One was scheduled (April 10) but we got an email and Ms. Cripps asked for a different date. Several of us aren't available (to attend April 10). I've not gotten a message on another meeting. Has anyone else?" she asked

Alderman Danny Washer asked "What was the reason the first one was cancelled?"

Cripps replied "We had a conflict"

"I couldn't be here for that one either (April 10) because it was in the morning," said Alderman Jacobs.

"I think there's two or three of us who can't make that date (April 10) but we haven't discussed another date. I'm open to any date but let's discuss that through email," Alderman Hendrix said.

Alderman Washer said he would be willing to meet at any time provided it didn't conflict with his already planned personal vacation time. " You set the time and If I am in the county, if I'm available I'll be here. I don't care when it is. I want to get this done. Surely to goodness we can come together on one day when everybody can be here. I'll work my schedule to be here," he said.

"I think that is something we can easily pass an email around so we can get a consensus when we're all available. We can check calendars. There is no reason to hash on that tonight when we don't have everybody here (Alderman Jason Murphy was absent Monday night) to make a decision," said Alderman Hendrix.

Mayor Poss asked Alderman Jacobs " What time do you get off work Shawn?"

"It varies. Today I didn't get home until 4:00 p.m." he said.

"So how do we plan on that"? asked Poss

"Well I'll be home by 6 p.m. I'll certainly be home by late afternoon or by 6 p.m." replied Alderman Jacobs.

"So in other words, we've got to accommodate you. I don't even want to argue the thing," said Mayor Poss

"I don't either but we've always worked to try to accommodate everyone before," answered Alderman Jacobs.

"We can if everybody will try to work with everybody," added Mayor Poss.

"I can make any late afternoon or evening," Alderman Jacobs said

"That's what I'm saying. Everybody has got to change it for you," Mayor Poss concluded.

In a statement to WJLE after the meeting, Alderman Jacobs said "I'm really not trying to be argumentative about this. It's really very simple. I just want the hearing to be held at a time when all members of the Board of Aldermen can be there and when more of the general public can potentially be present if they want to be. I just want our action to be completely open for public scrutiny," he said.


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