A child sex sting operation based in St. Johns County, Florida has resulted in the arrests of 15 men, including a former DeKalb County assistant scoutmaster.
According to media reports in Florida, the sting by the Johnson County Sheriff's Office was called "Operation No Soliciting and took place over the course of five days, starting March 13.
Among those arrested was 47 year old Richard Charles Holubek of Orange Park, Florida, a former assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America Troop 347 in DeKalb County. Holubek is now a drug store manager in Florida. Authorities said Holubek was trying to meet a 13 year old male.
He is charged with one count of use of computer service to solicit a child, one count of obscene communication travel to meet after use of a computer to lure a child, and one count of utilizing a two way device to facilitate a felony. His bond totals $75,000.
According to Florida media reports, officers there used Internet chat rooms to find men looking for under-age sexual partners. Sometimes, undercover officers were posing as parents offering their children for sex.
The suspects were then invited to visit an undisclosed house in the county with the promise of sex with a minor.
However, there were no minors at the house, only officers who arrested the suspects after establishing that they were there to engage in illegal activity.
Those arrested come from several different counties, and three are from Georgia. The age of the suspects are between 19 and 49.
This was the second Internet child sex sting in the county. Operation Sheepdog was executed about two years ago, and 17 men were arrested in that sting.
With more people making use of the fitness center at the county complex, the DeKalb County Commission Monday night authorized the purchase of more equipment to accommodate the public.
No more space is available in the existing fitness room, so the added equipment will be placed in the History room of the county complex, at least temporarily. "In the short term, we've talked about purchasing some more cardio machines for what we're calling the History room," said County Mayor Mike Foster. "On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are so many people in there (fitness room) that there is not enough equipment for them. We can put six or eight machines in there (History room)," he said.
Foster said bids will be accepted for the added equipment unless the county can make the purchase from the previous bid. "I have talked to the guy that we got the others from and he said we could get them at the same price we got the original ones for. They are all rebuilt machines. None of them are new. I believe some of them are $1,600. The treadmills are around $3,400. So it would be (total cost) in the low 20's ($20,000) depending upon the number of treadmills and ellipticals. I think probably four of each one would be about the right number," said County Mayor Foster.
To meet the growing demand, Foster said the county may have to expand the fitness room. "Long term, we've talked about putting a couple of walls on that back deck and moving all the weight machines and free weights out there and let the front room be strictly for cardio equipment," he said.
"I was out there on several different nights and there was probably fifteen people waiting but part of them could use other machines. It's a good thing to have this problem because we have right at one thousand members out there now. We've got to do things to keep the momentum going," he said.
The DeKalb West School Junior Beta Club recently inducted the newest slate of officers and club members during a special candlelight ceremony.
5th graders Peyton Harris, Noah Roberts, Seth Harris, Cody Antoniak, Holly Evans, Christian Trail, Dallas Cook, Haley Dies, MaKenzie Ray and Hope Mofield joined the organization along with 6th grader Alanna Woodham, 7th graders Jaimie Alexander and Paxton Butler and 8th grader Paige Snyder. Students in 5th-8th grades are invited to join the DWS Beta Club chapter if they have an A/B grade average and exemplify outstanding character.
Casey Vickers was officially sworn in as President, Caitlyn Lawrence as Vice President, Rosa Payne as Secretary, Madison Butler as Treasurer and Breanna Gibson as Chaplin. Peyton Harris served as member representative for the ceremony.
In other news, the Junior Beta Club helped raise around $1,100 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Middle Tennessee during a three week Pennies for Patients fundraising drive at the school.
Front Row: (Left to Right) Peyton Harris, Noah Roberts, Seth Harris, Cody Antoniak, and Holly Evans.
Back Row (Left to Right) Alanna Woodham, Christian Trail, Dallas Cook, Haley Dies, Jaimie Alexander, and Paxton Butler. (Not pictured: Hope Mofield, MaKenzie Ray, and Paige Snyder)
Caption 2: (Students in front of candles)
(Left to right) Peyton Harris, Madison Butler, Rosa Payne, Caitlyn Lawrence, Casey Vickers, and Maegan Harris. (Not pictured, Breanna Gibson)
A WJLE Radiothon to raise money for the DCHS Class of 2013 Project Graduation will be Friday, March 29 from 9:00 a.m. until noon.
Parents of high school seniors who serve on the Project Graduation committee will be answering phones, taking pledges during the drive. Members of the Class of 2013 are also urged to stop by the station to make a brief appearance on the radiothon to talk about their school activities and future plans and to answer phones.
Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2013 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class. The event begins following the graduation ceremony on Friday, May 24.
The theme for this year's Project Graduation is "Mardi Gras"
Funds raised will go toward entertainment and prizes for the graduates including cash awards they can put toward college or other plans after high school.
Call 615-597-4265 during the Radiothon to make your pledge from 9:00 a.m. until noon on Friday, March 29. Listen LIVE on FM 101.7/AM 1480 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.
An employee of the Discount Beer and Tobacco Store in Alexandria has been arrested after being accused of inappropriately touching female customers and giving beer to a minor.
54 year old Sobhy Eskandar of Antioch, Tennessee has been charged by the Alexandria Police Department with six counts of sexual battery, one count of sexual battery of a minor, and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor. Eskandar was arrested on Saturday, March 23.
Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins states that the Alexandria Police Department began investigating Eskandar ,who was an employee at the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco Store on Nashville Highway, after receiving numerous complaints from female customers that Eskandar had touched them inappropriately while inside the store. Chief Collins states one of the complaints involved a minor, in which Eskandar also gave the minor a beer. Chief Collins stated that more charges are expected . Total Bond for Eskandar is $192,500
Meanwhile, Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 37 year old James Steven Leduc of Church Street, Alexandria has been charged by the sheriff's department with possession of a schedule IV drug for resale. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court on March 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, March 24, a deputy responded to a call of a man knocking on doors on High Street in Alexandria. Upon arrival, the officer spotted a man, Leduc walking through the yard of the complainant. As Leduc approached the patrol car, he tossed a pill bottle on the ground in the roadway. The name on the pill bottle was Vinnie Sue Duke and the medicine name on the bottle was clopidogrel. Inside the pill bottle were twenty six small blue pills believed to be alprazolam. Leduc did not have a prescription on his person. The officer also confiscated $64 from Leduc, believed to be proceeds from the illegal sale of this drug.
51 year old Gary Wayne Cantrell of Page Lane, Smithville is cited for simple possession of a schedule III drug (Loratab) and a schedule IV controlled substance (xanax) and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). He will be in court on March 28. Sheriff Ray said an officer pulled Cantrell over for swerving on Highway 56 north in the Silver Point area on Tuesday, March 19. Cantrell could not produce any proof of insurance. He also had a blue container with two pills in his pocket. Cantrell said he had a prescription at Rite Aid Pharmacy for the pills. The pharmacy was contacted and denied that Cantrell had a prescription for the two pills there. Cantrell later admitted to lying to the officer.
37 year old Caleb Andrew Lincoln of Lee Braswell Road, Smithville is cited for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia. He will be in court on April 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, March 20 a deputy performed a welfare check on a man who appeared to be intoxicated at the Mapco Express. The officer asked Lincoln for his drivers license but he could not produce a valid license, only an ID. Lincoln told the officer that he had needles and methamphetamine. Found were needles and two small plastic baggies that contained less than a gram of methamphetamine.
James Garey Graham of Allen's Ferry Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also cited for violation of the open container law and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court April 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, March 23, a deputy was on routine patrol on New Home Road when he got behind a vehicle that had left its lane of travel several times. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Graham who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Graham was unsteady on his feet. He told the officer that he had been drinking and an open 16 ounce Bud Lite beer was found in the automobile along with two empty beer cans. Graham submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol test.
23 year old Thomas Gregory Upchurch of Adamson Branch Road, Liberty is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on March 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday March 22, Upchurch allegedly assaulted his brother by hitting him in the face and head several times. He also allegedly assaulted a roommate by hitting him in the head with a rock. Upchurch further allegedly knocked out windows of his step father's vehicle.
45 year old Angela Quovodas Tubbs of Allen's Chapel Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on April 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, March 24, Tubbs allegedly assaulted her husband by slapping him across the face, knocking his glasses off. She also allegedly threatened to come to his work place to kill him and his co-workers. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.
As a young man, Bill Robertson felt it his calling to preach the Gospel. In the spring of 1963, only two years after becoming a Christian, Robertson delivered his first sermon at his home church in Jacksonville, Florida.
Last Wednesday marked Robertson’s 50th year as a minister. There were no lavish celebrations to commemorate the occasion. Robertson would not have wanted it that way. The long time pastor at Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church prefers to give the Lord credit for any of his accomplishments. "I am thankful that God has used me to whatever extent He feel’s like He’s been able to use me to preach the Gospel and to see a lot of people saved. I’ve baptized a lot of people, got to marry and do funerals for people. There have been so many opportunities I’ve had to do things that have hopefully made some difference in people’s lives. I’ve enjoyed it and I still do to this day. I’m thankful that I serve God who, even after all these years, still excites me and he very often surprises me," said Robertson.
Born and raised in northeast Florida, Robertson moved to Nashville in the early 1960's where he attended a trade school. It was only after returning to Florida upon finishing school that Robertson realized God had other plans for him "I was saved in 1961 in Jacksonville, Florida and stayed there for a couple of months. I had already planned to go to Nashville to trade school and I did. Upon finishing trade school, I moved back to Jacksonville for a year and it was during that time that I really felt God calling me to preach. The church where I was a member agreed with me and they allowed me to preach my first sermon on March 20, 1963 and that is what I’ve done ever since," said Robertson.
After getting married in 1964, Robertson began to travel, ministering at churches in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, and back to Florida before finally coming to Smithville in 1986. "I moved back here (Tennessee) in 1963. My wife Judy and I married in 1964 and I began to pastor at McEwen, Tennessee in the Deer Creek community, which was very rural. I went from there to St. Mary’s Georgia, which is down on the coast of Georgia. I pastored there for a few years before moving to Trinity, Alabama which is just west of Decatur. Those were the two biggest churches I ever pastored. We moved from there to northeast Ohio and began church planning with our home mission board as it was called in those days. We were in northeast Ohio for seven years before moving back to Florida, where we located in St. Augustine and began a church there in an area where there were literally going to be thousands of new homes built. They never got built but the church is still there. I pastored another church in Florida before coming to Smithville in July, 1986," said Robertson.
It was through his son that Robertson learned about Elizabeth Chapel. "My son (Bill) went to college at Belmont with a young man from Smithville. Bill came home with him occasionally on the weekends. Just in conversation this fellow’s dad told Bill there’s a church here in Smithville that doesn’t have a pastor. Do you think your dad would be interested? Bill had no idea of course. To make a long story short, I sent a resume to my son Bill and he took it to the director of missions at that time here in our association of Baptist churches. Somehow, the resume got to Elizabeth Chapel’s pulpit committee and the rest is history. That’s how we wound up being introduced here and we will have been here 27 years in July," said Robertson.
Smithville was not totally unknown to Robertson before he and his family arrived here in 1986. He had passed through here twice before. "When I was in trade school in 1962, a friend of mine lived in Alcoa and we left on Friday evening after school and drove to Alcoa and we must have gone through Smithville. I don’t know that for sure but I think we did. And after Judy and I married and we were expecting our first child, we actually came to Smithville and we went camping with some friends at Floating Mill over a weekend," he said.
Over the years, Smithville has become home to Robertson. After his first wife died, Robertson remarried. Altogether, the couple have eleven children and twenty four grandchildren. "My wife, Joyce, and I married in 1990 after the death of my first wife, Judy and Joyce's first husband, Paul. Joyce and I together have eleven children. One died in 2000. We do have ten children who are alive and twenty four grandchildren. Joyce has been very well received in Smithville and had a pretty good career teaching here. She just retired in December. Smithville has become home to us. We own our own home. We vote here. We shop here. Our friends are here. We have burial plots here. I really do enjoy the small town. Where I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida it’s around a million people now and when I go back there I cringe at the thought of ever having to live there again because of the size of the city. I don’t think I ever will. I like Smithville. The people have received me well. My children have grown up here. At least most of them. Eight of my children have graduated from high school here. Only two actually still live in the area. I would see no reason ever to leave unless the Lord would lead me somewhere else. I would be very quick to move at that point and time," said Robertson.
While he still enjoys preaching, Robertson acknowledges the day will come when he will have to slow down. But don’t look for him to retire. "My favorite things in the ministry are preaching of course. That’s number one. I enjoy visiting and talking with people, just making conversations. I really enjoy telling them about Jesus Christ as savior and those are the highlights really. My children used to say that I would get in a zone when I preach and I still get in that zone. I love to preach a great deal. I enjoy being around town and being known around town. I’ve enjoyed the ball games and being involved with the schools, the hospital, Red Cross blood drives, and Relay for Life. I also thoroughly enjoy coming out to the radio station every seven weeks to do a five minute devotion. These are my favorite things to do. I don’t think I’ll ever retire per se. There may come a day that I may not be quite as active in a full time ministry in a church that is busy. But I don’t ever see a day that I’ll quit preaching or quit being active in whatever church I’m a part of. I just don’t see it. I enjoy it. It’s what I do. It’s what I am. I’m glad I’m still able to get up and preach after all these years and do all the other things that I do every day. I’ve enjoyed it. I would change very few things. It’s been a good fifty years," said Robertson
He is a special agent of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and a member of the DeKalb County Board of Education from the fourth district, but Billy Miller addressed the county commission Thursday night as a parent asking them to consider funding more school resource officers.
"I am an elected school board member but I have two boys that mean the world to me and that's why I'm here. I think it is my duty as a parent and as a citizen of this community to make sure that I do the best that I can by my kids and I know that's what every one of you want," said Miller.
While the county already has an SRO at the high school, Miller said he believes there needs to be at least one school resource officer in each of the other four schools as well.
Smithville Police officers have recently made it a practice of visiting schools in the city at random times during the school day. Miller said while that is good, it doesn't take the place of having an SRO at the schools who would be there at all times during the day. "A school resource officer is not just a police officer that you put into a school system. Its totally separate," said Miller.
"I think it's a good thing that the city has been out there and they've had officers out there. I think that's a great idea. The only thing with that is if a guy (shooter) is going to do you harm, he's going to wait until that officer leaves. A very few of any of your school involved shootings come from some random guy off the street. Its somebody who has taken time and studied the school and studied the movements of the teachers or knows that he can get to the path of least resistance. If you have a guy (officer) over here at Northside Elementary School for a day and then he's at the West School the next day, they (shooters) are going to figure out that pattern. I think its beneficial for every school to have one (SRO). The guy (shooter) in New Town Connecticut, he went to a school he was familiar with because his mother had taught there before. But when he was challenged by the police, he took his own life. An SRO is not going to take care of everything but used in the right manner he can greatly decrease the issues that may happen at the schools," he said.
Miller said statistics show that a vast majority of school shootings arise from domestic issues at home. But if an SRO in the school can get to the root of the problem before hand, he could perhaps prevent a tragedy. "eighty percent of all issues that come in school shootings are domestic issues. They start at home some way," said Miller. " That's where having an SRO on a daily basis that knows students can affect a student. There are examples (elsewhere) where an officer has picked up on a kid, pulled him aside, talked to him and found out if there is any kind of issue going on at home. It can save a lot of these tragedies from happening. By having an officer there all the time, every day, they know the kids. But it takes a unique personality for that. Not every officer can go in there and be a true mentor at the elementary and high school level," said Miller.
Once established in a school, Miller said SRO's gain the trust of students. "A kid confides in an SRO and might tell him if they know of a gun in somebody's locker. Its pro active policing basically. If you can stop a crime before it ever happens, you're way ahead of the game and that's what SRO's do. They are there to get that familiarity with the kid and gain his trust," said Miller.
SRO's must be certified by the state's Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission and are required to have a certain amount of training, according to Miller. "State law says that an SRO shall participate in 40 hours of basic training in school policing within 12 months of being assigned to the school. Every year thereafter a minimum of sixteen hours of training is required specific to school policing," said Miller.
Sheriff Patrick Ray, who was also at the county commission meeting added, "You can't hire someone off the street. He must have two years experience (as a law enforcement officer)," he said.
When asked about the cost, Sheriff Ray said the first year would be the most expensive. It would be $55,000 per officer to get them started like any officer. That's for their uniforms and everything to equip them plus the training," he said. The cost would then just be their salary for every year thereafter which would vary depending upon where the officers fall in the county's four tiered wage scale for the sheriff's department.
In addition to SRO's, Miller said the school system is looking at other ways to enhance security. "We've got a bricks and mortar study coming up so hopefully we can see how we can keep them (school visitors) from just coming in, a way where they would have to come in through a certain door to a room and then have to show an ID," said Miller. "We're looking at upgrading cameras in the school system. Mr. (Mark) Willoughby has looked at that. Sumner County has a really neat program and I think it would be very effective for us as well. They have an interactive program with their cameras in the school system where at the main office, you can look (view monitors) and see any school at any point and time to see if something is going on. Its not that costly to do. Not with today's technology. And if you're an officer and have a wireless access at school, if you pull up on the scene you might be able to see where that guy (troublemaker or shooter) is at in the school," said Miller.
"Charlie Parker (DeKalb Emergency Management Agency Coordinator and Smithville Fire Chief) came up with the idea of having blue prints of the schools made as an interactive map so that if you do have officers that need to respond, you can get on line and see the outline of the school buildings. There's officers who have never been in the school system and that would be helpful to them," said Miller.
"If we combine all these efforts, its going to greatly decrease someone coming in and harming our kids and kids in a safer environment are going to learn better," said Miller.
Although no vote could be taken because it was only a committee meeting, County Mayor Mike Foster later asked the county commissioners for their input on the issue. "I know this is way, way early and we've got a lot of things to talk about concerning the budget but what are your feelings about the in-school officers? Do we need to get more information and work on it? What's your thinking?
The commissioners made no commitments but most seemed receptive to at least obtaining more information.
A two vehicle accident on Highway 146 near Pirtle's Nursery Friday morning resulted in only minor injuries.
Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said that 21 year old Brandon Hamlet of Smithville was driving south in a 2003 Lincoln LS when he attempted to turn left into a private drive, crossing into the path of a northbound 2003 Ford Explorer, driven by 26 year old Destinee Mayo of Morrison. Inside the vehicle with Mayo were two children, an eighteen month old and a six year old. After impact, Mayo's vehicle went off the right side of the road and struck a ditch
Mayo was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law. Hamlet was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law, failure to yield, and for not carrying a drivers license.
All were checked out at the scene by DeKalb EMS but no one had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance.
Seniors Chelsea Lewis and Braxton Atnip were named the 2013 DCHS basketball Most Valuable Players Thursday night at the annual team banquet, while Senior Kaylee Cantrell was selected as the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were presented by Chad Kirby of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory Chad's grandfather, Allen D. Hooper.
Atnip, who went over 1,000 points in scoring for his career at DCHS during the Chattanooga Howard game in the sectionals or sub-state, also received the best rebounder and smartest player awards
In addition to winning the MVP honor, Lewis took home awards for best foul shooter as well as the hustle award.
DeKalb County's Sonni Fullilove, who scored 1,641 points for his high school career, was named the boy's Defensive Player of the Year in District 8 AA while Tiger Coach Lynus Martin was the Boy's District Coach of the Year. In addition to taking the Defensive Player of the Year award, Fullilove was also named to the All-District's 1st Team along with Braxton Atnip. Stephen Howell was named to the 2nd Team. Ethan Roller made the 3rd Team and Lucas Phillips and Will Molander received Honorable Mention.
Loren Cripps of the Lady Tigers made the All-District 3rd Team. Ashley Chew and Morgan Pedigo were selected to the All Freshman Team and Chelsea Lewis received Honorable Mention.
Tiger Coach Lynus Martin reached a milestone late in the season earning his 200th career coaching win.
The season for the DeKalb County Tigers ended with a loss at Chattanooga Howard in the sectionals or sub-state. The Tigers concluded the 2012-13 campaign with an over-all record of 30-7, the most ever wins in a single season in school history. They were also regular season district champs and runners-up in the district and regional tournaments.
The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up their season losing to Livingston Aacademy in their opening game of the District 8 AA basketball tournament at Cookeville. The Lady Tigers finished with an over-all record of 16-16.
Other individual cheerleading awards included:
Most Spirit: Chloe White
Most Improved: Chloe White
Best Jumps: Kara Kanipe
Best Dance: Katie Roehner
Best Stunts: Victoria Vincent
Best Overall Attitude: Kaylee Cantrell
STAR Award (Spirit, Team, Attitude, Respect): Kaylene Ferguson
Leadership Awards: Emily Webb, Kelsey Hale, and Erin Cantrell-Pryor
Other Lady Tiger basketball awards were as follows:
MVP: Chelsea Lewis
Best Foul Shooter: Chelsea Lewis
Hustle Award: Chelsea Lewis
Charge Award: Abbey Caldwell
Coaches Award: Abbey Caldwell
Best Rebounder: Lydia Foutch
Defensive MVP: Lydia Foutch
Most Improved: Morgan Pedigo
Sixth Woman: Ashley Chew
Best Passer: Paige Winningham
Best Three Point Shooter: Loren Cripps
Offensive MVP: Loren Cripps
Tiger Award: McKenzie Poteete
For the Tigers,
MVP: Braxton Atnip
Smartest Player: Braxton Atnip
Best Rebounder: Braxton Atnip
Best Passer: Will Molander
Hustle Award: Ethan Roller
Best Practice Player: Aaron Patterson
Most Improved: Justin Bone
Sixth Man: Justin Bone
Best Athlete: Stephen Howell
Best Ball Handler: Stephen Howell
Best Attitude: Eli Lomas
Best Foul Shooter: Sonni Fullilove
Best Defensive Player: Sonni Fullilove
Meanwhile, Wallace and Joyce Johnson were named the Tiger basketball Fans of the Year.
The annual DCHS basketball banquet was held at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center.
(TOP PHOTO: Left to right- Chad Kirby, Chelsea Lewis, Braxton Atnip, Kaylee Cantrell, and Shelia Kirby)
(SECOND PHOTO FROM TOP: Left to right seated- Will Molander, Braxton Atnip, and Ethan Roller: STANDING Left to right- Aaron Patterson, Justin Bone, Stephen Howell, and Eli Lomas)
(THIRD PHOTO FROM TOP: Left to right seated-Lydia Foutch, Chelsea Lewis, and Abbey Caldwell; STANDING Left to right-Morgan Pedigo, Ashley Chew, Paige Winningham, Loren Cripps, and McKenzie Poteete)
(FOURTH PHOTO FROM TOP: Left to right seated-Kara Kanipe, Kayee Cantrell, and Victoria Vincent; STANDING Left to right- Emily Webb, Kaylene Ferguson, Chloe White, Katie Roehner, Kelsey Hale, and Erin Cantrell-Pryor)