Local News Articles

Legislative Update from State Senator Mae Beavers (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

November 25, 2015
Dwayne Page

State Senator Mae Beavers gave her views on state legislative issues during a forum held Saturday at the courthouse.

Among the issues discussed were the proposed "Defense of Marriage Act", the teaching of Islam in the classroom as part of the state's 7th grade standards, a proposal for eliminating "No Go Zones" where handguns cannot be carried in Tennessee, concerns about whether abortion procedures include the selling of baby body parts, a plan by UT to start using gender neutral pronouns, members of the Tennessee National Guard being able to openly carry guns, the Syrian refugee resettlement, concerns about Common Core standards, and her opposition to any move toward an increase in the state gas tax.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 6.6% in October

November 25, 2015
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's Jobless Rate for the month of October was 6.6%, down from 7.1% in September and 7.8% in October, 2014.

The local labor force for October was 7,100. A total of 6,630 were employed and 470 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's Jobless Rate for October was fifth highest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region.

Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:
Clay: 7.8%
Van Buren: 7.4%
Jackson: 6.8%
DeKalb: 6.6%
Fentress: 6.3%
Overton: 6.3%
White: 5.7%
Warren: 5.7%
Putnam: 5.4%
Cannon: 5.3%
Smith: 5%

County unemployment rates for October 2015 show they decreased in 90 counties, increased in four, and remained the same in one county

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate in October at 4.2 percent, down from September’s rate of 4.6 percent. Knox County was 4.4 percent in October, down from 4.8 the previous month. The Hamilton County October rate was 5.1 percent, down from 5.6 in September. Shelby County was 6.4 percent in October, down from 6.7 percent the previous month.

Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for October was 5.6 percent, down one tenth of a percentage point from from the previous month. The U.S. preliminary rate for October was 5.0 percent, also down one tenth of a percentage point from September.

The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

McPheron Indicted for Prescription Fraud

November 25, 2015
Dwayne Page
Brandi Lynn McPheron

The DeKalb County Grand Jury has indicted a woman with six counts of obtaining a prescription by fraud.

35 year old Brandi Lynn McPheron will be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday, December 7.

According to Smithville Police, McPheron signed for and picked up prescriptions for the schedule IV drug Tramadol on six occasions at Rite Aid Pharmacy from August 11 to October 24, 2014.

Each prescription was for 60, 50 milligrams.

Police said a pharmacy representative reported that on each occasion, someone had called Rite Aid purporting to be from Mercy Clinic Family Medicine in Holister, Missouri on behalf of Dr. William Zeller ordering a prescription for Kari Stevens.

Police were notified and arrested McPheron when she came to pick up the prescription on October 24, 2014.

According to Police, Dr. Zeller was contacted and denied having a patient by the name Kari Stevens and said that the clinic in Missouri had not phoned in any prescriptions.

Community Rallies in Support of DeKalb Prevention Coalition

November 25, 2015
Norene Puckett
Community Rallies in Support of DeKalb Prevention Coalition

The DeKalb Prevention Coalition and Community Advisory Board hosted preachers, pastors, church and community members on Tuesday, November 10 in an effort to partner with the faith-based communities to build a recovery network comprised of compassionate and concerned citizens. The event was a huge success with over 50 people in attendance. The State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) has launched an exciting, new mission partnering with faith-based communities across the state. The churches in DeKalb who get involved with this initiative will be reaching out to those struggling with addictions and connecting them to vital substance abuse services.

The featured speaker was Monty Burks, who is the Director of Faith Based Initiative for TDMHSAS. During the meeting he said, “There are more than 11,000 churches and faith-based organizations in the State of Tennessee. Imagine if we all came together in the fight against addiction? People recover from addiction every day. Families are rebuilt. Lives are restored. But recovery rarely happens in a vacuum. It takes a community willing to stand beside the person, to support them, and to help lead them out of the darkness.”

The DeKalb Prevention Coalition is planning a workshop in January, with a date to be announced, to host the interested churches to help fill out the application to become a certified recovery church as well as to answer any questions or overcome any obstacles your church may be facing in this process. If your church or faith based organization is interested in becoming a Certified Recovery Church please go to http://www.tn.gov/behavioral-health/topic/Faith-Based-Initiatives and fill out the questionnaire or you can contact Norene Puckett at 615-215-8690 or norene.drugcourt@gmail.com.

Cookeville Boat Dock Taxes Reduced By Judge

November 25, 2015
Dwayne Page
Judge Amy Hollars
County Tax Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr.

A judge has again found that Cookeville Boat Dock must pay delinquent DeKalb County property taxes, but in a new ruling Judge Amy Hollars has granted a motion by the marina's attorney to bar the county from collecting more than 10 years in back taxes with 10 years being a statue of limitations. That ruling saves the boat dock nearly $60,000. However, the judge ruled against the boat dock when it came to the amount of interest the county could charge on the back taxes.

Judge Hollars announced her decision via a telephone conference call Tuesday morning with Vester Parsley, Jr., the county's tax attorney, and Jon Jones of Cookeville, the lawyer representing Cookeville Boat Dock. Clerk and Master Deborah Malone and County Mayor Tim Stribling were also present.

The boat dock owners have refused to pay their taxes since 1998. As of Tuesday, the total amount owed comes to $204,504 including taxes, interest, penalty, court costs, and attorneys fees. As a result of the judge's decision, the boat dock will NOW owe the county only $136,051 for the delinquency from 2004-2013

Jones initially argued for the marina that Tennessee law violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against a lessee of the United States in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee. It was argued since the boat dock pays fees to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which are used, in part, to pay DeKalb County a sum of "in lieu of taxes,"that having to pay property tax to the county was, in effect, double taxation.

In April Judge Hollers ruled that the boat dock's challenge to the tax was invalid in part because 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."

The attorney for the marina later filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider her ruling. Jones argued that the county cannot collect taxes beyond 10 years; that the judge's ruling on the "Supremacy Clause" of the U.S. Constitution was incorrect; and that the amount of interest the county wants to charge is above what is allowed by law.

In the motion for "additional consideration of issues," attorney Jones pointed to a Tennessee law that states, "All taxes assessed against real property and personal property in this state shall be barred, discharged and uncollectible after the lapse of 10 years from April 1 of the year following the year in which such taxes become delinquent, whether suit be brought within that time or not to collect the taxes."

Judge Hollars sustained Jones' motion on the 10 year bar based on TCA 67-5-1806. " Here it's not an action for recovery. There has been no payment under protest or otherwise. We do not have an action that is or has been before an administrative appeal before the state board of equalization so I think I have to rule that the 10 year bar does apply here so Cookeville Boat Dock will be relieved of several years of their taxes," said Judge Hollars.

As for the interest issue, the defendants argued "prejudgment interest may be awarded by courts or juries in accordance with the principles of equity at any rate not in excess of a maximum effective rate of 10 percent per annum."

The motion stated that the county "had not provided a breakdown regarding its proposed computation of prejudgment interest. However, defendant (boat dock) expected the county would claim prejudgment interest at a rate of 18 percent per annum. This exceeded the maximum rate of prejudgment interest this court is allowed to award."

The defendant went on to suggest the interest rate "should correspond with the interest rate DeKalb County has paid during the relevant time."

Showing documentation the county borrowed money or issued bonds in recent years at rates varying from one to 5.5 percent, the defendant claimed "these rates should provide the upper limit on an award of prejudgment interest that the court may make in this case."

While Judge Hollars granted the motion to bar the county from collecting delinquent taxes beyond 10 years, she denied the request to prohibit the county from assessing the current rate of interest and penalty. "Because this is a case involving the taxes, I think the more specific statute TCA 67-5-2010 controls as to the amount of interest that is applicable. That calls for interest of one percent which shall be added on March 1 following the tax due date. That defines the specific rule with regard to the amount of interest applicable to these taxes. There is an additional one half of one percent that goes into that figuring and there is an additional penalty when suit is filed to enforce a tax lien that is set forth in TCA 67-5-2410," Judge Hollars said.

She also affirmed her earlier ruling on the constitutionality of the tax. "I'm not going to disturb my previous ruling with regard to Article II Section 28 and the asserted constitutionality of it," Judge Hollars concluded.

Mary Ellen Knack of Nashville has been representing the state on behalf of the Tennessee Attorney General's Office in this case as to the
constitutionality of issues being challenged by the marina. Knack was not present for the telephone conference.

Both sides have thirty days to file an appeal from the date the court's order is entered.

STEMmobile Coming to DeKalb Middle School

November 25, 2015
Dwayne Page
STEMmobile Coming to DeKalb Middle School

Getting children excited about science, technology, engineering and math, STEM subjects can be a challenge for any teacher. Yet some of the teachers at DeKalb Middle School will have a new tool to ignite their students’ interest, the STEMmobile.

The STEMmobile is a mobile learning laboratory that provides a unique, on-site educational experience for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school children in 20 Tennessee counties, including DeKalb County. This mobile classroom brings much needed technology to the doorsteps of schools, and the students have access to state-of-the-art equipment to help them to learn about STEM topics in creative and hands-on ways.

DeKalb Middle School will be hosting a community/parent night on Thursday, December 3 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

The STEMmobile is a one-of-a-kind product of the Oakley STEM Center and Tennessee Tech University as part of the Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative, a grant project funded by Tennessee’s First to the Top program. UCRSI is part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, whose mission is to enhance student participation and interest in STEM subjects.

The UCRSI project includes STEM platform schools in Putnam County and a hub school selected by each participating county or school district to become more focused on STEM learning. UCRSI also has a STEM Hub, the Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. The
UCRSI Hub represents a partnership between the 21 school districts, three post-secondary institutions and 11 STEM-related or innovative businesses and non-profit organizations committed to supporting STEM education.

UCRSI’s goal is to tackle the unique challenges of enhancing STEM education for younger learners in mostly rural areas, and to create innovative and collaborative solutions to these challenges. Some might say doing that requires thinking outside the box. In this case, UCRSI decided the perfect solution was to re-envision what a box could do.

Housed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer with self-contained power, the STEMmobile has its own heating and cooling system, a satellite uplink for Internet connectivity and workstations to accommodate about 24 students at a time. The classroom on wheels is stocked with equipment from the Oakley STEM Center and includes equipment and supplies for activities for each grade level.

The Oakley STEM Center also has a lending library of STEM instructional materials to partially equip the STEMmobile and classroom kits for STEM subjects are on board, ready to go.

The STEMmobile is designed to help students learn more about three core STEM themes particularly relevant to rural students: water, with a focus on its importance, usage and conservation; energy, which highlights how power is generated, ways to lower consumption, green energy and long-term energy needs; and my food, my body, my health, which helps students learn more about agriculture, health, nutrition and physical fitness.

Science teachers from DeKalb Middle Middle School, Nancy Cowan. Justin Poteete, Cassandra Binkley and Suzette Barnes were recently trained to use the learning studio at the Oakley STEM Center so they are ready to make the most of the STEMmobile.

For more information about the STEMmobile, please go to www.ucrsi.org or call the TTU Oakley STEM Center at 931-372-6573

DeKalb Middle Students Take a Tour of the Stars

November 24, 2015
Dwayne Page
Motlow College associate professor and STEM program director Billy Hix set up his 24-foot inflatable planetarium dome Tuesday to give DeKalb Middle School students a tour of the stars.

DeKalb Middle School students peered into the night sky over Smithville Tuesday, despite being inside the old DeKalb Middle School gymnasium in the middle of the day.

Motlow College associate professor and STEM program director Billy Hix set up his 24-foot inflatable planetarium dome center court to give students a tour of the stars.

When students entered the planetarium, the experience simulated moving through the solar system and the universe. Hix controlled the projection inside the dome using special software on a laptop. The software simulates different dates, planets and solar systems.

Inside the dome, students immediately identified the constellations as they appear this time of year.

Superimposing images of Greek mythology over the constellations, Hix then introduced students to the most prominent stars. "Usually on a typical planetarium show, I will address some of the outstanding constellations for the current date and a lesson regarding the Greek stories that helped name the constellations."

As part of his tour of the night sky Tuesday, Hix zoomed in on Jupiter and its moon, Io. The atmospheric storm known as Jupiter’s great red spot, Hix said, is three times the size of Earth and Jupiter’s moon, Io, is the most geologically active object in the Solar System with more than 400 active volcanoes.

Further zooming in on the pitted face of Io, Hix explained that Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has such an immense gravitational pull on Io that “it’s pulling its guts out.”

“Soon,” Hix said, Io will fall apart and form rings around Jupiter. However, “soon” is a relative term to astronomers. “Anything less than a million years,” he explained.

Hix also told the students how that our earth's sun is dying and Saturn's rings are disappearing.

Hix made his first STEM presentation in 1986 and added the planetarium about three years ago. Since that time, his nationally recognized program has traveled more than 5,000 miles to bring astronomy to more than 12,000 students in more than 140 schools.

“We target schools that are challenged by their students’ social economic makeup,” said Hix. “Due to that, I am honored to be the first person that takes them on a visit to a real planetarium and it is up to me to open their eyes to a much larger universe.”

“The planetarium is used to hopefully stimulate an excitement about learning in general, and even more so with regards to science or STEM areas.”

Hix, who has worked as an astronomer for NASA, said his passion for visiting schools to teach about space began back when he was in elementary school. "When I was in the fifth grade, we were about to land on the moon, and I was nuts about learning about space, stars, and the space program," said Hix. "At my little four-room country school no one else was interested and I wanted someone to speak to us about space."

The lack of space education in his youth drove Hix to reach out to others. "Well, my teacher told me that we were going to have a speaker, but the speaker was from CO-OP and he talked about fertilizer," added Hix. "I told my mom that I was going to visit schools and find people just like me, and we were going to learn about the space program."

Inspired by his experience as a student who was raised in a rural area, Hix desires to teach students who might not otherwise have any exposure to astronomy.

"I work hard to make sure to visit schools that are rural and higher poverty, but I will visit any school as I see myself as a hungry-to-learn little lad when I visit," he continued. "It is a passion that I have to share science and the night sky with our youth."

In February 2014, the American Astronomical Society awarded Hix with their Master Outreach Award, an award that is given to an individual who has made a difference in the understanding of astronomy science across the nation.

Lomas Indicted in Rash of Forgeries

November 24, 2015
Dwayne Page
Enrique (Ricky) Adelaido Lomas

A Smithville man has been indicted by the Grand Jury in a rash of recent forgeries for passing stolen checks to an individual and at three local businesses.

22 year old Enrique (Ricky) Adelaido Lomas of Bright Hill Road, Smithville was indicted Monday for eight counts of forgery and one count of theft of property under $500. The cases were investigated by a Sheriff's Department Detective.

He will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 7.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, July 6 Lomas stole a check from the glove box of a truck. He was charged with theft in that case.

Lomas then passed forged checks to another individual for $150 on Tuesday, July 7 and for $130 on Friday, July 10. In at least one case, white out was used as Lomas changed the amount of the check.

Meanwhile on Thursday, July 16, Lomas passed forged checks in amounts of $120 and $80 at Kwik N Ezy.

Five days later on Tuesday, July 21 Lomas passed forged checks in amounts of $100 & $65 to Discotienda Latina, $100 to Kwik N Ezy and $100 to Mercadito Chabelita

In some cases the checks were flagged as stolen and returned to the merchants.

Thirty Seven Indicted by Grand Jury

November 24, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Grand Jury indicted 37 people Monday including three who were named in sealed indictments.

Arraignment for each defendant is set for Monday, December 7 at 9:00 a.m. in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Those indicted and their charges are as follows:

Joshua Lynn Batey: driving on a suspended license and failure to maintain lane, theft under $500 and public intoxication

David Lee Bean: driving under the influence (2nd offense), financial responsibility, failure to maintain lane

Melissa Faye Bean: driving under the influence (2nd offense)

Tommye Lou Bell: driving under the influence and financial responsibility

Shanna Bogle: theft over $1,000

Gary Jason Britt: driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, and failure to maintain lane

B.J. Lee Brown: driving on a suspended license, financial responsibility, child restraint, and speeding

Rebecca Dawn Duffield and James Anthony Skinner: theft over $1,000 and vandalism under $500

Therese Kae Herriott: driving under the influence

Rita Gail Houk: theft under $500 and vandalism under $500

Terry Allen King: possession of a schedule II over 0.5 grams for sale

Amail John Land: burglary, theft under $500, and vandalism under $500

Terra Elaine Locklear and Jessie Eugene Thomas: aggravated burglary, theft over $1,000, and vandalism under $500

Enrique Adelaido Lomas: forgery (8 counts) and theft under $500

Brandi Lynn McPheron: obtaining prescription by fraud (6 counts)

Christopher Brian Pack: driving on a revoked license

Christopher Neil Patterson: violation of restraining order

Kimberly Patterson: possession of schedule II for resale

Gregory Wayne Roberts: driving under the influence (2nd offense) and driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Tonya Silcox: driving under the influence and possession of paraphernalia

Genevieve Sonnier: driving under the influence, evading arrest, possession of a schedule IV, and failure to maintain lane

Rickey Clifton Stanley: driving under the influence and seatbelt violation

James Freddie Summers: theft under $500

Ramiro Torres: public intoxication

James Grady Warner, Jr.: aggravated assault and domestic assault

John Wayne Warner: driving under the influence (2nd offense), driving on a revoked license (3rd offense), financial responsibility, and violation of implied consent

Dra Dewayne Watkins: auto burglary (3 counts), theft over $1,000, theft over $500, and theft under $500

Destry Wiggins: indecent exposure

Paul Woodcock, Jr. : auto burglary and theft under $500 (3 counts)

Craig Alan Yarbrough: theft over $1,000 and theft under $500

Michelle Renee Yarbro: driving under the influence, possession of a schedule II and IV for resale, possession of schedule II, and possession of paraphernalia

William Stephen Zaderiko: false report and theft over $1,000

DeKalb Democratic Party to Host Holiday Event

November 24, 2015
Dwayne Page
Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean

The DeKalb County Democratic Party will host its Annual Holiday Event on Thursday, December 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County High School cafeteria.

Former Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville will be the Keynote speaker. Lenda Sherrell, Hillary for America Tennessee Coordinator, will introduce Mayor Dean. Music for the evening will be provided by Tom Duggin performing Elvis’ Christmas Classics.

Join us for food, fun and music. If you have a special holiday food, feel free to share. If you have any questions, call Jordan Wilkins at 615-464-5440.


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