Local News Articles

Weekend Fire Leaves Mother and Son Homeless

February 19, 2018
Dwayne Page
Weekend Fire Leaves Mother and Son Homeless (Kevin Adcock Photo)

A mother and son were left homeless after a fire destroyed their residence Saturday night at 851 Cooper Street.

According to Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker, Carolyn Hale and her son were home when a grease fire in the kitchen got out of control and spread through the residence. After trying unsuccessfully to put out the blaze, Hale and her son escaped unharmed.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department quickly responded but the home was almost fully involved in flames upon their arrival.

Chief Parker said the home was gutted and the family lost all their belongings including an automobile which was parked near the residence.

American Red Cross volunteers arrived to provide assistance to the family.

Gubernatorial Candidate Karl Dean Talks Public Education, Health Care, and Economic Development (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 19, 2018
Dwayne Page
Gubernatorial Candidate Karl Dean
Former Governor and U.S. Senate Candidate Phil Bredesen, DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins, Former Nashville Mayor and Gubernatorial Candidate Karl Dean, and Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean would like to be the next Governor of Tennessee.

Dean spoke at the DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting Saturday at the high school.

During his remarks, Dean said he has three areas he is focusing on in his campaign: public education, health care and economic development.

"This is a great state. We have so much going for us. We are a state that has sound fiscal management. We are a state that has low taxes. We have a good business climate. We have a lot of things that make us tremendously appealing and I really believe that Tennessee’s best days are still ahead of us but we have to take care of the basics and that is health care, economic opportunity, and public education,” said Dean.

“The reason I am running for Governor is I am convinced that the people of Tennessee want a pragmatic, common sense, get it done Governor who is not an Idealog but someone who is going to focus on the issues that really matter to people and get the job done in a way that moves our state forward,” he continued.

“I believe public education is the overriding issue for the state. It is the issue that will move our state forward, improve the lives of our young people, strengthen our economy, and make us a safer and healthier state. We need to be a state that produces more college graduates but at the same time we have to recognize that we need to be a state for the young people who choose not to get a four year degree but have the opportunity to get the vocational, technical, and apprenticeship training where they can get a job and raise a family. We need to pay teachers more. We need to make sure that all parts of the state can pay their teachers more so they can keep them. We need to be able to attract the best teachers and keep the best,” he said.

“I am a big believer in having a strong private sector that is creating jobs and opportunities where people can get ahead and live the American dream. When you have a strong economy and private sector, you are creating the tax base that allows you to do the investments you need to make in education, health care and other areas that makes Tennessee have a higher quality of life. Part of that is doing rural broadband and having great schools, but we have to take care of the communities that have not had the same economic success as other parts of the state. We can’t leave anyone behind,” Dean said.

“Health care is the issue you hear the most about around the state. The worst mistake our state legislature has made in decades was the decision not to do the Medicaid expansion. By doing Medicaid expansion our state would have received over the past few years somewhere between $3.5 and $4 billion dollars. That’s money that would have given access to health care to people of low incomes, disabilities, pre existing conditions, changing jobs, and people who are aging. We should have done the Medicaid expansion and done what is right for the people. Around this state in rural areas largely, ten of our hospitals have closed. We are second only to Texas in the number of hospital closures. When your hospital closes and you are a small town its that much harder to keep people in your community, to attract new people, and to attract new business. The next Governor has to be a champion for this state to get its fair share of Medicaid dollars to make sure our people have access to health care and that we are a viable state in terms of attracting people and keeping people,” said Dean.

Having been mayor of Nashville, Dean said he can bring that executive experience to the office of Governor in managing state government just as the last two Governors have done, Bill Haslam and Phil Bredesen .

“When you run for mayor, you don’t run in a partisan race. You have to get Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to support you. And when you do the job, you don’t do it along party lines. You do it based on what’s best for people. That’s what we did as Mayor of Nashville,” said Dean.

A Scout is Reverent

February 19, 2018
Bill Conger
Boy and Cub Scouts with Troop 347 in Smithville observed Scout Sunday to mark the founding of Scouts in the United States.

Scouts demonstrated the reverent part of the 12-point Scout Law today (Feb. 18) at First United Methodist Church. Boy and Cub Scouts with Troop 347 in Smithville observed Scout Sunday to mark the founding of Scouts in the United States.

Decked out in their formal Class A uniforms, Scouts helped with the worship service. Led by Darren Waggoner, the Scouts marched in with the United States flag for the Presentation of Colors. Senior Patrol Leader Jacob Williams asked scouts to join him in reciting the Scout Promise/Oath/Law. Cody Robinson read the day’s scripture, and Jonathan Birmingham conducted the children’s message. Thomas Webb, who passed his Board of Review for Eagle Scout on Saturday, was the Liturgist.

Also joining in the worship service were Kaleb and Jaden Wildes, Zachary Cantrell, Gavin Conger, Ben Waggoner, and Malachi VanDeVeer.

Four Nabbed in County Road Sign Thefts

February 18, 2018
Dwayne Page
Austin Blake Cantrell
Tristen Lee Vanatta

Two adults and two minors accused of stealing county road signs as well as a sign from a local business will soon be making a court appearance.

18 year old Austin Blake Cantrell of Carter Drive, Smithville and 18 year old Tristen Lee Vanatta of Jacobs Pillar Road are each charged with two counts of theft. Bond for each is $3,000 and they will make a court appearance on March 1. Juvenile petitions have also been taken against two minors, both age 17, accusing them of committing a delinquent act. The minors will appear in Juvenile Court.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that in November Cantrell, Vanatta, and the two minors allegedly took several county road signs and a business sign with a combined total value of $700. They admitted to having taken the signs.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff’s Department Detective.

Gordonsville Woman Charged with Theft and Credit Card Fraud

February 18, 2018
Dwayne Page
Robin Lynn Woodard

A Gordonsville woman is charged with using someone else’s debit/credit card to make purchases in October and for stealing items from another person’s home in January.

32 year old Robin Lynn Woodard of Hogan Road, Gordonsville is under a $10,000 bond and her court date is March 1. She is charged with theft of property and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on October 10, 12, and 13, 2017 Woodard allegedly used a debit/credit card for the following purposes: On October 10 for a bill payment of $42.95 and Straight Talk air time for $63. 35; On October 12 for Globaltel in the amount of $45.99, PayPal for $150, a Pre-paid plus for $450, and Total Wireless for $10; and October 13 for VendEngine on three occasions in amounts of $98.62, $90.23, and $25.00, Grumby’s Bail Bonding for $100, Google Pinger for $9.99, and L2GTN Safety for $424.

Meanwhile on January 9, 2018 Woodard allegedly took from the residence of another victim a 30.30 rifle, an M1 30 Carbine Rifle, Cross Bow, 19 inch flat screen TV, Jewelry, digital camera, quilts, sheets, clothes and a wii console. The total value of the stolen items is $4,430.

Store Employee Charged with Theft of Cash from Register

February 18, 2018
Dwayne Page
Robert Wayne Davidson, Jr.

An employee of a convenience market on Highway 70 west has been charged with three counts of theft for allegedly taking money from the store cash register.

23 year old Robert Wayne Davidson, Jr. of Charity Lane, Smithville is under a $10,500 bond and his court date is March 1.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Davidson allegedly took cash in the following amounts from the register on these dates while working at the store: $327.24 on February 7; $180.97 on February 9; and $416.42 on February 11.

The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

U.S. Senate Candidate Phil Bredesen Speaks at Democratic Party Mass Meeting (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 18, 2018
Dwayne Page
Former Governor and Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Phil Bredesen speaks with retired teacher Sherry Bush at Saturday's DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting at DCHS

Former Governor and Democratic candidate for the United States Senate Phil Bredesen spoke at the DeKalb County Democratic Mass Meeting Saturday in Smithville.

Bredesen said he believes his experience as governor can draw leaders from both sides of the political aisle to work together in Washington.

“What I found in doing some research and in talking with people around the state is that people want to get beyond this standing on opposite sides of the room and shouting at each other and find some ways to move the ball down the field. There are many issues out there. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can find ways to find compromises to get things done. Whether you are a super strong conservative and a strong supporter of the President or a super liberal on the other side of the spectrum or all in between, it seems to be universal. People are really hungry for that (compromise) and I can tell you in Washington they are not getting it,” said Bredesen.

“When I was Governor I worked really hard to try and make sure things we accomplished had some people from both sides on it to get good majorities out of the Democrats and good majorities out of the Republicans to support the important legislation because then I think it has staying power. That’s one of the things I want to take to Washington,” he continued.

Bredesen said he can help bring solutions on issues including the health care debate.

“Health care is such a huge issue. Everywhere I go in Tennessee it tops the list of things people want to talk about when they identify as problems. There are a lot of practical things that can be done without getting off into all the ideological arguments. It just takes a willingness to work together to make some of those things happen and that’s what I would very much like to bring, said Bredesen.

The former governor said he believes his entry into the race will help Democrats up and down the ballot.

“We have good tickets from top to bottom. One of the advantages of a Senate race like this is there will be a lot of money spent from the outside on voter turnout. That will help me and it will help people up and down the ticket to have that happen. That is one of the benefits I think I can help bring to the entire Democratic ticket as it goes through the months ahead,” said Bredesen.

Lady Tigers to Play for Third Place in District Tournament

February 18, 2018
Dwayne Page

The DCHS Lady Tigers fell to the Upperman Lady Bees 64 to 22 in the semi-finals of the District 8 AA basketball tournament at Cookeville Saturday night.

Upperman, the top seed in the tournament, is number one in the state and the defending state champion. The Lady Bees’ record is 29-0.

Upperman led 18 to 9 after the 1st period, 34 to 17 at halftime, and 56 to 19 after the 3rd period before going on to win 64 to 22.

For DeKalb County, Mya Ruch scored 7, Lydia Brown 6, Emme Colwell 4, Megan Cantrell 3, and Kenzie France with 2 points.

The Lady Tigers drop into the consolation game of the tournament and will play for third place Monday night at 6:00 p.m. against Livingston Academy, who lost to Macon County 67 to 36 Saturday in the semi-finals. Macon County will meet Upperman for the District Tournament Championship Monday night at 7:30 p.m.

In the boy’s tournament, Livingston Academy defeated Watertown 56 to 40 while Upperman topped Smith County 77 to 57 in the semi-finals on Saturday. Watertown will meet Smith County in the boys consolation game Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. followed by the championship game between Upperman and Livingston Academy at 7:30 p.m.

Democratic Candidates Make Announcements During Mass Meeting

February 17, 2018
Dwayne Page
Candidates for County Offices made their announcements Saturday at the DeKalb County Democratic Mass Meeting: County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, Nicole Wright and Mark Milam each for Circuit Court Clerk, County Mayor Tim Stribling and County Mayor candidates Bradley Hendrix and Mike Foster, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, Michael Agee for Sheriff, and Jimmy Sprague for Road Supervisor.
Democratic County Commission candidates Nora Harvey in the second district; Incumbent Joe Johnson in the second district, Incumbent Jack Barton in the third district, Bobby Johnson in the third district, Dr. Scott Little in the fourth district, Incumbent Larry Summers in the seventh district, and Dennis Slager in the first district. Other candidates absent for the photo
Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, who is retiring from office after her term expires August 31,  was presented a special gift during the DeKalb Democratic Party Mass Meeting Saturday. The presentation of a clock was made by Circuit Court Clerk candidate Nicole Wright, an employee of the office, and Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins. Pack's grandson Brayden Summers also gave her a bouquet of roses
Democratic Candidate Mary Alice Carfi for State Senate in District 17
State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, Democratic Candidate for Governor
Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Democratic Candidate for Governor
Former Governor Phil Bredesen, Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate
Mary Mancini, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.
DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins with Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss

Candidates for various public offices announced their intentions during the DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting Saturday at the high school cafeteria.

The May 1st DeKalb County Democratic Primary will feature two contested races for county offices including County Mayor and Circuit Court Clerk.

The candidates for County Mayor are first term incumbent Tim Stribling, former three term County Mayor Mike Foster, and Incumbent 3rd district County Commissioner Bradley Hendrix. The winner of the Primary will face Independent candidate Randy Paris in the August County General Election.

Incumbent Democratic Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack is not seeking re-election to a fifth term this year. The Democratic candidates for the office are Nicole Wright, an employee of the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, and Incumbent fifth district constable Mark Milam. The winner of the Primary will face Republican Susan Martin in the County General Election.

Ms. Pack was presented a special gift during the mass meeting. The presentation of a clock was made by Nicole Wright and Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins. Pack's grandson Brayden Summers also gave her a bouquet of roses.

Incumbent County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss and Incumbent Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen will be unopposed in the Democratic Primary and in the County General Election on August 2nd. Poss will be re-elected to his second term. McMillen is on the way to winning his ninth term.

Also running unopposed in the Democratic Primary are Michael Agee for Sheriff and Jimmy Sprague for Road Supervisor. Both will face opposition in August. Agee will be trying to unseat three term Republican Incumbent Sheriff Patrick Ray. Sprague will face opposition from Republican Danny Hale. Both Sprague and Hale are hoping to succeed Incumbent Republican Road Supervisor Wallace (Butch) Agee who is not seeking a second term.

There is no Democratic or Independent candidate for Trustee. Republican Incumbent Sean Driver will be elected to his fourth term in August.

Democratic County Commission candidates making their intentions known in person Saturday included: Dennis Slager in the 1st district; Nora Harvey and Incumbent Joe Johnson in the 2nd district; Bobby Johnson and Incumbent Jack Barton in the 3rd district; Dr. Scott Little in the 4th district; Lloyd Emmons in the 5th district; and Incumbent Larry Summers in the 7th district.

Democratic County Commission candidates who were unable to attend the meeting Saturday but had others making announcements for them were Incumbent Julie Young in the 1st district, Myron Rhody in the 2nd district, Jenny Trapp in the 3rd district, Janice Fish-Stewart in the 4th district, Incumbent Anita Puckett in the 5th district, Incumbent Betty Atnip in the 6th district, and Beth Pafford and Incumbent Kevin Robinson in the 7th district.

Other Democratic County Commission candidates absent Saturday were Bobby Taylor and Incumbents Jonathan Norris and Wayne Cantrell in the 4th district and Incumbent Jeff Barnes in the 6th district.

A Republican candidate will also be on the ballot for the county commission in each of the seven districts on August 2.

Although the Smithville Municipal Election is non-partisan, Incumbent Mayor Jimmy Poss announced his bid for re-election in August and Incumbent Alderman Gayla Hendrix, who was unable to attend the meeting, made her re-election plans known through a spokesperson.

Prior to the local candidates, Mary Mancini, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, delivered the keynote address to the party faithful followed by speeches from former Governor Phil Bredesen, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, and State Senate candidate Mary Alice Carfi.

Bredesen is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in August hoping to capture the seat in November now held by Republican Senator Bob Corker. Dean and Fitzhugh are in the hunt for the Democratic nomination for Governor in August hoping to succeed Republican Governor Bill Haslam in November.

Carfi, who narrowly lost to Republican Mark Pody in the December special election for the State Senate in District 17 is seeking the Democratic nomination in August looking to unseat Pody in November.

More on their remarks in later stories.

DeKalb Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.9%

February 17, 2018
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County’s unemployment rate for December 2017 dropped to 3.9%, down from 4.2% in November and below the 5.9% rate in December 2016.

The DeKalb Labor Force for December was 7,660. A total of 7,360 were employed and 300 were without work.

Jobless rates for December among the fourteen counties in the Upper Cumberland region were as follows from highest to lowest:
Clay: 4.8%
Jackson: 4.1%
Cumberland: 4.1%
DeKalb: 3.9%
Fentress: 3.9%
Van Buren: 3.7%
Pickett: 3.7%
Overton: 3.3%
White: 3.3%
Warren: 3.2%
Putnam: 2.9%
Cannon: 2.8%
Smith: 2.8%
Macon: 2.6%

County unemployment rates released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) show unemployment remained below 5 percent in an overwhelming majority of the state’s 95 counties during December 2017. The latest statistics also highlight how each county had significantly lower unemployment compared to one year ago.

Eighty-nine counties experienced unemployment under 5 percent during the last month of the year. Seventy-seven counties saw their rates decrease, including Williamson County, which had Tennessee’s lowest rate at 2.2 percent, a 0.3 percent drop from the previous month. Davidson County’s rate of 2.3 percent was the second lowest in state and represents a 0.2 percent decrease from November.

The list of top ten counties with the lowest unemployment also includes Rutherford, Cheatham, Wilson and Knox Counties, which each saw a decrease of 0.3 percent in December. The rates in Sumner and Moore Counties went down by 0.2 percent last month, while Macon and Bradley Counties moved into the top ten.

“It’s great the counties with the lowest rates all experienced a decrease in unemployment during December,” TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips said. “But Tennessee’s economic outlook is even more encouraging when you compare the year-to-year figures for every county in the state.”

Lake County’s current rate of 4.9 percent represents a staggering 5.2 percent decrease from its December 2016 rate of 10.1 percent. In east Tennessee, Scott County’s rate was down 4.6 percent and Cocke County’s unemployment dropped by 3.4 percent from December 2016 to December 2017. Every county in Tennessee had significantly lower unemployment compared to December of last year.

Only seven counties saw their rates slightly increase during December, including Rhea County, which had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent. Even with a 0.2 percent increase, Rhea County’s jobless number for December 2017 was down 3.3 percent from its December 2016 rate of 8.9 percent.

“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress over the last 12 months,” Commissioner Phillips noted. “But we are constantly working to make sure every Tennessean has the opportunity to earn a good wage, at a good job, so they can provide for their families.”

Tennessee’s statewide unemployment rate is the lowest among its neighboring states in the southeast and it is the 8th lowest in the entire nation.

The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while the county 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 an economic times series.


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