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County Clerk's Office to be Closed Thursday, March 17 for Training

March 10, 2016
Dwayne Page
County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss

The DeKalb County Clerk's Office will be closed on Thursday, March 17 for training regarding new procedures required by the state for renewal of business licenses.

According to County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss the Tennessee Department of Revenue changed the procedure of renewing most business license in 2014 requiring individuals to complete online transactions themselves. The transition created multiple questions from customers and Clerks of Municipalities and Counties. Prior to implementing these changes and up until now the Department of Revenue has lacked formal classroom training and expectations for Clerks of Municipalities and Counties. Earlier this year Revenue announced two separate training dates, one for Clerks of Municipalities and another for County Clerks. The Department of Revenue has indicated the importance of our attendance and participation on these dates as no other training will be offered. To become more knowledgeable and familiar with Revenue’s expectations our staff we will be attending this training. Seeking to better serve our customers with business license issues our office will be closed Thursday March 17, 2016," said Poss.

Man Escapes Injury in Car Crash at Bridge

March 10, 2016
Dwayne Page
Man Escapes Injury in Car Crash at Bridge

Smithville Police investigated a one car crash Wednesday night on Broad Street underneath the College Street (Veteran's Memorial) bridge.

Richard Nokes was driving west in a Chevy Camaro when he lost control and crashed into a guardrail at a bridge support. Nokes was not seriously injured and did not have to be transported to the hospital by EMS.

In addition to Smithville Police and DeKalb EMS members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

TDOT to Hold Ribbon Cutting for Sligo Bridge Project in DeKalb County

March 9, 2016
Dwayne Page
TDOT to Hold Ribbon Cutting for Sligo Bridge Project in DeKalb County

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer will join state and local officials to celebrate the official completion of the Sligo Bridge project in DeKalb County on Friday, March 11.

The event will take place in the paved parking lot near the west end of the bridge.

In addition to TDOT Commissioner Schroer, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling, and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss will be present for the ribbon cutting at 2:30 p.m.

County Firefighters Graduate from Academy

March 9, 2016
Pictured from L to R: front: Justin Bass, Robert Sartin, Jonathon Morris, middle: Asst. Chief/Training Officer David Agee, Dallas Hulling, Andrew Cox, Friday Shinabery; back: Caleb Haggard, Gage Brown, Aaron Haggard.

Nine members of the DeKalb County Fire Department graduated from the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Training Academy's Live Burn class Saturday and Sunday, March 5 & 6.

Assistant Chief/Training Officer David Agee says this 16-hour course requires students to demonstrate skills needed to extinguish a passenger vehicle fire attack, exterior Class A fire attack, interior structure fire attack, and ground cover fire attack. "We are extremely proud of these recent graduates. Today, our department stands better prepared to respond to emergencies because of the high standards for training we set for our firefighters," said Asst. Chief Agee.

Pictured from L to R: front: Justin Bass, Robert Sartin, Jonathon Morris, middle: Asst. Chief/Training Officer David Agee, Dallas Hulling, Andrew Cox, Friday Shinabery; back: Caleb Haggard, Gage Brown, Aaron Haggard.

Party Leaders Concerned About Theft of Political Signs

March 9, 2016
Dwayne Page
Jordan Wilkins
Mingy Bryant

Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much but when it comes to the theft of political signs they are on the same page. It must be stopped.

In a joint statement issued to the local media the chairpersons of both parties, Democrat Jordan Wilkins and Republican Mingy Bryant are asking that the thefts stop and for the prosecution of those caught taking the signs.

Wilkins told WJLE that the large "Hillary Clinton" and "Donald Trump" signs are being stolen along with others.

“We, Jordan Wilkins, Chairperson of the DeKalb County Democratic Party, and Mingy Bryant, Chairperson of the DeKalb County Republican Party, ask that people who are stealing candidates’ signs stop doing so. It is not only a great expense to the candidates and their campaigns, it is a violation of federal law. Anyone removing publicly displayed campaign materials will be prosecuted," the statement said.

Any information regarding the removal and destruction of candidates’ signs, should be reported to the Smithville Police Department, Alexandria Police Department, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, or the Tennessee Highway Patrol office.

Orlando Denied Parole (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

March 8, 2016
Dwayne Page
Christopher Nicholas Orlando
Josh Murphy
Ricky and Melissa Murphy (uncle and aunt of Josh Murphy) and District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway speak at Orlando Parole Hearing Tuesday

43 year old Christopher Nicholas Orlando has heard from members of the Tennessee Board of Parole and the news for him isn't good. He will have to spend at least two more years in prison.

Orlando is serving a 35 year prison sentence for facilitation of first degree murder in the death of 20 year old Joshua Murphy. He is incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee. A previous conviction against Orlando for possession of cocaine ran consecutively with the murder case and expired in 2009. Orlando's sentence in the murder case is due to expire in 2040. He has served a total of 13 years and 3 months.

During a parole hearing Tuesday morning, March 8 three members of the board, Tim Gobble, Zane Duncan, and Roberta Nevil Kustoff voted by video conference to deny parole for Orlando due to the seriousness of the offense and to reconsider the case in March, 2018. Three affirmative votes of the seven member parole board were all that was required to make the decision final in this case.

Orlando appeared by video conference from the prison where he is incarcerated. The three parole board members were at other locations. And District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway and the victim's uncle and aunt Ricky and Melissa Murphy were at the Cookeville office of Probation and Parole where they spoke in opposition to Orlando's release.

Murphy was shot and killed in a secluded area in the Laurel Hill Community at the end of Old Eagle Creek Road on Sunday, September 15, 2002. His body was discovered three days later. Officials said Orlando and a co-defendant, Melvin Turnbill suspected Murphy of stealing methamphetamine. Orlando was tried and convicted of the crime by a DeKalb County Criminal Court Jury in April, 2004.

Turnbill entered a guilty plea to facilitation to first-degree murder in September, 2003 and was given a 25-year sentence. Turnbill was granted parole in March 2015 after serving more than twelve years but he has run afoul of the law again and may be headed back to prison. Turnbill is currently incarcerated in Putnam County on burglary and DUI charges.

Orlando said he was sorry for the death of Murphy during the parole hearing Tuesday and for the first time took responsibility for being the triggerman in the shooting. In the last parole hearing three years ago Orlando blamed Turnbill for actually committing the murder. "I take full responsibility for my actions sir. I was involved and it was a very tragic thing that happened and there's not a day that goes by that I don't regret what happened. I feel truly upset for the pain I've caused the family. I feel terribly about what I've done. If I had not been on the drugs I was on then no way would I have been involved in anything like that. I can't blame it solely on the drugs. I was a grown man. I made poor decisions and something tragic happened. I am sorry for what I did and the family that I hurt," said Orlando.

"I'm not the same man I was when I did this terrible thing," Orlando continued."I have been in prison a few years now. I believe I have grown. I've seen what I've done wrong. I know what it will take for me to be a productive and law abiding citizen. I would like the chance to be with my daughter. She was just a young girl when I got locked up. I would also like to be a part of my granddaughter's life and the rest of my family. If the parole board does give me this chance I can promise and guarantee that the lifestyle I had before, I will never repeat it again. It is something I'm ashamed and embarrassed of and I'm hurt for what I did. I have found church. I'm Catholic and I've been attending a lot of services. I will have strong family support and job opportunities," said Orlando.

Murphy's uncle and aunt, Ricky and Melissa Murphy gave an emotional plea for Orlando to be denied parole."I just feel like Mr. Orlando has not spent enough time for the crime he done," said Ricky Murphy. " I don't get to see my nephew at Christmas no more or on his birthdays. I just miss him so bad," he said.

"He was took from us. We don't get to be with him at Christmas or holidays. All I have left is a picture on the wall of a little boy that we don't have anymore," said Melissa Murphy. It was over drugs. All over drugs. And it wasn't worth killing a human over. Josh was deeply loved and cared about. It's not right. It's not fair to Josh's family. I know he (Orlando) says he is living right with God but when he gets out is he still going to live right for God or is it just jail talk? You don't kill an innocent person over drugs. I don't think Chris should get out because he could go back to his old ways just like Turnbill," she said.

District Attorney Dunaway told the parole board members that his office stands against Orlando's release from prison." My office stands in opposition because this is a very serious offense. It is a very violent offense. We have a large interest in keeping violent offenders such as Mr. Orlando off the street and in prison. Only fourteen years of a 35 year sentence has been served. He was sentenced as a range II multiple offender at the time of his conviction. So we're not dealing with a first offender here. We're dealing with a history of problems on Mr. Orlando's part. I would ask the board to consider the seriousness of this offense and the public safety considerations. I am personally concerned about the public safety considering his violent past and also the deterrent effect. I think fourteen years of a 35 year sentence is not sufficient to deter like conduct," said D.A. Dunaway.

"Mr. Orlando's history enhancement factors were considered at his sentence and those included his criminal history," D.A. Dunaway continued. "He was a felon already. Exceptional cruelty was involved in this case as Mr. Orlando stated. He took the firearm from his co-defendant (Turnbill) and discharged multiple rounds from a twelve gauge shotgun into the face, chest, and leg area of Mr. Murphy that took his life. The record also reflects that they left the body in this remote area for several days. The autopsy report reflects that the body was in a state of decomposition. So not only did they kill Mr. Murphy but they left him in this wooded area to be found several days later. During this murder they used a firearm and most telling, Mr. Orlando committed this heinous act while he was on probation on a felony charge for sale and delivery of methamphetamine. His history is extensive and one of violence as well as extensive drug activity. The record reflects that the motivation for this crime was the theft of their drugs (methamphetamine). They planned it (shooting) ahead of time. They bought shotgun shells. They went and retrieved a shotgun. All of this was well thought out and well planned and was intentional. They took him (Murphy) to a remote area, shot him and left him for dead literally. I'm glad that Mr. Orlando admits his full involvement today. I think he testified truthfully today. He was the shooter. But it's interesting as I review the file, he gave no less than four statements to TBI investigators (previously) that did not admit his guilt but those statements progressed to a state where he blamed Mr. Turnbill for their actions," said D.A. Dunaway.

At the conclusion of the hearing Parole Board member Gobble said while Orlando had made progress he could not vote to parole him now."There is no question that this is a terrible crime. I do believe you're making some progress. I believe in rehabilitation. I do believe people can change. I see that you had a good program participation and you have a good disciplinary record so I think those are indications and evidence that you are making effort. However I'm not ready to parole you today. I don't think you're quite there. I think with your violent past at this point there is a potential risk to public safety and I'm not exactly comfortable with voting to parole you due to the seriousness of the offense. My vote is to decline you and to review your case again in two years. But I am pleased with what I am seeing in your record. You are working to better yourself. Your behavior has improved and you are working to address drug addictions. But you are convicted of a very serious offense," said Gobble.

Parole Board members Duncan and Kustoff concurred with Gobble in voting to decline parole and to review the case again in March, 2018

UCHRA Sale of Lakeside Resort to be Finalized Next Week

March 8, 2016
Dwayne Page
UCHRA Sale of Lakeside Resort to be Finalized Next Week

Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch, a non-profit organization based in New York which operates a residential facility for youth will be taking control of Lakeside Resort next week.

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency has sold the financially troubled resort, which is located off Cookeville Highway on Center Hill Lake.

According to Luke Collins, Executive Director of UCHRA, the transfer will become official with the signing of all documents on Tuesday, March 15 now that the UCHRA has received an assignment of lease from the Real Estate Committee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the finalization of the sale of Lakeside.

"Timothy Hill Ranch has purchased the assets of the property and the rights to lease the property. The Army Corps of Engineers has approved for them to take over our lease of the property and for them to be renters of the property. The contract has been signed. The money exchange will take place on March 15," Lakeside Manager Bob Sotis told WJLE.

Under terms of the sale, Timothy Hill Ranch will put forward a $600,000 purchase, $50,000 deposit and $100,000 in services over 10 years ($10,000 per year). Those services would include staff retreats, annual meetings, employee training and other events.

UCHRA will pay off its USDA Rural Development loan debt of $1,285,550 relating to Lakeside Resort by applying the $600,000 from Timothy Hill and borrowing from Bank of Putnam County $685,550.35 to be repaid in 4 years.

While UCHRA will still be in debt it will no longer lose as much money as it has in recent years because of Lakeside according Sotis."We have negotiated with USDA Rural Development. There will be a balance of $685,000 that UCHRA will still owe against what they had borrowed twenty years ago but when you're losing $200,000 a year for the last twenty years it really doesn't do us any good to hold on. It would be better to hand it to somebody else. And they (Timothy Hill) are a non-profit so it's really one non-profit helping another," said Sotis.

Based in Long Island New York, Timothy Hill Ranch serves children and men from ages 10-24 who have been abused, neglected and/or are in crisis. Referrals come from the court system and private agencies.

According to Sotis, Timothy Hill plans to continue operating the facility as a resort while serving youth. "Lakeside needs a vision and it's a great vision that Timothy Hill is going to have. Timothy Hill are good Christian people and it will be a real blessing to DeKalb County. They will operate the resort as it is. They will do almost no changes on plan of action business plans for the first year but I believe in the years to follow you will have more Christian retreats, parental retreats and that kind of thing. Their marketing department will push toward helping families and marriages and things like that. That's what they concentrate on. They're pretty big. They've been doing this for 40 years. They are also looking to put $3 million in the property in the next five years with a new dock, possibly a beach, and other renovations," he said.

Guest cottages and apartments are maintained on the property including thirteen cabins or houses, four condominiums, along with the lakeside lodge, featuring 26 units. The resort also has a dock and a swimming pool.

According to Sotis the ten current employees of Lakeside will be permitted to remain on staff.

Aldermen Vote Extra Week of Vacation for City Employees with 20 Years of Service

March 7, 2016
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

Smithville employees who have worked for the city twenty years or more will get a total of four weeks of paid vacation.

The aldermen last month, at the suggestion of Alderman Josh Miller, voted to amend the city's personnel policy on first reading to provide for the extra vacation time. The aldermen approved the policy amendment on second and final reading Monday night.

Currently city employees with ten years get a total of three weeks of paid vacation.

City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said five employees would benefit immediately from this action.

Under the ordinance, the employee handbook pertaining to annual leave (vacation) accrual for years of service is amended to read as follows:

Years of Service: 0-3 years
Vacation Days Per Year: 5 days per year (one week)

Years of Service: 4-9
Vacation Days Per Year: 10 days per year (two weeks)

Years of Service: 10-20
Vacation Days Per Year: 15 days per year (three weeks)

Years of Service: 20+
Vacation Days Per Year: 20 days per year (four weeks)

City to Require Property Rights Voters to Cast Ballots by Absentee

March 7, 2016
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen
Mayor Jimmy Poss with 9th grader Friedrich Dodge of Boy Scout Troop 347. Dodge plans to repair a sign for the Smithville Rotary Club as an Eagle Scout Project

Smithville property rights voters would be required to vote by absentee ballot in all future Municipal Elections and city referendums under an ordinance adopted on first reading Monday night.

The aldermen have approved a similar measure before for specific referendums but this ordinance would apply to all future municipal elections and city ballot issues.

The proposed ordinance states that "By passing this ordinance it does hereby require that those non-resident property owners for City of Smithville elections or City of Smithville referendums which is on the ballot shall be required to vote absentee for said election or referendum".

"The ordinance shall be effective for any Smithville election or referendum placed on ballots for the City of Smithville".

"The DeKalb County Election Commission shall notify the non-resident property owners as set out in TCA 2-6-205 of the requirements of this ordinance.

Without such an ordinance, the city's property rights voters would likely have to go to two places to vote on election day. This process only applies to property rights voters, those who live outside the city in DeKalb County but who have property inside the city and are qualified to vote in a city election.

In 2014 the city adopted a new charter which extends voting rights to county residents that own commercial property in the city (two persons per deed) and allows property rights voting for county residents who own at least 3,500 square feet of property in the city.

The ordinance will be up for second and final reading passage at the next regular monthly meeting on April 4.

In other business Monday night, Mayor Jimmy Poss recognized DCHS 9th grader Friedrich Dodge of Boy Scout Troop #347 who is repairing a Smithville Rotary Club sign as an Eagle Scout project. He will also be planting some shrubs around the sign. The aldermen gave Dodge permission to proceed with the project on the city owned property. Dodge will be assisted in the project by members of the boy scout troop and the Rotary Club. It should be finished in April.

The aldermen awarded a bid to purchase a chassis for a new water and sewer utility truck for the public works department. The city will buy the chassis from Edd Rogers Valley Ford in Sparta for $39,500. It was the lowest of the two bids submitted.

Joe Johnson was hired by the aldermen as the city's new building & codes inspector. Johnson was the only applicant for the position.

Bert Driver was appointed as a citizen member to the Smithville Industrial Board to fill the unexpired term of Richard Judkins who has resigned.

In other action, at the request of Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins the aldermen adopted a policy to establish departmental guidelines for the acquisition and deployment of the patrol rifle/carbines. Another policy was adopted to provide police officers with instructions on when and how to use body-worn cameras so that officers may reliably record their contacts with the public in accordance with the law.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs asked that the city look into the possibly of making application for any available state parks and recreation grants. "The state has local Parks and Recreation Grants and the fund has been increased to $500,000 this year. Governor Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation have announced an increase in grant funding for local parks and recreation funds. The deadline to apply for this is April 22. The grants are a 50/50 match. I would like for us to at least look into it," said Alderman Jacobs.

City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said the issue will be discussed at the next city planning commission meeting.

Golden Charged with Statutory Rape of 15 Year old Girl

March 7, 2016
Dwayne Page
Dustin Michael Golden
Christopher Dale Cantrell
Timothy Allen Presley
Timothy Harold Bates
Rhonda Fay Harmon
Annieka Makay Norton

A 20 year old man has been arrested for having sex with an underage girl.

20 year old Dustin Michael Golden is charged with two counts of statutory rape and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His bond is $55,000 and he will make a court appearance March 24.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said on Tuesday, March 1 a Sheriff's Department Detective conducted an interview with Golden and discovered that he and a 15 year old girl had engaged in sexual acts and drug use. The girl said she and Golden had sex on Monday, February 29 and Tuesday, March 1. During questioning, Golden allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana with the girl.

44 year old Christopher Dale Cantrell of King Ridge Road, Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on March 24. According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was dispatched to King Ridge Road due to a disturbance on Saturday, March 5. Upon arrival the officer found Cantrell in front of his residence. Cantrell was unsteady on his feet and he had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Cantrell was placed under arrest.

55 year old Timothy Allen Presley of Bethel Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $5,000 and he will make a court appearance on March 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, January 29 Presley pawned a stolen utility trailer at Cash 4 U Pawn in Warren County. The utility trailer was valued at $1,800. The case was investigated by a Sheriff's Department Detective.

35 year old Timothy Harold Bates of Glen Drive, McMinnville is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court March 10. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, March 5 Bates allegedly assaulted his child's mother grabbing her by the neck and throwing her against the wall while trying to choke her. Bates also allegedly hit the woman on the left side of her face causing redness to her cheek and nose.

49 year old Rhonda Fay Harmon of Nashville Highway, Woodbury is charged with DUI. She was also cited for roadways laned for traffic. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court March 17. According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy pulled over a tan Buick on Highway 70 near Potters Home Center for failure to maintain his lane of travel. The officer had observed the car cross over the center line of the highway several times. Harmon, the driver, submitted to field sobriety tasks but performed poorly. She was placed under arrest and transported to the hospital for a blood test.

21 year old Annieka Makay Norton of Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with DUI. She was also cited for no insurance and violation of the implied consent law for failing to submit to a blood test. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court March 24. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, March 6 a deputy was dispatched to Blue Springs Road in reference to a motor vehicle accident. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Norton who had a strong odor of alcohol on her person and slurred speech. She was also very unsteady on her feet. Norton performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest.

19 year old Leon Tyler Carter of Hopewell Road, Silver Point is cited for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia. He will make a court appearance on March 24. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, March 4 a deputy responded to a call in reference to a suspicious vehicle parked across from Edgar Evins State Park. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Carter. After receiving consent to search the vehicle, the deputy found .3 grams of methamphetamine in a plastic baggie. The substance field tested positive for meth. A spoon containing residue and a hypodermic needle were also found in the automobile.


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