Local News Articles

City Awards Bid for New Automated Read Water Meters

January 13, 2015
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville will soon be replacing all customer water meters with new automated read meters.

The aldermen last week accepted a bid from Advanced Utility Services of North Little Rock Arkansas to supply approximately 2,500 new meters at a cost of $532,600. The project will be funded under a USDA Rural Development grant/loan program.

In 2010, the city received approval for a $95,000 grant and a $315,000 loan to pay for the purchase and installation of the new automated water meters. "The loan is set up through Rural Development at a 2.75% interest over a twenty year period. We can pay it off all at one time, over a couple of years, or over twenty years. The grant is free money to the city to help fund the project," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

But since the project has been delayed, Hendrixson said the cost has increased. "We finally took bids on October 28. By the time we got bids after four years the cost of the project has gone up. We had a $122,000 higher cost than originally estimated. However Rural Development has approved to put that ($100,000) on the loan amount and the city will have to pay a match of $22,000 in an applicant cost overrun contribution," said Hendrixson.

The new meters are expected be more accurate to help prevent water loss. Hendrixson said the system will save the city time, money, and wear and tear on city vehicles. "Instead of taking seven working days to have two men read meters, it will only take one day with these meters. Labor wise it will save a lot of money over time. From what we understand in talking to other utility districts, automated meters are a lot more accurate and usually revenue increases," he said.

The new system also keeps a 90 day history of customer's water usage and sensors are on the meters to alert city officials in the event of tampering or unusually large amounts of water usage.

Any city employee no longer needed to read meters will be reassigned to other positions in the public works department. No one will lose his job due to the new system.

City officials also stress that no increase in water or sewer rates would be needed to pay for it.

One Injured in Monday Afternoon Wreck

January 13, 2015
Dwayne Page
Chevy Malibu driven by Wanda Wallace
F-150 driven by Pedro Gonzales

One person was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital after a two vehicle accident Monday afternoon on Highway 56 south.

62 year old Wanda Wallace of Smithville was treated. Her injuries were not believed to be life threatening.

According to Trooper Brandon Jackson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Wallace was driving south in a Chevy Malibu as 37 year old Pedro Gonzales of Smithville was traveling north in an F-150 pickup truck. Trooper Jackson told WJLE that Gonzales ran off the right side of the highway and overcorrected into the path of Wallace's car. The Malibu struck the pickup toward the rear on the passenger side and came to rest in the southbound lane facing west. The truck went off the west side of the highway into a field.

Gonzales was not injured.

Trooper Jackson said charges are pending against Gonzales.

Three Charged with Forgery

January 12, 2015
Dwayne Page
Melinda Beth Murphy
Jo Ann Luna
Molly Sue Lawrence
Ginger Elaine Moore
Eric Dewayne Judkins
Brandi Louise Murphy-Proffer
Dustin Matthew Brewer
Amanda Marie Hatfield

Three women were arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department last week on separate forgery charges.

29 year old Melinda Beth Murphy of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville faces two counts of forgery. Her bond is $10,000 and she will be in court January 22. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, January 8 Murphy passed two forged checks at a store in Liberty without the victim's consent. One check was in the amount of $110 and the other was for $90.

39 year old Jo Ann Luna of Bright Hill Road, Smithville is charged with one count of forgery and one count of resisting stop, frisk, halt, or arrest. Her bond is $6,500 and she will be in court January 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, January 8 Luna passed a forged check at the same store in Liberty in the amount of $200 . A deputy saw her trying to cash the check. As the officer placed her in custody, Luna tried to pull away from him in an attempt to avoid arrest.

27 year old Molly Sue Lawrence of Highland Street, Smithville is charged with one count of forgery. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court on January 15. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, January 6 Lawrence passed a forged check for $200 at a bank in Alexandria without the victim's consent.

These forgery cases were investigated by detectives and deputies of the sheriff's department.

Ginger Elaine Moore of McMinnville Highway, Smithville is charged with simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana). Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court January 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 5 a sheriff's department drug detective went to a residence on South Judkins Lane. Upon arrival the detective knocked and Moore opened the door. The officer smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the residence. Moore allowed him to come inside and talk to her but as the detective entered the home, Moore went to her bedroom and tried to hide a wooden box which contained .28 ounces of marijuana. Moore was placed under arrest.

23 year old Eric Dewayne Judkins of Hendrickson Road, Smithville is charged with two counts of theft of property under $500. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court January 29. Sheriff Ray said that on November 18 Judkins went to an auto parts store in Smithville and bought an ignition coil in the amount of $84.50 and charged it to another person without his consent. The next day, Judkins went to an auto parts store and bought a control module in the amount of $115. 23 and charged it to another person without his consent. The cases were investigated by a sheriff's department detective.

Brandi Louise Murphy-Proffer of Barnes Mill Road, Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court January 29. Sheriff Ray said that Tuesday, January 6 a sheriff's department detective went to an address on Jefferson Road to conduct an investigation. Upon arrival, he spoke with a woman who identified herself as Lonnie Lykens. The detective later learned that she had lied about her name. When confronted, the woman admitted to using a false name because she had warrants against her from Michigan. She then gave her true identity and was placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, Proffer's boyfriend, 26 year old Dustin Matthew Brewer is charged with being a fugitive from justice. His bond is $200,000 and he will be in court January 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, January 7 Brewer, who had a parole absconded warrant against him from Michigan, was located at a residence on Barnes Mill Road. The warrant was confirmed through the National Crime Information Center and he was placed under arrest and held without bond. Brewer made a court appearance last Thursday, January 8 and signed a waiver of extradition. Michigan authorities have ten days to pick him up.

23 year old Amanda Marie Hatfield of Adcock Cemetery Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on January 15. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, January 10 a deputy responded to Kings Court due to a domestic dispute. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with a man who said he and his wife, Hatfield had gotten into an argument over her wanting to see his phone. The man said when he refused to give her his phone, Hatfield got on top of him and grabbed him around the neck. He then pushed her away and went to call for help. The man had red finger marks and scratches on both sides of his neck. Hatfield was determined to have been the primary aggressor and she was brought to the jail for booking. Warren county authorities also had a hold on her for separate offenses. After she made bond here, Hatfield was taken to Warren County.

Smithville Man Recovering from Injuries in Recent Crash at Baxter

January 12, 2015

Family members say a 24-year-old Smithville man is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being critically injured in a wreck in Baxter as he drove home from work on Friday, January 2.

According to the Herald-Citizen, Cody Atnip was extricated from the wreckage of the accident, which happened around 8:30 p.m., and transported by ambulance to Cookeville Regional Medical Center, where he was stabilized before being taken by ambulance to Vanderbilt.

The crash occurred on Nashville Highway, as Atnip was traveling westbound toward Baxter in a maroon Nissan Maxima, according to reports by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Williams.

A silver Nissan Altima being driven by Earl Thompson of Baxter was traveling eastbound toward Cookeville, and was attempting to make a left turn into the Baxter Pizza Hut parking lot.

Thompson’s Altima had yielded to Atnip’s oncoming Maxima, but the driver of a blue Dodge truck also traveling eastbound on the same roadway apparently failed to yield.

The blue pickup, driven by Patrick Green of Castalian Springs, swerved into the left lane, simultaneously rear-ending Thompson’s silver Altima and hitting Atnip’s maroon Maxima head-on, according to Trooper Williams’ report.

No one else was seriously injured.

Lane Ball Wins DCHS Football MVP Award

January 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tiger Football MVC Brooke Martin and MVP Lane Ball
DCHS Tiger Football Award Winners
Hunter Stone Wins Coach Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Award
DCHS Tiger Football Cheerleader Award Winners

Lane Ball, a senior, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2014 DeKalb County High School Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet held Saturday night at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center building. The awards were sponsored by Liberty State Bank.

The MVP trophy was presented to Ball by Coach Steve Trapp. "This young man played a lot of football for us. He has probably played in more football games in the Tiger uniform than anybody in the history of this program as far as appearing in games playing on Friday night. This guy has been in almost every one of them since his freshman year. Maybe not as a starter as a freshman, but he was on the field. He would come in. Very shortly into his freshman year he was a starter. He has been a defensive player of the year. He has been a linebacker of the year. He has been an All-District player, an All-Region Player, and an All-Upper Cumberland Player. He has been an outstanding player for DeKalb County High School Football. Not only that but he has been an outstanding role model. He has been an outstanding team captain. He's been an outstanding student. He has just been a great young man and I am happy to say that I have been able to be a part of his life as his football coach and I know he is going to have a bright and successful future at whatever he plans to do," said Coach Trapp.

Ball was named to the 1st Team All-District for the 2014 season and was an All Upper Cumberland Football Honorable Mention on defense for his 120 plus tackles at middle linebacker.

The Tigers finished the season in November with an overall record of 5-6 and another appearance in the state play-offs. It was the fourth consecutive year the Tigers earned a berth in the state play-offs and their sixth appearance in the last seven years. The Tigers lost in the first round of the play-offs at Signal Mountain.

Meanwhile, Brooke Martin, a senior, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader. The presentation was made by Cheer Coaches Amanda Fuller and Sonya House. "She has leadership qualities. When she comes into a room she demands respect and she has been an excellent leader of this squad. I am very proud to have had her here for four years. She is an amazing cheerleader and has an amazing personality and is very deserving of this award," said Cheer Coach Fuller.

"She really stepped into a leadership role last year when she started working toward being captain. She started taking over a lot of things. She started helping plan pep rallies. It just came natural to her. She is able to demand respect with a smile. And she is able to get respect from everyone. She just has that leadership quality," added Cheer Coach House.

Other individual Football Player Awards are as follows:
Offensive Player- Steven Jennings
Offensive Lineman- John Bradford
Offensive Back- Luke Boss
Receiver- Aaron Patterson
Defensive Player- Lance Ball
Defensive Lineman- Joseph Pack
Linebacker- A.J. Mooneyham
Defensive Back- Jonathon Munoz
Special Teams Player-Matthew Poss
Most Improved- Austin Brown
MVP- Lane Ball
Coach Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Award-Hunter Stone

Individual Cheer Awards are as follows:
Best Stunts- Lexie Bates
Most Spirited- Emilee Stephens
Best Jumps- Kaitlyn Roller
Best Dance-Carlee White
Most Improved- Abby Evans
Best Motions- Makayla Redmon
MVC- Brooke Martin
DEAR (Dedication, Enthusiasm, Attitude, and Responsibility)-Rachel Fuson

2014 District 8AA Award Winners from DeKalb County:

Most Outstanding Defensive End: Hunter Stone
Most Outstanding Wide Receiver: Aaron Patterson
Most Outstanding Quarterback: Steven Jennings
Most Outstanding Kicker: Matthew Poss

1st Team All District:
Lance Ball, Lane Ball, Jacob Hale, Jonathon Munoz, and A.J. Mooneyham

2nd Team All District:
John Bradford, Joseph Pack, and Luke Boss

2014 All Upper Cumberland Football Team:

1st Team-Offense
QB-Steven Jennings
(2,052 passing yards, 16 TDs/783 rushing yards, 11 TDs)

2nd Team-Offense
OL- Jacob Hale
WR- Aaron Patterson (40 catches, 719 yards, 4 TDs)

Honorable Mention-Offense:
John Bradford-Lineman Right Guard
Eli Cross-Lineman Left Tackle
Luke Green-Lineman Center

Honorable Mention-Defense:
Lance Ball-Linebacker 90 plus tackles LOB
Lane Ball-Linebacker 120 plus tackles MLB
Joseph Pack-Defense Lineman 30 plus tackles NG

Special Teams:
Matthew Poss-Kicker and Punter 3/5 on Field Goals & average on punts of 40 yards

(TOP PHOTO:DCHS Tiger Football Most Valuable Player Lane Ball and Most Valuable Cheerleader Brooke Martin)

(SECOND PHOTO FROM TOP: Football Winners: (FR) Jonathon Munoz, Lane Ball, Aaron Patterson, Steven Jennings; (BR) A.J. Mooneyham, John Bradford, Matthew Poss, Lance Ball, Luke Boss, Austin Brown, Joseph Pack, Hunter Stone)

(THIRD PHOTO FROM TOP: Hunter Stone received the Coach Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Award. Pictured here with Sarah Edwards, daughter of the late Clay Edwards and Sarah's mother Tena)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: DCHS Football Cheerleader Award Winners: Seated MaKayla Redmon,Brooke Martin (MVC), Emilee Stephens,Carlee White; Standing Rachel Fuson, Abby Evans, Lexie Bates, and Kaitlyn Roller)

Representative Pody Proposes Alternative to State Gas Tax Hike

January 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
State Representative Mark Pody

Although he is opposed to increasing the state's gas tax as some have advocated, State Representative Mark Pody has an idea to get TDOT and local road departments more money to operate.

In an interview with WJLE on Thursday, Representative Pody suggested reallocating a portion of money in the state's general fund to TDOT from taxes derived through the sale of tires and other automotive services.

"Gas prices are low and there's already a push now to add more gas taxes to it. On the federal level as well as the state level, there are people saying that because gas prices have dropped so much that if we're ever going to put a tax (increase) on now is the time to do it. I would rather see us do something different to give TDOT more money. For example, I'm trying to propose that any tax on tires sold be used. We're already getting that money. We can just take it out of the general fund and allocate that to TDOT and there are other things like that we can do to help fund TDOT. I'm not saying we shouldn't give them more money but I think we can reallocate the money we're collecting to that department. Anytime someone gets their auto repaired or oil changed we could take that portion of the tax on those services and use it for the roads and put that to the same formula that we have now so it goes to the locals (county road departments) and to the state (TDOT). We don't have to raise more taxes to do this and we can still get that money to the required areas," said Pody.

Tennessee imposes 21.4 cents in taxes per gallon of fuel. That hasn't been increased since 1989. The federal gas tax, which hasn't changed since 1993, is 18.4 cents per gallon, meaning drivers in Tennessee pay a total of 39.8 cents on each gallon of gas purchased.

Proponents of a gas tax hike have said more revenue is needed to keep pace with the costs of funding needed transportation road and bridge projects across the state.

2014 Fire Incident Responses Up in DeKalb County

January 9, 2015
County Fire Chief Donny Green

The DeKalb County Fire Department has compiled its 2014 Incident Response Summary.

Overall, 2014 fire incident responses in the county were up by 126 calls from 2013. In 2013, the department responded to a total of 278 fire-related incidents. The department responded to 404 fire-related incidents in 2014. This count does not include medical responses made by members of the department who are medically trained.

With DeKalb County's rural population growing at rates higher than the cities’ population growth in DeKalb County, Chief Donny Green said the department continues to experience annual increases in the number of incident calls within the county jurisdiction. Automobile accidents, responses to storm-related damages, and grass/forest/debris fires were the categories with the most noticeable increases of incident call volume for 2014.

The DeKalb County Fire Department is a 100% volunteer fire department with no paid staff. Volunteers do receive a $10 per call fuel reimbursement and those who excel in training attendance and incident responses are eligible to receive annual training/response award incentives. The department operates out of 11 substations located in communities across the county and currently is staffed with 78 volunteer firefighters.

The following is a year 2013 and 2014 comparison in the following types of Incident Responses:

Structure: 48 (year 2013), 45 (year 2014)

Wildland/Grass/Debris: 28 (2013), 60 (2014)

Auto Wrecks: 76 (2013), 103 (2014)

Vehicle Fires: 10 (2013), 14 (2014)

Landing Zones: 30 (2013), 50 (2014)

Extrication/Entrapment: 30 (2013), 32 (2014)

Hazmat: 1 (2013), 3 (2014)

Alarms: 32 (2013), 45 (2014)

Miscellaneous: 23 (2013), 52 (2014)

TOTAL: 278 (2013), 404 (2014)

Hospital Presents Employee Awards

January 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Samantha Bragg of DeKalb Community Hospital was named ‘Employee of the Quarter’ presented by Dietary Director Teresa Steele
Shan Burklow received the Outstanding Leader and Director of the Quarter Awards

Samantha Bragg of DeKalb Community Hospital was recently named ‘Employee of the Quarter’. The award was presented by Dietary Director Teresa Steele.

Meanwhile Shan Burklow received the Outstanding Leader Award presented by CEO Sue Conley.

Burklow was also named ‘Director of the Quarter’ during the recent hospital ceremony as part of their P.O.P. Star Program (Patients Our Purpose).

Bragg is an employee of the dietary department at DCH, while Burklow is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for both DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospitals.

A surprise staff reception was held in their honor.

County Clerk Explains Laws on Registration and License Tag Renewals

January 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss

If you reside outside DeKalb County, you are not legally permitted to register or renew tags for your automobile here.

In an effort to better educate the public on this issue, County Clerk James L (Jimmy) Poss has issued the following press release in the form of a question and answer forum. Poss also addressed in the statement eligibility requirements for Special Purpose License Plates and plates for elected officials.

Q: Is it true that some persons who live just outside DeKalb County have been coming to your office expecting to get services here, such as vehicle renewals of license tags, etc.?

A: "Yes; these requests have been increasing over the past few weeks"

Q: Is it illegal to provide such services?

A: "Yes; when we knowingly provide service to individuals with a physical location outside our county it is illegal. By doing this we are preventing that county to receive revenue belonging to them"

Q: Is it a major problem for your office?

A: "Yes; we adjoin six other counties and have experienced this in every area of the county except where we border Putnam. Of the six counties bordering us all are collecting a wheel tax except for Putnam".

Q: Can you give us an example of what you are experiencing?

A: "Yes; when processing new registrations or renewals we enter a person’s information in our system. This is to search and cross reference physical addresses to determine eligibility. We have recognized these occurrences when a road continues into adjoining counties, also when road names are not appearing in our county and with individuals wanting to use their second home here without proper proof of eligibility".

Q: What would you like people to know and understand about this issue?

A: "For individuals state law uses the term “Bona Fide Residence”, simply meaning a person is living at a physical location within our county. For Business owners, law allows the owner to register the vehicle in any county where a “Physical Presence” can be established. I understand that certain people have previously been allowed to complete these transactions here. Some for a number of years, but to uphold state law and office uniformity we cannot knowingly continue service outside DeKalb County"

Q: Who may qualify to obtain a “Special Purposes” license plate?

A: "There are multiple plates in this category. For example we have several applicants receiving Emergency, Fire, and Rescue Squad plates. In order to fulfill each departments request we ask our local emergency agencies to provide us a list of their employees or members. Each of these tags have eligibility requirements for our office to follow and most require the applicants name on the title and registration to issue these tags"

Q: What about license plates for elected officials? Are they just for the public officials themselves?

A: "Yes, Just like Special purpose plates these tags also have eligibility requirements and most require the applicants name on the title and registration to issue these tags. There also multiple plates in this category. Such as State House and Senate, U.S. Senate and Congress, Sheriff, Judicial etc."

"In closing, it’s a pleasure and most humbling feeling to serve the people of DeKalb County. However; to maintain uniformity within our office we must follow laws and guidelines set for us. Our office aims to provide equal and honest service to the best of our skill and ability," Poss concluded.

Sheriff Releases 2014 Activity Report

January 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

Sheriff Patrick Ray has released the "Activity Report" from his department for the calendar year January 1, 2014-December 31, 2014.

The report shows a total of 8,397 incident calls for the year. These statistics are from the 911 center. According to Sheriff Ray "These are dispatched calls, not self-initiated calls (incidents that officers respond to on routine patrols). Self-initiated calls are not included in these counts:

The report breaks down as follows:

Calls Reported :

Wrecks- 671
4 wheeler calls- 50
911 calls- 420
Abandoned Vehicles- 15
Animal calls- 424
Assaults- 59
Armed Suspects- 15
Fires and Fire Alarms- 287
Boating Accident- 4
Bomb Threats- 2
Break-ins- 227
Burglar Alarms- 600
Child Custody Exchanges- 26
Children in roadway- 13
Civil Matters- 58
Debris in roadway- 38
Deliver Messages- 37
Disturbing the peace- 75
Deaths- 51
Domestic violence- 524
Drownings- 1
Drug trafficking- 77
Funeral Property Escorts- 215
Extra Patrols- 375
Fights- 89
Gas drive-offs- 10
Harassments- 54
Indecent exposure- 1
Investigations- 623
Kidnapping- 2
Medical Alarms- 15
Medical Assists- 288
Mental Patient Transports- 48
Missing Person- 90
Mutual Aid to another Agency- 53
Possible D.U.I. - 175
Public Intoxication calls- 32
Rape- 8
Reckless Drivers- 417
Recover Property- 45
Robbery- 4
Seizures- 18
Shots fired- 72
Shop lifter- 7
Stranded motorists- 108 -
Attempt Suicide and Suicide calls- 90
Suspicious noises, persons and vehicles- 565
Traffic Hazards- 247
Trespassing- 26
Unruly juveniles- 24
Unwanted guests- 166
Vandalism- 109
Vehicle lockouts- 305
Wanted Persons- 109
Welfare checks- 297

Total 8397 incident calls


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