Local News Articles

DeKalb Firefighters Association Announces Political Endorsements

April 16, 2014
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Firefighters Association Announces Political Endorsements

The DeKalb Firefighter's Association is endorsing candidates for county mayor and the county commission in the local Democratic Primary on May 6th.

The endorsements are the result of candidate responses to surveys recently published by the Association. "A few weeks ago the DeKalb Firefighters’ Association mailed a public safety survey to all candidates running in the May Democratic Primary Election for the offices of County Mayor and County Commission. This survey contained questions pertaining to public safety in DeKalb County", according to the Association.

"Candidates had until March 15 to return their surveys". According to the Association, "All of the following candidates who returned their surveys have met approval for endorsement in the May 2014 Democratic Primary Election

County Mayor—Mike Foster, Tim Stribling

District 1-Bennett Armstrong, Elmer Ellis, Jr.

District 2-Clarence Trapp, Frank Thomas, Joe Johnson

District 3-Jack Barton, Jerry Scott

District 4-Anthony “Tony” Poss, David McDowell, Jonathan Norris,
Wayne Cantrell

District 5-Anita Puckett

District 6-Betty Atnip, Marshall Ferrell

District 7-David Agee

"Not all candidates submitted a response to our survey. This is not a reflection that they do not support public safety," according to the Association.

Community Leaders Honored at Chamber Banquet

April 16, 2014
Dwayne Page
Jen Sherwood with Darrell, Beth, and Eli Gill
Jen Sherwood and Iva Del Randolph

The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni awards were honored Tuesday night during the Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet at the DeKalb County Complex.

Darrell and Beth Gill received the Community Leaders of the Year Award and Iva Del Randolph was presented the Legacy Award. Meanwhile, the Chamber presented Golden Milestone Awards to WJLE Radio and Cantrell's the home of Fluty. Each business is marking 50 years of service to the community.

The Community Leader of the Year award goes to someone who has made a significant and positive impact on the county, specifically during 2013 and in a capacity beyond commitment to his or her profession. "Darrell and Beth Gill worked tirelessly in youth athletics, particularly in both the youth football league and DCHS football", said Jen Sherwood, director of the Leadership DeKalb program.

The Legacy Award goes to the person or persons who have made a significant and positive impact on DeKalb County over a considerable period of time and in multiple or lasting ways. "Iva Del has managed the Relay for Life in DeKalb County for the American Cancer Society for seventeen years. She is also a retired school teacher. Iva Del is a beloved person in our community and we wanted to recognize her for leadership and service, not just for Relay for Life, but for our community to bring us together and to celebrate," said Sherwood.

The guest speaker was Susan Whitaker, Commissioner of the Tourist Development for the state, who spoke about the economic impact tourism has in Tennessee. Whitaker, a Chicago native, is a direct descendent of Tennessee's first Governor, John Sevier.

Meanwhile, the retiring members of the Chamber board were recognized including Tony Luna of the Real Estate Team, Lori Manns of Manns Master Mechanics, Kathy Hendrixson of Justin Potter Library, Valerie House, Leadership Alumni, and Kathy McGlamery, past President.

New members are Elaine Swicker, employee of Smithville Computer Repair, Joan Barrett of Premier Realty at Center Hill Lake, LLC, Dwayne Cornelius, pastor of the New Life United Pentecostal Church and co-owner of DeKalb Depot, Inc., Gail Looper, retired manager of the Gallery and Exhibitions programs at the Appalachian Center for Crafts, and Jason Murphy, owner of Optimus Pest Solutions and a Smithville Alderman.

The 2014 officers are President Julia Cantrell, Vice President Jeff Crips, Secretary Joan Barrett, and Treasurer Susan Young. Janna Gillard is the Past President.

Federal Mogul Announces Layoffs

April 16, 2014

Federal-Mogul has announced that 50 workers at its Smithville location will soon be without employment, as the company moves forward with the second round of layoffs in two years in Smithville.

According to information released by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, on March 21, Federal-Mogul notified the department that 50 employees would be laid off beginning March 14 through April 30.

The employees are not represented by a collective bargaining agreement, the statement says.

In 2012, the Smithville location was shaken with the announcement of a large layoff of nearly 200 employees, with the majority of those positions being sent to Mexico, in what the company called an effort to reduce costs.

Federal-Mogul Corporation is a $6.8 billion global supplier of products to manufacturers of automotive, light commercial, heavy-duty and off-highway vehicles, as well as in power generation, aerospace, marine, rail and industrial.

TCAP Testing to Begin

April 15, 2014
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students will be taking the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, Achievement Tests starting April 29.

Students in grades 3-8 take the Achievement Test, and high school students take End of Course exams for various subjects. In addition DeKalb County will administer the Achievement Test to students in Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 in the areas of reading/language arts, and math. TCAP is a set of statewide assessments given in Tennessee to measure students' skills and progress.

The Achievement Test is a timed, multiple choice assessment that measures skills in Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. "At present all of our schools are gearing up for our End of Year assessments. TCAP counts 20% toward the students final grade and End of Course for our high school students will count 25% of their final grade in that course. TCAP testing will continue through May 2 and End of Course will be May 5-9. Most of our teachers are already reviewing their students for these assessments," said Lisa Cripps, Secondary Supervisor of Instruction for DeKalb County Schools.

"April 29 is the first day of testing, which will be our Reading/Language Arts test and on April 30 we will test math. May 1 will be Science and May 2 will finish testing with social studies. That is the 3-8 grade schedule. For kindergarten, first and second grade, the main focus of their testing will be the Reading/ Language Arts, and Math. The high school will take the following test on these days: May 5th Algebra I, and English III, May 6th Algebra II and English I, May 7th English II and US History, and May 8th Biology and Chemistry", said Cripps

Cripps urges parents to make sure their children are well rested and get to school on time for the testing. "With all of these important assessments at hand, I'd like to encourage each student to get a good night's sleep and be on time each day for testing. Our school nutrition department will be providing free breakfast for each day of testing other than on the makeup days," she said.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby also asks parents to try and avoid any conflicts that would keep your children out of school this week. "During this week that we are giving TCAP tests, we would ask that parents don't schedule any kind of appointments, such as dental visits. Please reschedule those to another time. Because if you come to school at 9:00 a.m. and want to check your child out of school, if the test is underway we cannot go in and disturb that classroom. We have to monitor that classroom and make sure that everyone in that classroom has a great opportunity to do well on the test," said Willoughby.

Norrod Indicted on Child Sex Charges

April 15, 2014
Dwayne Page
Jared Norrod

A 38 year old McMinnville man has been indicted on child sex charges.

Jared Norrod was named in a sealed indictment last week by the DeKalb County Grand Jury charging him with two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, four counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and incest.

Norrod is charged with having sexual contact with two juveniles between the ages of 13 and 18, one of them being a relative, taking pictures of juveniles engaging in sexual activity, having such photographs in his possession, and uploading them to a computer.

Norrod is under a $410,000 bond.

Man Charged with Stealing Bronze Vases from Cemetery Tombstones

April 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
Gary Christopher Ponder

A 26 year old man has been charged with stealing bronze vases from cemetery tombstones and then selling them at a scrapyard.

Gary Christopher Ponder of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown will be in General Sessions Court on April 24 to face one count of theft over $1,000. His bond is $5,000. He was arrested on Tuesday, April 8.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on or about March 24, Ponder allegedly took eleven bronze vases from eleven different graves (tombstones) at DeKalb Memorial Gardens. He then took the vases to a scrap yard in Woodbury where he sold them. The approximate value of the vases is more than $1,000. While Ponder has allegedly admitted to taking these eleven vases, more could be missing from the cemetery. Sheriff Ray urges anyone who discovers vases missing from the graves of their relatives to report it to the owners of the cemetery. They will then contact the sheriff's department.

Two Juveniles to be Tried as Adults in Kidnapping and Robbery

April 14, 2014
Dwayne Page

Two sixteen year old boys accused of forcing their way into the home of a Smithville woman and then assaulting and robbing her in September have been indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury.

Robert Brian Callahan, II and Tony J. Starkes, Jr. were indicted last Monday, April 7 on charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and theft under $500. They are to be tried as adults in the case. They were arraigned today (Monday, April 14) in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

The boys appeared in DeKalb County Juvenile Court Wednesday, December 11 for a hearing on whether the cases should be transferred from the Juvenile to the Criminal Court.

"I filed a motion to transfer the cases to the criminal court to be tried. We had a hearing and he (Judge Bratten Cook,II) granted the motion. "I asked that these boys be tried as adults due to the serious and aggressive nature of the crimes," said Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong in an interview with WJLE.

"The petition was amended to include the charge of aggravated kidnapping along with aggravated robbery," said Strong.

They have being held at a Juvenile Detention Center in Nashville.

According to Lieutenant Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department, the incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 18 at the woman's Smithville residence. He said the victim, who lives alone, heard something outside and when she opened the door to look outside, the two boys, who were wearing hockey masks forced their way in and assaulted her. " Upon investigation, I found out that the victim heard a noise outside the back of her residence," said Lieutenant Holmes. "She looked out but didn't see anyone. She went to open the door. As she cracked the door open, two masked men forced their way into the residence. One of the suspects tackled her to the ground, pepper sprayed her multiple times, and tried to insert a wash cloth in her mouth to keep her from screaming," he said. "One of the suspects ransacked the house and stole a 38 caliber revolver and multiple other items," he said. The total value of the stolen items came to around $600.

The woman, though injured in the attack with cuts, scrapes, and bruises, was apparently not seriously hurt and declined medical attention.

Though the two boys were carrying razor knives at the time of the attack, they apparently did not use them on the woman.

"We worked the case until about four in the morning (Thursday, September 19) and started back again later in the day," said Lieutenant Holmes. We went to Walmart and were able to trace the sale of the hockey masks back to the juveniles who had bought them prior to the incident," he said.

" We located them (the two suspects) at the high school and placed them under arrest in the classroom on Thursday. Our fear was that they may have brought the gun to school but as it turned out they did not have the gun at school. It was found at their home," said Lieutenant Holmes.

"We found in the attic of their residence the two hockey masks and a loaded 38 caliber handgun and other items that were taken from the victim's home. We also found some pepper spray," Lieutenant Holmes continued.

He said the boys, who lived together in the same household at the time of their arrests, are not related. Neither of the boys is related to the victim. The two boys lived in the same area of the city as the victim but police would not disclose the name of the street or neighborhood where the attack occurred.

Lieutenant Holmes, who was assisted in the investigation by Detective Brandon Donnell and Corporal Travis Bryant said police believe the two boys committed the crimes hoping to find money and drugs.

The two boys also allegedly tried to break into another residence in the same area the night before on Tuesday, September 17 but were unable to make entry.

Early Voting Begins Wednesday

April 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
Early Voting Begins Wednesday

Early voting begins Wednesday, April 16 in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary as well as the Democratic and Republican Primaries for offices in the seven county 13th Judicial District which includes DeKalb County.

Voters must declare in which primary they intend to vote. For example, voters who declare their intentions to vote in the Democratic Primary, cannot vote in the Republican primary for the 13th judicial district candidates. Likewise, voters who declare their intentions to vote in the Republican primary cannot vote for any democratic candidates in this election

Locally, voters will cast ballots during the early voting period from April 16 through May 1 at the election commission office on the first floor of the courthouse. No early voting will be held on Good Friday.

Dates and times for early voting are as follows:
Mondays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. to Noon.

The DeKalb County Democratic Primary will feature four contested county wide and five district county commission races.

County Mayor Mike Foster will be seeking his fourth term but will be challenged in the primary by Smithville Alderman Tim Stribling. The winner will face Republican nominee Chris Smithson and Independent Chris Bratcher, II in the August 7th County General Election.

Three term incumbent County Clerk Mike Clayborn will be looking for his fourth term. He faces a challenge from James L. (Jimmy) Poss.

Incumbent General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Hale "Butch" Cook, II is running for his third-eight year term. His primary opponent is local attorney Margie Rigsby Miller. The winner will meet Republican challenger Mingy Colwell Bryant in August. She is also a Smithville attorney.

In the race for Sheriff, Michael J. Agee and Larry Flair, Sr. will face off for the Democratic nomination. The winner will face two term Republican Incumbent Sheriff Patrick Ray in August
James D. (Jimmy) Sprague is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Road Supervisor but he will face Republican nominee Wallace M. (Butch) Agee in the August General Election. The winner will succeed six term incumbent Kenny Edge, who is not seeking re-election.

Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack and Register of Deeds Jeffrey McMillen, both incumbents, will be unopposed in the May Democratic Primary as well as in the August General Election. Pack is seeking her fourth term. McMillen is looking for his eighth term.

Democrats will not have a candidate for Trustee. Republican incumbent Sean Driver will be unopposed for this third term in the August General Election.

County commission Democratic Primary races on May 6th will be contested in the second, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh districts.

The candidates for the county commission in each district are as follows (Two will be Nominated/Elected from each District)

Bennett Armstrong and Elmer Ellis, Jr. are unopposed in the Democratic Primary. They will be the Democratic Nominees in the August General Election along with Republican Nominee Mason Carter (TWO TO BE ELECTED).

Jerry Hutchins, Jr., Clarence Trapp , Joe N. Johnson, and Frank D.Thomas are seeking the Democratic Nomination. The two Democratic nominees will run in the August General Election along with Republican Nominee Bobby Joines and Independent Candidate James "Jimmy" E. Midgett. (TWO TO BE ELECTED)

Bradley Scott Hendrix, Jerry D. Scott, and Jack E. Barton are seeking the Democratic Nomination. The two nominees will be running in August along with Independent Candidate Wesley Nokes. (TWO TO BE ELECTED)

Wayne Cantrell, David McDowell, Bobby R. Taylor, Jonathan Norris, and Anthony "Tony" Poss are seeking the Democratic Nomination. The two nominees will be unopposed in August (TWO TO BE ELECTED)

Anita Puckett and Rick Cantrell are unopposed in the Democratic Primary. They will be the Democratic Nominees in the August General Election along with Republican Nominee Jerry D. Adcock (TWO TO BE ELECTED).

Betty Jean Atnip, Jeff Barnes, and Marshall Ferrell are seeking the Democratic Nomination. The two nominees will be running in August along with Independent Candidate Danny McGinnis (TWO TO BE ELECTED)

Larry A. Summers, Kevin Robinson, and David Agee are seeking the Democratic Nomination. The two nominees will be unopposed in August. (TWO TO BE ELECTED)

Chad Curtis will be unopposed for the Democratic nomination. He will face the Republican nominee Lee Plummer in the August General Election

There is no Democratic candidate for constable in the second district. In August, Republican Chris Tramel will face Independents Tony D. Lawson and Jonathan Low

There is no Democratic candidate for constable in the third district. In August, Independent candidates Travis Bryant and Lou Ann Sanders will be in competition for the position.

GOP primary races will be contested in the 13th Judicial District on May 6th for the offices of District Attorney General, District Public Defender, and Circuit Court Judge, Part I. The 13th Judicial District is made up of Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.

Republicans Shawn Fry and Bryant Dunaway, both of Cookeville will be vying for the GOP nomination on May 6th for District Attorney General. The winner will face Tony Craighead of Cookeville in the August General Election. Craighead will be unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

In the race for Criminal Court Judge, Part I, Republicans Wesley Bray and Gary McKenzie, both of Cookeville will be seeking the GOP nomination on May 6th. The winner will take on William Fred Roberson, Jr. of Cookeville in August. Roberson is unopposed for the Democratic nomination on May 6th.

Craig P. Fickling and Edwin G. Sadler, both of Cookeville, and John Meadows of Sparta are in the race for the Republican nomination for District Public Defender on May 6th. The winner will try to unseat Democratic incumbent David N. Brady of Cookeville in August. Brady is unopposed in the primary on May 6th.

Others who are unopposed in their respective primaries on May 6th are as follows.

Circuit Court Judge, Part I:
Amy Hollars of Livingston, Democratic Incumbent

Circuit Court Judge, Part II:
Randy York of Crossville, Democrat
Jonathan Young of Cookeville, Republican

Criminal Court Judge, Part II
David A. Patterson of Cookeville, Republican Incumbent

Ronald Thurman of Cookeville, Democratic Incumbent
J. Lee Burgess of Cookeville, Republican

Winners of each primary will face off in the August General Election.

State Lawmakers Repeal DeKalb County Private Act

April 13, 2014
Dwayne Page

State Lawmakers have voted to repeal a 1949 Private Act governing the manner in which members of the DeKalb County Democratic Party's Executive Committee are selected. Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, in a recent opinion, found the Act to be unconstitutional and unenforceable.

The county commission, in February, adopted a resolution by the required two thirds majority vote asking state legislators to repeal the Act. Jim Judkins, Chairman of the DeKalb County Democratic Party came before the county commission seeking this action.

Judkins explained that the 1949 Private Act, which was amended in 1972, calls for forty members of the local Democratic Executive Committee to be elected by popular vote every two years during the August Tennessee Democratic Primary from nineteen precincts across the county, some of which no longer exist.

The party has chosen instead to re-organize every two years under Tennessee Democratic Party rules, appointing seven members to the executive committee, one from each district.

According to Judkins, party leaders and members want the Private Act to be repealed to avoid a possible legal challenge in the future as to the validity in which the local party organizes.

The legislation to repeal the Private Act was introduced in the State House by State Representative Mark Pody and in the Senate by State Senator Mae Beavers. The vote to repeal was 91 to 0 in the State House and 31-0 in the Senate.

The measure must now come back before the county commission to be adopted again by at least a two thirds majority vote before it can take effect.

The State Attorney General's opinion basically states that the legislature can't constitutionally place burdensome restrictions on political parties in how they may organize.

In his opinion, AG Cooper wrote that "the statute (Private Act) constitutionally burdens the associated rights of the Tennessee Democratic Party and its members in DeKalb County and therefore is unenforceable".

The DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee was established under Private Acts of 1949, Chapter 771 and was subsequently amended in 1972. The Act calls for forty members to be elected from nineteen different precincts according to the population at those times. Several of the old precincts in the statute no longer exist and attempts by local party leaders to determine the old boundaries proved unsuccessful. It has been several years since anyone ran for the executive committee in DeKalb County on the primary election ballot, something the Private Act requires every two years, and the Act does not provide for reapportionment in redrawing the precincts.

Instead of electing members to the executive committee, as the Private Act calls for, the party sought an answer as to whether members could be appointed under the Tennessee Democratic Party Rules. Without a compelling state interest, Cooper's opinion basically finds that the party may determine for itself how to organize, a right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

In seeking the AG opinion on the enforceability of the Act, local party leaders posed the question as to whether the DeKalb County Democratic Party could cease following provisions of the seemingly antiquated private act, which remains the law for DeKalb County, and hold a reorganization convention pursuant to Tennessee Democratic Party rules, organizing every two years under the general statutory law for the purpose of conducting business.

In his opinion, Attorney General Cooper wrote that "A political party's determination of the boundaries of its own association, and of the structure which best allows it to pursue its political goals, is protected by the United States Constitution". He cited a California case in which the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional several California statutes restricting the organization and composition of political party committees. The high court ruled that the restrictions limited a political party's discretion in how to organize itself, conduct its affairs, and select its leaders and that because these were constitutionally protected associational rights, the state of California's restrictions could only be upheld if they served a compelling state interest. In that case, the court ruled California had not shown a compelling interest.

Under the DeKalb County Act, the State Attorney General opined that "the General Assembly directed that the DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee have forty members elected in the Democratic Primary from a list of precincts, some of which apparently no longer exist. Members must be elected to two-year terms. The Act thus sets the size of a single county executive party committee, the method by which its members must be elected, and the terms they must serve. The Act clearly imposes restrictions limiting the Tennessee Democratic Party's discretion in how to organize itself, conduct its own affairs, and select its leaders in DeKalb County. This Office is unable to identify any compelling State interest "necessary to the integrity of the electoral process" that these restrictions serve. For this reason, the Act unconstitutionally burdens the associational rights of the Tennessee Democratic Party and its members in DeKalb County and is unenforceable," wrote AG Cooper.

Rabies Vaccination Clinics Scheduled

April 13, 2014
Dwayne Page

Spring and summer mean having fun in the sun and enjoying many outdoor activities. Keeping your family safe is also important. The Tennessee Department of Health reminds Tennesseans that preventing exposure of people and their pets to the rabies virus is a priority, especially during this time of year.

Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs and cats, as required by Tennessee law and local ordinances. Owners are urged to have their dogs (3 months of age or older) and cats (6 months of age or older) vaccinated. Store purchased vaccines are not legally acceptable.

Vaccination clinics will be held on the following dates and locations:

Animal Clinic of Smithville, 440 East Broad Street (Dr. Mark Burke) In the office:
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 19: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

DeKalb County Animal Clinic, 1020 West Broad Street (Dr. Scott Little) In the office:
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to Noon
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 19: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

Wheeler Veterinary Clinic, 690 North Congress Boulevard (Dr. Anthony Warlick) In the office:
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

A fee of $7.00 will be charged for each innoculation.

For more information contact an Environmental Health Specialist at the DeKalb County Health Department at 597-7590.

Humans can be exposed to rabies when attempting to assist, feed or handle wild animals. If a wild or domestic animal is seen as ill or acting strangely, it should be reported to your local animal control agency. Bats in particular should not be handled. If a bat is found inside, in a swimming pool, or brought home by your pets, use precautions and consult your local health department.

Rabies is a deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies infection occurs primarily in wildlife in Tennessee, but it can be transmitted to any mammal, including humans and family pets. Bites are the most common means of transmission; contact with saliva from an infected animal can also be a concern.

Citizens can take the following actions to help prevent the spread of rabies:

Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.

Keep children away from any wild or dead animals. Educate them not to touch or attempt to pick up, feed or handle any wild or unfamiliar domestic animals, especially those that are or appear to be sick or injured.

Do not disturb bats. Instead, consult your local health department or animal control agency for assistance in dealing with potential exposure to bats.

For more information or assistance with a potential rabies exposure, call your local health department or the Tennessee Department of Health emergency line at 615-741-7247.


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