Local News Articles

Farm Service Agency to Host Meeting

November 27, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Have you been operating a livestock farm less than 10 years? Is your total household income less than $22,050 a year? Are you a member of a socially disadvantaged group? If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you can still sign up in the 2008 Livestock Forage Program (LFP) for assistance due to the drought conditions in DeKalb County during 2007 and 2008.

DeKalb County and Cannon County Farm Service Agency are hosting a joint producer meeting on Monday, November 30th at 6:00 p.m. in Smithville at the “303 Building” on the north side of the DeKalb County Courthouse. The meeting will be targeted towards explaining Livestock Forage Program benefits to socially disadvantaged farmers, limited resource farmers, and beginning farmers. However, general information will also be provided for anyone interested in the 2008 Livestock Forage Program. Office staff will be on hand to accept applications at the meeting.

Producers meeting the requirements of a socially disadvantaged farmer, limited resource farmer, or beginning farmer did not have to pay the $100 buy-in fee or purchase a NAP policy for the 2008 crop year and will be eligible to sign up in the 2008 LFP by the December 10 deadline.

The definitions for each group qualified under this waiver are:

(1) Socially Disadvantaged Farmer: a farmer who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group that has been subject to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.

(2) Limited Resource Farmer: a producer with BOTH the following:
a) direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than $100,000 in both of the previous 2 years, AND;(b) total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of 4, or less than 50% of county median household income in both of the previous 2 years. For DeKalb County and Cannon County, adjusted gross income (total household) of less than $22,050 would qualify.

(3) Beginning Farmer: an individual who (1) has not operated a farm for more than 10 years, AND (2) substantially participates in the operation.

For more information, or for directions to the meeting, contact the local Farm Service Agency. The DeKalb County Farm Service Agency office phone number is 597-8225, extension 2 and the Cannon County Farm Service Agency office phone number is 563-4321, extension 2.

Community to Celebrate "Christmas on the Square"

November 27, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams

Christmas on the Square will be celebrated on Thursday, December 3rd from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the Smithville Public Square.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, says festivities will be held at the 303 North Public Square building including Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus by Double J Photography, free pictures by Studio Six Limited, special music including the Community Chorus, Thea Tippin, Susie Guerin, Chris Summers, Sue Slager, Ron Noonan, Brian Russell, & students from Indian Mound, Chance, and the Cumberland Impact Center. Snowbird will be visiting around town from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Visit with your county officials and staff and enjoy lots of fresh baked goodies at the Courthouse Open House.

Williams says Children's Train and Inflatables are scheduled (if weather permits). Extended hours at downtown stores will make this a wonderful time for Christmas shopping. At the Justin-Potter Library, Snowbird will read to the children and pose for pictures from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and you may visit with Santa will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Bring your camera.

Come out for this enjoyable and heartwarming experience –Christmas on the Square! For more information, call the Chamber office at 597-4163.

Local Businesses Urge Consumers to Shop at Home More this Christmas

November 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Phillip Fluty Cantrell
Jerry Lee Cantrell (Left) Scott Cantrell (right)

The Christmas shopping season has arrived and local businesses hope you'll give them a chance to serve you more this year.

Phillip (Fluty) Cantrell of Cantrell's the home of Fluty says before you go out of town, try home first. "We know you can't buy everything at home but we would like to encourage people to at least try home first. Merchants have been here for years. We've made our living here and we appreciate everything everybody has done for us to keep us here."

Cantrell says many stores around town will be opening early on Friday morning for early bird shoppers, including downtown. "We started this thing (opening early on the morning after Thanksgiving Day) about ten years ago. People were shopping out of town and all the big sales were going on. We said let's try it and see what happens here. We tried it and it went over really good. So a lot of the downtown merchants will be open at 7:00 a.m. Friday with door buster specials. We encourage people to shop early."

Meanwhile, Jerry Lee Cantrell of Cantrell's Furniture and Appliances says when you buy at home, you're helping support the local tax base which means you're helping fund schools and other local government services. "We really appreciate all the people who trade with us. I think it's a very important thing that we keep our tax dollars in our community. We get the tax dollars back from the state. Of course, we have to send them in. It goes to the state and then comes back to us. This helps our community immensely."

Scott Cantrell also adds that when you shop at home, you get competitive prices and personal service and attention to your needs. "We've got competitive prices, in the sense of shopping apples for apples. We've got name brand things as all the big cities do so why would you want to go out of town and drive so far when you can get the very same thing right here in town at the same prices, if not cheaper? You don't have to pay for deliveries. You don't have to pay for haul off services. And we'll smile at you the whole time."

Thanksgiving Day Fire Destroys Rigsby Home

November 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire early Thanksgiving morning destroyed the home of Roscoe and Marie Rigsby at 375 Andrew Jackson Boulevard.

Central dispatch received the call at 1:39 a.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says Mrs. Rigsby had set her alarm clock Wednesday night to awaken her to check on a turkey she had placed in the oven and when the alarm sounded, she awoke and went to the kitchen. She got the turkey out of the oven and set it out to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. While she was in the kitchen, Mrs. Rigsby heard popping and crackling sounds coming from the basement. When she opened the door to the downstairs, she saw the basement engulfed in flames and the fire was beginning to spread up the stairs.

Mrs. Rigsby awoke her husband and they escaped unharmed. But the home and all their belongings were lost in the fire.

Green says the cause of the fire is undetermined but it apparently started in the basement.

Members of the Main Station, Cookeville Highway, and Liberty Stations, and Tanker # 1 responded along with DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

DeKalb Jobless Rates Inches up to 10.7% in October

November 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for the month of October inched up to 10.7%, slightly higher than the 10.3% rate recorded in September, and much higher than the 7.4% rate in October, 2008.

The local labor force for October was 9,530. A total of 8,510 were employed and 1,020 were unemployed.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's unemployment rate for October was 10.5 percent, unchanged from the September rate of 10.5 percent. The United States' unemployment rate for the month of October was 10.2 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for October 2009, show that the rate increased in 38 counties, decreased in 42, and remained the same in 15 counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.9 percent, unchanged from its September rate. Lauderdale County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 18.9 percent, up 0.1 from the September rate, followed by Hancock County at 18.0 percent, down from 18.4 percent in September.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.8 percent, down 0.3 percentage point from the September rate. Hamilton County was at 8.8 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from the September rate. Davidson County was 8.9 percent, down 0.2 from the previous month, and Shelby County was 10.2 percent, up 0.1 from the September rate.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Extended to April 30, 2010

November 25, 2009

A new law that went into effect Nov. 6 extends the first-time homebuyer credit five months and expands the eligibility requirements for purchasers.

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 extends the deadline for qualifying home purchases from Nov. 30, 2009, to April 30, 2010. Additionally, if a buyer enters into a binding contract by April 30, 2010, the buyer has until June 30, 2010, to settle on the purchase.

The maximum credit amount remains at $8,000 for a first-time homebuyer –– that is, a buyer who has not owned a primary residence during the three years up to the date of purchase.

"The new law also provides a 'long-time resident' credit of up to $6,500 to others who do not qualify as 'first-time homebuyers,'” said IRS spokesman Dan Boone.

To qualify this way, a buyer must have owned and used the same home as a principal or primary residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date of purchase of a new home as a primary residence, Boone said.

For all qualifying purchases in 2010, taxpayers have the option of claiming the credit on either their 2009 or 2010 tax returns.

A new version of Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit, will be available in the next few weeks. A taxpayer who purchases a home after Nov. 6 must use this new version of the form to claim the credit. Likewise, taxpayers claiming the credit on their 2009 returns, no matter when the house was purchased, must also use the new version of Form 5405. Taxpayers who claim the credit on their 2009 tax return will not be able to file electronically but instead will need to file a paper return.

A taxpayer who purchased a home on or before Nov. 6 and chooses to claim the credit on an original or amended 2008 return may continue to use the current version of Form 5405.

The new law raises the income limits for people who purchase homes after Nov. 6. The full credit will be available to taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes (MAGI) up to $125,000, or $225,000 for joint filers. Those with MAGI between $125,000 and $145,000, or $225,000 and $245,000 for joint filers, are eligible for a reduced credit. Those with higher incomes do not qualify.

For homes purchased prior to Nov. 7, 2009, existing MAGI limits remain in place. The full credit is available to taxpayers with MAGI up to $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers. Those with MAGI between $75,000 and $95,000, or $150,000 and $170,000 for joint filers, are eligible for a reduced credit. Those with higher incomes do not qualify.

Several new restrictions on purchases that occur after Nov. 6 go into effect with the new law:

Dependents are not eligible to claim the credit.

No credit is available if the purchase price of a home is more than $800,000.
A purchaser must be at least 18 years of age on the date of purchase.

Members of the Armed Forces and certain federal employees serving outside the U.S. have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and still qualify for the credit. An eligible taxpayer must buy or enter into a binding contract to buy a home by April 30, 2011, and settle on the purchase by June 30, 2011.

For more details on the credit, visit the First-Time Homebuyer Credit page on IRS.gov.

Farm Service Agency Announces Committee Elections

November 25, 2009
Donny Green

Election ballots for the DeKalb Farm Service Agency’s local committee election have been mailed to all eligible voters in Local Administrative Area # 1, the central portion of DeKalb County. Ballots must be completed and returned in person or postmarked no later than December 7, 2009. The Committee will meet December 8 to canvass, tabulate, and elect a committee person to represent farmers in the central portion of DeKalb County (Local Administrative Area #1), currently represented by County Committee Member Mary Sanders.

The farmer-elected committee is your voice in USDA’s programs here in DeKalb County. Members of the committee work with area farmers to maintain the local focus on many USDA programs, inform people of what’s available, and help producers understand how the programs work. “Committee members work to help shape national programs into working local programs,” says Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency.

Mary Sanders was nominated as a candidate and will be the only candidate listed on the ballot. Write-in nominations are accepted and should be written on the official ballot. All candidates must meet eligibility requirements to hold the office on the Committee.

Once eligible voters receive their ballots, careful attention should be given to the instructions provided on the ballot that outline proper procedures for voting in this election. Voters can vote for only 1 nominee listed, or can write-in only 1 eligible candidate on the ballot. Voted ballots can be mailed back to the DeKalb FSA, or can be hand delivered to the FSA.

All ballots must be returned, or postmarked, by December 7 in order to be considered valid. Ballots will be opened and tabulated in a public meeting at the DeKalb County USDA Service Center, located at 647 Bright Hill Street in Smithville, at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 8. Contact the DeKalb County FSA office at 597-8225, ext. 2 for more information.

FSA committee elections are open to all voters without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or disability.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn Qualifies as Candidate for Re-Election

November 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Clerk Mike Clayborn

County Clerk Mike Clayborn is the first candidate to qualify for the DeKalb County Democratic Primary next May.

Clayborn picked up his petition last week and has returned it with the required number of signatures to the election commission office.

Meanwhile, Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, says Glynn Merriman has picked up a petition for the office of County Clerk.

The latest to pick up petitions are Incumbent Jerry Scott for the county commission in the third district, Incumbent Wayne Cantrell for the county commission in the fourth district, Incumbent John Green for the county commission in the fifth district, Incumbent Elmer Ellis, Jr. for the county commission in the first district; Jimmy W. Poss for the county commission in the seventh district; Roy Merriman for county commission in the third district, Incumbent Larry Summers for county commission in the seventh district, and Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, who plans to see re-election.

Five men, Johnny Colwell, Randy Braswell, Bobby Taylor, and Lloyd Emmons have picked up petitions for county commission in the fifth district. Emmons seeks to qualify as an Independent candidate. The other three are planning to run as Democrats.

Offices eligible for the May ballot are County Mayor, County Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk, Trustee, Register of Deeds, Road Supervisor, and Sheriff, county commissioners in districts one through seven, 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Part 1 and District Attorney. The latter two are up for election due to previous resignations and those named to fill these seats were appointed until the next scheduled election.

Stanley says qualifying petitions may now be picked up and the qualifying deadline for the May 4th Primary is noon on Thursday, February 18th, 2010. Stanley adds that there is another important date for potential Sheriff and Road Supervisor candidates to remember, February 4th.

Sheriff candidates must file "affidavits of qualification" with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission no later than February 4th, 2010. Road Supervisor candidates must file their affidavits of qualification with the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board no later than February 4th, 2010.

Stanley says Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th, 2010. The Republican Party, which usually selects its nominees by caucus, must certify its candidates by the same date and time.

Autopsy Confirms Identities of Elderly Couple

November 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
James and Zora Inez Tramel (Picture provided by Tramel Family)

An autopsy has confirmed that the elderly couple who died Saturday morning in a burning home at 181 Man Hill Road was 87 year old James Tramel and his wife 90 year old Zora Inez Tramel.

The couple lived at the residence

No other details have been released as to the cause of death or how the fire started.

Meanwhile, the funeral services have been set for the Tramels. The funeral for both will be Wednesday at noon at DeKalb Funeral Chapel. Elder Ricky Arnold and Wayne Simmons will officiate and burial will be in the Snow Hill Methodist Cemetery. Visitation will be Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the service at noon.

Mr. Tramel was a member of the Snow Hill United Methodist Church. He was retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and TVA.

Mrs. Tramel was a member of the Pisgah United Methodist Church. She was also a homemaker.

Mr. Tramel was preceded in death by his parents, Dennis and Julie Arnold Tramel; brothers, Reverend Ernest Tramel, Walter Tramel, and Haskell Tramel; sisters, Nancy Nokes, Velma English, Elrisia Whitlock, Lena Van, Beatrice Bryant, and Myrtle Smith.

Mrs. Tramel was preceded in death by her parents, Benjamin and Nancy L. Zora Close Ellis; a brother, Clarence Ellis; and a sister, Fannie Lillian Carr.

The Tramels are survived by their children, Reverend James Paul Tramel of Clarksville and Linda Faye and husband Ron Phelps of Dalton, Georgia. Grandchildren, Todd Alan Phelps of Dalton, Georgia and Mark Andrew Phelps of Atlanta, Georgia. Three grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, five great great grandchildren.

Mr. Tramel is also survived by a brother, Calvin Tramel of Smithville; sisters, Ethel Keith Ashford of Smithville and Ruby Deal of Nashville.

Caregivers for both Mr. and Mrs. Tramel are JoAnn Meece and Angie West. DeKalb Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

(The picture of the Tramels seen above was provided to WJLE by the funeral home with permission of the Tramel family)

Sheriff Announces New Program to Combat Drug Problem

November 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Walter Tiny Pedigo
Berna Dean Barnes
John Charles Deck Jr
Michael Anthony Ellis

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has launched a new program using the rules of probation as a tool in combating the drug problem.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says this new program involves people who have been sentenced in crimes and then placed on misdemeanor or felony probation. "When a Judge sentences a person to probation in lieu of jail time, the defendant gives up a constitutional right making him subject to a law enforcement search of his person, residence, or vehicles at anytime. Law enforcement may search a defendant's home, person, or vehicle without a search warrant. If the defendant refuses the search, the probation officer then may violate his probation. The defendant, once given a form detailing the rules of probation, must sign and date the form accepting the terms."

" We as law enforcement can use the rules of probation as a tool to help us battle the illegal sale and possession of narcotics and even use it to help us work burglary cases. Although some types of probation have no requirements in order to conduct a search, I do require my department to have at least suspicion that the defendant is doing some kind of illegal activity before we do the search. For the last two weeks, my department and I, along with a State of Tennessee Probation and Parole Officer have made home visits to ten defendants who are on parole or probation in DeKalb County. Out of the ten defendants, six either failed drug screens, were in possession of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, or did not live at the address that they provided to the probation officer. In one case, we were able to seize more than $6,700 that was used in the illegal sales of narcotics here in the county".

"We want the public to know that if someone is sentenced to probation or parole, my department and I are going to do everything possible to see that these defendants are living up to their requirements of probation. With the state cutting money from the Tennessee Department of Corrections, we anticipate that out of the more than 4,000 inmates expected to be released, some will live here in DeKalb County. As Sheriff, I want some kind of assurance that these people will live by their requirements of parole. If the defendant refuses to live by those requirements, my department and I will do everything possible to place these defendants back into custody and out of harms way."

Meanwhile, in this week's crime news, Sheriff Ray says 62 year old Walter "Tiny" Pedigo was charged last Monday, November 16th with possession of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone) after a search was conducted at his residence which is located on Gentry Avenue, Smithville. Detectives found in the front pocket of Pedigo's pants, a prescription bottle that was issued in someone else's name. In the bottle were five Hydrocodone pills. Bond for Pedigo was set at $1,500 and he will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

47 year old Berna Dean Barnes of New Home Road Smithville was charged Monday, November 16th with possession of drug paraphernalia after a search was conducted at her residence. A safe was found under her bed that contained used hypodermic needles and straws that were individually packed into sandwich bags. Hypodermic needles, both new and used, were also found throughout her bedroom. Bond for Barnes was set at $1,000 and she will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

Barnes was arrested again on Friday, November 20th after a deputy saw her driving on Patterson Road in Smithville. The officer says Barnes' vehicle was weaving before she drove it into a ditch and then hit a mailbox. Barnes was stopped and she submitted to field sobriety tasks which she failed. Barnes refused to take a blood alcohol and/or drug test but did admit to the deputy that she was taking Hydrocodone. Barnes was arrested for driving under the influence and also was issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. Her bond was set at $1,000 and she will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

27 year old Joshua Wayne Goff of Mocking Bird Drive, Smithville was stopped by deputies on New Home Road Dowelltown last Monday, November 16th for a traffic violation. A computer check revealed that Goff's driver's license were revoked. Goff was charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

The Sheriff's Department searched the residence of 35 year old John Charles Deck Jr. of Adcock Cemetery Road Smithville on Wednesday, November 18th. During the search, lawmen found in Deck's bedroom a piece of foil that contained three pills believed to be Oxcodone and a pill bottle under Deck's mattress that contained one and a half pills believed to be Suboxone. Also, found in Deck's bedroom was a bag of hypodermic needles. Deck was charged with simple possession of a schedule II drug, possession of a schedule III drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for Deck was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on December 3rd.

Also on Wednesday, 29 year old Michael Anthony Ellis of Morrison Creek Road, Gainesboro was arrested for theft of property over $1,000. Detectives allege that Ellis worked at a business on Highway 56 North and took three DVD players, an air ratchet, and an air hammer from the business without the owner's consent. Ellis then pawned the items in Cookeville. Bond for Ellis was set at $3,500 and he will appear in General Session's court on December 10th.

Deputies responded to Highway 70 West on Friday, November 20th after two complaints were called into the central dispatch about a vehicle that was driving all over the roadway. After spotting the vehicle and noticing it weaving and driving slow, deputies stopped it and found 26 year old Chasity Lynn Carter of Brush Creek Road, Brush Creek to be the driver. Carter had slurred speech and she was unsteady on her feet. Officers performed field sobriety tasks on Carter which she failed. Carter almost passed out while trying to perform the sobriety tasks. Also found in Carter's possession were fifteen diazepam pills. Carter was charged with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance for resale. Her bond was set at $16,000 and she will appear in court on December 3rd.

19 year old Michael Joseph Lee was charged Friday with being a fugitive from justice. Lee was charged after a computer check revealed that he was wanted in Joliet Illinois for drug possession, driving under the influence, and driving on a suspended license. Lee is being held without bond until his extradition hearing on November 25th in General Sessions Court.

On Sunday, November 22nd deputies arrested 30 year old Jack Mullican Jr. of Johnson's Chapel Road Sparta after he was stopped for a traffic violation. Mullican was found to be driving on a suspended license. He also had warrants against him in a forgery case as a result of a recent investigation by the DeKalb Sheriff's Department. In that case, detectives, on October 18th received a report from a Mullican family member that someone had stolen some blank checks. On October 22nd, Mullican passed one of the checks at a store on Highway 70 West here in DeKalb County. Mullican was charged with a second offense of driving on a suspended license, theft of property under $500, and forgery. Bond for Mullican was set at $8,000 and he will appear in General Session's court on November 25th for the driving offense and December 3rd for the other crimes.

Sheriff Ray wants to remind everyone that if you have any information on any crimes such as the sale of illegal drugs or any thefts in DeKalb County, to call the Sheriff's Department's 24 hour crime tip line at 464-6400 or call Sheriff Ray at 597-4935. All calls will be kept confidential.

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