Local News Articles

City Council to Decide Case Against Randy Caplinger

May 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger
Sarah Cripps

The Smithville Board of Aldermen will convene Friday morning to conduct the long awaited due process hearing for Randy Caplinger, who wants his job back as Police Chief.

Mayor Jimmy Poss fired Caplinger on March 19 citing eight reasons for the termination

The hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. at city hall and WJLE will have LIVE coverage.

At the end of the hearing, the five member board of aldermen is expected to take a vote on whether to confirm the mayor's termination of Caplinger.

Under the City of Smithville's Personnel Policies regarding "New Hires, Promotions, Demotions, and Transfers", Section IV subsection J regarding Employment states that "Pursuant to the City Charter, the Mayor has the authority to hire, promote, demote, transfer, suspend, and remove all officers and employees of the City of Smithville with proper Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval. The City of Smithville is an at-will employer and may terminate the employment relationship at any time with or without cause. Employees may be disciplined up to and including termination of employment at any time."

"The point I want to make is the hiring and removal of employees can be initiated and done by the mayor but only with the approval of our board of aldermen. It says "proper" approval which I think is terribly important," said Sarah Cripps, attorney for Caplinger.

While some apparently believe a simple majority vote (three out of five) is all that is necessary to confirm the mayor's action to terminate Caplinger, Cripps told WJLE Thursday that the city charter is the controlling legal authority for the city, taking precedence over the personnel policy if there is a conflict, and the charter requires a two thirds majority vote which would be four out of five aldermen voting in the affirmative. Cripps bases her opinion on Article III of the Smithville City Charter regarding Organization and Personnel. Section 3.01, subsection (2) which states that "All officers and employees of the city, except as otherwise specifically provided by ordinance, shall be appointed and removed by the Mayor but only with the approval of at least two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council present voting upon the appointment or removal, and the employees shall be under the direction and control of the Mayor."

"Apparently there have been a lot of discussions in our community about what is required to confirm the mayor's decision. It's simple. This is true at every level of our nation's government. At the federal level. At the state level. And most applicable to our case at the local level. The presiding executive can appoint certain officials who are department heads. Those officials must be confirmed by the legislative body with not a simple majority but a two thirds majority. It's called a super majority. It's there to protect the people from the whims of our government. That's why its special. A super majority is sixty six and two thirds percent of the members of that body. In the U.S. Senate, a simple majority is 51%. In Smithville, a simple majority is three members out of the five serving. Is that enough to terminate the chief? To confirm the mayor's decision? Absolutely not. How do I know that?. The charter tells me so in Section 3.01 because sixty six and two thirds percent is four (aldermen) out of the five. That is why the question that should be called Friday is will the board affirm or confirm the mayor's recommendation that our chief be terminated? If so, they must have four persons out of the five to confirm that decision," said Cripps.

No one knows for certain how any of the aldermen will vote Friday but Cripps said should the aldermen fail to affirm the mayor's termination of Caplinger, the mayor does not have the authority to cast a veto. According to Cripps, the city charter states that mayoral vetoes are reserved only for legislative actions by the aldermen. Cripps cites Article II of the charter regarding the Mayor as Presiding Officer. In Section 2.04 subsection (1) the charter states that "The Mayor shall preside at meetings of the Board and shall not have a vote on any matter except in case of a tie vote". In subsection (2), the charter explains that "The Mayor shall have veto power over any legislative action of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen."

"The important point here is the term "legislative action". What is a legislative action? This section (2.04 subsection 2) tells us. It says upon passage of a legislative ordinance or resolution, the mayor shall notify the board in writing of a veto within ten days. A legislative action is very clear. It is a resolution. It is an ordinance. That is what legislative bodies do. They make law on whatever level of government they happen to be serving. In other words, our board of mayor and aldermen promulgate laws that affect the city. Those are ordinances. Those are resolutions where they desire to make their wishes known. Section 2.09 of the charter talks about what legislative action means. What is not defined in Section 2.09 as a legislative act under which the mayor has veto power, is the board's decision to hire or remove an employee. The mayor cannot exercise a veto in this case because it is not provided for in our city's charter. This is clear. It is not open for legitimate debate. If there is a veto, it is patently illegal. It's contrary to the provisions of the charter, which is the law under which our city operates because the vote being taken by the board Friday is not a legislative act. It is not a lawmaking act" said Cripps.

Congressman Diane Black Tours Omega Apparel, Donates Books to DCHS

May 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Congressman Diane Black toured Omega Apparel in Smithville Thursday. Shown here with Omega CEO Dean Wegner, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss and County Mayor Tim Stribling
Congressman Diane Black donates books to the DCHS library from the Library of Congress. Shown here with Class of 2015 Salutatorian Makalee Ruch and DCHS Librarian Lisa Craig
Congressman Diane Black visits DCHS Thursday. Shown here with Class of 2015 Salutatorian MaKalee Ruch and DCHS Librarian Lisa Craig
Congressman Diane Black visits Omega Apparel. Looking on are County Mayor Tim Stribling, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, and Omega CEO Dean Wegner

Congressman Diane Black was in Smithville Thursday to take a tour of Omega Apparel. She also visited DeKalb County High School where she donated books from the Library of Congress to the school library.

"The Library of Congress gets a copy of every book printed each year whether it's an instructional book, a nonfiction or fiction book. When the shelves get too full they weed out, and as they do we are allowed to pick out books to send back to the district and we take them to schools," Congressman Black told WJLE.

DCHS Librarian Lisa Craig and Class of 2015 Salutatorian MaKalee Ruch were among those who greeted Congressman Black at the school to receive the donation of books.

Dean Wegner, President and CEO of Omega Apparel, accompanied Congressman Black on her tour of the local factory. County Mayor Tim Stribling, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams joined them.

"It's incredible what they are doing. When I was here three years ago there was concern that there was not going to be as much business there and the drop in the number of employees and now we see someone who has lots of new ideas and really growing the business. It's going to be a wonderful thing for DeKalb County and the people that live here," said Congressman Black.

Asked about her concerns in Washington, Congressman Black said tackling the nation's debt is still a priority. "I think it's our growing debt that we're going to leave on the next generation. So every dollar that is spent in Washington, I am looking to see if there is fraud, waste, and abuse and if it's being spent wisely because I do worry about the future generations and what we're building up for them to have to pay back," she said.

As a member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Black said she continues to push for tax reform and a repeal of Obama Care. "We know that if we could do something that would reduce the tax burden on people that money would then be spent in the economy and would grow our economy so tax reform is a top priority and then what's happening in Obama Care and what I'm hearing from people about how it is directly affecting them. I am on a committee that has jurisdiction over both of those things and they are two issues that are up front for us," she said.

International turmoil is also a major concern. "That is a huge issue that is very difficult because militarily some people want us to be stronger. Others don't want us to be as strong. Funding for the military has dropped and I worry about our men and women that we ask to serve our country. Are we giving them the very best that they can have to protect them while they are on foreign soil," Congressman Black concluded.

Letter Carriers' Annual Food Drive Set for Saturday

May 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Letter Carriers' Annual Food Drive Set for Saturday

Your help is needed in "Fighting Hunger and Feeding Hope" on Saturday, May 9 by joining with the Letter Carriers (NALC) union in its 23rd annual food drive--the largest one-day food drive in the nation. The effort locally is being held in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

Letter carriers will be collecting non-perishable food donations for the drive from postal customers in the Smithville area as they deliver mail along their postal routes. People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods such as canned soup; canned vegetables; canned meats and fish; pasta; peanut butter; rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday.

According to local Letter Carriers, food items can be left in your mail box for mail carriers to pick up or you may drop off your donations at the lobby of the Smithville Post Office. Food may also be left at 430 East Broad Street (Food Bank Building next to Dr. Burke's Animal Clinic).

Carriers will bring the food to local food banks, pantries or shelters in DeKalb County. For more information, call Roger Young at the Smithville Post Office at 615-597-4781.

This food drive is the nation’s largest single-day collection effort and is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Hunger affects about 49 million people around the country, including millions of children and senior citizens. One in six Tennesseans struggle with hunger each day. Again, all of the food donations collected by your post office will stay in your county.

Join the effort to feed the hungry

DCHS Tigerettes Claim District Tournament Championship

May 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
District Softball Tournament Champions! (PHOTO BY GENA CRIPPS)
All-District DCHS Tigerette Honorees Kayley Caplinger, Loren Cripps, Dani Meadows, Allison Maynard, Tyra Graham, and Katie Hall (Photo by Gena Cripps)

The DCHS Tigerettes are District Tournament Champions.

They defeated Macon County Wednesday night 9-2 in the title game played at Upperman High School in Baxter. The Tigerettes will host their first round game of the Region Tournament Monday against Grundy County in Smithville at 5:00 p.m.

It's the 14th district tournament championship for Coach Danny Bond in his thirty year softball coaching career at DCHS.

The Tigerettes stayed undefeated throughout the district tournament with wins against York Institute 10-0 on Friday, Cannon County 3-2 on Monday, Macon County 3-2 on Tuesday, and against Macon County 9-2 on Wednesday.

In the Championship game Wednesday evening, the Tigerettes scored nine runs on ten hits and made three errors. Macon County scored two runs on four hits and made two errors.

DeKalb County scored five runs in the second inning, one run in the third, one run in the fifth, and two runs in the sixth inning. Macon County scored two runs in the seventh inning.

Kayley Caplinger, the winning pitcher, struck out five.

Katie Hall and Allison Maynard each had two singles while Tyra Graham, Loren Cripps, Dani Meadows, Myranda Bailiff, Hannah Walker, and Lexi Bates each singled.

Meanwhile, All-District 8-AA Regular Season and All-District Tournament selections were announced Wednesday night following the Tigerettes victory over Macon County in the District Softball Tournament Championship game at Baxter.

DeKalb County's Dani Meadows shared the District's Regular Season Most Valuable Player honor with Paige Clark of Macon County. Meadows also received the Defensive MVP distinction for the season. Kayley Caplinger was named the District's Pitcher of the Year.

Meanwhile, Kayley Caplinger and Katie Hall made the First Team All-District for the Regular Season while Tyra Graham and Loren Cripps were selected to the Second Team-All District.

Tyra Graham was named Most Valuable Player of the District Tournament. Graham made the All-District Tournament Team along with Kayley Caplinger, Dani Meadows, and Allison Maynard.

Former DCHS Tigerette Cynthia Woodward was among four inductees to the District 8-AA Softball Hall of Fame.

Town of Alexandria Lowers its ISO Classification

May 6, 2015
Alexandria Mayor Tony Tarpley (Seated), Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge, and Assistant Chief John Partridge

Mayor Tony Tarpley and Fire Chief Brian Partridge announced today that the Insurance Services Office has raised Alexandria’s Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating to Class 4 from a class 7. This upgrade indicates that insurance premiums, particularly on commercial properties, could be lowered by year’s end.

A community’s PPC depends on:

• emergency communications systems, including facilities for the public to report fires, staffing, training, certification of telecommunicators, and facilities for dispatching fire departments

• the fire department, including equipment, staffing, training, and geographic deployment of fire companies

• the water supply system, including the inspection and flow testing of hydrants and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires

• community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire investigation programs

The improved score was a result of improvements in all categories that the town is graded on including; the Emergency Communications section which evaluates Dekalb E-911, Water Supply section that inspects the town’s hydrant system and the Fire Department Section which graded The Alexandria Fire Department. Dekalb E-911 earned 9.55 credits out of 10 available. The Fire Department improved from 11.61 to 27.99 out of 50 possible credits.

DQ Manager and Boyfriend Arrested for Theft After Staging Break-In

May 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Recover Stolen Cash from Dairy Queen
Rebecca Duffield
Anthony Skinner

A manager of the Dairy Queen and her boyfriend have been arrested after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the business and then staging the scene to make it look like a break-in late Sunday night.

21 year old Rebecca Duffield and 20 year old Anthony Skinner are each charged with theft of property over $1,000 and vandalism. Bond for each is $12,500 and they will be in court on May 14.

According to Smithville Police, Duffield and Skinner were inside the restaurant cleaning up before closing when they stole more than $6,800 from the safe and then ransacked the office. Before they drove away in a blue Dodge Durango, Skinner was observed by a witness breaking out a glass in the drive through window apparently to give the impression that someone had broken into the business. The witness notified police and Officer Joey Myers responded to the scene at around 11:55 p.m.

Upon further investigation, Captain Steven Leffew said that the Durango was found parked at a residence on Short Mountain Highway and that both Skinner and Duffield were inside the home. Lieutenant Matt Holmes was informed that Duffield had just closed up the Dairy Queen and left moments prior to the incident. Lt. Holmes went to the residence and requested permission to search both the home and the Durango where evidence was collected. Police recovered over $6,800 which has been returned to the owners of the Dairy Queen.

Captain Leffew said he would like to thank DeKalb County Sheriff's Department Deputies Sergeant Brian Williams, Shane Hickman and Jimmy Martin for their assistance. He also commended Smithville Police Officers Lt Matt Holmes, Sgt Travis Bryant and Officer Joey Myers on a job well done.

Chapman Charged with Indecent Exposure

May 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Eric Chapman

A 27 year old man has been charged with two counts of indecent exposure for allegedly unzipping his pants and exposing himself to store clerks at the drive through windows of both the "On the Way" and Broadway" convenience markets.

27 year old Eric Chapman is under a $5,000 bond and he will make a court appearance on May 14.

According to Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew, K-9 Officer James Cornelius took the first report on Tuesday, April 28 from an employee at the "On The Way" market who said that a man had come up to the drive through window with his pants unzipped and was exposing himself.

Six days later on Monday, May 4 Officer Cornelius took another report from an employee at the "Broadway" market who said that a man had come up to the drive through window exposing himself.

After conducting surveillance on the markets, Officer Cornelius took Chapman into custody on Tuesday, May 5 at the "On The Way" Market on South Congress Boulevard.

Meanwhile in other cases from the Smithville Police Department, Officer Lance Dillard cited 37 year old Jason Zenn Cripps for shoplifting on Thursday April 23 after he was observed by Wal-Mart employees putting merchandise from the store inside his pockets. He will make a court appearance on June 11.

Corporal Lance Avera arrested 34 year old Roger Curtis Gregory for DUI on Saturday April 25. According to Police, Gregory was observed inside a vehicle located on West Broad Street in front of Tiger Drive. He was passed out in the driver's seat with the engine running and the transmission in drive. When Gregory was awakened he appeared to be intoxicated. The officer noticed that the driver's side of the vehicle had extensive damage and it is believed Gregory had run off the road sometime before he passed out. Gregory submitted to field sobriety tasks and performed unsatisfactory. He is under a $1,500 bond and will be in court on May 7.

Corporal Lance Avera arrested 33 year old Kenneth Adam Wright for public intoxication on Saturday April 25. Wright was inside the business of Kwik N Ezy and appeared intoxicated as he had red watery eyes, slurred speech, and was unsteady on his feet. He also had a confrontational attitude. Wright was placed under arrest for his safety and that of the public. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court May 7.

25 year old Michael Joseph Lee was arrested for domestic assault on Sunday, April 26. Officer Andy Snow responded to a domestic call where the victim reported that Lee had asked him for money and when he told him no Lee grabbed a weapon and threatened him. Lee's bond is $5,000.

Sergeant Travis Bryant received a call of a suspicious person possibly with drugs on Friday, May 1. Upon arrival Sgt Bryant spoke with 33 year old Nathan Joe Trapp and a search of his person revealed pills believed to be Xanax. Trapp was cited for simple possession of a schedule IV drug. His court date is May 14.

Officer Matt Farmer arrested 37 year old Jennifer Lea Jasak on Friday, May 1 for disorderly conduct. The warrant states that Jasak created a disturbance by yelling, cursing and attempting to hit another person with her fist. Her bond is $1,500.

30 year old Joshua R Cripps was arrested on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation on Saturday, May 2 after Sergeant Travis Bryant and Officer Joey Myers were dispatched to an area on East Main Street in reference to a suspicious vehicle. Sgt Bryant initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle in question and spoke with Joshua Cripps. A warrant check through Central Dispatch revealed the outstanding warrant from Cannon County. Cripps was taken into custody without incident

DeKalb County EMA and Department of Health Host Point of Dispensing Exercise

May 5, 2015

The DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency, DeKalb County Health Department, DeKalb County Local Emergency Planning Committee and the Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office are hosting a Point of Dispensing, or POD, exercise May 12 at the DeKalb County Community Complex. DeKalb County Emergency Services and volunteers with the DeKalb County Medical Reserve Corps will assist with the activity. The event is part of a larger middle Tennessee exercise in which PODs will simultaneously operate in three other regions to test our capability to work together to serve residents in a large-scale public health emergency.

Two possible POD sites have been selected by local emergency planners for use in the event of a situation requiring mass vaccinations or dispensing of medications to residents of DeKalb County. One is the Community Complex and the other is DeKalb County High School. In an emergency, people would come to the POD, fill out forms, ask questions and receive the recommended medications or vaccinations. This exercise will test DeKalb County’s capabilities to set up and operate the POD. The DeKalb County Health Department, along with staff members from other local health departments in the region, local law enforcement and emergency responders and the Upper Cumberland Medical Reserve Corps unit are responsible for staffing the POD sites.

The Medical Reserve Corps unit is community-based and functions as a way to organize and use local volunteers who want to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. Volunteers supplement existing public health resources and include medical and public health professionals such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians and epidemiologists. The MRC also includes other community members such as interpreters, chaplains, office workers and legal advisors who fill vital support positions.

Individuals interested in joining the Medical Reserve Corps and participating in this exercise should contact, Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator Dawn Hickey at (931) 520-4208.

"Tech Talk" Debuts Next Week on WJLE Presented by Smithville Computer Repair

May 5, 2015

Smithville Computer Repair is real excited to be sponsoring a new radio show called Tech Talk that will start on Thursday May 14th at 8:00am till 8:30am. Tech Talk will be a radio show that will spotlight one local professional from the Smithville and Dekalb County area each week. They will have a topic that they will discuss and give all the listeners some interesting and valuable information on that topic. But that is not all Tech Talk wanted to involve the listeners so towards the end of the show the listeners will get to call in with their question for the guest. Now if you want more information about Tech Talk you can call Smithville Computer Repair at 615-318-1471 and speak with Elaine and she will be glad to answer all your questions.

Here is Tech Talk line up for the next 6 weeks so make sure to mark your calendars Thursday @ 8:00am
May 14th Dr. Jamie Fornabio with Wheeler Veterinary
May 21st Gary Malone with Eagle Point Financial
May 28th Michael Hale with Dekalb Funeral Chapel
June 4th Jeff James with Dekalb County Insurance
June 11th (myself) Dan DelaCruz with Smithville Computer Repair
June 18th Chris Summers with Fast Pace Urgent Care

Tech Talk is hoping for a big warm welcome to WJLE and that a lot of listeners will tune in on Thursday mornings at 8:00am to listen and call in with their questions.

Also Smithville Computer Repair hours will be changed slightly, normally the store opens at 8am, closes at noon for lunch and then reopens at 1pm till 5pm Monday through Friday. But on Thursday the store will open at 9am, just wanted to let everyone know, again though if you have questions just give us a call at 615-318-1471.

Mayor and Aldermen Hear from Caplinger Supporters

May 5, 2015
Dwayne Page
Gary Durham

Although it will be open to the public, supporters of Randy Caplinger will not be afforded an opportunity to speak on his behalf during a due process hearing Friday morning at city hall as the former police chief tries to get his job back. But several took to the podium Monday night during the public comment period to put in a good word for Caplinger during the regular monthly meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Caplinger and his attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox will have to convince a majority of the five member board of aldermen Friday morning to reinstate him as police chief after Mayor Jimmy Poss fired him in March.

Local resident Gary Durham was among Caplinger's friends who tried to persuade the aldermen Monday night. "I've known Randy for over 30 years. I've probably talked to 100 people or thereabouts. Not one has said one thing or heard one thing bad about him. Why if this is true (reasons for termination) wasn't it documented and brought forth to the commissioner and chief of police? I ran a business for 30 years. I was in big time management. I've fired a lot of people. You don't do it this way. You bring the person in with all the information and document it. Then you talk to him. If the talk isn't satisfactory, it's up to you to terminate him then. And why is this meeting on Friday morning at ten o'clock when everybody knows there are people working who can't be here. I know we can't speak. But the way this is being done is totally not correct. There is no professionalism in this whatsoever," said Durham

Dr. Hugh Don Cripps praised Caplinger for fostering a good relationship between the police department and the hospital. " I wanted to come up here not to ask the board to do anything for me. I do think it's important for me to say how good the relationship with the hospital was with the entire Smithville Police Department. I don't know specifics about anything but I hope there is more to this than a political witch hunt. I hope we have valid reasons for charging a man who I think the entire community respects. I hope it's more than a Republican/Democrat thing or who is the mayor now or who used to be the mayor because we don't have very many good men in our community who are willing to serve. I have more than just a passing interest in seeing our town do well. I own several buildings and homes in this town and pay a lot of taxes and I have never been about politics in the city and county or the federal elections. I hope you guys will be more upstanding than picking a fuss over things that don't matter in the big scope of things," said Dr. Cripps.

Pat Zornow, operator of a local food pantry, also commended Caplinger ."I operate the local food pantry. Many churches and many people are very supportive of it. Last year we fed over 24,000 people. We fed over 8,000 families here. It's a big operation. Every time we had an issue and we called Randy Caplinger or one of his other police officials they reported immediately. They took care of every issue we have had including break-ins, accidents, and suspected thefts. We've had serious issues with that pantry. Each and every time I needed something he was there and it didn't matter if it was night, day, whatever. You're looking at a good man," said Zornow.

Dr. John Carpenter, minister of the Smithville First United and Bright Hill United Methodist Churches said Caplinger is a man of character. " I consider him a very loyal and respectful and Christ centered individual. I don't know all the charges that are brought against him. I don't know the details. But of his character I can speak and of that I am sure," he said.

Gingie White said she felt Caplinger has not been treated fairly. "I don't know a lot of detail about what's happened with Randy. It did seem an unjust cause to me. Randy is a man of good character. He has served well. I just feel like he has not been done fairly by the board, the elected officials and I just hope that you question yourselves as to whether you did the right thing to Randy or not. It wouldn't matter if it was Randy or someone else. To do the right thing is the right thing and I'm not sure this particular incident was handled properly with Randy. I'm disappointed in the way the board has carried this out," she said.

Mack White admonished the aldermen to do some soul searching on this matter. "Some of you are acquaintances and friends of mine. I respect your decision. I'll be your friend after your decision is completed. But I will make you a promise. I have never had a political sign in my yard but unless I can hear just cause, I will have the opponent of each of you, their sign in my yard come election time. Right is right. You are expected to be ethical and to carry out your work with principle, with respect, and with ethics. My neighbors expect that of me. I do of them. We're a small town. I expect that of you. Search your soul. If you have just cause I support you 100%. Make it public. If you don't you need to back up and do what's right," said White.

Beth Rhody, a friend of Caplinger, also spoke on his behalf." Randy has been a great friend of mine for many years. He is a great, wonderful guy. I hope and pray that with all the good things that has been said about Randy tonight, that when we leave here your conscience would be clear too so that people can say good and just things about you. That you just didn't throw somebody out on a whim. That there was justice done, right or wrong. Look into your own hearts and make sure what you're doing is right so people can say all the good things about you that they have said about Randy," she said.

Caplinger attorney Brandon Cox questioned why the former police chief was not being afforded a hearing before a three person board prior to a due process hearing in front of the entire board of aldermen; why the need for a morning hearing which comes at a time when many spectators are unable to attend; and why City Judge Hilton Conger was not being asked to serve as arbiter of the due process hearing, as attorneys for Caplinger have requested. "On behalf of Chief Caplinger, we would request a hearing before the three person board as is required by city code 42057 prior to conducting a hearing before the full board. We await the reasons why we can't have that hearing," said Cox

"This morning meeting serves only one purpose and that is to hush the public. To keep the public away. If there's a better reason I'd like to hear it. Each regularly scheduled city council meeting, just like this one (Monday night) is held at six p.m. The reason being is for the public to be here to be heard. At ten a.m., people have more obligations. I would ask the board that if you feel so just in your cause to terminate Chief Caplinger, why shy away from public scrutiny?"

" It has been determined that city judge Hilton Conger will not be present at this due process hearing to serve as an arbiter to any issues that arise, evidentiary or otherwise. He has not been contacted by the city. We asked the board to include Judge Conger in this due process hearing," he added.

Cox said the manner in which city officials are handling this case has given rise to mistrust among some members of the public. "This board and the actions in proceeding in this manner on this termination have had a negative impact on the City of Smithville. We too have been approached by a vast majority of the citizens of this great city and they have expressed a concern about the lack of leadership that has been displayed by this board, by the mayor, and all involved. The failure of this body to operate in a transparent and open manner has caused a bit of distrust in this city. As a result, the city has lost confidence in you guys. There's been no effort to this point that I have seen to regain that confidence or to address the issues or concerns that have been raised. In any government, openness and transparency is key. If you lose that, you lose trust. If you lose trust, you lose the people. The people of this city have a right to be here and have a right to be heard. Let them be part of this," said attorney Cox.

In response to Cox concerning a hearing before a three person disciplinary board, City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson explained that the provision which called for that board in a city ordinance was repealed last year and replaced with the new procedure whereby terminated employees now may make an appeal directly to the entire board of aldermen.

Caplinger's due process hearing Friday, May 8 begins at 10:00 a.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.


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