Local News Articles

Qualifying Deadline Approaching for Liberty Election- Early Voting Hours set for Smithville Balloting

May 7, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Persons may file qualifying petitions for the Liberty Municipal Election.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected in Liberty on Thursday, August 6th.

The qualifying deadline is noon on Thursday, May 21st

The positions are currently held by Mayor J. Edward Hale, Jr. and Aldermen Jarrett Pistol and Howard Reynolds, Jr.

Meanwhile, the dates and times are set for early voting for the Smithville Municipal Election

All early voting will be in the basement of the courthouse starting Wednesday, May 27th through Thursday, June 11th from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and from noon until 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays.

The regular city election day is Tuesday, June 16th from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse. The voter registration deadline for the Smithville election is Monday, May 18th.

In Smithville, three aldermen will be elected. The candidates are Incumbents, Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan, and Willie Thomas, and challengers, Gary Durham, Shawn Jacobs, Aaron Meeks, W.J. (Dub) White, and Todd Van Dyne.

School System Records 80 Students with Perfect Attendance

May 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Clay Farler

A total of 80 students in the DeKalb County School System have recorded perfect attendance for the entire school year, to date.

Clay Farler Attendance Supervisor, says he wants to commend those students for their commitment. "We have some students every year who make it through the entire year of school without being sick enough to miss school or have any other thing to happen in their lives that causes them to miss school. We have several students at every school who have had perfect attendance through this entire school year and when I say perfect I mean they have been there every day for every minute of the day. They have not been late and they have not left early. At DeKalb Middle School, thirteen students have been there every day of the year. At Northside Elementary, thirty three students have had perfect attendance. At DeKalb West School and Smithville Elementary School, we have had ten students who have not missed any days. At DeKalb County High School, we have had fourteen students who have been there every day of the year."

"We encourage students to be in school every day of the year. The first day of school is an important day and the last day of school is important and I want to thank all the students and their parents and guardians who have helped make sure that the students were in school to learn all they could. We normally have to go to school 180 days of the year but this year because of days missed for snow and other things, we will only be going 174 days of school this year."

Meanwhile, Farler says each of the schools have exceeded the state benchmarks for attendance. "The state of Tennessee requires that every school in the state have an attendance rate of 93% or greater. At this present time in our schools we have a total of 2,917 students county wide and at least 93% of all those students have to be present on everyday of the school year. The rate at each of our schools is running quite a bit better than that."

"At DeKalb West School, their current attendance rate is 95.4%, so that means for this entire school year, of the 161 days we have already gone to school (as of May 4th), their students have been there on average of 95.4% of the time."

"At Northside Elementary, their current attendance rate is 96.2%."

"At Smithville Elementary, their rate is 94.7%. That's a little lower than some of the other schools, but if you remember, a couple of months ago we had a lot of illness in our elementary school so that tended to bring the total yearly average down a little. But that's still a good average for the year."

"At DeKalb Middle School, their current attendance rate is 95.4% and at DeKalb County High School, their attendance rate is 94.7% which is really good. Last year they (DCHS) had a rate of 94.1% for the full year so that's running quite a bit better for the full year than it has in the past."

The last day of school will be Friday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be given to the students. DCHS graduation will also be held Friday, May 22nd at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field.

Three Apply to Succeed Judge Turnbull

May 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Three people have applied to succeed Circuit Court Judge John A. Turnbull in the 13th Judicial District.

The applicants are Algood attorney Wesley Thomas Bray, Cookeville attorney and former Criminal Court Judge Lillie Ann Sells, and Livingston attorney Amy V. Hollars, who is currently serving as Special Circuit Judge.

The application deadline was (Tuesday)

The Judicial Selection Commission will meet on Friday, May 22nd at the Justice Center, 421 East Spring Street, Cookeville, Tennessee, to initiate the process of filling the vacancy in the 13th Judicial District Circuit Court created by the resignation of Judge Turnbull.

Turnbull, who has held the position since 1989, recently announced that he is stepping down from the bench, effective June 15th. He has been on disability leave for several months due to back ailments. Turnbull was last elected in 2006 and his term expires in 2014.

Hollars, daughter of Judge Turnbull, was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen last fall as a temporary special judge to fill in for her father after he took disability leave.

Now that Judge Turnbull has resigned, the governor will appoint a replacement to serve until the next regular election, which is in 2010. The person elected will serve out the remainder of Turnbull's term through 2014.

The 13th Judicial District is made up of DeKalb, Putnam, Overton, White, Cumberland, Clay, and Pickett counties.

City Employees Face Monthly Surcharges Unless they Kick the Habit Under Health Insurance Program

May 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville employees enrolled in the city's state sponsored health insurance program who use tobacco products may be assessed a monthly $50 surcharge if they don't kick the habit.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson addressed the issue during Monday night's city council meeting. "I guess all of you who are participating in our state sponsored insurance got this letter. What it says is that as of July 1st, anyone that uses tobacco in any way, smoking, dip, or chewing, will be assessed a $50 per month charge and that's for any employee that uses it (tobacco)."

"I think what most agencies are doing is they will help you quit (using tobacco) with some medicines, patches, gum, or whatever and it will be (cost) almost nothing if you want those aids to help you quit"

"I don't know all the ramifications if you say you've quit but you haven't quit by July 1st and something happens where you would need the insurance. I don't know what happens then. That remains to be seen"

"Members who do not use tobacco will not have to pay the surcharge. Also members who quit by July 1st, 2009 will not have to pay the surcharge. However, members who use tobacco on or after July 1st will have to pay the surcharge starting January, 2010. It also goes on to say that members who pay the surcharge and then kick the habit can qualify for a quitters refund."

In other business, Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson reported that the city will only grant one sewer bill adjustment for filling up customers swimming pools this year." Usually this time of year, everybody starts filling up their swimming pools. A lot of times, we'll adjust their sewer rates because its (swimming pool water) is not going through the sewer. We've been doing it more than once a year but we're going to stop that and do it only once a year. So anybody who has a swimming pool, you will only be getting one sewer rate adjustment per year."

Hendrixson also gave a brief report on engineering plans for the water treatment plant rehab project. "We met with them (Wauford Engineering Consultants). It was just a 50% meeting. It was still a rough draft but it went pretty well. We're going to get all new pumps, three at the intake and three at the treatment plant. We will be working the water fluoridation in to it as well. They had to go back to the drawing board to work that in but I don't think it's going to be much of an issue. We'll be hearing back from them (Wauford) probably within a month at a 75% meeting."

Concerning the water fluoride issue, Mayor Hendrixson added "Until we get it (fluoride) back in the water system, if the public is concerned then you probably need to consult your dentist or your physician."

Northside Elementary School to present the musical, “I Love Rock & Roll: A Musical Time Machine"

May 4, 2009
Radio personality, "The StyckMan" holding a photograph of his on stage character

Northside Elementary School presents the musical, “I Love Rock & Roll: A Musical Time Machine,” on Thursday, May 7th at 6:30pm in the NES gymnasium. Directed by Kelly Jo Birmingham, the fifth grade students will present popular rock songs of each decade, beginning in the 1950s.

While DeKalb County does not have a theater for public performances of the arts, Northside Elementary School’s spring musical provides our students with the opportunity for artistic expression. This year’s production is comprised of approximately one hundred, seventy-five fifth grade students plus staff. “I Love Rock & Roll: A Musical Time Machine” is a student-based community project, combining the talents of Northside students, faculty, and staff, as well as the talents of several Smithville community members. Former Northside parent, and Smithville resident, “The StyckMan” of 94.7 The Country Giant, will be performing in Northside’s musical. He states, "This will be my 5th musical with Northside, however I've never been on the stage with the students until now. I will tell you this: this show will be different from anything that we've ever put on stage".

Admission is free to the public. Come support the arts at Northside Elementary School this Thursday evening!

Teen Charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery of 13 year old Female

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 15 year old boy has been charged in a juvenile petition with aggravated sexual battery of a 13 year old girl.

The boy will appear in Juvenile Court on May 6th.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings released the report Monday which states that "On April 26th, it is alleged that the boy did sexually assault a female juvenile, 13 years of age, by displaying a screwdriver and forcing her onto his lap, at which time he allegedly put his hand under her shirt, fondling her breasts, and put his hand in her pants at which time digital penetration did occur."

The victim told police that on Sunday, April 26th at around 3:00 p.m, she and a female friend were at the Housing Authority park on Tommy Harold Street. On their way home, the girls passed the home of the boy on Highland Street. The victim said she heard him say "hey" and the two of them began to talk. She said the boy was holding a screwdriver in his hand. The victim said that after about two or three minutes of talking, he went down to one knee and pushed the screwdriver into the ground next to him and then pulled her close to him and forcefully sat her down on his knee. He was forcefully restraining her by holding her around her waist. She claims that he put his hand up her shirt and inside of her bra. The victim says she told the boy to stop and let her go numerous times throughout the incident but was scared to yell or use force in fear that he would hurt her with the screwdriver. She claims that the boy then put his hand down the front of her pants and inside of her panties. She continued telling him to stop. The girl told police that this lasted two or three minutes and he then released her and went back inside of his residence.

The case was later reported to Smithville Police and the Department of Children Services.

Meanwhile, in another case, two people were arrested by Smithville Police Saturday after allegedly creating a disturbance at a local restaurant.

31 year old Joel Thomas Hayes of Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication, unlawful possession of a schedule II controlled substance (hydros), and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court May 28th.

33 year old Karen Lynn Welsh of Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court May 28th.

Officer Travis K. Bryant reports that he responded to City Café on Saturday, May 2nd where two subjects, Hayes and Welsh, were intoxicated and causing a disturbance. Upon speaking to Hayes, Officer Bryant noticed his speech to be very slurred and he was very unsteady on his feet. Hayes stated that he had taken hydros earlier in the day. During a search, incident to arrest, Officer Bryant found on Hayes one yellow pill in a blue pill crusher and fourteen and a half yellow pills in a Playdoh container, all believed to be hydros. He also found an ink pen tube with powder residue inside it.

In his report, Officer Matt Holmes states that upon speaking with Welsh, he noticed that she had very slurred speech and she was very unsteady on her feet. Welsh told the officer that she had taken two hydros by mouth and had snorted one about an hour before.

46 year old Kimberly Ann Baker of Liberty is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court May 28th.

Officer Matt Holmes reports that on Saturday, May 2nd he responded to Subway where a female, Baker, was intoxicated. Upon arrival, Officer Holmes observed a male and female inside Subway and the male was holding up the female by her belt. The female, Baker, was very unsteady on her feet and she had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. Upon speaking with her, Officer Holmes noticed her speech to be very slurred. Baker admitted to being intoxicated.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints on Graduation Night

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Smithville and Alexandria
Police Departments will be out in full force combating drunk driving on our roads during the upcoming high school graduation.

As part of the effort to combat drunk driving, Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department regularly coordinates sobriety checkpoints in DeKalb County. "Our goal is to have a safe night for not only the graduates, but also their friends and family members who are traveling on our roadways. My department and I will also be at the graduation to assist you in anyway and also to support our graduating seniors."

According to Sheriff Ray the areas where the checkpoints will be conducted on graduation night, May 22nd are Highway 70, Highway 56, Highway 146, and Highway 53 in Liberty and Alexandria. "If you come upon one of the checkpoints, you need to be on alert for officers standing in the roadway and be prepared to stop. If you see what you think might be a drunk
driver, gather as much information as possible such as a description of the vehicle and a tag number and then call the central dispatch at 215-3000 or dial 911."

Sheriff Ray says grant funds help pay for equipment needed for these type of enforcement efforts. "My department and I , in conjunction with other area law enforcement agencies, often conduct sobriety check points in the county. I have applied for grants from the Governor's Highway Safety Office to buy equipment such as traffic cones, traffic vests, flashlights, blue lights for the patrol cars, and other items so that the deputies may have the equipment needed to perform these types of check points. We have already received two grants to purchase this type of equipment and I have applied for another grant that we hope to get soon".

Under the law, Sheriff Ray says these checkpoints must be publicized in advance. "Many of our checkpoints are mobile. This means the checkpoints that we do are set up at certain locations for a few hours, and then move to other locations. As a law enforcement leader, I am required by law and department policies, to advise the public where and when we will be doing the check points . Our department also performs saturated patrols within the county which means we target certain roads where we see increasing arrests for drunk drivers, accidents where alcohol may be the contributing factor, or maybe a road where we are getting a lot of complaints about drinking and driving. We try to have these type of checkpoints when traffic is at a higher rate
than normal for the safety of the public."

Sheriff's Department Makes Three DUI Arrests

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
John Robert Lucas

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested three people in separate drunk driving offenses last week and found a baggie of marijuana during one of the investigations.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies arrested 30 year old John Robert Lucas of West End Avenue,
McMinnville last Wednesday, April 29th after he was stopped on Highway 56 South for weaving.
The officers detected an odor of alcohol on Lucas' person. He was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Lucas submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Upon receiving consent to search Lucas' vehicle, deputies found under the seat, a baggie containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

Lucas was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and simple possession of
marijuana. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in General
Sessions Court on May 28th.

Also on Wednesday, deputies were on patrol in the Dowelltown and Liberty area of
the county when they spotted a vehicle driving erratically on Highway 70. An officer activated his blue lights but the vehicle continued going. After officers got the automobile stopped on Main Street in Liberty, they found 35 year old Luther Odell Miles of Granada Avenue, Nashville to be the driver. They also noticed that Miles had an odor of alcohol on his person. Miles submitted to
field sobriety tasks which he failed.

Miles was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. His bond was set
at $1,500 and he will appear in General Sessions Court on May 28th.

On Saturday, deputies responded to a hit and run accident on Cookeville Highway and spotted the vehicle that had left the scene about three miles from where the mishap occurred. After stopping the vehicle, officers detected a strong odor of alcohol. The driver, 51 year old David William Boyd of Puckett's Point Road, Smithville, submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Deputies also checked Boyd's driver's license and discovered that it was suspended.

Boyd was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license, and leaving the scene of an accident. Boyd's total bond was set at $9,500 and he will appear in General Sessions Court on May 28th

Hagan Home Heavily Damaged by Fire

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Sunday evening fire caused extensive damage to the home of Tony and Frankie Hagan at 220 Holmes Creek Road.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says the Hagans were at home at the time and reported the fire around 7:32 p.m. They escaped unharmed.

Chief Parker says the fire heavily damaged the kitchen and utility room area on the first floor and caused some damage to the second floor. The residence also received some smoke and water damage.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

DCHS Senior Awards Day set for May 15th

May 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be awarded to members of the Class of 2009 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards Day program, set for Friday, May 15th at 8:30 a.m.

Representatives of colleges, universities, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations will be making the presentations.
WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

In addition to the awards by colleges and universities, local scholarships expected to be presented include the following:

DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications, Jolly Angels, Smithville Women's Club, DeKalb Retired Teachers, Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship, The DeKalb Farmers Coop, The Kyle and Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship, The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award, The Hunter Davis Memorial Scholarship, Courtney Pirtle Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb County Republican Women's scholarship, the Beecher and Wilma Moss Scholarship, AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship, The DeKalb County Soil Conservation District Scholarship, The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship, the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Alan Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, the Jeff Garrett Memorial Scholarship, the Middle Tennessee Times Scholarship, the Charlene Morrison-Johns Memorial Scholarship, and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

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