Local News Articles

Silcox Charged with Theft in Credit Card Investigation

February 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tonya Silcox
Connie Gale Ashford

A Liberty woman, accused of fraudulent use of credit cards from a family member, has been charged with theft by the Sheriff's Department.

37 year old Tonya Gay Silcox of West Main Street, Liberty was arrested Tuesday for one count of theft of property over $1,000, one count of theft of property under $500, and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says detectives of the Sheriff's Department arrested Silcox after she had taken five credit cards from a family member and used at least one of the cards to buy goods or to receive cash withdrawals from several banks totaling $1,319.93. More charges are forthcoming. Silcox's bond was set an $85,000 and she will appear in court on March 12th.

Meanwhile, 25 year old Steven Darrell Bly of West Bryant Street Smithville was charged last Tuesday with driving on a suspended license after he was stopped on Big Hurricane Road by a county deputy who had prior knowledge of Bly's suspended license. After being stopped, Bly told the deputy that someone had stolen his driver's license. A computer check revealed that Bly's license was suspended on November 5th, 2008 for failure to pay child support. Bly was then arrested. Bly's bond was set at $1,000.and his court date is February 25th.

46 year old Connie Gale Ashford of Sycamore Road, Woodbury was arrested Tuesday on West Main Street in Liberty after deputies spotted her vehicle weaving. After she was stopped, officers obtained consent to search Ashford's vehicle and found a cigarette pack containing four yellow pills believed to be oxycodone and one white pill believed to be xanax. Ashford was arrested and charged with two counts of simple possession of a schedule drug. Ashford's bond was set at $3,000 and her court date is February 26th.

Dates set for Hunter Safety Education Course

February 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
TWRA Officer Tony Cross

A Hunter Safety Education Course will be held March 9th, 10th, 12th & 13th at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church on Highway 83 and Golf Club Lane in Smithville from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. nightly.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross says participants must attend all four nights to complete the course. Students must be at least nine years of age by March 9th. There is no charge for the course. Register on the first night of the course. For more information call Tony Cross at 597-9625.

Hutchins Sues Mayor and City Over Pay Dispute

February 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Investigator Jerry D. Hutchins, Jr. has filed a Circuit Court lawsuit against Mayor Taft Hendrixson and the Municipal Government of the City of Smithville over a pay dispute.

Hutchins, son of Smithville Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr., claims he should have been compensated at $17.19 per hour, as approved by the aldermen last year, and that Mayor Hendrixson had no authority to cast a veto in this matter, since only the aldermen can hire and set the rate of pay for employees as part of the hiring process under city laws.

He is being represented by Lebanon Attorney Adam Parrish

On January, 29th 2008, the aldermen voted 3 to 1, in a special meeting, to hire Hutchins as Police Investigator over Mayor Hendrixson's objections that neither Hutchins nor the other two applicants for the job met the city's qualifications. Police Chief Richard Jennings said Hutchins was qualified as an investigator and recommended him. Aldermen Willie Thomas, Tonya Sullivan, and Jerry Hutchins, Sr. voted for Hutchins. Alderman Steve White voted against him. Alderman Cecil Burger was absent. Alderman Hutchins stated his "personal interest" for the record but voted for his son stating he was voting his conscience. But while Hutchins was hired, the aldermen did not address his rate of pay. (Click here to read the full account of the January 29th, 2008 story at http://www.wjle.com/node/3672)

On February 18th, 2008, the board initially voted 3 to 2 to set Hutchins' pay at $15.95 and increase it to $17.19 after sixty days on the job. Aldermen Thomas, Sullivan, and Hutchins voted for it but Aldermen White and Burger voted against it. Mayor Hendrixson cast a veto of the board's action saying starting Hutchins' pay above other employees in the department was unfair. As a compromise, the board voted 5 to 0 to start Hutchins at a sergeant's rate of pay, $11.89 per hour and increase it to $13.13 per hour after sixty days until a pay scale could be established for the "investigator" position. According to the 2008-09 city budget, Hutchins, with the annual cost of living adjustment, is now making $13.70 per hour, apparently still the same as a sergeants pay rate. (Click here to read the full account of the February 18th, 2008 story at http://www.wjle.com/node/3778)

The complaint states that prior to January, 2008, Hutchins was employed as a deputy in the Wilson County Sheriff's Department. After being advised of an opening in the Smithville Police Department, Hutchins, who had four years of prior law enforcement experience, applied for the job of police investigator and participated in a full interview process with the understanding that the position would pay $17.19 per hour, which the lawsuit alleges is the same rate as his predecessor Officer Steven Deffendoll was earning.

According to the lawsuit, Hutchins was ultimately approved for the job and was officially hired on January 28th, 2008. His official first day of employment was February 19th, 2008. Upon taking the job, Hutchins resigned from the Wilson County Sheriff's Department.

The complaint states that Hutchins' rate of pay was approved by a majority vote of the Board of Aldermen but Mayor Hendrixson vetoed it, which he had no authority to do, and proposed a rate of pay substantially lower than that previously offered to Hutchins. According to the lawsuit, Mayor Hendrixson's actions were due to Hutchins relationship to Alderman Hutchins and were made in bad faith and for no legitimate purpose.

The lawsuit further states that the board adopted a temporary pay rate and reserved the matter for an additional hearing on March 3rd, 2008. Hutchins received some relief and his rate of pay was increased slightly to $13.13 per hour.

Hutchins claims that the defendants by and through their agents represented to him that the position of Police Investigator was to be compensated at a rate of $17.19 per hour and that he (Hutchins) relied on that information when he resigned from one position (Wilson County Sheriff's Department) to accept the job offered by the city (Smithville). Hutchins further claims that since the defendants, by and through their agents, have refused to pay him at the rate of pay represented, he has suffered a pecuniary loss entitling him to damages.

Hutchins is asking that the court find the defendants directly, individually, and vicariously liable for the injuries he has sustained; that the court award a judgment against the defendants in an amount deemed just and adequate to compensate him for injuries; that the court award a judgment for punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the trier of fact; and that the court award a judgment awarding attorney's fees and discretionary costs incurred in this action.

Smithville Police Investigating Armed Robbery at Discount Tobacco Outlet

February 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police are investigating an armed robbery which occurred Saturday evening at the Discount Tobacco Outlet Store at 302 West Broad Street.

Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. says a female clerk, who was alone in the store, reported that at around 5:40 p.m. a white male wearing a ski mask and dark colored clothing entered and pointed a semi-automatic handgun at her. The man forced her to open the register and he left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The store clerk was not injured in the armed robbery

Anyone with information that might help solve the case is asked to call the Smithville Police Department

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

February 21, 2009

In her latest legislative report, State Senator Mae Beavers said budget issues continued to dominate discussions on Capitol Hill this week, as more of the “fine print” regarding the federal stimulus bill was revealed. Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz told members of the Senate Finance Committee that they are still studying the massive bill to see what strings are attached to the $3.8 billion that Tennessee would receive under the $787 billion federal spending package.

Goetz repeatedly cautioned state lawmakers that the federal money to begin, restore, or expand state programs would not be replaceable by the state in two years.

The stimulus package for transportation needs was discussed in the Senate Finance Committee, as well as the Transportation Committee this week, where members were told that $572 million would be available for road and bridge projects. Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely was questioned about how the projects funded with stimulus money would be prioritized. Nicely said that language in the legislation gives preference to sending the transportation money to “economically distressed areas” with high unemployment. Nicely also said they will be utilizing a list of priority projects that are “shovel ready” but still await funding. Some of those projects, however, may not be in areas listed as economically distressed.

Nicely told the committee that he expects to have the transportation projects under construction within the first 120 days. State and local governments have been working to get the project “shovel ready.” The projects must be eligible for federal funding and be complete within three years.

On unemployment, Goetz said the federal stimulus package will not help “shore up” the state’s weakening Unemployment Trust Fund. The trust fund has been stressed by the demand for benefits due to rising unemployment.

The governor has 45 days to make application to the federal government for the stimulus money. Goetz said that Tennessee’s revenues are continuing to deteriorate, making the job of balancing the state budget an increasingly difficult job. The administration must go back to the drawing board to revise their original budget draft to include the federal mandates in the stimulus package. The new budget proposal is expected by mid-March.

Missing Children Bill Debated in Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Beavers, began debating legislation this week. One piece of legislation was discussed to make sure child abductions are reported promptly to make sure the child is found. The bill is consistent with the “Adam Walsh” Act and says law enforcement should report a missing child to the NCIC (National Crime Investigation Center) within two hours of receiving a missing child report. This quick time period would give uniformity to reporting standards across the state.

“We need to uncover every stone possible to make sure a missing child is reported promptly into the NCIC system,” Chairman Beavers added. “Hopefully, this will help expedite the recovery of children who have been abducted.”

Other Issues in Brief

Open Records -- In committees this week, the State and Local Government Committee heard a presentation from Office of Open Records Counsel Ann Butterworth regarding how the new law, which was passed during the 2008 legislative session, is working. Butterworth said the Office of Open Records Counsel assists in obtaining public records from local government, both in guiding citizens to correct offices or officials and in working to resolve disputes regarding access to public records. Her office has been working to promote education and awareness of the Tennessee public records laws through direct outreach and through coordination with existing organizations.

Drug Database – The Senate General Welfare, Health and Human Resources Committee heard a presentation this week regarding the progress of the State’s Controlled Substance Database. The Tennessee Board of Pharmacy began accepting prescription information into the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database in December, 2006 after passage of legislation sponsored by Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

The database includes data on controlled substance prescriptions of schedule II-V drugs. The information includes who the prescribing practitioner is, who filled the prescription, basic patient information, and the name and form of medication that the patient received.
The most prescribed controlled substances in Tennessee as reported in the database are hydrocodone-vicodin-loratab, Alprazolam-xanax, and oxycodone-oxycontin-percocet, respectively. The committee discussed the possibility of adding personnel to look at the overprescribing of controlled substances through the database to prevent drug abuse or fraud. They also talked about the possibility of adding carasprodol and soma to the list of drugs tracked through the database. These matters may continue to be debated during the 2009 legislative session.

Housing slump – In the Senate Commerce Committee, members were told by a panel of homebuilders that the deterioration of the housing industry is “as bad as they have seen in a quarter of a century.” The panel said the major difference in this recession and those experienced by homebuilders earlier, is that it can not be fixed by a reduction in interest rates. The homebuilders said out-of-state banks have been more difficult to work with than community banks and those chartered in Tennessee. The committee will continue to look at the banking industry and mortgage laws as the session continues.

Chase Bryant Wins Sixth Annual County Spelling Bee

February 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby, Teresa, Chase, and Don Bryant, and Charles Robinson
Mark Willoughby, Joe, Makalee, and Melissa Ruch, and Charles Robinson

Chase Bryant, a fifth grader at Northside Elementary School, won the 6th annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee Friday night at DeKalb County High School.

Bryant, son of Don and Teresa Bryant of Smithville was among 31 students from the fourth grade to the eighth grade, who participated in the contest.

He correctly spelled the words "Stollen" and "Bolivar"" in the 36th round to claim the championship.

Makalee Ruch, a sixth grader at DeKalb Middle School, was the runner-up in the contest. She is the daughter of Joe and Melissa Ruch of Smithville..

Students from DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, and Northside Elementary School recently competed at the school level to become eligible for the county competition.

Along with students from twenty nine other counties, Bryant and Ruch will represent DeKalb County in the Tennessean Regional Spelling Bee on March 4th at Belmont University in Nashville.

The winner of the Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. May 26th through May 28th with all expenses paid by the Tennessean Newspaper.

The purpose of the County Wide Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling skills, increase vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

Other students competing were as follows:

Northside Elementary- Fourth graders Sara LaFever and Baylee Phillips and fifth graders Hailey Cannon, Caleb Fox, Morgan Gross, Kaitlin Rhea, and Kyra Trapp, in addition to Chase Bryant.

DeKalb Middle School- Sixth graders Haley Davis, Lenzi Dickens, Justin Johnson, Makayla Starnes, Alex Thompson, and Jacob Washer, in addition to Makalee Ruch and eighth graders Jessica Acuna, Kyra Dickens, and Martelia Tallent.

DeKalb West School- Fifth graders Morgan Vickers and Hailey Walker; sixth graders McKenzie Gann and Bruce Wilson; seventh graders, Cara Mosely, McKenzie Poteete, Crystal Vickers, Evan Ward, and Dylan Young; and eighth graders Nathan Gohs, Taylor Leach, Justin Manley, and Austin Miller.

DeKalb School District to Receive $1.2 Million

February 19, 2009

As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law on February 17th, it is estimated that the DeKalb County School District will receive an additional $1,152,000 to fund education programs for disadvantaged and disabled children.

“This money will allow DeKalb’s School District to continue educating children that need help most,” said Congressman Bart Gordon. “In these tough economic times, DeKalb County might have been forced to cut back funding for their special education programs to continue providing basic government services.”

For fiscal year 2009, the DeKalb County School District will receive an estimated $473,000 to fund educational programs for low-achieving students and $679,000 to educate children with disabilities. These funds will allow the School District to further close the achievement gap for disadvantaged children and improve the educational outcomes for disabled students.

“With people spending less money, the County is not receiving enough in sales tax revenue to sufficiently fund these programs,” explained Gordon. “Without the additional $1.2 million, it is hard to see how DeKalb would be able to continue its efforts to educate these especially needy students.”

Tennessee's 95 counties are estimated to receive a total of $174,210,000 in federal grants for low-achieving student education programs (also know as “Title 1-A” programs) and $229,486,000 for special education programs (or “IDEA” programs).

“We must ensure that all children receive the education needed to compete for 21st Century jobs,” said Gordon. “These much-needed funds will prevent the current economic crisis from getting in the way of this.”

Police Say Walmart Shoplifter Assaults Store Manager

February 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A shoplifter at Walmart, who allegedly stole a TV and DVD player last month, was arrested last week after he allegedly tried to steal other items and then assaulted the store manager upon being caught.

Hani Mohamad (B.J.) Ittayem is charged with theft of property over $500, attempted theft over $1,000, vandalism, and assault. His bond totals $15,000.

Smithville Police say that on January 11th, Ittayem took a TV and DVD player from Walmart without paying for them. The total value of the items was $747. He was identified on a video tape from the store's surveillance system.

On Tuesday, February 10th, Ittayem attempted to steal another TV and two DVD players on display and a jacket with a total value of $1,143.92. He was observed on a surveillance camera pulling wires loose to dismantle the TV and DVD players which caused damage and then placed the merchandise in a shopping cart and tried to leave the store. Ittayem allegedly assaulted the store manager when he was confronted about the theft and was told that the police had been called. The manager had red marks on his shoulder and blood on his shirt from the assault.

Meanwhile, 32 year old Andrea Kelly Alcorn of Watertown is charged with theft involving merchandise under $500. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court March 12th.

Officer Bradley Tatrow reports that Alcorn was charged on Sunday, February 15th for allegedly taking items from Walmart without paying for them and placing them in her purse. Among the items taken were a box set of DVD's, men's tank top, 10 pack of socks, pants, hoodie, and utility jeans with a total value of $196.14.

26 year old Bradley Shane Redmon is charged with theft of property involving merchandise under $500. His bond is $1,500.

Officer Matt Farmer reports that Redmon allegedly took items from Food Lion without paying for them. When confronted by the store manager, he began taking items from his person. The items included three packs of razors and a package of band aids with a total value of $36.28.

29 year old Logan Parker Brady of McMinnville is charged with simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court March 12th.

Officer Bradley Tatrow reports that he stopped Brady for speeding on Short Mountain Street on Tuesday, February 10th. Brady agreed to a request for consent to search and Officer Tatrow found 10 green pills believed to be hydrocodone in an unmarked bottle.

41 year old Carlos Reyes of McMinnville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and a second offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond totals $4,000 and he will be in court March 19th.

Officer Travis Bryant reports that Reyes was arrested for DUI on Friday, February 13th and a computer check revealed that his license was revoked for DUI on May 1st, 2007. The stop was made by Smithville Police while conducting a sobriety check point on Highway 56 south by Jewel's Market. The officer noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Reyes and he could not perform field sobriety tasks due to the language barrier. He did submit to a breathalyzer which indicated that he failed. He refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.

36 year old Sandy Deone Wheeler of Sparta is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court February 19th.

Officer Scott Davis reports that he responded to a call at 1101 Broad Street to find an intoxicated person (Wheeler). She was slumped over and unresponsive. She was awakened but her speech was very slurred and she was slow to respond to questions. She was also unsteady on her feet and her eyes were red and watery.

27 year old Jose Gerarvo Carrillo is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and a first offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond totals $4,000 and he will be in court February 19th.

Officer Matt Holmes reports that he saw a vehicle partially in the parking lot of 614 Murphy Street with the driver' side door open and a man vomiting. Upon doing a welfare check, Officer Holmes encountered Carrillo and detected a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He says the man had red watery eyes and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He submitted to a breathalyzer test and blew a .172. A computer check of his name revealed that his license had been revoked for a previous DUI.

Four Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election To Date

February 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Four people have qualified to run for alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election so far.

The latest person to get in the race is former Alderman Aaron Meeks. Others who have qualified include Incumbent Alderman Willie Thomas, former Alderman W.J. (Dub) White, and Gary Durham.

Four other persons have also picked up qualifying petitions but have not yet returned them including Incumbent Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Incumbent Alderman Tonya Sullivan, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer

Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections, says candidates have until NOON on Thursday, March 19th to qualify. The deadline to register to vote in time for the election is May 18th.

Three Aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 16th. The positions are currently held by Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan, and Willie Thomas. Each term is for two years.

Bennett Signs Softball Scholarship with Cumberland University

February 18, 2009
Victoria Bennett Signs Softball Scholarship with Cumberland University

Another DCHS student-athlete is moving on to play sports on the collegiate level.

Tigerette softball senior, Victoria Bennett, signed scholarship papers with Cumberland University in Lebanon, on Tuesday. Bennett, currently, is a member of the DCHS Tigerette program, and has been a starter for three years.

“I feel like Cumberland is a good fit for me, and I’m very excited for the opportunity to go there and play,” said Bennett, who plans to major in Athletic Training, which the Lebanon school is well known for. “I love what the coaches are doing with the program, and it excites me to have the opportunity to possibly go in and contribute right away.”

The Lady Bulldogs are coached by first-year coach, Heather Stanfill, who said the program already has 11 players signed for the 2010 athletic season, and three more verbal commitments. Stanfill, who came to Cumberland from Austin Peay, said Bennett is the kind of player she is looking for to help re-build the Lady Bulldog softball program.

"Victoria is a confident, out-going type person, and that’s what we’re looking for in our rebuilding mode at Cumberland — good character kids, who are also athletic and can play the game," Stanfill said.

DCHS softball coach, Danny Bond, is proud to be sending another student-athlete on to the collegiate level, and believes Bennett has a good opportunity.

"“I’m excited for Victoria, having the chance to continue her playing career at a four-year school like Cumberland, which is an excellent academic school,” Bond said. “She has been a solid ball player for us, and has also been outstanding in her academics."

Bennett, who has a 4.0 grade-point average at DCHS, is also a member of the Lady Tiger basketball and soccer teams. She also played golf during her junior year. In her three previous years with the Tigerette softball team, Bennett hit .330, with 104 hits, five home runs, 73 runs batted in, 44 stolen bases, while committing only two errors in the field.

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