Local News Articles

2009 Little Miss Title Goes to Christina Howard

March 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
2009 Little Miss Christina Howard-
Miss Photogenic Madison Rae Rackley
Little Miss Christina Howard and Runners up (photo by Studio Six)
Little Miss Manners Alexandria Morris (photo by Studio Six)

Five year old Christina Howard of Smithville is the 2009 Little Miss of the annual spring pageant sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

She was crowned Saturday night.

Howard, daughter of Allison Howard and Kevin Howard, succeeds the retiring Little Miss, Emma Brooke Jennings, the five year old daughter of Chad and Shelly Jennings of Smithville.

Five year old Madison Rae Rackley of Smithville, daughter of Jessica Rackley and Gordon Rackley, was named first runner-up. She was also the pageant's Miss Photogenic.

Second runner-up went to Hannah Leigh Lohorn of Alexandria, the five year old daughter of Nikki and Jason Lohorn.

Third runner-up was Monica Arecelia Robinson of Smithville, the six year old daughter of Anna Robinson and Chris Robinson.

Six year old Alexis Grace Atnip of Smithville was fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of Veronica Atnip and Barry Atnip.

Rounding out the top eleven in no particular order are Katherine Grace Colwell of Smithville, the five year old daughter of Christie and Trent Colwell; Elizabeth Seber of Smithville, the four year old daughter of Amy Seber and Daniel Seber; Caitlyn Harwell of Smithville, the five year old daughter of Jaya Harwell and Jerry Harwell; Mackenzie Brooke Poss of Smithville, the six year old daughter of Terri Poss and Wallace Rackley; Hannah Elizabeth McBride of Smithville, the six year old daughter of Danielle Carr and Anthony Carr; and Chloe Isbella Trobaugh of Smithville, the four year old daughter of Judith Hale and Kevin Hale.

Alexandria Morris of Liberty was named Miss Manners. She is the daughter of Lana Alverson and Bradley Alverson.

The pageant featured twenty nine contestants.

(Top Photo- Little Miss Christina Howard)
(Second from top photo- Miss Photogenic-Madison Rae Rackley)
(Third from top photo by Studio Six- Left to Right: Alexis Grace Atnip, Hannah Leigh Lohorn, Little Miss Christina Howard, Madison Rae Rackley, and Monica Arecelia Robinson)
(Bottom photo by Studio Six- Little Miss Manners Alexandria Morris)

Emberton Wins Little Mister Pageant

March 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kobbe Braden Clary, Dexton Bradley Emberton, Caden Allen Clark

Five year old Dexton Bradley Emberton of Smithville was crowned Little Mister of the annual spring pageant held Saturday at DeKalb County High School sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

Emberton is the son of Brandi and Travis Johnson and Steven Emberton.

Emberton was also named Mister Photogenic.

Meanwhile, six year old Caden Allen Clark of Smithville was named first runner-up. He is the son of Cayla Sanders and Bryan Clark

Five year old Kobbe Braden Clary of Smithville was the second runner-up. He is the son of Brooke and David Clary.

Clary was also chosen Mister Manners.

AmVets Riders Donate Time to Roof Home of World War II Veteran

March 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
AmVets Riders Roof Home of WW II Veteran Lloyd Tisdale and Imogene Page
Members of AmVets Riders POST 101

The AmVets Riders Chapter Post #101 recently donated their time and labor to roof the house of World War II veteran Lloyd Tisdale and Imogene Page.

The Confederate Sons Association of Cookeville also came in to assist the riders.

The ladies cooked and brought food to feed the volunteers. Maggies Landing supplied the cole slaw.

The Riders of AmVets are looking forward to helping many more people in the community.

Former District Attorney General Bill Gibson Disbarred

March 27, 2009
Bill Gibson

Former District Attorney General William E. Gibson, a Cookeville attorney, was disbarred by Order of the Tennessee Supreme Court entered March 20, 2009.

He can no longer practice law.

According to a news release on the Tennessee Bar Association's web site, "By Judgment filed January 15, 2009, a three (3) member Hearing Panel found that Gibson, the former District Attorney for the 13th Judicial District, engaged in intentional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation that seriously adversely reflected on his fitness to practice law."

Gibson's legal troubles began in September of 2006 when it was discovered that he had improperly counseled Chris Adams, a man that his office was prosecuting in a murder case.

He also improperly helped Tina Sweat, a young woman who had been convicted of meth and assault offenses, by getting her conviction reversed and removed from the record.

As a result of the allegations, Gibson's law license was suspended in the fall of 2006, forcing him to step aside as top prosecutor, and assistant DA Tony Craighead filled the vacancy in Gibson's absence.

Gibson was investigated by the TBI and the case was presented to a Putnam County grand jury but he was not indicted .

Last year, as the state legislature prepared to oust Gibson from office, he resigned. Crossville attorney Randy York was later appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen to fill Gibson's position as District Attorney General for the 13th Judicial District, which includes DeKalb County.

The news release states that "The Hearing Panel further found that Gibson, as an elected official holding a governmental position, knowingly misused and abused his position with the intent to obtain a significant benefit for another, and caused serious injury to the integrity of the legal process. The Hearing Panel found that while Gibson was the District Attorney, Gibson improperly communicated with Christopher Adams who was incarcerated and charged with first degree murder and other serious felonies.

Additionally, the Panel found that Gibson as a District Attorney influenced the outcome of the Adams prosecution, while misrepresenting the strength of the State's case to the family of the victim.

The Board of Professional Responsibility also charged Mr. Gibson with engaging in a conflict of interest in improperly assisting Tina Sweat in obtaining post-conviction relief. The Hearing Panel found that Gibson intentionally deceived the Court in the handling of the Tina Sweat Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and submission of an Order granting her request by making misrepresentations, improperly withholding material information, and causing a significant adverse effect on the legal proceeding.

The Hearing Panel found Gibson violated Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3 in Gibson's prosecution of Christopher Adams for first degree murder and by failing to act with reasonable diligence in representing the State of Tennessee in response to Tina Sweat's Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. Gibson violated Rule 1.6 by breaching confidentiality during Gibson's ongoing personal relationship with Adams and by Gibson's actions in Tina Sweat's Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. Gibson violated Rule 1.7 by engaging in a conflict of interest regarding the prosecution and post-conviction petition of Adams and the post-conviction of Sweat.

Gibson violated Rule 3.5 in his ex parte communications with Judge (Lillie Ann) Sells and Judge (John) Turnbull regarding the Sweat Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. Gibson violated Rule 4.1 by making dishonest and deceitful communications with the Court in the Sweat Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. Gibson violated Rule 4.2 by communicating with Christopher Adams and Tina Sweat, both of whom were represented by counsel. Gibson violated Rule 8.1 by misrepresenting the nature of his relationship with Tina Sweat to the Board of Professional Responsibility. Gibson violated Rule 8.4 by engaging in deceitful conduct in the Adams case and engaging in conduct in the Sweat case which was a misrepresentation to the Court and in both cases was prejudicial to the administration of justice.

On September 25, 2006, the Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Gibson's law license for posing a threat of substantial harm to the public based upon reports by Judge Leon Burns and attorney John Parsons concerning Gibson's actions in the Adams case. Gibson has remained temporarily suspended since the Supreme Court's September 25, 2006 Order.

Neither Gibson nor the Board of Professional Responsibility appealed the Hearing Panel's Judgment and by Order entered March 20, 2009, the Supreme Court accepted and adopted the Hearing Panel's Judgment disbarring Mr. Gibson."

DeKalb Population up by 7.3% since 2000 based on Census Estimates

March 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's population is up by 7.3% since the last official census in 2000.

The latest U.S. Census Bureau calculations show that the 2008 estimated population of DeKalb County is 18,694, up from 17,423 in 2000.

Henry Bowman, analyst of the Upper Cumberland Development District says this rate of growth in DeKalb County is "fairly typical for a small Upper Cumberland County."

Bowman says the Census Bureau will release more estimates later in the year on population by race, Hispanic origin, and age. " I can understand how they determine the age, but I don't see how they can come up with a reasonable estimate in the local area for the Hispanic population, but we suspect it's increasing although there is some evidence that the rate of growth, at least nationwide has slowed down because of the economic slowdown. When they do issue the estimates by age group, they will have a pretty good handle on the age 65 plus population and how it's changed because they use Medicare records to estimate that. And in places like DeKalb County, there's a good bit of seasonal housing I suspect because of the lake development. Some people don't really live there (DeKalb County) year round. They are here parts of the year and not here other parts of the year. We certainly see that in a major way in Cumberland County. So a lot of this depends on the time of year that these population estimates are made or do the census either for that matter."

Although the next official census is not until 2010, Bowman says population estimates are made regularly based on Medicare records and exemptions on personal income tax returns. "They divide it into two population groups, those age 65 and over and those under age 65. For those 65 and over, they use Medicare records and that's practically universal. You should be able to get a good handle on that. For those who are under 65, they look at exemptions claimed on personal income tax returns"

Most counties in the Upper Cumberland realized population gains since 2000, but Bowman said a few of the more rural counties actually showed a decline in population. But, because those counties may have been more affected by the downturn in the economy, the population estimates there may not be totally accurate. " When to the extent that job losses in a given county exceed the national average, it tends to understate the population growth because people aren't required to file income tax returns who may have been in the past because they have lost income and no longer have to file so there's a little downward bias there in counties that have been hard hit by economic slowdown. That seems to be the case with counties in the Upper Cumberland that are showing a population decline, Clay and Jackson in particular, Van Buren to a lesser extent, and Pickett. I know there have been major job losses in those counties so that may be a factor but we don't really have any way of knowing for sure."

Meanwhile, the latest estimates, based on 2008 data, for the other Upper Cumberland counties are as follows:

* Cannon, 13,804, up from 12,826 in 2000; Clay, 7,794, down slightly from the 7,976 counted in 2000; Cumberland, 53,590, up from 46,802. DeKalb, 18,694, up from 17,423 in 2000; Fentress, 17,667, up from 16,625 in 2000; Jackson, 10,847, down slightly from 10,984 in 2000;

* Macon, 21,836, up from 20,386 in 2000; Overton, 20,975, up from 20,118; Pickett, 4,801, down slightly from 4,945 in 2000; Putnam, 71,160, up from 62,315; Smith, 19,107, up from 17,712; Van Buren, 5,481, down slightly from 5,508; Warren, 39,842, up from 38,276; White, 25,129, up from 23,102.

The total population of the Upper Cumberland region as of 2008 was estimated at 330,729, up from the 304,998 recorded at the 2000 census.

DeKalb Jobless Rate for February Climbs to 11.5%

March 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate rose to 11.5% in February, up from 10.9% in January and significantly higher than 5.5% in February, 2008.

The local labor force for February was 9,800. A total of 8,670 were employed and 1,130 were unemployed.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February is at 9.1 percent, 0.5 percentage point higher than the January rate of 8.6 percent. The United States unemployment rate for the month of February was 8.1 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for February show that the rate increased in 63 counties, decreased in 29 counties and remained the same in three counties.

Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, down from 6.8 percent in January. Perry County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 24.1 percent, down from 27.3 in January, followed by Scott County at 18.1 percent, up from 17.7 percent in January.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.2 percent, up 0.6 percentage point from the January rate. Davidson County was 7.5 percent, up 0.6 from the previous month. Hamilton County was at 7.9 percent, up 0.6 percentage point from the January rate, and Shelby County was 8.6 percent, up from the January rate of 8.5 percent.

New Show to Spotlight Local Artistic Community

March 26, 2009

Starting in April, WJLE will begin airing a new program, the first dedicated to the arts community that thrives, often out of site, within DeKalb County and the surrounding area.

Off The Beaten Path will air the first Thursday of each month at 8:30 am.

The show is named for the area’s affiliation of professional artists who sponsor the popular Off The Beaten Path studio tour each fall. Group members have received national and international recognition for the outstanding quality of their creations in a range of media.

Each episode will be hosted by writer Mike Antoniak and feature interviews and profiles of these artists and their work, with other items of interest. “Earlier this year the Off The Beaten Path members asked me to work with them to promote this year’s 10th anniversary tour,” says Antoniak.

“I approached Dwayne Page about the possibility of doing a radio show celebrating the creative community here, and want to thank WJLE for generously making this time slot available.”
In addition to airing on WJLE, episodes of Off the Beaten Path, and extended interviews, will eventually be available online as podcasts. Details to come.

For more information on the group, its activities and fall tour, visit www.offthebeatenpathtour.com.

UCHRA to Receive $2.4 Million in Summer Youth and Adult Training Dollars

March 26, 2009
UCHRA Officials

“The Economic Stimulus Package will provide approximately $2.4 million to the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency for the purpose of providing services to youth, adults, and dislocated workers. According to the analysis of unemployment numbers across the nation, youth and young adults are among the hardest hit. Youth needing work will be receiving pay checks, works sites for these youth such as units of local government, school systems and other local entities will get much needed help. The Agency welcomes the opportunity to help the residents of the Upper Cumberland as they are faced with and work through a most difficult economic time, a win/win for the area”, stated Phyllis Bennett, Executive Director, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.

The Human Resource Agency’s $1.2 million summer youth program will serve approximately 710 individuals, ages 14 through 24, with the activities beginning in late May and going through July. The Agency is projecting that approximately 280 of the participants will be involved in classroom activities such as science and technology. “The summer youth program will provide an opportunity to make money to buy clothes and school supplies and/or receive training. Becoming a part of the workforce will allow the participants to learn good work ethics. Our communities will benefit from the youth having spending monies which will stimulate the local economy,” Bennett stated.

The Human Resource Agency is working with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to develop the implementation plans for the workforce programs in the Economic Stimulus Package. In addition to the $1.2 million Summer Youth Program, the Agency will be getting approximately $480,000 for additional services for adults in job training programs, and $684,000 for services for dislocated workers. Monies for adult and dislocated workers will be used to provide training, targeting unemployed and individuals that have lost their jobs due to plant closures or lay offs.

“In the past, funding was available for the Summer Youth Employment Program which was a successful and popular program in all of the counties. The Human Resource Agency is fortunate that funding has been restored to offer these programs and to have experienced staff that has been involved in planning and administering the program. Based on past experience in youth programs, it is apparent that programs of this nature make a difference in the lives of participants,” stated Pat Callahan, Employment and Training Director, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.

At a recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, Board Chairman Mike Foster stated, “the Economic Stimulus Package will give the counties immediate assistance as well as make a difference for years to come. Youth, adults, and dislocated workers will receive services that will improve their chances for employment and financial assistance.”

Applications for the Summer Youth Program in the 12 county areas will begin April 16th. “Services made available through the Economic Stimulus Package will bring relief to the current economic crunch for the residents of our cities and county. We encourage interested individuals to contact their DeKalb County UCHRA office located at 527 West Main Street in Smithville - (615) 597-4504 or the Upper Cumberland Career Center located at 3300 Williams Enterprise Drive in Cookeville – (931)-520-8733,” stated Mike Foster, DeKalb County Executive, and Taft Hendrixson, Mayor of Smithville.

(Pictured in photo-UCHRA officials review the Summer Youth and Adult Employment and Training opportunities. Pictured seated, from left to right: Brock Hill, Cumberland County Mayor and UCHRA Finance Committee Chairman; Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director; Mike Foster, DeKalb County Executive and UCHRA Chairman of the Board of Directors; Kenneth Copeland, Overton County Mayor and UCHRA Manpower Committee Chairman – standing, from left to right: Taft Hendrixson, Mayor of Smithville and UCHRA Manpower Committee Member; and Pat Callahan, UCHRA Employment and Training Director.)

Three Vehicles involved in Rear End Collision

March 25, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
1999 Toyota Corolla Driven by Sylvia Jean Young Rear-Ended
 1993 Ford F150 driven by William Travis Malone Rear-Ended
2003 Chevy Blazer driven by James Willard Stamps involved in Rear-End collision

Three vehicles were involved in a traffic accident around 4:10 p.m.Wednesday afternoon on Highway 70 east near Lake Motel.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 27 year old William Travis Malone of Liberty, driving east on Highway 70 in a 1993 Ford F150, had stopped in his lane of travel to make a left turn into a private drive. Malone's wife, 34 year old Sharon Malone was a passenger.

Behind the Malone's, was an eastbound 1999 Toyota Corolla, driven by 48 year old Sylvia Jean Young of Sparta.

Following behind Young was an eastbound 2003 Chevy Blazer, driven by 58 year old James Willard Stamps of Sparta.

According to Trooper Jennings, both Malone and Young had stopped in their lane of travel but Stamps failed to slow to a stop and rear-ended Young's car, and the impact forced her vehicle into the rear of Malone's truck. Young's car went off the roadway to the right.

Stamps was cited for failure to exercise due care and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) He was not injured.

Malone was not injured but he was cited for failure to carry or exhibit a driver's license. Mrs. Malone refused transport by ambulance to the hospital, but was later taken by private vehicle to UMC Medical Center in Lebanon for treatment.

Young was transported by DeKalb EMS to the White County Hospital.

Alexandria Aldermen Take Action to Regulate Parking on City Streets

March 25, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria City Council Tuesday night adopted on first reading regulations regarding parking on city streets.

The ordinance reads as follows" Whereas, the Town of Alexandria regulates the parking within the city limits; and

Whereas, there is no current code or ordinance regarding parking in the middle of the street.

Now, therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the Town of Alexandria that the Alexandria Municipal Codes is hereby added to as follows:

Section 1. Section 15-613: Stopping, standing, or parking on roadway. Upon any street or highway no person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the roadway or street, but in every event an unobstructed width of the highway opposite a standing vehicle shall be left for the free passage of other vehicles and a clear view of such stopped vehicle shall be available from a distance of 200 feet in each direction upon such highway.

Section 15-614. Obstructing traffic. No person shall park any vehicle upon a street in such a manner or under such conditions as to leave available less than ten feet of the width of the roadway for free movement of vehicular traffic.

Section 15-615. Parking on narrow streets.

(a). The city manager or his designee is hereby authorized to erect signs indicating no parking upon any street when the width of the roadway does not exceed 20 feet, or upon one side of a street when the width of the roadway does not exceed 30 feet.

(b) When official signs prohibiting parking are erected upon narrow streets as authorized in this section, no person shall park a vehicle upon any such street in violation of any such sign."

Second and final reading action will be held at the April meeting.

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