Local News Articles

City and County Seek THDA Grant Funding to Upgrade Housing

March 14, 2014
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is applying for a grant that will rehabilitate dilapidated homes at no cost to the homeowner.

During a special meeting Thursday the Smithville Aldermen authorized city officials to submit an application for $500,000 in funding through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s Home Grant program, which will help bring dilapidated homes up to code.

The county commission passed a resolution last month to apply to the program as well.

Homeowners who have at least one codes violation will be able to submit an application. Once received, the applications will be ranked based on a number of criteria, such as household income and the home’s location. Approved houses will be upgraded at no expense to the homeowner, with a maximum amount that can be applied toward each house.

Funding restrictions apply, such as the home must be owner occupied (not a rental) and funds must be limited to existing structures.

Funding can only go toward homes that can be rehabilitated to meet housing codes using up to the limited amount.

Cities and counties who apply will learn if they are approved for the grant this May after a THDA board meeting.

In other business, the aldermen adopted on second and final reading an ordinance changing the title of Hunter Hendrixson from Secretary-Treasurer to City Administrator. An ordinance was also adopted on second and final reading to require paper ballot voting for city property right's voters in the Smithville Municipal Election in August.

Still No Takers on DCHS Building Trades Home

March 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
Still No Takers on DCHS Building Trades Home

Almost a year after being completed, still no bids have been received on the latest home built by students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program.

The board of education originally voted to accept sealed bids on the home in May, 2013. The minimum bid is $17,100.

The home, built on campus at DCHS, is described as a 26' x 56' or 1456 square foot (dried-in) house with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms with shower units, living room, kitchen, utility room, three walk-in closets, and a 25 year three tab shingled roof. The house has no plumbing or electric. The purchaser must move the home off the school property within thirty days or be subject to a $100 a day penalty.

The house expenditures totaled $14,829.

School officials plan to again place advertisements that the home is for sale.

In his monthly report on personnel, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby announced Thursday night during the school board's regular monthly meeting that the following persons have been employed as substitute teachers since last month: Joyce Robertson, Sydney Gremmels, Kendra Boody, Avery Brown, Kristin Cook, Shelly Cross, Annette Davis, Anna Dillard, Jennifer Ferrell, Tonya Hale, Emily Mayo, Mark Pafford, Rannie Phillips, Melissa Wallace, and Alyssa Young.

D.Y. Young, substitute bus driver.

Jasmine Vazquez, transferred from substitute to regular teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Hannah Mummert, transferred from substitute to regular teacher at Smithville Elementary School; and Nadina Manganiello, transferred from substitute to regular teacher at DeKalb West School.

Leave of Absence:
Amy Fox, SPED Compliance Monitor, leave as requested
Lori Alexander, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, leave as requested

Walter C. Phillips, school bus driver, retiring at the end of this school year
Tom Hill, teacher at DeKalb Middle School retiring
James Caplinger, Smithville Elementary School custodian.

Action on building new restroom facilities near the DCHS Baseball/Football fields has been put on hold until more information can be obtained on plumbing and electrical needs. Director Willoughby said it was too soon to act right now.

Election Deadline Approaching

March 13, 2014
Dwayne Page

Petitions for the non-partisan school board seats and the Smithville and Dowelltown Municipal Elections on August 7th are available through noon on April 3.

Five school board seats are up for election including the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Seventh Districts. Each term is for four years. Those positions are currently held by John David Foutch in the First District, Charles Robinson in the Second District, Kenny Rhody in the Third District, Billy Miller in the Fourth District, and Johnny Lattimore in the Seventh District.

The other two positions are held by W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the Fifth District and Doug Stephens in the Sixth District. They are currently in mid-term and won't be up for re-election until 2016.

The election commission has issued petitions to the following persons for the school board:

First District: Matthew Boss and Danny Parkerson. Boss has returned his petition.

Second District: Charles Robinson and Jerry Wayne Johnson

Third District: Kenny Rhody, Jim Beshearse, and Jonathan Willoughby. Beshearse has returned his petition.

Fourth District: Billy Miller. He has also returned his petition

Seventh District: Johnny Lattimore, Shaun Tubbs, and Brandon Cox.

A Mayor and two Aldermen will be elected on August 7th in the City of Smithville, each to serve a four year term. Those positions are currently held by Mayor Jimmy W. Poss and Aldermen Tim Stribling and Jason Murphy. Stribling will not be running for re-election. He is seeking the County Mayor's office.

The election commission has issued petitions to the following persons:

Mayor: Wallace Caldwell and Jimmy W. Poss. Caldwell has returned his petition.

Alderman: Jason Murphy and Gayla Hendrix. Murphy has returned his petition.

Three Aldermen will be elected in the Dowelltown Municipal Election on August 7th.

The election commission has issued petitions to the following persons:

Brad Driver, Keith Farler, and Ronald Griffith.

Persons wanting to run in the Republican or Democratic Primaries for state offices on August 7th have until noon April 3 to qualify.

Petitions have been filed with the election commission by the following candidates:

Republican State Executive Committeeman-District 17: Albert McCall of Lebanon and Dwayne Craighead of Celina

Republican State Executive Committeewoman-District 17: Jennifer Winfree of DeKalb County and Pat Fields of Wilson County.

State Representative-District 40: Terri Lynn Weaver of Smith County (Republican)

State Representative-District 46: Mark Pody of Wilson County (Republican)

State Senator-District 17: Mae Beavers and Clark Boyd both of Wilson County (Republicans)

State Representative-District 40: Sarah Marie Smith of Smith County (Democrat)

State Representative-District 40: Krista Eickmann of DeKalb County (Independent for the November State General Election). Petition issued but not yet filed.

Alexandria Man Gives Back After Facing Lymphoma

March 13, 2014
Dwayne Page
Justin Paschal

More than one million Americans are living with a blood cancer; and every four minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer. To support its mission to find cures for blood cancer patients, and ensure access to treatments, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is launching its 24th annual "Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY)" fundraising campaign, enlisting influential and compassionate community leaders as candidates competing to raise funds for blood cancer research and cures. MWOY candidates across the country compete in honor of a local boy and girl who are blood cancer survivors, to raise the most funds for blood cancer research. Every dollar counts as one vote, and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of the campaign. The top local fundraisers in the country win the national titles.

In the spirit of giving back, Justin Paschal of Alexandria will join forces with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) during the months of April, May, and June in a spirited ten-week fundraising competition to earn the LLS's Man of the Year title, by raising funds for blood cancer research.

Paschal decided to get involved in the cause to help others after learning only three months ago that he has Hodgkins Lymphoma. "I found out eight days before Christmas that I had Hodgkins Lymphoma," said Paschal in an interview with WJLE Wednesday. " I started my chemotherapy January 8th. I am three months into it right now. My treatments last until the middle of June and then I'll be finished with my chemotherapy. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society every year has a ten week fundraising campaign called the "Man and Woman of the Year". All of the proceeds raised go straight to (LLS) for cancer research, for blood cancers like Lymphoma which is what I have. After I was diagnosed in December and overcoming the initial shock of learning I have this so young at age 27, I decided I wanted to do something to reach out and help others that are fighting blood cancers so I contacted the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I had a couple of phone conversations and meetings with them and they actually nominated me for "Man of the Year" this year. It's an honor to be nominated. In my opinion there is no better cause than raising money to fight cancer," said Paschal.

Fundraising efforts locally will begin on Saturday, April 12 at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria with a Poker Run and Campaign Kick-Off Party. " The campaign runs from April 10 through June 19 and we have planned three different events for April, May, and June. On April 12 we're going to have a Campaign Kick-Off Party at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria. We'll start the morning with a motorcycle Poker Run. Registration will be at 10:00 a.m. and the first bike out will be at 11:00 a.m. The first bike in will be at 2:00 p.m. I haven't confirmed it yet but we may have some celebrity guest appearances on motorcycles. Since everyone doesn't have a bike, once the motorcycles get back we'll have a fun family day at the fairgrounds. We'll have a LIVE band, an auction along with face painting and bounce houses for the kids. Ventriloquist David Turner and Friends of Alexandria will be here. It's going to be a good time," said Paschal.

Other fundraising events will be held on May 31 and June 14th. "We'll have a 5K Run that morning (May 31) and then at 6:00 p.m. we'll have a band come in and perform for us at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Lebanon. On June 14th, we'll be at Hidden Harbor Marina on Center Hill Lake for another Poker Run. We've got three big events over the next three months and we hope to see everybody out there," he said.

Paschal looks forward to representing our community in the 2014 Man and Woman of the Year campaign. "It's a friendly competition. The men compete against the men and the women compete against the women. It's all in fun and all the money goes to (LLS). The slogan of the campaign is "Everybody wins if Cancer Loses". We're all in it for fun but the money is going to a great cause," said Paschal.

Four Persons Involved in Head-On Crash

March 12, 2014
Dwayne Page
Four Persons Involved in Head-On Crash (Photo by Ken Underhill)
Two Injured in Ford Taurus (Photo by Ken Underhill)

Four people were involved in a two car crash Wednesday morning on Vaughn Lane near Zelenka Nursery.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 20 year old Omar Ramirez of Doyle was traveling west on Vaughn Lane in a 2004 Dodge Stratus when he failed to negotiate a curve to the right, left his lane of travel and crossed the center line. Ramirez's car struck an eastbound 1997 Ford Taurus head-on, driven by 32 year old Anahi Palacios-Cruz of McMinnville.

Palacios-Cruz and a passenger of her car, 48 year old Maria Felix Terraz of McMinnville were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. A passenger of Ramirez's car, 22 year old Charles Harrison of McMinnville received minor injuries.

According to Trooper Jennings, both drivers were cited for driving on a suspended license and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). Ramirez was also cited for failure to maintain his lane of travel.

City Repeals 1980 DUD Water Rate Ordinance

March 12, 2014
Dwayne Page

Although it will apparently not factor into the outcome of the DUD's current lawsuit against the City of Smithville, the aldermen last week voted to abolish a 34 year old ordinance which Chancellor Ronald Thurman referenced on February 28 in ruling for DUD's petition seeking a temporary injunction against the city over its water rate.

The 1980 ordinance, which set the rate to the DUD at that time, also provided that a 30 day notice would be given the DUD if the city were to modify the rate. It also established a cut off provision if the DUD did not pay its water bill within seven days of billing.

During the hearing last month, Chancellor Thurman found that the city violated Section 18-502 of the Smithville City Code, which requires the City of Smithville to give the DeKalb Utility District 30 days' notice in advance of a rate change. The city gave the DUD only 16 days' actual notice in advance of the rate change, effective January 1st. The Chancellor also found that the city had not given proper justification for arriving at the $5.00 rate. In granting DUD's motion for a temporary injunction, Chancellor Thurman barred the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gives proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons.

From 2004 to 2013, the DUD had a water contract with the city to purchase water starting at $1.60 per thousand gallons the first year. The rate increased by five cents per thousand gallons each year through the end of the ten year agreement. The rate in 2013, the last year of the contract, was $2.05 per thousand. City officials contended that no 30 day notice of a rate change was necessary since it was known that a new rate would be implemented once the contract expired on December 31, 2013.

Even though the city had a water contract with the DUD for ten years which apparently took precedence, the mayor and aldermen had never repealed the 1980 ordinance.

Without a new water contract having been entered into between the city and DUD, the aldermen voted on December 12, 2013 to set the DUD rate at $5.00 per thousand gallons, effective January 1, 2014. While the new rate was imposed January 1, city officials say they have not yet sent the DUD a bill for the higher charges, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The DUD filed a Chancery Court lawsuit last month seeking relief from what it called an "unreasonable water rate" and asked the court to put down a temporary injunction to keep the city from charging the $5.00 rate and to keep the city from cutting off service to the DUD pending the outcome of the litigation. In the lawsuit, DUD claimed that the city had violated its own ordinance by not giving the utility the proper 30 day notice of a rate change. The Chancellor agreed.

To keep this issue from possibly arising again in the future, the aldermen at their March 3 meeting, voted to repeal the ordinance to get it off the books. "This should have been taken off our books years ago. On the advice of our city attorney (Vester Parsley, Jr.), the board needs to repeal this ordinance and make it null and void," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

Early Voting Hours Set for May Primaries

March 11, 2014
Dennis Stanley

Early Voting hours for the upcoming May primaries in DeKalb County have been released by the DeKalb County Election Commission.

Early voting for the May DeKalb County Democratic Primary and the 13th Judicial Democratic and Republican Primary will begin April 16 and run through May 1 (no early voting will be held on Good Friday).

In order to make it as convenient as possible for all voters, the election commission voted to set the following hours:

Mondays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. to Noon.

The election commission encourages voters to put these times on their calendar for future reference.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, reminds voters the May elections are Primary elections and voters will have to declare in which election they wish to participate.

“There are a few questions and a little confusion any time there are primary elections,” Stanley said. “State law prohibits someone from voting in both primaries on the same day, so voters have to choose one or the other.”

For voters who choose the Democratic Primary, their ballot will include the local (county) races as well as the Democratic nominees in the 13th Judicial District election. Voters who choose the Republican Primary will only get the Republican candidates for the 13th Judicial District offices, as county Republican nominees were chosen by party caucus and will not appear on the ballot until August.

Smithville Electric Partnering to Launch Energy Savings Pilot Program

March 11, 2014
Dwayne Page

Smithville Electric System is partnering with a company called Intelligent Energy Solutions in a pilot program that could result in energy savings for up to twenty five customers. There is no cost to participate.

The Home Energy Management Service, an internet based system, works as your personal energy manager by helping make more efficient use of the key sources of power consumption in your home, namely electric heating and cooling systems and electric water heaters. In most homes, these two appliances account for as much as 55 to 60% of the total energy consumed in the home.

For those who sign up for the program, a specially designed Gateway, much like a wireless router or TV box, will be installed in the home. This Gateway communicates to a wireless thermostat that replaces the existing thermostat which controls the heating and cooling system. A wireless communicating load controller is also installed on the electric water heater that helps optimize how often and when the water heater needs to use power. The Gateway uses the home internet to communicate information and receive instructions from the Intelligent Energy Solutions' Enterprise, which you can think of as a super computer. All information and the results about your home and how you use energy will be kept strictly confidential.

Customers who participate will have their own personal energy web page (portal) that can be accessed via the internet. It is designed to display how energy is being used in your home and it will present key results being achieved. Customers will also be able to receive insights and recommendations on actions they can make to further reduce energy consumption.

Twenty five homes served by Smithville Electric System will be selected for this program. Participating customers must have a broadband Internet connection (DSL or cable). The service will not interfere with your current Internet service or traffic as it only uses a small fraction of your bandwidth capacity, and it does not connect to your computer. The service is also secure. It does not access any information that you send and receive over the Internet.

No special effort is required on the part of the customers. If you are selected as a participant, the service will be installed for you. The set up takes about an hour. No modifications are needed to your home or to your electric water heater or HVAC system.

Plans are to begin installation in April. The program will run through the end of the year.

If you would like to be included in the program, contact Smithville Electric System at 597-4735 or Intelligent Energy Solutions at 1-855-418-0040. You may email ieshelp@intelligent-es.com.

Woman Arrested After Mount Juliet Police Pursuit Facing Local Charges

March 11, 2014
Dwayne Page
Candida Faye Davidson

A woman arrested almost two weeks ago after a pursuit in Mount Juliet will be in court on DeKalb County charges against her March 13.

41 year old Candida Faye Davidson of Jefferson Road, Smithville is charged with evading arrest and failure to appear in General Sessions Court. She is under a $250 cash bond for the failure to appear and a $1,500 bond for evading.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, a bench warrant for failure to appear was recently issued in General Sessions Court against Davidson after she failed to appear for violation of probation.

On Friday, March 7 a criminal detective went to Brookview Apartments to execute an arrest warrant on Davidson for failure to appear. When she saw the officer Davidson ran into an apartment. Once inside, Davidson refused to come to the door even after the detective knocked and identified himself as a law enforcement officer. The detective then entered the apartment but Davidson ran out the back door and jumped off the porch of the second floor. Davidson was injured in the fall and airlifted by helicopter ambulance to a Nashville hospital. She was apparently not seriously hurt and was later released from the hospital.

Mount Juliet Police arrested both Davidson and 51 year old Edward Judkins on Thursday, February 27 after a short pursuit there. In addition to facing the local charges, Davidson was charged by Mount Juliet Police with possession of a schedule VI drug after she allegedly tried to conceal a baggy of marijuana on her person which was discovered by medical personnel after the pursuit.

Judkins was charged by Mount Juliet Police with evading arrest and reckless endangerment. Both Judkins and Davidson are to appear on those charges May 13 in Wilson County.

Watertown Man Charged with Theft of Coin Operated Air Vending Machines

March 11, 2014
Dwayne Page
Alton David Estes
Jonathon Daniel Nellums
Robert Earl Watley, Jr
Michael Andrew Judkins

A Watertown man is charged with stealing coin operated air vending machines from three business locations in DeKalb County last summer.

46 year old Alton David Estes of Clever Creek Road, Watertown is charged with three counts of theft over $1,000. His bond totals $15,000 and he will be in court on March 20. He was arrested on Wednesday, March 5.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on July 1, 2013 at the Shiney Rock Market on Highway 56 south and at the Liberty Citgo on Highway 70 west and on September 9, 2013 at Hillcrest Market on Highway 70, Estes allegedly took a coin operated air vending machine by breaking loose the bolts. The machines were each valued at more than $1,000. The case was investigated by criminal detectives of the Sheriff's Department.

28 year old Jonathon Daniel Nellums of Murfreesboro is charged with theft of property over $60,000. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court March 13. Sheriff Ray said that from about November 8, 2013 through February 5, 2014, Nellums allegedly deprived a female victim by taking approximately $105,000 from her money market account at Region's Bank in DeKalb County. The case was investigated by a criminal detective.

24 year old Robert Earl Watley, Jr. of New Hope Road Alexandria is charged with domestic assault and violation of an order of protection. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court on April 10.

According to Sheriff Ray, Watley intentionally assaulted his step-father. The incident occurred on Saturday, March 8 at a residence on Possum Hollow Road, Dowelltown. While the victim was in bed, Watley allegedly jumped on top of him and struck him in the head with his fist, causing physical injuries. The victim suffered a bruise to the forehead, a black right eye, and a laceration to the forehead just above the left eye. The victim was treated for injuries at DeKalb Community Hospital and received five stitches. Watley was determined to be the primary aggressor and he was charged with domestic assault.

Watley is also accused of violating an order of protection for being at this residence on Possum Hollow Road. Last spring, a woman in a separate case obtained an order of protection against Watley and she was at this residence Saturday when Watley showed up. The order of protection was placed in effect on April 17, 2013 and expires April 17, 2014.

38 year old year old Michael Andrew Judkins of Old Bildad Road, Smithville is charged with child abuse. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on March 20. He was arrested on Friday, March 7. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, March 4 Judkins allegedly abused his step daughter by putting her on the ground, sitting on her head, and then hitting her with a belt, causing bruises in the area of her right calf and buttocks.

38 year old Patsy Ann Whitaker of Adamson Branch Road, Liberty is cited for simple possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax) and simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana). She will be in court on March 20.

Sheriff Ray said Whitaker was a passenger of a vehicle that was stopped and searched on Thursday, March 6. Under Whitaker's seat was a tin that contained a green leafy substance believed to be less than a half ounce of marijuana. A marijuana cigarette and two pills believed to be Xanax were also found in Whitaker's purse. The pills were in a pill bottle. Whitaker did not have a prescription for the pills.


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