Local News Articles

Free Fishing Day, Saturday June 9th

June 2, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tony Cross

Free Fishing Day in Tennessee is Saturday, June 9 when anyone in the state may fish free without a license in Tennessee's public waters.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in fishing. The day allows anyone the opportunity to try this great outdoor sport, especially children. In addition, children ages 13-15 may fish without a license beginning on Free Fishing Day through the following Friday, June 15.

As part of Free Fishing Day, TWRA officer Tony Cross says children may fish Saturday, June 9 at the Wildlife Management Area pond at Pea Ridge. "Up at Pea Ridge, we will be having our Pea Ridge Fishing Rodeo at the pond on the Wildlife Management area. It will run from 7:00 a.m. until approximately noon on Saturday, June 9. We will be furnishing all the kids lunch and drinks and we will have prizes for each participant. Children ages 15 and younger will be eligible to participate in the fishing rodeo. Anyone sixteen or older is not eligible. We ask that if you have access to a fishing rod or pole to bring that with you. Bring a chair and maybe an umbrella to keep the sun off of you. If you want to bring your own bait you are welcome to do so but we will furnish, probably some night crawlers. So just come on up. We hope to have a great day of fishing."

The day and week are annual events in Tennessee and are great opportunities to introduce children to the enjoyment and excitement of a day on the water catching fish. The TWRA is among several organizations planning special fishing events, primarily for youngsters. The TWRA annually provides several thousand pounds of fish for stocking for various events.

Free Fishing Day and Week apply to Tennessee's public waters, TWRA owned and operated lakes, and state park facilities. Some privately owned pay lakes continue to charge during this special day and week. Anglers may consult with lake operators if there are any questions about a particular facility.

UCDD Remains In Upheaval

June 2, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Upper Cumberland Development District remains in upheaval.

The latest development came Thursday when the interim director Earl Carwile announced his resignation in a scathing letter to the UCDD Board. Carwile's resignation is effective June 15.

The executive committee is set to meet in a special-called session Tuesday, June 5, at 10 a.m. to discuss it.

Carwile, who was also the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation director, has been the agency's interim director since the board placed former director Wendy Askins on administrative leave in February while an internal review of allegations of misappropriation of funds was conducted. Askins resigned a few days before her administrative leave was up.

"I have been a faithful employee of UCDD for over 16 years, however, I will not continue to be associated with such an organization," Carwile said in his resignation letter.

He goes on to state that the board needs to be "transparent and provide financial security to an agency that has been so negatively impacted by poor fiscal management."

His resignation comes a week before the board's annual meeting, where new officers will be officially announced.

In his resignation letter, Carwile mentions the large attorney bill the agency recently received and how he has been criticized for authorizing raises. He also specifically levels some of his criticism at UCDD board chairman Mike Foster.

"I feel it highly important to point out that you, Mr. Foster, as well as others, criticized mostly the fact that a total of $25,000 per year in raises were provided among eight employees for assuming responsibility of those eight that are no longer with the agency, rather than hiring individuals that we could not afford, especially after the exceedingly great lawyer bill that was received upon approval by the board. Where were your concerns when the accrual of a $250,000 lawyer bill was rising?"

Carwile expressed frustration over the decision by board chairman Foster and other board members to hire former agency employee Amanda Mainord as an independent contractor to handle grants for their counties.

The board voted that Mainord could take what Carwile estimates to be $135,000 in profits from grants she worked while she was at UCDD.

Carwile also states that at least two board members were contacted by a UCDD employee expressing concerns of possible illegal activities being performed by Askins and former deputy director Larry Webb, but did nothing to address it.

"In closing, I want to disclose that it is clear that this board does not have the best interest of the agency's employees or those in which are served throughout the Upper Cumberland region in mind when making decisions for future success," Carwile states. "Therefore, I am providing you with notification that I can no longer serve as interim executive director nor will I be striving to see success for the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation, a positive asset that this agency in the past has been able to serve our communities with prior to the devastation generated by another poor decision on the board's behalf to make a loan to Living the Dream without supplying any necessary questions."

Carwile's resignation comes just as the newly-formed executive director selection committee is preparing to hire a permanent UCDD director.

According to the Herald-Citizen, advertisements will be posted as soon as possible in all Upper Cumberland newspapers with applications to be submitted by the close of business on Monday, June 18.

Applicants will be required to have a BS degree with six years experience in supervisory or administrative position or 10 years experience in supervisory or administrative position.

Knowledge or familiarity of grant writing is also preferred, along with having people skills, knowledge of housing projects and computer skills. The applicant is also preferred to be willing to move to the Upper Cumberland or live in the area.

The applications are to remain unsealed and sent to Sherry Thurman at the Upper Cumberland Development District. The selection committee will then meet Wednesday, June 20, to unseal the envelopes, narrow down the most-qualified candidates and hold first interviews Monday, June 25. The magic number of five applicants will go before the full board for a final interview, with a new director to be named hopefully by the first of July.

The starting salary has also been set at $90,000 and the person is to be evaluated every quarter.

THE FOLLOWING IS A COMPLETE TEXT OF EARL CARWILE'S RESIGNATION LETTER TO UCDD BOARD CHAIRMAN MIKE FOSTER:

Mr. Foster,

On February 24, 2012, the UCDD Board placed me as well as a co-worker into interim positions after an investigation identified the misappropriation of funds and unethical/illegal practices by previous management. Upon this appointment, we received no guidance from the UCDD board or direction in which was best suited for the situation in which we inherited, rather an immediate criticism of practices that were only for the betterment of the agency.

After we received much questioning from several board members, primarily through backstage gossping (sic), an act that one certainly wouldn't expect from board members who are supposed to be of highest support; most members received education of events either by email, a phone call or in person. I feel it highly important to point out to you, Mr. Foster, as well as others, criticized mostly the fact that a total of $25,000 per year in raises were provided among eight employees for assuming responsibility of those eight that are no longer with the agency, rather than hiring individuals that we could not afford, especially after the exceedingly great lawyer bill that was received upon approval by the board. Where were your concerns when the accrual of a $250,000 lawyer bill was rising?

In taking responsibility for an agency that has received much negative publicity, it should be the intentions of the board to be transparent and provide financial security to an agency that has been so negatively impacted by poor fiscal management. However, in last week's meeting, it is clear that the board has no intention of following through with that will. Instead, a vote was taken to give Amanda Mainord, former UCDD employee, administration dollars for work that she completed while being employed at the Development District. Dollars that total $135,000.

I have to ask myself, if you or other board members owned a private business, such as an insurance firm, and Ms. Mainord was employed by you to recruit clients, she decided to take your business for personal gain, after you had paid her and supplied her all the training necessary, would you vote a unanimous yes? Yes, that she could simply take the profit in which you had paid her to work for? I believe we all know the answer to that. No.

It is clear that the board does not have the best interest of the agency's employees or those in which are served throughout the Upper Cumberland region by decisions that continue to cripple the agency financially.

Mr. Foster, I am certainly apologetic that you continue to ‘have problems' with the agency and your hand has been burned (comments that you made in May 24 meeting), however, you should identify that you and others have enabled all actions to occur that have caused you to ‘get burnt' (sic). Your hand continues to be burnt (sic) because you and others do not identify the real problems that have taken place. The real problem was that the previous executive director and her deputy, who profited much with their positions, in many ways that have already been identified by the NC5 Investigative team. However, the bigger problem is that you and others continue to focus on ‘who contacted the media' and ‘who took information out'? Both items listed are things that may never be disclosed and falsely accusing staff will provide you with even greater problems and will never allow for success to occur at this agency.

I do think it is of high importance to point out that you, as the UCDD board chairman, were contacted, via email, on June 15, 2011, by the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability Mike Hann, notifying you of a question raised by a citizen who was greatly concerned about the Living the Dream project.

Also, it is of importance to point out that two board members were contacted by Michelle Price, with her expressing concern of illegal activities being performed by both Wendy and Larry. Michelle told the agency's HR manager, as well as other directors, of her concern and was advised to receive legal counseling. According to Mrs. Price, she was told that there was nothing to worry about by those board members. Should these names need to be unveiled, that certainly is not a problem, as she has told numerous individuals on different occasions of these conversations.

Many people here at the Development District give their all to ensure they provide ample service to their communities. However, we as management continue to be made aware of deals that have and are being made to ensure that I, as well as others, are removed upon appointment of the new executive director. These deals have been released and are on record. It is highly unfortunate that people who call themselves leaders would partake in such activity. I certainly do not think this was the intention of Tennessee Legislature when this agency was formed.

In closing, I want to disclose that it is clear this board does not have the best interest of the agency's employees or those in which are served throughout the Upper Cumberland region in mind when making decisions for future success. Therefore, I am providing you with notification that I can no longer serve as interim executive director, nor will I be striving to see success for the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation, a positive asset that this agency in the past has been able to serve our communities with prior to the devastation generated by another poor decision on the board's behalf to make a loan to Living the Dream without supplying any necessary questions. I have been a faithful employee of UCDD for over 16 years, however, I will not continue to be associated with such an organization. This is my formal resignation from all involvement with UCDD.

I certainly pray and hope for the best to those remaining at UCDD who have the biggest of hearts to serve the less fortunate. Overlooking things that are not right is the very thing that got UCDD in trouble before. I will not be a part of looking the other way when that happens, therefore, my resignation I presented will be in effect as of June 15, 2012.

Putnam, DeKalb County students grand award winners at science and engineering fair

June 2, 2012
Peter Li, Thomas Brown, Erin Cantrell Pryor and Elijah Walker
Peter Li , Dakota McDonald, Kirkland Smallwood, Payton Norrod

Nearly 100 competitors representing grades 4 through 12 participated in the 58th annual Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair this spring at the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University. The students were from more than 10 counties.

"I was very pleased with the level of exhibits on display during this year's fair," said Peter Li, director of the fair and professor of geography at TTU. "It is always exciting to see the discoveries that our students make in their research. I congratulate all of this year's participants, award winners, their families and teachers."

Two students, Thomas Brown of Cookeville High School and Erin Cantrell Pryor of DeKalb County High school, won the Grand Award this year, which includes a $3,000 scholarship to TTU. Elijah Walker of Monterey High School won the Grand Reserve Award and a $1,500 scholarship.

Brown and Pryor went on to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Meanwhile, Monterey High School student Payton Norrod won first place in the engineering category of the junior division, which includes grades seven through nine. Kirkland Smallwood of DeKalb West School in Liberty took second and Dakota McDonald of Livingston Middle School won third.

TOP PHOTO CAPTION:
Standing with fair director and TTU geography professor Peter Li are (left to right) Thomas Brown, Erin Cantrell Pryor and Elijah Walker.

BOTTOM PHOTO CAPTION:
Standing with fair director Peter Li are (left to right) Dakota McDonald, Kirkland Smallwood and Payton Norrod.

DeKalb County student wins at Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair

June 1, 2012
Standing with regional fair director Peter Li is Peter Antoniak.

Nearly 100 competitors representing grades 4 through 12 participated in the 58th annual Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair this spring at the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University. The students were from more than 10 counties.

“I was very pleased with the level of exhibits on display during this year’s fair,” said Peter Li, director of the fair and professor of geography at TTU. “It is always exciting to see the discoveries that our students make in their research. I congratulate all of this year’s participants, award winners, their families and teachers.”

DeKalb County High School student Peter Antoniak won the Marvin Tidwell Award for the best of the junior division, which incorporates grades seven through nine.

PHOTO CAPTION:
Standing with regional fair director Peter Li is Peter Antoniak.

Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Only Five Weeks Away

June 1, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jack Barton

In a little over a month, downtown Smithville will come alive as thousands of tourists flock to town for the 41st annual Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival, Friday and Saturday July 6th & 7th.

(Click the following link for the 2012 Fiddlers Jamboree schedule)
http://smithvillejamboree.com.

Jack Barton, President and Coordinator of the festival, and members of the Jamboree committee meet regularly throughout the year making plans, but they will become even busier over the next five weeks.

In addition to hundreds of crafts displayed along many of the downtown streets, the Fiddler's Jamboree will once again offer plenty of delicious foods for sale at local food booths, lots of shade tree picking, and great on-stage music and dancing competitions.

Over the years, the Fiddlers Jamboree has allotted twelve food booth spaces to non-profit groups, for a fee. That number was expanded to fourteen spaces last year and the application fee to rent a space was raised from $350 to $500. But since only seven of the fourteen available spaces have been booked by non-profits this year, the Jamboree committee is looking to bring in a few for-profit or commercial food booths to fill the remaining spaces.

The fee to for-profits will be $1,000, while the fee to non-profits will be dropped back to $350. "We have fourteen spaces," said Barton. " Traditionally we always had twelve, but last year we expanded it to fourteen spaces. As of our deadline in March, we only had seven local non-profits apply. So we have seven empty booths that the Jamboree was faced with trying to fill. Given our rules, we couldn't fill them with local non-profits so we went straight to contractors. But in fairness to those non-profits who have tried to abide by the rules, and who had success last year as far as sales, we decided to take the $500 fee back down to $350. Those seven booths who have applied for this year will actually be getting a refund because they paid $500 for this year and we're going to drop it back to $350," said Barton.

With the large crowds that attend the festival each year, food booths have historically proven to be a good means of raising funds for local charities and other causes and Barton said the goal remains to give non-profits the first opportunity " Our goal has always been to have local and area non-profits as our food booths and to try and retain as much revenue in the county as possible of what's gathered during the Jamboree," said Barton. "Over time, we had realized that some booths were contracting with for-profit food booths and a lot of the money was escaping or leaving the county and the local non-profit was actually not getting very much of the profit. Two years ago we began to put into place that we did not want the local charities to actually contract with any for-profit booths so all the proceeds stay here. If there was any contracting to do, we, the Jamboree being a non-profit as well, would go directly to a contracted food booth, should the need arise. So new for 2012, we voted to change our food booth rules for the next year. The first right of refusal on all fourteen booths that we have would go to our local non-profits. If we don't receive enough applications to fill all fourteen booths to serve the Jamboree crowd, we would then take the excess booths that are not filled and go to contracted food booths at a much higher rate," said Barton.

As for craft booths, Barton said the Jamboree expects to be at about the same number this year as last, but a few spaces may be opened up to government or non-profit groups for information only booths. "It remains a challenge to draw people here since our rules are strictly for handmade crafts. I think as time evolves, its harder and harder to find people that are truly hand making their product," said Barton. "We have opened it up this year, where we will do a few information only booths as long as they are government or non-profit. So the Corps of Engineers may very well have a booth. We're going to approach the TWRA and others like those that set up at the DeKalb County Fair," he said.

"We have the full capacity of 220 craft booth spaces. Last year we had 185 craft booths," said Barton. " This year, so far we're at about 135. That's on par with where we were last year. It seems like a lot of people, more and more are last minute. They try and plan with how expensive fuel is or how far they travel and some people wait til the last minute to register to have a booth," he said.

Barton said the line-up of competitive events on stage will remain virtually unchanged this year. "The only thing that we've made a concession on. I think we changed the schedule two years ago to have youth square dancing on Friday night. Since Friday is typically a work day for most families, we are going to push the youth square dancing a little bit later so the parents have the opportunity to travel here with their children to participate in that. As our events timed out, we were seeing that the youth square dancing was sometimes needing to be started at three o'clock in the afternoon but that being a work day for most parents, the children weren't here yet. Last year, we manually on the fly moved the event later. This year we're actually going to move it in the rotation a little bit later," he said.

The Fiddlers Jamboree also is always looking for volunteers who want to pitch in and help. "We're always looking for volunteers and people who would like to come out," said Barton. No matter in what capacity. It could be somebody who helps during the event or somebody that helps during the year on our committee," said Barton.

Realizing that many people want to know more about how the Fiddlers Jamboree operates, Barton said a news release has been prepared that will hopefully address any questions they may have concerning the festival.

CLICK THE FOLLOWING PDF FILE TO READ ENTIRE FIDDLERS JAMBOREE NEWS RELEASE

2012 Jamboree Press Release FINAL.pdf (190.87 KB)

DeKalb County Boys compete with Tournament Winning Baseball Team

May 31, 2012
by: 
Clark Oakley
Franklin AA Champs

Three local residents of DeKalb County competed in the USSSA Memorial Day NIT Tournament in Franklin, Tennessee over Memorial Day Weekend.

A.J. Mooneyham, Cason Oakley and Sam McMillen are part of the Mid-South Mayhem Travel Baseball team that went a perfect 5 and 0 in the tournament and captured the 1st place trophy.

Other players on the team include: Logan Fields and Bailey Kemp from Smith County, Luke Turner, Bronson Bell, Jackson Vance, Drew Trice and Matthew Dillon all from Wilson County, Ethan Roberts from White County and Weston Burris from Rutherford County. Caleb Dillon is the batboy.

The Mid-South Mayhem is coached by Paul Fields from Smith County and Chad Vance and Kenny Dillon, both from Wilson County. This was the Mayhem’s 2nd Title in 3 tournaments. They also won the USSSA NIT in Columbia, Tennessee the 2nd week of May.

4-H Members Competed at the Regional Wildlife Judging Competition

May 31, 2012
by: 
April Martin
4-H Wildlife Judging Team Members

Recently several 4-H members competed at the Regional Wildlife Judging competition.

For the last two months, these 4-Hers learned to identify 45 wildlife species and to determine appropriate wildlife management practices.

The coaches for the team were TWRA officer Mike Beaty, Army Corp. of Engineers Ranger Terry Martin, and Extension Agent April Martin.

The Junior High Team members included: Caitlyn Lawrence, Wyatt Martin, Eli Oliver, Casey Taylor, Morgan Vickers, and Casey Vickers. The team placed 7th in the region and Caitlyn Lawrence was 12th high individual.

The Senior High Team members included: Brooke Reffue, Crystal Vickers, Justin Bass, and Lydia Trail. The team placed 7th in the region.

4-H judging teams is just one of the many activities offered through 4-H to teach important life skills. The University of Tennessee Extension offers all its programs to everyone in the county.

(This is for the photo caption)
4-H Wildlife Judging Team Members: front row (l-r): Crystal Vickers, Casey Vickers, Casey Taylor, Eli Oliver, and Wyatt Martin. Back row: Lydia Trail, Justin Bass, Brooke Reffue, and Caitlyn Lawrence. (photo by April Martin)

451 Vote Early in City Election

May 31, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

Four hundred fifty one people have voted early to date in the Smithville Municipal Election with four days to go.

Here's how the voting breaks down each day:
Wednesday, May 30, 48 voters
Thursday, May 31, 55 voters
Friday, June 1, 45 voters
Saturday, June 2, 24 voters
Monday, June 4, 38 voters
Tuesday, June 5, 40 voters
Wednesday, June 6, 27 voters
Thursday, June 7, 58 voters
Friday, June 8, 23 voters
Saturday, June 9, 47 voters
Monday, June 11, 22 voters
Tuesday, June 12, 24 voters

Voting continues through Thursday, June 14 at the DeKalb County Election Commission Office on the first floor of the courthouse.

Hours for early voting are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m,
Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. until Noon.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 19, each to serve a two year term, beginning July 1. The candidates for mayor are Taft Hendrixson and Jimmy Poss. Candidates for alderman are Scott Davis, Jason Judd Murphy, Tim Stribling, and Steve White.

The ballot will also include a referendum on liquor by the drink in city restaurants. Voters will have the opportunity to vote either "yes" or "no" on whether to "authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in the City of Smithville."

Election day voting, June 19 will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse.

Fire at Large Hay Barn Keeps Firefighters Busy Tuesday

May 30, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Rolls of Hay and Damages Large Barn on Evins Mill Road

A fire Tuesday damaged a large barn and destroyed more than 200 rolls of wheat hay belonging to Frank Colwell on Evins Mill Road.

County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that Colwell was feeding cattle on his farm when he saw a puff of smoke coming from the barn, a 200 x 75 foot structure, which once served as a dairy barn, now used for hay storage.

Colwell phoned Chief Green to report what he saw. Green then called for firefighters to get enroute. Central dispatch received the call at 10:33 a.m.

Chief Green said the fire, which is believed to have started from spontaneous combustion within the rolls of hay, was difficult to put out. Firefighters spent almost twelve hours on the scene, before leaving around ten p.m. Tuesday night.

According to Chief Green, the barn held more than 300 rolls of wheat hay and two thirds of it was destroyed. But Mr. Colwell was able to save 108 rolls, using a forklift to remove them from the structure. The fire also destroyed about a fourth of the barn.

Chief Green said about 38,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire, most of it coming from an irrigation pond at Pirtle's Nursery.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Midway, Main Station, Keltonburg, and Blue Springs Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with manpower from other county stations. Members of the City of Smithville and North Warren County Fire Departments came to the scene with fire trucks and manpower to render mutual aid assistance, along with deputies of the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS. No one was injured.

Chief Green said he wishes to thank the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and the North Warren Fire Department for their support.

Cantrell Gets Ten Years Probation in Meth Case

May 29, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Justin Andrew Cantrell

A 24 year old man allegedly caught with meth lab components at City Walk Apartments near Smithville Elementary School last fall was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, May 25.

Justin Andrew Cantrell of Adcock Cemetery Road stood before Judge Leon Burns, Jr. and pleaded guilty to initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. He received a ten year sentence, all suspended to probation, supervised by community corrections. He was fined $2,000 and must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. Cantrell was given jail credit from November 30, 2011 to May 25, 2012

Cantrell was arrested on November 30 and charged with violation of the drug free zone and initiation of a process intended to manufacture methamphetamine.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that detectives and deputies of the sheriff's department saw Cantrell in the parking lot of City Walk Apartments holding a bag. When Cantrell saw the officers he began to walk away from them. When the officers asked to speak to him, Cantrell put the bag down beside of some parked vehicles. One of the detectives went over and looked in the bag, which was partially open. He saw tubing and a plastic bottle containing a clear liquid and noticed it to be the one pot method of manufacturing methamphetamine. The officers also found in the bag a gallon of Coleman fuel, coffee filters, a plastic bottle containing acid, two plastic baggies (cold packs)containing ammonium nitrate, and an ice pack which had been cut open. In his pocket, Cantrell had a coffee filter and a hypodermic needle. Cantrell was taken into custody and charged in the case.

Meanwhile, 30 year old Kenny Bain pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule III controlled substance and received a three year sentence to serve at least 30% before his release eligibility date. Bain was fined $2,000. The sentence is to run concurrently with a probation violation against him. He was given jail credit of 92 days. Bain's probation was revoked for an earlier charge of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and he must serve the balance of his original three year sentence in that case. Again, the revocation is to run concurrently with the sentence he received Friday.

42 year old Wendy Whittemore pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule III controlled substance and received a two year sentence to run concurrently with a violation of probation against her. She was fined $2,000 and given jail credit of 91 days.

47 year old Steven Dale Osment pleaded guilty to hindering a secured creditor and received a two year sentence to serve at least thirty percent, but the term was suspended to probation. He must make restitution of $25,590.

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