Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate for July Drops to 10.7%

August 27, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for the month of July was still in double digits at 10.7%, but down from 11.3% in June. The rate for July 2008 was 6.1%

The DeKalb County Labor Force for July was 10,100. A total of 9,020 were employed and 1,080 were unemployed.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2009 was at 10.7 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the June rate of 10.8 percent. The United States' unemployment rate for the month of July was 9.4 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for July 2009, show that the rate increased in 14 counties, decreased in 78 counties and remained the same in three counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.9 percent, down from 7.0 percent in June. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.6 percent, up from 19.5 in June, followed by Lauderdale County at 19.5 percent, down from 19.7 percent in June.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 8.3 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from the June rate. Hamilton County was at 9.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from the June rate. Davidson County was 9.2 percent, down 0.1 from the previous month, and Shelby County was 10.4 percent, unchanged from the June rate.

County Road Department Employee Dies in Accident

August 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Pavement Roller after it was pulled back up to the road at lakeside Drive
Alfred Young

An employee of the DeKalb County Road Department died Wednesday after the pavement roller he was operating went off the road and plunged down a steep embankment in Lakeview Mountain Estates

Dead is 61 year old Alfred E. Young of Smithville.

Sergeant Mark Dial of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Young was trying to make a left turn from Mullican Drive to Lakeside Drive when the pavement roller went off the embankment. Young was thrown from the roller and died at the scene.

The accident was reported to 911 at 12:55 p.m.

County Road Supervisor Kenny Edge told WJLE that about ten men from his department were in the area making road repairs and maintenance on Mullican Drive, Lakeview Circle, and Floyd Drive. According to Edge, two men were chipping, four men were driving gravel trucks, one man was operating a grader, two were putting down oil, and Mr. Young was operating the roller. The other men were apparently working on the road ahead of Mr. Young at the time of the accident, and none of them saw what happened.

According to Sergeant Dial there were no witnesses to the accident but a resident in the area apparently heard a noise and went to investigate. The witness reportedly looked over the embankment, saw the roller and then called 911.

Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department's Cookeville Highway Station and Extrication and Rescue Team responded along with the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, EMS, and Sheriff's Department.

Sources say the roller was found approximately 50 to 75 feet down the embankment off Lakeside Drive and the body was discovered about 20 feet from the equipment.

The fire department's rescue team and the DeKalb County Rescue Squad assisted EMS using ropes and a rescue basket to remove Young's body from the scene. An ambulance then transported it to the hospital.

The accident was investigated by Sergeant Dial, assisted by the Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Two 25 ton tow trucks and a 45 ton wrecker were needed to pull the pavement roller up the hill to the side of the road at Lakeside Drive Wednesday night.

Edge says Mr. Young was a good friend and employee and his heart goes out to the Young family.

GED Classes Begin September 9th at SES

August 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Betty Hickey

Interested in obtaining a GED?

A GED program is offered free in DeKalb County to anyone age eighteen or older. The classes meet at Smithville Elementary School starting September 9th and will be taught by Betty Hickey and volunteers Tom Werling, Tina Evans and her daughter Kim.

Hickey says the GED classes meet on Monday and Wednesday at Smithville Elementary School starting at 4:00 p.m.

"We have open enrollment. That means we accept people all year long from August when we start until the end of June. We shut down during the month of July. All of our classes are free because we are considered public education but the testing center charges a fee of $55.00 and you have to go to McMinnville or Cookeville to take your test. The Smithville Rotary Club and DeKalb Community Bank helps with this fee and right now the state pays $35.00 on this fee."

"When you come, the first thing we do is give a test. That test gives us a grade level in reading, math, and English. From there, we can work with you, one on one, because our classes are usually pretty small. After we get your grade levels, then we can help you one on one with the areas you are low in until you are ready to go take your exam. The areas that you are tested in are science, social studies, reading, math, and English, which includes an essay. One good thing about the test is that you can go take your exam and you don't have to pass all subjects at once. You can pass what you can, come back to us, and we'll help you through the areas that you may be having more difficulty in."

"I love to call them (students) my second chancers because they are given a second chance. They realize their mistake and they are so thankful and appreciative for classes that give them an opportunity to start over again. We have a lot of students who come back and thank us after getting their GED. It's just a rewarding thing to teach.

Hickey says persons younger and older have taken advantage of this program. "We get a lot of people who have just turned 18. Our oldest student was 65. We have students of all ages."

"I also want to thank my three volunteers, Mr. Tom Werling, who is the 2008 Volunteer of the Year in the GED program, Mrs. Tina Evans and her daughter Kim."

For more information call 597-5404.

Plan Proposed for Dealing with Traffic Concerns at Northside School

August 25, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Parents Line up to Pick up their Children at Northside Elementary
Parents Line up to Pick up their Children at Northside Elementary

Officials of the City of Smithville and the DeKalb County School System have come up with a plan for dealing with traffic problems in the school zone at Northside Elementary School, but it may be several weeks before it can be implemented.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says he met last week with Smithville Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, Northside Elementary School Principal Dr. Gayle Redmon, and Transportation Supervisor Peggy Pursell.

Concerns were raised last week during a meeting of the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen that an accident could occur in the school zone unless the problem was addressed. The issue is that parents who pick up their children in the afternoons have to line up on the shoulder of Highway 56 north which makes it difficult for motorists exiting the school parking lot from being able to see around them. And because of the heavy traffic on Highway 56 during that time, many motorists leaving the school have to wait a long time before they can get back out on the road. Some say either the city, county, or school system should have an officer or trained civilian to direct traffic there during the mornings and afternoons.

Willoughby says the proposal is to extend the school zone at Northside Elementary to Smith Road and to have the buses enter and exit on Smith Road. Parents would no longer be permitted to park on the shoulder of the road but they would have more room to enter and exit the school from Highway 56. There are apparently no plans under this proposal to have anyone directing traffic. "We've looked at what we can do to address that, hopefully to alleviate some of the problem, I don't know that it will solve the problem. We'll be re-directing our buses to enter and leave through the Smith Road area. Therefore, the buses will not be lined up with car traffic in the mornings or afternoons, which we're hoping will help some. We're not going to start this right now, we're going to wait for a few things to happen,. We're going to move the flashing lights down there at Smith Road, then we will move (extend) the school zone a little bit further down the road. By doing that, we're hoping to get those buses away from the cars. You know, four or five buses will take up a lot of car space. Hopefully, that is going to help some. And then the cars would be snaking through the parking lot, similar to what they have in the past. But we'll be getting the buses out of the way. The cars would be entering and exiting the same place they have always have, the only difference is that the buses will not be entering or exiting in the places where they have in the past. The buses will only be entering and exiting at Smith Road.."

Again Willoughby says the plan has not yet been implemented. TDOT may have to grant permission to extend the school zone before the signs and flashing lights can be relocated and some minor work has to be done at the entrance to the school property from Smith Road in order for buses to have easier access.

Citizen Involvement Aids Sheriff's Department in Burglary and Theft Investigation

August 24, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joshua Cripps

A citizen report of a suspicious vehicle helped the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department solve a burglary over the weekend at a residence on the Old Mill Hill Road.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 24 year old Joshua Cripps of Hodges Road, Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property. Bond for Cripps was set at $75,000 and he will appear in court on September 3rd. Another man, 20 year old Raymond Howard Rollins of West Main Street Apartments, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on September 2nd.

On Saturday, August 22nd deputies received a call from a citizen about a suspicious automobile on Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown, and that someone had gotten out of the vehicle. Upon arrival the officer discovered that Rollins was the driver. A check of his license revealed that it was suspended for failure to satisfy a citation.

On Sunday morning, the sheriff's department received a call of a break in at a residence on the Old Mill Hill Road. Following an investigation, deputies arrested Cripps in connection with the crime. Sheriff Ray says officers discovered that Rollins and Cripps had been together on Saturday and that Cripps had told Rollins to let him out of the vehicle and to pick him up again in a few minutes. Rollins then rode around until he got pulled over and arrested on the driving charge. In the meantime, Cripps allegedly went to the residence of a family member, broke the glass out of a door, entered the home, and took a bottle of prescription medication. The victim was not at home at the time of the break in. Cripps then left and was picked up by officers later Sunday morning.

Sheriff Ray says he wants to thank the complainant who reported seeing the suspicious vehicle. "The caller did the right thing by calling the dispatch and advising us of the vehicle. It made this theft investigation a lot easier for us to work. This is a great example of what happens when citizens are keeping watch on what is going on in their communities. We encourage people to call us and let us check out things such as this."

Vinca Charged in Child Sex Crime

August 24, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Aaron Vinca

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged a Smithville man with aggravated sexual battery for allegedly having sexual contact with a four year old child.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 41 year old James Aaron Vinca of East Main Street was charged with the offense on August 18th. In mid July, Vinca was accused of having unlawful sexual contact with the child at his residence. The child is a member of his family. Vinca has allegedly admitted to the crime. His bond was set at $25,000 and his court date is set for September 17th.

Meanwhile, in other cases 52 year old Calvin Kenneth Adcock of Keltonburg Road Smithville was arrested on August 18th for simple possession of a schedule III drug. Sheriff Ray says deputies spotted Adcock walking down the roadway and when asked if they could help him, Adcock said he needed a ride to his probation officer's office. The officer told Adcock that he needed to pat him down before seating him in the patrol car and Adcock consented. During the search, the officer found a blue pill believed to be Hydrocodone in Adcock's pocket. Bond for Adcock was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on August 27th.

25 year old Stephen Brandon Pirtle of Rolling Acres Road, Smithville was arrested on August 21st for simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Deputies were summoned to the residence because of an unwanted guest. Upon entering the home, officers noticed rolling papers, a glass bong that is used to smoke marijuana, and a bag of marijuana in the bedroom. Sheriff Ray says Pirtle tried to conceal the marijuana by throwing articles of clothing over the bag. Bond for Pirtle was set at $2,500 on the charges and he will appear in court on September 3rd.

36 year old Luis Manual Ramirez of Miller Road Apartments was arrested by deputies on August 23rd after a BOLO, or be on the lookout, was issued for a vehicle that was involved in an accident in Warren County. Officers spotted the automobile and attempted to pull it over. The driver, Ramirez, refused to stop. One of the deputies pulled in front of Ramirez's vehicle and stopped it. When Ramirez refused to get out of the vehicle, the deputies removed him. After a check of Ramirez's driver's license, it was found to be revoked for a 2007 driving under the influence charge in DeKalb County. Ramirez was charged with evading arrest, resisting arrest, and a first offense of driving on a revoked driver's license. His bond was set at $9,000 and he will appear in court on September 3rd.

Woman Charged with Assaulting her Elderly Landlord

August 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins-
Debralee Hardcastle

A 29 year old woman has been charged in an early Sunday morning assault on her 95 year old landlord at the residence they share at 309 West Main Street in Alexandria.

Chief Mark Collins of the Alexandria Police Department says Debralee Hardcastle is charged with especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated assault in the attack on Lilae Belle Gilliam. Hardcastle is also charged with theft under $500 in a separate case. Bond for Hardcastle totals $378,500 and she will appear in court September 17th. Hardcastle is currently on probation on other charges outside DeKalb County

According to Chief Collins, Gilliam, who lives alone, rented a portion of her home to Hardcastle and another woman less than a month ago. They apparently moved here from Wilson County. Both dwellings in the Gilliam home are under the same roof but have separate entrances.

Chief Collins says Hardcastle, in order to alter her appearance, dressed disguised as a man and then left her room around 3:15 a.m.. He says she went outside, went around the house, and knocked on Mrs. Gilliam's side door. When Mrs. Gilliam answered the door, Hardcastle, holding a 14 inch knife, forced her way inside and demanded the elderly woman's medication. Mrs. Gilliam, who apparently did not recognize Hardcastle, resisted and tried to defend herself. Though she fought off the attack, Gilliam suffered lacerations and bruises from blows to her head and upper body.

After the assault, Hardcastle returned to her room, taking three bottles of medication from Gilliam's residence. Mrs. Gilliam, bleeding from the attack, dropped to her hands and knees, crawled to the foyer near the door and began screaming for help.

Apparently in an attempt to avoid arousing suspicion as to her possible involvement, Hardcastle removed her disguise, changed her clothes, cleaned up and went back to assist Mrs. Gilliam and called 911.

Gilliam was transported by DeKalb EMS to UMC Medical Center in Lebanon where she was treated and released.

Chief Collins says after interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence at the scene, Hardcastle was identified as a suspect.. She was picked up for questioning, but she refused to cooperate or give a statement. She was subsequently charged in the case.

Chief Collins says the case is being investigated by the Alexandria Police Department in cooperation with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

Also in an effort to calm any fears, Chief Collins wants the citizens of Alexandria to know that this attack is believed to have only been an isolated incident. Still, he says his department will increase patrols late at night in the city as a precaution. And if you see or hear of suspicious activity occurring in your neighborhood contact the Alexandria Police Department or the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Man Drowns on Caney Fork River Near Center Hill Dam

August 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A morning fishing trip on the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam turned tragic for an Alexandria man and his grandson Saturday morning.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross says 62 year old Richard Sanders drowned after he and his grandson, 15 year old Kirkland Sanders of Murfreesboro jumped from their small fishing boat, trying to make it to shore, after encountering strong currents.

The Sanders were on the river as the generators were activated and the sluice gate was opened at the dam, and when the water got swift, the two apparently became concerned and decided to jump out of the boat and try to swim to shore. But finding the current too strong, the boy swam back and clung to the boat until help arrived. The boy's grandfather drowned. Both were wearing their life jackets.

Bystanders in canoes and kayaks quickly converged on the scene to render assistance. The elder Mr. Sanders was brought by canoe to the steps below the power house at the dam, where efforts were made unsuccessfully to resuscitate him.

The people on the kayaks pulled the boy on board his boat and towed it to shore. Ambulances transported both victims to DeKalb Community Hospital. The grandfather was pronounced dead. The boy was treated and released.

TWRA Officers Tony Cross, Tommy Stockling and Mike Beaty were on the scene along with Ray Eason, Park Ranger of Edgar Evins State Park, members of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Alexandria Police Make Arrests in Burglary, Theft, and Vandalism Cases

August 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria Police Department has made arrests in recent burglary, theft, and vandalism cases.

Chief Mark Collins says 34 year old James Steven Leduc of Alexandria is charged with burglary and theft under $500 as the result of an investigation in which a chainsaw, gas can, and miscellaneous landscaping chemicals were stolen from a business on Nashville Highway. Bond for Leduc is set at $40,000. More charges are expected. Chief Collins says the case was investigated as a cooperative effort with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department that resulted in several recent burglaries being solved.

Meanwhile, 22 year old Justin L. Thomas of Watertown was arrested for vandalism by the Alexandria Police Department on August 17th after officers responded to Gin Alley Apartments on August 13th where it was reported that Thomas had attempted to pry open a door causing damage to the door and frame. His bond is $2,500 and the court date is August 27th.

Alexandria Police charged four juveniles for aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000 on August 20th as the result of an investigation of a home burglary on Academy Avenue that occurred on July 14th where it was reported that approximately $600 in cash and coins, miscellaneous jewelry, and a video camera were taken.

Anyone having any information on any criminal activity in Alexandria should contact the Alexandria Police Department at 529-2700.

Smithville Police Make Two Arrests in Theft Case

August 22, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have arrested two people in a theft case.

Chief Richard Jennings says 34 year old Melvin Leon Crips of 148 Winter Drive, Smithville and 39 year old Tracy Lynn Haynes of 529 Frazier Street, Smithville are charged with theft of property. Their bond is set at $3,500 each and their court date is September 3rd in General Sessions Court.

Chief Jennings says he spoke with Mrs. Luther Cantrell and Charles Cantrell on August 17th about some farm equipment that was stolen from her property on August 12th. A video from a neighbor's surveillance camera showed two male subjects driving a red pickup truck and pulling a trailer removing what appeared to be the farm equipment. The case was referred to Detective Jerry Hutchins who arrested Crips and Haynes.

Meanwhile, 18 year old Ashley Marie Anderson of 760 Alton Davenport Road, McMinnville is charged with two counts of forgery. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is September 3rd. 20 year old Michael Alexander Stock of Happy Hollows Road, Buffalo Valley is charged with two counts of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal impersonation. His bond is set at $10,000 and his court date is September 3rd.

Officer Matt Holmes responded to the police department on August 20th where he met with the victim, Misty Gillis, who advised him that she noticed the night before that her debit card was missing. She then went to her bank to cancel her debit card and was notified that her debit card was being used. The case was referred to Detective Jerry Hutchins who arrested Anderson and Stock.

Officer Nathan Estes was dispatched to 425 Kendra Drive, Apartment B6 on a domestic assault complaint on August 16th. Upon arrival, Officer Estes contacted the victim, Mindy Evans who told him that 21 year old James Edward Gilles of 425 Kendra Drive had struck her with his fist multiple times and choked her. Officer Estes saw evidence of an assault. There were knots on her forehead, scrapes on her elbows, and a cut on her left cheek. Officer Estes placed Gilles under arrest for domestic violence assault. His bond is set at $3,500 and his court date is August 27th

Officer Travis Bryant stopped Kimberly Diane Stevens of Hutchings College Road, Sparta on August 17th for traveling 34 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour school zone on North Congress Boulevard. Officer Bryant checked her New York driver's license and found they were suspended. She was arrested for driving on a suspended license and issued a citation for speeding. Her court date is September 16th and her bond is $1,000.

Officer Randy King arrested 48 year old Kenny Ray Herman of 215 West Main Street, Smithville on August 18th on an outstanding warrant for criminal trespassing. The warrant was taken out by Landon Mathis of 425 Dry Creek Road, Smithville. Herman's court date is September 17th.

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