Local News Articles

Woman Dies in Cannon County Crash

December 19, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 52 year old woman died in a one vehicle traffic accident in Cannon County Thursday night.

Dead is Deanna M. Kirby of Warren County.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that Kirby was driving east on the Judge Purser Hill Road in a 1998 Durango SUV when the vehicle went off the right side of the road, crossed a bridge abutment, and struck a tree.

The accident was investigated by Troopers Bruce Pryor, Monty Terry, and THP Sergeant Billy Prater.

Officials say extreme fog at the time of the 7:15 p.m. crash contributed to the accident.

Kirby was wearing her seatbelt.

Large Number of Students Record Perfect Attendance

December 17, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Clay Farler

Student attendance has been good for the first half of the school year and a total of 268 students system wide have had perfect attendance.

Clay Farler, Attendance Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System says the attendance numbers have been impressive. "Part of my role each year is to keep up with the attendance of students in the county and to report that to the state. Perfect attendance means no missed days, no tardies, and no leave earlies for the year. We've had 82 full days of school (as of Monday) and there are 94 days of school left in the year (as of Monday)."

The attendance rates at each school and the number of students with perfect attendance at each grade level are as follows:

DeKalb West School:
Attendance rate- 95.8%
32 students with perfect attendance
By grade:
Pre-Kindergarten -1, Kindergarten-2, 1st Grade- 3, 2nd Grade- 2, 3rd Grade-6, 4th Grade-3, 5th Grade-7, 6th Grade-2, 7th Grade-1, and 8th Grade-5

DeKalb Middle School:
Attendance rate-96.4%
57 students with perfect attendance
By grade:
6th Grade-21, 7th Grade-19, and 8th Grade-17

Smithville Elementary:
Attendance Rate-95.3%
38 students with perfect attendance
By grade: Pre-Kindergarten-1, Kindergarten-11, 1st Grade-11, and 2nd Grade-15

DCHS:
Attendance Rate-95.1%
65 students with perfect attendance
By grade:
9th Grade-27, 10th Grade-12, 11th Grade-18, and 12th Grade-8

Northside Elementary:
Attendance Rate-96.7%
76 students with perfect attendance
By grade:
2nd Grade-11, 3rd Grade-20, 4th Grade-18, and 5th Grade-27

Farler says "I want to commend all the students, their parents, and their schools for this accomplishment. Of course, we encourage students to be in school everyday and on time and stay for the full day. For us, to be almost half way through the school year and have this many students who have not missed any school is really good."

Two Men Sentenced on Statutory Rape Charges

December 16, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 19 year old man, indicted on four counts of statutory rape of a young girl, entered a guilty plea under a negotiated settlement Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Leon Burns, Jr. was the presiding judge.

Bradley Robert Herriott of West Broad Street, Smithville pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape and received a two year sentence, all suspended to time served. He was given jail credit for 131 days from August 8th to December 15th.

According to Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins, Jr. of the Smithville Police Department, Herriott had sexual intercourse with a 13 year old girl on four different occasions near the juvenile's home on a neighbor's back porch on Morgan Drive and at the Joe L. Evins Ball Park on the last week in May through the first week in June.

Herriott was charged on Wednesday, August 6th in the case.

Meanwhile, 24 year old Carmelino Sanchez Rodriguez of Short Mountain Street, also indicted on a charge of statutory rape of a 16 year old girl, pleaded guilty Monday and received a two year sentence, all suspended to time served.

Rodriguez was given jail credit of 110 days and must have no contact with the victim. He must perform 100 hours of community service work.

Smithville Police initially charged him with aggravated rape and especially aggravated burglary.
The police report stated that on Saturday, August 23rd, at 756 South Mountain Street, Rodriguez forced his way into the home of the victim and then took her into the bedroom where he raped her. Holding a knife, Rodriguez allegedly threatened to kill her if she told anyone or called the police.

Rodriguez was indicted earlier this month on the statutory rape charge, but he was not indicted on the other offenses.

Wendy Whittmore of Pea Ridge Road, Liberty pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft of property. She received a four year sentence in each case to run concurrently, all suspended to time served. She was given jail credit of 177 days from June 21st to December 15th.

43 year old Roxanne Hendrixson pleaded guilty to introduction of contraband into a penal institution and public intoxication. She received a three year sentence in the contraband case, all suspended to probation. She must perform 100 hours of community service work. The case is to run concurrent with a violation of probation against her in criminal court. Hendrixson was given jail credit of 21 days from September 19th to October 10th. She was fined $50 plus court costs in the public intoxication case.

41 year old Todd Allen Bussiere pleaded guilty to attempt to violate the sex offender registry. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to 90 days to serve. He was fined $350 plus costs and will be on CPS probation. He was given jail credit of 126 days from August 11th to December 15th.

25 year old Christopher Miles pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended. He was fined $150. Miles was given one day of jail credit.

19 year old Allan R. Lester pleaded guilty to auto burglary. He received a two year sentence on TDOC probation and must pay $100 to the economic crime fund. He must also make restitution as determined by probation. Lester was given four days of jail credit.

29 year old Milton Rodriguez entered a best interest plea to domestic assault and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve ten days. He must make a $200 contribution to a domestic abuse shelter and perform 40 hours of community service work. He will serve ten days on consecutive weekends. The case is to run concurrently with a Wilson County case. Rodriguez must have no contact with the victim and fines and costs are payable at $175 per month. He will report to jail on December 26th.

29 year old Michael Todd Jones pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, driving under the influence (2nd offense), and possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. He received a four year TDOC sentence in the vehicular assault case to serve 180 days and then be on supervised probation by community corrections. He must also perform 40 hours of community service work and pay $1,250 restitution to the victim.

In the DUI case, Jones was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days to serve 180 days with the balance on probation supervised by community corrections. He must pay a fine of $610 and he will lose his drivers license as per Tennessee Department of Safety regulations for two years.

In the drug case, Jones was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days to serve 180 days and then be on probation supervised by community corrections. He must pay a fine of $750.

The sentences in the vehicular assault and DUI are to run concurrently with each other but consecutively with the sentence in the drug case. He will report to jail on January 2nd.

TDOT Chief Engineer Updates Public on Plans for Sligo Bridge

December 15, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges Addresses Plans for Sligo Bridge
Concerned Citizens Listen to TDOT Engineer Paul Degges

A decision on whether to repair or replace Sligo Bridge may still be months or years away, depending upon the availability of funds.

Paul Degges, Chief Engineer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, addressed a room full of concerned citizens Monday night at the courthouse, as to the plans for the bridge.

State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver hosted the meeting.

Degges says the state has inspected the bridge and found it to be safe. "We've got a truss bridge over the river. It's about 24 feet wide. We inspect all of our bridges every two years to try to make sure that the bridge is in good shape and it's safe to keep traffic on it. We came back a few years ago and put a second reinforced steel concrete deck over the old deck on this bridge. So it actually has two bridge decks on it. The older deck down underneath is having some deterioration problems. You may have noticed we have some netting under there. It's not a structural issue with the bridge. The netting is to keep stuff from falling down and hitting somebody. From a structural condition, the bridge is structurally in pretty good shape for a bridge this age. So it is safe to drive on. We don't have any issues with safety."

If a new bridge is built at Sligo, Degges says it would be designed differently than the existing structure. " The steel in a truss bridge like this is a different technology than we use today. The steel we use in bridges today is a much higher strength steel. It's much more resistant to rust and weather. We're proposing a new bridge over the river at 1,545 feet long. One of the things we're also looking at based on current traffic is that we want to make sure we have two twelve foot lanes and full shoulder widths on the bridge. We also want to be prepared in the future to be able to come in and widen the bridge so we would put a wider sub-structure in the river and then in the future if we needed to widen the bridge out we could do that. This bridge is a unique structure in that the water is 137 feet deep from normal pool down to the bedrock below the mud in the river. That is probably the deepest water work we have ever done in the state of Tennessee."

While no decision has yet been made to replace the bridge, Degges says the state can now proceed with right of way acquisition. "We have gotten through the preliminary design phase of the process that gives us a set of plans to go buy right of way with. We're in the right of way acquisition phase right now to buy the right of way to build the new bridge. We've cleared the environmental hurdles and we're buying the right of way right now".

Degges says it would cost about $32 million to replace Sligo bridge at today's estimates, while a rehab would be about $12 million and extend the life of the bridge by 10 to 15 years. " A replacement job here is 32 million dollars. That is roughly half of the amount of federal funds that we (state) get in a year. We get about $60 million a year in federal funds for bridge replacements and by law I have to put about 15% of that money on county highways. So it's ($32 million) a big lick with 20,000 bridges in the state of which about 8.000 are on the state highway system."

"We would probably get about 50 years out of a new bridge and have the ability to widen or rehab it with relatively minor impacts to the traveling public. Truss bridges are a much different issue because since the truss is overhead, you're limited on the width, so to be able to come in there and do any (rehab) work on this bridge would be very difficult without having to close the bridge for at least some time. What we've looked at is for about $12 million and maybe a little cheaper, we could do a rehab on the truss and probably buy ourselves ten to fifteen years. To do the rehab work, we would probably have to have at least two to three different time frames of a total closure within the order of a month."

"From a time frame standpoint, between two and four years from now this bridge is going to be in a condition to where we're going to have to replace the bridge or do a rehab on it."

According to Degges, if funding could be secured for a bridge replacement, the project could be under contract within fifteen months. "Based on our current funding, it was unclear how we could come up with the $32 million plus or minus to replace the bridge. However, a stimulus package is being talked about in Congress right now. That could forseeably put a lot of money in Tennessee for transportation projects. If that's the case, this bridge may or may not qualify for the stimulus money. If it does not, other money could be freed up which could be applied to the bridge."

"A second opportunity is a proposal offered by TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely with the approval of Governor Bredesen called a bridge bonding program. In Tennessee, we are a pay as you go state. We have zero debt on your transportation system. We don't borrow money to build a road. We wait until we have the money and then we let the contracts. So with a pay as you go system, we're not paying interest on debt. We're taking all of the money you pay in fuel taxes and title and registration fees to build roads. In general, the General Assembly has been very proactive in pushing TDOT to live within it's means so that's what we're trying to do. But bonding is a tool and under that program, we could do about seven to nine years worth of work in about three years. This bridge would fit the criteria of that program."

"If we were able to find the funding for this project, I could see us under contract in maybe fifteen months or less if we were going to go with the new bridge. If the money doesn't materialize somewhere, I would guess somewhere between two and four years from now we would be looking at a rehabilitation project on the existing bridge."

Eagle Scout Nick Goff Honored by County Commission

December 15, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Johnna Goff (Nick's mother), Nick Goff, and County Mayor Mike Foster

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution to honor Eagle Scout Nick Goff.

County Mayor Mike Foster read the resolution "Whereas, it is fitting that the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor should announce their pride, respect and honor in the young people of our community who so capably fulfill their requirements and duties to reach lofty goals and levels of achievement."

"Whereas, Nick Goff has performed the years of tasks to work his way to the highest honor bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America. Nick Goff has worked to a level achieved by a very select few and has earned the Eagle Award."

"Whereas, the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor wishes to thank Nick Goff, his family, other scouts who helped and his leaders for the honors they have brought to themselves and DeKalb County."

"Now therefore, be it resolved by the DeKalb County Commission that December 15th, 2008, be officially named Eagle Scout, Nick Goff Day."

"Be it further resolved that this accomplishment be spread across the records of this meeting and preserved as a lasting part of our appreciation to Eagle Scout Nick Goff."

His parents are Danny and Johnna Goff of Smithville. He is a Junior at DeKalb County High School. He attends New Bildad Primitive Baptist Church.

Foster says "when he was a Cub Scout Nick earned the Arrow of Light award. He crossed into the boys scouts in April, 2003 and has worked hard to obtain the rank of Eagle. His Eagle project was putting up a sign at Cannady Cemetery and doing some landscaping. He has earned twenty six merit badges and performed countless hours of service for his community. He completed the requirements for Eagle Scout on November 24th and this past summer he attended Philmont High Adventure Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico."

Senator Beavers and Representative Weaver file bill to prevent voter fraud or voting by illegal aliens

December 15, 2008

Senate Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) have filed legislation to make sure voters in Tennessee have the photo identification to guard against fraud and assure only U.S. citizens vote.

The bill allows for a number of various forms of photo identification to be used including a driver’s license, military identification, a valid passport, various forms of government employee identification cards, and any federal and state-issued identification cards that contain photographs of the voter.

“The courts have upheld the rights of states to protect the integrity of our elections through photo identification,” said Senator Beavers. “We have a right to protect our state from voter fraud and abuse. It is time for Tennessee to pass this legislation.”

According the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven states specify that voters must show photo identification, including Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana. In no state is a voter who cannot produce identification turned away from the polls. All states have some sort of recourse for voters without identification to cast a vote or provide for a provisional ballot. The bill filed by Beavers and Weaver, SB 3, provides for a provisional ballot which would only be counted if the central provisional ballot counting board is able to verify current and valid identification of the voter.

“This legislation makes it clear to everyone that Tennessee has the right to make sure that those voting are legitimately casting their votes, and are U.S. citizens,” echoed Representative Weaver. “I look forward to moving this bill forward in the 2009 legislative session.“

Sheriff's Department to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints during the Holidays

December 15, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting sobriety check points and saturated patrols starting on December 23rd through January 1st for the enforcement of drivers who are impaired.

The Sobriety Check Points will be conducted on the following Highways: Highway 56, Highway 70, Highway 53, Highway 96, and Highway 146. Saturated patrols will be conducted on County and State roads within DeKalb County.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says “The public’s safety is a top concern for me and my department. We will be doing saturated patrols and Sobriety Check Points for intoxicated people who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. Nearly 23,000 people are killed every year in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Statistics show one life is lost every 22 minutes in alcohol-related traffic collisions."

"Law Enforcement uses these saturated patrols and sobriety checkpoints as a tool to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on our highways and to diminish the amount of pain, suffering, and death that results from intoxicated driving. "

"Anyone who believes they have spotted an impaired driver is urged to call the Central Dispatch Center at 215-3000”

UCHRA Receives Additional Weatherization Assistance Program Funds

December 13, 2008

“The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) has received an additional $614,802 in Weatherization Assistance funding for low-income consumers,” Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director, announced.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services has informed UCHRA that funding for its Weatherization Assistance Program has been increased to $1,012,288, an increase of $614,802 above its original allocation for the year that ends June 30, 2009. “The increase in LIHEAP funds will allow UCHRA to weatherize approximately 260 homes in the 14-county area,” explained Bennett.

In DeKalb County, approximately 15 homes (an increase of 9) will be weatherized expending $41,537. Bennett encouraged individuals who meet program guidelines to apply for WAP assistance this year, even if they have not previously been served. The increased funding is the result of actions taken by Congress to assist low-income families during the current economic crisis. UCHRA Board Chairman Mike Foster, County Executive of DeKalb County, said “the UCHRA Board is pleased with this new allocation to serve additional low income households during these difficult times.”

The Weatherization Assistance Program provides basic insulation and weatherization measures to homeowners and renters to assist them in reducing energy costs while safeguarding their health and safety. Licensed contactors perform the work. To qualify for assistance a household’s income must not exceed 125% of the US poverty level. For example, a family of four can earn a monthly household income of up to $2,208.33.

Priority for service is based upon a point system. Points are awarded based upon each household’s percent of Federal Poverty Guidelines (125% maximum). “Households with vulnerable household members receive additional points for such criteria as having an elderly member (60+), a disabled member, children less than 6 years of age, a member referred by Adult Protective Services, six or more household members, and having been on the waiting list for more than one year. First priority for service is given to households with the highest total points, and UCHRA works down the priority list until all available funds are spent in the county,” Lee Webb, UCHRA Community Services Director, stated.

“Upper Cumberland families in need have been on the increase. This increase in funds represents a successful effort on the part of the UCHRA Board and staff to provide more LIHEAP program funds for qualifying families. This infusion of additional funds has come at the best possible time,” remarked Brock Hill, Cumberland County Mayor and UCHRA Finance Committee Chairman.

All UCHRA county offices are accepting WAP applications between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. DeKalb County UCHRA is located at 527 West Main Street, and the telephone number is (615) 597-4504.

Many Enjoy Holiday Fun Saturday during Alexandria Parade

December 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Santa and Mrs. Claus at Alexandria Christmas Parade

Many people gathered in downtown Alexandria Saturday to enjoy the holiday fun of annual Alexandria Christmas Parade

State Senator Mae Beavers served as Grand Marshal of the Parade.

The DeKalb County Fair Little Miss Float won first place and the Red Hats Sassy Belles took second place.

Among the church or religious float entries, the Liberty United Methodist Church won first place while the Upper Helton Baptist Church received second place.

Charles Cantrell was awarded first place in the vintage automobile category for his 1956 orange Corvette while second place went to Brad Driver for his 1969 Camaro Supersport.

To see pictures of the Alexandria Christmas Parade, click the following link:
http://www.wjle.com/christmas2008?filter0=89

First Assembly of God Conducts Groundbreaking Ceremony

December 13, 2008
First Assembly of God Groundbreaking

First Assembly of God recently held a Groundbreaking Ceremony to begin the construction of their new church located on Highway 56 North. The new facility will include a 400 seat capacity sanctuary, classrooms, administrative offices, and Christian life center.

Pastor Glenn Burks opened the ceremony with prayer and a brief history of the church. Special guest speakers included Suzanne Williams, Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce Director; Taft Hendrixson, City Mayor; and Mike Foster, County Mayor.

"The new sanctuary and Christian life center will help us to minister more effectively to this community and surrounding areas," says Glenn Burks, pastor. "It will provide more space for our youth and children's programs, along with a larger sanctuary to fulfill the vision for the harvest. Our desire is to reach more people for the Lord. We want this building to glorify God and be a blessing to this community."

City Mayor Taft Hendrixson and County Mayor Mike Foster began the groundbreaking followed by the pastor, church council, and building committee. Many church members and their families, along with representatives from Heritage Construction Company and J. Mark Rodger Architectural Firm, were in attendance to celebrate the groundbreaking and vision for the church.

"We invite everyone to come worship and see God's great blessings unfold as we unite together to reach the harvest for the Lord," says Glenn Burks, pastor. First Assembly of God is currently located on 614 Murphy Street in Smithville. Service times are: Sunday School 10:00 a.m.; Sunday Worship 10:45 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.; Wednesday Worship and Children/Youth Classes 7:00 p.m.

The church ministries include a van ministry reaching children and families; God Gives Hope campaign proclaiming the gospel through billboards and other programs; a radio ministry, Words of Hope, broadcasted weekdays at 6:20 a.m. on WJLE; and the Angel Food Outreach Ministries offering grocery relief to the community and surrounding areas at a reduced cost.

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