Local News Articles

Prisoner Charged with Vandalism at the Jail

October 3, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jeffery Lynn Sanders
Johnny Michael Howard
Joshua Lionel Jones
 Don Diamond Groshon
Robert Lewis Judkins

A prisoner has been charged with vandalism after allegedly causing some damage at the DeKalb County Jail.

37 year old Jeffery Lynn Sanders of Lincoln Street, Smithville, is charged with one count of vandalism over $500 and one count of vandalism over $1,000 at the jail. Sanders is under a $20,000 bond and he will be in court on October 6.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Sunday, September 25, Sanders broke a fire sprinkler head, flooding the jail cell. The value of the damage was $500. The next day, Monday, September 26 after being placed in a holding cell, Sanders allegedly cracked a shatter proof glass window.

46 year old Tonya Elaine Caldwell and 87 year old Velma McGuire of Cill Street, Smithville are each charged with filing a false report. Bond for each is $5,000 and they will be in court on October 13

Sheriff Ray reports that on Sunday, September 25, an officer was at the residence of Velma McGuire at 713 Cill Street to serve a warrant on Brittany Barnes, McGuire's great granddaughter. Both Caldwell and McGuire told the officer that Brittany was not there. While officers were searching the residence, Brittany was seen exiting the home through a window. She was later found in the residence with Caldwell, who is Brittany's mother.

31 year old James Travis Bouldin of McCorkle Hollow Road, McMinnville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court October 13.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, September 28 Bouldin was seen walking in the road on Highway 70. He was unsteady on his feet. The officer who stopped to investigate noticed that Bouldin had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and his speech was slurred. He was arrested for his own safety.

48 year old Johnny Michael Howard of Billings Road, Sparta is charged with aggravated assault. He is under a $40,000 bond and he will be in court October 6.

According to Sheriff Ray, Howard assaulted a female at his home on Wednesday, September 28, cutting the side of her face and left hand with a knife. The woman had to undergo treatment at the emergency room of DeKalb Community Hospital.

31 year old Joshua Lionel Jones of Hodges Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and burglary. Jones is under a $10,000 bond and he will be in court November 17.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Monday, September 19, Jones allegedly entered a barn on Dale Ridge Road and stole scrap metal, valued at over $1,000. He then allegedly sold the stolen items to a local scrap yard.

39 year old Don Diamond Groshon of Page Drive, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $15,000 and he will be in court October 6. He was arrested on Saturday, October 1

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, September 18 Groshon allegedly placed a handgun to his girl friend's stomach and grabbed hold of her, bruising both of her arms. He also allegedly had possession of the gun while arguing with his girlfriend's sixteen year old son. The warrant states that Groshon has broken her ribs in the past.

Meanwhile, a Smithville man was recently charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest in Cannon County.

The Cannon Courier reports that Robert Lewis Judkins of 400 Judkins Lane, Smithville, is scheduled to make
his initial appearance in Cannon County General Sessions Court on October 4.

Judkins allegedly pushed Cannon County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Smith while the deputy was attempting to gain entrance into a home on Short Mountain Road on September 22.

Deputy Smith was escorting a representative of the Department of Children's Services to the residence to conduct a welfare check. Judkins was released on $1,700 bond.

The deputy did not report any injuries.

Coach Howard Corder Dies

October 3, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Howard Corder

A former DeKalb County High School basketball coach died Sunday in Monticello, Kentucky.

Dead is 80 year old Howard Lowe Corder

He served as coach of the Lady Tiger basketball program at DCHS from 1985 to 1994.His overall record at DCHS was 146-112. He coached the Lady Tigers to the Region semis in 1993, which was the last year the program won a post-season game until 2010.

Corder was the son of the late Herbert and Lillian Corder.

He is survived by: his wife, Katy Corder of Monticello, KY; step children, Frank Upchurch of Monticello, KY, Cindy Prestage of Madison, MS, Julie Rosson of Waveland, MS, and Holly Buckman of Lebanon, KY; and 7 grandchildren. He is also survived by: 1 sister, Joanne Corder of Waynesburg, KY; along with a host of family and friends who mourn his passing.

After graduating from Wayne County High School, he went to Cumberland Junior College. He was then called to service in our local National Guard. After he was discharged, Howard enrolled in the University of Kentucky and earned his BA Degree in Health and Physical Education and a minor in Biological Sciences. Howard returned to the University of Kentucky to earn his MA Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision.

The family will receive friends on Monday, October 03, 2011 from 5 – 9 p.m in the chapel of the Marvin S. Hicks funeral home in Monticello, Kentucky.. Funeral services will be held Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 11 am at the First Christian Church with Bro. Joe Tipton officiating. The body will lie in state at the church from 9 am - 11 am on Tuesday. Burial will be in Elk Spring Cemetery. Military honors will be performed by DAV Chapter 105.

Missing Man on Center Hill Lake Identified as Dr. William Coltharp of Nashville

October 3, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Rescue Squad Conducting Dragging Operations
Dr. William Coltharp -WKRN TV Photo

A search is underway in the Hurricane bridge area on Center Hill lake for a Nashville physician who reportedly went kayaking Sunday.

The man has been identified as 55 year old Dr. William Coltharp, a cardiothoracic surgeon at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville.

Central dispatch received the call at 1:19 a.m. Monday morning from the man's wife who reported that she has not heard from her husband since Sunday at around 6:00 p.m. He apparently put in on the lake at Hurricane on Sunday afternoon. His SUV was found parked at the Hurricane bridge boat ramp. An overturned kayak was found about a mile downstream from there.

Members of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, TWRA, Corps of Engineers, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department are all on the scene. Some are on the lake. Others are conducting a ground search.

New Chemistry/Science Lab Completed at DCHS

September 30, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dylan Kleparek, Mark Willoughby, Dub Evins, Kenny Rhody
New Teacher Work Station
One of 8 work stations for students (up to four students per station)
Dylan Kleparek with Promethean Smart Board
Dishwasher, Sink, Storage Cabinets
Fume Hood
Overall View of New Chemistry Lab

The new chemistry/science lab has been completed at DeKalb County High School and classes could be held there for the first time since the update as early as next week or after fall break.

The old lab equipment was removed at the end of the school year in May and the room underwent a major renovation over the summer. Although most of the work was completed by the start of school in August, the new lab equipment did not arrive until September.

(NOTE: THE VIDEOS SHOWN BELOW DEPICT THE LOOK OF THE SAME SCIENCE LAB ROOM BOTH AFTER AND BEFORE THE RENOVATION. THE TOP VIDEO IS THE NEW LAB. THE BOTTOM VIDEO SHOWS THE LOOK OF THE OLD LAB)

Dylan Kleparek, one of the teachers who will be using the lab, told WJLE Friday that the facility is state of the art. "I'm very impressed. I think its going to be great. It's a well needed update to our school and its going to help us do things we weren't able to do before. We have a long line of storage cabinets along the side wall with a dishwasher to wash glassware and a handicapped accessible sink in the back. Along the back wall we have a fume hood that is used for experiments and things that create fumes which are not good for inside the classroom. We have lots of storage cabinets in the back to hold glassware and various experiment equipment and things. We have eight lab tables where we can have four students per table. Each table is equipped with gas, water, and electricity and more storage. In the front, we have a teacher work station. Its going to be great for setting up demonstrations and teaching from. We have a promethean smart board in the front which is the most up to date technology we can get. We have all the makings of a really good lab setup. Its about as state of the art as we can get," said Kleparek.

Amanda Fuller, another teacher who will be using the lab, said she too is impressed with what she has seen. "It is amazing to walk in here and see everything that's available, things I didn't even know we were going to have. They've gone above and beyond anything we expected to have in this classroom. It will definitely change what we are able to do from a safety perspective. We can allow students to do things and not have as much of a fear of them getting hurt. I want to thank the people who have contributed to this, the people who have worked so hard to get this here for our students. Its something we have needed for a long time. Its been overdue. I'm very appreciative that they have seen the need. They have worked hard to get it done," said Fuller.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and school board members Kenny Rhody and W.J. (Dub) Evins, III visited the lab on Friday.

"I'm really pleased with the way the place looks," said Rhody. " We've definitely jumped ahead 40 years from where we were. I'm real excited for the kids and for Coach K," he said.

"I'm grateful we were finally able to put some things together and get this done," said Evins. " I appreciate the board's input. It's a little bit expensive but not for what its worth. We spend $80,000 on a bus each year but put $20,000 to $30,000 more with it and look at what we have. I appreciate a comment a young lady (student) made who just came in here (to the lab). She sat down in one of the seats and said she thought she could learn more because of the setting. That's a pretty good comment. This room is configured for 32 students. We've got a smart board in here. I think its just a great thing to see the difference now compared to what was in here since 1963. We have the teachers who have the capability of doing what they need to do. They just needed the equipment to do it with. I don't think we could ask for anything better for what money this cost. Its just a great thing. We hope that the end result when the kids graduate from here and go onto college is that they can be proud of graduating from here and getting a good education in physics, chemistry, and the science department,' said Evins

Willoughby added "I think that our teachers are really happy. Most of all I think by having facilities such as this we'll be able to meet the needs of our students much better. As times change our facilities have to change also. We have an up to date science lab/chemistry lab which can be used by our different teachers. I think it will make all the difference in the world in the learning experience for our children. Its been a lot of hard work getting to this level. We've had a lot of people put a lot of hours in making it happen but our whole goal is what is good for the students. This is good for the students of DeKalb County. That's why we're in the business. The board has been pushing for this. They have seen the need for it and now we see the reality of making it happen. When we come back from fall break, we intend to have classes right here. Its going to be a great learning facility for the students of DeKalb County," said Willoughby

"I want to thank our board for focusing on our children and putting the focus on making sure we meet the needs of the children," added Willoughby. " Its pretty easy to keep things the way they are but to change things is difficult. Changing things makes a big effort. It's a lot harder to make a change and have a vision for the future rather than it is to just stay the same. Our board of education and our teachers are not satisfied with staying the same. Our board, our teachers, and all our staff want to progress. They want to have the vision for the future for our children. They want to focus on what's best for the children. We have a great staff here at DeKalb County High School along with our other schools. We also have a fantastic board that focuses on what's best for children. If we would all focus on what's best for children, the whole world would be different and I think DeKalb County would be different also and progress a lot faster. Hopefully, in the future we will always look and see what's best for the children in all the decisions that we make," said Willoughby.

Former Walmart Employee Charged with Theft

September 30, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

A former Walmart employee has been charged with theft for allegedly stealing from the store.

37 year old Lisa Lee Ray of 230 Nikki Lane, Smithville is charged with one count of theft of property.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that on Tuesday, September 20 while working at the cash register, Ray allegedly committed theft by changing prices and in some cases bagging merchandise without scanning it.

She is under a $2,000 bond and will be in court on October 13. Ray is no longer employed by the store.

42 year old Donna Overall is charged with criminal trespassing and theft under $500

Chief Caplinger reports that on Saturday, September 24 a police officer responded to a residence on Snow Street to a complaint of an unwanted intruder in the home. Upon arrival, the officer found Overall there.

According to Chief Caplinger, the woman who lives there reported to police that while she was away, Overall came to the home. With only three children in the residence, Overall allegedly entered the home uninvited and began picking up things. Overall was apparently still in the home when the woman who lives there returned.

Overall is under a total bond of $6,500 and she will be in court on October 13.

43 year old Melvin Lee Griffin is charged with assault, domestic assault, and vandalism.

Chief Caplinger reports that on Friday, September 23 a police officer was called to a business on East Broad Street, where a woman had been assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, Griffin.

According to police, the woman and Griffin drove into the parking lot of the business in separate vehicles. Griffin got out of his automobile and allegedly assaulted the woman. He then followed her into the business, where she ran to seek refuge. Another vehicle in the parking lot received some minor damage during the scuffle between Griffin and the woman. When told by the operators of the business establishment that they were calling police, Griffin left. He was stopped by White County authorities at the county line and later taken into custody by police and charged in the case.

Griffin is under a total bond of $9,000 and he will be in court on October 13.

52 year old Ramone Serano Ramone was charged with driving on a revoked license on Friday, September 23.

Chief Caplinger reports that an officer was dispatched to Wade Street where he encountered a woman who reported that she and Ramone had gotten into an argument at his residence on Main Street in Smithville but that she had left and returned to her home on Wade Street. Ramone showed up at the woman's home while police were there. As he got out of his vehicle, police asked him for identification. A computer check revealed that his license had been revoked for a previous offense.

Bond for Ramone is $1,500 and he will be in court on October 6

24 year old Robert Grady Cox is charged with being a fugitive from justice. Police learned on Friday, September 16 that Cox, wanted in Catoosa County, Georgia for probation violation, was staying at a residence on East Bryant Street. Police went there and picked him up.

He is expected to be returned to Georgia.

Shoreline Cleanup Planned for Center Hill Lake Saturday, October 1

September 30, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Gary Bruce

The chance to have fun while helping to preserve the natural beauty of Center Hill Lake is coming. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is once again sponsoring the annual Fall Shoreline Cleanup at Center Hill Lake and seeking volunteers for the effort.

Park Ranger Gary Bruce said this year's cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, October 1 from 9 a.m. - noon, rain or shine. Sign-in and garbage pick-up sites will be located at the Floating Mill and Ragland Bottom Recreation Areas. Participants will be provided gloves and garbage bags and assigned a section of shoreline to work. A free lunch for all participants, complete with door prizes, will be provided. Volunteers should wear work clothes and sturdy footwear and, depending on the weather forecast, pack rain gear . . . just in case.

A clean-up will also be conducted on the upper end of the lake originating at the Pinhook Recreation area near Pates Ford. Lunch will be served. Please call 597-4225 or 597-5175 for more information about that particular cleanup effort.

All participants should pre-register for the cleanup by calling the Center Hill Lake Resource Manager's Office at (931) 858-3125. Pre-registration will help planners prepare the proper number of lunches and select desired lakeshore cleanup areas. On the day of the cleanup, individuals and groups not pre-registered may still take part by signing in at Ragland Bottom or Floating Mill Recreation Area.

Organizers predict one of the best ever such events and invite all to help keep one of Tennessee's lakes one of the most beautiful in the country.

History Hayride at Edgar Evins State Park, October 8th

September 29, 2011

Seats are filling fast for the Sixth Annual History Hayride at Edgar Evins State Park on Center Hill Lake, between Smithville and Cookeville, Saturday, October 8th. . There is still time to call in your reservations if you hurry! Call the park office at (931) 858-2114 or Toll Free: 1-800-250-8619. Admission is only $10 per person, including light refreshments. There is a $20 non-refundable deposit for groups of four or more.

This is a wholesome family oriented event sponsored by the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park, in partnership with park and other State employees. Nine wagon loads will leave from the park’s Visitors Center at approximately 30 minute intervals to visit nine scenes along the route where costumed re-enactors will present a story depicting real people and events from past days in the park and area. Commemorating the 150 year anniversary of the start of the War Between the States some new characters from the era of the Civil War will appear along with a few of the old favorites. In addition there will be a pre-show at the Visitors Center where participants will be greeted by an actor portraying James Edgar Evins, the man for whom the park was named.

Reservations will be for wagons leaving at staggered intervals but all participants are requested to arrive at the Visitors Center at least 30 minutes before the projected wagon departure time. This will allow time for completing the registration process and visiting the refreshments table. Admissions may be paid by cash or check.

It is advised that people prepare for cooler temperatures than at home as the breezes off the water of the lake and the moving wagons make it seem colder. Dress warmly in layers and bring a blanket.

For those wishing to make this an over-night or weekend event the park office can also take reservations for the cabins which sleep up to six comfortably. Camping at the park (both primitive and with hook-us) is also available but no reservations are required.

The Galley Restaurant at the marina in the park will offer a special for participants of the Hayride who wish to dine there before or after the event on October

Mallory Sullivan Takes Second Place in State Golf Tournament

September 28, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mallory Sullivan
Mallory Sullivan and Coach Joe Pat Cope

Mallory Sullivan, a sophomore at DCHS, earned second place in the State Class A-AA Golf Tournament at Willowbrook in Manchester Wednesday

Sullivan shot an 80 on Tuesday, just four shots off the lead, and a 73 on Wednesday for a score of 153, six shots behind the state champion Marlee Ingham of Creekwood who shot a 147 in the tournament.

Callie Mitchell, a senior at DCHS, shot a 98 on Tuesday and 96 on Wednesday for a score of 194 in the tournament.

In the boys competition, Ethan Roller, a sophomore at DCHS shot an 85 on Tuesday and 76 on Wednesday for a score of 161. The state champion is Dowling Armstrong of David Lipscomb who shot a 138 in the tournament.

Sullivan, who also competed in the state tournament last year, said she was pleased with her overall performance. "The first day I was striking the ball really good. I just wasn't there with my short game. After the round I went and practiced my putting and my chipping. The second day my short game was a whole lot better. I didn't hit the ball as good but everything turned out better. The competition this year was really hard. Players like Sara Dolmovich (Signal Mountain) and Sophia Shubert (Christian Academy of Knoxville) are really good players and to beat them gives me a lot of confidence," she said.

Sullivan said she is also proud of her fellow athletes from DCHS who competed in the state golf tournament, Callie Mitchell and Ethan Roller. "Its Callie's senior year and she made it to the state this year. I was really proud of her. Ethan has also done great all year. He just had one bad day. If he hadn't had that bad day, I'm sure he could have won," she said.

Mallory is also grateful for the community support "I would like to thank everyone who has supported the golf teams this year and to everyone who came out and watched me play today. I also want to thank Joe Pat Cope for being a wonderful coach this year and to my family for supporting me," said Sullivan.

Coach Cope said Mallory played with a lot of maturity in the tournament. "Mallory was so mature today. This is her second year at the state but she is only a sophomore. We've got a fifteen year old sophomore out there but she shot today like a seasoned pro. I was just tickled to death at the way she played," he said.

"It was Callie's senior year. She ended up in the top half. She had a couple of big numbers, made an eight and a nine which kind of hurt her but Callie has worked on her game and has come around so much. We hate to lose Callie, her being a senior. But I just want to commend her so much because in the off season she really dedicated herself and worked on her game and it paid off. It was Callie's first appearance in the state tournament and she had a great finish down there. It just goes to show what a good work ethic will do for you," he said.

"As for Ethan (Roller), he got off to a little rough start. His first nine, he had a couple of bad breaks. A couple of balls went out of bounds. They didn't fly and took a couple of bad hops and ended up out of bounds on him. It was his first year there (state tournament) and he may have had some jitters. But after that he came back and shot four over for his next twenty seven holes which would have gotten him a top five. I know its no consolation but Ethan has the type of mentality and attitude that when he went down there he expected to win and had the game to do so. He just got off to a little rough start," said Coach Cope.

You can view the golf scores online at www.tssaa.org.

DeKalb Jail to Install Video Visitation Technology

September 28, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Patrick Ray

Families who have relatives incarcerated at the DeKalb County Jail are allowed to visit them on weekends. But the traditional face to face encounters between family and inmates separated only by a glass barrier will soon be a thing of the past as the department prepares to install video visitation technology.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, in an interview Tuesday with WJLE, said video visitation technology has the potential to maximize security during the visitation process, minimize the introduction of contraband into the jail, and limit the number of corrections personnel required to monitor each visitation. The system may also be used to video conference between the jail and the courthouse during certain court proceedings. Under this system, prisoners could remain in their cells and communicate with the judge in the courtroom by way of video technology. This would keep the sheriff's department from having to transfer the prisoners from the jail to the courthouse for every scheduled court appearance. The system, however, could not be used for all court appearances or in every case.

Under the current system, family visitations are permitted on Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. for male prisoners and Sundays from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. for females. According to Sheriff Ray, the jail typically houses an average of 95 to 100 inmates per day and a majority of those prisoners have visitors pay a call on them each weekend.

Family members wishing to visit with a prisoner are required to schedule an appointment on Fridays. The same will be true with the video visitation.

Sheriff Ray said that during a traditional visitation, the inmate is typically escorted from their cell to a special visitation room, where a face-to-face encounter takes place. The inmate and family members are separated by a glass barrier and each party must use a telephone to communicate with each other. Each visit requires a corrections officer to accompany the inmate from the cell to the visitation area. It also demands that someone monitor the visit for its entire length, normally up to 30 minutes. With a steady stream of visitors arriving during the course of the day, the demand placed on corrections staff is considerable.

The county commission Monday night authorized Sheriff Ray to proceed with plans to obtain the video equipment through Securus Technologies, at no cost to the county. The county already has a contract with Securus to provide telephone service that inmates use, on a pay per call basis, to phone relatives from the jail under an account established between Securus and the family. Securus receives proceeds from those calls and pays a commission to the county for the privilege of providing the service. "We have a contract with Securus Technologies, our inmate phone service. They have been our service provider for many years. We sat down with them two or three months ago and talked about video visitation for the inmates at the jail where the inmates can stay in the cell and not have to be transferred to a different part of the jail for the visitation. The family members will be able to come into an office in the jail and view through a television monitor the inmate in the cell." said Sheriff Ray.

After the system is installed, Sheriff Ray said the department will have the option of offering families video web cam visit opportunities so they can make contact with inmates from their homes or other locations. "This will actually open up the visitation to where if we should decide to offer it, a family member could actually be in California or somewhere else and do a visit through the Internet and a web cam to communicate with an inmate at the jail under certain conditions," he said.

Sheriff Ray said the ability to video conference during court proceedings will also be useful. "Another feature that we're going to have with this is our courtrooms. We hope, in the near future, after we get our video equipment in at the jail to have video to the courtrooms where the judge can sit and interact with the inmates by video instead of us having to transport them from the jail up to the courthouse. That will provide a safer environment for our correctional officers and the public. We're using probably four officers who escort the prisoners back and forth to court and on Thursdays we have at least fifteen to twenty inmates we take up there. This gives the inmates a greater opportunity to pick up contraband along the way. We usually find stuff that they've picked up, whether it be cigarette butts or something like that which they try to bring back into the jail. We usually find that every week. By doing the video conferencing, that will slow some of that down (contraband problem). The inmate will actually sit in the cell and do his court pre-trial stuff by video conference. It won't be used during hearings or anything like that and it won't be used for trials. It'll only be used for pre-trial stuff with the judge. It might be a bond reduction, to appoint them an attorney, or to reset a court date, and things like that. By doing this video conferencing, we won't have to carry them all the way over there to the courthouse, " he said.

According to Sheriff Ray, the county will not be out any extra expense for installing and using this equipment. "We had talked about the expense of this and what Securus Technologies could propose to us. They came back with about $80,000 worth of equipment that they are going to donate to us. It goes right along with our contract that we've had with them for many years. They have also guaranteed us our commissions that we've had over the last twelve months. That will not change. The county will get a certain amount of money for Securus being a service provider. They (Securus) will come in and do all the installation of the video equipment at the jail," he said.

Sheriff Ray further explained how the inmates make use of the telephone system . " Securus Technologies is our inmate provider and the family will set up a billing program with them (Securus). It has been costing them $1.50 for a fifteen minute call. Long distance calls have been costing a surcharge rate of from $3.45 to $3.95 plus 95 cents a minute. But now (under an updated contract agreement) there's only going to be a $2.00 surcharge plus 10 cents a minute. It is going up a little for local calls but on the long distance calls, it'll be a lot cheaper. They (inmates) have a phone in the cell. We turn on the phones at certain times. An inmate is then able to place a call to a family member who has an account with Securus Technologies. They can talk for fifteen minutes and then the phone call is terminated. But the inmate can call right back and it will cost them $1.50 for another fifteen minutes. Every call under this system is recorded where we can go back and listen if we have a problem. They can keep calling as long as there is money in the account. We also spot check through some of them just to make sure they're not planning escapes or something like that," said Sheriff Ray.

County to Consider Changing Regulations for New Beer Permit Applicants

September 27, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County has a rule forbidding the storage and sale of beer within 2,000 feet of schools, churches and other places of public gathering.

Opponents of that regulation believe it is too restrictive and some have asked members of the county commission to consider changing it.

The commissioners are expected to have a workshop soon to discuss the pros and cons and then decide whether any change should be made. During their discussions, the commissioners may also review regulations of other towns and counties, including the City of Smithville, in helping them make their decision.. The minimum distance requirement in Smithville is 400 feet from the primary entrance of an establishment selling beer to the primary entrance of a place of public gathering,

The current controversy centers around Jewel Redmon's new store, known as Jewel's Market and Pizza at 600 North Congress Boulevard. Redmon wants to sell beer there but his store is apparently a little too close to the new First Assembly of God church, which was recently built just up the road on Highway 56 north.

The DeKalb County Beer Board is scheduled to meet next Thursday, October 6 at 7:00 p.m in the basement courtroom of the courthouse to consider Redmon's beer application, filed in the name of Viva Gail Johnson.

According to Redmon, the store building, which he recently purchased and refurbished, is seventy feet short of meeting the distance requirements, measuring "as the crow flies" but he said it is in compliance if the measurement is taken by way of the highway.

Redmon said he believes the property ought to be grand fathered since the store building had long been there before the church and because of the fact that the former owner of the store had a beer license. The business, however, had been closed for several months and the license of the former owner had since expired. Redmon claims the board should take into consideration that the store property was tied up in bank foreclosure proceedings involving the former owner and no one could have bought the store and sold beer during that time. Redmon believes he should not be penalized because of that situation.

Redmon further claims that he has improved the value of the property and that even his closest neighbors to the store location don't object to his selling beer

And as for the distance requirement, Redmon pointed out that another store across the road (Village Market) is licensed to sell beer and that business is even closer to the church than his establishment. Beer board members last month explained that Village Market is in the city and Smithville has different distance regulations than the county.

Board members last month voted to delay action on the application because the public notice was not properly advertised and to ask county attorney Hilton Conger to render a legal opinion on this license application at the next meeting..

This latest controversy comes two years after another store lost its permit when the county beer board learned that the business did not meet the minimum distance requirement.

Here's how that story unfolded

The DeKalb County Beer Board, in July 2009, voted to deny an application for an off premises permit to the owner of D & D Market at 7166 Short Mountain Highway, because the store is only 840 feet from the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church.

The problem for the beer board was that in November 2008, it granted an off premises permit to the owner of Nicole's Market at 7024 Short Mountain Highway, which is only 1,447 feet from the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church.

Members of the beer board said they were unaware that Nicole's Market did not meet the distance requirement when they approved the application, assuming that the applicant understood the rules when he filed. No one from the community appeared before the beer board at the time to object and the board apparently made no attempt to verify the distance between the store and the church, until shortly after the controversy came to light.

So after denying D & D Market's application in July 2009, the board also voted to schedule a hearing to consider revoking the license of Nicole's Market.

County Attorney Hilton Conger took the position that the erroneous permit issued inadvertently by the beer board to Nicole's Market could legally be revoked without invalidating the county's distance requirement.

In October, 2009 the beer board , following a hearing, voted to revoke the off premises permit of Nicoles Market.

Members of the DeKalb County Beer Board are Harrell Tolbert, Frank Thomas, Dick Knowles, Jim Stagi, Mack Harney, Robert Rowe, and Edward Frazier.

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