Local News Articles

Farm Service Agency Announces Committee Elections

November 25, 2009
Donny Green

Election ballots for the DeKalb Farm Service Agency’s local committee election have been mailed to all eligible voters in Local Administrative Area # 1, the central portion of DeKalb County. Ballots must be completed and returned in person or postmarked no later than December 7, 2009. The Committee will meet December 8 to canvass, tabulate, and elect a committee person to represent farmers in the central portion of DeKalb County (Local Administrative Area #1), currently represented by County Committee Member Mary Sanders.

The farmer-elected committee is your voice in USDA’s programs here in DeKalb County. Members of the committee work with area farmers to maintain the local focus on many USDA programs, inform people of what’s available, and help producers understand how the programs work. “Committee members work to help shape national programs into working local programs,” says Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency.

Mary Sanders was nominated as a candidate and will be the only candidate listed on the ballot. Write-in nominations are accepted and should be written on the official ballot. All candidates must meet eligibility requirements to hold the office on the Committee.

Once eligible voters receive their ballots, careful attention should be given to the instructions provided on the ballot that outline proper procedures for voting in this election. Voters can vote for only 1 nominee listed, or can write-in only 1 eligible candidate on the ballot. Voted ballots can be mailed back to the DeKalb FSA, or can be hand delivered to the FSA.

All ballots must be returned, or postmarked, by December 7 in order to be considered valid. Ballots will be opened and tabulated in a public meeting at the DeKalb County USDA Service Center, located at 647 Bright Hill Street in Smithville, at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 8. Contact the DeKalb County FSA office at 597-8225, ext. 2 for more information.

FSA committee elections are open to all voters without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or disability.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn Qualifies as Candidate for Re-Election

November 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Clerk Mike Clayborn

County Clerk Mike Clayborn is the first candidate to qualify for the DeKalb County Democratic Primary next May.

Clayborn picked up his petition last week and has returned it with the required number of signatures to the election commission office.

Meanwhile, Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, says Glynn Merriman has picked up a petition for the office of County Clerk.

The latest to pick up petitions are Incumbent Jerry Scott for the county commission in the third district, Incumbent Wayne Cantrell for the county commission in the fourth district, Incumbent John Green for the county commission in the fifth district, Incumbent Elmer Ellis, Jr. for the county commission in the first district; Jimmy W. Poss for the county commission in the seventh district; Roy Merriman for county commission in the third district, Incumbent Larry Summers for county commission in the seventh district, and Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, who plans to see re-election.

Five men, Johnny Colwell, Randy Braswell, Bobby Taylor, and Lloyd Emmons have picked up petitions for county commission in the fifth district. Emmons seeks to qualify as an Independent candidate. The other three are planning to run as Democrats.

Offices eligible for the May ballot are County Mayor, County Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk, Trustee, Register of Deeds, Road Supervisor, and Sheriff, county commissioners in districts one through seven, 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Part 1 and District Attorney. The latter two are up for election due to previous resignations and those named to fill these seats were appointed until the next scheduled election.

Stanley says qualifying petitions may now be picked up and the qualifying deadline for the May 4th Primary is noon on Thursday, February 18th, 2010. Stanley adds that there is another important date for potential Sheriff and Road Supervisor candidates to remember, February 4th.

Sheriff candidates must file "affidavits of qualification" with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission no later than February 4th, 2010. Road Supervisor candidates must file their affidavits of qualification with the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board no later than February 4th, 2010.

Stanley says Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th, 2010. The Republican Party, which usually selects its nominees by caucus, must certify its candidates by the same date and time.

Autopsy Confirms Identities of Elderly Couple

November 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
James and Zora Inez Tramel (Picture provided by Tramel Family)

An autopsy has confirmed that the elderly couple who died Saturday morning in a burning home at 181 Man Hill Road was 87 year old James Tramel and his wife 90 year old Zora Inez Tramel.

The couple lived at the residence

No other details have been released as to the cause of death or how the fire started.

Meanwhile, the funeral services have been set for the Tramels. The funeral for both will be Wednesday at noon at DeKalb Funeral Chapel. Elder Ricky Arnold and Wayne Simmons will officiate and burial will be in the Snow Hill Methodist Cemetery. Visitation will be Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the service at noon.

Mr. Tramel was a member of the Snow Hill United Methodist Church. He was retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and TVA.

Mrs. Tramel was a member of the Pisgah United Methodist Church. She was also a homemaker.

Mr. Tramel was preceded in death by his parents, Dennis and Julie Arnold Tramel; brothers, Reverend Ernest Tramel, Walter Tramel, and Haskell Tramel; sisters, Nancy Nokes, Velma English, Elrisia Whitlock, Lena Van, Beatrice Bryant, and Myrtle Smith.

Mrs. Tramel was preceded in death by her parents, Benjamin and Nancy L. Zora Close Ellis; a brother, Clarence Ellis; and a sister, Fannie Lillian Carr.

The Tramels are survived by their children, Reverend James Paul Tramel of Clarksville and Linda Faye and husband Ron Phelps of Dalton, Georgia. Grandchildren, Todd Alan Phelps of Dalton, Georgia and Mark Andrew Phelps of Atlanta, Georgia. Three grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, five great great grandchildren.

Mr. Tramel is also survived by a brother, Calvin Tramel of Smithville; sisters, Ethel Keith Ashford of Smithville and Ruby Deal of Nashville.

Caregivers for both Mr. and Mrs. Tramel are JoAnn Meece and Angie West. DeKalb Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

(The picture of the Tramels seen above was provided to WJLE by the funeral home with permission of the Tramel family)

Sheriff Announces New Program to Combat Drug Problem

November 23, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Walter Tiny Pedigo
Berna Dean Barnes
John Charles Deck Jr
Michael Anthony Ellis

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has launched a new program using the rules of probation as a tool in combating the drug problem.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says this new program involves people who have been sentenced in crimes and then placed on misdemeanor or felony probation. "When a Judge sentences a person to probation in lieu of jail time, the defendant gives up a constitutional right making him subject to a law enforcement search of his person, residence, or vehicles at anytime. Law enforcement may search a defendant's home, person, or vehicle without a search warrant. If the defendant refuses the search, the probation officer then may violate his probation. The defendant, once given a form detailing the rules of probation, must sign and date the form accepting the terms."

" We as law enforcement can use the rules of probation as a tool to help us battle the illegal sale and possession of narcotics and even use it to help us work burglary cases. Although some types of probation have no requirements in order to conduct a search, I do require my department to have at least suspicion that the defendant is doing some kind of illegal activity before we do the search. For the last two weeks, my department and I, along with a State of Tennessee Probation and Parole Officer have made home visits to ten defendants who are on parole or probation in DeKalb County. Out of the ten defendants, six either failed drug screens, were in possession of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, or did not live at the address that they provided to the probation officer. In one case, we were able to seize more than $6,700 that was used in the illegal sales of narcotics here in the county".

"We want the public to know that if someone is sentenced to probation or parole, my department and I are going to do everything possible to see that these defendants are living up to their requirements of probation. With the state cutting money from the Tennessee Department of Corrections, we anticipate that out of the more than 4,000 inmates expected to be released, some will live here in DeKalb County. As Sheriff, I want some kind of assurance that these people will live by their requirements of parole. If the defendant refuses to live by those requirements, my department and I will do everything possible to place these defendants back into custody and out of harms way."

Meanwhile, in this week's crime news, Sheriff Ray says 62 year old Walter "Tiny" Pedigo was charged last Monday, November 16th with possession of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone) after a search was conducted at his residence which is located on Gentry Avenue, Smithville. Detectives found in the front pocket of Pedigo's pants, a prescription bottle that was issued in someone else's name. In the bottle were five Hydrocodone pills. Bond for Pedigo was set at $1,500 and he will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

47 year old Berna Dean Barnes of New Home Road Smithville was charged Monday, November 16th with possession of drug paraphernalia after a search was conducted at her residence. A safe was found under her bed that contained used hypodermic needles and straws that were individually packed into sandwich bags. Hypodermic needles, both new and used, were also found throughout her bedroom. Bond for Barnes was set at $1,000 and she will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

Barnes was arrested again on Friday, November 20th after a deputy saw her driving on Patterson Road in Smithville. The officer says Barnes' vehicle was weaving before she drove it into a ditch and then hit a mailbox. Barnes was stopped and she submitted to field sobriety tasks which she failed. Barnes refused to take a blood alcohol and/or drug test but did admit to the deputy that she was taking Hydrocodone. Barnes was arrested for driving under the influence and also was issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. Her bond was set at $1,000 and she will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

27 year old Joshua Wayne Goff of Mocking Bird Drive, Smithville was stopped by deputies on New Home Road Dowelltown last Monday, November 16th for a traffic violation. A computer check revealed that Goff's driver's license were revoked. Goff was charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in General Session's court on December 3rd.

The Sheriff's Department searched the residence of 35 year old John Charles Deck Jr. of Adcock Cemetery Road Smithville on Wednesday, November 18th. During the search, lawmen found in Deck's bedroom a piece of foil that contained three pills believed to be Oxcodone and a pill bottle under Deck's mattress that contained one and a half pills believed to be Suboxone. Also, found in Deck's bedroom was a bag of hypodermic needles. Deck was charged with simple possession of a schedule II drug, possession of a schedule III drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for Deck was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on December 3rd.

Also on Wednesday, 29 year old Michael Anthony Ellis of Morrison Creek Road, Gainesboro was arrested for theft of property over $1,000. Detectives allege that Ellis worked at a business on Highway 56 North and took three DVD players, an air ratchet, and an air hammer from the business without the owner's consent. Ellis then pawned the items in Cookeville. Bond for Ellis was set at $3,500 and he will appear in General Session's court on December 10th.

Deputies responded to Highway 70 West on Friday, November 20th after two complaints were called into the central dispatch about a vehicle that was driving all over the roadway. After spotting the vehicle and noticing it weaving and driving slow, deputies stopped it and found 26 year old Chasity Lynn Carter of Brush Creek Road, Brush Creek to be the driver. Carter had slurred speech and she was unsteady on her feet. Officers performed field sobriety tasks on Carter which she failed. Carter almost passed out while trying to perform the sobriety tasks. Also found in Carter's possession were fifteen diazepam pills. Carter was charged with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance for resale. Her bond was set at $16,000 and she will appear in court on December 3rd.

19 year old Michael Joseph Lee was charged Friday with being a fugitive from justice. Lee was charged after a computer check revealed that he was wanted in Joliet Illinois for drug possession, driving under the influence, and driving on a suspended license. Lee is being held without bond until his extradition hearing on November 25th in General Sessions Court.

On Sunday, November 22nd deputies arrested 30 year old Jack Mullican Jr. of Johnson's Chapel Road Sparta after he was stopped for a traffic violation. Mullican was found to be driving on a suspended license. He also had warrants against him in a forgery case as a result of a recent investigation by the DeKalb Sheriff's Department. In that case, detectives, on October 18th received a report from a Mullican family member that someone had stolen some blank checks. On October 22nd, Mullican passed one of the checks at a store on Highway 70 West here in DeKalb County. Mullican was charged with a second offense of driving on a suspended license, theft of property under $500, and forgery. Bond for Mullican was set at $8,000 and he will appear in General Session's court on November 25th for the driving offense and December 3rd for the other crimes.

Sheriff Ray wants to remind everyone that if you have any information on any crimes such as the sale of illegal drugs or any thefts in DeKalb County, to call the Sheriff's Department's 24 hour crime tip line at 464-6400 or call Sheriff Ray at 597-4935. All calls will be kept confidential.

Elderly Couple Dies During Saturday Morning Fire

November 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Elderly Couple Dies During Saturday Morning Fire
Elderly Couple Dies During Saturday Morning Fire 2
Elderly Couple Dies During Saturday Morning Fire3

A fire Saturday morning destroyed the home of James and Zora Inez Tramel at 181 Man Hill Road, Dowelltown in the Snow Hill Community.

The bodies of an elderly couple, now identified as the Tramels, were found inside the home.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 9:09 a.m. County Fire Chief Donny Green says he and a county deputy were the first to arrive. " When we got there, fire was coming out of the front of the house. The care givers of Mr. and Mrs. Tramel were outside. They informed me there were two people in the house. Both were invalid. The elderly woman was in a bedroom toward the front of the house where there was heavy fire. The elderly man was in a bedroom at the rear of the house. The deputy and I went around behind the house and attempted to go in the back door to access the bedroom. But when we opened the door, there was heavy smoke and intense heat. Fire crews then arrived. They put on their protective equipment and made entry into the man's bedroom, where he was found in bed. The firefighters removed him through a bedroom window. EMS evaluated him and determined he was deceased."

"Because the fire was so intense, we (firefighters) had to bring it under control before we could make entry to locate the woman's body. Her body was in bed, in a bedroom at the front of the home."

Sheriff Patrick Ray says three other people had been in the home Saturday morning prior to the fire, a female caregiver of the Tramels, the caregiver's husband, and a daughter of the Tramels. The caregiver was not at the residence when the fire started. She had gone to the grocery store. Her husband was tending to the elderly man and the Tramel's daughter was elsewhere in the home when the fire began. After discovering the blaze, Sheriff Ray says the caregiver's husband and the daughter tried unsuccessfully to get the elderly couple out of the home. Other than his hair being singed, the caregiver's husband and the daughter escaped unharmed.

The bodies were transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Nashville for an autopsy. The State Fire Marshal was called to assist the Sheriff's Department in the investigation. The cause of the fire has apparently not been determined.

Sheriff Ray praised the county fire fighters for doing a superb job under difficult circumstances. "They risked their own lives and I am very proud of them. I know that members of the deceased's family are also grateful to our firefighters."

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department from the Cookeville Highway, Liberty, Belk, Blue Springs, and the Main Stations were all on site during the fire along with Tanker #1, two units from DeKalb EMS, and the Sheriff's Department.

State Audit Report Released on DeKalb County Government

November 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

An annual state audit of the DeKalb County government has been released which shows some deficiencies.

The "Annual Financial Report, DeKalb County, Tennessee" for the year ended June 30, 2009 was conducted by the Department of Audit, Division of County Audit, of the State of Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

The audit resulted in eleven findings and recommendations, according to the report.

It's not uncommon for the state to find deficiencies. In fact, Blake Fontenay, Director of Communications for the Comptroller's Office, says findings and recommendations result from nearly every county audit performed by the state each year.

To view the entire audit report on DeKalb County , click the following link. (Look for specific findings and recommendations by scrolling down to pages 175 to 184
http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/repository/CA/2009/DeKalb.pdf

Estes Charged with Stealing Wallet from Purse of Courthouse Employee

November 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Smithville woman, who allegedly stole a wallet from the purse of a courthouse employee, has been charged with theft.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department says 37 year old Patsy Estes of 621 Crestlawn Street was arrested on Tuesday, November 17th. According to the report, on that day an officer was called to the DeKalb County Courthouse in reference to a complaint of theft. When he got to County Mayor Mike Foster's office, Foster and others were watching surveillance video of the building. The suspect, Estes, could be seen on the tape wandering all over the building going in and out of several offices. She was observed going into Foster's office, staying a short period of time then leaving in a hurry. The officer spoke with Janie Knowles who works in Mr. Foster's office and who was present at the time of the theft. Ms Knowles said that she was working at her desk when she heard a noise from in front of her. She looked up and didn't see anyone at first but then noticed a person's head as she looked between her computer monitor and the monitor on the next desk. Ms. Knowles said she saw a woman who was squatted in front of her desk near a small table and on that table was a purse, belonging to Ponzell Usrey, another employee of the office. The woman stood up, identified herself as Kim Hale, and said that she was looking for James Hayes Ms. Knowles said that she recognized the woman and knew and that her name wasn't Kim Hale. After the woman left the office, Ms. Knowles noticed the purse on the table and alerted Ms. Usrey, who checked the purse and discovered that her wallet was missing. She called the Sheriff's Department. Ms. Knowles said that she later remembered the woman's name was Patsy Estes, not Kim Hale.

Meanwhile, 34 year old Jo Ann Rutland of 446 The Loop was cited on Monday, November 16th for shoplifting at the Dollar General Store. According to the citation, Manager Tammy Caughy confronted Rutland at the counter and asked her what was going on. Rutland pulled the shoe inserts from her purse and said she was getting them for the girl with her. Rutland also had some energy shots and a baby pillow. The total value of the merchandise was $30.50. Rutland is to appear in General Sessions court on the citation on December 9th.

28 year old Kenneth Lee Bain of 1530 Old West Point Road was arrested on Tuesday, November 17th for theft of property and public intoxication. Patrolman Matt Holmes reports that he responded to Wal-Mart on that day where he met with the manager who told him that they have had an open investigation on one of their employees for sometime. Officer Holmes was told that Bain, the Wal-Mart employee in question, had shown up to work and appeared to be intoxicated. Holmes was also told that Bain had been seen putting a TV in a shopping cart and putting a jacket over the top to conceal it. The manager said that as he was walking up to the front doors of the store, Bain exited, pushing a shopping cart with a jacket inside. The manager said he lifted up the jacket and saw a TV belonging to Wal-Mart concealed underneath. The merchandise was recovered and returned to the store. While speaking to Bain, Officer Holmes determined that he was intoxicated on some kind of medication. Bain was unsteady on his feet and he had slurred speech. Bain said he had taken multiple types of medication before coming to and while at work including Hydrocodone. Bain was placed under arrest and transported to the Smithville Police Department where he verbally admitted to stealing the TV and jacket and added that was the only time he had ever stolen anything from Wal-Mart.

24 year old Christopher Brian Deal of Flower Mound, Texas was arrested for DUI on Saturday, November 14th. According to the report, the arresting officer observed a dark vehicle traveling west on Highway 70 at a high rate of speed. He verified with his radar that the driver was locked in at 111 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone. The driver continued to travel west on Highway 70 weaving in and out of traffic. The officer made contact with the vehicle at the intersection of Highway 70 and Short Mountain Highway and placed Deal, the driver, under arrest for reckless driving. While speaking to him, the officer noticed that Deal had an odor of an alcoholic beverage about his breath and he admitted to drinking a couple of beers. There were no field sobriety tests administered due to the location of the stop and because Deal was under arrest for reckless driving but Deal did submit to a breath test. The results were .094. Deal was issued a citation for speeding and reckless driving and arrested for driving under the influence.

Meanwhile, anyone having any information on the following offenses is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

On Monday, November 16th, between the hours of 5:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m. a bike was stolen from Wagner Towing. Rick Wagoner said he went home for lunch. The bike was chained to a pole near the roadway. When he returned to put the bike up, it was gone.

On Thursday, November 19th, Officer Scott Davis was dispatched to 456 West Broad Street (City Cafe) in reference to a robbery. Upon arrival, Officer Davis made contact with the complainant Ms. Tracy Howell who stated that she had just opened the business and put the money bag down on the counter and went to unlock the game room when possibly a white male, 5'10", wearing a black jacket and jeans pulled a knife and said "give me your money" or words to that effect. Ms. Howell stated that the suspect grabbed the money bag and fled out the door in an unknown direction of flight. At the time of this report, the clerk did not know how much money was taken during the robbery.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police Department solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Lieutenant Leffew, Officer in Charge of the Police Department, would like to remind the public that "We do have a Tip Line, 464-6046 that you can call with any information you have on a crime or suspicious activity. All information will be strictly kept confidential and all callers will remain anonymous. We want your information, not your name."

Adcock Receives Commendation

November 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Lieutenant Steven Leffew Presents Commendation to Beth Adcock

An employee of the Smithville Police Department has been presented a commendation.

Beth D. Adcock, Police Records Clerk, received the honor Thursday by Officer in Charge of the Department Lieutenant Steven Leffew. The commendation was also signed by Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks.

The commendation states " On behalf of the City of Smithville Police Department I would like to commend you for your recent actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as Police Records Clerk. Your determination and efforts in the continued performance of your duties exemplify your outstanding work ethic. Your continuous professionalism enables the citizens of Smithville and your fellow co-workers to know that the Smithville Police Department is always striving for quality service. You have served with distinction and are a credit to the Smithville Police Department and the City of Smithville. I appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this commendation becoming a part of your personnel record.

Thank you and congratulations for a job well done

Habitat For Humanity Selects Partner Family

November 20, 2009
 Habitat Partner Family

The DeKalb County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity is pleased to announce their third partner family.

Following the application process, the Kim McCowan family was selected to work with Habitat.

In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, Habitat homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (sweat equity) into building their Habitat house and the houses of others. Construction will begin as soon as possible.

Volunteers and partner family members pictured from left to right: Sharon Evans, Kim McCowan and granddaughters Haley, Carrie and Katelyn, Lisa Garrison, Tom Janney and John Quintero.

Armed Robbery Reported at City Cafe

November 19, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

An armed robbery occurred this morning (Thursday) at City Café at 456 West Broad Street.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Officer in Charge of the Smithville Police Department, says officers were called to the restaurant at 4:59 a.m where an employee stated that while she was preparing to open for business, a white male, approximately five feet, ten inches tall came in, produced a knife and said "give me your money". The man was wearing a black jacket and blue jeans.

The clerk had laid down a money bag on the counter and the man grabbed it, left the store, and fled in an unknown direction. The bag contained an undetermined amount of money.

No one else was in the restaurant at the time. The employee was not injured.

If you have any information that could help solve this or any other crime in the city then call the crime stoppers tip line at 464-6046. All information is strictly confidential. Lieutenant Leffew says "remember we want your information, not your name."

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