Local News Articles

County Commission to Decide on School Budget Monday Night

August 6, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

As Monday night approaches, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and members of the board of education are hoping that the county commission will see fit to increase local funding for schools.

The county budget committee is asking the county commission to adopt a new school budget which gives the school system a five cent increase in the property tax rate which equates to $210,000. But Willoughby, in an interview with WJLE Thursday said that would only be enough to cover proposed pay raises. "The five cents basically takes care of the 1.6% raise (local match) that the state is giving to all certified employees. We as a system are giving a 1.6% raise to all certified employees. We as a system are also proposing to give a 3.2% salary increase to all non-certified employees. On the part of the certified personnel, that (local match) is on the state portion of the salaries. That is not on the state portion plus the local portion. So the five cent increase that the budget committee has proposed to the full county commission just takes care of the pay raises," said Willoughby

Because the school budget is so complex, Willoughby said it is difficult for many people to understand. "We have money coming from many different sources. We have grants. We have local funds, federal funds. We became aware just a few days ago that we are going to get another grant but we don't yet have the specifics of how much that is going to be but it could be up to around $200,000. We have a Jobs Grant which I'm concerned about in this budget. The Jobs money in this grant is over $660,000 but I doubt very seriously if that will be in the budget next year. So if we use over $900,000 of our reserves to balance our budget this year and the $660,000 Jobs Grant money goes away next year, then we're looking at close to $1.6 million (needed to balance the budget next year) if everything stays the same. I do want to say though that revenues have come in more than expenditures in the past, which has been good. We were able to end our school year this year with more than $700,000 to the good. But each year, if you didn't have to use your reserves to balance the budget, it could be like building up a savings account. We do have reserves in there for things like if we had to have a roof in an emergency situation, we could use those reserves for that. But we do not need to use our reserves for day to day operations like we've been having to do. It has become a tradition for us to use reserves to balance our budget each year. I wish we didn't have to do that," said Willoughby

In recent years, the county has been budgeting more money ($1,540,000 this year) from the special school sinking fund or local sales tax money for school operation. Willoughby said he believes the sinking fund should be reserved for capital projects. "We really don't like to use the sinking fund for our general operating budget. We would like to use that for capital outlay projects. We have two schools that definitely need a new roof. Of course the Smithville Elementary cafeteria got one (roof) because of the May storm damage but that was from the insurance. But DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb West School are both in need of a roof. As long as we use our sinking fund for operating expenses, its difficult to hold that money back for capital outlay projects. We would like to have a budget where we do not have to use reserves," said Willoughby

Willoughby said that while the school system has received an increase in local funding from sales tax money and in the state allocation of Basic Education Program (BEP) funds in recent years, the percentage of local property tax money designated for schools has declined. Based on per capita statistics, Willoughby said he believes DeKalb County can afford to do better for schools. "Out of fifteen counties in the surrounding area, Van Buren, Pickett, Fentress, White, Macon, Clay, DeKalb, Cannon, Jackson, Overton, Warren, Putnam, Cumberland, Smith, and Wilson, DeKalb County ranks ninth in per capita income at $17,306. Looking at the property tax rate, we rank twelfth at $1.46. The next county up from us happens to be Overton county at $1.80. Our sales tax rate is a little bit higher than their's (Overton county). Their's is 9.5% and ours is 9.75% but they have a $30 wheel tax and I don't know where that $30 wheel tax goes to. But based on property taxes, if you have a $100,000 piece of property in DeKalb County, you're paying $365 in property taxes. If you have a $100,000 piece of property in Overton County, you're paying $450 in property taxes. In Clay county, its $775 (property taxes) on a $100,000 piece of property. I do want to point out though that one cent (property tax rate) in DeKalb County brings in more money than some of these other counties but vice versa, one penny in other counties brings in a lot more than in DeKalb County," said Willoughby

Director Willloughby said he believes the county should appropriate a greater share of local property tax dollars for schools. "In DeKalb County, of the tax rate and assessments for 2010-11, the percentage that the school gets is 32.88%. But when you go back to 1993, the school system received 67.22% of the local property tax in the budget. In the year 2000 it was 60%. In 2003 it was 48.47%. In 2007 it was 38.42%. This is a percentage of the property tax rate and assessment for schools. I do want to point out though that more money is actually coming into the school system and the county because of the increase that one cent of the tax rate brings in. But our increase (for schools) has actually come from sales tax not from the property tax increase. So the more people buy, the more money we get. So that's where these percentages come from. This just shows how it (percentage of property tax fundsfor schools) have decreased over the years. Property tax is one of the things that is consistent. Sales tax is not consistent. We feel like the school system should be getting more of the property tax dollars while we do realize that the school system, over the years has received more sales tax dollars as the sales tax has increased. We (schools) get two thirds percent of the sales tax," said Willoughby.

As for schools, County Mayor Mike Foster insists that the county is adequately funding schools with local money at more than $4.5 million dollars and is exceeding the state's BEP required local match for schools by close to $200,000.

"Schools have gone from over $11- million dollars nine or ten years ago to $19.9 million dollars today and that does not include the $2.8 million federal budget that goes in there for the cafeteria fund," said Foster.

The General Purpose Schools budget totals $19,932,993. The property tax rate for schools as recommended by the budget committee is 55 cents per $100 of assessed value, five cents more than last year but not as much as the school board has requested. In addition to the $2-million 331-thousand 429 for schools generated by the 55 cent tax rate, the county commission is expected to transfer $1-million 540 thousand from the local purpose tax fund (sinking/local sales tax fund) to help operate schools this year along with $570,645 to fund the school debt service for payment on the Northside Elementary School and roof at Smithville Elementary School. The school system also gets $55,954 from Trustee's Collections (prior years), $30,309 from Clerk and Masters collections (prior years), $12,823 in interest and penalty, $8,603 in pick up taxes, and $1,000 in bank excise taxes. The total appropriation of local funds for schools is $4,550,763. The state BEP allocation for schools is $13-million 198-thousand dollars, an increase from last year's budget of $12,508,000. The school system also receives, according to County Mayor Foster, some $2.8 million in federal funding in addition to local and state appropriations.

Director Willoughby is still holding out hope that the county commission Monday night will adopt the board of education's revised budget proposal for schools, which asks for a larger tax increase than the proposal offered by the county budget committee.

Even if the county commission doesn't approve the school board's revised budget, Willoughby said pay raises and some new positions could still be funded, while other needs would have to wait. "My hope is that the county commission would pass the revised budget that we sent over. In that revised budget, we had already taken out, in some particular situations, monies in that revised budget. One of the places we had taken out was the county wide instructional coach. The P.E. teacher at Northside Elementary, we had taken that particular spot out. We had also taken the (assistant) soccer coach (positions) out. We're doing a lot of renovation with the chemistry/science lab at the high school. We had added $250,000 in the budget for the science lab at the time when we did that (planned it). We did not know (at that time) exactly how much that was going to cost. We now know that's going to be less than the $250,000. We have actually taken $250,000 out of capital outlay (for the project)," said Willoughby.

Some new positions, Willoughby said, are almost a must, given new state requirements being imposed on local school systems. "Let me give you an example of how this year is different than past years. A significant amount of money is in the budget this year, which hasn't been in the budget before and that's for three new assistant principal positions. That's estimated at close to $230,000 and that's not talking about the take home pay. By the time we meet the matching requirements we have to meet, the retirement with the benefits, insurance and everything, that is where we come up with the $230,000. Elementary principals, such as Smithville Elementary, (are especially being affected by new evaluation requirements). Last year, Mr. (Bill) Tanner had to do twenty eight observations of his staff. This year with the new guidelines, he tells me that he will have to do two hundred and eight observations. There's just no way that can take place. There's no way he can do that without help. I think we should have had assistant principals a long time ago, but these are particular things which have come down and are mandated that we have to do to get those observations taken care of," said Willoughby.

Willoughby said that the three new assistant principals, including one at Northside, Smithville Elementary, and at DeKalb West Schools, can help ease the burden of conducting those extra observations and evaluations.

As for other new positions, Willoughby said "At the high school, we asked for one new position for a site coordinator. That's basically to take care of on-line dual credit courses and distance learning classes. We have thirteen different classes that are going on in the lab and there's a minimum of sixty students. Try to take care of that and increase the dual enrollment and increase the on-line classes. That's the only way we're going to meet those needs. We also have students who are taking Spanish III, now that's not a dual credit class, but they're taking the course (on-line) from a class in Cookeville. We had also offered Advanced Placement (AP) History so students in Cookeville could take our History class (on-line). We're trying to do more of that back and forth which helps out both school systems. Financially it helps out our system by not having to hire a full time teacher to do that. That's what a lot of rural school systems are having to do in order to ease the budget demands. What is needed at schools now is completely different than what was required as recent as eight or ten years ago such as our technology requirements, our on-line courses, and our dual credit classes. Next year, its going to be a requirement that all students take four math classes, one math class per year. So by doing that we will have to have another math teacher in there. This year with the way the budget is, if we can get by one more year without doing that (adding a math teacher) we will but its not the best for the children. What we try to propose in a budget to send to the county commission is what is best for children. I don't have the exact numbers but I think since 2003-04 to today, we have increased in enrollment by probably over 400 students. That requires a lot of money. For example, math books this year cost an average of about eighty dollars so with 130 more students, that gets over $10,000. In our budget we do have those three assistant principals but we haven't hired them yet. We had in our budget the one extra teacher at Northside Elementary because we thought we were going to have to have that for numbers (due to an increase in the number of students). I can tell you now we have to have that teacher and we've already hired that particular teacher. As far as the other things in the budget we haven't made the new hires yet until after we get our budget passed. But we feel that what we have in this budget is extremely important," said Willoughby.

The school board initially adopted a tentative budget requesting a seventeen cent property tax rate increase for schools to fund pay raises for personnel and to add some new positions in the new budget. The county budget committee rejected the request for new money, except for pay raises. The committee asked the school board to make cuts in their proposed budget. The school board later revised its proposed budget and brought back a proposal asking for an eleven cent tax increase and more money from the sales tax or sinking fund to meet their budget request. The county budget committee again rejected the proposed spending plan but voted to recommend a consolidated budget that includes a five cent tax increase for schools to send to the county commission. Although neither the budget committee nor the county commission can dictate how the school board spends the money, the proposed five cent tax increase is just enough to cover the proposed pay raises for school personnel.

The overall proposed property tax rate recommended by the county budget committee is $1.62, which is ten cents above the certified tax rate. Five cents of the proposed increase would go for schools and the other nickel would be for the county general fund. County Mayor Foster has said that if the school board's revised budget plan is adopted, the overall property tax rate would have to be $1.72.

The school board has proposed a 3.2% pay raise for support staff or non-certified personnel and a 1.6% local increase to match the state's 1.6% pay hike for certified personnel (teachers)..

The school board, according to its revised plan, seeks to add the following new positions:

A new fifth grade teaching position at Northside Elementary School.
An additional math teacher at DeKalb County High School
An assistant band teacher
A support staff site coordinator at DCHS
A special education teacher at DCHS
Three new assistant principals (one at each DeKalb West, Northside Elementary, and Smithville Elementary School)

The school board's revised budget adds local funding back to the general fund for three teaching positions and an educational assistant, which for the last two years have been paid for with federal stimulus or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds that have now been exhausted

Also remaining in the spending plan are requests for the following increases:
Textbook adoption (Math)- $40,000
Minimal increase in utility costs- $6,000
Increase in maintenance of plant supplies- $23,000

The county commission will be asked Monday, August 8 to either approve or reject the school board's revised budget request or to approve or reject the county budget committee's recommendation. That special meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. following a public hearing on the proposed budgets and tax rate at 5:00 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse

Meanwhile, Willoughby and members of the school board are still at odds with County Mayor Foster and members of the county commission over the county's decision in August 2007 to cut the local property tax rate for schools by sixteen cents and to give back to the school system an equal or greater amount of local funding from the sinking or sales tax fund for school operation

That decision by the county commission came after the voters of DeKalb County, in May 2007, approved a referendum, increasing the local option sales tax rate from 1.5% to the maximum level of 2.75%

Some claim they were under the impression that the entire sales tax increase, as approved by the voters in the referendum, would immediately go directly to schools, in addition to the property tax rate that was in place for schools at that time. However Foster said that was never the intent. It was always intended, he said, to be a direct tax swap from property tax to sales tax revenues for schools. While the exact amount of the property tax cut to schools wasn't made specific before the sales tax referendum, Foster insists that it was explained to the public that property tax payers would be getting an overall 19 or 20 cent property tax break, with the passage of the sales tax referendum. "That was the intent. It was the design that the sales tax would take the place of part of the property tax rate for schools. We made that clear in the (public) meetings and when it (referendum) was voted on and that's exactly what was done. That's why you saw a decrease of sixteen cents in the property tax rate for schools at that time (2007)," said Foster.

Foster added that since the sinking fund is only designated for schools, the rest of county government could not legally have taken money from that fund in a tax swap. He said the tax swap could only have been made with schools.

Judge Hands Down Sentences in Criminal Court

August 5, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Auston Wood
Nieka (Nikki) Danielle Barrett Patton

A 24 year old man charged in the theft of a truck last November was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday after entering a plea in a negotiated settlement.

Auston Wood pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and Judge Leon Burns, Jr. sentenced him to 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to probation except for eight days to serve. He has already served the eight days and has been given jail credit for it.

Wood was arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department on Monday, November 8th, 2010 after he obtained the services of a tow truck operator to haul off a truck for scrap from property on the Cookeville Highway. But what the tow truck operator did not know was that Wood was actually stealing the truck. The value of the truck is $450. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Wood told the tow truck operator that he had bought the truck and that he wanted to haul it off to a scrap yard on the Cookeville Highway. The truck was already loaded on the wrecker and ready to go when officers arrived. But again, Sheriff Ray stressed that the tow truck operator had no knowledge that Wood was trying to steal the truck.

Meanwhile, 31 year old Nieka (Nikki) Danielle Barrett Patton pleaded guilty to initiating the manufacture of meth. She received an eight year sentence in community corrections. Patton was fined $2,000.

She was arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department on February 12, 2010 after complaints of illegal drug activity at her home. Sheriff Ray said when officers entered the home, they detected an odor of marijuana. After obtaining consent to search, authorities found drugs such as percocets, Xanaxs, marijuana, adderall, methadone, and methamphetamine in Patton's bedroom along with drug paraphernalia such as razors, gravity and digital scales, a pill grinder and rolling papers. While searching an outbuilding, detectives also found a methamphetamine lab, a two liter bottle of a three layer liquid, a gallon of muratic acid, jars of unknown liquids, propane tanks with burners, turkey baster, coffee filters, Pyrex dishes, tubing, funnel, rubber gloves and a duffle bag containing butane fuel, lighter fuel, and a leatherman tool. Patton also had in her bedroom more components of the lab including 14 lithium batteries, coffee filters, and 168 cold tablets that contained pseudoephedrine.

The Sheriff's Department also contacted the Department of Children Services after finding in the home Patton's three children, ages 13, 10 and an infant. The Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force's response truck and an Environmental Cleanup Service were summoned to assist detectives at the scene.

56 year old Susan Jenna Brown pleaded guilty to sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance and received a three year sentence in each case to run consecutively for a total of six years in community corrections. The sentences are to also run consecutively with a violation of probation against her. She was fined $2,000

34 year old Gary R. Ashford pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days with 48 hours to serve. Ashford was fined $365 and he must make restitution. Ashford will lose his license for a period of time and he must also attend an alcohol safety program and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. He was given credit for four hours served.

Smithville Junior Police Program Receives Donation from Project Hometown Help

August 5, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Junior Police Program Receives Donation from Project Hometown Help

The Smithville Police Department's Junior Police Program has received a donation of $150 from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District's Project Hometown Help.

Project Hometown Help began in April, 2005 and since that time has distributed more than $1,304,815 to the communities served by the MTUD district. It is funded by the customers of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District who allow the District to round their monthly bill to the next dollar. Funds collected are allocated back to the areas from which they were contributed to the extent practical.

According to MTUD's "Gaslight News"a total of 213 allocations were made to various agencies and organizations totaling $144,895 through Project Hometown Help from November, 2010 through May, 2011 including $11,929 allocations in DeKalb County

Pictured above: Front Row Left to Right:: Kaden Trapp, Jordan Parker, Ethan Trapp, Canaan Johnson, & Milas Driver

Back Row Left to Right: Detective Brandon Donnell, Officer Bradley Tatrow, Mike Corley, Police Chief Randy Caplinger, Captain Steven Leffew

(Note: misprint on check: Actual donation $150)

Allens Chapel UMC to Host "Freedom to Soar" Seminar for Women

August 5, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jamie Anderson and Carrie Alston

"Freedom to Soar", a Women's Seminar will be held Friday, August 5 from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 6 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. (lunch provided) at the Allen's Chapel United Methodist Church, 1037 Coconut Ridge Road, Smithville.

Inspirational speaker Carrie Alston will be featured along with a Woman at the Well Dramatization and Testimony from Jackie Elliott.

Alston was born in Dothan Alabama to a very poor family. Though they were materially poor, they were rich in their love of God and the church. Her rich spiritual heritage explains her passion and how the Lord has carried her beyond where she was to where she is now. Alston has been in the ministry field for many years as a missionary and an evangelist. She has worked with the widows and orphans in Africa as well as at home teaching and preaching the love of God. She is no stranger to suffering, but it is through the suffering of life and circumstances that Alston has learned obedience. With the Holy Spirit being her teacher, she has found her way to the path of freedom.

The lesson she desires to bring to women is of freedom. There are times we all experience trouble and heartache as we carry burdens that are of our own making or at times of others. The message Alston brings is there is a way out and that is Jesus. In His Word we find His promise of healing and wholeness to body, soul, and spirit. Freedom comes as you give to Him what you have in exchange for what He gives. The call is to the sinner and the saint, whosoever will let him come.

For more information about the seminar, call 615-489-7247

Final Slate of Candidates Set for DTC Election of Directors

August 5, 2011

The final slate of candidates is set for DTC Communications’ election of directors next month.

Directors will be elected in three exchanges, including the Milton (273), Norene (286), and Woodbury (563) exchanges.

Incumbents Charles Dwight Vinson, Terry McPeak, and Greg Rogers are running unopposed in the Milton, Norene, and Woodbury exchanges, respectively.

Voting for directors will take place at the cooperative’s annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 17. Gates to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria will open at 11:45 a.m., with voting from noon until 4 p.m. The business meeting will begin at 4 p.m. or once the last person in line at that time has voted.

Only DTC members may vote, and each member must present identification. For a single membership, only that individual may vote. Either member of a joint membership may vote, but not both. In the case of a business membership, a business affidavit is required.

Thursday, Sept. 8, will be the last day to make changes to your membership for the 2011 election.
For questions regarding membership and voting guidelines, refer to the by-laws section included in the current DTC phone directory, or call DTC at 615-529-2955.

Local Businessman Indicted Again

August 4, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Violet

A little more than thirteen months after being charged with felony theft in a previous case, a Smithville businessman is in trouble with the law again, this time accused of selling a stolen U.S. military issue laser sight .

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that Mark Violet of K & M Jewelry has been named in a sealed indictment returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury charging him with theft over $1,000. Violet is under a $10,000 bond on the charge and will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, August 15.

The indictment alleges that on or about the 6th day of January, 2011, Violet knowingly obtained or exercised control over certain property, to wit: a military issue "inoculator" laser sight being over the value of $1,000, the property of the United States Government, constituting the offense of theft.

The case against Violet was presented to the Grand Jury on Monday and a sealed indictment was returned that afternoon. He was arrested on the charge Wednesday and has posted bond.

Violet was charged with two counts of theft over $1,000 in a separate investigation by the Smithville Police Department and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in June, 2010. Violet was indicted on those charges last December. That case against him remains pending in court.

Five Indicted in Smithville Police Department Undercover Drug Investigation

August 4, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Terry Price
Mark Goodson
Travis Malone
Danny Ponder

An undercover drug investigation by the Smithville Police Department has resulted in grand jury sealed indictments against five people.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said four of the defendants have been arrested including 50 year old Terry Price, 45 year old Mark Goodson, 29 year old Travis Malone, and 50 year old Danny Ponder, each of them charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance in a school zone.

According to Detective Matt Holmes, a confidential source purchased two dilaudid pills from Malone and Ponder on February 23 and from Goodson on March 4 at a location within one thousand feet of Smithville Elementary School.

Price allegedly sold two dilaudid pills to an undercover source on March 4 at the City Walk Apartments, where he lives which is also within one thousand feet of Smithville Elementary School.

Bond for each is $50,000 and they will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, August 15.

The indictments allege that on or about February 23 with Malone and Ponder and March 4 with Goodson and Price, the defendants sold and delivered a schedule II controlled substance within 1,000 feet of the real property that comprises a public or private elementary school, middle school, secondary school, preschool, childcare agency, or public library, recreational center or park.

Meanwhile in a separate investigation, Smithville Police while checking out a suspicious camper where drug activity is alleged to have been occurring, arrested a 37 year old man Tuesday on drug charges and other offenses.

Chief Randy Caplinger reports that Jeff Sanders of Lincoln Street is charged with tampering with evidence, disorderly conduct, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax) and possession of a schedule II controlled substance (Morphine). His bond totals $18,000

Detective Brandon Donnell said that Smithville Police were called to investigate possible drug traffic coming from a camper on West Main near Lincoln Street. "As we pulled up to the camper, Jeff Sanders walked up. We told him that we were there on an investigation. Sanders said it was his camper and that he was fixing to move it. We told him not to move it until the investigation was complete," said Detective Donnell.

"Sanders left and came back with a blue wrecker. He backed the wrecker up to the camper and moved the camper about ten yards until we got him to stop. We then took Sanders into custody. As I was searching Sanders prior to his arrest, I found a syringe in his pocket," said Detective Donnell.

"K-9 officer James Cornelius deployed the K-9 around the camper and the dog hit on the camper. We made entry inside the camper and found a syringe, two small blue pills and a spoon with a melted pill believed to be morphine," according to Detective Donnell.

The wrecker was seized after police identified it as a vehicle used in the commission of a felony stemming from a recent theft investigation.

In addition to K-9 officer Cornelius, Detective Donnell was assisted at the scene by Sergeant Andy Snow, Detective Matt Holmes, Chief Randy Caplinger, and Patrolman David Phillips.

Two School Buses Involved in Minor Mishap, No One Injured

August 3, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bus #2 with minor damage to the left of the doors
Bus #05-21 with minor damage to the left side bumper and reflector,

Two school buses were involved in a minor accident Wednesday afternoon as they were lining up to board children at Smithville Elementary school. Neither the drivers nor the students already on the buses were injured.

Central dispatch received the call at 3:15 p.m.

One of the buses, #2 driven by Bobby Taylor, accidently bumped into the rear of another bus, #05-21 driven by Marshall Ferrell. Both buses received minor damage. Impact was at an angle with damage to Taylor's bus to the left of the doors on the right side near the front. Damage to Ferrell's bus consisted of dents to the left side rear bumper and on the black striping just below the left turn signal, along with a broken reflector.

Twenty four students were on Ferrell's bus while Taylor's bus had twenty three student passengers at the time of the mishap.

Some parents arrived at the school to pick up their children from the buses after learning of the accident. The other students remained aboard the buses as Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol conducted his investigation.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said neither bus was disabled because of the mishap and Ferrell completed the route, taking home the students on his bus. Students on Taylor's bus were transferred to another bus at the school and then taken home. Although Taylor's bus was not disabled, it was taken on to the school bus garage. Ferrell's bus will also be taken in for repairs.

Grand Jury Indicts 44 People Including Two Men in Local Rape Cases

August 2, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joshua Cook
Walter R. Hartman

The DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday indicted two men in separate rape cases involving children.

23 year old Joshua Cook has been indicted on two counts of rape of a child while 47 year old Walter R. Hartman is indicted on two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Cook, who had been staying in Liberty, was arrested on Thursday, October 28th, 2010. At the time of his arrest, Cook was believed to be homeless.

According to Sheriff Ray, Cook allegedly performed sexual acts on a six year old and a ten year old male child on Church Street in Liberty and then he allegedly had the two children perform sexual acts on him. These events allegedly took place on September 15th, 2010.

Hartman, meanwhile allegedly provided beer to two fourteen year old girls and engaged in sexual activity with them at his home on February 26.

Cook and Hartman are among forty four persons indicted by the August term of the Grand Jury including six named in sealed indictments. All those indicted will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, August 15 at 9:00 a.m.

Those indicted and their charges are as follows:

Agustine Munez- driving under the influence and no drivers license

David D. Miller- aggravated assault

David Dennis Miller- resisting arrest

Kenny Stults- theft over $500, theft under $500 (2 charges), and theft over $1,000

Earnest P. Barnwell- theft under $500

Cynthia D. Walls- driving under the influence

Sharon K. Skinner- possession of paraphernalia and criminal impersonation

Janet R. Mayo- possession of a schedule II and VI controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia

Steve A. Hale- possession of a schedule III and IV controlled substance for resale, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and a third offense of driving under the influence

Ray D. Underwood and Bradley S. Redmon- assault

Edgar Hernandez- driving on a revoked license

Brittany D. Barnes- theft under $500

Elizabeth Ann Chalfant- driving under the influence, possession of paraphernalia, a 4th offense of driving on a suspended license (2 counts), reckless endangerment, violation of the implied consent law

David Graham and Alexandria Rowell- child neglect, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, and possession of paraphernalia

Emily F. Fare- aggravated assault

Walter R. Hartman- aggravated rape (2 counts) and contributing to the delinquency of a minor (2 counts)

Stephanie Ann Fagan- aggravated child abuse and possession of a schedule VI and II controlled substance

Courtney Paris- possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale (2 counts)

Chad Carrier- theft over $1,000 and violation of an order of protection

Melinda Murphy- fraudulent use of a credit card (2 charges) and theft under $500

Angela Howell- fraudulent use of a credit card (2 counts) and theft under $500

Jonathan Eugene Cash- driving on a revoked license (6th offense)

James L. Owen- promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine

Theresa Columbo- driving under the influence

Thomas Joseph Somoza- driving under the influence, possession of a handgun under the influence, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, criminal impersonation, no drivers license, and violation of the implied consent law.

Matthew A. Baker- driving on a revoked license (2 charges) , possession of paraphernalia

Brandon K. Thomas- initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine

Rickey Hendrixson- initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Rhonda F. Brewer- introduction of contraband into a penal institution

Tammy Jennings- possession of paraphernalia

Charlie Chad Barnes and Terry Ray Barnes- initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine

Nena R. Chapman- theft over $10,000

James Stringer- burglary, theft over $1,000, and theft over $500

Julie Moore- theft under $500 (4 charges), forgery (3 charges)

Joshua Cook- rape of a child (2 counts)

Antonio Cezar Wilford- possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and alteration of an item's distinguishing numbers

The names of those charged in sealed indictments cannot be disclosed until they are arrested.

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