Local News Articles

Silver Point Man Airlifted after Two Car Crash

February 26, 2010
Dwayne Page

A Silver Point man was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital Thursday night after a two car crash on Highway 56 (Cookeville Highway) less than a mile from the Putnam County line.

Central dispatch received the call at 6:17 p.m.

Trooper Darrell Knowles of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 62 year old Dennis Trahan of Silver Point was driving south on Highway 56 in a 1992 BMW when he went across the road and struck a northbound 1997 Chevy Cavalier, driven by 46 year old Steven Taylor of Baxter. According to Trooper Knowles, Trahan claims he blacked out. After making impact with Taylor's car, Trahan's vehicle also struck a guardrail. Taylor's car spun counterclockwise after impact and came to rest in the emergency lane on the southbound side.

A Life Force helicopter ambulance landed near the scene and airlifted Trahan to Vanderbilt Hospital. Taylor received minor injuries and refused transport to the hospital by ambulance.

In addition to Trooper Knowles and THP Lieutenant Randy Maynard, others on the scene were members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the Temperance Hall station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb EMS.

Traffic Stop Results in Trip to Hospital for Two Law Enforcement Officers

February 26, 2010
Dwayne Page

After making a routine traffic stop, Smithville Police Officer Scott Davis and State Trooper Mark Jones of the Tennessee Highway Patrol recently had to make a trip to the hospital.

According to Smithville Police, Officer Davis responded to a call on Dry Creek Road to aid in identifying possible narcotics. Trooper Jones was also on the scene. While searching a vehicle, belonging to 28 year old Mary E. Tanner of Old Mill Hill Road, the officers discovered a Sobe water bottle, containing an unknown substance. Trooper Jones opened the bottle and both he and Officer Davis inhaled fumes from chemicals inside the bottle which was determined to be methamphetamine.

Both officers were treated and released at the emergency room of DeKalb Community Hospital after they began having breathing problems as a result of exposure to the chemicals.

Smithville Police charged Tanner with aggravated assault on an officer. The Tennessee Highway Patrol also charged her with possession of methamphetamine, among other offenses.

The hazardous chemicals were properly disposed of from the scene.

Meanwhile, in other city crime news, police recently received information about a possible meth lab at a West Main Street apartment complex. Officer Matt Famer, trained and certified in handling and identifying components used to make methamphetamine, was summoned to the scene where he and other officers discovered what appeared to be a "shake and bake" operation, along with enough components for a full-blown meth lab.

A clean-up crew was called to properly dispose of all the components and chemicals at the scene. The case is still under investigation and arrests are pending.

33 year old Eric James Garner of Tabernacle Drive, Smithville, was arrested and charged with simple possession of a schedule IV drug (valium).

K-9 officer Bradley Tatrow received a report of a possible drunk driver, inbound on Highway 56 North. Officer Tatrow pulled the vehicle over on Allen Ferry Road and made contact with the driver, Garner, who allegedly had the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Garner allegedly admitted to drinking one beer and having taken his hydrocodone medicine.

After spotting a rifle in the passenger seat, Officer Tatrow asked Garner to exit the vehicle and found on him a plastic wrapper that contained different types of pills, including ten pills believed to be valium. Bond for Garner was set at $1,500, and he will appear in General Sessions Court, March 18th.

19 year old Stephanie Murphy of East Bryant Street, Smithville, was arrested on Friday, February 19th, and charged with disorderly conduct.

Corporal Travis Bryant responded to a call of a verbal altercation at the City Walk Apartments. Murphy admitted she had been in an argument with another party. Corporal Bryant was later informed of a fight upstairs at the apartment complex, in which Murphy was allegedly involved with another neighbor. He advised her to calm down, but she allegedly did not comply.

Bond for Murphy was set at $1,000, and she will appear in court on the charge, March 11th.

32 year old James A. Hesson of Sparta Highway, Smithville, was arrested on Friday, February 19th, and charged with leaving the scene of an accident and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Corporal Travis Bryant responded to a motor vehicle accident with property damage on North Congress Boulevard. Upon arrival, Corporal Bryant made contact with Patty Davis who had been involved in the accident. The other driver had fled the scene but Davis gave the officer a detailed description of the vehicle. Corporal Bryant said he was familiar with the vehicle and its owner.

Two days later, on Sunday, February 21st, while escorting someone to a Hayes Street residence to recover some personal items, Corporal Bryant saw Hesson in the passenger seat of another vehicle. He made contact with Hesson who admitted that he had fled the scene of the accident on Friday because he wasn't sure if the truck he was driving had been stolen. Hesson claimed he purchased the truck just a few days before the accident. He also allegedly had a hypodermic syringe strapped to a case underneath his leg.

Meanwhile on Friday, February 19th, Linda Rigsby reported to Corporal Travis Bryant that she noticed three rings missing from the bedroom of her West Market Street residence. One was a gold ring, valued at $200, another was a gold wedding band, valued at $100, and the third was a gold ring with a quartz stone, valued at $600. Rigsby reported there was no sign of forced entry into her home, but three other people had access to the residence.

On Wednesday, February 17th, Sergeant Randy King was dispatched to a Smith Road residence, where Ethel Y. Cash reported missing a New England Firearms 22-caliber revolver. Cash said she had bought the gun several years ago, but last remembered seeing it on February 1st, 2009. She recently began looking for it and noticed it was missing.

On Thursday, February 18th, Brittany A. Scarpaci reported to Sergeant Randy King that all of her belongings had been taken out of her apartment while she was away from home for three days, visiting her mother. Among the items taken were a leather living room suite, a 19-inch color television, end tables, a lamp, a TV table, a microwave, skulls glass and porcelain, collector's teddy bear, a rose lamp, a 26-inch color television, a DVD player, 60 VHS tapes and 100 DVD's. The total value of the items was about $2,500.

Also on Thursday, February 18th, Jennifer Hicks reported to Lieutenant Steven Leffew that she had become aware of multiple transactions having been made on her debit card. She was made aware that her card had been mailed to the wrong address, and according to her bank statement, the transactions had started on or around January 5th.

On February 25th, Samuel Kennedy of O'Connor Street reported to Corporal Travis Bryant that his mailbox had been opened and his outgoing mail was missing. The post office had told Kennedy that the mail had not been picked up. Kennedy's missing mail contained three checks, totaling $119. At the time of the report, none of the checks had been cashed.

State Senator Mae Beavers Legislative Update

February 26, 2010
State Senator Mae Beavers

The following is an update from State Senator Mae Beavers.

The pace quickened on Capitol Hill this week as committees considered a wide variety of bills and continued to review budget requests from departments and agencies of state governments. In addition, the Senate heard a presentation on the Senate Floor from the Future Farmers of America, an organization that promotes the growth of agricultural education amongst junior high, high school, and college students. Senator Beavers welcomed this year’s FFA President James Flatt and Middle Tennessee Vice President Andy Ligon, both from Wilson County in Senate District 17. Lastly, this week Senator Beavers was honored by the Concerned Motorcyclists of Tennessee and given a lifetime appreciation award for her career efforts in supporting motorcyclists and their issues.

Senate Judiciary Committee debates bill to require drunk drivers with a high blood alcohol level to install ignition interlock devices

Among bills considered was one debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee that would require extreme drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock device. The proposal would apply to persons arrested with blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .15 or more, a level which is 385 times more likely to cause a crash.

Interlock devices are small pieces of equipment attached to the steering wheel of a car with a tube that the driver must breathe into in order to allow ignition to start. The current alcohol ignition interlock technology makes it easier for courts to require drunk drivers to utilize the device.

“This bill aims squarely at those who drink, drive and kill,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), sponsor of the bill. “The record is clear that ignition interlock devices save lives.”

According to the Department of Safety, 3,877 restricted driver’s licenses were issued to people with DUI convictions in 2008, of which 1,163 were to offenders having a BAC level of .15 or higher. The bill aims to strengthen Tennessee’s law against DUI offenders who register high levels of alcohol upon arrest. State law already requires persons who are convicted and have a prior conviction within the past five years to install an interlock device for a six month period at their own expense.

Eight other states already have laws that require DUI offenders to install interlock devices if they register .15 or higher. Action on the bill, Senate Bill 2965, was deferred until next week.

Government Operations Committee reviews objectives to loosen grip of special interest groups and lobbyists on state’s boards and commissions

The Senate Government Operations Committee is currently considering action to loosen the grip of special interest groups and lobbyists over the various boards and commissions in Tennessee as they are reviewed by the panel in their normal sunset review process. Several members of the committee have expressed serious concerns about repeated language in Tennessee law that requires appointing authorities to select a candidate from special interest organizations.

The governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house are most commonly responsible for naming those who serve on the approximately 250 boards and commissions currently in operation in the state. The boards cover a wide variety of matters and involve oversight for various professions in the state from real estate and health care to athletic training and funeral homes. Special interest groups over the years have lobbied to make sure that their organizations are included in the language of the law by requiring that appointments are made from members of their group.

One of the key concerns includes the idea that many qualified citizens are eliminated from consideration because they may not be members of an organization. This is especially the case in professional organizations, some of which have a small percentage of members who are licensed within that profession.

Issues in Brief

Online Driver Safety Class – The Senate and House have approved and sent to the governor legislation that would allow senior drivers in the state to take an online driving course in order to receive a discount on their automobile insurance premiums. The bill, Senate Bill 2570, would allow the discount to citizens over 55 years of age if they complete an online driver safety course approved by the State Department of Safety. Currently, only seniors who take courses in a classroom are eligible to receive the discounts.

Snow Days – School superintendents would have more flexibility in making up missed days due to snow or other weather-related problems under legislation that was approved by the full Senate this week. The bill, Senate Bill 3031, authorizes the Commissioner of Education to approve directly proportional variations from half-hour extension of the school days and the corresponding accumulation of 13 days of adjustments to the instructional time requirements.

Motorcycle Lemon Law – The Senate approved legislation, Senate Bill 2649, to add motorcycles to Tennessee’s “lemon law” regarding warranty protections. The lemon law requires that motor vehicle manufacturers, or their authorized agent or dealers, must repair new vehicles that are under warranty and replace or accept the return of them if they cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

Trust laws – The State Senate has approved legislation to update and improve Tennessee’s trust laws to keep the state competitive as a prime location for investments. The bill, Senate Bill 3522, improves Tennessee’s Uniform Principal and Income Act, the Uniform Trust Code, and the Investment Services Act by adding a number of statues to upgrade and improve the state’s trust laws. It also creates a new type of trust in Tennessee called the unitrust. The legislation employs the top features of trust laws in other states and best practices in trust administration to put Tennessee ahead of other states in desirability for trust administration.

Troops / Voting – Legislation making it easier for troops who are deployed overseas to vote received final approval in the State Senate this week. The bill, Senate Bill 2681, authorizes a county Election Commission to e-mail a ballot to each member of the armed forces, as well as citizens temporarily outside the United States, who are entitled to vote and who have submitted a valid application for a ballot. The move would expedite the process so the voter would have more time to make a decision and return their ballot so they will be counted. According to the Pew Center on the States, about half of overseas voters fail to vote or to have their votes counted because of current voting rules.

Honoring fallen heroes – The State Senate took time this week to honor two fallen Tennessee heroes who lost their life this week in a helicopter accident in Iraq. The soldiers, Capt. Marcus Ray Alford and Chief Warrant Officer Billie Jean Grinder, were with Louisville's 1/230th Air Cavalry. In addition, Sergeant David Clay Prescott, Jr. and Staff Sergeant Michael Wayne Tinsley of the Guard’s Armored Calvary Regiment were killed earlier this month. Public Chapter 169 which was approved last year, requires that if members of the Tennessee National Guard die in the line of duty, the Governor shall proclaim a day of mourning in their honor and the names of the deceased members of the armed forces shall be recorded in the journal of the Senate and House of Representatives. The new law also requires that flags be flown at half-mast to honor these soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice for their state and country.

The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

February 26, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is an update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Greetings, Folks of the Fortieth! We continued our examination of the budget this week, amid reports that revenues continue to slide. The state has seen revenues decline for 20 straight months, a new record. Despite the dismal numbers, we are focused on our goal of a balanced budget that keeps priorities in place and view the current budget situation as an opportunity to return government to the basics.

Based on tentative numbers, the total budget will shrink this fiscal year by roughly $1.5 billion. Analysts say that the state’s sales tax revenue—the primary source of revenue—has dropped sharply over the last 20 months.

“Clawback Payment” could save millions
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that Tennessee could keep some of the “clawback payments” associated with prescription drug coverage. The temporary change means the state could save roughly $120 million, going a long way in softening the blow of the Governor’s call for $200 million in reductions from TennCare.

Some Tennesseans that are a Medicaid-waiver enrollee are also enrolled in Medicare. The federal government requires the state to contribute some of its TennCare funds in lieu of paying twice for the benefits that both programs cover, called “clawback payments.” Temporarily, the federal government will be forgiving those payments, thus saving the $120 million.

Tennessee joined several other states in asking the federal government to suspend the payments, because the federal stimulus aid for Medicaid meant the state would have paid less for prescription drugs in the next two budgets. At the end of last week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services agreed, leading them to temporarily suspend the payments.

Subcommittee approves ‘Pass the bottle’ legislation
The ‘Pass the Bottle’ legislation appeared before the House Local Government Subcommittee on Wednesday, eventually winning the approval of the committee. The bill passed with a 5-3 vote. House Bill 2744 would ban open containers in the passenger areas of vehicles, and make a violation a misdemeanor, subjecting a guilty party to a fine. Currently, no driver may consume an alcoholic beverage or possess an open container of such while operating a motor vehicle, but passengers may consume alcohol. The sponsor argued this policy invites drivers to drink as long as there is a passenger to which they can “pass the bottle.”

The bill was filed last year and experienced resistance in subcommittees then. Opponents expressed concern over the ability of sober drivers to take friends home who are drinking, and also regarding sporting events, such as University of Tennessee football games. Despite these objections, the sponsor said the state must reform its drunk driving laws.

In 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in drunk driving related crashes. Alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion in 2000, including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in quality of life losses. People other than the drinking driver paid $71.6 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill, which is 63 percent of the total cost of these crashes. Having won approval from the Local Government Subcommittee, the bill now faces the full House State and Local Government Committee and is scheduled to be heard on March 2nd.

Lawmakers continue to study traffic cameras; Attorney General opinion released
The controversy over traffic cameras continues, and legislation that would place a two-year moratorium on the cameras is being held in the Transportation Committee until April 1st. The bill would prohibit city and county governments from signing new contracts for a two-year period, giving us time to study the issue further.

The state’s Attorney General also released an opinion this week that said the cameras are constitutional. A fellow lawmaker asked the Attorney General to decide whether or not the cameras violate the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause, which allows the accused to confront any witnesses against them. The AG opinion stated, in response, “The confrontation clause embraces testimonial statements. Photographs are not testimonial statements.”

Although the opinion did not directly address many of the issues we are examining, it indicated there are certain areas that could be open to scrutiny. The opinion also stated that certain restrictions we are considering placing on the cameras would be constitutional, as long as the restrictions were “reasonable.”

The City of Gallatin in Sumner County was the first to implement the cameras in 2006, and has since added additional cameras. City officials say the cameras have significantly reduced T-bone crashes at major intersections. Currently, sixteen Tennessee cities utilize the cameras for traffic enforcement, including red light and speed cameras.

In Brief
House Bill 270, requiring citizenship status to be proven prior to registration to vote was passed out of the House State and Local Government Committee this week.

The week ahead
Next week bills will shift focus to several areas of importance. House Bill 2904 decreases from five to three years the length of time a small employer must purchase coverage through a health group cooperative. Next is House Bill 1357 which allows municipalities to take special census at their own expense any time between regular decennial federal censuses. Then, there is House Bill 2506 which creates a new criminal offense prohibiting a felon from possessing a radio capable of receiving emergency voice transmissions; prohibits a person from using information from the radio to facilitate a felony or interfere with emergency transmissions. Also, House Bill 2936 clarifies that tuition credits or refunds during military service are to be given to students called to active duty while attending Tennessee technology centers as well as state universities and community colleges. And finally, following along the theme of education is House Bill 3745 which authorizes h ome schooled students to participate in extracurricular athletic activities of a public school in which they are eligible to attend.

In closing, I would like to say what a treat it was to have the Future Farmers of America (FFA) here in the halls of the legislature. These young men and women are some of the finest Tennessee has to offer. It was an honor to have them as guests in Agriculture Committee as well as have them speak to House members on the Floor. They are truly remarkable leaders of tomorrow. May we truly embrace their charge “Lead out loud.” Again, it is a pleasure to serve you the Folks of the Fortieth.

Dowelltown City Election set for August 5th

February 26, 2010
Dwayne Page

The City of Dowelltown will elect three members to the city board on August 5th, the same day as the County General Election.

Qualifying petitions are available at the DeKalb County Election Commission office and potential candidates must return the petitions by noon, April 1 in order to be eligible for the ballot.

The election will be for the seats elected in 2006 and are currently held by Brad Driver, Keith Farler, and Ron Griffith.

Again, the qualifying deadline is noon, April 1st. Only the registered voters who are allowed to vote in the Dowelltown elections can sign a qualifying petition. The petitions must have the signatures of at least 25 eligible voters in order for the candidate to be placed on the ballot.

High Speed Pursuit Ends with Arrests of Three People

February 26, 2010
Dwayne Page
Van Crashes and Burns After High Speed Chase (Photo by Trooper Dewaine Jennings)

After leading Warren County authorities and the Tennessee Highway Patrol on a high speed chase through three counties Wednesday afternoon including DeKalb, three people were taken into custody after their van wrecked and caught fire in the Rock Island area of Warren County.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 30 year old Joey W. Bradford of Manchester, the driver of a 2000 Nissan Quest van, was charged with evading arrest with a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment, and driving on a suspended license.

20 year old Chelsea Lynn Lawson, a front seat passenger of the van, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. Another passenger, 42 year old Troy Lee Lytle was arrested on an outstanding capias.

According to Trooper Jennings, officers of the Warren County Sheriff's Department got in pursuit of Bradford in Warren County. An officer apparently tried to pull them over after spotting Lawson in the vehicle, knowing there was an outstanding warrant against her. At times during the pursuit, officers tried to get ahead of the van to put down spike strips, but were unsuccessful.

Trooper Jennings says the pursuit entered DeKalb County on Short Mountain Highway. The van turned onto Whorton Springs Road toward Highway 56, then headed south on the McMinnville Highway at Whorton Springs. The van entered the old Blue Springs Road near Mystik market and continued through the back roads until it reached Highway 287 in Warren County. The vehicle turned left onto highway 287, sped toward Highway 56, then crossed the road, and made it's way toward the Rock Island area. Trooper Jennings says "He (Bradford) went from old Rock Island Road to Pine Bluff Road, missed a turn, left the road, bottomed out, and busted the fuel tank. He then went back onto the road, leaking fuel. He made a right turn, lost control, and went nose first into a ditch line. He attempted to put the van in reverse but he got stuck. We(officers) rushed the vehicle. We saw flames coming from the van. We jerked the (van) doors open and got them out. The van then exploded in flames."

Trooper Jennings says he initially clocked the van at 88 miles per hour on Short Mountain Highway and later in the pursuit, Bradford at times exceeded speeds of 100 miles per hour. "He was passing double yellow lines, forcing cars off the road, and going through intersections."

No one was injured.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department were called to assist as the pursuit entered DeKalb County.

(Photo provided by State Trooper Dewaine Jennings)

Court Appointed Attorney for Man Charged in First Degree Murder Files Motion to Withdraw

February 25, 2010
Dwayne Page
James P Vernon

The court appointed attorney for a man charged with first degree murder in the beating death of another man last summer on Center Hill Lake wants out of the case.

Attorney Hilton Conger, recently appointed by the court to represent 38 year old James P. Vernon, has filed a motion asking that he be allowed to withdraw from the case due to a conflict.

The court may have a hearing on Conger's motion next month.

Vernon is charged in the death of 24 year old David Joseph Clark who was severely beaten during an attack on a houseboat at Center Hill Lake July 7th, 2009. He later died from his injuries at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Meanwhile, several other cases were resolved Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court under negotiated settlements.

Judge David Patterson presided.

22 year old Troy Cunningham pleaded guilty to several charges including burglary of an auto, burglary other than habitation, vandalism over $1,000, vandalism over $500, vandalism under $500, theft over $1,000, theft over $500, theft under $500, and sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. Cunningham received a total sentence of six years split confinement with one year to serve and the rest on probation. He is to undergo an alcohol and drug assessment, make restitution to the victims, and pay a $750 fine. Cunningham was given jail credit of 300 days.

21 year old Priscilla Leann Roberts pleaded guilty to an amended charge of simple possession and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation. She was fined $750.

20 year old Thomas Bagnell pleaded guilty to auto burglary and vandalism under $500. He received a two year sentence on the auto burglary, all suspended to supervised probation except time served. Bagnell received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in the vandalism case, suspended to supervised probation except time served. The sentences are to run concurrently. Bagnell is to pay $500 restitution to the DeKalb County jail and $100 to the economic crime fund. He was given jail credit of 188 days.

32 year old Aron Ponder was granted judicial diversion on a charge of driving on a suspended license. Facing a six month sentence, Ponder will be on unsupervised probation for one year.

46 year old Denise Jauregui pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence, all suspended to probation. The sentence is to run consecutive to a criminal court violation of probation or any other violation of probation against her. She must make restitution of $1,172. She was given two days of jail credit

36 year old Jorge Luis Ramirez pleaded guilty to driving without a license and received a sentence of 48 hours with six months probation.

23 year old Brian Bly pleaded guilty to domestic assault and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation. He must forfeit a shotgun and attend anger management classes.

40 year old Jeffery Taylor pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to supervised probation except for 48 hours to serve. He will lose his license for one year and he must pay a fine of $365, attend an alcohol safety education program, and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

61 year old James B. Metcalf pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve. He must pay a fine of $360 and complete and alcohol safety education program.

28 year old Jose Gerarvo Carillo pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to CPS probation except for 48 hours to serve. His license will also be revoked for one year. He must pay a fine of $360. Carillo was given four days of jail credit.

33 year old Marco Perez pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving on a revoked license. He received a six month sentence, all suspended to supervised probation except for two days to serve. He will lose his license for a period of time and he must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

23 year old Nathan Farris pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve. He will lose his license for one year and he must attend an alcohol safety program. Farris must also pay a fine of $365.

24 year old Christopher Brian Deal pleaded guilty by information to charges of reckless driving and speeding. He will be on good behavior probation for 11 months and 29 days after serving 10 days. Deal was fined $350.

19 year old Michaela Bilbrey charged with two counts of theft under $500 was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding for a period of 11 months and 29 days. She must pay restitution of $80 and perform 40 hours of community service.

22 year old Billy Douglas Ferrell pleaded guilty to driving without a license and having a prohibited weapon. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to supervised probation.

22 year old James Edward Gilles pleaded guilty to domestic assault and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to probation. He must also attend anger management classes. The sentence is to run concurrent with a violation of probation he is now serving.

26 year old Joseph Merriman pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve. He will then be on supervised probation. Merriman must pay a $360 fine and he will lose his license for one year. He must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow any prescribed treatments.

34 year old Billy Paul Mooneyham pleaded guilty to burglary and received a sentence of two years and one day, all suspended to supervised probation except for time served. The sentence is to run concurrently with a violation of probation he is now serving.

20 year old Cody Murphy pleaded guilty to retaliation for past action. He will be on probation for one year and he must complete anger management.

30 year old Crystal L. Thompson pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to probation except for eight days to serve. She was fined $750.

19 year old Christopher J. Garrett, charged with theft of property over $1,000, was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding for a period of two years. He must perform 100 hours of community service work as part of his probation.

38 year old Tina Beth Young pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve 48 hours and then be on probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with a probation violation in another case. She was fined $360 and her drivers license has been revoked for one year.

Meanwhile the case against 36 year old Tonya Page, a former circuit court clerk bookkeeper, indicted for theft of property over $1,000, is set for trial April 13th. Motions in the case are scheduled to be heard April 5th.

Nick Robinson, recently convicted after a jury trial on a charge of theft of property over $1,000, was sentenced after a hearing on Wednesday. Robinson received a three year sentence, to serve 60 days, and then be on probation. He must make restitution of $7,000 to the victim.

School System to Make-up Snow Day on March 5th

February 24, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

DeKalb County Schools have been closed twelve days due to winter weather this school year, one day more than the eleven "snow days" allotted in the school calendar. So DeKalb County Schools will be open on Friday, March 5th, weather permitting, to make up that extra day missed.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says March 5th was originally designated in the school calendar as a "stockpile" or professional development day and students were to be out of school. By having school on March 5th, schools will still close for the summer on time, provided no more days are missed this winter.

Eleven days are built into the school calendar each year for "snow days" or inclement weather and two days are included for so called "stockpile" or professional development days. On the stock pile days, students do not attend. One of the stockpile days has already been used and the other was scheduled for Friday, March 5th.

State law requires students to be in school a certain number of days each year.

The remaining school calendar calls for students to be off again for spring break March 29th to April 2nd

Students will not attend on Friday, May 21. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend.. The last day of school will be Saturday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Three Educators Selected for Regional "Teacher of the Year" Competition

February 24, 2010
Dwayne Page
Chris Vance
Mike Lewis
Julie Vincent

The DeKalb County School System has announced that three educators, Julie Vincent, Michael Lewis, and Chris Vance have been selected "Teachers of the Year" locally and will compete for regional honors in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for grades K-6 made the announcement Wednesday. "Again this year, we're going to participate in the Teacher of the Year program, which begins on the school level, moves to the system level, the regional level, and finally to the state level. This year a committee selected the Teachers of the Year at the system wide level."

"In pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, Teachers of the year are Julie Vincent from Northside Elementary and Beth Pafford from Smithville Elementary. Ms. Vincent was chosen on the system wide level and will represent DeKalb County at the regional level."

"In grades 5 through 8, Teachers of the year are Mike Lewis from DeKalb Middle School and Vicki Wilson from DeKalb West School. Mr. Lewis will represent DeKalb County at the regional level."

"In the 9th through 12th grade, which is DeKalb County High School, Chris Vance is the Teacher of the Year and he will represent DeKalb County at the regional competition.

Should these teachers win at the regional, they will represent DeKalb County at the state level in March.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career; and to encourage public involvement in education.

This program is sponsored annually by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Niswonger Foundation.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year represents Tennessee at the National Teacher of the Year competition, which is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic, Inc.

Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: Building, System, Field Service Center Region, Grand Division and State; and from three categories (levels of teaching); Grades Pre K-4, 5-8, 9-12.

Teachers selected at each cycle receive local recognition and awards underwritten by local sources. State recognition/awards include a banquet honoring the nine State Teacher of the Year finalists and certificates of appreciation from the Governor. In addition, the State Finalists and the State Teacher of the Year receive cash awards from the Niswonger Foundation.

District Attorneys Launch New Statewide Teen Pregnancy Awareness Campaign

February 24, 2010
District Attorney General Randy York

District Attorney Randy York and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference today announced a new campaign including aggressive outreach through social media, printed materials and a major effort to build a statewide network of partners to increase their efforts to fight teen pregnancy.

The statewide initiative represents the second phase of the highly successful What’s the Rush? campaign that raises awareness of the legal, financial and social consequences of becoming teen parents.

“Teen pregnancy has a direct consequence, not just on crime, but on society in general. There’s an inability to care and support that child the way that it deserves. It’s really sad when you see teenagers in court for nonpayment of child support and they’re facing the loss of their driver’s and hunting licenses and the possibility of going to jail,” said General York.

The DAs started the campaign in 2008 in response to the number of court cases involving teen parents throughout the state. Printed materials and a video were created for the DAs to use when visiting schools and civic organizations to educate Tennessee’s youth about the consequences of becoming teen parents.

After receiving a substantial amount of positive feedback, the DAs decided not only to continue the campaign, but to commit more resources to expand its scope to reach even more teenagers. One of the new additions is the social media initiative the DAs will participate in using Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. They will also be working more directly with campaign partners, and sending new and updated materials to schools and medical offices across the state.

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference is already partnered with the Tennessee Departments of Human Services, Health and Education; Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians; Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants; Tennessee School Counselor Association; National Association of Social Workers – Tennessee Chapter; Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center; Hospital Alliance of Tennessee; and YMCA of Memphis & the MidSouth.

“We are pleased to partner with the district attorneys, who see this problem firsthand,” said DHS Commissioner Virginia T. Lodge. “Continuing and expanding this program can make a difference in communities across Tennessee.”

In the 13th District alone, the most recent statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health show that in one year there were 380 reported cases of teen pregnancy and more than 13,000 cases reported statewide. Statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy show that teen parenthood can lead to a number of legal, financial and health consequences. Those statistics include:

Eight out of 10 teen fathers do not marry the mother of their first child.

Less than half of mothers who have a child before they are 18 years old graduate from high school, and less than 2 percent have a college degree by age 30.

Teen fathers have less education and earn much less money than teenage boys without children.

The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at a low birth weight, which can cause infant death, blindness, deafness, respiratory problems, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and hyperactivity.

Children of teen mothers are 50 percent more likely to have to repeat a grade in school and are less likely to finish high school.

The sons of teen mothers are two times more likely to end up in prison.

The children of teen mothers are two times more likely to suffer abuse and neglect compared to children of older mothers.

For more information about What’s the Rush?, call General Randy York at (931) 528-5015. To learn more and access the campaign materials, please visit www.tndagc.org/whatstherush.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatstherushtn

MySpace: www.myspace.com/whatstherushtn

YouTube: www.youtube.com/whatstherushtn


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