Local News Articles

Pryor and Dudney Receive Leadership DeKalb Awards

January 30, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni awards were honored Thursday night during the Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

Tecia Puckett Pryor received the Community Leader of the Year Award and Neil Dudney was presented the Legacy Award.

The Community Leader of the Year award goes to someone who has made a significant and positive impact on the county, specifically during 2007 and in a capacity beyond their commitment to their profession. Pryor, a local attorney, received the award for her work in Habitat for Humanity and other local church and civic organizations.

Other nominees for the award were Ria Baker, Ricky Baker, and Marie Hill.

The Legacy Award goes to the person who has made a significant and positive impact on DeKalb County over a considerable period of time and in multiple or lasting ways. Dudney was awarded based on his years as director/coordinator of the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

Paul Parsley was also nominated for the award.

The guest speaker was author and radio talk show host Karlen Evins.

The retiring members of the Chamber board are Kevin Bandy, Jim Finley, Dr. David Foutch, Kevin Means, and Dennis Stanley.

New members are Brent Arnold, Gentry Barnes, Robin Driver, Tim Hintz, and Judy Sandlin.

Other members of the Chamber Board are Adam Barnes, Sandy Brown, Kerry Davis, Jason Evans, W.J. "Dub" Evins III, Gina Denman, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Kelley Garrett, Charlie Parker, and Mark Violet.

Kerry Davis is the new President, succeeding the retiring President Jim Finley.

Vester Parsley Named City Attorney

January 29, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The new attorney for the City of Smithville is Vester Parsley, Jr.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen met in special session Tuesday night at city hall and the council voted 4 to 0 for Parsley.

Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, Jerry Hutchins Sr., and Steve White voted for Parsley. Alderman Cecil Burger was absent.

Parsley succeeds former city attorney John Pryor, who resigned as of December 31st.

In addition to Parsley, former city attorney Sarah Cripps was also interested in the position and submitted her resume for consideration.

Meanwhile, Jerry Hutchins, Jr., son of alderman Jerry Hutchins' Sr., was hired as an investigator for the Smithville Police Department, upon the recommendation of Police Chief Richard Jennings.

Two others had applied for the job, former Smithville Police Officer Marcus Caldwell and Danny Holmes of Baxter.

At last report, Caldwell was working for the White County Sheriff's Department and Holmes, a former long time employee of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, was head of Safety and Security at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Hutchins is a former employee of the Smithville Police Department and Lebanon Police Department and has been working for the Wilson County Sheriff's Department. He was the only applicant who attended Tuesday night's meeting.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson claimed that neither of the three applicants met the city's qualifications for the position. "One of them has just a little over a year's experience as an officer and we asked for eight. One of them lived out of the county. He could respond within the twenty minutes but he did not live in the county. I don't think probably either one of the three had the three years of prior investigative experience that I could ascertain."

Concerning Hutchins', Mayor Hendrixson added that ‘I talked to the Chief Deputy of Wilson County, where he is currently employed and he said he (Hutchins) had not been employed as an investigator down there but that he was a good employee and he hated to lose him. I talked to a lieutenant at the Lebanon Police Department and he (Hutchins) hadn't been employed as an investigator there."

Mayor Hendrixson says the job description specifications for the city investigator position stated that applicants must have been a POST certified officer for eight years with three years of investigative experience as an investigator.

Hutchins says he has more than three years of investigative experience and cited letters of recommendations he has received from people he has worked for, having done part time private investigation assignments. "This (letter) is from an attorney in Lebanon I have worked for, Karen Chaffin, which says during the past four years I have utilized the services of Jerry Hutchins whenever I have been in need of a trained investigator. Jerry's duties have varied widely from one case to another depending upon the investigative needs of the particular matter. He has always conducted himself in a highly professional manner. I continue to be impressed with his work ethic and his attention to detail."

Hutchins also read a letter of recommendation from an operator of a property management company. "The purpose of this letter is to confirm that Jerry Hutchins has conducted numerous investigations for our office including but not limited to background checks and criminal histories of potential tenants at our rental properties. He has been assisting our office since 2002 on a case by case basis and would highly recommend him for any investigative work that you may need."

Chief Jennings also claimed that during his previous tenure as chief, Hutchins worked in the police department for up to fifteen months, doing investigative work. "He is certified as a child sexual abuse and death/ homicide investigator. He has hostage negotiating experience and he has a narcotics investigation certificate.

Alderman White made a motion that the city re-advertise to seek more applications. However, his motion died for the lack of a second.

White also complained that his fellow aldermen were not adhering to standard procedures that have been followed in the past and recommended by MTAS, allowing the mayor, secretary-treasurer, and city commissioner over the police department to make the initial hire, subject to final approval by the aldermen at a later council meeting.

Aldermen Thomas made a motion to hire Hutchins. Alderman Sullivan offered a second to the motion. Both voted for Hutchins along with Hutchins' father, Jerry Hutchins Sr. Aldermen Steve White voted "no".

Alderman Hutchins stated his "personal interest" but said he was voting his conscience. In a prepared statement, Hutchins said " I would like to advise this Board of my personal interest in one of the applicants, namely, my son, Jerry Hutchins, Jr."

"There have been questions arise regarding whether I could vote or not, so I have contacted MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service), and was informed in writing by their legal department that I would be able to vote without conflict or ethics violations after first stating my interest which I have done."

"I would respectfully ask the City Recorder to make this letter from MTAS a part of the official minutes of this meeting. With this being stated and understood at this time, I will exercise my right to vote and vote "yes".

The letter to Hutchins from Dennis Huffer, legal consultant for MTAS, states that " You asked whether you could vote on a contract between the City of Smithville and your son. In my opinion, this would not be a conflict of interest under state law since you and your son are not in business together and, as you informed me, you and your son do not commingle your funds."

"This situation, however would be a personal interest under the City's ethics ordinance. According to records of the Tennessee Ethics Commission, Smithville adopted the MTAS Model Code of Ethics. Under Section 2 of the model ordinance, a city official has a personal interest in a matter if the official's spouse, parent, step parent, grandchild, sibling, child, or stepchild has a financial interest in the matter. Therefore your son's financial interest becomes your personal interest."

"The matter for which you would have a personal interest is one requiring a vote of the governing body, and Section 3 of the model ordinance mandates the official's actions relative to the vote. You must acknowledge your personal interest in the contract with your son at the meeting and before the vote so your acknowledgment appears in the minutes. Then you may vote or recuse yourself from voting."

In other business, the aldermen voted 4 to 0 to hire Wesley Nokes as the new airport manager, upon the recommendation of the airport board.. Mayor Hendrixson says Nokes has an aerospace degree and has been working for Southwest Airlines in Hartford, Connecticut, but this is his home and he wants to return here.

Ten Defendants Sentenced in Criminal Court Monday

January 28, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Ten people appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday on a variety of charges and were sentenced by Judge Leon Burns, Jr.

32 year old Steven Anderson pleaded guilty to statutory rape and evading arrest. He received a two year sentence in each case to serve. The sentences are to run concurrently as a single two year term. Anderson's name must also be included on the state's sex offender registry. He was given credit for 170 days of jail time served.

25 year old Jonathan Kyle McCormick pleaded guilty to three counts of theft over $500 and three counts of theft over $1,000. He was granted judicial diversion for a period of three years. The term will run concurrent with a two year sentence against him in Warren County. He will be on supervised probation by TDOC and must make restitution to the victims in the amount of $2,744. He must perform 100 hours of community service work.

30 year old Robin L, Lawson pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a five year sentence, suspended with one year of probation supervised by community corrections and the remaining four years supervised by DOC probation. Lawson must perform 100 hours of community service work and make restitution of $110 to the victim. Lawson was given credit for 28 days of jail time served.

33 year old Robin Green pleaded guilty by information to violation of the sex offender registry, simple possession, and resisting arrest. Green received a two year sentence in two of the cases and six months in the other case, all to run concurrently as a two year sentence, and all suspended except for 120 days to serve. Green was given jail credit of 93 days.

23 year old Ricky D. Johnson II pleaded guilty to statutory rape and received a two year sentence, suspended to time served from November 9th, 2006 to January 28th, 2008. He will be on TDOC probation and is under a restraining order to keep away from the victim.

42 year old Roxanne Hendrixson pleaded guilty to simple possession and drug paraphernalia. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case with 45 days to serve. The sentences are to run consecutively or back to back. She must serve the first 44 days consecutively and the remainder on weekends. Her fine is $900. She must perform 25 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. She was given jail credit of six days.

25 year old Nicholas Hollingsworth pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a five year sentence in each case to run concurrently, all suspended except for 30 days on weekends with one year of supervised probation by community corrections. For the remaining four years, he will be on supervised probation by DOC. He was fined $2,000 and must make restitution of $80. Hollingsworth must perform 100 hours of community service work and he was given credit for seven days of jail time served.

27 year old Jeremie Johnson pleaded guilty to violation of an order of protection and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve. The sentence is to run concurrently with another violation of probation term he is currently serving. He was given credit for time served from June 13th, 2007 to January 28th, 2008.

30 year old David Neisz, Jr. pleaded guilty to violation of the sex offender law, theft over $1,000, burglary, and aggravated statutory rape. He received a total sentence of six years but was given jail credit from July 7th, 2007 to January 28th, 2008.

30 year old Ernest Hill pleaded guilty to escape and theft over $1,000. He received a three year sentence on the theft charge, all suspended except for 60 days to serve, and a two year sentence on the escape charge, all suspended except for 90 days to serve. The sentences will run consecutively or back to back. Hill must perform 100 hours of community service work and he was given jail credit from October 8th, 2007 to January 28th, 2008.

Vacant Mobile Home Destroyed by Fire

January 29, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Fire Department responded to a vacant mobile home fire Monday evening around. 7:45 p.m. on Bright Hill Road.

Chief Donny Green says according to neighbors, the structure was in the process of being torn down. The mobile home reportedly belonged to Brian Harriot and was situated on the property of Dr. J.C. Wall.

Neighbors discovered the fire and reported it to DeKalb County 911. The mobile home was fully involved upon the fire department's arrival and the firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze that was beginning to spread into a surrounding field.

The Short Mountain Highway, Midway, and Cookeville Highway Stations of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded along with THP and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Robinson's Indicted in Cannon County Prescription Drug Scheme

January 28, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The arrest of a Smithville man last month by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has led to more charges against him and his wife in Cannon County.

40 year old Mark (Truck) Robinson has been indicted by a Cannon County Grand Jury on charges of theft and conspiracy to commit theft over $10,000. He is free on a $10,000 bond.

Robinson's wife, 37 year old Kyra Robinson, is indicted on 268 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud (xanax) prescriptions and one count of theft and one count of conspiracy to commit theft over $10,000. She is free on a $200,000 bond.

The Robinson's will be arraigned on February 15th.

Kyra Robinson, who was working as a nurse for the Cannon County Jail, is charged with obtaining prescriptions in the name of Cannon County inmates, and then bringing the prescriptions home to her husband in Smithville, who allegedly sold them.

The case stemmed from a local investigation.

In December, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant at the home of the Robinson's on Anthony Avenue in Smithville.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says officers made at least one drug buy from Robinson's residence and during the search, they found 193 Xanax pills, 203 empty prescription bottles with numerous individuals' names on them, hemostats, rolling papers, roach clips, syringes, and a pill grinder.

In the December case, Mark Robinson was charged with possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax) for sale and delivery and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $26,500

Officers seized the cash from Robinson.

Sheriff Ray says it was during the December investigation that he learned that the empty prescription bottles found at Robinson's home had the names of several Cannon County inmates on them.

He then contacted the TBI and the Cannon County Sheriff's Department with this discovery.

The following prepared statement was released to WBRY by Cannon County Sheriff Billy Nichols. " During the week of December 14, 2007 I (Sheriff Nichols) started an internal investigation on my jail nurse, Kyra Robinson. It was brought to my attention that she was possibly obtaining narcotics under the authority of a doctor and Cannon County (but apparently unbeknown to the doctor and Cannon County officials).

With the assistance of DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray and the T.B.I. (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation), I discovered that she was in-fact obtaining narcotics at Woodson's Pharmacy here in Cannon County. These narcotics turned out to be Xanax. My investigation revealed that Ms. Robinson has been obtaining these drugs and charging them to the county. I was able to stop her illegal activity and determined that she defrauded the county out of thousands of dollars this fiscal year and stopped the account before any further funds could be depleted from my budget.

On January 24th, the Cannon County Grand Jury returned a sealed indictment charging her with 268 counts of fraud, one count of theft and one count of conspiracy to commit theft. She was arrested on January 25th and was released on a $200,000.00 bond. She is scheduled to be arraigned on 15 February 2008.

Kyra Robinson resigned her position as an employee of the Cannon County Sheriff's Department after she was confronted with the evidence against her.

This incident is still under investigation by T.B.I.

Senator Beavers Presents Community Enhancement Grant to County Fire Department

January 27, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

State Senator Mae Beavers presented the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department a check for more than $24,000 Saturday night during the annual banquet of the firefighters.

Senator Beavers says this is money from the state's allocation of community enhancement grants. "Last year as many of you know we had a $1.3 billion dollar surplus in the state. One of the things I have been pushing for a long time is the half cent off on the sales tax on food. I was able to get that plus a sales tax holiday in March. The other legislators, instead of giving me the other half cent (reduction), thought that we should have community enhancement grants to give out. So Donny applied for a community enhancement grant and tonight I have a check to present to the Fire Department for $24,555."

County Fire Chief Donny Green says this money will be put to good use to help complete a training room at the fire department's main station on King Ridge Road. "This building project we're on, we've got money allocated to put the walls up but we've got a lot of work to do inside and this is what this money (grant) is going to be for, building our training room and finishing out the project. It's not just something for the fire department, we use it (building) for community projects. The boy scouts actually use it to have their den meetings. We do the CPR courses there and the sheriff's department is always welcome to us it along with any other agency. The ambulance service also uses it so it's an emergency facility and community facility. We're going to use this (grant) to make it a nice place that we all can use and our community can be proud of."

Green also thanked Senator Beavers for helping the county obtain the deed for the property where the main station is located. The property, for many years, belonged to the state and formerly served as the TDOT state highway garage in DeKalb County.

Young Named DeKalb County Firefighter of the Year

January 27, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Lieutenant Mark Young was named "County Fire Fighter of the Year" Saturday night during the department's annual award's banquet held at the Smithville Church of God annex.

County Fire Chief Donny Green, who presided over the ceremony, said Young earned the award for having put in 110 hours of training, the most of any firefighter except the "Rookie Fire Fighter of the Year".

Shawn Puckett of the Midway Station received the "Rookie" award which goes to the fire fighter with the most hours of training during their first year as a member of the department. Green says Puckett, in his first year, put in 132 hours of training.

Roy Merriman, Assistant Fire Chief presented the Git R Done Award to Lieutenant Anthony Boyd. This award is given to the firefighter who performs services above and beyond the call of duty for the fire department.

Merriman also presented several "Years of Service Awards"

Those earning five year service pins are Billy Crymes, Calvin Martin, Jimmy Martin, Billy Parker, James Pennington, Tim Reynolds, Kenneth Waggoner, and Philip Waggoner.

Ronald Merriman received his ten year service pin.

A fifteen year service pin was presented to Wayne Adcock

Bob Rice accepted his twenty year service pin

A thirty year service pin will be presented to Hugh Washer.

Honorary Lifetime Membership Awards were presented for exemplary service to Larry Evans, a former County Fire Chief; to County Mayor Mike Foster; and to the current County Fire Chief Donny Green.

Teen Dies in Fiery Crash on Blue Springs Road

January 27, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A teenage boy lost his life when the pickup truck he was driving left the road, crashed into a tree, and caught fire on the Blue Springs Road Saturday night.

Dead is 16 year old Hunter Loren Davis.

The accident was investigated by Trooper Jeremy Wilhite and Sergeant Ashley Mercer of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

According to their report, the boy was driving a 1970 Chevy pickup truck east on the Blue Springs Road when he failed to maintain the lane of travel, crossed the westbound lane, exited the northside of the roadway and struck a tree.

A passerby reportedly spotted the truck on fire and called 911 at 8:49 p.m. The boy was later found dead inside the vehicle.

Members of the Blue Springs and Keltonburg Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene and extinguished the blaze. The department's extrication team later arrived and removed the driver's side door of the truck so that the body could be removed after earlier attempts to pry open the door with a crow bar proved unsuccessful.

Davis' death marks the second traffic fatality this month in DeKalb County.

New Location Named for Rock Castle Voting Precinct

January 25, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission has announced that the polling place for the Rock Castle precinct has changed.

The new voting location is the Austin Bottom Fire Hall which is located at 9430 Goff Ridge Road, Baxter. Each voter has been mailed a notice of the change and a new voter registration card.

On Election Day, February 5th, voting will begin at the Fire Hall at 8:00 a.m. and end at 7:00 p.m.

Voters should take the voter registration card or some other form of identification with them when they go to vote.

If anyone has any questions please contact the Election Commission office at 597-4146.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Increases to 5.1% in December

January 25, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for December was 5.1%, up from 4.8% in November and 4.7% in December 2006.

The DeKalb County Labor Force for December was 10,220. A total of 9,700 were employed and 520 were unemployed.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 5.3 percent, up from the November rate of 4.9 percent. The United States' unemployment rate went up to 5.0 percent for December from 4.7 percent in November.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for December show 10 counties decreased, 76 counties increased and 9 counties remained the same.

Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 3.6 percent. Knox County followed at 3.7 percent. Pickett County had the state's highest at 9.9 percent, followed by Marshall County at 9.1 percent.

Knoxville had the state's lowest major metropolitan statistical area (MSA) rate at 4.0 percent, . The Nashville-Murfreesboro MSA remained unchanged from November's 4.2 percent. The Chattanooga MSA was 4.3 percent and the Memphis MSA went up to 5.5 percent from 5.2 percent in November.

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