Local News Articles

Senator Beavers says Commerce Committee Debates Legislation to cut Down Auto Theft

March 3, 2008

The Senate Commerce Committee debated legislation last week aimed at reducing auto theft in Tennessee. The bill would require scrap metal processors who purchase vehicles with the intention of dismantling or salvaging them to provide proof of ownership.

“This bill will make it much harder for thieves to fence stolen cars” said Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), a member of the committee. “It simply requires those who scrap cars to get identification and a title from the seller, and to keep a record of the transaction for later review.”

Under the bill as amended by the Committee, any scrap metal dealer purchasing a motor vehicle less than five years old must be given a title by the seller. Any vehicle bought over five years old which does not contain the motor or is inoperable, would not require a title but must have a written statement signed by the seller or their agent stating they have a lawful right to sell and dispose of the vehicle. The title must be accompanied by a photo copy of the seller’s driver’s license. It also requires records on those transactions be kept for five years, including the name and address of the buyer and the amount they paid for the vehicle, date of sale, description of the auto, VIN number, and the license plate number of any vehicle transporting the automobile.

If the seller does not have the identification prescribed in the bill, the sale could not be completed. Those found guilty of violation of the proposed law would be subject to a class A misdemeanor. Any vehicle used to transport a vehicle sold in violation of the act could also be subject to confiscation under the legislation.

“Hopefully, this legislation will serve as a deterrent when thieves realize that they cannot steal and strip a car, and then sell the body to be crushed before law enforcement can trace their steps,” Beavers concluded.

Debate on the bill will continue in the committee next week.

SJR 127 giving citizens a say in protections for abortions rejected in House Subcommittee

The House Public Health Subcommittee rejected legislation overwhelmingly approved by the State Senate earlier this year that would have given Tennesseans the opportunity to restore their voice in determining what state law should be regarding commonsense protections for abortions. The resolution failed by a vote of 6 to 3, despite strong support among members of both the House and Senate.

The measure has repeatedly failed in the House Subcommittee where rules allow for legislation to be killed there by a handful of legislators. Senate rules provide that subcommittees may only make recommendations to the full committee regarding passage of a bill, but legislation cannot be rejected there.

“I am very disappointed that this resolution was rejected in the House,” said Beavers, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Every bill deserves a fair hearing in committee, especially when it is such an important issue and you have the support needed for passage by the full body.”

The resolution addresses a State Supreme Court decision in 2000 that struck down provisions in Tennessee law allowing women to receive “informed consent” information about the surgery and to wait 48 hours before they receive an abortion. The court also ruled against a state requirement that all abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital. That ruling made Tennessee more liberal than the courts required in “Roe v. Wade” and made the right to abortion a “fundamental right” in Tennessee.

Rejection by the House Subcommittee means the next opportunity for the measure to be placed on the ballot would be the year 2014.

Senate votes to change spring sales tax holiday to April 25 - 27

The full Senate gave final approval to legislation this week to move the state’s spring sales tax holiday to the last weekend in April so that it will not interfere with businesses that close for Easter. The holiday, which was designed to provide relief to taxpayers by instituting a temporary sales tax exemption on certain items, was scheduled by law for the weekend of March 21 – 23. Those dates coincide with both Good Friday and Easter this year.

Senate Republicans were instrumental in the passage of several tax reform initiatives during the past legislative session. This includes the August and spring sales tax holidays, a half cent reduction on the sales tax on food, and implementation of property tax relief for senior citizens and disabled veterans.

“I am pleased the Senate has approved this legislation,” said Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), a key supporter of the sales tax holiday. “This will give more citizens an opportunity to take advantage of the sales tax holiday in Tennessee since many businesses in our district close for Easter.”

Issues in Brief

Hargett confirmed as TRA Director – The full Senate voted 30 to 0 this week to confirm Former House Republican Leader Tre Hargett as Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) nominated Hargett to serve on the body, which sets the rates and service standards of privately owned telephone, natural gas, electric, and water utilities. The Senate also confirmed Eddie Roberson, Mary Freeman and Sara Kyle.

DUI / BAC Test -- State Senators have approved legislation that would eliminate the two-hour period in which a blood alcohol test must be administered to be used as evidence in court. The bill, sponsored by Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin), would change current law which mandates that the blood alcohol content (BAC) test must be administered to a person within two hours following their arrest or initial detention. Some remote areas of the state have difficulty in securing the medical professionals needed to draw the blood for the test. This bill removes that requirement and leaves such decisions about admissibility after a longer period of time in the hands of the court.

Illegal Immigration / Terrorism -- The full Senate has approved two bills that would make it a Class B misdemeanor offense to create or use fake identification for the purpose of obtaining or maintaining employment. The legislation would make the production or use of each false identification document a separate offense under Tennessee law if it is determined that any person in connection with the violation is not legally present in the United States. It also requires the court to notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “We must begin a comprehensive approach to attack illegal immigration in Tennessee,” said Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet). “This bill addresses a growing problem we have seen in our state with the production of fake identification for illegal aliens in the workplace.”

Hunting and fishing rights -- The State Senate heard on final reading a resolution on Thursday to amend the Tennessee Constitution by protecting the right to hunt and fish. The measure would be voted on in the same manner as the "Victim's Rights Amendment" in 1998, the “State Lottery Scholarship Amendment” of 2002, or the recent amendment to give property tax relief to the elderly. If approved by the legislature this year and by a two-thirds majority in the next General Assembly in 2009, citizens could expect to see the resolution on the ballot in November.

Toll roads / American-owned -- If Tennessee approves the use of toll roads in the state, they would have to be “American-owned” under legislation sponsored by Senator Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) and approved by the full Senate. The measure would emulate Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that require radio stations to be American-owned to prevent foreign interference in cases of national emergency. The bill requires that any contract, understanding, or agreement entered into for the operation of a tollway or toll facility be made with a U.S. citizen or with a business entity in which more than 50 percent of the equity is owned by U.S. citizens. All members of the State Senate were added as sponsors of the bill.

Animal Abuse Registry -- An Animal Abuse Registry would be set up under legislation approved by the full Senate this week. The bill creates an Internet registry, like the Sexual Offender Registry, that would identify people convicted in Tennessee of aggravated cruelty to animals. Under the bill, the county court clerks would send information to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation who would post it on the website.

Underage drinking – Two bills passed this week dealing with the issue of underage drinking. The first bill, sponsored by Senator Tim Burchett, and approved by the full Senate, would require birth dates to be printed in red and in larger print to make them more visible to clerks or servers who must check the information before selling or serving alcoholic beverages. The second bill, which was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee, would extend indefinitely the state’s beer carding requirement. That law requires clerks to look at picture identification for those buying beer in stores.

Election of Lt. Gov. and Secretary of State -- The full Senate heard on first reading Thursday a resolution to elect Tennessee’s lieutenant governor and secretary of state. The lieutenant governor is currently elected by the State Senate every two years, while the secretary of state is elected by House and Senate members in a joint session every four years. The proposal to change the state constitution would have to pass both chambers this year, and then again by a two-thirds vote in the next General Assembly before it could be voted on by Tennesseans in the 2010 election.

TBI – Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Mark Gwyn, who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, told lawmakers he expects the next drug epidemic in the state will be illegal use of pharmaceutical drugs. Gwyn said TBI agents are already seeing a proliferation of teen parties where pharmaceutical drugs are a pre-condition for entry into the event. Gwyn said the other growing crime in Tennessee is “cyber crime.”

Mayor Makes New Proposal for City Swimming Pool & Golf Course

February 27, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night may consider a proposal for the city to take over operation of the municipal swimming pool and cut the rent of the golf course tenant in half.

This proposal is being offered by Mayor Taft Hendrixson, who presented it during a brief informal workshop session with members of the council Wednesday afternoon at city hall. Aldermen Cecil Burger and Tonya Sullivan were in attendance along with City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. and Jimmy Lewis, golf course tenant.

Lewis has the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2017 at $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option.

Sources say Lewis has been considering giving up the lease under certain conditions. Lewis has apparently not publicly confirmed that but if he did surrender it, the city would possibly have to re-bid the lease or take over operation of both the golf course and swimming pool and hire an operator to manage them.

Mayor Hendrixson says he doesn't believe the city should get in the golf course business, but the city could assume operation and maintenance of the swimming pool as a service to the people of the city, especially the youth, and possibly reduce the admission price to swim to around a dollar per person.

Under Mayor Hendrixson's proposal, Lewis' lease would be amended allowing him to continue operating the golf course through the year 2017, but Lewis would be relieved of his responsibility for operating the swimming pool. Hendrixson proposes to cut Lewis' rent in half from $2,500 per month to $1,250 per month, but Lewis would be responsible for all upkeep and maintenance of the golf course. Mayor Hendrixson was complimentary of Lewis, saying he has taken good care of the golf course.

Hendrixson proposes that the swimming pool operation and maintenance be funded in the city's recreation budget. Costs incurred to the city would include hiring someone to manage the pool, chemicals, utilities, etc.

Mayor Hendrixson says the city could possibly hire someone for the summer, maybe a college student for example, to manage the pool, keep chemicals up to date, be responsible for making sure life guards are on duty, and whatever else is needed.

The proposal is expected to be discussed during the city council meeting Monday night. WJLE plans LIVE coverage and LIVE audio streaming at www.wjle.com.

Missing Teen Turns Herself In At DeKalb County Jail

February 27, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 17 year old DeKalb County girl, who left home last Monday night, February 25th turned herself in at the DeKalb County Jail Tuesday night with her boyfriend.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Heather Ann Cantrell and her boyfriend have been charged in juvenile petitions with being runaways. They have been taken to the Juvenile Detention Center in Cookeville.

Sheriff Ray says the two have apparently been staying with friends for the past few days in Athens, Tennessee.

A Flurry of Recent Criminal Activity Has Kept Smithville Police Busy

February 27, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings is urging you not to leave purses and other valuables unattended in your automobile or shopping cart when you go to the store or other places.

Thefts of these kind have been a problem lately.

Chief Jennings says in one recent case, a woman attending a ball game at DeKalb Middle School left a pocketbook in her car in the school parking lot and when she came back, the pocketbook was gone. Someone had gotten in the car and taken the purse which contained money, medication, and some important papers. The woman, after making the discovery of the theft, went to the police department to report the crime to Chief Jennings.

No arrests have been made

Meanwhile, in another case, Chief Jennings says someone recently stole some checks from a resident at 701 Fisher Avenue and later forged and cashed three of them at a local bank in the amounts of $120.31, $12.05, and $186.56. Chief Jennings says the theft apparently occurred while the victim was in the hospital.

Officer Travis Bryant took the report on the crime.

In another case, a resident at 915 Short Mountain Street recently reported the theft of a large cast iron antique 25 gallon pot from her front yard. The woman valued the pot at $1,200. The report was taken by part time officer and constable Mark Milam.

41 year old Lisa Pyles of Jones Mill Road, Smithville was recently arrested in a shoplifting case and charged with theft of property under $500. During a search subsequent to arrest, some drug paraphernalia was found on Pyles so she was additionally charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to a report filed by Officer Randy King, he was called to Mapco Express late Saturday night on suspicion of a shoplifter. The clerk alerted King that Pyles had placed some items in her jacket she hadn't paid for and left the store. Officer King followed her into the parking lot, where she had gotten in her truck. He saw that she was trying to remove items from her coat. Officer King asked her to step out of the truck. As she got out, Pyles continued to remove items from her pocket to hide their discovery. In the floor of the truck, Officer King noticed several items Pyles had placed there including a package of Doritos, beef jerky, spinach dip, four packs of meats and cheese snacks, several small bags of chips and a pack of gum. All items were recovered.

Pyles will be in court on the charges March 20th.

31 year old Refugio Gonzales Rodriguez was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence on Sunday morning after an investigation by Officer Brad Tatrow.

Chief Jennings says on Sunday at 4:18 a.m. Officer Tatrow noticed a gray Ford Explorer in the parking lot of an apartment complex at 322 West Broad Street. Officer Tatrow stopped, got out of his patrol car, and approached the vehicle. He noticed an Hispanic male sitting in the drivers seat of the truck. The vehicle was running and the lights were on. The man was behind the wheel, passed out, but still holding a beer in his hand. Officer Tatrow banged on the window to get his attention. The man slowly woke up, looked at the officer, and took two more swallows of beer. Officer Tatrow asked the man to get out of the truck. He complied but was sluggish and stumbled The man was asked to submit to a series of field sobriety tasks which he failed. Rodriguez was taken to the Smithville Police Department where he submitted to a toximeter test and blew a .14.

His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on the charge March 13th.

37 year old Clinton Jerome Maples of South Mountain Road, Smithville was charged Friday night with public intoxication.

Chief Jennings says on Friday night, Sergeant Joey D. Jones was flagged down by a man at Royal Oak apartments. The man told the officer that someone was sitting in the breeze way of an apartment building, who had earlier been going around knocking on doors looking for someone, but the person he was trying to find didn't live there. Sergeant Jones made contact with the man who identified himself as Maples. He had a strong smell of alcohol on his breath and person and was unsteady on his feet. Sergeant Jones had to help him stand up. Maples was charged with public intoxication. His bond is set at $1,000 and he will be in court Thursday.

Stephen Hunter Pugh was picked up at the Central Dispatch location on South Mountain Street Sunday night on a violation of probation warrant.

Chief Jennings says Officer Randy King was summoned to the Central Dispatch location to check out a suspicious person. Officers King and Tatrow arrived to find Pugh attempting to sell a red step ladder to the dispatcher. He seemed to be confused and disoriented. Officer King asked him what he was doing trying to sell a ladder to the dispatcher. Pugh shrugged his shoulders and didn't answer. When officers learned, through a warrants check, that Pugh was wanted for violation of probation, he was taken to the Sheriff's Department and his vehicle was towed. The ladder he was trying to sell belonged to his grandfather.

Smithville Police are investigating a domestic assault case, which was reported just before midnight Sunday night.

Chief Jennings says Officer Randy King was dispatched to the emergency room of DeKalb Community Hospital where the victim was being treated.

The victim told the officer that when she went to her former residence to get some items she had left, an argument ensued between her and the former boyfriend, and that she was assaulted.

No arrests have been made.

29 year old Heather D. Colwell of 622 Restview Avenue was charged Monday with Public Intoxication.

Chief Jennings says on Monday he answered a call to come to the parking lot of Value Rent on Broad Street to investigate a possible intoxicated person. "I arrived and saw a car fitting the description in the parking lot. Two persons were in the vehicle, which backed out of the parking space in front of the game room, and pulled over in front of the Value Rent. I noticed the driver side door come open, and the driver leaned her head out and started to throw up in the parking lot. I approached the vehicle and found the driver to be Colwell. Lieutenant Steven Leffew arrived to assist and Colwell was placed under arrest for Public Intoxication. The passenger of the vehicle, James A. Barrett, Jr. had an outstanding warrant against him from the Sheriff's Department. Colwell was transported to the Police Department and Barrett was taken to the county jail. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court March 13th.

On Tuesday morning, 24 year old David Michael Teachout was charged with assault.

Chief Jennings says Sergeant Joey Jones was called to 558 East Main Street on a complaint of an assault. Upon arrival, a lady in the front yard motioned for the officersto stop. He exited his patrol car and walked toward her. She stated that there was a fight inside the house between her brother (Teachout) and her ex-husband and that her mother and ex-husband were holding Teachout down on the bed. Sergeant Jones went in the house and secured Teachout, who had been drinking. The officer spoke with all parties involved. The sister who called was Jerri Spivey. She stated that her ex-husband had been there all day helping with the kids. When Teachout called and asked if he was there, she advised that he was there. Teachout said that he had better be gone when he got there. Upon his arrival, Clinton Spivey and Jerri Spivey were in her bedroom watching TV, when Teachout entered the bedroom and started hitting Clinton Spivey. The mother, Brenda Teachout and the ex-husband were able to hold Teachout on the bed until the officer arrived.

Teachout told the officer he had drank six beers. He will be in court on the assault charge on March 13th. His bond is $2,500.

Weather Related Cancellations

by: 
Dwayne Page

Weather related closings and cancellations for Wednesday include:

Church Services at:
Keltonburg United Methodist Church
Webb's Chapel United Methodist Church
Whorton Springs Baptist Church Awana Program

DeKalb County Schools are closed Wednesday, but no word yet on Thursday.

Weather Related Cancellations

by: 
Dwayne Page

Weather related closings and cancellations for Wednesday include:

Church Services at:
Keltonburg United Methodist Church
Webb's Chapel United Methodist Church
Whorton Springs Baptist Church Awana Program

DeKalb County Schools are closed Wednesday, but no word yet on Thursday.

Alexandria Police Arrest Two Men in Burglary Investigation

February 27, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria Police Department has made two arrests in a burglary last week at the old Prichard's Grocery store location.

Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins says 42 year old Wendell Lee Gibbs and 32 year old James Steven Leduc both of Alexandria are charged with one count of burglary and one count of theft over $10,000. Bond for each is $30,000.

On Thursday, February 21st , Chief Collins and Sergeant Chris Russell of the Alexandria Police Department responded to a reported burglary at the old Prichard's Grocery Store located at 33812 Nashville Highway where someone entered the building and stole a substantial amount of copper wiring and piping and causing extensive damage to the electrical system of the building and to the coolers and freezers .

The investigation led to the arrests of both Gibbs and Leduc.

Chief Collins says the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department assisted Alexandria Police in the investigation and Leduc was also charged by the Sheriff's Department on unrelated charges.

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.

New Garbage Collection Convenience Site Set to Open Soon

February 26, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The new garbage collection convenience site on Highway 56 south may open in a few days.

County Mayor Mike Foster addressed this issue during Monday night's county commission meeting. "The site is ready to inspect. It should be inspected Tuesday and if everything goes well we will have it open by Monday or maybe if we get everything going, we might get it open Sunday. But it will be open either Sunday or Monday. All we're waiting on is the electrical inspection. One of the compactors won't be there but the other one will and we'll have open cans. It will take us a while to get everything else back in place and they will still have to issue the permit but they have given us the okay to go ahead."

The new convenience site is near the Smithville Nursery location.

Foster also talked about an auction set for Saturday at 10:00 a.m. on North Congress Boulevard in which surplus county property will be sold including the old ambulance service building on the Cookeville Highway. The county is connecting city sewer service to the building to help attract potential buyers to the sale."We will be selling some of the Sheriff's confiscated and used property and equipment from other departments. We bought the grinder pump today (Monday) to hook it up to the city (sewer) and they're supposed to hook it up Wednesday. So if everything goes well, it will be in place on Wednesday. The grinder pump was $2,100. The tap fee is $550 and then there's the installation costs so it's going to be about what we thought, somewhere close to $4,000 probably, but that will have the septic problem solved which is one of the main drawn backs about it selling. Even if they do not have it operating by Saturday, we will announce out there Saturday that the county will finish installation and will have paid for everything by then."

The issue of alerting people in the event of tornado warnings for DeKalb County was also discussed. Foster says the best alternative is possibly urging people to obtain Noaa Weather Radios.. "With the storms that hit Trousdale, Sumner, and Macon Counties, we've had a lot of questions about alarm systems. I've had Brad (Mullinax) get some stuff together for us. We thought we could do this through the reverse 911 system but I think we've pretty well decided that if we do this, it will have to be modified because it will only notify 48 people per minute and we thought it would be 200. When you start trying to contact 8,000 homes, it would tie the phone lines up. We probably would want a system where we could notify maybe a thousand homes, then maybe have them call some neighbors. From everything they have told me, the alarm system is probably cost prohibitive. Each one of the alarms is about $20,000 and they say we'd probably need one every mile and there are 307 square miles in DeKalb County. The absolute affect of it is there's a lot of people who wouldn't hear the sirens anyway. They would be too far away. The thing that everybody seems to suggest is the Noaa weather radio. They are about $20 each and you plug it in and it works on batteries as well. If there is an alarm, it will turn the radio on and notify the homeowner. That probably is the best solution for everybody along with these dial up numbers too. I think anything we can do to help in the way of notification is the thing we really need to look at because if you go down to Macon County and look at the devastation it's pretty unbelievable."

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says the school system's Connect-Ed could also be used to help alert many people in the county.

High School Seniors Urged to Submit Scholarship Applications

February 26, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Guidance Department urges parents to encourage their high school seniors to submit scholarship applications by the deadlines.

All local scholarship applications are due at the DCHS Guidance Office by March 20th.

Applications for the DTC Scholarship in memory of McAllen Foutch are due at the DTC office by the close of business on March 14th.

Applications for the Middle Tennessee Times Scholarship are due at the Middle Tennessee Times office by the close of business on March 15th.

The following scholarships are available:

Smithville Women's Club Scholarship- for female students only

DeKalb Community Hospital- for students going into the healthcare field

DeKalb Retired Teachers Award for students who will major in education.

Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club Award for female students only.

The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship for future MTSU students only

The DeKalb Farmers Coop Award for students going into an agriculture or related field.

The Kyle and Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship for student athletes

The Matthew McAfee Memorial Scholarship for students who are members of both FBLA and FCA

DeKalb Foundation for Education Award

The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award for basketball players or basketball cheerleaders going into teaching.

DeKalb County Republican Women's scholarship

Beecher and Wilma Moss Scholarship

AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship for students who are children or grandchildren of a veteran.

The DeKalb County Soil Conservation District Scholarship is for students majoring in agriculture.

The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship is for students who have an immediate family member or grandparent who is a firefighter, EMS, or on the rescue squad. Also for students who are in the Explorer Program.

And the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Studio Six, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Alan Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, the DTC McAllen Foutch Memorial Scholarship, the Jeff Garrett Memorial Scholarship, the Middle Tennessee Times Scholarship, the Jolly Angels Scholarship, and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

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