Local News Articles

Police Chief Asks for More Officers- Says Department Overworked and Understaffed

July 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, saying his department is understaffed and over worked, came before the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night asking that two additional certified officers be hired.

Chief Jennings says the city's policy of having the officers work 12 hour shifts, as opposed to 8 hour shifts, is increasing the workload on officers and creating a lot of overtime.

According to Chief Jennings, funds are in the budget to hire one other officer, a position which has remained unfilled since last summer. He says a second additional officer could be hired to fill officer Callie Matthews position while she remains on unpaid medical leave. "The bottom line is, I'm understaffed. When the prior chief left, there was one full time slot left unfilled. I have another officer out on medical leave and that leaves me with another slot. I'm asking the board to approve the advertising for two full time officers. One full time officer would fill the slot that was never filled when the prior chief left. The other would come in for a temporary position to work in Matthews' place until such time as she may be able to come back to work. If she is able to come back to work, that officer would understand he would have to give up that position so she could come back and take the position as road officer. If Ms. Matthews, for whatever reason, is unable to come back to work, then that position would be offered to that person full time. The addition of those two officers would improve the operation of my department, cut down on the long hours, extra hours the officers have to work, and it's better to pay straight time to people of about twelve dollars than it is to pay overtime to officers that are employed here which runs into eighteen to twenty five dollars an hour."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson admits the overtime issue is a concern but says the police officers he has talked to prefer 12 hour shifts, and that most of the law enforcement agencies in the area also work on 12 hour shifts. Plus, he says when an officer is out, the chief and investigator should take up the slack. "Last year we spent in the neighborhood of $60,000 or $70,000 for overtime. We can't continue going on doing that. We do work 12 hour shifts in the police department and about all the departments I know of around us do. And everyone of the officers I've talked to like this because one week they'll work three days a week, one week they'll work four days. One week they work 36 hours, one week they work 48 hours. In all departments, you may have somebody out sick but we have a chief and an investigator that I think they should fill in when an officer is out. I think that is part of it as road officers."

Chief Jennings says both he and Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins, Jr. are willing to fill in for others but he believes the investigator should spend his time trying to solve crimes. "We have one chief, one investigator, and nine road officers, but one of them (Matthews) is out on medical leave. That leaves just enough officers to cover the shifts. In the event that an officer is out, my investigator fills in. In the event my officers get backed up on calls during the day, dispatch calls me and I go out and help out. I'm available to come in during any emergency situation, day or night. It makes no difference. I have one part time officer who helps out but he can only work 20 hours per week because he's not certified. The investigator works (as road officer) when he's asked, but crimes are increasing continuously and his job is to investigate crimes. When he works a 12 hour shift, he cannot do that. He has solved a lot of cases but it impairs his ability to do investigations when he has to work 12 hour shifts as a road officer."

Jennings says before he took over as chief, the city had one chief, ten road officers, one investigator, one part time officer, and one school traffic guard and the officers worked eight hour shifts. " Before I took over as chief we were only working eight hours but when the prior police chief left several officers left with him and left the department short handed. They went to 12 hour shifts because they were really short on personnel. We have enough officers now to fill the 12 hour shifts but that's if nobody is out sick or nobody has to be off. But as you know that is not a possibility. We're going to be out, we're going to have overtime, people are going to be sick, they're going to be off for various reasons, vacation, sick days, and sometimes they have personal problems and have to be off. So you really don't know from one week to the next exactly what kind of situation you're going to run into. It's a situation that you deal with daily."

Chief Jennings added that when an officer is overworked it can affect his safety and job performance which could lead to accidents and increased liability to the city. " Let's say an officer works at six o'clock at night to six in the morning. He has to go to court at nine o'clock. He sits in court from nine a.m. until two or three in the afternoon, then he's got to come back at six that night and work until six the next morning. That creates stress and fatigue which can cause the officer's reaction time to slow down and his decision making process to be impaired. It can shorten his patience, he can become irritable, and that can affect his job performance."

Alderman Steve White, who is now police commissioner, said he wanted more time to study the issue but Alderman Tonya Sullivan later made a motion that the city advertise for the hiring of one certified police officer. "I make a motion that we advertise for a full time officer to try to alleviate the $60,000 to $70,000 spent per year in overtime. Alderman Willie Thomas seconded the motion and Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr. voted with them. Aldermen White and Cecil Burger voted "no".

Meanwhile, in other business, the aldermen voted unanimously to approve Mayor Hendrixson's appointments to various city boards.

Alderman Burger was appointed to serve as the city council's representative on the Smithville Electric System Board while Dr. W.E. Vanatta was re-appointed to a new term as a citizen member. Burger will serve for two years, through June 30th, 2010 and Vanatta for four years, through June 30th, 2012.

Alderman White was appointed to serve as the city council's representative on the Smithville Planning Commission for two years and Wallace Caldwell will serve as a citizen member for four years.

Paul Hardeman was named to the Board of Zoning Appeals as a citizen member through June 30th, 2012

Alderman White was also appointed to serve as the city council's representative on the E-911 board for two years.

The council gave approval for the city to include seized and surplus property to be sold at auction along with the Sheriff's Department's surplus sale to be held on September 27th.

Alderman Sullivan moved that the city obtain specs for playground equipment for the city park on Smith Road, since funds are in the budget for the project. The vote was unanimous.

Sullivan also thanked the city employees including Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, Public Works Director Kevin Robinson, and the police department " for the excellent job performed during the Jamboree. We appreciate their efforts and work. It wouldn't be successful without the help of the city workers."

Mayor Hendrixson added his thanks saying "they did a wonderful job and I appreciate them too."

Hunter Hendrixson also thanked the volunteer fire department and expressed his appreciation to Riverwatch and Evins Mill Nursery for allowing the city to use their carts for the trash detail during the Jamboree.

County Fire Department Has Busy Week

July 7, 2008
Dwayne Page
County firefighters battle blaze at the home of Nichole Boehm

County firefighters battle blaze at the home of Nichole Boehm

The DeKalb County Fire Department has had a busy week.

A Wednesday night fire destroyed a single wide mobile home at 705 Johnson Chapel Road, belonging to Barbara McHugh. She had the home rented to Nichole Boehm.

Boehm was not at home when the fire started. She had already left to go to work.

Someone at the Cedar House Restaurant nearby saw smoke coming from the home and called 911.

Members of the Midway, Cookeville Highway, and Short Mountain Highway Stations responded along with the fire department's equipment truck. The Cassville Fire Department from White County provided mutual aid assistance with a tanker truck.

The home and it's contents were lost in the fire. The cause of the blaze is undetermined.

County Firefighters answered four calls on Friday.

Members of the Blue Springs Station responded to a report of a structure fire at 5:13 p.m. at the home of Jewel Redman at 7592 McMinnville Highway. A small fire started in a breaker box, but Mr. Redman quickly extinguished it with a pan of water. There was apparently no significant fire damage but firefighters ventilated the house.

Also on Friday, at 7:20 p.m., a fire was reported in a detached garage at the residence of Wayne and Doris Malone at 802 Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown. The Liberty Station responded. The fire apparently started in a trash can from an unknown source, but the Malone's were at home and were able to extinguish the blaze with little damage.

Later that night, at 9:48 p.m., firefighters responded to the home of Andrea Restrepo at 1024 Cook Road, Liberty, where a blaze had begun in the kitchen. Firefighters were able to contain the fire and there was no other damage to the home. Restrepo suffered smoke inhalation and was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS before being transported to DeKalb Community Hospital for further treatment.

The Liberty, Short Mountain Highway, Dowelltown truck (main station), tanker, and equipment truck came to the scene.

Firefighters from the Johnson's Chapel Station were called to set up a helicopter landing zone at 10:20 p.m. Friday night after a 66 year old woman suffered a snake bite on her left ankle near the cabin where she was staying in the Sligo area. She was airlifted from near the scene and flown by a helicopter ambulance to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Her name was unavailable.

(Photo provided by Fire Department Photographer Callie Matthews). Click on picture to see larger image.

Liberty Man Arrested by Sheriff's Department

July 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

A Liberty man was arrested on drug, theft, and other charges last week by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department after officers responded to a hit and run in Dowelltown and a disturbance in Liberty.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 22 year old Stephen Hunter Pugh of Sweetwater Road, Liberty was charged Tuesday with violation of probation, failure to appear (two counts), resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property, theft of property under $500.00, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Sheriff Ray says deputies received a call on East Main Street in Dowelltown about a hit and run. When officers arrived on the scene, the owner gave them a description of the vehicle. While there, the deputies received another call about a disturbance at a business in Liberty. Upon their arrival in Liberty, officers talked with the complainant, who advised that Pugh had come to the victim's residence on Jimmy Malone Road in Liberty inquiring about scrap metal. When the victim told Pugh they had no scrap metal to give to him he started to leave, but jumped out of his truck, loaded aluminum guttering into his vehicle, and fled the scene. The victim followed him to a market in Liberty.

Deputies found Pugh in a bathroom in the store, He allegedly admitted that he had just injected Dilaudid into his arm and threw a hypodermic syringe into the trash can. Deputies saw blood on Pugh's arm and were able to retrieve the syringe. While Deputies were trying to handcuff Pugh, he began resisting to the point where the deputies could not cuff him. After a brief struggle, Pugh was cuffed and taken in for booking. Deputies also had two warrants on Pugh for violation of probation which were served on him. Pugh is being held without bond for the violation of probation and failure to appear. Pugh will appear in General Session's Court on July 17th.

Meanwhile, 26 year old Sabina Solano of Morgan Dive Smithville was arrested on a sealed indictment for Sale of a Schedule II Drug (Dilaudid) and Delivery of a Schedule II Drug (Dilaudid). Solano was indicted in the last Sheriff's Department Drug Round Up in April. Solano was also arrested on two charges of failure to appear. Solano's bond was set at $10,000 on the indictment. No bond was set on the failure to appear warrants. She will appear in court on July 18th.

Amateur Radio Special Event Station Successful

July 7, 2008

The DeKalb County Amateur Radio Club conducted a Special Event Station at the 37th Annual Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Craft Festival on Saturday, July 5th, 2008. The station was setup at the front entrance of the Justin Potter Library during the early morning hours on Saturday. Antennas were assembled, radios were properly checked, and transmissions were begun just before 8:00 AM local time. Operations took place in the 20 meter, 40 meter, and 10 meter Amateur Radio bands, and the station was publicized in Amateur Radio magazines QST and CQ-Amateur Radio and the club website at http://www.dcarc.drivehq.com/.

The station contacted 167 total Amateur Radio Stations in 33 States, and 4 Provinces in Canada. The most distant station contacted was in Hawaii, this year was the first time a Hawaiian station had been contacted. Other interesting contacts included the Ham Station on the Battleship USS New Jersey anchored in Camden, NJ and now a museum. Also contacted was the Ham Station at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC and two different Science Centers in Arizona and Toronto, Ontario Canada.

Amateur Radio Operator Guests included the following: N4HWL – Ken Tenpenny – Murfreesboro, TN; KH6AD – Bob Soare – Smithville, TN; KJ4BQK – Carl Wachsman – Smithville, TN; KI4UUP – Andrew Thomas – Crossville, TN; W4GKM - Nick Smith – Crossville, TN; and AG4VF – Bruce Newberry – Pegram, TN.

Participants of the station included local Amateur Radio Operators:
KG4BTO - Joe Ferrell; KF4QNT - Kevin Neely; and KC4GUG - Freddy Curtis.

Pictures of the Special Event Station can be viewed at the club’s website at: http://www.dcarc.drivehq.com/.

The local club looks forward to operating another special event station at next years Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Craft Festival. The club would like to offer its thanks to Jamboree Coordinator - Mr. Neil Dudney, Justin Potter Librarian - Mrs. Kathy Hendrixson, and Smithville Postmaster Mr. Michael Lynn for their support of this activity.

The DeKalb County Amateur Radio Club is an organization of Amateur Radio operators from DeKalb and Surrounding Counties and is an affiliated club of the American Radio Relay League. The next club meeting will be on Thursday, August 28th, 2008 - 6:30 PM at the Justin Potter Library. Any person interested in Amateur Radio is invited to attend.

Neil Dudney to Retire as President and Coordinator of Fiddler's Jamboree

July 5, 2008
Dwayne Page

Neil Dudney will soon be retiring as President and Coordinator of the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival, a position he has held for sixteen years.

A plaque was presented to Dudney Saturday night on stage prior to the beginning of the finals competition.

The plaque reads "This plaque is presented to Neil Dudney for 16 years of service to the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival as President and Coordinator. Your hard work and dedication have helped preserve Appalachian music and crafts for future generations. Your efforts will long be remembered "

Dudney received the plaque from the man expected to be his successor as Jamboree President and Coordinator, Jack Barton, who is currently assistant Jamboree Coordinator.

Dudney told WJLE Saturday night that he will continue to be a part of the Jamboree, serving as an assistant and advisor.

Dudney is one of the founders of the festival. Up until he was named President and Coordinator, Dudney served as sound engineer for the Fiddler's Jamboree.

Dudney's wife, children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren joined him on stage as he received his award.

(Click on picture to see larger image)

Eric Vick Named Grand Champion Fiddler of 37th Jamboree

July 5, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Grand Champion Fiddler of the 37th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival is Eric Vick of Lyles, Tennessee.

Vick won the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award Saturday night after the Grand Finale Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler.

Vick made it to the fiddle off by winning the Junior Fiddling competition and he won the Grand Championship by beating the winner of the Senior Fiddling contest and defending champion from last year, Ped Scruggs of Hartsville.

The two day festival came to a close at 11:00 p.m. Saturday night.

Other winners in the Saturday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree are as follows:

Junior Fiddlers (Ages 13-39): First Place- Eric Vick of Lyles, Tennessee; Second Place- Gailanne Amundsen of Longwood, Florida; and Third Place- Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro

Junior Old-Time Appalachian Flatfoot Dance (Ages up to 39): First Place- Justin Frazor of Smyrna; Second Place- Woody Stephenson of Nashville; and Third Place- Jacob Campbell of Murfreesboro.

Senior Old-Time Appalachian Flatfoot Dance (Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Michael Oliver of Hartsville; Second Place- Jay Bland of Kennesaw, Georgia; and Third Place-Edward Adams of Lebanon.

Senior Buck Dancing (Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Michael Oliver of Hartsville; Second Place- Eileen Stewart of Murfreesboro; and Third Place- Darrin Stryker of Crossville.

Senior Clogging (Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Michael Oliver of Hartsville; Second Place- Sherry Guenther of Monterey; and Third Place- Tammy Scruggs Reed of Hartsville.

Bluegrass Banjo: First Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg; Second Place- Sarah Ward of Columbia; and Third Place- Chuck Holcomb of Winchester.

Bluegrass Band: First Place- Crosswind of Olive Hill, Tennessee; Second Place- Grass Cutters of Cookeville; and Third Place- Blue Tradition of Murfreesboro.

Senior Fiddlers ( Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Ped Scruggs of Hartsville. Second Place- Delmer Holland of Waverly; and Third Place- R.B. Scruggs of Hartsville.

Square Dancing: First Place- Little Texas of Franklin; Second Place- Rocky Top Revue of Franklin; and Third Place-Rhythm-N-Motion of Cookeville.

Indiana Boy Wins Jamboree Fiddling Championship for Beginners

July 5, 2008
Dwayne Page

An Indiana boy took home this year's top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners.

Cole McCracken of Fredricksburg, Indiana was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler Saturday and won the coveted James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award, named for the man who started the children's competition during the 1980's as part of the annual Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

Meanwhile Grant Rigney of Normandy, Tennessee received the "Entertainer of the Year" Award, which is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition.

The National Championship for Country Musician Beginners showcases the talents of children up to age twelve in seven categories of competition.

This year's winners are as follows:

Fiddle: First Place-Cole McCracken of Fredricksburg, Indiana; Second Place- Grant Rigney of Normandy, Tennessee; and Third Place- Brandon Shull of Lancaster, Ohio.

Buck Dancing: First Place- Kelly Eicher of Allensville, Kentucky; Second Place- Keley Tomlin of Springfield, Tennessee; and Third Place- Caroline Dean of Greenbrier, Tennessee.

Clogging: First Place- Sierra Tomlin of Springfield; Second Place- Keley Tomlin of Springfield; and Third Place- Raygan Sellers of Ashland City.

Dobro Guitar: First Place- Grant Rigney of Normandy; Second Place- Tyler Sellers of Ashland City; and Third Place- Adam Keckritz of Tullahoma..

Mandolin: First Place- Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana; Second Place- Grant Rigney of Normandy; and Third Place- Tyler Sellers of Ashland City.

Five String Banjo: First Place- Daniel Arrick of Pleasantville, Tennessee; Second Place- Adam Keckritz of Tullahoma; and Third Place- Cara DiGiovanni of Greenbrier

Flat Top Guitar: First Place- Abby Ward of Columbia; Second Place- Jessie Hester of Chapmansboro, Tennessee; and Third Place- Grant Rigney of Normandy.

Kentucky Man Overall Winner in Fiddler 5K

July 5, 2008
Dwayne Page

34 year old Christopher England of Murray, Kentucky was the overall winner of the 2008 Fiddler 5K race held Saturday morning in Smithville.

England completed the 5K in 16 minutes and 30 seconds, a new record, beating the old course record by 33 seconds.

Meanwhile, 17 year old Sara Tarashima of Richmond, Indiana was the top overall female, with a time of 21 minutes and 46 seconds.

20 year old Lee Davis of Birmingham, Alabama had the overall best time in the One-Mile Fun Run, at 7 minutes and 29 seconds.

In the age group, 12 and younger, 7 year old Ethan Jenkins of Smithville had the best time of 9 minutes and 23 seconds in the One Mile Fun Run, followed in second place by Bill Miller of Smithville, and Daniel Puckett of Smithville, who came in third place

A total of 277 runners competed in this year's Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run, also a new record.

Among the runners was Staff Sergeant Eric Sanders, who is home from Iraq for some rest and relaxation. He scheduled his leave so that he could participate in the Fiddler 5K. Sanders arrived home Friday.

All proceeds from the Fiddler 5 K and One Mile Fun Run will go to benefit DeKalb County Habitat for Humanity.

(Click on picture to see larger image)

Senator Beavers Presents Flags to Jamboree Visitors from Australia and California

July 4, 2008
Dwayne Page
Senator Beavers Presents Flags to Jamboree Visitors from Australia

Senator Beavers Presents Flags to Jamboree Visitors from Australia

State Senator Mae Beavers presented a United States flag to Lee Ann Sufann from Australia and a Tennessee State flag to Allen Roark from San Jose, California during the Fiddler's Jamboree on Friday night

The flags go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here. (Click on picture to see larger image)

Except for an hour rain delay Friday afternoon, the first day of the 37th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival ran non-stop from about 8:30 a.m. until 11:22 p.m. Friday night.

Preliminaries were held in fifteen categories of music and dance competition followed by the finals featuring the top three acts in each event.

The following are the winners in each category:

Old Time Appalachian Folk Singing (Solo/Duet): First Place- Gailanne Amundsen of Longwood, Florida; Second Place- Bailey Cooke of Nashville; and Third Place- Sierra Tomlin of Springfield.

Flat Top Guitar: First Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna; Second Place- Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama; and Third Place- Casey Campbell of Kingston Springs.

Junior Clogging (Ages 13-39): First Place- Melissa Pack of Lebanon; Second Place- Chris Stewart of Lyles, Tennessee; and Third Place- Joey Jonte of Dickson..

Junior Buck Dancing (Ages 13-39): First Place- Justin Frazor of Smyrna; Second Place- Jacob Campbell of Murfreesboro; and Third Place Kory Posey of Murfreesboro

Dobro Guitar: First Place- Earl Grubbs of Murfreesboro; Second Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna; and Third Place- Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama.

Mountain Dulcimer: First Place- Bobby Nobley of LaGrange, Georgia; Second Place- Isaac Vick of Lyles, Tennessee; and Third Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna.

Hammer Dulcimer: First Place- Howard Friedman of Knoxville; Second Place- Lewis Taylor of Ringgold, Georgia; and Third Place- Chris Brown of Beechgrove, Tennessee

Novelty Event: First Place- Pa Fields and the Whambangers of Crossville; Second Place- Jim Owens of Deatsville, Alabama; and Third Place- Wes Langlois of Nashville.

Old Time Fiddle Band: First Place- Imer Holland Blue Creek Ramblers of Waverly, Tennessee; Second Place- Spring Creek of Lester, Alabama; and Third Place- The Lickabees of Nashville.

Autoharp: First Place- Bobby Nobley of LaGrange, Georgia and Second Place- Austin Vick of Lyles, Tennessee. There was no third place winner.

Gospel Singing (Solo): First Place-Emily Dean of Greenbrier; Second Place- Samantha Lewis of Smithville; and Third Place- Sierra Tomlin of Springfield.

Country Harmonica: First Place- Ronnie Murphy of Oakland, Kentucky; Second Place- Lewis Taylor of Ringgold, Georgia; and Third Place- Isaac Vick of Lyles, Tennessee

Old Time Banjo: First Place- Eric Vick of Lyles; Second Place- Rebeka Weiler of Murfreesboro; and Third Place- Benjamin Bateson of Murfreesboro

Gospel Singing (Duet, Trio, & Quartet): First Place- Eastern Sky of Morrow, Ohio; Second Place-Sarah and Danny of Dowelltown; and Third Place- Jubal's Kin of Longwood, Florida

Mandolin:First Place- Bobby Nobley of LaGrange, Georgia; Second Place- Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama; and Third Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna.

The Saturday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree begins at 9:00 a.m.

Fiddler's Jamboree Presents Craft Awards

July 4, 2008
Dwayne Page

Nolan & Susan Pazin (Best of Show)

Fiddler's Jamboree Craft awards were presented Friday.

Nolan and Susan Pazin of Baxter received the "Best of Show" award for their wood working crafts.

The "Best Appalachian Craft Award" went to Ron Hyndman of Mount Juliet for his gourds.

Jared Weaver of Lenior City was the recipient of the "Best Newcomer Award" for his dulcimers

The "Best of Display Booth" award went to Darren Jenkins of Trade, Tennessee for his birdhouses.

(Click on picture to see larger image) Look for pictures of other Jamboree craft winners on our special Jamboree picture page.


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