Local News Articles

THP Now Says Watertown Man Still Clinging to Life After Thursday Night Crash

January 7, 2011
Dwayne Page
Watertown Man Clings to Life After his Car Splits Apart in Three Auto Crash
Watertown ManClings to Life After his Car Splits Apart in Three Auto Crash
Watertown Man Clings to Life After his Car Splits Apart in Three Auto Crash
Four Injured In 1994 Honda Accord
One Injured in 2000 Ford Focus

A 42 year old Watertown man, who was initially reported by the Tennessee Highway Patrol as having died from injuries in a three car crash near Alexandria Thursday night, is apparently still clinging to life in Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol reported to WJLE around midnight that Vanderbilt hospital staff had told him Timothy Estes had died. Now, Trooper Jennings says he has been informed by Vanderbilt hospital that Estes is still alive but on life support.

Six other people were also injured in the crash which occurred on Highway 70 just east of Alexandria near the stock barn. Central dispatch received the call at 6:31 p.m.

Others injured were 47 year old David Glenn Cole of Watertown, 30 year old Brandyn Lee Wright of Smithville, and 37 year old Shirley Ann Hardy, 30 year old Jeff Bush, 16 year old Dustin Lee Hardy, and 12 year old Devyn Wayne Jones all of Rutledge, Alabama.

According to Trooper Jennings, Ms Hardy was traveling west on U.S. 70 in a blue 1994 Honda Accord when a maroon 1999 Chrysler Sebring, driven by Estes, came up behind her at a high rate of speed. According to Ms. Hardy, the driver seemed anxious to pass her, making more than one attempt to do so. When Estes finally pulled into the eastbound lane to pass Hardy, he found himself in the path of an approaching black 2000 Ford Focus, driven by Wright. The Estes car struck Wright's vehicle, causing Hardy's car to also be involved in the crash.

Estes's car ripped apart in the wreck. The front half of the car came to rest across the westbound lane, while the back section was off to the side of the highway. Both Estes and his passenger, Cole were ejected as neither was wearing a seat belt.

Estes was airlifted from the scene by an Air Evac helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Cole was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital with serious injuries and later taken by ground ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital.

Hardy and her passengers, Bush, Jones, and Dustin Hardy were all taken by private vehicle to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment. Wright was treated and released at the hospital.

According to Trooper Jennings, alcohol was present in the Estes vehicle and charges are pending against Cole, who owned the car being driven by Estes.

Meanwhile, Ms Hardy was issued a citation for failing to carry a drivers license and for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). Ms. Hardy, a former resident of Smithville, was enroute to Carthage to visit a family member, according to Trooper Jennings.

Trooper Jennings was assisted in the investigation by THP Lieutenant Randy Maynard and members of the THP Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). Others on the scene were members of the Main Station, Liberty, and Rescue unit of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, Sheriff Patrick Ray and other members of the DeKalb County sheriff's department, Alexandria police and fire departments, and first responders.

Highway 70 in that area was closed to traffic for several hours during the crash investigation and cleanup, forcing motorists to have to take alternate routes.

January is National Blood Donor Month

January 6, 2011

January is National Blood Donor Month

Blood Assurance is in need of O negative, B negative donations. Blood drives are scheduled for Friday, January 28th at the Family Medical Center from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.; at the Smithville Senior Citizens Center at city hall from noon until 2:00 p.m..; and at DeKalb Community Hospital from 2:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

As part of your new year's resolution, Blood Assurance encourages area residents to consider giving the gift of life in 2011. According to America's Blood Centers, if all blood donors gave blood one additional time each year, blood shortages would be a rare occurrence. The current average is two donations per year.

Blood Assurance is currently experiencing a shortage of type O negative and B negative blood donations.

The holidays and winter weather are just two factors that can affect the blood supply. Illnesses such as the flu can temporarily prevent regular donors from giving blood, while the holidays can cause a decrease in the number of blood drives held at schools and local businesses, particularly during inclement weather.

What remains constant is the need for blood. Blood Assurance is the only source of blood donations for more than 50 hospitals and healthcare facilities in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

For a list of area blood drives this month, please visit www.bloodassurance.org/blooddrives.

All donors will receive a complimentary snack and t-shirt. Visitors at any Blood Assurance location or blood drive in January can register to win a $500 grocery gift card to the store of their choice. Three winners will be selected at random.

For more information about donating blood, please visit www.bloodassurance.org.

Adcock Re-Elected to DeKalb FSA County Committee

January 6, 2011

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, says the DeKalb FSA County Committee met in regular session on Tuesday, December 7 to canvass and tabulate the ballots received in the 2010 Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 3 County Committee Election. The deadline to return ballots was December 6.

Timmie Adcock was re-elected to serve as a member on the Committee representing LAA-3. His third and final term began January 1, 2011.

In addition, the Committee met on January 4, 2011 for its Organizational Meeting. The Committee selected Timmie Adcock to serve as Chairperson, Jack Campbell to serve as Vice-Chairperson, and Mary Sanders to serve as Member. The Committee meets on the 2nd. Tuesday of each month at the DeKalb County USDA Service Center located at 647 Bright Hill Rd.

Green says that the DeKalb FSA County Committee and office staff wishes to express their appreciation to voters in LAA-3 who participated in the election by voting and returning their ballots. "The local County Committees are a very important part of Farm Service Agency's program delivery and administrative processes. I do not know of any other agency providing federal programs that can say that the delivery and decision making efforts are made on the local level by a farmer-elected committee," added Green.

For more information about FSA's County Committees or other program inquiries, call 597-8225 (extension 2) or come by the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency office at 647 Bright Hill Street in Smithville. You can also visit the agency’s web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

Body of Elderly Man Sent to State Medical Examiner for Autopsy

January 4, 2011
Dwayne Page

Local authorities were called to the residence of a well known elderly man Tuesday morning after he was found dead on his property in the Snow Hill area

Dead is 77 year old Price Harrison.

Central dispatch received a call at 11:38 a.m. of a man found deceased outside of his home. The body was apparently discovered by farm hands

At this time authorities do not know whether he died of injuries in a fall or due to natural causes, but the body has been sent to the state medical examiner for an autopsy to help determine the cause.of death.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department is being assisted in the case by the TBI

2010 County Fire Incident Responses Down

January 4, 2011
Brad Mullinax

The DeKalb County Fire Department has compiled its 2010 Incident Response Summary.
The best news in this report is that DeKalb County did not record any fire-related deaths in 2010. Overall, 2010 fire incident responses in the county were down by 82 calls from 2009. In 2009, the department responded to a total of 474 fire incidents. The department responded to 392 fire incident responses in 2010. This count does not include the 408 rural medical first responder calls that county fire department personnel responded to.

With DeKalb County's rural population growing at rates higher than the cities' population growth within DeKalb County, the department continues to strive to prevent fires and fire related incidents by using prevention and educational measures. DeKalb County Fire Department's Fire Prevention and Safety Officer, Lt. Brad Mullinax, says that preventing incidents is much more economical than responding to them.

The following is a breakdown of each type of fire incident response that the department responded to in 2010:

Incident Type:
64 (2009)
60 (2010)

73 (2009)
55 (2010)

Auto Wrecks:
151 (2009)
124 (2010)

Vehicle Fires:
36 (2009)
15 (2010)

Landing Zones:
20 (2009)
35 (2010)

25 (2009)
18 (2010)

64 (2009)
59 (2010)

41 (2009)
26 (2010)

474 (2009)
392 (2010)

Still No Action on Future of City Golf Course

January 4, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Smithville aldermen have still not taken action on the future of the golf course.

During Monday night's city council meeting, Alderman Steve White mentioned that the greens would be re-seeded and fertilized once the weather warms up. "The seeding and fertilizing of the greens hasn't been done yet. They're waiting on some warmer days in a row. Otherwise if they put the seed down it wouldn't germinate properly so it would be just wasted money if we did it right now, until we have a few 40 to 50 degree days in a row."

White also made a motion that bids be advertised once specs are drawn up on repairs and maintenance of the municipal swimming pool. The board approved White's motion. "I met with one of the guys who has done work on the pool in the past. With it (pool) empty we needed to see how bad it was. He looked at it. I think what we need to do is go ahead and advertise and get some bids in that way we can get a jump on the pool because it will take quite a bit of time for them to finish it. There's quite a few cracks (in the pool). There are some softer spots or leaks and some structure cracks. All of those have to be repaired and then of course it'll need the gel coating. That should hold it for approximately ten years", said White.

Alderman Aaron Meeks also mentioned that some maintenance work will have to be done soon on the clubhouse, but no action was taken on that Monday night. "From the visit we made to the golf course, there's going to be some repairs that's going to be required on the club house. It's not been maintained through neglect or whatever, I don't know the reason and I wouldn't begin to establish a reason or cause but there's going to have to be some renovations and improvements made to the clubhouse at some point in time too", said Meeks.

With no tenant or anyone to manage it, the municipal golf course remains closed for now.

Meanwhile, the aldermen approved the list of officers and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department. Chief Charlie Parker included the request in his monthly report to the board. Parker said the department held it's election of officers about an hour before the meeting of the mayor and aldermen Monday night. The following officers and members were approved by the department: Charlie Parker-Chief, Hoyte Hale-Deputy Chief, Jeff Wright-Captain and Training Officer, Danny Poss- Lieutenant, Jon Poss-Lieutenant, Donnie Cantrell-Lieutenant, Anthony Wright-Lieutenant and firefighters Wink Brown, Charles Young, Wallace Caldwell, Gary Johnson, Randall Hunt, Stephanie Wright, Glen Lattimore, Ronald Whitaker, Patrick Edge, and Greg Bess- Photographer.

Chief Parker added that "December starts a new year for the fire department. We had a busy December with a total of seven alarm calls, three motor vehicle accidents, eight landing zones, and two structure fires."

Police Chief Randy Caplinger, Bobby Pinegar of the sewer plant and Public Works Director Kevin Robinson all gave their monthly reports to the mayor and aldermen.

Concerned citizen Gary Durham addressed the mayor and aldermen briefly asking them to again consider taking action to update or develop a new twenty year plan setting goals to meet future needs. Durham said he had surveyed 44 city residents and all had expressed support for a twenty year plan. Durham added that "it's up to you to do what the people want, or what you want." Mayor Taft Hendrixson said the issue will be referred to the city planning commission which meets the first Thursday night of each month.

Unless there is a need for a special meeting, the mayor and aldermen will not convene again in regular session until Monday, February 7th at 7:00 p.m. There will be no meeting on Monday, January 17th due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday.

Woman and Boyfriend Charged with Child Abuse and Neglect

January 3, 2011
Dwayne Page
Lois Nicole Cobble
Carlos Lynn Godsey
Ray Darnell Underwood
Kenny B. Stults

A DeKalb County woman and her boyfriend were charged Saturday with child abuse and neglect after her four year old child was found with bruises during a hospital visit.

24 year old Lois Nicole Cobble and 31 year old Carlos Lynn Godsey of Cleveland Way, Smithville are each under a $10,000 bond and they will be in General Sessions Court on January 13th

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Cobble had taken the child to River Park Hospital in McMinnville on Saturday, January 1st for another medical reason when hospital staff apparently noticed bruises on the child's legs, back, butt, and head. The child also smelled strongly of urine.

Warren County authorities and members of the Department of Children Services were called initially. A further investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department revealed that the child had been whipped excessively with a belt and switch.

Meanwhile in another case, 19 year old Ray Darnell Underwood of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, December 29th, deputies checked out a tip about meth possibly being manufactured at a residence on Toad Road. The officers received consent to search Underwood's residence. Underwood accompanied the deputies to a back bedroom where they found a two liter bottle of components along with forty three other items used to manufacture meth.

Underwood will be in court on January 6th. He is under a $50,000 bond.

51 year old Kenny B. Stults of Pine Creek Drive, Smithville was charged on Thursday, December 30th with theft over $1,000.

According to Sheriff Ray, on December 2nd Stults allegedly took from a location on Cookeville Highway, a backhoe bucket, a hydraulic cylinder, and two- 48 inch forklift forks all valued at over $1,000 without the owner's consent.

Stults is under a $10,000 bond and he will be in court on February 10th.

40 year old Randy Allen Caldwell of Young Ridge Road, Sparta is charged with driving on a suspended license. Bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on January 5th. Sheriff Ray said that on December 28th, Caldwell was operating a motor vehicle on Riley Avenue when an officer spotted him. Having prior knowledge that Caldwell's license were suspended, the deputy stopped him. A computer check of the license tag revealed that the vehicle was stolen out of Knoxville. Caldwell's license were suspended on April 21st, 2008 in Smith County for failure to satisfy a citation. The sheriff's department is still investigating the case of the stolen vehicle.

31 year old Christopher David Hall of Anthony Avenue, Smithville was issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia. His court date is January 20th. According to Sheriff Ray, on December 28th a deputy was conducting an investigation at a residence on Anthony Avenue and during a search, the officer found in Hall's bedroom several needles, straws, and spoons with residue believed to have been used for drug paraphernalia.

31 year old Christopher Pearson Myers of Hayes Lane Road, Lancaster is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law for failing to submit to a blood test. Myers is under a $1,000 bond and his court date is January 20th. Sheriff Ray said that on December 28th an officer stopped to assist a motorist, Myers, on Vaughn Lane. The vehicle was partially in the road. The deputy asked Myers to push the automobile off the road. Myers got in the vehicle and drove it about a quarter of a mile. The officer reported that Myers was unsteady on his feet. He was very jittery and unbalanced. Myers performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks.

35 year old Jeffery Spencer Stacey of Keltonburg Road was issued a citation for driving on a suspended license and violation of the light law. His court date is set for January 6th. On December 29th, Stacey was stopped for having a headlight out on his vehicle. A computer check revealed that his drivers license were suspended for failure to satisfy a citation.

19 year old Ashley Marie Singleton of Eagle Creek Road, Smithville was issued a citation on December 29th for violation of the light law and violation of the registration law. Her court date is set for January 12th. Singleton allegedly tried to avoid being pulled over by the officer twice but he stopped her after she turned onto Dogwood Circle. Her vehicle had no working tail lights.

21 year old Jamie Renee Jones of East Cox Avenue, Gainesboro is charged with driving under the influence. Her bond is $1,500 and her court date is January 20th. On December 29th, Jones was operating a vehicle on Highway 56 when she was pulled over. A witness told the arresting officer that Jones had trouble keeping the automobile in her travel lane. Jones also had a two year old child in the vehicle with her. The officer reported that Jones had pin pointed pupils and slurred speech and she performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. She did submit to a blood test.

28 year old Matthew Allen Baker of Pine Orchard Road, Smithville was issued a citation for driving on a revoked license and violation of the registration law. His court date is January 6th. On December 30th, Baker was stopped on Highway 70 west for improper registration and driving on a revoked license. The officer had prior knowledge that Baker's license were revoked. A computer check confirmed that Baker's license were revoked and that the tags did not belong on this vehicle.

28 year old Christopher Sam White is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on January 6th. White is being held without bond for a violation of a drug court order. On December 30th, White was a passenger of a vehicle stopped at Hardees parking lot in Smithville for a traffic violation. After doing a background computer check on White, the officer learned that he was in violation of a drug court order. White gave the officer consent to search. A plastic bag containing methamphetamine was found in the door panel of the vehicle where White was sitting. According to the deputy, White admitted that the bag belonged to him.

20 year old Jon Archer Smith of Highway 70 east, Smithville is charged with violation of an order of protection. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on January 13th. Smith was arrested on December 30th at the Lake Motel on Highway 70 east where he was in a room with a female, who has an order of protection against him.

26 year old Wallace Marlon Rackley of North Congress Boulevard is charged with domestic assault and resisting arrest. His bond is $7,500 bond and he will be in court on January 13th. On January 1st Rackley allegedly assaulted his girlfriend at a residence on Page Drive, leaving bruises on both of her arms and her neck where he had allegedly choked her. While deputies were at the residence to serve the warrant, Rackley allegedly refused to comply and he had to be taken down by the officers in order to handcuff him. After placing the cuffs on him, Rackley allegedly then tried to kick out the window in the back of the patrol car. He also refused to comply with officers after arriving at the jail and he had to be put down again.

34 year old Antonio Campos Lopez of Fall Creek Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on January 13th. On January 1st, the sheriff's department received a call of a person who had passed out behind the wheel of an automobile at a business on Highway 70 west. After arriving on the scene, the officer did a welfare check on the man in the vehicle, Lopez. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet.

School Board to Conduct Annual Evaluation of Itself and Director

January 3, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education will conduct an annual performance evaluation of the Director of Schools and a School Board self evaluation on Thursday night, January 6th at the Board of Education Building.

Director Mark Willoughby's current contract with the board is scheduled to expire June 30th, 2011. His
original contract with the board took effect July 1st, 2006. The board must notify Willoughby by March 31st if it intends to extend or renew his employment contract.

The same basic instruments for making the evaluations will be used as in the past. A workshop evaluating the director will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed at 7:00 p.m. by a special called session to conduct the school board self-evaluation.

At the workshop, the school board members will evaluate Director Willoughby on his relationship with the board, community relationships, staff and personnel relationships, educational leadership, business and finance, and strategic planning skills. Board members are to make a check mark on the four page evaluation form in each of 52 areas, if they believe expectations have been met. Spaces are also provided on the form for board members to write comments.

Willoughby's contract states that the evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than January 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board will review the Director's performance, progress toward established goals, and the working relationship between the two parties.

In the self evaluation, each board member must rate the board's performance on a scale from one to six in team building, decision making, governance, school improvement, community, planning, communications, motivation, influence, and policy. A score of "one" is the lowest and a score of "6" is the highest. They must rate themselves on how much is being done now in each of 46 areas and how important those issues are to them.

Board Chairman Charles Robinson has also called for a board workshop on Saturday, February 12th at 8:00 a.m. to set future goals. "In taking into consideration how we evaluate ourselves and our director and what we want to achieve for the next school year in trying to remain a board of distinction, we will have workshop to address our strengths and weaknesses and how we can improve."

With Schools Scheduled to Re-open, THP Urges Motorists to Exercise Caution Near Buses

January 3, 2011
Dwayne Page

With schools set to re-open on Tuesday, January 4th in DeKalb County, the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) reminds motorists of the importance of school bus safety awareness and education.

"Riding the school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation; it's when children get on or off the bus that causes concern," said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. "That is why it is critical for parents, teachers, and school administrators to stress the importance of crossing in view of the school bus driver, and to instruct children on other safety tips that will keep them out of harm's way."

Each day, some 480,000 school buses transport more than 26 million children to and from school and school related activities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. An average of 19 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year – five occupants of school buses and 14 pedestrians. Most of those killed are children five to seven years old.

The "danger zone" for a school bus is the area 10 feet around the vehicle; the two most dangerous places are the front and the right rear tire area of the bus. Children must take care when boarding or leaving the school bus by following these simple rules:

·Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver;

·Be alert to traffic. Check both ways before stepping off the bus;

·Make eye contact with the bus driver, and wait for the bus driver's signal before crossing the street;

·Walk in front of the bus; never walk behind the bus to cross the street;

·Never go under the bus to retrieve something you've dropped;

·Get to the bus stop in plenty of time.

"Educating children on school bus safety is a top priority, but we also want to remind drivers to slow down in school zones and obey the stop arm," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "Our troopers work diligently to enforce traffic laws in the school zone, and will penalize those who blatantly disregard laws designed to protect children."

In Tennessee and in every state, drivers must stop when the stop arm is extended and red lights are flashing.

Between August 1, 2010, and September 30, 2010, State Troopers wrote 343 citations to drivers as part of THP's Back to School Enforcement Campaign. A total of 126 of those drivers were ticketed for speeding in a school zone. In 2009, Troopers issued 5,445 citations in school zones across the state. Of those citations, 973 were speeding violations, while one citation was handed out for passing a stopped school bus.

All school bus drivers in Tennessee must attend an annual training course in order to receive and maintain the school bus endorsement on their Driver License. During the 2009-10 academic year, more than 12,000 school bus drivers received training from the THP Pupil Transportation Unit. Additionally, THP also inspected 10,595 buses to ensure they were in compliance with the established safety requirements.

Students Go Back to School Tuesday

January 3, 2011
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students will be heading back to school Tuesday after taking over two weeks off for the winter break.

The rest of the school calendar is as follows:

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 17th and for President's Day, Monday, February 21st.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 21st-25th and for Good Friday, April 22nd.

Students will not attend on Wednesday, May 25th. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Thursday, May 26. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held Tuesday, March 15th at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 17th at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home on Thursday, January 6th, and Monday, March 14th.

AYP-EOC/Gateway Testing at DCHS will be May 3rd-5th at DCHS and a make-up AYP-EOC/Gateway Test will be May 6th.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 8th

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 1st. Writing Assessment make-up will be February 2nd..

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 13th-20th

(Stockpile Days) Professional Development/Instructional Days will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Monday, January 3rd, and Friday, March 18th. Students will not attend on those days.


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