Local News Articles

City and County Leaders to Conduct Workshop Thursday Night

October 26, 2011
Dwayne Page

County and city leaders will be meeting in a workshop Thursday night in an effort to reach an agreement on whether or not the county should pay the city for the treatment of landfill leachate at the wastewater treatment plant. The meeting is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Smithville City Hall building.

County Mayor Mike Foster and members of the county commission's solid waste committee will meet with Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson and city aldermen to discuss the issue.

As WJLE reported last week, the City of Smithville, since August 2008, has not been paying the county for the disposal of city garbage in the landfill and the county, since March 2009, has not been paying for the treatment of landfill leachate being hauled to the city's waste water treatment plant.

County Mayor Foster told WJLE last week that this non-payment agreement was worked out between he and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson months ago. But according to Mayor Hendrixson, there was no such deal. He said the city's refusal to pay is based on the principle that the county should not be charging Smithville a fee to dump city garbage in the county landfill since city residents are already supporting the operation of the landfill as county taxpayers. That, he said, is double taxation.

Whatever the arrangement has been between the city and county, Smithville Alderman Shawn Jacobs, during last week's city council meeting, asked that city officials revisit the issue with County Mayor Foster in a workshop.

Foster made the announcement of the workshop during Monday night's county commission meeting. "We've kinda had a deal with them for the last couple of years. We were getting a lot of storm water with the new (landfill) cell. There was some discussion about whether or not they (city) should pay for taking their garbage to the landfill. For the last two years we've not been charging them and they've not been charging us for storm water but we need to revisit that. I had sent (the city) a resolution to extend that agreement between the city and the DeKalb County landfill. I had sent it sometime in August but everybody has just been busy. We just need to sit down and agree to whether we charge each other or we don't charge each other and discuss how we're going to do that and rather than operate under a verbal understanding, we need a written agreement either way," said Foster

In July, Foster told WJLE that the county's solid waste fund no longer receives any county property tax money. The fund is supported by revenues derived from payment-in-lieu of taxes, local option sales taxes, hotel-motel tax, bank excise tax, and the wholesale beer tax, etc. Up until two years ago, the solid waste fund was supported by a portion of the property tax rate. Since then, the tax rate previously designated for solid waste, 20 cents, has been added to the general fund.

THP, Chamber of Commerce to Relocate Offices to Courthouse

October 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
County Commissioners David McDowell, Jimmy Poss, and Bradley Hendrix
County Commissioners Jeff Barmes, Marshall Ferrell, Bobby Joines, Jack Barton
County Commissioners John Green, Jerry Adcock, Jerry Scott, Mason Carter

Now that four of the public officials have re-located from the courthouse to the new county administrative building on South Congress Boulevard, the county commission has authorized the assignment of that courthouse space to others, including some who are currently not in the courthouse.

During Monday night's meeting, County Mayor Mike Foster said plans are for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who currently has an office in the old Veteran's Building, to move into the courthouse where the trustee's office had been. The Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to save expense, plans to relocate from its office on the public square to the courthouse, either where the county clerk or register of deeds had been. Foster plans to take the other office. Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack will keep her upstairs offices, but may also get County Mayor Foster's current office for various uses including storage of records.

Second district member Jack Barton said that TBI agent Billy Miller has asked that the county provide space somewhere for a TBI office. Foster added that Paul Cantrell, the county's veterans service officer, needs an office to meet and counsel with veteran's families. Judge Bratten Cook has also requested office space for the drug court.

Seventh district member Jimmy Poss strongly advised that the county take care of all those in the courthouse needing space before assigning all of the available courthouse space to others. Poss said the election commission is in dire need of extra space."I think we should take care of the ones in the courthouse first before we start giving rooms out," said Poss.

Mike Foster responded "We are. We already are"

Poss: "We've got an office right over here (election commission) that's crammed up. Pushed up. And the guy needs room".

Foster: "That's what we're trying to do."

Poss: "I mean, everybody's wanting to come into the courthouse."

Foster: "I don't think everybody is. I think we've got two people that are wanting to. We've also got to look at space for Paul Cantrell. He has been using our conference room and working around me. That's not a good situation for him. Now that he is having to do it all on computer, He is going to have to have space with a computer. He's got to have a locked storage space for veteran's records. That's going to require some space".

The county commission authorized County Mayor Foster to proceed with plans to assign space in the courthouse but to keep the working committees apprised of the moves. The commission also voted to look into the possibility of installing public wi-fi technology in the courthouse.

One Airlifted in Three Vehicle Crash

October 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
1993 Chevy Blazer driven by James Knox with passenger Phylis Thompson
2010 Kia Optima driven by Gregory Baker
2006 Dodge Dakota driven by Cheryl Stewart

One person was airlifted from the scene of a three vehicle crash Tuesday morning on Highway 56 south near Evins Mill Nursery.

Central dispatch received the call at 10:24 a.m.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 46 year old Rebecca Frisbee of Smithville was flown by Air Evac helicopter ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. She was a passenger of a 2006 Dodge Dakota, driven by 60 year old Cheryl Stewart of Smithville.

According to Trooper England, 51 year old James Knox of Dowelltown, driving a 1993 Chevy Blazer south on Highway 56, rear ended a southbound 2010 Kia Optima, driven by 52 year old Gregory Baker of Smithville, who was attempting to turn left onto Webb Lane. After hitting the Baker car, Knox's vehicle crossed into the northbound lane and made an angle impact with Stewart's car.

Knox's mother, 74 year old Phylis Thompson of Smithville, was a passenger with him. Neither Knox, Thompson, nor Stewart were seriously injured. Baker was the only one taken to the hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Trooper England said Knox was charged with violation of the due care law.

In addition to Trooper England, DeKalb EMS, and Air Evac, members of the sheriff's department were on the scene along with the Keltonburg Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Dry County Not So Dry Anymore

October 25, 2011
Dwayne Page
Several businesses in DeKalb County selling liquor by the drink

DeKalb County is a dry county as far as the sale of liquor is concerned.

Even so, several local restaurants are selling liquor and have been for some time, thanks to the state legislature and the "Premier Tourist Resort" act.

Premier Resort Status can be granted by the state to allow the sale of liquor in specific locations regardless of local restrictions.

Business owners, under certain conditions, can qualify to apply for a liquor license with passage of an amendment making them eligible to sell liquor by the drink under the state's "Premier Tourist Resort Act". Once businesses have that authority from the state, they may apply for a liquor license from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. If approved, the license is renewable annually.

The DeKalb County Beer Board, which grants local beer licenses, has no authority over the issuance of liquor licenses by the state.

DeKalb County businesses who currently sell liquor by the drink are the Inn at Evins Mill, the Blue Water Grille at Hurricane Marina, the Fish Lipz restaurant at Pates Ford Marina, and the Company Store near Cove Hollow.

Others who have the authority to apply are Maggie's Landing on Highway 70 at Snow Hill and the restaurant at Sligo Marina

William Cochran, owner of the Inn at Evins Mill, said his establishment first obtained a license to sell beer from the DeKalb County Beer board several years ago and he later decided to seek authority from the state to receive a liquor license. Cochran said he first had to hire a lobbyist to get a bill introduced and passed in the legislature amending the Premier Resort Act giving him the authority to sell liquor ." Unless you are a certified lobbyist yourself, you have to pay someone to lobby on your behalf to make that happen (get legislation passed for authority to apply for a liquor license in a dry county). The lobbyists in this day and time have to work pretty hard to make that happen. We got it (liquor license) in 2007. That year we started to sell wine and I think in 2008 we began to sell mixed drinks. We kind of rolled it out incrementally. We've been selling beer probably ever since we opened back in 1994 so that hasn't changed at all with this permit to sell wine and spirits,' said Cochran.

Although the investment to obtain a liquor license could be viewed as substantial, Cochran said it has been rewarding for his business. "It is an investment that is measured in tens of thousands of dollars rather than just thousands of dollars.. It is an investment that more than pays for itself in the first year. It has been a very important development for us in terms of guest satisfaction and in terms of growing our own revenues and I think the kind of place like we have that caters to the kinds of guests we cater to is the perfect thing. I know there are some people who might be opposed to it but you couldn't have a more insulated, safer, or better environment for the consumption of wines and sprits than a place like ours. You do need to be a guest of the Inn in some capacity to enjoy drinks from our bar, whether that is a dinner guest, an overnight guest, or a guest at a wedding reception or a corporate retreat. We're not the kind of place like a bar where you just show up and saddle up to the bar and order something," said Cochran.

Chief Green Responds to Controversy over Fire at Residence on Lower Helton Road

October 25, 2011
Dwayne Page
Chief Donny Green
Residence of Helen Edwards at 168 Lower Helton Road

A fire at the residence of Helen Edwards at 168 Lower Helton Road just outside the Alexandria city limits Thursday morning has apparently sparked some controversy and misunderstanding.

Central dispatch received the fire call that morning at 9:08 a.m. and dispatched county fire fighters to the scene. The county fire department, while on the scene, later requested mutual aid assistance from members of the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department and they promptly responded. But since the location of the fire was so close to the city limits, some have questioned why the Alexandria Fire Department was not dispatched to the scene much sooner, especially when Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins had radioed a request that the city firefighters be sent immediately. The fire apparently started from the utility room and caused extensive damage to a portion of the home.

Donny Green, DeKalb County Fire Chief, addressed the issue during the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night.

In a prepared statement released to WJLE, Chief Green said that he had spoken with Alexandria Mayor Ria Baker and primarily, there is a misunderstanding among some that the City of Alexandria Fire Department refused to respond to this call. Chief Green says this simply isn't the case. This address is not located in the city limits of Alexandria. Subsequently, proper dispatch protocol was followed by DeKalb County 911 Dispatchers as they dispatched DeKalb County Fire Department to this address. I think the issues of concern have mostly been due to the fact that this address is located near the boundary of the Alexandria city limits and that the City of Alexandria Fire Department was not initially dispatched to this incident.

Chief Green stated that under Tennessee State Law (PUBLIC ACTS, 2004 1 CHAPTER NO. 743), mutual aid assistance can be requested when an agency having jurisdiction determines that additional outside resources are needed to handle the emergency. Nothing in this mutual aid law allows an outside agency to initially be dispatched outside its jurisdiction. The only agreement that allows for initial dispatch of an agency outside its jurisdictional boundary is a formal automatic aid agreement or an inter-local agreement between the two agencies. The City of Alexandria and DeKalb County do not have such agreements in place.

In this particular incident, DeKalb County Fire Department's units were dispatched from Liberty, Temperance Hall, and the Main stations. Upon arrival of our first unit, the DeKalb County Fire Incident Commander conducted a scene size-up and requested mutual aid assistance from the City of Alexandria Fire Department. Alexandria Fire Department was dispatched and arrived on the scene at 9:36 a.m., 25 minutes from the time the fire was initially reported to 911.

According to Chief Green, the sensitive issues of jurisdictional boundaries and applications of mutual aid responses are not new issues in the fire service. In his 25 years in the fire service, he has seen this issue come to light in dealing with incidents across county lines, city limits, and other jurisdictional boundaries. The bottom line is that the mutual aid process must be followed due to legal and liability issues. "There are countless instances where one agency might be closer to an incident than the agency having jurisdictional authority. An example of this would be the DeKalb County High School. We have a station in the county that is located closer to the school than the City of Smithville Fire Department. However, with the school being located in the city limits of Smithville, DeKalb County Fire Department may only respond when requested by the Smithville Fire Department if they request additional and specific resources using the prescribed mutual aid process. We have to follow procedures and the laws," stated Green.

When asked about the possibility of entering into an automatic aid agreement with the City of Alexandria, Chief Green stated that this was certainly a plan that should be explored by the Alexandria City Council and the DeKalb County Commission, in consultation with each governing bodies' attorneys.

Dr. Daniel Hooper Named Pharmacist of the Year at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

October 25, 2011
Dr. Daniel Hooper

For outstanding achievement in the profession of pharmacy, Dr. Daniel Hooper has been awarded Pharmacist of the Year-2011 at Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. The Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, constructed as a freestanding facility in 2004 is nationally recognized as a leading provider of pediatric health care services. Children's Hospital is ranked as one of the top children's hospitals in the nation by U.S. News and World Report Magazine and Parent's Magazine. A 243-bed facility, Children's Hospital provides the highest level of pediatric care and is a top level teaching and research facility.

October is designated as American Pharmacists Month by the American Pharmacy Association. This month long observance is a time to recognize the significant contributions to health care and the commitment to patient care by pharmacists in all practice settings from around the country. KNOW YOUR MEDICINE KNOW YOUR PHARMACIST is the theme and core message for this observance.

Dr. Hooper is a graduate of DeKalb County High School, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He is the son of Dr. Doug and Brenda Hooper of Smithville.

UCHRA Replaces Phyllis Bennett as Executive Director

October 24, 2011
Dwayne Page
Phyllis Bennett

Phyllis Bennett, Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, has lost this position she held for 38 years.

The UCHRA Board of Directors, acting through its Policy Council Executive Committee, voted on Friday to name Ruth Ann Woolbright as the new Executive Director. Her initial term of service runs through June 30, 2012. Woolbright became Temporary Executive Director on August 9 due to Bennett being on medical leave.

The UCHRA, in a prepared news release, states that "UCHRA is under the same acute financial pressures experienced by our county and municipal governments, those in private industry and individual citizens. Our funding from state and other sources is down over 25% due to federal and state budgetary contractions.

Our financial situation requires a strong leader with a clear mandate from the Board in order to make the difficult decisions required to maintain UCHRA's financial solvency and to maintain the maximum possible services to our 14 county service area.

To empower Ms. Woolbright to make these difficult decisions and changes, the Board felt it necessary to give her the job security and authority of a regular appointment to the position of Executive Director.

As a result of the decision to change Ms. Woolbright's status to UCHRA Executive Director, we have necessarily and regretfully ended Ms. Bennett's service in that position.

The UCHRA Board and the community at large appreciates and honors Phyllis Bennett's 38 year tenure as UCHRA Executive Director. However, funding and other considerations require that there can only be one Executive Director.

We appreciate Ms. Woolbright's willingness to serve as Executive Director during this difficult period and anticipate she will continue the good work and public service ethic the Agency had demonstrated under Ms. Bennett's leadership".

Two Men Charged in Separate Theft Investigations

October 24, 2011
Dwayne Page
Joshua Lynne Beaty
William Elton Eisenmann
Mejia Pastor
Luis Alfonso Rubalcava-Romo
Leonel Rodriguez Sanchez

Two men have been arrested by the Sheriff's Department within the past week in separate theft investigations.

24 year old Joshua Lynne Beaty of East Main Street, Smithville is charged with two counts of theft of property over $1,000.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that Beaty allegedly stole a van from a residence on New Home Road on August 24 and sold it to a local recycling center. The van was valued at $3,000.

In the other case, Sheriff Ray reports that Beaty allegedly took items from a residence on Bluhmtown Road and sold them to a local recycling business. Taken from the property was a tractor engine, tractor radiator, washer, stove, clothing rack, double bottom turning plow, and 1,500 piece Craftsman tool set. The total value was $4,650.

Beaty was arrested on the charges Thursday, October 20. He is under a total bond of $15,000 and he will be in court on October 27.

44 year old William Elton Eisenmann of Page Drive, Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary and aggravated theft of property under $500. Eisenmann's bond totals $7,500 and he will be in court on October 27.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, October 13 Eisenmann allegedly entered a residence on Eagle Creek Road by cutting a screen and going through a front window. He allegedly stole a pair of Reebok tennis shoes, a Levi shirt, and a bath towel all valued at less than $500. When he left the residence, Sheriff Ray said Eisenmann also left behind his cell phone, a phone card, and a knife.

He was arrested on Friday, October 21.

Mejia Pastor of Goodridge Road, Woodbury is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court November 3.

According to Sheriff Ray, on Saturday October 22 Pastor was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and was stopped after a deputy saw him swerving. Pastor was found to have an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Pastor refused to submit to field sobriety tasks but he did take a blood test.

21 year old Luis Alfonso Rubalcava-Romo of A.B. Frazier Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. Romo was further issued a citation for having no drivers license, violation of the light law, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), failure to maintain his lane of travel, and violation of the open container law. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on October 27.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, October 22 Romo was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and was stopped by a deputy for violation of the light law(driving with no tail lights). He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Romo performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and he submitted to a blood test. The officer found in the vehicle a half full container of an alcoholic beverage within hands reach in a cup holder on the console.

Leonel Rodriguez Sanchez of Adcock Cemetery Road is charged with driving under the influence and two counts of reckless endangerment. Sanchez was also issued a citation for having no drivers license, violation of the registration law, violation of the financial responsibility law, violation of the open container law, and violation of the implied consent law. His bond totals $12,500 and he will be in court October 27

Sheriff Ray reports that on Sunday, October 23 Sanchez was operating a motor vehicle and had allegedly run motorists off the road on both Old Blue Springs Road and Highway 56. His license tag number was reported to 911. The vehicle was later found on Cecil Hale Road. The driver, Sanchez, had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Sanchez was unable to perform field sobriety tasks because of his level of intoxication. He refused to submit to a blood test. The officer found an open beer on the console of the vehicle.

Five Injured in Sunday Morning Wrecks

October 23, 2011
Dwayne Page
Craig LeFevre Family Injured in this 2001 Honda Accord
LeFevre Family Injured in this 2001 Honda Accord

Four people were injured in a two car crash Sunday morning on Highway 56 north in DeKalb County near Silver Point while one person was hurt in an earlier wreck on U.S. 70 near Alexandria

Central dispatch was notified of the accident on Highway 56 at 8:07 a.m.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 22 year old Autumn Meadows of Silver Point was traveling north in a 2002 Ford Taurus when she crossed the center line of the highway and made an angle impact with a southbound 2001 Honda Accord, driven by 44 year old Craig LeFevre. Passengers with LeFevre were his wife 42 year old Margaret LeFevre and his 11 year old step-son. After impact, the Meadows car came to a final rest in the southbound lane while LeFevre's car came to rest off the side of the road near the woods.

All reportedly got out of the vehicles under their own power except for Craig Lefevre who was pinned and had to be extricated by members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team. County Fire Chief Donny Green said both doors on the driver side were removed to make it easier to get LeFever out of the car.

All were taken by DeKalb EMS to Cookeville Regional Medical Center except for the child, who was transported there by a private vehicle.

Trooper England said that Meadows will be cited for failure to maintain her lane of travel

In addition to Trooper England, DeKalb EMS, and the DeKalb County Fire Department's Extrication Team, others on the scene were members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Cookeville Highway Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Trooper England also investigated a separate one car wreck earlier Sunday morning at on Highway 70 west near the four mile marker in the Alexandria area.

Central dispatch received the call at 4:45 a.m.

Trooper England said that 19 year old Tamara Armistead was driving a 2002 Chrysler Sebring west on U.S. 70 when she claims to have fallen asleep at the wheel. The car went off the right side of the road, sideswiped a utility pole and then struck a tree. She was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Hurricane Bridge Could Be Closed Temporarily Three Nights During the Week Starting in November

October 21, 2011
Dwayne Page
Hurricane Bridge

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has announced that Hurricane bridge could be closed to all traffic temporarily during night time hours from Tuesdays through Thursdays starting next month.

In its latest weekly update on road and bridge projects Thursday, TDOT reported that " the contractor may close the bridge to all traffic between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. CDT on Tuesdays through Thursdays to pour sections of the new concrete deck. While the bridge is closed, all traffic will be redirected to the currently posted truck detour that utilizes I-40 at Exit 254 to SR-53. The bridge will be reopened to normal one-lane signal-controlled traffic each morning by 6:00 a.m. during this period."

WJLE contacted TDOT officials in Chattanooga Friday and an official there confirmed that the bridge closure could begin as early as November 8 but that more specifics would be announced in forthcoming media updates.

The Hurricane bridge rehabilitation began earlier this year and is expected to be completed by October 2013.

The bridge currently is down to only one lane of traffic, and it is being maintained and controlled by a temporary signal for the safety of the traveling public. The current weight postings of 10 tons for two-axle vehicles and 18 tons for vehicles with three or more axles will remain in effect and will be strictly enforced. This allows for work on the north side of the bridge. Further temporary lane shifts may be implemented by flaggers on an "as needed" basis to facilitate work as it progresses, according to TDOT.

OCCI Incorporated of Fulton, Missouri is under contract with TDOT to do the construction at $26.9 million


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