Local News Articles

THP Names Charlie Caplinger Trooper of Year for Nashville District

February 19, 2011
Dwayne Page
Trooper Charlie Caplinger

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has honored it's Troopers of the Year and a DeKalb County man is among them.

Trooper Charlie Caplinger was named Trooper of the Year for the Nashville District. On August 23, 2010, Trooper Caplinger, currently assigned to the Special Programs Division, responded to a citizen report of a burglary at a nearby residence. Working an overtime assignment at the time, Trooper Caplinger requested assistance and then took action. Upon arriving at the scene, he observed a male running from the home and into the woods. Trooper Caplinger instructed the suspect to throw away his weapon and surrender. The suspect refused and moments later, a gunshot was heard and Trooper Caplinger believed he was under fire. Caplinger returned fire, provided cover and directions to the assisting Trooper, who later located the male deceased from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Trooper Caplinger confirmed his bravery and dedication in protecting the citizens of Tennessee.

Trooper Caplinger was among several State Troopers who received Trooper of the Year honors in their respective districts. Meanwhile, the overall 2010 Trooper of the Year is Dwayne Stanford of Henderson County in the Jackson District. Awards were also given to the Investigator of the Year and Interdiction East and West Troopers of the Year, while 10 Troopers were also recognized for their DUI Enforcement efforts. The announcement was made during a special ceremony at the THP Training Center located in Nashville on Friday, February 18.

"These men and women represent the long-standing achievements of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and its unwavering commitment to protect the citizens of this great state," said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. "We celebrate their bravery, honor their dedication, and thank them for being true public servants for the state of Tennessee."

"Tennessee State Troopers like those honored today represent a proud tradition of service dating back to 1929," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "These 12 Troopers recognized today are examples of the everyday heroism and courage exemplified by the Tennessee Highway Patrol's professionalism and dedication to service and safety."

Trooper Stanford joined the Department of Safety and Homeland Security in 2002 as a Communications Dispatcher and was later commissioned as a State Trooper in 2007. His initial assignment was as a Road Trooper in Fayette County until being transferred to Henderson County in the Jackson District in 2008. Trooper Stanford earned the Trooper of the Year honor after locating a juvenile who was kidnapped out of Maryland on February 13, 2010. Trooper Stanford received an AMBER Alert notification, began an immediate search for the suspect's vehicle and located said subject within 20 minutes. He arrested the suspect without incident and preserved potential evidence in the case. Trooper Stanford was awarded House Joint Resolution No. 1313 by the state of Tennessee House of Representatives and the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation for his enforcement efforts. He was also recognized for the top 10 Troopers in DUI Enforcement with 30 arrests.

Passage of AT&T Backed Legislation Could Adversely Affect DTC Communications

February 18, 2011
Dwayne Page

A battle is brewing between large telecommunications corporations and smaller telephone companies and cooperatives over intrastate access fees and the Tennessee Legislature is apparently where the matter will be decided.

However, if the smaller companies should lose the fight, Les Greer, CEO of DTC Communications, said the local telephone cooperative could lose as much as $700,000 per year in revenue, which could be "devastating" to the company.

At issue is legislation that would force the small telephone companies, like DTC Communications, to reduce the access fees they charge long-distance companies. An access charge is what a long distance company pays to a local telephone company to complete a call.

According to a published report in the Tennessee Journal, many small telephone companies charge about 7½ cents a minute and use the revenue to subsidize basic residential and business rates. For some, the access charges generate 20% of their revenue.

Styled the "Uniform Access, Competition, and Consumer Fairness Act of 2011," the bill would make intrastate access charges the same as the much cheaper interstate charges, phasing in the reduction over four years.

Besides AT&T and Comcast, the coalition of long-distance providers seeking a phased reduction includes Charter, Sprint, Verizon, and TW Telecom, according to the report.

In a prepared statement, which appears on the DTC Website, Greer , COO Gary Hancock and members of the DTC Board said passage of this bill could result in increased telephone and Internet rates, a loss of jobs in the community, and lost opportunities to attract new, high paying jobs. They are urging the general public, including DTC subscribers, to contact their state representatives and senators asking them to oppose this legislation.

State Senator Mae Beavers told WJLE Friday that she stands with the telephone cooperatives in her district and will oppose this bill. "I have four small telephone cooperatives in my district. We don't think that the bill which AT &T has filed is fair to our small telephone companies and it's an issue we're going to take a serious look at. I've filed some legislation on behalf of the small telephone cooperatives. It's a caption bill in case we need it. It's hard for some of these small companies to go up against AT&T sometimes especially with their (AT & T) 30 lobbyists which they've hired already. So that's going to be a huge issue especially for those of us that have the small telephone cooperatives in our districts and the customers are really going to be paying out the ying yang if the AT&T legislation passes."

The DTC statement is as follows:

"Telecommunications competitors and regulators have long acknowledged that it is more expensive to build and maintain rural networks, which also have lower revenue potential because they serve more sparsely populated areas. In fact, those are the very reasons why AT&T and its coalition partners consistently choose not to serve you. Small cooperatives like ours were created to fill the gap and provide services in rural areas that the larger companies do not serve".

"Now, AT&T and other large long distance carriers are asking the legislature to arbitrarily reduce one of our key revenue sources, the "intrastate access fee," which is the fee that long distance carriers pay when calls from their customers use our network to connect to people in our community."

"This fee provides significant revenue to communications cooperatives like ours. If AT&T and the telecom giants are successful, we estimate lost revenue to DTC will be $700,000 per year."

"This is a reduction in revenue that no small cooperative or independent phone company can absorb. That's why this legislation will cost jobs, force rate increases, and make it difficult for us to invest in continued infrastructure improvements like broadband. Deferring these investments will stifle new job creation in our community and impact essential services we provide to small businesses, hospitals, local governments, emergency services and law enforcement."

"AT&T wants you to believe that reducing this fee will benefit consumers, but there is nothing in the bill that requires the large corporations to pass their "savings" through to the customer. In fact, based on AT&T's actions over the past few years, we have no reason to believe Tennesseans will see any benefit. In all likelihood, reductions in AT&T's costs will go directly to AT&T's bottom line while communities like ours pay the price."

"It is critical that lawmakers hear from you on this subject. We are asking all of you – individuals, businesses and local officials – to let your voice be heard in Nashville.. Please take a moment today to write, call and e-mail these individuals today!"

The statement concludes "We cannot outspend AT&T and its coalition partners to ensure your interests are protected, but together, we can outwork them. If you have questions, please feel free to call our office. "

According to the Tennessee Journal, the coalition of long distance providers have scoffed at the notion that smaller telephone companies will be devastated, pointing out that eight cooperatives serving Tennessee have received a combined $315 million in federal broadband stimulus grants and that four of the small telephone exchange companies are owned by Wisconsin-based TDS, which took in $5.1 billion in 2008 and is the parent company of U.S. Cellular.

The big companies further argue that the high access charges enable the rural providers to offer basic service rates lower than those in other areas, at the expense of city and suburban customers who indirectly pay the charges.

The bill is scheduled to go before committees of the state House and Senate for the first time on Tuesday, February 22nd and Wednesday, February 23rd.

Jimmy Oakley Named to DTC Board of Directors

February 18, 2011
Dwayne Page
Jimmy Oakley (photo provided courtesy of DTC Dialtone)

A new member has been appointed to represent the Temperance Hall exchange on the DTC Communications Board of Directors.

Jimmy Oakley was recently appointed by the board to fill the unexpired term of the late Robert Don Malone, who died on November 25th, 2010 after serving nine years as director from the Temperance Hall exchange.

Malone had just won re-election to a new three year term on the board during the annual membership meeting in September, only two months before his death.

The DTC Communications Board of Directors, is made up of Roy N. Pugh of Auburntown, James H. Dillard, Jr. of Gordonsville, Jimmy Oakley of Temperance Hall, David Parker of Woodland, Ronnie Garrison of Smithville, Randy Campbell of Liberty, Bennie Curtis of Alexandria, Terry McPeak of Norene, Charles Dwight Vinson of Milton, and Greg Rogers of Woodbury.

Tennessee District Attorneys Launch New Statewide Teen Pregnancy Awareness Campaign

February 17, 2011
Randy York

District Attorney Randy York and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference today announced a new campaign including aggressive outreach through social media, printed materials and a major effort to build a statewide network of partners to increase their efforts to fight teen pregnancy.

The statewide initiative represents the second phase of the highly successful What’s the Rush? campaign that raises awareness of the legal, financial and social consequences of becoming teen parents.

“Teen pregnancy has a direct consequence, not just on crime, but on society in general. There’s an inability to care and support that child the way that it deserves. It’s really sad when you see teenagers in court for nonpayment of child support and they’re facing the loss of their driver’s and hunting licenses and the possibility of going to jail,” said General York.

The DAs started the campaign in 2008 in response to the number of court cases involving teen parents throughout the state. Printed materials and a video were created for the DAs to use when visiting schools and civic organizations to educate Tennessee’s youth about the consequences of becoming teen parents.

After receiving a substantial amount of positive feedback, the DAs decided not only to continue the campaign, but to commit more resources to expand its scope to reach even more teenagers. One of the new additions is the social media initiative the DAs will participate in using Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. They will also be working more directly with campaign partners, and sending new and updated materials to schools and medical offices across the state.

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference is already partnered with the Tennessee Departments of Human Services, Health and Education; Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians; Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants; Tennessee School Counselor Association; National Association of Social Workers – Tennessee Chapter; Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center; Hospital Alliance of Tennessee; and YMCA of Memphis & the MidSouth.

“We are pleased to partner with the district attorneys, who see this problem firsthand,” said DHS Commissioner Virginia T. Lodge. “Continuing and expanding this program can make a difference in communities across Tennessee.”

In the 13th District alone, the most recent statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health show that in one year there were 380 reported cases of teen pregnancy and more than 13,000 cases reported statewide. Statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy show that teen parenthood can lead to a number of legal, financial and health consequences. Those statistics include:

•Eight out of 10 teen fathers do not marry the mother of their first child.

•Less than half of mothers who have a child before they are 18 years old graduate from high school, and less than 2 percent have a college degree by age 30.

•Teen fathers have less education and earn much less money than teenage boys without children.

•The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at a low birth weight, which can cause infant death, blindness, deafness, respiratory problems, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and hyperactivity.

•Children of teen mothers are 50 percent more likely to have to repeat a grade in school and are less likely to finish high school.

•The sons of teen mothers are two times more likely to end up in prison.

•The children of teen mothers are two times more likely to suffer abuse and neglect compared to children of older mothers.

For more information about What’s the Rush?, call General Randy York at (931) 528-5015. To learn more and access the campaign materials, please visit www.tndagc.org/whatstherush.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatstherushtn
MySpace: www.myspace.com/whatstherushtn
YouTube: www.youtube.com/whatstherushtn

Food Check-Out Week Spotlights Healthy Eating on a Budget

February 17, 2011

Concern about the cost of a healthy diet being out of reach remains on the minds of many Americans as the nation continues to work through serious economic woes. However, according to an Agriculture Department study, the cost of eating healthy hasn't changed as much as some less-healthy alternatives. Eating healthy food while on a budget does require strategic shopping.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week, February 20-26, focuses on helping Americans learn how to stretch their grocery dollars with healthy, nutritious food. America's farmers and ranchers are committed to producing safe, healthy and abundant food. And they share a common concern with consumers when it comes to putting nutritious meals on the table while sticking to a tight budget.

The good news: a recent USDA report favorably supports the economics of healthier eating. Recent food price data show that prices for unprepared, readily available fresh fruits and vegetables have remained stable relative to dessert and snack foods, such as chips, ice cream, and cola. Therefore, as defined by food in the study, the price of a "healthier" diet has not changed compared to an "unhealthy" diet. Additionally, certain fresh fruits and vegetables have actually gone down in price over the last 25 years compared to the more expensive processed foods.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week is aimed at helping DeKalb County families learn how to shop strategically to put nutritious meals on the table with fewer dollars."Learning to use your grocery dollars wisely helps ensure that nutrition isn't neglected," according to April Martin, DeKalb Extension FCS Agent.

"Fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, are an important part of a healthy diet. Buying fresh produce when it's in season and costs less, while buying frozen fruits and vegetables when they're not in season, is a smart way to stretch that dollar," said Mary Sanders, DeKalb County's TNCEP program assistant.

"Knowing your food budget, planning balanced meals, making a list and sticking to it are just a few of the tips we offer consumers," said Sanders.

Now in its 13th year, Food Check-Out Week also highlights America's safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, made possible largely by America's productive farmers and ranchers. According to the most recent information from the USDA's Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10% of their disposable personal income for food.

You'll find posters in some of our local stores that were made by senior high 4-Hers as a service to the community. If you need additional information on budgeting your food dollars, contact us.

County Firefighters Called to Trailer Home

February 16, 2011
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighters were called to the trailer home of Connie Rahm at 179 Kings Court on Adcock Cemetery Road early Wednesday morning.

911 received the call at 1:09 a.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said that the fire started from something that was setting on a bookshelf, which was up against a wall. Ms. Rahm, who was at home at the time, discovered the small blaze and ran outside to get help. A neighbor came over and put out the fire.

Firefighters from the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Midway stations responded but the fire had already been extinguished by the time they arrived. The only fire damage was to the book shelf and a portion of the wall next to it. Firefighters checked to make sure there was no fire in the wall and they ventilated the home, clearing it of smoke.

DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department also responded but no one was injured.

New Hunting and Fishing Licenses go on sale Friday, Feb. 18

February 16, 2011
Dwayne Page

The 2011-12 Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses go on sale Friday, Feb. 18. Licenses are available at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) regional offices, license agents and on the TWRA website, www.tnwildlife.org.

The new licenses are valid through February, 2012. License sales provide the primary funding for the TWRA, which does not receive any funding from the state's general fund (i.e. state sales tax). The 2010-11 licenses expire Feb. 28.

"License dollars are the life-blood of our agency's efforts to manage all wildlife in our state," said Ed Carter, TWRA Executive Director. "I would encourage fellow Tennesseans who appreciate the tremendous wildlife viewing opportunities we all enjoy to make a license purchase as a way of showing their support for all species and allowing us to leverage available federal funding."

Resident licenses may be purchased by: persons who possess a valid Tennessee driver's license; persons who have lived in Tennessee for 90 consecutive days with the genuine intent of making Tennessee their permanent home; military personnel on active duty in this state and their immediate families, who reside with them, regardless of resident status; students who are enrolled in a Tennessee school, college, or university for at least six months. A Social Security number is required to purchase a Tennessee hunting or fishing license.

Licenses may also be purchased online at TWRA's website: www.tnwildlife.org and charged to a credit card. Licenses may also be ordered by telephone and charged to a credit card by calling 1-888-814-8972. All licenses purchased by credit card will be charged a processing and handling fee. Effective March 1, the new fees over the telephone are $7.50 for those licenses mailed and $6.25 for those not mailed. Through the internet, charges are $4.25 for those licenses mailed and $3 for self-prints.

To expedite telephone orders, the caller should have ready the name, address, physical description, Social Security number, driver's license number, TWRA ID number (if renewal), and credit card number.

Licenses are printed on a special tear-resistant, water-proof paper. In case of a lost license, duplicate licenses can be obtained from any REAL license agent for a $7 fee.

Two Submit Qualifying Petitions for Smithville Election

February 15, 2011
Dwayne Page
Shawn Jacobs
W.J. (Dub) White

Two incumbent Smithville Aldermen, Shawn Jacobs and W.J. (Dub) White, have submitted their qualifying petitions to the DeKalb County Election Commission to seek re-election.

The other incumbent alderman up for re-election, Aaron Meeks has picked up his petition but has not yet returned it.

The DeKalb County Election Commission is accepting qualifying petitions for the Smithville Municipal Election until noon on March 17th.

Three aldermen seats will be up for election on June 21st. The seats are currently held by Jacobs, Meeks, and White. Each term is for two years.

The last day to register to vote in the Smithville election is May 23rd.

Smithville Police Make Arrests in Copper Theft Case

February 15, 2011
Dwayne Page
Matthew Malachi Lawson
Virginia  Ruth Carrier

Smithville Police have arrested two people for allegedly stealing several hundred pounds of copper from the supply yard of Smithville Electric System on Sunday, February 6th.

Chief Randy Caplinger said 27 year old Matthew Malachi Lawson and 23 year old Virginia Ruth Carrier are each charged with theft of property over $1,000. More arrests are expected in the case.

Detective Matt Holmes said that both Lawson and Carrier are charged with taking several hundred pounds of copper without consent from Smithville Electric Company's supply yard located behind the building in a fenced-in area at 611 East Broad Street.. Some of the copper was taken to a local scrap yard where it was sold. The value of the copper taken is approximately $1,500.

Following an investigation, Detective Holmes, Chief Caplinger, Captain Steven Leffew, Corporal Travis Bryant, and Officer David Phillips went to Lawson's home on Oak Street Wednesday, February 9th where they executed a search warrant.

Upon arrival, Detective Holmes said he knocked on the door and announced that the police were present. After receiving no answer, officers made entry through the front door. Four persons were inside the home. After a search of the premises outside, officers found a burn pile containing left over protective coating for copper and several big pieces of copper which was later positively identified as belonging to Smithville Electric System. Lawson showed up a short time later and was arrested. A van, which was believed to have been used in the felony was seized from the home.

Lawson is scheduled for another hearing in General Sessions Court on April 11th. Carrier's court date is February 17th.

Meanwhile, in other crime news from the Smithville Police Department, Chief Caplinger reports that 28 year old Brandon Ross Bogle of Jefferson Road was arrested by Officer Matt Farmer on Monday, February 7th for violation of bond conditions. According to the warrant, Officer Farmer was at the Department of Children Services assisting a drug screen on Bogle. Mr. Bogle advised Officer Farmer he had a no contact order with his wife who was also present, therefore violating the conditions of the bond that he signed.

25 year old Jose Xalchy Rododrigvir of Fall Creek Road was arrested by Officer David Phillips for public intoxication on Monday, February 7th. According to the warrant, Officer Phillips responded to Kwik N Ezy to check out a complaint about someone who had passed out at one of the tables. Upon arrival Officer Phillips saw a man whose head was on the table. Several attempts were made to wake the man and after several minutes, he got up. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Officer Phillips tried unsuccessfully to find a ride home for the man. Due to his intoxication and for his safety Mr. Rododrigvir was placed under arrest. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on March 10th.

Meanwhile, anyone with information on any offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential

Moore Charged with Theft

February 14, 2011
Dwayne Page
Stephen Jason Moore

35 year old Stephen Jason Moore of Cookeville Highway was arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department Thursday, February 3rd on four courts of theft of property under $500. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court on February 24th

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on four occasions, January 3rd, 5th, 10th, & 11th Moore allegedly stole rebar valued at less than $500 from a business and then took it to a scrap yard where he sold it.

28 year old Elizabeth Ann Chalfant of Hurricane Ridge Road is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and reckless endangerment. She was also issued a citation for a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license, violation of the implied consent law, possession of drug paraphernalia, and for failure to maintain proper lane of traffic. Her bond totals $5,000 and she will be in court on March 10th.

Sheriff Ray said that a deputy stopped Chalfant's vehicle on Highway 70 west at Dry Creek Road near Dowelltown after receiving a complaint about a possible intoxicated driver. As the officer got behind the vehicle to pull it over, he noticed that the driver failed to maintain her lane of travel, twice crossing the turning lane and going across the dotted lines. After pulling over the automobile, the deputy spoke with Chalfant and noticed that her speech and movements were slow and she had difficulty keeping her eyes open and focused. Chalfant was asked to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tasks. She submitted to the tasks but performed poorly on them as she was very unsteady on her feet. She refused to submit to a blood screen for drugs and alcohol. Also found were five hypodermic needles. A computer check revealed her license to be suspended.

As the deputy placed Chalfant under arrest, he noticed two children in the vehicle. One of them, a five year old boy, was in a backseat car seat, and the other, a six year old girl, was lying down in the front floor. Both were Ms Chalfant's children. She was charged with reckless endangerment for placing the children in danger of serious bodily injury.

25 year old Ruby Gail Webb of Couch Street, McMinnville was issued a citation on February 7th for driving on a revoked license. Her court date is February 24th.

34 year old Jack Mullican, Jr. of Allen Street, Smithville was issued a citation for driving on a suspended license. An officer stopped Mullican having prior knowledge that his license were suspended. A computer check confirmed it. Mullican will be in court on February 23rd.

45 year old Kandy Kay Fish of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown was issued a citation for simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court on February 17th.

Sheriff Ray said that a deputy went to a residence on February 13th to serve a warrant. According to the officer, Fish came to the door after snorting pills. The deputy received consent from the home owner to search the residence and he found straws and more pills both chopped up and complete. All evidence was seized.

43 year old Donna Sue Estes of Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville was issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia. Estes was taken into custody on an active warrant after a deputy stopped a vehicle in which she was a passenger. When asked if she was carrying anything illegal on her person, Estes pulled two hypodermic needles from the inside of her pants. Her court date is February 24th.

25 year old Cirilo Gomez of Fancer Mill Road, Sparta is charged with a third offense of driving under the influence and a first offense of driving on a revoked license. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. He will be in court on March 3rd and his bond is $3,500.

Sheriff Ray said that on February 13th, a deputy responded to Highway 56 south to check out a vehicle on the side of the roadway where a man was slumped over the steering wheel. After the officer awoke him, the man gave his name but said that he did not have any ID or drivers license. The officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person and he had very slurred speech. He was asked to perform several field sobriety tasks. He performed poorly on all tasks. He was very unsteady on his feet and he refused to submit to a blood alcohol test. A computer check confirmed that his license were revoked for DUI on July 3rd, 2004.


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