Local News Articles

Smithville Aldermen Vote to Settle Lawsuit With Two Former City Employees

June 26, 2012
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday afternoon, acting on the advice of counsel, voted to settle a lawsuit for $130,000 brought last year by two former city employees, who lost their jobs after being charged with theft for allegedly taking scrap brass from the water treatment plant and selling it to a recycling center.

46 year old Kenny Waymon Dyal, Sr. and 43 year old Christopher Derrick Ferrell, filed the lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court on February 17th, 2011 against the City of Smithville, asking for a jury trial. They wanted their old jobs back, compensatory damages for wages and benefits lost during the period of their unemployment, punitive damages for intentional, malicious, and reckless conduct of the city, for attorney fees and costs, and any other relief to which they may be properly and justly entitled. In the event they could not be given back their jobs, Dyal and Ferrell asked for lost differential wages and benefits to the date of their expected retirement.

Dyal was the supervisor of the Smithville Water Treatment Plant and Ferrell was a city maintenance employee and water meter reader.

During the brief meeting Monday, Dan Rader, the attorney appointed by the Tennessee Municipal League (TML), the city's insurance carrier, recommended that the aldermen approve an offer to settle the lawsuit for $130,000 which includes $100,000 in city funds, $30,000 from TML funds, and up to $2,500 for mediator, discretionary, and court costs, if TML does not pay those costs. "This lawsuit was filed quite some time ago and it has been pending by Kenny Dyal and Christopher Ferrell," said Rader. " We've been defending that and we had a mediation. Prior to that we had an attorney/client meeting and I won't reiterate or recount what the attorney/client advice was, but we have attempted to negotiate a settlement of this lawsuit. The plaintiffs started at $700,000 as their demand. The city made offers subject to this board's eventual approval. The city's final offer was a total of $130,000 which was going to be paid $100,000 from city funds and $30,000 from TML funds who is your insurance carrier. There are some issues with respect to whether or not they (TML) cover the claim. They (TML) have taken the position that they don't cover any of the types of claims brought, except that they do provide you a legal defense. So they were contributing based on a cost basis. In any event, the plaintiff's lowest demand at the mediation was $150,000 and the mediation ended and the case was not settled. Since that time, on Friday afternoon, the plaintiff's lawyer called me and said that they would take $130,000 plus some costs, which include the court costs. They have asked for us to pay all of the mediator's costs. Both of those are fairly standard. The only one that is not entirely standard is discretionary costs which are less than $1,000 but he didn't have a firm total for me. I have attempted to call TML to see if they would pay that on your behalf but the adjustor handling the claim is out unfortunately. He will be back later this week and I'll ask him if he will pay those costs on your behalf. But the question before the board tonight is whether or not to approve the settlement of the city's portion of $100,000 for a total settlement of $130,000. I'd ask you to approve up to $2,500 in costs, if necessary if TML doesn't pay it. The $100,000 plus potentially up to $2,500 would come from city funds," said Rader.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson asked city attorney Vester Parsley what he thought of Rader's recommendation

Parsley responded, "I think it is wise for us to go forward".

Mayor Hendrixson then asked alderman Gayla Hendrix, who was present at the mediation, what she thought.

Alderman Hendrix replied " I agree with Mr. Parsley, I think this is a good settlement and we should probably go forward with it"

Alderman Danny Washer made a motion to "accept our lawyer's recommendation". Alderman Hendrix offered a second to the motion and Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger joined Washer and Hendrix in granting approval. Alderman Shawn Jacobs was absent.

In January, 2011 Dyal and Ferrell, each charged with theft of property, appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court where, under a settlement, they agreed to make restitution in the amount of $1,348 jointly and severally. After they paid their half of the restitution, $674 the case against them was dismissed and their records were to be expunged.

Dyal and Ferrell alleged in their lawsuit that they were discharged by the city to keep them from talking to state auditors about alleged misconduct of city Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson and Public Works Director Kevin Robinson and that they were denied due process by not being afforded an opportunity to state their case in front of a board consisting of the mayor, department commissioner, and the secretary-treasurer.

According to the lawsuit, "In or around the summer of 2010, the City of Smithville entered into a contract with W&O Construction to replace water pipes at the water treatment plant. The contract between the City of Smithville and W&O Construction indicates it is the responsibility of W&O Construction to remove all of the scrap metal from the construction."

"When W&O Construction first began the construction process, another employee along with his son removed scrap pipe from the construction site and sold it to a scrap metal shop. To date, no charges have been filed against this employee nor have any disciplinary actions been taken by the City of Smithville."

"Having witnessed this, Dyal asked Hendrixson for permission to take other scrap metal off to be sold. Hendrixson gave his permission," according to the lawsuit.

"Dyal also spoke with Rick at W&O Construction to see if he could have his permission to remove the scrap metal. Rick told Dyal that the scrap "didn't mean anything to W&O and that he could take it."

"On October 21st, November 3rd, and November 4th, Dyal and Ferrell removed the scrap metal and sold it to a scrap metal business."

"On November 4th, even though both the City of Smithville and a representative from W&O Construction gave permission for Dyal and Ferrell to remove scrap metal, a complaint was filed with the Smithville Police Department and Dyal and Ferrell were arrested for theft of property."

"Without conducting proper dismissal proceedings as outlined in the City of Smithville Municipal Code, Dyal and Ferrell's employment was terminated on November 4th. This occurred just six days prior to the audit."

Further, Dyal and Ferrell allege that the "City of Smithville violated the City of Smithville Municipal Code by terminating their employment without a suspension period, by not providing a hearing within three working days of the suspension, and by not affording them an opportunity to state their case in front of a board consisting of the mayor, department commissioner, and the secretary-treasurer."

The lawsuit claimed that "The City of Smithville's conduct toward Dyal and Ferrell was committed in an intentional or reckless manner thereby causing them to suffer severe emotional distress."

Sheriff Cautions Homeowners to Beware of Latest Scam

June 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

If someone should come to your home, claiming to be from the property assessor's office, wanting to come inside to take measurements, beware!. It could be a scam.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that while no such incident has yet been reported in DeKalb County, the scam has occurred in counties close by. "Homeowners should be aware of this scam. Its where two individuals, most of the time males, will come up to a homeowner, knock on their door, and tell the homeowner that they are from the tax assessor's office and that they need to come inside of their home and measure rooms for tax purposes," said Sheriff Ray.

"The way the scam works is that one of the guys keeps the homeowner occupied, while the other guy, who is equipped with a tape measure and some writing materials, will go around and act like he is measuring out rooms. The whole time he is in there, he is stealing medication, cash, jewelry, and anything that he can put in his pocket. He is stealing that from the homeowner," he said.

"I called the DeKalb County Tax Assessor's Office. They told me that they very rarely go inside of a home to do any kind of tax appraisals. Any measuring they have to do on any building is measured from the outside, not the inside. They also use vehicles with signs on them while on official duty stating that they are from the DeKalb County Tax Assessor's Office," said Sheriff Ray.

If you suspect you may be the target of such a scam, Sheriff Ray urges you to contact his office to report it. " I would appreciate it if you would give us a call here at the jail where our detectives could start investigating. You can also call the Tax Assessor's Office at 597-5925 to verify any time that somebody there is doing a taxation of the property. If somebody does come to your house, stating that they are from the taxation department or the Tax Assessor's office, call the 215-3000 number, which is our dispatch line, and a deputy will come down and check on it," he said.

Bid Letting For New Sligo Bridge May Come by February

June 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver
Sligo Bridge

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver said Monday night a bid letting for the new Sligo bridge may take place by February.

Weaver made that announcement during the monthly county commission meeting, while giving a legislative update. "Last week, I got together with the State Department of Transportation. I met with commissioner (John) Schroer and his department heads. We talked and continue to talk about Sligo. We have three entities. We have the Corps, the lessee (Sligo Marina), and the department (TDOT) involved. The are right now in the last option or negotiation for the bridge to move forward. As I met with them on Wednesday, that last piece of negotiation was going to the marina. Right now, it is setting on their desk as to whether they are going to accept it or not. The (Sligo Marina) lease (with the Corps) will actually expire in 2013 of January. Basically, if they (marina) are not going to embrace the option or the negotiation of what everyone has given them, then they (Corps) will let the lease expire and the (bid) let will take place as early as February, 2013. That's where we are on that right now," said Representative Weaver.

The state has been ready to proceed with plans to build the new Sligo bridge for months but can't move on the project until a disagreement over right of way acquisition is resolved.

TDOT is in negotiations with the Corps of Engineers and its lessee Sligo Marina, trying to purchase right of way for the bridge.

Although the Corps is the only property owner involved, TDOT apparently has to take into consideration concerns of Sligo Marina, which is located next to Sligo bridge.

According to TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges, one of the major concerns is that the marina owners want the state to pay for "potential loss of business"to them during the construction of the bridge. The problem is the state cannot legally pay for those types of damages.

Normally, when an agreement cannot be reached on right of way acquisition, the state can resort to imminent domain proceedings. But in this case, condemnation is not an option because the state cannot condemn federal property.

Representative Weaver said she is hoping the issue can be resolved soon. "When you've got three separate entities involved, it does not go fast enough. It takes time for these things to move forward," she said.

Texas Teen Carrying Twelve Foot Cross to Washington, D.C.

June 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Joshua Lopez (left), Jorg Garcia, Junior Garcia (right)

A 19-year-old college student, Junior Garcia of Saginaw Texas has embarked on a cross-country journey to draw attention to Jesus Christ, saying he believes God put it in his heart to carry a 12-foot cross from his home to the gates of the White House.

Garcia and those traveling with him from his home congregation, the Oasis Church in Saginaw, Texas, passed through DeKalb County Monday, walking along Highway 70.

WJLE caught up with him late Monday afternoon on Highway 70 at the top of Snow Hill.

"We left from Saginaw, Texas on June 7th, carrying a twelve foot cross headed to Washington D.C. The purpose of the walk is to bring this nation's attention back to the cross in the name of Jesus Christ," said Garcia.

The cross the college student is carrying is made of wood and has wheels at its base. Garcia said he is walking most of the way to the nation's capitol but when parts of his walk become too dangerous due to traffic, his group hops into a small passenger van that takes them to a safer spot to continue the journey.

Garcia plans to conclude the journey in Washington, D.C., where he will hold a prayer service near the White House. "On July 13, when we arrive in Washington, we'll hold a prayer service in front of the White House at Lafayette Park where we will pray for this great nation, lift up our leaders, and pray that they listen with their hearts and before they make decisions that they get on their knees and not lean on their own understanding but on his (Christ)," said Garcia.

In addition to drawing attention to Christ, Garcia's efforts are also to help raise money for an Assembly of God program called "Speed of Light" that benefits a missionary in Mexico. "Our secondary purpose in the walk is to raise money for a missionary in Central Mexico, to purchase a vehicle for them to get the children to church," he said.

Garcia said he had intended to stay on Interstate 40 through Tennessee, but was stopped in Brownsville, Tennessee. He said authorities asked them to leave the Interstate because it might not be safe, walking along the Interstate. He is now taking his journey along Highway 70 "We're now just trying to get our mileage in, heading through little cities in Tennessee, trying to average about thirty five to forty miles per day.

Alexandria Police Find Meth Lab, Make Three Arrests

June 25, 2012
Dwayne Page
Kara L. Funk
Christopher B. Pack
Jessica R. Bogle

The Alexandria Police Department arrested three people Saturday after allegedly catching them red handed at the site of a meth lab in a wooded area on Shady Lane.

Chief Mark Collins said that 40 year old Christopher B. Pack of Evins Mill Road, Smithville; 25 year old Kara L. Funk of Gentry Avenue, Smithville; and 26 year old Jessica R. Bogle of Page Drive, Smithville are each charged with Initiation of a process resulting in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to Chief Collins, while investigating reported suspicious activity in the area of Shady Lane, officers found Pack, Funk, and Bogle in the woods along with components used to manufacture methamphetamine.

The Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force responded to the scene to assist with the disposal of the components .

Bond for each defendant is $25,000 and they will appear in court on June 28. More arrests are expected .

Arrest Made in Fifteen Month Old Theft Case

June 25, 2012
Dwayne Page
Kevin G. Richardson
Amber Nicole Winnett
Richard Lynn Judkins
Wallace "Wally" Marlon Rackley
Derrick Byron Fitts

An arrest has been made in a theft, which occurred fifteen months ago, on Tramel Branch Road.

37 year old Kevin G. Richardson is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $5,000. He is currently being held in the Jackson County jail. Richardson was arrested on Thursday, June 21.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on March 12, 2011, Richardson went to a farm on Tramel Branch Road and allegedly stole welders, a tiller, electric drills, electric wire, and several other items belonging to Danny Hale without his consent. These items were valued at over $1,000.

The case was investigated by criminal detectives of the sheriff's department.

20 year old Amber Nicole Winnett of Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court July 26. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, June 22, Winnett and her boyfriend got into an argument and that she hit him in the side of the head with her fist, cutting his ear, causing him to bleed. The incident occurred at a residence on Snow Hill Road.

45 year old Richard Lynn Judkins of Cathcart Road, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $15,000 and he will be in court June 25. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, June 25, a deputy was sent to check out a domestic complaint at a residence on Cathcart Road, involving a knife and shots fired. The officer arrived and found Judkins locked in a bathroom. A woman had fled into the woods. A family member reported having heard yelling during the incident and saw Judkins with a gun and the woman with a knife. The family member tried to retrieve the weapons. The gun fired but no one was seriously injured. It was determined that Judkins was the primary aggressor.

Two people were arrested at Maggie's Landing on Highway 70 for public intoxication on Friday, June 22 after a deputy went there to check out a report of a fight.

27 year old Wallace "Wally" Marlon Rackley of North Congress Boulevard, Smithville and 23 year old Derrick Byron Fitts of Meadowbrook Drive, Smithville are each charged with public intoxication. Bond for each is $1,000 and they will be in court August 2.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Friday, June 22, the sheriff's department received a report of a fight at Maggie's Landing. Upon arrival, the deputy spoke with the owner of the business, who said he refused to serve Rackley and Fitts any alcohol because they were already intoxicated when they got there. Both Rackley and Fitts were passed out when the officer arrived. Rackley and Fitts were awakened. They had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on them and they were unsteady on their feet. They could not walk to the patrol car without assistance. Rackley and Fitts were arrested and charged with public intoxication for the safety of themselves and the public.

Disabled Veterans Treated to Weekend of Fly Fishing on Caney Fork River

June 25, 2012
Dwayne Page
Disabled Veterans Treated to Weekend of Fly Fishing on Caney Fork River
Mae Beavers, Terri Lynn Weaver, Sam Tate, Many Bears Grinder
Mae Beavers and Terri Lynn Weaver Presenting Certificates, Pins, and CDs to Vets

Members of the Middle Tennessee Fly Fishers of Nashville, in association with Project Healing Waters, treated some thirty disabled active military service personnel and veterans to a weekend of fishing on the Caney Fork River Saturday and Sunday.

Tommy Hogan, Vice President of the Middle Tennessee Fly Fishers, told WJLE that the event began last year and has grown. "We are one of the sponsors for Project Healing Waters in the Tennessee and Kentucky area. Our main objective is to work with soldiers in rehabilitation through fly fishing, camping, and teaching them how to do things that they would not ordinarily get in the rehab through the military. We have brought thirty veterans down here from Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, the V.A. hospitals in Murfreesboro and Nashville, and Operation Stand Down. We give them a complete weekend, an all expense paid trip. All they have to do is bring themselves and their clothing for the weekend. We had campsites set up for them. We had food for them. We had professional guides who took them down the river for fishing Saturday and Sunday. We started this project two years ago. We have increased from ten soldiers last year to thirty this year. We hope to serve more veterans next year. We want to do a bigger and better job and let the veterans know there are people out here who care about them. We have a website at www.mtff.org. and there is a specific area for Project Healing Waters where you can find out anything you want to know as far as participating in our activities and the rehabilitation program. We accept donations. Our time is not paid. We are strictly volunteer through our club. Its all for the soldiers. Its not for us," said Hogan.

A special observance was held Saturday evening at the Longbranch Campsite on the banks of the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam to recognize the veterans.

The program featured remarks by Many-Bears Grinder, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and members of the Middle Tennessee Fly Fishers and Project Healing Waters. Each veteran received special gifts including pins and certificates of appreciation.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings.. For more information visit www.projecthealingwaters.org.

Brush Creek Man Flown to Erlanger After Saturday Evening Wreck

June 24, 2012
Photo provided to WJLE by Donny Green
Photo Provided by Donny Green

A Brush Creek man was seriously injured Saturday evening when his pickup truck overturned, pinning him inside, on the Old Temperance Hall Road.

Albert Silcox was airlifted and flown to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga.

The wreck occurred around 6:40 p.m.

According to officials, Silcox, driving a 1998 GMC Sierra pickup truck, failed to negotiate a curve on Temperance Hall Road and went across Old Temperance Hall Road. The truck came to rest on a steep embankment with Silcox trapped and pinned inside the vehicle. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication Team stabilized the vehicle, freed the driver, and turned the patient care over to DeKalb EMS and Erlanger Life Force's crew.

Members of the Temperance Hall Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department set up the landing zone for the helicopter ambulance at the Temperance Hall Fire Station. Others assisting on the scene were officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Dept, Campbell Wrecker Service (called in by the rescue team to help stabilize the vehicle), and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Two Airlifted in Early Saturday Morning Crash on Snow Hill

June 23, 2012
Dwayne Page
Four Involved in Two Vehicle Crash Early Saturday Morning (WJLE Photo)
Two Airlifted in Early Saturday Morning Crash on Snow Hill (WJLE Photo)

Two men are reportedly in critical condition at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga after a two vehicle crash Saturday morning on Highway 70 near the intersection of Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) on Snow Hill.

30 year old Chris Gammons and Troy Bruno, both of Smithville were airlifted from near the scene of the crash by Life Force and Air Evac helicopter ambulances. Two other people were involved in the wreck, 32 year old Cleva Elaine Gammons of Smithville, wife of Chris Gammons, and 52 year old Johnny Hickey of Liberty. Hickey was not injured but has been charged with three counts of vehicular assault as a result of the crash investigation.

Central dispatch received the call at 3:28 a.m

According to Trooper Darrell Knowles of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Hickey was traveling west on Highway 70 in a 2004 F350 full size flat bed truck when he crossed the turning lane and into the path of an eastbound 2002 Nissan Altima, driven by Cleva Elaine Gammons. Chris Gammons was a front seat passenger and Troy Bruno was a back seat passenger of the Altima. Chris Gammons was ejected and landed on the highway, in front of the Altima. Bruno was trapped in the backseat and had to be extricated by members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team.

Bruno and Chris Gammons were transported by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone on Highway 70 at the intersection of Toad Road. One of them was airlifted by a Life Force helicopter and the other was flown out by an Air Evac helicopter. Mrs. Gammons was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital, where she was treated and released.

On the scene were Trooper Knowles of the THP, DeKalb EMS, Sheriff's Department deputies, DeKalb Fire Extrication and Rescue, and members of the Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, Liberty, and Cookeville Highway stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

The complaint against Hickey states that he admitted to consuming four beers. Several field sobriety tasks were given. Hickey did not perform as demonstrated. Hickey was transported to the emergency room of the hospital for a blood alcohol test and then to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department for booking.

Election Commission Releases Sample Ballot for August Elections

June 22, 2012
Dwayne Page
Scott Cantrell
Mason Carter

The DeKalb County Election Commission has released a sample ballot for the Tennessee Democratic and Republican Primaries, the DeKalb County General Election, and the Dowelltown and Liberty Municipal Elections set for Thursday, August 2.

Early Voting is set for July 13-28.


DekalbTN-PG12-NEWSPAPER.pdf (33.05 KB)

The ballot appears as follows;


United States Senate:
Fred R. Anderson
Mark Twain Clemens
Bob Corker
Brenda S. Lenard
Zach Poskevich

United States House of Representatives 6th Congressional District:
Diane Black
Lou Ann Zelenik

Tennessee House of Representatives 40th Representative District:
Terri Lynn Weaver

Tennessee House of Representatives 46th Representative District:
Mark A. Pody


United States Senate:
Mark E. Clayton
Larry Crim
Gary Gene Davis
Dave Hancock
Park Overall
T.K. Owens
Benjamin Roberts

United States House of Representatives 6th Congressional District:
No candidate

Tennessee House of Representatives 40th Representative District:
Wesley Duane Hodges
Sarah Marie Smith

Tennessee House of Representative 46th Representative District:
No candidate


Assessor of Property
Mason Carter- Republican Nominee
Scott E. Cantrell-Democratic Nominee

School Board Member 5th District
W.J. (Dub) Evins, III- Independent
Kevin Hale-Independent

School Board Member 6th District
Doug Stephens-Independent

Constable 1st District
No candidate

Constable 2nd District
No candidate

Constable 3rd District
Wayne Vanderpool- Democratic Nominee

Constable 4th District
Paul Cantrell- Democratic Nominee

Constable 5th District
Mark Milam-Democratic Nominee

Constable 6th District
Carl Lee Webb-Democratic Nominee

Constable 7th District
Johnny King-Democratic Nominee

Mayor-Town of Dowelltown
Gerald Bailiff

Aldermen-Town of Dowelltown
Joe L. Bogle

Aldermen-Town of Liberty (Vote for Three)
Dwight Mathis
Paul M. Neal
Jason H. Ray

Judicial Retention Question
Court of Criminal Appeals

Shall Jeffrey S. Bivins be retained or replaced in office as a Judge of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Middle Division? (Vote Retain or Replace)

Judicial Retention Question
Court of Criminal Appeals

Shall Roger A. Page be retained or replaced in office as a Judge of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Western Division? (Vote Retain or Replace)

DekalbTN-PG12-NEWSPAPER.pdf (33.05 KB)


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