Local News Articles

Smithville Police Charge Murfreesboro Couple With Passing Counterfeit Checks

December 12, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have again made significant progress investigating Identify Theft here within the City.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says detectives assigned to revisit older cases that were still open usually referred to as \"cold cases\" were able to follow up on new information and identify and charge two persons.

The original case started on September 6th when Smithville Police received complaints of unknown persons using counterfeit checks within the city limits. Throughout the course of the investigation, it was found that fraudulent checks have been mass produced and used throughout the southeast region of the United States with losses exceeding over $2 million dollars.

Detectives from the Smithville Police Department, United States Secret Service, FBI, and Tennessee Criminal Investigation Division of the Department of Safety were able to successfully track the spending patterns of the suspects leading to the identity and arrest of a husband and wife team living in Murfreesboro.

The suspects had been producing the checks on high tech copy machines and established numerous fraudulent aliases and company accounts. In some cases, the checks were also used as payroll checks which were processed for cash.

Arrested were 25 year old Beatrice Lynn McWhorter and 26 year old James Christopher McWhorter of 811 Twin Oaks Drive, Murfreesboro. The two are currently being held at the White County Jail on numerous charges.

Smithville Police have also charged the pair with two counts of passing counterfeit checks in the City of Smithville. Bond for them is $20,000 each.

Due to the complexity of the case and the vast amount of fraud the investigation is still continuing with additional arrests expected.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, Chief Stufano says the Smithville Police Department would like to advise the public that there is an international check scam currently being used in our city and residents should be aware of this illegal activity.

Residents may receive a letter from a company in Canada stating that a city resident is the winner in an international sweepstakes. The letter goes on to read that the company has enclosed a check drawn on a U.S. Bank in an amount varying from $3,000 to $4,000. The enclosed check is to be immediately deposited in the winner's bank account. The winner is to then write a personal check out of their account for the $3,500 to cover taxes on the winnings and forward it back to the sweepstakes company. The letter further states the final payment of the winnings, usually in the amount of $80,000 will be immediately sent to the winner when their funds to cover the taxes have reached the company.

Chief Stufano says high pressure tactics in the letter include time parameters the winner must meet in order to collect the winnings. Another tactic in the letter states \"Special Notice\"- \"This award program has come to the public notice and in order to avoid unauthorized organizations or individuals contacting you, please ensure that this winning is kept confidential\".

Stufano says if you have received one of these letters do not deposit the fraudulent check in your account and be sure to contact police.

Chief Stufano says the Smithville Police Department is strongly committed to actively investigating cases of Identify Theft and Fraud used against our citizens. If you believe you may have been the victim or would like more information on these types of crimes, you are encourgaed to contact the Smithville Police Department.

Willoughby Presents Monthly Report on Personnel To School Board

December 14, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby submitted his report on personnel to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Those employed since the last meeting are Beverly Starnes, full time cafeteria worker and Richard Bullard, full time custodian at DCHS.

Jennifer Agee, special education assistant has resigned

Those granted a leave of absence as requested include Karen Knowles, Smithville Elementary School teacher, and Pamela Fults, DCHS Chorus teacher.

In other business, the school board voted to accept bids on buses to be taken out of service including a 1986 84 passenger bus, two 1991 72 passenger buses, two 1991 78 passenger buses, a 1991 66 passenger bus, and a 1978 Ford Panel van. Bids will be opened and the vehicles sold at the January meeting.

Jeannie Watson and Shan Burklow requested permission from the board to produce a school calendar which would include photographs of children and dates of school functions. The calendar would serve as a fundraiser for the non-profit Operation Head To Toe, which provides clothes for needy children in this county during Christmas time. Some ninety children have been served this year.

The board decided to defer action until receiving input from the school principals next month.

Supervisor of Instruction Carol Hendrix gave a report on the School Report Card released last month by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Sheriff Seeks Donations Of Cell Phones For Abuse Victims

December 17, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

If you are thinking of replacing your cell phone with a new one this Christmas, Sheriff Patrick Ray is asking you to please donate your old one to the Genesis House so that victims of domestic violence may have a cell phone to call 911 as they need assistance.

Sheriff Ray says the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department is the collection point for your donation of cell phones and battery chargers.

The Genesis House mission is to promote the general welfare of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by providing shelter, goods, and services.

If you are a victim of abuse, the Genesis House has a 24 hour crisis hotline at 1-800-707-5197

School System to Receive Funds from Microsoft Settlement

December 18, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Education will distribute $15-million 315- thousand 586 in software vouchers to local school systems as a result of a settlement in a lawsuit against Microsoft Corporation. The class action suit alleged Microsoft used unlawful trade practices to maintain a monopoly and overcharge Tennessee consumers.

The DeKalb County School System is to received $43,448.

State Education Commissioner Lana Seivers says \"We are pleased that the outcome will allow Tennessee school systems to upgrade technology for the benefit of their students and allow additional resources to be directed toward improving teaching and learning.\"

Each school district will receive approximately $16.40 per student according to the district's average daily membership (ADM) at the end of the 2005-06 school year. Local administrators may use software vouchers for current or future Microsoft operating system software such as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office applications and encyclopedia software and certain non-Microsoft software.

Dr. Tim Webb, Assistant Commissioner for Resource and Support Services says \"The department is working diligently to help districts take advantage of these vouchers in a timely manner.\"

Tennessee attorneys James Stranch of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC and Ted Carey of Barrett, Johnston & Parsley handled Tennessee's case, which was one of the first cases to be filed and has resulted in one of the stronger settlements nationwide.

City To Apply For CDBG Grant

December 19, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen Monday night, following a public hearing, adopted a resolution seeking a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

The resolution states that the city is in dire need of a sewer system rehabilitation project due to excessive infiltration or inflow of surface water into the sewer system.

The total project is estimated to be $582,000. The city's local matching portion would be $82,000 if the grant is approved.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker gave notice to the Mayor and Aldermen that the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department would no longer be providing extrication services at wrecks outside the city limits effective January 1st.

Parker says \" A couple of weeks ago I was informed by DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green that the County Fire Department had purchased some rescue equipment and wants to assume extrication service to the county as of January 1, 2007.\"

Parker says \"This is just to go on record that as of January 1st, the Smithville Fire Department will no longer be responsible or liable to respond to calls outside the city limits of Smithville as first call or automatic response.\"

\"We will continue to provide service to the City of Smithville as we have for the past 21 years. We will however respond outside the city with available personnel to requests from any agencies, including law enforcement, EMS, fire, and rescue anywhere that our services may be needed.\"

Parker says \"The Smithville Fire Department started rescue services to Smithville and DeKalb County in 1985. Under the leadership of then Mayor Waniford Cantrell, the city managed to purchase the Jaws of Life equipment, and with a lot of personal involvement from then Fire Chief W.J. \"Dub\" Keith and then Captain Buddy Parker, members of the community and the fire department, a used step van was converted into the first rescue vehicle. We have been adding or replacing some equipment ever since.\"

In other business, the city board approved the employment of certified police officer Travis Bryant and water treatment plant trainee Bruce Medley.

The mayor and aldermen entered into an agreement with Charles McGaughy, doing business as Mack Air LLC, to use a portion of the main airport terminal building to make repairs and maintenance to aircraft there.

The city board also set the regular meeting dates for the calendar year 2007.

The mayor and aldermen will meet at 7:00 p.m. at city hall on the following dates: February 5th and 19th, March 5th and 19th, April 2nd and 16th, May 7th and 21st, June 4th and 18th, July 2nd and 16th, August 6th and 20th, September 17th, October 1st and 15th, November 5th and 19th, and December 3rd and 17th.

The city board will not meet on January 1st for New Year's Day, January 15th for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday observance, and on Labor Day, September 3rd.

Foster Named Chairman of County Commission

December 20, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night unanimously selected County Mayor Mike Foster as the Chairman of the Commission for the year.

Seventh District Commissioner Larry Summers was named Chairman Pro Temp.

The chairman presides over all county commission meetings. The chairman pro temp fills in for the chairman in his absence.

In other business, the commission adopted two proposed amendments to the Subdivision Regulations on second and final reading upon the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

County Mayor Mike Foster says one of the proposed amendments pertains to the design and construction of new roads in subdivision developments and the other regulates flag lots \" Roads must have a thickness of asphalt binder of two inches. This new regulation would require a wearing surface of another one and a half inches at the final completion for a total of three and a half inches of blacktop.\"

\"Under the flag lot regulations, there must be a minimum of 50 feet road frontage and it cannot exceed 300 feet. Flag lots must not encompass 10% of the total development. This is to prevent someone from having so many flag lots to keep from building a road.\"

Another proposed amendment would revise the \"Hillside Development Standards\".

Foster says the proposed change is primarily meant to stop some lot developments on the lake that are actually too steep for development.

However no action was taken on that amendment Monday night. Foster says the Planning Commission wants to make some changes in the proposal. \"We had a meeting of the planning commission last Monday night and I think we have agreed there are ways to work out the problems we need solved. We will have a work session on that (issue) and we'll invite you (county commissioners) and the planning commission to that meeting to address it.\"

\"The problem of the real steep lots is that they don't provide adequate parking or sewer/septic system capacity. The planning commission will likely recommend that the homeowner be required to have a licensed engineer to lay out the foundation on lots with a 30% or greater slope.\"

Jennings Named Assistant DCHS Lady Tiger Coach

December 31, 1969
by: 
Dwayne Page

If you attended Wednesday night's Lady Tiger basketball game in the Christmas Tournament at Red Boiling Springs, you may have noticed a new coach courtside.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says Randy Jennings has been named an assistant to head coach Amy Tobitt for the remainder of this basketball season, upon the recommendation of DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix.

Willoughby says Jennings was approached by Hendrix to take the assistant coaching position after Coach Tobitt requested some help with the program.

Jennings is a former DeKalb West School basketball player and coach, and a DCHS basketball standout. He played baseball in college and is a former basketball coach at Watertown High School. He is currently Principal of DeKalb Middle School and is former Principal at Smithville Elementary School.

Willoughby says Jennings' new assignment will in no way interfere with his responsibilities as Principal of DeKalb Middle School.

Smithville Police Make Three Arrests In Domestic Assault Investigation

December 22, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged three people stemming from a domestic assault investigation on Wednesday.

Police Chief Thomas Stufano says those charged in the case are 34 year old Patsy Estes - McCoy, 40 year old Mark McCoy, and 71 year old Melvin McCormick.

In a prepared news release, Chief Stufano says \"On Wednesday, police responded to a reported domestic assault at 860 Cooper Street. Upon arrival, officers found that a female juvenile had been assaulted by her mother, Patsy Estes - McCoy and her step-father, Mark McCoy leaving numerous bruises and marks on the child's body. The child was also covered in dog food that the step-father had thrown all over the child. After the incident, the parents drove away together from the scene prior to the police response. During the investigation, the grandmother advised the officers that the child suffers from a diminished mental capacity and cerebral palsy.\"

\"On Friday, police detectives were able to track the mother to 701 Fisher Street at a residence owned by Melvin McCormick. Police contacted McCormick there and were advised by him that Ms. McCoy had just left.\"

Chief Stufano says \"during the questioning, it was apparent that McCormick was concealing the truth so officers set up a surveillance of the residence. Approximately 20 minutes passed when McCormick and Ms. McCoy came out of the front door and left in McCormick's truck. Officers followed the vehicle in an attempt to find the husband but due to the erratic driving of the driver, the vehicle was stopped.\"

Ms. McCoy was immediately taken into custody and McCormick was processed for driving under the influence of alcohol. Both were transported to the DeKalb County Jail.

Charges on Ms. McCoy include child abuse and neglect and theft of city water services. It was found that Ms. McCoy and her husband had broken and reconnected a city water meter at their residence when it was shut off for non-payment. Bond was set at $3,500.

McCormick was charged with accessory after the fact and driving under the influence. His bond was set at $6,000.

Meanwhile, Chief Stufano says police arrested Mark McCoy Thursday night when he returned to his residence and was attempting to move his belongings out.

He was subsequently charged with domestic assault, child abuse and neglect, and destruction and theft of city property and services. His bond was set at $6,000.

Chief Stufano says Smithville Police are committed to actively investigating these types of crimes and encourages all residents to report suspicious incidents to the police.

Luther Named Administrator of DeKalb Community Hospital

December 23, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Robert M. Luther of Franklin Tennessee has been appointed by the Cannon
County Hospital, LLC Board, as the new Administrator/Chief Executive Officer
for DeKalb Community Hospital in Smithville and Stones River
Hospital in Woodbury.

Luther is formerly the Senior Vice President for Regional Operations
for Attentus Healthcare, Franklin, Tennessee. He has served as Chief
Executive Officer at hospitals in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and South
Carolina. In addition to healthcare operations, Mr. Luther has extensive
experience in quality improvement, business development and physician
recruitment.

Luther has a master?s in healthcare administration from the Graduate
School of Business at the University of Colorado. He served in the United
States Navy.

He and his wife Patricia have three children and three grandchildren. He
enjoys reading, travel and golf.

Luther assumed duties with both hospitals on December 18th.

The principles in Cannon County Hospital, LLC own DeKalb Community Hospital
and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury.

One Man Injured In Christmas Day Accident.

December 25, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

One person was injured in a single vehicle traffic accident Christmas Day on Braswell Lane.

Smithville Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano says 47 year old Jeffery Allen Scheffler of 911 Short Mountain Highway, Smithville was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital where he was treated and released.

The accident occurred at approximately 4:00 p.m. in the 200 block of Braswell Lane. Chief Stufano says Scheffler was traveling too fast for conditions and he over-corrected and fishtailed, which resulted in the vehicle leaving the roadway and ending up in a drainage ditch. The front end of the vehicle had extensive damage after hitting a drainage pipe at the bottom of the ditch.

Rescue workers at the scene rendered first aid to Scheffler who had facial lacerations. Scheffler was wearing his seatbelt which may have prevented him from receiving more serious injuries.

Chief Stufano says the Smithville Police Department would like to remind drivers that this is the time of year when they need to be vigilant about poor driving conditions. Motorists should use caution when driving. Some of the hazards include black ice, standing water, high winds, and driving rain, sleet, and snow.

You are reminded to give yourself plenty of time during inclement weather, and wear your seatbelts, and when making longer trips always let someone know when you are leaving, your route of travel, and your estimated time of arrival.

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