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Local News Articles

Local Law Enforcement Agencies to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints on Graduation Night

May 4, 2009
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Smithville and Alexandria
Police Departments will be out in full force combating drunk driving on our roads during the upcoming high school graduation.

As part of the effort to combat drunk driving, Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department regularly coordinates sobriety checkpoints in DeKalb County. "Our goal is to have a safe night for not only the graduates, but also their friends and family members who are traveling on our roadways. My department and I will also be at the graduation to assist you in anyway and also to support our graduating seniors."

According to Sheriff Ray the areas where the checkpoints will be conducted on graduation night, May 22nd are Highway 70, Highway 56, Highway 146, and Highway 53 in Liberty and Alexandria. "If you come upon one of the checkpoints, you need to be on alert for officers standing in the roadway and be prepared to stop. If you see what you think might be a drunk
driver, gather as much information as possible such as a description of the vehicle and a tag number and then call the central dispatch at 215-3000 or dial 911."

Sheriff Ray says grant funds help pay for equipment needed for these type of enforcement efforts. "My department and I , in conjunction with other area law enforcement agencies, often conduct sobriety check points in the county. I have applied for grants from the Governor's Highway Safety Office to buy equipment such as traffic cones, traffic vests, flashlights, blue lights for the patrol cars, and other items so that the deputies may have the equipment needed to perform these types of check points. We have already received two grants to purchase this type of equipment and I have applied for another grant that we hope to get soon".

Under the law, Sheriff Ray says these checkpoints must be publicized in advance. "Many of our checkpoints are mobile. This means the checkpoints that we do are set up at certain locations for a few hours, and then move to other locations. As a law enforcement leader, I am required by law and department policies, to advise the public where and when we will be doing the check points . Our department also performs saturated patrols within the county which means we target certain roads where we see increasing arrests for drunk drivers, accidents where alcohol may be the contributing factor, or maybe a road where we are getting a lot of complaints about drinking and driving. We try to have these type of checkpoints when traffic is at a higher rate
than normal for the safety of the public."

Sheriff's Department Makes Three DUI Arrests

May 4, 2009
Dwayne Page
John Robert Lucas

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested three people in separate drunk driving offenses last week and found a baggie of marijuana during one of the investigations.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies arrested 30 year old John Robert Lucas of West End Avenue,
McMinnville last Wednesday, April 29th after he was stopped on Highway 56 South for weaving.
The officers detected an odor of alcohol on Lucas' person. He was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Lucas submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Upon receiving consent to search Lucas' vehicle, deputies found under the seat, a baggie containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

Lucas was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and simple possession of
marijuana. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in General
Sessions Court on May 28th.

Also on Wednesday, deputies were on patrol in the Dowelltown and Liberty area of
the county when they spotted a vehicle driving erratically on Highway 70. An officer activated his blue lights but the vehicle continued going. After officers got the automobile stopped on Main Street in Liberty, they found 35 year old Luther Odell Miles of Granada Avenue, Nashville to be the driver. They also noticed that Miles had an odor of alcohol on his person. Miles submitted to
field sobriety tasks which he failed.

Miles was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. His bond was set
at $1,500 and he will appear in General Sessions Court on May 28th.

On Saturday, deputies responded to a hit and run accident on Cookeville Highway and spotted the vehicle that had left the scene about three miles from where the mishap occurred. After stopping the vehicle, officers detected a strong odor of alcohol. The driver, 51 year old David William Boyd of Puckett's Point Road, Smithville, submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Deputies also checked Boyd's driver's license and discovered that it was suspended.

Boyd was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license, and leaving the scene of an accident. Boyd's total bond was set at $9,500 and he will appear in General Sessions Court on May 28th

Hagan Home Heavily Damaged by Fire

May 4, 2009
Dwayne Page

A Sunday evening fire caused extensive damage to the home of Tony and Frankie Hagan at 220 Holmes Creek Road.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says the Hagans were at home at the time and reported the fire around 7:32 p.m. They escaped unharmed.

Chief Parker says the fire heavily damaged the kitchen and utility room area on the first floor and caused some damage to the second floor. The residence also received some smoke and water damage.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

DCHS Senior Awards Day set for May 15th

May 3, 2009
Dwayne Page

Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be awarded to members of the Class of 2009 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards Day program, set for Friday, May 15th at 8:30 a.m.

Representatives of colleges, universities, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations will be making the presentations.
WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

In addition to the awards by colleges and universities, local scholarships expected to be presented include the following:

DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications, Jolly Angels, Smithville Women's Club, DeKalb Retired Teachers, Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship, The DeKalb Farmers Coop, The Kyle and Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship, The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award, The Hunter Davis Memorial Scholarship, Courtney Pirtle Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb County Republican Women's scholarship, the Beecher and Wilma Moss Scholarship, AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship, The DeKalb County Soil Conservation District Scholarship, The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship, the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Alan Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, the Jeff Garrett Memorial Scholarship, the Middle Tennessee Times Scholarship, the Charlene Morrison-Johns Memorial Scholarship, and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

May 3, 2009
State Senator Mae Beavers

Legislation that would change Tennessee’s current process for selection of state’s Supreme Court judges was approved by the Senate Government Operations Committee this week. Sponsors say the bill reflects the intent of the constitution that judges are to stand for contested elections.

The legislation provides for the governor to select Supreme Court justices without being filtered and narrowed down to a panel of three selected by the Judicial Selection Commission. The Judicial Selection Commission is made up of members of special interest groups. The legislation also envisions passage of a Constitutional resolution that would allow the people to decide on how judges should be selected in the future, by retention or by popular vote.

The action comes as a result of last year’s vote not to continue the Judicial Selection Commission, the central provision of the state’s current “Tennessee Plan” for selection of Supreme Court and appellate judges. Under the Tennessee Plan, which was adopted in 1994, the governor must choose from three candidates for the state’s appellate and Supreme Court from a list presented by the Judicial Selection Commission. After appointment, the judges then stand for yes-no retention votes at the end of their terms.

Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers said that she looks forward to discussing the bill further in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. “I believe our current system of selecting judges does not remove politics from the system, but only allows the politics of specific interest groups to be represented,” said Beavers. “I hope we can have a system where the most qualified judges are selected and accountable to the people of Tennessee, as well as a system that adheres to our Constitution.”

Under the bill approved last week, once the current Tennessee Plan process expires in June, the governor would be allowed to make the appointment solely at his discretion until 2014 when the judges could face challengers at the end of their terms. The next step would be the referendum vote to allow Tennesseans to decide whether to amend the constitution to restore the current system of retention elections for Supreme Court justices. This bill would bridge that time gap by giving the governor the sole authority to select and appoint vacancies on the high court in the meantime.

Meanwhile, The Senate Finance Committee has approved a resolution claiming Tennessee’s “sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” The proposal, SJR 311, is designed to send Congress a message that the federal government has overstepped its Constitutional bounds by mandating a massive amount of federal policies upon the states.

The federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states, not vice-versa. It was such an important point with the founders that they specifically provided for this sovereignty in our Constitution.”

The resolution also points out that Article IV, Section 4 says, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” In 1992, the United States Supreme Court ruled in New York vs United States, that Congress may not commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states.

The resolution concludes by giving “notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.” Upon passage, the resolution will be sent to the President of the United States, Congressional leaders and the Tennessee Congressional delegation.

Twenty-eight states have approved similar resolutions.

Bills in Brief

Confiscation of Weapons / Martial law -- Legislation limiting the power of government to confiscate firearms and restrict the sale of ammunition during martial law was approved this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, SB 1992, prohibits the confiscation of weapons from law-abiding citizens or restricting the ability to purchase guns and ammunition during times of martial law. The law already makes that provision in cases of a natural disaster or declared emergency.

Escape from police custody -- Legislation that strengthens penalties against those who escape arrest was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. The bill, SB 388, provides that a person commits the offense of escape if they knowingly escapes the lawful custody of a law enforcement officer. A violation of this bill would be a Class A misdemeanor regardless of whether the person was being held for a misdemeanor, civil offense, or felony.

Aggravated Robbery -- Legislation was approved by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee would make offenders who commit aggravated robbery ineligible for parole or early release. The bill, SB 241, requires the offender to serve 100 percent of the their sentence if, on or after July 1, 2009, the person commits aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, regardless of whether he/she has a prior conviction for aggravated robbery.

Charter Schools – Legislation that strengthens Tennessee’s public charter school law was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week. The legislation, SB 2133, widens eligibility, clarifies funding and addresses rules for renewal of the public charter schools. Tennessee currently has one of the most restrictive public charter school laws in the nation.

Relay for Life set for Friday

May 2, 2009
Dwayne Page

DeKalb Countians will rally in the fight against cancer during the 12th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life Friday, May 8th at Greenbrook Park.

More than 30 Relay for Life teams will be set up offering food and lots of fun filled activities. A large silent auction will also be held.

Over $100,000 was raised last year.

In this overnight family-oriented event, participants walk relay-style around the track and take part in fun activities off the track. Cancer survivors will take center stage around 6:00 p.m.during the opening ceremony to receive medallions and to give a personal testimony as to just how long they've been a survivor.

The walking track will also be lined with luminaria in honor or remembrance of those who have battled cancer. This ceremony of light symbolizes the hope and courage with which we all continue to fight cancer

Chris Summers, Community Representative with the American Cancer Society says "Relay For Life is a unique opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those we've lost, and fight back against the disease. Many of the participants are cancer survivors."

Funds raised at Relay For Life will enable the American Cancer Society to support local services and resources for cancer patients and their families. Funds also support critical cancer research and community education programs designed to teach people how to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

For more information, please contact Ivadell Randolph at 597-5296

DeKalb and Cannon Awarded $830K for Water Extension Projects

May 1, 2009

The current economic downturn has forced many counties across Tennessee to put much needed infrastructure improvement projects on hold. However, Congressman Bart Gordon announced today that DeKalb County and Cannon County will together receive $830,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for several water extension projects.

“There are too many residents in DeKalb and Cannon who do not have access to clean public water services and have to rely on wells and springs,” said Congressman Gordon. “While this money will allow the counties to extend water services to more households, I am committed to obtaining the additional money needed so that every household has access to public water services.”

The USDA’s Rural Development (USDA-RD) agency awarded DeKalb and Cannon $625,000 in federal loans and $205,000 in grant money – together, this totals $830,000 for the water projects. In DeKalb, the money will be used to extend more than 10 miles of water lines. The extensions will occur along Dry Creek Road and Alexandria to Dismal Road. In Cannon, more than 6 miles of water lines will be constructed along Hurricane Creek Road and Bryson Hollow Road.

DeKalb and Cannon received the funds from the Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants program at the USDA-RD. The mission of this program is finance the construction, extension, or improvement of water and waste disposal systems in rural areas and towns.

Liberty Man Dies in Four Wheeler Crash

April 30, 2009
Dwayne Page

A 26 year old man died in an all terrain vehicle accident around 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon in Liberty.

Dead is Jamie Carl Hale of 148 Hale Road, Liberty.

Trooper Darrell Knowles of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Hale was operating a 1996 Yamaha Banshee westbound on West Main Street in Liberty when he crossed Highway 53 and struck a guardrail. Hale was thrown some 37 feet. He was not wearing a safety helmet.

Members of the Liberty and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with DeKalb EMS, and the Sheriff's Department. A Life Force helicopter ambulance was summoned and landed near the scene, but Hale died before he could be airlifted.

The accident was investigated by Trooper Knowles and THP Sergeant Billy Prater.

Hale's death marks the third fatality on DeKalb County roads this year.

Courthouse to Get Security Cameras

April 29, 2009
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Mike Foster at County Commission Meeting

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night authorized the purchase of security cameras for the courthouse.

County Mayor Mike Foster says a system can be purchased for around five thousand dollars."
It's a sixteen camera/DVR camera kit, web ready. It's got all the wires, security lock box, mounting bracket, 32 inch flat screen TV, wall mount for TV, power strips, connectors, conduit, and networking on-line viewing, which means you can be at home and if you know the code you can check in and see if anything is going on at the courthouse. The screen has sixteen squares and you can see wherever you want to look."

" We just bid for eight cameras but as the need arises we can put more on. The cameras would be placed at each of the three exterior entrances, two would be installed in each of the courtrooms, and then there would be another one in the archives."

" It (recording) will recycle every seven days. It will keep a record for seven days and erase it a week later. So if you had some kind of a problem (in the courthouse) you would know what happened up to a week."

Foster said he would try to get some courtroom security money to help pay for the system.

Persons becoming sick or injured and needing an ambulance while actively doing volunteer work for the county would get a break on their bill under a measure adopted by the county commission Monday night.

County Mayor Foster raised the proposal which will " waive ambulance service fees of anyone doing volunteer service for the county after their insurance has paid whatever it will pay. The rest of that fee will be waived for ambulance service. It will be for somebody who is volunteering their time, like a volunteer fireman, or whoever, but they would have to be actively engaged in volunteering for something at that time."

Another ambulance service related issue was tabled until next month. County Mayor Foster says under this proposal, the county would pay approximately $4,000 for the training if an EMT wishes to go to paramedic school. "Then they (EMT) would sign a contract guaranteeing to work for DeKalb County for a period of three years. If they do not (work for three years), they would be responsible for paying back a pro rated amount to the county. If they were fired for cause, they would have to pay back the entire $4,000."

Again, no action was taken.

The state is considering establishing statewide residential building codes

County Mayor Foster addressed the issue Monday night."Governor has introduced legislation that would make Tennessee a leader in energy efficiency, residential building codes, and clean technology."

"As a part of this proposal, the state would enact statewide residential building codes for the first time. These codes are proposed to reduce our high per capita energy consumption, reduce the state's high rate of fire fatalities, and protect residents from shodding building construction."

"County associations representatives have demanded that counties not bear any new costs related to this change. So far, the legislation as written, does not put any additional costs on the counties. Those counties that have building code programs may continue to enforce them if they choose, or if they do not have the codes, the state will enforce these codes much like they already do with the state's Fire Marshal office for electrical inspections"

"We would rather the county enforce this (building codes) rather than the state come in here and do it. We would have some local person that would use some oversight and common sense when enforcing these regulations if you (county commission) chose to do that. We already have the books on file and we just need your (county commissioners) input as to what all you require a permit for if you decide to do that."

No action was taken

Alexandria Aldermen Adopt Ordinance to Regulate Parking on City Streets

April 28, 2009
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Mayor Ria Baker and City Attorney Vester Parsley
Alexandria Aldermen Maureen Tubbs, Shelia Clayborn, and Derrick Baker
Alexandria Aldermen Eddie Tubbs and Tony Tarpley

The Alexandria City Council Tuesday night adopted on second and final reading regulations regarding parking on city streets.

The ordinance reads as follows" Whereas, the Town of Alexandria regulates the parking within the city limits; and

Whereas, there is no current code or ordinance regarding parking in the middle of the street.

Now, therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the Town of Alexandria that the Alexandria Municipal Codes is hereby added to as follows:

Section 1. Section 15-613: Stopping, standing, or parking on roadway. Upon any street or highway no person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the roadway or street, but in every event an unobstructed width of the highway opposite a standing vehicle shall be left for the free passage of other vehicles and a clear view of such stopped vehicle shall be available from a distance of 200 feet in each direction upon such highway.

Section 15-614. Obstructing traffic. No person shall park any vehicle upon a street in such a manner or under such conditions as to leave available less than ten feet of the width of the roadway for free movement of vehicular traffic.

Section 15-615. Parking on narrow streets.

(a). The city manager or his designee is hereby authorized to erect signs indicating no parking upon any street when the width of the roadway does not exceed 20 feet, or upon one side of a street when the width of the roadway does not exceed 30 feet.

(b) When official signs prohibiting parking are erected upon narrow streets as authorized in this section, no person shall park a vehicle upon any such street in violation of any such sign."

The ordinance will take effect upon installation of posted street signs.

In other business, the aldermen granted Police Chief Mark Collins' request to purchase some new digital radios and traffic cones for the department. Chief Collins says the city has applied for a grant to help fund the purchase of the radios.

The aldermen awarded a bid to Roof Fix Incorporated for $6,200 to re-roof the city sewer plant.

Monica Thompson was hired by the aldermen to do some part time work in the office at city hall on Mondays and Thursdays. She will also be offered the city recorder position.

The city is looking to hire someone to pick up garbage, replacing Phillip Golden, who has quit. The position will be advertised.


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