Local News Articles

TDOT to Temporarily Close Portion of State Highway 83 Tuesday For Road Work

August 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to temporarily close State Route 83 between Highways 56 and 70 on Tuesday, September 4th in order to do some work on the road.

TDOT will be resurfacing State Route 83 beginning at Old Mill Hill Road and extending 4.4 miles to State Route 56 (Congress Boulevard).

Highways Incorporated of Brentwood was awarded a bid to do the work for $324,143.

As part of the resurfacing project underway on State Route 83, the contractor will be installing drainage pipes that will entail the temporary closure of State Route 83 between State Route 56 and US Highway 70. This closure will occur on Tuesday, September 4th between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Thirty Six Sex Offenders from DeKalb County Listed on State Registry

August 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

A total of thirty six people living in DeKalb County have registered as sex offenders.

Under a new law, anyone who has ever committed a sex crime is now required to report their whereabouts to the registry.

Locating an offender near your own home has already become a lot easier as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has begun a system which pinpoints the locations where sex offenders live on a map. All this information is available for public access via the Internet.

TBI Director Mark Gwynn says " the former sex offender law only required offenders to register if they were incarcerated, on probation, or on parole as of January 1st, 1996. The new law is retroactive, meaning anyone who has committed a sex crime in the past, regardless of the date, must now report to their local law enforcement agency."

While the listing requirements were strengthened for some, they were relaxed for lesser violators as many persons convicted of statutory rape are no longer required to list themselves.

The new law also allows those formerly on the registry for statutory rape to petition to have their pictures and names removed. Statutory rape convictions of persons who were more than 10 years older than their victims are still required to list themselves in most cases.

Failure of a convicted sex offender to list his or herself on the registry is a felony, generally punished by several additional months behind bars,

The updated system also requires sex offenders who move to Tennessee from other states to list themselves here if they were registered offenders in their former state, even if their offense is not covered under Tennessee's list of requirements.

The tightening of listing laws comes as the TBI has put a new mapping system on it's Web site to assist the public in tracking convicted sex offenders. The search engine uses a map overlay of the state's 95 counties to show exactly where an offender lives. The search engine provides several ways to locate an offender. The TBI's Web site is www.tbi.state.tn.us.

High Fire Danger Prompts Early Burning Permit Requirement

August 28, 2007
Dwayne Page

Due to extremely high wildfire danger caused by the drought, record high temperatures and low humidity, state Forestry officials today announced the implementation of burning restrictions usually reserved for official wildfire season.

Effective (Aug. 27), citizens are required to obtain a burning permit from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry before conducting any outdoor, open burning of debris within 500 feet of woodlands, grasslands or forestlands.

“Although our level of wildfire activity is moderate and manageable, we’re concerned about the potential for high wildfire danger due to the extremely dry conditions and the effect it’s having on forest fuels as we move into the fall,” said State Forester Steve Scott. “We want to be proactive by helping citizens determine when and where it’s safe to burn and when it’s not.

“Considering the forecast for continued hot, dry conditions and little chance of rainfall, we will be issuing burning permits on a very limited basis, to be evaluated county by county and considering local conditions. We are taking these steps to help undercut the threat of wildfires caused by debris burning before they happen, and to protect lives and property.”

Typically, burning permits are not required by the state Division of Forestry except during official fire season, which runs Oct. 15 through May 15 each year. However, under state law the State Forester can prescribe other periods of time for requiring burning permits as conditions warrant. The burning permit requirement is expected to remain in force through May 15, 2008, when official wildfire season ends.

According to state Forestry officials, burning permits are not likely to be issued until areas of the state receive substantial rainfall. When conditions improve, citizens should inquire about burning permits by calling their local Division of Forestry office listed in the phone directory under state government between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. A directory of state forestry offices by county can also be found on the Web at www.burnsafetn.org.

Activities requiring a burning permit include, but are not limited to unconfined, outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste, and burning to clear land. Burning permits are required in most areas unless superseded by local ordinance, so citizens are encouraged to also check for any restrictions by municipalities.

Since Jan. 1, nearly 2,700 fires have burned an estimated 37,000 acres in Tennessee, well above average for what is normally seen in a 12-month period. Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfire; however, 37 percent of the wildfires this year have been due to arson, which is a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. For more information, visit the Division of Forestry’s wildfire safety Web site at www.burnsafetn.org

Two Remain Hospitalized In Alexandria Wreck

August 27, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two people involved in a one auto traffic accident Thursday night near Alexandria remain hospitalized at Erlanger in Chattanooga.

Sergeant Billy Prater of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Joe Edge of Smithville and Kimberly April Dawn Cornett of Murfreesboro were passengers of a Jeep Liberty SUV driven by Warren Brandon Glasby of Smithville, who has been charged with driving under the influence.

According to Sergeant Prater, Glasby was driving west on Highway 70 when the vehicle went off the road into a ditchline, struck a rock bluff, and then overturned, coming to rest on it's wheels. The mishap occurred between the old stock barn and the intersection of Old Liberty Road.

Both Edge and Cornett were flown by Life Force helicopter ambulance to Erlanger Hospital while Glasby was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital for observation.

The accident remains under investigation by Sergeant Prater and Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Others on the scene rendering assistance were members of the Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, DeKalb EMS, and the Alexandria Police Department.

Two Charged In Theft Cases

August 26, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested two people in recent days in a couple of theft cases. One of them is also charged with drug offenses.

30 year old Christopher Daniel Gibbs of Morgan Drive Smithville is charged with Aggravated Burglary and Theft of Property

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Gibbs entered a residence on Banks Pisgah Road Smithville by breaking through a door. Upon entering the residence, Gibbs grabbed cash that was lying on a coffee table in the residence. Gibbs was unaware that the owners of the house were home. The owner grabbed Gibbs and he dropped the cash and left the scene. Gibbs was later arrested at a residence in Dowelltown. The owners of the house were uninjured. Bond is set at $15,000 and his court date is September 13th.

Meanwhile, 19 year old Samantha Devault of Highland Drive Smithville is charged with Possession of a Schedule II Drug (Dilaudid), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (needle and a straw), and Theft of Property under $500.00.

Sheriff Ray says Devault had in her possession a yellow pill believed to be Dilaudid and two syringes and a straw. Devault was also charged with a theft that occurred at a residence on Arrowhead Drive in Smithville where she took a High Point 9 millimeter pistol. Her bond is set at $7,500 and her court date is September 20th.

Murfreesboro Man Charged With Burglary & Theft in Sealed indictment

August 24, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested a 23 year old man on a sealed indictment, returned by the Grand Jury earlier this month.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Bobby Walker Vaughn of Halls Hill Pike, Murfreesboro was arrested on a sealed indictment charging him with two counts of Aggravated Burglary, Theft of Property, and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.

Sheriff Ray says Vaughn is accused of breaking into a residence on Pea Ridge. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department recovered some of the items the day Cannon County authorities got in pursuit of Vaughn, after he stole the car of a Cannon County Investigator.

Vaughn appeared for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday. His bond is $81,000.

Meanwhile, 20 year old Brandy Bone of Wade Street Smithville is charged with two counts of Forgery and Theft of Property.

Sheriff Ray says Bone took two checks from a family member and then forged and cashed the checks totaling approximately $200.00 at two stores in DeKalb County. Her bond is $11,000 and her court date is August 30th.

Sheriff's Department Debuts New Website

August 23, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has a new website and blog.

Sheriff Patrick Ray encourages you to visit on line at www.dekalbsherifftn.com. You will find information about the Sheriff and the Sheriffs Department. The new site also includes a survey of the Sheriff's Department performance, a crime stopper report, TBI Missing Children and Sex Offender Search, TBI and FBI's Most Wanted, Information about handgun permits, D.A.R.E. and information about DeKalb County. The site also has a link to a page for kids.

Sheriff Ray also urges you to visit the Sheriff's Department's blog page, which features information about crime news in our county and other interesting articles. The site is www.dekalbcountysheriff.blogspot.com

Judge Patterson Hands Down Sentences in Criminal Court

August 23, 2007
Dwayne Page

Several defendants appeared before Judge David Patterson in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday to settle their cases.

62 year old Charles E. West pleaded guilty to violation of the sex offender act and received a two year sentence to serve ninety days and then be on probation. The sentence is to run concurrent with a violation of probation case against him in DeKalb County General Sessions Court. He was also fined $350.

28 year old Jason Allen pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule VI controlled substance (over one half ounce of marijuana). He received a two year sentence to serve sixty days and then be on probation. He was fined $2,000. Allen must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and perform 100 hours of community service work. He begins serving his sentence September 17th.

32 year old Shane Orlando pleaded guilty to domestic assault and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve. The sentence is to run concurrent with a violation of probation case against him. He is also under a restraining order to stay away from the victim. Orlando was given 110 days of jail credit.

36 year old Rhonda Gail Lucci pleaded guilty to public intoxication and received a 30 day sentence suspended to good behavior probation. She was fined fifty dollars.

30 year old Tonia Smith pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to time served. She will be on PSI probation with restitution to be determined. She must perform 100 hours of community service work. Smith was given 53 days of jail credit.

44 year old Bobbie Lisa Andrews pleaded guilty to public intoxication and received a thirty day sentence, suspended to good behavior probation. She was fined fifty dollars.

25 year old Barry Gibbs pleaded guilty to driving on a revoked license and joy riding and received a sentence of eleven months and twenty nine days, suspended except for 120 days. The cases run concurrent with each other but consecutive to a parole violation against him. He must also pay restitution. Gibbs was given ninety seven days jail credit.

23 year old Amy Estes pleaded guilty to three counts of sale of a schedule II and one count of sale of a schedule III controlled substance. All the cases run concurrently. She received a total of eight years, all suspended except for one year to serve and then be on probation. Estes was fined $2,000 and must perform 100 hours of community service work.

23 year old Ginger Trapp, charged with sale of a schedule II controlled substance, was granted judicial diversion probation for three years. She must perform 100 hours of community service work and make restitution of one hundred dollars and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

46 year old Sammy Gene Taylor pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days and fined $750. The sentence is to run concurrent with another case against him. He was given jail credit of five months.

25 year old Jennifer Brazle pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and received a sentence of two years and one day to run concurrent with a sentence in Clay County. She must perform 100 hours of community service work and restitution to be determined.

30 year old Ronald Jacobsen pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance (hydromorphone) and possession of a schedule III controlled substance (dihydrocodeine). The cases are to run concurrent with each other for a total of five years of which he must serve 180 days and then be on probation. He was fined $2,000 in each case and he must perform 100 hours of community service work. The sentence will run consecutive to a case against him in Trousdale County. Jacobsen was given jail credit of 164 days.

39 year old Troy Bain pleaded guilty to simple possession and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve. The case will run concurrent with a violation of probation sentence he is currently serving. He must also forfeit his weapon. Bain will serve thirty days in Cannon County and thirty days in DeKalb County.

30 year old Michael Bly pleaded guilty to five counts of forgery. He received a two year sentence, all suspended except for 60 days. The cases will run concurrently but consecutive to any other sentence against him. He must make restitution in the amount of $420 and perform 100 hours of community service work.

40 year old James Cargill pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence, all suspended except for sixty days and then he will be on probation. He must perform 100 hours of community service work with restitution to be determined. He was given jail credit of sixty days.

40 year old Howard Robert Mayo pleaded guilty to theft of property under $500 and must serve nine months in jail. The sentence will run concurrent with a violation of probation sentence against him. He was given jail credit of 125 days.

36 year old Anthony Lynn Colwell pleaded guilty by information to two counts of theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence. The cases will run concurrently with each other but consecutive to another sentence. He was given jail credit of sixty five days.

22 year old Victor Miguel Godinez pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days with 48 hours to serve and then he will be on PSI probation. He was fined $360.

34 year old Kathyerine Michelle Carr pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance (dilaudid), possession of a schedule II controlled substance (hydromorphine) for resale and sale of a counterfeit controlled substance. The cases are to run concurrently for a total of four years with 53 days to serve and then she will be on TDOC probation, supervised by community corrections. She was given jail credit of fifty two days. She was fined $2,000 and must forfeit her weapon. Carr must also perform 100 hours of community service work.

25 year old Amber M. Johnson pleaded guilty to facilitation of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence. She was given credit for time served. Johnson will be on probation, supervised by DOC. She must perform 100 hours of community service work, pay $200 restitution, pay a $2,000 fine, and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

Sabino Solano Juaregui, charged with sale of a schedule II controlled substance and theft over $1,000, was granted pre-trial diversion for a period of two years. Solano must pay restitition of $610 and perform 100 hours of community service work.

Chief Stufano and Four Other Members of Police Department Resign

August 23, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Tom Stufano, Captain Steve Deffendoll, Investigator Bill Elliott, Sergeant Lilani Defore, and Central Records Supervisor Sue Mathis have all turned in their resignations.

All will be leaving as of September 4th, except for Mathis, who is stepping down at the end of the month.

In his resignation letter, read to the aldermen Monday night by Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Stufano cites deteriorating working conditions as a reason for his decision. "I would like to take this occasion and thank you for the opportunity of being able to serve you and the residents of this city for the last year in my positions of Executive Officer and as Chief of Police. I feel confident that during this time the majority of the officers have substantially increased their pride and professionalism and are now providing the level of service to the citizen¹s representative of any nationally accredited police agency."

"Regrettably, current city working conditions have deteriorated for my staff
and me to the point that we are no longer able to do our jobs effectively
and efficiently. These unacceptable working conditions have led to a mass
exodus of highly skilled city employees that have provided a safe and
positive existence for the residents of our city over the years. This exodus
was as a direct result of the improper management, guidance and lack of
support being displayed by certain members of our elected leadership. These
individuals have aligned themselves with a small group of despondent
citizens and disgruntled ex-employees who are attempting to demoralize and
weaken city operations including the Police Department for personal benefit."

"Recent publicized proceedings clearly support that these individuals have a
reticent agenda that includes unethical standards, immoral conflicts of
interest and do not support the general conscientious of the Smithville
citizens. Over the past (5) weeks, these persons have totally disrupted the
orderly functioning of the city's day-to-day operations with gross innuendo
and unfounded malicious accusations."

"The professional concept of working as a collective body that I brought to
this city over a year ago was to vacate the "good ole boy" methodology and
instill bipartisanship. It is unfortunate that this unhappy group does not
abide by those same standards so that the residents may live in comfort. My
integrity and promise to the citizens and my Officer¹s to uphold the law
unilaterally will not be compromised due to aspiring political prowessness
and dominance."

"A recent case that was capitalized on by the Board of Alderman defines this
concept. During my tenure with the Smithville Police Department all criminal
cases have been vigorously brought forth to the proper higher authorities
for their review and guidance. The policy and responsibility of this agency
is to detect criminal activity, arrest suspects, and prepare and present
those criminal cases to the District Attorney's Office with impartiality. It
is the District Attorney¹s Office that has the duty and responsibility to
make a prosecutorial decision as to charge a subject, not the Police
Department. Members of the Board of Alderman chose to ignore this policy
even after receiving documented evidence from the Senior District Attorney
advising of no wrongdoing by the Smithville Police Department."

"The good citizens of this community are aware of the unscrupulous antics and
tactics employed again and again over the years in order to manipulate the
political structure of this community. In reviewing the position of Chief of
Police alone, history will show the City of Smithville will now seek a 6th
Chief of Police (3) years. This particular tactic creates cynicism and
unrest within the City and Police Department, destabilizes current
corruption and drug investigations and resets the leadership political tone
and agenda. This is a rate rarely heard of anywhere else."

"I reiterate that I believe that the residents of Smithville have seen a
substantial increase in the professionalism of the Police Department and its
Officers over the last year. The Police Department has taken a tough stance
on violent crime, corruption, widespread drug abuse within our jurisdiction,
deviant sexual crimes and theft and revitalized this agencies direction with
community relations and a strong Neighborhood Crime Watch Program. One of my
strongest strategies in effecting positive change was having an open door
policy so that the public could have uninhibited access and feel confident
when expressing their confidential personal safety concerns regardless of
"who they are kin to" or "how much money the other guy has."

"I would like to state that you, Mr. Vandergriff, Mr. Burger and Mr. White
has shown me reverence and substantive support during my tenure as the lead
administrator of this agency. This posture has allowed for progressive
innovations and a focused realignment in daily policies and departmental
future goals and structure."

"It is my professional opinion that the city seeks a highly qualified
external candidate outside of the local political configuration, so that
unbiased supervision of the Police Department can be maintained."

"As always, I will make myself available at anytime during this time period
so that a smooth operational transition can be coordinated. Please be aware
that effective September 4th, I will be starting a new Supervisory position
back with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

"Again, I thank you for your guidance, support and friendship during my

Long Time City Official Burnace Vandergriff Resigns Citing Harassment as the Reason

August 23, 2007
Dwayne Page

After eighteen years as City Recorder and Secretary-Treasurer for the City of Smithville, Burnace Vandergriff is calling it quits.

Vandergriff says he is tired of dealing with what he calls the "harassment" of a few people who frequent city hall on a regular basis, disrupting the work of city employees with their almost constant demand for city records as well as a majority of the city aldermen, who seem to cater to them.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson read Vandergriff's letter to the Aldermen Monday night. In it, Vandergriff states that "I would like to thank the people who have allowed me to do my job and have had the confidence in me to allow me to work for this city for the past 18 years. I have enjoyed my service and I will miss most aspects of my job. I appreciate the encouragement, and vote of confidence from the current Mayor Taft Hendrixson. Until now, the Board of Aldermen have also been very supportive of my efforts and accomplishments and I would like to thank Mr. Aaron Meeks, Mr. Steve White, Mr. W.J. White, Mr. Paul Young, and all other previous members of this council. I have enjoyed working for you all."

"Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the majority of the current Board. Without knowing anything about the day to day operations of the city government, they have chosen to listen to three or four disgruntled citizens who are doing nothing but breaking this city down as if we are ignorant and uneducated. When I started work here, this city could barely afford to pave any of its streets, and we were in terrible need of new equipment. We now have a surplus of funds, new police cars, new garbage truck, and fairly new equipment at the shed. I cannot and will not be a part of this evil and vindictive agenda, but I will stay long enough to prove that I, as City Recorder, have done nothing wrong."

Also in his letter of resignation, Vandergriff stated that " I have worked hard in this position and have been called upon during all hours of the day, night, and weekends to help with water leaks, water line breaks, sweeping the streets after the Jamboree, and plowing the streets after a big snow. I have been responsible for making sure this city is financially stable and that we have operated within our yearly budget for the last eighteen years. I was also instrumental in helping the city to receive the Small City Progress Award presented by the Tennessee Municipal League in 2003. This award was not achieved by back door deals or good ole boy tactics. This award was achieved by hard work, financial planning, and a highly competent staff. This award is proof that Smithville has progressed to a model of efficiency"

Vandergriff added that " Unfortunately, all of this does not meet the so-called standards of a very small handful of citizens who grew up here, went off and have come back to imply that, all of a sudden, things are not being done right. The continuous harassment from these people have prevented me and other long time employees from doing our jobs as required and expected by this City. I have always taken pride in everything I have ever done. I came to work for this city with a good name, and I will leave with a good name. I refuse to stay in a position where the continuous harassment, newspaper articles, speak outs, and radio propaganda tarnish my name and reputation and prohibit me from doing my job."

Vandergriff states that "The audit of the city has begun and I will stay on the job until auditor John Poole has signed off on it, to prove I have done nothing wrong. Mr. Pool has advised me this should happen sometime between September 4th and September 14th."

After Mayor Hendrixson read Vandergriff's resignation letter, several people spoke out in support of him including Alderman Steve White, Alderman and former Mayor Cecil Burger, former Alderman W.J. (Dub) White, city employee Jimmy Taylor, former city attorney's Bratten "Butch" Cook and Sarah Cripps, and former Alderman and local businessman Cordell Walker.

Cripps spoke highly of Vandergriff and admonished the mayor and aldermen not to follow the dictates of a few. "Although you may not have agreed with every decision he made, he gave the best years of his life to public service and his honesty and his integrity are beyond repute. They are beyond question. You all have allowed our tax dollars to be frittered away with harassing, intimidating, disparaging tactics of a few. In other cities, a job like Mr. Vandergriff has pays $70,000 to $80,000 a year. He has qualified individuals over other departments. That has never been the case in this city. He has never been given the credit he deserves for the hours he has put in. His cell phone is never turned off. I or any other person was always able to reach him with a concern."

Vandergriff, during the meeting gave credit to his predecessors, namely former Mayor Waniford Cantrell and former city attorney Bratten Cook for setting the city on the right financial path in 1982.

Cook, in speaking out in support of Vandergriff, reminisced about how far the city has come since those days. "Mayor Cantrell was elected in 1982 and he named me city attorney, which began a sixteen year period of me being city attorney. One of the first things we had to do was go to the old First Central Bank to borrow the money to catch an overdraft to pay the payroll that week. The Farmers Home Administration was about to foreclose on us because a payment had not been paid in a couple of years and from that meager beginning, today the city has six million dollars and has had no tax increase since before 1982. That does not come from anything except good management. Burnace is a friend of mine and has been for many years and I'm proud to call him a friend. That letter of resignation is just that. I didn't hear ya'll accept it. This man needs to stay right where he's at for the betterment of this city."

Walker says Vandergriff has been overworked for years and should have had some help. "I listen to people complain about Mr. Vandergriff and I've always defended him as I defend him today. I think he's done a fantastic job for this city. I know he's done a lot of hard work. When a man has to eat his lunch in his truck, he is overloaded. Ladies and gentlemen, get this man some help if he will stay. He's needed help for a long time. There may be times when Mr. Vandergriff has been ill with people, but as a business person I know, when you're overloaded, you have a tendency to be ill with people that you would ordinarily not be ill with. Mr. Vandergriff, If there is anything I can do for you, let me know and I thank you for the service that you have given to this city."


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