Local News Articles

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings Suspended without Pay Pending Termination

November 12, 2009
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Richard Jennings

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings has been suspended without pay pending termination and Lieutenant Steven Leffew has reportedly been named "Officer in Charge" of the department until the issue with the chief position has been settled.

Jennings says he was called to the mayor's office at city hall Thursday afternoon where he was given the news. Those present were Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson.

Meeks signed the notice of suspension with the verbal concurrence of the mayor. Hunter Hendrixson was not involved in the decision. The reasons for the suspension were read to Jennings and he was given a written copy.

Jennings' case will come before the city's three man discipline board Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. This board is made up of Mayor Hendrixson, Police Commssioner Meeks, and Secretary-Treasurer Hendrixson.

Mayor Hendrixson says if the discipline board finds that the suspension is unwarranted, it can vote to put Jennings back to work with full pay. If the suspension is determined to be warranted by the three man discipline board, Jennings may make a request in writing to appeal the decision to the entire five member board of aldermen at the next meeting, December 7th. A decision by the city council would apparently be final. Members of the council are Aldermen Steve White, W.J. (Dub) White, Shawn Jacobs, Cecil Burger, and Aaron Meeks.

Jennings, in response to the suspension, said "Mr. Meeks threatened to fire me if I didn't retire and he made good on his threat and fired me."

Jennings added that "nothing in the allegations, even if true, remotely rises to the level of termination. There are mitigating circumstances in some of the allegations and I will provide an explanation for my actions at the appropriate time."

The notice of suspension reads as follows "You (Jennings) are being suspended for the following reason- dereliction of duties/negligence.

1. In the past two years, as Police Chief, you have not developed a comprehensive plan to combat crime problems in the City of Smithville, as evidenced by your admission to the board at the workshop of September 14th, 2009. You have not reached out to other agencies for help in combating these problems.

2. You were given two additional officers by the previous board with your promise that you then would be able to do drug investigations. To date, this has not happened.

3. At the workshop on September 14th, 2009, you did not know how many officers you had employed in the department, as evidenced by the CD of the meeting.

4. You have 4 or 5 officers-including yourself and the investigator-on duty on the day shift. You could have used some of these officers to work drug operations.

5. Your claim that the police department's budget has been cut is not substantiated by the 2008-09 city budget. In fact, there was an increase in the police department's budget over the previous year's budget. Also, your claim that all of your overtime has been cut is not true. You are still having overtime in your department.

6. There has been little progress made toward having a better-trained Police Force in specialized areas.

7. Community relations between your office and the public have deteriorated over the last two years.

8. You have not been a "working chief" out patrolling, issuing traffic tickets, answering calls for service, and making arrests.

9. You have authorized the use of a police vehicle for the transportation of civilians out of the area of authority of the Smithville Police Department.

10. It is the responsibility of all department heads to be available for call out at all times. You advised that you turn off your city cell phone when you leave for the day.

11. You have demonstrated lack of adequate supervision of officers.

Payne Denman Signs to Play Golf at Florida

November 11, 2009
Dwayne Page
Payne Denman Signs to Play Golf at Florida

Two time state high school golf champion Payne Denman officially signed scholarship papers Wednesday to play golf at the University of Florida.

The signing took place at DCHS with members of Denman's family, coach, and principal looking on.

Denman says he's proud of his high school accomplishments and is ready to move to the next level. "I've been looking forward to this for a long time. It's finally here and I'm really glad and ready to get on with my life and see what Florida holds for me. I mainly chose Florida because their tradition is really good. They've always been known to have a great golf team and with all the other great athletic achievements they have made me want to be a part of it."

During his high school years, Denman has won the district and region three times, in addition to two state titles, the only state championships DCHS has ever earned in any sport in school history. "It's something you always hope to achieve and for it to actually come true is really special," said Denman.

Coach Chris Vance, who is stepping down as the DCHS golf coach, says Payne is a special person and competitor. " Payne has shown the younger guys what it takes with hard work and dedication to succeed and be able to go out there and put up the numbers he does. He's shown a lot of leadership and led the way by example."

(Pictured: Seated left to right- Gina Denman (mom), Payne Denman, and Bud Denman(dad)
Back Row: Standing DCHS principal Kathy Hendrix and DCHS Golf Coach Chris Vance

Community Observance Held to Commemorate Veterans Day

November 11, 2009
Dwayne Page
 Sean Tramel and Edward Frazier
 Veterans and others stand at Attention during playing of Taps

Members of the community joined the American Legion Post #122 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7623 in a Veterans Day observance Wednesday morning downtown Smithville.

The days events began with a small parade followed by a program at the 303 building on the public square, featuring remarks by County Mayor Mike Foster, a poem saluting veterans by Dorothy Tittsworth, and music by the First Baptist Church Choir directed by Anthony Rosolowski.

Foster, in his address, spoke about all the nations wars and paid tribute to the brave men and women who have served our country. " We're here today to honor the Americans who served in all of the wars. We honor you and your families for the sacrifices and hardships that you endured. We especially honor those who gave their lives or were wounded during combat. People from all across the world seek to come here because we are truly blessed to live in America. We're free to live, raise our families, practice our religion, and speak our thoughts without fear. We're free to fail or succeed. And we're free to help people who are less fortunate than us."

" We still mourn many of our friends, ancestors and neighbors who died in wars long ago or last week. We see accounts of them and wonder what might have been and what talents or gifts died with those people. What undiscovered scientific cures might have been discovered. They might have invented some wonderful thing that would have made life better for all of us. Their lives were not wasted or lost without reason. They gave us more than any scientific breakthrough. They gave us the privilege of being able to live as an American in a country that is still clearly the best country on earth and the best hope for us as a people."

"We sometimes complain about our lot in life and how we've been dealt terrible blows but we're blessed with one of the highest standards of living in the world and we take for granted many things that others can only dream of. Honor our veterans and our ancestors by showing your love for America and our freedoms. Veterans Day is a special day for all Americans to show their respect to the veterans who have served our country so well. Unfortunately there will be more wars and more veterans to be honored. We should never fail to be open in our praise of them. Once our country commits its troops to battle we should support them unconditionally. Thanks to our veterans and their families for all the sacrifices you have made so that we may live free."

Tittsworth, noted local story teller, recited a poem by Joanna Fuchs called "They Did Their Share"

"On Veteran’s Day we honor
Soldiers who protect our nation.
For their service as our warriors,
They deserve our admiration.

Some of them were drafted;
Some were volunteers;
For some it was just yesterday;
For some it’s been many years;

In the jungle or the desert,
On land or on the sea,
They did whatever was assigned
To produce a victory.

Some came back; some didn’t.
They defended us everywhere.
Some saw combat; some rode a desk;
All of them did their share.

No matter what the duty,
For low pay and little glory,
These soldiers gave up normal lives,
For duties mundane and gory.

Let every veteran be honored;
Don’t let politics get in the way.
Without them, freedom would have died;
What they did, we can’t repay.

We owe so much to them,
Who kept us safe from terror,
So when we see a uniform,
Let’s say "thank you" to every wearer.

Following the program, a wreath was placed at the veterans memorial monument on the south side of the courthouse near the eternal flame. The wreath was laid by Edward Frazier, a World War II veteran, and Sean Tramel, who has just completed his second tour of duty in Iraq where he served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. A luncheon was held at noon for veterans and their spouses and friends at the Smithville Senior Center at city hall.

State Senator Mae Beavers to Speak at Chamber Prayer Breakfast

November 10, 2009
State Senator Mae Beavers

The Chamber Prayer Breakfast will be held on Tuesday, November 24th at 7:00 a.m. at the Smithville Church of God Fellowship Center.

The theme this year is “Counting Our Blessings in Hard Times.” State Senator, Mae Beavers, will be the keynote speaker. Special music will be performed by pianist Tomomi McDowell and by the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church singers -- Hunter Tramel, Myra Tramel, and Riley Young. Local Boy Scouts will present the flags. Prayers for our community, our leaders, and our children will make this a meaningful and memorable experience. A delicious breakfast will be catered by Jason Evans, head chef at The Inn at Evins Mill. Leadership Director Jen Sherwood and the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2010 will serve the beverages. Doors open at 6:30 a.m.

Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased at the Chamber office or from the Chamber Board of Directors – Gina Denman, Elmer Ellis, Kelley Garrett, Charlie Parker, Chris Griffith, June Keith, Robin Driver, Tim Hintz, Valerie Laprad, Judy Sandlin, Rob Willingham, Les Greer, Michelle Burklow, Tom Duggin, and Kathie McGlamery.

Chamber Executive Director, Suzanne Williams says, “I would like to invite everyone to join with us at this special event in giving thanks to God for the abundant blessings He has given us in our county and to be able to begin this holiday season with our community family.” For more information, call the Chamber at 597-4163.

Sheriff's Department Makes Another Fugitive from Justice Arrest

November 10, 2009
Dwayne Page
Christina Love Johnson

The Sheriff's Department picked up another person on a fugitive from justice charge last week.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 28 year old Christina Love Johnson of Anthony Avenue, Smithville was arrested on Wednesday, November 4th for being a fugitive from justice. Johnson was in a vehicle that had been stopped and an NCIC computer check revealed she was wanted in Kentucky for attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud. Johnson appeared in court on Thursday, November 5th and Judge Bratten Cook II set her bond at $1,000 until Kentucky authorities could pick her up.

Meanwhile, on Friday, November 6th , a county deputy was traveling on Highway 70 west when he saw a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed and passing another automobile in the turning lane. The vehicle almost clipped the deputy's patrol car. The officer then pulled over the vehicle. 31 year old Edward Franklin Dixon of Dave England Road, Sparta was the driver. When asked by the officer why he was speeding and over taking vehicles in the turning lane, Dixon replied he was running late to pick up his child. Dixon was charged with reckless driving and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on November 19th.

Also on Friday, a deputy while on patrol, observed a vehicle on Highway 70 east driving erratically. The automobile crossed the center line and the fog line several times. After stopping the vehicle, the deputy noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from the inside the automobile. The driver, 33 year old Noelvi Deheza of West Green Hill Road McMinnville, submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Deheza was arrested for driving under the influence and was issued citations for driving without a valid driver's license and violation of the implied consent law in which he refused to submit to a blood test. Bond for Deheza was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court November 19th on all of his charges.

A deputy on patrol Friday on Highway 70 West noticed 22 year old Phil Darnell Fullilove of Laverne Street Alexandria driving a motor vehicle. The officer had prior knowledge of Fullilove's driver's license being suspended. He stopped Fullilove and arrested him for driving on a suspended license. Fullilove's license was suspended for failure to pay child support and also for failing to pay three citations in Wilson County. Bond for Fullilove was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on November 18th.

50 year old Edward Lynn Taylor of Page Drive Smithville was stopped Saturday by a deputy on Highway 70 East for a light violation. Upon speaking with Taylor, the officer noticed a smell of alcohol coming from within the vehicle. Taylor submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Taylor was very unsteady on his feet and admitted to the officer that he was drunk. Upon an inventory of Taylor's vehicle, the deputy found a cup, containing a mixed drink, in the cup holder of the vehicle. Taylor was arrested for a 4th offense of driving under the influence and he was issued a citation for having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle. Bond for Taylor was set at $6,000 and he will appear in court on November 19th.

Also on Saturday, deputies received a call on Page Drive Smithville about a suspicious vehicle. After arriving, the officers spotted the automobile and found the driver, who was sitting behind the wheel, was passed out. The engine was still running. The officers attempted to wake the driver and found him to be incoherent and confused. He also had a smell of alcohol on his person and was unsteady on his feet. The driver, 40 year old Larry Harold Maddox of Maples Street, Lebanon was charged with a third offense of driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. Bond for Maddox was set at $4,500 and he will appear in court on November 19th.

30 year old Scottie Wayne Knowles of Jacob's Pillar Road, Smithville was arrested Saturday for driving on a suspended license after he was stopped on Highway 70 East. Knowles' license was suspended for failure to satisfy a citation in Putnam County. Bond for Knowles was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on November 25th.

On Sunday, 26 year old Clifford Steven Bechtel of Bluff Springs Road Smithville was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. Deputies were called to an automobile accident on Highway 70 east early Sunday morning. The automobile that Bechtel was driving struck a utility pole causing damage to it. The pole had to be replaced. Bechtel then left the scene and later reported the accident to local authorities at around 10:00 a.m. Sunday. Bechtel was then arrested. He was also issued citations for not wearing a seat belt, having no insurance on his vehicle, and violation of the registration law. Bechtel's bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on November 19th.

Chief Jennings says he has received an Ultimatum from City Officials..Retire or be Fired

November 9, 2009
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Richard Jennings
Mayor Taft Hendrixson
Aaron Meeks

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings says he has been given an ultimatum by city officials to give notice of his retirement by noon today (Monday) or the city council will most likely schedule a special meeting to fire him. That meeting could come as early as this week.

In a prepared statement released to WJLE Sunday night, Chief Jennings gives his account of how the decision to oust him unfolded last week. "On November 2nd, 2009 while in Secretary Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson's office, I received a call from Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks. He told me he was going to place a motion before the Smithville mayor and board of aldermen at the council meeting that night, to fire me. He stated that he was going to make the motion to fire me if I didn't retire. This took me completely by surprise so I did not comment, at that time, to Mr. Meeks. Later that day I called Mr. Meeks, prior to the council meeting. I informed Mr. Meeks I wanted to discuss the possibility of retirement and what his terms entailed. He stated that he would meet with me the following morning, November 3rd, and that he would not bring it up at the meeting that night. But, he stated, if we could not reach an agreement on retirement, he would present the motion at the next board meeting."

"On November 3, 2009, I met with Mr. Meeks and Hunter Hendrixson at City Hall. Mr. Meeks said he had received a call from Mayor Hendrixson and he told him if I decided to retire I needed to write a letter of my retirement intent and turn it in to Hunter Hendrixson that day, November 3 before 5:00 p.m. Also, I needed to state in the letter I would retire November 30, 2009. I informed Mr. Meeks I had not planned to retire before a couple of years. I asked Mr. Meeks what kind of severance package was the city offering for my early retirement? Mr. Meeks asked me what did I want? I informed Mr. Meeks I would consider retiring December 31st, 2009,with a severance package of a full years' salary, insurance and a 3% contribution to my retirement plan, for one year from the date of my retirement. Mr. Meeks asked that I put this in writing along with my retirement letter. I gave the retirement letter with my requests to Hunter Hendrixson November 3 at 5:00 p.m."

"On November 5th, 2009, Mayor Hendrixson asked me to come to his office. Hunter Hendrixson was present. Mayor Hendrixson returned my letter and stated that the city would not give me any type of severance package to retire. He stated that if I chose to retire it must be by November 30th, 2009. Mayor Hendrixson stated he was not sure, and no one had told him, but he thought the majority of the board would vote to fire me. He also went on to say he would like to see me retire and walk out ‘ with my head held high and with the distinction of being the longest serving officer with the Smithville Police Department.' He stated that he needed my decision by 12:00 (Noon) Monday, November 9th. He further stated that he had already been asked to schedule a special meeting for the board of aldermen if my decision was not to retire."

In closing, Chief Jennings wrote, " I appreciate Mayor Hendrixson's advice about retiring but intimidation and threats have never swayed my decisions to do what's right and I do not intend to let that happen now."

"My answer to their ultimatum is...I will not retire."

Six different men have held the position of Police Chief in Smithville since 1994. Jennings, who has been a member of the department for many years, took over from Tom Hopkins as Chief in 1994, after Hopkins resigned. Jennings served until November, 2003 when the city council demoted him to the rank of Lieutenant. Jennings was succeeded by Jim Baker as Chief, but Baker was demoted back to the rank of patrolman in July 2004. Sergeant Sam Dunbar followed Baker as Chief, but Dunbar resigned in January 2006 under a cloud of controversy after being accused of falsifying documents. Augustine (Gus) Clemente was hired to replace Dunbar in March, 2006 but he resigned five months later, accusing city officials of interferring in police operations and making racial slurs against him. Thomas J Stufano was named Chief in November, 2006 and resigned in September, 2007. In October, 2007, the city council gave Jennings his old job back, promoting him from Lieutenant to Chief.

In August 2007, only two months before he became Chief again, Jennings was fired from the department for alleged violations of police department policies and procedures as well as possible violations of state and federal law. He was accused of removing weapons, inventory files, ammunition, and other items from the police department, some of which were allegedly found in his personal possession. The case against him was presented to the city's discipline hearing authority, which is made up of the mayor, police commissioner, and city secretary-treasurer and after hearing the evidence, the vote was 3 to 0 to terminate Jennings.
Later that month, by a vote of 3 to 2, the Board of Aldermen, following a lengthy hearing, overturned the termination of Jennings and returned him to work as Lieutenant. After the vote, Mayor Hendrixson considered casting a veto of the board's reinstatement of Jennings but he chose not to which was met with applause from members of the audience.

In recent months, members of the city council have complained that the police department, even with a larger staff than in previous years, has not done enough to combat the problem of drugs and burglaries in the city. The mayor and aldermen held a workshop with Chief Jennings only a few weeks ago to register their concerns. Jennings says he has been hampered in those investigative efforts by the city administration's decision to cut out overtime pay for officers who would have to undertake undercover drug operations mostly after hours.

It'll Soon be Election Time in DeKalb County

November 8, 2009
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

It'll soon be election time again in DeKalb County.

2010 will be a big year at the ballot box in DeKalb County and across the state beginning with the local Democratic Primary on May 4th.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, says the DeKalb County Election Commission voted on Thursday, November 5th to approve a request from the local Democratic Party to hold a primary for seven county-wide offices, fourteen county commission seats, one Circuit Court Judge, and the District Attorney. Winners will take on any Independent or Republican candidates in the August General Election.

Offices eligible for the May ballot are County Mayor, County Court Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk, Trustee, Register of Deeds, Road Supervisor, and Sheriff, county commissioners in districts one through seven, 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Part 1 and District Attorney. The latter two are up for election due to previous resignations and those named to fill these seats were appointed until the next scheduled election.

Stanley says qualifying petitions may be picked up beginning November 20th and the qualifying deadline for the May 4th Primary is noon on Thursday, February 18th, 2010. Stanley adds that there is another important date for potential Sheriff and Road Supervisor candidates to remember, February 4th.

Sheriff candidates must file "affidavits of qualification" with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission no later than February 4th, 2010. Road Supervisor candidates must file their affidavits of qualification with the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board no later than February 4th, 2010.

Stanley says Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th, 2010. The Republican Party, which usually selects its nominees by caucus, must certify its candidates by the same date and time.

"We've been working on a 2010 Candidate's Guide and petition packages in recent days and we'll be ready to issue petitions on the first day the law allows, November 20th," Stanley said.

"Not only do we want to remind candidates about their particular deadlines, we also want to remind voters the last day to register to vote in person for the May 4th, DeKalb County Democratic Primary will be April 5th, " he added.

In addition to the August County General Election on August 5th, 2010, nominees will be chosen for the State Representative seat currently held by Terri Lynn Weaver and the State Senate seat held by Mae Beavers, who has said she will not seek another term, but instead will run for County Mayor in Wilson County. The respective parties will also select their nominees for Governor.

The qualifying deadline for the August State Primaries is Noon, April 1, 2010 and nominating petitions can be issued as early as January 4th, 2010. State primary winners will square off in the November State General Election.

The following are other things candidates need to know:

Campaign Material- The state of Tennessee has a "Paid for By.." law which requires candidates and other parties to print on campaign items (including broadcast and print advertising) who paid for the items. Some people call this law the "Disclaimer Law".

Exceptions include bumper stickers, pins, buttons, pens, novelties, and similar items that are too small to have the disclaimer conveniently printed on them. (TCA 2-19-120)

It is unlawful for any person to place or attach any type of show-card, poster, or advertising material or device, including election campaign literature, on any kind of poles, towers, or fixtures of any public utility company, whether privately or publicly owned unless legally authorized to do so. (TCA 2-19-144)

Placement and removal of campaign signs- You are responsible for removal of signs, posters, or placards advocating your candidacy that have been placed on highways, right of ways or other publicly owned property. The removal of such materials should be accomplished within a reasonable period following the election, not to exceed three weeks. A candidate in a primary election who will be a candidate in an upcoming general election is not required to remove campaign signs until after the general election (TCA 2-1-116)

Candidate bargaining for support- It is unlawful for any candidate to expend, pay, promise, or loan or become pecuniarily liable in any way for money or other thing of value, either directly or indirectly, or to agree to enter into any contract with any person to vote for or support any particular policy or measure, in consideration of the vote or support, moral or financial, of such person (TCA 2-19-121)

Demanding candidate make promise- It is unlawful for any person to demand that any candidate shall promise or agree in advance to support any particular individual, policy or measure, in consideration of the vote or support, financial or moral, of such person, in any election. (TCA 2-19-122)

As of early November, there were 12,887 registered voters in DeKalb County including 6,866 female and 6,019 male voters.

The following is the number of registered voters by precinct:

Alexandria- 1,198 (636 female, 562 male)
Temperance Hall-366 (179 female, 187 male)
Edgar Evins State Park-101 (52 female, 49 male)
Liberty-620 (317 female, 303 male)
Dowelltown-486 (282 female, 204 male)
Snow Hill- 689 (367 female, 322 male)
Middle School- 2004 (1,095 female, 909 male)
Cherry Hill- 128 (57 female, 71 male)
Rock Castle- 226 (111 female, 115 male)
Courthouse-1547 (823 female, 724 male)
Johnsons Chapel- 461 (235 female, 226 male)
Elementary School- 1438 (783 female, 655 male)
Belk- 429 (224 female, 205 male)
Keltonburg- 738 (384 female, 354 male)
Blue Springs- 737 (372 female, 365 male)
Church of Christ Annex- 1717 (949 female, 768 male)

Tatrow Captures Fall Fest Title

November 7, 2009
Dwayne Page
2009 Fall Fest Queen Victoria Dawn Tatrow
 Fall Fest Queen and Court

The 2009 Fall Fest title goes to 15 year old Victoria Dawn Tatrow of Smithville, daughter of Vickie and Corey Funk and the late Shanna Tatrow.

She was crowned Saturday night at the conclusion of the annual pageant which featured nineteen contestants. It was held at the DeKalb County High School gym, sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.

Tatrow, who was also named Miss Congeniality of the pageant, succeeds the 2008 Fall Fest Queen, 18 year old Whitney LaRay Moss of Alexandria, daughter of Greg and Wendy Moss.

First runner-up in the pageant was 16 year old Kristen LaCole Smartt, daughter of Aaron and Paula Taylor of Dowelltown.

Laura Caroline Carter was second runner-up. She is the 17 year old daughter of John and Laura Carter of McMinnville

15 year old Katie Sue Haggard, daughter of David and Vickie Haggard of Smithville, was third runner-up.

15 year old Stephanie Carmen Rackley was the fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of William and Angie Meadows and Gordon and Jessica Rackley all of Smithville.

Others in the top ten were Zoe Elaine Whaley, 14 year old daughter of Celia and Scott Whaley of Smithville; 16 year old Cora Rhody, daughter of Kenny and Beth Rhody of Smithville; 16 year old Katelyn Louann Goodwin, daughter of Joey and Kathy Goodwin of Smithville; Ashlee Michelle Whitehead, 15 year old daughter of Kenneth and Tina Whitehead of Smithville; and 17 year old Breanna Hendrixson, daughter of Tim and Loretta Hendrixson of Smithville.

(Top Photo: Fall Fest Queen and Miss Congeniality Victoria Dawn Tatrow)
(Bottom Photo: Left to Right- 4th runner-up Stephanie Carmen Rackley, 1st runner-up Kristen LaCole Smartt, Queen Victoria Dawn Tatrow, 2nd runner-up Laura Caroline Carter, and 3rd runner-up Katie Sue Haggard)

Hedge Crowned Autumn Princess

November 7, 2009
Dwayne Page
Macy Elizabeth Hedge 2009 Autumn Princess
Autumn Princess and Court
 Autumn Princess Miss Manners Felicia Ribble (Photo by Loving Touch Portraits)

Nine year old Macy Elizabeth Hedge is the 2009 Autumn Princess.

Hedge, daughter of David and Trina Hedge of Smithville, succeeds the retiring Autumn Princess, nine year old Brooklynn Storm Estes, daughter of Chris and Shanna Bogle of Dowelltown.

The pageant, featuring twenty four girls ages 7 to 10, was sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club and held Saturday night at the DCHS gym.

First runner-up in the pageant was Kyra Agee, the nine year old daughter of April Davis of Smithville.

Second runner-up was Anna Rachel Blair, the eight year old daughter of Keith and Amanda Blair of Smithville.

Julia Grace Curtis, the eight year old daughter of Bruce and Amy Curtis of Smithville was named third runner-up.

Mya Katherine Ruch was fourth runner-up. She is the seven year old daughter of Joe and Melissa Ruch of Smithville.

Rounding out the top ten were Sarah Anne Colwell, the nine year old daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell of Smithville; Katherine Anne Malone, the seven year old daughter of Kevin and Dana Malone of Smithville; Alannah Rose Musick-Morris, the eight year old daughter of Celena Musick and Grover Morris of Smithville; Kaitlyn Brianna Bain, the eight year old daughter of Wendy Thomas and Larry Bain of Smithville; and Destiny Danielle Franklin, the ten year old daughter of Charlie and Jennifer Ware of Smithville.

Nine year old Felicia Ribble was also named Miss Manners. She is the daughter of Bridgett and Mike Ribble of Smithville.

(Top Photo: 2009 Autumn Princess Macy Elizabeth Hedge)
(Middle Photo: Left to Right: 3rd runner-up Julia Grace Curtis, 1st runner-up Kyra Agee, Autumn Princess Macy Elizabeth Hedge, 2nd runner-up Anna Rachel Blair, and 4th runner-up Mya Katherine Ruch
Bottom Photo: Miss Manners Felicia Ribble (This photo provided by Loving Touch Portraits)

Smithville Police Charge Man with Setting Fire in his Mother's Home

November 7, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged a 19 year old man with domestic assault and aggravated arson for starting a fire in his mother's home.

Detective Jerry Hutchins made the arrest of Michael J Lee of 114 Village Place on Thursday. According to the warrants, Lee set fire to the bed of his mother, Wyonna Lee, while she and a neighbor were in the home. Ms. Lee stated that her son had become very violent before the fire occurred and had destroyed furniture and other items. He also told her he was going to burn her alive and she stated she was afraid of her son. The Smithville Fire Department was called to the scene to put out the bed. His bond was set at $60,000 and his court date in General Session Court is November 19th.

Meanwhile, 21 year old Jessie Edward Randolph of 224 Sun Valley Road, Sparta and 21 year old Joey Dewayne Kirby of 391 Disneyland Road Sparta were arrested on Wednesday, November 4th for theft of property. According to the report, Officer Matt Holmes was at Wal-Mart issuing a citation for shoplifting when two Wal-Mart employees flagged down Holmes and Officer Bryant at the entrance to the store. There they pointed to two male subjects who had just left Wal-Mart. A security officer at the store said he saw the two men leave the building carrying stolen merchandise. Officer Holmes asked one of the suspects, Kirby, if he had taken any stolen merchandise from the store. Kirby replied that he had and then returned the stolen goods he had in his possession. But the store manager told Officer Holmes that while he saw the men steal two fish take filters, Kirby had only returned one of them. Holmes asked the other suspect, Randolph if he had taken any merchandise from the store to which he replied "no". During a pat down search, Officer Holmes felt a box in Randolph's jacket pocket that seemed to be like the box recovered off of Kirby. The manager then told Officer Holmes that the store only prosecuted for stolen merchandise valued at over $25.00 and these items taken were only valued at $12.37 each. Officer Holmes told Randolph that if he would return the merchandise to Wal-Mart there would be no prosecution. Randolph replied that he did not have any stolen merchandise on him. At that point, Officer Holmes placed Randolph under arrest for theft of property and retrieved the stolen merchandise from his right jacket pocket. All restitution was made at the store. The other suspect, Kirby was arrested on active warrants including two for failure to appear in Putnam County. He was also cited for theft under $500.00.

Also on Wednesday, 20 year old Clinton Lane Cope of 1294 Midway Road was cited by Detective Jerry Hutchins to appear in General Sessions Court on December 17th for shoplifting as he attempted to leave Wal-Mart with shoes that he had not paid for.

31 year old James Fredrick Summers of 457 Hodges Road was cited by Officer Matt Holmes on Wednesday to appear in General Sessions Court on November 9th for shoplifting as he attempted to leave Wal-Mart with five DVD's that he had not paid for.

34 year old Karen Lynn Welsh of 136 Bobby Hayes Road, Dowelltown was cited by Officer Holmes on Wednesday to appear in General Sessions Court on November 9th for shoplifting as she was seen putting numerous items in her purse in an attempt to not pay for them.

42 year old Melissa Kay Walther of 854 Parkway Drive was arrested by Officer Scott Davis on Wednesday for a second offense of driving under the influence. According to the report, Officer Davis was dispatched to the Exxon in reference to a possible DUI. He made contact with the defendant's vehicle at the intersection of Highway 56 & Highway 70. The defendant, Walther was observed by a witness backing over a curb in the parking lot of Exxon. The complainant stated that Walther's speech was slurred and she appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. Officer Davis followed the vehicle until he made the traffic stop at North Side Elementary. Walther performed poorly on the field sobriety tasks. She had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath and her eyes were watery and bloodshot. She admitted to consuming a small shot of wine earlier in the day. Walther has a prior DUI conviction in Clay County. She was cited for refusing to submit to a breath test. Her bond was set at $3,000 and her court date in General Sessions Court is November 19th.

47 year old Tina K Stephens of 816 Parkway Drive was arrested Wednesday by Officer Scott Davis for Public Intoxication. According to the report, Stephens was a passenger of a Melissa Kay Walther's vehicle which was stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. She admitted to consuming several beers and was obviously under the influence. She was advised on several occasions to stay in the vehicle but she got out of the vehicle on two separate occasions. Stephens was placed under arrest for public intoxication. Her bond was set at $1,000 and her court date in General Sessions Court is November 19th

Also on Wednesday, 26 year old Jason Lynn Knowles of 846 Anthony Avenue was pulled over by Sergeant Joey Jones where it was discovered that Knowles' driver license was suspended. His bond was set at $1,000 and his court date in City Court is November 18th..

Meanwhile, anyone having information on the following offenses should please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210

On Sunday October 25th at 520 Miller Road, a truck belonging to Eddie Royce Colwell was vandalized by someone using a sharp object to scratch the paint on every section of the vehicle

On Sunday October 26th, someone broke into Curtis Builders Supply. Nothing was taken in the break in but several hundreds of dollars of damage was done to the building.

On Monday October 27th, someone broke into Pamela Sosa's vehicle and took her CD player while she was in Wal-Mart shopping.


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