Local News Articles

Sheriff Ray says Jail and Annex Meet State Recertification Standards

March 24, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have again met standards for re-certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, in a prepared statement, says " On March 11th I received a letter from the Tennessee Corrections Institute stating that both the DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have received certification for the year of 2008."

In the letter, State Executive Director Jerry Abston wrote "The Tennessee Corrections Institute recently inspected the DeKalb County Jail and Annex. The inspection revealed that both facilities meet all applicable minimum standards. These statues shall be reported to the Board of Control at its next meeting. After approval from the Board of Control, you will receive a Certificate of Certification. You are to be congratulated for attaining this degree of professionalism in your organization."

State Jail Inspector John Hanna Jr. inspected the older part of the Jail on March 11th and found in the DeKalb County Jail the following " I conducted the physical walk-through of the cells, kitchen, and the medical section, and I found no violations. The logs and records seem to be up to date and in order. I recommend continued certification of this facility at this inspection."

Sheriff Ray said "This section of the Jail (older building) is where we house females. The female inmates are housed upstairs where they can have no visual or verbal contact with the male inmates. Some of the male inmates are housed in the basement area of the Jail away from the female inmates. As of today, Monday, there are 33 inmates (18 females and 15 males) housed in the older part of the Jail."

Also on March 11th, Inspector Hanna inspected the Jail Annex and wrote the following "This Jail was inspected on March 11th. I looked at the records and logs which seemed to be without discrepancies. The cells, medical, and kitchen were visited and looked to be in good shape. There is an area that needed to be corrected. I, (Hanna), measured the dorm in the annex and noted there was enough square footage and plumbing to add sixteen beds. This was completed in September of 2007 which raised the count from 42 to 58. I will file a new Capacity Change Report with this inspection. I recommend continued certification of the jail annex."

Sheriff Ray said "As of today (Monday), there are 47 male inmates housed in the Jail Annex. We are averaging around a total of 80 inmates per day with somewhere around 15 to 20 weekenders that come in on Friday night and are released on Sunday night. We have a total of 104 beds with the Jail and Jail Annex combined."

Man Dies in Sunday Night Crash- Another Person Airlifted

March 23, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 48 year old man died in a pickup truck crash Sunday night on Highway 56 south, just north of Cumberland Nursery.

Dead is Steve Goodwin of Woodbury Highway, Liberty.

Meanwhile, 38 year old Bessie Collins of Liberty, a passenger of the truck, was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force Helicopter Ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Another passenger, 23 year old Michael Frederick Teachout of Smithville was apparently not seriously injured. He reportedly refused treatment.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Goodwin was driving north on Highway 56 in a 1991 Dodge Dakota pickup truck and failed to negotiate a curve. The truck ran off the roadway, hit a fence, re-entered the highway, crossed both lanes, struck a ditch on the other side of the road, vaulted one time, partially ejected the driver, and then came to rest on it's top facing north. The driver was penned underneath.

Central dispatch received the call at 8:57 p.m.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department came to the scene to provide extrication services.

The THP reports that seatbelts were used but that alcohol was also involved.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.

Buck and Others Seek Due Process Hearing on Ouster of D.A. Bill Gibson

March 23, 2008

State legislators from the Upper Cumberland area, including State Representative Frank Buck, are preparing to seek passage of a resolution in the legislature asking for a due process hearing on the removal of District Attorney Bill Gibson from office.

Gibson has been unable to serve as D.A. for the 13th Judicial District since his law license was suspended in 2006 over an ethics scandal.

That scandal involved letters he wrote to a convicted murderer and efforts he made to help a woman clear a meth conviction from her record.

Gibson was investigated by the TBI and the case was recently presented to a Putnam County Grand Jury, which failed to indict him for official misconduct.

The D.A. has since has been trying to negotiate with the State Board of Professional Responsibility to get his law license back.

Buck, in a telephone interview with WJLE Saturday, explained the resolution, which is co-sponsored by himself along with State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville and State Representative Charles Curtiss of Sparta. "We called the Board of Professional Responsibility inquiring about what they were going to do. Although they may remove his law license, they cannot remove him from office. Removal from office is up to the General Assembly, and the General Assembly only. They have not scheduled a meeting until May or June and the General Assembly will be gone home by then. There were a whole group of us who felt as though the General Assembly needed an opportunity to consider the proof and make a decision as they saw fit in light of the fact that the man has been drawing a salary for a year to a year and a half and unable to do the job."

" We're asking for the General Assembly to conduct a due process hearing which is apparently required under federal court decisions and all of us who vote on it (lawmakers) are jurors. We fulfill the role of the jury so to speak and we must, by two thirds vote in each house, vote for him to be removed. We should not make up our minds as to his guilt or innocence or whether he should be removed until we give him an opportunity to be heard. He's got the right to come forward and offer his proof."

"I think a vast majority of the House members in this 13th Judicial District feel as though that this matter ought to be brought to the attention of the entire body and that the entire body ought to have an opportunity to vote on his removal. The House votes and must do so by two thirds vote under the Constitution. The Senate, by separate resolution, must vote in the same manner. It's my understanding the Governor has no role in this one. It's just a matter of the House and Senate voting to remove. It's very tantamount to impeachment is what it amounts to."

The legislators say they are concerned that Gibson is still being paid his full salary, while another prosecutor appointed to serve in his place, Tony Craighead, is also receiving the same pay.

The resolution seeks the appointment of a joint legislative committee to investigate the issue, hold a hearing, and then vote on the removal question.

If the committee is appointed and decides to recommend removal, then the full House and Senate would vote on the issue.

Mabe Dies from Injuries In Motorcycle Wreck on Sligo Bridge

March 22, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 51 year old man died from injuries in a motorcycle wreck Saturday afternoon at Sligo Bridge on Highway 70 east.

According to Trooper Brian Raymond of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Steve Mabe, Sr. of Alexandria was traveling east on Highway 70 on a 2004 Kawasaki motorcycle when he failed to negotiate a curve and struck a concrete curb on the west side of the bridge. The motorcycle continued east and then hit a metal guardrail. Mabe, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the motorcycle. Both he and the motorcycle came to rest in the east bound lane on the bridge.

Mabe was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. where he was pronounced dead.

Central dispatch received the call of the crash at 5:50 p.m.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, DeKalb EMS, and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were on the scene rendering assistance.

Traffic was backed up for a period of time during the crash investigation and cleanup.

Owners of Studio Six Express Appreciation to Community For Support Shown During Fire

March 21, 2008
Dwayne Page

The owners of Studio Six Limited are praising the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and others who came to their assistance during a fire which heavily damaged the business Friday afternoon.

In an interview with WJLE Friday evening, Shan Burklow said their loss is substantial but they are grateful no one was injured "There's nothing like when you receive a phone call, that your business that you've had for seven years is on fire. We raced up here as quickly as we could. When we got here smoke was just bellowing out everywhere. The firefighters were on the scene and working aggressively to put out the fire. We were deeply concerned for our neighbors. We were concerned for downtown. We didn't know if other businesses would be involved or other apartment buildings would be involved so our prayer was just that they could contain the fire, which they did beautifully. It completely destroyed the interior of our building but that was okay as long as everybody was safe."

In a show of appreciation, Burklow says Studio Six Limited is planning to have a charity fundraiser for the fire department. "We are so grateful to the fire department and to everyone who volunteered and came out and worked selflessly for hours. We did not have a charity for the fashion show and we had been praying for the Lord to give us the right charity and for some reason we just couldn't come up with what we needed to do so today after the fire and seeing all the things the fire fighters were having to go through and the equipment that they needed and didn't have that would have made their job easier, we decided that we will raise money for the fire department. We are deeply grateful to them."

Burklow says Studio Six Limited, which has been in the process of phasing out it's downtown location, may still be reached on line at www.studiosixlimited.com. "We have been working out of Cookeville and slowly closing down the Smithville office a little at a time so we could make the move and transition, but we had not moved out any of our stuff . The photography studio is now completely closed down at this time due to fire. Our loss is substantial but you may still reach us on line."

Burklow says a lot of studio equipment still in the building at the time of the fire including props, backdrops, stands, lighting, and other items were damaged or destroyed. Even some of the family's personal belongings stored upstairs were lost.

A video of the fire is available at www.smithvillefire.com. on the Hotshots page.

Fire Causes Extensive Damage to Studio Six Limited

March 21, 2008
Dwayne Page

A fire Friday afternoon swept through the second floor level of the building where Studio Six Limited is located at 105 North Fourth Street, downtown Smithville.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene at 3:54 p.m. No one was at the business at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Chief Charlie Parker says firefighters could see fire and smoke coming through a second floor window upon their arrival. "We had a fire on the second floor above where the Studio Six Studios is located. The fire was in the storage space on the second floor. When we arrived it was fully involved. Heavy smoke was coming from the second floor and out of the window. We made access into the second floor to get it knocked down, but it's pretty much a total loss on the upstairs part. It's burned very extensively up there. It got in through the roof area and up into the attic area. We made a stop on it right at the roof level, but it's burned pretty extensively up at the top. The first floor was not really burned but there was damage where water came through the floor. There was also heavy smoke on the bottom floor also. It's not a total loss downstairs but there's gonna be some extensive damage downstairs just due to the heat, smoke, and water."

Chief Parker says firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the apartment building next door. " Next door there's apartments, both upper and lower. We had a lot of smoke coming from around the brick and everywhere else by the fire wall up at the roof level. We were concerned about it moving over into the other apartments. We made access to the upper and lower apartments and there was no smoke in either one of those. There's a brick fire wall in between it too so that helped save that part of it. As far as we know, there was no smoke or fire damage in the apartments."

A woman and child were reportedly evacuated from the adjacent apartment building as a safety precaution.

Chief Parker expressed his thanks to Smithville Electric System, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, the Smithville Police Department, and DeKalb EMS for their assistance. "We want to thank Smithville Electric. They did help us access the roof area. It's kinda tough getting a ladder up there because it's so high up, but we got them to bring their boom truck up here where we could get up there to check the roof area and make sure the fire didn't break through the roof. We do appreciate them. They pulled the meters. The gas company was here to help us also."

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

A video of the fire is available at www.smithvillefire.com. on the Hotshots page.

City Sounds Siren Alert Wednesday During Severe Weather Warning

March 21, 2008
Dwayne Page

The old siren on top of city hall was sounded a couple of times Wednesday afternoon when a severe weather warning was issued for DeKalb County.

Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson says the city has been planning to conduct a test of the siren but actually got to use it in an emergency situation Wednesday.

Hendrixson says city officials sounded two blasts on the siren after contacting central dispatch and learning that a severe thunderstorm and possibly a tornado was detected by radar in parts of Warren and Cannon County and could be heading toward DeKalb County.

There was apparently no major storm damage in DeKalb County.

Alderman Tonya Sullivan recently asked at a city council meeting that the siren be re-activated in the event of threatening weather for Smithville.

Buck Says DeKalb County Expected to Receive $572,000 in Additional K-12 Funding

March 20, 2008

State Representative Frank Buck of Dowelltown has announced that DeKalb County would be receiving an estimated $572,000 in additional educational funding for 2008-09 thanks to the Schools First Initiative passed last year.

"When we first started talking about reforming the Basic Education Program, it was so taxpayer dollars could go directly to local schools while helping everyone's property taxes to remain low," Buck said. "Last year DeKalb County saw an increase of $820,000 and this year we're able to continue that trend by providing another $572,000 for next year."

The projected 2008-09 BEP 2.0 funding numbers are expected to increase average teacher salaries to $39,000, while the burden on local governments to raise property taxes will continue to be reduced. The total percentage of instructional cost contributed to local school systems by the state will increase next year to 71.5%.

"Thanks to the reforms we implemented last year, lower and middle class income families are continuing to see improvements in their local schools," Buck said. "We must continue to improve our public education system here in Tennessee so that every child in our state has a chance at the best education possible."

In addition to increasing K-12 funding by over $340 million, lawmakers last year also added over $25 million for additional pre-kindergarten classrooms, raising the total number to 934. Currently, over 17,000 students are enrolled in pre-K programs across the state, and this year the House plans to expand classes even further with another $25 million in funding, offering pre-K instruction to all of the over 78,000 four year olds in Tennessee.

"We expanded college education through the Tennessee Lottery Hope Scholarship., we continue to expand funding for K-12 schools, and this year we hope to give every child in Tennessee, regardless of background, the opportunity to get off on the right foot with pre-K, " Buck said. "Education is the foundation of a successful life in this country and, as a legislator, I'm going to do all I can to make sure a quality education is available to the students and families of my district."

The House Education Committee is scheduled to discuss education funding next week.

IRS Rebate Checks Are Coming, But Beware Of Scams

March 20, 2008
Congressman Bart Gordon

Many Middle Tennessee residents have contacted me with questions about what they need to do to receive a rebate through the economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. Through this plan, more than 130 million Americans will receive funds to help jumpstart the nation's economy.

One common question is about the size of rebate checks. Individuals are eligible to receive from $300 to $600, and couples are eligible to receive up to $1,200. An additional $300 per child is available for parents.

The Internal Revenue Service will distribute the rebates from May to July. Rebates sent by direct deposits will go out in May, but paper checks will take a while longer. So, if you have filed your taxes, all you need to do now is wait.

The timely and targeted plan includes seniors on Social Security, disabled veterans and others who do not have tax liability. In a normal year, these folks would not be required to file an annual return with the IRS, but this year it is necessary to receive a rebate. The paperwork people fill out by sending in a tax return is what allows the IRS to process a rebate check and keep illegal immigrants and others seeking handouts from getting one.

Taxpayers should also be aware that scam artists are using the rebate plan to target people with e-mails and phone calls to lure them into revealing personal information that could be used for identity theft. The IRS warns taxpayers to safeguard their personal and financial information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers.

As Rockvale resident David Brown knows, the people who operate these scams can be persistent. He has received multiple calls from people claiming the IRS needs his bank account information so he can receive a rebate check or other funds. When Mr. Brown received his first call from someone who claimed to need his bank account information so the Internal Revenue Service could process his tax rebate, he grew suspicious, asked questions and refused to give out his information. Mr. Brown did the right thing.

The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails, and it does not contact people by phone for personal information. When a person files taxes, the IRS gets all the information it needs to process a tax rebate check. If you signed up for direct deposit when you filed your taxes, you will
also receive your tax rebate by direct deposit. If not, the IRS will mail your rebate just as it would mail your tax refund check.

If you think you have received a scam phone call or e-mail, you can report the information to the IRS by sending an e-mail to phishing@irs.gov. The IRS can use that information to warn others or even track down the people responsible for the scam.

For more information on the tax rebates, contact the IRS at www.irs.gov or 1-866-234-2942. Or contact my Murfreesboro office at (615) 896-1986.


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