Local News Articles

Sparta Man Stopped for a Traffic Violation Charged with Possession of Marijuana

November 12, 2007
Dwayne Page

A Sparta man, stopped by a county officer for a traffic violation Friday, was found to have some marijuana.

39 year old Jay Anderson III of Omaha Gap Road, Sparta was arrested for driving on a suspended driver's license, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Anderson was stopped on Highway 70 East for a traffic violation. After deputies ran Anderson's license, he was found to be driving on a suspended license. Upon a pat down search, Anderson was found to have in his possession two marijuana cigarettes, a plastic bag containing marijuana, and rolling papers. Bond was set at $3,500 and his court date is November 29th.

Meanwhile 23 year old Paul Robert Higgins of Grand Rapids Boulevard in Naples, Florida and 23 year old Jennifer Leigh Peacock of West Road, Morrison were arrested on Sunday after Higgins' vehicle was stopped for weaving on Highway 70 West.

Sheriff Ray says Higgins was found to be intoxicated after deputies tried to administer field sobriety tasks. Higgins was arrested for DUI 1st offense.

Peacock was a passenger with Higgins and was also intoxicated. According to Sheriff Ray, Peacock became very belligerent with the deputies. She was arrested for public intoxication. Bond for Higgins was set at $1,500 and Peacock's bond was set at $1,000. Both are to appear in court on December 6th.

Martha Webb Crowned Fall Fest Queen

November 10, 2007
Dwayne Page

15 year old Martha Alan Webb of Smithville is the 2007 Fall Fest Queen.

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

Webb, daughter of Alan and Lora Webb, succeeds the 2006 Fall Fest Queen, Jessica LeAnn Bain of Smithville, the 18 year old daughter of Teresa Johnson and Harold Bain.

First runner-up in the pageant was 17 year old Sarah Elizabeth McBride of Smithville, daughter of Michael and Lisa McBride.

17 year old Macy Felts was named second runner-up. She is the daughter of Rick and Kendra Guinn of Smithville.

Kristen LaCole Smartt was third runner-up. She is the 14 year old daughter of Aaron and Paula Taylor of Dowelltown.

16 year old Rosemary Apple of Smithville, daughter of Nick and Claire Apple, was the fourth runner-up.

Meanwhile, 16 year old Whitney LaRay Moss of Alexandria, daughter of Greg and Wendy Moss, was named Miss Congeniality.

Some twenty young ladies participated in the pageant.

Gordon Accepting Service Academy Applications

November 10, 2007

U.S. Representative Bart Gordon is accepting applications through December 1st from DeKalb County students seeking nominations to the U.S. service academies.

The U.S. Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, and Military Academy all require a nomination to be considered for admission. Gordon is accepting applications from high school seniors or recent graduates who live within his congressional district, which includes DeKalb County.

"Each year, I have the privilege of nominating outstanding young men and women to the service academies," Gordon said. "The quality of education available at the academies is among the best in the country. The competition for a nomination is tough, but I encourage anyone who is interested to apply."

Students who are accepted to the service academies receive free tuition, room and board, as well as a monthly stipend. Upon graduation, they are commissioned as second lieutenants or ensigns in their branch of service, where they must complete a five year service obligation. The value of a service academy education is more than $300,000.

To be eligible for a nomination, a candidate must be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 17 and 23. Any interested students should contact Congressman Gordon's Murfreesboro office at (615)- 896-1986 or download an application through his Web site at www.house.gov/bart and mail it to him at P.O. Box 1986, Murfreesboro, TN 37133

Health Coordinator Finds No Cases of MRSA In DeKalb County Schools

November 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

There are currently no cases of MRSA in the DeKalb County School System.

That from Dee Anna Persinger, School Health Coordinator, who briefly addressed the Board of Education Thursday night on steps that are being taken in the school system to guard against the infection. " We've taken all the necessary precautions in the prevention of staph infection and we have also gone beyond the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. With all schools, the restrooms are being cleaned twice daily. Classrooms are being cleaned and disinfected with staph effective cleaners and disinfectants. I have met with all the principals and provided them with tool kits on antibiotic resistance. In that tool kit, I've given them links, the CDC facts sheet, and guidelines for nurses and custodians as far as how to handle the staph prevention. We've had an in-service with bus drivers. The supervisor and myself met with them and gave them a quick in-service on how to disinfect their buses. We have no confirmed cases of MRSA in the DeKalb County School System, as of right now."

Persinger added "The federal government has issued a statement that one in three people carry the staph infection. There's nothing to be alarmed about. It's always been an issue. It's a matter of personal hygiene, keeping your hands washed, and not sharing personal items."

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, MRSA or Methicillin–resistant staphylococcus aureus is a type of infection that is resistant to many antibiotics. MRSA skin infections are generally spread by skin-to-skin contact or by direct contact with the drainage from an infected wound. Research indicates 85% of all serious cases of the infection are associated with health care settings, while the remaining 15% of reported infections are considered community-associated. Community-associated MRSA can be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces or items such as sports equipment or personal hygiene items.

Signs and Symptoms:

Often an infection will look like a spider bite, a boil (large red, painful bump under the skin), a cut or blister that is swollen and filled with fluid, or a turf burn. It is important to report any suspicious skin infection to your health care provider immediately.

The Numbers:

In Tennessee, there were more than 1,800 invasive cases of MRSA in both 2005 and 2006. An invasive case occurs when the infection is found in organs other than the skin. As of September 30, 2007, there were 1,400 diagnosed cases of MRSA in Tennessee. More recent cases have been reported in several Middle Tennessee counties.

Stopping the Spread:

Steps to decrease the possibility of developing MRSA include:

Washing hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
Using 60 %alcohol-based hand gel if soap and water are not available.
Keeping hands away from the face, including the nose, eyes and mouth.
No sharing personal items like make-up, bar soap, razors, towels, washcloths, clothes or athletic equipment.

If participating in sporting activities or exercise, showering immediately afterwards, washing with soap and hot water.

Washing towels, washcloths, and practice uniforms after every use in hot water and soap, and drying in a hot dryer.

Avoiding contact with the skin infection of others.

School Board Adopts 2008-2009 Calendar

November 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education formally adopted the school calendar for the 2008-2009 year Thursday night, upon the recommendation of Director of Schools and the School Calendar Committee.

Registration for all students will be Tuesday, August 5th from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. That will be an abbreviated school day.

Thursday, August 7 will be an administrative day at all schools and all teachers must attend from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Students will not attend.

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 6

A system wide professional development day will be Thursday, July 31st at DCHS and all teachers from all schools must attend from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

All teachers will report to their individual schools Friday and Monday, August 1st & 4th from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. each day.

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 1st.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 10-17

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 26th, 27th, & 28th and for the winter break December 22nd through January 2nd , 2009. Friday, December 19th will be the last day students attend before winter break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Students will return after the holidays on Monday, January 5th to begin the third nine week session.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 19th and for President's Day, Monday, February 16th.

The spring break will be March 19th, 20th, & 23rd

Students will not attend on Good Friday and Monday, April 10th & 13th . Students will also be off on Thursday, May 21st. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend.

The last day of school will be Friday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be given to the students.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 7th and Thursday, March 12th at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 9th and Thursday, January 29th at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 6th, Thursday, January 8th, and Tuesday, March 10th.

Competency testing at DCHS will be October 7th-9th and February 10th-12th.

Gateway testing at DCHS will be December 2nd-4th and May 5th-7th. Gateway test makeup will be December 5th and May 8th.

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3rd. Writing Assessment make-up will be February 4th.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 20th-24th.

(Stockpile Days) Professional Development/Instructional Days will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4th and Friday, May 1st.

Meanwhile, in other business Thursday night, the school board set the date for graduation at DeKalb County High School for Friday, May 23rd at 7:00 p.m.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby also presented his monthly personnel report to the board.

Those employed since last month include substitute teachers Rebeckah Beck, Linda Brown, Dwayne Cornelius, Mary Edmonds, Joyce Martin, Dina Moon, Angela Osment, Gayle Pack, Debbie Parchman, Tina Paschal, Stacey Rise. Cori Sexton, Susan Shaw, Rawlin Vanatta, Shirley Ingram, Tracy Ludwig, Krystal Patterson, Tammy Rhea, and Ivadell Randolph.

Dwayne Cornelius, Wallace Cantrell, and Gregory Muskopf were hired as substitute bus drivers.

Meanwhile Lillian Lori Purnell, a teacher at Smithville Elementary School and Jennifer Agee, educational assistant, were granted a leave of absence as requested.

In her report to the board, DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix, appealing to the radio audience, asked parents to "make sure that your children are passing all of their classes. If they are having trouble in any class, we have lots of before and after school programs available for them. We have credit recovery, grade recovery, Tiger Academy to make up time if they have missed too many days. We also have access to on-line classes. We are going to have some more classes available on-line probably around the first of the year. We may be able to incorporate them right away, Algebra I, English 12, Geometry, Econ and Government, and Gateway Math."

"I would also like to encourage parents to please keep in touch with your child's teachers to make sure they are being successful in their classes. If you have Internet access, every teacher has an email address. This is a very quick and easy way to keep in touch with your children's teachers. Also, if your child has an English, Math, or Science class, we do have Homework Hotline, where if they are working on something at home, they can call that number and get help if they need it. We want every child at DeKalb County High School to be successful and we're trying to provide every opportunity available that we can come up with to help them succeed. I also want to encourage the students to take advantage of these opportunities that we have available for them."

"We also are providing some transportation after school now. The bus is going to leave at 4:45 p.m. over in front of the Middle School. If there are high school students, there will be drop off points. We'll get some paper work out on that. We're going to do everything we can to try and get your children access to these after school programs. If you need that after school ride, we need your name and address, prior to the date that you need a ride home. So please take advantage of all these things we have to offer at the high school."

Director Willoughby added that regarding the after school transportation, "parents will need to sign a permission slip and parents of high school students will have to be at the designated drop off points when the bus arrives there."

Woman Believed to be Illegal Immigrant Charged with Criminal Impersonation

November 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 35 year old Warren County woman, believed to be an illegal immigrant, has been charged with criminal impersonation after using a Wilson County woman's name and social security number to get a job in Smithville.

Beatris Martinez Perez of King Street, McMinnville was arrested Wednesday.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says "In January of 2006, Perez obtained a Wilson County woman's identification and social security number and used that information to help her get a job at a factory in Smithville. Perez worked there for several months and was paid over $8,500 in wages. After the victim was notified of a problem with her tax return, she contacted the Warren County Sheriff's Department because that is where Perez lives. Warren County Investigators in return notified DeKalb County authorities of the case when they learned that the factory where Perez was employed is in Smithville. Detectives arrested Perez Wednesday at another local factory where she had given her real name. Since she is apparently an illegal immigrant, the Federal Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) will be notified to investigate Perez' immigration status. More arrests are pending."

Meanwhile, 29 year old Ricky Allen Ashford II of East Main Street Liberty was charged on Tuesday, November 6th with one count of theft of property under $500, one count of theft of property over $500, and five counts of forgery.

Sheriff Ray says "Detectives discovered that on October 26th, Ashford allegedly stole several checks from a relative on Wilder Hollow Road in Dowelltown. On the same day, he forged and passed a check for $80.00 at a local bank and another check for $120.00 at a store in Smithville. On October 29th Ashford passed a check for $50.00 at a local bank and on October 31st he passed two more checks, including one for $11.08 and the other for $65.00. The checks were passed at a store in Smithville and a local bank. Then on November 2nd, Ashford returned to the victim's home on Wilder Hollow Road and stole the victim's 1986 Oldsmobile car. The vehicle has been recovered. Bond for Ashford was set at $57,500 and his court date is November 29th."

Also on Tuesday, deputies arrested 37 year old Jefery Overall of Oriole Drive, McMinnville for 3rd offense DUI, driving on a revoked driver's license, possession of a schedule II drug (dilaudid), possession of a schedule IV (Xanax) for resale, and violation of the implied consent law.

According to Sheriff Ray, "Overall was involved in an accident on Banks Pisgah Road. After administering field sobriety tasks on Overall, officers discovered he was intoxicated. Overall had a revoked driver's license for DUI and driving on a revoked license. A plastic container found in Overall's pants pocket contained three K-4 Dilaudid and seven Xanax pills. Overall refused to submit to a blood/alcohol test. Bond was set at $22,000 and his court date is November 29th."

On Wednesday, 40 year old Bonnie Lou Stembridge of Adams Street, Smithville and 38 year old Sonny Gene Smith of South Mountain Street, Smithville were both charged with burglary and theft of property.

Sheriff Ray says "The two went into a residence that had recently burned on Holmes Creek Road without the owner's permission and took copper wiring. Bond for both Stembridge and Smith was set at $75,000 and their court date is November 15th. "

Sheriff Ray told WJLE "This is not an unusual case at all. My department has investigated other cases where thieves would go to a recently burned house or building and steal the central air units, copper pipes, and wiring. By obtaining the copper this way, the protective coating on the wire is melted away and the copper is sold for a higher price." Sheriff Ray says "if you see anyone prowling in a recently burned building, call and report it. We will check the people out just to make sure they belong there."

DeKalb County Foster Children's Fund Seeks Support

November 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

With the holiday season fast approaching, the Department of Children's Services is planning a visit from Santa for DeKalb County children in foster care.

Friends of DeKalb County Foster Children urge you to remember that not all children this Christmas will take part in a celebration with their own families. Children who have lived in an abusive or neglectful home will be sharing Christmas with their foster family, and for many, this means with strangers. Often these children wonder if Santa Clause has their new address, or whether or not he will bring them any gifts this year.

While the department is able to provide for everyday needs of children in state custody, there are not enough funds available to purchase Christmas gifts and for other special occasions such as birthdays and graduations. For this reason, foster care Christmas depends on the generosity of the general public.

Annette Greek, Treasurer for the DeKalb County Foster Children's Fund, says your support is needed for the 40 children from DeKalb County now in foster care. If you or your organization would be willing to help these children by providing a monetary donation, please make checks payable to "DeKalb County Foster Children Fund" and mail to: DeKalb County Foster Children Fund, Attention: Annette Greek, 400 West Public Square, Smithville, Tennessee 37166.

Greek says she will be glad to accept your cash donation at Webb's Drug Store.

Greek says since the ages of these foster children vary, a cash donation is preferable to gifts.

City to Consider Possibility of Purchasing Magnolia House Building for Community Functions

November 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Magnolia House is for sale and at least one Smithville Alderman believes the city should consider purchasing it as a community center for youth, senior citizens, and the public at large.

Alderman Tonya Sullivan, during Monday night's city council meeting, made a motion for a feasibility study to be conducted by the mayor and a committee and to consult with the county mayor on possibly making it a joint venture. The motion was approved 5-0.

Sullivan says the asking price for this 10,000 square foot building, the former location of Walker Funeral Home, is currently $750,000 and believes it would be ideal for community functions. " It is an Historical building. It was built in 1913. I would like for this board to take a look at some options at possibly purchasing that building or making some type of lease-purchase agreement set up for the next budget year."

"Mr (Cecil) Burger and Steve (White) both brought up, when the golf course sprinkler system was being discussed, that we need to do something for everyone, as many people as we can. I do agree with that. The senior citizens are meeting in this area (city hall community room) and they host a lot of things, they are very active. I feel like the possibility of purchasing that property, with it being in the downtown area, could serve in many capacities, for senior citizens, for civic organizations. I know reunions are held in this room (city hall). I know there are many things going on which that building could be used for."

"The building has 10,000 square feet and the upstairs has three large rooms and three bathrooms. Those areas upstairs could be rented out as office space to recoup some of the costs or help the seniors citizens out with the heating and cooling. That space (building) would be large enough for senior citizens, boy scouts, girl scouts and would serve this community for banquets and things like that. I know we have to depend upon some of the churches to help us host the golf banquet. That (building) could become city property so that it could be rented out for those type things. It could be a great asset to this community. Maybe the city could work with the county to see if they would assist as well."

"We could also reclaim this area (community room) of city hall, and as we're growing, we could use this space, maybe efficiently for your (mayor's) offices and different expansions that are going to be taking place here. I know a lot of offices are crowded here in city hall but we have a large nice building that we could be using. The current price (of the Magnolia House) is $750,000 at 10,000 square feet, that's $75.00 per square foot. I don't think we could build that building for $75.00 per square foot right now. However, I would hope that is the asking price and that it would be negotiable and I would hope that the county mayor would be interested in a joint effort to provide for this community."

Mayor Hendrixson appointed Aldermen Sullivan, Steve White, and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. to conduct the feasibility study and report back to the city council with their findings at the November 19th meeting.

Fire Damages Tennessee Credit

November 6, 2007
Dwayne Page

An early morning fire today (Tuesday) damaged Tennessee Credit on West Broad Street.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says firefighters received the call at 3:18 a.m. "We had a fire in a back office at Tennessee Credit. It did damage to the back three rooms of the building. There was already a pretty good fire going when we got here. The alarm company notified the owners and they arrived on the scene and found smoke and fire coming from the building. We got on the scene and knocked it (fire) down. There was some smoke and heat to the rest of the building but the fire damage was primarily contained to the back. Structurally the building is still intact.

Chief Parker says the State Fire Marshal's Office has been contacted to help determine the cause of the blaze. "It's still under investigation at this time. The Fire Marshal's Office is going to come down and take a look at it. We've called them to investigate to make sure, just to be on the safe side, that there's no foul play involved in it. We're unable to determine exactly what started the fire at this point so we've called them in to help us on that."

Smithville Police and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene. No one was injured.

City Board Votes to Re-Bid Sprinkler Project at Golf Course

November 6, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Aldermen Monday night, after a failed attempt to override a mayoral veto, voted 3 to 2 to appropriate over $213,000 to fund an irrigation system for the fairways at the Smithville Golf Course and to re-bid the project.

The city budget will have to be amended to fund this project with $86,000 to come from the general fund under the golf course account, and $127,000 from the general fund surplus.

Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins Sr. voted to spend the money, while Aldermen Cecil Burger and Steve White voted against it.

On October 15th, the board voted 3 to 2 to award the bid on the golf course sprinkler system to Oasis Irrigation for $213,716, the lowest of the four bids submitted.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson later cast a veto of the board's decision based on an opinion of City Attorney John Pryor.

In the letter to Mayor Hendrixson dated October 25th, Pryor wrote that "The Municipal Purchasing Law of 1983 as codified in (state law) requires that all purchases made shall be within the limits of the approved budget for the department which the purchase is made. My review of the budget does not reveal such funds being appropriated for such a purchase. This could be fixed by amending the budget, which should occur before the approval of the purchase."

"Second, as pointed out by Brian Burns with Rainbird, the bid package required specific parts and or equipment and did not include language that would allow equivalent equipment or parts. Again, the Municipal Purchasing Law of 1983 as codified in (state law) requires purchases to be made only after competitive bids. My concern is our bid may have been too exclusive."

"I consulted with Don Darden of MTAS and he agreed with me as to these potential problems."

Monday night, the aldermen attempted to override the mayor's veto. Aldermen Sullivan, Thomas, and Hutchins voted for the override, but Aldermen Burger and White voted against it. Since four votes are needed to override, the mayor's veto was upheld.

The city board will formally act on making the appropriation by ordinance on first reading at the next meeting on Monday, November 19th at 7:00 p.m. Second and final reading action will come following a public hearing at the December 3rd meeting at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

On September 17th, the board voted 4 to 1 to accept bids on the golf course sprinkler system and take half of Jimmy Lewis' rent to pay for it over time. Lewis is the tenant at the golf course. Lewis would continue to pay his monthly rent of $2,500 per month with half going to the general fund and half going to the city to pay the debt of the irrigation system. Aldermen White voted against it.

On October 15th, the board voted 3 to 2 to award the bid. This time, Alderman Burger joined Alderman White in voting no.

Concerned citizen Warren Johns, who addressed the city board Monday night, said since the mayor chose to veto the October 15th vote by the board, the September 17th action, which was the basis for authorizing the funding of the sprinkler system, is still valid. Johns added that the aldermen, by voting to re-bid the project, may be risking a lawsuit by the Oasis company for breach of contract, and possible personal liability. He also seemed to question whether the mayor's veto of the October 15th action was valid since he apparently did not sign it before sending it to the aldermen.

City attorney Pryor responded that the advertisements on the bids stated that the city reserved the right to reject any or all bids.

A representative of the Oasis company addressed the board asking for fairness and possible negotiation. " We were the low bidder. We went by the specs we were given. We are happy to entertain a Rainbird price and see if they meet the specs. If they've got the products to meet the specs and can save the city some money, we're happy to take their prices. I just don't think it's fair now that everybody knows what our prices are. We're obviously the low, qualified bidder that bid on the specifications."

Alderman Sullivan, who wanted to confirm the bid to Oasis, said "I do think that the equipment and bid price was fair and of good quality by your company and I regret that this was handled improperly. I regret that the bid packet was put out wrong and I regret that it was vetoed and that I did not have the leadership to guide this board at that time."

Earlier, Alderman White said he felt that Lewis had breached his lease agreement with the city by taking on partners, which the city has not approved, and by not submitting minutes of advisory board meetings to the mayor, as is apparently required under the lease.

The lease states that an alderman, appointed by the mayor, shall be a member of a six member advisory board. White was apparently appointed to serve by former Mayor Burger, but Mayor Hendrixson, since he has been in office, has apparently made no alderman appointment to the advisory board.

Lewis and others claim they have held meetings and that White never shows up, but White claims he is not made aware of any meetings, and when he has tried to meet with the board at appointed times, he could find no one there.

White made a motion on Monday night to send Lewis a notice of the "breaches" of the contract and to give him thirty days to correct them, as is required under the lease. White's motion died for the lack of a second.


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