Local News Articles

Two Charged with Driving Offenses by Smithville Police

June 4, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have made two arrests in recent days for driving offenses.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says Smithville Police arrested 48 year old Dewey Barrett of 905 Main Street in Smithville for Driving on a Revoked Driver's License (2nd Offense) after officers spotted Barrett driving.

A computer check disclosed that Barrett was under a current revocation for a prior DUI driver's license revocation.

He was subsequently arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $3,000 bond.

Meanwhile, 39 year old Cameron Smith of 1119 New Due West Road in Madison was arrested for DUI.

Chief Stufano says officers responded to the Sonic Restaurant to investigate a reported intoxicated driver. Upon arrival, officers made contact with Smith who displayed signs of intoxication. He was given and performed poorly on a field sobriety test. Smith was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond.

Jail Inmates Working a Summer Garden

June 6, 2007
Dwayne Page

The inmates are working a summer Garden.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the garden is located on Highway 70 east of Smithville.

Ray said inmates have planted tomato plants along with squash, cucumbers, pepper and two kinds of beans. He is hoping that vegetables grown in the garden will help ease the cost of the food budget at the jail.

Sheriff Ray says four-to-six inmates work at a time, under supervision, in the garden. He says the prisoners seem to enjoy it as a way of giving something back to the county during their incarceration.

Sheriff Ray says Bobby Colvert has donated use of the land for the garden and Steve White did the ground preparation.

Ray said the only cost to the county was the purchase of seed and the jail already had a refurbished tiller and the hand tools necessary to work the garden.

Two Former Cannon County Correctional Officers Charged With Local Thefts

June 4, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two former Cannon County Correctional Officers, 24 year old Jonathan McCormick of Lee Braswell Road, Smithville and 24 year old Christopher Hale of West Main Street, Smithville have been charged in connection with several local burglaries and thefts. Both men worked for former Cannon County Sheriff Kenny Wetzel.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says McCormick was arrested on May 30th for three counts of Burglary, one count of Aggravated Burglary, two counts of theft over $500 and three counts of theft over $1,000. Bond is set at $140,000 . His court date is set for June 21st.

Detectives allege that on May 19th, McCormick entered a house at LaFever Ridge Road, Silver Point that was under construction and took electrical tools valued at $2,600. The tools have since been recovered.

Hale has also been charged with two counts of Burglary, one count of Aggravated Burglary, three counts of theft of property over $500 and two counts of theft of property over $1,000. Bond is set at $410,000 and his court date is June 28th
Detectives allege that on May 10th, McCormick and Hale entered a residence that was under construction on Coconut Ridge Road Smithville and took 300 feet of under ground copper wire and various hand tools valued at $1,110.

Sheriff Ray says McCormick and Hale, on May 14th, entered a residence through a window on Big Rock Road Smithville and took a computer valued at $800. The computer has since been recovered.

Two days later on May 16th, McCormick and Hale entered a house on Seaton Drive, Smithville, that was under construction and took 8 rolls of copper wire that was valued at $600.

The same day, they allegedly took a roll of cooper wire valued at $600 from a company who was doing wiring for the newly constructed dock at Hurricane Boat Dock.

McCormick and Hale also allegedly took 2,000 pounds of copper wire valued at $6,000 from a location on Game Ridge Road Smithville on May 28th.

Meanwhile, on May 30th, John Atnip Jr. of Jacobs Pillar Road Smithville was involved in a hit and run accident on Short Mountain Highway. Atnip lost control of his vehicle, went across the roadway, and struck a utility pole. Atnip then fled the scene. Atnip was later arrested and charged with leaving the scene and violation of his driver's license. Atnip was placed under a $2,500 bond and his court date is June 28th.

20 year old Ben Pascal of Green Hill Road, McMinnville was arrested on May 30th for theft of property. Sheriff Patrick Ray says Pascal went to visit a friend on South Tittsworth Road , Smithville and stole another visitor's prescription drugs (10 Oxycontin 20 milligrams). Bond is set a $1,000 and his court date is June 7th.

Meanwhile, on May 30th, deputies from the Sheriff's Department worked a wreck on Highway 70 West in Liberty.

45 year old Hoyte Neal of West Broad Street, Smithville was west bound on the Nashville Highway. in a 2005 GMC Pickup. Neal failed to negotiate a curve and ran head on into two parked vehicles in a parking lot belonging to Crook's Auto Sales. Neal's vehicle also struck the car lot's office building. Neal was not injured.

On May 31st, 19 year old Kurtis Dykes of Floyd Drive, Smithville was charged with Consumption of alcohol under age 21. Deputies pulled over Dykes' vehicle in Dowelltown for a traffic violation and found Dykes had been drinking. His bond was set at $1,500 and his court date is June 21st.

Deputies, also on May 31st, worked a motor vehicle accident at the Intersection of Patterson Road and Short Mountain Road. 48 year old Martin Arnold of Wet Mill Creek ,Celina was arrested for DUI and implied consent after deputies found Arnold to be under the influence. Bond was set at $1,500. His court date is June 28th.

On Friday, June 1st, the Sheriff's Department received a report from Redmon Road, Smithville that a car was stolen. Warrants have been taken on 39 year old James Cargill of St. Louis, Missouri. Cargill was arrested in Long Beach, Mississippi for possession of the stolen vehicle. Cargill will be extradited back to Tennessee shortly to face charges here for theft of property over $1,000.

On Saturday, June 2nd, 18 year old Brandon Hutchings of Young Ridge Road, Sparta was charged with public intoxication and consumption of alcohol under age 21. Deputies were called to Young Ridge Road to answer a disturbance call and found Hutchins in an intoxicated state. Bond was set at $5,000 and his court date is June 28th.

City Leaders Asked to Revisit Public Records Ordinance

June 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has written a letter to city leaders asking them to review and reconsider portions of an ordinance adopted last fall which he says may be contrary to relevant state law, appellate court decisions, and opinions of the State Attorney General

Frank Gibson says he is concerned about the City of Smithville's ordinance regulating access to, inspection of, and reproduction of public records and believes it may have the effect of hindering public access. He is asking city officials to either review the ordinance or submit it to the Municipal Technical Advisory Service for a legal review.

Specifically, Gibson says the ordinance contains at least two troubling sections: One requires citizens to submit \"requests for inspection or copying\" in writing or on a form provided by the city. The other imposes fees in the form of \"actual personnel costs\" to retrieve and or supervise access to records. That is on top of a 25 cent per page copying fee.

Gibson says the Tennessee Court of Appeals noted in 2005 that the Public Records Act does not allow an official to condition access to records on filling out a form or making the request in writing.

The city ordinance also authorizes city employees to charge for time spent \"retrieving and accessing\" and \"supervising access to and inspection of or reproduction of records.\"

Gibson says court decisions allow agencies to adopt \"reasonable rules\" but only to cover the cost of copies.

According to Gibson, the State Supreme Court said in a case called The Tennessean vs Electric Power Board, that \"there is no authority under the (Public Records) Act allowing agencies to establish rules that would substantially inhibit disclosure of records. Moreover, limiting an agency to rules governing only the actual ‘making of extracts, copies, photographs, or photostats is consistent with the legislative policy in favor of the fullest possible access.\"

Gibson says \"The State Attorney General has said in an Opinion that \"conditioning the right to inspect a public record upon payment of a fee unauthorized by state law would be tantamount to denying the right of inspection that is set forth in state law.\"

In response, former City Attorney Sarah Cripps says \"Contrary to the protestations of Frank Gibson, the Director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, the City of Smithville's Public Records Ordinance was, indeed, reviewed by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). In fact, former City Attorney Cripps forwarded the Public Records Ordinance to MTAS Attorney Dennis Huffer for his review prior to the ordinance being submitted to the Smithville Mayor and Board of Alderman for approval. Attorney Huffer made certain changes to the ordinance which were incorporated into the ordinance that was utlimately passed by the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen.\"

Sue Mathis Named Smithville Police Department Employee of the Month for April and May

June 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department Employee of the month for April and May was Records Custodian Sue Mathis.

Presented by Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, and Mayor Taft Hendrixson, the commendation states that \"On behalf of the City of Smithville Police Department, I would like to commend you for your recent actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as Records Custodian and Front Office Supervisor. Your determination and efforts this month in handling, filing, and entering reports into the TIBERS system has substantially increased the performance of this department. The efficiency provided by your expertise and organizational skills has streamlined operations and presented an efficient presence to citizens in their quest for reporting information.\"

\"Due to your professionalism, TIBERS training, the many hours of dedicated service in inputting this critical information, you have been commended on numerous occasions by TBI for your efficiency. This has shown favorably on the Police Department. You have served with distinction and are a credit to your profession as a Smithville Police Officer.\"

\"Additionally, your work ethic and tenacity during the month of April and May has shown your true commitment to the citizens we serve and your fellow co-workers.\"

\"I appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this Commendation becoming apart of your permanent personnel record for all to see.\"

\"Congratulations on a job well done!\"

Police Department and City Leaders Present Commendation To Chief Stufano

June 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department and city leaders have presented an Official Police Commendation to Chief Thomas J. Stufano.

The commendation was signed by Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, Lieutenant Patrol Division Commander Steven Leffew, Lieutenant Special Services Commander Richard Jennings, and Lieutenant Detective/Internal Affairs Commander Steve Deffendoll.

It states that \"This commendation is presented to you on behalf of all of the Police Officers and Staff of the Smithville Police Department.\"

\"Due to your superior leadership and guidance, you have provided us with a professional agency that we are proud and honored to be apart of. It is said that a good leader leads by example'. The example you have displayed as our Chief through your professionalism and understanding has firmly established our confidence in you as a great leader of people and the officers of this agency.\"

\"It is with great pleasure that we show our sincerest gratitude to you for significantly elevating this agency's standards and also for being genuinely interested in our safety and professionalism.\"

\"We pledge to you that your tireless efforts to establish a professional workforce not go unheeded and we as a total department will continue to strive for excellence in our duties as Police Officers for the residents of this city.\"

\"On behalf of the entire City of Smithville Police Department, we would like to commend you for your actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as this agency's Chief of Police. We appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this citation being submitted to the Mayor and Police Commissioner to become apart of your permanent personnel record for all to observe.\"

\"Congratulations on a job well done!\"

One Day of Early Voting Remains for Smithville Municipal Election

June 9, 2007
Dwayne Page

A total of 489 people have voted in the Smithville Municipal Election with one day of early voting remaining.

DeKalb County Election Commission officials report that 471 have voted by personal appearance and 18 have voted by mail.

Early voting will be held Thursday, June 14th from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Election Day is Tuesday, June 19th from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

All voting, both during early voting and on election day, will be in the basement courtroom of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Three aldermen will be elected, each to serve a two year term, beginning July 1st.

Incumbents Aaron Meeks, W. J. \"Dub\" White, and Paul Young are being challenged by Jerry Hutchins' Sr., Shawn Jacobs, Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Todd Van Dyne.

Warren County Woman Injured in Thursday Morning Wreck

June 14, 2007
Dwayne Page

A Warren County woman was injured in a one car accident Thursday morning on Highway 56 at the DeKalb-Warren County line.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 34 year old Kimberly Stembridge of Smartt, Tennessee was driving south in a 2005 Saturn Ion when she failed to maintain the lane of travel, entered a ditch on the west side of the road, struck a driveway culvert, and overturned. The car then slid on it's top several feet back into the highway.

Trooper England says Stembridge, who was wearing her seatbelt, was taken by DeKalb EMS to River Park Hospital in McMinnville to be treated for minor injuries.

He says both lanes of the highway were shut down for approximately 45 minutes during the investigation and cleanup.

Trooper England was assisted by Trooper Dewaine Jennings and Sergeant Billy Prater of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Others on the scene were officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, DeKalb EMS, and members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Drought conditions will adversely affect the Cumberland River Basin

June 9, 2007
Dwayne Page

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District, announced today that drought conditions in the Cumberland River Basin will lead to modified operations of Cumberland River Basin reservoirs in order to reduce, to the extent possible, the adverse impacts along the river.

Adverse impacts will affect project purposes all along the Cumberland River from Laurel River Lake to Lake Barkley. There will be adverse impacts to project purposes including: recreation, hydropower, navigation, water quality, and water supply as well as to fisheries along the Cumberland River and fossil fuel power plants along the Cumberland River.

The drought conditions being experienced in the Cumberland River Basin are due to lack of precipitation during early 2007. The impacts of the drought will be greater than normal due to operating restrictions at Lake Cumberland and Center Hill Lakes. Wolf Creek and Center Hill Dams are being operated at lower levels after being classified as high risk dams. Both dams have major rehabilitation projects ongoing.

\"We are seeing conditions that we would not normally see until the end of August in a typically dry year,\" said Bob Sneed, Chief of the Water Management Section, Nashville District. \"I am also concerned about the low dissolved oxygen levels (DO) at some of our reservoirs. For instance, Old Hickory Lake is seeing the lowest DO levels since 1988.”

Fish kills are possible if water temperatures in the Cumberland River continue to rise and the dissolved oxygen levels continue to drop. Warmer water puts stress on fish over time and then the lower dissolved oxygen rates make the water uninhabitable for fish, according to Sneed.

The Nashville District is taking every action it can to provide water for water supply intakes, to protect the public safety of the recreational user, to maintain the navigation channel, to maintain the fisheries along the Cumberland River and to maintain operations of fossil fuel power plants along the Cumberland River. The operation of the Cumberland River Basin will be modified to the extent possible to mitigate for the drought conditions.

According to Bill Barron, chief of the Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch, Nashville District, many actions that have already been taken include: asking Eastern Kentucky Power to run only minimum hydropower releases at Laurel River Lake; pulsing of hydropower generation at Wolf Creek Dam every 6 hours to keep water supply intakes covered at Burkesville, KY and Cumberland County, KY and to keep water temperature below the dam low. The Corps is also pulsing at Center Hill Dam every 12 hours for similar reasons; filling of Dale Hollow to higher than normal elevations to provide for extra storage; filling of Cordell Hull, Old Hickory, and Cheatham Lakes to slightly higher levels for emergency mitigations; spilling and partial hydropower generation at Old Hickory Dam to improve dissolved oxygen and to provide a “window of opportunity” for navigation.

In addition the Corps is spilling at Cheatham Dam to try to keep water temperatures low and to assist navigation; removing tail water restrictions at Lake Barkley and adjusting releases to minimum flow used only as flow is needed for navigation, and increased monitoring of the water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels along the Cumberland River. Future actions may include: discharging more water at tributary projects (Dale Hollow Lake, Center Hill Lake and J. Percy Priest Lake) thereby reducing their water levels below normal.

The good news is the cold water fisheries below Wolf Creek and Center Hill Dams at present are doing well because of the amount of cold water being released now, but if water temperatures rise these fisheries may be in danger. \"I have been told the trout fishing is great below Wolf Creek Dam and in the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam,\" said Sneed.

The operating objectives for the Cumberland River Basin in order of priority (highest to lowest) are: water supply, water quality, navigation, hydropower, and recreation. These objectives are also project purposes and ranked in this order with public safety as the number one priority.

The pool levels in tributary projects (Dale Hollow Lake, Center Hill Lake and J. Percy Priest Lake) will be lowered as required to maintain the operating objectives of the Cumberland River Basin. As the drought continues, recreational users will see gradually lower water levels.

As the lake levels are gradually lowered, rocks and other obstacles may be exposed and become hazards for boaters and other recreational users. Also, certain areas of lakes may not be accessible due to the low water.

Other concerns are maintaining navigation along the Cumberland River and the operation of fossil fuel power plants on the River. The Corps is working with the navigation industry to provide \"windows of opportunity\" where there will be enough flow for navigation. The Corps is also working with the Sherman Cooper Power Plant, the Gallatin Steam Plant and the Cumberland City Power Plant to lessen impacts to their operations.

\"We will be trying to balance the operating objectives to best utilize the water we have in the Cumberland River Basin,\" said Barron, \"but we know there will be adverse impacts to all of the objectives this year. In a normal year, we have enough water that we only have to juggle two or three objectives, say water quality, navigation and hydropower, but this year we are juggling all five.\"

Friday Radiothon Seeks Community Support, Donations for Construction of County's Second Habitat for Humanity Home

June 11, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County’s affiliate chapter of Habitat for Humanity will hold its Radiothon Fundraiser on WJLE Friday morning, June 15th.

“This radiothon will be a main source of funds to put one local family into an affordable and decent home of their own,” says Nolan Turner, president of the local affiliate chapter. “I ask everyone who shares our commitment to help the less fortunate to consider making a donation.”

The Adams St. home will be built for Felicia Gibbs, a divorced single mother, and her children Dasia, 4, and Trystan Seth, 9 months old. Felicia grew up in Alexandria, attended DeKalb West Elementary School, and graduated from DeKalb County High School in 2001. The family met criteria used by Habitat to identify the best candidates for successful home ownership: demonstration of need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner with Habitat.

The group hopes to exceed the $25,000 raised on WJLE in August 2005. “We were overwhelmed with the response to our first radiothon, and are depending on that kind of community support once again,” says Tecia Pryor, chair of Habitat’s development committee and past president.

Radio listeners can phone in a pledge and challenge other members of the community to make a donation by calling 597-4265, 215-5316 and 215-5317 during the three hour event, hosted live on the local radio station from 9 until 12.

All money raised will be applied toward lot purchase, materials and services, with labor donated. Recipients of Habitat-built homes must make a downpayment and put in hours of “sweat equity” before construction can begin. After the house is built, they assume a 20-year interest-free mortgage for the purchase price, based solely on the price of materials and related services.

If Habitat reaches its fundraising goals, construction should begin later this summer. Estimated total costs are expected to exceed $40,000. Monthly mortgage payments should range between $200 and $300.

For more information, please contact these officers of the Habitat Board of Directors: Nolan Turner, president; Tecia Pryor, vice president and chair of the development committee; Nancy Lewis, secretary; or Glenda Davis, treasurer. You may also leave a message on the Habitat voicemail at 215-8181 and a board member will return your call.


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