Local News Articles

DeKalb County Fire Department receives Federal Grant

December 14, 2007

The DeKalb County Fire Department will receive a $195,957 U.S. Department of Homeland Security vehicle acquisition grant, U.S. Representative Bart Gordon announced.

"Many communities struggle to maintain EMS and firefighting services," said Gordon, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. "Even though demands on EMS providers and firefighters have increased tremendously over the years, the resources they depend on to provide their life-savings services have not.

"That's why Congress initiated the Assistance to Firefighters Program, which is similar to the highly successful COPS program that put more than 100,000 new police officers on the nation's streets."

Chief Donny Green said the department will use the funds to purchase a tanker that can haul 2,500 gallons of water. Currently, the only fire truck that covers the entire 305 square miles of DeKalb County is a 1979 converted milk truck.

"The rural parts of DeKalb County don't have fire hydrants, so we have to haul water to the fire," Green said. "This will let us be a whole lot more efficient in the county and in providing mutial aid to the surrounding cities and counties."

The DeKalb County Fire Department's 11 substations respond to calls from Smithville and Alexandria and DeKalb and Cannon counties.

In addition to improving efficiency, the new fire tanker should help the department recruit and retain volunteers and decrease homeowner insurance rates.

"Just being able to provide water and a safer truck for the firefighters is one part of it,", Green said. "One of the things insurance looks at is how the fire department hauls water. Part of the homeowner's premium is based on how local fire protection is rated."

The tanker will cost nearly $206,000 with DeKalb County providing 5% matching funds.

Sheriff's Department Charges Two Men in Drug Case

December 14, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant on Thursday at the home of 39 year old Mark (Truck) Robinson on Anthony Avenue in Smithville.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says officers made at least one drug buy from Robinson's residence and during the search, they found 193 Xanax pills, 203 empty prescription bottles with numerous individuals' names on them, hemostats, rolling papers, roach clips, syringes, and a pill grinder.

Another individual, 37 year old Walter Redmon of Sparta Highway, Smithville was also at the residence. Sheriff Ray says Redmon was found to have a syringe in his pants pocket.

Robinson is charged with possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax) for sale and delivery and
possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $26,500

Redmon is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and a bond was set at $1,500. Both are scheduled to be in General Sessions Court on January 3rd.

Sheriff Ray says officers seized the cash from Robinson and more arrests are pending.

Willoughby Updates School Board on Personnel

December 13, 2007
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Those employed since last month include Wallace Caldwell, Gregory Muskopf, and Dwayne Cornelius as substitute bus drivers, Santos Cabellero as cafeteria worker, and Keith Huling in transportation,.

Debbie Parchman was transferred from a substitute teacher position to an educational assistant at DCHS.

Amy Tobitt, DCHS teacher, was granted a leave of absence as requested.

Larry Johnson, Materials Supervisor has resigned.

Willoughby announced that Johnson's position will not be filled. "I just wanted to let the board know that my intention is to reorganize our supervisory personnel, taking into consideration the fact that we not be filling our material supervisor position. It is my plan to divide the position of curriculum and instructional supervisor (pre-k through 12th grade) into a pre-k through 6th grade and a 7th through 12th grade curriculum instructor supervisor. Michelle Burklow will take over the pre-k through 6th grade and Dr. Carol Hendrix will take over the 7th through 12th grade. At the same time, I will delegate the responsibilities of the materials supervisor position to our different supervisors. I will also post the position for a new federal programs director. We will take applications through the month of December. We will start interviewing in January. I think these moves will be real good for the children of our school system. Our folks (supervisors) will be able to be in the classrooms and into the schools more and I think it will make our education more efficient for the children."

In other business, the board voted to participate in an energy conservation program, subject to a review and approval by the county commission.

Under the program, the school system could apply for an interest free loan of up to $500,000 and contract with a company to make energy conservation retrofits to existing school buildings, such as heating, air conditioning, and lighting. The loan would be repaid over seven years from the savings in energy costs, due to those improvements. In order to participate, the school system would have to commit $9,500 to have the company prepare a detailed energy study to identify areas that need to be addressed. The costs could be paid for out of the energy savings to the school system.

The board voted to accept sealed bids to sell some surplus equipment including two 1995 Blue Bird buses, a 1994 John Deere 72 inch cut mower, and a Sanborn Blackmax 5 horsepower two stage 80 gallon tank air compressor with motor and compressor (needs to be overhauled). Bids will be opened at the next meeting on January 10th.

The board adopted a policy that authorizes the Director of Schools to obtain credit cards for business travel expense for general purpose and federal programs funds. Credit cards may only be used by authorized employees for legitimate school business expenditures. The issue of credit cards is not intended to circumvent the school system's policies and procedures on purchasing.

Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins recommended passage of the policy. " We have a lot of programs that we send different members of the faculty to and they end up putting a lot of these charges on their personal credit cards so I'm recommending that we authorize the director of schools to apply for this credit card. These charges run into several thousands of dollars on personal credit cards and I think we, as a government body, need to get away from that. It will be the director's responsibility and the credit cards will be maintained by him."

The board also voted to make a DCHS course change for the spring semester 2008 by changing ‘Problems and Solutions in Technology 3813" to "Technological Systems 3811".

In a letter to the board, Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director at DCHS, wrote that " This change is needed because a vast amount of competencies and standards for the "Problems and Solutions in Technology" course requires Internet access in order to be completed. The "Technology Systems" course does not require extensive amounts of research and Internet use to complete the competencies and standards."

"Due to the limited use of Internet in our Career and Technical Education programs, additional standards and competencies in Career and Technical Education program area courses will be evaluated and additional course changes may occur in the future. The goal of the "Career and Technical Education" programs and the use of Perkins funding we receive is to provide the necessary equipment and technology to teach students the standards and competencies needed, improve, expand, and modernize quality career and technical education programs, including relevant technology, and to provide activities to prepare all students for high skill, high wage, or high demand occupations that will lead to self sufficiency."

The board, as required by state law, will conduct the annual evaluation of the Director of Schools job performance on Tuesday, January 8th at 6:00 p.m. during an informal workshop. The results of the evaluation will be reported during the next regular meeting on Thursday, January 10th. A board self evaluation will be also be scheduled soon.

Three Democrats, One Republican, and One Independent Qualify for Assessor Race

December 13, 2007
Dwayne Page

Three candidates are in the race for Assessor of Property in the February 5th DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

Democratic Incumbent Assessor Timothy (Fud) Banks will be challenged for the nomination on February 5th by Roy D. Merriman, a former Third District County Commissioner and a member of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and Willie Thomas, who is also a Smithville Alderman and a Seventh District County Commissioner.

The nominee selected that day at the polls will face Republican nominee John David Foutch and Independent candidate Sandy C. Brown in the August 7th General Election. Foutch currently serves as the First District member of the Board of Education. Brown is a local businesswoman.

Today (Thursday) at noon was the deadline for candidates to qualify to run for Assessor of Property and Constable in next year's elections.

Those qualified to run for Constable include:

Republican Incumbent Reed Edge in the Second District, Democratic Incumbent Wayne Vanderpool in the Third District, Democrat Paul Cantrell in the Fourth District, Democratic Incumbent Mark Milam in the Fifth District, Democrat Cantrell Jones in the Sixth District, and Democrats Mary Ann Thomason and Johnny King in the Seventh District.

February 5th is also the date for the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primaries. Each party will select nominees for President and delegates to the National Conventions.

The Presidential Election will be in November, 2008

Barnes Charged in Drug Investigation

December 13, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested a 33 year old Smithville man Wednesday in an undercover drug investigation.

Joseph Scott Barnes of Opossum Hollow Lane, Smithville was charged with attempted possession of a schedule II drug (Oxycontin) for sale and delivery.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the DeKalb Sheriff’s Department conducted an undercover drug investigation in which Barnes was found to have purchased 120 pills he believed to be Oxycontin 40 milligrams for $3,000.

Detectives seized $3,048 in cash and Barnes’ 1988 Toyota 4x4 pickup truck that he was driving.

Barnes’ bond was set at $10,000 and his court date is January 10th.

More arrests are pending.

Ramirez Charged with Statutory Rape of 14 Year old Girl

December 10, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 24 year old man was arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department on Thursday and charged with the statutory rape of a fourteen year old girl.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Jorge L. Ramirez of South College Street, Smithville is free on a $5,000 bond and he will appear in General Sessions Court on December 20th.

According to Sheriff Ray, detectives learned during an investigation that Ramirez had sexual relations with the girl within the last six months. Ramirez apparently had given the victim a ride and then allegedly pulled his vehicle over and engaged in sexual contact with her. Sheriff Ray says Ramirez admitted to county detectives about his involvement in the crime.

Meanwhile, on Friday deputies from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department responded to a one vehicle accident on Vaughn Lane, Smithville. 24 year old Humberto Rocha Gerrero of West Side Trailer Court, McMinnville was charged with no driver's license and no insurance. Sheriff Ray says Gerrero lost control of his vehicle on Vaughn Lane and the vehicle overturned in the roadway. Gerrero posted a $1,000 bond and he will appear in General Sessions Court on December 19th.

Also on Friday, 25 year old Victorio Lopez of Short Mountain Road, Smithville was charged with driving under the influence. Deputies from the sheriff's department responded to an accident on Short Mountain Highway and Lopez was found to be the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident. Deputies at the scene say Lopez was so intoxicated, he was leaning on the patrol car to balance himself. Lopez's bond was set at $1,500 and his court date is January 4th.

43 year old Jeffery Ponder of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown was charged on Saturday with Possession of a Schedule IV Drug (Xanax) for Resale, Possession of a Schedule III Drug (Suboxone) for Resale, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Ponder was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a traffic violation. After the vehicle was stopped, deputies learned that Ponder had outstanding warrants against him out of Wilson County. Ponder was taken into custody and was found to have a syringe, Xanax Pills, and Suboxone Pills on his person. Ponder's bond was set at $21,500 and his court date is December 20th.

Smithville Firefighters Respond to Sunday night Structure Fire

December 9, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene of a fire at a vacant building on West Broad Street around 5:37 p.m. Sunday night.

The building was once the old Farmers Supply business location.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says the fire started in the old office portion of the building and spread into the area between the ceiling and roof where some file folders and papers were stored.

Although there was significant damage, fire fighters were able to get the blaze under control before it spread into the larger portion of the building. No one was injured.

Because fire hoses had to be stretched across West Broad Street to the nearest available fire hydrants, traffic had to be re-routed for a while.

Six Persons Involved In Saturday Afternoon Wreck Near Hurricane Bridge

December 9, 2007
Dwayne Page

Six people were involved in a two vehicle crash around 12:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon on Highway 56 at Hurricane Bridge.

Trooper Shannon Brinkley of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 28 year old Jennifer A. Griffith of Smithville was driving north in a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country Minivan when she lost control in a curve before crossing the bridge. The vehicle went into a counter clockwise spin, crossed into the southbound lane, and struck a 2003 Nissan Frontier pickup truck head-on, driven by 48 year old Jeffery L. Delaney of Millington, Tennessee. Trooper Brinkley says Delaney swerved to the right toward the guardrail as far as he could but he was unable to avoid the collision.

Griffith's father, 49 year old Gary Hoffman of Toledo, Ohio and her two daughters, 5 year old Kristen Griffith and 18 month old Cadence Griffith were passengers of the minivan.

Hoffman was ejected through the rear window of the mini van and went over the guardrail and forty feet down an embankment.

He was taken by DeKalb EMS to Cookeville Regional Medical Center. Hoffman was later transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Meanwhile, 45 year old Maria R. Robertson of South Haven, Mississippi, a passenger of the Delaney truck, was trapped and had to be extricated from the vehicle by members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication Team. The department's Cookeville Highway Station also responded to the accident.

Robertson was also transported by DeKalb EMS to the hospital in Cookeville.

Trooper Brinkley says Delaney and Jennifer Griffith were not transported by ambulance but later checked themselves into the emergency room of Cookeville Regional for treatment. Neither Delaney, Griffith, or the children were believed to have been seriously injured.

Mrs Griffith was charged with failure to use due care. Trooper Brinkley says the road was wet and it appeared she may have been driving too fast.

Delaney was charged with not wearing his seat belt.

Three Arrested in Drug Investigation

December 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

Three people were arrested Friday night in an undercover drug investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 49 year old Gwynn Greer Prater, 32 year old Tabatha Shantell Murphy, and 60 year old Sharon Hindsley, who all reside at 830 South Mountain Street, Smithville were charged in the case.

According to Sheriff Ray, the sheriff’s department executed a search warrant at the residence after making at least one controlled drug buy there

Prater was charged after detectives found cash and 29 ½ dilaudid pills on his person. Murphy was charged after detectives found 23 ½ pills on her person. Also found in Prater and Murphy’s bedroom were morphine pills, Xanax pills, syringes, straws, glass pipes, and hemostats. In Hindsley’s bedroom, deputies found marijuana and Xanax pills.

Prater and Murphy are both charged with possession of a schedule II drug dilaudid for resale, possession of a schedule II drug morphine, possession of a schedule IV drug Xanax, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for both was set at $96,500.

Hindsley is charged with possession of a schedule VI drug marijuana and possession of a schedule IV drug Xanax and her bond was set at $12,500.

All three are scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on December 20th.

Two Persons Named in Sealed Indictments Arrested/ Grand Jury Visits Jail

December 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two people, named in sealed indictments, have been arrested.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 65 year old Gary Gilmore Britt of Holmes Creek Road, Smithville was indicted this month (December) on charges of sale of a schedule II controlled substance (dilaudid) and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (dilaudid).

Britt allegedly sold drugs to an undercover operative in an investigation by the Sheriff's Department earlier this year.

Britt will be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday, December 17th.

In another case, 33 year old Scotty Wayne Neisz of Green Pasture Road, Alexandria was indicted by the August term of the Grand Jury on four counts of aggravated statutory rape, two counts of aggravated burglary, three counts of theft over $1,000 and failure to appear. He failed to show up for court while on bail on the theft charge.

Neisz was picked up Friday morning in Joelton.

Meanwhile, in addition to returning indictments against some 70 people this month, the Grand Jurors also released a brief report on their visit to the DeKalb County Jail.

The report states that "During our recent visit to the DeKalb County Jail, we found it to be in good condition as well as sanitary. Sheriff Ray was very cooperative in his willingness to show us the jail from top to bottom as well as answer any questions that we had."


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