Local News Articles

Three Planning to Run for Assessor of Property

November 22, 2011
Dwayne Page
Timothy Fud Banks
Scott Cantrell
Johnathan Bryan Keith
Incumbent Constables

At least three people may be in the race for Assessor of Property in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary on March 6.

With two weeks left until the qualifying deadline Incumbent Timothy (Fud) Banks, Scott Cantrell, and Jonathan Bryan Keith have submitted their petitions to the DeKalb County Election Commission.

Candidates for Assessor of Property and all seven constable positions have to be qualified to run by noon on Thursday, December 8.

The term of each office is four years.

Incumbent constables Wayne Vanderpool in the third district, Paul Cantrell in the fourth district, Mark Milam in the fifth district, and Johnny King in the seventh district have turned in their qualifying petitions to seek re-election. Richard Bullard in the sixth district has picked up a petition.

While the local Democratic Party will be selecting its nominees through the primary process, the DeKalb County Republican Party will choose any nominees it has by convention.

"Petitions can be picked up for all of the local offices on the March ballot," said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. The qualifying deadline is NOON, December 8, 2011. The same
qualifying deadline will apply to the Republican Party nominees (chosen by caucus) and Independent candidates.

Any Republican and Democratic nominees for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable will face off in the August 2012 DeKalb County General Election.

(Pictured Above: Constables Cantrell Jones in the sixth district, Johnny King in the seventh district, Reed Edge in the second district, Wayne Vanderpool in the third district, Mark Milam in the fifth district, and Paul Cantrell in the fourth district)

Paid Holiday Ordinance Amendment Adopted on First Reading

November 22, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night adopted on first reading an ordinance amendment to the city code to give full time employees three new paid holidays including one for the day after Thanksgiving. But since the ordinance will not take effect until after Thanksgiving this year, the aldermen voted to reimburse any employee who wants to use a sick day or vacation day to take off this Friday.

The NEW paid holidays in this ordinance amendment are Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the day after Thanksgiving, and the Friday of the Fiddlers Jamboree.

The following ordinance would amend Title 4 of the City of Smithville Municipal Code to read as follows:

Holidays: Full time employees are allowed a day off with pay on the following days:

New Year's Day(January 1st)
Martin Luther King Day (Third Monday in January)
Good Friday( Friday before Easter)
Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
Independence Day (July 4th)
Jamboree (First Friday in July)
Labor Day (First Monday in September)
Thanksgiving (Fourth Thursday and Friday in November)
Christmas (December 24 & 25)

Second and final reading passage will follow a public hearing on Monday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m

Meanwhile, in other business the aldermen voted to allow Golf course tenant Tony Poss to install, at his own expense, sand traps on the 6 and 9 hole at the golf course.

Poss was not at the meeting. Aldermen Steve White brought up the issue on Poss' behalf.

Sand trap drainage plans are to "dig a hole at the lowest point of the trap near the edge where the sand meets the sod for the drainage tile"

"Wrap the tile to keep it protected'

"Cover the tile with gravel"

"Place a layer of dirt on top of the gravel"

"Fill the sand trap with sand"

Two Arrested in Order of Protection Violation Case

November 21, 2011
Dwayne Page
Don Groshon
Tisha Elaine Burns

A 39 year old man has been charged with two counts of violation of an order of protection and one count of filing a false report while his 40 year old girlfriend is facing two counts of filing a false report.

Don Diamond Groshon is under a $7,500 bond and bond for Tisha Elaine Burns is $5,000. They will be in court on the charges December 1.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, November 14 a deputy from his department went to Groshon's home on Sparta Highway to serve a warrant on him for violation of an order of protection, taken out against Groshon by Burns, his girlfriend. Under the order of protection, Groshon is to keep away from both Burns and her eight year old daughter. But when the officer arrived to serve the warrant, he found Burns in the residence with Groshon along with her young child.

The violation warrant, sought by Burns, stems from incidents which occurred on Wednesday, October 12, Tuesday October 18, and Wednesday October 19. According to Sheriff Ray, Groshon went onto property where Burns was living on October 12 and took several items from the property without her consent. Groshon was also seen kissing Burns' young daughter, a violation of the order of protection. Six days later on October 18, Groshon allegedly sent a friend to the property to pick up items, also in violation of the order of protection. While there, the friend allegedly threatened Burns that if she did not cooperate with him, he would call Groshon. The next day, October 19, Groshon allegedly sent his son and a friend to pick up a dog cage at the property, a further violation.

Sheriff Ray said that Groson failed to answer the door when the deputy arrived at his home to serve the warrant on November 14. The officer knew Groshon was there because he could see him walking through the house. As the deputy was making forcible entry into the home, Groshon made his way to a bedroom and jumped into bed, pretending to be asleep. Burns was also in the bedroom. Her daughter was in the living room, covered by a quilt.

After being found with Burns and her daughter, the sheriff's department charged Groshon with another count of violation of an order of protection. Groshon was also charged with filing a false report for not answering the door knowing that he was in violation of the order of protection.

Burns was charged with one count of filing a false report for not answering the door when the officer arrived to serve the warrant on Groshon. According to Sheriff Ray, Burns was trying to hide Groshon in the bedroom, knowing that he was going to be arrested.

As she was being arrested, Burns told the officer that Groshon was holding her and the daughter hostage, not allowing them to leave or use the telephone. She later told a detective that she had been lying about the alleged kidnapping. She was charged with a second offense of filing a false report.

Commissioners Considering Solid Waste Transfer Station for DeKalb County

November 20, 2011
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

Facing ever increasing burdensome regulations and hassles with the landfill operation, county officials are beginning to think that a transfer station may be the way to go for the future.

During an all-committees meeting of the county commission Thursday night, County Mayor Mike Foster said he and the commissioners are planning a trip to Livingston Tuesday, November 22 to take a look at the solid waste transfer station there.

Foster went into more detail with WJLE in a phone interview Friday. "We're going to go up to Livingston to look at the transfer station for their solid waste.. They are one of several that do this. They bring their solid waste into a centralized location, dump it and segregate it. They go through it and pick out things that are readily recyclable. The rest of the main garbage they load onto a truck and haul it to a commercial site somewhere and pay a fee for dumping it in there. They don't have the environmental liability of running a landfill. We're looking at this option due to the all the environmental rules we have to go by," said Foster

"Right now (at the landfill) we have to put a 40 mil plastic liner over the entire mound of dirt when you're through as well as a 60 mil liner underneath it and then you have to put dirt on top of all that. The costs have just gone through the roof in the last three or four years so we're going to look at the option of doing that (transfer station). We may still want to run a class III/IV cell that doesn't require that (so many regulations) which would be mainly for construction materials and things like that and not household garbage," said Foster

"I think the county commission would want to make a decision on this probably within a year so we could start working toward that end because we have about two years left on the landfill that we're in now. Of course it would take some time to get a building ready and a spot to put the transfer station," said Foster

"We're probably going to go to Crossville soon. Crossville has a transfer station but they don't own it. Its owned by a subsidiary of Waste Management and they built the transfer station. Cumberland County just brings their garbage there and dumps it. They then pay them (Waste Management) a fee to handle it from that point on. We want to look at both scenarios so we can figure out which one best suits us. Depending on the costs involved, I personally would rather do the subsidiary where somebody else builds the facility and we just carry materials to them. That way we would not be out that initial cost. There's a lot of good benefits to that. They would have more experience in running that than we would so it just seems like a better fit," said Foster.

"If we had a class III/IV cell for construction materials and that sort of thing, it would just be dumped into a landfill that doesn't require all the liners because you can't put anything in there in the way of garbage. It would just have to be construction materials, shingles, and those kinds of things that you can cover and you don't have to haul the storm water away from it. You don't need a 60 mil liner under it and you don't need a 40 mil liner on top of it. Its just for construction material and debris, such as if you tore down a house, you could take that stuff in there provided it was checked and their weren't any toxic things in it," said Foster.

Foster speculated that the costs associated with going to a solid waste transfer station and maintaining a class III/IV cell would be about the same amount of money compared to the county continuing to operate its own landfill, but that the potential for environmental liability would be considerably less.

Waste transfer stations are facilities where solid waste is unloaded from collection vehicles and briefly held while it is reloaded onto larger long-distance transport vehicles for shipment to landfills or other treatment or disposal facilities.

Business Owners Urged to Display "Shop at Home" Signs for the Holidays

November 20, 2011
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams

Businesses in Smithville and DeKalb County are urged to display messages on their marquees or changeable signs to encourage shoppers to spend their tax dollars at home this holiday season.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, said that "the busiest shopping time of the year is about to begin. We would like to ask each business with a changeable sign or marquee to post “Shop at Home” or “Shop Local” on your signs. With thousands of our local folks shopping for holiday food and searching for those perfect Christmas gifts, let’s make every effort to encourage them to help support our local merchants as much as possible. Please have your signs in place this week and display throughout the holiday season, if possible," said Williams.

Elizabeth Sanders Selected to serve as State 4-H Health Rocks! Teen Leader

November 18, 2011
Elizabeth Sanders (Photo by Laura Stone)

DeKalb County 4-H Member Elizabeth Sanders has been selected to serve as a state 4-H Health Rocks! teen leader!

In this role Elizabeth will be assisting the state 4-H office in training counties across the state to implement the Health Rocks! program. Health Rocks! is a healthy-living curriculum taught in many counties statewide where the emphasis is on resisting peer pressure to try illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Emphasis is also placed on making wise choices. DeKalb County received funding for this program two years ago and with the assistance of guidance counselors at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, and DeKalb West Elementary, was provided to all students in 4th – 8th grades. DeKalb County received the grant again for 2012. With the assistance of her Extension Agent April Martin, Elizabeth plans to lead an after-school Health Rocks program at these schools again beginning in February.

4-H is the youth development program of UT Extension. 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to more than 300,000 youth in grades 4-12. 4-H also has more than 18,000 adult volunteers statewide.

UT Extension operates in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties as the off-campus division of the UT Institute of Agriculture. An educational and outreach organization funded by federal, state and local governments, UT Extension, in cooperation with Tennessee State University, brings research-based information about agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and youth and community development to the people of Tennessee where they live and work.

Cooking for Large Groups Is No Easy Task , Poison Prevention Tips for Holiday Cooking

November 18, 2011
By U.T. Extension Agent April Martin
April Martin

The holiday season has finally arrived. Oftentimes, the best part about the holidays is spending time with family … and eating of course! However, even for an experienced chef, cooking a feast for a large group can be quite daunting.

Most home chefs might consider preparing a meal for two, three or even six people a manageable or even easy task. During the holidays, however, guest lists can reach 15, 16 or even 20 people. That makes it even more important that your guests leave with full stomachs and not food poisoning.

According to Tennessee Poison Center, food poisoning is generally a mild illness that most commonly results from poor food handling practices. Food poisoning usually occurs two to six hours after eating the contaminated food and can include nausea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Depending on the exact type of food poisoning, how your body reacts to the toxin and the amount of contaminated food that was eaten, symptoms may last from several hours to two or three days. Food poisoning can be serious for people in poor health, for the very young and the elderly.

Practicing basic food safety preparation and storage is the best way to protect against food poisoning. Experts at Tennessee Poison Center offer the following recommendations to prevent food poisonings:

•Wash hands with soap and warm running water for at least 15 to 20 seconds before preparing any foods and especially after handling raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs.

•Keep preparation and storage areas clean; this includes countertops, stovetops and refrigerators.

•Wash utensils between each use. Never reuse utensils; this is a source of contamination.

•Do not defrost meat or poultry on the counter at room temperature. Thaw it in the refrigerator or microwave instead.

•Use a meat thermometer to confirm that meat, pork and poultry are properly cooked; visit www.foodsafety.gov for proper temperatures.

•Do not prepare food if you are sick or have any type of nose or eye infection.

•Store raw food below cooked food in the refrigerator so raw food cannot drip into cooked food and contaminate it.

•When storing leftovers, use shallow containers. Hot food stored in deep containers can take as long as 24 hours to cool down to a safe temperature in the refrigerator.

•Use separate cutting boards for meats, poultry and fish.

And to ensure that the leftovers will be just as good the next day, properly seal and store leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Leaving perishable foods, including meats and dairy products, at room temperature longer than two hours significantly increases the risk of food poisoning. Throw food away if you are unsure how long it has been sitting out.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind as you cook and entertain family and friends this holiday season. And if you have questions about food poisoning or any other poison exposure, call Tennessee Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. The USDA’s meat and poultry hotline is another helpful resource when you have questions related to preparing holiday meals. They will be staffed on Thanksgiving Day from 8:00 a.m. until 2 p.m. Eastern Time, but closed on other Federal government holidays. They can be reached at 1-888-674-6854.

For more information related to food safety, nutrition, and other consumer issues, contact the University of Tennessee Extension office in DeKalb County at 597-4945.

Commission to Consider Changing Regulations for New Beer Permit Applicants

November 18, 2011
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County has a rule forbidding the storage and sale of beer within 2,000 feet of schools, churches and other places of public gathering.

Opponents of that regulation believe it is too restrictive and some have asked members of the county commission to consider changing it.

The commissioners discussed the issue during an all-committees meeting of the commission Thursday night at the courthouse. Some commissioners said they would be willing to support a measure to change the 2,000 foot rule, possibly reducing it down to as low as 400 feet, the same as the City of Smithville's distance requirement. Others said such a measure should be placed on the ballot next August for the public to decide.

According to the Smithville Beer Ordinance the minimum distance requirement in the city is 400 feet and "shall be measured in a straight line from the primary entrance of the establishment seeking a permit to sell beer to the primary entrance of a school, church, or other place of public gathering."

While the county could change the distance requirement to mirror the city's, it apparently cannot change the manner in which the distance is to be measured. In the city, the measurement must be taken from "primary entrance" to "primary entrance". But in the county, it must be measured from "nearest point" to nearest point".

County Attorney Hilton Conger addressed that issue during a recent county beer board meeting. "Under regulations established by the county commission in October 1939, no business can be licensed to sell beer if it is within 2,000 feet of a school, church, or other place of public gathering. That's been the rule here in the county ever since (1939). The county can change that and make it less than 2,000 feet but DeKalb County has never chosen to do that," said Conger.

As for how the distance is to be measured, Conger said the state supreme court ruled more than fifty years ago in a Sullivan County case that the distance is to be measured in a direct line from building to building or "as the crow flies" "That was settled by the supreme court in the case of Jones versus the Sullivan County Beer Board. That was decided in 1956. The court said that the measurement is to be made in a direct line, the nearest point to the nearest point. From the building to the building," said Conger.

During Thursday night's all-committees meeting, County Mayor Mike Foster asked each commissioner and eight of them said they could support changing the minimum distance down to either 600 or 400 feet. Four of them said no. Two commissioners were not present. The vote was not binding.

Foster said he would consult with County Attorney Conger soon and include the issue on the agenda for the December county commission meeting. If the vote to change the minimum distance requirement should fail on a straight up or down vote by the county commission during a regular meeting, the commissioners could choose to have the issue placed on the ballot for the public to decide next August. Eight votes are required for passage.

Assessor of Property Race May Be Contested

November 17, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Assessor of Property race may be contested in the March 6th DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

Incumbent Timothy (Fud) Banks, Scott Cantrell, and Jonathan Bryan Keith have picked up qualifying petitions from the DeKalb County Election Commission Office. Candidates for this office and all seven constable positions have to be qualified to run by noon on Thursday, December 8.

The term of each office is four years.

Incumbent fourth district constable Paul Cantrell and fifth district constable Mark Milam have turned in their qualifying petitions to seek re-election. Others who have picked up petitions for constable are Incumbent Johnny King in the seventh district, Incumbent Wayne Vanderpool in the third district, and Richard Bullard in the sixth district.

While the local Democratic Party will be selecting its nominees through the primary process, the DeKalb County Republican Party will choose any nominees it has by convention.

"Petitions can be picked up for all of the local offices on the March ballot," said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. The qualifying deadline is NOON, December 8, 2011. The same
qualifying deadline will apply to the Republican Party nominees (chosen by caucus) and Independent candidates.

Any Republican and Democratic nominees for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable will face off in the August 2012 DeKalb County General Election.

Sosa Gets Two Years In School Statutory Rape Case

November 16, 2011
Dwayne Page
Roel Celaya Sosa

A man charged with having sex with a fifteen year old girl during a "Read Night" at Smithville Elementary in March received a two year sentence for statutory rape Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Judge David Patterson presided.

25 year old Roel Celaya Sosa pleaded by information to the offense. He must also register with the state as a sexual offender. Sosa has been given credit for time served

Detective Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department, who investigated the case, told WJLE that on the night of the offense, March 7, the fifteen year old girl was at the school to look after her younger brother who was participating in"Read Night", a teacher supervised program where parents and students come to school after hours and read together. The mother of these two children had apparently dropped them off at the school and then returned later to pick them up.

After arriving at the school that night, the fifteen year old met up with Sosa and they separated themselves from others in the building. The sexual encounter allegedly took place in an unoccupied classroom. According to Detective Holmes, a custodian later saw Sosa and the victim standing in the hallway and told them they were not supposed to be there.

The next day, Detective Holmes said the custodian informed Principal Dr. Bill Tanner of the incident and he contacted the victim's mother. She then reported it to School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead, who contacted the Department of Children Services and Detective Holmes.

45 year old Mark Goodson pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence to serve 30% before his release eligibility date. He was fined $2,000. The sentence is to run concurrently with a violation of probation against him in another case. Goodson was given jail credit of 32 days

Goodson was charged in a seal indictment as the result of an undercover drug investigation by the Smithville Police Department. According to Detective Matt Holmes, a confidential source purchased two dilaudid pills from Goodson on March 4 at a location within one thousand feet of Smithville Elementary School.

28 year old Courtney A. Paris pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale to run concurrently. She received a four year sentence with one year on community corrections and the remaining three years on state probation. Paris was fined $2,000.

On Thursday, August 26th, 2010 K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow arrested Paris for possession of drug paraphernalia. The Smithville Police Department was assisting probation officers on a home visit at a local motel where Ms. Paris gave them consent to search. In a bathroom drawer, police recovered two used hypodermic needles and four cut straws containing residue. Warrants were taken Friday, September 3rd, 2010 against Paris for the drugs found in the room. Upon serving the warrants, Detective Matt Holmes, Corporal Travis Bryant and Officer David Phillips searched Ms. Paris' apartment and recovered drug paraphernalia and a schedule III drug.

31 year old Nena R. Chapman, charged with theft over $10,000, was granted pre-trial diversion probation for three years under a memorandum of understanding. She must make restitution to the victim in the amount of $3,758 and perform 40 hours of community service work.

Chapman was a co-defendant in the case with 30 year old Joseph Daniel Richardson.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that on Monday, April 4th Richardson allegedly entered a residence on Dry Creek Road with the intent to commit a theft. Richardson apparently made entry by pushing on the locked back door with his shoulder. Items taken were twenty five dollar gold pieces on a chain, two and a half dollar gold pieces on a chain, five dollar gold pieces on a chain, approximately one hundred fifty pieces of miscellaneous items, a medicine organizer, and a quilt. All items were valued at $15,070 dollars. Chapman allegedly took some of the jewelry and sold it at a local business.

In May, Richardson pleaded guilty by information to one count of aggravated burglary and one count of theft over $10,000. He received a three year sentence in each case, all suspended to supervised probation except for 180 days to serve. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other and concurrent with a violation of probation case against him. He was given jail credit from April 5th to May 20th.

45 year old Sean William Cavanaugh pleaded by information to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended except for 48 hours to serve and then he will be on supervised probation. Cavanaugh was fined $365 and he will lose his license for one year.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, June 25 a deputy was called by another officer working a wreck on Sparta Highway to check on a possible intoxicated driver in the area. The officer made contact with the driver, Cavanaugh and detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Cavanaugh submitted to several field sobriety tasks and performed poorly on them. He refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.

32 year old Bradley H. Pugh pleaded by information to initiation of a process to manufacture meth. He received an eight year sentence, suspended to probation. He was fined $2,000. Pugh will enter spring 2 life for intensive long term rehab. He was given jail credit of 37 days.

Sheriff Ray said that on October 10 a deputy was called to check out a vehicle parked on the side of Seven Springs Road. When he arrived, the officer found Pugh, unconscious behind the steering wheel. After waking up Pugh, the deputy obtained from him consent to search and found coffee filters and batteries inside the vehicle. In the back of the truck, the officer found a plastic tote and two bags containing chemical products that were altered for the manufacture of methamphetamine. A prescription bottle bearing Pugh's name was found in the bag with the chemicals. The deputy also discovered a loaded handgun on the drivers side of the truck.

29 year old Bradley S. Redmon pleaded guilty to assault. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days and was given credit for 247 days of time served.


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