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Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Climbs to 8%

December 24, 2008
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate climbed to 8% in November, up from the revised rate for October of 7.3% and up significantly from the rate of 4.9% in November 2007.

The DeKalb County Labor Force for November was 10,190. A total of 9,380 were employed and 810 were unemployed.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November was at 6.9 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the October rate of 7.0 percent. The United States unemployment rate for the month of November was 6.7 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for November show that 20 counties decreased. The rate increased in 62 counties and remained the same in 13 counties.
Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 4.6 percent,
down 0.1 percentage point from the October rate. Perry County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 18.8 percent, up from 17.7 in October, followed by Scott County
at 14.3 percent, up from 12.7 percent in October.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate at 5.2 percent, up 0.2 percentage point from the October rate. Davidson County was 5.5 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Hamilton County was at 5.8 percent, down 0.3 percentage point from the October rate, and Shelby County was 6.8 percent, down from the October rate of 7.1.

Silver Point Man Dies in Putnam County Wreck

December 23, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 57 year old Silver Point man died in a one vehicle accident Monday night on the Old Baxter Road in Putnam County.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that Kenneth Jones was traveling westbound in a 1988 Ford Bronco SUV when the vehicle went off the right side of the roadway, into a ditchline and struck a telephone communications box. The SUV then continued westbound and struck a utility pole, overturned onto the passenger side, partially ejecting Jones, and then slid across the roadway. The vehicle came to a final rest off the left hand side of the road.

Jones was not wearing his safety belt

Trooper Scott Bilbrey of the Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the accident.

Rash of Vandalism Cases Reported

December 23, 2008
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police had reports of vandalism last week at several businesses.

It appears someone went around town and shot holes through windows of at least four business buildings.

No arrests have been made, but in one case, videotape from a surveillance video may have given officers a clue.

The following are summaries of police reports filed in each case.

On December 16th, Officer Matt Holmes met with the owner of 701 South College Street, Creative Styles who advised him that damage was done overnight to the entrance doors to the building. Damage was estimated at $1,600

On December 19th, Officer Holmes was called again to Creative Styles to meet with the owner who advised him that when she came to work to open up she noticed two windows shattered. Upon investigation, Officer Holmes found a small round brass ball which looked to be slingshot ammunition. The same ammunition was found outside the business.

On December 19th, Officer Holmes responded to the Fred's Department store building. In his report, Officer Holmes, wrote that "I found a small round brass ball outside. After investigating, I found four more of the same brass balls."

The same day, December 19th, Officer Holmes wrote that windows were also reported broken at Janney and Associates on West Broad Street.

In yet another case, Officer Holmes responded to CT Cycles on December 19th in regard to a vandalism. The owner advised him that there were two holes in his front window that were not there the night before. After reviewing surveillance video from the business next door from overnight, a white Nissan Altima could be seen stopping in front of CT Cycles for about five minutes at 1:01 a.m. before it drove away.

If you have information that could help solve the crimes, contact the Smithville Police Department.

Judkins Charged in Burglary and Theft Case

December 22, 2008
Dwayne Page
Edward Lee Judkins, Jr.
Kenny Ray Herman
Felicia Ann Murphy

A 24 year old man looking for help to get his vehicle out of a ditch following a minor traffic accident Thursday, showed up at a residence and apparently helped himself to several items that didn't belong to him.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Edward Lee Judkins Jr. of Jefferson Road, Smithville was charged with burglary, theft of property over $500, and theft of property over $10,000.

According to Sheriff Ray, after being involved in a minor traffic accident, Judkins went to a residence on Jefferson Road to ask for help in getting his vehicle out of a ditch. When the home owner did not answer the door, Judkins allegedly entered a shed and took a chainsaw, leaf blower, bolt cutters, and other tools valued at over $500. Judkins then allegedly loaded the stolen items into a 2005 Ford F-250 4x4, belonging to the resident, (valued at over $10,000) and then left. He drove to Smithville and sold the tools. Afterwards, Judkins went to Whispering Pines Road where the owner of the truck and another man confronted him. Judkins ran into the woods and was arrested a short time later by detectives. Sheriff Ray says Judkins admitted to all the crimes and detectives retrieved all of the stolen items. Judkins' bond was set at $40,000 and he will appear in court on January 8th

Meanwhile on Tuesday, detectives went to the home of 47 year old Kenny Ray Herman and 28 year old Felicia Ann Murphy located on West Main Street in Smithville after receiving tips that the two were selling narcotics out of the apartment. After observing several individuals going into the residence and staying short periods of time, detectives received from the owners, consent to search the premises and found a lock box that contained a pill bottle belonging to an individual who did not live at the West Main Street address. Inside the bottle were 56 hydocodone pills, which is a schedule III narcotic. Also found was a pill bottle with Murphy's name on it. The bottle called for hydrocodone pills, but detectives discovered that the pills in the bottle were different than what the prescription called for. Both Herman and Murphy were arrested for possession of a schedule III drug (hydocodone) for sale and delivery. Bond for both was set at $40,000 and they will appear in court on January 8th. Detectives also seized $433 from Herman. The cash is believed to be proceeds from illegal drug sales.

49 year old Kenneth M. Sweeton of Highland Drive, Sparta was arrested Tuesday for driving under the influence after deputies were summoned to a fight call at a business on Sparta Highway. Officers found Sweeton in his vehicle with the motor running and he was in an intoxicated state. After performing poorly on his sobriety tasks, Sweeton told the deputies that he had too much to drink. Sweeton's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on January 8th.

25 year old Ricardo Gutierrez of Campbell Road, Smithville was stopped Tuesday on Short Mountain Highway for weaving. Detectives found that Gutierrez had been drinking and they asked him to perform field sobriety tasks which he failed. A drivers license check revealed that Gutierrez's license had expired. A knife was also found in the passenger's seat in plain view. The knife had a blade exceeding 12 inches. Gutierrez was arrested for driving under the influence, no valid driver's license, and possession of a prohibited weapon. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on January 8th.

31 year old Alton Brian Bundy of East Main Street, Dowelltown was arrested Saturday after deputies responded to a suspicious vehicle call on Holiday Haven Road. When officers arrived they found Bundy and his vehicle in the roadway. They also noticed Bundy's speech to be slurred and he was very unsteady on his feet. Bundy was asked to perform field sobriety tasks which he failed. Bundy was placed under arrest for driving under the influence and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on January 8th.

28 year old John Corey Vickers of East Main Street, Smithville was stopped Monday on Highway 70 for a traffic offense. Vickers was driving on a suspended driver's license. Upon making an inventory of Vickers' vehicle, deputies found a rifle behind the seat. Vickers was charged with driving on a suspended driver's license and unlawful possession of a firearm. Sheriff Ray says Vickers is a convicted felon and is not allowed to own or possess any firearms. Vickers' bond was set at $6,500 and he will appear in court on January 8th.

Hoover Dies in Sunday Night Crash

December 22, 2008
Dwayne Page
Firefighters at Crash Scene (Photo by Callie Matthews)

An 18 year old man died in a two vehicle crash Sunday night on Highway 53 near Liberty.

Dead is Jake Hoover of Liberty.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that Hoover was driving south in a 2004 Honda when the car went off the left side of the roadway into an embankment, causing the car to go airborne. While airborne, a northbound 2000 Peterbilt tractor trailer truck, hauling a load of milk, struck Hoover's car causing it to fly into a utility pole. The truck was driven by 55 year old Joe Hearn of Alexandria.

The DeKalb County Fire Department's extrication team was called to the scene to remove Hoover from the vehicle. The THP says Hearn was not injured.

Both men were wearing their seatbelts and there was no evidence of any alcohol or drugs.

The Liberty and Main Station engines of the DeKalb County Fire Department also responded to the scene along with DeKalb EMS, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

The crash was investigated by Trooper Jimmy Tisdale and Sergeant James Sells of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

"Love Lights a Tree" Seeks Support

December 21, 2008
Dwayne Page
Love Lights a Tree
American Cancer Society Love Lights a Tree

The DeKalb County Unit of the American Cancer Society seeks your support in the "Love Lights a Tree fundraising campaign." This annual event gives area residents the opportunity to honor a special person during the holiday season and aid in cancer research.

The "Love Lights a Tree" project is designed to raise money not only for research, but includes cancer education and patient services. Donations in honor of and in memory of a special person can be made throughout the holiday season. The persons you honor or remember do not necessarily have to have suffered from cancer.

The names of honorees are as follows:

Allison Rogers, Betsy Lynam, Bruce Robertson, Carnell Hyde, Carolyn Sheets, Denise Brown, Earl D. France, Jack Midgett, Jo Doris Johnson, Joe Reeder, Judy Maxwell, Judy Robertson, Linda Judkins, Lisa Anderson, Mandy Vaughn, McKinley Jones, Michael Breeding, Peggy Johnson, Radley Hendrixson, Sarah Ellen Colwell, Shirley Beckham, Trinity Faith Young, Walter Johnson, Wesley Cantrell, William Blair, Willie Turner, Helen England, Brookelynn Maxwell, and Georgia Willoughby.

In memory:

Alfred Love, Alice Marie Dorton, Alma Love Chapman, Angel Mahler, Angela Allen, Austin Vaughn, Bailey Carr, Billie Ann Malone Frazier, Billie Jo Davis, Billy Cooper Pruitt, Jr., Billy J. France, Bobby Carroll Pruitt, Bracket Luna, Brenda Hale, Bruce Smithson, Bud Kirby, Buddy Parker, C.T. Phillips, Jr., C.L. Randolph, Carl L. Cathcart, Carl Ray Bailiff, Carolyn Maynard, Charles Johnson, Chris Stanley, Clifton Cantrell, Clinton Wall, Clyde Redmon, Cordell Love,

Cordie B. Wall, Curtis Adams, Dale Brian Berry, Dannie Edge, Darrell Carr, Dollie Fuson, Donna Phillips, Dr. Jerry Puckett, Edsel Fuston, Alfred England, Elsie Steinbach, Emily Cripps, Esker Harrison, Ethel Carr, Eula Cantrell, Eva Crook, Eva Harrison, Eva Mai Curtis, Ewin Vanatta, Florence Redmon Sanders, Floyce Vaughn, Foster Redmon, Frances Cantrell, Frances Scramick, Frank Potter Young, Fred Steinbach, G.D. Hendrixson, Gail Cripps, George Durham,

Grady Crook, Grady Judkins, Green Wall, Maude Wall, H.C. Duke, Hamp Cantrell, Jr., Harvey Colwell, Sr., Helen Jones Mayo, Herb Checchi, Sr., Hershel Ford, Hobert Curtis, Homer Ellis, Howard Patton, J.B. Redmon, J.D. Hendrixson, Jack G. Rhody, Jack Wall, James Alvie France, James Oakley, Jeremy Caldwell, Jerry Hendrixson, Jerry McGuire, Jessie Paul Johnson, Jewell Cantrell, Jewell Phillips, Jim S. Davis, Jimmy W. Davis, Jodie Cantrell, John Larry Frazier, John Redmon, John Steinbach, John Walls, Johnnie Joines, Johnny Cantrell, Jordan Steinbach, Joshua Caldwell, Judy Hawkins,

Karen Magness, Kathy Foster, Kenneth Parker, Laura Bell Wall, Len Judkins, Leonard Freeman, Sr., Leonard M. (Buddy) Freeman, Jr., Lewis L. Cobb, Jr., Lillie Judkins, Linnie Johnson, Lonnie Wilkins, Louise Winchester, Luther Cantrell, Luther Fuson, Mac A. Ervin, Margaret Freeman, Margaret Judkins, Marie Judkins, Marvin Hutson, Mary Collins, Nadine Luna, Nan Smith, Nancy Walls, Ofallon Pinegar, Paul Walls,

Pearl Fuson, Rebecca Cantrell, Rebecca Gingerich, Regena Carr Olivo, Rex Hayes, Jr., Ricky Winchester, Robert Joines, Robert McMillen, Royce L. Givens, Jr., Ruth Elder, Sara Robertson, Sarah Henderson, Sarah Hutson, Shane Hawkins, Sherman Love, Skip Henderson, T.C. McMillen, Ted Beck, Tracy Cassity, Vanice King Davenport, Velma Midgett, Vera Bell Davenport, Virgil Smith, William Doyle Thomason, William H. Chapman, Willie Redmon, Willie Taylor, Woodrow Frazier, Zak Turner,

Nina Phillips, Vada Reeder, Clarence T. Phillips, Sr., Edna Pauline Phillips, George Robert Reeder, Bertie Reeder, B. Akin, Mai Akin, John D. Akin, Bob Cook, Buddy Cook, Jessie Cook, Pam Cook. Brownie Haley, Frances Haley, Lucille Harris, Billy Shelton, H.R. Rosson, Edward Hobson, Earl Judkins, Mary Randolph, Leonard Gwyn, Jr., Luther Taylor, Margaret Hendrixson, Martha Cathcart, W.A. Carthcart, Clara Elizabeth Linder, and Sandra Willoughby.

Love lights are $5.00 each. Forms will be available at most banks in DeKalb County. The name of every person honored or remembered will be placed on a display board located on the south lawn of the courthouse through the holiday season.

For more information contact Iva Dell Randolph at 597-5296, Violet Fuson at 597-4483 or Melanie Judkins at 597-1132.

State Offers Tips for Purchasing Gift Cards this Holiday Season

December 21, 2008

What typically is the year’s busiest shopping season is upon us. And, even with a national economic downturn sapping consumer confidence, gift cards are a sure bet to remain hot sellers.

You can find department stores’ gift cards not only in the chains’ retail locations but also being sold in grocery stores and drugstores. Many consumers see gift cards as reliable standbys for friends and relatives who seem to already have everything. For them, a gift card from a favorite store can be ideal.

But, despite all the conveniences of gift cards, savvy consumers should take steps to ensure stores’ fine-print policies don’t translate into buyer’s remorse during the holiday season:

1. Check expiration dates and fees. In the state of Tennessee, expiration dates, fees and other terms must be clearly disclosed at the time of purchase. The expiration date and fee must be legibly printed on the gift card.

2. Ask about restrictions. Some card issuers deduct a monthly fee from the card or apply inactivity fees, if a card has not been used for a period of time. These fees will reduce the value of the card. Some gift cards do not allow cash refunds for a remaining balance on a card. You will have to either forfeit the balance or buy additional items.

3. Know what it will cost. Major shopping mall operators charge fees for gift cards. Gift cards issued by banks and credit card companies often expire and tend to add fees. Fees – including activation fees, transaction fees, maintenance fees and inactivity fees – can lessen a card’s value.

4. Ask what to do if the card is stolen. Always keep a receipt. Since gift cards are not usually registered to an individual purchaser, they can be easily stolen. Some stores urge customers to access their store website and register cards in case they’re stolen.

5. Check on purchase exemptions. Ask if the card may be used at both a store’s physical location and the store’s website. Also ask if the card may be used at other locations, not just the specific store where the card was purchased.

6. Get as much information as possible for the card’s recipient. Ask for a toll-free phone number, in case there are problems with the gift card. Ask if a website that provides gift card details is available.

Consumer Affairs is here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities, to resolve complaints through the mediation process, to investigate violations of the state Consumer Protection Act, and to clarify consumer protection laws.

The department is available to help consumers and business owners who have been affected by unfair business practices. Feel free to call Consumer Affairs at 1-800-342-8385. Or visit online where consumers can get tips on everything from avoiding investment scams to picking a home repair contractor. You can find this information at

Second Segment of Gun Season for Deer Hunters Now Open

December 21, 2008
Dwayne Page

Tennessee's second segment of gun season for deer hunters opened Saturday, Dec. 20 in all three of the state's deer hunting units according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

The dates for the second segment for each unit are as follows:
*Unit A (DeKalb County) - Dec. 20 – Jan. 11.
*Unit B - Dec. 20 – Jan. 7.
*Unit L - Dec. 20 – Jan. 11.

The statewide bag limit for antlered bucks is three, except a hunter may take no more than two antlered bucks from Unit B. No more than one antlered buck may be taken per day.

For antlerless deer hunting in Units A and B, refer to the list of hunts on page 21 of the Hunting and Trapping Guide. There are quota and non-quota hunts listed on that page.

An Annual Sportsman, Lifetime Sportsman, Type 167 Permit, or Type 94 permit is required to harvest antlerless deer on all non-quota hunts in Units A, B, and L.

Antlerless deer are defined as deer with no antlers or deer with antlers less than three inches in length.

Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the Apprentice Hunting License (along with other required licenses) while hunting any species in Tennessee.

For more information about Tennessee's deer hunting seasons, refer to the Hunting and Trapping Guide available at all license agents or on the TWRA website at

State Fire Marshal’s Office Issues Warnings on Christmas Trees

December 20, 2008

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding Tennesseans with natural, fresh-cut Christmas trees in their homes to take care to keep them in water, in light of the fire risk posed when they are allowed to dry out.

“The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that there is an estimated annual average of 210 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees,” says State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Leslie A. Newman. “Properly maintaining a cut Christmas tree’s moisture content of more than 100 percent by keeping it in water significantly reduces the chance that its needles will dry out and pose a fire hazard.”

NFPA studies also have found that, on average, one of every nine Christmas tree fires causes a fatality, compared with an average of one death per 75 non-confined home fires. Fires involving Christmas trees cause 94 percent of those related fatalities when they spread beyond the room where the fire begins, which is 49 percent of the time.

“We’re in the midst of the winter holiday season,” Newman says. “It’s imperative – amid the hustle and bustle of holiday events – that residents remember to practice good fire safety and make sure to never leave trees near heat sources, especially dried-out trees.”

To illustrate the short time in which a dry, cut Christmas tree can catch fire and engulf a room in flames, the Tennessee Fire Marshal’s office is distributing links to two videos produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
* – side-by-side comparison of the burn rates of a properly maintained tree and a dried-out tree – tree fire spreading throughout a room.

For further information on protecting your home from fire hazards, particularly during the winter months, visit or call 615-741-2981.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee.

Winners Named in Dowelltown City Lights Contest

December 19, 2008
Dwayne Page

Winners have been named in the Town of Dowelltown's Christmas lights contest

Names of the winners are as follows:

First Overall:
Joe & Vicki Bogle

Second Overall:
Darry & Susan Driver

Third Overall:
Kevin & Beth Kent

First Place Door/Porch:
James & Ruth White

Second Place:
Andy & Shan Burklow

First Place Window:
Terri Dodd

Second Place:
Jan Taylor


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