Local News Articles

Alexandria Police Department to Purchase Body Cameras

October 27, 2015
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins (right) holds Body Camera. Pictured with Sergeant Chris Russell
Alexandria Police Department to Purchase Body Cameras like the one shown here

The Alexandria Police Department will soon have body-worn cameras for each of its three officers.

During the regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted to purchase two additional cameras for the department at the request of Police Chief Mark Collins but the city will be reimbursed with grant funds. The department already has one body camera.

"Sergeant Chris Russell applied for a grant sometime back to 100% fund these body cameras and the board (aldermen) approved to forward us the money to buy these cameras but it will be a complete 100% reimbursement with grant money. We will be refunded," said Chief Collins.

"These body cameras will be worn by each officer to protect them and the citizens they serve. It's just a good tool that police officers need nowadays because in today's time you need as much video (evidence) as you possibly can. It's almost got to the point if people can't see it they sometimes don't believe it. I'm real fortunate that the board voted to do this for me and I am proud to have them," Chief Collins said.

"These cameras will do video and audio and you can set a mode on them to where you can take still pictures," he continued.

The aldermen have instructed Chief Collins to develop a departmental policy on how the cameras are to be used. "A policy will be implemented to require that these cameras be worn by officers on all calls. That way when they are on a call they have some means of protecting themselves (video evidence) and to protect the citizens from any "he said" "she said".

The total cost to purchase the two cameras comes to $1,000. Chief Collins said he plans to order them Wednesday and they should arrive by the middle of November.

Representative Weaver Expresses Concern About Islam Studies in Schools (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

October 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver paid a visit to the Alexandria Senior Citizens Center Monday as she makes her way across the 40th district on a Senior Listening Tour.

"I want to know what issues are concerning our seniors and how I can help them going forward as we look at the next legislative session coming up in January," Weaver told WJLE.

Her next stop in DeKalb County will be at the Smithville Senior Citizens Center on Thursday, October 29 for a covered dish lunch at 11:30 a.m. She will also be at the Liberty Senior Citizens Center on Monday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m.

Representative Weaver recently completed an informative school tour in her district. "I just finished a school tour to all of my schools in the district. There are 28 of them. It was really very informative for me. There are some big concerns going on and I'm sure you've probably heard right next door to you in White County where parents are very upset about some of the curriculum that is being taught in our seventh grade world and geography books. There is quite an extended amount of Islam teaching to our children. There's not much balance there because there is not much mention of Christianity. We are a Christian nation. There is a lot of voicing and concern about why this is happening," she said.

Representative Weaver said parents should learn more about what their children are studying in school and express any concerns they have to the Governor's Office and the Tennessee Department of Education. "During that school tour in my district I found that you can't blame the teachers. They have to teach what is before them. To teach to a test. State Senator Mae Beavers and I carried the "Weaver/Beavers" bill which was intended to repeal Common Core and get rid of some of this content that is being taught. A lot of teachers are very sad and they are very concerned about our children. A good teacher is always concerned about the child. But they're also concerned about the content that is in these books. This particular textbook is by Pearson and it's for the 7th grade. It's called "My World History and Geography". I would encourage parents to call the Governor's Office and to rally teachers and other parents to make sure your voice is heard. This is handled through the State Department of Education and the Commissioner of Education. These textbooks were purchased through contracts and against the will of a lot of people. This book is appalling in that they would spend 50 plus pages teaching religion that is so anti against us and it is a sugar coated version. It is not even the truth. They don't mention what happens to Christians in countries that don' embrace this religion. You lose your head. Horrible atrocities are happening and that's why we're having such a migration of refugees (from other countries). They are fleeing for their lives. They don't mention that (in textbooks). Of course I am not against teaching religion in terms of culture and how it relates to a native land. But they are not even mentioning that our nation was based on Christian principles. It's wrong. Obviously we should never teach indoctrination. I don't agree with that but we can teach a well balanced idea of the different religions and the politics that it involved in culture. But to take 50 pages and pontificate on Islam and Muslim teaching I think is very wrong and that is why I am applauding these parents for getting involved with their children's education," said Weaver.

Meanwhile Representative Terri Lynn Weaver said she is honored to have recently been named "Legislator of the Year" by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference in Chattanooga.

Weaver was recognized by the state's district attorneys general for championing issues of concern to them. "It was such an honor for me and I was very grateful to work with such distinguished men and women of our state. There were a couple pieces of legislation that we all worked hard together on. One was the victim's bill that now allows a picture of a murdered victim to be in our courtrooms so that there is a presence of the person that was murdered. Before, normally they would just have autopsy pictures of these people but now family members can have a picture of their loved ones in our courtrooms. That was a big win for the DA's. And we're working hard on another piece of legislation now that is very dear to my heart. It's the drug addicted baby's bill. The bill's intent and mission statement is to help mothers who are in addiction. If they're doing illegal drugs, it's illegal anyway but (under the legislation) these pregnant women will be able to go into a drug facility/drug court which has a high percentage of success. A lot of times these women actually get healed and whole and they get to have their babies. But when their babies are born addicted to drugs, then they (mothers) should be accountable because of what they're ingesting and giving to this other little life inside of them. There's way too many of these cases happening. We're going to do part two of this bill coming up in this legislative session but we'll have a fight because there is a consideration of having the bill actually sunset and we don't want that to happen," said Representative Weaver.

Alexandria Beer Board Fines Store Owner for Illegal Sale of Alcohol

October 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria Beer Board Tuesday night imposed a $500 fine against the owner of a business there for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age.

Both the owner of the business, the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store on Nashville Highway and the clerk who actually made the sale, 25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir appeared before the beer board. Samir was cited by the Alexandria Police Department after he illegally sold beer to an underage operative during an undercover investigation on September 22.

Samir admitted to making the illegal sale of beer but claims he made a mistake in reading the birth date on the identification presented to him by the customer (undercover operative) who is 20 years old.

Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins said while he believes the store clerk may have made an honest mistake, the illegal sale of beer was made from the store. The same underage operative tried to buy beer at other stores in Alexandria on the same day but he was turned away.

After imposing the fine against the store owner, the Alexandria Beer Board voted to recommend to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen that a policy be adopted to impose a $500 fine on all future first offenders; a $2,500 fine and a seven day minimum suspension of the beer license for a second offense; and a permanent revocation for a third offense. The aldermen adopted the policy during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

The undercover investigation was conducted jointly by the Alexandria Police Department, Smithville Police Department, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department using the same underage operative.

In addition to Samir, 32 year old Jennifer Sims of McMinnville, an employee of the Discount Tobacco Store on West Broad Street, Smithville; 56 year old Allison Ferguson of Smithville, an employee of Mapco Express on East Broad Street, Smithville; and 42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Smithville, owner of Nicole’s Market on Short Mountain Highway, were each cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age.

All four defendants will appear in General Sessions Court on October 29.

DeKalb Animal Coalition Presents "Smithville's Unquiet Dead"

October 27, 2015
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Animal Coalition Presents "Smithville's Unquiet Dead"

The DeKalb Animal Coalition is presenting another fundraising event in time for Halloween.

"Smithville's Unquiet Dead" by Sarah Cripps is set for Friday, October 30 at 6:00 p.m., a walking tour through the City of Smithville where true stories will be told of some of the most gruesome and heinous murders that occurred here.

"We are really excited about this fundraising event sponsored by the DeKalb Animal Coalition. The Coalition has been working feverishly to raise necessary funding to build our new animal shelter and we've been hosting a series of fundraisers and other events to try to do that. Halloween is Saturday so to commemorate the occasion the DeKalb Animal Coalition is hosting an event that we call "Smithville's Unquiet Dead". I am leading this tour. It is a guided walking tour through our own city and we invite you to join us if you dare. We will be exploring true crime that has occurred in our city," said Cripps.

"We will meet to begin the tour at 6:00 p.m. Friday at the Coalition Resale Store at 110 West Walnut Street. We will begin with having hot dogs, dessert, and drinks which will be included with your ticket price of $10.00. Of course all proceeds will go to the DeKalb Animal Coalition," Cripps continued.

"We will travel back in time to learn the gruesome details of some of Smithville's most heinous murders. We will hear the chilling details of the murder committed by young John Presswood that led him to the gallows to be hanged at the age of 17 years. We will witness the lynching of Charlie Davis who was an innocent man but was put to death by an unruly mob inflamed by passion and the need for revenge. We're going to delve into the details of some unsolved murders that have occurred in our city including that of Cannie Smith and Henrietta Tramel. We'll also discuss the murders that were committed at a local saloon that we had in our community in the latter part of the 19th century. All of these murders resulted from a long running family feud between the Wilson and Odom families," said Cripps.

"Tickets may be purchased at the DeKalb Animal Coalition Resale Store at 110 West Walnut Street, Smithville. The store is open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. You may also purchase tickets by contacting Rita Cripps at 615-613-5496. We have tickets available at the law offices of Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox. Tickets will also be available on the evening of our historic tour. You may purchase them prior to the beginning of the tour. We invite you to come before 6:00 p.m. to join us for a meal before we get started on our tour. Arrive early. Get yourself something to eat. We invite everybody to come," Cripps said.

"I want to point out that this tour is not suitable for children 12 years of age and younger. We are going to be discussing the actual facts of some brutal homicides and we don't think it would be appropriate for children to hear the details of this," Cripps concluded.

County Again Denied CDBG Water Line Grant

October 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

The county has again been denied a Community Development Block Grant to fund the extension of water lines to certain underserved parts of the county

The DeKalb County Commission last fall adopted a resolution to apply for a $525,000 Community Development Block Grant for this purpose on behalf of the DeKalb Utility District.

Had it been approved by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the grant would have funded the extension of water lines to Tramel Branch, Oakley Road, Carter Lane, Old Givens Hollow, and Dismal to Alexandria Road.

The maximum amount of the grant was $525,000. Had it been approved the DUD would have funded the local matching portion of 16% or $96,000 plus any additional funds required to complete the project.

This was the county's second try for the grant involving the same project.

As with the first application filed earlier in 2014, the project was denied because it did not score high enough to be awarded a grant. "Last year it didn't get funded in 2014. Our score last year was 191 and the cut off for funding was 194. I got with Jon Foutch, the manager of the DeKalb Utility District and Amanda Mainord, the grant writer, and we called Brooxie Carlton, who is the director of the CDBG and asked her about ways to improve our score. She recommended that instead of testing 10% of the wells that 35% of the wells be tested. They did that and it raised our score from 191 last year to 206 this year but the cut off for funding was 217. Anderson County had a score of 217 and was the last applicant to receive approval for funding. We were the next applicant down the list with a score of 206," said County Mayor Tim Stribling in addressing the county commission Monday night.

The state approved water line extension grants for seven applicants including Monroe County, Greene County, Hancock County, Jefferson County, Maynardville, Macon County, and Anderson County totaling $3,456,001.

Applicants who were denied a grant included DeKalb County, Bedford County, McMinn County, Coffee County, Hickman County, Unicoi County, and the Pittman Center.

The total amount of funding requested among all fourteen applicants was $6,628,001.

Stribling said the county will reapply next year. "We'll make a conference call. It will be sometime in November before we can start to try and find out how to better our score for next year. These are federal dollars coming down and those dollars are getting less and less. But the pot for people applying for grants is getting bigger and bigger. It's real competitive. There's not anything to do but try again next year," Stribling concluded.

Five Apply for DeKalb EMS Director

October 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

Five persons have applied to become the next director of the DeKalb County Ambulance Service.

Those wanting the job are Jeremy Young of Dearman Street, Smithville; Charles Nokes of Short Mountain Road, Smithville; Allen Mason of Lancaster; Jeff Cole of Spencer; and Hoyte Hale of Earl Avenue, Smithville.

Hale has been serving as interim director for two and a half years since the departure of Chip Cook, the former director. Prior to being named interim, Hale served as assistant EMS director for seven years.

The County's Emergency Services Committee will meet tonight (Tuesday, October 27) at 6:00 p.m. in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse to review the applications. The committee will then likely schedule another meeting at a later time to interview the applicants

Ruch Takes Third Place in State Middle School Cross Country Race

October 26, 2015
Dwayne Page
Mya Ruch
Carly Vance 79th (14:36), Mya Ruch 3rd (12:41), Courtney London 258th (17:01), Bill Miller 176th (13:49), Jake Ramsey 286th (15:04), Jasper Kleparek 192nd (13:57), and Levi Driver 250th (14:26)

The DeKalb Middle School Cross Country Team competed in the State Championship Race held Saturday, October 24 at Victor Ashe Park in Knoxville.

Mya Ruch was the 3rd fastest runner in the state competition which included 294 in the girls varsity race. Her time was 12:41.

Six other local runners competed including Carly Vance, who placed 79th with a time of 14:36; Courtney London, 258th (17:01); Bill Miller 176th (13:49), Jake Ramsey 286th (15:04); Jasper Kleparek 192nd (13:57); and Levi Driver 250th (14:26).

The boys varsity race featured 312 runners.

All runners had to qualify to be eligible to compete in the state competition.

The DMS Cross Country program is in its second year.

Dowelltown Woman Charged with Aggravated Assault

October 26, 2015
Dwayne Page
Bessie L. Collins
Krissy Renee Pippin
 Toni Michelle Lloyd
Federico Torres-Soto
Jennifer Elizabeth Benton

A Dowelltown woman was arrested Saturday in a domestic assault case.

45 year old Bessie L. Collins of West Main Street, Dowelltown is charged with aggravated assault. Her bond is $5,000 and she will make a court appearance on October 29. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, October 24 a deputy was dispatched to West Main Street in Dowelltown in reference to a domestic incident. Upon arrival the officer spoke to Collins and a man who had been involved in a physical altercation. Collins allegedly struck the man with a beer bottle which left cuts and bruises on his head and neck. Collins was determined to have been the primary aggressor. She was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

40 year old Krissy Renee Pippin of Lafayette is charged with driving under the influence. She was further issued citations for violation of the implied consent law, driving on roadways laned for travel, and no seatbelt. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court December 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, October 19 a deputy observed a silver Nissan cross the double yellow line of the highway. He stopped the automobile and spoke to the driver, Pippin. She had a strong odor of alcohol on her person. Pippin could not tell the officer the time of day nor the day of the week. Inside the vehicle were five remaining cans from a twelve pack of Coors beer, an open bottle of liquor, and a bottle of wine. Pippin performed poorly on field sobriety tasks but she refused to submit to a blood test. Pippin was placed under arrest.

27 year old Toni Michelle Lloyd of Old Bildad Road, Smithville is charged with failure to appear, resisting arrest, and evading arrest. Her bond totals $10,500 and she will be in court November 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, October 22 two deputies went to a residence on Old Bildad Road to serve a warrant on Lloyd. As the officers entered the home, Lloyd jumped out of a bedroom window. They called for her to stop but she continued running through a field. After she stumbled and fell, the deputies caught up with her but Lloyd tried to fight them to break free. Lloyd was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking. According to Sheriff Ray, the failure to appear warrant against Lloyd was due to her not showing up for court on charges of driving on a revoked license, criminal impersonation, and simple possession of methamphetamine.

41 year old Federico Torres-Soto of Lassiter Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving on a revoked license. He was further issued a citation for a violation of the light law. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court October 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, October 23 a deputy pulled over a silver Ford Explorer for a tail light violation. The driver, Torres-Soto could not produce a drivers license. A computer check revealed that his license were revoked on June 30, 2006 for driving under the influence. He had a previous driving on revoked offense on December 10, 2013. Torres-Soto was placed under arrest for this latest offense and was brought to the jail for booking.

41 year old Jennifer Elizabeth Benton of Page Drive, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. She was further issued a citation for violation of the light law. Her bond is $1,500 and she will make a court appearance October 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, October 24 a deputy spotted a white SUV driving on Dunn Lane with a broken tail light. After stopping the automobile for a light law violation, the officer spoke with the driver, Benton. She had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person and her speech was slurred. After performing poorly on field sobriety tasks, Benton was placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray said his officers will be stepping up patrols this Saturday evening for Halloween to help ensure the safety of communities and the little trick or treaters. "If you see anything strange or suspicious call Central Dispatch at 615-215-3000 and an officer will respond," said Sheriff Ray.

" We will also participate in the "Trick or Treat Halloween Downtown" Friday, October 30 from noon until 5:00 p.m. Stop by the jail for special treats for the children," added Sheriff Ray.

DeKalb Teen Harvests Elk During Young Sportsman Hunt

October 26, 2015
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Teen Harvests Elk During Young Sportsman Hunt

A DeKalb County teen harvested an Elk during the 2015 Young Sportsman Hunt October 24-25 at the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.

Jacob Parker, the 15 year old son of Billy and Sabrina Parker, harvested an elk that field dressed at 547 pounds. The elk had five points on one side and six points on the other.

Parker was the only teen in the state selected for the youth hunt. Four other Tennessee residents were selected in a TWRA computer drawing for the adult elk hunt including Trevor Childs (Knoxville), Roy Bivens (Tellico Plains), Andrew Coffey (Crossville), and Forest Landers (Afton). A North Carolina hunter also participated.

This marks the seventh year for the managed elk hunt in Tennessee. It is the fourth year for the Young Sportsman Elk Hunt.

The five persons who took part in the Tennessee Elk Hunt and the youth participant were announced during the August meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held in Morristown.

The elk hunt for the five adults was held October 19-23 at the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. A total of 9,285 persons applied for this year’s hunt.

The fifth permit was donated to a Non-Governmental Organization which was the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. The permit was auctioned on eBay. Nicholas Nelson, from Fayetteville, N.C., had the high bid of $11,101, an increase from the 2014 successful bid of $9,788. Fund-raising proceeds raised from the bid are designated for the TWRA Elk Program.

Last year, four of the five participants in the regular hunt had harvests. There have been a total of 27 elk harvested since the annual hunt began in 2009. Tennessee residents have harvested all but one elk.

Early Morning Fire Destroys Garage and Scorches Home (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

October 25, 2015
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Garage
Firefighters Inspect Damage to Home

A fire early Sunday morning destroyed a garage and damaged a residence at 14120 Nashville Highway between Liberty and Alexandria.

Central dispatch received the call at 1:47 a.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said the owner of the home is Joanne Newbell but she has it rented to Ricky and Kristy Sullivan.

The Sullivan's were at home asleep when the fire started. "Kristy said she was awakened by a loud popping sound, looked out the window, and saw the blaze coming from the garage only about fifteen feet away from the house," said Chief Green.

The family escaped the home unharmed. The garage and all contents including a tractor and lawn mowers were destroyed. Flames from the fire also scorched the exterior wall on one end of the residence and melted blinds in the window of the Sullivan's bedroom. Heat from the blaze also melted a tail light and paint on the tailgate of the Sullivan's pickup truck parked near the garage.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Members of the Liberty and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along the tanker truck and manpower from the Short Mountain Highway Station. The Alexandria Fire Department also responded under an automatic aid agreement between the county and Alexandria.


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