Local News Articles

Ina Ruth Bess Named DeKalb County Teacher of the Year

June 14, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Teacher of the Year is Ina Ruth Bess.

Kathy Bryant, President of the DeKalb County Education Association, made the announcement during Thursday night's Board of Education meeting.

A Teacher of the Year is selected at each of the five schools and one of them is chosen DeKalb County Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Bess was named Teacher of the Year at DeKalb County High School. She is now retired.

Bryant also recognized the other Teachers of the Year including Tom Hill of DeKalb Middle School, Shelia McMillen at DeKalb West School, Christie Young at Smithville Elementary School, and Carrie Gottlied at Northside Elementary School. McMillen was not present during Thursday night's meeting.

Each teacher was awarded a cash prize and a gift from the DeKalb County Education Association.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel to the board.

Those who have resigned since last month include Rob Robinson, Special Education Assistant at DCHS; Michelle Fontanez, a teacher at DCHS, and Jonathan Fontanez, Assistant Principal at DCHS.

Those hired since the last meeting include Janet Green, part-time vision teacher; K. Wayne Taylor, substitute custodian; Helga Thompson, substitute teacher; and Viva Vickers, substitute bus assistant.

Those granted a leave of absence as requested are Kimberly Crook, teacher at DeKalb West School and Amy Fox, teacher at Smithville Elementary School.

The board was scheduled to adopt the tentative budget for 2007-08, but action was postponed until a special meeting set for June 26th at 7:00 p.m., because the final numbers from the state on funding are currently unavailable.

Judy Thomas of the DeKalb Youth Soccer League briefly addressed the board concering possible use of a field between Northside Elementary School and the Family Medical Center.

Chairman Johnny Lattimore said the board plans to meet in an informal workshop session in July to discuss the issue.

The board approved overnight trip requests for FFA students to attend a camp July 2-6 at Doyle and for the DCHS Golf Team to participate in a Golf Tournament at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina September 14-15.

Board member Charles Robinson recognized Willoughby for having done a good job during his first year as Director. Robinson and other board members applauded Willoughby on his performance. Willoughby became Director of Schools on July 1st, 2006

Sheriff Urges Senior Citizens to Beware of Recent Scam

June 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

Senior citizens are urged to beware of a recent scam which was perpetrated on a local elderly person.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says a white male, with a large frame build and a close cut beard, went to the home of a senior citizen in the Cherry Hill area of DeKalb County and asked if he could come into the home and check the house for properly insulated walls.

While the man was in the residence, he told the victim that measurements would have to be made of the interior walls. He then asked the victim to take the end of a tape measure and go into another room. With the victim out of sight, the man began prowling through the senior citizen's belongings.

After the victim realized what was going on, he asked the man to leave.

The man was last seen driving a newer model maroon or Burgundy colored 4 door mid-size car possibly a Toyota Camry.

According to the victim, the man said he represented a company that goes door to door to senior citizen's homes making inspections for proper insulation. However, the man would not reveal his company's name nor his own name.

Sheriff Ray asks anyone who has been a victim of this or any scams to contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office at 597-4935.

Over $21,000 Raised During WJLE Radiothon For Habitat

June 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

Many DeKalb County residents, elected officials, churches and business people helped make home ownership a reality for one local family Friday with pledges and donations totaling over $21,000 during a three hour Radiothon on WJLE for Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.

Nolan Turner, president of the local affiliate chapter of Habitat for Humanity says a special thanks goes to all those who supported the radiothon. \"We want to thank the people of DeKalb County who have always been so generous and for the $21,140 they have given today to this worthy cause.\"

Tecia Puckett Pryor, Vice President and Chair of the Development Committee says she is pleased with the response. \"We're so thankful for the support of our whole community. These funds will be used toward the building of our second house in Smithville for partner family Felicia Gibbs and her children. We've got more money to raise. It will probably cost around $40,000 to build this house, so if you would like to continue making donations to us either in memory or in honor of someone, you may write to us at Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, P.O. Box 750, Smithville, Tennessee 37166.\"

You may also drop off your donation with Turner or any other board member at DeKalb Community Bank, or with Pryor at the law office of Sue Puckett Jernigan in Smithville.

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

Recipients of Habitat-built homes are required to come up with a down payment, and put in many hours of \"sweat equity\" before construction can begin. After the house is built, they must pay off an interest- free mortgage, with that money going toward construction of additional Habitat-built houses.

City Election Set for Tuesday- 544 Vote Early

June 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

A total of 544 people voted early in the Smithville Municipal Election from May 30th through June 14th.

DeKalb County Election Commission officials report that 526 voted by personal appearance and 18 voted by mail.

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

All voting will be in the basement courtroom of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

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

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

Man Arrested by Sheriff's Department for Illegal Sales of Beer and Liquor

June 16, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 49 year old man, believed to have been illegally selling beer and liquor from his home after hours and to underage customers was arrested after midnight Sunday morning following an undercover investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Jose Santos Acuna of 3925 McMinnville Highway is charged with unlawful sale of alcoholic beverages, transportation of alcoholic beverages by a common carrier, and no drivers license.

His bond is set at $15,000 and he will be in General Sessions Court on the charges June 21st

Sheriff Ray says his department, after receiving complaints that Acuna was illegally selling beer from his home, conducted an investigation. He says an informant and an undercover officer were sent to the Acuna residence after midnight Sunday morning to make a beer buy. After the purchase, officers prepared and executed a search warrant and returned to the home. As they arrived, Acuna drove up and he was placed under arrest.

Officers confiscated $10,961 in cash, 123-six packs of beer, 219-twelve packs of beer, 78 bottles of liquor, and a 40 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Acuna's 2002 F-150 Ford Super Cab pickup truck, which had some beer in the back of it, was also seized.

Sheriff Ray says authorities believe Acuna had been conducting his operation for up to two years, selling beer and liquor at inflated prices primarily after hours and on Sundays to other Hispanics, under age customers, and to persons with no identification.

Sheriff Ray says further charges are pending. The Alcoholic Beverage Commission has also been contacted about Acuna's crimes.

If you know of any illegal activities, Sheriff Ray urges you to contact the Sheriff's Department at 597-4935.

Smithville Police Make Arrest In Last Week's Burglary at Jewel's Market

June 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have made an arrest in last Monday morning's burglary of Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard in which a case of lottery tickets were stolen.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says detectives, working a series of burglaries and thefts, have arrested 37 year old Anthony Colwell of 614 Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville.

Stufano says police received numerous tips from media coverage last week of a burglary and theft at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard. Detectives were also able to link the Jewel's Market theft with a crime that occurred at Walmart in Smithville.

Chief Stufano says \"Video surveillance captured Colwell's appearance at two different locations during the commission of his crimes. Contact was made with the Tennessee Lottery Commission who also helped in the investigation.\" The stolen lottery tickets have been invalidated.

Colwell was paroled in February for similar crimes.

Officers from the Smithville Police Department and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department went to Colwell's address last week but he evaded arrest by running through some woods at the rear of his residence.

Smithville Police and DeKalb County deputies again responded to the residence on Sunday and found Colwell hiding under a couch that had been altered in the living room. Colwell was subsequently arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $40,000 bond. He was charged with Burglary, Theft, Vandalism, Evading Arrest, and two counts of Theft over $1,000. The Tennessee Parole Board has also been notified and is following up with a violation.

The offense report in the Jewel's Market case states that \"On or about Monday, June 11th at approximately 1:19 a.m., Officer Leilani Defore was dispatched to an alarm at 1226 South Congress Boulevard. Upon arrival, Officer Defore observed that the front door glass had been shattered to gain entry into Jewel's Market. There were lottery tickets strewn in the parking lot between the store and the car wash, south of the store. There was no sign of anyone on the premises at that time. Store owner Jewel Redmon then arrived and stated that the only thing that he could tell was missing was a case of lottery tickets. There were also pry marks on the side door where someone had attempted to gain entry and failed due to a wooden brace being across the door.\"

Chief Stufano says \"The overwhelming support of the community and media during this investigation made a significant impact on the recovery and arrest of this individual.\"

In another incident Smithville Police arrested 24 year old David Teachout of 558 East main Street, Smithville for Domestic Assault. Officers responded to a reported fight in progress at the address and found a female victim crying from a reported hurt arm. The incident started when Teachout and the victim's 11 year old son began fighting. The female was pushed by Teachout and fell backwards over a washing machine. Teachout was arrested and charged with Domestic Assault and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $2,500 bond.

Buddy Certain of 907 West Main Street, Smithville was also arrested for Domestic Assault. Officers responding to a complaint arrived to see Certain on the floor holding down a female victim by her neck. Further investigation noted that the two had been arguing and Certain slammed the victim against a wall numerous times. He was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $2,500 bond.

Chief Stufano says \"Smithville Police thank the residents and community for their continued participation in the Neighborhood Crime Watch Program which in recent months has provided a wealth of investigative information. Citizens are more vigilant now with the introduction of the program in watching out for their neighbors. As always your confidentiality will be maintained.\"

Two Injured In Monday Afternoon Crash

June 19, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two women were treated and released at DeKalb Community Hospital after a two car crash Monday afternoon on East Broad Street in Smithville.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 92 year old Ella May Delong Jones of Smithville was driving a 2005 Toyota Corolla attempting to cross Highway 70 from Third Street to Oak Street when her car struck the driver's side of a 2007 Ford Focus, driven by 56 year old Judy Faith Daniel of Smithville, who was traveling east on Highway 70.

Daniel's vehicle overturned on it's top and came to rest on the sidewalk at the corner of Highway 70 and Oak Street, while the Jones car came to rest in the parking lot of a car wash.

Both women were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication Team helped get Daniel out of her vehicle. She was not trapped but needed help getting out because she was restrained in her seat with the car upside down.

Both women were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries.

The accident was investigated by Trooper England and Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Others on the scene included DeKalb EMS, the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, and the Smithville Police Department.

Trooper England says the eastbound lanes of Highway 70 were closed to traffic for a while during the investigation and cleanup

John Pryor Named City Attorney by Smithville Aldermen

June 19, 2007
Dwayne Page

John Pryor has been named City Attorney by the Smithville Board of Aldermen.

By a vote of 3 to 2, Pryor was selected by the city board Monday night, at least on a temporary basis, to succeed Sarah Cripps as City Attorney.

Cripps resigned earlier this month.

The city received resumes from only two attorneys, Pryor and Vester Parsley, Jr., to fill the position.

Aldermen Aaron Meeks, Cecil Burger, and Paul Young voted for Pryor, while Steve White and W.J. \"Dub\" White voted for Parsley.

After naming Pryor, the Board of Aldermen voted to set his retainer at $1,500 per month, which is $18,000 a year.

Pryor has been an attorney at the law offices of Sue N. Puckett-Jernigan in Smithville since April 1999.

From January 1998 until March 1999, Pryor was an Assistant District Attorney for the State of Tennessee, 13th Judicial District in Cookeville.

He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in May 1997 from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, was licensed by the Tennessee Supreme Court in October, 1997, and was admitted to practice in November, 1997.

Pryor also has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a Major in Finance.

He is a member of the DeKalb County Bar Association and the Upper Cumberland Bar Association.

Pryor is Chairman of the City of Smithville Beer Board, a member of the Smithville Community Chorus, and a former member of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and DeKalb Jaycees.

He and his wife, Tecia, who is also an attorney, reside in Smithville. They have one son.

City and County Leaders Differ on Long Term Sales Tax Agreement

June 19, 2007
Dwayne Page

Since 1968, the City of Smithville, by agreement with the county, has given two thirds of it's local option sales tax collections to the county's education local purpose tax fund to help pay for construction and other school capital outlay projects. But with the sales tax set to increase from 1.5% to 2.75% effective July 1st, city officials are balking at a request from the county to extend that agreement for another thirty years.

County Mayor Mike Foster and members of the county commission met with Mayor Taft Hendrixson and all five city aldermen Monday night during an informal workshop meeting at city hall to discuss the issue.

The city is legally obligated to turn over to the county 50% of it's local option sales tax collections for education purposes, but for almost 40 years, the city has been contributing more than it's share at 66 and 2/3%.

County officials want to keep it that way, but city leaders say they are opposed to signing any extended long term agreement giving the county two thirds of the city's sales tax collections, because Smithville, in spite of a large general fund surplus now, might need that extra money in years to come for needs that are, as of now, unforeseen.

Last summer, before the first sales tax referendum, the city council adopted a resolution pledging a continuation of the agreement to turn over to the county two thirds of it's sales tax collections if the county voters approved an increase in the sales tax from 1.5% to 2.75%. But the first referendum, held last August, failed at the polls.

Since the resolution agreement had no termination date, County officials assumed that it would be valid for the second referendum, held last month, which was approved by county voters

However, city officials insist that the first resolution pertained only to the first referendum, and since county officials did not seek approval of a new resolution for the second referendum, they are no longer obligated to honor it.

Since the sales tax referendum was adopted in May, city leaders have given serious consideration to keeping fifty percent of the local option sales tax collections for city government, rather than turning over two thirds of the revenue to the county government.

County Mayor Foster told the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night that if they do that, then the county commissioners will not be able to cut the property tax rate to county tax payers by 19.5 to 20 cents as they have pledged to do, now that the sales tax referendum has been adopted by the voters.

City leaders now say they may continue the agreement turning over two thirds of the sales tax collections to the county, but they do not support signing a 30 year agreement, as the county has proposed.

Alderman Aaron Meeks suggested that the city act on the agreement on a year to year basis.

Steve Bates, the county's financial advisor, warned that the county could not do any long range planning with only a yearly commitment from the city. He says new schools will have to be built in the coming years and the county must count on that extra sales tax revenue coming in from the city to support such projects. Plus, he says, the county must meet state maintenance of effort requirements, meaning that schools have to be funded by the county, at least with the same amount of local dollars from year to year. In other words, the county may increase funding each year for schools, but it cannot cut funding.

Bates says the county is considering reducing the local property tax rate for schools by 16 cents from 73 cents to 57 cents in the new budget, but giving them back the same of amount of dollars from the increase in the local option sales tax funds.

County Mayor Foster said, even by turning over two thirds of it's sales tax collections to the county, the city would still gain about $361,000 every year, plus growth, whereas the county, during the first three or four years, would not gain because of the reduction in the property tax rate, as promised to the voters.

Concerned because city leaders wouldn't commit to a thirty year agreement, Foster told the mayor and aldermen that \"without an agreement, in hind sight, we would have been better off it (referendum) had failed.\"

The mayor and alderman could take no action on the issue Monday night, because it was not scheduled for the regular city council meeting.

DeKalb County Fair Set for July 23-28

June 27, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria will be held this week, July 23 through July 28.

The following events are scheduled:

Monday, July 23: DeKalb Idol Preview at 5:45 p.m. at the Lion's Club Pavilion; Cattle Show at 6:00 p.m. at the grandstands ; Junior Fair Princess Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Fairest of the Fair Pageant at the Lions Club Pavilion. $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Tuesday, July 24th: Snow Bird from Channel 4 will be at the fairgrounds from 5-7 p.m.; DeKalb Idol Preview at 5:45 p.m. and the Little Mr. and Miss Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by David Turner and Friends at the Lions Club Pavilion; Go-Cart Racing at 6:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena; and a Horse Show at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Wednesday, July 25th: DeKalb Idol Preview at 5:45 p.m.; Little Miss Princess Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Miss Sweetheart Pageant at the Lions Club Pavilion; Four Wheeler and Motorcycle Racing at 6:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Thursday, July 26th: Senior Citizen Day activities at 9:00 a.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; DeKalb Idol Preview at 5:45 p.m.; a Baby Show at 6:00 p.m. followed by a Vintage Fashion Show at the Lions Club Pavilion; a Junior Goat Show at 6:00 p.m. at the barn; and Lawn Mower Racing at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Friday, July 27th: DeKalb Idol Preview at 5:45 p.m.; Toddler Show at 6:00 p.m. followed by Gospel Singing at the Lions Club Pavilion; an Antique Tractor Pull at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena; and a Demolition Derby at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Saturday, July 28th: DCHS Band at 5:00 p.m.; DeKalb Idol Final Competition at 6:00 p.m.; a Horse Shoe Tournament at 3:00 p.m. at the barn; and a Super Tractor and Truck Pull at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena: $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol daily winners at the Pavilion..

You must be present to win the cash. Any unclaimed money during the week will be given away on Saturday night.

Rides on the Midway will be provided by the Family Attractions Amusement Company. Unlimited rides will be available each night for $14.00.

The fair will feature lots of delicious foods and many commercial, agricultural, and women's exhibits.

Admission to the fair is $3.00 per person. Children under age four will be admitted free! Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Parking is Free!

For more information, call 529-FAIR or visit on-line at www.dekalbcountyfair.us or dekalbtn.com.


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