March 31, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on Monday issued a two-week statewide order closing non-essential businesses and telling Tennesseans to stay home in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Lee made the announcement during his daily briefing, saying the order is not a shelter-in-place mandate, but instead strongly urges Tennesseans to stay at home when at all possible.
The order mandates businesses or organizations that do not perform essential services to close its public access and are encouraged to use delivery, takeout, online or telephone operations.
Essential activities are defined as things like going to the grocery store, getting medications, providing or facilitating food orders, outdoor activities within the health guidelines and caring for or visiting a family member or friend within the health guidelines.
Under both state and federal guidelines, election officials are also considered essential employees. As a result, the DeKalb County Election Office will be open to issue and receive petitions through the qualifying deadline on Thursday, April 2.
Other Essential Services Include:
*Health Care and Public Health Operations
*Human Services Operations
*Essential Infrastructure Operations
*Essential Government Functions
*Food and Medicine Stores
*Food and Beverage Production and Agriculture
*Organizations that Provide Charitable and Social Services
*Religious and Ceremonial Functions
*Gas Stations and Businesses Needed for Transportation
*Financial Institutions and Insurance Entities
*Hardware and Supply Stores
*Mail, Post, Shipping, Logistics, Delivery, and Pick-up Services
*Restaurants for Off-Premises Consumption
*Supplies to Work from Home
*Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations
*Home-based Care and Services
*Residential Facilities and Shelters
*Manufacturing, Distribution and Supply Chain for Critical Products and Industries
*Hotels and Motels
“This is not a mandated ‘shelter in place’ order, because it remains deeply important to me to protect personal liberties,” Lee said at a Monday afternoon news briefing.
The order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and lasts through April 14, during which time only essential businesses are to continue operating and residents are to stay home “as much as possible,” per Executive Order 22, which was filed Monday with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office.
Executive Order 21 was also filed Monday, which specifically orders the temporary closure of salons, spas, concert venues, theaters and other indoor recreational facilities.
Lee previously held off on shutting down Tennessee for more than a week, insisting statewide orders are difficult to enforce and that he preferred to advise social distancing instead of mandating it. The governor cited Tennesseans’ willingness to do the right thing.
But desperate pleas from mayors and medical professionals have increased pressure on the governor to take more aggressive action.
As of Monday, state health officials had tallied 1,834 cases and 13 deaths in Tennessee as a result of the coronavirus, with some of the largest clusters in Nashville, Memphis and Williamson County. At least 148 people are hospitalized.
Four Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in DeKalb County
March 31, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in DeKalb County has increased to four as of Monday March 30 but 48 have tested negative for the virus.
“I have been notified by the TN Department of Health that there is one more confirmed COVID-19 case in DeKalb County bringing the total of confirmed cases to four as of this date,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling.
“As we ramp up our testing, we expect to identify more cases. But there is still a lot we can do to slow down the spread and protect our most vulnerable but the worst thing we can do is panic. Now is the time to look after our own health to limit the spread. Keep your hands clean and continue to practice social distancing. If you are feeling bad, stay at home. Our elderly need to be staying at home as much as possible and we as neighbors and friends need to keep a check on them,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with the TN Department of Health and all agencies of government at all levels to minimize the impact on the residents of DeKalb County. That has been and continues to be our primary concern. We will get through this together as everyone takes a personal responsibility to do everything they can to protect our county and abide by Governor Lee’s “safer at home” order in effect through April 14, 2020,” said Stribling.
Individuals with specific questions can call the TDH Information line at 877-857-2945 or 931-646-7586.
Billings Gets 30 Year Prison Sentence for Knife Attack on Wife and Meth Case
March 30, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
A man convicted of attempted first degree murder in a 2017 knife attack on his wife is going to prison.
During a hearing this morning (Monday) in DeKalb County Criminal Court, 32 year old Andrew Billings received an 18 year sentence for the attempted murder offense plus a 12 year term after entering a plea to initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine in a separate case. The two sentences are to run consecutively for a total of 30 years. Billings must serve at least 30% of the term before he is eligible for parole and he has been given credit for time already served. Billings is also to pay a fine of $52,000 including $50,000 for the attempted first degree murder and $2,000 for the meth offense.
The hearing, conducted by Judge Gary McKenzie, was closed to the public under a Tennessee Supreme Court order which applies to all courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Billings stood trial on the attempted first degree murder charge and was found guilty by a jury panel of 7 men and 5 women on August 14, 2019. Along with the guilty verdict, the jury assessed a $50,000 fine.
Since his conviction, Billings has been behind bars in the Robertson County Jail. He will now be transferred to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
Billings was accused of slitting the throat of his wife, Adriana with a long kitchen knife before leaving her by the side of Allen Ferry Road in the Ragland Bottom area on April 4, 2017.
Although Billings did not deny the knife attack, his defense was that he was on meth at the time and that he took out his rage on Adriana thinking she had turned over to authorities a recording of a statement he made implicating himself in a meth case.
Billings’ attorney Brandon Cox argued during the trial that Billings’ use of meth in the days leading up to the assault made him paranoid and agitated and rendered him incapable of premeditation. State prosecutors countered that Billings’ actions proved that he had planned the attack on Adriana and that his use of meth could not be an excuse for committing such a horrific crime.
As an A felony the range of punishment for this offense is from 15-25 years.
Andrew and Adriana Billings first made news in November, 2016 when they fled to Michigan with their 8 month old child during a wreck investigation on Sparta Highway in which a meth lab (quart jar of meth oil) was found in their vehicle. Their departure prompted a TBI Endangered Child Alert and they were located later. For that incident, Andrew Billings was indicted in November 2017 for aggravated child abuse and initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Although charged with Andrew at the time in the meth and child abuse case, Adriana was never indicted by the Grand Jury for the crimes. Billings’ sentence in the meth case today (Monday) stemmed from that incident.
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