Local News Articles

Needy Families Treated to Christmas Party (VIEW VIDEO)

December 19, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Children Visit with Santa and Get Presents at Cops for Kids Christmas Party
Many Families Treated to Christmas Party

Many needy families were treated to a dinner, entertainment, and gifts at the third annual Cops for Kids Christmas party held Friday night at the First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center.

The party, sponsored by the Smithville Police Department and organized by records clerk Beth Adcock, is held each year by invitation only for families who are experiencing a difficult time around the holidays due to illness, loss of income, or other circumstances. In addition to Cops for Kids, a drawing was held to give away bicycles and riding toys which were donated. The bike collection drive was conducted recently by employees of the City of Smithville.

The singers and musicians from the First Assembly of God performed during the party and Iain Swisher read passages of scripture from the Bible about the birth of Christ.

Santa and his elves showed up to hand out presents to the delight of everyone, especially the children. The youngsters also received a Bible.

State Fire Marshal’s Office Urges Fire Safety for Christmas Trees

December 19, 2014

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

“Properly maintaining a cut Christmas tree’s moisture content by keeping it in water significantly reduces the chance that its needles will dry out and pose a fire hazard,” said Gary West, deputy commissioner of the Fire Prevention Division, Department of Commerce and Insurance.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), structure fires caused by Christmas trees result in an average of six deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage every year. Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be very serious. On average, one of every 40 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death. A heat source placed too close to the Christmas tree started one of every five (18 percent) of these fires.

To illustrate the short time in which a dry, cut Christmas tree can catch fire and engulf a room in flames, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s office is distributing this link of a side-by-side comparison of the burn rates of a properly maintained tree and a dried-out tree: http://youtu.be/RNjO3wZDVlA
In addition to keeping natural trees watered, the State Fire Marshal’s Office also shares these Christmas tree safety tips:
Picking the tree

• If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.

• Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

• Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1 inch – 2 inches from the base of the trunk.

• Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces,
radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.

• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

• Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

• Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are
only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for
screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to
connect.

• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.

• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
After Christmas

• Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger
and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.

• Check with your local community to find a recycling program.

Develop and practice a home fire escape plan with everyone in your home. The plan should include two ways out of every room and a designated meeting place outside where everyone can be accounted for.

Don’t forget to install smoke alarms on every level of your home and to test them monthly.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has distributed more than 68,000 smoke alarms throughout the state in two years’ time through our “Get Alarmed Tennessee” program. So far, that has resulted in 71 lives being saved. For more information, visit our website
at http://www.tn.gov/fire/.

About the Department of Commerce and Insurance: The state Department of Commerce and Insurance is a diverse entity of six divisions charged with protecting the interests of consumers while providing fair, efficient oversight and a level field of competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee. Our divisions include the Division of Consumer Affairs, the Division of Insurance, the Division of Securities, the Division of TennCare Oversight, the Division of Fire Prevention, and the Division of Regulatory Boards.

Police Issue Citations and Make Arrests for Shoplifting, Vandalism, and Alcohol Offenses

December 19, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

In his latest report on city crime news, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 30 year old Jeffery Dawes is cited for shoplifting. Chief Caplinger said according to a Walmart employee, Dawes recently left the store with unpaid for merchandise in his possession. He was confronted and found with the items.

25 year old Zel Carter is cited for shoplifting. Chief Caplinger said Carter was recently observed by Walmart employees placing two SD cards in his pocket, valued at $99.76. He was stopped trying to leave the store without paying for the cards which were found on him.

23 year old Sonny Stults is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger said an officer was recently dispatched to an automobile accident on Allen's Chapel Road. Stults was found to be the driver of the vehicle. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he performed unsatisfactorily on field sobriety tasks and a portable breath test. He was placed under arrest.

Willard Darrell Brown is charged with vandalism. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court January 15. Chief Caplinger said an officer was recently dispatched to a residence at City Walk Apartments on Bryant Street to a possible domestic and vandalism. Upon arrival he spoke with a woman who reported that Brown had done damage to her apartment and her car. Police confronted Brown who allegedly admitted to damaging the apartment and vandalizing the car with a hammer. Several items in the apartment were also damaged.

42 year old Cherri Murphy is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,500. Chief Caplinger said an officer was recently dispatched to East Bryant Street on a disturbance call. Police had already been summoned there once before that day. On the second call, the responding officer found Murphy to be unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. She was in a hallway using profane language toward other people. Murphy was placed under arrest.

56 year old Terry Brent Hall is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500. Chief Caplinger said an officer was recently dispatched to 724 Short Mountain Street for a possible intoxicated person. Upon arrival, the officer found a man laying in the back yard, identified as Hall. He had been drinking from a half gallon of Country Club vodka. Hall was placed under arrest.

25 year old William Keith Melson is cited for shoplifting. Chief Caplinger said that on Wednesday, December 3 an officer responded to Food Lion in reference to a shoplifter. Melson was observed putting two beers inside his coat pocket. He will be in court on January 8.

Second Graders Make Cards to Cheer Up a Sick Child

December 18, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Second Graders Make Cards to Cheer Up a Sick Child

Second grade students at Smithville Elementary recently participated in a community project for Christmas.

Students worked to make cards to send to a sick little girl who may be celebrating her last Christmas. The students will be mailing the 6 year old girl over 120 homemade Christmas cards.

Pictured are a few students from each class that worked on the cards.

County Clerk Announces New Location for Drivers License Kiosk

December 17, 2014
County Clerk Announces New Location for Drivers License Kiosk

Customers needing the services of the Driver’s License Kiosk machine will now find it more conveniently located inside the County Clerk's Office.

“Prior to my involvement it (Kiosk machine) was initially situated at the far end of the hallway upon entering the county office building. That placement has shown to have been very difficult for customers to recognize, viewing from a distance a machine from the rear with no identifiable signage visible. Also the distance of walking for the disabled, people using walkers and wheelchairs was much farther before. In addition to its poor location and for other reasons many citizens remain unaware of the existence of the Kiosk machine. With all considered I felt moving this machine would offer better recognition, convenience and allow our office to better assist the customer. I coordinated this relocating process through The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Kiosk machine was officially moved Friday December 12," said County Clerk James L. "Jimmy" Poss.

Solid Waste Transfer Station Expected to be Operational by Spring

December 17, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tim Stribling

Construction is underway on the new solid waste transfer station and it is expected to be operational by spring.

County Mayor Tim Stribling updated the county commission Monday night after seventh district commissioner Larry Summers asked about the progress of the project "The transfer station is coming along great. The building is going up. The steel frame has been erected. They are getting ready to put on the sheet metal. The foundation for the scales has been laid. They have the pad poured for the office that is next to the big building. Everything is running on schedule. Hopefully by March we'll be operational. Then we will be closing down the Class I cell after we're up and running good with the transfer station. The rest of the Class I cell will be turned into a Class III/IV landfill (for non-household solid waste). The permit has already been sent in to the state requesting the change from a Class I to the Class III/IV. The road is cut (to the facility). A new two lane road that extends on from Moog Boulevard. The electric poles are set. I don't know if the lines are run. Gas and sewer have been run. The city still has to run the water down to the new road but it (project) is taking shape. I'd recommend anybody drive out there and take a look at it," said County Mayor Stribling.

Household garbage from DeKalb County will be hauled to the Smith County landfill for disposal after the solid waste transfer station is up and running.

The county commission in August voted to enter into a five year contract with the neighboring county who will dispose of DeKalb County's solid waste at the rate of $29.00 a ton. The commission also awarded a bid to Elk Mountain Construction of Cookeville to build the transfer station in the Smithville Industrial Park on Highway 70 east behind Tenneco Automotive. Elk Mountain's base bid was $1,308,092 with a deductive alternate of $425,077 from the base bid for road work into the proposed facility.

The county still has to find some way it getting the garbage to Smith County. The county could either haul it or contract the service.

Sheriff Reports Increase in Auto Break-ins

December 17, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Patrick Ray

With the rise in automobile break-ins lately in portions of DeKalb County, Sheriff Patrick Ray is urging you to "take notice and be on alert" especially during the holiday season.

"Christmas time is when we have a lot of thefts and break-ins and over the last few weeks we have seen an increase in our vehicle burglary reports where thieves have made entry into locked and unlocked vehicles and stolen items from the inside. This has happened on Highway 56 north and on Highway 70 west," said Sheriff Ray.

Items stolen from these vehicles included GPS systems, money, wallets, Christmas presents, sunglasses, etc. "We're asking the public to call the dispatch number at 615-215-3000 if you see any suspicious vehicles in your neighborhood, maybe vehicles that drive by real slow and drive multiple times up and down the road or if you see somebody walking during the day or especially at night in your neighborhood who are strangers to you. If you call we can get a deputy out to take a look and make sure everything is okay. We can have extra patrols set up through the sheriff's department. If you would like to be placed on the list for extra patrols call 615-215-3000. We also have deputies stationed around the county in case we do get calls so we can get somebody there quickly and maybe find who the person is," said Sheriff Ray.

To keep from becoming a victim of these type crimes, Sheriff Ray urges you to keep your automobiles locked when you are away from them and don't leave valuables in plain sight. "We ask you to keep your cars locked. Take any valuables especially Christmas presents into the house or keep them locked in the trunk. Do not put things in the glove box. When a thief breaks into the car most of the time that's the first place he looks is in the glove box. If you have a GPS, take that off the windshield, remove the suction cup, and hide those somewhere or take them in the house with you. And call us if you see something suspicious. You never know when you might be saving another victim from a crime. Take notice and be on alert. Keep your eyes and ears open," said Sheriff Ray.

You may phone in tips to the sheriff's office at 615- 597-4935 or call the tip line at 464-6400 to report any type of crime whether it be burglaries, thefts, drugs, etc.

Mayor and Aldermen Begin Discussions on Liquor Ordinance

December 16, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen have begun discussions on developing an ordinance regulating the sale of liquor from retail package stores in Smithville. No ordinance has yet been prepared but after a workshop held Monday night, city officials have a better idea of what they would like to see in the ordinance in terms of regulations.

The workshop was held at city hall.

While liquor licenses can only be issued by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the city has the authority to develop local guidelines for applicants. For example, the city may establish minimum distance requirements between liquor stores and churches, schools, etc. The aldermen may also regulate the size of stores in terms of square footage; impose residency requirements for applicants; and limit the number of licensed liquor stores that may operate within the city.

Local businessman Jewel Redman, who attended Monday night's workshop, asked the aldermen not to limit the number of stores. "You should give everybody a chance at it and the ones who have the best business will survive and the others won't. That's the only fair way of doing it," said Redman.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs said he preferred limiting the number of stores to no more than three. Jacobs said he would also like to pattern the local ordinance after Crossville's which establishes in-door advertising restrictions so that motorists can't see the signage from the streets. " I know I am in the minority but I'd like to go on record and say that I would like to see the advertising restrictions be similar to what Crossville has and I would like to see a limit of three stores," said Alderman Jacobs.

Alderman Jason Murphy questioned whether it would be necessary to limit the number of liquor stores. "I think even if we don't set a limit, I bet we wouldn't have three stores. I don't think we'd have the business to support it," said Murphy.

Alderman Gayla Hendrix added that she thought it would be discriminatory to establish limits on the number of stores. "I don't think it's right to set a limit. There's not going to be many people to qualify for this but just putting a limit on it is showing discrimination. It's going to fix itself," she said.

"I don't want to be one of them (persons) to decide who gets it and who don't," said Alderman Danny Washer, who is also opposed to limiting the number of stores.

Mayor Jimmy Poss said while he doesn't have a vote on this, he too is against the city limiting the number of stores that can operate. "It'll be up to you guys but I don't think we need to limit it. It'll play itself out," he said.

Regarding minimum distance requirements, Alderman Josh Miller said he preferred setting it for liquor stores the same as those called for in the city's beer ordinance, which is 400 feet between stores selling alcohol and churches, schools, etc.

As far as residency, the aldermen discussed patterning the local ordinance after Mount Juliet's which requires applicants to have lived in the city for at least two years or in Wilson County for at least five years in order to be able to obtain an application.

City attorney Vester Parsley and City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson suggested preparing a couple of "sample' ordinances for the aldermen to take a look at during the next meeting on Monday, January 5th.

Once an ordinance is adopted, persons may apply. Even if there is a limit on the number of stores that may operate, there would be no limit on applications. Applicants would be subject to criminal background checks by the city attorney and police chief, which could take up to 30 days. After background checks are completed, applications would be reviewed by the Board of Aldermen, who would then issue a certificate of compliance to those who qualify, a process which could take up to sixty days. The certificates of compliance would then be forwarded by the city to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which has its own requirements for applicants to meet. Even if the city finds an applicant eligible, the state ABC Commission could still reject an applicant for a liquor license.

Student with Airsoft Guns Granted Probation

December 16, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

A DCHS student who got into trouble after two airsoft guns were found in his automobile at school last month appeared in Juvenile Court Thursday.

Although Judge Bratten Cook, II apparently held a closed hearing in the case, WJLE has learned that the 17 year old boy was granted pre-trial diversion and placed on six months probation. He was charged in a juvenile petition with committing a delinquent act, to wit: carrying or possession of weapons on school property. As part of his probation, the boy must perform 50 hours of community service. If his court costs are paid and all rules of probation are followed, the case against the teen may later be dismissed. His case will be reviewed again during a hearing in juvenile court set for May 20.

After the incident on Friday, November 21, the boy was suspended from school for several days and then remanded to the alternative school for the remainder of the year. The boy's family has appealed the decision with school authorities.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the boy bragged to another student at school that he had a gun in his pocket. When the student said she didn't believe him, the boy claimed he was serious and held his hand inside the pocket of a sweatshirt he wore in a manner that made it appear he had a gun. The teen never displayed a weapon and made no threats toward anyone.

After Assistant principal David Gash was made aware of the incident both he and Principal Patrick Cripps went to the boy's classroom, pulled him out of class and searched him. Finding no weapons on the boy, Gash and Cripps went to his vehicle and found two airsoft pistols, which resembled real guns. One of them was loaded.

When confronted about the airsoft guns, the boy admitted that they belonged to him. He was brought by the School Resource Officer to the Sheriff's Department . After consulting with the District Attorney General, officers filed a juvenile petition against the teen.

Agreement Approved between DeKalb County and Alexandria Fire Departments

December 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling and Alexandria Mayor Tony Tarpley sign agreement. Standing are County Fire Chief Donny Green and Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge and Assistant Chief John Partridge
Map shows areas in blue covered by automatic aid agreement

The DeKalb County and Alexandria Volunteer Fire Departments have formed a partnership to render specific firefighting services to each other as needed through an automatic aid agreement. The effort is meant to improve response times to fires, especially to residents in the county who are within five road miles of the Town of Alexandria's Fire Department.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW MAP WHICH SHOWS AREAS IN BLUE COVERED BY THE AUTOMATIC AID AGREEMENT)

alexandria map 2.pdf (338.62 KB)

The Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen recently adopted the agreement and the DeKalb County Commission approved it Monday night during the regular monthly meeting. The agreement, effective for five years starting January 1, 2015 was signed following the county commission meeting by County Mayor Tim Stribling and Alexandria Mayor Tony Tarpley. Looking on during the signing were County Fire Chief Donny Green, Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge, and Assistant Alexandria Chief John Partridge.

Chief Green told WJLE prior to the meeting on Monday that the agreement, which has been in the making for several months, will provide better fire protection and added benefits for residents in the Alexandria area. Under the agreement, both the Alexandria and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Departments will automatically respond to fires in the county that are within five miles of the Alexandria Fire Department and dispatched by the DeKalb County 911 Emergency Communications District. "It basically provides a new area of coverage that will be within five miles of the City of Alexandria's Fire Station that will extend out into the area beyond the city limits of Alexandria including the areas of Lower Helton Road, New Hope Road, and up Nashville Highway back toward Liberty and on the south side of Highway 70 in the Upper Helton area," said Chief Green.

The county already has in place mutual aid agreements with fire departments here and outside DeKalb County which call for them to assist each other with resources and manpower when needed. But this is the county's first "automatic aid agreement" . "The significance of this is that in this five mile area, the City of Alexandria Fire Department will be dispatched out on the initial call of any fire that happens in that five mile area. The result of having this automatic aid agreement will allow us to have quicker response times to structure fires and to other types of fires that happen within that five mile area. Hopefully this will result in less risk for injury and death and minimize property losses by quicker response times. And to those homeowners who have properties in that five mile area beyond the city limits of Alexandria, they will be able to realize savings on their homeowners insurance when up until now they have been unable to because of their being outside the City of Alexandria's jurisdiction and not within five road miles of one of our fire stations out in the county," said Chief Green.

The agreement also calls for the county fire department to automatically respond to structure fires inside Alexandria along with the Alexandria Fire Department. " Alexandria is going to realize some benefits from this as it works both ways. We will be assisting them on structure fires in the city limits of Alexandria. Under this new automatic aid agreement we will be called in initially as they are to assist with structure fires in their jurisdiction," said Chief Green.

Each department will maintain its own jurisdictional authority and if at any time either party wants to opt out of the agreement they may do so by giving a 30 day written notice. The agreement also includes compliance provisions which each party must adhere to including maintaining the proper training. "It is a lengthy legal agreement and in it there are compliance requirements for both departments. We have to maintain training that meets state and ISO requirements as far as training and personnel and they have to maintain the same. These are not individual department policies. These are state laws that both sides have to comply with and failure to comply by either side will result in the agreement becoming void. We certainly don't want that to happen and we're going to work hard to make this agreement work because it is a benefit to our citizens but it does have a lot of legal aspects in it as far as compliance that will have to be closely monitored by both sides," said Chief Green.

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