Local News Articles

Child and Woman Airlifted After Crash

June 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
1995 Mercury Grand Marquis driven by Alex Chase Upchurch
Trooper Jason Cobble of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Investigating One Car Crash

A nine year old girl and a woman were airlifted after a one car crash Saturday afternoon on Evins Mill Road.

Trooper Jason Cobble of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 20 year old Alex Chase Upchurch of Smithville was traveling north in a 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis when he failed to negotiate a curve, went off the right side of the roadway, and struck a tree.

21 year old Courtney Johnson was a passenger along with the nine year old girl and two other children, including a six year old boy and another boy, who is almost two years old.

A helicopter ambulance landed in a pasture by the road to airlift the nine year old girl to Vanderbilt Hospital. The other passengers were transported by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. Upchurch was not injured but went to the hospital with the others. Johnson was later airlifted from the hospital to Vanderbilt.

The names of the children were not released because they are minors.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

10th Anniversary of Operation Dry Water June 29-July 1

June 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
10th Anniversary of Operation Dry Water June 29-July 1

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be participating in Operation Dry Water, June 29-July 1. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.

Operation Dry Water is held the weekend prior to the Independence Day (July 4) holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season. The TWRA is teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Operation Dry Water was started by the NASBLA in 2009.

TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with the use of life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the effects and ramifications of alcohol use. The TWRA will be intensifying efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 2017 during Operation Dry Water, there were 13 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests across the state.

Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. Penalties may include fines, jail, boat impoundment and the loss of boat driving privileges.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit www.operationdrywater.org.

Chamber Announces Project Welcome Mat Winners for Fiddlers Jamboree

June 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
*People’s Choice – Webb’s Pharmacy, Gifts, & Soda Fountain, “Two Scoops and You’re in Heaven, Welcome to Jamboree 47”
Most Original -Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, “Get Those Fiddles Revvin To Jamboree 47”
Best Worded- Wilson Bank and Trust, “Pick a Seat and Watch the Show, Off to the Jamboree We Go!”

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the 2018 "Project Welcome Mat" in time for the Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival July 6 & 7.

This year's winners are as follows:

*People’s Choice – Webb’s Pharmacy, Gifts, & Soda Fountain, “Two Scoops and You’re in Heaven, Welcome to Jamboree 47”

*Most Original -Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, “Get Those Fiddles Revvin To Jamboree 47”

*Best Worded- Wilson Bank and Trust, “Pick a Seat and Watch the Show, Off to the Jamboree We Go!”

“We want to thank all the businesses that participated in the 17th Annual Chamber of Commerce “Jamboree Project Welcome Mat” contest and for using your message signs to welcome Jamboree visitors. The signs were all so great, and we have received so many positive comments. It’s vitally important to make sure that our Jamboree visitors know how appreciated and important they are, so mission accomplished,” said Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce

“We had a record-breaking number of entries this year. The votes were so close, I had to recount several times to be sure. Again, we are so grateful to all who entered the contest,” said Williams.

Garcia Sentenced for Auto Burglary & Theft at Car Lots

June 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
Benjamin Roberto Garcia

A man responsible for the theft of a vehicle from a car lot, a radio from another automobile, a license tag, and several items from Wal-mart appeared in criminal court for sentencing Tuesday.

41 year old Benjamin Roberto Garcia entered a plea by criminal information to burglary of an automobile and theft over $2,500. He received a two year sentence for the burglary and four years for the theft to run concurrently for a total of four years. He will be on TDOC probation. Garcia must make restitution of $1,100 to one victim and $750 to another. He was given jail credit of 99 days.

According to Smithville Police, a report was filed on February 19 that someone had broken into an automobile at Davis Auto and stolen a radio causing damage to the vehicle. The following day another report was filed of someone having taken a 1994 Dodge Dakota from Auto Hut after breaking the lock and entering the gate of the car lot. During the investigation and after viewing surveillance video, police identified Garcia as a person of interest. After recovering the truck taken from Auto Hut, police checked the license plate on it through Central Dispatch and learned that the plate was stolen. Garcia found himself in more trouble after he was spotted on Sunday, March 11 shoplifting a pair of ear buds and a rugged speaker from Wal-mart. He was taken into custody on Tuesday, March 13.

Two Get Probation in Burglary and Theft Case

June 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
Royce Virgel Ashford, Jr.
Aubrey Lee Kilgore

Two men charged in a burglary and theft investigation were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Tuesday.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

47 year old Royce Virgel Ashford, Jr. entered a plea by criminal information to one count of burglary and received a four year sentence on TDOC probation. He must make restitution of $7,000 to the victim jointly and severally with his co-defendant, 53 year old Aubrey Lee Kilgore. Ashford was given jail credit of 94 days.

Meanwhile, Kilgore entered a plea by criminal information to burglary other than a habitation and driving under the influence (enhanced DUI punishment). Kilgore received a four year sentence for the burglary and 11 months and 29 days for the DUI to run concurrently for a total of four years. He must serve 48 hours and then be on supervised probation. Kilgore must pay a fine of $350, attend DUI school, undergo an alcohol and drug assessment, and he will lose his driver license for one year. Kilgore must also make restitution of $7,000 jointly and severally with his co-defendant Ashford. He was given jail credit of seven days.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, March 15 Ashford and Kilgore broke into a building on Highway 70 west near Alexandria and stole items worth $25,900. They were later found in possession of some of the property taken. Vandalism damage to the building was estimated at $900.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff’s Department Detective.

Community Invited to Join James Cantrell in Celebration of 90th Birthday

June 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
James E Cantrell

Did you go to school at DCHS during 1954-1986? If so you know Mr. James E Cantrell taught General Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics there. You may have even had him as your teacher.

Mr. Cantrell is turning 90 years old in July His family is celebrating his 90th birthday on July 14 from 2-5 PM at Whorton Springs Baptist Church Family Life Center. Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate with them. Enjoy some cake and punch and stories. No gifts please. The only thing they would like is for old friends, family, students or classmates, maybe even old customers from where he has sold trees around the area and did landscaping to come and share a memory, a funny story or something special that may have happened with him. Please come and enjoy some fellowship. The address is 2976 McMinnville Hwy Smithville.

City to Operate on Leaner Budget in New Fiscal Year (VIEW WAGE CHART HERE)

June 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen
Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor

The Smithville Aldermen Thursday night adopted a leaner budget than initially proposed for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The budget totals almost $6.4 million. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at 64.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. The city property tax rate is budgeted to generate $953,000.

Water and sewer rates, which were increased last year, will not be changed this year. City water customers pay $7.25 per thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits pay $10.88 per thousand. Sewer customers both inside and outside the city pay $6.75 per thousand gallons.

In a work session last Thursday night, June 14 city department heads met with the mayor and aldermen to make requests for new spending in the budget. But during an informal meeting the following Monday, June 18, the aldermen concluded that most of the requests could not be met this year.

Although cuts were made in proposed spending in other areas, a one percent cost of living pay raise for city employees has been included in the budget and their longevity bonuses will remain. Raises due employees in the step wage plan will also be funded.


wage chart.pdf (465.18 KB)

For the last couple of years and in four of the last nine years city general fund expenditures have exceeded revenues, largely due to big ticket items like the purchase of a new automated side loader garbage truck and two fire engines (funded from the surplus) but the city has also incurred more expense in meeting its obligations associated with the operation of the new animal shelter as well as the golf course/swimming pool, although the costs of the latter is offset somewhat by revenues it generates for the city.

Last September, the aldermen voted to enter into a one year agreement with RiverWatch Golf & Resort to upgrade and maintain the golf course for a year at a cost to the city of $74,115. The aldermen have not yet decided whether that contract should be renewed. If the deal is not extended, the city will have to look at purchasing or leasing equipment to maintain the golf course itself with the two employees it has there.

The city’s general fund expenditures for the year ended June 30, 2017 exceeded revenues by $324,881 and the overage is expected to be $542,769 come June 30, 2019. However most of that amount, $406,934 is to make a final payment on the purchase of the latest fire truck. If all spending requests had been honored in the new budget as initially proposed, the city could have been in the red by as much as $827,480 by June 30, 2019.

Although the city’s water and sewer budget is projecting an overage of $126,490 for the new year, much of that is due to the funding of depreciation. However, if the city were to run in the red by more than two years in the water and sewer fund, it would have to make cuts or look for more revenue since the state requires the department to stay solvent.

During Monday night’s work session, Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor cautioned the mayor and aldermen to keep a close eye on spending going forward or risk having to raise property taxes in a few years.

“We have a flat revenue stream. It has not been going up. If you look at the last 10 years its basically the same other than when we’ve had grants. We have in the general fund $3.6 million (surplus) that has been there for a long time so its not urgent today that we have to fix something but we can’t keep adding (spending) unless you are ready to say in order to give service we’re going to have to raise taxes. That is not a popular thing and I am not saying we need to do that this year but if the (spending) trend continues we will have to,” she said.

After looking for ways to cut spending, the aldermen Monday night eliminated the fifth (top-out) step in the police department’s wage scale across the board. Any officers already at level 5 will be grandfathered. Going forward, officers will top out at level 4 on the wage scale. However the aldermen honored Police Chief Mark Collins’ request to alter the scale for entry level police officers to make their pay more competitive with other departments. Step levels will increase with a starting wage of $15.21 per hour instead of $14.10 per hour followed by 4 steps.

The aldermen cut requests for creating new full time employee positions in the police and fire departments but the half time employee at the animal shelter will be funded on a full time basis. The full time director at the animal shelter, who earns $15.00 per hour, will be raised to the same as entry level pay in other departments. The Chamber of Commerce will also be getting an increase in funding of $5,000 putting the total contribution at $15,000 from the city.

Requests to buy two used police cars and a new pickup truck for the city public works director were denied. The city will buy a used utility truck with a dump bed for the water/sewer department and a newer used vehicle for animal control. New software for police department evidence identification has been budgeted along with $9,500 to install a wrought iron fence around the veterans monument at Green Brook Park. Other Capital outlay items cut from the budget include city hall elevator renovations and a new city hall roof. Those projects will be funded in later years. New signage for the fire department building has been deleted and capital outlay funds in the street department have been cut by $10,000. Tube settlers for the water plant, a $40,000 project, has also been removed from the budget. Fire hydrant repairs and maintenance of $25,000 is being funded in the water and sewer budget and the city plans to replace 400 feet of sewer lines on Bright Hill Road, a $40,000 expense. The city will also purchase 2 air tanks for the sewer plant and buy a tank for the plant at a cost of $1,261.

The aldermen will consider second and final reading passage of the budget at the next regular monthly meeting on Monday, July 2 at 6 p.m. at city hall.

Randy Boyd Brings 95-County Bus Tour to Smithville

June 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
DeKalb GOP Vice Chairman Clint Hall (left) greets Governor Candidate Randy Boyd as he arrived in Smithville Thursday on his 95 county bus tour across the state.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Randy Boyd brought his 95-county bus tour to Smithville Thursday afternoon.

Boyd is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in the Aug. 2 GOP Primary.

He stressed his experience as a businessman as a primary qualification for becoming governor and noted that he is “not a career politician.”

As for the issues, Boyd said the people of Tennessee have several concerns.

“They want to know about what we are going to do for education; what we are going to do for our young people to get the training they need to get the jobs in the future and today; and they also want to make sure we are focusing on bringing jobs to their communities. Our economy is doing great in Tennessee but one of the things I worry about is that it is not doing great for everyone. There are certain parts of our state that are doing extremely well and others that feel like they are being left behind. As Governor, I want to represent those that are being left behind. Finally, we have questions about the opioid crisis. Everywhere we go it is decimating communities. People want us to take strong action,” said Boyd.

Over the course of the campaign, Boyd has traveled to all 95 counties, run 537.3 miles across the state from Bristol to Memphis, generated significant grassroots support, with endorsements from nearly 200 elected officials, and leads all other campaigns in fundraising. Boyd’s nine-week, all 95-county bus tour is the only one of its kind in recent gubernatorial campaign history.

“Just as we have during the campaign, we want to send a clear signal that as Governor, we will be working for all 95 counties to make sure no one is left behind,” said Boyd. “This 95-county bus tour is just one more way to show Tennessee voters that we will never stop working on their behalf to make Tennessee THE State of Opportunity for everyone.”

A successful entrepreneur, business, and philanthropic leader, Boyd is the founder and chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, which is headquartered in Knoxville. First launched out of the back of Boyd’s van, the company today produces more than 4,600 pet products under brand names such as Invisible Fence, PetSafe, and SportDOG, with more than 700 employees and annual revenues of nearly $500 million.

Boyd previously served in Governor Bill Haslam’s cabinet as the state Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, and earlier while serving as the Governor’s Special Advisor on Higher Education was the architect of the state’s Drive to 55 workforce development initiative, and the tnAchieves and Tennessee Promise scholarship programs to help more young people go to technical orcommunity college tuition-free.

Knoxville Man Sentenced For Auto Theft

June 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
Bobby Joe Cooper

A Knoxville man arrested by Smithville Police for an auto theft which occurred in March was sentenced Tuesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

38 year old Bobby Joe Cooper entered a plea by criminal information to theft over $2,500 and received a two year sentence on TDOC probation. He must make restitution of $4,000 to the victim. He was given jail credit from April 1 through June 19.

Police were called to Walmart on March 16 where a man reported his vehicle had been stolen from the parking lot by a man he knew, Cooper, from the Sober Living House.

The victim said he had a chance encounter with Cooper at Walmart and that he (Cooper) had asked him for a ride. The victim said he told Cooper to wait until he got his shopping done. But after the victim finished his shopping and left the store he discovered his car was gone. The man told the officer that he left his keys in the ignition and suspected that Cooper had taken the vehicle. The victim said Cooper, who has a drug problem, had left Sober Living where he was residing. During the investigation, Police viewed surveillance video from Walmart and observed Cooper get into the car and drive away leaving the parking lot. A warrant was taken for Cooper's arrest and he was picked up on May 16.

Chamber Welcomes New Member

June 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
Chamber Welcomes New Member

Welcome New Chamber Member! The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce had a Ribbon Cutting last week for Bright Hill, 1586 Bright Hill Road, Smithville. The owners are Rick and Karyn Walker. This Bed & Breakfast offers lots of southern hospitality and charm. Coming soon, Bright Hill will be offering Small Business Workshops, Art Workshops, Vision Board Workshops, and Small Weddings. For more information, check out their FaceBook page, see their Events Page at www.brighthilltn.com, or call 615-438-6062.


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