Local News Articles

2017 Property Tax Collections Exceed Projections

March 27, 2018
Dwayne Page
Trustee Sean Driver

2017 property tax collections have exceeded projections.

As of March 26, the county had collected 94.30% of the $9.06 million in 2017 DeKalb County property taxes to be collected which includes property, residential, commercial, personal, and public utility taxes, according to Trustee Sean Driver, who addressed the county commission Monday night. That’s better than the 93.77% collection rate the county had budgeted as the anticipated percentage for the year 2017-18.

“I am glad to report tonight we have met budget. This is the first time it (collections) has been this high since 2007. I looked back today and in 2007 it was at 93.20% for this day in March in 2007. The 2017 property tax collections right now are at 94.30%. When I started in office September 1, 2006 we were at around 92% at that time. This time last year the 2016 property tax collections were at 91.35% and that was consistent all the way back to 2007,” said Trustee Driver.

Any 2017 unpaid property taxes may now be paid with interest and penalty. Meanwhile any 2016 unpaid property taxes may be paid with interest and penalty through March 31. However any 2016 unpaid taxes after March 31 will be turned over to the Chancery Court for collection.

Meanwhile there is still time for you to qualify for the State of Tennessee Property Tax Relief Program. If you would like to check on a possible tax relief for 2017, visit the Trustee’s Office at 732 South Congress Boulevard, Room 103, or call 615-597-5176. The last day to sign up for tax relief is April 5.

The Trustee's Office is open regular hours from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday- Friday.

Health Adventure Is Back With More Free Classes

March 27, 2018
Family Style Karate
Gentle Yoga
Watercolor Classes

The 2nd Annual DeKalb Community Health Adventure is back for 2018 featuring additional FREE healthy activities for all ages and skill levels.

“The DeKalb Community Health Adventure focuses on physical and emotional health, while breaking down potential financial or mental barriers to try something new. Oftentimes, when making a decision to try a new healthy activity, sign up for an exercise class, or learn a new skill; we make excuses. Time, money, lack of energy, or even lack of opportunity are at the top of that list. This program, available through a partnership with Tennessee Three Star, Saint Thomas DeKalb, and the DeKalb Prevention Coalition, help to make many of those reasons obsolete.” said Shan Burklow, Regional Community Relations for Saint Thomas Health, “The Community Health Adventure has created programs for children to senior adults that are offered completely free of charge to anyone living in DeKalb County. We urge anyone interested in trying any of these classes to sign up quickly, as limited space is available. Our goal is to improve the health of our community, one person at a time.”

The following FREE classes will be offered at no cost NOW until May 31st: Gentle Yoga, Level 1 & 2 Yoga, Family Style Karate, Watercolor Classes, Zentangle Classes, and Center Hill CrossFit for Beginners. Special needs children & adult classes are available upon reservation.

FREE Classes Now through May 31st:

Every Monday:
Gentle Yoga 9:00 am – no reservation needed
(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Family Style Karate Class: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm – Call Doug Ross: (915) 841-6765
(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Level 1-2 yoga: 6:45 pm - 7:45 pm – no reservations needed
(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Every Wednesday:
Watercolor Classes at DeKalb County Complex Art Room 10:00am - (Call Justin Potter Library for reservation 615-597-4359)

Gentle Yoga: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm – no reservation needed
(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Family Style Karate Class: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm - Call Doug Ross: (915) 841-6765

(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Level 1-2 yoga: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm – no reservation needed
(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Every Thursday:
Level 2-3 Advanced Yoga Class: 8:30 am – no reservation needed / must have advanced training
(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Every Friday:
Family Style Karate Class: 5:00pm-6:30pm
(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)

Special Needs Yoga for children and adults with disabilities –
Call for schedule times - Amy Schwartz: (615) 418-6220

Special Needs Karate for children and adults with disabilities –
Call for schedule times - Doug Ross: (931) 418-6220

(located at 2580 Nashville Hwy, Smithville, TN)
Classes start April 2nd – Call Center Hill CrossFit at 931-239-5948 now to reserve your spot.

“What our athletes gain through their training at Center Hill CrossFit goes beyond what can be measured by a weight on a bar or a mile time; it's not just physical improvement...it's growth on the inside, as well.” said co-owner Caroline Cantrell, “We have three words that are proudly represented at our gym: faith, strength, and community. Our faith-based community sets us apart from other realms of the fitness world. For many, it is an outlet, a home away from home. The CrossFit community includes people committed to a common goal of continual self-improvement while simultaneously bringing out the best in others. There many ways to explain what CrossFit is, but only one way to understand it: experience it. We urge anyone interested in trying CrossFit for the first time, to come out and see what it is all about!”

Center Hill Martial and Healing arts club provides an inclusive martial arts and yoga experience with a focus on citizenship, leadership, and self-discipline. Building confidence and assertiveness skills, our programs will address bullying and introduce peer mediation skills. The focus will be not only on training physical attributes (the techniques of martial arts and yoga), but also in training the mental and emotional attributes of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and respect.

Martial Arts Contact: Doug Ross: (931) 418-6220
Yoga Contact: Amy Schwartz: (615) 418-6220

For more information on yoga and martial arts classes, go to: www.centerhillmartialartsclub.com

Center Hill CrossFit Contact: Tyler & Caroline Cantrell: 931-239-5948
For more information on Center Hill CrossFit, go to: www.centerhillcrossfit.com

Art Classes Contact: Justin Potter Library for reservation 615-597-4359

New Pay Plan and Schedule Adopted for EMS Employees

March 27, 2018
Dwayne Page

A new pay plan will soon be put in place for employees of the DeKalb County Ambulance Service.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the county commission voted 12-1 to adopt the proposal recommended by the budget committee which seeks to reduce overall EMS overtime hours but to raise each employee’s hourly pay. The EMS schedule will change to 24/72 (24 hours on duty/72 hours off duty). EMS employees will also get a 3% bonus retroactive to January 1, 2018 thru to the effective date of the raises in addition to the pay raises which will not be retroactive.

Third District Commissioner Jack Barton moved to adopt the plan. Fifth District member Jerry Adcock seconded the motion.

Commissioners Barton, Adcock, Mason Carter, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jonathan Norris, Betty Atnip, Larry Summers, Bradley Hendrix, Julie Young, Wayne Cantrell, and Jimmy Midgett voted in favor. Jeff Barnes voted against it.

Before the vote, First District Commissioner Julie Young moved to amend Barton’s motion. She wanted to approve the new pay scale as proposed but to allow the EMS Director Hoyte Hale to make his own employee schedule instead of implementing the 24/72 plan. Her motion to amend failed to get a second.

After the vote, EMS Director Hale requested more time to implement the new schedule. The commission voted to make it effective with the first pay period in May.


510 PAYSCALE LOCKED March 22,2018.pdf (45.44 KB)


24 HOUR Proposed EMS Schedule.pdf (105.76 KB)

According to Commissioner Norris, the plan will cut down on overall EMS overtime hours but will raise each employee’s hourly pay by double digit percentage increases.

“The current pay plan does not have a baseline. Meaning a defined starting point based on Certification and years of service. It also does not have a defined starting and yearly wage chart,” said Commissioner Norris.

“The plan approved by the county commission works like this:

•It will establish a baseline and structure for recognizing certifications and years of service as pay enhancements.

•It will schedule as a 24/72 (24 hours on duty/72 hours off duty) with the first pay period consisting of (2) 48 hour weeks and the second pay period consisting of one 48-hour week and one 24-hour week.

•It will give a double-digit percentage hourly pay raise to each current employee of the EMS.

•It reduces the amount of overtime hours employees must work each year from 824 to 312. It reduces the number of regular hours an employee has to work each year from 2080 to 1872

•It will give 10 days off the first two week pay period and 11 days off the second two week pay period, or roughly 21 days per month off.

•Each employee will have off (3) Fridays, (3) Saturdays (3) Sundays per month

•There will also be a pay increase each year for every employee.

•Years 1-4 is a 2% increase each year

•Year 5 is a 6% longevity increase

•Years 6-9 is a 2% increase each year

•Year 10 is a 5% longevity increase.

•Years 11-15 is a 1.5% increase each year

•Year 16+ is a 1% increase each year

•Current employees will automatically get the increase on their scale for service and certification.

•.50 cent increases on the hour are included for shift supervisors

•.25 cent increases on the hour are included for the designated Quality person and trainer

“In order to establish this baseline and pay scale the schedule must change and while all employees will have double digit percentage increases hourly, some employees would not make as much annually as they did in the previous year 2017. This is due to reduction in hours from 2904 hours per year scheduled to 2184 scheduled. But their pay would continue to increase every year of service with fewer hours required.” explained Commissioner Norris.

“Other employees would receive significant increases annually versus 2017 (the current pay scale) and their pay would continue to grow each year while others would stay roughly the same for one year and then increase each year thereafter according to the established scale,” said Norris.

“The idea is to put in a system that balances the pay scale and increases the hourly wages for the EMS personnel. This is something that allows them to increase and make more money by getting increases on years of service and certifications and not having to rely solely on extra overtime to make their living. One that will allow more home and family time for those that want that and the ability to work in conjunction with other places if that is what they prefer. I believe it will also aid in the attraction of new employees and help with the retention of existing employees. It also has to be fiscally smart and not place a huge burden on the citizens of DeKalb county with huge budget jumps. This is something that we can plan for and budget for each year. It is a measurable scale that allows us to realize its true impact and still continue to increase wages that are more than deserved and needed to provide for the citizens of the county and all the Emergency services personnel. Like anything, this may not be perfect, but it does give us the chance to be financially responsible and do more for those that deserve it.” Norris continued.

Joe Johnson Remains on County Commission

March 27, 2018
Dwayne Page
Joe Johnson Remains on County Commission

He’s back!

One month after announcing his resignation, Second District member Joe Johnson is back on the county commission.

Actually, he never really left.

Although Johnson had announced in a letter at the February meeting that he would be resigning effective March 1, the commission never voted on the resignation to make it official.

“I had (County Attorney) Hilton (Conger) to check with CTAS (County Technical Advisory Service) as far as the resignation and when it’s effective and its effective when this commission accepts it,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling during Monday night’s monthly meeting.

Second District member Jimmy Midgett made a motion that Johnson’s resignation not be accepted. First District Commissioner Mason Carter offered a second to the motion.

Third District member Jack Barton asked if Johnson is willing to serve.

“I spoke with him and he said he would appreciate it if we decided to do that (not accept the resignation),” replied Midgett.

The vote not to accept Johnson’s resignation was approved on a voice vote of the commission.

Johnson, who was seated in the audience during the meeting, took his place at the table with the other commissioners, after the vote was announced.

Johnson announced his resignation in a protest move after the commission in February failed to approve his proposed new pay plan for EMS staff. At the time Johnson said he was ashamed of the commission’s actions and no longer wanted to be part of the group. He asked County Mayor Stribling to read his type written resignation letter to the commission at the end of last month’s meeting.

Had the commission approved Johnson’s resignation, it would have had up to 120 days to fill the vacancy but the appointee could have only served until August, when the next general election is held for the office.

Portion of Lower Helton Road to be Closed Tuesday for Tile Installation

March 26, 2018
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Road Supervisor Butch Agee has announced that plans are for the county road department to install a tile across the road between 1449 and 1472 Lower Helton Road on Tuesday, March 27 weather permitting. That portion of the road will be closed Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Motorists should be advised and take an alternate route if traveling this portion of the road.

DeKalb West School Hosts Career Day

March 26, 2018
Bill Conger
Matt Adcock and Jerry Johnson with the DeKalb County Fire Department tell students about working as a firefighter during DWS's Annual Career Day.
Tennessee Highway Patrolman Lt. Jimmy Neal speaks with students about his career in law enforcement
RN Jennifer Buterbaugh with the Rutherford County Health Department talks about her career in nursing with the Kindergartners at DWS.

How do you draw pictures for a children’s book? Is it scary climbing up a tall pole to fix a problem? Why did you want to work with the Tennessee Highway Patrol? They were just a few of the questions community leaders answered when they visited DeKalb West School March 22, 2018 for the annual Elementary Career Day.

“The state of Tennessee encourages school counselors to begin as early as elementary school introducing students to the world of work and showing the relationship of work and education together,” said DWS School Counselor Bill Conger. “As part of the Path to College program, we’re striving to have students begin to explore a variety of careers at an early age.”

Illustrator/Author Shan Burklow demonstrated to students in Kindergarten through 5th grade how she draws the pictures for books. Jennifer Buterbaugh, whose children Grant and William attend DWS, told students about her career as a Registered Nurse. She let students use a stethoscope to listen to their heartbeat and showed them how to take a person’s temperature along with other aspects of her job with the Rutherford County Health Department. Tom Koblinsky told about one of his previous careers as a postal worker while Lieutenant Jimmy Neal of the Tennessee Highway Patrol explained the duties of his job and urged students to always buckle up when their parents are driving. Matt Adcock and Jerry Johnson with the DeKalb County Fire Department brought the firetruck out and discussed what skills it takes to become a firefighter. Josh Hoot with the DeKalb Telephone Cooperative not only talked about his job as a cable repairman, but he also showed students how he climbs the poles and how DTC’s lift truck operates.

A career day for students in the middle school grades will be held at DWS in May.

Tramel Charged with Child Abuse or Neglect

March 26, 2018
Dwayne Page
Luther Wayne Tramel
Aaron Edward Hines
Brandon A. Zimmerman
Micheal Rose
Ovidio T. Torres
Jermaica Cherome League
David Aaron Burton
Jason Kyle Shepherd

A Dowelltown man has been charged with child abuse or neglect after allegedly exposing a young child to cold weather too long without sufficient clothing.

60 year old Luther Wayne Tramel of 245 Sims Street Dowelltown is under a $10,000 bond and his court date is March 29. Smithville Police responded to the area of Foster Road on Wednesday, March 7 due to a civil matter regarding child custody. Upon arrival at a church, police saw Tramel holding a 21 month old in his arms but the youngster was not wearing shoes, socks, or jacket. The only clothing on the youngster was a shirt and pair of shorts. The child was shivering as the temperature at the time was 37 degrees. Tramel was taken into custody without incident due to exposing the child to cold conditions for a long period of time.

25 year old Aaron Edward Hines of 506 Big Hurricane Road was arrested on Saturday, March 3 for DUI and cited for Simple Possession and Drug Paraphernalia. According to police, Hines was found to be unconscious behind the steering wheel of a vehicle with the keys in the ignition. Upon exiting the vehicle, Hines was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. He submitted to but performed unsatisfactorily on several field sobriety tasks. A BB gun pistol was found tucked in the waistband of his pants upon a pat down search incident to arrest. For the officer’s safety, Hines was asked to place items from his pockets on the hood of the patrol car. In Hines’possession were 2 glass pipes containing a white residue, 5 pills believed to be gabupentin, 5 pills believed to be oxycodone, a black bag containing several baggies and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia. Bond for Hines is $1,500.

23 year old John Austin Graham Curtis of McMinnville was arrested on Thursday, March 8 for theft of property, resisting stop, halt, frisk, or search and driving on a revoked license in Warren County. According to Smithville Police, a report was filed on Wednesday, March 7 of a truck having been stolen from a parking lot on Miller Road. The following day a deputy with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call of a vehicle off the roadway there. Upon arrival the officer spotted a man (Curtis) standing on the side of the road and when he motioned for the man to come over to him, he (Curtis) ran into the woods. The deputy subsequently caught up with the man and he was identified as Curtis. The officer learned through a computer check that Curtis' license were revoked for a DUI in 2014 and that the vehicle was reported stolen from Smithville. Curtis was taken into custody. His bond is $31,000.

23 year old Brandon A. Zimmerman 223 East Bryant Street was arrested on Friday, March 9 for violation of an order of protection. While responding to a possible domestic incident, police spoke with Zimmerman and another person there. An identification check with Central Dispatch confirmed Zimmerman has an active order of protection against him out of Maury County and that the other person with Zimmerman is the petitioner. Zimmerman was taken into custody. There were no charges from the domestic complaint as it was determined to have only been a verbal argument. Bond for Zimmerman is $3,000 and his court date is March 29.

42 year old Jackie Dean Crumley was cited on Saturday, March 10 for simple possession. Police responded to Sober Living at 511 South College Street along with a Warren County K-9 officer to conduct a probation search. After the K-9 alerted on Crumley, he was asked to empty his pockets and wallet. Less than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine was found inside his wallet.

24 year old Jakob Brian Craven of 575 Evergreen Circle was cited on Sunday, March 11 for speeding, violation of a traffic control device/signal, and simple possession. According to police, Craven was pulled over for speeding and failing to stop at a red light on West Broad Street. Upon consent to search, 2 pills believed to be hydrocodone were discovered for which Craven had no prescription. His court date is April 5.

33 year old Micheal Rose of 225 East Bryant Street was arrested on Sunday, March 11 for criminal impersonation. Police responded to a complaint of a domestic assault and upon arrival spoke with the parties involved including Rose who initially told the officers his name was Micheal Napier and that his birthday was June 9, 1995. Police ran a check of the name and date of birth with several states but could find no record of him. After several minutes of investigation and questioning another party, police confirmed that his name is Micheal Rose and that he has several outstanding warrants against him. No arrest was made for domestic assault as there was no indication that an assault had taken place. Bond for Rose is $2,500 and his court date is April 5.

26 year old Ovidio T. Torres of Crossville was arrested on Tuesday, March 20 for a first offense of driving under the influence. After receiving the call of a possible drunk driver, police spotted a silver Mazda that matched the description of the suspect vehicle on West Broad Street and observed it swerving in and out of its lane of travel. The officer initiated a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Torres. He could smell the odor of alcohol on Torres’ person and observed him to have blood shot watery eyes. Torres agreed to standardized field sobriety tasks but he was unable to complete them due to his condition. Torres was then taken into custody without incident. Bond for Torres is $1,500 and his court date is April 5.

36 year old Jermaica Cherome League of 104 Windham Street and 26 year old David Aaron Burton of 200 Gin Aly, Alexandria were arrested on Wednesday, March 21 for disorderly conduct. Police responded to 104 Windham Street due to a fight and possible gunshots, which were later found to be bottle rockets set off. Upon arrival the officers observed League and Burton outside arguing and yelling at each other alarming others who were witnesses to the incident. According to police, both parties caused injuries to each other and damaged each other's vehicles. After an investigation, a primary aggressor could not be determined so both parties were charged with disorderly conduct and taken into custody. Each is under a $1,500 bond and each will make a court appearance on April 12.

28 year old Jason Kyle Shepherd of 269 Allen Street was arrested on Thursday, March 22 for criminal trespassing. Police were called after an unwanted family member showed up on property from which he had previously been warned to stay away. According to police, Shepherd showed up at the victim's property on March 17th and was told at that time to leave and not to return nor to remove anything from there but he showed up again on March 22nd trying to take items from the garage for his father, 71 year old Donald Ray Shepherd Sr. of 304 Jacobs Pillar Road who was later arrested for violation of an order of protection. Police report that Donald Shepherd, Sr. tried to have friends and/or family members talk to his victim to persuade her to drop the order of protection against him. Donald Shepherd, Sr. is not to have contact or any communication with the victim. Both Jason and Donald Shepherd are each under a $3,500 bond and the court date for each is April 12.

Smithville Police Make Arrest in Theft Investigation

March 26, 2018
Dwayne Page
Benjamin Roberto Garcia

Smithville Police have arrested a man believed to have been 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.

41 year old Benjamin Roberto Garcia of 250 Moore Taylor Road is charged with two counts of theft, two counts of burglary, two counts of vandalism, and he is cited for an additional two counts of theft.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_63.pdf (3.04 MB)

According to 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. Garcia’s bond is $57,500 and his court date is March 29.

Another Candidate May Jump into Smithville Mayor Race

March 25, 2018
Dwayne Page

More potential candidates have picked up petitions for two upcoming city elections in August.

Curtis Rust has obtained a petition for Mayor in the August 2 Smithville Municipal Election.

In Alexandria, Doyle Hendrix picked up a petition for Mayor and Lloyd Dyer, Eddie Shane Blair and Bridgette Rogers have all picked up petitions for Aldermen in that town’s August 2 election.

The qualifying deadline for the municipal elections is Noon, April 5.

Meanwhile, local voters are reminded of key dates for the May 1 DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

“Two important things to keep in mind at this point are the registration deadline and the updating of addresses,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections.

“If you are not registered but want to participate in the May 1 primary election, April 2 is the last day you can register in person at the election office,” he said.

Voter registration forms are available at the election office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse; on line at www.dekalbelections.com (and clicking on the voter registration tab at the top left of the page) and https://sos.tn.gov/elections/voter-information.

As far as address changes go, Stanley said keeping your address up to date could prevent a delay in voting on Election Day or even during early voting.

“If you have moved since you last voted, you may have to vote at a different location on May 1,” he said. “Keep in mind, if you have moved and did not notify our office, you will have paperwork to fill out on Election Day and you may have to go to a different place to vote.”

Voters who want to check their status can call the election office at 615-597-4146 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Another tool for voters is the GoVoteTN app for smartphones and computer desktops. The app can be downloaded at the iTunes store or Google Play.

The app provides a variety of information about the upcoming election, including a way for voters to check their current status.

Woman Rescued After Her Vehicle Overturns Down Hillside (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

March 25, 2018
Dwayne Page
Woman Rescued After Her Vehicle Overturns Down Hillside
After removing Courtney Nichols from the Jeep, fire and rescue volunteers used climbing rope and a stokes basket to bring her to the top of the hill.

An 18 year old woman was injured Saturday night after her 2002 Jeep Cherokee went off Highway 56 north (Cookeville Highway) and overturned down a steep hillside embankment before coming to rest upside down in a hollow several feet below the road.

According to Trooper Sean Tramel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Courtney Nichols was driving south when the Jeep hydroplaned and then went out of control as Nichols overcorrected. The Jeep narrowly missed the end of a guardrail as it left the highway and plunged down the hillside north of Hurricane Bridge in the Blackberry Hill area.

Since there were no witnesses to the accident and the wreckage was out of view from motorists, Nichols went unnoticed for a long period of time. Entrapped in the Jeep, Nichols sounded the horn trying to attract attention.

Bobby Hull, a resident close by, heard the sound of the horn from his home and went to investigate. After spotting the wreckage, he sought help.

Members of local EMS, first responders, law enforcement, rescue and extrication operations converged on the scene. After removing Nichols from the Jeep, fire and rescue volunteers used climbing rope and a stokes basket to bring her to the top of the hill. She was then transported by ambulance to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital.


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