Local News Articles

Wilson County attorney Mary Alice Carfi seeks state Senate seat in special election

October 4, 2017
Mary Alice Carfi

Wilson County attorney Mary Alice Carfi has announced her candidacy in the Democratic primary for the District 17 state Senate seat in the upcoming Special Elections..

“We need some common sense in the Senate,” Carfi said. “Republicans have held the majority since the 2010 elections. They have had ample opportunities to improve the lives of working families in our state, but instead have put party interests before improving the health care, jobs, and education for our citizens.”

An attorney in a solo-practice in Mt. Juliet, Carfi can relate to the issues that affect the small business owners throughout District 17, which includes Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, and Wilson counties.

“I understand struggles with health care costs,” Carfi said. “The Republicans missed the boat when they failed to expand Medicaid. As a result of their failure to act, the 10th rural hospital in Tennessee announced Saturday that it is closing its doors.”

“All of the counties in District 17, except for Wilson, are entirely rural, and if one of them lost their hospital, it would have a devastating impact not only the health care of its citizens but on that county’s economy,” she added. “This is just one example of how the failure to apply common sense to our health care issues has hurt working families in District 17 and across the state.”

When it comes to jobs and the economy, Carfi noted that in five of the six counties in District 17, an average of 20.6 percent of all households receives food stamps, which is almost 4 percent higher than the state average.

“We need jobs that pay a living wage, so no one who works a full-time job has to rely on public assistance to survive,” she added. “It's sound common sense to raise the minimum wage because Tennessee’s economy runs on consumer spending. If working families struggle to pay their rent and put food on their table, then how can they afford to buy anything else?”

Last, Carfi wants to make sure all students in District 17 have a quality public education “because it’s the best investment we can make in our state and nation’s future.

“Common sense tells us that we need to fully fund Tennessee’s Basic Education Plan (BEP) so that a child in smaller, less affluent counties like Clay or Cannon County can be assured of getting access to the same quality education as a child in Wilson County,” Carfi said.

“We need less testing of our students, and we need to say no vouchers of any kind because they divert resources from already struggling schools,” she added.

As a general practice attorney, Carfi often works with people who have differing opinions. “It’s my job to bring these people together, to compromise when and where it’s necessary, so that a positive result can be agreed upon by all parties.

“It’s time for some common sense in Tennessee’s Senate, and I ask for your support and vote on Dec. 19 so I can bring this to our legislative body.”

Carfi grew up in Smith County, the daughter of Don and Phyllis Eckel of Gordonsville. She is the granddaughter of the late Pete and Evelyn Watts, who owned Watts Angus Farm. Pete Watts was a well-known building contractor in Middle Tennessee and owner of Pete Watts Construction.

She has one daughter, Alexia, 9, and is a member of the Carthage United Methodist Church, where she sings in the choir. She and her husband, Jamie, are both members of the Bert Coble Singers in Lebanon. She also serves on the Bert Coble Singers Leadership Team.

Carfi is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and the 15th Judicial District Bar Association. She is a graduate of Smith County High School and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice administration from Middle Tennessee State University. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Nashville School of Law. She was chosen as the Best Attorney in Mt. Juliet in 2016 by the readers of The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet newspaper.

A Campaign Kick-Off will be held Monday, Oct. 16, from 6-8 p.m., at The Capitol Theatre at 110 West Main St. in Lebanon.

Thursday is National Depression Screening Day

October 4, 2017
Dwayne Page
Thursday is National Depression Screening Day

National Depression Screening Day will be recognized on Thursday, October 5 and the theme is “Speaking Your Mind”. Whether you tell one person, talk to a doctor or mental health professional or become an advocate for mental health awareness, it's important to share your story to help yourself and help others.

Haven of Hope welcomes anyone to call 615-597-4673 on Oct 5th or during October and set up a time for this free brief screener which will be reviewed by a professional counselor and results discussed with you. Haven of Hope is located at 301 West Main St. Smithville in the historic Magnolia House.

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), held annually on the Thursday of the first full week in October, is dedicated to raising awareness and screening people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. NDSD is the nation's oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that gives access to validated screening questionnaires and provides referral information for treatment.

This year's theme, Speaking Your Mind, focuses on talking about your experience with mental health. You can help support the campaign by using the hashtags #NDSD and #SpeakYourMind. Please join in this National Depression Screening Day and help spread the word to increase awareness of mental health.

Members of Community Gather for "Prayer on the Square" (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

October 4, 2017
Dwayne Page

A group of people gathered downtown Smithville Tuesday evening for a worship service called “Prayer on the Square”.

Local ministers and singers offered up songs of praise and prayers for our families and community.

Karen Carpenter opened with a welcome followed by Josh Isaac singing the National Anthem. Ministers offering prayers were Isaac Gray of the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Michael Carpenter of the Whorton Springs Baptist Church, Kenneth Clayton, Jim Bo Eddins of the Gathering, Chris Moore of the Smithville Church of God, and Dr. John Carpenter of the Smithville First United and Bright Hill United Methodist Churches.

Featured performers were Emily Phillips, Josh Chapman, the Smithville Church of God Drama Team, Darrin Vincent, and Jonathan Savage.

Church to Honor Smithville Fire Department

October 3, 2017
Dwayne Page
Church to Honor Smithville Fire Department

Members of the Smithville Fire Department will be recognized for their service to the community during the Sunday morning worship service, October 8 at the Smithville First United Methodist Church downtown.

The worship hour begins at 11:00 a.m.

“This Sunday is going to be very special at the Smithville First United Methodist Church. We will be honoring the Smithville Fire Department. We invite you to be part of giving them and the Lord thanks for their work. They will be coming in full dress uniforms and the sermon that speaks of servant hood to Jesus will be given in the honor of Christ as well as in the honor of those who serve on our fire department in Smithville. You are invited to be part of this event recognizing their work that is a part of serving the Lord Jesus,” said Dr. John Carpenter, pastor of the church.

Other emergency services will be honored in future services at the church.

City to Address Unsightly and Upkept Properties

October 3, 2017
Dwayne Page
Alderman Danny Washer

Smithville Aldermen are looking to establish a new ordinance to punish city residents who don’t keep their properties maintained.

For months, Alderman Danny Washer has called for the city to force those with unsightly and unkept properties to clean them up or be subject to civil penalties.

“It’s ridiculous. We’ve got to do something about it. I don’t want to look out my front door and see it and I know of lot of others don’t. It’s bringing down property values. On one street there’s a couch, mattress, and TV laying out in the yard and has been for months. That’s just one example. It’s getting out of hand. We have got to start enforcing this ordinance,” said Alderman Washer at a city council meeting earlier this year.

The issue was discussed again during Monday night’s meeting of the mayor and aldermen.

“I have talked to MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) about a new property maintenance ordinance and I am still waiting on them. They (MTAS) actually gave me a sample ordinance but it is too vague,” said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

“In the meantime I have talked with the Police Chief and we have agreed that we (city) can issue warnings. My idea is to have the police deliver these warnings to the residents that are in violation and give them a certain amount of time to fix it. If not then cite them into court. We have in the past. I have talked with the Chief and he is fine with it. I think it means a little more when the police deliver it. We can start taking these complaints and prioritize which are the worst and then we can go out and take a look, draft a letter, and have them served. We can handle it this way until we get a better ordinance,” added Hendrixson.

“If we have a complaint from somebody they could take a picture (of the property in violation) with a phone and bring it in with their complaint,” said Alderman Washer

“We would also need an address,” added Mayor Jimmy Poss.

Meanwhile, Alderman Washer said he is pleased with the operation of the new automated side loader garbage truck

“These new garbage cans has helped. You don’t see garbage left on the side of the road in places like I used to see. I’m hoping when all the cans are out (distributed) it will keep improving,” said Washer.

Center Hill Lake volunteers convert campground into tobacco-free trail

October 3, 2017
Sarah Peace, Center Hill Lake Park Ranger
DeKalb Health Department Helps Install Tobacco Free Benches
Tennessee Tech students clear small brush in areas to reveal scenic view
Center Hill National Public Lands Day Group Photo
Volunteers install distance markers along new trail at Center Hill Lake

About 30 volunteers converted the former Hurricane Bridge Campground today into the new “The Old 56 Trail” at Center Hill Lake in support of National Public Lands Day.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District coordinated with the DeKalb County Health Department on the development of the trail, and garnered additional support from Tennessee Tech University’s Fisheries Society, DeKalb County High School students, and other volunteers and partnerships.

The volunteers installed trail signage, distance markers, and benches. Small brush and overgrowth were taken out that revealed scenic views. Parking spaces were created at the entrance of the trail and debris and trash from years of runoff from State Route 56 were removed.

Prior to the National Public Lands Day event, decades of extensive overgrowth and debris were cleared thanks to a grant from the DeKalb County Health Government.

“The project (The Old 56 Trail) is the result of the Tennessee Department of Health Rural Access to Health and Healthy Active Built Environments grant recently awarded to DeKalb County.” explained DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling during his opening remarks.

The grant focused on improving health outcomes by enhancing access to free physical activity, and the county looked for areas that meets these qualifications.

A new trail at the Hurricane Bridge Recreation Area met these qualifications, and a portion of the grant helped clear the decades of overgrowth and debris, the first step to converting the campground into a paved trail.

In addition to overgrowth removal, the DeKalb County Health Department donated two new benches. The reason? The new trail at Hurricane Bridge is also the Corps’ first tobacco free area on Center Hill Lake, made possible by additional funding though a tobacco free grant.

National Public Lands Day served as the official opening of the trail, and the announcement of the trail name, “The Old 56 Trail,” voted on by the public via a Facebook contest, “Name that Trail.”

“This trail is made by the community, for the community,” said Park Ranger John Malone, lead coordinator of Center Hill Lake’s National Public Lands Day activity. “Volunteers and community members can take pride in knowing that the trail and its name would not have been possible without them.”

The 25 sites at Hurricane Bridge Campground closed nearly 30 years ago, with just the picnic areas and two launching ramps remaining. Since that time the campground became an equipment storage area, and fell into disrepair, leaving only a slight glimpse of what was once there. Now all visitors, new and old have a trail they can use for walking, bicycling, or simply to relax and enjoy the outdoors, free of charge. They also have an outdoor area that they do not have to worry about cigarette butts, and other tobacco products. This trail is proof that through partnerships and the hard work of volunteers, great things can happen.

National Public Lands Day began in 1994, focusing on education and partnerships to care for the nation’s natural splendors. In 2016 NPLD volunteers saved taxpayers an estimated $18 million though volunteer services to improve public lands across the country. For more information on National Public Lands Day, visit: https://www.neefusa.org/public-lands-day.

(For more information about the US Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and http://www.facebook.com/centerhilllake, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)

21st Century After School Program Hosting "Family Night" at STEMmobile

October 3, 2017
Dwayne Page
21st Century After School Program Hosting "Family Night" at STEMmobile

The 21st Century After School program is hosting a Family Night on Thursday, October 5 from 5-7 p.m. at the STEMmobile which is at DeKalb Middle School this week.

“The STEMmobile will be open to students and families from all DeKalb County schools. We will have various activities set up for students to participate in,” said Suzette Barnes, 7th Grade Science Teacher at DeKalb Middle School

City Envisions More T-Hangars and New Taxiway at Airport

October 3, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Airport Manager Joe Johnson

More federal funds are available to the City of Smithville for airport improvement projects.

During Monday night’s meeting, Airport Manager Joe Johnson informed the mayor and aldermen that he has requested and received approval for an additional $150,000 in funding through the federal airport improvement grant management program.

“We had $397,428 in ACIP money under the airport improvement program but I requested and they sent us $150,000 more which puts us at $547, 428 in available funds. What that means is when we apply for a grant and get approved, 50% of that grant will be paid out of this fund ($547,428) and the state (Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division) will provide a 45% match. The city’s grant match (local funds) is 5%,” said Johnson.

Plans are to apply for grants to build a parallel taxiway and another set of t-hangars at the airport.

“Right now airplanes have to taxi down the runway and then turn and take off. When they land they have to taxi back. That’s dangerous. It’s like walking in the middle of the road. With a parallel taxiway, planes can land and get off the runway so another airplane can land,” Johnson explained.
The city currently has sixteen T-hangars and two corporate hangars at the airport and all are occupied. According to Johnson, there is a need for more.

“We have 14-16 applications from aircraft owners wanting to rent a t-hangar from us. We would like to build a new set of t-hangars, eight for small planes and one more corporate hangar for a larger plane. That would give us nine more hangars and a total of 27 in all,” he said.

Johnson said when the time comes to start the project, he would recommend building the taxiway first because it would save money.

“Those hangars would cost about a million dollars but we could save about $200,000 by doing the taxiway first because we could take the dirt from where the hangars will go to build the taxiway. We wouldn’t have to pay for the site work. It’s a win-win situation,” Johnson explained.

The hangars are a good source of income for the airport having generated around $29,000 last year. Tenants of the T-hangars pay the city $115 per month and the monthly rent for the corporate hangars is $225.

In July the aldermen approved a request by Johnson to allow hangar tenants the option of paying their entire years rent in one lump sum at the current rate or continue to pay monthly, but at a higher rate of $125 per month. Those who have corporate hangars can also pay up front for the year at the current rate of $225 per month or at the higher rate of $250 if they choose to continue to pay by the month. Johnson said by paying up front for an entire year, the tenants get a price break while the city has more cash on hand to use for immediate airport needs.

Fuel sales are also up at the airport. In early 2016, the city completed the installation of a new fuel farm at the airport which provides jet fuel, something Smithville never offered before.

“Sales last month were more than $12,000, up from $4,000 a year ago. Our fuel sales this month are $10,000, up from $3,000 a year ago. We are making some money on fuel. I really watch those prices when they go up and down and try to catch it low and buy the fuel where we can attract airplanes. The more airplanes we get in here the more money we get, the more state money we get, and the more fuel sales we get. It’s good for everybody. As of today within 100 miles of Smithville we are one penny cheaper than anybody else (selling aviation fuel). That attracts airplanes. We get them (aircraft operators) in here all day long. They buy lunch and fuel. They spend money in Smithville. They go to the lake and I try my best to take them to a restaurant to eat when I’m there. We try to take care of the pilots,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the airport is in good condition today and when any maintenance or repairs are needed, he handles it himself when he can to save the city money. Johnson also plans to seek more federal funding for future projects. “I’m hoping to get another $150,000 in federal money to help fund the t-hangars. With extra t-hangar rent and increased fuel sales, the airport, after meeting its expenses, might one day be self sustaining,” added Johnson.

In other business, Mayor Jimmy Poss informed the aldermen that while no firm date has been set, the new animal shelter may be ready to open by late October or early November. The coalition board will soon recommend to the city someone to be hired as a part time assistant to the director Megan Moore.

Mayor Poss said members of the coalition board have also inquired about the city imposing fines on persons who drop off stray animals at the shelter after hours. “At the old dog pound, people bring in dogs and drop them after hours. Sometimes they just throw them over into the pen,” said Mayor Poss.

To help prevent that from happening at the new shelter, the aldermen may establish an ordinance with penalties for violators. Mayor Poss said the new shelter is expected to have surveillance cameras to monitor activity there.

Woman Claims Self Defense in Cutting Man with Knife During Argument

October 2, 2017
Dwayne Page
Quonisha Bonique Webb
Jose Alberto-Narvaez Becerra
Kobe Bryant Allen
Nathan Joseph Wilbert

An 18 year old woman has been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly cutting a man with a knife during an argument.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_41.pdf (3.57 MB)

Quonisha Bonique Webb of Sparta is under a $5,000 bond and she will make a court appearance October 26.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, September 29 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Sparta Highway in response to a domestic complaint. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Webb and a man and learned that the two had been in an altercation. According to the man, he and Webb had gotten into an argument when she pulled a knife and cut him. Webb admitted to cutting the man but said she did it in self defense. A third party witness said she saw Webb on top of the man cutting him with a knife.

The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department deputy.

Jose Alberto-Narvaez Becerra of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is October 26.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, September 29 a woman came to the jail and reported to a deputy that on the previous day, Thursday, September 28, Becerra grabbed her by the arms and then her throat trying to strangle her. The woman had bruising and redness due to the altercation.
The deputy filed the charge against Becerra.

35 year old Christopher Jeriel Waters of Watertown is charged with possession of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver. He was further cited for driving on a revoked license (revocation due to failure to pay child support), violation of the light law, and possession of drug paraphernalia (set of digital scales). His bond is $10,000 and his court date is October 26.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, October 2 a deputy spotted a driver side brake light not working on a vehicle traveling on Cookeville Highway. He made a traffic stop near the intersection with Floating Mill Road and spoke with the driver, Waters. A computer check revealed that Waters has an active arrest warrant against him from Wilson County. He was then placed into custody. During a search of Waters’ person, the officer found a set of digital scales and a small clear baggie in his front right pocket that contained 1.6 grams of a clear crystal like substance which field tested positive for methamphetamine.

29 year old Kobe Bryant Allen of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $7,500 and his court date is October 12.
Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, September 26 a woman came to the sheriff’s office with her children seeking help getting away from her husband, Allen. The woman claims she was at home when Allen came in and began arguing with her. During the argument, she said Allen pulled a pistol, pointed it at her, and threatened to kill her. She further claims that Allen then punched her in the ribs and tried to choke her. Allen was placed under arrest.

37 year old Nathan Joseph Wilbert of Vandergriff Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault, evading arrest, and vandalism over $1,000. His bond is $10,500 and his court date is October 5.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, September 23 a deputy was called to a residence on Vandergriff Hollow Road due to a possible altercation. Upon arrival the officer spoke with a woman who said that when she got out of her Chevy Trailblazer to check on her grandson, Wilbert, he ran toward her apparently in a threatening manner. As she got back inside the vehicle, Wilbert kicked the door causing more than $1,000 in damage. Wilbert’s actions caused the woman to fear for her life or bodily injury. Two days later on Monday, September 25 as a deputy was attempting to arrest Wilbert on an outstanding domestic assault warrant, he (Wilbert) tried to flee on foot after being ordered by the officer to stop because he was under arrest.

Two Women Charged in Separate Theft Investigations

October 2, 2017
Dwayne Page
Crystal Alice Turner
Sarah Jayne Davidson

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has charged two women in separate thefts which occurred over the summer.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_41.pdf (3.57 MB)

42 year old Crystal Alice Turner of A.B. Frazier Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property. Her bond is $4,500 and her court date is October 12.

Sheriff PatrickRay said that on August 15 Turner took a Sanyo television and DVD player from a home on A.B. Frazier Road. The TV was valued at $400. The DVD was worth $25.

The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

27 year old Sarah Jayne Davidson of Manchester is charged with theft of property over $1,000. She is under a $5,000 bond and her court date is October 12.

Sheriff Ray said that on July 14 Davidson stole a Dell M-6500 laptop valued at $2,100. The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.


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