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Cookeville Police Charge Smithville Man with Marijuana Offenses

March 16, 2016
Dwayne Page

A Smithville man who labeled an item of drug paraphernalia with his name was arrested in Cookeville Saturday evening for selling and distributing marijuana.

Evan Brady Cripps, of Pine Grove Road in Smithville, was charged in connection with the incident.

Cookeville Police Officer Kyle Farley stopped the vehicle Cripps was in because of a tail light violation and an expired registration. The driver of the vehicle, Braxton Atnip was cited for Motor Vehicle Lighting Requirements, No Insurance, and Expired Registration.

Officer Farley's report states as follows:

"On March 12 at 7:47 p.m. I initiated a traffic stop on a black Honda Civic at the Breadbox at 850 West Jackson Street for a tail light violation and for an expired registration. I made contact with the driver, Braxton Atnip, and I immediately noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from about the vehicle. I asked Mr. Atnip to exit the vehicle and I asked him if there was marijuana in the car and he said yes. I asked if he would give me the marijuana and he said yes and got a backpack from between the right rear passenger, Evan Cripps, legs," the report states

"Mr. Atnip pulled a Mason jar out of the backpack that had a bag of marijuana inside it and I asked whose it was and he said it was Mr. Cripps. I asked Mr Cripps to exit the vehicle and I asked if it was his and he said yes. I asked for consent to search his backpack and he did give me consent. Inside the backpack I located a set of digital scales that had “property of Evan Cripps” written on it. I also located a roll of plastic bags inside the backpack that he said he used to put marijuana in. The plastic bag of marijuana weighed approximately 25.5 grams," the report continued.

"I placed Mr. Cripps under arrest for Manufacture, Deliver, Sale of a Controlled Substance, placed hand restraints on him and double locked them behind his back. I placed him in the right rear seat of my patrol vehicle".

"I issued Mr. Atnip city citations for Motor Vehicle Lighting Requirements, No Insurance, and Expired Registration," the report stated.

"I transported Mr. Cripps to the Putnam County Jail where on arrival I met with the Judicial Commissioner, obtained and executed a warrant for Manufacture, Deliver, Sale of a Controlled Substance on him".

"I had initially made visual contact with this vehicle as it was passing Cane Creek School on West Jackson Street. The vehicle also stopped close to the Busy Bee Preschool at 749 Buffalo Valley Road".

"The charge for Drug-Free School Zone is pending".

"I placed the plastic bag of green leafy substance in evidence along with a TBI Crime Lab request for examination sheet for substance identification and quantity. I also placed the Mason Jar, digital scales, and roll of plastic bags in evidence," the report concluded.

Smithville Voters to Decide Another Liquor by the Drink Referendum

March 15, 2016
Dwayne Page

Smithville voters will decide in November whether they want to give restaurants in the city the opportunity to sell liquor by the drink.

According to Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley, Randy Paris has submitted to the election commission office a petition with the required number of valid signatures to get the referendum on the ballot in conjunction with the Tennessee General and US Presidential Election on Tuesday, November 8 subject to action by the county election commission.

The wording of the referendum would ask voters to either vote "For the legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in Smithville" or "Against the legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in Smithville"

The same issue has failed at the polls twice before.

In 2012 a referendum to get liquor in Smithville restaurants failed by a vote of 402 to 333. Two years later, a similar referendum failed by just 15 votes, 412 to 397. In the same election November 2014, Smithville voters narrowly approved another referendum to allow retail package stores to sell liquor within the city. The vote was 406 to 401.

Smithville now has two liquor stores.

If approved by the voters, the City of Smithville would have to establish an ordinance regarding city regulations but the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission would have the sole authority over the issuance of liquor licenses to eligible Smithville businesses for consumption on the premises.

Neighbors Raise Objections to Proposed SES Substation

March 15, 2016
Dwayne Page
Proposed location of new Smithville Electric System Substation at 1233 South College Street

Property owners near the site of a proposed new Smithville Electric System substation came before the City Planning Commission Monday evening to express concerns about the project.

The facility is to be located on just over five acres at 1233 South College Street.

While SES would continue to share the existing substation on West Main Street with TVA and Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, the new one would be solely for the use of Smithville Electric System in order to provide a secondary source of power especially in times of emergencies and to ensure continued reliability for current and future demands.

Joe Rice, one of the concerned property owners, questioned whether this site, in a residential neighborhood, is a suitable location for a substation. "Substations are permitted upon review as I read the ordinance. The review would be by the zoning board. The question I think in this case is not whether it can be done but whether it should be done. This piece of property is located immediately between two existing homes and there are a lot of other homes in the area. There are a lot of reasons not to do it. Safety being a primary, more personal concern. That's a reason for the backup station. They explode occasionally," he said.

According to Rice, SES had an opportunity to possibly acquire property in an industrial zone for the substation. "I'm sure there is a need for a station. The electric board, in their last meeting, was asked why they chose this location. We were told that it was for sale and it was cheap as opposed to an industrial location. They had found an industrial location apparently for half a million dollars. They told us they had plenty of money so that is not the issue. They chose this piece of property at the expense of the property owners in this residential area to save money for the power company. To me that doesn't seem right," said Rice.

Gordon Murphy, another property owner in the area, said he has environmental concerns particularly with a substation being located near wetlands. "I made a call to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). I haven't heard back but I did see a consultant out there looking at the property. You are not supposed to build substations or power plants near wetlands or on wetlands. That is something that is highly discouraged. You are not supposed to do that because there is all kinds of water runoff. All kinds of chemical pollution that goes into the wetlands. Its not a good idea. It may also be an Army Corps of Engineers (issue). I haven't gotten through to that process. It may also be against several other agencies as well. I haven't gotten to the bottom of that. Basically wetlands is a bad idea. End of story. Chemical pollution. Bad idea. It's not just the fact that it's where we live. We'll be hearing in excess of 60db (decibel) which is equivalent to a freight train at 50 feet. Those kinds of issues need to be known," said Murphy.

Staff Planner Tommy Lee said the city's zoning ordinance allows substations as a permitted use without review in a residential zone. "I analyzed the request. I looked at the zoning ordinance and recommended it to be an approved and permitted use as it clearly states in the zoning ordinance. There are certain non-residential uses that are strictly permitted uses. They don't have to have a review. Those uses are auditoriums, arenas, exhibit halls, art galleries, parks, substations, etc. That's why I made the recommendation. It would be like if somebody didn't like the fact that their neighbor was building a single family home in an R-1 district. Can they appeal that to the Board of Zoning Appeals? I don't think they can. I think a permitted use is a permitted use. But you have a right to challenge. If not at the Board of Zoning Appeals, then in the appellate courts," said Lee.

Planning Commission member Norris Colvert recommended that the city withhold approval of the project until the building codes inspector conducts a proper review of the proposed site plan. If the inspector signs off on the plan, Colvert said the concerned landowners may then file an appeal with the city's board of zoning appeals. "Our course of action is that our building inspector is going to be instructed to review the site plan to see if it meets all the setbacks and all the other criteria and that he makes some kind of decision then these folks have a right to appeal it. We have concerned citizens here that need to be respected and we need to do whatever we can do to help them get their point across. We don't have anybody from Smithville Electric sitting here telling us what they are wanting to do. Let's make sure if it is going to be done that it's going to be done properly," said Colvert

In an interview with WJLE last August, Richie Knowles, Interim Manager of Smithville Electric System said TVA has already approved plans for the new substation, which will be approximately 105 feet x 192 feet in size. "TVA has approved the site. We got that approval before we purchased the property. We now have to get the substation designed, engineered, and do the grade work. Of course, we'll have to order all the materials and start assembling it. We hope to have it up and operational by late 2016 or early 2017," said Knowles.

According to Knowles, a second substation would provide the city an alternate power source. "This way we will be able to supply power to the entire city from either substation. We can do maintenance work on the West Main Street substation without shutting off the power to the entire city. Initially, we will transfer part of the supplied load from the West Main substation to the new one, " said Knowles.

A secondary substation could also serve as a means of new industrial recruitment. " It will provide us a secondary feed for industries that might be looking at possibly coming to Smithville. That is usually their first question " do you have a dual feed"? At the moment we have to say no but we're working on that so in the future when they call we'll be able to say "yes we do". Hopefully that will help attract new industry and help us keep the industry we have," said Knowles.

According to Knowles, this location is ideal because it is directly beneath an existing transmission line route. Efforts will be made to keep it hidden from public view as much as possible. "It's going to be just one transformer. A small compact substation. It will set back off the road. Hopefully, it won't be unsightly to the neighborhood. We'll make it as clean as possible with fencing and landscaping. We'll try to make it as nice to the neighborhood as we possibly can," said Knowles.

The new facility is to be called the John Robert Nixon substation, named in tribute to the man who has served as a member and Chairman of the Board of Smithville Electric since the utility was established 46 years ago.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 6% in January

March 15, 2016
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for January was 6%, down from 6.5% in December and below the 8% rate for January, 2015.

The local labor force for January was 7,380. A total of 6,930 were employed and 450 were without work.

Jobless rates for January among the fourteen counties in the Upper Cumberland region were as follows from highest to lowest:

Clay: 7.9%
Van Buren: 7.2%
Cumberland: 7.1%
Fentress: 6.9%
Jackson: 6.8%
Overton: 6.3%
DeKalb: 6%
White: 5%
Putnam: 5%
Cannon: 4.8%
Warren: 4.6%
Smith: 4.4%

County unemployment rates for January 2016 show the rates decreased in 82 counties, increased in 12, and remained the same in one county.
For the month of January, Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate at 3.6 percent, down from December’s rate of 4.0 percent. Knox County was 3.9 percent in January, down from 4.3 the previous month. The Hamilton County rate was 4.6 percent, down from 5.0 in December. Shelby County was 5.5 percent, down from 6.1 percent the previous month.

Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for January was 5.4 percent, down two tenths of a percentage point from the previous month’s revised rate. The U.S. preliminary rate for December was 4.9 percent, down one tenth of a percentage point from the previous month.

The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Truck Goes off Bridge in Alexandria After Heavy Rains

March 14, 2016
Dwayne Page
Truck Goes off Bridge in Alexandria After Heavy Rains (Chris Russell Photo)

Two people escaped injury Monday after their truck and utility trailer went off the side of a bridge in Alexandria after driving through standing water from heavy rains

Neither the driver, 61 year old Joseph Dayton of Carthage nor his passenger, 46 year old Robert Wade of Brush Creek were hurt in the accident.
Alexandria Police Chief Chris Russell said DeKalb Central Dispatch received a call at 11:48 am of a motor vehicle which had crashed on Edgewood Street. According to Chief Russell, Dayton was traveling north on Edgewood Street in a 2008 Ford F350 pulling a utility trailer when he ran through standing water from heavy rains. The truck ran off the right side of the roadway, off a bridge, and came to rest on it's right side .

Members of the Alexandria Police Department , Alexandria Fire Department, DeKalb Fire and Rescue and DeKalb EMS responded to the scene. Extrication team members stabilized the vehicle utilizing a winch and then removed the two occupants.

DCHS Project Graduation Radiothon Set for Good Friday on WJLE

March 14, 2016
Dwayne Page
DCHS Teacher Chris Vance Interviewing Bailey Hayes during last year's Radiothon

A WJLE Radiothon to raise money for the DCHS Class of 2016 Project Graduation will be Friday, March 25 from 9:00 a.m. until noon hosted by DCHS Teacher Chris Vance.

High school seniors and parents on the Project Graduation committee will be answering phones, taking pledges during the drive. Any member of the Class of 2016 is urged to stop by the station to make a brief appearance on the radiothon to talk about their school activities and future plans.

Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2016 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class. The event begins following the graduation ceremony on Friday, May 20.

Call 615-597-4265 during the Radiothon to make your pledge from 9:00 a.m. until noon on Friday, March 25. Listen LIVE on FM 101.7/AM 1480 and LIVE streaming at

Send checks to: DCHS Project Graduation 2016
c/o Karen Jacobs
831 Driver St.
Smithville, TN 37166

MTIDA Officials Visit Smithville

March 14, 2016
MTIDA Officials Visit Smithville

Top Representatives from Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association, TN Department of Economic and Community Development, and Upper Cumberland Development District made a recent visit to Smithville. County Mayor Tim Stribling, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams acted as the day's hosts to discuss our community's industrial base and assets and to evaluate available resources for potential new industry.

MTIDA Executive Director Bob Bibb, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, TN Dept. of Economic & Community Development Project Manager Victoria Hirshberg, Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams, County Mayor Tim Stribling, TN Dept. of Economic & Community Development Business Development Consultant Jon Ward, MTIDA Asst. Executive Director Kendrick Curtis, Upper Cumberland Development District Executive Director Mark Farley

GOP Nominates Chandler for County Commissioner Election

March 12, 2016
Dwayne Page
Tom Chandler

The DeKalb County Republican Party held a convention Saturday at the courthouse to nominate a candidate for the county commission in the 1st district for the August 4 General Election

Tom Chandler will be the GOP nominee in the election to fill the remaining unexpired two year term of Democrat Elmer Ellis, Jr. who recently resigned. The local Democratic Party is also expected to hold a convention to select a nominee for the election.

Chandler made brief remarks at the meeting after receiving his party's nomination. "My wife and I live in Caplinger Hollow off Dale Ridge. We do actually have some property on Dale Ridge. We have owned property in the county for about 25 years so we weren't born and raised here but this is home to us. I say I'm retired but I have a farm so I work seven days a week doing something related to the farm. By profession I work in the telecommunications business. I am reasonably well educated. I have four college degrees including a doctorate degree in telecommunications. We have one daughter and a couple of granddaughters. My daughter is an oncologist or a cancer doctor. She works at the Summit for Tennessee Oncology," said Chandler.

"I am definitely a conservative. I do believe in good schools, roads, and water but I also believe in low taxes and that there ought to be some balance between those things," he continued.

"I'd appreciate your support in August. I look forward to working with you," Chandler concluded.

DeKalb School Board Policies Now On-Line

March 12, 2016
Dwayne Page

Anyone who would like to have a better understanding of school board policies may now view them on-line


The DeKalb County Board of Education, in a partnership with the Tennessee School Boards Association, now has its board policies available on-line in an easily searchable database.

"Any parent, grandparent, or anyone else who wishes to go on-line and look up any board policy now has the same access that we do (school board members). It's great to have this. TSBA has done a great job in helping us and Joey Reeder and Jamie Vickers have done a great job in getting it all put together," said School Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

"Now if anyone has a question about a board policy they can either contact us or look it up themselves," he added.

The school system website is

TDOT Holds Ribbon Cutting on Sligo Bridge Project (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

March 11, 2016
PICTURED: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, County Mayor Tim Stribling, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges
New Sligo Bridge Project Completed with new parking area for marina
TDOT Commissioner John Schroer speaks at Sligo Bridge Ribbon Cutting ceremony Friday. State Senator Mae Beavers and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss looking on each made brief remarks.
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver speaks at Sligo Bridge Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Friday.
County Mayor Tim Stribling speaks at Sligo Bridge Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Friday. State Senator Mae Beavers looking on also made brief remarks.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer joined state and local officials today for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the official completion of the Sligo Bridge project in DeKalb County.

Work began on the 0.8-mile project in May 2013. The $38.9-million project replaced a 24-ft. wide truss bridge built over the Caney Fork River in 1948 with a modern 45-ft. wide concrete and steel bridge. The project also included the construction of three retaining walls. Among other features, the new bridge has a wider substructure for potential future expansion, a design that is not possible on a truss bridge.

“We are very pleased to be here today to celebrate the completion of this important project with our state and local partners and the citizens of DeKalb County,” said Commissioner Schroer. “This bridge is very important to the region, and it will also make this area much safer and will benefit all motorists and area residents.”

"A special thanks to the Riverwatch community and the Mountain Harbor community. Riverwatch let us (TDOT) use their boat ramp to do some of the things we needed to do. We were having a little difficulty getting that accomplished but we were able to work that out. They're getting a new boat dock and some pavement and parking spaces. Lots of good things will happen. That's a win win for everybody there. It helped the state get what we've done and we were able to help that community as well," said Commissioner Schroer.

"This is a great day to finally be able to do a ribbon cutting on this bridge," said State Senator Mae Beavers. " I said we had to get Terri Lynn elected to finally get it done. She has done a great job in helping with it. We hope you enjoy it and that everybody up here is satisfied for a while," she said.

"It's a great day to be here today. Everyone around here has a part of this. We're all team players and this is what happens when we are all on the same page. We have an amazing bridge and places to park," said State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

"I would like to recognize the former County Mayor Mike Foster and the county commission who did a lot of work and had a lot of discussions to help get this bridge project done. I am very proud and thankful for TDOT's $39 million dollar investment in DeKalb County. This will have an economic impact in DeKalb County for many years to come," said County Mayor Tim Stribling.

"These bridges (Sligo and Hurricane) feed Smithville. We're fortunate to have two new bridges here and we're very thankful that the money has been invested in DeKalb County," said Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss.

The new bridge is 101 feet over the water, and the bridge depth below the water is 167 feet. Over 11,000 cubic yards of concrete and 2 million pounds of steel reinforcement were used on the bridge. A major milestone occurred in August 2015 when traffic was shifted onto the newly-constructed bridge. This allowed the contractor to begin demolition of the old truss bridge, a task that took over a month.

Massman Construction Co., Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri is prime contractor for this project, which was completed several months ahead of the June 30, 2016 completion date.

Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) and Representative Terry Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) represent DeKalb County in the Tennessee General Assembly.


Construction of a welded steel plate girder bridge on U.S. 70 (SR-26) over the Caney Fork River and Sligo Road, including three retaining walls, in DeKalb County, Tennessee - Contract No. CNM073

*Bids opened April 5, 2013

*Massman Construction Co., Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri is prime contractor

*Project cost $38.9 million

*Work began May 28, 2013

*Project replaced a 24-ft. wide truss bridge that was constructed in 1948 with a 45-ft. wide concrete and steel bridge.

*The new bridge is 101 feet over the water

*The bridge depth below the water is 167 feet

*Over 11,000 cubic yards of concrete and 2 million pounds of steel reinforcement were used on the new bridge

*The new bridge has a wider substructure for future expansion

*Bridge length 1545 feet

*Almost half of the bridge is underwater, 5295 cubic yards of concrete and 712,000 pounds of steel

*Over $10 million dollars of work is underwater

*Over 400,000 cubic yards of material was excavated from the approaches leading to the bridge

*The project included construction of 3 retaining walls

*The original contract completion date was June 30, 2016

*The new bridge was open to traffic on August 8, 2015

*The project won the Tennessee Concrete Association award for best architect/engineer: non-building structures.

*The demolition of the old truss bridge began on September 15, 2015 and after several rounds of demolition, the remaining piers were demolished on October 20, 2015.

*The project was totally complete in March 2016, several months ahead of schedule

PICTURED: Massman Construction Project Manager T.J. Colombatto, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, County Mayor Tim Stribling, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges


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