Local News Articles

Four Served with Grand Jury Sealed Indictments

April 14, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

Four people have been served with sealed indictments returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury last Monday, April 6. They were arraigned Monday, April 13 in Criminal Court.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the persons named in those indictments and their charges are as follows:

27 year old Molly Sue Lawrence of Highland Street, Smithville: theft under $500 and six counts of forgery; and four counts of forgery. Her bond totals $25,000.

53 year old Max Arnold Teeples of Vickers Ridge Road, Baxter: manufacturing marijuana. His bond is $20,000.

29 year old Melinda Beth Murphy of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville: theft under $500 and six counts of forgery. Her bond is $15,000.

33 year old Garth Layne Cantrell of Pine Grove Road Smithville: theft under $500. His bond is $5,000.

Seven other people named in sealed indictments by the grand jury last week have not yet been served.

Meanwhile, 45 year old Kathy Jo Massengail of Keltonburg Road, Smithville is charged with a third offense of driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license. She was further issued a citation for violation of the financial responsibility law and immediate notice of an accident (not reporting a wreck). Her bond totals $6,000 and she will be in court June 25. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 7 Massengail, operating a motor vehicle, was involved in a crash. Massengail then left the scene of the accident but was later located on Jefferson Road. The arresting officer spoke with Massengail who had a strong odor of alcohol on her person and her eyes were bloodshot. Massengail admitted that she had been drinking at the time of the wreck. She performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. She also submitted to a blood test. A computer check confirmed that her driver's license were revoked due to prior DUI offenses.

47 year old Joel Acuna, Sr. of Old West Point Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court April 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 7 Acuna attacked his wife due to her not wanting to talk about their marriage. As she tried to get away from him, Acuna grabbed the victim by the head, pulling her hair and arms. The woman bit Acuna's right index finger trying to break free of him. Acuna was placed under arrest.

46 year old William (Billy) Stephen Zaderiko is charged with filing a false report. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court April 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, April 8 Zaderiko knowingly lied to law enforcement officers concerning facts surrounding a theft investigation about a Hustler zero turn lawn mower. When asked where he had purchased the lawnmower, Zaderiko said he bought it at an auction in Cookeville. After being questioned further, Zaderiko admitted getting the mower from a relative but did not want to get him in trouble. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective. The lawn mower has been recovered.

40 year old Cecil McKinley Ketchum of Dedmon Hollow Road, Liberty is charged with violation of bond conditions. His bond is $5,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 11 Ketchum intentionally and knowingly violated an order of bond conditions by being inside the same residence as the person who had those bond conditions brought against him. Ketchum said he knew he was not supposed to be around this person. The bond conditions were filed on March 28, 2014.

31 year old David Lee Bean of Peeled Chestnut Lane, Sparta is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for violation of the financial responsibility law and failure to maintain his lane of travel. Bean's bond is $3,000 and he will be in court May 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 12 a deputy received a call about a wreck on Highway 70 east at Sligo bridge. The officer observed a 1999 Saturn in a ditch and spoke to the driver, Bean who said he had been on his way to get his wife. Bean's speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Bean performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol test. Bean was placed under arrest.

Drunk Man Held at Gunpoint Until Police Arrive

April 13, 2015
Dwayne Page
Captain Steven Leffew

Smithville Police have charged a man with public intoxication after a homeowner caught him trying to enter his house and held the intruder at gunpoint until officers arrived.

46 year old Brett Alan Parron is under a $1,500 bond and will be in court April 16. The incident occurred on Tuesday, March 31.

According to Captain Steven Leffew, Officer in Charge of the Smithville Police Department, Sergeant Travis Bryant was dispatched to a residence where the owner had caught a man trying to break into his house and was holding him at gun point. Upon arrival, Sgt Bryant spoke with Parron and found him to be unsteady on his feet and he had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. The homeowner told Sgt Bryant that he had heard Parron at his back door telling his dogs to "Shut up" and he was also causing a disturbance by moving things around behind the house. According to Sgt Bryant, Parron didn't seem to know where he was or what he was doing. He was placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, Officer Joey Myers responded to a residence on West Broad Street in reference to a domestic assault on Tuesday, March 31. Upon speaking with the parties involved, it was determined that 30 year old Christopher Lee Lewis was the primary aggressor. He allegedly pushed the victim and held her arms behind her back. Lewis was placed under arrest. His bond is $2,500.

48 year old Frank Ervin Morris was arrested Friday, April 3 for driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. Officer Matt Farmer found Morris in control of an SUV in a driveway on Jennings Lane. Morris was passed out at the wheel of the vehicle while it was still running and he had his foot on the brake. When Officer Farmer awakened him, Morris removed his foot from the brake and the SUV started moving down the driveway. Officer Farmer quickly responded and put the vehicle in park to keep it from crashing. Morris had red watery eyes, slurred speech, and an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Morris signed implied consent forms to give blood for alcohol and drug testing but upon arrival at the hospital he changed his mind and refused to submit to the test. His bond is $3,000 and he will make a court appearance on April 23.

Officer Lance Dillard responded to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter on Saturday, April 4. Upon arrival he spoke with a Loss Prevention Associate who reported that he had witnessed 42 year old Patsy McCoy Estes take several Wal-Mart bags from the front of the store and get a shopping cart. He then saw her pick up several items and remove the price tags before placing them in the bags. The total value of the merchandise was $535.98. Estes was arrested for Theft of Merchandise. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court May 7.

36 year old Gregory Wayne Roberts was arrested on Tuesday, April 7 for a second offense of driving under the influence and a third offense of driving on a revoked license. At approximately 11:30 pm that night, Roberts drove to Kwik N Ezy to purchase beer. After leaving the store, Roberts got behind the wheel of his vehicle and tried to drive away but he was stopped by an off duty deputy. Sgt Travis Bryant arrived on the scene and asked Roberts to submit to field sobriety tests but he was unable to perform the tasks due to an old leg injury. For his safety and that of the public, Roberts was arrested and transported to the Emergency room of the hospital where he submitted to a blood alcohol test. A computer check revealed Roberts' license to be revoked for a DUI on September 26, 2013. His bond on this charge is $7,500 and he will be in court on April 16.

33 year old William Travis Malone was arrested on Wednesday, April 8 for driving under the influence. K-9 Officer James Cornelius received a call from Central Dispatch of a man who appeared to be sleeping in a vehicle with the engine running. Upon arrival Officer Cornelius located a vehicle matching the description given and found a man, who he knew to be William Malone slumped over in the driver's seat. The vehicle's engine was running and it was in "drive". Officer Cornelius opened the door to the automobile and turned off the engine. He then awoke Malone. Upon speaking with him, Officer Cornelius noticed Malone's speech to be slurred. He was asked to step out of the vehicle at which time the officer noticed Malone to be unsteady on his feet. After giving him several minutes, the officer asked Malone if he would be willing to submit to a series of sobriety tasks. Malone was then arrested for DUI. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 23.

43 year old Richard Brandon Turner was arrested on Thursday, April 9 for domestic assault and resisting arrest. Officer Joey Myers was dispatched to an address in reference to a domestic assault. He and Sgt Travis Bryant spoke with Turner who had been asked several times to leave the home . Turner refused to leave and had to be physically restrained as he became violent and actively resisted the officers. Police learned that Turner refused allow the victim to leave the home and placed that person in fear of bodily injury. Turner's bond is $3,000 and he will be in court April 16.

Election Officials Train in Smithville

April 11, 2015
Dwayne Page
Election Officials Train in Smithville

County Election Officials from across Middle Tennessee met in Smithville Friday for a training and networking session at the county complex auditorium.

DeKalb County Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley, who serves as Vice President for the Middle Tennessee Division of Tennessee Association of County Election Officials, said the organization convenes occasionally for training. "Every so often we get together and have a training and networking session. I decided this time we would have one in DeKalb County. We had over 70 election officials from about 20 counties who attended our program Friday. We also had here from the state office, Wayne Pruett, Coordinator of the Help America Vote Act," said Stanley.


Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry a Huge Success

April 11, 2015
Dwayne Page
Drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning
Volunteers deliver food to the needy
Food delivery directly to the car door

The drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning was a huge success.

Almost three hundred food boxes were given away and everyone in line got at least one box regardless of their income status. The event, held in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, was sponsored by the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church as part of its community outreach ministry, but other churches and community volunteers also participated.

Unlike most food distributions, those served by Saturday's mobile pantry did not have to get out of their automobiles. They simply drove thru in a pickup line as volunteers delivered the food directly to their vehicles, placing the food boxes either in the back seat or trunk.

The food boxes contained such items as bread, canned goods, peanut butter, bags of potatoes, fruits, cakes, pies, and more.

The church expresses its appreciation to the volunteers for their help Saturday and is hoping to have more mobile food pantries in the future.

Two Airlifted After One Car Crash on Smith Road

April 11, 2015
Dwayne Page
Crash Occurs Near City Park on Smith Road (Photo by SPD Corporal Chip Avera)
Two Cookeville Men Injured in Wreck (Photo by SPD Corporal Chip Avera)
Two Airlifted After One Car Crash on Smith Road (Photo by SPD Corporal Chip Avera)

Two Cookeville men were seriously injured in a one car crash this morning (Saturday) on Smith Road near the city park

Smithville Police got the call at 1:20 a.m.

22 year old Austin Neyman and 21 year old Christopher Epperson were both airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

According to Corporal Chip Avera of the Smithville Police Department, both men were traveling west at a high rate of speed on Smith Road in a 2015 Nissan Versa when the car went off the right side of the road and traveled approximately 150 feet before impact. The car struck two mailboxes and a concrete culvert and then came to rest on its side in a ditch. Both men, who were wearing their seatbelts, got out of the car under their own power before officers arrived. They were taken by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone which was set up at Northside Elementary School. One of the men was airlifted by Erlanger Life Force 2 while the other was flown out by Air Evac Life Force 2.

While the Nissan is registered to Neyman, police have not yet determined which of the two men was actually driving the car.

The accident remains under investigation by Corporal Avera and Patrolman Will Judkins of the Smithville Police Department. The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene of the crash along with first responders who provided assistance.

No Injuries in Car, Rig Crash

April 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
Car (right) plunges off embankment after being hit by rig (shown to left)
Mercury Grand Marquis driven by Geraldine Cook

A Smithville woman escaped injury in a Thursday afternoon traffic accident.

According to Trooper Gerald Carter of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 87 year old Geraldine Cook of Smithville pulled onto West Broad Street in a 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis GS to go east and crossed the path of an eastbound 2014 International Tractor Trailer Rig, driven by 52 year old James Baker of Lexington, Tennessee.

After impact Cook's car went off the highway and down an embankment near a creek. Although she was taken to the hospital, Trooper Carter said Cook was not injured in the accident. Baker was also uninjured.

There were no charges.

Members of the Smithville Police and Fire Departments were on the scene to provide assistance.

Mid TN Hay & Forage Day April 21

April 10, 2015

The 2nd annual Middle Tennessee Hay and Forage Day set for Tuesday, April 21 at Jimmy Herndon’s farm in Smithville offers farmers insight to a number of pasture, hay, and beef cattle production concerns.

The field day is scheduled to get underway with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the program starting at 9:00 a.m. There is no registration fee for the event, and a sponsored lunch will be provided. The Herndon farm is located at 371 Herndon Lane in Smithville.

Bruce Steelman, UT Extension Cannon County Agent, is a member of the planning committee for the field day. “The purpose of field days is to provide a hands-on learning experience for producers to learn the latest research based information from UT Extension. The hay and forage day has a wide variety of topics that should be a benefit to most every beef and forage producer in the area,” stated Steelman.

The list of programs include a pasture weed control demonstration showing use of common pasture herbicides with speaker Dr. Neil Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is a Weed Management Specialist with UT Extension. Several herbicides were sprayed in March to show effects on common pasture weeds, such as buttercup, dock, and thistle. Participants at the field day will get to view the effects of the demonstration plots.

Mr. Larry Moorehead, the UT Extension Agent in Moore County, will be discussing hay storage and feeding. Mr. Moorehead is known throughout the region for his hay storage programs.

“Bull Selection, Critical to Optimizing Performance” will be the topic presented by Mr. Kevin Thompson. To help producers in decision making when purchasing a bull, Mr. Thompson will have multiple bulls on site and will go over EPD’s in selecting the correct bull for your situation. Mr. Thompson is the Director of the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center in Spring Hill, where the University of Tennessee houses its bull test station.

Other speakers on the program include Mr. Mark Powell from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to discuss the Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Program. Mr. Powell is the state wide director of the TAEP. A hands-on boomless sprayer calibration demonstration will be led by UT Extension Agent Chris Hicks. Mr. Hicks is located in Smith County and has conducted numerous sprayer calibration workshops in the area.
“Mr. Herndon and his family have been gracious to let us conduct the weed management demonstration plots at his farm and host this event. He has been a great cooperator to help make this a successful event for all the attendees,” stated Michael Barry, UT Extension DeKalb County Agent.
The inaugural Hay and Forage day was held last year at David and Patricia Hutton’s farm in Morrison. UT Extension Warren County Agent Heath Nokes, recalled “Over 100 producers attended the event with more than seventy percent reporting an increase in knowledge of forage quality techniques, rotational grazing, herbicide application, and sprayer calibration.”

The field day is a multi-county program of Cannon, DeKalb, and Warren County UT Extension offices. For more information, contact Bruce Steelman (615)563-2554, Michael Barry, (615)597-4945, or Heath Nokes (931)473-8484. This program, like all UT Extension programs, is open to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability or veteran status.

Alexandria Police Department announces SAFE Campaign Participation

April 10, 2015
Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins

The Alexandria Police Department will be partnering with the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office for the 2015 Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE) Campaign. The SAFE campaign is designed to increase seat belt and child passenger safety restraint usage in Tennessee. Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to participate by planning and implementing occupant protection initiatives in their communities.

Last year, Tennessee reached it highest seat belt use rate in history at 87.71% . “ We are excited to see that more people are making the right choice to buckle their seat belt, “ said Governor’s Highway Safety Officer Director Kendell Poole. “ However, historically we’ve seen that approximately fifty percent of our fatalities statewide are unrestrained. This shows us that we still have work to do. Partnering with law enforcement to back up our educational messages is the best way for us to achieve additional increases in seat belt use.”

This is the second year that the Governor’s Highway Safety Office has sponsored this campaign. Last year yielded the following results:
•1,718 child restraint violations
•30,147 seat belt citations
•773 other seat belt enforcement activities

Chief Mark Collins says the Alexandria Police Department is pleased to support the Safe program in Alexandria, to insure the safety of our citizens. Chief Collins says proper Seat Belt and Child Restraint use is vital to reducing injuries and fatalities in crashes.

It is vitally important that all drivers and passengers buckle up every trip, every time. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles from home at speeds less than 40 miles per hour.

The SAFE campaign will be ongoing now through July 31st. Agencies participating in the voluntary campaign become eligible to win one of two fully equipped police vehicles at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Challenge in August.

Man Gets Probation in Child Sex Crime

April 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
Thomas Copenhaver

A 45 year old man, accused in a child sex crime, was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday, April 8th after pleading guilty to the charge of sexual battery.

Thomas Copenhaver received a six year sentence suspended to supervised probation except for time served. He had been in jail for almost sixteen months from December 10, 2013 to April 8, 2015. His name will be on the state's sexual offender registry. Copenhaver was indicted by the Grand Jury in April 2014 for aggravated sexual battery in this case.

Copenhaver was accused of a child sex crime involving a family member (niece).

Meanwhile, in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 6th, 38 year old Stacey Ashford pled guilty to delivery of a schedule III drug and received a three year sentence, suspended to judicial diversion probation. She must pay a $2,000 drug fine. Ashford was given 51 days jail credit.

38 year old Martha Silcox pled guilty to three counts of vandalism over $1,000. She received a total sentence of five years on probation. Silcox was given two years in two of the cases to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the third case, in which she received three years.

21 year old Killian Blake Ellis pled guilty to three counts of vandalism and received a total sentence of five years on probation. Ellis was given three years in two of the cases to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the third case, in which he received two years.

26 year old Christine Moore pled guilty to attempted sale of a schedule III drug. She received a two year sentence, suspended to supervised probation. She was fined $2,000. If fines and costs are paid, she will be on unsupervised probation for the second year of the sentence. Moore was given 31 days jail credit.

27 year old Philando Darnell Fullilove pled guilty to sale and delivery of a schedule II drug. He received a four year suspended sentence to run consecutive to another sentence he is currently serving. Fullilove was fined $2,000. He was given jail credit from January 30 to April 6, 2015.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby to Step Down Thursday, April 16

April 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

Mark Willoughby's last day as Director of Schools will be Thursday, April 16.

Director Willoughby has agreed to terms in a negotiated settlement as offered by the Board of Education. The agreement was signed today (Thursday) by Director Willoughby and Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, on behalf of the School Board.

"I wish Mr. Willoughby only the best in his retirement and hope he enjoys being with his family," said Chairman Evins.

Under the agreement, Willoughby's tenure as Director will end by the close of business on Thursday, April 16. He will be paid his salary and receive all insurance benefits through June 30th, the day Willoughby had announced last month to be the date of his retirement. Funds are already in the school system's budget to pay Willoughby.

An interim Director is expected to be named by the Board of Education on Thursday, April 16.

Willoughby has served as Director of Schools since July 1, 2006. His current contract, approved last year, was supposed to run through June 30, 2017.

The actual "buyout" agreement is as follows:

Negotiated Settlement Agreement Release of All Claims

"Know All Men by These Presents:

"That, Mark B. Willoughby, Director of Schools for the DeKalb County, Tennessee school system (hereinafter, "Mr. Willoughby" or "Releasor") , for and in consideration of the sums stated herein, does hereby release and discharge the DeKalb County, Tennessee Board of Education from the present contractual agreement to serve as Director of Schools."

"For, and in consideration of the execution of this Release, the School System agrees to pay to Mr. Willoughby:

(1) The salary established for the position of Director of Schools that he formerly occupied, such salary amount being the same as the salary rate paid upon the effective date of the purchase of his contract, and for a period extending through June 30, 2015;

(2) All insurance benefits in effect on April 6, 2015 through and including a period ending on June 30, 2015

(3) During the term of this agreement, no additional personal leave days shall accrue and salary and benefit payments shall not increase or decrease.

(4) Such salary and benefits shall be paid upon the regularly scheduled dates established by policy or practice for all currently employed licensed personnel."

"Mr. Willoughby shall return keys, computers, telephones, credit cards, other property of any sort or type and any other school owned or leased assets in his possession to the secretary to the Board by the close of business on April 16, 2015."

"The parties further agree that they will not disparage each other in any manner or medium of communication, to any persons or entities, regardless of whether they are public or private, or of a professional or personal nature."

"This Release is entered into in the State of Tennessee and shall be construed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of Tennessee. Any legal proceeding brought to enforce or interpret the provisions of this Release shall be brought in the trial courts for DeKalb County in the State of Tennessee. The parties consent to jurisdiction and venue in said court."


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