Local News Articles

Concerns Raised about Sligo and Hurricane Bridges during Town Hall Meeting

November 19, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
TDOT Director of Structures Ed Wasserman
State Senator Mae Beavers
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver
Town Hall Meeting on Bridges

Many people, concerned about both Sligo bridge and Hurricane bridge, let their voices be heard Wednesday evening during a town hall meeting at city hall, held by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Some blamed the Bredesen administration and TDOT for not addressing the problems, some accused Beavers and Weaver of not doing more, but all want the bridges either fixed or replaced as soon as possible. If not, local officials fear that DeKalb County's economy could suffer more setbacks with lost jobs and less tourism.

Weight limits were recently posted on Hurricane bridge which is now apparently forcing industries to use alternate routes to access the Interstate to transport their products by trucks. Other small businessmen and loggers who use large trucks, speaking during Wednesday night's meeting, say they too will suffer economic hardships.

Representative Weaver and Senator Beavers have been criticized by some who feel they should have voted for the state budget and or the bridge bonding bill, and that the Bredesen administration and or TDOT is delaying the local bridge projects because of it.

However both Weaver and Beavers insist that this is not the case and that Paul Degges, Chief Engineer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation confirmed it in a meeting with them this week.

Representative Weaver said she has always supported the bridge projects locally, but opposed the bonding bill because she didn't want to put the state in more debt, especially when it wasn't a sure thing that Sligo bridge would be included. Weaver says she believes the state should continue to follow the "pay as you go approach". "The rumor has been going around that I did not support the bridge because I did not vote for the bonding. That is absolutely not the case. The bonding bill passed. The money is there. The money has always been there for the bridge. So it's not a matter of money. It's a matter of prioritizing."

Senator Beavers also defended her vote against the bonding bill, " There was talk it (Sligo bridge) would be in the (federal) stimulus package. It was but got taken out because the right of way acquisition was not complete. I didn't vote to put the state in debt by bonding bridges and as it's proven out we wouldn't have gotten the bridge (Sligo) this year anyway because it (project) simply wasn't ready. I don't apologize for being a conservative. I'm conservative with my money and I'm going to be conservative with your money. Paul Degges says we have two or three years before we have to address the issue of Sligo bridge but those bridges (Sligo and Hurricane) are on our priority list and they will be done. We've worked on it. TDOT is working on it. Everybody is doing what they can to get it done as fast as we can."

Among the critics during Wednesday night's meeting was former State Representative Frank Buck, who said that the Bredesen administration and TDOT have known about the problems with Sligo bridge since at least 2006, but apparently have done little to address it. Buck says he doesn't trust the administration on this issue and doesn't believe they intend to do anything. And while admitting that he wished he could have done more to advance the project during his time in office, Buck still criticized Senator Beavers and Representative Weaver saying basically if the administration won't cooperate then we should be able to count on them for help.

Later in the meeting, Ed Wasserman, TDOT Director of Structures, addressed the safety issue regarding Sligo bridge. Apparently there are at least two layers of concrete on the bridge and the layer underneath is breaking up. "Specifically with regard to the Sligo bridge, it is safe as long as you observe the posted loads that are on that bridge. Your concerns about the chunks of concrete coming off ( from under the bridge). That is more of an emotional issue than a structural issue. They way that slab works is that it is the re-enforcing steel in the bottom that carries the load. The concrete on the top carries the compression load, the bottom is the tension steel. That steel is all intact. The primary purpose for the cover on the bottom is to protect the steel. The steel is still in good shape. It would be more desirable if it (concrete) was all there but the point of it is it carries the same load with or without it. The bridge is still safe. We're still monitoring the bridge on a frequency of about every six months. So the bridge is safe as it is. The netting up there (under the bridge) is because we don't want concrete chunks falling on the boaters or whoever else is underneath the bridge."

"With regard to the Hurricane bridge, if you observe the postings that are on it, then the bridge is perfectly safe."As to the scheduling of things, these are very expensive structures, we have a limited overall amount of money to deal with statewide. While you have every right to be concerned and feel that your bridge is the top priority in the state, there are people in other areas in the state with a bridge in similar condition and they feel theirs needs to be top priority. We are going to keep your bridges safe until such time as they get replaced on whatever schedule that works out to be. If the revenue stream continues, then we're going to be able to get to your bridges, both of them."

"In the case of Sligo, you opted for replacement. At one time we offered that we could rehabilitate the bridge, require a closure of about a month and a half or two months initially followed by one lane traffic for about eighteen months, and with that we could strengthen the Sligo bridge and put it back in non-posted condition, but the public opinion that reached us was that this really wasn't acceptable, you wanted a new bridge. A new bridge costs considerably more and will take longer to get the funds. With the Hurricane bridge, it will be repaired because there's not any chance that we can afford to replace that bridge."

Wasserman said that neither bridge had deteriorated to the point that they would have to be closed and added that the state would spend funds to do emergency repairs to keep the open if need be.

Senator Beavers told WJLE Wednesday morning that "They're (TDOT) doing the analysis right now (on Hurricane Bridge) to see what kind of steel and bolts were used so they have a better idea just what the status of the bridge is. It may come down to removing those extra lanes that they put on a few years ago. They are in the process of trying to find out exactly what they need to do on that bridge."

One of the concerned citizens who spoke during the meeting was Brian Terry of Smithville. Afterwards, he talked with WJLE. "My concern is that everybody knows that the bridge is in disrepair. Obviously, they wouldn't be having these meetings and planning it without it. What they have is estimates and estimates are not 100%. The bridge that failed in Minnesota, I'm sure they had estimates on that. They were in the process of repairing it when it failed. I'm just concerned that too much time is going to get wasted with political maneuvering and we're going to get a couple of tractor trailers that are overloaded that are going to go over it (bridge) and weaken it and then the next morning two or three school buses will go over it and it collapses. There is no amount of political agenda or budget or anyone's personal pride that's worth a school bus full of children."

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says this too is a concern for him. "I became aware that there was a 10 ton limit posted on Hurricane Bridge. Our buses are basically 10 tons. So we're going to have to make some adjustments. We're going to talk to the Department of Transportation as early as possible. Tonight, we've been told by the director of structural division of Tennessee's Department of Transportation that it is okay to operate a passenger bus across Hurricane bridge. I am going to get in contact with the people at the Tennessee Department of Transportation and get it clarified maybe a little bit more."

After the meeting, Senator Beavers said she understood the people's frustrations. "People are very upset in this county as they should be. We got what answers we could out of TDOT on Monday when we met with them and we feel assured that they are going to address this bridge in the near future. I think people here just wanted some answers. They just want to know that their children are safe crossing that bridge. These trucking companies want to know that they are not going to be out of business tomorrow because the bridge has to be closed. I certainly understand the feelings of the people up here. We're going to continue to work as hard as we can to try and get things going. The specific language in the budget this year said that the TDOT commissioner would make the call on the priorities on bridges so that's who people need to contact. They need to contact the commissioner of Transportation and ask him to make the Sligo bridge and now the Hurricane bridge priorities because I think we're in a desperate situation up here with the economy, with businesses perhaps having to move out of your county. Your representatives are very concerned about it and working every day to try and get it done."

Representative Weaver also called for more public input. "This is a hot issue. This is an item of concern. I'm working as hard as I know to work. I made a plea that we need more voices and more people to be involved. I want people to know that it is not one person who makes the call here. It takes many. It takes a team. So I welcome the calls to the Governor's office. I welcome the calls to the TDOT commissioner's office from the constituents who travel those bridges. I know how serious this is. We're talking about safety and jobs, not to mention the tourism and the people that want to come up here and enjoy the lake."

Weaver says she also paid a call on Fred Edgington, plant manager of Star Manufacturing this week, who is concerned about how the status of the bridges is affecting his company. "I wanted to introduce myself to him and let him know that I was extremely concerned about the job situation. I picked Star because of the truck route that they were using. As far as the re-route on these bridges, an eighteen wheeler could come by way of Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) but it's extremely dangerous to do that with the way the road is. The reroute on that is like 70 miles. He's got to pay the driver and for extra fuel so there's added costs and if that gets to be too much of an inconvenience, he'll have to cut costs somewhere else. So it is a serious issue."

State Lawmakers say Local Bridges Still in Line for Rehab or Replacement

November 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
TDOT Crew Inspecting Sligo Bridge Wednesday
Sligo Bridge
Hurricane Bridge

State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver say they have been assured by officials of the Tennessee Department of Transportation that both Sligo Bridge and Hurricane Bridge are in line for rehab or replacement at some point.

In a joint appearance on WJLE Wednesday morning, but Senator Beavers and Representative Weaver say they met Monday with Paul Degges, Chief Engineer for TDOT, who says both bridges will eventually be fixed or replaced. In fact, Senator Beavers says Hurricane Bridge might even be a higher priority with the state than Sligo. "We had a good meeting with the Chief Engineer this week. Those bridges are in line to be done. They have to prioritize the bridges and that's exactly what they did this year. Paul Degges, Chief Engineer has repeatedly said that they have two to four years to do something about the Sligo Bridge. It's not as desperate as some other bridges in the state. They just have a limited amount of money. They have to prioritize to get everything done. We felt really good about the meeting the other day. The Sligo and the Hurricane Bridge are in line to be done and at this point it looks like the Hurricane Bridge may even take priority over the Sligo Bridge."

Representative Weaver says the reason the state is taking a closer look at Hurricane Bridge is because it is a similar type bridge as the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota a couple of years ago. "In light of what happened in August 2007 with the Minnesota bridge, the Hurricane Bridge. which is a truss bridge as well, has received much attention because it is the same kind of bridge and for the safety of the people who cross over it they have started inspections on it. Right now, as of the meeting on Monday, we were told that they are still in the process of analyzing the status of the bridge. This bridge was built in 1944 and during the 1970's, the bridge was widened which has caused some concern as to extra stress on the Hurricane Bridge. So it is very possible that the Hurricane Bridge will be bumped up (repaired ahead of schedule)."

Senator Beavers added "Hurricane Bridge was built in 1944 back during World War II. They're doing the analysis right now to see what kind of steel and bolts were used so they have a better idea just what the status of the bridge is. It may come down to removing those extra lanes that they put on a few years ago. They are in the process of trying to find out exactly what they need to do on that bridge."

TDOT has posted weight limits on both Sligo Bridge and Hurricane Bridge which has raised worries about whether the bridges are safe. Representative Weaver says TDOT has been made aware of those concerns."They posted a weight load limit on the Hurricane Bridge which is a concern with the factories, like Star Manufacturing and Federal Mogul and those type of businesses here. I talked with the manager of Star Tuesday and his question is simply if it's a safety issue then when are they (bridges) going to get fixed. That is the question we brought to TDOT. They posted the signs to not add the extra stress but they are still analyzing this bridge (Hurricane). They still don't have the details on the deterioration of the bridge, etc. so I guess if you see a weight load sign I would embrace that. Unfortunately it's going to cost some extra routing for these bridges. The point is a sign was put up on the bridge so we need to abide by it the best that we can."

Senator Beavers says one of the issues regarding Sligo is acquiring the necessary right of way for a new bridge, which takes time. "As far as the Sligo Bridge goes, everybody thought it was imperative that it be done this year but from talking with TDOT, it was not ready for the stimulus money. There's a hangup with the marina. They are having to work things out with them to move it. There's a huge cost there so there have been a few complications with acquiring the right of way for the Sligo Bridge and that has been holding things up with it at this point."

"They told us this week that they are hoping the Sligo Bridge will be ready next budget year for a letting but that's a year to year thing and until they get that worked out with TVA on the land acquisition that they need for the right of way, they can't say anything for sure whether it'll be done next year. But I want to stress again that Paul Degges, TDOT Chief Engineer, has always said there is a grace period here. He has said we've got two to four years before we have to do anything with the Sligo Bridge. So we've got a period of time to work on it. They assured us Monday, it is line to be done. People say, you didn't get the bridges in the budget this year because Mae Beavers didn't vote for the bond bill, but Degges said that is absolutely not true. It was not ready."

Some have criticized both Representative Weaver and Senator Beavers for voting against the bridge bonding bill and the state budget earlier this year (both of which passed without their support) and that somehow their actions have may have caused the Governor's administration and TDOT from expediting the Sligo bridge project. Click here to read a previous account of why Beavers and Weaver voted against the budget and bonding bill. http://www.wjle.com/node/7960

Fire Guts Living Quarters of Nursery Workers

November 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire gutted a residence at 7075 Short Mountain Highway Tuesday afternoon.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says the structure, which is largely underground, served as the living quarters for several workers of Zelenka Nursery . Central dispatch received the call at 2:04 p.m.

Green says the cause of the fire is undetermined but it is believed to have started in a bedroom. No one was inside at the time. The fire was reported after someone saw smoke coming from the residence. Most of the belongings were destroyed in the blaze.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, Blue Springs, and Cookeville Highway Stations all responded along with manpower from other stations. DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were also on the scene. No one was injured.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings Fired

November 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings
Mayor Taft Hendrixson
Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks (left) and Hunter Hendrixson
Smithville Police Lieutenant Steven Leffew

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings has been fired.

The City of Smithville's discipline board met briefly Tuesday morning at city hall and by a vote of 2 to 1, dismissed Chief Jennings.

Members of the board, Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks and Mayor Taft Hendrixson both voted in concurrence with the suspension and termination. Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson voted against the suspension and termination.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Hendrixson read the causes for the suspension without pay, pending termination.

In response, Jennings read from a written statement, "To Mayor Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson. I have reviewed the allegations lodged against me by Police Commissioner Meeks. If these allegations were true and if you looked at them individually, or all together, they do not remotely rise to the level of cause that would require my termination from the City of Smithville. I have operated at all times within the scope of my authority as Police Chief."

After the vote, Jennings read from another written statement, "I am requesting a hearing before the full board of aldermen at the next regular board meeting on December 7th at the city hall to address my termination of employment."

If the aldermen vote to uphold the decision to terminate Jennings, he would apparently have no other recourse other than litigation in court.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew is the "Officer in Charge" of the Smithville Police Department until the issue with the police chief position is resolved.

The notice of suspension reads as follows "You (Jennings) are being suspended for the following reason- dereliction of duties/negligence.

1. In the past two years, as Police Chief, you have not developed a comprehensive plan to combat crime problems in the City of Smithville, as evidenced by your admission to the board at the workshop of September 14th, 2009. You have not reached out to other agencies for help in combating these problems.

2. You were given two additional officers by the previous board with your promise that you then would be able to do drug investigations. To date, this has not happened.

3. At the workshop on September 14th, 2009, you did not know how many officers you had employed in the department, as evidenced by the CD of the meeting.

4. You have 4 or 5 officers-including yourself and the investigator-on duty on the day shift. You could have used some of these officers to work drug operations.

5. Your claim that the police department's budget has been cut is not substantiated by the 2008-09 city budget. In fact, there was an increase in the police department's budget over the previous year's budget. Also, your claim that all of your overtime has been cut is not true. You are still having overtime in your department.

6. There has been little progress made toward having a better-trained Police Force in specialized areas.

7. Community relations between your office and the public have deteriorated over the last two years.

8. You have not been a "working chief" out patrolling, issuing traffic tickets, answering calls for service, and making arrests.

9. You have authorized the use of a police vehicle for the transportation of civilians out of the area of authority of the Smithville Police Department.

10. It is the responsibility of all department heads to be available for call out at all times. You advised that you turn off your city cell phone when you leave for the day.

11. You have demonstrated lack of adequate supervision of officers.

City's Three Man Discipline Board to Rule on Police Chief Richard Jennings' Case Tuesday

November 16, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings may learn his fate Tuesday morning when the city's three man discipline board rules on whether he should be terminated.

Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks signed the suspension of Jennings without pay, pending termination last Thursday. Mayor Taft Hendrixson, while he did not sign the suspension, said he gave verbal concurrence with it.

The hearing is at 10:00 a.m. in the mayor's office at city hall, but it could be relocated to the upstairs meeting room at city hall if more room is needed to accommodate members of the public who wish to attend.

Concerned citizen Faye Sandosky addressed the mayor and board of aldermen Monday night with questions about the process being followed to suspend and fire Chief Jennings. She asked for an opinion from city attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. as to whether the suspension notice was supposed to be signed by both the police commissioner and mayor to make it legally binding. She also expressed her concern that while this is to be an open hearing under the state's sunshine law, it is to be conducted in the mayor's office, which is small and cannot accommodate a large gathering. Sandosky further complained that the hearing was scheduled at a time when the city attorney could not attend to give legal counsel.

In response, Mayor Hendrixson said "this is an automatic meeting held in accordance with ordinance #419. It's to be held within three days of the suspension. It will be the three man board consisting of myself, the Police Commissioner (Aaron Meeks), and the Secretary-Treasurer (Hunter Hendrixson). It has been posted that this is a public meeting."

"As far as my concurrence, there no where says I have to sign it. I concurred orally. I can substantiate that if need be but there's no where in the ordinance that says I have to sign anything."

"I set this (meeting) for my office. If there is more people there, too many for that office, it will be moved here (upstairs at city hall)."

"I didn't know the city attorney was going to be (unavailable) prior (to scheduling the meeting). I didn't know he was supposed to be there. This is between myself, the police commissioner, and the secretary-treasurer and what it will consist of is we will review the causes again for suspension. If we concur that the suspension is warranted Chief Jennings will be terminated. If we don't concur that the suspension was warranted, he will be reinstated with full benefits. If we concur that it is warranted, he can submit a written notice to me and he and his counsel can appear at the next board meeting (December 7th) to give his causes or why he thinks he should not be suspended."

City attorney Parsley, in response to Sandosky, added "I do not think it (notice of suspension) has to be signed by both Mr. Meeks and the Mayor. They do have to concur. The ordinance says that. Then within 72 hours there has to be a hearing. Unfortunately I have a trial that's been set for here in Smithville at nine o'clock tomorrow (Tuesday). The ordinance doesn't say that I have to be there (at the Jennings hearing). The mayor and Hunter asked if I could be there, but unfortunately I can't be. I don't think it's necessary."

If Jennings is terminated by the three man discipline board tomorrow (Tuesday) he may request in writing, an appeal before the entire five member board of aldermen, where they would hear both sides of the case and make a final ruling on Jennings' termination.

The City of Smithville has an ordinance regulating charitable roadblocks which are often conducted at major intersections to raise money for various causes or needs.

However, members of the board of aldermen, in the interest of public safety, want the city to have stricter enforcement.

No action was taken Monday night, but the aldermen may vote on a revised ordinance at the next meeting, with some changes. Aldermen are concerned for the people who stand in the middle of busy intersections soliciting donations and are fearful that someone could get hurt.

Monday night, they proposed some new restrictions they would like to see in the revised ordinance, including the possibility of limiting any group to not more than two charitable roadblocks per year; requiring all participants to wear protective vests (possibly orange in color); requiring groups to show proof that they are a legitimate non-profit 501C3 or 4 organization; prohibiting solicitors from standing in the road (requiring them instead to stand on the sidewalks near the intersections); establishing a minimum age for solicitors (no one under age 14 could participate in the roadblocks); establishing a four hour time limit for any group to solicit donations at intersections; and to require them to have in their possession a permit, issued to them by the City of Smithville Police Department.

First reading action on the revised ordinance may be considered at the December 7th meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen.

In other business, the board voted to retire the Smithville Police Department's K-9 dog Astro from service once a new dog has been trained and put in service to replace him. Officer Bradley Tatrow made the request Monday night saying the dog has a medical condition as confirmed by a local veterinarian. Tatrow asked that the city allow him to take ownership of Astro and he would, at his own expense, provide the city another trained K-9. He says the new dog is in training now and could be ready for service within two months. The aldermen granted Officer Tatrow's request.

Meanwhile, the aldermen voted to purchase a vermeer brush chipper for $25,250.

Arrests made in Drug Investigation

November 16, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chasity Jennine Phillips
Randy Lynn Dilldine
James Charlie Donelson Jr
Virginia Ruth Carrier

A drug investigation by the sheriff's department at a Smithville residence results in charges.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says detectives and deputies went to the home of 27 year old Chasity Jennine Phillips of Shady Drive Smithville on Tuesday, November 10th and received consent to search. They went there to conduct an investigation into the sale of drugs from the Phillips home. Phillips was arrested after detectives found in her bedroom, four hydrocodone and six soma pills in a Crown Royal whiskey bag. Officers also found a plate containing a white powder residue, a straw and Phillips' insurance card in the plate. Phillips was charged with possession of a schedule III drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond was set at $2,500 and her court date is November 19th. Another person, 22 year old Lashonda D. Hardy of Mendota Drive Detroit, Michigan was also arrested at the residence. She was charged with criminal impersonation after detectives asked her for consent to search and she told them that she could not find her identification. Hardy gave a fake name but detectives, during the search, found her drivers license. Bond for Hardy was set at $2,500 and her court date is November 19th. Meanwhile, 34 year old Andre Ronrico Watson also of Shady Drive, who was present in the home, was arrested and charged with violation of probation. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on November 19th.

In another case, 47 year old Randy Lynn Dilldine of Wesley Chapel Road, Sparta and 51 year old James Charlie Donelson Jr. of Green Road, Sparta were arrested on Wednesday, November 11th after they were stopped on Johnson Chapel Road for a traffic violation. Upon consent to search, deputies found two Xanax in Dilldine's front pocket. The pills were in a cigarette wrapper. Officers also found on Donelson's person a bag containing a white powder believed to be methamphetamine and an ink pen barrel and foil thought to be used to smoke the drug. Dilldine was charged with simple possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax). His bond was set $1,000. Donelson was charged with simple possession of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $2,000. Both men will appear in court on December 3rd.

On Thursday, November 12th, a deputy saw 27 year old Jessica French Hale of Walker Drive, Smithville driving a vehicle on Highway 56 South. The officer had prior knowledge that she was named in an arrest warrant in Warren County. The deputy stopped Hale and checked her drivers license number and learned that it was suspended in Warren County. Hale was charged locally with a first offense of driving on a suspended license. Bond for Hale was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on December 2nd.

22 year old Virginia Ruth Carrier of Haley Road, Smithville was arrested on Friday, November 13th for aggravated burglary and theft of property over $500. Detectives allege that on November 1st, Carrier went to Lee Braswell Road and entered a residence through a back door. While there, she took $1,200 in jewelry and $90 in change without the owner's consent. Carrier then carried the jewelry a day or two later to a jewelry shop in DeKalb County and a pawn shop in Murfreesboro and sold the stolen jewelry. Bond for Carrier was set at $11,000 and she will appear in court on December 3rd.

Also on Friday, a deputy while on patrol on Midway Road, spotted 21 year old Homer Anthony Petty II of Banks Pisgah Road Smithville driving a motor vehicle. The officer had prior knowledge that Petty's drivers license was suspended. After a check of Petty's license, he was arrested for driving on a suspended drivers license. Petty's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on December 2nd.

On Sunday, November 15th, a deputy stopped 25 year old Christopher Neal Keith of 7th Avenue South Dechard, Tennessee for a traffic violation on Highway 70 East. The officer checked Keith's drivers license, and found it was suspended for failure to satisfy citations in Franklin County. Keith was charged with a first offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on December 16th.

Paul Rowland Named Coach of New Baseball Program

November 16, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Paul Rowland has been named head coach of the new baseball program being organized at DeKalb West School.

Jeff McMillen, member of the booster group which made the selection, says Rowland will do a great job. "We have settled in on picking us a head coach, Paul Rowland. We had three good applicants for the baseball program. The board did select the coach which consists of myself, Jeff McMillen , Tim Davenport, Bennie Curtis, and Clark Oakley. There was a lot of time put into this selection. We all came to an agreement in the end as to what we thought was in the best interest of the school, the kids, and everybody involved. We feel like Paul will take this program forward. He'll have a winning program. We've got some guidelines we're trying to put together in a coach's handbook so he'll know what we expect from him, and what he is to expect from us. I think it will work great."

The board of education, last month, gave approval for the new baseball program, on a one year trial basis. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students from both DeKalb West and DeKalb Middle School will make up the team called the "Dawgs". The program will be supported through fundraisers and public donations. No funds from the school system are being allocated for it

Rowland and his assistants will serve without pay as volunteer coaches. McMillen says Dewayne Martin will be an assistant coach.

Meanwhile, McMillen says students interested in being a player on the team may pick up an application form today through Friday at their schools. Forms must be returned by this Friday, November 20th. "On Monday, November 16th through Friday, November 20th is your opportunity to sign up. Forms will be passed out at DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb West School. Those forms have to be turned back into the school by Friday, November 20th. From that point, we will contact each person who signs the form to let them know of the times and dates of the tryouts. We're really shooting for right after Thanksgiving to get this done. We want a team picked because we'll have to do some fund raising through the parents to get our equipment and do the things that need to be done to make things work. We hope to have a team picked and in place by the first or second week in December."

McMillen says the the season will start around March 1st and go through the end of April. "We're shooting for possibly a twelve to fourteen game season and a junior varsity team of maybe six to eight games and more if we can get it into our schedule. We're looking to have eighteen to twenty players on the team. The age groups are sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. We've already had schools contacting us about playing us so I think we'll be able to fill the schedule okay but it will be up to the school and principal to fill that schedule. That'll be their job." All home games will be played at DeKalb West School and parents will be responsible for transporting the students to and from the games.

Again, McMillen says the program will be supported by donations. "Funding is going to be the issue so if anybody wants to make a donation, we'll be glad to take it. We're not going to beg to try to get people to give but we believe this will be good for the kids. Our goal is to run a good, clean organization, something that the school system is very proud of."

Kings and Queens Crowned During Harvest Festival at DeKalb West School

November 15, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Caitlyn Hicks and Dakota Hale
Hunter Robinson and Kaylee Braswell
 Will Puckett

Kings and Queens were crowned Saturday night during the annual DeKalb West School Harvest Festival, sponsored by the PTO.

Tracy Lawrence, Secretary of the DeKalb West PTO, says the Harvest Festival is the organization's major fundraiser for the year and thousands of dollars was raised through LIVE and Silent Auctions, games for the kids, a cake walk, taco supper, and ticket sales from all the classes in the school which determined the kings and queens. "This is our only fundraiser and we have three or four ideas that have been presented to us so far (on how to spend the money). One was to provide some of the equipment for the new DeKalb County Junior Baseball Team that has been started up along with other various things such as supplies for the teachers and the school. We have an AR Program (Accelerated Reading Program) that is usually sponsored by the PTO where we provide money for them to have prizes. Our goal (in this fundraiser) is $10,000. We haven't counted everything yet so we're not sure if we met that. We would like to thank everyone. We had a lot of businesses throughout the county, not only DeKalb but Wilson, and other areas that gave monetary donations as well as items for the auction. We had grocery stores providing some food items or at discount prices so we would just like to thank everybody for that as well."

Officers of the DeKalb West PTO in addition to Lawrence are President Missy McKay, Vice President Bert Driver, and Treasurer Sean Driver.

The King and Queen of the Pre-Kindergarten to Second Grade Division are Caitlyn Hicks and Dakota Hale of Lindsey Holmes' kindergarten classroom. The class raised $465, the most of any class in the division.

Hicks is the daughter of Everette and Amanda Hicks and Hale is the son of William Hale and Rebekah Hale.

Others representing the division were Abbie Gann and Jeremiah Restrepo from Amy Young's pre-kindergarten class. Gann is the daughter of Jeremy Gann and Michelle Gann. Restrepo is the son of Carlos and Elizabeth Restrepo..

Becca Lawrence and Parker Winfree represented Debra Poteete's kindergarten class. Lawrence is the daughter of Charlie and Tracy Lawrence. Winfree is the son of Scott and Shellie Winfree.

Savannah Curtis, daughter of Jeff and Glenda Curtis and James Pitman, son of Jeremy and Shawn Pitman, represented Tonya Ellis' kindergarten class.

Lydia Davenport and Parker Vantrease represented Kathy Lawrence's first grade class. Davenport is the daughter of Timothy and Stephanie Davenport. Vantrease is the son of Jeremy and Missy Vantrease..

Representing Cindy Pulley's first grade class were Hannah Van Dyne, daughter of Danny and Susan Van Dyne and Jordan Bailiff, son of Ricky and Chrissy Bailiff.

Haley Dies and Corey Sherman represented Regina Kent's second grade class. Dies is the daughter of Keith and Amanda Dies and Sherman is the son of Dennis Sherman and Jo Ann Vanatta.

Representing Shelia McMillen's second grade classroom were Kenzie Ray, granddaughter of Shirley Ray and Pam Shafnet and Noah Roberts, son of Kevin and Tonya Roberts.

Parker Prince represented Susan West's second grade class. He is the son of Michael and Leigh Ann Prince..

Meanwhile, the King and Queen of the division for Grades 3 to 5 are Kaylee Braswell, daughter of Quastaia Braswell and Hunter Robinson, son of Regina Robinson and Lynn Robinson. This class raised $404, the most of any other class in the division.

Others representing this division were Callie Mulloy and Grayson Redmon of Lori Pryor's third grade class. Mulloy is the daughter of Randy and Nancy Mulloy and Redmon is the son of Mike and Elizabeth Redmon.

Dillon Knowles represented Megan Hardin's third grade class.

Representing Amanda Mullinax's third grade class were Addison Oakley and Elijah Foutch. Oakley is the daughter of Clark and Lisa Oakley and Foutch is the son of Jon and Laura Foutch.

Caitlin Tyree and Christopher Hobbs represented Tammy Payne's fourth grade class. Tyree is the daughter of Josh and Carrie Tyree and Hobbs is the son of Randy and Vickie Hobbs.

Representing Kim Crook's fourth grade class were Taylor Hale and Hunter Faulk. Hale is the daughter of Teresa Hale and Jerome and Tammy Hale. Faulk is the son of Joseph Faulk and Rebecca Faulk.

Tyra Owens and Zack Bass represented Jeana Caplinger's fifth grade class. Owens is the daughter of Heather Owens and Tyrone Owens and Bass is the son of Brandy and Terry Bass

The King of the division for Grades 6 to 8 was Will Puckett of Martha Damron's seventh grade class. He is the son of Henry Puckett and Donna Puckett. This class raised $220, more than any other class in the division.

Others representing the division were Katie Roehner and Teddy Tippin in Janet England's sixth grade class. Roehner is the daughter of William and Christina Roehner. Tippin is the son of Aaron and Thea Tippin.

Sam McMillen and Ashley Grater represented Pat Allen's sixth grade class. McMillen is the son of Jeff and Shelia McMillen and Grater is the daughter of Kurt and Sandra Grater.

Carolyn Plank and Austin Hicks represented Vicki Wilson's seventh grade class. Plank is the daughter of Misty Neal and Hicks is the son of Mark and Trisha Hicks.

Michelle Gay represented Melanie Molander's eighth grade class.

Hope Thomas and Bradley Faulk represented Cynthia Preston's eighth grade class. Thomas is the daughter of Jessie and Becky Thomas and Faulk is the son of Joseph Faulk and Rebecca Faulk.

State Play-off Run Ends for Tigers

November 13, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The state playoff run for the DeKalb County Tigers came to an end Friday night as the black and gold lost to the Maplewood Panthers 56 to 30.

The game was played at Hunter's Lane High School in Nashville.

The Tigers scored first on a 35 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Hunter Poteete to Abram Edwards. Zach Taylor converted on the P.A.T. and DeKalb County led 7-0 with 10:46 left in the first quarter.

Maplewood's Enrico Buchanan put the panthers on the board with 9:36 left in the first period on a 61 yard touchdown run. The P.A.T. attempt was no good and DeKalb County led 7-6.

LaDarius Van Lier scored on a 63 yard touchdown run with 4:23 left in the first period. The two point conversion by Stanley Hagan was good and Maplewood led 14-7. That was the score at the end of the first period.

The Tigers cut the Maplewood lead to 14-10 on a 34 yard field goal by Zach Taylor with 11:35 left in the second quarter.

With 9:50 to go in the second period, Stanley Hagan scored on a 54 yard touchdown run to extend the Maplewood lead. The P.A.T. attempt was no good but the Panthers led 20-10.

DeKalb County got on the board again with seven minutes left in the second period on a 10 yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Hunter Poteete to Abram Edwards. The two point conversion attempt was no good and the Tigers trailed 20 to 16.

Maplewood's Tony Barrett intercepted a Hunter Poteete pass and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown with 4:37 left in the second quarter. The two point conversion was good and the Panthers led 28-16.

Enrico Buchanan caught a 14 yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds left before halftime. The P.A.T. was good and Maplewood led 35 to 16. That was the halftime score.

Maplewood extended the lead with 25 seconds left in the third period on a five yard touchdown run by LaDarius Van Lier. The P.A.T. was good and the Panthers led 42 to 16. That was the score at the end of the third period.

Stanley Hagan scored for Maplewood with 7:46 left in the game on a 32 yard touchdown run. The P.A.T. was good and the Panthers led 49-16.

The Tigers got their first points of the second half with 6:18 left in the fourth period on a 20 yard touchdown pass from Poteete to Sonni Young. The P.A.T. by Taylor was good and DeKalb County trailed 49 to 23

Maplewood answered on a 26 yard touchdown run by Denzel Jones with six minutes left in the game and after the P.A.T. the panthers led 56 to 23.

DeKalb County added another score with 1:41 left in the game on a 27 yard touchdown pass from Poteete to Matt Giles. The P.A.T. by Taylor was good and the Tigers trailed 56 to 30. That was the final score.

So the Tigers will close the book on the 2009 season with an over-all record of 7-5. Their wins were over Oneida, White County, Cannon County, Upperman, Macon County, York Institute, and Greenbrier. The losses were to Warren County, Smith County, Hixson, Livingston Academy, and Maplewood.

TBI Arrests Former Police Officers On Multiple Counts

November 13, 2009

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has arrested four former police officers from Warren and DeKalb Counties after a TBI investigation into prescription drugs being illegally obtained at a McMinnville clinic. The case culminated Friday after the Warren County Grand Jury handed down indictments on the officers.

Daniel Clayton, 28, and Daniel Conry, 31, both former McMinnville police officers, were each indicted on seven counts of delivery of a schedule II narcotic, seven counts of fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs and seven counts of insurance fraud.

Both were booked into the Warren County jail on $147,000 bond each.

David Seibers, 33, formerly a Warren County sheriff's deputy, was indicted on three counts of delivery of a schedule II narcotic and three counts of insurance fraud. He was booked into the Warren County Jail on $60,000 bond.

Larry Pedigo, 33, a former DeKalb County sheriff's deputy, was indicted on two counts of delivery of a schedule II narcotic and two counts of fraudulently obtaining drugs. He was booked into the Warren County Jail on $40,000 bond.

On August 3, 2009 TBI agents executed a search warrant on the Americare, an urgent care walk-in clinic, located on South Chancery Street in McMinnville. The officers were all obtaining the drugs from the clinic.

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