Local News Articles

Coach Watson Brown to Speak at Chamber Banquet

January 6, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Coach Watson Brown

The Annual Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet is set for Tuesday, February 16th at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church. The special evening begins with a "Silent Auction" at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner and program start at 6:00 p.m.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams says the keynote speaker will be Coach Watson Brown, head football coach of the Tennessee Tech University Golden Eagles. Coach Brown returned to his hometown of Cookeville as the 10th head football coach in Tech history. A proven veteran in the coaching profession, Brown is known as one of the best offensive minds in football. The 2010 season will be Coach Brown's 38th year of coaching collegiate football, and his 26th year as a collegiate head coach. Brown's many achievements as a student-athlete and later as a coach in the state of Tennessee have not gone unnoticed. In 2003, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

In addition, the Leadership DeKalb Alumni group will present their winners for "Community Leader of the Year" and "Legacy" awards. The newly-elected Chamber Board Members will be introduced and the retiring directors will be honored.

Along with the wonderful entertainment by local singer, Mercedes Luna, an excellent meal will be served. Each chamber member is asked to donate an item for the Silent Auction. Please contact the Chamber office at 597-4163 as soon as possible and let them know what you will offer. They will be glad to pick it up.

Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased from any of the board members. The office is located at 301 N. Public Square, Smithville. Tickets will be available by January 22nd.

County Clerk Urges Businesses Operating without a License to Take Advantage of State Amnesty Program

January 5, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Clerk Mike Clayborn

Businesses in DeKalb County and across Tennessee who don't have a business license and have not been paying taxes could receive amnesty under a plan meant to get them onto the state's books.

The Department of Revenue says it will waive penalties for businesses that have been avoiding Tennessee's business tax if they voluntarily register and agree to pay three years' back taxes.

DeKalb County Clerk Mike Clayborn says the program, which started last month, comes after state officials discovered thousands of businesses not on the books when they took over collections from local clerks last summer. "We have been telling the folks that the business tax (administration) is being taken over by the state department of revenue. They have been checking each (county) clerk's records against IRS records. They have already found some six thousand businesses (in the state) that are operating without a license."

"What they propose to do is offer amnesty to any business owner (in violation) who will come forward. They will go back three years. You (violators) will have to pay based on what you've made during those three years. Of course, you'll also have to get a business license. If you don't do this (come forward) and they have to audit you, they'll go back from six to ten years and you'll have to pay penalty and interest for each one of those years. This will be offered for several months. So I would advise anyone who is operating without a business license to come forward because it is beneficial to you."

" The two things they are looking for are people who are operating without a business license and people who are delinquent on the taxes they already owe. Those who are delinquent will not be offered amnesty. That's only for those who do not have a business license. So again, if you're operating without a business license, you need to contact the state department of revenue or come up by my office (in the courthouse) and we'll give you the information and help you take care of that."

"We (county clerks) will be out of the business tax business, where we used to could help people and advise people. Now it will all be handled through the Tennessee Department of Revenue. You will file your return to them, they'll send out the paperwork to you. You will complete your return, turn it into them, and if everything adds up then they will email us to issue you a new license. If there's any questions, they will take care of it. "

This past legislative session, the 106th General Assembly enacted Public Chapter 530, shifting the administration and collection of business tax from local municipalities and counties to the Department of Revenue. With this change, the Department of Revenue will use its resources and experience in tax administration to collect the business tax, resulting in greater efficiency in the collection process and increased revenue for the State and for local governments.

"This undertaking is a true partnership between state and the local governments," said Commissioner Reagan Farr. "While increasing revenue through improved tax compliance, we also plan on simplifying the tax process for business owners including developing a new, simplified tax return and initiating major education programs."

Beginning with Classification 1 taxpayers, due Feb. 28, 2010, all business tax returns will now be filed with the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Businesses will continue to obtain business licenses from the county clerks and/or municipal officials.

The Department of Revenue is working closely with local municipalities and counties to make this transition a smooth process. The department is currently gathering registration data from the counties and cities to register the business owners and mail out tax returns by the end of 2009. More information is available at the Department of Revenue's Web site www.TN.gov/revenue.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 92 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the department collected $10.2 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.9 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.

Aldermen Establish Monthly Rental Fees for Airport T-Hangar Tenants

January 5, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night established monthly rental fees for five tenants of the existing T-hangars at the airport and set the fees for the lease of the other four original T-hangars now vacant and the nine new ones under construction.

Ten years ago, the city entered into the original agreement with a group of aircraft owners, under which they would put up their own funds to build nine T-hangars at the airport and the city would not assess them a rental fee for ten years. That agreement ended December 31st. Five of the original tenants are still using the facilities. The other four T-hangars are now vacant.

At the last meeting on December 21st, the aldermen, at the request of Airport Board Chairman Roth Terrell, voted to extend the leases of the five T-hangar tenants by five years, and to give them a five year renewal option, rent free. In addition, the aldermen voted, at Terrell's request, to set the monthly rental fees for eight of the new individual T-hangars at $115 per month and at $225 per month for a larger one being built, which could house a corporate sized aircraft. The aldermen further voted to make those new fees apply to the four original T-hangars that currently remain vacant.

Since then the aldermen apparently have had a change of heart and decided that the original tenants should begin paying rent, now that their ten year rent-free leases have expired, so during Monday night's meeting (January 4th) they rescinded the action taken two week ago.

Alderman Steve White suggested that the tenants be assessed the new fees of $115 per month. Alderman W.J. "Dub" White indicated that maybe their rent should be $100 per month, a slight concession from the new rates.

Alderman Aaron Meeks said he felt the city should give the original five tenants a little more consideration and made a motion that their monthly fees be seventy five dollars per month for the next five years and that the city renegotiate the terms of the contract at the end of the five year period. "In our workshop, there was discussion that these gentlemen have made several improvements to the properties. They had put up cash with the city a year in advance of getting the hangars built. The hangars have certainly added value to the airport and probably have allowed the airport to grow. That might not have happened had these hangars not been there. So I feel like we should perhaps give some consideration to that as far as setting the rates for these five hangars."

Alderman Shawn Jacobs seconded Meeks motion and Aldermen Steve White, W.J. "Dub" White, and Cecil Burger all voted in favor.

The aldermen also voted that anyone who rents any of the other T-hangars will be subject to a one year lease with a four year renewal option, and will have to pay the higher fees, $115 for an individual T-hangar or $225 for the larger ones. The terms would be subject to renegotiation after five years.

In other business, Mayor Taft Hendrixson appointed Alderman Shawn Jacobs as the city's representative on the Airport Board. Others on the board include Chairman Roth Terrell and John Daniel, both citizen members. Mayor Hendrixson says there are two other citizen member appointments to make to the airport board, but he does not yet have anyone to recommend.

Mayor Hendrixson also informed that alderman that bids on the water plant rehab project will be opened on Tuesday, January 26th.

Old Year Out, New Year In Keeps Sheriff's Department Busy

January 4, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Justin Allen Hale
Jeffery O Smithson
 Jackie Lee Snider
Heath Braswell
Jonathon Dustin Goff
Thomas David Hullett
Nicholas Cody Walls
Brian D Graham

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made several arrests since last Tuesday. In his weekly crime update to the local media, Sheriff Patrick Ray says the charges range from various drug offenses to DUI, aggravated assault, illegal possession of a weapon, domestic assault, and reckless endangerment, among others

Sheriff Ray says 21 year old Justin Allen Hale of King Ridge Road, Dowelltown was stopped on Highway 56 South for a traffic violation on Tuesday, December 29th. After obtaining consent to search, deputies found a wooden box that contained a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana and a pipe containing marijuana residue. Hale was arrested for simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $2,000 and he will appear in court on January 28th.

47 year old Jeffery O. Smithson of Viola Road McMinnville was charged Thursday, December 31st with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon in a penal institution. Smithson, who is incarcerated in the DeKalb County Jail, was charged after he assaulted an inmate with an unknown object. Bond for Smithson was set at $50,000 and he will appear in court on January 21st.

Also on New Year's Eve, deputies went to the home of 34 year old Jackie Lee Snider on Hurricane Ridge Road to serve a state warrant on him. After making contact with Snider and cuffing him, officers saw a bottle fall from Snider's pocket onto the ground. Upon inspection of the bottle, deputies found a half of a pill believed to be Suboxone. Another person at the home, 32 year old Heath W. Braswell of North Oaks Drive, Nashville was also arrested after a Tylenol bottle fell out of his pants onto the floor. Upon inspection of that bottle, officers found three pills believed to be Soma, one pill believed to be Xanax, and one pill believed to be diazepam. Officers obtained consent to search Braswell's vehicle and found a one hitter marijuana pipe containing marijuana residue. Marijuana was also found in Braswell's jacket. Snider was charged with simple possession of a schedule III drug and his bond was set at $1,000. Snider will appear in court on January 21st. Braswell was charged with simple possession of a schedule IV drug, possession of a schedule VI drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for Braswell was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on January 28th.

27 year old Jonathon Dustin Goff of East Main Street, Smithville was charged New Year's Day with possession of drug paraphernalia, introduction of drugs into a penal institution, and assault. Deputies, while responding to a call concerning a suspicious vehicle in the Ragland Bottom area, met the vehicle on Highway 70 East. Officers stopped the vehicle for a traffic violation and discovered that Goff was the driver. After obtaining consent to search, deputies found a hypodermic needle in the headliner of the vehicle. Goff was arrested and brought into the jail, where correctional officer's found 3 ½ blue pills believed to be Valium and a crushed pill believed to be Suboxone in Goff's sock. He also had a Fentanyl patch on his arm and a small amount of marijuana in his shoe. After correctional officers booked Goff and placed him into a cell, he and 31 year old Jason Richard Skaroupka of Midway Road, who is also being housed in the jail, got into a fight. Skaroupka was charged with assault and his bond was set at $2,500. Bond for Goff was set at $14,000 on his charges and will appear in court on January 7th.

29 year old John Adrian Williams of Adamson Branch Road Liberty was charged New Year's Day with driving on a revoked license after a deputy witnessed him driving. The officer had prior knowledge that Williams' driver's license was revoked. Bond for Williams was set at $1,500.00 and he will appear in court on January 28th.

On Saturday, January 2nd, deputies saw a vehicle in the roadway on Highway 56 South. Upon inspection, they found 61 year old David Richard Driver of Arrowhead Drive Smithville in the driver's seat, the vehicle's engine was still running and the automobile was still in gear. Officers secured the vehicle and asked Driver to perform field sobriety tasks. Driver said that he was too intoxicated to do the tests. Driver had a smell of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and his bond was set at $1,000. Driver will appear in court on January 28th.

Also on Saturday, deputies stopped a vehicle on Highway 70 for a traffic violation and noticed a smell of an intoxicant on the driver, 46 year old Thomas Daniel Easterwood of Holmes Creek Road Smithville. Easterwood submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. He was also very unsteady on his feet. Easterwood was arrested for driving under the influence and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on January 28th.

Deputies responded to a domestic call on Poplar Place Road in Smithville Saturday and arrested 51 year old Thomas David Hullett for domestic assault and reckless endangerment. 24 year old Nicholas Cody Walls of Coconut Ridge Smithville was also arrested for domestic assault. Through an investigation, officers discovered that the two men got into an argument which escalated into a fight. Hullett also fired shots from a 12 gage shotgun, which went through the wall of his home and hit a neighbor's home about 50 yards away. Both men received minor injuries from the assault. Bond for Hullett was set at $12,500 and $2,500 for Walls. Both men will appear in court on January 28th.

On Sunday, January 3rd, deputies received a domestic complaint call on Short Street in Liberty. Upon arrival officers learned that 37 year old Brian D. Graham of Short Street Liberty had assaulted his girlfriend by grabbing her arm and swinging her around. The victim also had red marks and scratches. After deputies told him he was under arrest, Graham began resisting and trying to jerk away. He was then placed into custody. Graham was charged with domestic assault and resisting arrest. His bond was set at $5,000 and he will appear in court on January 28th.

Groundbreaking Ceremony Held Sunday for Next Habitat Home

January 3, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kim McCowan and Grandaughters Breaking Ground for their New Habitat Home
Groundbreaking held for Next Habitat Home in DeKalb County

A ground breaking celebration was held Sunday afternoon for the third Habitat for Humanity home in DeKalb County.

Committee and Board members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County and the new partner family, Kim McCowan and her three grandchildren gathered for the brief ceremony at the future site of the home on Hayes Street in Smithville.

McCowan says she and the children look forward to one day calling this location their home. "We're just proud to be here today. We're thankful and feel really blessed to be picked as the Habitat Partner family. Me and the girls are very grateful. McCowan's grandchildren, who will be living there with her are eight year old Haley, eleven year old Carrie, and thirteen year old Katelyn"

Tom Janney, President of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, says construction will soon begin.."Our next step is to get our construction plans together and make sure Kim has all her choices in place as to what she would like to have in the house. Then we've just got to get our construction schedule going and line up all the volunteers that we need to get everything constructed. I believe the house is about 1200 square feet, something along those lines. It's three bedrooms and one and a half baths. We hope to be done by early summer or late spring. We may be sending out an appeal for volunteers and or the usual funding stuff but we're really excited to get it going. This is a very deserving family. They're in the process of working all their sweat equity. They have to put in their own time on this and get all their requirements in place before we can start construction. We do have sufficient funds to get it underway. We may need a little bit more to cap it off. We may have a fund drive later this spring, but for the most part, we should have what we need in place. We are moving our Restore (from Miller Road) out on Highway 70 near DeKalb Market. We're hoping to get that up and running again to get more money flowing in. We have as many as five lots so over the next several years we'd like to do as many as five homes. We're just trying to keep our momentum going and keep moving forward."

During Sunday's ground breaking ceremony, Janney made welcoming remarks and introduced the partner family. McCowan and her grandchildren read scripture from Psalm 145: 3-7; Matthew 5:13-14, and Matthew 7:24-29.

Minister Larry Green offered the Prayers of Blessings; Minister Michael Carpenter, the Responsive Reading based on Psalm 118:19-29; and Minister Larry Steffee, the Lord's prayer and closing prayer.

This is the third Habitat home in DeKalb County. The other two, completed within the last three years, are located on Adams Street.

To qualify, applicants must: (1) have lived in DeKalb County for at least one year; (2) be willing to partner with Habitat to realize dreams of home ownership; (3) currently occupy inadequate or substandard housing; (4) demonstrate the ability to pay a mortgage; and (5) fall within Habitat's income guidelines.

All applications will be reviewed and considered by Habitat's Family Selection Committee before a partner family is selected. The partner family will work with Habitat on construction of their home and to develop the skills necessary for successful home ownership. Construction labor is provided by Habitat volunteers, and some materials are donated by Habitat supporters, as well.

DeKalb Students Go Back to School Monday

January 2, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students will return to the classrooms on Monday, January 4th to begin the third nine week session.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 18th and for President's Day, Monday, February 15th.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 29th to April 2nd

Students will not attend on Friday, May 21. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend.. The last day of school will be Saturday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Thursday, March 11 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 28th at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home on Thursday, January 7th and Tuesday, March 9th.

Competency testing at DCHS will be February 9-11.

Gateway testing at DCHS will be May 4-6. Gateway test makeup will be May 7th.

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 2nd. Writing Assessment make-up will be February 3rd.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 15th-22nd

(Stockpile Days) Professional Development/Instructional Days will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Friday, March 5th

Pedestrian Dies in New Year's Eve Accident

December 31, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chevy Malibu Involved in Pedestrian Fatality
THP Investigating Pedestrian Fatality (Photo by Lieutenant Kevin Adcock of Smithville Fire & Rescue)

A 35 year old pedestrian lost his life in a New Year's Eve traffic accident on West Broad Street in Smithville near K&M Jewelry.

Dead is Kevin Sanders.

Trooper Todd Logan of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Sanders was crossing the five lane highway when he was hit by a 2004 Chevy Malibu, driven by 50 year old John Hale of Smithville. Hale, who was traveling in the inside eastbound lane, told Trooper Logan that he didn't see the man. Hale was not injured.

Central Dispatch received the call at 6:46 p.m.

According to Trooper Logan, Sanders was thrown about twenty feet from the point of impact and he died at the scene. The body was on the sidewalk by the highway. It was later removed by DeKalb EMS and taken to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Trooper Logan says no charges will be filed in the case.

Deputy Medical Examiner Terry Martin, members of the Smithville Police Department and the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene, along with the THP, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, First Responders, and DeKalb EMS.

(Bottom Photo provided to WJLE by Lieutenant Kevin Adcock of Smithville Fire & Rescue)

Smithville Police Report Arrests

December 31, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have made at least three arrests this week.

29 year old Steven Westley Atnip of 211 Meadow Brook Drive was arrested Wednesday, December 30th for driving on a suspended license. Officer Matt Holmes was traveling south on Short Mountain Highway Wednesday when he observed Atnip traveling in the lane in front of him. The driver was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the traffic stop. Atnip was asked for his driver's license and he stated that he did not have any. A check through central dispatch revealed them to be suspended. Bond for Atnip is set at $1,000 and his court date is January 13th.

34 year old Wendy D Bowling of 415 Hayes Street was arrested Thursday, December 31st for simple possession. Officer Scott Davis was dispatched to 415 Hayes Street in the early morning hours on Thursday in reference to a domestic call. Officer Davis observed a small amount of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana at which time Ms. Bowling admitted ownership. Her court date is January 7th.

57 year old Fred Claspell of 224 Green Acres Drive was charged with filing a false report on Sunday, December 27th. According to Corporal Travis K. Bryant, Claspell reported to police on Christmas Day that someone had entered his garage and taken a Baja Heat Mini Bike valued at $600. He told police that he noticed the bike missing on Christmas morning and that the last time he had seen it was on Christmas eve. On Sunday, December 27th, Patrolman Matt Holmes, while conducting a follow up investigation, went to Claspell's home. Claspell was taken to the police department where he was interviewed. Officer Holmes told Claspell that he had received video footage from Walmart showing him (Claspell) inside the store. On the tape, Claspell could be seen operating his motorcycle through the parking lot and later chaining it to a light pole. After viewing the video, Claspell identified himself in the footage and admitted to being drunk when he went to Walmart. He was then arrested and charged with filing a false report. More charges are pending.

Christmas Spirit Bestowed Upon UCHRA Residential Homes by Secret Santa

December 31, 2009
CHANCE Christmas Gifts Photo

The holiday season has always been a time of giving whether it be to family, friends, or those less fortunate. People seem to put their wants and needs on hold during this joyous season by practicing the importance of giving. The administration of CHANCE residential homes for young men and women found Friday, December 18 to be no exception to the gift giving spirit.

CHANCE residential centers are a place for at risk youth to live in a safe, highly structured environment. Through around-the-clock care, counseling and academic instruction these youth work to return to their communities with high self esteem and a new demeanor. As these centers strive to rebuild trust and self-confidence, they have been able to see young men and women emerge with an excitement for life and an understanding that they can make worthwhile contributions to the community.

“When a young person arrives at CHANCE residential center, our role to “Give a Child a CHANCE” is in full effect. If love and understanding, positive support, and meaningful information are not a part of life’s experiences, hope for the future becomes lost. The CHANCE residential centers provide a chance at life that many of us take for granted,” Phyllis Bennett, Executive Director of UCHRA said.

A large number of Christmas gifts were anonymously donated to CHANCE for the youth living in three residential centers. Each youth in the three CHANCE centers was given an Under Armour duffel bag filled with numerous clothing. “It is through such anonymous donations that we are giving these children a chance to have a Christmas. Many children come into our centers with very little personal belongings, and we are glad to be able to give them something that they can carry with them when they leave us not withstanding all they have learned while being at our homes,” Brian Swearengen, UCHRA Residential Services Director said.

For more information on UCHRA’s residential centers or ways to make donations, please contact the UCHRA Central Office in Cookeville, TN at (931) 528-1127 or visit us at www.uchra.com.

CUTLINE: Christmas was brighter for the young men and women at the UCHRA Residential Centers. Representatives from the centers are pictured above receiving an anonymous donation that was later given to the youth of each center. From left to right: Amanda Young, Indian Mound Administrative Assistant, Teresa Hutchings, Indian Mound Facilitator and Case Manager, Amy Dutton, Youth Impact Center Facility Coordinator and Case Manager , Tina Puckett, Indian Mound Case Manager, and Brian Swearengen, UCHRA Residential Services Director.

Monday Fire Destroys Building at Auto Salvage Business

December 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Auto Salvage Building
Heat from Next Door Fire Damages Bethlehem Community Church
Fire Photo (Provided by Daniel Summers)-

A noon time fire Monday destroyed a building at Center Hill Auto Recyclers on Dry Creek Road in Smithville behind the Bethlehem Community Church. Heat from the fire also damaged the vinyl siding on the rear exterior of the church building.

Central dispatch received the call at 11:54 a.m.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says workers were busy in the garage removing parts off a wrecked car, which was up on a rack, when sparks from the cutting torch being used, apparently caught something on fire in the shop. The blaze quickly spread. Everyone inside at the time escaped unharmed. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene within minutes but were unable to save the structure where the fire started and the contents. Billowing smoke from the fire could be seen for miles.

Members of the Smithville Police Department and DeKalb EMS were also site. No one was injured.

(Special thanks to Daniel Summers for providing bottom photo to WJLE)

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