Local News Articles

DeKalb County Fire Department Receives $190K Federal Grant

January 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Fire Chief Donny Green

When there is an emergency, fire stations should have the necessary staff and personnel to properly respond. Today, Congressman Bart Gordon announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded $190,000 to the DeKalb County Fire Department for recruitment of volunteer firefighters.

“Countless lives are saved every day by the courageous efforts of first responders – our nation’s firefighters, EMTs, and police officers,” said Congressman Gordon who is a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “This DHS grant will allow the DeKalb County Fire Department to staff up and do an even better job than they are already doing.”

The grant was awarded through the DHS Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The program was developed to help firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment to improve their ability to protect the public and emergency personnel from fires and related hazards.

The DeKalb County Fire Department will receive the $190,000 grant incrementally over the next 4 years and use the funds to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and personnel.
“We’re excited about this. We’ve been struggling with recruitment and retention of volunteers,” Chief Donny Green said.

The DeKalb County Fire Department plans to use billboards and media advertisements to expand the 72 all-volunteer countywide department. The department currently serves 11 stations in DeKalb County. “That’s a little less than seven firefighters per station, and with volunteers, half are at work or out of town,” explained Chief Green. “We really need 40-50 more volunteers.”

Retention incentives include fuel reimbursement of $10 per call and payment of $200 at the end of the year to each firefighter who attends 75 percent of monthly training drills or $400 for 100 percent of all training.

Wednesday Morning Fire Damages Shop Building

December 31, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Firefighters at Shop Building Fire

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to a structure fire at 539 West Main Street Wednesday morning at 6:36 a.m.

Chief Charlie Parker says a garage type shop building belonging to Stevie Cripps was extensively damaged in the fire. The building is located behind Cripps' home.

A passerby, who spotted the smoke, stopped at the Cripps home to alert him

No one was in the shop at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Chief Parker says a lot of the contents including cabinets, tools, and other odds and ends, were either damaged or destroyed in the fire.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Several Firefighters Complete Rookie Recruit Training

December 31, 2008
Area Firefighters Receive Training

The DeKalb County Fire Department recently held its semiannual 64 hour rookie recruit training class at the new facility.

Assistant Chief Roy Merriman says he is proud of the sacrifice of these individuals who took time to complete this basic firefighter class. He says most of these firefighters have already signed up for the 32 hour pumper operations class that will begin in January here and the 22 hour live burn at the Tennessee fire academy

Among those taking part in the class included Instructors Marvin Montgomery and Wallace Colwell, Smithville firefighters Joseph Hall , Stephanie Wright, Dusty Johnson and Glen Lattimore; Baxter firefighter Tonya Lee; North Warren firefighters Trey Clark and Dowie Green; Alexandria firefighters Brian Partridge, John Partridge, Jeff Ash and Brent Davis; and DeKalb firefighters Skip Roberts, Chris Wyke and Dale Pack.

Smithville Police Department to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints

December 30, 2008

The Smithville Police Department will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols through January 4th in an effort to keep the roadways safe for the public and to reduce the risk of traffic related fatalities and drunk drivers during the holiday season. However during the year of 2009, the Smithville Police Department will continue to work with the Governor's Highway Safety Office to provide extra traffic patrols, saturation patrols, and sobriety checkpoints in a continued effort to keep the roadways safe for the public.

"Booze It & Lose It" is designed to reduce impaired driving injuries, fatalities, & associated economic losses. The "Booze It & Lose It" campaign provides for increased law enforcement efforts and public service messages to accomplish its goal. The intervention targets all drivers who are impaired due to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Impaired driving and impaired-related crashes constitute one of the nation's leading health problems. These events result in more deaths each year than do total homicides, and alcohol is a factor in 35% of all crashes in the United States.

More Sex Offender Laws Take Effect In Tennessee

December 30, 2008

The Tennessee Sex Offender Registry will offer even more information about each individual offender beginning January 1, 2009 to be in compliance with the state’s legislation that was passed during this year’s legislative session.

Overview of Sex Offender Registry law additions:

* The TBI’s Sex Offender Registry will now include each offender’s full criminal history. Arrests that result in convictions will be listed with the date of the disposition as well as any outstanding warrants. There will also be text of the law defining the criminal offense.

* The sex offender’s physical description will now be included on the registry. It will encompass height, weight, hair and eye color, tattoos, scars and marks.

* Registered sex offenders whose crimes are against a minor are now prohibited from dressing up or pretending to be a character with the intent to attract minors. They are also prohibited from driving any type vehicle that would attract minors or work in a profession that would require unsupervised direct contact with minors.

* An email notification system is set up on TBI’s website where the public can enter an email address and be directly notified when an offender makes a change in his/her public registry information. The public can search by specific offender or zip codes.

All the above changes bring the state’s Sex Offender Registry closer to be in complete compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act. You can view the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry at www.tbi.state.tn.us.

Chamber Banquet Set for January 27th

December 29, 2008
Suzanne Williams

The Annual Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet will be held on Tuesday, January 27, at Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church starting with a "Silent Auction" at 5:30 p.m.. The dinner and program will begin at 6:00 p.m.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce says the keynote speaker, sponsored by FirstBank, will be former Murfreesboro Riverdale High School Coach Micheal Burt. "Over the past twelve years, Micheal has fulfilled the role of head women's basketball coach, athletic director, college professor, speaker, consultant, and author. As a coach, Micheal has produced seven consecutive 20+ win seasons, four conference titles, three sub-state appearances, two Miss Basketball finalists, and 100% of his players have furthered their education at the collegiate level. In 2007, Micheal's strategies were validated when he led his team to a 2007 Class AAA state championship and a 38-3 record for the first time in over 83 years in the city of Murfreesboro and the first time in the school's 36-year history." As a speaker, coach, and consultant, Burt has worked with some of the top companies in the world. "The author of three books, the most recent This Ain't No Practice Life, Micheal serves as the Chief Leadership Officer for multiple companies as well as his own Maximum Success, a leadership consulting firm that helps people go from where they are to where they want to be. Micheal maintains over 100 speaking engagements per year with a message that is both inspirational and educational and helps people and organizations fulfill their deepest potential."

Also during the program, 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.

Entertainment will be provided by singer/entertainer Dan McCorkle. 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 15 board members or tickets can be picked up at the Chamber office located at 301 N. Public Square, Smithville.

Alexandria Man Charged with Attempted Aggravated Robbery

December 28, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Billy Ray Thomas
Gregory Micheal Patton
Jack Adams

A 48 year old Alexandria man allegedly tried to pull off an armed robbery at Prichard's Foods in Alexandria Saturday night.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Billy Ray Thomas of Lower Helton Road is charged with attempted aggravated robbery and unlawful carrying of a weapon with the intent to go armed.

His bond totals $55,000 and he will be in court on the charges January 22nd.

Sheriff Ray says on Saturday night at 6:52 p.m. 911 received a call from Prichards Foods in Alexandria that a man had come into the store, got some items, and brought them to the cashier. As he approached the counter, the man was wearing a rag over his face telling the cashier he had a bad cold and didn't want her to catch it. When she totaled up the items on the cash register, the man pulled a knife, pointed it toward the cash register before the drawer opened and ordered the cashier to " give me what you got". The cashier turned and ran through the store screaming for someone to call 911.

The man then left the store and got in his vehicle but before he drove away, the store manager had followed him outside and wrote down the license tag number. He then called 911.

Another witness later called 911 and reported that he was behind the vehicle and that it was going east on Highway 70.

Officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol pulled over the vehicle, a 1994 Dodge Sedan, on Highway 70 near Dowelltown and placed Thomas into custody.

Inside the vehicle, the officers found an eight inch knife between the seats and a rag that may have been used in the attempted robbery.

Sheriff Ray says officers later learned that Thomas had gone into another Alexandria store Saturday "looking for help" prior to the incident at Prichards Foods.

According to Sheriff Ray, Thomas walked into the Dollar General Store in Alexandria and asked the cashier for help. He was holding a rag over his face and had a knife in his back pocket. The cashier told him to go outside, get rid of the knife, and come back in and she would help him. He then walked out of the store and left. Thomas did not display the knife and apparently did not make any demands of the cashier while he was at the Dollar Store. Nothing was taken and no one was injured.

Thomas was not charged in that incident.

In addition to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Alexandria Police Department assisted in the case.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, 33 year old Gregory Micheal Patton and 49 year old Jack Adams both of Petty Road Smithville were arrested Saturday after a traffic stop on Bluhmtown Road.

Sheriff Ray says deputies stopped Patton for a traffic violation after observing him driving a 1993 Chevy Cavalier. Upon entering the vehicle, officers detected a strong smell of alcohol and they noticed a half of a six pack of Busch beer in the rear floorboard. Patton submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Patton had a smell of alcohol on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. A search was conducted and a marijuana cigarette was found in a cigarette pack in Patton's pocket. Deputies also found a hypodermic needle between the seats of Patton's car. A check of Patton's driver's license also showed them to be suspended for failure to pay child support. Patton admitted to drinking beer, but refused a blood test. He was arrested for driving under the influence, driving on a suspended driver's license, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $3,500 and he will appear in court on January 22nd. Patton was also issued citations for violation of the implied consent law and turn signal required.

Adams, a passenger of Patton's vehicle, was found to have a marijuana cigarette in his pocket and a small bag of marijuana was found in his seat. Adams was charged with simple possession of marijuana and his bond was set at $1,500. Adams will appear in court on January 22nd.

51 year old Forrest (Frosty) Byrd was arrested Sunday for leaving the scene of an accident after deputies investigated a one vehicle accident with property damage over $500 on Banks Pisgah Road.

Sheriff Ray says Byrd was driving a 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse when he lost control and wrecked causing property damage to a fence. Byrd then left the scene. After an investigation, it was discovered that Byrd had gone to a business on Short Mountain Highway and called for a wrecker, but never returned to the accident site. Byrd was later charged with the crime. His bond was set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on January 29th.

THP Records Ten Traffic Fatalities in DeKalb County This Year- Up from Five in 2007

December 24, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A total of ten people have lost their lives on DeKalb County roads in 2008, twice the number who died in 2007 according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Two died in January, two in March, three in May, one in July, one in September, and one in December.

The Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) and the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) announced today it will be stepping up its enforcement crackdown as part of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. In an effort to find and remove impaired drivers from Tennessee roadways, State Troopers are conducting saturation patrols and holding more than 100 driver license and sobriety checkpoints now through the New Year's holiday extended weekend.

"The focus of this effort is saving lives," said Governor Phil Bredesen. "I urge all Tennesseans and travelers passing through our state to obey the laws designed to keep them safe, not only through the holidays but whenever they get behind the wheel."

The holiday season is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to an increase in impaired driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in December 2007, 992 people were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

"Impaired driving is a year-round problem, but it becomes especially serious during the holidays as more people are on the road traveling to and from parties and special gatherings," stated Commissioner Dave Mitchell. "Whether you've had way too many or just one too many, it's not worth the risk of killing yourself or someone else. Remember buzzed driving is drunk driving."

During the 2007 Christmas holiday, seven people were killed in traffic crashes on Tennessee roadways. This represents one death every 14 hours and 34 minutes. Alcohol was involved in nearly 30 percent of those crashes and four of the seven people killed were not wearing safety restraints.

The 2008 Christmas holiday period begins Wednesday, December 24, at 6:00 p.m., and runs through Sunday, December 28, at 11:59 p.m.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is also currently participating in a national campaign, "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." This special enforcement effort runs through the end of the year. State Troopers, including administrative personnel, will be working with law enforcement officers from hundreds of agencies across the country to get impaired drivers off the road.

"No amount of good cheer will save you from the consequences of driving under the influence," stated Colonel Mike Walker. "We will be out in force looking for impaired drivers, and if we catch you, we will arrest you. You will go to jail. No exceptions. No excuses."

Seventeen people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes on Tennessee roadways last December. Overall traffic fatalities declined by six percent last year, and that trend is continuing in 2008. As of December 21, 2008, there have been 212 fewer fatal crashes than the same time period in 2007.

"The fact that fatal crashes have dropped again this year is good news," added Colonel Walker. "However, nearly a thousand people were killed on Tennessee roadways this year, and that means a thousand families didn't have loved ones here for the holidays."

Last year, 15 people were killed during the New Year's holiday period. Three of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes. The official New Year's holiday period will begin 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 31, 2008, and will end 11:59 p.m., Sunday, January 4, 2009.

Designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two of several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Other important tips include:

" Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;
" If you're impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;
" Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to the Tennessee Highway Patrol by dialing *THP;
" Wearing your seat belt or using protective gear on your motorcycle is your best defense against an impaired driver;
" And remember, Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Climbs to 8%

December 24, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate climbed to 8% in November, up from the revised rate for October of 7.3% and up significantly from the rate of 4.9% in November 2007.

The DeKalb County Labor Force for November was 10,190. A total of 9,380 were employed and 810 were unemployed.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November was at 6.9 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the October rate of 7.0 percent. The United States unemployment rate for the month of November was 6.7 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for November show that 20 counties decreased. The rate increased in 62 counties and remained the same in 13 counties.
Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 4.6 percent,
down 0.1 percentage point from the October rate. Perry County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 18.8 percent, up from 17.7 in October, followed by Scott County
at 14.3 percent, up from 12.7 percent in October.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate at 5.2 percent, up 0.2 percentage point from the October rate. Davidson County was 5.5 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Hamilton County was at 5.8 percent, down 0.3 percentage point from the October rate, and Shelby County was 6.8 percent, down from the October rate of 7.1.

Silver Point Man Dies in Putnam County Wreck

December 23, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 57 year old Silver Point man died in a one vehicle accident Monday night on the Old Baxter Road in Putnam County.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that Kenneth Jones was traveling westbound in a 1988 Ford Bronco SUV when the vehicle went off the right side of the roadway, into a ditchline and struck a telephone communications box. The SUV then continued westbound and struck a utility pole, overturned onto the passenger side, partially ejecting Jones, and then slid across the roadway. The vehicle came to a final rest off the left hand side of the road.

Jones was not wearing his safety belt

Trooper Scott Bilbrey of the Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the accident.

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