Local News Articles

Lebanon Woman Charged with Felony Child Endangerment

November 21, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dallas Dorthy Leaf

A 25 year old Lebanon woman is in trouble with the law after leaving two young children unattended in a vehicle.

Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins, Jr. of the Smithville Police Department says Dallas Dorthy Leaf of Coles Ferry Pike, Lebanon is charged with two counts of felony child endangerment. Her bond is $10,000 and she will be in court December 4th.

One of the children was Leaf's 3 year old daughter. The other child was a 5 year old boy, the son of Leaf's boyfriend.

According to Officer Hutchins, Leaf left the children unattended in her vehicle downtown Smithville Thursday while she went into the courthouse to check on a pending divorce. The temperature outside at the time was around 43 degrees. The children were in the car for about 20 minutes when they got out of the vehicle and walked to a nearby business, looking to get something to drink. Someone at the business contacted police.

Officer Hutchins says he confronted Leaf after she came out of the courthouse. She was questioned about the incident and subsequently arrested and charged in the case.

He says the children are fine and were released to a family member.

State Fire Marshal Asks Residents to Prepare Home for Cold Weather

November 20, 2008

Tennessee Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman wants to remind Tennesseans to keep safe and warm as winter sets in across the state. But she urges residents to be cautious in the use of alternative heat sources.

"The winter weather means many people will begin to heat their homes with fireplaces, woodstoves and space heaters," said Newman. "Cold weather months typically have a higher number of accidental fire injuries and deaths due to the use of these alternative heat sources.”

Following a few safety tips can greatly reduce the risk of fires:

•Make it a "house rule" to test your home’s smoke alarms before using a space heater or fireplace. All smoke alarms should additionally be tested once a month. Doing so could save your life.

•Space heaters need space. Never put a space heater within three feet of anything combustible, including furniture, bedding or aerosol cans. Make sure your space heater bears the mark of an independent testing lab such as UL or FM. Look for models with automatic shutoff features, when purchasing space heaters. Never use extension cords with space heaters.

•Before you use your fireplace, make sure the chimney has been professionally cleaned to remove the buildup of combustible materials that accumulate inside the flue.

•Be sure any kerosene-fueled heating device is installed with proper ventilation. A portable kerosene heater must be filled only in a well-ventilated area, free of flame and other heat sources, and only when the device has cooled completely. Use only the type of kerosene specified by the manufacturer, and never use gasoline in place of kerosene.

•Never leave a fire, space heater or flame unattended.

Additionally, make sure furniture, clothing and other combustible materials are not placed in front of permanently mounted heaters like those in walls or on baseboards. If they turn on when temperatures go below the thermostat’s set point, there will be no worry of the items catching fire.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee.

Smithville Man Injured in Alexandria Wreck

November 19, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 50 year old Smithville man was injured in a pickup truck accident near Alexandria this morning (Wednesday)

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Edwin Dale Evans of 598 Smith Road, Smithville was traveling east on Highway 70 in a 2001 Chevrolet S-10 pickup when the truck ran off the left side of the road, struck a large boulder, overturned, and hit a utility pole. The truck came to rest upright on it's wheels. The accident occurred around 6:20 a.m. about four tenths of a mile from the Wilson County line in DeKalb County.

Evans was taken from the scene by DeKalb EMS to meet a Life Force Helicopter ambulance on Highway 53 in Alexandria. He was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

Tips for Online Shopping this Holiday Season

November 18, 2008

With the holidays quickly approaching, millions of shoppers will go online for hassle-free shopping. If you plan to shop online, you should be aware that you may get more than you bargain for with internet scams and identity thieves targeting holiday shoppers. Taking precautions before you make those purchases can help ensure your online experience is a safe one.

If you’re going online to make your holiday purchases this year, here is some advice to help you make the most of your experience:

1. Know who you’re dealing with. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. If you get an email or pop-up message while you’re browsing that asks for personal or financial information, don’t reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email. When the web page asks for your credit card information, the web address should begin with “https://” instead of “http://.”

2. Know exactly what you’re buying. Read the seller’s description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like “refurbished,” “vintage,” or “close-out” may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition.

3. Know what it will cost. Check out websites that offer price comparisons. To get the best consumer protections, pay with a credit card. If there are any problems with your order the bank can be notified and the charge disputed. Factor shipping and handling — along with your needs and budget — into the total cost of the order. Do not send cash under any circumstances.

4. Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates. Can you return the item for a full refund if you’re not satisfied? If you return it, find out who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees, and when you will receive your order.

5. Keep a paper trail. Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and copies of every email you send or receive from the seller. Don’t email personal or financial information. Read your credit card statements as you receive them and be on the lookout for unauthorized charges.

6. Don’t email your financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number.

7. Check the privacy policy. It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why, and how they’re going to use the information.

The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs is here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities, to resolve complaints through the mediation process, to investigate violations of the state Consumer Protection Act, and to clarify consumer protection laws. We are here to help consumers and business owners who have been affected by unfair business practices.

If you need our services, please feel free to call Consumer Affairs toll-free at 1-800-342-8385 or visit www.tennessee.gov/consumer.

State Offers Consumers Tips for Digital TV Transition

November 18, 2008

The U.S. Congress has mandated that all full-power television stations convert their broadcast signals from analog to digital by the end of February 17, 2009. Television channels in Tennessee have been carrying public service announcements alerting the public to the switch to digital broadcasts that will occur. But it is understandable that questions might remain about how Tennesseans can navigate the conversion.

“Consumers need to understand how the digital television (DTV) transition will affect them, in order to avoid purchasing items they don’t need,” said Mary Clement, director of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs.

Analog televisions that rely on rooftop or “rabbit ears” antennas to receive analog broadcasts will not work after February 17 without a converter box. These converters generally cost $50-$70 and can be purchased at electronics stores. The federal government is offering two $40 coupons per household (for two boxes – the coupons cannot be combined to get one box for free). These coupons are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last or until March 31, 2009. To receive free coupons, call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY), or visit www.dtv2009.gov.

If a television is digital or is currently receiving its signal through paid cable or satellite service, the conversion should not affect it. Digital televisions that use rooftop or “rabbit ears” antennas should continue to work and will not require a special antenna or converter box.

If a television is more than 10 years old, it probably has an analog receiver and will be affected by the digital transition. Check the owner’s manual or labeling on the back of the television to determine if a set is analog or digital and look for identifying key words:

• Digital sets:
o Integrated Digital Tuner, Digital Tuner or Digital Tuner Built-In,
o Digital Receiver,
o DTV,
o ATSC, or
o HDTV (High Definition)

• Analog sets:
o Analog
o NTSC

(more)
If it still is unclear whether a television set is digital or analog, consumers should call the manufacturer or a retail professional for assistance. Callers should be sure to have the make and model number on hand. For further information regarding the conversion, please visit www.dtv.gov or call 1-888-225-5322 (voice) or 1-888-835-5322 (TYY).

Consumers who think they have been deceived by a business and have purchased items they do not need for the DTV conversion should file a complaint with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs at www.tn.gov/consumer or call 1-800-342-8385 to request a complaint form.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee.

City of Smithville Required to Pay Water Storage Fee

November 18, 2008

The City of Smithville and other utilities that get their water supply from Center Hill Lake are responsible for paying a portion of the repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of Center Hill Dam, under a water storage agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The city's portion, at $83,164, is figured at 0.032 percent, a cost that is based on the amount of storage area allocated for the city's water supply. The city was given the option to pay the bill in a lump sum at the end of construction or to pay based on a cost schedule through the year 2013. The cost to the city is based upon a total repair cost of $263,000,000

Center Hill Lake supplies all the water for the City of Smithville, and the city also sells to the DeKalb Utility District. The City of Cookeville, which also gets it's water supply from Center Hill Lake, sells to Baxter, Algood and Double Springs, among others meaning those utilities will also incur some of the cost as well. Cookeville's share is $1.4 million. Riverwatch, which uses a small amount of water from Center Hill Lake for the watering of its golf course, will pay $27,400. Riverwatch's share of the cost was tallied at 0.01 percent.

Smithville Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson says the city will likely pay the bill in a lump sum by 2013.

Aldermen Establish Procedures for Public Comments at City Board Meetings

November 17, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen have established procedures for members of the public to speak at city board meetings.

By a vote of 5 to 0, the city council Monday night adopted the following resolution as presented by Alderman Tonya Sullivan:

" Whereas, in our system of representative government, the Mayor and City Board members are charged with the responsibility of informing themselves and making sound decisions that affect the lives of the citizens of Smithville; and

Whereas, it is a commonly accepted practice in Tennessee cities to provide an opportunity for citizens input, as part of the board meetings so long as such comments are not permitted to degenerate into debates between citizens and the Mayor or board members; and

Whereas, it is the desire of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Smithville that citizens be provided the opportunity to make comments at board meetings in accordance with established procedures; and

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Smithville:
Citizens of the City of Smithville are hereby authorized to make comments at the beginning of each regular or special called meeting of the board, in accordance with the following:

The person desiring to speak should rise, address the Chair, and when recognized, state their name and address. Only residents, business owners and property owners of the City of Smithville shall be allowed to speak during the "comments by citizens" part of the board's agenda, unless requested to do so by the board.

After providing the required information, the person shall be allowed to speak for three minutes on any matter of concern to the citizen.

All citizens comments shall be directed to the Mayor. The Mayor may address questions to individual aldermen, but in no event will the citizen be permitted to call names, question the integrity or motive of individual aldermen or the Mayor, or make personal or derogatory comments.

It is the responsibility of the Mayor to maintain order at city board meetings."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said he supports this resolution.

Concerned citizen Sherry Bush, addressed the board, thanking them for this action. "I just want to say thank you, to all of you, but particularly to Ms. Sullivan who took the time and the effort to draft such a proposal. I appreciate your upholding our rights to speak and let our feelings be known. So thank you very much."

Meanwhile, in other business, the aldermen adopted a resolution authorizing the application for Community Development Block Grant Funds from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to address water system needs.

The resolution reads as follows: "Whereas, the City of Smithville is eligible for grant funds under the Fiscal Year 2009 Community Development Block Grant Program administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and

Whereas, the City of Smithville is in dire need of improvements to their raw water intake to make it capable of drawing water during periods where the lake water level is drastically lowered and improvements to address the renovation of their existing water treatment facility; and

Whereas, the health and welfare of the community is adversely affected by the system's problems; and

Whereas, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the city believe the correction of the water system problem should be a priority; and

Whereas, the city is eligible for a maximum grant of $500,000 under the Community Development Block Grant Water/Sewer category;

Whereas, the city is eligible for a Community Development Block Grant up to 89% (86% plus the 3% Three Star bonus) of the total project cost.

Now, therefore be is resolved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that;

The Mayor be authorized and directed to:

Execute and submit an application for CDBG funds to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in order to address the water problem for the community.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen hereby authorize an amount to be no less than 11% of the total project cost to serve as matching funds in order to secure the Community Development Grant funds. These matching funds will be acquired from the City of Smithville Water and Sewer Revenue Fund.

The Upper Cumberland Development District shall prepare all necessary documents for the completion of said project at no charge to the City of Smithville. Should said CDBG grant be approved, UCDD shall be engaged to perform all administrative services for said project."

Smithville Man Charged with Sexual Battery

November 17, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Walter F. Smouthers
Steve A. Stanley
County and City Officers and K-9 units visit DCHS

A 47 year old Smithville man was arrested Friday by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department for sexual battery after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Walter F. Smouthers of Magnolia Lane, Smithville was charged after detectives questioned him on a sexual assault case. County detectives found that on the morning of November 14th, Smouthers had spent the night with a male and female friend on Rosewood Lane in DeKalb County. When the female went into the bathroom to get ready to go to work, Smouthers went into the bathroom with her and sexually assaulted her. The female asked Smouthers' repeatedly to stop. After the sexual assault, Smouthers left the home. Smouthers did admit to the crime in an interview with county detectives. Smouthers' bond was set at $15,000 and he will appear in court on December 4th. Smouthers is currently being held in the DeKalb County Jail awaiting bond.

In a separate case, deputies stopped 31 year old Steve A. Stanley of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown on Highway 70 West Friday. Sheriff Ray says officers had knowledge that Stanley's drivers license was suspended. After the stop, a search incident to arrest was conducted on Stanley's vehicle. Inside, deputies found a purple container with nineteen and one half small yellow pills believed to be Dilaudids. Also found in Stanley's vehicle were 2 cut straws, one with drug residue in it and a hyperdermic needle. Stanley was arrested for driving on a suspended driver's license, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid) for resale. Stanley's vehicle was also seized. Stanley's bond was set at $29,000 and he will appear in court on December 11th.

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Smithville Police Department, on Monday, November 3rd, made a surprise visit at DeKalb County High School with their drug dogs. Sheriff Ray says "I believe that any deterrent, such as locker and vehicle searches at the schools, is a tool to help keep our children in a drug free and safe learning environment."

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings says "The Smithville Police Department will try to use any resources, within our means, to help prevent drugs from being used or sold at our schools."

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says "Anything we can do to help keep our young people off drugs is a step in the right direction. Too many times our young people and adults are robbed from us because of the use of drugs and from the greed of drug pushers. What we do today to rid our county of drugs will help to ensure that our young people are able to live the life that God intended. I fully support Sheriff Ray in his efforts to rid our county of drugs."

Director of Schools Willoughby, Sheriff Ray, and Chief Jennings, say "we must work together to make sure we're doing everything possible to make sure our students can have a safe and drug free learning environment. By continuing our partnerships, we will achieve this goal."

Habitat Dedicates Gibbs Family Home in Brief Sunday Ceremony

November 16, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Felicia Gibbs and Children Dasia and Tristan
Felicia Gibbs and Children Cut Ribbon to their new Habitat Home
Felicia Gibbs and Children surrounded by Habitat Board Members

A formal dedication ceremony was held Sunday afternoon by members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County to commemorate the recent completion of the second partner family home at 214 Adams Street in Smithville.

Felica Gibbs and her children, 5 year old Dasia and 2 year old Tristan, moved into the home in June. Ms Gibbs says the family loves their new home and are thankful to everyone who helped them. “I love it. It’s absolutely wonderful. The kids really seem to like it and they are adjusting well. We just want to say thank you to everybody who contributed to the possibility of us having this house and our enjoyment in being here.”

Nolan Turner, President of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, says everyone associated with the organization is proud to be able to make homeownership a reality for this family. “We’ve been a long time getting this house completed but we’re proud of it and we’re proud for Felicia and her family. This is a three bedroom house, about 1,100 square feet, with a porch and a small back deck. The house also has some space underneath for storage. It’s a nice frame house.”

The brief dedication ceremony featured opening remarks and a prayer by Board President Turner followed by scripture reading from board members Glenda Davis and Sharon Evans, quoting Mark 12:28-31 and I John 3:16-18.

Board member Laura Stone led the Responsive Reading: Litany of Life. “With gratitude to God who has provided the materials and given us strength to build this house.

We dedicate this home.

To the deep and abiding love that binds the Gibbs family together,

We dedicate this home.

To the understanding, patience, discipline and forgiveness essential for the growth and fulfillment of the Gibbs family,

We dedicate this home.

To the vision, courage, faith and hope that make life cheerful and serene,

We dedicate this home.

To the beauty and order and cleanliness that provide a wholesome atmosphere and elevate the spirit of Christian living,

We dedicate this home.

To the training of the bodies, minds and souls of all who live within these walls.

We dedicate this home.

And lastly, to the work of God’s kingdom in the world and in cooperation with His church,

We dedicate this home to the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Gary Johnson, Construction Committee Chairperson, formally presented Ms. Gibbs with the keys to the home and she and her children then cut the ribbon.

The program ended with the group reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Turner says fundraising efforts will begin soon toward the construction of a third Habitat house, though the location has not yet been determined. “We’re going to start raising money to build the next house. We’re cleaning off some land now to build the next house. Hopefully this next year we’ll have the third house underway. We’re debating on whether we’re going to put it here (Adams Street) or not. We have some land over at the end of Snow Street that we’re hoping to develop into a Habitat Village that will probably accommodate five to seven houses.”

Tecia Puckett-Pryor, member of the Habitat Development Committee, says it’s exciting to be able to bring homeownership to families in need. “It’s really exciting to come down Adams Street and see these two beautiful houses and I encourage anyone who has not been by Adams Street lately or ever to come down and check out the two Habitat houses on this street. When we bought this land, it was abandoned. There was an old trailer that had been burned out and trash on the property, but we cleaned it up and were able to build two houses and now we have two families who are new DeKalb County homeowners. We’re excited about that.”

Denise Perry and her children became the first Habitat partner family.

Pryor says Habitat will soon be seeking applications from potential partner families for the third house.” We look at need and the family’s willingness to partner with Habitat because they have to do a lot of work with us. We also look at their ability to pay as well. We’re targeting people who can’t qualify for governmental programs but who also can’t qualify for conventional financing. We’re helping those people who sort of fall in the middle. They have to be in inadequate housing to begin with to even qualify but we will be opening up applications for our third house probably in the winter or spring of 2009.”

Pryor says members Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County are also appreciative to the community for their support. “We would like to say thank you to all the groups, organizations, and churches that have helped build this house. It takes many, many people to get this done. We also thank everyone who supports Habitat through either the Chili Cook-off, the Fiddler 5K, or those who give us donations. We appreciate everybody who supports this cause.”

Board President Turner also added his thanks. “We want to thank the churches who contributed very much to building this house. A lot of churches pitched in and helped build it. It’s a great experience for people who aren’t even trained to build. A lot of them learned those skills here. We’re thankful to the people of all those churches who came and helped us out. We appreciate all of the volunteers, because it was volunteers who really built this house.”

The 2007-08 Board of Directors include President Nolan Turner, Vice President Tom Janney, Secretary Nancy Lewis, Treasurer Glenda Davis, Michael Antoniak, Marie Blair, Robin Driver, Sharon Evans, DeDe Johnson, Gary Johnson, Jason Lohorn, Casey Midgett, Steve Osment, Pam Restrepo, and Laura Stone.

(Bottom Photo- Felicia Gibbs and children Dasia and Tristan are surrounded by Habitat Board members: left to right: Glenda Davis, Michael Antoniak, Gary Johnson, Nancy Lewis, Laura Stone, Tom Janney, Sharon Evans, and Nolan Turner)

Officer Pleads Guilty to Lesser Offense in DUI Case

November 16, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A McMinnville police officer from Smithville, who was seriously injured in a pickup truck wreck in August while off duty, appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court Thursday.

25 year old Bryan Officer, who was charged with DUI, possession of a handgun while under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, violation of the open container law, and not wearing a seatbelt, pleaded guilty to a lesser offense. He will avoid jail time, but he will lose his license and has reportedly decided to resign from his job. Officer qualifies for an application of judicial diversion, which means his criminal record will be cleared provided he successfully completes one year of probation. Officer must pay fines and court costs and make a $100 contribution to the economic crime fund.

Under the agreement with the D.A.'s office, Officer entered pleas to charges of reckless driving and violation of the implied consent law, which means he failed to take a sobriety test or submit to a blood alcohol test. The implied consent law requires an automatic forfeiture of driving privileges for one year. All other charges against him were dismissed. Officer's firearm will be returned to him.

McMinnville Police Chief Charlie Sewell told the Southern Standard that Officer has informed the department that he will be voluntarily tendering his resignation Monday. Officer has been on unpaid administrative leave since the accident, which led to the charges.

Officer has been recovering at home from the injuries he received in the accident, which occurred on Friday night, August 29th on Highway 70 east at Sligo Hill.

Trooper Brian Raymond of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Officer was traveling west in a 1988 Chevy pickup truck when he failed to negotiate a curve, overcorrected, and overturned. The truck came to rest upright on it's wheels. Officer was ejected from the vehicle. He was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and later transported to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

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