Local News Articles

Center Hill Park Ranger Takes Quick Action, Assists In Rescuing Two

August 11, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger Gary Bruce was ready and recently took quick action that made a difference in several people's lives.

In one incident, Dale and Kate Driskall, Park Attendants at Floating Mill Campground on Center Hill Lake, called the Resource Manager's Office and advised that a boater reported almost hitting a swimmer in the lake. The boater indicated that the swimmer was struggling and didn't seem like he could go any further. It's unknown why the boater didn't assist the swimmer.

After receiving the call, Ranger Bruce immediately drove to Hurricane Marina, boarded the Corps patrol boat and went to the scene, a short 5-minute boat ride away.

Ranger Bruce located the swimmer about 200 yards from shore. The 21-year-old man, who did not speak English, appeared to be totally exhausted, needing help from Bruce to get into the boat and put on a life jacket. Ranger Bruce then took the man safely to shore, where four friends awaited. One friend explained that the man swam to the island, about ½ mile away, and was swimming back. The man recovered and did not want medical assistance. Without Ranger Bruce's quick action, it is quite possible that this young man would not have survived this incident.

Ranger Bruce is one of those rangers that seems to be there and ready when people need him. Just a few weeks later, Rangers Gary Bruce and Spencer Taylor were the first on the scene where a woman was injured after jumping off a bluff near Sligo Bridge. The injured woman was on a float in the water surrounded by her fiancé and friends when the rangers arrived.

Ranger Bruce contacted DeKalb Central Dispatch and was directed to transport the injured woman by boat to Sligo Marina where EMS would be standing by. She was carefully placed in the boat and immediately transported to the awaiting ambulance at Sligo Marina. She was diagnosed by paramedics as having a severe fracture to her right femur, was transported to Cookeville Regional Medical Center via EMS and later airlifted to Erlanger Hospital.

Although these two incidents clearly show the positive impacts the efforts of Park Rangers at Corps lakes have on individual lives, it is very difficult to determine just how many lives have been impacted and maybe even saved by the great work the Rangers have performed in communicating the importance of water safety to the public.

"The entire Ranger staff at Center Hill Lake has made it a priority this year to promote water safety awareness," said Tim Dunn, Resource Manager at Center Hill Lake. According to Dunn, "Rangers have been able to spread the word about water safety not only at schools, county fairs, campgrounds, and other public events, but also through increased boat patrols. Through these efforts, we have been able to share information about water safety and the importance of wearing your life jacket to more than 25,000 people this year alone. The individuals that Ranger Bruce assisted were very fortunate that they did not lose their lives or have more serious injuries from not knowing the dangers that water presents. We hope that our efforts to encourage water and boating safety will continue to make a lasting impact on visitors to Center Hill Lake."

According to Ranger Bruce, "Some ways that you can practice water safety and ensure that you and your family return home safely after a fun day at the lake are to:
· Learn to swim well and swim with a buddy.
· Know your swimming limits and ability: the distance across the lake or to islands is further than it seems.
· Avoid jumping off of cliffs or bridges.
· Choose a designated boat operator that doesn't drink.
· Take a safe boating course.
· Wear your life jacket."

Willoughby Says Flu Cases Now Believed to be H1N1

August 10, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby and Deanna Pursinger-

Twenty two cases of influenza have now been reported among students in the school system as of Tuesday and most, if not all, are believed to be H1N1.

Last Thursday, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE there were three cases of flu, but added that none were believed to be H1N1 because "We have not received any confirmed cases from the Center for Disease Control."

However, during a meeting with the local media Monday, Willoughby said based on information from local physicians and health care professionals, he now believes the cases are H1N1, even though there has still been no official confirmation from the CDC. "The state of Tennessee is telling the doctors not to send any more specimens to be tested because the majority and close to 100% are coming back as H1N1 now. Last week we had three (cases) we thought had not been confirmed. This week we feel we probably have seventeen (cases of H1N1)."

Most of students with the flu are from the high school and middle school.

Willoughby says the number of cases may grow over the next few weeks but the problem has not reached epidemic proportions yet and there are currently no plans to close schools. "If this were January or February and we had seventeen cases of the flu, we'd be thinking we were doing pretty good but this is August. I do think there will be more cases. We've just started back to school. The kids are confined to the classrooms and whatever they have, children spread. I think we'll see more of this in the next four or five weeks. Hopefully after the next four or five weeks, it's going to go away or at least I hope it's going to go away. But we're going to be taking the precautions we need to in the schools. Custodians are disinfecting the door knobs, desks, and things like that. We're keeping all the soap dispensers filled up. That's some of the things we're doing. Right now there's no thought about closing schools but should this intensify, that will be one of the options we'll have. We'll just wait and see how this goes. We're not used to seeing people with the flu in August and we have that right now. The ages we're seeing it mostly is in the middle school and high school.

Deanna Pursinger, School Health Coordinator, has some advice for parents. "Just to let parents know of things they need to look for, the symptoms are real similar to the seasonal flu. The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting."

"The H1N1 is not any worse than the normal flu." We had a child who was sick on Friday. The mother took that child to the doctor, got the anti virals, by Sunday that child was fever free, and that child is back in school today (Monday). Did not even miss a day of school. It's not that bad, especially if you look for the signs and symptoms and get that child to the doctor."

"CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after you have been fever free without any medication."

"In seasonal flu, certain people are at "high risk" of serious complications. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and kidney disease."

"Some universal precautions that people can take to prevent this are good common sense hygiene things such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

If children come to the school nurse or clinic and they have the flu like symptoms, the first thing we'll do is take those kids out of the classroom, isolate them, call the parents, send them home and ask them to see the doctor to be checked to see if they do have the flu."

Click here to learn more about H1N1
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests for Assault, Drugs, and Indecent Exposure

August 10, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Crystal Lachell Thompson
Misty D. Shehane
James Harold Davis

Since Wednesday, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made arrests for drugs, assault, and indecent exposure.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 29 year old Crystal Lachell Thompson of Highland Street Smithville was served with a state warrant on Wednesday, August 5th. The arresting officer conducted a pat down search and found two pills believed to be hydrocodone, two pills believed to be soma, and one pill believed to be oxycontin. Thompson was charged with one count of simple possession of a schedule II drug (oxycontin), one count of simple possession of a schedule III drug hydrocodone, and one count of simple possession of a schedule IV drug (soma). Thompson's bond was set at $6,000.

While in custody of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, 34 year old Misty D. Shehane was charged Saturday, August 8th with assault after she caused a disturbance in the DeKalb County General Sessions Courtroom. Shehane had an altercation in the courtroom with another subject and when court officers tried to subdue her, Shehane took a swing at one of the court officers nearly striking him. Shehane also tried to kick the officers. Shehane will appear in court on August 20th on the charges.

Meanwhile on Friday, August 7th deputies responded to a call on Adcock Cemetery Road. When the officer arrived, the victim told him that she was walking down the road when a neighbor, 64 year old James Harold Davis also of Adcock Cemetery Road, yelled out the victim's name. When the victim looked at Davis, he (Davis) pulled his pants down exposing himself. When Deputies approached Davis about the complaint, he told them he was sorry and he would never do it again. Davis was charged with indecent exposure and his bond was set at $1,500. He will appear in court on August 27th.

Smithville Post Office Building Damaged in Freak Accident Thursday

August 10, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Post Office building and a pickup truck received some damage Thursday morning when a motorist accidentally ran into them.

Smithville Police Lieutenant Steven Leffew, in the accident report, states that 87 year old Robert Eller was in a 1991 Dodge Caravan, backing from a parking space at the Smithville Post Office, when he collided into a 2000 Ford 150 pickup truck, belonging to Tommi J. Eldridge of Smithville, which was parked near Justin Potter Library. Eller's Caravan then went forward colliding into the glass door at the Post Office.

No one was injured.

Smithville Post Master Mike Lynn recounted for WJLE what occurred."We were inside working the mail and heard a big loud commotion. We went outside and found that a customer (Eller) who had parked outside the vestibule here, the little 6' by 6' opening we have, had backed up out of his parking space, went clean across the street and backed into a pickup truck parked in front of the library and damaged the truck pretty severely. He then pulled it back down in drive, came back across the street, jumped the sidewalk, and ran into the left side of our little vestibule that sticks out there. Fortunately there were no customers or anyone walking in the building at that time or it really could have been devastating. As it turned out no one was injured."

Lynn estimates the damage to the building at around $2,000. "It knocked one of the doors off the hinges and knocked the frame back about a foot. It didn't even break any of the glass on our windows so we were all lucky all the way around on that."

"I called facilities in Atlanta and they sent field maintenance up here to look at it. They took the door off and they're going to replace that whole front part. I'm going to estimate that it will cost maybe a couple of thousand dollars to get that front fixed back like it was.

As far as Mr. Eller's van, I'm not sure but I think the front bumper was the only thing damaged on his vehicle as far as the Post Office is concerned. I don't know exactly what happened to the back end of his vehicle when he went into that other truck in front of the library."

Rep. Gordon Invites Constituents to Telephone Town Halls

August 8, 2009

U.S. Representative Bart Gordon has scheduled two additional telephone town hall events on August 21 for residents of Tennessee's Sixth Congressional District. The telephone-based public
forums will allow residents to communicate directly with Representative Gordon, enabling them to share their concerns and ask questions about health care, veterans' issues, the economy and other important issues facing Tennessee and the country.

"I have scheduled these events because I want to hear from as many of my constituents as possible, which will allow me to better represent Middle Tennessee," said Gordon.

On Friday, August 21, Gordon will hold two separate telephone town hall events - one at 11:00 a.m. central time (CDT) and another at 5:30 p.m. CDT. Telephone town halls do not require participants to travel - they only require a telephone.

"There are a number of challenges facing our country right now, and there are no quick fixes," explained Gordon. "I hope as many folks as possible will sign up for one of the telephone public forums."

Residents of the Sixth District interested in participating in the telephone town hall events on August 21 can sign up by visiting www.house.gov/bart or by calling Congressman Gordon's Murfreesboro office at 615-896-1986.

Registered participants will receive a phone call on August 21 shortly before the start of the telephone town hall for which they signed up. Participation is toll free and easy - upon receiving the invitation phone call on August 21, registered participants will hear simple instructions about how to listen, ask questions, and leave messages.

"These call-ins are just part of my efforts to understand the concerns of the more than 700,000 constituents across the 15 counties I represent in the Sixth District," added Gordon.

Tennessee's Sixth Congressional District includes the following counties: Bedford, Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Jackson, Macon, Marshall, Overton, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, and part of Wilson.

Smithville Woman Charged with Passing Forged Instrument at Local Pharmacy

August 7, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 30 year old Smithville woman is charged with passing a forged instrument at a local pharmacy,

In his weekly press release, Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings reports that Sara Rea Edmonds of 318 West Broad Street, Apartment 202, Smithville will be in court on the charge August 27th and her bond is $25,000

Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer conducted an investigation about forged prescriptions being passed at Rite Aid Pharmacy in Smithville and he developed a suspect in the case. On August 2nd at approximately 5:50 p.m., the suspect entered Rite Aid Pharmacy and passed another forged prescription. Officer Farmer was not on duty but contacted Smithville K-9 Officer Brad Tatrow and sent him to Rite Aid Pharmacy. Officer Tatrow made contact with Edmonds and determined that she was attempting to pass a forged prescription for Hydrocodone pills. She was arrested and charged in the case.

34 year old Jo Ann Rutland, also known as Jo Ann Certain, of 2392 Bright Hill Road, Smithville is charged in connection with the theft of a purse belonging to Michelle Burklow. Bond for Rutland is $10,000 and her court date is August 20th .

Burklow's purse was stolen from the Board of Education building on July 27th. The purse contained items valued at over $1,000. An investigation conducted by Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer led to the arrest of Rutland.

27 year old Andrea Nicole Bass of 1018 Roy Womack Road, Smithville is charged with violation of probation. She was arrested on August 2nd by Smithville Police Officer Randy King. Bass' original conviction was for possession of drug paraphernalia. Her court date is August 27th.

Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer arrested 32 year old Nena Bell Sprague of Ole Possum Road, Watertown on a capias for failing to appear in General Sessions Court.

27 year old Patrick Nelson Blevins of 620 Anderson Ridge Road, Silver Point is charged with public intoxication, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His total bond is $3,000 and his court date is August 20th.

Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer was sent to South Mountain Street, Smithville on August 5th around 8:58 p.m. to investigate a complaint of a man walking in the middle of the roadway. Officer Farmer made contact with Blevins and determined that he was intoxicated. Witnesses told Officer Farmer they saw Blevins throw something into the bushes. Officer Farmer found a small black and red bag in the bushes. The bag contained a small amount of a green leafy plant material, believed to be marijuana and some rolling papers. During the search of Blevins, a pipe was found in his jacket pocket that Officer Farmer believed was used to smoke marijuana.

49 year old Grover Lamont Jones of 627 Restview Drive, Smithville is charged with theft of property under $500. His bond is $1,000 and his court date is September 1st.

Smithville Police Detective Jerry Hutchins was dispatched to Food Lion on South Congress Boulevard on August 6th at 9:50 p.m. to investigate a report of a shoplifter. Upon arrival, Detective Hutchins made contact with Jones and during the investigation, found four bottles of vanilla extract in Jones' front pocket belonging to Food Lion that had not been paid for.

Chief Jennings says if any citizen has any knowledge of criminal activity occurring in our community, please report it to the proper authorities. Any information received by the Smithville Police Department will be confidential.

Officers Identified in Warren County Investigation

August 7, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The four officers implicated in a suspected insurance fraud and illegal prescription drug distribution scheme in McMinnville have been identified.

One of them is now a former employee of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department who resigned this week after his name surfaced in the investigation. Although Sheriff Patrick Ray, in a prepared statement, did not reveal the name of the employee "until the investigation is completed", the Southern Standard on Friday identified Larry Pedigo, Jr., as the employee. Pedigo is also a former McMinnville Police Officer.

According to the report, the two McMinnville Police Officers, Cam Conry and Daniel Clayton have been fired under the state's at-will policy and David Seibers, a deputy with the Warren County Sheriff's Department , remains on unpaid suspension pending the results of an internal affairs investigation by the department.

No one has yet been charged.

A raid was conducted Monday morning by state and Warren County law enforcement agencies at the Ameri-Care Urgent Care Clinic on South Chancery Street in McMinnville where the suspected illegal activity had been taking place.

The TBI and District Attorney's Office are investigating

DeKalb Beer Board Delays Revocation Hearing

August 7, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Beer Board could decide next month whether to revoke the off premises permit of Nicole's Market at 7024 Short Mountain Highway.

The board met briefly Thursday night but voted to defer the revocation hearing until the September 3rd meeting. The delay was requested by the county attorney Hilton Conger, who could not attend last night's meeting. Attorney Frank Buck, who will be representing the owners of Nicole's Market, also requested a postponement since he has just been retained and hasn't had an opportunity to prepare for the hearing.

Last month, the beer board denied an application for an off premises permit to Debbie Sacran, the owner of D & D Market at 7166 Short Mountain Highway, because the store is only 840 feet from the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church.

DeKalb County has a rule forbidding the sale, storage and manufacture of beer and like beverages within 2,000 feet (or some lesser distance) of schools, churches, and other places of public gathering.

The problem is, the beer board, in November 2008, granted an off premises permit to Areceli Soto Godinez, the owner of Nicole's Market, formerly known as Kilgore's Grocery, which is only 1,447 feet from the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church.

Members of the beer board say they were unaware that Nicole's Market did not meet the distance requirement when they approved the application, assuming that the applicant understood the rules when he filed. No one from the community appeared before the beer board at the time to object and the board apparently made no attempt to verify the distance between the store and the church, until this summer, after the controversy came to light.

So after denying D & D Market's application, the board also voted last month to schedule a hearing to consider revoking the license of Nicole's Market.

Sarah Cripps, attorney for David and Debbie Sacran, says that's not acceptable. She says since the beer board has already violated the 2,000 foot distance requirement by making an exception for one store, it cannot now enforce the rule on anyone. Cripps says she plans to file an appeal to either the Chancery or Circuit Court.

County Attorney Hilton Conger says an erroneous permit issued by the beer board inadvertently can legally be revoked, without invalidating the distance requirement.

A petition bearing the names of dozens of citizens in the community opposed to the sale of beer at D & D Market was presented to the beer board last month.

Since then, Sacran says a petition has been placed at D & D Market where so far more than four hundred signatures have been obtained from people not opposed to the sale of beer at D& D Market. "We had no petition until neighbors started to come in and ask us about the petition that was being circulated asking them to oppose us selling beer. So neighbors came in the store, even some who had signed the petition in opposition saying they did so just to get those people (circulating the petition) to leave us alone, and they asked us to start a petition for those not opposed to the sale of beer at D & D Market. It's been a couple of weeks and right now we have 463 signatures. The community is mad. This is a common sense thing. What is the big deal? Those opposing have no problem going to Walmart, Food Lion, Rite Aid, or any of your other stores who sell beer. We are a family run business and we will remain so. But the community is livid that we would be asked to turn our backs and not sell a commodity that like businesses on the same road are selling. We appreciate that. They have the common sense to understand the real issue here."

Sacran says she is also concerned about a letter to the editor in a local newspaper signed by the owner of another convenience market in the area suggesting that there is a dispute between D & D Market and Nicole's Market. "There has never been a dispute between Nicole's Market and D & D Market and there is not now a dispute between us. The dispute is between D & D Market and the DeKalb County Beer Board."

Liberty Mayor and Two Aldermen Re-elected

August 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Liberty voters re-elected Mayor J. Edward Hale and Aldermen Jarrett Pistole and William H. Reynolds, Jr. to new two year terms Thursday.

This year's Liberty Municipal Election was uncontested.

Reynolds received 32 votes while Pistole and Hale each had 30 votes.

A total of 34 people voted in the election.

The Liberty Mayor and Board of Aldermen is made up of Mayor Hale and Aldermen Pistole, Reynolds, Paul M. Neal, Dwight Mathis, and Todd Dodd.

Former Circuit Court Clerk Employee Indicted for Theft

August 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Tonya Page
Jamie Dean Murphy
Tonya Gay Silcox
Joseph Edward Mantz, Jr.
Mary Lee Mantz

A former bookkeeper at the DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk's Office has been charged in a Grand Jury sealed indictment with theft over $1,000.

36 year old Tonya D. Page of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville will appear in DeKalb County Criminal Court for arraignment on August 17th. Her bond is $25,000

The charges stem from a TBI investigation into a cash shortage of $8,501 in General Sessions Court funds, which was discovered during an annual state audit

At the time of the discovery, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack said she made the District Attorney General's Office aware of the shortage and the D.A. requested the TBI investigation. Ms. Pack says the shortage occurred during the period of time when she was out of the office undergoing surgery.

Page was initially hired as a clerk in the office three years ago and later became a bookkeeper. She was recently terminated from her employment there.

The case against Page was presented to the Grand Jury by the TBI.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department investigated two cases that were presented to the grand jury for sealed indictments this week.

34 year old Jamie Dean Murphy of Evins Mill Road Smithville is charged with criminal responsibility for aggravated statutory rape. His bond is $25,000. Sheriff Ray says while investigating an aggravated statutory rape case earlier this year, county detectives learned that a 31 year old woman, Brandy Egerton of Page Drive, Smithville allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 17 year old male juvenile and was charged with the crime in March of this year. Detectives allege that Murphy participated in this crime.

37 year old Tonya Gay Silcox of West Main Street Liberty is charged with two counts of forgery, two counts of passing a forged instrument, and theft of property over $500. Her bond is $25,000. Sheriff Ray says last month, county detectives received a theft report alleging that four checks along with a solid gold college ring were stolen from a residence on Fourth Street in Smithville. Detectives discovered that Silcox had sold a ring fitting the description of the stolen ring at a jewelry store in Smithville. Detectives retrieved the ring and the victim identified it. Detectives also learned that Silcox had forged two of the victim’s checks which were passed at a business in DeKalb County.

The Grand Jury also returned a sealed indictment in a case presented by the Smithville Police Department.

50 year old Joseph Edward Mantz Jr. and 47 year old Mary Lee Mantz of Dogwood Point Road McMinnville are charged with three counts of sale of a schedule II drug, three counts of delivery of a schedule II drug, two counts of sale of a schedule III drug, and two counts of delivery of a schedule III drug. Bond for both was set at $50,000 each.

All defendants will appear for arraignment in criminal court on Monday, August 17th at 9:00 a.m.

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