Local News Articles

Lauren Elizabeth Colwell Crowned Junior Fair Princess

July 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Lauren Elizabeth Colwell Crowned Junior Fair Princess
Junior Fair Princess and Runners-Up
Tyra Grace Graham (Congeniality), Rachel Olivia Fuson (Photogenic)
Destiny Franklin (Extreme Queen),Shelby Prichard (Peoples Choice)

The 2012 Junior Fair Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is 15 year old Lauren Elizabeth Colwell, daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell of Smithville

Colwell was among 29 young ladies who competed for the crown on the opening night of the DeKalb County Fair on Monday night.

Colwell succeeds the retiring Junior Fair Princess, 17 year old Melanie Grace Rush of McMinnville, daughter of Susan and Greg Rush

The first runner-up was Ashley Medlin, the 16 year old daughter of Greg and Teresa Medlin of Smithville

Second runner-up was Haley Marie Hale, the 15 year old daughter of Chad and Melissa Hale of Smithville

M2U00740 from dwayne page on Vimeo.
16 year old Taylor Brook Cantrell was the third runner-up. She is the daughter of Jeff and Deborah Cantrell of Smithville

The fourth runner-up was Skylar Paige Winningham, the 16 year old daughter of Jeff and Melissa Winningham of Sparta

The "Extreme Queen" sponsored by the Extreme Looks Design Team Salon went to 13 year old Destiny Danielle Franklin, daughter of Charles and Jennifer Ware of Smithville

14 year old Shelby Delane Prichard received the People's Choice award. She is the daughter of Stan and Michelle Prichard of Brush Creek.

13 year old Tyra Grace Graham of Smithville, daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham was named Miss Congeniality

13 year old Rachel Olivia Fuson, daughter of Joe and Missy Fuson of Smithville, received the Most Photogenic honor.

Rounding out the top ten were Kimberly Nicole Carlton, the 15 year old daughter of Brandi Pelham and Dewayne Carlton of Smithville; Taneah Brooke Cantrell, the 15 year old daughter of Scott and Tammy Cantrell of Smithville; Kami Denise Bogle, the 16 year old daughter of Amy Scott and Chris Bogle of Smithville; Kelsey Sueanna Hedge, the 15 year old daughter of David and Trina Hedge of Smithville; and Attiah J'nay Hicks, the 13 year old daughter of Rod and Brandy Hicks of Sparta.

Other contestants included Liz Abigail Qualls, the 14 year old daughter of Brad and Kim Trapp and Jason and Stormy Qualls of Smithville; Hailey Nicole Glass, the 13 year old daughter of Doyle Glass of Alexandria and Debbie Glass of Smithville; Rosa Maria Payne, the 13 year old daughter Tammy and Randy Payne of Alexandria; Chelsea Shoulders, the 15 year old daughter of Candace Enoch Dale Shoulders of Carthage; Jailyn Paige Bolding, the 14 year old daughter of Bradley and Lori Hendrix and Brad and Marcy Bolding of Dowelltown; Britney Nicole Keen, the 13 year old daughter of Greg and Jan Keen of Sparta; Shauna Faith Taylor, the 16 year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville; Ashley Dawn Celestino, the 15 year old daughter of Tammy Horsley of Smithville; Brooke Danielle Roller, the 15 year old daughter of Richard and Rose Roller of Smithville; Hannah Walker, the 13 year old daughter of Scott and Misty Walker of Smithville; Brandy Lynn Newby, the 13 year old daughter of Elsie Judkins and Shannon Newby of Smithville; Kerra Necole Blackwell, the 13 year old daughter of Candra and Brian Neal of Smithville; Courtney Madison Butler, the 13 year old daughter of Ronda Butler and Dennis Butler of Smithville; Mary Elizabeth Murray, the 13 year old daughter of Angel Brown of Smithville; and Alexis Kasara Davis, the 13 year old daughter of Angela and Scott Davis of Smithville.

(Second Photo from top: left to right- Haley Marie Hale (2nd), Ashley Medlin (1st), Queen Lauren Elizabeth Colwell, Taylor Brook Cantrell (3rd), and Skylar Paige Winningham (4th runner-up)

(Play Video Clip Below of Cattle Show Monday at Fair)

M2U00735 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Sheriff Urges Residents to Take Precautions with Thefts on the Rise

July 23, 2012
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Jamie Edward Carroll
Waylon Ray Farless

Thefts have been on the rise lately in the county, especially thefts from vehicles, and Sheriff Patrick Ray is urging everyone to take precautions.

"We have been getting a high volume of theft calls in the county. A lot of the thefts we have been seeing are vehicle thefts. I want to remind you not to leave things inside your vehicle in plain view such as computers, cell phones, jewelry, money, and cameras. Things like this have been reported stolen. We ask you to lock up your valuables either in the trunk or in a hidden area of your vehicle. If you have a GPS device that is in the window, take it down and place it under the seat or in another safe place where it is not visible from the outside," said Sheriff Ray.

"We have also had some places around the lake that have been hit (burglarized) as well as a few home burglaries sporadic throughout the county. Guns, jewelry, cash and other things have been stolen from some of these homes, along with some furniture," he said.

"We ask everyone to be aware of your surroundings and report to central dispatch any strange vehicles or unusual happenings in your neighborhood. Call 215-3000 and central dispatch will have a deputy come out and check. Its always better to be safe than sorry. Go ahead and call it in and we'll come out and look and see who it is. You can never tell. It could be that the persons you suspect might not be up to anything at that moment, but in a day or two, if a house should get broken into, we can go back on our logs and check for tag numbers, if they have been reported," said Sheriff Ray.

Meanwhile, in his weekly crime report, Sheriff Ray reports that 33 year old Jamie Edward Carroll of Gentry Avenue, Smithville is charged with initiation of a process intended to manufacture methamphetamine. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court on August 23.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 19 officers went to Carroll's residence at 834 Gentry Avenue due to high traffic volume there. After receiving consent to search, officers found four hypodermic needles and several items used to manufacture methamphetamine including Aleve D Cold tablet boxes (in a kitchen garbage can); a 20 ounce plastic bottle, partially filled with a solid substance; a cold pack, partially burned in the back yard; and another cold pack which was found cut on the carport area of the home.

57 year old Larry Dale Lepley of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for failure to yield and violation of the financial responsibility law for no insurance. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on August 9

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, July 16, Lepley was involved in a car crash on Highway 70. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and needed help to walk. Lepley submitted to but failed field sobriety tasks because of his level of intoxication. He also submitted to a blood test. Lepley was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. His prior DUI offense was on May 29, 2008.

27 year old Robin Lynn Woodard of Hogan Road, Gordonsville is charged with a third offense of driving under the influence. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court on July 26.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, July 17, Woodard was stopped for running a stop sign on Highway 70. She had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person and she was very unsteady on her feet. She performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. She submitted to a blood test. Woodard was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. Prior DUI offenses against her were on November 20, 2008 in Smith County and February 17, 2009 in Wilson County.

36 year old Waylon Ray Farless of Redmon Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license and theft of property over $1,000. His bond totals $13,500 and he will be in court on July 26

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 19, Farless was operating a motor vehicle on Smith Fork Road but stopped because trees were across the road. An officer on the scene asked for his license but Farless could not produce an identification. A computer check revealed that his license were revoked for driving on a revoked license on May 28, 2008 in Warren County. Prior offenses against him were January 31, 2003 in Putnam County and May 28, 2008 in Warren County.

Meanwhile in the theft case, Sheriff Ray said that on June 15 at 186 Vickers Hollow Road, Farless allegedly took a fourteen foot Tandem axle trailer, valued at over $1,000.

Mid-South Mayhem Takes Second Place in Sandlott World Series

July 23, 2012
Clark Oakley
Mid-South Mayhem Takes Second Place in Sandlott World Series

The Mid-South Mayhem 14U Travel team recently competed in the Sandlott World Series Wood Bat Tournament. 16 teams competed in this age bracket and Mid-South Mayhem won 2nd place. Local players for the Mayhem are Cason Oakley (DCHS), Sam McMillen (DWS) and AJ Mooneyham (DMS). Season results for the team were 29 wins and 13 losses.

Front Row L-R: Luke Vance (batboy), Jackson Vance, Tyler Vandergriff, Drew Trice, Ben Vance (batboy), Bailey Kemp, AJ Mooneyham, Ethan Roberts Back Row L-R: Chad Vance (coach), Logan Fields, Kenny Dillon (head coach), Sam McMillen, Luke Turner, Cason Oakley, Paul Fields (coach).

Blackwell Charged with Five Counts of Forgery

July 22, 2012
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police have charged a 36 year old man with five counts of forgery for allegedly passing forged checks on the account of a family member at a local bank totaling $2,075.

Chief Randy Caplinger said Russell Blackwell is under a $50,000 bond and he will be in court on August 16.

According to Chief Caplinger, Blackwell passed checks in the following amounts on the following days on the account of Harold Blackwell: $475 on June 22; $300 and $600 on June 25; $350 on June 26; and $350 on June 28.

28 year old Roxanna Landis is charged with public intoxication and leaving the scene. She is under a $4,000 bond and will be in court on August 2. Chief Caplinger said Landis was a passenger with Russell Blackwell when police arrested him on a recent DUI offense and brought in his vehicle. The next day, Landis came to the city parking lot, where Blackwell's vehicle was parked, and tried to drive off in it. But in doing so, she crashed it into a vehicle belonging to the City of Smithville. Landis then left the scene on foot. She was later arrested. At the time of her arrest, Landis was intoxicated. She had very slurred speech and was unsteady on her feet. Police had to stop the field sobriety tasks for her safety because she couldn't stand.

36 year old Peggy Bandy is charged with domestic assault. Chief Caplinger said that on Saturday, July 7 an officer responded to a domestic disturbance at 477 West Main Street. Upon arrival, he spoke to Gary Bandy who stated that his wife had assaulted him. Bandy said while at his sister's home, Peggy arrived saying she wanted to speak to him. While the two were on the porch, Bandy claims Peggy became violent and punched him on the side of his face and grabbed his shirt, tearing it. She allegedly threatened to kill him. The officer spoke with Peggy Bandy who allegedly admitted to hitting Gary in the face and tearing his shirt because he had pushed her. It was determined that she was the primary aggressor.

26 year old Jordan Adams is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and cited for violation of the implied consent law. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on August 2. Chief Caplinger said that on Tuesday, July 3 an officer responded to a residence on Cookeville Highway where a man was in a vehicle asleep at the wheel or passed out. The caller said the man had been there for about 45 minutes. Upon arrival, the officer found the man, Adams, slumped over the steering wheel. The officer awoke Adams. He had very slurred speech. Adams said he had taken prescription medication about twelve hours earlier. He submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. He was very unsteady on his feet. Adams refused to submit to an alcohol/drug test but a mandatory draw was done due to a prior DUI against him on September 12, 2007 in Putnam County.

One week later, on Tuesday July 10, Adams was cited for simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana). Chief Caplinger said Adams was stopped at the intersection of Church and North College Streets due to a warrant against him. While checking Adams, the officer found inside his shorts a plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Adams allegedly tried to resist arrest.

26 year old Stephanie Bone is charged with domestic violence. Her bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger said an officer responded to a residence at 675 Kendra Drive to a domestic call where a husband and wife were in an altercation. The man told police that his wife had allegedly assaulted him and made threats to hit and stab him. The man had marks on his shoulder and neck area and two large cuts on the right side of his chest. Ms. Bone allegedly told police that she and her husband had been fussing and that she had thrown a picture frame at him. It was determined that she was the primary aggressor.

20 year old Joseph Blair is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for speeding. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on July 26. Chief Caplinger said an officer stopped Blair's vehicle for speeding on South Congress Boulevard. He was clocked at 77 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour speed zone. The officer noticed that Blair's speech was very slurred and he appeared to be disoriented. The officer asked him if he knew where he was and Blair responded that he was in Dickson. Blair submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol test.

30 year old Nicholas Hollingsworth was cited for shoplifting at the Dollar General Store on Wednesday, July 18. He will be in court August 9. According to Chief Caplinger, a store employee told the responding officer that Hollingsworth was seen putting items into a bag. A search of the bag turned up merchandise stolen from the store.

57 year old David Lee Alwin is cited for speeding and violation of the open container law.

51 year old Roy Atnip is cited for shoplifting. He will be in court August 2. Chief Caplinger said Atnip allegedly took merchandise from Advance Auto Parts and tried to sell those items at another local business. The incident was reported to police. Atnip was confronted and upon a search, he was found to have the stolen items from the store in his possession.

Juan Luis Carrera Munoz is cited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He will be in court on August 2. According to Chief Caplinger, Munoz asked his fifteen year old son to drive to a location across town to pick up something for him. The boy drove the vehicle and became involved in a traffic accident in front of the Dairy Queen on Broad Street. He rear ended another automobile and left the scene. The incident occurred on Thursday, July 12.

Early Voting Ends Saturday

July 22, 2012
Dwayne Page

Three hundred seventy three people have voted early in the August 2 elections. Early voting ends Saturday, July 28.

The largest single day turnout for early voting so far has been the first day, Friday July 13 when 70 people cast ballots. The response each day since is as follows:

Saturday, July 14- 31
Monday, July 16- 42
Tuesday, July 17- 42
Wednesday, July 18- 53
Thursday, July 19- 55
Friday, July 20- 37
Saturday, July 21- 43

Early voting this week will be held Monday from Noon until 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.; Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until Noon. All early voting is being held in the first floor or basement courtroom of the courthouse near the election commission office. Election Day, August 2 voting will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at all sixteen precincts in the county.

As a voter you may vote for whom you choose in the DeKalb County General Election regardless of party affiliation in the races for assessor of property, constable, or school board member. In other words, you can vote for a democrat in one race and a republican in another.

However, if you choose to vote in one of the state primaries which include the offices of State Representative, U.S. Representative, or U.S. Senator, you must declare in which primary you intend to vote. For example, if you declare your intention to vote in the State Republican Primary, you can ONLY vote for Republican candidates for State Representative, U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senator but you MAY vote for ANY candidate you choose regardless of party affiliation in the county general election (Assessor of Property, Constable, School Board)

Likewise, if you choose to vote in the State Democratic Primary you can vote
for only Democratic candidates for State Representative, U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senator but you MAY vote for ANY candidate you choose regardless of party affiliation in the county general election (Assessor of Property, Constable, School Board)

In simple terms, you can vote for a Democrat in the County General and still choose the Republican State Primary; or you may vote for a Republican in the County General and still choose the Democrat State Primary.

Local voters will be electing a new Assessor of Property in August. The candidates are Scott Cantrell and Mason Carter. Two school board seats will be filled along with five constable seats.
In the state primary, local voters will help select the party nominees for State Representative in the 40th district, the 46th district, Congressman in the 6th District and one U.S. Senator.

THP Investigating Fatal Bicycle Accident

July 21, 2012
Dwayne Page

A 50 year old man involved in a bicycle accident Thursday afternoon on Pea Ridge Road in the Dry Creek area has died and the Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating to determine if he was the victim of a hit and run.

Dead is Tim Caldwell of Dowelltown.

According to the THP, Caldwell was riding alone on a bicycle when he apparently went off in a ditch and was thrown from the bike.

Central dispatch was notified at 4:48 p.m. The caller reported that a guy had been hit by a car on a bike. Officers arrived at the scene and spoke with Caldwell who reportedly told them that a big car with a young guy driving had been responsible.

Caldwell was taken by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone set up near the scene. He was airlifted to Vanderbilt hospital where he died on Friday.

Trooper Jeremy Wilhite and the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating but has not yet determined whether Caldwell was the victim of a hit and run or just a tragic accident with no one else involved.

Smithville Church of God To Give Away Backpacks for Back to School

July 20, 2012
Backpacks for Back to School

The Smithville Church of God is gearing up for back to school with plans to give away 200 backpacks filled with school supplies to students. The backpacks will be available as a part of the church’s free back to school party on Saturday, Aug 4. From 10-2 that day, the church fellowship hall and parking lot will be filled with inflatables, food, and fun for the community with the backpacks being given away on a first come-first served basis. Those interested in a backpack are urged to reserve one by registering on the church’s website www.smithvillecog.com or by calling the church office at 615-597-1419.

This giveaway comes as a part of a challenge, issued by Pastor Jeff Armstrong, for the church to reach out to the community in new ways. Pastor Armstrong instructs his church to follow the model set forth by Christ in His ministry: caring, reaching out, and helping those in need. Armstrong notes that Jesus always cared first for the physical and emotional need of those around him, enabling them to focus on spiritual necessities. He further reminds us of the biblical calling for the church to care for widows, orphans, the hungry, the lonely, and the lost.

The congregation kicked off the challenge by handing out over 2500 free bottles of water during the Smithville Jamboree and plans to continue over the next year with a series of events for all ages.

On August 22, there will be an after school youth rally for students in grades 7-12 featuring games, free food, and giveaways. There will be free transportation from school for the students for an afternoon of fun, and the evening will culminate with a youth centered service featuring the youth band and drama team and a message by youth pastor, Chris Moore.

On August 25, Gospel Bluegrass band Right on Time will perform at a BBQ dinner to raise funds for the projects of the Women’s Ministries; a $10 contribution will entitle you to a BBQ plate dinner as well as admission to the concert.

In September, the church will host a revival with Evangelist Rick Cottrell. We will also follow up this spring’s popular Princess for a Day fundraising event with Cowboy for a Day, which will offer boys a day of Wild Western fun.

October will begin with a Friend’s Day and picnic and will end with the annual Trunk or Treat Celebration featuring a free hot dog dinner for the entire family, as well as decorated vehicles and lots of candy for the kids.

November brings the Community Thanksgiving service and our annual contribution of Shoeboxes donated to the international charity, Samaritan’s Purse.

There are plans to wrap up the year in December with the annual Christmas walk-through, The Bethlehem Experience.

It is the hope of Pastor Armstrong, the staff, and congregation that these events will help the community to see Christ and his followers in a new light of caring and love.

Country Artist Kalisa Ewing to Perform at the DeKalb County Fair

July 20, 2012
Kalisa Ewing

Country artist Kalisa Ewing will perform at the DeKalb County Fair Tuesday night at the Lion's Club Pavilion following the Little Miss and Mister pageant.

"Look in the mirror find a new reflection, those chains won't hold you down unless you let them. Life can surprise you when you least expect it, that's what's so beautiful about redemption."

With her sweet country voice and hauntingly beautiful lyrics, singer/songwriter Kalisa Ewing is no stranger to life's surprises. Her songs are bold, fresh and honest; stories that may never have been told if not for a divine intervention of sorts.

"My mom and I got into a car accident the summer before my Sophomore year of high school and I blacked out. I remember during that time, visions of my guitar in my hands, playing my guitar and being on stage, all flashed before my eyes. That was enough to make me think a little bit harder about writing songs and what playing music meant to me."

Kalisa grew up in the country just outside Nashville where, at age 11, she picked up a guitar and penned her first song. She credits her insatiable passion for music to her grandfather, who died of heart problems just after she was born. Kalisa's grandfather, Owen McCarty, was a blind musician who moved to Nashville to fulfill his dreams as an artist in Music City.

Like her grandfather, Kalisa continued to search for a home in music. She took guitar lessons and began writing poetry to sharpen her songwriting skills.

"I've always felt a little bit like an outcast," said Kalisa. "It seems like so many people I meet either grew up singing in church or playing music with their families. I never did any of that. Hearing stories of my grandpa, I think he was the closest person in my blood that I can say dreamed the same dream. I know it must have been passed down to me by him."

Fast-forward through years of odd-end jobs and dead-end promises, Kalisa met industry veteran, Todd Wilkes, who recognized her unparalleled talent and opted to publish her independently. Under the helm of Wilkes and Kent Earls (Universal Music), Kalisa became the first co-venture of Wilkes' company, KingSpirit Music, and signed a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group.

"One of my songs, ‘Redemption,' is about everything that I've had to learn the hard way through the years. That's the kind of real stories that I hope connect with people. I like to write about love, screwing things up, being a screw up, finding redemption and then living to tell about it. I write about what I've learned."

If there's one thing Kalisa knows about life's little surprises it's that it will bring you to where you need to be when you least expect it. It will bring you home. And that's exactly what her music is all about.

Pealer Files Federal Lawsuit Against UCDD

July 19, 2012
Dwayne Page
Ashley Pealer

Ashley Pealer, a former Upper Cumberland Development District employee has filed a federal court lawsuit against the agency; the man who fired her, Randy Williams, UCDD's interim executive director; and Mike Gannon, chairman of the UCDD board. Pealer claims her personal cell phone messages and Facebook account were hacked, a violation of her Constitutional rights.

Pealer is being represented by W. Gary Blackburn of Nashville, who filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee Northeast Division Wednesday morning.

Allegations involve violations of the Stored Communications Act and the Wiretap Act, allegedly committed by Williams and Gannon.

Pealer claims that after she was fired, her cell phone, issued to her by UCDD, was taken from her; that some three hundred pages of her private text messages, which were stored through Verizon, were accessed by the defendants, printed and published to various persons. Pealer alleges that at least one of the defendants used her private password to invade and access her Facebook account as well. The Defendants also allegedly intercepted a private email communication to Pealer's Facebook account, according to the lawsuit.

Pealer claims the purpose and intent of this behavior was to embarrass and intimidate her in retaliation for her refusal to participate in or remain silent about the illegal behavior of former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins, and to determine the extent to which she (Pealer) was involved in disclosing illegal conduct to the news media.

Pealer is asking the court to "permanently enjoin any further publication of her text messages or information obtained from her Facebook account; that the court order the defendants to answer to Pealer in damages caused by their violation of the Secured Communications Act, in an amount of no less than one thousand dollars for each violation, to be assessed against each individual Defendant, and in an amount not less than ten thousand dollars for violation of the Wiretap Act; that the Defendants be assessed punitive damages as provided under the Secured Communications Act; that the Defendants be further assessed damages for the deprivation of Pealer's rights as guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; that Pealer be awarded her reasonable attorney's fees and expenses as provided both by the Secured Communications Act and the Wiretap Act; and that a jury be impaneled to try all issues so triable"

Allegations of the lawsuit state as follows:

Prior to June 18, 2012, the Plaintiff (Pealer) had been employed for a number of years by the UCDD. Pealer was provided a Droid smartphone by the UCDD. Her business email address was apealer@ucdd.org. The published personnel manual of the agency provides that communications stored in agency systems are the property of the agency. Pealer therefore does not assert any expectation of privacy with regard to the agency email account or voicemail.

Pealer maintained a separate private email account with the address and a private password protected Facebook account.

Pealer also communicated through text messages which were stored through a service provided by Verizon. The UCDD personnel manual is silent concerning text messages. The Agency, through its supervisory personnel, never sought access to or advised of rules concerning text messages prior to June 18, 2012. Pealer sent and received personal messages and regarded them as private.

In the months preceding June 18, 2012, the agency was the subject of an extensive investigation by NewsChannel5 television of Nashville. This investigation revealed what was appeared to have been the misappropriation of funds and the diversion of agency money for the private benefit of the Director, Wendy Askins, her family members and others. The Agency, its directors and employees have been and are the subject of a federal criminal investigation.

As a consequence of the scandal, the agency employed counsel to do an internal investigation at a cost of nearly two hundred fifty thousand dollars. During this investigation, Pealer was interviewed. At no time were her text messages requested or reviewed, nor was she asked to permit access to her Facebook account. At no time were her personal Hotmail emails requested or reviewed.

Director Wendy Askins, who was suspected of misappropriation of public funds, was forced to resign. She was permitted to retain her cell phone and upon information and belief, none of her messages were requested or reviewed by the Agency or by any attorney employed on its behalf.

Subsequent to Ms. Askins' departure, Mr. Earl Carwile was asked to become the interim Executive Director of the Agency. Pealer served as acting Deputy Director and reported directly to Mr. Carwile.

On May 31, 2012, Mr. Carwile submitted to Mike Foster, who at that time served as Chairman of the Board, his resignation as Executive Director. Mr. Carwile complained of what he believed to have been poor financial management and inappropriate conduct on behalf of the UCDD Board. This included the surrender of over one hundred thousand dollars in grant money to an individual who had applied for the grants while a UCDD employee. Mr. Carwile complained that rather than focusing upon the multiple problems created by the unethical and illegal conduct of the former Executive Director, board members previously associated with Ms. Askins had become obsessed with identifying the person or persons who had contacted the media and who had taken "information out".

Pealer was associated with Mr. Carwile and was among those who had opposed and refused to remain silent about illegal and possible criminal activities attributed to Ms. Askins, her friends and family.

On June 18, 2012, Pealer reported to work. She was taken to the office of the then acting, Director, Randal Williams, and terminated. Mr. Williams falsely told Pealer that she was being terminated mainly because of an agency reorganization.

None of the procedures for such an adverse job action contained in the policy and procedures manual was followed.

Defendant Williams, in the presence of Sherry Thurman, announced in pretentious language that Pealer had been terminated and must leave the premises immediately. Pealer was not allowed to obtain her personal belongings and her cell phone was taken from her.

Thereafter, some three hundred pages of private text message of Pealer, which were stored through Verizon, were accessed by the defendants and printed. The defendant, Mike Gannon, who by then served as the Chairman of the UCDD Board, reviewed the text messages along with Defendant, Michelle Price, Sherry Thurman, and Patty Ray. After the text messages were printed, they were published to various persons.

At least one of the Defendants used the private password of Pealer to invade and access Pealer's Facebook account as well. The Defendants intercepted a private email communication to Pealer's Facebook account.

The purpose and intent of this behavior was to embarrass and intimidate Pealer in retaliation for her refusal to participate in or remain silent about the illegal behavior of Wendy Askins, and to determine the extent to which she was involved in disclosing illegal conduct to the news media.

At the time the stored messages were accessed by the Defendants, Pealer had already been terminated. Consequently, none of the texts were used as a premise for her termination, and no proper or legitimate purpose has been offered by the defendants.

The Stored Communications Act prohibits unlawful access to stored electronic communication.

The intrusion of the Defendants as agents of a public agency into Pealer's stored text messages and Facebok account constitutes a warrantless search upon private property in which Pealer had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The search was not done pursuant to a warrant or in the investigation of any matter concerning Pealer's employment, but was done following her termination for an improper purpose. This constitutes a deprivation of Pealer's rights under the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The UCDD, through its agents and employees, intentionally intercepted a wire or electronic communication from a third person to Pealer through the theft and misuse of her Facebook password. The UCDD therefore violated the Wiretap Act.

Referendum Petition Drive Underway to Allow Liquor Stores in Smithville

July 19, 2012
Dwayne Page
Public May Decide If Liquor Stores Such as This Be Allowed in Smithville
Should Liquor Stores be Allowed in Smithville

One month after the liquor by the drink referendum was defeated in the Smithville Municipal Election, another petition drive has been started calling for a public vote in November on allowing liquor stores in the City of Smithville.

Randy Paris, the local businessman who started the petition drive to get the liquor by the drink question on the city election ballot in June, is now circulating a petition calling for a local option referendum in the November General Election to "authorize retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the City of Smithville" Only ninety valid signatures are needed to get the issue before city voters.

Paris, in a telephone interview with WJLE Thursday, said this is a way to boost the local economy and bring in more tax revenue. "Since we barely lost in the liquor by the drink referendum, I decided to try for liquor stores where people could buy wine and other alcoholic beverages at a market. But the decision really shouldn't be about whether you drink or not or whether you approve of it or not. It should be a business decision that will help our city economically. We have a huge tourism trade and this is a way of generating revenue for our city from the amount of tourism we have as well as our local people who are spending money in Putnam County, Rutherford County, Jackson County, and all the surrounding areas. The money would stay in our county and our city to help us," he said.

Paris has until around the first of September to get his petitions turned into the election commission.

The City of Smithville has a beer board that issues permits to eligible applicants for the sale of beer within the city limits. The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission would apparently have the authority over the issuance of liquor licenses.

Just last month, Smithville city voters denied an attempt to get liquor by the drink in qualifying city restaurants. By a vote of 402 (54.69%) to 333 (45.31%) city voters said "No" to the liquor by the drink referendum, which would have given city restaurants the opportunity to apply for a license from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission to serve wine and other mixed alcoholic beverages to its patrons. Under state law, that issue cannot be raised again for at least two years.


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