Local News Articles

Alexandria to Apply for Grant to Purchase New Fire Truck

September 23, 2015
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge
Alexandria's 1981 Fire Truck
Alexandria's 1997 Fire Truck

In an effort to replace a 1981 fire truck and possibly improve the city's ISO rating, the Alexandria Aldermen Tuesday night voted to authorize the filing of an application for a Community Development Block Grant to purchase a new fire engine.

Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge addressed the issue with the mayor and aldermen during the regular monthly meeting.

The total grant project would be for $331,580 including the city's local matching obligation of $16,580 should the grant be approved.

Speaking to WJLE after the meeting, Chief Partridge said if the grant is approved, the city would have funds to purchase a new custom cab class 1 pumper, which would improve the department's water flow capabilities in fighting fires. By having a new fire truck, Chief Partridge said the city's ISO rating might even go from a 4 to a 3, which could mean lower commercial and homeowners insurance premiums. The city must keep two fire trucks in order to maintain its current ISO rating. Earlier this year, the city learned that the Insurance Services Office raised Alexandria's Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating from a Class 7 to a Class 4.

The Alexandria Fire Department is staffed with twelve volunteers and two fire trucks. The oldest truck, a 1981 model, is on indefinite loan to the city from Wilson County, but would be returned if a new truck is purchased. The other fire truck is a 1997 model. Although the primary engine (1997 truck) is still in good condition and could be used as a backup, Chief Partridge said the 1981 engine has serious mechanical problems and brake system issues.

If the city were to be awarded a grant to purchase a new fire truck, Chief Partridge said no additional equipment would be needed. "We already have the equipment. All the equipment we received from an Assistance to Firefighters Grant four years ago," he said.

It could take up to a year before the city learns if it will get the grant.

New Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen Take Oath of Office (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

September 23, 2015
Dwayne Page
Seated: City Recorder Stacey Baker, Mayor Bennett Armstrong, Alderman Danny Parkerson; Standing: Aldermen Pat Jackson, John Suggs, Kelly Pyburn, Matt Boss, and David Cripps)

The new Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen met for the first time Tuesday night and took the oath of office to begin their new terms.

City attorney Vester Parsley administered the oath of office to the new aldermen-elect as a group and then to newly elected mayor Bennett Armstrong.

Armstrong was elected to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired mayoral term in the Alexandria Municipal Election on Thursday, September 3.

Kelly Pyburn, David Cripps, and John F. Suggs were each elected to four year alderman terms while Danny Parkerson and Matthew Boss were each elected to fill two year unexpired alderman seats.

Tuesday night's meeting was the regular monthly session of the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

The group addressed a variety of issues during the meeting including zoning.

"What they voted to do tonight is create a temporary fix for a zoning ordinance issue by restricting new residential construction to 1500 square feet for a period of 120 days until a more permanent ordinance is in place. The city's zoning requirements haven't been updated in a long time and current enforcement provisions are vague," said City Attorney Vester Parsley.

The issue was raised by Alderman Danny Parkerson who made the motion to adopt an ordinance establishing the new residential zoning provision. The motion was seconded and passed by the aldermen. Second and final reading will be considered at the next regular meeting, which has been rescheduled from Tuesday October 27 to Tuesday, October 6 at 7:00 p.m. to be preceded by a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

The aldermen also authorized application for a community development block grant which if approved would fund the purchase of a new fire truck. The grant amount is $331,580 including the town's matching requirement of $16,580.

Although no action was taken, the mayor and aldermen also discussed changing the city charter regarding the city election, possibly having it to run in conjunction with the County General Elections in August in order to save the city money. Any change in the city's charter would have to be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.

(Pictured Above:
Seated: City Recorder Stacey Baker, Mayor Bennett Armstrong, Alderman Danny Parkerson; Standing: Aldermen Pat Jackson, John Suggs, Kelly Pyburn, Matt Boss, and David Cripps)

Woman Arrested for Fraudlent Use of Debit/Credit Card at Walmart

September 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sharon Joyce Malone
Mark Anthony Mason
George Edward Taylor, Jr.
Jack Davis Taylor, Jr.

A Smithville woman has been charged with five counts of fraud after using a stolen debit/credit card to obtain cash at Walmart last month.

41 year old Sharon Joyce Malone of Old West Point Road is under a $12,500 bond and she will be in court September 24.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Malone allegedly used a stolen debit/credit card at a Smithville Walmart ATM a total of five times on August 7 in amounts of $201.75; $7.92; $177.07; $201.75; and $8.28.

Malone is charged with five counts of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff's Department Detective.

43 year old Mark Anthony Mason of Old West Point Road Smithville is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court September 24.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, September 8 Mason allegedly assaulted his sister by grabbing her around the neck and trying to strangle her. He further threw her on the ground. Mason was determined to have been the primary aggressor. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

40 year old George Edward Taylor, Jr. of Eckle Heights, Liberty is charged with being a fugitive from justice. His bond is $200,000 and he will be in court on September 24.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, September 16 deputies arrested Taylor for violation of probation. He was found to have against him a warrant from Mississippi County, Missouri for failure to appear on an assisted attempted assault, drug charges, and a resisting arrest charge. As a result, a warrant was taken against Taylor for being a fugitive from justice.

51 year old Jack Davis Taylor, Jr. of Dry Creek Road, Smithville is charged with the domestic assault of his girlfriend. He was also cited for an assault on his girlfriend's daughter. Taylor's bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on September 24.

Sheriff Ray said on Saturday, September 19 a deputy and detective responded to a residence on New Home Road for a physical domestic. Upon arrival, they spoke with Taylor and his girlfriend. The woman told the officers that after Taylor followed her into the house they got involved in an argument over Taylor allegedly hitting her daughter on the butt and forehead, causing swelling around her left eye. During the argument, Taylor allegedly struck his girlfriend in the mouth, knocking out a bottom tooth. During the fight, Taylor allegedly got the woman down and continued hitting her until someone pulled him away. Taylor was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was placed under arrest for domestic assault.

10th History Hayride Set For October 10 at Edgar Evins State Park

September 21, 2015
10th  History Hayride Set For October 10 at Edgar Evins State Park

Reserve now for the 10th History Hayride at Edgar Evins State Park on Center Hill Lake, Silverpoint, on October 10th. The park is between Cookeville and Smithville.

Reservations may be made at www.tnvacation.com/events/9216 This link will also be posted on the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park Facebook page (friendsofeesp) and the website at http://foeesp.alturl.com . Provisions for groups and timely cancellations are on the registration site. A Visa or a Master Card will be accepted. If you need assistance making reservations on-line please call the park office at (931) 858-2114 or toll free at 800-250-8619 to obtain contact information for Fount Bertram, President of Friends of Edgar Evins State Park.

Ride hay wagons back into the olden days as costumed re-enactors at several stops along the circuit portray people and events from earlier days in the park and surrounding area. A narrator on each wagon will reveal more history between stops. This is not a Halloween themed event and it is not recommended for small children or anyone who has difficulty sitting quietly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It has been described as " ... kind of like theater in the round except the audience is sitting on a hay wagon." Wagons will leave the Visitors Center approximately every 30 minutes from 1:30 to 7 p.m. to begin the circuit. Reservations will be for specific wagons and times. This event sells out early every year with the most popular departure times selling out first. Some like to go in the daylight to see better. Others appreciate the ambience fire and lamp light add to the enactments.

This popular annual event is a fund raiser for the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park, an all volunteer organization that is dedicated to helping the park and improving the park experience for all. This event is a result of team work between the volunteers and the park employees. Information on joining is available in the park office and the website http://foeesp.alturl.com

For those wishing to make this an overnight or weekend outing there are cabins and camping available at the park. Reservations for those are on-line at http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/edgar-evins

The restaurant at Edgar Evins Marina will be open and will offer a 10% discount to Hayride patrons at the event upon showing a printout of the reservation or the History Hayride armband.

For GPS users the address of the park is 1630 Edgar Evins Park Road, Silver Point, TN 38582. It is located approximately 20 miles north of Smithville, 20 miles west of Cookeville and 60 miles east of Nashville. From I-40 take exit 268 at State Highway 96 and Center Hill Lake.

Pody Expects Legal Challenge If State Adopts Natural Marriage Defense Act (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

September 21, 2015
Dwayne Page

Although a legal challenge is expected if the legislation is passed, State Representative Mark Pody believes the Tennessee General Assembly should take a stand against a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage.

Speaking at a DeKalb County GOP sponsored picnic Saturday, Pody said the "Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act", sponsored by Pody and State Senator Mae Beavers, calls for Tennessee to defend current state law and the constitutional amendment adopted by voters in 2006 specifying that only marriage between a man and a woman can be legally recognized in the state.

Representative Pody said the push defining marriage as between a man and woman in Tennessee had its origins when Democrats still controlled the legislature. "I want to compliment the Democrats on something. Do you know what they did? They passed something that says marriage should be between a man and a woman. And that passed in Tennessee under the Democratic control. We know that in June that five Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that. But we had a rally down at the capitol (Nashville) on Thursday. There were a thousand people. And we filed a bill to go back and say marriage in Tennessee should be between a man and a woman. I know it's going to be challenged immediately once its passed but we want to at least be in this battle. Some may say you're fighting the Supreme Court. But if we're passionate about something and we believe in something, it means you fight. Even David, who said he was going to fight Goliath. He went out and fought. We filed that bill and I think we've got a good shot at doing something with that. We want to be heard on the first amendment to see what we can do on that ruling. We believe two of the (Supreme Court) Justices that ruled on that (same sex marriage) should have recused themselves. They had already performed same sex marriages and because they did that they had a public stance saying they were in favor of it. I don't think they were neutral in hearing the case. I believe they should have recused themselves. We want to get back in front of this Supreme Court," said Representative Pody

The “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” rejects the Obergefell v. Hodges decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June giving same sex couples the fundamental right to marry and calls on the attorney general and reporter to defend any state or local government official from any lawsuit to the contrary.

House Bill 1412 / Senate Bill 1437 also aims to protect court clerks and ministers who have religious objections to marrying same sex couples from prosecution or civil action.

DTC Board Members Win Re-Election (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

September 19, 2015
Dwayne Page
Incumbents Bennie "Buck" Curtis of Alexandria, Ronnie Garrison of Smithville, and Randy Campbell of Liberty were re-elected Saturday to the DTC Communications Board of Directors.

Incumbents Ronnie Garrison, Bennie "Buck" Curtis, and Randy Campbell have all been re-elected to the DTC Communications Board of Directors.

The results of the election were announced Saturday during the annual meeting of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative or DTC Communications at the fairgrounds in Alexandria

The closest race was between Curtis and his opponent Mark Willoughby for the directorship of the Alexandria Exchange. Curtis won 476 to 463, a 13 vote margin.

Garrison, Smithville Exchange member, received a total of 652 votes defeating challenger Paul Cantrell who had 291 votes.

Randy Campbell of the Liberty Exchange defeated Danny Lynn Hale 512 votes to 429.

All three directors elected Saturday will serve for three years.

Here's how the votes break down for each candidate at the four early voting locations and on election day:

Bennie "Buck" Curtis: Alexandria-91, Gordonsville-39, Smithville- 166, Woodbury- 58, and Election Day at Alexandria-122 for a total of 476 votes

Mark Willoughby: Alexandria- 67, Gordonsville- 40, Smithville -175, Woodbury- 47, and Election Day at Alexandria- 134 for a total of 463 votes

Randy Campbell: Alexandria-101, Gordonsville-33, Smithville-188, Woodbury-63, and Election Day at Alexandria-127 for a total of 512

Danny Lynn Hale: Alexandria- 62, Gordonsville-43, Smithville-149, Woodbury-45, and Election Day at Alexandria-130 for a total of 429

Ronnie Garrison: Alexandria-123, Gordonsville-64, Smithville-230, Woodbury-53, and Election Day at Alexandria-182 for a total of 652.

Paul Cantrell: Alexandria-38, Gordonsville-12, Smithville-120, Woodbury-46, and Election Day at Alexandria-75 for a total of 291

The DTC Communications Board of Directors, in addition to Curtis, Garrison, and Campbell, are Terry McPeak of the Norene Exchange, Charles Dwight Vinson of the Milton Exchange, Jean Chumbley Ferrell of the Woodbury Exchange, Jimmy Oakley of Temperance Hall, Roy Nelson Pugh of Auburntown, David Parker of Woodland, and James Dillard, Jr. of Gordonsville.

Congressman Black Visits DeKalb County and Speaks of Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

September 19, 2015
Dwayne Page
Loree Hall, DeKalb GOP Vice Chairman Clint Hall, Congressman Diane Black, and DeKalb GOP Chairman Mingy Bryant at DeKalb GOP Picnic Saturday

Appearing at a DeKalb County GOP sponsored picnic Saturday at Greenbrook Park, Congressman Diane Black spoke of the U.S. House vote Friday to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year and to curb some abortion practices.

The Planned Parenthood "de-fund" bill, sponsored by Congressman Black, passed 241-187, on a nearly party-line vote.

The debate over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding stems from a series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that show high-ranking officials discussing the alleged sale of fetal tissue and body parts of aborted babies.

"I am a nurse. I have been a nurse for almost 45 years now. I was young and out of nursing school when the decision was made by Roe v Wade. For the last almost 43 years I have been fighting for life. What we saw happen on the floor (U.S. House of Representatives) just yesterday (Friday) was something that I have been waiting to see for over 42 years. We were able to get a vote on the floor to at least put a moratorium on Planned Parenthood's funding so that we can do the investigations to tell whether there really has been laws that have been broken behind the curtain called Planned Parenthood," said Congressman Black.

"As a nurse I look at those films and I see three things that are pretty definitive that shows the law has been broken but we will have hearings. We've also asked Loretta Lynch, who is our U.S. Attorney General to do those investigations. But we're doing our investigations. Here are the three things. One is the NIH Revitalization Act that says you cannot alter a procedure for the purpose of obtaining fetal tissue separately from what you would do in an ordinary case . We can see very clearly that is being done. You cannot sell fetal tissue for a profit and we see the haggering over the price and that is also against the law. And the third is partial birth abortion and we see clearly that there are, at least from those films, some suspicions that this is what is going on," Congressman Black continued.

The bill would place an immediate moratorium on all federal funding to Planned Parenthood while Congress investigates the organization for potentially illegal actions. Under the legislation, funds would be reallocated to the more than 13,500 clinics nationwide that provide primary care to low-income and underserved populations and do not perform abortions. Additionally, the bill, as amended, would increase funding to community health centers by $235 million during this one-year period.

While the measure was adopted in the U.S. House, Congressman Black said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated he won't even try to bring the measure to the Senate floor. "Mr. McConnell has said he will not bring this up in the Senate. We're putting a lot of pressure on him and just yesterday we had a couple of our senators come out and say they are going to put pressure on the leader to bring this up. We've got to keep the pressure on. If you would like to call our senators and let them know you want them to put the pressure on McConnell do so. But it is going to be my job for the next month to beat the drum and say bring it up. Let's get a vote and then let's put it on the President's desk and I dare him to veto something that is showing illegal activity. He is in love with Planned Parenthood and he will veto it. But it's worth the fight," said Congressman Black.

McConnell said in an interview Friday he will back a plan to fund the government into December with no conditions, but rejected calls from within his party to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a larger budget bill.

“It’s an exercise in futility," the Kentucky Republican said of a strategy that would likely provoke a government shutdown. "I’m anxious to defund Planned Parenthood" but "the honest answer of that is that’s not going to happen until you have a president who has a similar view."

Metro Police Arrest Former Smithville Man in Midnight Nashville Burglary

September 18, 2015
Dwayne Page

A former Smithville man is among three people arrested in a Nashville convenience store burglary this morning (Friday) on McGavock Pike across from Opryland in which $240 was stolen.

35 year old Jason Donnie Pack has been charged with burglary, theft of property, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The other two persons were reportedly employees of the store.

WJLE contacted Metro Nashville Police for a statement and mug shot of Pack.

In the affidavit sent to WJLE, police report that "On Friday, September 18 just after 12:30 a.m., police received a call at 2471 McGavock Pike, Nashville (BP Station) stating that there was a cart pushed through the front door. Upon arrival, officers observed the front door had been shattered and money was laying at the entrance. The business owner, Joe Hobbs, responded to the scene and accessed surveillance video footage. Blood evidence was located behind the counter of the business, during the on scene investigation."

"Surveillance video showed a bald male white subject wearing a long sleeve dark colored shirt, Khaki pants, and dark shoes with light colored laces, bust the front door window and enter the business. Upon entering the store, the subject fell into a short wall, on the glass. The subject ran directly to where the money drawers were stored, grabbed cash from the drawers and then fled the store. A large white colored four-door sedan could be seen leaving the business moments later, from the direction the subject was seen running."

"At 2:39 a.m., Hermitage Flex officers conducted a traffic stop on a light colored Lincoln sedan for having a tag light out. The defendant (Pack) was in the passenger seat of the vehicle. During the stop, the defendant (Pack) had claimed ownership of the vehicle. A search of the vehicle produced a plastic bag containing 2 hypodermic needles and 1 dilaudid pill from the pocket of the front passenger door where the defendant was seated. The defendant was wearing a short sleeve black shirt, and khaki pants. The defendant had a large amount of cash, in $1 and $5 denominations, in his pocket. One of the $5 bills had a paperclip on it, which is how the store had the money separated. The defendant also had a recent, still blood smeared cut on his lower left leg. Located in the rear floorboard of the vehicle was a long sleeve black t-shirt, that appeared to have blood on it. The defendant was taken into custody. He was determined to be too intoxicated to be interviewed".

According to the report, "the estimated amount of money stolen from the business is about $240, at this time".

Caplinger Case Against City set for October 14

September 18, 2015
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

Former Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger will have his day in court against the City of Smithville next month.

In court documents obtained by WJLE, Judge Amy Hollars has scheduled a final hearing and oral argument in DeKalb County Circuit Court on Wednesday, October 14 at 9:00 a.m. on Caplinger's lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment

Caplinger's attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed the lawsuit on Thursday, June 4.

"We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," Cripps told WJLE when the lawsuit was filed.

In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking for a declaratory judgment "to construe the charter for the City of Smithville and to determine which provision controls and governs the number of votes required by the Board of Aldermen to ratify or confirm the mayor's decision to remove an employee of the city". Cripps and Cox are also urging the court to find that the Board of Aldermen violated a section of the charter by not convening a meeting to ratify the mayor's suspension of Caplinger without pay prior to the due process hearing. They are further asking that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause".

In the answer, filed Monday, July 6, city attorney Vester Parsley and Nashville lawyer Mark E. McGrady of Farrar & Bates, LLP claim that Caplinger was validly suspended and terminated by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and that he is not entitled to back pay from the City.

Briefs have been submitted to the court and the attorneys for both sides are to make oral arguments before the judge on the day of the hearing. Judge Hollars could decide the case that day or submit a written ruling later.

After a seven hour due process hearing Friday, May 8 the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Caplinger.

But the vote itself became an issue and is one of the key components of the lawsuit.

Cripps and Cox insist that the city's charter (Section 3.01) requires a two thirds majority vote (four out of five) to confirm a mayoral termination.

But during the due process hearing City Attorney Vester Parsley cited another section in the charter, which seems to conflict with Section 3.01 in that it allows for only " a majority of the board" to approve removal of employees by the mayor. The aldermen followed Parsley's recommendation to follow this section of the charter.

Rep. Pody, Senator Beavers File “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act”

September 18, 2015
Mark Pody
Mae Beavers

State Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), who represent DeKalb County filed legislation Thursday calling for Tennessee to defend current state law and the constitutional amendment adopted by voters in 2006 specifying that only a marriage between a man and a woman can be legally recognized in the state.

The “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act” rejects the Obergefell v. Hodges decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June giving same sex couples the fundamental right to marry and calls on the attorney general and reporter to defend any state or local government official from any lawsuit to the contrary.

House Bill 1412 / Senate Bill 1437 also aims to protect court clerks and ministers who have religious objections to marrying same sex couples from prosecution or civil action.

“This decision defies constitutional authority and is one of the most glaring examples of judicial activism in U.S. Supreme Court history,” said Rep. Pody. “It not only tramples on state’s rights, but has paved the way for an all-out assault on the religious freedoms of Christians who disagree with it. This bill calls for Tennessee to stand against such unconstitutional action in hopes that other states will stand with us against an out-of-control court legislating from the bench.”

“Natural marriage between one man and one woman as recognized by the people of this state remains the law, regardless of any court decision to the contrary,” said Senator Beavers. “The Obergefell case is clearly and blatantly an overstep of the Supreme Court’s Authority and it is time that states, like Tennessee, stand up against the judicial tyranny of which Thomas Jefferson so eloquently warned. This legislation deems that any court decision purporting to strike down the state’s definitions of natural marriage, including Obergefell v. Hodges, is void in Tennessee.”

She said Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying, "Whenever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force."

The legislation says, “No state or local agency or official shall give force or effect to any court order that has the effect of violating Tennessee’s laws protecting natural marriage.” It also says, “No state or local agency or official shall levy upon the property or arrest the person of any government official or individual who does not comply with any unlawful court order regarding natural marriage within Tennessee.”

“Our clerks and Tennessee’s clergy need protection to exercise their religious beliefs,” added Senator Beavers. “This law would help protect them from prosecution or civil actions.”

Tennessee’s marriage protection amendment specifying that only a marriage between a man and woman can be legally recognized in the state was approved by 81 percent of voters, the officials said.

The General Assembly will take up the bill upon convening the 2016 legislative session in January.


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