Local News Articles

Habitat Partner Family Eager to Start on Second Home Here

April 6, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Home ownership will soon become a reality for Smithville resident Felicia Gibbs. The DeKalb County native and her two small children were just named the second Partner Family by Dekalb County?s Affiliate Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Construction on their Adams St. home should begin within months.

?I?m just overwhelmed and grateful,? said Gibbs after being informed of her selection. ?This is the kind of blessing I?ve prayed and prayed for...When I signed the agreement, I felt like I was signing for the beginning of my life.?

For the past two years Gibbs, a divorced single mother, has been working at Bumpers in Smithville to support daughter Dasia, 4, and son Tristan, eight months old.

She is a 2001 graduate of DeKalb County High School, and daughter of Lisa Cox and Terry Gibbs. Felicia learned of Habitat?s commitment to help deserving candidates become homeowners through local officials and Denise Perry, head of Habitat?s first partner family here.

?I never dreamed I?d be selected,? Gibbs says. ?Now I am just so grateful and excited, and eager to get started.?

Nolan Turner, president of the local Habitat affiliate describes her as an outstanding candidate for home ownership. ?She?s cooperative and humble, and her eagerness to work stand out as qualities we look for in partner families.?

Gibbs? and her children met all three criteria used by Habitat for Humanity to identify the best candidates for success: demonstration of need, ability to pay and willingness to partner with Habitat to realize their dreams of home ownership.

Recipients of Habitat-built homes are required to come up with a down payment, and put in many hours of ?sweat equity? before construction begins. Once the home is completed, the partner family assumes a 20-year interest-free mortgage for the purchase price, based solely on the cost of materials and related services. These costs are projected to be in the $40,000 to $45,000 range, with monthly payments ranging between $200 and $300.

With their second partner family selected, local Habitat members must address their next challenge, raising that money. Planned efforts include a county-wide outreach to churches; a campaign to establish a Habitat for Humanity donor club; and the opening of a local Habitat Restore for the sale of donated building supplies and materials.

Anyone interested in donating money, materials or tools to the DeKalb County Affiliate Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, or volunteering for a construction crew, should call 215-8181. Please leave a voicemail message with your contact information and a board member will get back to you.

The local Habitat affiliate is one of more than 2100 Habitat for Humanity chapters operating in more than 100 countries. Since the organization?s start in 1978, local chapters have built or renovated housing for more than 30,000 American families, and 175,000 families throughout the world.

Each Habitat affiliate chapter operates as a self-sustaining non-profit organization, committed to Habitat?s faith-based initiative. Habitat for Humanity International defines itself as a non-profit ecumenical Christian organization founded on the conviction that every man, woman, and child should have a simple, decent and affordable place to safely live with dignity.

Undercover Drug Investigation By DeKalb County Sheriff's Department Results In Indictments Against 48 People

April 6, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

After over six months of intensive undercover investigations and surveillance by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Patrick Ray says that the illegal drug business here has taken a hard hit with the arrest of numerous defendants, charged in 164 count sealed indictments returned by the Grand Jury this week

Sheriff Ray says the investigation, which began shortly after he took office last September, is in keeping with his pledge to the public that he and his administration would target dealers who are putting drugs out on our streets.

Sheriff Ray says these defendants are accused of selling undercover operatives various types of drugs. \"In our investigation, we bought prescription drugs such as Hydrococone, Dilaudid, Xanax, Valium, Oxycontin, and also Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Marijuana.\"

According to Sheriff Ray, he has also received assurances from the District Attorney General's Office, that they will recommend to the court that these defendants receive stiff penalties and not just a \"slap on the wrist\", upon conviction. \"All of these defendants are considered active dealers in our communities.\"

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department spent the day Friday rounding up the following defendants with still more arrests forthcoming:

Lisa M. Porterfield- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid)

Travis Tramel- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Oxycontin) and Sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance ( Hydrocodone)

Ginger Trapp- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Cocaine)

Samantha Devault- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Cocaine)

Carrie Devault- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Cocaine)

Mark West- Sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance (Hyrdrocodone) and Sale and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax)

Josh Beaty- Sale and delivery of a schedule VI controlled substance over one half ounce (Marijuana)

Russell Blackwell- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (3 counts) (Dilaudid)

Harold Blackwell- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (3 counts) (Dilaudid)

Danny Lee Burnett- Manufacture of a schedule VI controlled substance (Marijuana)

Darryl Cantrell- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid) and sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance (Hydrocodone)

Nickey Reece Cantrell- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid)

Michael L. Davenport- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Morphine)

Tammy M. Davenport- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Morphine)

Art Dawson- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid) and sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance over .5 grams (Cocaine)

Scott Ferrell- Sale and delivery of a schedule VI controlled substance over one half ounce (2 counts) (Marijuana)

Steve Mabe, Jr.- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Oxycontin)

Jeanna Snow Bain- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Dilaudid)

Wayne Hicks- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid) and sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance over .5 grams (3 counts) (Cocaine)

Amanda M. Hicks- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Cocaine)

Elizabeth Chalfant- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid)

John Braswell- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid)

Sabina Solano- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (3 counts) (Dilaudid)

Chad E. Knowles- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Dilaudid)

Vickie Cantrell- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Dilaudid)

Eddie Lattimore- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Dilaudid)

Robin Lawson- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Dilaudid)

Christopher Martin- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Cocaine)

Danny Ray Murphy- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (2 counts) (Dilaudid)

Willie Murphy- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Morphine) and sale and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance (Valium)

Sandra Ramsey- Sale and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax)

Darrell Ramsey- Sale and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax)

John Knauer- Sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance (Hydrocodone)

Patricia Durham- Sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance (Hyrdrocodone)

Meanwhile Max Teeples was arrested on a state warrant charging him with simple possession of marijuana.

Doug Judkins was picked up on a state warrant charging him with simple possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (Marijuana)

Wilburn Estes was arrested on a state warrant charging him with possession of a schedule III controlled substance (Hydrocodone) for sale and delivery and possession of a schedule IV controlled substance (Valium) for sale and delivery.

Two other unrelated sealed indictments were served by the Sheriff's Department Friday.

Angela Tubbs was indicted on charges of driving under the influence, DUI per se, and violation of the open container law.

Johnnie Mitchell was indicted on two counts of statutory rape of a child sixteen years of age.

Sheriff Ray says fighting the drug problem will remain the top priority in his administration because the use, sale and distribution of drugs affects so many other aspects of criminal behavior such as theft and violence.\" This operation is my administration's way of showing DeKalb County that we are serious about dealing with the drug problem. We realize that this effort is only the beginning of what we must do to get control of drug use and sales in our communities and we are committed to continuing our efforts, As a matter of fact, my administration is already working on cases that will be scheduled for a future Grand Jury\".

Willoughby Hires Professional Personnel For 2007-2008 School Year

April 12, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has signed contracts with the Professional Personnel for the 2007-2008 school year.

Willoughby presented a list of the employees to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Certified personnel at each school are as follows:

DeKalb County High School-

Angie Anderson, Lori Barnes, Penny Bilyeu, Danny Bond, Amanda Brown, Kevin Burchfield, Boyd Cantrell, Harriett Cantrell, Jeanine Cantrell, Mary Anne Carpenter, Patrick Cripps, Dixie Crook, Linda Dean, Donna Emmons, Marshall Ferrell, Tina Fletcher, Jonathan Fontanez, Michelle Fontanez, Amanda Fuller, Judy Fuson, Wayne Fuson, David Gash, Michael Hawkins, Marie Hill, Susan Hinton, Sonja House, John Isabell, Dylan Kleparek, Brad Leach, Deborah Loring, Lynus Martin, Rolanda Navarro, Scott Odom, Rebecca Oliver, Walteen Parker, Betty Parris, Linda Parris, Joey Reeder, Alissa Rice, Leslie Rice, Christine Rivers, Melissa Roysdon, Melissa Ruch, Frederick Sanders, Larry Steffee, Amy Tobitt, Steve Trapp, Chris Vance, Michael Whitefield, Carol Williams, Charlotte Wruble, Melvin Young, and Kathy Hendrix.

Northside Elementary School-

Joyce Alexander, Lisa Bell, Kathy Bryant, Linda Bush, Wendy Colvert, Danielle Collins, Amanda Dakas, Tena Davidson, Becky Davis, Alisha Day, Holly Espinosa Jerry Foster, Carrie Gottlied, Amy Green, Amanda Griffith, Jennifer Griffith, Patty Hale, Karen Jacobs, Kristy Lasser, Amanda Mathis, Libby McCormick, Penelope Miller, Pamela Miller, Louise Owen, Joy Parker, Amy Raymond, Bethany Rigsby, Tammy Sims, Jama Todd, Julie Vincent, Betsye Walker, Tad Webb, Ginger Wenger, Sandy Willingham, and Gayle Redmon.

DeKalb West School-

Pat Allen, Doris Cantrell, Jeanna Caplinger, Bill Conger, Kim Crook, Martha Damron, Donna Davis, Genrose Davis, Tonya Ellis, Janet England, Sabrina Farler, Carol Hale, Lesa Hayes, Ricky Hendrix, Regina Kent, Kathy Lawrence, Michael Littrell, Shelia McMillen, Melanie Molander, Tammy Payne, Cynthia Preston, Lori Pryor, Susan Robinson, Jane Watson, Vicki Wilson, Amy Young, and Danny Parkerson.

Smithville Elementary School-

Sharon Anderson, Kelly Birmingham, Kim Brown, Vickie Burton, Beth Cantrell, Laura Carter, Trena Curtis, Sue Driver, Vicky Duke, Wanna Foster, Kelli Foster, Amy Fox, Misty Franklin, Tina Gash, Amanda Hardiek, Vicky Hawker, Bradley Hendrix, Holly Hendrix, Mary Henny, Betty Hickey, April Hines, Lori Isabell, Anna Johnson, Sabrina Kirksey, Karen Knowles, Carrie Lee, Lynda Luna, Lisa Mabe, LeVaughnda Midgett, Margaret Nichols, Christina Ontiveros, Elizabeth Pafford, Jane Parsley, Kristy Parsley, Jennifer Peek, Mary Pugh, Jane Ramsey, Amanda Rhoady, Carol Tallent, Jan Thomas, Janet Trapp, Carol-Ann Tripp, Fay Turner, Sherian Waggoner, Janet Woodward, Crystal Young, Christie Young, and Billy Tanner.

DeKalb Middle School-

Joey Agee, Josh Agee, Jan Alexander, Ashley Barnes, Pat Barnes, Sherry Bush, Lori Cloyd, Lisa Craig, Lisa Cripps, Jennifer Davenport, Nancy Dillon, Lori Hendrix, Tom Hill, Michelle Jones, Gail Kirksey, Linda Lawrence, Michael Lewis, Debra Moore, Karen Pelham, Anita Puckett, Judy Redmon, Kevin Rigsby, Joyce Robertson, Joe Ruch, Candice Scarbro, Lori Sexton,Tonya Sullivan, Kitty Thomas, Vicky Terrell, Pam Vanatta, Jennifer West, and Randy Jennings.

Central Office Staff-

Gina Arnold, Katherine Ballard, Michelle Burklow, Clay Farler, Carol Hendrix, Larry Johnson, and Mary Nelle Summers

County Wide-

Ana Bain, Judy Malone, Lori Rogers, Peggy Semmes, and Tonya Perry.

Meanwhile, those who have been employed for the 2006-2007 school year since March include Beatrice Mongello, transportation; Kortny Blaylock, substitute teacher; Patricia Redmon, substitute cafeteria worker; and Sara Lee, substitute cafeteria worker.

Those granted a leave of absence as requested are Joseph Agee, teacher at DeKalb Middle School and LaVaughnda Midgett, teacher at Smithville Elementary School.

Janice Bratcher has been transferred to a subtitute cafeteria position.

Charles Gilbert, DCHS Band Director, has resigned.

Larry Steffee and Cynthia Preston were granted tenure by the school board. Their names were inadvertently left off the list for educators obtaining tenure last month.

Grand Jury Issues Report Complimentary of Sheriff Ray

April 9, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Members of the Grand Jury toured the DeKalb County Jail last week and issued a brief report complimentary of Sheriff Patrick Ray.

The report, signed by all members of the Grand Jury, states that \"On April 3rd, 2007, we, the Grand Jury found the condition of the county jail to be adequate or better. Sheriff Patrick Ray is changing things at the jail for the better. He is using his resources wisely. We would like to see that the county commission continues to support Sheriff Ray in his efforts.\"

Two Arrested By Sheriff's Department In Recent Thefts at Marinas

April 9, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made two arrests in connection with recent thefts at local marinas.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 25 year old Jennifer Brazle of South Cedar Street, Gainesboro is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $500 and 23 year old Derrick Stafford of Goad Lane, Gainesboro is charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft of property over $500. Bond for Brazle is $30,000 and Stafford's bond is $30,000. Both will appear in General Sessions Court on the charges April 26th.

Sheriff Ray says on February 14th, Brazle went to Center Hill Marina, broke into a houseboat, and stole a generator, four fishing rods, and other miscellaneous items.

On March 5th, Sheriff Ray says Stafford went to Cookeville Boat Dock, broke into two houseboats, and stole two generators, fishing equipment, and other miscellaneous items.

More arrests are forthcoming.

Sheriff's Department Picks Up Two More Defendants On Drug Charges

April 11, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has picked up two more defendants, charged in sealed indictments, as a result of the recent undercover drug investigation.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Nick Hollingsworth is charged with two counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid) and Berna Dean Barnes is charged with possession of a schedule IV controlled substance (Valium) and possession of a schedule II controlled substance (Methadone)

All those indicted by the Grand Jury will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, April 16th at 9:00 a.m.

Turnout Light But Concerns Raised At First Public Hearings On Proposed Sales Tax Hike

April 12, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The first public hearings on the proposed local option sales tax increase/property tax cut didn't attract many people Thursday night at Liberty or Dowelltown but a couple of people who did speak expressed their concerns.

At the Dowelltown hearing, Snow Hill resident Mike Antoniak suggested that the proposed sales tax hike would amount to an overall tax increase for most residents of DeKalb County, even with a property tax cut, and he took issue with recent public statements made by County Mayor Mike Foster.

Foster recently told the local media that the annual property tax bill on a $200,000 piece of property would be reduced by approximately $90 with the 19 cent reduction in the property tax rate. He said it would take nearly $8,000 in purchases by a consumer for the 1.25 cent hike in the sales tax to go over the $90 savings.

Antoniak says he did some research and found that only about 6% of the property owners in DeKalb County have land assessed at more than $200,000. Using Foster's scenario, Antoniak says for 90% of the property owners, this would not be a tax swap, as Foster contends, but a tax increase. \"The logic works until you look at what percentage of homes or properties in the county is assessed at $200,000 or more. I called the Tax Assessor's office and he referred me to the Division of Property Assessments in Cookeville. This is what she told me and I had her to repeat it. There are 1,047 pieces of property in DeKalb County, out of 17,000, assessed above $200,000. That's six percent. So that would mean for 90% of the people here, if they spend just the $8,000 (purchases where sales tax is applied) their taxes are actually going to increase. I mean $8,000 is just $150 a week for groceries.\"

As far as the overall plan is concerned, Foster still insists that it would basically amount to a tax swap, with the loss of funds from the nineteen and a half cent property tax cut to be offset by new revenue generated from the proposed sales tax hike, which is projected to be the equivalent of twenty one cents on the tax rate. Foster says the plan would give property owners a 10% tax cut while broadening the sales tax base, distributing the tax burden among a greater number of people including tourists and others who work here but reside elsewhere. \" You have a choice of broadening the base of who is paying. You can't continuously forever rely on property tax payers.\"

At the Liberty meeting, Myron Rhody, another Snow Hill resident, weighed in on the debate, saying while he supported the sales tax increase last year, he has reservations about it now. \"I voted for the sales tax increase last year because that's more fair. But I don't like this way it's coming now. It's almost like you're saying 'I'm going to twist your arm a little bit or encourage you a little bit by saying we're going to give you this (property tax cut)if you'll take that (sales tax increase) now, because it didn't go (pass) before. I'm just telling you what I have heard all over the county. It's everybody you talk to, even the ones who were for the sales tax increase the last time and voted for it. They don't like this at all. It smells fishy to them.\"

Foster responded saying \" Vote against it and it will smell like higher taxes.\"

Rhody added that he would tend to favor a wheel tax. \" You've got people who live in the projects. You've got people who are not local residents of the United States. But they all drive cars. I'm not in favor of a tax period. But we've got to have it. I'd rather see a wheel tax come in or a luxury tax. I've got a boat. You may have a boat. But we don't have to have those things to live. You have to have groceries. You have to have clothes. There are some people who are just barely getting by.\"

The county commission, in 2003, raised the property tax rate by 36 cents. Last September, the commission raised the rate by 39 cents.

County officials say if the sales tax referendum is approved by the voters in a special election on Thursday, May 17th, which would raise the local option sales tax rate from 1.5 to the maximum of 2.75%, the county commission will reduce the property tax rate by at least nineteen and a half cents.

Whether or not the sales tax referendum is approved, county officials have not ruled out the possibility of some other tax increase or new tax within the next four or five years, should the need arise, due to inflation.

School Board Considers Policy To Prohibit Use of Cell Phones By Students during School Hours

April 13, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Students will be allowed to possess cell phones at school, but they won't be permitted to use them under a new policy adopted on first reading by the Board of Education Thursday night.

Under the proposed policy regarding cell phones, \"Students may possess personal communication devices, such as cell phones, while on school property. However, the personal communication device must be in the off mode and must be kept in a backpack, purse, or similar personal carry-all and may not be used during school hours. The principal or his or her designee may grant a student permission to use a personal communication device at his or her discretion. A device used outside these parameters shall result in confiscation of the device until such time as it may be released to the student's parent or guardian. A student in violation of this policy is subject to disciplinary action.\"

The proposed policy further states that \"Use of cameras on personal communication devices is strictly prohibited on school property or at school functions. A student in violation of this policy is subject to disciplinary action.\"

As for personal electronic devices, the proposed policy states that \"Personal electronic devices such as CD players, Ipods, or MP3 players may be stored in backpacks, purses or personal carry-alls. However, the use of the devices during school hours is strictly forbidden. Use of improper storage of the personal electronic device will result in confiscation of the device until such time as it may be released to the student's parents or guardian. A student in violation of this policy is subject to disciplinary action.\"

The school board will act on the proposed policy on second reading at the next meeting May 10th at the high school cafeteria.

Three Arrested By Smithville Police on Various Charges

April 16, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Three people have been arrested by the Smithville Police Department since Friday.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says on April 13th Smithville Police Officers working selective traffic enforcement for speeding stopped 33 year old Edward Ralph Roberts of 229 Robinson Road in Liberty for excessive speed on West Broad Street. A computer check disclosed that Roberts was currently driving on a suspended license. He was arrested and charged with Driving on a Suspended License, No Insurance and Speeding and transported to the DeKalb County Jail. His bond is $3,000.

Meanwhile, Chief Stufano says On April 14th Smithville Officers investigating a reported suspicious person complaint at Evins Manor Apartments found a male walking around the complex knocking on apartment doors at 11:30 p.m. Further investigation noted that 22 year old Stephen Hunter Pugh of 234 Sweetwater Road in Liberty was also in possession of drug paraphernalia. He was subsequently arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,000 bond.

Chief Stufano further reports that on April 15th at approximately 3:30 a.m. Smithville Police responded to the BP Gas Station on South Congress Boulevard to a reported drunk driver. Upon arrival 24 year old Charles Michael Blanchfield of 3770 Seven Spring Road in Smithville was found passed out at the gas pumps with the vehicle motor still running. Also found in his lap was a plate, straw and narcotics. In his hand were a plastic bag containing 7 marijuana cigarettes, 6 Hydrocodone tablets and 2 Xanax tablets.

Blanchfield was eventually awakened and placed under arrest and transported to the DeKalb County Jail. Charges included DUI, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Possession of Drugs for Sale and Delivery. Bond was set at $27,000.

Two More People Served With Sealed Indictments On Drug Charges

April 18, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has picked up two more people named in sealed indictments returned by the grand jury earlier this month on drug charges.

Josh Goff and Steve Stanley are each charged with two counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid).

They are among more than 40 people indicted by the grand jury as a result of a six month undercover drug investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

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