Local News Articles

Fire Leaves Family Homeless

February 21, 2011
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters Work to Extinguish Fire at Home of Paul & Anita Snell

A DeKalb County family was left homeless after a fire destroyed their residence Monday morning at 273 Holiday Haven Drive.

911 received the call at 10:22 a.m.

Roy Merriman, Assistant County Fire Chief, said firefighters were summoned to the home of Paul and Anita Snell but were unable to save the structure.

According to Merriman, Mrs Snell was preparing to do some cooking when she got a phone call and walked from the kitchen into the living room. When Mrs. Snell returned to the kitchen she discovered the fire, called 911 on her cell phone, and then escaped unharmed. No one else was at home at the time.

The family lost their home and nearly all of their belongings in the blaze. An outbuilding near the house was also destroyed and a pickup truck in the driveway received some heat damage. Merriman said the fire burned about seven tenths of an acre around the home.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and Tanker #1 from the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department worked to bring the fire under control along with members of the Tennessee Division of Forestry, who cut a line around the burned area to keep it from spreading into the woods. Blowers and rakes were also used to help contain the fire.

Smithville Man Arrested After Meth Lab Found In His Home

February 21, 2011
Dwayne Page
Brandon Keith Thomas
Julie Elaine Moore
Chasity Phillips

A Smithville man was arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department last week after a deputy found a meth lab in his home.

25 year old Brandon Keith Thomas of West Broad Street, Smithville is charged with initiation to manufacture methamphetamine.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reported that on Thursday, February 17th, a deputy was called to check out a possible meth lab at Thomas' home. After informing Thomas why he was there, the officer asked if he could enter. Thomas gave consent and the officer, upon entering, detected a strong chemical smell consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine inside the home. After receiving consent to search, the officer found in five rooms, components of a methamphetamine lab including coffee filters, tubing, and a three liter bottle, all containing a white powdery residue, a two liter bottle with a bi-layered liquid, cut batteries, lithium strips, propane, and empty pseudoephedrine packs.

Thomas' bond was originally set at $50,000 but during a court appearance, Judge Bratten Cook, II doubled his bond to $100,000. Thomas' next court date is March 10th.

Meanwhile, 30 year old Julie Elaine Moore of Cookeville Highway is charged with four counts of theft under $500. Her bond totals $10,000 and she will be in court on March 17th

Moore allegedly stole items from a residence on Cookeville Highway on four separate occasions and then pawned or sold them.

Sheriff Ray reported that on January 14th, Moore allegedly took a wii video game system from the home and pawned it for $40 in Cookeville. The value of the game system was $200.

Moore returned to the residence on January 31st where she allegedly took a floor heater and then returned it for $41 in cash at Wal-mart.

On February 13th, Moore went back to the same residence where she allegedly took a mailbox and then returned it for $16 in cash at Wal-mart.

During her last trip to the home on February 16th, Moore allegedly took ten bags of mulch and six bags of potting soil and returned it for $60 in cash at Wal-mart.

The sheriff's department arrested two people on Tuesday, February 15th after making a traffic stop on Shady Drive.

35 year old Tyrone Dewayne Owens was charged with a first offense of driving on a suspended license while 28 year old Chasity Phillips was charged with unlawful possession of a schedule III controlled substance (Hydrocodone) for resale. Her bond is $10,000 and she will be in court on February 24th. Owens' bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on February 23rd.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was traveling on Highway 56 north when a black Dodge truck turned in front of him into Highland Drive, causing the officer to swerve into another lane to avoid a crash. After stopping the vehicle on Shady Drive, the deputy talked to the driver, Owens who advised the officer that he did not have a drivers license. The deputy had also observed Owens operating this same vehicle earlier in the day. A computer check confirmed that Owens' license were suspended for failure to pay child support.

Phillips, a passenger of Owens' truck was arrested after another officer, standing beside the vehicle, saw her put something down her pants. She was asked to step out of the truck. The officer also asked her what she had placed in her pants. Phillips then pulled out a cellophane pack that contained fifteen hydrocodone 10 milligram pills.

40 year old Jeffrey Lee White of Page Drive, Smithville was issued a citation on February 16th for driving on a revoked license. He was stopped for having a tail light out on the left side of his vehicle. During the traffic stop, White told the officer that his license were revoked. He will be in court on March 2nd.

25 year old Sarah Michelle Gleed of Tubb Street, Liberty was issued a citation for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), failure to display (tag), and for the vehicle not being registered to the driver. Sheriff Ray said Gleed was stopped on February 18th for no tag information on the vehicle. The automobile only bore an out of date drive-out tag. She could not produce proof of registration, insurance, or tag information. Her court date is March 2nd

52 year old Jerry Wayne Foster of Allen Ferry Road, Smithville was issued a citation for violation of the open container law and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His court date is March 30th.

Sheriff Ray said that while driving on Allen Ferry Road February 20th, a deputy saw a black Ford truck crossing the center line. After stopping the truck, the deputy found that Foster was the driver. There was also an open beer bottle about half full, within arms reach of the driver.

TWRA Hunter Safety Course Set for March

February 21, 2011
Dwayne Page

A Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Hunter Safety Course will be held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, March 7th, 8th, &10th, & 11th from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. each night at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The church is located on Highway 83 at Golf Club Drive, Smithville.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross says participants must be at least nine years old by the first night of the class and must attend each night. There is no charge for the course.

For more information, call Tony Cross at 597-9625.

THP Names Charlie Caplinger Trooper of Year for Nashville District

February 19, 2011
Dwayne Page
Trooper Charlie Caplinger

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has honored it's Troopers of the Year and a DeKalb County man is among them.

Trooper Charlie Caplinger was named Trooper of the Year for the Nashville District. On August 23, 2010, Trooper Caplinger, currently assigned to the Special Programs Division, responded to a citizen report of a burglary at a nearby residence. Working an overtime assignment at the time, Trooper Caplinger requested assistance and then took action. Upon arriving at the scene, he observed a male running from the home and into the woods. Trooper Caplinger instructed the suspect to throw away his weapon and surrender. The suspect refused and moments later, a gunshot was heard and Trooper Caplinger believed he was under fire. Caplinger returned fire, provided cover and directions to the assisting Trooper, who later located the male deceased from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Trooper Caplinger confirmed his bravery and dedication in protecting the citizens of Tennessee.

Trooper Caplinger was among several State Troopers who received Trooper of the Year honors in their respective districts. Meanwhile, the overall 2010 Trooper of the Year is Dwayne Stanford of Henderson County in the Jackson District. Awards were also given to the Investigator of the Year and Interdiction East and West Troopers of the Year, while 10 Troopers were also recognized for their DUI Enforcement efforts. The announcement was made during a special ceremony at the THP Training Center located in Nashville on Friday, February 18.

"These men and women represent the long-standing achievements of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and its unwavering commitment to protect the citizens of this great state," said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. "We celebrate their bravery, honor their dedication, and thank them for being true public servants for the state of Tennessee."

"Tennessee State Troopers like those honored today represent a proud tradition of service dating back to 1929," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "These 12 Troopers recognized today are examples of the everyday heroism and courage exemplified by the Tennessee Highway Patrol's professionalism and dedication to service and safety."

Trooper Stanford joined the Department of Safety and Homeland Security in 2002 as a Communications Dispatcher and was later commissioned as a State Trooper in 2007. His initial assignment was as a Road Trooper in Fayette County until being transferred to Henderson County in the Jackson District in 2008. Trooper Stanford earned the Trooper of the Year honor after locating a juvenile who was kidnapped out of Maryland on February 13, 2010. Trooper Stanford received an AMBER Alert notification, began an immediate search for the suspect's vehicle and located said subject within 20 minutes. He arrested the suspect without incident and preserved potential evidence in the case. Trooper Stanford was awarded House Joint Resolution No. 1313 by the state of Tennessee House of Representatives and the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation for his enforcement efforts. He was also recognized for the top 10 Troopers in DUI Enforcement with 30 arrests.

Passage of AT&T Backed Legislation Could Adversely Affect DTC Communications

February 18, 2011
Dwayne Page

A battle is brewing between large telecommunications corporations and smaller telephone companies and cooperatives over intrastate access fees and the Tennessee Legislature is apparently where the matter will be decided.

However, if the smaller companies should lose the fight, Les Greer, CEO of DTC Communications, said the local telephone cooperative could lose as much as $700,000 per year in revenue, which could be "devastating" to the company.

At issue is legislation that would force the small telephone companies, like DTC Communications, to reduce the access fees they charge long-distance companies. An access charge is what a long distance company pays to a local telephone company to complete a call.

According to a published report in the Tennessee Journal, many small telephone companies charge about 7½ cents a minute and use the revenue to subsidize basic residential and business rates. For some, the access charges generate 20% of their revenue.

Styled the "Uniform Access, Competition, and Consumer Fairness Act of 2011," the bill would make intrastate access charges the same as the much cheaper interstate charges, phasing in the reduction over four years.

Besides AT&T and Comcast, the coalition of long-distance providers seeking a phased reduction includes Charter, Sprint, Verizon, and TW Telecom, according to the report.

In a prepared statement, which appears on the DTC Website, Greer , COO Gary Hancock and members of the DTC Board said passage of this bill could result in increased telephone and Internet rates, a loss of jobs in the community, and lost opportunities to attract new, high paying jobs. They are urging the general public, including DTC subscribers, to contact their state representatives and senators asking them to oppose this legislation.

State Senator Mae Beavers told WJLE Friday that she stands with the telephone cooperatives in her district and will oppose this bill. "I have four small telephone cooperatives in my district. We don't think that the bill which AT &T has filed is fair to our small telephone companies and it's an issue we're going to take a serious look at. I've filed some legislation on behalf of the small telephone cooperatives. It's a caption bill in case we need it. It's hard for some of these small companies to go up against AT&T sometimes especially with their (AT & T) 30 lobbyists which they've hired already. So that's going to be a huge issue especially for those of us that have the small telephone cooperatives in our districts and the customers are really going to be paying out the ying yang if the AT&T legislation passes."

The DTC statement is as follows:

"Telecommunications competitors and regulators have long acknowledged that it is more expensive to build and maintain rural networks, which also have lower revenue potential because they serve more sparsely populated areas. In fact, those are the very reasons why AT&T and its coalition partners consistently choose not to serve you. Small cooperatives like ours were created to fill the gap and provide services in rural areas that the larger companies do not serve".

"Now, AT&T and other large long distance carriers are asking the legislature to arbitrarily reduce one of our key revenue sources, the "intrastate access fee," which is the fee that long distance carriers pay when calls from their customers use our network to connect to people in our community."

"This fee provides significant revenue to communications cooperatives like ours. If AT&T and the telecom giants are successful, we estimate lost revenue to DTC will be $700,000 per year."

"This is a reduction in revenue that no small cooperative or independent phone company can absorb. That's why this legislation will cost jobs, force rate increases, and make it difficult for us to invest in continued infrastructure improvements like broadband. Deferring these investments will stifle new job creation in our community and impact essential services we provide to small businesses, hospitals, local governments, emergency services and law enforcement."

"AT&T wants you to believe that reducing this fee will benefit consumers, but there is nothing in the bill that requires the large corporations to pass their "savings" through to the customer. In fact, based on AT&T's actions over the past few years, we have no reason to believe Tennesseans will see any benefit. In all likelihood, reductions in AT&T's costs will go directly to AT&T's bottom line while communities like ours pay the price."

"It is critical that lawmakers hear from you on this subject. We are asking all of you – individuals, businesses and local officials – to let your voice be heard in Nashville.. Please take a moment today to write, call and e-mail these individuals today!"

The statement concludes "We cannot outspend AT&T and its coalition partners to ensure your interests are protected, but together, we can outwork them. If you have questions, please feel free to call our office. "

According to the Tennessee Journal, the coalition of long distance providers have scoffed at the notion that smaller telephone companies will be devastated, pointing out that eight cooperatives serving Tennessee have received a combined $315 million in federal broadband stimulus grants and that four of the small telephone exchange companies are owned by Wisconsin-based TDS, which took in $5.1 billion in 2008 and is the parent company of U.S. Cellular.

The big companies further argue that the high access charges enable the rural providers to offer basic service rates lower than those in other areas, at the expense of city and suburban customers who indirectly pay the charges.

The bill is scheduled to go before committees of the state House and Senate for the first time on Tuesday, February 22nd and Wednesday, February 23rd.

Jimmy Oakley Named to DTC Board of Directors

February 18, 2011
Dwayne Page
Jimmy Oakley (photo provided courtesy of DTC Dialtone)

A new member has been appointed to represent the Temperance Hall exchange on the DTC Communications Board of Directors.

Jimmy Oakley was recently appointed by the board to fill the unexpired term of the late Robert Don Malone, who died on November 25th, 2010 after serving nine years as director from the Temperance Hall exchange.

Malone had just won re-election to a new three year term on the board during the annual membership meeting in September, only two months before his death.

The DTC Communications Board of Directors, is made up of Roy N. Pugh of Auburntown, James H. Dillard, Jr. of Gordonsville, Jimmy Oakley of Temperance Hall, David Parker of Woodland, Ronnie Garrison of Smithville, Randy Campbell of Liberty, Bennie Curtis of Alexandria, Terry McPeak of Norene, Charles Dwight Vinson of Milton, and Greg Rogers of Woodbury.

Tennessee District Attorneys Launch New Statewide Teen Pregnancy Awareness Campaign

February 17, 2011
Randy York

District Attorney Randy York and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference today announced a new campaign including aggressive outreach through social media, printed materials and a major effort to build a statewide network of partners to increase their efforts to fight teen pregnancy.

The statewide initiative represents the second phase of the highly successful What’s the Rush? campaign that raises awareness of the legal, financial and social consequences of becoming teen parents.

“Teen pregnancy has a direct consequence, not just on crime, but on society in general. There’s an inability to care and support that child the way that it deserves. It’s really sad when you see teenagers in court for nonpayment of child support and they’re facing the loss of their driver’s and hunting licenses and the possibility of going to jail,” said General York.

The DAs started the campaign in 2008 in response to the number of court cases involving teen parents throughout the state. Printed materials and a video were created for the DAs to use when visiting schools and civic organizations to educate Tennessee’s youth about the consequences of becoming teen parents.

After receiving a substantial amount of positive feedback, the DAs decided not only to continue the campaign, but to commit more resources to expand its scope to reach even more teenagers. One of the new additions is the social media initiative the DAs will participate in using Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. They will also be working more directly with campaign partners, and sending new and updated materials to schools and medical offices across the state.

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference is already partnered with the Tennessee Departments of Human Services, Health and Education; Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians; Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants; Tennessee School Counselor Association; National Association of Social Workers – Tennessee Chapter; Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center; Hospital Alliance of Tennessee; and YMCA of Memphis & the MidSouth.

“We are pleased to partner with the district attorneys, who see this problem firsthand,” said DHS Commissioner Virginia T. Lodge. “Continuing and expanding this program can make a difference in communities across Tennessee.”

In the 13th District alone, the most recent statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health show that in one year there were 380 reported cases of teen pregnancy and more than 13,000 cases reported statewide. Statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy show that teen parenthood can lead to a number of legal, financial and health consequences. Those statistics include:

•Eight out of 10 teen fathers do not marry the mother of their first child.

•Less than half of mothers who have a child before they are 18 years old graduate from high school, and less than 2 percent have a college degree by age 30.

•Teen fathers have less education and earn much less money than teenage boys without children.

•The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at a low birth weight, which can cause infant death, blindness, deafness, respiratory problems, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and hyperactivity.

•Children of teen mothers are 50 percent more likely to have to repeat a grade in school and are less likely to finish high school.

•The sons of teen mothers are two times more likely to end up in prison.

•The children of teen mothers are two times more likely to suffer abuse and neglect compared to children of older mothers.

For more information about What’s the Rush?, call General Randy York at (931) 528-5015. To learn more and access the campaign materials, please visit www.tndagc.org/whatstherush.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatstherushtn
MySpace: www.myspace.com/whatstherushtn
YouTube: www.youtube.com/whatstherushtn

Food Check-Out Week Spotlights Healthy Eating on a Budget

February 17, 2011

Concern about the cost of a healthy diet being out of reach remains on the minds of many Americans as the nation continues to work through serious economic woes. However, according to an Agriculture Department study, the cost of eating healthy hasn't changed as much as some less-healthy alternatives. Eating healthy food while on a budget does require strategic shopping.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week, February 20-26, focuses on helping Americans learn how to stretch their grocery dollars with healthy, nutritious food. America's farmers and ranchers are committed to producing safe, healthy and abundant food. And they share a common concern with consumers when it comes to putting nutritious meals on the table while sticking to a tight budget.

The good news: a recent USDA report favorably supports the economics of healthier eating. Recent food price data show that prices for unprepared, readily available fresh fruits and vegetables have remained stable relative to dessert and snack foods, such as chips, ice cream, and cola. Therefore, as defined by food in the study, the price of a "healthier" diet has not changed compared to an "unhealthy" diet. Additionally, certain fresh fruits and vegetables have actually gone down in price over the last 25 years compared to the more expensive processed foods.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week is aimed at helping DeKalb County families learn how to shop strategically to put nutritious meals on the table with fewer dollars."Learning to use your grocery dollars wisely helps ensure that nutrition isn't neglected," according to April Martin, DeKalb Extension FCS Agent.

"Fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, are an important part of a healthy diet. Buying fresh produce when it's in season and costs less, while buying frozen fruits and vegetables when they're not in season, is a smart way to stretch that dollar," said Mary Sanders, DeKalb County's TNCEP program assistant.

"Knowing your food budget, planning balanced meals, making a list and sticking to it are just a few of the tips we offer consumers," said Sanders.

Now in its 13th year, Food Check-Out Week also highlights America's safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, made possible largely by America's productive farmers and ranchers. According to the most recent information from the USDA's Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10% of their disposable personal income for food.

You'll find posters in some of our local stores that were made by senior high 4-Hers as a service to the community. If you need additional information on budgeting your food dollars, contact us.

County Firefighters Called to Trailer Home

February 16, 2011
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighters were called to the trailer home of Connie Rahm at 179 Kings Court on Adcock Cemetery Road early Wednesday morning.

911 received the call at 1:09 a.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said that the fire started from something that was setting on a bookshelf, which was up against a wall. Ms. Rahm, who was at home at the time, discovered the small blaze and ran outside to get help. A neighbor came over and put out the fire.

Firefighters from the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Midway stations responded but the fire had already been extinguished by the time they arrived. The only fire damage was to the book shelf and a portion of the wall next to it. Firefighters checked to make sure there was no fire in the wall and they ventilated the home, clearing it of smoke.

DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department also responded but no one was injured.

New Hunting and Fishing Licenses go on sale Friday, Feb. 18

February 16, 2011
Dwayne Page

The 2011-12 Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses go on sale Friday, Feb. 18. Licenses are available at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) regional offices, license agents and on the TWRA website, www.tnwildlife.org.

The new licenses are valid through February, 2012. License sales provide the primary funding for the TWRA, which does not receive any funding from the state's general fund (i.e. state sales tax). The 2010-11 licenses expire Feb. 28.

"License dollars are the life-blood of our agency's efforts to manage all wildlife in our state," said Ed Carter, TWRA Executive Director. "I would encourage fellow Tennesseans who appreciate the tremendous wildlife viewing opportunities we all enjoy to make a license purchase as a way of showing their support for all species and allowing us to leverage available federal funding."

Resident licenses may be purchased by: persons who possess a valid Tennessee driver's license; persons who have lived in Tennessee for 90 consecutive days with the genuine intent of making Tennessee their permanent home; military personnel on active duty in this state and their immediate families, who reside with them, regardless of resident status; students who are enrolled in a Tennessee school, college, or university for at least six months. A Social Security number is required to purchase a Tennessee hunting or fishing license.

Licenses may also be purchased online at TWRA's website: www.tnwildlife.org and charged to a credit card. Licenses may also be ordered by telephone and charged to a credit card by calling 1-888-814-8972. All licenses purchased by credit card will be charged a processing and handling fee. Effective March 1, the new fees over the telephone are $7.50 for those licenses mailed and $6.25 for those not mailed. Through the internet, charges are $4.25 for those licenses mailed and $3 for self-prints.

To expedite telephone orders, the caller should have ready the name, address, physical description, Social Security number, driver's license number, TWRA ID number (if renewal), and credit card number.

Licenses are printed on a special tear-resistant, water-proof paper. In case of a lost license, duplicate licenses can be obtained from any REAL license agent for a $7 fee.


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