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Local News Articles

Woman and Child Escape Injury In Monday Morning Wreck

April 13, 2009
Dwayne Page
Woman and Child Escape Injury in Wreck

A 17 year old girl and a 10 month old child escaped injury Monday morning in a one car wreck on Highway 56 south.

Trooper Todd Logan of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Ashley Caldwell was traveling north in a 2000 Chevy Malibu when she went off the road and then struck a ditch and a fence. The car came to rest upside down.

According to Trooper Logan, Caldwell claims she lost control of the car after swerving to avoid another vehicle in her lane of travel.

Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded including Rescue #51 and the Keltonburg and Blue Springs Stations along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department.

Caldwell and the child, while unhurt, could not get out of the car on their own. Firefighters safely removed them.

Registered Sex Offender Charged with Statutory Rape

April 13, 2009
Dwayne Page
Scotty Wayne Neisz

A registered sex offender has been charged with statutory rape of 17 year old girl.

35 year old Scotty Wayne Neisz of McMinnville Highway, Smithville is charged with statutory rape, violation of the sexual offender law and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His bond was set at $160,000. He will appear in court on April 23rd.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says on Friday, April 10th. sheriff's department detectives arrested Neisz, a registered sex offender, for allegedly having sex and providing alcohol to a 17 year old female. The girl is the same victim Neisz allegedly had sex with previously when she was 15 years old. Detectives allege that on April 2nd, Neisz went to the 17 year old girl's place of employment, picked her up, rode around, gave her alcohol, and then had sex with her.

In other crime news, Sheriff Ray says deputies were summoned last week to Upper Helton Road where they assisted Alexandria Police on a call. Upon a search incident to an arrest,
officers discovered that 35 year old Sheila Faye Sircy of West Jefferson Avenue, Carthage was in possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Deputies also found in Sircy's pocketbook a plastic bag containing marijuana and a pack of rolling papers. Sircy was charged with simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $3,500 and she will appear in court on April 30th.

Last Tuesday, April 7th, deputies spotted a vehicle driving down McMinnville Highway crossing the center line and driving off of the roadway. Officers arrested 31 year old Jason Doyle Newby of South Arrowhead Road, McMinnville for a first offense of driving under the influence. Newby had an odor of alcohol on his person and was very unsteady on his feet. Newby also failed field sobriety
tasks. His bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on April 23rd.

Also on Tuesday, April 7th,officers stopped a vehicle on the Austin Bottom Road near the Cookeville Boat Dock because they had prior knowledge of a failure to appear warrant on the driver of the vehicle. The officer approached the driver, asked for his name, and he responded
with a fake name. The man also had slurred speech and his pupils were pin pointed. He was given field sobriety tasks which he failed. Deputies also found in the man's pocket, a cut hollowed pen with residue. 35 year old Joel Lee Trobaugh of Sunny Point Road, Baxter was charged with criminal impersonation, a first offense of driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving on a suspended driver's license. Trobaugh's bond was set at $8,000 and he will appear in court on April 30th.

Deputies arrested 52 year old Larry M. Willis of Lancaster Highway,
Hickman on Wednesday, April 8th for leaving the scene of an accident after an investigation into
a mishap that occurred on April 5th on Temperance Hall Road. Willis ran
off the roadway and hit a fence causing damage to it. Willis then fled the
scene. Willis' bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on April 16th.

Deputies received a call of an auto accident on Ferrell Road, Smithville on March 31st. During the investigation, 56 year old Danny Austin Reeder of Bell Street, Smithville told the deputy that he was the driver of the vehicle and that he was forced off of the roadway by another
vehicle. After checking Reeder's story, officers discovered that 36 year old Jan Marie Arnold of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville was the actual driver. Deputies arrested Reeder for filing a false police report and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on April 16th..
Arnold was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and her bond was set at
$1,000. She will also appear in court on April 16th.

Deputies stopped a vehicle for a traffic offense on Short Mountain Highway, Smithville on Thursday, April 9th and arrested 31 year old Lisa Michelle Porterfield of West Muncey Street, McMinnville for a first offense of driving on a suspended driver's license and possession of drug paraphernalia. When deputies asked Porterfield if she had any illegal contraband on her person, she produced from her bra, two plastic bags that contained hypodermic needles and cut straws. Porterfield's bond was set at $5,000 and she will appear in court on April 23rd. She was also issued a citation for running a stop sign.

39 year old Gregory Eugene Neal of Lee Braswell Road, Smithville was arrested Sunday, April 12th for a first offense of driving under the influence. Deputies received a call of a possible auto accident on Bethel Road, Smithville and upon arrival, noticed Neal using his vehicle to pull another vehicle out of the ditch. Upon speaking with Neal, officers found Neal to be unsteady on his feet. Neal was asked to perform field sobriety tasks, which he failed. Neal stated to deputies that he had been using hydro's and smoking marijuana. His bond was set a $1,500 and he will appear in court on May 5th..

Also on Sunday, April 12th deputies responded to an auto accident on Highway 96, Murfreesboro
Highway. Upon arrival, they found 18 year old Nicholas James Byrge of Skyline Drive, Alexandria in an intoxicated state. Byrge had an odor of alcohol on his person, was unsteady on his feet, and had very slurred speech. He was given field sobriety tasks, which he failed. Byrge was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and his bond was set at $1,500. He will
appear in court on April 23rd.

Two Persons Arrested by Sheriff's Department on Grand Jury Sealed Indictments

April 13, 2009
Dwayne Page
Tonya Silcox
Kenneth Ray Hendrixson

Two people, named in Grand Jury sealed indictments last Monday, have been arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies arrested 37 year old Tonya Gay Silcox of West Main Street, Liberty last Tuesday on 38 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card. Detectives say Silcox is accused of stealing credit cards from a family member and using the cards at least 38
times receiving cash or merchandise. Bond for Silcox was set at $10,000.

Meanwhile, deputies arrested 70 year old Kenneth Ray Hendrixson of Bell Street
Smithville Saturday on 5 counts of fraudulently obtaining medical assistance
benefits or TennCare Fraud. Hendrixson's bond was set at $10,000.

Silcox and Hendrixson are among thirty nine defendants, indicted by the grand jury last week, who are scheduled to appear for arraignment in criminal court Monday, April 13th at 9:00 a.m.

Junior High Democratic Party Organized

April 13, 2009
Dwayne Page
Jr High Democratic Party (Photo by KRenee Photography)

A young group of Democrats have organized in DeKalb County.

Pictured are DeKalb County Democratic Party Chairperson Faye Fuqua and members of the Junior High Democratic Party

(Top Row: Faye Fuqua, Emma Rigsby, Hannah Gaylord, Shauna Taylor, Faith Grubb, Kayla Cook, Brittany Wilkerson, Briana Cutliff, and Jim Judkins.)

(Bottow Row: Eli Gill, Jordan Wilkins, Karem Bain, Makala Dawson) Absent, Keri Sanders

Photo provided by KRenee Photography

Judge John Turnbull Resigns Due to Health Reasons

April 11, 2009

Circuit Judge John Turnbull of Livingston, one of several judges in the 13th Judicial District who represent DeKalb County, is resigning due to health reasons.

The Herald-Citizen of Cookeville reports that Judge Turnbull nas notified Governor Phil Bredesen in an April 8th letter that he is resigning, effective June 15th. After that date, the governor will appoint a replacement to the position until the next regular election, which is next year.

Judge Turnbull has been on disability status since last October due to a ruptured disc in his neck and back surgery. Turnbull's daughter, Livingston attorney Amy V. Hollars, was appointed by Governor Bredesen as special temporary judge last fall to fill in during her father's absence. She continues to hold the position and is expected to be a candidate for the appointment.

Turnbill has served the 13th Judicial District since 1989 and his current term runs until 2014. He was first appointed to the judgeship in August 1989, replacing Judge Tom Haile. In 1990, he ran and was elected, then was re-elected in 1998 and 2006.

The 13th Judicial District is comprised of DeKalb, Putnam, Overton, White, Clay, Pickett, and Cumberland counties.

Local Man Charged in Shoplifting Case

April 11, 2009
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department arrested a Smithville man in a shoplifting case last week at Walmart.

22 year old Brian Allen Bly is charged with theft of property involving merchandise. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 16th.

Officer Travis Bryant reports that "On April 9th, I was at Walmart with the manager reviewing video when one of the employees advised us by radio that there was a male opening up items without paying for them. I made contact with the male, identified as Bly, and asked him where the item was that belonged in the packaging (turkey caller) He stated that he dropped it on the shelf in an aisle. He then led us back to where he said he had laid it down (under a sleeping bag) That's when I observed him remove an item from his pocket and place it on the shelf (turkey caller). I then placed him under arrest and did a search of his person and recovered the rest of the items from the packaging."

35 year old Juan A Miranda is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court April 16th.

Officer Scott Davis reports that he responded to a domestic complaint at 215 Short Mountain Highway on April 8th. Upon arrival and speaking with the complaintant, Officer Davis learned that Miranda had allegedly threatened his wife and to do harm to himself. They were in a verbal argument on April 7th & 8th. According to Officer Davis, Miranda admitted to making the threats to his wife.

32 year old Juan Silva Cruz of Smithville is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving without a license.. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court April 16th,

Officer Nathan Estes reports that on April 6th he responded to an accident on Foster Road where the driver had left the scene. The car was off the road in a field. Upon an investigation, police learned that the driver, Cruz, had gotten a ride to his home on Forrest Avenue. He was found at his home. Cruz had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He had the keys to the vehicle in his pocket. He had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet. Cruz submitted to a Breathalyzer test. The result was .215. He could not produce a drivers license. A computer check revealed that he did not have a license.

25 year old Kenneth A. Applegate of Lebanon is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law.. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 23rd.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew reports that on April 7th he responded to a motor vehicle accident on Highway 56 south in Smithville. Upon arrival, Lieutenant Leffew found Applegate to be very unsteady on his feet and he had slurred speech. Applegate admitted to the officer that he had been drinking moonshine. Applegate refused to submit to field sobriety tasks and blood alcohol tests.

Smithville Restaurant Extensively Damaged by Fire

April 11, 2009
Dwayne Page
Smithville Firefighters at Ashburns Alley Cafe (Photo by Greg Bess)

A fire Friday night caused extensive damage to Ashburn's Alley Café on Walnut Street, downtown.

The Smithville Fire Department was called to the scene around 7:50 p.m. and stayed there until around 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

According to Fire Chief Charlie Parker, someone from a business across the street spotted the fire and reported it.

Chief Parker says there was fire, smoke, and water damage to the inside of the building.

Some smoke seeped through to adjoining buildings, but the fire did not spread.

Chief Parker says the origin of the fire appeared to have been electrical in nature, but the exact cause has not officially been determined.

The restaurant was closed at the time of the fire. No one was there and no one was injured.

(Members of the Smithville Fire Department wish to thank Donna's Country Kitchen and Mapco Express for providing them food and coffee while they were on the scene of the fire)

Fallen Tree on West Broad Street Causes Widespread Power Outage

April 10, 2009
Dwayne Page
Fallen Tree Causes Power Outage-
Downed Tree Snaps Utility Poles
Workers Use Chainsaws to cut Tree that downed Power Lines

A fallen tree on West Broad Street snapped four utility poles and left many homes and businesses in Smithville and parts of the county without power for several hours Friday evening.

Charlie Parker, Smithville Fire Chief and DeKalb County Emergency Management Coordinator, says the tree fell after the severe storms had passed. The first reports of power outage to Central Dispatch came around 5:13 p.m.

The Smithville Police Department closed West Broad Street from near Juniper Lane to Anthony Avenue and re-routed traffic as workers of Smithville Electric System, Caney Fork Electric, the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Comcast, and the City of Smithville worked to clean up the debris and restore electric and Cable TV service.

The power outage was widespread across the city and parts of the county forcing many stores and restaurants to close early for the day and with red lights out at two of the city's major intersections, Smithville Police and DeKalb County deputies stood by to direct traffic at West Broad and Congress Boulevard and at South Congress and Bryant Street.

Severe storms rumbled across the midstate Friday afternoon spawning tornadoes, and producing high winds, heavy rains, and some hail. DeKalb County was placed under tornado warnings at least twice during the day but according to Parker, there were apparently no reports of tornado touchdowns in the county and no widespread storm damage.

Smithville Police Department Hosting Internet Safety Class

April 10, 2009
Dwayne Page
 Investigator Jerry Hutchins Jr and Police Chief Richard Jennings

The Smithville Police Department will be hosting an Internet Safety Class on Thursday, April 16th from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the city hall community room upstairs. The program will be presented to parents and children of all ages.

Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. says the program will illustrate the dangers of on-line predators, provide on-line safety tips, and show how someone can track individuals with limited information. The dangers of taking pictures and posting them on-line will also be discussed.

Hutchins and Jennifer Wilkerson, the Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center will be the featured speakers.

Chief Richard Jennings says there is no cost to attend and everyone is invited.." The Smithville Police Department wants to put on informative classes and seminars to help the public. I want everyone to come out and hear what Jennifer Wilkerson has to say. She also has other presentations that she puts on that's geared for teachers and high school students. Other topics of programs she puts on are child abuse, peer pressure, child abuse prevention, speaking out against child sexual abuse, and the topic of rape." Those issues however will not be addressed in this seminar Thursday night.

DeKalb Co. Receives $7K Grant to Help Homeless

April 10, 2009

As the economic downturn continues, the rate of both homelessness and hunger has increased in Middle Tennessee and across the country. Congressman Bart Gordon announced today that DeKalb County has been awarded a $7,422 grant to help people in need of food and shelter.

“The money allocated today will help to expand DeKalb’s existing program,” explained Congressman Gordon. “Not only can the funds be used for food and shelter purposes, but they can also be used to provide one-month assistance with rent, mortgage and utility payments to prevent evictions, and transition assistance from shelters to stable living conditions.”

The America Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law on February 17th, provided funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter (EFSP) National Board Program. ESFP’s objectives are to allocate funds to the neediest areas; to ensure fast response; to foster public-private sector partnerships; to ensure local decision-making; and to maintain accountable reporting.

If you have any questions about the grant DeKalb County received, you can contact the DeKalb County Help Center at 615-597-5175. Funds were allocated on the basis of a formula that took current population, unemployment and poverty into account.

Gordon added, “I am confident that grants like this, in addition to the job creation components and federal grant programs that received funding from the Recovery Act, will pull Middle Tennessee and the rest of the country out of this recession and back on the track of economic prosperity.”

For more information on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the programs that received funding, visit Congressman Bart Gordon’s “Economic Recovery Center” at


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