Local News Articles

Brief Snowfall adds to Excitement of Liberty Christmas Parade

December 6, 2010
Dwayne Page
Steve Hayslip of NewsChannel5 -Grand Marshal
Randy Campbell Garage Wins Float Competition

The Town of Liberty and Liberty State Bank hosted their annual Christmas Parade Sunday and all those there shared in the fun. Some won cash and other prizes. A brief snowfall added to the excitement.

Steve Hayslip of NewsChannel5 in Nashville was the Grand Marshal. The parade also featured floats, the DCHS band, horseback riders, vintage automobiles, ATV's, and Santa Claus among other attractions.

Click here to see more pictures


Randy Campbell's Garage entry won the float competition and the Calvary Baptist Church took second place.

W.J. White won first place in the best vintage automobile category for his 1965 Chevy Nova. Don Hawkins took second place for his 1956 Chevy, and Danny and Wanda Cowan received third place for their 1969 Chevy Impala.

Among the miscellaneous entries, Eli Johnson won first place while Nathaniel and Caroline Crook received second place.

Melton Charged with Theft

December 6, 2010
Dwayne Page
Travis Mark Melton
Darrell Wayne Malcolm

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged 18 year old Travis Mark Melton of Johnson's Chapel Road, Sparta with theft of property over $1,000

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Melton, on or about November 23rd, allegedly took from a residence on the Old Sparta Highway without the owner's consent, a dirt tamper, a gas engine, spot welder, air compressor, and tractor weights all valued at over $1,000. Melton was arrested on November 29th. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court December 16th.

Meanwhile, 56 year old Darrell Wayne Malcolm of Kendra Drive, Smithville is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court December 16th.

According to Sheriff Ray, On November 30th, a deputy responded to a one car accident on the Old Mill Hill Road. Upon arrival and speaking with the driver, Malcolm, the deputy noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Malcolm was unsteady on his feet. He was asked to submit to several field sobriety tasks, which he performed poorly. Malcolm admitted to drinking one quart of beer. He also refused to submit to a blood alcohol test. Malcolm was issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law, for refusing to give blood.

Local Teenager Dies from Injuries in Car Crash

December 6, 2010
Dwayne Page
Photo provided courtesy of Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro

A 16 year old Lebanon boy, formerly of Smithville, died Sunday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from injuries in a car crash Friday morning on U.S. Highway 231 near the Wilson County line in Rutherford County.

Dead is Dylan Petty.

According to reports, 18 year old Joshua Orcutt of Smithville was traveling southbound toward Murfreesboro around 8:15 a.m. Friday when his Chrysler Sebring crossed the center line, went off the highway, and rolled down a 24 foot embankment. The vehicle overturned and came to rest in a cluster of cedar trees.

Orcutt was taken by ambulance to Vanderbilt Medical Center. Petty, a passenger, was thrown from the vehicle and later airlifted by LifeFlight helicopter to the Trauma Center at Vanderbilt, where he later died. Orcutt has reportedly been discharged from the hospital.

The highway was closed to traffic for about an hour and a half to allow troopers to complete their crash investigation and for the clean-up crews to remove the debris and make the roadway safe

Petty's body is at DeKalb Funeral Chapel.

Holiday Celebration

December 4, 2010
Dwayne Page
Whorton Springs Baptist Church Wins Float Competition
Dailey & Vincent-Grand Marshals of Parade
Santa Arrives in Smithville

The town of Smithville was the scene of a holiday celebration Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds lined the downtown streets for the annual Smithville Christmas Parade.

Click here to see more pictures


As always, the parade featured floats, vintage automobiles, local royalty, scouts, horseback riders and horsedrawn wagons, the DeKalb County High School Fighting Tiger Band, among many other entries. Of course, the highlight of the parade was the appearance of Santa Claus who rode into town on a fire engine tossing candy left and right to everyone along the parade route.

The Grand Marshals of the Smithville parade were the popular bluegrass group "Dailey and Vincent", who have just been nominated for a grammy award.

The Whorton Springs Baptist Church won first place in the float competition.

The Calvary Baptist Church took second place for their float and DeKalb Community Bank received third place as well as the Spirit Award, presented by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.

The Smithville Parade is sponsored each year by the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department.

Former DeKalb County Man Charged with Sales Tax Evasion

December 4, 2010
Dwayne Page
Michael G. Cantrell

The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of 54 year old Michael Gene Cantrell on charges of sales tax evasion by filing false and fraudulent documents with the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office.

Cantrell, a former resident of DeKalb County, now resides in Jamestown.

On Nov. 29, 2010, Cantrell was indicted by a DeKalb County Grand Jury on three Class E felony counts of Sales Tax Evasion in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 67-1-1440. The indictment charges that between July 2003 and May 2007, Cantrell submitted false and fraudulent documents to the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office for the purpose of registering two vehicles and a boat. On Dec 3, 2010, Cantrell surrendered to Special Agents at the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office. If convicted, Cantrell could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary
and fined $3,000 for each of the three Class E felony counts.

“The Department of Revenue promotes voluntary taxpayer compliance by educating taxpayers, aggressively pursuing criminal sanctions and demanding accountability when taxpayers engage in fraudulent activity,"
said Revenue Commissioner Charles Trost. "This investigation underscores the department's ongoing efforts to enforce Tennessee's tax laws."

This case was pursued criminally by the department in cooperation with the District Attorney General Randy York. Commissioner Trost expressed his appreciation for the excellent cooperation the department has enjoyed with General York. Citizens who suspect violations of the Tennessee revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with
those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 91 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the department collected $10.1 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.9 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2009-2010 fiscal
year. In collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.

Smithville Police Make Arrest in Rash of Automobile Burglaries

December 3, 2010
Dwayne Page
Brian Thomason

The Smithville Police Department has apparently solved a rash of recent car burglaries with the arrest of a local man.

Detective Matt Holmes said Brian Thomason has been charged with seven counts of burglary, one count of felony theft, six counts of misdemeanor theft, and one count of felony vandalism in connection with several car burglaries on Whaley and Cill Street.

According to Detective Holmes, Thomason is believed to have broken into and stolen items from vehicles parked at homes on 420 Whaley Street, 407 Whaley Street, 613 Cill Street, 620 Cill Street, and 701 Cill Street. The break-ins are believed to have occurred during the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 23rd before daylight.

The residents at all these addresses called police to report the break-ins and thefts later that morning after making the discoveries. Some people in the neighborhood also reported seeing a suspicious man on foot walking through the area that day carrying several bags.

Detective Holmes said that on November 23rd at 7:59 a.m. Officer Travis Bryant took a report from Oscar Boyd at 420 Whaley Street who stated that someone had burglarized two vehicles at his residence. Stolen from the automobiles were a laptop computer with a leather case, money bags containing some cash, a set of keys, checkbook, and two large cd cases with multiple cd's.

On November 23rd at 7:30 a.m., Officer Bryant took a report from Paul Cantrell at 407 Whaley Street who stated that his vehicle had been burglarized and that a black bag was stolen. The vehicle was also vandalized with damage to the dash and radio, where an unsuccessful attempt was made to steal the radio.

On November 23rd at 7:45 a.m., Officer Brad Tatrow took a report from David Gash at 613 Cill Street who stated that two vehicles were burglarized at his home and that a Garmin GPS unit was stolen along with multiple Mag flashlights, car chargers, and ten dollars in change.

On November 23rd at 8:00 a.m. Officer Tatrow took a report from Robert Hale at 620 Cill Street who stated that his automobile was burglarized and that a six inch Pakistan knife, book, and a boxcutter were stolen.

Officer Tatrow also took a report at 11:00 a.m. that day from Tim Woodward at 701 Cill Street who stated that his vehicle was burglarized and that a phone charger, a Craftsman wrench, and six dollars in change were stolen.

After an investigation, Detective Holmes said Thomason was identified as a suspect in the case and that he was staying at a rent home on Dry Creek Road, which was supposed to be unoccupied at that time. Police were told by the owner that no one was to be in the residence and he assisted the officers in obtaining access to the home. Thomason and his girlfriend were found there along with all the items reported stolen from the car burglaries on Whaley and Cill Streets, except for the laptop computer.

Detective Holmes said Thomason admitted to committing the burglaries and added that he had thrown the laptop in a nearby pond after dropping and breaking it.

Thomason is under a $150,000 bond and he will be in court on December 16th.

In other city crime news, 24 year old Charlie C Barnes of Cecil Hale Road was arrested on Saturday, November 27th for driving on a suspended license. Officer Scott Davis stopped a vehicle driven by Charlie Barnes for a traffic violation. A computer check of Barnes' license through central dispatch revealed them to be suspended. Bond for Barnes is $1,000 and his court date is January 5th.

36 year old Earnest Paul Barnwell of Poss Street was cited for shoplifting on Sunday, November 28th. Barnwell allegedly took items from Rite Aid Pharmacy without paying for them. K-9 Officer Brad Tatrow issued the citation. Barnwell's court date is December 16th.

42 year old Kimberly Denise Simmons of North 4th Street was cited for shoplifting on Sunday, November 28th by officer Scott Davis. Simmons was observed by Dollar General Store employees placing several items of merchandise in her purse and attempting to leave the store. Her court date is January 6th.

31 year old Lisa Rena Taylor of Poss Street was arrested Sunday, November 28th for simple possession of a schedule II drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving on a revoked license. While investigating a shoplifting complaint against another person, Corporal Bryant was advised that Taylor had been waiting in the parking lot of Rite Aid for the shoplifting suspect. Corporal Bryant later saw her traveling on East Bryant and turn into City Walk Apartments where she got out of her car and ran back to the intersection of South Congress and East Bryant where she could see Officer Tatrow across the street. Corporal Bryant made contact with Taylor and knew from a prior encounter that her drivers license were revoked. Taylor was placed under arrest and transported to her car where K-9 Leo indicated on the vehicle. Drug paraphernalia was found in her jacket inside the car and in the glove compartment was a schedule II drug. Bond for Taylor is $3,500 and her court date is January 6th.

Meanwhile, anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Grand Jury Issues Good Report on Condition of DeKalb County Jail

December 3, 2010
Dwayne Page

The Grand Jury has given the DeKalb County Jail another good report.

After touring the facility Monday, the grand jurors prepared a brief report on their findings. The report states that "We, the members of the Grand Jury have found the DeKalb County Jail to be very clean, organized, well kept, and the facility is well maintained with top- notch security and a system of rewards for good behavior and stout discipline for those who do not cooperate within the system. Overall, the department has done an outstanding job operating within the budget. Prisoners are treated humanely with medical services readily available around the clock."

Bonds were also inspected and found to be in good shape.

Three Aldermen to be Elected in Smithville Municipal Election in June

December 2, 2010

It may seem early to some, but the Smithville Municipal Election is just around the corner.

The election is set for June 21st and Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley says interested candidates can pick up petitions as early as December 17th.

Three aldermen seats will be up for election in June. The seats are currently held by Shawn Jacobs, Aaron Meeks, and W.J. White.

Stanley says the qualifying deadline will be Noon March 17th. The last day to register to vote in the Smithville election will be May 23rd.

Vernon Convicted of Reckless Homicide

December 1, 2010
Dwayne Page
James Vernon (at the time of his arrest)

The man originally charged with first degree murder in a brutal beating of another man on Center Hill Lake last year which resulted in his death, stood trial Tuesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court for second degree murder.

But when the jury, made of up six men and six women, returned from it's deliberations Tuesday night, the verdict was something much less, reckless homicide. A blow to state prosecutors.

As a result, 39 year old James P. Vernon of Green Hill Road, Rock Island, who has been in jail for 509 days, could soon be released. He will be sentenced on January 26th . The range of punishment for reckless homicide is reportedly from two to four years. Judge Leon Burns, Jr. has set a $5,000 bond for Vernon, pending the sentencing hearing.

State prosecutors said Vernon was responsible for the death of 24 year old David Joseph Clark, who was severely beaten during an attack on a houseboat at Center Hill Lake July 7th, 2009. Clark died a week later from his injuries at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

The incident occurred in DeKalb County, only a short distance from Horsehoe Bend Marina, which is in White County.

Vernon, who testified in his own defense, said that he met Clark on the fourth of July, 2009 during an outing on the lake. Two days later, July 6th Vernon said Clark showed up at his boat, just to hang out, after going to see his friends on their boat and finding them asleep. Vernon, who was cooking some fish for himself and a friend, claims he invited Clark inside to join them. But a short time later, Vernon said Clark suddenly left, saying he had to go. Vernon looked around and noticed that his wallet, which he kept on the bar near the dining table, was missing. Thinking that Clark took it, Vernon followed after Clark and confronted him about the wallet, which he said contained $50 in denominations of two- twenty dollar bills and a ten dollar bill. Clark apparently denied taking the wallet, but Vernon had him to produce his (Clark's) wallet, which revealed that Clark had two- twenty dollar bills on him. Vernon did not find his own wallet.

The next day, July 7th, Vernon testified that he and a friend, Steve Killion, who had a small houseboat next to his, went looking for his wallet and found a ten dollar bill in the parking lot (near the marina).

That night, July 7th, Vernon said he showed up at Killion's houseboat, and that Clark later arrived. Witnesses testified that Clark was already at Killion's boat when Vernon got there. Vernon apparently confronted Clark again about the wallet, but Clark told him that "we need to get past this wallet. I want you to be my friend." Vernon said he told Clark that he couldn't be friends with someone who stole from him. While Clark denied taking the wallet, Vernon said Clark admitted to stealing from others in the area, and added that they got what they deserved. Vernon said he took the comment personally, became angry and began punching him after Clark grabbed him. But witnesses, Steve Killion and Tanner Muncey, testified that Clark did nothing to provoke Vernon and that Vernon began hitting Clark, after the two men had shook hands. According to the witnesses, Vernon inflicted three or four blows to Clark, and then continued beating him after he fell to the floor unconscious, even though witnesses tried to restrain Vernon and called for him to stop.

After the attack, Vernon said he left Killion's boat to go get some beer to calm himself. Killion testified that he confronted Vernon about getting some help for Clark. Vernon then returned to Killion's houseboat, picked up Clark, apparently in a fireman's carry, and took him to Clark's car, where he placed him in the passenger seat. Others apparently called for help.

White County EMS came to the scene and transported Clark to the White County Hospital where he was later airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Clark's mother testified that her son never regained consciousness.

Dr. Thomas Deering of Nashville, who conducted the autopsy, testified that Clark died from intra-cranial hemorrhaging due to blunt force injury. Clark also had a fractured jaw.

Vernon said he deeply regretted what he had done. When asked by District Attorney General Randy York if he had said "I'm sorry' to anyone. Vernon replied, "Yes, the Lord."

York, in his closing remarks to the jury, said Vernon committed second degree murder, acting intentionally and knowing that Clark could die, especially when he continued the beating even after Clark had lost consciousness. Assistant D.A. Greg Strong assisted D.A. York in the trial.

District Public Defender David Brady and assistant Allison Rasbury, in their closing remarks, said they while Vernon was wrong in the attack, he did not commit second degree murder in that he could not have known with reasonable certainty that the injuries from the fight would lead to Clark's death.

TDOT Awards $26.9 Million Bid to OCCI, Incorporated on Rehab of Hurricane Bridge

November 30, 2010
Dwayne Page
Jennifer Flynn

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has awarded a bid for the rehabilitation of Hurricane Bridge.

Jennifer Flynn, Regional Community Relations Officer with TDOT in Region II, told WJLE Tuesday that OCCI Incorporated of Fulton, Missouri was the low bidder on the project with a bid of $26.9 million. Two other companies had also submitted bids, Bell & Associates of Brentwood at $33.7 million and Kay & Kay Contracting of London, Kentucky at $33.8 million.

"Bids were opened on the project October 29th and the low bidder was OCCI, Incorporated of Fulton, Missouri with a bid of $26.9 million. The contract was officially awarded to the apparent low bidder last week.

Flynn said it's not yet known when construction will begin but OCCI has until October 31st, 2013 to complete the project. "It will take about a month to get all the paper work done. As soon as that happens, then the contractor will hold the pre-construction conference where representatives from the contractor's office and TDOT representatives from the construction field office, the regional construction office, and any utilities that might be involved on the project, will meet at a pre-construction conference and determine how the work is going to be done and how they will approach the job. As soon as that is done, they can get to work on the project. The completion date for this project is on or before October 31st, 2010. "

"This project is being funded through TDOT's Better Bridges (bonding) Program and through this program TDOT will replace, repair, or rehabilitate 200 state owned structurally deficient bridges in Tennessee by 2013. Hurricane Bridge is part of this program."

County Mayor Mike Foster said this is great news for DeKalb County and once construction begins, the county will no longer provide flaggers to control traffic across the bridge, since the state or contractor will be taking over that responsibilty.


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