Local News Articles

Two Interested in City Attorney Position

January 15, 2008
Dwayne Page

Two local attorneys interested in being the new city attorney for Smithville have submitted resumes to city hall.

Vester Parsley, Jr. and former city attorney Sarah Cripps are both seeking the position.

Smithville has been without a city attorney since the resignation of John Pryor, effective December 31st.

The city advertised seeking resumes through January 11th.

No one has yet been named to fill the vacancy.

Sheriff Ray Releases 2007 Activity Report

January 14, 2008

Sheriff Patrick Ray has compiled an activity report for the year 2007

In the report, Sheriff Ray says, "As we begin a new year in 2008, I would like to take this opportunity to look back at 2007 and review the accomplishments at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. With the support of our county government, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department Staff, and the citizens of our county, we have made significant strides in making our department a professional and accountable department that we all can be proud of. Here are some highlights of our first year:

Earlier in the year, we had our Drug Roundup where 48 people were arrested for 164 various drug offenses. The various drugs which were bought were drugs such as Dilaudid, Oxycontin, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Hydrocodone, Xanax, and Marijuana.

The Sheriff’s Department also purchased a Malinois K-9 narcotic detector dog to fight the illegal sale and use of drugs. The K-9 was purchased with money that was seized from drug dealers and no tax money was spent.

The first Inmate Garden was started. Inmates worked throughout the summer planting and tending vegetables. Vegetables such as squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of beans were planted. In the fall, the inmates planted turnip greens. These vegetables were served to each inmate in the jail throughout the year.

In May, we had 2 DARE Graduations. There were over 375 fifth graders from Northside Elementary and DeKalb West School that completed a 10 week course where they were taught about the effects of drug abuse and violence. Also in May, the Sheriff’s Department conducted a Graduation Roadblock where a total of 1,044 vehicles were checked. There were many arrests with one arrest resulting in a charge for possession of over 22 grams of Cocaine.

In July, we purchased a new travel trailer valued $25,000.00 from the Federal Government at a cost of only $1,000.00. We now use this trailer as our mobile Critical Response Unit.

In August, we started the Sheriff’s Departments new website. The website’s address is www.dekalbsherifftn.com. This site has a lot of different links related to law enforcement informational services and community safety tips that helps our citizens, particularly our children and seniors, to live safe and productive lives.

The DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex were recertified by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. We also added 18 more beds to the Annex area of the Jail to reduce overcrowding. The Jail was approved to house 104 inmates.

We also teamed with the Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication where they did a fly-over of a portion of DeKalb County and found and destroyed over 453 marijuana plants.

In the fall, we launched the “Citizens Alert System”. This system is designed to quickly inform the citizens of DeKalb County, via email, about matters which might affect them. This system also is very beneficial in assisting the Sheriff’s Department in certain investigations.

In September, we teamed with the local senior citizens group in the HELP Program, which stands for “Helping Elderly Live Productively”. We delivered over 50 cases of donated water to senior citizens in DeKalb County suffering from the extreme heat and drought conditions.

In November, the Sheriff’s Department assisted the HELP Program by helping distribute canned foods to the elderly and disabled citizens in the county. In December, the Sheriff’s Department continued our support and assistance with the HELP Program by delivering donated gifts to the elderly and disabled citizens in the County.

Also in December, working in cooperation with the City of Alexandria Police Department and the City of Smithville Police Department, we conducted a New Year’s Eve Roadblock where almost 300 vehicles passed through, and 4 arrests were made.

During 2007, our department has had four Deputies graduate from the police training academy. In addition, our department’s Deputies and Correctional Officers have completed over 40 hours of certified training each.

My administration’s goal continues to be giving top priority in addressing the drug problem in DeKalb County. I think we have made a focused impact on this continuing battle during our first year, and there should be no question of my department’s seriousness and commitment in fighting this problem that so seriously affects so many people.

I would like to thank each and every one of my employees for the wonderful job they do. I, along with you, the citizens of DeKalb County, am very blessed to have employees working for us that have the best interest of our county at heart. As your Sheriff, I look forward to beginning a new year with continued commitment and hard work in making you proud of your sheriff’s department."

Smithville Volunteer Fire Department Called to NHC Healthcare Center Monday

January 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to NHC Healthcare Center Monday afternoon after an air handling unit on top of the building overheated sending smoke through the duct work into one wing of the facility.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker says a belt apparently locked up in the unit causing the problem.

The smoke triggered the fire alarm and a few residents down one wing were relocated to another part of the building while firefighters set up positive pressure fans to clear the smoke.

There was no damage to the building and no one was injured as a result of the incident.

Meanwhile, Chief Parker says city firefighters were also called to McDonald's restaurant around 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning after an electrical breaker box overheated and kicked off as employees were preparing to open for business.

Chief Parker says there was no damage to the building and no one was injured.

Sheriff's Department Gets Grant for Removable In-Car Video Cameras

January 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, Office of the Criminal Justice Program.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says this grant is for 15 removable in-car video cameras. Each patrol car will be equipped with a new video camera. This camera will be attached to the patrol cars dash, but also can be removed and used as a hand held video recorder. This will assist deputies while on traffic stops and will give them the ability to video tape any crime scenes they respond to. The Grant is for $18,000.

DeKalb County Sheriff's Department to buy equipment with Federal Grant

January 14, 2008

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will use an $11,500 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant to buy much needed equipment, U.S. Representative Bart Gordon announced.

"The Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program provides smaller communities and rural areas with technology, equipment and technical assistance to enhance their first responder capabilities, " Gordon said. "CEDAP is particularly helpful for local law enforcement agencies, such as DeKalb County, which have limited resources."

CEDAP provides resources such as communications interoperability equipment, information sharing technology, chemical detection devices, sensors, personal protective equipment and rescue tools and training in how to use the equipment, devices, and technology.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will use the funds to buy XOA Portable Video Surveillance System, according to Sheriff Patrick Ray. The surveillance system is capable of managing up to four cameras- including pan-tilt-zooms, long range, day-night, analog and IP digital and recording evidence directly to a removable media, such as an external hard drive.

"This system will provide a new degree of investigative capabilities for our department," Ray said. "The best part of this award is that it will be delivered at no cost to our county."

Three Arrested on Drug Charges by Sheriff's Department

January 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested three people in recent days on drug charges.

23 year old Brandon Lynn Tallent was charged on January 5th with simple possession of a Schedule II drug (dilaudid).

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies responded to a call about a vehicle sitting in the roadway. When officers arrived, they found Tallent around the vehicle and then saw him throw a blue container in the ditch. Deputies found two pills believed to be dilaudid.

Tallent posted a $1,500 bond and he will be in court January 31st on the charges.

Meanwhile on January 7th, deputies responded to a gas drive off on Highway 56 South. Sheriff Ray says when deputies arrived, they found 45 year old Darrell Wayne Evans of Winding Way, McMinnville in the store. The owner of the store had reportedly chased the vehicle down and asked Evans to return to the store. Evans was found to be in an intoxicated state. Upon a search of Evans' person, he was found to have six blue pills in his pocket believed to be valium.

Evans posted a $3,500 bond for public intoxication and simple possession of a schedule IV drug.

He will appear in court on January 31st.

32 year old Jennifer Leigh Taylor of 455 Parsley Road, Smithville was charged January 9th with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a schedule III drug. Sheriff Ray says deputies were attempting to serve a warrant at Lakeside Resort and found a cut straw and a plate that contained a line of white powder and a total of four pills in Taylor's possession. The pills are believed to be Hydrocodone. Sheriff Ray says Taylor did admit that the plate and pills belonged to her. Taylor posted a $2,500 bond and she will be in court on February 7th.

DeKalb County to Get Recycling Equipment Grant

January 14, 2008

Governor Phil Bredesen and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke announced today that 20 recycling equipment grants have been awarded for projects to help reduce landfill
waste across Tennessee. These grants total more than $424,000.

“I’m pleased we can provide funding to support the waste reduction efforts these 20 grants represent,” Bredesen said. “This program plays an important role in our state’s strategy to encourage recycling and to reduce the amount of solid waste that goes into landfills in

DeKalb County has been approved to receive $22,645 to assist with the purchase of divided and open-top containers. DeKalb County is represented in the General Assembly by Representative Frank Buck and Senator Mae Beavers. The local match is $9,705.

“By providing assistance to local communities to help them recycle, we can keep more materials from ending up in landfills,” Buck said. “I’m pleased the state is able to provide this assistance for the benefit of Tennesseans.”

Recycling equipment grants may be used to purchase equipment for new recycling programs, improve and expand the operation of an existing site or prepare recyclable materials for transport and marketing. Grants may be awarded to counties, cities, non-profit recycling organizations and solid waste authorities across Tennessee to help reach or exceed the goals set forth in the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991. Each recipient is required to match the state grant on a sliding scale basis. Local matching funds toward these 20 projects total nearly $199,000.

The grant program was authorized by the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 and is supported from the Tennessee Solid Waste Management Fund that is administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation. The fund receives its revenues from a state surcharge on each ton of solid waste disposed in landfills and from a fee on new tires sold in
the state.

Three Announce Plans to Run for State Representative

January 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

Three people Saturday morning announced their intentions to seek the Democratic nomination for State Representative during the DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting held at the high school.

Dean Sircy of Lafayette, Cleveland Derrick Bain of Smithville, and Gayla Hendrix of Smithville say they will be candidates in the August 7th State Democratic Primary.

The 40th Legislative District is made up of DeKalb, Smith, and Macon Counties.

The seat is currently held by long time Democratic State Representative Frank Buck of Dowelltown. Buck was not present during Saturday's mass meeting and is expected to make a formal announcement soon as to whether he will seek re-election.

The qualifying deadline for State Representative (State Primary) is noon on April 3rd.

The State General Election is November 4th.

Sircy, a Baptist minister, says he is also a farmer and has sought public office before. "I am from Lafayette. I farm and was raised on a farm. I lived on a farm all my life except for three years when me and my wife went to Georgia. I am also a Missionary Baptist preacher. I pastor Antioch Missionary Baptist Church right up on the Kentucky line. We have about 300 members and about 150 in attendance every Sunday morning."

"I've run for political office one time before this about ten years ago. I ran against the County Executive of Macon County and got beat by eleven votes."

"I was fortunate to meet my wife while attending Tennessee Tech University. We went to Georgia and stayed three years because she had an engineering degree and no work experience. So she worked with the government there for three years and came back and went to work with the Dollar General Corporation in Scottsville, Kentucky and served over their computer system as assistant manager for fifteen years. She is retired and stays home and keeps our two grandbabies right now."

"We have two children, a son and a daughter. Our daughter is at Western Kentucky University majoring in pre-pharmacy. Our son is at Tennessee Tech University. He has one more year after this year and he'll have his degree in education with a chemistry emphasis."

"The biggest thing I see wrong from the state back down to the local government is that the state is collecting all the money and keeping it at the state. They need to put that right back down to the local level. We need more financial resources put back in the counties and let the government lead. I thought that's what a democracy was all about is to let the people of the county administer their own government by themselves. I stand before you to serve as your State Representative."

Bain, during his announcement, talked about his family and work background. "Both of my grandparents are from here. My grandparents on my father's side were Clay and Ruth Bain. Clay was a carpenter and a builder. My grandmother Ruth worked hard as a homemaker. My grandparents on my mother's side were Homer and Jackie Gay. He was a nurseryman. My grandmother Jackie worked hard as a homemaker. She worked at Georgia Girl and Smithville shirt factories for over 40 years. My dad Cleveland is a framing contractor. He's been in business for over 30 years."

" As for myself, I went to the University of Tennessee where I graduated in political science and history. After graduating from college I went to work with my father and his company. I worked there for some time and then I branched off. I now own my own company. It's the Bain Company. We're a design build residential, commercial, and large commercial contracting firm."

" I've always felt that it is my life's goal to help people in any way possible and I cannot think of any better way than to go to Nashville and represent your interest in the state legislature. And that's going to be the theme of my entire campaign, is to help people, especially the ones who have felt left out their entire lives. How am I going to do this? I have a three step approach. First, is to keep taxes low. I think it is government's top priority to be good stewards of the people's money. I believe lawmakers should be more responsible with the taxpayer's money than they are with their own. Second, is to bring good paying jobs and middle class jobs to this district. Third, is to prepare future generations to tackle the hard issues of job training and getting jobs. Education is the key to unlocking a society's potential and it is our job to make sure that our children are educated so they can make themselves competitive in today's and tomorrow's job market. I'm asking you to send me to be your representative."

During her remarks, Hendrix summarized her experience as an educator and businesswoman. "I was born and raised in DeKalb County. I graduated from this high school and went on to college at MTSU where I earned a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in education. From there I went to Tennessee Tech University where I earned an Education Specialist degree. Currently, I'm a third year law student. I've been a school teacher here in DeKalb County for almost 20 years. I also owned my own small business right off of the courthouse square for a couple of years. I married my high school sweetheart, Farron Hendrix. We have three children. Two are students at MTSU right now and one is an eighth grader at DeKalb Middle School. I'm a member of the First Baptist Church here in Smithville and have been my whole life although I occasionally visit the Methodist Church next door."

" I'm running for your State Representative because I care about our schools and our children and our education. I care about health issues. I care that there are still way too many Tennesseans who don't have health insurance, including children. I care about the infestation we have in our district of drug abuse and over prescribed prescription drugs and the devastating affect it has on our communities and our families. I care about the issues of poverty and those statistics are entirely too high in this area. I really care about our environment. I care about the fact that we need clean water, clean air, and to maintain our state parks for our children's future as well as our own. I'm also concerned with the state's budget. I believe our budget is a moral document and that document prioritizes who we are as Tennesseans. It represents what is important to us as a state. I would like to be your voice at the General Assembly and represent District 40."

Assessor Candidates Make Their Formal Announcements During Democratic Mass Meeting

January 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

The three Democratic candidates for Assessor of Property in the February 5th DeKalb County Democratic Primary formally made their announcements Saturday morning during a local party mass meeting at the high school.

Democratic Incumbent Assessor Timothy (Fud) Banks will be challenged for the nomination by Roy D. Merriman, a former Third District County Commissioner and a member of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and Willie Thomas, who is also a Smithville Alderman and a Seventh District County Commissioner.

In making his announcement, Banks said " It has been a great privilege to serve as your property assessor and I am asking for your help and support again to continue doing this. I have made a lot of great friends in the years I've been there. I'm going to ask everybody again, if I haven't seen you and asked you today or before, for your vote and support and if I can ever help any of ya'll, feel free to hollar."

Thomas, in reference to recent media reports about him, started off his brief remarks by saying, "I am the real Willie Thomas, and I am standing up. I want you all to know that. I am running for tax assessor. I thank everyone of ya'll. I need ya'll's vote and support. God bless you."

Merriman, in making the announcement, spoke of his family. "My wife Lisa and I have been married for 22 years. I have two children, Kayla and Kelsey. I am a volunteer firefighter and I have been serving the county for seventeen years and four years on the county commission. I'd appreciate your vote and support. God bless you."

Democrats running for Constable in the February 5th Primary include Incumbent Wayne Vanderpool in the Third District, Democrat Paul Cantrell in the Fourth District, Democratic Incumbent Mark Milam in the Fifth District, Democrat Cantrell Jones in the Sixth District, and Democrats Mary Ann Thomason and Johnny King in the Seventh District.

Milam was the only candidate who formally announced during the mass meeting Saturday. "I appreciate the opportunity to be seeking re-election. I was first elected in 1992. My wife Pat and I live on the Old West Point Road in Smithville. I count it an honor and privilege to have been your constable in the fifth district for the last four terms. I have enjoyed working with state, county, and city law enforcement agencies. I am running unopposed but I am still grateful for your vote."

Members of the DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee met Saturday morning and re-elected Faye Fuqua as local party chairperson. Billy Hawkins and Jim Judkins were named co-vice chairmen, and Fay Iverlette was returned as secretary. The young democrat chairman is Larry Bain and Russell Ambrose and Luke Willoughby were named youth coordinators. Jackie Smith is women's chairperson for the local party.

Justin Walling, Field Representative for Congressman Lincoln Davis and State Chairman of the County Chairs for the Democratic Party was the guest speaker during the mass meeting.

Willoughby Gets Support from School Board in Latest Evaluation

January 11, 2008
Dwayne Page

Midway through his three year contract, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby appears to continue to have strong backing from the Board of Education.

The board conducted it's annual evaluation of the Director's performance on Tuesday, as well as a self evaluation, and Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III says Willoughby passed with flying colors.

Evins addressed the issue during Thursday night's school board meeting. "On Tuesday, the board in a workshop, as we do every year, did a self evaluation of the board. That's a way, an instrument of evaluating ourselves to look and see what we have accomplished versus what we should accomplish and there's no A's or B's it's just a matter of looking at what you have done and what you need to do and try to move forward with that. We also did our yearly evaluation of the Director of Schools and it was the consensus of the board that Mr. Willoughby has done what's been expected of him and furthermore done more than what's been expected of him and we're very pleased. I feel like we've had a productive year and the evaluations from the board in essence shows that Mr. Willoughby has gone beyond his call of duty to take his position and try to move things to a new level and we appreciate that."

Willoughby, later in the meeting, expressed his appreciation to the board. "I really appreciate the positive evaluation, but if it wasn't for the people that surround me and make me look good it wouldn't have been a positive evaluation so I want to say thank you to all those people that work hard to make me look good. It's not me but it's the people around me who help me out. I go to them and ask them a lot of questions. We've got a lot of excellent employees in our school system and I'm just really thankful to be working with such a professional staff, they're wonderful."

Willoughby's employment contract, which began July 1st, 2006, is for three years with his salary being reviewed by the Board each year. According to the approved contract, "The Board shall pay the Director an annual compensation of $77,500 in twelve equal monthly installments in accordance with Board policy and any additional state or local increases. The Board will review the Director's salary annually and the Board will increase the salary of the Director during the term of this contract each time an annual evaluation reflects that the Director has exceeded the expectations of the Board as follows: second year, a five percent increase and the third year, a three percent increase."

Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel during the meeting Thursday night.

Stevie Cripps has been employed as a substitute custodian.

Larry Johnson has retired as Materials Supervisor

The following employees have been granted a leave of absence as requested, Julie Pugh, an educational assistant at DeKalb Middle School; Sabrina Kirksey, a teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Marla Beshearse, a teacher at Northside Elementary School; and Penny Bilyeu, teacher at Smithville Elementary School.

Willoughby also updated the school board on the progress of the Freshman Academy. "I know there were some questions when we started this and a lot of hard work has gone into it and I praise the high school for that. I think the number of students not passing this year compared to last year with the freshman class is over a 50% improvement and I take my hat off to them, they've done an excellent job. Last year in the fall we had twenty students that had made two "F's" on their report cards for the semester. At this time, we don't have any freshmen students that have made two "F's" so that is a big improvement and the number of students that have made any "F's" is down at least 50%."

The board awarded bids on the sale of surplus property. The Mid South Bus Center of Murfreesboro was awarded bids to purchase two 1995 Model Blue Bird Busses for $2,877 each; Dean Johnson was awarded a bid to buy a 1994 John Deere 72 inch cut mower for $207; and Eddie Driver got the bid to purchase a Sanborn Blackmax 5 horsepower two stage air compressor 80 gallon tank for $102.


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