Local News Articles

New Dowelltown Playground Now Open

October 24, 2010
Dwayne Page
Ribbon Cutting Held for New Dowelltown Playground
Emily Burklow and Carlos Harris Trying out New Swings

A ribbon cutting was held Saturday morning to commemorate the completion of the new playground at Dowelltown.

City leaders, members of the DeKalb County Children's Service Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and corporate donors were on hand for the occasion.

Dowelltown Mayor Gerald Bailiff said the $30,000 project has been in the making for several years and was completed about three weeks ago. "We had a playground here that was actually from the old Dowelltown school but the state came in and looked at it and condemned it because it was so old. The school has been gone for several years. So they (state) came in and said it had to go so we had to have it removed. That's when we got started on this (project)."

"We've been trying to get all this together for going on five to six years now. We have six sets of swings, monkey bars, slides, and all kinds of climbing things here where the kids can play on.'

"We had fundraisers like sock hops, car shows, and bake sales. Of course, the Children's Service Council, DTC Communications, Liberty State Bank, and everybody donated to it to get it all going for us. We've put a lot of time and effort into it."

Clata Redman said the DeKalb County Children's Service Council was instrumental in helping raise funds for the project. "We were looking for some children projects to do here in the county and found that they needed some playground equipment in Dowelltown. The children were playing on the streets and needed a place so we decided we would help them.'

‘We did have to do fundraisers at different times. One of our largest contributors was Wal-mart. They were a very good supporter. We've also had people to give personal grants.'

"Our organization is a volunteer group. No one gets paid. We could use more physical hands to help us do more projects in the community. So we would like to ask anyone who has extra time on their hands to help us get projects for our children in the county."

Early Voting Totals Through Saturday, October 23rd

October 23, 2010
Dwayne Page

A total of 1,245 people in DeKalb County have already cast ballots in the November General Election during the first ten days of early voting through Saturday, October 23rd.

Early voting resumes Monday through Thursday, October 25th-28th. Voting hours will be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. All early voting is being conducted on the first floor of the courthouse.

The number of voters is almost equally split between men and women, 624 males and 621 females.

The following are voters by age group who have cast ballots early through Saturday October 23rd
Age Group:
18-20: 15 voters
21-30: 39 voters
31-40: 78 voters
41-50: 154 voters
51-65: 439 voters
Age 65 and over: 520 voters

The following are the numbers of voters by precinct who have already cast ballots early at the courthouse through Saturday, October 23rd.

Alexandria: 81
Temperance Hall: 41
Edgar Evins State Park: 8
Liberty: 62
Dowelltown: 26
Snow Hill: 47
DeKalb Middle School: 258
Cherry Hill: 12
Rock Castle: 7
Courthouse: 196
Johnson Chapel: 52
Elementary School: 142
Belk: 24
Keltonburg: 70
Blue Springs: 62
Church of Christ Annex: 157

Here's the voting turnout in the three county 40th state legislative district through Saturday, October 23rd:
Smith County: 1,968
Macon County:1,721
DeKalb County: 1,245

Turnout in the seven county 17th state senatorial district through Saturday, October 23rd:
Cannon County: 845
Clay County: 524
DeKalb County: 1,245
Macon County: 1,721
Smith County: 1,968
Trousdale County: 754
Wilson County: 9,193

Students and Teachers Return to School Monday

October 23, 2010
Dwayne Page

Students and teachers will be back in the classroom Monday after taking two weeks off for fall break.

The next break for students will be Tuesday, November 2nd but for teachers that will be a Professional Development/Instructional Day from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

The Thanksgiving holiday will be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 24th, 25th, & 26th and schools will be closed for the winter break December 20th through December 31st. Friday, December 17th will be the last day students attend before winter break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Students will return after the holidays on Tuesday, January 4th to begin the third nine week session.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 17th and for President's Day, Monday, February 21st.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 21st-25th and for Good Friday, April 22nd.

Students will not attend on Wednesday, May 25th. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Thursday, May 26. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held Tuesday, March 15th at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 17th at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home on Thursday, January 6th and Monday, March 14th.

AYP-EOC/Gateway Testing at DCHS will be Tuesday through Thursday, December 7th-9th and May 3rd-5th at DCHS and a make-up AYP-EOC/Gateway Test will be Friday, December 10th and May 6th.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 8th

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 1st. Writing Assessment make-up will be February 2nd..

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 13th-20th

(Stockpile Days) Professional Development/Instructional Days will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2nd, Monday, January 3rd, and Friday, March 18th. Students will not attend on those days.

BOPP Restricts Sex Offenders From Halloween Activities

October 23, 2010

Sex offenders under supervision of the Tennessee Board of Probation & Parole are again being restricted from taking part in any Halloween or fall and harvest activities. Each sex offender has signed a letter acknowledging that they are prohibited from participating in Halloween activities. BOPP Executive Director Bo Irvin said, “Maintaining public safety is the Board of Probation and Parole’s primary mission. We put these restrictions in writing to make sure the sex offenders we supervise know what activities are inappropriate for them.”

The letters advise sex offenders that:

Neither they, nor anyone in their home, can answer the door to trick or treaters on Halloween;
They cannot pass out candy;
Their homes cannot be decorated for Halloween, either inside or outside;
They cannot host Halloween parties at their homes;
They cannot go to haunted houses, corn mazes, hay rides or any other seasonal activity;
They cannot be at any function where children are gathered, including private residences;
They cannot give any Halloween treats to children;
They cannot wear costumes and
They cannot take any child trick or treating.

BOPP officers will enforce the restrictions throughout the month. BOPP Field Services Director Gary Tullock said, “During the rest of the Halloween season, officers will make additional visits, both announced and unannounced, to verify that the sex offenders on their caseloads are in compliance with these restrictions. On many of these visits, the probation and parole officers will be accompanied by local law enforcement officers for added emphasis on the seriousness of our restrictions.”

The Board of Probation and Parole (http://www.tn.gov/bopp/) is an independent seven-member board whose members are appointed by the Governor. The Board is charged with the responsibility of deciding which eligible felony offenders will be granted parole and released from incarceration to community-based supervision. Along with the supervision of those granted parole, the Board is also responsible for supervising felony offenders who are placed on probation by criminal courts.

Halloween to be Observed Saturday, October 30th

October 22, 2010
Dwayne Page
Chief Randy Caplinger

Halloween falls on Sunday this year but Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger says it will be observed on Saturday, October 30th in Smithville.

"Traditionally, when Halloween falls on Sunday, it's usually celebrated on Saturday, so the Smithville Police Department will have extras patrols out on Saturday. We'll be working the streets and our neighborhoods because there will be a lot of trick or treaters out. We want to keep everyone as safe as we can. So there will be extra patrols in the city. A lot of people will be out that night and a lot of children crossing the streets. We ask that everyone be extra cautious and if you see anything that you feel may be a problem, call central dispatch at 215-3000 and we'll answer those calls as they come in. We want everyone to have a good time, be safe, and enjoy Halloween."

The county will also observe Halloween on Saturday.

AWOL Army Soldier Arrested by Smithville Police

October 22, 2010
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department arrested a 21 year old man Wednesday who is wanted for deserion by the United States Army.

K9 Officer Bradley Tatrow stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation at Hayes Street and Fisher Avenue about 8:00 a.m. Upon checking Bryan Allen Cunningham's drivers license through the National Crime Information Center, it was discovered that he is wanted for desertion.

Cunningham was placed under arrest and transported to the Smithville Police Department. He is AWOL from the United States Army.

Cunningham's home address is 114 Juniper Lane

Motorist Swerves to Miss Deer but Runs through Fence at Nursery

October 22, 2010
Dwayne Page
Truck Runs off Road and Knocks down Gate and Fence at Nursery

An 18 year old motorist, who swerved to miss a deer, went off the road and through a fence at Harney's Nursery Friday morning on South Congress Boulevard.

Central dispatch received the call at 5:08 a.m.

Sergeant Joey Jones of the Smithville Police Department reports that Seth E. Braseel was driving north in a 1996 Ford F-15 when a deer ran out in front of him. Braseel said he didn't know if he hit the deer but to try to swerve to miss it, he did leave the roadway and knocked down a gate and about 30 feet of fence at Harney's Nursery, driving through some mums and shrubs.

Braseel was injured and reportedly transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

State Parole Board Members Recommend that Bounds Be Denied Release from Prison

October 21, 2010
Dwayne Page
Gerald (J.B.) Bounds
Members of Sherman Wright Family
State Parole Board Members Address J.B. Bounds by Videoconference
Sherman Wright (Photo from 1972, age 19)

63 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville may have to serve at least two more years in prison before being eligible for another parole hearing.

Two members of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Yusuf Hakeem and Charles Taylor, said Thursday they would recommend to fellow board members that Bounds be denied parole due to the seriousness of the offense in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of DeKalb County. If at least four members of the board vote to concur with the recommendation, Bounds will not be eligible for parole again until 2012.

The hearing was held at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville where Bounds is incarcerated.
Bounds is serving a life sentence for the first degree premeditated killing of Wright, who was shot once in the head just outside the Odyssey Arcade on West Broad Street, across from the Dairy Queen. The incident occurred on the afternoon of February 2nd, 1981, allegedly over a gambling debt. The game room no longer exists. The building now serves as the location for the Discount Tobacco Outlet. Had Wright survived, he would have turned 57 years old on Monday, October 25th

Bounds was found guilty of first degree murder by a DeKalb County Circuit Court Jury following a trial in October 1981 and he has been in prison since, having served 29 years and eight months.

Bounds has been up for parole twice, in September 2002 and again in August 2005. This was his third parole hearing.

Hakeem and Taylor, the two members of the parole board conducting the hearing, were not at the prison. They presided by video conference, hearing from Bounds, two members of his family, and a member of the Wright family.

In reading the record on Bounds, Hakeem noted that "as a juvenile we have no criminal activity listed on your part. As an adult, there was a misdemeanor for reckless operation of a motor vehicle. As a felony, no other items are listed."

Bounds is a high school graduate and he attended Martin College and MTSU. Prior to the shooting, Bounds occupations included accounting and office work, and he served as a night club manager and insurance file clerk.

While in prison, Hakeem mentioned that Bounds has been involved in various educational classes and occupations. "As far as program participation, he has been a teacher's aide, landscape gardener, in the HVAC refrigeration class, carpenter class, computer literacy class, and anger management class."

Bounds is considered a minimum level trustee and during the course of his incarceration he has been involved in two disciplinary issues, the last being in August, 1998, although neither Hakeem nor Taylor mentioned what they were.

According to Hakeem, Bounds received no letters of support for his release on parole but there have been several letters filed in opposition.

Bounds admitted to shooting Wright but he insisted that it was unintentional. In fact, Bounds said he did not expect to see Wright that day, but ran into him while at the game room, where he had stopped to see someone else. "When I went there that day, I didn't even know he was there. At trial there was testimony that someone had dropped him off there. The only reason I stopped was because I saw a friend of mine's vehicle. I pulled in directly behind his vehicle. I didn't know I was even going to see him that day."

Bounds said when he saw Wright he asked to speak with him and they got into an argument. "I did ask to talk to him. He was the one who started outside and I just followed him. He stopped and talked to Ms. (Mary) Mabe at the door and I just proceeded on by him. Actually I was just going to talk to him there. We got outside and we did argue. I thought he was going to draw a weapon on me. I had a weapon. I swung at him but I missed. He stepped back and put his hands in his pocket. I drew my weapon. When he didn't draw a weapon, I was going to hit him with mine (weapon). He reached up and grabbed (the gun). I evidently had my finger on the trigger. Anyway I did shoot him. When Ms Mabe came out I asked her to call an ambulance." Bounds then got in his car and drove to McMinnville where he turned himself in to authorities."

Parole board member Taylor then asked Bounds why he had a gun that day. "I carried a weapon. I operated a business and the (Warren County) sheriff had told me he had heard rumors that I was going to be robbed so I bought a pistol and I just carried it. It's not a good thing but it's the truth."

In making his emotional plea for release, Bounds said " Well I've done a lot of years. Of course, it was a terrible thing that happened. I've always taken responsibility. I've never denied what I did. I've never told anything but the truth. I'm very sorry for what's happened. I can't change that. I've tried to do my time and I've tried to make it profitable as far as myself. I've learned a lot of things. I think I'm a better person. I don't know what more I can do, I've done a lot of time and If I'm ever going to be released, now is the time because my family needs me"

Bounds' niece, Lisa Childers, addressed the board members asking that her uncle be released. She said he is needed at home especially to help care for his ailing mother, Novella Bounds and brother, Billy Bounds. "He is needed at home right now. His mother is very sick and so is my father. There's just not enough of us to take care of everyone and he would be a great big help to us. As far as a job, there's a man in McMinnville that Gerald is friends with who would give him a job. He has a daughter. He also has two grandchildren that he can help raise."

Patricia Bell, whose husband Mike Bell is Bound's cousin also addressed the parole board members. "I have known Gerald for most of my life. I do realize that he made a serious mistake and I think he realizes that. He has paid the ultimate price for it. Nothing he can do could turn around and take back what happened and give a life back. We do realize that and are truly sorry for it. But his mother is in very ill health. She is very elderly. She just had a stroke. She is in the nursing home and we're trying to get her home. His brother is in bad health. He was the caretaker of their mother. He has had a leg amputated. He's had a heart attack. Gerald would be a great help to his family, a great support to his family, his mother, his brother, his daughter, and grandchildren."

Katherine Pack, a first cousin of the victim, spoke on behalf of Wright's mother Louise saying " Her concerns are that she doesn't want someone else to be a victim and that's what she worries about more than anything. We are here in objection to Mr. Bounds being paroled."

In addition to Pack and Wright's mother, other members of the Wright family in attendance at the hearing were Brenice Wright and wife Wanda, Kenny Wright and wife Kathy, and nephew Nick Wright and Christy Cawthorne.

Along with the recommendation that Bounds be denied release, Hakeem and Taylor also recommended that he undergo a psychological evaluation within the next two years.

In addressing Bounds, Hakeem said "To say the least, the Wright family and even your family have been grieved by the actions that you took on that day. Since being in the institution, you have had very limited disciplinary history. As far as criminal activity overall, it's very limited. And to your benefit sir, you have been involved in programs and I truly think that you are not the same person today that you were when you came into the institution. But the fact remains, that you received a jury trial and you were found guilty of first degree murder, and though you have served many years, I have difficulty as far as releasing you at this time. It's going to be my vote to put you off for two years due to the seriousness of the offense and prior to your coming back before the board, that we have a psychological completed on you for propensity for violence"

In his remarks to Bounds, Taylor said "You should be commended. You are the type of candidate for parole that we like to see. You have an exemplary disciplinary record. You have no prior felonies. We see where you continue to try to improve yourself, especially in acquiring an accounting degree. Certainly working in the law library and you're maintaining a minimum trustee level while you're incarcerated. But I agree with Mr. Hakeem. Murder is a serious matter and you are serving a life sentence. I think Mr. Hakeem has been very generous in putting you off for two years. But because of these good things that Mr. Bounds has done, he's only put him off for two more years and asks that he have a psychological evaluation. To that degree I have to confirm and agree with my colleague, Mr. Hakeem that we cannot parole you at this time Mr. Bounds. However, he's only putting you off for two years. I'll agree with that and I'll ask for a psychological evaluation. We're declining you because of the seriousness of the crime. That is my vote today."

Bounds' file will now go to the other five members of the state board of pardons and paroles. They will review the case and cast their votes. The voting continues until there are four concurring votes (either to parole or to deny parole), which is what the law requires for a decision on this offense.

The factors board members consider in making parole decisions include the seriousness of the offense, the amount of time served, support and/or opposition to the parole, victim impact, any disciplinary issues the offender might have had while incarcerated, any programs the offender might have completed while incarcerated, etc.

It generally takes 3-4 weeks to get a final decision in any case.

Odell Charged by Smithville Police in Shake and Bake Meth Lab Discovery

October 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
Amy Odell (photo from a previous arrest)
Police suspect Meth Lab operation was conducted in bathroom
Drug paraphernalia and Meth Lab Components found in Smithville Apartment

Smithville Police found a shake and bake meth lab Monday at Brookview Apartments.

Detective Matt Holmes, who investigated the case, said 38 year old Amy Odell is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of a schedule II controlled substance (meth), and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $47,500 and she will be in court on October 28th.

According to Detective Holmes, police initially received a complaint about drug activity in the residence and the apartment manager found meth lab components there while conducting a monthly inspection when Odell was away. The manager notified a security officer and he gave a statement to police about what was found in the apartment.

After obtaining a search warrant, Detective Holmes along with Sergeant Randy King and patrolman Matt Farmer went to Odell's apartment around 7:30 p.m. and found a meth lab in the kitchen closet. They also found coffee filters in the home containing finished product of meth. A search of the bathroom closet turned up a container with several used hypodermic needles

Odell wasn't at home while police were conducting the search but she was spotted in a Chevy S-10 pickup truck around 9:15 p.m. by county deputy Jeremy Taylor. Officer Taylor stopped the truck at the Sonic Drive-In and charged the driver, Christopher South, with driving on a suspended license. Odell, a passenger of the truck, was also placed in custody. Detective Holmes says more product used to make meth was also found in the truck, which belongs to Odell.

Smithville Police Arrest Suspect in McMinnville Armed Robbery

October 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
Patricia Johnson East

A suspect in an armed robbery of the Cash and Dash in McMinnville was stopped by Smithville Police and taken into custody Tuesday afternoon.

Chief Randy Caplinger said 22 year old Patricia Johnson East of Cookeville was stopped on South Congress Boulevard near the Red Barn Produce location shortly after 4:00 p.m. Inside her vehicle, police found a semi-automatic pistol and cash. She has now been charged in Warren County with aggravated robbery and theft of property. East allegedly entered the Cash and Dash in McMinnville wearing a ball cap and eyeglasses armed with a pistol. She reportedly left with $600-$700 in cash.

According to Chief Caplinger, police received a BOLO or "Be on the lookout" for a white SUV being driven by a white female. A license plate number was given. The BOLO, received at 3:50 p.m., reported that a woman had "just robbed at gunpoint a Cash and Dash in McMinnville." The car was last seen traveling toward Smithville.

Chief Caplinger said Lieutenant Steven Leffew set up on South Congress Boulevard waiting for the vehicle and spotted it shortly after 4:00 p.m.

Lieutenant Leffew's report states " I set up on South Congress Boulevard at 4:09 p.m. and saw a white Pathfinder driven by a white female traveling northbound. As I got behind the vehicle, I confirmed the license plate number. I stopped the vehicle and approached it from the passenger side. I instructed the driver to place her hands on the roof of the car. I told the woman, Patricia Johnson East, that the McMinnville Police Department was requesting to talk to her and they were enroute. East became upset and started crying. I told her to calm down but to keep her hands where I could see them. I asked her if there were any weapons in the vehicle and she stated "no".

"Officer Matt Farmer arrived on the scene. He approached the vehicle from the passenger side. Officer Farmer asked her if he could look in the vehicle and she said "yes". Farmer ordered her to get out of the vehicle. He noticed a gun case on the passenger side floor board. Farmer also produced a pistol from the car. She was handcuffed and taken into custody for protection and she was read her rights. She gave a verbal consent to search her vehicle."

Chief Caplinger says McMinnville and Sparta detectives came to the scene and authorities from Cumberland County later arrived at the police department to question her about similar crimes in those counties. She was then taken to Warren County to be charged.

Before her arrest , Chief Caplinger said Smithville Police were called Tuesday to two locations in Smithville to check out a suspicious person, which could have been East.

Chief Caplinger said an officer was called to 3D Financial at 2:31 p.m. in reference to a panic alarm. Upon arrival an employee stated that they received an alert in reference to a white female, driving a white SUV who had committed an armed robbery in Cumberland County and Putnam County. Employees said a female driving a similar type vehicle came into the business (3D Financial) and she was acting suspiciously. The woman had left the business by the time police arrived.

The police department was called to Cash Express on a similar complaint, but again the suspect was gone by the time police arrived.

Chief Caplinger says surveillance video from the Cash Express and 3D Financial will be reviewed to see if East was the woman who came into those places of business.


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