Local News Articles

Smithville Police Investigates Two Traffic Accidents Friday at the Same Location

September 22, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police investigated two traffic accidents Friday at the same location.

Two people were involved in a traffic accident around 8:25 a.m. Friday morning at the intersection of North Mountain Street and West Broad Street.

Police say 40 year old Melissa Lynne Jones of Patterson Road, Smithville was north on Mountain Street, driving a 2000 Pontiac, and was making a left turn on West Broad Street as a 2002 Buick, driven by 59 year old Joyce Vandergriff of McMinnville, was traveling west on Broad Street. The two vehicles collided in the intersection.

Both drivers were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Meanwhile, two other people were involved in an accident around 1:15 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Mountain Street and Broad Street.

40 year old Gordon Rackley of Poss Street, Smithville was driving east on West Broad Street in a 1994 Chevy S-14 as 17 year old Daniel Frazier of Woodbury was traveling west on Broad Street in a 1991 Nissan. According to police, Frazier was making a left turn onto Mountain Street and pulled into the path of the Rackley truck. Frazier was cited for being an unlicensed driver. There were no injuries.

Members of the DeKalb EMS and the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department responded to both accidents, along with the Smithville Police Department, who investigated the crashes.

Carter Seeks Probation In Appeal of Statutory Rape Case

September 22, 2007
Dwayne Page

A DeKalb County man, unhappy with the sentence he received a year ago in a statutory rape case, could hear soon from his appeal to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Middle Division, as to whether the lower court's sentence was proper.

Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns, Jr., in September 2006, sentenced Gary Carter to four years probation, except for nine months to serve in the county jail, after Carter entered a guilty plea to one count of statutory rape, involving a female, who was seventeen years old and only a few months shy of turning eighteen when the incident allegedly occurred.

Carter has remained free on bond since filing the appeal nearly a year ago. His name is also listed on the Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry.

In the appeal, the attorney for Carter, Hilton Conger, is asking that Carter be granted probation, and not be made to serve nine months in jail.

Conger, in his written argument filed with the higher court, says the trial court erred in denying Carter probation, especially since Carter had no previous criminal record. Conger writes, " Despite the overwhelming evidence in the record that the appellant (Carter) was a favorable candidate for alternative sentencing, the trial court ambiguously ignored the presumption and failed to articulate in the record its reason or reasons for doing so."

Conger also claims that the trial court "abused its discretion when it summarily denied the appellant's application for Judicial Diversion without specific consideration, on the record, of the relevant factors required under Tennessee Law. Even if sufficient evidence exists to support the denial of Judicial Diversion, the trial court must state its reasons for its denial of Judicial Diversion. It is clear from the record that the trial court failed to weigh all of the factors necessary prior to making its determination that the appellant's application for Judicial Diversion would be denied."

According to Conger, "requiring the appellant to serve nine months would require a complete disregard for the laws and statutes of the State of Tennessee and would cause the appellant and his family to suffer without his income to support them. The appellant has learned a humiliating, humbling and frightening lesson in life which has taken it's toll on him emotionally and physically. The comments of the Assistant District Attorney and of the trial court, on the record, support the appellant's contention that he will return to the exemplary life that he enjoyed prior to the date in question. The chances that the appellant will engage in future criminal conduct are extremely remote. Additionally, the appellant has expressed sincere remorse for his actions, and has taken full responsibility."

Several Arrested on Burglary and Theft Charges by Sheriff's Department

September 21, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made several burglary and theft arrests this week

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 25 year old Charles Robert Wilmoth of Black Oak Cemetery Road, Sparta was charged Tuesday with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Sheriff Ray says Wilmoth broke into a house on Indian Mound Road. While inside the residence, Wilmoth took power tools and electronics valued at approximately $4,000. His bond is set at $60,000.

22 year old Jonathon David Thomas of Nashville Highway Liberty, 18 year old Anthony W. Tramel of Oakley Road Liberty, and 22 year old Jordan Thomas Adams of Game Ridge Road Smithville were charged Tuesday in a recent break in on Rocky Road Liberty. Sheriff Ray says the trio went to a residence on Rocky Road Liberty on September 6th and entered the home by breaking through a window. While inside, the three men took money, two shotguns, two pistols, and prescription medication valued at over $1,600. Two shotguns and one pistol have been recovered. Thomas' bond was set at $45,000 and bond for Adams was $15,000.

Meanwhile, Tramel and 23 year old David M. Caldwell of Smith Fork Road, Liberty were charged Tuesday with theft of property over $1,000.00. Sheriff Ray says these two men went to Church Street in Liberty and took a four wheeler valued at over $5,000. The four wheeler was in the back of a pickup truck. Tramel and Caldwell unloaded it, pushed it down the street, hot wired it, and drove it off. The four wheeler has been recovered. Total bond for Tramel is $22,500 and Caldwell's bond was set at $7,500. .

28 year old Ernest S. Cantrell of Adcock Cemetery Road was arrested on Wednesday for aggravated burglary. Cantrell allegedly pried a door open to a residence on Adcock Cemetery Road and entered into the residence. The owner of the house was at home sleeping and was awakened by the prying of the door. The owner jumped up and spotted Cantrell and he, (Cantrell) then fled the scene. Cantrell was arrested and his court date is October 4th Bond for Cantrell is $5,000.

On Thursday, 34 year old Jeffery Lynn Murphy was arrested for 1st Offense DUI. Sheriff Ray says Murphy was stopped by a deputy on Highway 56 North for weaving and running on-coming cars off the road. Murphy was on his way to General Sessions Court in DeKalb County for a Probation Violation. Murphy admitted to the deputy that he had taken Hydocodone and other prescription medication earlier. General Sessions Judge Bratten Cook placed Murphy under "no bond". His court date is October 11th.

State Smoking Ban Takes Effect October 1

September 19, 2007

The Tennessee Departments of Health and Labor and Workforce Development are two weeks away from enforcement of the Non-Smokers Protection Act, which was signed into law by Governor Phil
Bredesen on June 11 of this year. Under the law, which takes effect on October 1, 2007, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places within the State of Tennessee with a few exceptions.

“The most effective way to protect workers from deadly secondhand smoke is to require smoke free workplaces,” said Governor Bredesen. “The goal of this legislation is to protect Tennesseans who are
simply trying to go to work each day and earn a paycheck. I’m proud to see Tennessee join the ranks of only a few other states that have taken the necessary steps to protect the health of employees and patrons by preventing exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Both the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development have authority to enforce the law. The Department of Health will enforce the law in establishments it inspects. Among them are restaurants; public and private educational dining
facilities; health care facilities; hotels, motels and bed and breakfast facilities; organized camps; tattoo and body piercing parlors; sports arenas, including enclosed public areas in outdoor arenas; and child
care and adult day care facilities.

“The U.S. Surgeon General released a comprehensive report earlier this year detailing that non-smokers have an increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer as a result of secondhand smoke in their environments,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “With enforcement of any new law, we understand there is an adjustment period where we learn and become familiar with the changes. The Department staff plans to spend the next few weeks continuing to inform and educate the public about the law, so they can fully comply with it.”

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will enforce the law in establishments it inspects including manufacturing facilities; construction sites; convenience and grocery stores; retail stores and shopping malls.

“A strong element of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s mission is to improve workplace safety and health throughout Tennessee,” said James Neeley, commissioner for the
Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development. “We are committed to supporting the state’s smoke-free legislation for a healthier Tennessee for workers and the public.”

The law provides exceptions to smoking ban for some locations and establishments. They are as follows.
Ÿ Private homes and private residences are exempt unless they are used for child care or day care.

Ÿ Private motor vehicles are also exempt.

Ÿ Non-enclosed areas of public places, including open air patios, porches or decks, those that are enclosed by garage type doors when all such doors are open; and any that are enclosed by tents or awnings with removable sides or vents when all such sides or vents are removed or open are exempt. However, smoke from these areas must not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited.

Ÿ Venues that restrict access to persons who are 21 years of age or older at all times are exempt. Employees must also be 21 or older in these establishments.

Ÿ Private businesses with 3 or few employees are exempt, and may only allow smoking in an enclosed room not accessible to the general public. Smoke from such a room must not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited.

Ÿ Private clubs are exempt.

Ÿ Smoking rooms in hotels and motels are allowable, provided that no more than 25 percent of the rooms in a hotel or motel are designated as smoking rooms.

Ÿ Tobacco manufacturers, importers and wholesalers are exempt.

Ÿ Retail tobacco stores that prohibit minors from entering are

Ÿ Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are also exempt from this law, but are subject federal regulation and the policies and procedures established by those facilities.

Ÿ Commercial vehicles are exempt when the vehicle is occupied only by the operator.

To comply with the law, employers and business owners are required to post "No Smoking" signs at every entrance to every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited; to notify and inform all existing and prospective employees that smoking is prohibited; and inform patrons and customers who are found smoking on the premises that it is prohibited.

Those who knowingly violate the ban do face penalties. An individual who knowingly smokes in area where smoking is prohibited is subject to a civil penalty of $50. A business that knowingly fails to comply with the requirements of the act is subject to a written warning from the Department of Health or the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for a first violation in a 12 month period; a civil penalty of $100 for a second violation in a 12 month period; and a civil penalty of $500 for a third or subsequent violation in a 12 month period.

Beginning October 1, violations of the Non-Smokers Protection Act can be reported via the Internet at health.state.tn.us or by calling 1-800-293-8228. Information will then be routed to the appropriate
department for handling.

City Accepts Applications for Police Chief, Public Works Director, and Secretary/Treasurer

September 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is accepting applications for the positions of Chief of Police, Public Works Director, and Secretary/Treasurer.

Applications for all these positions may be picked up at City Hall from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Applications will be accepted through September 28th, 2007 until 12 noon.

Qualifications for the Secretary/Treasurer position include a Bachelor Degree from an Accredited College or University, must have an ability to be bonded, must have the ability to become certified as a City Secretary/Treasurer by the State of Tennessee, five to seven years of progressively responsible management experience, similar experience in the public sector is preferred, must be able to pass a drug screen, must be a DeKalb County resident, or be willing to relocate to DeKalb County. Compensation commensurate with qualifications.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson says the City of Smithville does not discriminate based on race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, or disability.

Auditor says Smithville in Sound Financial Condition

September 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is in sound financial condition according to city auditor John Poole, CPA.

Poole gave a report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday night on findings of the audit for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, which ended June 30th, and gave an historical perspective of the city's financial condition. "Going back to the 1990 audit report, in the utility fund, we had about $4.4 million in cash. However, at that time we had debt of $4.2 million, so there was really only what we would call a cushion of about $200,000. Looking at the utility system today, we've got in cash in certificates of deposit almost $3.4 million. There's only $860,000 in debt, so there is a cushion, a reserve of $2.5 million. That means as this city continues to grow and needs to make improvements in expansions to existing facilities, we're not going to ask our citizens for money. We're not going to have to borrow to make those improvements. There just aren't many cities of the size of Smithville that can say it has less than a million dollars in debt and $2.5 million in reserves."

In 1990, according to Poole, " the general fund had almost $900,000 in cash. The city had some debt, we're not exactly sure how much that was, but let's just say there was none, so let's say we had a cushion of $900,000. Today in the general fund, we have $3 million in cash and there's no debt. That's $3 million that the city has as a cushion."

"We budgeted for the city to receive $2.4 million in revenues for the year but the city actually received almost $2.5 million. I think it was $2,476,000. It tells me that we're doing a good job with our budgeting and it's nice to see that we exceeded our budgeted amounts in revenue. The City of Smithville revenue streams, historically, have been very solid."

"The final budget for the year was $1.9 million, but we only spent $1.7 million. That's $200,000 that could have been spent, but wasn't. When you have revenues exceeding your budget by $75,000, and you spend $200,000 less that what you budgeted then you kind of get the feeling where these surpluses that we can use for these nice capital projects, without borrowing, come from."

Poole added, "To me, the picture is pretty rosy with steady revenue streams, expenses have been under control, the monies have been well taken care of and those monies are being invested in safe investments, but are yielding competitive rates that we get from cd's at the banks."

Two Injured In Monday Afternoon Wreck

September 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two people were involved in a traffic accident Monday afternoon on Highway 56 north near Eagle Creek Road.

Sergeant Billy Prater of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 38 year old Eva Louise Pascal of Piniwinkle Road, Smithville was driving north on the Cookeville Highway in a 1993 Ford Explorer and 19 year old Patrick Franklin Counts of East 13th Street, Cookeville was traveling south in a 2006 Honda Civic.

According to Sergeant Prater, Counts crossed the centerline and struck Pascal's vehicle head-on. Counts stated that he was reaching into the floor of the car to get a pen when the crash occurred.

Both drivers were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Counts was cited for traveling on the wrong side of the roadway and violation of the drivers license law for failure to comply with the ten day address change provision.

Pascal was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance).

Sergeant Prater was assisted by Trooper Allen England, DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Roger Whitehead, and the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

City to Accept Bids on Irrigation System at Golf Course

September 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday night voted to accept bids on the installation of an irrigation system for the fairways at the Smithville Golf Course, once specs for the project have been provided by Jimmy Lewis, operator of the Smithville Golf and Swim Club.

The city will receive bids on the project and take half of Lewis' rent to pay for it over time. Lewis will continue to pay his monthly rent of $2,500 per month with half going to the general fund and half going to the city to pay the debt of the irrigation system.

Lewis, with his former partner Darryl Counts, was granted a five year extension of his lease agreement along with a five year renewal option several months ago as a consideration for his commitment " to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in order to dig a second well, to install a sprinkler system for the fairways, and to purchase golf carts". Lewis has completed two of the three projects he agreed to under the lease.

Under the previous agreement with the city, Lewis had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under the amended agreement, Lewis was granted an extension of his lease through 2017 at the same rate of $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option. The monthly rate can be renegotiated in 2017.

Lewis says he has already spent more than $92,000 on the golf course and swimming pool and he now needs some help from the city. Lewis made a similar request to the city council last year but was denied.

Lewis already has two sealed bids on the irrigation project, but the council felt like it was more proper for the city to advertise for bids.

The council voted 4 to 1 to advertise for bids. Alderman Steve White voted against it, saying he felt the city should stick to the terms of the current agreement with Lewis.

Meanwhile, the city council voted to accept the resignations of those city employees who announced their resignations last month and voted to hire Joey Jones and Randy King as the newest members of the Smithville Police Department. The vote was 4 to 1 on Jones and 5 to 0 on King. Alderman Willie Thomas voted against Jones. Alderman Tonya Sullivan says she has reviewed the officer's POST files and they seem to have a good record

The city board is developing a job description for the positions of secretary-treasurer and director of public utilities and will advertise, seeking applicants. The salaries will be based on qualifications and those hired for those positions must live in DeKalb County or agree to relocate here.

The position of Police Chief will also be advertised, seeking applicants. The vote was 3 to 2. Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Steve White, and Cecil Burger voted in favor while Aldermen Jerry Hutchins Sr. and Willie Thomas voted against it.

Hutchins says the charter calls for the city to promote from within when there is an opening in the department and Thomas agreed. However Sullivan says if anyone from within the department wants to apply, they may do so. Hutchins wants former chief Richard Jennings to get the job.

Concerned citizen Walter Foster, a resident of Miller Road, came before council complaining about some horses being kept on a small lot near his home on Luttrell Avenue. Foster says there were two horses on the lot, and now there are four. He says the horses have been there so long, the lot is now bare, with little or no grass on it at all, and the animals are drawing flies to the area. The lot is also located across the street from the home of Alderman Willie Thomas, and he too is unhappy about the horses being there.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson says the owners of the property may be in violation of city codes and animal control has talked to them. The city board voted to have codes inspector Eugene O'Neal make a personal contact with the owners and follow up with a letter, giving them notice to remove the horses.

Another concerned citizen, Patsy Williams Hayes, came before the board asking that speed limit signs be erected in Short Mountain Village, where she lives to warn motorists to slow down, where children are at play. She also wants more police patrols in that area.

The city board voted to erect 15 mile per hour speed limit signs at the entrances to housing project, as well as other signs cautioning motorists to drive slowly or beware of children at play, subject to a review by city attorney John Pryor.

Citizen member Thomas Groom was appointed to the Industrial Development Board.

The city board also voted 4 to 1 to officially approve the written sales tax agreement with the county. Under the agreement, the city will continue to turn over to the county an additional 16-2/3% of it's local option sales tax collections for another 30 years. Alderman White voted against it, saying 30 years was too long. Alderman Burger felt the same way but still voted for it.

City attorney John Pryor was the acting secretary during Monday night's meeting, taking the minutes.

Sales Tax Collections Take Big Jump in DeKalb County

September 17, 2007
Dwayne Page

Total state sales tax collections based on July sales took a big jump in DeKalb County compared to the same month last year. These are the first available numbers from the state since the local option sales tax increase took effect July first, going from 1.5% to 2.75%.

The latest report from the Tennessee Department of Revenue show that total sales tax collections for the month of August, based on July sales, were $304,342 compared to $151,756 a year ago.

Total collections for the month of July, based on June sales, came to $192,471.

County Mayor Mike Foster says these numbers show the economic impact tourism is having in DeKalb County this summer.

Total sales tax collections based on July sales in DeKalb County, outside the cities, were $71,645, up from $42,097 last July.

Sales tax collections in Smithville were $212,720 based on July sales, up from $95,325 last July. Alexandria's collections were $12,978 in July, up from $8,329 last July. In Dowelltown, the collections in July were $1,929 compared to $814 last July, and in Liberty the sales tax collections in July were $5,069, down from $5,189 last July.

Sales tax collections based on June sales were $44,346 in DeKalb County, outside the cities, $136,731 in Smithville, $7,782 in Alexandria, $1,343 in Dowelltown, and $2,266 in Liberty.

Under state law, the cities must turn over 50% of their local option sales tax collections to the county's local purpose fund or special school sinking fund, plus another 16 & 2/3% by agreement with the county.

Fight Investigation Leads to Charges against Three People

September 17, 2007
Dwayne Page

Three people were charged by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department last week as the result of an investigation stemming from a fight.

Deputies were summoned to a fight call on New Home Road, Dowelltown last Monday.

When the officers arrived, they found 19 year old Thomas Webster of New Home Road Dowelltown in an intoxicated state. During a pat down search, deputies also found a pipe in Webster's pocket containing burnt marijuana. Deputies arrested Webster for under age consumption and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $1,000.00.

18 year old Nicholas Paul Benedict of New Home Road Dowelltown was also present. Deputies
noticed Benedict had been drinking alcohol and he was arrested for Under Age Consumption. His bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is October 4th.

Upon further investigation as to who bought the alcohol, 28 year old Damon Ray Rainey of
New Home Road, Dowelltown, was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Rainey's bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is October 4th.

Meanwhile, deputies investigated a one car accident on South College Street, Smithville last Monday. 36 year old Christopher Pack of Evins Mill Road was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident. Pack was South bound on South College Street in a 1994 GMC Jimmy when he lost control of his vehicle and struck an embankment. Pack then fled the scene. Pack was arrested later. Bond for Pack was set at $3,500 and his court date is October 4th.

34 year old Michael S. Wright of Miller Road, Smithville was charged with being a fugitive from justice. Authorities discovered that Wright was wanted in Kalamazoo Michigan for DUI and Failure to appear. Wright is being held without bond awaiting extradition back to Michigan.

On Friday, 45 year old Jeffrey Lynn Brashears of Grand Avenue, Watertown, was charged with DUI -Third Offense. A Deputy while on patrol stopped Brashears on Salem Street in Liberty. Brashears was found to be intoxicated. Bond was set at $5,000 and his court date is October 4th. Brashears has a pending DUI in Wilson County.


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