Local News Articles

Prescription Drug Manufacturer Pfizer Comes to the Aid of Sabrina Brown

March 13, 2012
Dwayne Page

Almost a week after someone stole the medications she needs to survive, Sabrina Brown got some good news Monday.

The prescription drug manufacturer, Pfizer has announced that it will help Brown obtain the Zyvox medication free of charge through Pfizer's RSVP program, which is designed to help qualified patients access the Pfizer specialty medicines they need.

The announcement by Pfizer comes after Nashville media publicity about the case.

Brown, who lives on Earl Avenue with her husband and step mother, told WJLE last Friday that someone broke into her home last Tuesday, March 6th between 3:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. while they were away. When Brown returned, she discovered that someone had emptied out her purse and stolen cash and some expensive medication she was taking for a life threatening bacterial blood infection. Smithville Police were called to investigate. There was no sign of forced entry. Brown told police she wasn't certain whether the doors to the home were locked while they were gone.

Police report the following list of items stolen and their approximate value: Zyvox, $7,515; Zofran, $1,796; Cipro $67.99; Phenergan $19.49; TN ID $20; and $150 in cash. The purse was found in the basement.

Brown, a patient at Vanderbilt, said the hospital gave her the medications but they wouldn't replace what had been stolen and she can't afford to buy more. Brown said she might have died had she not been able to replace the medication she needs for her condition. Brown made an appeal to whoever stole the medications to return them to her, but no response has come so far.

Brown said she is thankful for the words of encouragement and letters of support she has received over the past week.

Smithville Gets Approval for $1.5 Million Airport Grant Project

March 13, 2012
Dwayne Page
Grant funds to repair cracks and repave airport runway
Saw cuts to be made in airport runway as part of the process to repair cracks
Cracks such as this appear in many places along airport runway

The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced Monday that state aeronautics grants totaling $16,751,893 have been approved for seventeen Tennessee airports including the Smithville Municipal Airport.


The City of Smithville has been approved for a $1.5 million project for runway overlay and apron expansion. State grant funding totals $1,350,000 and the local matching obligation is $150,000. The funds will be used to re-pave the airport runway and to pave and expand the aircraft parking area.

Wesley Nokes, Airport Manager, said cracks in the runway will have to be fixed first. "We're going to be doing a complete airfield overlay but before that can be done several cracks in the runway have to be fixed. The process by which they do that, they'll saw cut the cracks six inches on either side of it (cracks), completely remove that section of asphalt, take it down to the core, and remove all the old. They'll come back and fill all that in and pave back over top of it and bring it up to grade with the rest of the runaway. All the cracks have to be fixed before we can start the (overlay) process," said Nokes.

The apron will also be doubled in size, according to Nokes "The apron which is our parking area for our aircraft, its pretty much been unchanged since the airport was built in the early 70's. This is the original asphalt that was put here. We're going to extend this (aircraft parking area) to twice the size that it is right now. Its going to give us twice the original parking area and that will really help us on crowded days," said Nokes.

The city also recently received a $166,667 grant for apron expansion design with a local matching share of $16,667.


The grants are made available through the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.

The Division administers federal and state funding to assist in the location, design, construction and maintenance of Tennessee's diverse public aviation system.

Except for routine expenditures, grant applications are reviewed by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission (TAC), which is a five member board charged with policy planning and with regulating changes in the state Airport System Plan. The board carefully reviews all applications for grants to ensure that the proper state and local matching funds are in place and that the grants will be used for needed improvements.

The TDOT Aeronautics Division has the responsibility of inspecting and licensing the state's 126 heliports and 75 public/general aviation airports.

Local FFA Members Attend State Goodwill Tour

March 12, 2012
Corey Merriman, DeKalb County FFA Reporter
FFA Students
FFA Students with State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver
FFA Students with State Representative Mark Pody

Members of the DeKalb County High School Future Farmers of America recently attended the Tennessee State FFA Goodwill Tour in Murfreesboro at MTSU. During the evening, FFA members from around Middle Tennessee gathered together to eat and meet with the state officers of FFA. After eating the meal that was prepared, the attendees traveled to the new education building on campus to participate in a program prepared by the Tennessee State FFA Officer team. During the program, each of the state officers told a story and described how each of their stories inspired them. The main theme in all of the presentations was "I Believe". They then asked FFA members to also say what they believed in. Everyone had a great time, and it was well pleased to be able to attend.

Meanwhile, seventeen DeKalb County FFA members traveled to the State Capitol in Nashville to attend the recent Flowers on the Hill. We were able to meet state representatives and congressmen to thank them for their support of Career and Technical programs as well as the FFA. While there we were able to spend time with our representatives Mark Pody and Terri Lynn Weaver. Rep. Weaver led a tour of the House Chamber floor where we were walked through the legislative process. We were also able to meet and speak with former House engrossing clerk Larry Cole. Rep. Pody took the time to speak with us concerning his first piece of legislation that would create an official Tennessee Day of Prayer. This bill was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and will become law after the Governor signs it. This day was filled with exciting new experiences, people, and we all look forward to participating in this event next year. Thank you to all of our Senators and Representatives for their continued support of Career and Technical Education

Top Photo: Row 1: Alyssa Fee, West TN Vice President; Peyton Graham, State President; Olivia Fernandez, State Treasurer; Haley Cobb, Middle TN Vice President; Courtney Walker, East TN Vice President; Elissa McLearran, State Secretary; Emily Keaton, State Reporter; Gina Locke, State Sentinel. Row 2: Sarah Jones, Amy Hastings, Connor Giddens, Jeremie Ferdelman, Adam Cubbins, Andrew Lawrence, Dylan Reagan, Brent Vickers. Row 3: Vickey Vickers, Macie Bouldin, Nic Linder, Laura Martin, Justin Bass, Nick Underhill, Chris Powell. Row 4: Joe Vickers, Crystal Vickers, Alex Keith, Corey Merriman, Kaitlynn Jones, Cody Griffith, Shara Adcock, Brandon Barnes, Brady Foster. Row 5: Justin Coats, Casey France, Ashley Taylor, Haley Parchman

Middle Photo :L to R: Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, Brady Foster, Adam Cubbins, Blake Reffue, Caleb McBride, Luke Griffin, Mason Merriman, Cody Griffith, Alex Keith, Crystal Vickers, Brent Vickers, Matt Elliott, Haley Parchman, Corey Merriman, Sarah Jones, Amy Hastings, Ashley Taylor

Bottom Photo: L to R: Row 1: Corey Merriman, Sarah Jones, Amy Hastings, Ashley Taylor, Mason Merriman, Adam Cubbins, Haley Parchman, Brent Vickers, Crystal Vickers, Alex Keith. Row 2: Cody Griffith, Chris Powell, Brady Foster, Blake Reffue, Luke Griffin, Rep. Mark Pody, Matt Elliott, Caleb McBride

Two Charged in Meth Lab Investigation

March 12, 2012
Dwayne Page
Jerry Henry AKA Bug Goff
Rhonda Goff
Clinton Lane Cope
Tiffany Shenea Hobbs

The Sheriff's Department arrested two people last week in a meth lab investigation.

33 year old Jerry Henry AKA Bug Goff and 27 year old Rhonda Joy Goff are each charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Jerry Goff is also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. Bond amounts are $85,000 for Jerry and $50,000 for Rhonda and they will be in court March 15.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Thursday, March 8, Jerry and Rhonda Goff were found at their residence at 257 Toad Road with numerous components including Coleman propane fuel, lighter fluid, acetone, blend fuel, propane cooking heads, lithium batteries, coffee filters, cold packs, rubber tubing, mason jars, lye, funnels, glass dishes, and 310 grams of pseudoephedrine, a key component in the manufacture of meth. Officers also found in the home a loaded nine millimeter Rugar handgun belonging to Goff, who is a convicted felon.

According to Sheriff Ray, the arrests were the result of an investigation by sheriff's department drug detectives into the manufacture of methamphetamine. A search warrant was obtained on March 7 and executed at the Goff residence on March 8.

22 year old Clinton Lane Cope of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court March 15. Sheriff Ray reports that on Monday, March 5, a deputy responded to a domestic complaint involving two victims at a residence on Midway Road. After speaking to all parties involved, it was determined that Cope was the primary aggressor. Cope said he became angry and kicked in a bedroom door, destroying several items. The officer saw broken glass and picture frames on the floor and tables flipped over. One of the victims had bruising from an assault two weeks prior. The victim said that Cope had threatened to kill her and another victim, by cutting their throats. One of the victims said the reason Cope was mad was because he wanted her medication.

Joe Leonard Marlar of Goodner Lane, Alexandria is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court March 15. According to Sheriff Ray, on Tuesday, March 6 an officer got behind a vehicle on Highway 70 west for failing to maintain lane of travel and speeding through a school zone at 60 miles per hour. The deputy activated his lights and sirens and made the traffic stop. Upon speaking with the driver, Marlar, the deputy noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Marlar's person. Marlar said he had consumed two beers and had taken prescription medication. Marlar submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. He submitted to a blood alcohol test.

22 year old Tiffany Shenea Hobbs of West Main Street, Liberty is charged with introduction of drugs into a penal institution. Her bond is $3,500 and she will be in court on March 15. Sheriff Ray reports that Hobbs was arrested for failure to appear and violation of probation and brought to the jail on Tuesday, March 6. During a strip search, one of the corrections officers noticed a cellophane pack in Hobbs' body cavity. The package contained two orange pills believed to be suboxone, a schedule III controlled substance.

22 year old Eddy Fidel Rangel of Rainwood Drive, Nashville is charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court on April 5. Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, March 10 a deputy was called to Old Highway 53, Liberty on a complaint of an unwanted guest. Rangel was found to be hiding under a pickup truck at the residence of a neighbor. Rangel had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. His speech was also slurred. Rangel had no place to go. Due to his intoxication and for his safety, Rangel was placed under arrest. The deputy instructed Rangel several times to put his hands behind his back but Rangel refused to comply, throwing his hands up in the air and stating that he wanted to go back into the house. Rangel had to be forcibly placed under arrest.

Replace smoke alarm batteries, as you spring forward

March 9, 2012

As clocks move ahead this weekend for daylight saving time, Tennessee State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak would like to remind Tennesseans to change their homes’ smoke alarm batteries, as well.

“ ‘Change your clock, change your battery’ is an easy phrase to remember and practice when you update your clocks this weekend,” says McPeak. “Smoke alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and tested monthly to ensure you have the protection you need,” McPeak says. “Use this time to protect your home and family.”

A working smoke alarm will double your survival chances during a home fire by giving you the critical time needed to escape. Most home fires occur at night when people are sleeping. A fire’s smoke and toxic gases can actually deepen your sleep, diminishing your chances of survival.

More than 90 percent of all American homes have smoke alarms, but as many as one-third of them don’t work – because of old or missing batteries. It is critical to replace batteries regularly – even if they appear to be working fine. Twice a year is recommended. This helps prevent the warning, low-battery “chirp” emitted by alarms. All too often, alarm batteries are removed but not replaced, putting home occupants at risk. There is no way to predict when a fire will occur, and just one night in a home without a working smoke alarm can prove dangerous. Replacing batteries for daylight saving time is just one fire safety step. Here are a few more:

Smoke alarms should be put inside and outside every room where residents sleep, and on each home level. All residents should know how the alarm sounds and what it means.

Smoke alarms need to be cleaned and maintained according to their instructions.

Have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room; teach it to everyone in the home, especially children.

When the smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to a pre-planned meeting place.

Many local fire departments have supplies of donated smoke alarms, and departments will help install them in the homes of the elderly and disabled. Visit www.tn.gov/commerce/sfm/. The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/, @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), http://on.fb.me/uFQwUZ (Facebook), http://bit.ly/ry1GyX (YouTube)

School System May Purchase Electric Bus for Handicapped Students

March 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
School System Considering Purchase of Electric Bus Similar to One Shown Here

The DeKalb County School System is looking into the possibility of purchasing an electric powered school bus for transporting handicapped students.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, during Thursday night's school board meeting, said that a representative of a company that produces electric school buses will be meeting with him and Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague next week to discuss the issue further.

According to Director Willoughby if the school system were to buy an electric bus, it could be the first school system in the state to have one

The school system is apparently in need of a bus for handicapped students but they're expensive. "A handicapped bus costs over $100,000 that we're bidding out," said Willoughby. But if grant funds can be secured, the cost to the local system might be as little as $15,000. According to Willoughby, that's all some districts in California have had to shell out to get one. "California has only $15,000 in this electric bus," he said.

By going green with an electric bus, Willoughby said the school system would save on fuel costs and maintenance. "These electric buses have been very successful as handicapped buses. They will run approximately 80 miles before a recharge. There's no fuel costs, no oil, and little to no maintenance," said Willoughby.

He said the people he'll be meeting with next week have their own grant writers and would help in writing the grant for the school system.

Meanwhile, the school board Thursday night adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring Professional Services Staff including school nurses, guidance counselors, school resource officers, psychologists, speech therapists, and others.

Board chairman Charles Robinson read the following resolution:

"Whereas, the DeKalb County School System is dedicated to showing appreciation for our special services staff members that include guidance counselors, librarians, school nurses, school resource officers, school psychologists, speech and hearing specialists, and others;

Whereas, the special services staff members in DeKalb County Schools are responsible for the safety and welfare of our students;

Whereas, this group of professionals serve a very important role in providing a variety of special services to our students on a daily basis;

Whereas the DeKalb County Board of Education wishes to honor the special services staff members for their commitment and loyalty to their students and schools.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Education hereby establishes March 15 as Special Services Staff Appreciation Day in all DeKalb County Schools; and

Be it further resolved that the Board of Education expresses our appreciation to all the school employees who provide special services in our school system. We encourage each school and community to recognize these individuals for their role in the success of our school system.

In other business, the board approved articulation agreements with the Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro in the areas of Industrial Electrical Maintenance Computer Information Technology, Computer Information Systems Online, Computer Operations, Automotive Technology, and Computer Aided Drafting.

Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director,in addressing the board Thursday night said that through these agreements high school students, upon successfully demonstrating competency in certain high school courses, may be awarded a specific number of contact hours at the tech center in Murfreesboro in those course offerings. "We've been working for about two years with the Tennessee Technology Center in Murfreesboro to take competencies and standards in our courses and to tie them into courses that are at the Tennessee Technology Center in Murfreesboro and these are the agreements that we've reached and signed. What this basically says is that the courses that we're teaching at the high school will be in line with the courses at the technology center and they will award us so many hours of credit in these particular courses, depending upon the courses students take in high school. It's a win win situation for the kids. It's a great thing especially for the kids going to the technology center. These are students that have graduated and are now attending the tech center," said Leach.

Stephanie Walker, School Nutrition Supervisor, said the school system is participating in a contest this month with other districts through the Fuel up to Play 60 initiative to get more students to participate in the breakfast program.

Walker said If your children eat every day for the month of March and their school wins the contest then their name will be put in a drawing for two 2012-2013 Tennessee Titans Tickets. If your child eats everyday for a week their name will be in a drawing for free items each Friday for the month of March. (PLAY VIDEO BELOW TO LEARN MORE)

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby updated the board on personnel.

Those employed since the last meeting include:

Brenda Bandy, Special Education Assistant at Smithville Elementary School
Tammy Ferrell, custodian at DeKalb Middle School
Jeremy Haas, custodian at DeKalb Middle School
Gary Caplinger, teacher at DCHS
Debra Londan, substitute bus assistant

Brenda Bandy, Special Educational Assistant from Smithville Elementary School to DCHS

J. Annette Davis, Special Education Assistant DCHS
Charles Cantrell, custodian at DeKalb Middle School

Turnout for Primary Down, New Photo ID Law Poses No Major Problems

March 8, 2012
Dennis Stanley

Despite a heavy election-day turnout, the overall vote totals for this week's Presidential Preference Primary and DeKalb Democratic Primary were well below the results for the same election in 2008.

"Turnout was down considerably in the national PPP and local Democratic Primary," said Dennis Stanley Administrator of Elections. "I'll leave it to political observers to analyze the numbers, but the fact the current president was running opposed coupled with the national media attention on the Republican side of the presidential race may have been factors in the low numbers," Stanley said.

This election was also a little bit unusual compared to very recent elections in that the number of votes cast on election-day was just over two-thirds of the total number. "Recently, the trend has been that early votes equal a third to one-half the overall number. Some of that also depends on the type of election, the offices on the ballot and the time of the year in which the election is held," Stanley added.

In 2008, 3,089 local voters cast ballots in the Democratic Presidential Primary and only 793 votes were cast locally this year. On the Republican side, the numbers were about the same. In 2008 1,349 votes were cast in the GOP Primary compared to 1,337 this year.

Meanwhile, the local administrator said there were no major problems relating to the state's new Photo ID law. "We had one voter cast a provisional ballot because he did not have a
valid ID with him at the time he arrived at the polls," Stanley explained. "In this circumstance, voters must come to the election office and show a valid ID within 2 days. This voter came back the very next morning and produced a valid ID and had no complaints about the process."
"We only received reports of two other incidents relating to the photo ID law and each time the voter simply chose not to cast a provisional ballot and walked away," he said. "The local election commission and the Secretary of State's Office began spreading the word about the Photo ID law late last summer and early fall.

Based on what I've heard from around the state and what happened locally, it appears the effort to educate voters paid off," Stanley concluded. "That effort will continue and as each subsequent election passes, the Photo ID law will become even less of a problem."

TDOT Assists with Storm Debris Removal

March 8, 2012

Tennessee Department of Transportation crews are assisting with debris removal in several Tennessee counties in the wake of last week’s severe storms. Most of the clean-up efforts are concentrated in Cumberland, Dekalb, Jackson, Overton, and Putnam Counties.

Residents in those areas are asked to separate brush and tree debris from other types of storm debris, and to place those items as close to the public right of way as possible. Storm debris should not be placed in the travel lanes of any state or local roadway. Debris will not be removed from private property.

Debris removal will continue until Monday, April 2, 2012.

One Week Left for Candidates to Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election

March 8, 2012
Dwayne Page

Anyone wanting to run for mayor or alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election has one week left to qualify with the election commission office.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 19. The seats are currently held by Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger.

The qualifying deadline for the Smithville Election is NOON March 15. The last day to register to vote in that election is May 21.

Those who have picked up and returned petitions so far are Taft Hendrixson and Jimmy Poss for mayor and Jason Judd Murphy for alderman. Scott Davis has also picked up a petition for alderman.

Meanwhile, Dowelltown and Liberty will have elections on August 2. In Dowelltown, a mayor and two aldermen will be elected. The seats are currently held by Mayor Gerald Bailiff and Aldermen Joe Bogle and Elizabeth Redmon.

The qualifying deadline for the Dowelltown election is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote is July 3.

Those who have picked up petitions so far are Gerald Bailiff for Mayor and Joe Bogle for Alderman

In Liberty, three aldermen will be elected. The seats are held by Todd Dodd, Dwight Mathis and Paul M. Neal

The qualifying deadline is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote in that election is July 3.

Both Dwight Mathis and Paul M. Neal have picked up petitions to run for alderman.

Petitions are also being accepted for school board races in the fifth and district districts. Kevin D. Hale and W.J. (Dub) Evins III have picked up petitions for the fifth district seat. Boyd Trapp and Doug Stephens have obtained petitions for the sixth district position.

The qualifying deadline is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote in that election is July 3.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley said there are two important messages voters should remember before going to the polls on Election Day or for early voting.

"If your address has changed since the last time you voted, you should contact the local election office to begin the process of updating your records," Stanley said. "If you show up at the polls with a voter's card that has an address different than where you currently live, you will have to fill out a ‘Fail-Safe' form and you may even be sent to another location to vote."

"Also, voters are reminded that with all elections in 2012, voters will have to have a valid federal or state government issued photo i.d. to vote on the machines," he added.

Acceptable forms of photo identification, even if expired, are any of the following: a Tennessee Driver License with your photo; a United States Passport; Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security photo I.D.; a Photo I.D. issued by the federal or state government, such as an employee I.D. from the U.S. Department of Energy with your photo; United States Military photo I.D., including a Veteran Identification Card; and a state-issued handgun carry permit card with your photo.

"If you do not bring a photo I.D. to the polls, you will vote a Provisional Ballot," Stanley said. "Then you will have two business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo I.D. If not, the ballot will not be counted."

Smithville Police and Fire Departments to Host Open Meeting with the Public

March 7, 2012
Dwayne Page

In an effort to get to know the concerns of the citizens better, the Smithville Police and Fire Departments are hosting a meeting with the public Thursday night, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger said the "Night Out with the Police and Fire Departments" will give the public a chance to meet and greet members of the police and fire departments and express any concerns they have.

Refreshments and door prizes will be available.


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