Local News Articles

Methamphetamine A Growing Concern

February 7, 2011
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Meth Lab Components
Meth Lab Components
Meth Lab Components

Although prescription pills may still be the drug of choice among many users and dealers in this area, Sheriff Patrick Ray said the manufacture and use of methamphetamine is on the rise again based upon the discoveries of meth labs that the sheriff's department has made in recent months and the arrests that have followed.

In a recent interview with WJLE, Sheriff Ray talked about the growing meth problem and how the public can be of help to law enforcement. The following is a question and answer report from that interview:

Q: Sheriff Ray, what is the drug of choice among illegal users and dealers in DeKalb County?

A: "Drug users' drug of choice within the county is still prescription drugs but methamphetamine is working it's way back to the top here and across the state. For example in the year 2009, there were 1,322 meth labs statewide. In the year 2010 there were 1,969. Just in January and February this year, we're already seeing an increase from last year during January and February so there's no telling what the total count will be this year."

Q: Compare methamphetamine to cocaine?

A: "Methamphetamine is close to what cocaine is. Cocaine is more of a rich man's drug. One thing that methamphetamine does that cocaine doesn't is make your high last longer. Where cocaine might last an hour and a half, methamphetamine will last for hours. It is cheaper and it's easier to find than cocaine. You actually have to find a dealer that does cocaine. The purity of the methamphetamine is more than the cocaine"

Q: How potent is methamphetamine?

A: "A lot of people will get hooked on methamphetamine, especially women trying to lose weight. If a woman wants to lose weight quick and if they ever try meth, many times they're hooked and can't come back off it. You'll see a lot of people who had some kind of drug habit, maybe a prescription drug habit, who had a buddy doing methamphetamine so they tried it because of their friend and became hooked on it themselves. Most of the time the only other drug we find from a meth addict, other than meth, is marijuana. The reason for that is anyone on meth may stay awake for days at a time and never sleep. But when they get ready to crash or sleep, they'll smoke that marijuana and it'll bring them back down because marijuana is a depressant."

Q: What other affects does methamphetamine have on people such as paranoia?

A: "We have received calls from people on methamphetamine who think we're watching them or that we're in black ninja suits and shooting red lasers through their windows. These are the kinds of people law enforcement often deal with who are a threat because we don't know what's going through their mind. When we go up and knock on a door to maybe serve a civil paper on them, they might think we're there to harm them. It can be a dangerous situation."

Q: Explain how methamphetamine is made

A: "Most everything that is used for meth ingredients can be bought from any retail store including red devil lye or draino, pseudoephedrine, tubing, electrical tape, lithium batteries, and cold packs. Those are just a few of the things that are used. With the lithium batteries, they'll remove the lithium strip, cut it up in pieces, and then place it in a bottle to produce a chemical reaction resulting in heat. That way a heat source, such as a stove eye burner, is not needed. Around here, we find they're using cold packs in the cooking of meth, which they can easily obtain from a medical department of a retail store. Ninety nine percent of these things can be bought at any of our local retail stores."

Q: State laws are in place to help control the sale of pseudoephedrine, so how are the makers of meth, able to get around this law?

A: " In 2005, the state passed the methamphetamine drug act where you have to show a photo ID before purchasing pseudoephedrine. They (store clerks) take down that information. But in an effort to get around this, many meth makers are now engaging in what is called "smurfing". For example, there may be five or six people in a group who will go into a certain store and each will buy their maximum quantity of pseudoephedrine. Then they will go to another store and do the same thing. That's done a lot by people who either cook or use methamphetamine. Sometimes the cook will actually share a part of his batch of meth with these people so they will continue to help him obtain the pseudoephedrine. Some stores also have restrictions on lithium batteries. They'll only sell one person just so many batteries at one time. We encourage all stores to do that. I think it's everyone's responsibility to help control this."

Q: Can you talk a little about the "shake and bake" meth labs?

A: "The new shake and bake method is not like the red phosphorus method. The shake and bake is real easy and quick to do. You don't need as many of the ingredients as the red phosphorus labs and the shake and bake can actually be done in an automobile while driving down the road, with only one or two people in the back seat making the meth. What they will often do to keep law enforcement officers from finding their discarded materials is they'll throw them out the car window. If somebody comes by and throws out something like this in your front yard, leave it there and call us because it could be toxic or explosive. Within the last couple of weeks we've had some people to call the jail wanting us to come and look at things they've found. We encourage people not to bring those things to the jail. The reason for that is, some of the layered liquid you'll see will be in mason jars or some of it might be in plastic bottles. That stuff settles in the bottom. Of course, there's pressure inside of those cans and bottles so when you agitate it by hauling it down the road and it bouncing around because of the movement of the vehicle, that material could explode or it may cause severe burns if it gets on your skin, so again we ask everybody to leave that material right where it is if they should come across it. Just call us. We don't do quarantines on ditch lines or property, such as yards. We only quarantine homes where meth labs are found. So if somebody comes by and throws out something in your front yard, we're not going to quarantine your property just because we found that bottle there. We encourage people to call us and let us come and look at it. If it's something we can dispose of ourselves, we will. Or if we need to call in a hazmat crew to pick it up, that's no cost to the owner. We get federal grant funds to dispose of methamphetamine labs and their components."

Q. Why do homes where meth labs are found have to be quarantined for a period of time?

A. One of the questions I get asked, especially by people who are in the rental business who rent mobile homes, apartment complexes, or houses is about the quarantine that we do on places where we find methamphetamine labs. When we find a lab there, we will quarantine the house. That's not the property around the house, that's just the house itself. After we do the quarantine, we will send a letter to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. We will also send it to the Register of Deeds. When we send it to the Register of Deeds, anybody say five years down the road who wants to come back and buy a piece of property can go up to his office and look in a file and see if we've ever gotten a methamphetamine lab there. We also send a letter to the landowner. In that letter, it states what the landowner has to do to make the residence safe to live in again. One of the things the landowner has to do is to hire a hygienist who is state approved to come and assess the property and determine which tier it rates. A low tier consists of a home which has had a minimum of methamphetamine exposure which might could be cleaned up by say cleaning the carpets, cleaning the walls, and painting the walls. A high tier means that the landowner will be required to pay a contractor, certified by the state in hazardous materials to come in and gut the entire inside of the residence, including the walls, interior walls, ceilings, and insulation, and put back new. After all that is completed the hygienist will come back and re-test that building. If the home is safe for someone to come back into and live then the hygienist will send a certificate to the jail and we will release that hold on the house. The landowner may then rent it back out, sell it, or do what he needs to."

"If somebody is wanting to buy or rent something and they have suspicion that methamphetamine is being cooked there, they need to do some research, because during that process of manufacturing methamphetamine, poisonous gases are produced and those gases, called phosphine, will lay low to the floor of the home. If they have infant children crawling over that carpet, the children may be breathing in poisonous gases whereas adults in the room, five or six feet tall, won't be as close to the floor. They may still be consuming some of those gases but probably not as much as an infant. So we encourage people to check out the home they're wanting to rent or buy, ahead of time to see what's been there. Of course, if someone has already been exposed to those chemicals or fumes they'll suffer from the same health problems as someone who cooked the methamphetamine. They may have respiratory problems, skin irritations, and vomiting because of the gases. We don't know about the long term health affects of methamphetamine because it's only been around since the late 1990's. But in years to come I think we'll see huge affects on people that's been exposed to methamphetamine."

Q: Would you be willing to meet with civic groups and others if they want to learn more about methamphetamine or other drugs?

A: "Yes, if any civic organizations, churches, or anyone else wants us to come and do a meth presentation for them, I have a power point on about every drug we see here in DeKalb County and methamphetamine is one of them. We will be glad to do our presentation for any group. We'll then have a question and answer session. We just want them to know about the harmful affects drugs has on our communities and some prevention they can help us with."

Q. What should the public be looking for in their neighborhood if they suspect someone may be running a meth lab?

A. "We would like to ask the public, if they have suspicion that somebody may be cooking methamphetamine, to call us. I've always had an open door policy. People may come in and talk to me or call me on the phone and if they don't want to leave their name, that's fine. We want any information as to what illegal activities may be going on in the county. The public is our eyes and ears. They sometimes see things and hear things that law enforcement don't see or hear. They (public) need to look for things like windows being blacked in the home or people coming outside to smoke. What we've seen recently is that these meth labs will be in a back bedroom, that'll be where they do the cooking, and there'll be an exhaust fan back there that will blow these poisonous gases out from the home to the outside. Not only are those poisonous gases posing a health problem for the persons cooking the meth, it also poses a problem for the neighbors because all of those gases will settle on vegetation, such as people's gardens and their lawns and toys where children play. It exposes the whole neighborhood. So please call us if you see things like exhaust fans running, blowing out hot air on a twenty degree night because something is probably not right there. All of the calls we receive remain confidential so give us a call if you see something suspicious."

Q: Any final comments?

A: "One thing I would like to encourage everybody to do is look at the methamphetamine task force website at www.rid-meth.org. On that website, you can go into it and report somebody who might be using or manufacturing methamphetamine. You can also search meth labs, just for DeKalb County on there. It tells places where we've found methamphetamine labs and places that have been quarantined. It also tells what law enforcement departments seized those meth labs. It includes a list of the quarantine clean-up contractors. It's updated monthly so you can keep up with how many meth labs are being found all across the state."

For more information, contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 597-4935.

Joyce Ferrell in "Right Place at Right Time"

February 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Joyce Ferrell

Her six year old son Brayden calls her a hero, but Joyce Ferrell doesn't necessarily see herself that way. She's just glad to have been in the right place at the right time Friday afternoon when a pre-kindergarten student from Smithville Elementary walked away from school without anyone knowing he was gone.

The child, four year old Kameron Luther, was in his pre-kindergarten classroom when he slipped away during the students nap time. According to principal, Dr. Bill Tanner, the child's teacher had gone to the restroom and was out of the classroom at the time, and the educational assistant, who was in the room, didn't see the child leave apparently because the lights were out and the room was dark.

The little boy had already apparently crossed Bryant Street and was near the Region's Bank branch ATM location when Ferrell drove by and spotted the child. In an interview with WJLE, Ferrell said she immediately stopped to talk with the boy, sensing something was wrong. "I asked him where his mommy was and he just shrugged his shoulders. He was just dressed in jeans and a shirt. He had on no jacket and of course it was cold outside. I asked him if he was in school and he told me no. I asked him his name and he said it was Kameron Luther and he was four years old. I just thought I had to get him back to his parents, so I put Kameron in my vehicle. I asked Kameron if he knew where he lived and he told me yes. As we were going down the road he pointed to where he lived but to me it just didn't look like it (where he lived) because it was like a factory of some sort with a storage building. So I told Kameron that we were going to the police station and he got excited. He said "Am I going to meet a real policeman?" I said yes."

After meeting with the police, Ferrell said she took Kameron back to school where Mr. Tanner was waiting.

Ferrell said she received a call from Kameron's mother Friday evening, thanking her for "saving my son". When asked if she felt like a hero, Ferrell said "I don't know, I just felt in my heart that I was doing the right thing. I was just in the right place at the right time."

SES Teacher and Assistant May Be Reprimanded after Pre-K Child Leaves School Unnoticed

February 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Dr. Bill Tanner

A Smithville Elementary School teacher and her educational assistant may receive a written reprimand from school officials after a four year old child left his pre-kindergarten classroom and the school building Friday afternoon without anyone noticing.

The child, Kameron Luther, was picked up by a passing motorist, Joyce Ferrell near the Regions Bank branch ATM location on Bryant Street. Ferrell took the child to the Smithville Police Department, who then alerted Dr. Bill Tanner, principal of the school.

Dr. Tanner told WJLE that the teacher was out of the classroom when Kameron left and the educational assistant, who was still in the room, did not notice the child leave since it was nap time for the students and the lights were off. "The little boy was in his pre-k class and they were taking a nap. The (teacher's) aide was in the room watching the children but the lights were out and it was dark in the room. The children were laying on the floor on their little cots and he (Kameron) was over by the door. The teacher had stepped out of the room. I think she was going to the restroom. After she left, he (Kameron) decided he was going to go home. He was over by the (classroom) door and he slipped out. He went out of the pod area, came down the front hall, and went out the door (to the school) and left. He (Kameron) went down to where the Regions' branch office is on Bryant Street. Somebody (Joyce Ferrell) picked him up as he was trying to cross the road. She saw him and thought that he had slipped away from home. She stopped and talked to him for a few minutes. He couldn't tell her where he lived so she took him to the police station. They (police) contacted me. All of this occurred between a fifteen to twenty minute time period from the time he went out the door until the police called me."

Dr. Tanner said he is thankful that the child was unharmed and for the actions of Mrs Ferrell. "This is something that you never want to happen and it scares you to death when it does happen. But the little boy is okay and I'm proud that Mrs. Ferrell did what she did. I want to thank her a thousand times. We're going to do everything we can to make sure this never happens again."

Because of this incident, Dr. Tanner said that the teacher and educational assistant responsible for the child may receive a reprimand."There will be some repercussions because of this. A written reprimand is probably what we're talking about because it's our job to make sure that the children don't escape the building. We can't lock the doors from the inside but it's the teacher's responsibility to make sure that the children are safe."

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE that policies and procedures will be reviewed with school staff in an effort to try to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

Neither Dr. Tanner or Director Willoughby would identify the teacher and educational assistant.

Smithville Police Department Crime News

February 4, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has released it's latest arrest report for the week

Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 33 year old Ozell Kay Meeks of White Street was cited for theft of merchandise on Friday, January 28th. Officer Matt Farmer responded to Dollar General Store for a possible shoplifter. Store employees advised the officer that Ms. Meeks had taken some items and placed them in her purse. Four items found in Ms. Meeks' purse matched the description of the items given by store employees. Her court date is March 3rd.

60 year old Donna Marie Ashburn of Baron Bluff Road was arrested on Friday, January 28th for a second offense of driving under the influence. She was also cited for violation of the implied consent law. Officer Matt Farmer received a call of a possible DUI. When Officer Farmer located the vehicle, he noticed it cross the center line while approaching on-coming traffic. After Officer Farmer pulled over Ms. Ashburn, she put her vehicle in reverse and started backing up forcing the officer to back up his vehicle to keep from being hit. While speaking to Ms. Ashburn, Officer Farmer noticed she had slurred speech and seemed to be confused. She performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and refused to submit to a blood test. Her bond is $2,000 and her court date is February 17th.

47 year old Michael John Bafundo of Franklin was arrested on Saturday, January 29th for driving under the influence. Bafundo was operating a motor vehicle when he was stopped by Officer James Cornelius for speeding. Upon further investigation, Officer Cornelius found Bafundo to be unsteady on his feet. Bafundo submitted to field sobriety tasks but he performed poorly. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on February 17th.

75 year old Joseph Charles Edge of Creek Road was cited for theft of merchandise on Monday, January 31st. Officer Scott Davis responded to Rite Aid Pharmacy for a possible shoplifter. Officer Davis confronted Mr. Edge and asked him if he had anything that did not belong to him on his person. Edge responded "no" but added that Officer Davis could check. Officer Davis recovered two boxes of allergy medication from Mr. Edge's pockets which had not been paid for. Edge's court date is February 17th.

Samantha Bee Florida of Alabama was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia on Wednesday, February 2nd. Officer David Phillips was dispatched to Rite Aid in reference to a shoplifter. The manager reported that the suspect, Samantha Florida had taken some batteries into the bathroom. She consented to a search and two needles were found in her purse. Florida's court date is March 3rd.

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

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

Property Tax Deadline Approaching

February 4, 2011
Dwayne Page
Sean Driver

DeKalb Countians have a few more days to pay their property taxes for 2010 without penalty.

Taxes are due to the trustee's office by Monday, February, 28th. After that date,
penalty and interest begin to accrue at a rate of 1.5 percent per month. Tax notices were mailed out on October 19th.

Property taxes from 2009 may be paid in the trustee's office through Thursday, March 31st. After that, they will be turned over to the clerk and master's office and subject to additional fees.

Trustee Sean Driver said about $3.3 million of the expected $6.8 million-plus in tax rolls have been collected so far or 48.5% as of Thursday, February 3rd. But, Driver added that collections are expected to pick up significantly during the next three weeks. "We're always busier the last two to three weeks of February", he said.

Driver said taxes may be mailed in, paid in person, or by debit or credit card either in the trustee's office or on-line at www.tennesseetrustee.com. " We are now offering credit and debit card processing through the Business Information Systems for the property owners of DeKalb County. You may pay your property taxes using a VISA, MASTERCARD, or DISCOVER card. It can be handled on-line, in the Trustee's Office, or by phone."

Driver explained that a 2.75% convenience fee will be added to your tax bill, if you take advantage of on-line payment, but the county does not collect it. "If you want to do those payments on line, it is fast, easy, and secure. On-line payments may be made at www.tennesseetrustee.com. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also pay your taxes in our office at 1 public square, room 206 in the DeKalb County Courthouse. Our phone number is 615-597-5176. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m."

Seniors, be sure to check with the office on the state property tax relief program. The income limit is $26,830 for single or combined household incomes. If a senior qualifies for the state program, they will also qualify for some assistance through the county. Disabled veterans and disabled homeowners may qualify for tax relief as well. If you meet the requirements you may apply in the Trustee's Office. The deadline to apply is 35 days after February 28th, 2011 or April 5th, 2011.

If you have any additional questions, come by the Trustee's office in the courthouse or call 597-5176.

Kelly Services to Host Job Fair

February 3, 2011
Dwayne Page

Need a job?

Kelly Services will be conducting a job fair on Tuesday, February 8th from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in the basement of the DeKalb County Courthouse, 1 public square, Smithville.

Immediate positions available at Federal Mogul in Smithville. Please bring your high school diploma or GED and two forms of valid IDs to the Job Fair.

Pay rates: $8.54 to $9.57 per hour with available overtime. First, second, and third shifts available.

Please call 866-513-5694 for full details.

Legislation Introduced To Help Fight Meth Production

February 3, 2011
Dwayne Page
State Senator Mae Beavers

State Senator Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet and State Representative Debra Maggart of Hendersonville have introduced legislation that calls for the adoption of a statewide, industry-funded electronic tracking system, called NPLEx (the National Precursor Log Exchange), to monitor and stop illicit purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy products containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), an ingredient sometimes used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine. The bill provides an alternative, less-intrusive solution to the prescription-only bill (HB 181) introduced last week.

"This kind of government intrusion in our lives is not the solution we need to attack the meth problem in Tennessee," said Sen. Beavers, the bill's sponsor in the Senate. "We should not punish the tens of thousands of innocent Tennesseans who need this over-the-counter medication to get at the criminals who are using the drug illegally to produce meth when there is another approach which is very effective. Our legislation offers a proven, effective, non-governmental solution to the problem, without pushing up the cost of the medication on consumers by requiring them to visit a physician to obtain a prescription."

There is currently no mechanism in place in Tennessee to block illegal sales in real time, as many pharmacies and retailers rely on handwritten, paper logbooks to track purchases. As a result, criminals have learned to
circumvent the current system. SB 325/HB 234 would provide a secure, interconnected electronic logbook that allows pharmacists and retailers to refuse an illegal sale based on purchases made elsewhere in the state or
beyond its borders. Most importantly, SB 325/HB 234 preserves access to the PSE medicines consumers rely on and trust for cold and allergy relief.

"For all law-abiding Tennesseans, the experience of buying cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine at the local pharmacy will not change," said Rep. Maggart, the bill's sponsor in the House of Representatives. "However, for those looking to purchase more than their legal limit, this system will immediately deny the sale, and law enforcement will possess a powerful tool to track down these individuals
when they attempt to do so."

In the four states that have fully implemented e-tracking technology, nearly 40,000 grams of illegal PSE sales per month are blocked. The system, which provides local law enforcement officials with precise data
on who is attempting to buy illegal amounts of PSE, also helps law enforcement find meth labs.

"NPLEx is effective because it prevents the illegal sale of pseudoephedrine from ever happening in the first place," said Carlos Gutierrez, a state government relations consultant at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "Electronic blocking technology gives law enforcement the ability to identify meth cooks, not only in Tennessee, but across state lines and in real time."

The leading manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines containing PSE, represented by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, are working closely with state legislators and law enforcement to help implement NPLEx
technology to pharmacies and retailers in Tennessee free of charge.

SB 325/HB 234 is supported by the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. If passed into law, SB 325/HB 234 would make
Tennessee the 13th state to pass legislation requiring a statewide e-tracking system to block illegal sales of medicines containing PSE. The NPLEx system would be fully integrated into Tennessee pharmacy systems by
January 1, 2012.

USDA Releases Payments for 2011 Tobacco Transition Payment Program

February 2, 2011

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, announces that annual payments for the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, for the 2011 payment year, were released recently.

DeKalb County quota holders and producers will receive $474,122.60 in 2011 program year payments. Green says that direct deposit transactions should arrive in bank accounts within 3 business days while mailed checks should arrive within 10 business days for quota holders and producers who have enrolled in the program.

The Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP), also called the "tobacco buy-out," helps tobacco quota holders and producers transition to the free market.

The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-357), signed by President Bush on Oct. 22, 2004, ended the Depression-era tobacco quota program and established the TTPP. The program provides annual transitional payments for 10 years to eligible tobacco quota holders and producers. Payments began in 2005 and continue through 2014. Payments are funded through assessments of approximately $10 billion on tobacco product manufacturers and importers. The remaining payments will be made in 3 annual installments that will be issued in January of each year.

For more information on the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, please contact the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency at 615-597-8225, extension 2.

"Teachers of the Year" Named at Each School

February 1, 2011
Dwayne Page
Christina Ontiveros
Lisa Mabe
Shelia McMillen
Michelle Jones
Jenny Norris

The DeKalb County School System has announced it's "Teachers of the Year" at each of the five schools in the county.

This year's honoree are Christina Ontiveros, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Lisa Mabe, a second grade teacher at Northside Elementary School; Michelle Jones, a sixth grade teacher at DeKalb Middle School; Shelia McMillen, a second grade teacher at DeKalb West School; and Jenny Norris, a teacher at DeKalb County High School.

Three of these five teachers will soon be selected at the system-wide level to compete for regional honors in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for grades Pre-K to 6 said "Again this year, we're going to participate in the Teacher of the Year program, which begins on the school level, moves to the system level, the regional level, and finally to the state level.

"In pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, Teachers of the year are Lisa Mabe from Northside Elementary, Christina Ontiveros from Smithville Elementary, and Shelia McMillen from DeKalb West School. One of them will be selected to represent DeKalb County at the regional level.

"In grades 5 through 8, the teacher of the year is Michelle Jones from DeKalb Middle School and she will represent DeKalb County at the regional level."

"In the 9th through 12th grade, which is DeKalb County High School, Jenny Norris is the Teacher of the Year and she will represent DeKalb County at the regional competition.

Should these teachers win at the regional, they will represent DeKalb County at the state level in March.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career; and to encourage public involvement in education.

This program is sponsored annually by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Niswonger Foundation.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year represents Tennessee at the National Teacher of the Year competition, which is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic, Inc.

Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: Building, System, Field Service Center Region, Grand Division and State; and from three categories (levels of teaching); Grades Pre K-4, 5-8, 9-12.

Teachers selected at each cycle receive local recognition and awards underwritten by local sources. State recognition/awards include a banquet honoring the nine State Teacher of the Year finalists and certificates of appreciation from the Governor. In addition, the State Finalists and the State Teacher of the Year receive cash awards from the Niswonger Foundation.

Sheriff's Department Makes Two Arrests After Friday Pursuit

January 31, 2011
Dwayne Page
James Alan Harden
Dustin Allen Pedigo

Two men were arrested by the Sheriff's Department Friday after a pursuit in the New Home Road/King Ridge Road area.

20 year old James Alan Harden of Old Casey Cove Road, Smithville is charged with reckless endangerment, evading arrest, vandalism over $500, driving under the influence, and resisting arrest. His bond totals $13,000. He was also issued citations for reckless driving and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His court date is February 24th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, January 28th an officer spotted Harden operating a motor vehicle in the New Home Road/ King Ridge Road area. He tried to pull him over for violation of the light law and failure to maintain his lane of travel. However, when the deputy activated his emergency equipment, Harden accelerated, causing the officer to have to initiate a patrol pursuit for about four miles before Harden went off the road, struck a stop sign, three mail boxes, and crashed into a tree. A DTC pole was also damaged. After the wreck, Harden then got out of his vehicle and tried to flee on foot, but he was chased down by the officer, thrown to the ground, and handcuffed. Harden had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Because of his condition, he wasn't subjected to any field sobriety tasks but he did submit to a blood test.

Meanwhile, a passenger with Harden, 21 year old Dustin Allen Pedigo of King Ridge Road, Dowelltown was charged with a second offense of DUI by allowance. His bond is $2,000 and he will be in court on February 24th. According to Sheriff Ray, the automobile Harden was driving belonged to Pedigo's father but (Dustin) Pedigo allowed Harden to drive it, knowing he was intoxicated. Meanwhile, Pedigo submitted to field sobriety tasks and he performed poorly.

26 year old Raymond Austin Simpson of Church Street, Dowelltown is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on February 2nd. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 24th, Simpson was operating a vehicle on Highway 70 when an officer stopped him, having prior knowledge that he had a suspended license. The same officer had written Simpson a citation for the same offense on January 23rd. A computer check confirmed that his license had been suspended on June 18th, 2010 in DeKalb County.

23 year old Joshua Lynne Batey of East Main Street, Smithville is charged with a first offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on February 2nd . Batey was also issued a citation for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and failure to stop at a stop sign. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, January 26th, a deputy saw an automobile run a stop sign at Juniper Lane and Highway 70 and at Juniper Lane and Wade Street. The officer stopped the vehicle and asked the driver, Batey, for his license. A computer check revealed that his license were suspended for failure to satisfy three citations. Due to his failure to pay the citations, Batey was placed under arrest. Batey also could not provide proof of insurance.

28 year old Matthew Allen Baker of Pine Orchard Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on March 3rd. Baker was also issued a citation for violation of the vehicle registration law, and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, January 27th Baker was operating a vehicle on Bright Hill Road when he was stopped by a deputy who had prior knowledge that his license were revoked. The vehicle was also unregistered and Baker could not provide proof of insurance. A computer check confirmed that his license were revoked. He had been issued a citation only a few weeks ago for the same offense, driving on a revoked license.

41 year old Victor G. Gingerich of Brook Lane, Smithville was issued citations for driving on a suspended license, violation of the light law, violation of the open container law, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, marijuana. He will be in court on February 24th. Sheriff Ray said that an officer stopped Gingerich's automobile for a tail light violation. While speaking to the driver, Gingerich, the deputy detected an odor of marijuana. A search revealed an open Bud lite can, two glass pipes, and a small baggie of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. A computer check revealed that Gingerich's drivers license were suspended.

19 year old Abel C. Valazquez of Bright Hill Road, Smithville was issued citations for driving without a license and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). He will be in court on February 9th. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, January 28th, Valazquez was operating a vehicle on Students Home Road when he went off the road and struck a tree. He did not have a drivers license on him at the time and could not provide proof of insurance. There was no other property damage, other than damage to his own truck.

Meanwhile, In the latest crime report from the Smithville Police Department, 78 year old Will Allen Cantrell of South College Street was charged on Tuesday, January 25th with filing a false report. Cantrell filed a report on January 12th with Corporal Travis Bryant stating that someone had stolen a checkbook from his residence and were passing the checks at local businesses. Upon further investigation by Detective Matt Holmes it was discovered that the checks had not been stolen and Mr. Cantrell was the person who had signed the checks. Officer Matt Farmer made the arrest. Bond for Cantrell is $1,000 and his court date is February 10th.

Officer David Phillips cited Julie Elaine Moore of Cookeville Highway for theft of merchandise on Tuesday, January 25th. According to a store employee Moore was seen putting items in her purse and attempting to leave Dollar General Store without paying for them. Her court date is March 3rd.

Anyone having information on any offenses is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

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


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