Local News Articles

Woman Files Lawsuit Against County and Former Deputy in Sex Complaint

February 26, 2007
Dwayne Page

One of the women who claims that she was forced into engaging in a sexual act with former DeKalb County Deputy David Sharp, has filed a circuit court lawsuit against Sharp and the county, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

In her lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, February 21st, Lisa Porterfield alleges that \"On or about May 26th, 2006, Sharp, while acting by virtue of or under color of his office, forced her to engage in a sexual act.\"

The lawsuit states that \"The actions of Deputy Sharp were unlawful and constituted an assault and battery upon Porterfield's person, and renders Sharp and the county liable for damages to Porterfield.\"

\"As a direct and proximate result of Sharp's conduct, Porterfield sustained severe emotional distress and mental injury and has had to undergo counseling.\"

\"Sharp's conduct was intentional and reckless and was intended to cause Porterfield severe emotional distress and mental injury and was outrageous. Porterfield's emotional distress, her treatment, and the expense of the treatment, as well as her embarrassment all directly resulted from Sharp's conduct.\"

\"Sharp's conduct was so outrageous such that punitive damages are warranted to deter the defendant's and others similarly situated from engaging in such conduct in the future.\"

\"As a result of the foregoing acts of Sharp, Porterfield suffered bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, hospital and medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity. Porterfield believes that the losses she has suffered are permanent, and she will continue to suffer losses in the future as a result of the acts of the defendants.\"

Porterfield names the county as a co-defendant with Sharp claiming that \"the defendant county is liable for the wrongs of it's deputy sheriff's.\"

Earlier this month, Sharp received a total of six years probation after pleading guilty in Criminal Court to two counts of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression.

County Authorizes Another Public Referendum on Proposed Local Option Sales Tax Hike

February 26, 2007
Dwayne Page

The county commission Monday night gave it's blessing for another public referendum to increase the local option sales tax from it's current rate of 1.50% to the maximum of 2.75%, but no date for a special election was set.

The commission has also pledged to reduce the property tax rate by a minimum of nineteen and a half cents, if the referendum is approved by the voters. Last September, the commission raised the property tax rate by 39 cents to $1.90 per $100 of assessed value. A reduction of nineteen and a half cents would roll the property tax rate back to a little over $1.70 cents per $100 of assessed value

County Mayor Mike Foster says a proposed date for the referendum will most likely be set by the county commission at it's meeting in March. Community meetings may be held in the coming weeks to seek more public input on the proposal.

The first referendum to adopt the increase failed at the polls last August by 252 votes, losing 1,898 to 1,646.

Foster says that while the proposed sales tax hike would not be enough to roll back the entire 39 cent property tax increase from last fall, it would still create enough extra revenue to allow for a significant tax cut to property owners. \"We think it's fair. According to numbers supplied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, there are approximately four million people who visit Center Hill Lake each year. That's why our sales tax numbers are higher in July than in December. If we have to answer emergency calls down there (lake), you and I are paying for of the sheriff's calls, all of the benefits, and all of the infrastructure for the tourists. But this way (sales tax hike), they get to pick up part of that bill. Plus, it gives our taxpayers at least a 10% cut in property taxes.\"

Foster added that \"Everybody on this board (county commission) has agreed that they would sign a statement guaranteeing that they will take this (19 ? cents) off the property tax rate if the referendum is approved by the voters. We will publish it in the newspapers and announce it on the radio so that the people will understand what we're doing.\"

Plans Underway to Establish Freshman Academy at DCHS

February 28, 2007
Dwayne Page

Plans are in the making to establish a Freshman Academy at DeKalb County High School, possibly starting with the 2007-2008 school year.

Supervisor of Instruction Carol Hendrix says the purpose of the Freshman Academy is to help first time high school students make the transition.\" The freshman year has never been easy for students. Research shows that among high school students, 9th graders have the most difficult time with academics and transitioning into a new environment. Research has also shown that the best way to solve this problem is for freshmen to transition into a small learning community, specifically a freshman academy. Freshman year has also been identified as a year that students have the greatest problems with the greatest possibility of failure and risk of not being promoted to the next grade and eventually dropping out of school.\"

\"The concept of the freshman academy is relatively simple. The academy operates as a school within a school as it will operate in DeKalb County High School. Students are grouped together to take core courses with the same group of teachers increasing the support received from those teachers.\"

\"Students will have the advantage of a different bell system, a different lunch schedule, and they will have all their classes in one specific area in the building. Students will attend all extracurricular activities such as band, basketball, baseball, etc along with the other student population. We're hoping clubs and events will also be developed for students in the freshman academy. This will include all first time students at DCHS if we implement it this next year.\"

\"This past year and the two years previous, a team from this county visited some of the freshman academies in the state and we decided that this would really be good for our school.\"

Murfreesboro Man Seriously Injured In Motorcycle-Pickup Truck Crash

March 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

A Murfreesboro man was seriously injured in a motorcycle and pickup truck collision Wednesday afternoon outside the city limits in front of DeKalb Market on Highway 70.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 56 year old William Cope, the operator of a 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle, was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga with serious injuries, especially to his leg.

Trooper England says the accident occurred at 2:45 p.m. when 61 year old Herbert Smallwood of Gainesboro, driving east on Highway 70 in a 1999 Ford Ranger, attempted to make a left turn into the parking lot of DeKalb Market. As he made his turn, Smallwood crossed into the path of Cope's motorcycle, which was traveling west on Highway 70.

Trooper England says Smallwood was cited for failure to yield. He was not injured.

The crash was investigated by Trooper England with assistance from Trooper Keith Maddox. Others providing assistance were members of the DeKalb County and Smithville Volunteer Fire Departments, DeKalb EMS, Sheriff's Deputies, and a Smithville Police Officer.

Investigator Elliott Named

March 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

Investigator William Elliott, member of the Smithville Police Department, has been named \"Officer of the Month\".

Signed by Chief Thomas J. Stufano, Mayor Taft Hendrixson, and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, the commendation states that \" On behalf of the City of Smithville Police Department I would like to commend you for your recent actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as Police Investigator. Your determination and efforts this month in handling numerous drug investigations and subsequent seizures of property relating to drug activity has resulted in the successful prosecution of offenders that sold drugs within the city of Smithville.\"

\"Due to your professional training, the many hours of dedicated service on your own time and the professionalism displayed during prosecution of these crimes, know that you are making a difference for the citizens of Smithville in our joint efforts to deter drugs in our community. Your expertise enabled the citizens of Smithville, your fellow co-workers and guests of our area to know that their call for ZERO tolerance on drugs is working. You have served with distinction and are a credit to your professionalism as a Smithville Police Officer.\"

\"Additionally, your work ethic and tenacity during the month of February has shown your true commitment to the citizens we serve and your fellow officers.\"

\"I appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this Commendation becoming apart of your permanent personnel record for all to see.\"

\"Congratulations on a job well done!\"

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrest In Recent Theft and Vandalism Cases

March 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged one man with several recent burglaries and vandalisms and more charges and arrests may be forthcoming.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 39 year old Alton David Estes of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged with one count of burglary, four counts of theft, and three counts of vandalism. He is under a $35,000 bond and will be in General Sessions Court on the charges March 8th.

Sheriff Ray says Estes was arrested on Tuesday after officers went to his home to execute a search warrant looking for stolen items. He says on January 15th while the business was closed, Estes broke a door upon entry to the Clover Leaf Restaurant in Liberty and stole $60 in cash. He is charged in that case with burglary and theft of property under $500.

On January 31st, Sheriff Ray says Estes went to Tennessee Barn Builders on Highway 70 near Smithville, where he broke into a soft drink vending machine to get the change. On the same night, Sheriff Ray says Estes went to DeKalb Farmers Coop, where he broke into two soft drink vending machines and stole some change. Estes is charged with two counts of vandalism over $1,000 and theft under $500 in those cases.

On February 25th, Sheriff Ray says Estes went to Prichard's Foods on Highway 53 in Alexandria, where he broke into two soft drink vending machines and stole $150 worth of change. He is charged with vandalism over $1,000 and theft under $500 in the case.

Meanwhile, Estes' wife, Cassandra Robinson of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged in a separate case of driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license (2nd offense), and leaving the scene of an accident. Sheriff Ray says Robinson was recently involved in a wreck on Highway 70 but fled the scene as officers arrived. They later learned her identity and arrested her on Monday, February 26th. She is under a $6,000 bond and her court date is March 22nd.

Sheriff Ray says 52 year old Charles Earl West of Pine Grove Road, Smithville was arrested February 22nd for violation of the sex offender registration act because he failed to report on time. His bond is $10,000 and he will appear in court on the charge March 8th

Alexandria Mayor Announces Decision To Resign Effective In September

March 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

Alexandria Mayor David Cripps has announced his resignation, effective September 25th.

Cripps was appointed Mayor by the Alexandria Aldermen shortly after the elected Mayor Clara Lee Vantrease resigned last summer.

In a prepared statement, Cripps says \"When I accepted the position of Mayor, I accepted it until the next General Election, at which time, a Mayor could be elected, but after speaking with the Election Commission and reviewing the City Charter, I realized that I would have to fulfill the unexpired term.\"

\"By announcing my resignation now, the Election Commission can be notified that a Mayor needs to be elected and any qualified candidates can qualify before the deadline to be put on the ballot for the September election, and the newly elected Mayor can take office on September 25th, when my original four year term will be fulfilled.\"

Six Candidates Qualify For Smithville Election With Deadline Looming

March 6, 2007
Dwayne Page

Six candidates have qualified to run for alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election this summer with a few more days left until the qualifying deadline.

Those who have qualified to be on the ballot for the June 19th city election include Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, Todd VanDyne, W.J. (Dub) White, Paul Young, and Aaron Meeks.

White, Meeks, and Young are incumbents seeking re-election.

The election commission reports that qualifying petitions have been picked up for two more potential candidates, but they have not yet been returned.

The qualifying deadline is 12 noon on Thursday, March 15th

Richardson Gets Eight Year Sentence For Aggravated Robbery Of Pizza Delivery Employee

March 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 19 year old man charged with the aggravated robbery of a pizza delivery employee received an eight year sentence Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court after pleading guilty under a negotiated settlement.

As part of the eight year sentence imposed by Judge Leon Burns, Jr., Blake Ardell Richardson must pay $140 restitution to the victim. As a range one offender, he must serve at least 30% of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. He was given jail credit of 30 days.

Smithville Police, at the time of his arrest, said that the victim in the case picked Richardson out of a line up and identified him as the man who robbed her at knife point on the night of Thursday, September 29, 2005 in front of a Webb Street residence.

According to police, a call was placed from a pay phone at Mapco Express to Paparoni's on East Broad Street between eight and nine p.m. that night by a male who falsely identified himself.

The caller gave his address as 111 Webb Street, but police say he did not reside there.

Upon her arrival, the employee making the pizza delivery got out of her vehicle, and was met near the front steps of the home by the robber who displayed a knife and ordered her to hand over her money and the pizza. He then went to her car, turned the engine off, threw the car keys into the yard, and fled on foot.

Police say the robber went around toward the rear of the house and was last seen in the area of Calhoun Street behind Pizza Hut and Mapco Express. He got away with the pizza and $35 in cash. The victim was not injured.

Police say during the investigation they received a tip that Richardson might be a suspect in the crime.

Officers also viewed the video tape from surveillance cameras at the Mapco Express, and on the night of the crime, Richardson could be seen in the store only minutes before the phone call was placed to Paparoni's, and he was wearing the same type of clothing described by the victim.

Police say a witness in the case told police that while Richardson was allegedly committing the robbery, another man was in the getaway vehicle, waiting on Richardson in the area of Mapco Express. After the robbery, Richardson allegedly left the scene of the crime, walked to the Mapco Express area, got in the vehicle with the other man, and fled.

In other cases, 46 year old Ricky A. Ashford, Sr. pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000. He received a five year sentence in the burglary case and four years on the theft charge. The cases are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to any other sentence against him. In this case,. Ashford will serve a total of nine months, and then be on probation. He must make restitution and perform 100 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments. This sentence will begin once he is released from a General Sessions Court case against him in which he is serving 11 months and 29 days.

26 year old Joshua H. Craig pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated burglary and was ordered to serve six years. All counts are to run concurrently with each other and with another sentence he is now serving. He was given jail credit from February 18th, 2005 until now. Craig must also make restitution of $25,605 to one victim and $3,000 to another.

19 year old Justin M. Cripps, charged with theft over $1,000, was granted judicial diversion. He will be on probation for a period of three years. He must pay restitution of $8,744, perform 100 hours of community service work, and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments.

19 year old Andrew L. Hutchens, charged with theft over $1,000, was granted judicial diversion. He will be on probation for three years. He must make restitution of $8,744, and perform 100 hours of community service work.

William R. Cantrell pleaded guilty to evading arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended. He was fined $150 and will be on probation under DOC community corrections supervision. Cantrell was given jail credit of 166 days.

43 year old Raymond D. Martin pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to PSI probation. He was fined $250 and must perform 25 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatment.

26 year old Terry B. Maynard pleaded guilty to attempted forgery and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to probation. He must perform 100 hours of community service work and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments. Maynard was given jail credit of seven days.

19 year old Brian D. Thomason pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, burglary of an automobile, and vandalism. He received a four year sentence on the aggravated burglary charge, two years for the burglary of an auto, and 11 months and 29 days in the vandalism case. All the cases are to run concurrently. Thomason will serve six months and then be on probation. He must perform 100 hours of community service work and make restitution. He was given jail credit of 154 days.

Two Arrested By Sheriff's Department in Separate Cases of Burglary and Harassment

March 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has apparently solved a recent burglary and theft as well as a separate case of harassment with the arrest of two people.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 23 year old Bobby Vaughn of Murfreesboro is charged with theft over $1,000, aggravated burglary, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Vaughn is accused of breaking into a residence on Pea Ridge and stealing $2,675 worth of items from the home.

Vaughn faces a contributing charge because he allowed a minor to go with him and participate in the crime.

Bond for Vaughn is set at $40,000.

Meanwhile, 30 year old Brian Lee Adams of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville is charged with harassment after he allegedly went to the home of a female relative and placed a letter containing sexually suggestive remarks on her vehicle.

During questioning, Sheriff Ray says Adams gave a statement implicating himself in the crime..

His bond is set at $1,000.


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