Local News Articles

Grant to improve MTUD service across twenty-county area

June 19, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

USDA Rural Development State Director Mary \"Ruth\" Tackett today announced $3,000,000 in funding for the Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District to complete a new 33 mile transmission line improving service throughout the utility's 20 county service area. The ceremony was held at the Middle Tennessee Gas training center in Smithville.

\"Adequate public infrastructure is an important factor in providing a good quality of life and in making our communities attractive and well prepared to take full advantage of new economic opportunities,\" said Tackett. \"Middle Tennessee Gas has done a great job building partnerships with local leaders across their service area and by planning for the future in this way, they are helping to ensure this will remain a great place for families and businesses.\"

This Rural Development community facilities loan will be used to complete 33 miles of gas lines from Woodbury in Cannon County to Rock Island in Warren County. This extension will upgrade the entire system and provide the Middle Tennessee Gas with an additional source of natural gas, which is beneficial in times when alternative transmission lines are interrupted and helps improve the utility's access to competitively priced natural gas supplies. Rural Development also provided funding for phase one of this project through a $3,000,000 community facilities loan in 2003.

\"A community's quality of life depends directly on its utilities,\" Congressman Bart Gordon said in a statement. \"Improvement projects like this one are necessary to keep pace with Middle Tennessee's growing population. By upgrading our infrastructure, we ensure residents maintain an enviable quality of life.\"

The gas line extension is funded through Rural Development's community facilities program which provides communities with the financial resources needed to construct or improve essential services. Education, Healthcare, retirement, and civic centers, along with local government buildings for police and fire protection are examples of projects typically funded through this program. Community facilities grants target rural areas with a population less than 20,000.

\"This important Rock Island project has been greatly aided by U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Loan Program, and we appreciate the cooperation and support that State Director, Ruth Tackett and the entire Cookeville Rural Development staff provided, \" said Les Enoch, Chief Executive Officer for Middle Tennessee Utility District.

In his remarks during the presentation, Enoch said \"Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District is a Municipal Corporation established in 1955 to serve the energy needs of Middle Tennessee. In keeping with its mission, the District has continued to expand the distribution system where it has been financially feasible to provide quality natural gas service at competitive rates in a safe, environmentally clean and efficient manner. The District has made substantial progress during its more than 50 year history. It has expanded to 3,100 miles of distribution line and presently serves 53,000 customers located in more than 120 communities in all or portions of 20 counties.\"

\"As a part of the District's ongoing planning process 'Focus on the Future', it was determined in the late 1990's that additional sources of natural gas supply were required to meet the needs of its growing residential, commercial, and industrial energy market area. In 2000, the District began installing a 12 inch steel pipe from a new Interstate pipeline tap in Gladeville (Wilson County) toward Rock Island (Warren County), where it will serve as a new source of supply for the District's customers. As this project developed, the pipepline has been interconnected to the District's existing distribution systems in Watertown, Woodbury, McMinnville, Centertown, and Smithville, and 54.5 miles of 12-inch steel pipe have already been installed and in service. Previously, Rural Development provided a $3 million loan for the Cannon County Phase of the project. The final construction phase of this project extends the pipeline an additional 14.5 miles from western Warren County to a previously completed interconnect in Rock Island and Rural Development has again agreed to help bring this project to a successful conclusion.\"

\"When the final phase of the Rock Island Project is completed, it will allow the District to meet the growth needs of all counties in the District's Middle Tennessee service area for many years into the future; it will lower costs for the District's customers by diversifying sources of both gas supply and Interstate pipeline capacity; it will improve both the integrity and security of the District's overall distribution system; and it will encourage economic development in this rural area of Tennessee.\"

Other participants in the ceremonial check presentation included Senator Lamar Alexander's Field Representative Brent Wiles, Congressman Bart Gordon's Field Representative Billy Smith, and DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster.

USDA Rural Development is committed to the future of rural communities in Tennessee by providing financial and technical assistance through housing, community, and business-cooperative programs. Rural Development assisted 459,219 Tennessee families and businesses with more than $257 million in financial assistance in Fiscal Year 2005. For more information on home ownership or business development programs, contact USDA Tennessee Rural Development toll free at 1-800-342-3149 extension 1493 or visit online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn

Thousands Expected For Fiddlers Jamboree

June 21, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Thousands will be flocking to Smithville for the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival Friday, June 30th and Saturday, July 1st.

The musical competition kicks off on Friday morning, June 30th at 9:00 a.m.

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (solos and duets); Flat Top Guitar; Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event; Old Time Fiddle Band; Autoharp; Gospel Singing (solos); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Gospel Singing (duets, trios, and quartets); and Mandolin.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

All first place winners get $125, except the Old Time Fiddle Band, which gets $525 for first place.

Second place winners get $100 and third place winners receive $75. The Old Time Fiddle Band second place winner gets $425 and $325 for third place.

On Saturday, July 1st, preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; Bluegrass Band; Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back Saturday night to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prize money in most categories is $125 for first place; $100 for second place; and $75 for third place.

Awards for Junior Fiddlers and Senior Fiddlers are $225 for first place; $175 for second place; and $150 for third place.

Prizes for Bluegrass Band are $525 for first place; $425 for second place; and $325 for third place.

Awards for Square Dancing are $400 for first place; $300 for second place; and $200 for third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival. The winner gets $300.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon, July 1st during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second place; and $50 for third place. One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer Trophy Award and $125 and the top fiddler will get the James G. \"Bobo\" Driver Memorial Trophy and $175.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature hundreds of crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE.

Smithville Police Arrest Two On Drug Charges

June 22, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police arrested a Hendersonville man and woman on drug charges Tuesday night after finding marijuana, Valium, and drug paraphernalia in their automobile.

45 year old Ronald Wayne Mackie is charged with public intoxication and sale and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance and 34 year old Karen K. Konstantynowicz faces charges of simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officer Mike Billings says he was called to the BP Station on South Congress Boulevard Tuesday night around 7:00 p.m. in answer to a complaint about an intoxicated person.

In his report, Billings says, \" Upon my arrival, I noticed Mackie staggering in the parking lot. After making contact with Mackie and in talking with him, he appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Mackie was unsteady and his speech was slurred. He kept repeating himself.\"

Konstantynowicz, who claimed to be the driver of the vehicle, gave officers consent to search the automobile and a small bag of a green leafy substance, believed to be marijuana, was found under the passenger seat. Officers also found a tin box containing another small baggie of marijuana, along with several prescription bottles including two bottles containing Valium, hemostats, a blade, and cut straws.

Mackie and Konstantynowicz were taken into custody and charged in the case. They will be in General Sessions Court on July 13th.

Officer Billings was assisted in the investigation by Officer Marcus Caldwell

Sheriff Emmons Applies For Tennessee Commissioner of Safety

June 22, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Sheriff Lloyd Emmons is among twenty six persons who have applied for Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety.

The Tennessean is reporting Thursday that Interim Safety Commissioner Gerald Nicely is in the process of interviewing candidates to replace him atop the state Safety Department, which includes the THP and the state office that issues driver's licenses.

Governor Phil Bredesen last week said \"I want a real commitment to professionalism. I want somebody that I really believe is not just saying the words but I really believe is intent on creating a first-class, modern, professional Highway Patrol and all the stuff that that implies ? getting politics and all that kind of nonsense out of it.\"

Bredesen says if the interviews go well, a new commissioner could be in place by next month, but if he doesn't find the right person among these candidates, the process could take longer.

Nicely says the next commissioner will be tasked with seeing through changes in the department, which include a revamped professional standards division and the naming of several top command staff positions to be added after July 1.

The new commissioner will have to restore credibility to the agency and continue to get it back on track since its implosion in December. The top three officials stepped down amid scandal then, and Bredesen brought in Nicely from his regular job ? state transportation commissioner ? on a temporary basis.

Sheriff Emmons, former Tennessee Highway Patrolman and Lieutenant, left the patrol in 2002 to serve as DeKalb County's sheriff, but he lost the May primary this year and will be leaving office in September.

Police Apprehend Suspect Near Scene Of Midnight Burglary

June 22, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 21 year old Smithville man is facing charges after being caught by police near the scene of a burglary on Luttrell Avenue early Wednesday morning.

Smithville Police Chief Gus Clemente says 21 year old Joshua Lynn McCowan of 434 Morgan Drive is charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest, possession of burglary tools, possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, and unlawful carrying of a weapon. He is also charged with burglary, theft of property valued at over $500, and theft of property valued at under $500.

Sergeant Steve Deffendoll and patrolman William Elliott were dispatched to 809 Luttrell Avenue around 1:04 a.m. Wednesday morning on a prowler call.

Officer Elliott's report states that \"Upon arrival, I saw one suspect between two houses. When instructed to stop, the suspect began to run. I chased the suspect behind the house where I then saw a second suspect lying on the ground. Both suspects ran between the houses and split up. I followed McCowan on a foot pursuit in between houses. McCowan ran across a porch and then around the corner of a house. As I came around the corner, I saw the suspect lying behind a bush. I instructed him to lie on his belly and outstretch his hands. I notified Sergeant Deffendoll. When he arrived I took the suspect into custody and called the county sheriff's department to transport him to jail.\"

A search was conducted in the neighborhood for a second suspect but no one else could be found

Police say McCowan had in his pocket, a knife exceeding four inches and an unlabeled bottle containing three blue pills believed to be xanax.

Officers also recovered a flashlight, tape, box cutters, screwdriver, and other tools consistent with items often used in committing a burglary.

A camouflaged duffle bag was also recovered containing a stereo cd player and tools.

Police say McCowan, upon his arrest, had a strong odor of alcohol on his person, and his speech was slurred.

Detective Sergeant Chris Russell, later Wednesday morning, spoke with a resident at 800 Luttrell Avenue who reported to police that his 1989 Chevrolet work truck had been burglarized. Entry was made by prying open the rear glass of the truck.

Russell, Thursday afternoon, said he had charged McCowan with theft over $500, theft under $500, and burglary resulting from an investigation into two vehicle burglaries which occurred during the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 21st. The thefts occurred on Luttrell Avenue And Anthony Avenue.

Detective Sergeant Russell says McCowan was arrested around 1:00 a.m. on June 21st by Sergeant Deffendoll and Officer Elliot on Luttrell Avenue after the officers saw McCowan and another male walking on Luttrell. When the officers attempted to talk to the subjects they fled on foot. McCowan was apprehended within a few minutes. McCowan had in his possession at the time of his arrest a camouflage cooler which had been reported stolen from the vehicle on Anthony Avenue. McCowan is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on July 20. His bond is set at $50,000.

Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree Kicks Off 4th of July Weekend

June 23, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Thousands will be flocking to Smithville for the 35th annual Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival this weekend.

The musical competition is now underway.

Preliminaries are being held in the following categories:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (solos and duets); Flat Top Guitar; Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Doboro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event; Old Time Fiddle Band; Autoharp; Gospel Singing (solos); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Gospel Singing (duets, trios, and quartets); and Mandolin.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals tonight and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature hundreds of crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

The DeKalb County Community Chorus is expected to perform sometime between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. featuring a patriotic program. The late Staff Sergeant Shannon Taylor of DeKalb County, who was killed in Iraq nearly a year ago, will be honored and remembered during the performance of the community chorus.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE.

Meanwhile, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has presented awards to participating businesses in Project Welcome Mat.

Meigs Family Eye Care at 107 North Congress Boulevard, Smithville received the \"Best Worded\" sign award which reads, \"Don't Just Fiddle Around Enjoy Crafts Too\"

Liberty State Bank on South Congress Boulevard, Smithville was presented the \"People's Choice\" award for their two sided sign. On one side, the sign reads \"Pick A Shade Tree and a Glass of Tea and Join us at the 35th Fiddler's Jamboree\". The other side of the sign reads \"A Little Ditty about the 35th Jamboree, Fiddling & Crafts and the Fun is Free\".

The \"Most Original\" sign award went to Smithville Food Store on South Congress Boulevard for their sign that reads \"Don't Clog By Come Fiddle in Smithville\"

Pursuit Ends With Arrest Of Alexandria Man

June 23, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A domestic complaint led to more serious charges against an Alexandria man Wednesday after law enforcement officers tailed him in a pursuit from Alexandria to Liberty.

Alexandria Police Chief Jim Baker says Paul Comer is charged with reckless endangerment, evading arrest, and a first offense of driving under the influence.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has also charged Comer with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment

Chief Baker says Alexandria Police Officer Josh King and DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Nathan Miller responded to a domestic call at 309 High Street Wednesday at 7:49 p.m.

While Officer King was trying to keep Comer and a female from arguing, Officer Miller had to leave after receiving another domestic complaint.

King says he instructed Comer to stand at the garage on the property while he talked to the woman, but Comer got in a Pontiac Grand Prix and drove away.

Officer King got in his patrol car and followed Comer from Hall Street to Highway 53, and then to Highway 70 east.

Deputy Miller later joined the pursuit and when the officers tried to get Comer stopped, he began swerving on the highway.

According to Officer King, \" We were still on Highway 70 and approaching Highway 96 when the subject went over on the emergency lane and tried to hit Deputy Miller. Near Tater Knob Road, the subject started driving in the westbound lane head-on at traffic.\"

County Deputy Jon Slager joined the pursuit and Comer apparently stopped after the officers were able to get him boxed-in.

Officer King reports that \" Deputy Slager was on the subject's driver side, Deputy Miller was in front of him, and I was behind him. The guardrail was on the right side of the subject.\"

\"As we exited our patrol cars, the subject turned his head, looked at me (King), and then punched the throttle and drove toward Deputy Miller. He (Miller) then fired several shots and the subject started driving toward Deputy Slager. I (King) then fired shots toward the driver's side back tire causing it to go flat. The subject then drove east on Highway 70 and in the westbound lane of traffic with the back left tire blown out.\"

\"Deputy Slager was able to get in front of the subject in the city limits of Liberty. The subject tried to rear end Slager's car and then swerved back to try to hit Miller. The subject turned left onto Highway 53 in Liberty.\"

\"Deputy Chris McMillen joined the pursuit and the subject made several attempts to run him and me (King) off the road. I was able to gain control and pass the subject on Cave Springs Road. The subject then stopped.\"

The officers on the scene got the subject (Comer)out of his vehicle and placed him in custody. He was taken to the DeKalb County Jail.

No one was injured.

Second Person Arrested In Midnight Auto Burglaries

June 24, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have arrested a second person in connection with burglaries of vehicles on Luttrell and Anthony Avenue after midnight early Wednesday morning.

Detective Sergeant Chris Russell says 20 year old Curtis Allen Lloyd of Warren County was arrested on Friday, June 23 and charged with Theft over $500, Theft under $500, and Burglary.

Russell says the arrest was the result of further investigation into the auto burglaries that occurred during the morning of June 21st in which two vehicles were broken into on Anthony Avenue and Luttrell Avenue.

Another man, 21 year old Joshua McCowan of Morgan Drive was taken into custody near the scene of the crimes Wednesday morning and charged in the cases on Thursday.
.
Bond for both Lloyd and McCowan is set at $50,000. McCowan will appear in General Sessions Court July 20th. Lloyd will be in court on the charges July 27th.

Burger Honored During Reception

June 26, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Many people turned out to honor Smithville Mayor Cecil Burger during a reception Friday at city hall.

City officials also dedicated the new town clock to the mayor.

A plaque, to be placed at the base of the clock on the grounds of city hall, reads \"Town Clock, dedicated to the honorable Cecil Burger for his loyal and devoted service to the City of Smithville serving as Secretary/Treasurer for many years and as Smithville City Mayor from July 1, 1990 to June 30, 2006, representing 40 years of committed service to his community. Presented this 23rd day of June, 2006.

Mayor Burger expressed his appreciation to all those who attended the reception and he reflected on his years of service as city employee, mayor, and his future service as alderman. \"I appreciate this very much. It makes me believe that I have done something that's pleasing to the City of Smithville, the citizens, and especially the employees of the City of Smithville. Everything has been nice.\"

\"I started the 15th of September, 1966 as city judge and city recorder. I stayed judge for two or three years and then stayed as city recorder/secretary\".

\"I've served under nine mayors and forty six aldermen. Some had more than one term\".

\"I've tried to do my best to do what I could with whatever I've had to do with for everybody for the good of the people of Smithville.\"

\"I think I've done about everything in the city but be a policeman and councilman. I don't want to be a policeman so I'll stick to being alderman.\"

Mayor Burger, after serving eight terms and sixteen years as mayor, decided not to seek re-election this year. However he did run for and was elected alderman.

County Seeks Site For Firehall In Austin Bottom Community

June 27, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night authorized a property search in the Austin Bottom community for the construction of a fire hall to serve that portion of the county, difficult to reach because of Center Hill Lake.

County Mayor Mike Foster says Putnam County, which has been providing primary emergency services to the 235 homes in the Austin Bottom/Cookeville Boat Dock area, is no longer interested in covering that portion of DeKalb County. \"We've been meeting with the people over there and the committees that have already met have recommended, subject to your (county commission) approval, that we build a fire hall and equip it subject to those people over there getting a minimum of seven volunteer firemen and at least five emergency medical first responders.\"

Foster says hopefully the county can find a site large enough to perhaps offer other services. \"I think it's everybody's feeling that we need to buy an acre of land because, in addition to the fire hall, we're probably going to need some other things, like a garbage collection center.\"

\"Under our mutual aid agreement, Putnam County has been answering the 911 calls in that area for some time and we have been covering a little more of their insurance than normal, but they have decided to stop doing that (answering calls) as of August 1st of this coming year.\"

\"Our 911 people have gone over there, gotten the GPS and mapping done, and have obtained the numbers from Cookeville, Baxter, and those areas, and are ready to change it over on a trial basis July 1st so that we can start answering those 911 calls.\"

\"We've already responded to fires in that area even though Putnam County is still responding. We're sending our trucks and when our trucks get there they (Putnam County) leave. The two or three (calls) that we responded to lately had under 30 minute response times, which is good. In fact, it's better than Putnam County's has been.\"

\"The thing that concerns everyone connected with it, is the true emergency ambulance service call, like a heart attack victim and that's why we're trying to get so many first responders over there.\"

\"There's also an assisted living home over there that has about eighteen residents and lot of the ambulance calls from that area are to take those people back and forth to the hospital.\"

Foster says once a site has been located, he will propose that the county commission make the purchase so that construction on a fire hall can begin.

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Fiddlers Jamboree