Local News Articles

State to Set Speed Limits in All DeKalb County School Zones At 25 MPH

May 20, 2008
Dwayne Page

All speed limits in school zones in DeKalb County will be 25 miles per hour by the time school starts again this fall.

Local officials recently made the request of the State Department of Transportation and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson said Monday night during the city council meeting that TDOT has granted approval.

The school zone on Highway 70 at DeKalb County High School and DeKalb Middle School will go from 15 mph to 25 mph and the school zone on Highway 56 north at Northside Elementary School will be reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph. The school zone at Smithville Elementary School will be changed from 15 mph to 25 mph and will be relocated from Highway 56 south to East Bryant Street.

The school zone at DeKalb West School on Highway 70 at Liberty will remain 25 mph.

City Swimming Pool Scheduled to Open Memorial Day If Repairs are Completed

May 20, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool is scheduled to open by Memorial Day if repairs can be completed in time.

Last month, Secretary Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson said Donald Page from the Department of Health met with city officials and made some recommendations on what he thought needed to be done before opening the pool. "He commented on the interior of the pool being rough as far as the liner goes. We have limited lights. He said only 50% were functional and we need to look at getting those repaired. There's been some uplifting of some of the concrete around the pool or part of the deck. Depth markings and the hand railing also need to be repaired."

Jimmy Lewis, operator of the golf course and swimming pool, at that meeting, said based on Page's advice, he could not open the pool until the repairs were made "He told me not to even get the permits until that was fixed. The liner has cracks in it and our insurance won't cover it. You'll have to re-fiberglass it. The fiberglass has got to be redone. We're supposed to open Memorial Day but it takes two weeks to get it filled up and the water right and people are already calling about booking summer swimming parties."

Since that meeting, city maintenance workers have done some repair work while the Leisure Specialities Company has been patching cracks in the pool.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson addressed the issue during Monday night's city council meeting. "Mr. (Roger) Bowman who is repairing that over there, his workers today (Monday) told Mr. (Kevin) Robinson (City Public Works Director) that they would probably be through with all the crack repairs today (Monday). They may lack a little bit on tiling those steps. So it's basically ready for Mr. Lewis to get ready to open."

Willoughby Renews Request for Authorization to Seek Land for New High School

May 19, 2008
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, on behalf of the DeKalb County Board of Education, Monday night renewed a request for authorization from the county commission to seek land for the possible future home of a new high school.

Director Willoughby and Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III made the initial request last month and were told by County Mayor Mike Foster that the issue would first have to be addressed by the budget committee of the county commission.

Willoughby, during Monday night's meeting, raised the issue again. " The school board has authorized me to ask the county commission to give me authorization to seek and negotiate a tract of land for future growth, and this is only for land, to bring back to the county commission and to seek your recommendation and approval on it."

The county commission took no vote on Willoughby's request but County Mayor Foster told Willoughby that the school board could seek land and then make a proposal to the budget committee which would still have to consider it. " I've talked with a few of the (county) commissioners here tonight and we understand the importance of confidentiality when you're looking at this land. I think all of them pretty well agree that it should be your job to do it (seek land) in a confidential manner and look at it and bring back your proposal to the budget committee and present it to them and let them recommend to the full commission at that time. We're a long way from approving budgets and we've got to find revenue sources and those kinds of things. I think that will give us a couple of months to do our business and you can do your due diligence that way."

The board would like at least 60 acres and possibly more for future construction of a new high school, but the county commission must first grant approval of such a purchase and authorize the funding.

The school board is currently evaluating at least three sites as possible suitable locations. Purchasing land would be the first phase in an overall building plan which includes construction of a new high school for grades 9 to 12, renovating the existing high school making it into the new location for DeKalb Middle school for grades 5-8, making renovations and additions to DeKalb West School, making Northside Elementary a school for grades 2 to 4, and making Smithville Elementary a school for Pre-K and first grade. The total project cost is between $34-million and $40-million dollars, not counting the land purchase.

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Board of Education, last Thursday night, presented the proposed tentative 2008-09 school budget to the budget committee of the county commission during an informal meeting held at the courthouse.

Other county department heads also made budget requests during the meeting.

The school board met in special session last Wednesday afternoon to adopt the proposed tentative budget.

Total expenditures projected for 2008-09 are $17,949,306. Total projected revenues are $16,979,885, a shortfall of $969,421.

In order to balance the proposed budget, the school board proposes an appropriation of $412,921 from the school fund balance and $556,500 from Basic Education Program reserves. The local property tax rate for schools would remain the same at 57 cents per $100 of assessed value under this plan.

The proposed school budget includes funding in the regular instruction program for three new teaching positions in the system as needed based on student enrollment, along with a new gifted teacher position in the special education program, a new position in the vocational education program, an additional school nurse along with a new part-time clerical position to support the school coordinated health program, and a new clerical position for the guidance department of DeKalb County High School.

A one time bonus of $200 per certified employee is included in the proposed budget and support staff would get a 2% pay raise along with any step increases as per the school system's salary scale. The budget also reflects increases in teacher salaries by degree advancement and years of experience.

The budget also includes projected increases due to inflation, including a 10% increase for health insurance, a 10% increase for electricity, plus increases for supplies and materials, textbooks and fuel.

For example, in the line item for fuel, the school board budgeted $147,000 for diesel this fiscal year, 2007-08 and has already spent $141,500, with two more deliveries of diesel fuel expected before the end of the fiscal year June 30th. The school board has budgeted $350,000 for diesel fuel in the proposed 2008-09 budget. A total of $13,000 was budgeted this year for gasoline, but next year, the board has increased it to $19,000.

School officials say the proposed spending plan is still very tentative because the state has not yet provided hard numbers on how much the system can expect to receive in state funding.

Liberty Woman Charged with Prescription Fraud

May 19, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has charged a 33 year old Liberty woman with eight counts of prescription fraud for allegedly phoning in several false prescriptions to a local pharmacy over the last four months.

Cynthia F. Heinz of 160 Clear Creek Road, Liberty is under a $20,000 bond and she will be in General Sessions Court on the charges May 29th.

According to Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins' Jr., Heinz phoned the Walmart Pharmacy in Smithville on January 18th, February 15th, March 14th, and April 28th and ordered prescriptions in the name of a Lebanon doctor for Loritab and Flexeril. With each call, Heinz, would identify herself as the doctor's secretary and provide the doctor's drug enforcement agency number, which police believe she obtained from a previous handwritten prescription issued by the doctor for Heinz' husband, who was a patient of the Lebanon physician.

Hutchins says on May 16th, when Heinz called in another prescription, pharmacists at Walmart became suspicious and contacted police.

The Lebanon doctor did not authorize any of the prescriptions.

Meanwhile, in other cases, 28 year old David Lynn Martin has been charged with vandalism over $500, DUI, and two counts of aggravated assault. Martin was also cited for violation of the implied consent law and reckless driving. His bond totals $13,500 and he will be in court on the charges June 5th.

On May 15th, at South Fork Apartments, Martin allegedly assaulted his wife, Abigail Martin, and his sister-in-law, Lisa Vogel by pulling his wife's car and knocking the two women down with the door of the car. He was trying to drag Mrs. Martin's car off with a chain hooked to his truck.

In the DUI case, Martin was operating a motor vehicle on Miller Road and was stopped for reckless driving. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and was unsteady on his feet. He became violent. No field sobriety tasks were given and Martin refused a blood test.

In the vandalism case, Martin was placed under arrest at South Fork Apartments on Miller Road and when he was put in the patrol car, Martin got violent and kicked out the passenger side door windows of the vehicle valued at over $500.

Officer Matt Farmer arrested Martin and charged him in these cases.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests in Theft and Drug Cases

May 19, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested three people on drug charges and one person in a theft case since last Wednesday.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies responded to an auto accident on Highway 56 last Wednesday and charged 39 year old Rita Kay Murphy of Old West Point Road, Smithville with driving under the influence after she failed field sobriety tasks. Murphy was also charged with simple possession of marijuana after a marijuana cigarette was found on the dash of her car. Bond for Murphy was set at $2,000 and she will appear in court on May 29th.

Also on Wednesday, 30 year old Charles Morgan Jr. of Rolling Hills Drive, McMinnville
was charged with theft of property. Morgan was a salesman at a car lot in Smithville and was test driving a vehicle a customer was trading in when he stole at least one check out of the customers check book. Morgan took the check to McMinnville where he forged and passed the check for $150. Morgan did admit to the offense. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on June 5th.

Deputies responded to an unwanted visitor call on Old Mill Hill Road in Dowelltown on Friday. Upon arrival, officers noticed 46 year old Danny Ray Ponder who was intoxicated and leaning on a porch rail. Ponder did admit to taking 8 Xanax pills earlier. Deputies also found a cut straw and a syringe on Ponder's person. He was charged with public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ponder's bond was set at $2,000 and he will appear in court on June 12th.

Meanwhile, 37 year old David Gerald Vanatta of Snow Street was arrested today (Monday) on a
sealed indictment from the April term of the Grand Jury as a result of the Sheriff's Department's Drug Sting. Vanatta was charged with sale of a schedule II drug (Morphine), delivery of a schedule II drug (Morphine), sale of a schedule III Drug (Hydrocodone), and delivery of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone)..Vanatta also was arrested on two warrants for violation of probation. Vanatta is incarcerated under a $12,000.00 bond and his court date for all these offenses is set for this month.

8th Graders Graduate from DeKalb West School

May 18, 2008

Thirty-six students 8th graders are heading to high school after graduating from DeKalb West School May 16.

Students with the highest grade point averages are the following: In Algebra I: Hailey Perry, 101.5 and Alex Meadow, 96.5; In Reading, Austin Willmore, 98.25 and Krystal White, 98; In Spelling, Hailey Perry, 98.25, Dylan Freeney, Nick Henry, and Bradley Pack each with 98; In English: Charley Mount, 98.25, Austin Willmore and Hailey Perry each with a 97.5; In Math, Nick Henry, 96, Austin Willmore, 95; In Social Studies: Nick Henry, 99 and Charley Mount, 97; In Science, Austin Willmore, 97.71 and Charley Mount, 97.04.

Student-voted Citizenship awards were handed out to Hailey Perry and Tevin Owens from Carol Hale’s class and to Charley Mount and Matthew Cain from Melanie Molander’s class. The Citizenship Award is given each year in memory of Brian Clayborn, the son of County Court Clerk Mike Clayborn.

Perry Wins National Award

May 18, 2008

DeKalb West School 8th grader Hailey Perry is one of only 25 students across the nation and 4 in Tennessee to be chosen for the John W. Harris Leadership Award. The National Beta Club recognizes deserving students in Junior and Senior Beta Clubs throughout the country who have served as “an inspiration to all and serve as a motivation to improve the school and community.”

Hailey, the daughter of Todd and Teresa Perry of Dowelltown, is this school year’s President of the D.W.S. Junior Beta Club. Guidance Counselor Bill Conger nominated Perry for the award for her drive, determination, and desire to go the extra mile in serving others. She was presented the award during the DeKalb West School’s 8th grade graduation May 16.

“I have always been really impressed by Hailey’s willingness to be involved in service projects at school,” Conger said. “One example that stands out is the choice she made last year to not only play in the ballgame that night but also to help clean up the school grounds before the opening tip-off. She had a reasonable excuse not to show up because of the other obligation, but she made it happen anyway.”

“I have always been taught to do well and do my best,” Perry said. “I feel better,” Hailey adds about her involvement with service projects in the school and community. It makes me feel more grown-up because I know that I’ve done something to build on my life.”

A student in Carol Hale’s classroom, she has demonstrated her leadership abilities all through her middle school years at DWS as a team player with the Bulldogs basketball team and as 4-H President in her 5th-8th grade years. She is also an active member at her home church, the Longbranch Community Church in Lancaster.

“I think there needs to be clubs like this [Junior Beta] because kids, especially with parents who don’t really care, don’t learn responsibility and values like you would if you were participating,” Hailey said. “I think that if kids got out and did more stuff, they would change and they wouldn’t follow in their parent’s footsteps.”

She leaves her position as Beta Club president with this piece of advice about serving others.

“Work hard and want to do it. Don’t have to be forced to do it. Volunteer all the time.”

Mobile Home Destroyed in Saturday Fire

May 18, 2008

The DeKalb County Fire Department responded to a single wide mobile home fire Saturday afternoon, shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Smithville Highway in the Silver Point Community.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says upon arrival, firefighters found the mobile home fully involved with heavy smoke and flames showing. According to the owner, Eddie Sutton, the family had left the house around 11:00 a.m. and upon returning around 2:00 p.m. found heavy smoke coming from the home. Sutton called 911 to report the fire, but when fire personnel arrived flames were coming from both ends of the trailer.

The mobile home and contents were a total loss. Chief Green says that the owner stated the family had no insurance on their home or contents.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded along with the department's tanker truck. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb County EMS also assisted on the scene.

Seniors Honored for Academic and Athletic Achievement

May 16, 2008
Dwayne Page

In addition to scholarships, members of the Class of 2008 received other special honors for academic and athletic achievement during Thursday's annual Senior Awards Day Program at DeKalb County High School.

The honor students were recognized including the Class Valedictorian, Nick Winchester and the
Salutatorian, Adam Emerson

Students earning "Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.2 to 3.59 are as follows: Brittney Armour, Carla Barnes, Alisha Billings, Chase Cantrell, Tyler Cantrell, Joseph Carroll, Brent Collier, Roger Curtis, Justin Duke, Michael Elliott, Lindsy Ervin, Amber Evans, Chase Ferrell, Trey Finley, Grant Goodwin, Josh Gilbert, Lauren Hansard, Natasha Hendrixson, Katie Herman, Jake Hoover, Justin Lattimore, Jacob Moore, Trisha Neiberger, Lacey Parchman, Shaun Reed, Zack Rowland, Colt Stewart, Emily Summers
Cody Thomas, Nique Tubbs, Corey Turner, Anna Marie Walker, GeriAnna Wilson, and Kevin Woodside.

Students earning "High Distinction" with a GPA of 3.6 to 3.79 are as follows: Josh Cantrell, Mykel Cantrell, Dustin Estes, Kayla Fish, Dustin Hood, Dustin Jennings, Steven McCormick, Jessica Paschal, Colton Rhody
Tyler Robinson, and Travis Woodward.

Students earning "Highest Distinction" with a GPA of 3.8 to 4.0 are as follows: Lacey Beshearse, Jessica Dyer, Adam Emerson, Daniel Foutch, Jessica Harney, John Malone, Hope Martin, Tayla Turner, Nick Winchester, Tyler Woods, and Ryan Young

Tennessee Scholars were also recognized.

The Tennessee Scholars Program is designed to recognize students who have maintained good academic, disciplinary and attendance standards. It's also designed to recognize students who take a more rigorous and challenging course of study in high school. They must take challenging classes above and beyond what is required for college entrance and graduation. These students have also volunteered at least 20 hours of community service in our community. Because the Tennessee Scholars Program is designed to be a partnership between the school and business community, the DeKalb County Education Foundation, for the last three years, has provided the medallions given to the Tennessee Scholars.

Tennessee Scholars are as follows: Lacey Beshearse, Kristel Bush, Tyler Cantrell, Josh Cantrell,
Casey Curtis, Justin Duke, Adam Emerson, Lindsey Ervin, Dustin Estes, Chase Ferrell, Trey Finley, Kayla Fish, Daniel Foutch, Tiffany Frazier, Lauren Hansard, Jessica Harney, Natasha Hendrixson, Katie Herman, Dustin Hood, Dustin Jennings, John Malone, Jacob Moore, Bray Page, Colton Rhody, Tyler Robinson, Jennifer Rogers, Colt Stewart, Brian Trapp, Nique Tubbs
Tayla Turner, Justin Vanatta, Anna Marie Walker, Susan Walls, GeriAnna Wilson, Nick Winchester, Tyler Woods, Travis Woodward, and Ryan Young

Other award winners are as follows:

Outstanding Students of America- Tayla Turner
Tennessee 4-H Council- Travis Woodward, Chase Ferrell, and Dustin Hood
Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen- Tayla Turner
U.S. Marines Semper Fidelis- Emily Summers
U.S. Marine-Scholastic Excellence- Adam Emerson and Tayla Turner
U.S. Marine-Distinguished Athletes- Grant Goodwin and Lauren Hansard

U.S. Army National Scholar Athletes- Tyler Robinson and Jessica Harney

Leadership DeKalb- Chase Ferrell and Tyler Woods

English Department Awards- Bridgette Linder, Jessica Dyer, James Gibbs, Alisha Billings, Jennifer Rogers, and Nick Byrge

Business Department Award- Travis Woodward

Motlow Dual Enrollment Math Award- Adam Emerson and Lacey Beshearse

Economics Award- Adam Emerson, Dustin Hood, Travis Woodward, and Tyler Woods

Physics Award- John Malone and Adam Emerson

Database Award- Ryan Young

Journalism Award- Nique Tubbs, GeriAnna Wilson, Brent Collier, James Harden, Shane Mims, and Brelle Seals

Vocal Music Award- Chase Ferrell and Anna Marie Walker

FFA Award- Casey Belcher, Tyler Cripps, Jeff Puckett, Jessica Dyer, Jessica Ray, and Lacey Parchman

FCCLA Award- Corey Turner and Alisha Billings

Student Council Awards- Nick Winchester, Abby Cantrell, Chase Cantrell, Chase Ferrell, Lindsy Ervin, Dustin Hood, GeriAnna Wilson, Tyler Woods, Jessica Harney, and Katie Herman

Chemistry Award- Adam Emerson

Rotary Math- Tayla Turner
Rotary Vocational- Jeremy Eakes

Mrs. Linda Paris' Textile Class presented quilts made by members of the class to the family of the late Debbie Parchman.

Three teachers of the year, chosen by the faculty, were also recognized including Harriett Cantrell, Charlotte Wruble, and Mary Anne Carpenter.

Arrest Made In October Stabbing

May 16, 2008
Dwayne Page

An arrest has been made in the stabbing of Gustaro Sanchez last October.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Warren County Sheriff's Investigators last week were able to capture 24
year old Juan Lorenzo Rodriguez of 500 Skyline Drive McMinnville.

He says Rodriguez attempted to allude law enforcement officers in Warren County and
was charged with other crimes there. Rodriguez was turned over to DeKalb County authorities on Tuesday, May 13th..

Rodriguez is charged in DeKalb County with attempted second degree murder. His bond was set at $2,000,000 and his court date is May 29th.

The warrant states that " On October 28th, 2007 at Pirtle's Nursery on Highway 146 in DeKalb County, Rodriguez did stab Gustaro Sanchez several times in the neck, abdomen, and head and cut him twice across the abdomen and left him for dead. Sanchez was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital in critical condition."

Sheriff Ray says the fight was over a female and Sanchez was cut with a knife.

Rodriguez is currently being held in the DeKalb County Jail.

Sanchez was found Sunday, October 28th in the driveway of a barracks where migrant workers reside at Pirtle's Nursery on Short Mountain Road.

According to Sheriff Ray, someone at the barracks heard Sanchez screaming in pain, discovered him lying in the driveway, and called 911

Sheriff Ray says since no one apparently witnessed the attack, authorities were uncertain if the stabbing occurred where Sanchez was found, or if it took place somewhere else and he had come to this location to get help.

He says Sanchez, who has recovered from the attack, suffered numerous stab wounds to his chest, back, and head area. He was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and then flown by Life Flight to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.


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