Local News Articles

Counterfeit Bills Showing Up at Local Businesses

March 25, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department reports that counterfeit bills have shown up at four businesses in recent days, including Walmart, McDonald's, Rite Aid Pharmacy, and Jewel's Market.

Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins', Jr. says the bills have no water marks or bar codes and some were not cut squarely. The bills also have some of the same serial numbers.

In the Walmart incident, Officer Travis Bryant states in his report that " On March 21st at approximately 10:00 a.m., I responded to Walmart in regard to $240 in counterfeit $20 bills. Upon arrival, I spoke with Jozef Shelton who advised me that three persons had entered the store and that one of them had passed the money at two separate registers. Then on March 22nd at noon I was called back to Walmart to speak with Mr. Shelton who said one of the three persons from the day before had attempted to pass two more counterfeit $20 bills."

In the McDonald's case, Officer Matt Holmes states in his report that, "On March 24th, I responded to McDonalds for a possible counterfeit bill that was passed through the drive through window. Upon arrival, I met with the manager, Judy Duncan, who advised me that an employee, who was attending the money window, reported that she had marked a $20 bill that was passed at the window and that the bill was a counterfeit. Duncan said she went to the window and advised the boys in the car that their $20 bill was counterfeit. She said the boys then produced the money to pay for their food and drove away. Upon a check of the money from the prior days, two more counterfeit bills were spotted. All three bills had the same serial numbers."

Detective Sergeant Hutchins says a $20 counterfeit bill also showed up at Rite Aid Pharmacy on March 24th and a phony $20 bill was passed March 25th at Jewel's Market.

Police Chief Richard Jennings and Detective Sergeant Hutchins urge local business owners and operators to examine closely any bills passed at their establishments and report any suspicious activity to the police department.

The cases have also been brought to the attention of the U.S. Secret Service.

Hutchins says there are suspects in the cases but no arrests have been made.

Sheriff Issues Update on the Latest Crime News and Announces Plans for DARE Graduations

March 24, 2008
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray issued his weekly update on crime news Monday and announced plans for the DARE Graduations next month.

Four people have been arrested since last Thursday.

Sheriff Ray says 36 year old Marshall Neely of Moores Road Turner, Kentucky was stopped on Highway 70 east for a traffic violation on Thursday, March 20th.

Upon approaching the driver, deputies noticed a strong odor of alcohol on Neely's person. He was asked to perform field sobriety tasks which he failed. Neely was placed under arrest for DUI and he was also written a citation for the Implied Consent law. Neely's bond was set at $1000 and his court date is April 3rd.

Also on Thursday, 43 year old Tony Joe Corley of Lower Helton Road, Liberty was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. Corley was a passenger in a vehicle which was stopped for a traffic violation on Highway 70 east. After deputies received consent to search the vehicle Corley was in, a used hypodermic needle fell out of Corley's pants. His bond was set at $2,500 and his court date was set for March 27th.

On Friday, deputies observed 19 year old Adam Tramel of Possum Hollow Road, Dowelltown urinating in the parking lot at Hardee's. When the officers pulled into the parking lot to speak with Tramel, he jumped into to his vehicle and attempted to flee. The deputies stopped Tramel on Highway 56 south around Whorton Springs Road. Upon speaking with Tramel, officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. After performing poorly on all field sobriety tasks, Tramel was arrested for DUI, indecent exposure, and evading arrest. Tramel also received citations for under age consumption after he admitted to drinking 8 or 9 beers and violation of the insurance law. Total bond for Tramel was set at $7,000 and his court date is set for April 3rd.

50 year old Billy Stephen Braswell of Nashville Highway, Liberty was charged Sunday with a DUI (first offense) and simple possession. Deputies stopped Braswell for a traffic violation on Highway 70 west in Liberty. When the officers spoke with Braswell, they noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Sheriff Ray says Braswell was so intoxicated he could not balance himself enough to perform field sobriety tasks. Deputies also found a marijuana cigarette in Braswell's ash tray. Sheriff Ray says Braswell admitted that the marijuana cigarette belonged to him. He received a written citation for failure to take a blood alcohol test. Braswell's total bond was set at $3,000 and his court date is set for April 3rd.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray is inviting everyone to two of the planned DARE Graduations set for April. The first DARE Graduation is planned for Tuesday, April 22nd at 1:30 p.m. inside the Gymnasium at Northside Elementary School in Smithville. The second DARE Graduation is planned for Wednesday April, 23rd at 1:30 p.m. inside the Gymnasium at the DeKalb West School in Liberty. Sheriff Ray says by participating in this program, DeKalb County 5th graders will join the millions of other DARE Graduates who have taken the pledge to stay drug free and avoid violence, The DARE Program is currently being taught in all 50 States in the U.S., as well as 53 other countries around the world. Sheriff Ray says "the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Northside Elementary School, and DeKalb West School are proud to take part in this worldwide effort to help keep our children off drugs."

Sheriff Ray says Jail and Annex Meet State Recertification Standards

March 24, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have again met standards for re-certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, in a prepared statement, says " On March 11th I received a letter from the Tennessee Corrections Institute stating that both the DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have received certification for the year of 2008."

In the letter, State Executive Director Jerry Abston wrote "The Tennessee Corrections Institute recently inspected the DeKalb County Jail and Annex. The inspection revealed that both facilities meet all applicable minimum standards. These statues shall be reported to the Board of Control at its next meeting. After approval from the Board of Control, you will receive a Certificate of Certification. You are to be congratulated for attaining this degree of professionalism in your organization."

State Jail Inspector John Hanna Jr. inspected the older part of the Jail on March 11th and found in the DeKalb County Jail the following " I conducted the physical walk-through of the cells, kitchen, and the medical section, and I found no violations. The logs and records seem to be up to date and in order. I recommend continued certification of this facility at this inspection."

Sheriff Ray said "This section of the Jail (older building) is where we house females. The female inmates are housed upstairs where they can have no visual or verbal contact with the male inmates. Some of the male inmates are housed in the basement area of the Jail away from the female inmates. As of today, Monday, there are 33 inmates (18 females and 15 males) housed in the older part of the Jail."

Also on March 11th, Inspector Hanna inspected the Jail Annex and wrote the following "This Jail was inspected on March 11th. I looked at the records and logs which seemed to be without discrepancies. The cells, medical, and kitchen were visited and looked to be in good shape. There is an area that needed to be corrected. I, (Hanna), measured the dorm in the annex and noted there was enough square footage and plumbing to add sixteen beds. This was completed in September of 2007 which raised the count from 42 to 58. I will file a new Capacity Change Report with this inspection. I recommend continued certification of the jail annex."

Sheriff Ray said "As of today (Monday), there are 47 male inmates housed in the Jail Annex. We are averaging around a total of 80 inmates per day with somewhere around 15 to 20 weekenders that come in on Friday night and are released on Sunday night. We have a total of 104 beds with the Jail and Jail Annex combined."

Man Dies in Sunday Night Crash- Another Person Airlifted

March 23, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 48 year old man died in a pickup truck crash Sunday night on Highway 56 south, just north of Cumberland Nursery.

Dead is Steve Goodwin of Woodbury Highway, Liberty.

Meanwhile, 38 year old Bessie Collins of Liberty, a passenger of the truck, was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force Helicopter Ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Another passenger, 23 year old Michael Frederick Teachout of Smithville was apparently not seriously injured. He reportedly refused treatment.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Goodwin was driving north on Highway 56 in a 1991 Dodge Dakota pickup truck and failed to negotiate a curve. The truck ran off the roadway, hit a fence, re-entered the highway, crossed both lanes, struck a ditch on the other side of the road, vaulted one time, partially ejected the driver, and then came to rest on it's top facing north. The driver was penned underneath.

Central dispatch received the call at 8:57 p.m.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department came to the scene to provide extrication services.

The THP reports that seatbelts were used but that alcohol was also involved.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.

Buck and Others Seek Due Process Hearing on Ouster of D.A. Bill Gibson

March 23, 2008

State legislators from the Upper Cumberland area, including State Representative Frank Buck, are preparing to seek passage of a resolution in the legislature asking for a due process hearing on the removal of District Attorney Bill Gibson from office.

Gibson has been unable to serve as D.A. for the 13th Judicial District since his law license was suspended in 2006 over an ethics scandal.

That scandal involved letters he wrote to a convicted murderer and efforts he made to help a woman clear a meth conviction from her record.

Gibson was investigated by the TBI and the case was recently presented to a Putnam County Grand Jury, which failed to indict him for official misconduct.

The D.A. has since has been trying to negotiate with the State Board of Professional Responsibility to get his law license back.

Buck, in a telephone interview with WJLE Saturday, explained the resolution, which is co-sponsored by himself along with State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville and State Representative Charles Curtiss of Sparta. "We called the Board of Professional Responsibility inquiring about what they were going to do. Although they may remove his law license, they cannot remove him from office. Removal from office is up to the General Assembly, and the General Assembly only. They have not scheduled a meeting until May or June and the General Assembly will be gone home by then. There were a whole group of us who felt as though the General Assembly needed an opportunity to consider the proof and make a decision as they saw fit in light of the fact that the man has been drawing a salary for a year to a year and a half and unable to do the job."

" We're asking for the General Assembly to conduct a due process hearing which is apparently required under federal court decisions and all of us who vote on it (lawmakers) are jurors. We fulfill the role of the jury so to speak and we must, by two thirds vote in each house, vote for him to be removed. We should not make up our minds as to his guilt or innocence or whether he should be removed until we give him an opportunity to be heard. He's got the right to come forward and offer his proof."

"I think a vast majority of the House members in this 13th Judicial District feel as though that this matter ought to be brought to the attention of the entire body and that the entire body ought to have an opportunity to vote on his removal. The House votes and must do so by two thirds vote under the Constitution. The Senate, by separate resolution, must vote in the same manner. It's my understanding the Governor has no role in this one. It's just a matter of the House and Senate voting to remove. It's very tantamount to impeachment is what it amounts to."

The legislators say they are concerned that Gibson is still being paid his full salary, while another prosecutor appointed to serve in his place, Tony Craighead, is also receiving the same pay.

The resolution seeks the appointment of a joint legislative committee to investigate the issue, hold a hearing, and then vote on the removal question.

If the committee is appointed and decides to recommend removal, then the full House and Senate would vote on the issue.

Mabe Dies from Injuries In Motorcycle Wreck on Sligo Bridge

March 22, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 51 year old man died from injuries in a motorcycle wreck Saturday afternoon at Sligo Bridge on Highway 70 east.

According to Trooper Brian Raymond of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Steve Mabe, Sr. of Alexandria was traveling east on Highway 70 on a 2004 Kawasaki motorcycle when he failed to negotiate a curve and struck a concrete curb on the west side of the bridge. The motorcycle continued east and then hit a metal guardrail. Mabe, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the motorcycle. Both he and the motorcycle came to rest in the east bound lane on the bridge.

Mabe was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. where he was pronounced dead.

Central dispatch received the call of the crash at 5:50 p.m.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, DeKalb EMS, and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were on the scene rendering assistance.

Traffic was backed up for a period of time during the crash investigation and cleanup.

Owners of Studio Six Express Appreciation to Community For Support Shown During Fire

March 21, 2008
Dwayne Page

The owners of Studio Six Limited are praising the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and others who came to their assistance during a fire which heavily damaged the business Friday afternoon.

In an interview with WJLE Friday evening, Shan Burklow said their loss is substantial but they are grateful no one was injured "There's nothing like when you receive a phone call, that your business that you've had for seven years is on fire. We raced up here as quickly as we could. When we got here smoke was just bellowing out everywhere. The firefighters were on the scene and working aggressively to put out the fire. We were deeply concerned for our neighbors. We were concerned for downtown. We didn't know if other businesses would be involved or other apartment buildings would be involved so our prayer was just that they could contain the fire, which they did beautifully. It completely destroyed the interior of our building but that was okay as long as everybody was safe."

In a show of appreciation, Burklow says Studio Six Limited is planning to have a charity fundraiser for the fire department. "We are so grateful to the fire department and to everyone who volunteered and came out and worked selflessly for hours. We did not have a charity for the fashion show and we had been praying for the Lord to give us the right charity and for some reason we just couldn't come up with what we needed to do so today after the fire and seeing all the things the fire fighters were having to go through and the equipment that they needed and didn't have that would have made their job easier, we decided that we will raise money for the fire department. We are deeply grateful to them."

Burklow says Studio Six Limited, which has been in the process of phasing out it's downtown location, may still be reached on line at www.studiosixlimited.com. "We have been working out of Cookeville and slowly closing down the Smithville office a little at a time so we could make the move and transition, but we had not moved out any of our stuff . The photography studio is now completely closed down at this time due to fire. Our loss is substantial but you may still reach us on line."

Burklow says a lot of studio equipment still in the building at the time of the fire including props, backdrops, stands, lighting, and other items were damaged or destroyed. Even some of the family's personal belongings stored upstairs were lost.

A video of the fire is available at www.smithvillefire.com. on the Hotshots page.

Fire Causes Extensive Damage to Studio Six Limited

March 21, 2008
Dwayne Page

A fire Friday afternoon swept through the second floor level of the building where Studio Six Limited is located at 105 North Fourth Street, downtown Smithville.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene at 3:54 p.m. No one was at the business at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Chief Charlie Parker says firefighters could see fire and smoke coming through a second floor window upon their arrival. "We had a fire on the second floor above where the Studio Six Studios is located. The fire was in the storage space on the second floor. When we arrived it was fully involved. Heavy smoke was coming from the second floor and out of the window. We made access into the second floor to get it knocked down, but it's pretty much a total loss on the upstairs part. It's burned very extensively up there. It got in through the roof area and up into the attic area. We made a stop on it right at the roof level, but it's burned pretty extensively up at the top. The first floor was not really burned but there was damage where water came through the floor. There was also heavy smoke on the bottom floor also. It's not a total loss downstairs but there's gonna be some extensive damage downstairs just due to the heat, smoke, and water."

Chief Parker says firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the apartment building next door. " Next door there's apartments, both upper and lower. We had a lot of smoke coming from around the brick and everywhere else by the fire wall up at the roof level. We were concerned about it moving over into the other apartments. We made access to the upper and lower apartments and there was no smoke in either one of those. There's a brick fire wall in between it too so that helped save that part of it. As far as we know, there was no smoke or fire damage in the apartments."

A woman and child were reportedly evacuated from the adjacent apartment building as a safety precaution.

Chief Parker expressed his thanks to Smithville Electric System, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, the Smithville Police Department, and DeKalb EMS for their assistance. "We want to thank Smithville Electric. They did help us access the roof area. It's kinda tough getting a ladder up there because it's so high up, but we got them to bring their boom truck up here where we could get up there to check the roof area and make sure the fire didn't break through the roof. We do appreciate them. They pulled the meters. The gas company was here to help us also."

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

A video of the fire is available at www.smithvillefire.com. on the Hotshots page.

City Sounds Siren Alert Wednesday During Severe Weather Warning

March 21, 2008
Dwayne Page

The old siren on top of city hall was sounded a couple of times Wednesday afternoon when a severe weather warning was issued for DeKalb County.

Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson says the city has been planning to conduct a test of the siren but actually got to use it in an emergency situation Wednesday.

Hendrixson says city officials sounded two blasts on the siren after contacting central dispatch and learning that a severe thunderstorm and possibly a tornado was detected by radar in parts of Warren and Cannon County and could be heading toward DeKalb County.

There was apparently no major storm damage in DeKalb County.

Alderman Tonya Sullivan recently asked at a city council meeting that the siren be re-activated in the event of threatening weather for Smithville.


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