Local News Articles

CFEC Offers Reminder Concerning Agriculture Certificates of Exemption

December 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Caney Fork Electric Cooperative is reminding farmers, timber harvesters, and nurserymen who are members of CFEC
about the Tennessee Agriculture Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Exemption.

Every fourth year, the Tennessee Department of Revenue re-issues Agriculture Certificates of Exemption to all current exemption holders. If your exemption certificate expires on December 31, 2015, you will be mailed a renewed certificate during the latter part of December. These new certificates will have an effective date of January 1, 2016 and will expire December 31, 2019.

In order for Caney Fork Electric Cooperative to continue NOT charging you Tennessee Sales Taxes on your monthly electric bill, CFEC will
need a copy of your NEW Certificate of Exemption.

Please stop by any of the four CFEC offices for a copy to be made of your NEW Certificate for the files.

Smithville Police Treat Head Start Children to Gifts for Christmas

December 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
The Smithville Police Dept. and Mayor presented children at Smithville Head Start with gifts for Christmas Thursday. Police Chief Mark Collins shown here with student
Members of Smithville Police Dept and other special guests treated children at Head Start Center Thursday

Seventy four children at the Smithville Head Start Center were treated to bags of gifts Thursday during the annual Cops for Kids effort by the Smithville Police Department.

Police Chief Mark Collins, Mayor Jimmy Poss, and other members of the police department presented the children with the gifts. Other guests were on hand for songs and special treats.

"Today is our Toys for Tots. Each year the Smithville Police Department tries to do something around this special holiday. This year we chose the Head Start. What we do is we collect donations and presents from throughout the city and we give them to the kids. They get to interact with us. Its really enjoyable for all of us to interact with the kids, " said Chief Collins.

"The local merchants collect gifts for us and we have fundraisers. All the officers of the police department also participated in "No Shave November" and paid $40 to enter. All that money went toward this to buy presents and things for this event." Chief Collins continued.

"This is a good event for us. Its a way we can give back to the community and these kids really appreciate it and seem to enjoy it," he concluded.

Families Coping with Infant Loss Find Support Through Paislee's Foundation

December 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Wesley McCubbin, Jessica Cripps, and Tyler Cripps
Paislee's Foundation

Losing a child is unspeakably painful and perhaps the most devastating ordeal a parent could have to encounter.

Tyler and Jessica Cripps of Alexandria know what that's like. Their daughter Paislee Cheyanne Cripps was stillborn on May 3, 2013. Their hearts were broken. Their world was shattered. But during their grief they received the love and support of family, friends, church, and the community in such a way that it inspired Tyler and Jessica to help other parents mourning infant loss. As a result, Paislee's Foundation was formed by the Cripps' along with their friend Wesley McCubbin.

"It's a non-profit organization that Wesley and my wife and I started. We take up money through donations and fundraisers and we donate that to families who are going through stillbirth and infant loss up to three years of age," Tyler Cripps told WJLE .

"It started on May 3, 2013. Tyler and I lost our little girl. She was stillborn. Paislee's death was very unexpected and we were completely unprepared to deal with this type of situation. But our family, friends, church, and community lifted us up, supported us, and took care of everything we needed," said Jessica Cripps.

After some time passed, Tyler said he got the idea for starting the foundation. "I was riding through work one day and the idea popped in my head. I talked to Wesley about it and we furthered the idea until it's turned into what it is today," he said.

An approved 501c3 non-profit organization, Paislee's Foundation was formed in October 2013 and the first official fundraiser was held in January 2014.

"We have three main fundraisers which are all held at the Kenneth Sandlin Center at the fairgrounds in Alexandria. A chili supper will be held on February 6 along with a corn hole tournament. We have a 5K in May and a craft show in the fall. They have all generated pretty good amounts of money. At the 5K we have even had some of the parents (served by the Foundation) actually come to help. To see that come full circle has been great. We've had such big responses from the start and we thank our whole community for supporting us," said McCubbin.

There are no paid staff in the Foundation and all money raised is given to parents. "One hundred percent of it goes to the foundation. No money goes to anyone's pocket," said Tyler.

"We got money given to us when we lost Paislee. At the end of it all we had to buy her headstone and that was $400. We had $400 exactly left. So that's what we give people $400. They are welcome to use it for whatever they need including bills, food, groceries, headstone, burial expenses, etc. We have already served roughly 20 families," said Jessica.

Families needing support may contact Paislee's Foundation through Facebook. " They can come to us. We have a facebook page. It's already up and going. Its Paislees Foundation on facebook. The website is now online at www.paisleesfoundation.org. It has our story and how you can donate, all of our contact information, and different resources. If you want to donate a wedding dress for a burial gown for a child that link is there. Photographers who do sessions at the hospital for keepsakes, that is on there. We recently did a hoodie sale with a logo on it and that is on the website too. If you want to make a donation Paislee's Foundation has an account at Liberty State Bank. We're also working on Paypal. It's coming soon. We don't want to just be about the money. That's a big part of it. To alleviate financial stress but we also want parents to be able to have someone to talk to. We would like to eventually be able to put them in touch with grief support groups," said Jessica

"We want to thank Scott Koffman who designed our logo and our 5K shirt; Ashley McCubbin who is right there with her camera every time we need her for an event; and Nikia Vensel who has designed all our flyers and posters. They have all done this free of charge," said Tyler. Also a special thanks to the Foundation's CPA Kathy Finley.

"We want to thank everybody who has gotten behind us and given us the push to get to where we are now. That's the main thing about our foundation. It could not run without the support that we have gotten," said Tyler.

UCHRA Efforts to Sell Lakeside Resort Clears Hurdle

December 16, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lakeside Resort

UCHRA’s effort to sell Lakeside Resort and reduce the agency’s debt has cleared a preliminary hurdle.

Officials were informed last week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given initial approval to allow the buyer to enter into a lease agreement to take over operations of the facility, located off Highway 56 north in DeKalb County.

UCHRA Executive Director Luke Collins explained in a recent memo that Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch has made a proposal of $600,000 for the facility along with $100,000 in services over a 10-year period (or $10,000 per year). He said if the proposal could be accepted at the agency’s next real estate meeting on December 29, a check for $50,000 would be presented as earnest money, with the balance paid at closing.”

In the meantime, the Ranch is currently in discussion with Tennessee Tech to partner with the university to meet educational requirements set forth by the Corps. The Corps’ final approval of the proposal also is subject to the request submitted by UCHRA, which must meet “assignment of lease”
application requirements.

“This lease has both educational and transient use components,” said Michael T. Abernathy, district chief of real estate with the Corps of Engineers’ Nashville district. “The official request needs to be specific in how Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch will be providing education for its members and how compliance with the ‘transient use’ condition will be met.” The transient use clause prohibits stays longer than 30 days during any 60-day period.

UCHRA is currently paying on two loans relating to Lakeside at a total cost of nearly $1.3 million and at an interest rate of 4.25 percent.

With the purchase price, UCHRA’s debt would be reduced to $663,895, which Collins said could be paid over three years.

Johnny Barnes Named New UT Extension Director

December 16, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Johnny Barnes

DeKalb County will soon have a new director of the local UT Agricultural Extension Service.

Johnny Barnes will be taking over from Michael Barry effective January 1. His first day on the job will be January 4.

Barry has taken another position.

County Mayor Tim Stribling made the announcement during the County Commission meeting Monday night. "The UT Extension/ Agriculture Committee met a couple of times. County Commissioners Mason Carter, Betty Atnip, and Jeff Barnes are on that committee. On November 24 they conducted interviews along with Mark Willoughby and Jim Stewart, who is the regional director for the Central Region of the Extension Service. They conducted interviews for Director of the Extension Service. The former Director Michael Barry took a position with the Extension Service in Davidson County. That left an opening here. Requirements were that you had to have an agriculture degree and a masters degree. They interviewed and then the Extension Service met on Tuesday, December 8. They again met with Jim Stewart and they have hired Johnny Barnes as the Agriculture Agent and Extension Director," said Stribling.

"Barnes has worked for ten years in Wilson County as a 4-H agent. He lives in Alexandria and is a DeKalb County native," Stribling added.

"I'd like to ask everyone to stop in on January 4 and welcome Barnes. I think he is going to be a great asset to our county," said Commissioner Betty Atnip.

Walmart Shoplifter also Found with Drugs

December 16, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

A shoplifter at Walmart was also found with drugs in her possession earlier this month.

43 year old Patsy Lynn Estes was arrested by Smithville Police on Friday, December 4 for theft of property, criminal trespass, simple possession of Schedule IV & VI drugs and tampering with evidence. Police were dispatched to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter. Upon arrival officers saw Estes placing items in plastic bags. Estes had previously been ordered by store management to keep away from Walmart through a "Notification of Restriction from Property". As she was being taken into custody and placed in the patrol car, Estes was observed with a bag in her hand which contained a leafy green substance which was later determined to be marijuana. Also in the bag was a prescription bottle containing two pills which didn't match the prescription. While in custody, Estes removed a pill from her person and crushed it before it was checked into evidence. Her bond is $13,000 and she will be in court on December 17.

19 year old Justin Michael Bone was cited on Sunday, December 6 for simple possession of a Schedule VI drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police responded to a report of a vehicle traveling all over the highway. An officer later stopped the automobile and spoke with the driver, Bone. An odor of marijuana was inside the vehicle. After obtaining consent to search, one gram of a leafy substance believed to be marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle. Bone's court date is January 28.

51 year old Janice Lynn Johnson was arrested on Tuesday, December 8 for DUI and cited for two counts of simple possession or casual exchange. Officers, dispatched to a hit and run, spotted the vehicle on West Broad Street and pulled it over at Kilgore's Restaurant. The driver, Johnson was incoherent and shaking uncontrollably. Johnson was unsteady on her feet and she refused to submit to sobriety tasks. Upon receiving consent to search the vehicle, police found 33 round white pills believed to be Soma and one oblong white pill thought to be Hydrocodone. Johnson had no prescription for the pills. Bond for Johnson is $1,500 and she will be in court on January 7.

61 year old Lawrence E Willet, III was arrested on Friday, November 27 in Wal-Mart parking lot for DUI. An employee flagged down an officer on routine patrol at Wal-Mart concerning a man whose vehicle had struck one of the cart returns. The officer stopped the automobile and identified Willet as the driver. He had an odor of alcohol on his person and there was an empty beer bottle in the back seat floorboard. Willet submitted to but performed poorly on sobriety tasks. His bond is $1,500.

33 year old David Allen Cobb was arrested Tuesday, December 8 for public intoxication. Police were dispatched to the Sheriff's Department in reference to an intoxicated person. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Cobb who was standing inside demanding to speak with the Sheriff regarding another matter. Cobb had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He was unsteady on his feet and he appeared to be disoriented. Cobb's bond is $1,500 and his court date is January 7.

45 year old Kevin Matthew Dossett was arrested for joy riding on Wednesday, December 9. According to police, Dossett took a vehicle without the owner's consent and returned it later in the day. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is December 17.

26 year old Jeremy Ray Mooneyhan was arrested on Thursday, December 10 for a third offense of driving on a revoked license. Police made a traffic stop of Mooneyhan's vehicle and he couldn't provide a valid driver's license. A computer check with Central Dispatch revealed that Mooneyhan had two prior offenses for driving on a revoked license. Mooneyhan was taken into custody. His bond is $4,000 and his court date is January 28.

Three Injured in Monday Evening Crash

December 15, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Three Injured in Monday Evening Crash
Three Airlifted after Wreck on Big Rock Road

Three people were airlifted after their pickup truck crashed Monday evening on Big Rock Road.

According to Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 31 year old Christopher Lewis of McMinnville and 34 year old Carol Lewis of Smithville were flown by helicopter ambulance from near the scene to Vanderbilt Hospital while 31 year old Johnny Ray of Smithville was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Trooper Johnson told WJLE that Christopher Lewis was traveling north on Big Rock Road in a 1996 Chevy S-10 when he failed to negotiate a curve and went off the right side of the road and struck a tree. After the crash, Lewis got out and apparently tried to flee on foot. He was later spotted lying in the woods several yards from the crash site. According to Trooper Johnson members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad arrived on the scene and brought Lewis back up a steep embankment in a stokes basket. Trooper Johnson said Lewis acted belligerently and appeared to be intoxicated.

Meanwhile Carol Lewis and Johnny Ray, passengers of the pickup, were trapped in the truck. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department used extrication equipment to get them out.

Trooper Johnson said charges are pending .

The crash was investigated by Trooper Johnson along with Trooper Adam Cothron , Sergeant Billy Prater and members of the Critical Incident Response Team of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Along with several members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS and Sheriff's Deputies were also on the scene.

Landowner At Odds with County over Gate across Sunset Drive

December 15, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Orders Gate Across Sunset Drive to be Removed

The man who has been ordered to remove a gate across a county road indicated recently the issue is not as simple as the county commission
believes and said misstatements have been made about the topic.

Grant Manning, in an email response to WJLE, said the gate has been up for over four years and he has maintained the road since 1990.

The county commission last month went on record to direct the Road Supervisor to take the necessary action to have the gate removed on
Sunset Drive off Allen Bend Road in the Belk community.

Manning referred to a 2004 decision from the county's planning commission in an effort to further clarify the issue.

"In a County Commission meeting of November 9, 2015 they elected to change the intent of the instructions on the plat, approved by and
given to us by the DeKalb County Planning Commission in 2004,'" Manning said.

"In 2004 they came out and spoke to us, and gave us a copy of Subdivision Regulations for DeKalb County Tennessee. They referred to
diagram 6, page 20, and told us that if the main farm portion was ever sold the new owner would have to provide their own gravel driveway and
connect it to the wider portion of our existing driveway behind an existing residence," he continued "The reason given then was one of
safety. The small driveway (9 feet wide) does a very sharp right turn about 200 feet in. He walked us down to that point and said that they
probably wouldn't be able to get fire equipment around that tight turn, and as the other side of the driveway dropped off quite badly, that was the only way the plat would be approved".

But at the November commission meeting, County Attorney Hilton Conger gave a different version of the story.

"There's a plat that was approved by the planning commission in 2004 and the people who owned that property subdivided a 1.8 acre tract off
of that and it referred to two roads, Sunset Drive and Hidden Hollow Way. Those two roads are shown on the DeKalb County Road list and have been since 1998. They certainly don't meet county specifications. One of them is nine feet wide," he said. "When this plat was approved there was a notation that was entered on the plat which provided that should the current owners sell that property or that property be otherwise transferred then the remaining acreage would not have its primary access along this 20 foot easement with a nine foot wide gravel driveway," said Conger.

The planning commission minutes from the 2004 meeting on this matter state that" these 2 roads (Sunset Drive and Hidden Hollow Way) are
listed on the 911 Map and the Official County Road List and Map. The status of these roads was then discussed in detail. If Sunset Drive and Hidden Hollow Way are not considered county roads, then access to the 2 existing homes could be affected if access is controlled by the subdivided lot".

"Although the gravel drive is utilized for primary access for both residences, the house at 500 Sunset Drive will still contain approximately 261 feet of road frontage on Allen Bend Road, if the subdivision is approved. Consequently, this house is not being land-locked, but the resident will be required to construct a new driveway to Allen Bend Road. After further discussion on the matter, staff stated that a plat restriction should be included on the plat if these are not county roads stating that if the property is subdivided further, a new road will be required to be constructed that meets the
county road specifications," according to the planning commission minutes

Conger told the commission in November "The current owner of that residual property, he (Mannning) and one of the owners I think are in a dispute over this but at any rate the owner of the property (Manning) put a gate across this road back a few months ago. It came to the attention of the planning commission and its the planning commission's recommendation to the commission that the gate be removed."

"As far as I know, the new owner and myself are not in a dispute,"Manning said.

"He (neighbor) bought and paid for his portion of the farm, but because of the2004 decision by the DeKalb County Planning Commission written on my plat, he was obligated to put in his own gravel driveway wherever on his land he wanted to," Manning argued. "Trying to be a good neighbor
I told him he was welcome to use my small driveway as it had served all of us well over the past 25 years. But, I wanted him to sign a
license' which would define our relationship and limit my liability. He chose not to."

Manning said the gate was installed in May 2011 after an incident in March that year.

"Two highly intoxicated males came onto the farm in their truck and took out 60 feet of fence, got stuck, got unstuck, and left the farm careening
at a high rate of speed," Manning said. Then later "we had numerous ATV intrusions, where the kiddies would destroy the graded gravel road
surface despite being posted," he said. "Since the gate went up, it has kept the drunks and ATVs off the farm."

Manning also said he has maintained the road for several years and he has evidence to prove it.

"I have maintained the roads since 1990 when we built and paid for them. I have kept the gravel up using Rogers, and Mid Tn Limestone in
Rock Island, and have receipts and/or check stubs to document all of it," Manning said.

"The county has bush hogged the roads a few times over the past 25 years, but I've always done that too. They recently brought me three
loads of gravel, about one a year, the first they have since October 2012, which was the last time I got any from Mid TN Limestone."

Manning said the commission made its decision without any input from him."I am now 70, and had to spend two months of my Social Security just
to hire an attorney as things have gotten way out of hand," Manning added.

Manning did not say whether he will take down the gate as demanded by the county but he has reportedly retained an attorney on this matter.

Seat Belt Fines to More than Double in 2016

December 15, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Starting in January, the seat belt fines will more than double in Tennessee.

Getting pulled over for not wearing a seat belt costs $10 for a first-time violation and $20 for a second offense. Starting in January, fines for not wearing a seat belt increase to $25 for a first-offense violation and $50 for second and subsequent offenses.

Commissioner Bill Gibbons of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOS&HS), Colonel Tracy Trott of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer and Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) Director Kendell Poole called the increase in seat belt fines an effective additional tool to curb traffic fatalities in the state.

“So far this year, state troopers have issued over 107,000 seat belt citations,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “That is a 255 percent increase over the same time period in 2010. We will continue to make this a priority, but we hope the day will come when it is difficult for a state trooper to find a motorist not wearing a seat belt. We hope the tougher fines will encourage motorists to obey the law.”

Along with announcing the seatbelt fine increase, The TDOS&HS has announced a reminder that THP will be out in force during the holiday period to ensure travelers reach their destination safely. State troopers will focus their attention on traffic violations that place motorists in jeopardy, such as distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving and lack of seat belt usage. The holiday enforcement period will begin at 12:01 a.m. on December 24th and conclude at midnight on December 27th.

The holiday season is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to an increase in impaired driving. The THP will utilize several enforcement tools, including saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks, and driver license and sobriety checkpoints to help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes over the holiday season.

“We care about you and your safety,” Colonel Tracy Trott said. “What we are hoping to accomplish with the fine increase is a heightened sense of awareness among our motorists. The best safety tool that a driver or passenger has while riding in a vehicle is to wear his or her seat belt. When people fail to wear their seat belts, they increase their chance of being injured or killed in a car crash. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. One life lost due to not wearing a seat belt is one life to many.”

HOLIDAY ENFORCEMENT

Designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two of the several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Important tips include:

•Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;
•If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;
•Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to the Tennessee Highway Patrol by dialing *THP;
•Wear your seat belt or use protective gear on your motorcycle as your best defense against an impaired driver; and
•Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take the person’s keys and help him or her make other arrangements.

“We are very thankful for the friendships and partnerships that TDOT has with the Department of Safety and our state troopers,” Commissioner John Schroer said. “We understand that it takes all hands on deck to ensure a safer Tennessee, and the seat belt fine increase will help state troopers and local law enforcement in their efforts”.

During the 2014 Christmas holiday, seven people were killed on Tennessee roadways in seven fatal crashes. Alcohol was involved in 71.4 percent of those crashes, and three of the six vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. There was also one pedestrian killed during the 96-hour holiday period.

Santa Makes Another Appearance for Alexandria Christmas Parade (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

December 14, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Santa Makes Another Appearance for Alexandria Christmas Parade
Malone's Chapel Baptist Church won first place for best float
 Grand Marshals Jimmy and Daris Mullinax.

Santa made another appearance in DeKalb County on Sunday for the Alexandria Christmas Parade.

Crowds gathered downtown and along Main Street to catch a glimpse of Santa and all the other attractions of the parade.

The parade made its way into town led by Alexandria Interim Police Chief Chris Russell followed by Sheriff Patrick Ray and the Grand Marshals Jimmy and Daris Mullinax. The Parade also featured floats, the DCHS and Watertown high school bands, local businesses, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, vintage automobiles, farm tractors, four wheelers and motorcycles, Alexandria, Smithville, and DeKalb County Fire trucks, Tennessee Division of Forestry and Smoky the Bear, Smithville- DeKalb Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS, horseback riders, horse drawn wagons and Santa Claus.

In the floats category, Malone's Chapel Baptist Church won first place. Second place went to Girl's Bakery and Diner, and the Alexandria First Baptist Church received third place.

For best vintage automobiles, David Graham received first place for his 1973 Camaro RS. Ronnie Harris received second place for his 1971 Plymouth Scamp. Third place went to Paul Johnson for his 1965 F100 Ford truck.

Drawings were held after the parade for prize giveaways.

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