Local News Articles

"Purple Out Day" Friday to Raise Awareness About Alzheimer’s Disease

September 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
"Purple Out Day" Friday to Raise Awareness About Alzheimer’s Disease

DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack and her staff will bring lots of color to their office on Friday, September 15 and they are inviting you to participate in "Purple Out Day," too to show support for Alzheimer's Tennessee.

The statewide campaign was first launched in 2015 through a partnership between the State Court Clerks Association of Tennessee and the nonprofit organization Alzheimer’s Tennessee.

Alzheimer’s disease impacts Tennessee families in every county from West to East, and now Court Clerks across the state, including DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk Pack, are showing their support by participating in the 3rd Annual Statewide “Purple Out Day” benefitting Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a not-for-profit organization.

“Seeing our state turn purple to show support to the hundreds of thousands of families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is incredibly powerful. I know many understand what it’s like to slowly lose a loved one to this brain disease that steals both memories and dignity. I hope our loved ones will inspire all of us to come together again and make this month’s Purple Out Day even more memorable," said Circuit Court Clerk Pack

Along with displaying your purple spirit, you may make a donation. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Tennesseans.Please make checks payable to Alzheimer's Tennessee. You may bring your donation to the DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk’s office or mail it directly to the Alzheimer’s Tennessee Main office at 5801 Kingston Pike, Knoxville TN 37919. To make an online donation go to http://www.alztennessee.org/donate

Because Alzheimer’s disease and dementia impact at least 110,000 Tennesseans, the Board of Directors for the State Court Clerks Association of Tennessee voted to adopt and support Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a Tennessee-based 501c3 not-for-profit organization that provides support services, promotes brain health through education, and champions research for better prevention and treatment strategies.

Alzheimer’s Tennessee has been based in the state since 1983 and has the following mission: To serve those facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, to promote brain health through education, and to champion global prevention and treatment efforts. Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. coordinates support groups and answers HelpLine calls for resource referrals and information, offers community and professional education, advocates for the needs and rights of those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and funds research. For more information visit www.alzTennessee.org.

Alexandria Police Make Arrest in Two Recent Thefts

September 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
Andrew Payton West

Alexandria Police have made an arrest in two recent thefts

Police Chief Chris Russell said that on Monday, September 11, 26 year old Andrew Payton West of Tramel Branch Road, Alexandria was arrested for two counts of Theft of Property Under $1,000.

According to Chief Russell, West stole a leaf blower valued at $150, from a vehicle on Avant Circle. The crime occurred on Friday, September 1.

West is also charged with a separate offense for taking a push mower valued at $150 from another residence on Avant Circle the same day, Friday September 1st.

West was booked into the DeKalb County Jail on a $20,000 bond and will appear in General Sessions court on September 21st.

Chief Russell said these charges stem from an ongoing investigation into recent thefts in the Alexandria area and anyone with information on other crimes is urged to contact the Alexandria Police Department at 615-529-2700 or the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 615-597-4935.

City and DUD Adopt Agreement to Supply Water to Each Other in Times of Need

September 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen
DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners

The relationship between the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District has been strained in recent years over the DUD’s new water treatment plant but the two sides are trying to put aside past differences and work together with passage of an agreement which will allow each utility to sell water to the other in times of need.

Under the water purchase agreement adopted Monday night 4-1 by the Smithville Aldermen and 5-0 by the DUD Board of Commissioners last Thursday, the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District will sell water to each other, if needed, at the rate of $2.67 per 1,000 gallons. That’s the rate the city had been charging the DeKalb Utility District before the DUD cut ties with the city as a customer and started producing water for its own customers during the summer.

The city will maintain eight existing master meters that can service both utilities and the DUD will reimburse the city for one half of the servicing and maintenance costs.

“Last Thursday the DUD Board met and passed a water purchase agreement between DUD and the City of Smithville. Our city attorney Vester Parsley looked this over as well as Greg Davenport from Wauford Engineering. We changed a couple of things and sent it back to DUD. They were fine with the small changes. It was more or less just some wording. Their board approved it unanimously,” said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

“Now that they (DUD) have their own plant up and going, if they need to use us, we can use our master meters to provide them water and if something happens in our distribution system we can turn our meters around and use the DUD water for our customers. Its just a mutual aid agreement. It basically says we will support each other one way or the other. The $2.67 per 1,000 rate can change years down the road but both parties have to be in agreement,” Hendrixson said.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs, who voted against the agreement, expressed concern about the rate. “We’re still selling water to them (DUD) cheaper than we can produce it ourselves,” he said.

“It sticks in my craw that we’re charging our customers $5.00 per 1,000 gallons and we’re letting non taxpaying residents get it cheaper than that,” Alderman Jacobs continued.

“Its based on a wholesale number versus a retail price,” replied Hendrixson.

“It’s the same price for both sides,” added City Attorney Vester Parsley.

“Have they (DUD) given any figures on what it cost to produce their water?,” asked Alderman Danny Washer

“Not that I am aware of. I suspect its more than $2.67 per 1,000 gallons,” Parsley responded.

“I’ll sign it (vote for it) but I don’t like it,” said Alderman Washer.

The agreement states:


“In times of special need or as circumstances require, Smithville will sell DUD a quantity of safe, potable water under terms of this agreement. DUD will pay for the purchase of this water in a manner consistent with the lowest 1,000 gallon wholesale rate charged by Smithville at the time of purchase, which rate at the date of this agreement is $2.67 per 1,000 gallons,” the agreement states.

“Smithville will bill DUD on a monthly basis with payment being due under the same terms and conditions as any other Smithville customer”.

“Smithville will furnish as much water as practicable to address DUD’s needs. The parties do, however, acknowledge that Smithville owes a primary duty to its citizens and, therefore, that Smithville does not guarantee any specific amount or quantity of water to be available at any time and reserves the right to limit the amount of water furnished to DUD”.

“Smithville agrees to supply water to DUD in the same condition of purity and fitness for consumption to all the other customers of Smithville. Smithville does not guarantee and will not be liable for any obligation, liability, responsibility, or cause of action arising out of the furnishing of water to DUD, whether concerning the quality or quantity of water furnished.”

“DUD hereby agrees to indemnify and hold Smithville harmless from any cause of action arising out of lack of water pressure or availability of pressure which might be brought by any DUD customer or user. This indemnification shall extend to the reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by Smithville.”


“In times of special need or as circumstances require, DUD will sell Smithville a quantity of safe, potable water under terms of this agreement. Smithville will pay for the purchase of this water the same rate that Smithville proposes to charge DUD in the event of the sale of water to DUD by Smithville. The rate in effect as of the date of this agreement is $2.67 per 1,000 gallons,” the agreement states.

“DUD will bill Smithville on a monthly basis with payment being due under the same terms and conditions as any other DUD customer”.

“DUD will furnish as much water as practicable to address Smithville’s needs. The parties do, however, acknowledge that DUD’s primary purpose is to serve its customers within its service area and, therefore, that DUD does not guarantee any specific amount or quantity of water to be available at any time and reserves the right to limit the amount of water furnished to Smithville”.

“DUD agrees to supply water to Smithville in the same condition of purity and fitness for consumption as to all the other customers of DUD. DUD does not guarantee and will not be liable for any obligation, liability, responsibility, or cause of action arising out of its furnishing water to Smithville, whether concerning the quality or quantity of water furnished.”

“Smithville hereby agrees to indemnify and hold DUD harmless from any cause of action arising out of lack of water pressure or availability of pressure which might be brought by any Smithville customer or user. This indemnification shall extend to the reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by DUD.”


“Smithville shall continue to service and maintain the metering equipment located at Evins Mill master meter, Highway 70 West master meter, South College Street master meter, South Mountain Street master meter, Midway Community master meter, Cookeville Highway master meter, Hobson Street master meter, and Shiroki master meter. DUD Shall reimburse Smithville one half of any costs associated in servicing and maintaining said meters. Such service and maintenance includes, but is not limited to, routine maintenance, annual testing and calibration, and repositioning, if necessary. Before performing any such service or maintenance, the parties will confer concerning the work to be performed, the party responsible for overseeing the work, and the anticipated cost of such work.”

“Except for (previous paragraph), each party will be responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and service of lines and equipment on its respective side of these meters,” the agreement concluded.

Early Voting Times Set for State Senatorial Special Primary

September 12, 2017
Early Voting Times Set for State Senatorial Special Primary

The times for early voting have been set for the upcoming Special Primary for the 17th Tennessee Senatorial District.

The DeKalb County Election Commission unanimously voted Monday night to set the following hours: Mondays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays 9 a.m. until Noon; Wednesdays 9 a.m. until Noon; Thursdays 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays 9 a.m. until Noon and Saturdays 9 a.m. until Noon.

Early voting will be held October 18 through November 2 on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

The special election was created due to the resignation of State Senator Mae Beavers, who is running for governor.

The Primary will be held on November 7th and the hours for election day at all precincts will be 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Primary winners will square off in the General Election on December 19th.

Florida Family Staying with DeKalb County Relatives as Hurricane Irma Threatened Their Home

September 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
Dimitrios and Nancy Napier Vafeas with their children, 14 year old Alexander, 10 year old Olivia

Millions in Florida were ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Irma roared toward the state.

Thousands of evacuees made their way to Tennessee including several families who found DeKalb County a good place to stay until it was safe to return home.

One such family is Dimitrios and Nancy Napier Vafeas, who along with their children, 14 year old Alexander, 10 year old Olivia, and the family dog, left home in Sarasota, Florida (a western coastal city) Saturday morning before the storm hit. They arrived later that day in DeKalb County to stay with Nancy’s mother in the home Nancy grew up in.

Having lived in Florida for 23 years, Nancy said her family has weathered Hurricanes before without taking a direct hit, but forecasts indicated that Irma might be coming straight for Sarasota.

“I have never been scared like this before,”said Nancy, who spoke with WJLE Monday night.

Living near the coast, Vafeas said her concerns grew as Irma drew closer.

“My home is two miles inland so we started really watching Irma last Sunday. We knew she was coming at us but things change so much with Hurricanes. It kept being forecast as more of an east coast event like Miami or Palm Beach. About Wednesday, it started inching closer and closer to being a west coast hit. That’s when I started watching (forecasts) every three hours. By Thursday night, we knew we were in the danger zone,” said Nancy.

The family had initially planned to ride out the storm but had a change of heart by Saturday morning.

“Friday morning I got up and heard there were some generators in town that were for sale. I ran and bought a generator. My husband put up all of the Hurricane shutters at our house. I got all of our supplies and decided to hunker down. We thought it’ll be close but it’ll still be okay. Then we heard the storm was going to be a category 4. It started getting very real at that time. Many of our friends were staying but a lot of people were going. It was kind of a mixed bag. My in-laws and my husband’s brother and his wife decided to stay. But Saturday morning I woke up and saw the latest forecast, that Irma was a category 4 coming for Sarasota. With visions of Hurricane Andrew, Katrina, and Harvey in my mind, I decided I didn’t want to stay. I have a 14 year old son and a 10 year old daughter and I didn’t want them to experience that either. I woke up my husband and said we’re evacuating to Tennessee. He said no we’ll be okay, we’ve got all our supplies, our Hurricane shutters are up, we’re going to be safe. I said I’ve got to go. He knew I meant it. So we gathered everything we could think of in an hour, wedding albums, kids photos, etc and we jumped in the car and took off down the road hoping that we would be able to get out safely before the storm hit and hoping there would be enough available gas along the way to make the trip. We were taking a chance by leaving but I felt we were taking a bigger chance by staying,” said Nancy.

Since arriving in DeKalb County, Nancy said her family has stayed in touch with relatives and friends back home through social media and have been pleased to learn that their home and neighborhood were spared any major damage.

“My house is actually perfect. Sarasota got very lucky. Irma took a more easterly turn. We got some flooding, debris, and downed trees but nothing serious. No trees fell on our house. I have seen pictures and our house looks like it did when we left it,” said Nancy.

The Vafeas family plans to return home Wednesday if conditions permit. “We’re monitoring the news from our friends down there. Over six million people evacuated from Florida and we only have Interstates 75 & 95 as the north and southbound corridors so they are going to be very packed as people return home and there may continue to be a gas shortage so we’ll see,” she said.

Nancy added that while her family was spared, the storm has caused destruction and loss of life for others and they need to be remembered by all. “We just need to pray for those who didn’t fare as well".

After returning home this week, Nancy and her husband plan to fly back to DeKalb County for her 30 year high school class reunion on September 22 & 23.

Smithville Municipal Golf Course to Get Makeover (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

September 11, 2017
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Municipal Golf Course is getting a makeover.

During Monday night’s monthly meeting, the aldermen voted to enter into a one year agreement with RiverWatch Golf & Resort to upgrade and maintain the golf course for a year.

The cost to the city is $74,115 but since it is not being leased to anyone the city will get all revenues generated from the golf course, once it re-opens next spring.

The city previously had a 10 year lease with Tony Poss to operate the golf course and swimming pool, but Poss opted to terminate the lease last month. The golf course is now closed.

The city had allocated $7,000 in this year’s budget for the golf course so most of that money will now go toward paying RiverWatch . The remaining $67,000 plus to pay RiverWatch will be taken from the city’s general fund surplus. The city will also have other expenses associated with the golf course as per the agreement with RiverWatch.

Ken Lacy of RiverWatch outlined the proposal during Monday night's meeting of the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen.

“Basically we’re offering the maintenance and renovation services to bring the golf course back to the status that you and the public want to see. We have the facilities, equipment, manpower, and knowledge. I have been in the golf course business since 1981. I have been a golf pro and superintendent. I have built and designed six golf courses from staging, planning, development, grow in, all the way through,” said Lacy.

“I feel we can get the golf course up and going but the opening date should be next spring. The greens can be putted on and played on immediately after aerification and some of the things we’re doing but I don’t want to open the golf course since we’re putting so much seed down. We’re going to seed these like they are new greens,” Lacy said.

The mayor and aldermen have said they don’t intend to lease the golf course/swimming pool again but plan to hire someone to manage it for the city. Alderman Gayla Hendrix said keeping the golf course closed until next spring gives the city time to establish a job description and salary for whoever is hired next season to run the golf course and pool.

Under terms of the contract , RiverWatch will provide the following services:

*Daily onsite golf course maintenance management

*Aerification process

*Top dressing greens

*Fertilization/Chemical applications (application equipment provided by RiverWatch)

*All equipment for day to day operations for golf course (greens mower, tee mower, fairway mower, walk blower, PTO blower and a PTO driven gang unit rough mower)

*RiverWatch will maintain all sharpening and adjusting of reels and blades during the contract period.

The city’s responsibilities under the contract will be as follows:

*City supplies working irrigation system

*City supplies all course related liability insurance

*City supplies all chemicals, sand, special project rental equipment and general maintenance and expense. (This includes all wear items, such as reels, belts, bed knives, oil changes, nuts, bolts, fuel, etc.)

*City is responsible for all fuel for all equipment

*City agrees to provide three pool laborers per week as needed to assist in non-skill specific course maintenance.

The work is expected to begin as early as this week once the weather clears.

Alexandria Man Charged in Home Burglary

September 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Byron Ray “Bud” Gibbs
Allen Odell Mason, III
Jared Reshun Howard

An Alexandria man has been arrested in a recent home burglary on Pea Ridge Road.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_38.pdf (2.62 MB)

32 year old Byron Ray “Bud” Gibbs of Shady Lane, Alexandria is charged with aggravated burglary, theft of property under $500, vandalism, and evading arrest. His bond totals $20,000 and his court date is September 28.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, August 31 Gibbs assisted in forcibly entering a residence on Pea Ridge Road and taking a black digital camera in a case and miscellaneous jewelry valued at $250. Entry was made by breaking out a glass window. The estimated damage was $200.

The evading offense was on Friday, August 25 as Gibbs tried to outrun a county deputy in a separate incident.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy attempted stop a white Nissan Altima for failing to maintain its lane of travel on West Main Street, Alexandria. As the officer activated his emergency lights and siren, the driver began to flee. The car crossed Highway 70 without stopping, ran several stop signs, and drove into the opposite lane of travel, causing possible harm to innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers. The deputy apparently lost sight of the car but found it abandoned in a field. After a further investigation, Gibbs was identified as the driver and later placed under arrest. The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective. More charges are expected to be filed against Gibbs.

Meanwhile, a Lancaster man has been charged with tampering with a mailbox. 21 year old Allen Odell Mason, III of Lancaster is under a $1,500 bond and his court date is September 28. Sheriff Ray said that on January 1 Mason tampered with a residential mailbox on Old Temperance Hall Road causing $100 in damage. The case was investigated by a detective.

Another arrest has been made in a recent theft of a utility trailer.

28 year old Jared Reshun Howard of Linville Road Sparta is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and for failure to appear. His bond is $12,500 and his court date is September 28.

Sheriff Ray said that on August 10 the sheriff’s department received a report that someone had stolen a 6 x 12 foot utility trailer from a residence on Big Hurricane Road, Smithville valued at $1,200. A detective was assigned to the case and developed Howard and 52 year old Bruce Randall Bumbalough of North Butler Street, Sparta as suspects. Bumbalough was arrested last week in the case.

The failure to appear offense against Howard was filed on September 2 after he failed to report to jail for booking within the required ten days on an August 23 criminal summons for a worthless check.

Trial Date Set for Accused Courthouse Arsonist

September 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Gary Wayne Ponder

After almost fifteen months, the case against a man believed responsible for starting a fire inside the courthouse remains pending in court. A trial date has been set for April 4, 2018

53 year old Gary Wayne Ponder was indicted by the Grand Jury in April on a charge of arson. He is currently on house arrest meaning he can’t leave home except for his own court appearances or to see a doctor. He is not allowed to be in the courthouse or anywhere else at any other time.

Ponder made a brief appearance in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, September 11. His case has been set for trial April 4, 2018. He is being represented by the District Public Defender's Office.

Smithville Police charged Ponder on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 after he was observed on the courthouse surveillance video system intentionally lighting fire in a newspaper recycling bin on the first floor vestibule. The video showed that on Tuesday, June 14 Ponder grabbed newspapers from the recycling bin and started the fire by lighting them with a cigarette lighter. The fire damaged the wall behind the recycling bin and cracked a window in the vestibule near the first floor entrance of the courthouse.

County Mayor Tim Stribling told WJLE that the total damages to the courthouse caused by the fire came to $120,706.52, which is the amount of the claim paid by the county’s insurance provider.

After the fire smoke had to be cleared from the courthouse, new ceiling tiles and dry wall work were required and a broken glass in the vestibule doorway had to be replaced.

The county also installed a new fire alarm system in the courthouse provided by FireTeam of Tracy City at a cost of $35,363.81. The system meets the latest International Fire Codes.

Assistance Available to DeKalb County Landowners with Wind Damage to Private Forestland

September 11, 2017
Donny Green

High winds caused severe damage in path of DeKalb County from the northwest to southeast portions. Nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) landowners suffering severe damage may be eligible for assistance under the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) that is administered by the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency (FSA).

According to Donny Green, County Executive Director for the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency, in order to qualify, the damage must have been caused by this natural disaster and must have adversely impacted natural resources on NIPF land and, if untreated, would:

•Impair or endanger the natural resources on the land, and
•Materially affect the use of the land.

A producer qualifying for EFRP assistance may receive financial assistance not to exceed 75 percent of the eligible cost of restoration measures. The emergency measures must restore forest health and forest-related resources. The following types of measures may be eligible:

•Debris removal from NIPF;
•Site preparation on NIPF;
•Seedling establishment on NIPF, and
•Restoring conservation structures and other similar installations.

Producers who have suffered a loss from this disaster event may contact the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency and submit an application for assistance under the EFRP during the signup period, September 11, 2017 through October 11, 2017.

To be eligible for assistance, practices must not be started until all of the following are met (waivers may be granted on a case-by-case basis when justified):

•An application for financial assistance (FSA-848) has been filed;
•The local FSA County Committee, or its representative, has conducted an onsite inspection of the damaged area;
•The Agency responsible for technical assistance, such as the state forestry agency, has made a needs determination which may include specific corrective measure to restore forest health and forest-releated resources.

For more information, contact the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency at 615-597-8225, Ext. 2, or come by the office at 647 Bright Hill Rd., Smithville.

Local Minister Arrested in Smith County For Statutory Rape and Incest

September 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Richard A. Petty (Photo Courtesy of Smith County Insider Press)

A local minister has reportedly been arrested in Smith County for statutory rape by an authority figure and incest.

According the Smith County Insider Press, Richard A. Petty was interviewed by Smith County Sheriff’s Office Detectives. During the interview, Petty admitted that he did have oral sex with a minor on several occasions. He was charged on September 6.

As of Monday morning, September 11, Petty remained incarcerated at the Smith County Jail Facility. Petty’s bond is $180,000.

Petty was minister of the Dowelltown Baptist Church.


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