Local News Articles

Four Cited for Illegal Beer Sales to Minors in Undercover Investigation

September 30, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray and Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins
Smithville Police Lieutenant Matt Holmes

Store owners or clerks at four local businesses have been cited for selling beer to minors as a result of an undercover investigation conducted jointly by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments.

25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir of Alexandria, owner of the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store on Nashville Highway; 32 year old Jennifer Sims of McMinnville, an employee of the Tobacco Discount Store on West Broad Street, Smithville; 56 year old Allison Ferguson of Smithville, an employee of Mapco Express on East Broad Street, Smithville; and 42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Smithville, owner of Nicole’s Market on Short Mountain Highway, have each been cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age.

All four defendants will appear in General Sessions Court on October 29. If found guilty, these businesses could face fines and the loss of their beer licenses.

The undercover operation occurred over a two week period.

In the first case, Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins said “On September 22, an undercover operative who was under 21 years of age, entered and attempted to illegally purchase beer within the city limits of Alexandria. The operative was denied beer purchases from C&C Market and the Alexandria Dollar Store but an illegal purchase of beer was made from the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco on Nashville Highway. The store owner, 25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir of Nashville Highway Alexandria was cited for illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age," said Chief Collins.

Meanwhile, Smithville Police Lieutenant Matt Holmes said “On September 23, the same undercover operative, attempted to illegally purchase alcohol from all businesses who are licensed to sell beer and/or liquor within the city limits of Smithville. All but two businesses refused to sell beer to the operative. An illegal purchase of beer was made from the Tobacco Discount Store on West Broad Street. An employee of the store, 32 year old Jennifer Sims of West End Avenue, McMinnville was cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age. An illegal purchase of beer was also made from the Mapco Express Store on East Broad Street. 56 year old Allison Ferguson of Hurricane Ridge Road Smithville, a store clerk was cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age," said Lt. Holmes.

In the last case, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department Detective Jeremy Taylor said “On September 28, the same undercover operative attempted to purchase beer from numerous businesses within the county. An illegal beer purchase was made from the owner of Nicole’s Market on Short Mountain Highway. 42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Short Mountain Highway Smithville was cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age," said Detective Taylor.

Authorities wish to thank all of the businesses who followed the law during this investigation.

DeKalb Animal Coalition's Re-Sale Store Re-Opens

September 30, 2015
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Animal Coalition's Re-Sale Store Re-Opens

The DeKalb Animal Coalition's re-sale store at 110 West Walnut (next door to the former location of the White Possum Restaurant) will be open for business again Thursday through Saturday, October 1, 2, & 3 from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

The store is a fund raising effort for the benefit of the community's new animal shelter. The store, which was designed, organized, and to be manned entirely by volunteers, will sell furniture, tools, sporting goods, electronic equipment, toys, books, men and women's clothing, Christmas trees and decorations, bedding, glassware, complete sets of dishes, appliances, new CDs, lamps, hardware, estate sale items and many other items. All the merchandise was donated and every cent raised will go to the DAC to complete the interior of the shelter.

A spokesperson for the Coalition said, "We are very grateful that the City and County have appropriated funds for the construction of a building to house the animal shelter. Now it is up to us, the Coalition, to raise money to equip the interior of the building. We will need a dog washing station, laundry facilities, office equipment, cat cages, a cleaning system, etc. The list goes on and on, but I have no doubt that we will reach our goal. Community support has been phenomenal."

The Coalition has planned a series of fund raisers under the name "DAC Presents including a walking ghost tour, narrated by Sarah Cripps.

DeKalb County 4-H’ers Complete Chick-Chain Project

September 30, 2015
Leigh Fuson
DeKalb County 4-H Chick-Chain participants at the 2015 Show and Sale
Madison Ray with her Grand Champion pullets at the 4-H Poultry Show.  Grace Griffin (not pictured) received Reserve Champion

Did you know the 4-H slogan is “Learn By Doing?” The DeKalb County 4-H Chick-Chain members are doing just that by learning responsibility, hard work, patience, and much more by raising chickens. These members recently finished the Chick-Chain poultry project with the annual show and sale at the bus garage. Each participant received 15 Rhode Island Red chicks in April and raised them throughout the spring and summer.

On September 22nd, 19 4-H’ers completed the project by bringing 3 chickens back to the 4-H Poultry Show and Sale. The pullets, or young hens, are carefully judged on maturity, egg laying ability, and overall health. A Grand Champion and Reserve Champion are selected along with other awards. The Grand Champion went to Madison Ray, a 6th grader at DeKalb Middle School. The Reserve Champion was awarded to Grace Griffin, a 7th grader at DeKalb West School.

After awards were handed out, it was time for the auction! The money raised goes back to the 4-H members to refund their original deposit on the chicks. They also received additional prize money. A special thank you goes out to all the bidders and buyers who came out to support the 4-H poultry project this year. We would also like to thank Jimmy Sprague for allowing us to use the bus garage and George Taylor for being the auctioneer. 4-H members who completed the project should feel proud of all their hard work and accomplishments!

Photo Captions

Group: DeKalb County 4-H Chick-Chain participants at the 2015 Show and Sale

Champion: Madison Ray with her Grand Champion pullets at the 4-H Poultry Show. Grace Griffin (not pictured) received Reserve Champion.

Stribling Re-elected Chairman of County Commission

September 30, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling
Larry Summers

County Mayor Tim Stribling was re-elected Chairman of the county commission Monday night.

All fourteen members voted in favor.

Seventh District member Larry Summers was returned as Chairman Pro Tempore.

The county commission must annually elect a chairman and a chairman pro tempore. The commission may elect the county mayor or a member of the body to be the chairman, although the county mayor may refuse to serve. If the county mayor is chairman, he or she may vote only to break a tie vote. If a member is chairman, the member votes as a member, but cannot vote again to break a tie. If the county mayor is not chairman, he or she may veto most resolutions of the county legislative body, but this veto may be overridden by a majority vote. The majority vote that is required for this and the passage of resolutions or other measures is a majority of the entire actual membership of the county legislative body, and not a majority of the quorum, nor a majority of the authorized membership.

The county commission consists of fourteen members, two from each of the seven districts in the county.

The make-up of the county commission is as follows:
Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Mason Carter from the first district; Jimmy Midgett and Joe Johnson from the second district; Jack Barton and Bradley Hendrix from the third district; Wayne Cantrell and Jonathon Norris from the fourth district; Jerry Adcock and Anita Puckett from the fifth district; Jeff Barnes and Betty Atnip from the sixth district; and Larry Summers and Kevin Robinson from the seventh district. Their terms are for four years.

12th Annual Habitat Chili Cook-Off and Bake Sale Friday

September 30, 2015
Tecia Puckett Pryor
12th Annual Habitat Chili Cook-Off and Bake Sale Friday

Who makes the best chili in DeKalb County? Find out on Friday, October 2nd when Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County hosts its 12th annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale at the DeKalb County Complex.

Chili will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Complex. For a cash donation, eat all the chili you want and vote for your favorite chili and the best decorated booth. Habitat plans to have ceramic bowls with the event’s logo available for a donation $20.00, which includes chili and a drink. Delicious baked goods prepared by members of local churches will also be for sale. Take out is also available.

“We are looking forward to another great day of good food and fellowship at the chili cook-off,” said Chad Driver, president of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County. “The proceeds from the Chili Cook-off will be used towards building the next house in early 2016, so we hope everyone will come out and eat lots of chili for a great cause.”

At press time, the teams competing in the Chili Cook-off are “Wonderland Chili” from the DeKalb County Board of Education; “Hot Checks Chili” from DeKalb Community Bank; “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials “Around the Block” from H&R Block; “Natural Gas Gang” from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; “The Bean Counters” from Janney & Associates; “No Liability Chili” from the DeKalb County Bar Association; “Laughing Gas Chili” from DeKalb Dental Center/Mitchell Tatum, DDS; and "Red Hot Chili Bankers" from Regions Bank.

Last year, “Superhero Chili” from The DeKalb County Board of Education took first as both “Best Chili” and “Best Decorated Booth”. The DeKalb County Officials followed in second place for both categories. The 2014 event raised over $3,000. This year, a “Golden Spoon” award will also be given for the team that collects the most extra cash for Habitat at their booth.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with volunteers and families in need, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged.

For more information on the Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, contact Tecia Puckett Pryor at 615-597-7370. To contact Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, call 615-215-8181.

New Property Tax Notices Sport Black and Gold Colors

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
Trustee Sean Driver Displays New Property Tax Notice
New Property Tax Notices
New Property Tax Notices (Back Page)

Property taxpayers will see a new look and format this year on their 2015 Property Tax Notices. Instead of post-card type mailings, the new notices will be on 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper and sport the DCHS school colors of black and gold.

"Since this is Tiger Country, I thought it would be fitting to use Black and Gold on the new 2015 Property Tax Notices," said Trustee Sean Driver.

According to Driver, the State of Tennessee developed this new Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal System called IMPACT and its now available through most of the state’s Property Assessor’s offices. "The new system prints property tax notices on an 8 ½ X 11 sheet of paper that will be mailed to property owners this 2015 Tax Year. The Trustee’s office is responsible for the design of the new property tax notices and we hope you approve. So, no more postcard-type property notices will be mailed," said Trustee Driver.

The notices will have information property owners have come to expect including the dates when taxes may be paid, October 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016; the Trustee's mailing address; the office hours; and the amount of your taxes. But additional information is included on these new mailings.
"The new information is what’s exciting to us in the Trustee’s office and we hope you will approve. This year you can see (on the notices) all of our payment options we have available in the office.

For 2015 you can:

1.Come in person to pay at the office.

2. Mail in your payment.

3. Pay online at tennesseetrustee.com then select DeKalb. Our Vendor accepts Discover, MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. A Vendor convenience fee of 2.75% on the total tax bill may apply and fees are subject to change for using credit/debit cards. Also, a $2.75 fee will be assessed on an e-check payment of any amount.

4. We do have a Dropbox located on the outside of the building for your convenience after hours or on weekends.

We do accept and offer Partial Payments and you the taxpayer sets the amount to pay. Partial payments were implemented in 2012," said Driver.

"Next, you will see a complete breakdown of the appraisal values concerning your property. These values are how your tax amounts are figured. Many have asked, “How can I figure my property tax bill?” Property taxes in DeKalb County are calculated utilizing the following 4 components:

*Total Appraised Value=Land & Improvement Values

* Assessment Ratio

* Assessed Value

* Tax Rate

1. The Total Appraised Value will be the $ amount of the land plus any structures(improvements)that may exist on your property.

2. The Assessment Ratio is established for the different classes of property as follows: 25%-Residential and Farm, 30%-Personal Property through a Business, and 40%-Commercial/Industrial.

3. The Assessment Value is calculated by multiplying the Total Appraised Value by the Assessment Ratio.

4. The Tax Rate for each county is set by the county commission based on the amount of monies budgeted to fund the provided services.

Looking at your tax bill, you will see land value based at $15,000 and improvement value based at $115,000. Add the 2 values together to get $130,000. This amount is the Total Appraised Value. Since all residential homes are based at 25% Assessment Ratio, take $130,000 and multiply by 25%. Your new Assessment Value will be $32,500. Take this amount and multiply by the County Tax Rate(1.78% of @$100 Assessment Value). This amount will be the amount of property taxes you will pay rounded to the nearest dollar($579.00).

$15,000 + $115,000 = $130,000
25% x $130,000 = $32,500
$32,000 x 1.78% = $579.00 Tax Amount to be Paid

On the back of the new property tax notice, it has some additional information showing a pie chart of where the 2015 Taxes are levied.

For example:
General Purpose Schools-.57c
County General-.94c
Debt Service-.12c
General Capital Projects-.11c
Highway/Public Works-.04c
Total $1.78

The Property Tax Base for 2015, in DeKalb County, will be over $8,500,000.00

"Last, but not least, you will be able to see some new information about the Tennessee State Tax Relief Program. This program was implemented in 1973 and the program will have a few changes every year. So, for the 2015 Tax Year, you can qualify for Tax Relief if:
(a)Your DeKalb County home is your primary residence

(b)You are 65 years old(or older) as of December 31, 2015, or you are totally and permanently disabled as rated by the SSA or another qualifying agency.

(c.)Your 2014 annual income of all persons on the deed and their spouses did not exceed $28,690.00. If the State of Tennessee qualifies you for Tax Relief, then you can receive a rebate up to $106.00.

Also, new for 2015 Tax Relief is the requirements for Disabled Veterans. Eligibility for New applicants this year will include an income limit.

Combined 2014 annual income for you, your spouse and all other owners of the property cannot exceed $60,000. **It is important for disabled veterans and qualified widow(er)s to note that applicants currently on the Tax Relief Program will not have an income limit. The Trustee’s office will start accepting applications for Tax Relief October 1, 2015 going through April 5, 2016.

If you would like to inquire more about a possible tax relief, come by the County Complex in the Trustee’s office at 732 S. Congress Blvd-Room 103, Smithville, TN 37166 or call us at 615-597-5176," Trustee Driver concluded.

Smithville Elementary Honors Staff and Bus Drivers for Their Response During Bomb Threat (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
Grateful parents and children greet bus drivers and SES faculty and staff (Photo by Jimmy Sprague)
Tribute Paid to Bus Drivers and Staff of Smithville Elementary
Bus Drivers and SES educators at Heroes Luncheon:  Seated: Marshall Ferrell, Gayle Pack, Melissa Wallace, Jimmy Sprague (Transportation Supervisor); Standing: Tiffany Wheatley, Bobby Taylor, Ricky Edwards, and Tony Trapp
Smithville Elementary Teachers at Heroes Luncheon: Tanya Howard, Janet Trapp, Kristy Williams, and Kelly Huling

Smithville Elementary School was the site of a community tribute Tuesday for bus drivers and staff who helped get students to safety during a bomb threat Friday.

Grateful parents, children, and community leaders greeted bus drivers, faculty and staff as they arrived at school Tuesday morning and many held signs bearing messages such as "Thank You", "You're My Heroes", and "We Love Our Bus Drivers".

The school also hosted a "Heroes Luncheon" for the bus drivers and school staff later in the day.

"Today we are celebrating the heroes at Smithville Elementary School and the bus drivers. There are parents who wanted to do a special thank you for our faculty and staff and the bus drivers for the fantastic job they did on Friday getting all the students out and to Northside. The community really came together. The ambulance workers, the firemen, the police. Everybody pitched in. It was just amazing. When you can unload a building of 570 students and almost 100 faculty and staff members in ten minutes time that's an amazing feat. We say a big thank you to everyone for all that they did," said Julie Vincent, Principal at Smithville Elementary School.

"This morning we had several parents and students here that had big signs that said "Thank You" and "We Appreciate You" for the bus drivers and the faculty and staff to see as they came in. I've had several of them really emotional and in tears for just how much that meant to them to see the parents show support for what they did and how well they took care of their children. We're very blessed to have all the faculty and staff and bus drivers that we have. It was amazing," added Vincent.

Several members of the Board of Education and Central Office Staff also attended to show their support.

A bomb threat Friday morning at Smithville Elementary forced administrators to bus the children to Northside Elementary School for the rest of the day. A search of the building on Friday and again with a dog on Saturday turned up nothing suspicious.

Twenty Nine Pounds of Unwanted Drugs Collected During Take-Back Day

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
(Pictured: Carrie Farmer, Barbara Kannapel, Kyle Farley, Susan Grey, Elisa Allen, Norene Puckett, Rita Bell, Kate Miller, Kay Quintero, Sue Conley, Steven Leffew)
 Permanent drop off box for unwanted medicines inside Smithville City Hall at the Police Department

Twenty nine pounds of unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs were collected Saturday during the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, sponsored locally by the DeKalb County Prevention Coalition.

"The Take-Back was a very huge success. We took back twenty nine pounds on that day from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.," said Norene Puckett, Vice President of the Coalition.

Although National Drug Take Back Day is officially over, local residents may continue to dispose of their old or expired drugs anytime at the permanent drop off box inside Smithville City Hall at the Police Department . "Anyone can come and utilize the drop box during normal business hours at the police department free of charge, " said Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department.

"Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital also wants citizens to know that they cannot accept any medicines there (for disposal). The medicine needs to be brought here (city hall). On the front of the (collection) box, it tells what things they are not allowed to accept," said Puckett.

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Prevention Coalition is seeking new members. "The DeKalb Prevention Coalition welcomes any citizens to join. Our coalition meets the last Tuesday every month at Haven of Hope starting at noon.

(Pictured: Carrie Farmer, Barbara Kannapel, Kyle Farley, Susan Grey, Elisa Allen, Norene Puckett, Rita Bell, Kate Miller, Kay Quintero, Sue Conley, Steven Leffew)

Rescue Squad and EMS Come to Aid of Crash Victim

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joe Johnson (Older Photo)

Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and DeKalb EMS put their training into action Monday to help an elderly woman whose automobile plunged off a steep embankment on Ford Road in the Austin Bottom Community.

"We got a call at 11:06 a.m. that a woman (Pamela Mather) had a wreck and went off the road and down a steep embankment approximately 75-100 feet," said Joe Johnson, member of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad.

"She got off the edge, backed up and went off backwards, hit a tree and spun around. She went almost straight off the embankment. It was so steep you could not walk up or down it," Johnson continued.

"When we got there, DeKalb EMS had her out of the vehicle and she was sitting on the ground beside it. The vehicle was on its wheels sitting on an incline and someone had chained it to a tree to keep it from turning on over," said Johnson.

"She wasn't badly injured but she was elderly and could not walk back up the hill under her own power. The incline was so steep we had to use ropes, winch, and a stokes basket. We placed her in the basket and brought her up to the road. We had about 12 rescue squad members and three trucks over there. It was a very successful rescue and our rope training from about two weeks ago was very helpful in handling this particular incident," Johnson said.

The crash was investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. A county deputy was also on the scene.

Judicial Commissioners Appointed

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page

Three judicial commissioners were appointed by the county commission Monday night to serve for the next year.

As recommended by the judicial committee, the county commission approved the appointment of Taft Hendrixson, James Harvey Barnes, and Tammy Ashburn. Each will serve a one year term. Hendrixson was reappointed. Barnes and Ashburn will replace Hoyte Barrett and Jerry Taylor, who were not recommended for reappointment by the judicial committee.

The county commission voted on each appointee separately. All fourteen commissioners voted for Ashburn. All but Wayne Cantrell voted for Barnes. Hendrixson's appointment was approved on a 9-5 vote. Kevin Robinson, Betty Atnip, Jeff Barnes, Joe Johnson, and Bradley Hendrix voted against him.

Other applicants for the three positions not recommended by the judicial committee were Felisha Oakley, Joan Washer, Richard Mielke, Scotty Colwell, McClure Cantrell, and Sandy Brown.

The judicial committee is made up of the General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge, Sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk, County Mayor, and a representative of the District Attorney General's Office.

Judicial commissioners are responsible for the issuance of criminal arrest warrants upon finding probable cause. They are subject to call at all hours of the day and night. Judicial commissioners serve at the pleasure of the county commission and their terms of office can be one year to four years.


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