Local News Articles

Witnesses to Burglary in Progress Help Police Make Arrest

February 28, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

Witnesses to a burglary in progress helped Smithville Police make an arrest last week.

53 year old Bobby F. Duggin was taken into custody on Friday, February 23 for aggravated burglary and he was cited for theft and vandalism. Police were called to 102 West Market Street due to a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, officers noticed a man, later identified as Duggin running across the intersection of West Webb Street and South College Street. He was being chased by another man who was a witness to the crime. The complainant and witness reported that Duggin had broken into a warehouse and stolen multiple miscellaneous items. During a subsequent investigation police learned that Duggin had used a hammer to break out two glass doors in the front and back of the building in gaining entry. Duggin’s bond is $20,000 and his court date is March 15.

27 year old Michael Joseph Lee was arrested on January 27 for aggravated assault, two counts of assault, disorderly conduct, and he was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. Police were called to a residence due to a domestic incident. Upon arrival officers spoke to the parties and determined that Lee had tried to choke the victim. During a search incident to arrest, police found a glass pipe containing a green leafy substance that appeared to be marijuana. Lee was taken to the emergency room of the hospital where he created a scene by using foul language in a loud voice in the presence of hospital staff and other patients. Officers gave repeated orders for Lee to calm down but he ignored the commands and threatened them saying having felony charges gave him more reason to “kill more of ya'll”. Lee’s bond is $43,500.

44 year old William Oscar Meadows was cited on January 27 for simple possession and having drug paraphernalia . Police were called to Pedigo's New & Used Store where a man was found passed out in his vehicle in the parking lot. After waking Meadows, officers discovered that he had a pipe and marijuana on his person.

41 year old Jonathan Dustin Payne, AKA Foust was arrested on January 29 in White County for theft of property over $2500, burglary, and attempted carjacking. According to the warrants, Payne stole a black 2000 Toyota truck parked at a Kwik N Ezy gas pump. Minutes earlier, Payne tried to take another vehicle by use of force or intimidation of the victim in the Arby's parking lot. The stolen vehicle was later recovered in White County after a law enforcement pursuit. Payne’s bond is $20,000.

Carson-Newman Coach to Speak at DCHS Baseball Chili Supper Monday

February 28, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tom Griffin

Tom Griffin, the head baseball coach at Carson-Newman College, will be the guest speaker at the annual DCHS baseball chili supper, LIVE auction, and silent auction on Monday, March 5.

The fundraising chili supper will be held at the DeKalb County Complex multi-purpose room starting at 6 p.m. Auction items are expected to include: backpack blower, trimmer, kayak, furniture items, lamb, rod & reel, Predators tickets, and pontoon boat rentals along with many more valuable items. A 50/50 drawing will also be held.

Griffin is entering his 13th season this year as head baseball coach at Carson-Newman.

He has compiled an overall record of 347-250 and a conference record of 154-139 at Carson Newman. He is 531-449-2 in 20 seasons as a college baseball coach.

Griffin has also authored an instructional catching baseball video, "Catch It, Block It, Throw It." A regular instructional speaker at various coaching clinics and camps, he has been the featured speaker at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Orlando, Florida in 2007, Anaheim, California in 2012, and Nashville, TN in 2015.

To get tickets find a DCHS baseball player or purchase tickets at the door. The cost is $8.00 for one person or $25 for a family. Please plan to attend and support Tiger Baseball.

New Pay Scales Adopted for County General Employees and Sheriff's Department Staff

February 27, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

The county commission adopted pay raises for county general employees during Monday night’s meeting according to new 13 tier wage scales. Sheriff’s department staff will get pay raises under a new six tier scale. The pay raises are retroactive to January 1, 2018.

Under the plan, employees of the offices of County Mayor, Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master will get step raises at a percentage of $68,682 per year, which is what all these public officials earn except for the county mayor. However, unlike the previous wage scale, the employees of the county mayor’s office will not be paid at a percentage of his salary going forward but on the same terms as the other employees with one exception. One employee of the county mayor’s office is already being paid above her tier on the new wage scale but she will not get another raise until she qualifies under the new plan. Also unlike the former wage scale, salaries of all employees will not automatically increase when their employer gets a raise by the state.

Under the former wage scale, employees of these offices were paid at a percentage of $65,221 except for the office of County Mayor whose employees were paid at a percentage of $75,329.

With the new scale, employees of all these offices will be paid at a percentage of $68,682 as follows:

STEP 1: 39% or $26,785:1 year of service
STEP 2: 40% or $27,472:2 years of service
STEP 3: 41% or $28,159:3 years of service
STEP 4: 42% or $28,846:4 years of service
STEP 5: 43% or $29,533: 5 years of service
STEP 6: 44% or $30,220: 6 years of service
STEP 7: 45% or $30,906: 7 years of service
STEP 8: 46% or $31,593: 8 & 9 years of service
STEP 9: 47% or $32,280: 10 & 11 years of service
STEP 10: 48% or $32,967: 12 & 13 years of service
STEP 11: 49% or $33,654: 14 to 16 years of service
STEP 12: 50% or $34,341: 17 to 19 years of service
STEP 13: 51% or $35,027: 20 or more years of service

Meanwhile the Library Director, Election Commission Administrator's Assistant, and Soil Conservation Secretary will be on the same scale (as noted above) with their salaries being a percentage of $68,682 which is what the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master earn.

Full time library employees and the Senior Citizens Director will get a percentage of $68,682 based on the following scale for them:

STEP 1: 31% or $21,291:1 year of service
STEP 2: 32% or $21,978: 2 years of service
STEP 3: 33% or $22,665: 3 years of service
STEP 4: 34% or $23,351: 4 years of service
STEP 5: 35% or $24,038: 5 years of service
STEP 6: 36% or $24,725: 6 years of service
STEP 7: 37% or $25,412: 7 years of service
STEP 8: 38% or $26,099: 8 & 9 years of service
STEP 9: 39% or $26,785: 10 & 11 years of service
STEP 10: 40% or $27,472: 12 & 13 years of service
STEP 11: 41% or $28,159: 14 to 16 years of service
STEP 12: 42% or $28,846: 17 to 19 years of service
Step 13: 43% or $29,533: 20 or more years of service

Sheriff’s department staff will get pay raises under a new six tier scale and be paid at a percentage of the sheriff’s salary of $75,550.

According to the new scale, the step raises for the sheriff’s department is as follows:

Chief Deputy (Performance Tiers)
Yearly Pay:
$50,000
$51,350
$52,736
$54,160

Detectives (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $18.56- $41,500
SECOND TIER: $19.07- $42,640
THIRD TIER: $19.61- $43,847
FOURTH TIER: $20.07- $44,876
FIFTH TIER: $20.59- $46,039
SIXTH TIER: $21.08- $47,134

Sergeants (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $18.56- $41,500
SECOND TIER: $18.84- $42,126
THIRD TIER: $19.11- $42,729
FOURTH TIER: $19.37- $43,311
FIFTH TIER: $19.66- $43,959
SIXTH TIER: $19.92- $44,541

Deputies (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $15.72- $35,149
SECOND TIER: $16.41- $36,692
THIRD TIER: $17.11- $38,257
FOURTH TIER: $17.79- $39,778
FIFTH TIER: $18.50- $41,366
SIXTH TIER: $19.17- $42,864

Correctional Officers (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $14.95- $33,428
SECOND TIER: $15.47- $34,590
THIRD TIER: $16.00- $35,776
FOURTH TIER: $16.53- $36,961
FIFTH TIER: $17.06- $38,146
SIXTH TIER: $17.58- $39,308

Cooks (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $13.18- $29,470 (39%)
SECOND TIER: $13.52- $30,230 (40%)
THIRD TIER: $13.85- $30,968 (41%)
FOURTH TIER: $14.19- $31,728 (42%)
FIFTH TIER: $14.53- $32,489 (43%)
SIXTH TIER: $14.87- $33,249 (44%)

Josh Isaac Named Director of County Complex

February 27, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Josh Isaac

Josh Isaac is the new Director of the Mike Foster Multi Purpose Center (DeKalb County Complex).

The county commission Monday night unanimously voted to accept the recommendation of the parks and recreation committee to hire Isaac.

As a county employee, he will work 40 hours a week and be paid according to the new wage scale with a starting salary of $26,785. He will have assistants working with him.

Isaac was one of twelve persons who applied for the position. Two of them later dropped out leaving ten who were interviewed for the job by the committee.

“The committee as a whole recommended Josh. He has what we felt like were the best ideas as far as going forward with things that draw people in to benefit more senior citizens, children, and everyone involved. We think he is going to do a great job," said county commissioner Jonathan Norris and member of the parks and recreation committee.

Isaac comes to the complex from DeKalb Middle School where he served as a teacher’s assistant. He also produces plays and works with youth.

“Please keep me in your prayers as I start this new journey. I am excited to get in there and make a difference and change the culture of DeKalb in a whole new way. I have some great ideas and I am asking for your support and readiness to try new things. I truly believe we can make the Complex THE place to go for everything. Give me a couple months to get everything started and come by and see me and share your ideas any time,” said Isaac on his Facebook post.

Job responsibilities of the director are as follows:

*Overseeing all daily activities, finance and scheduling

*Preparing yearly budget

*Making daily deposits

*Coordinating activities for the county complex

*Booking & renting rooms

*Planning activities for all ages

*Keeping records for complex (attendance, finance)

*Supervising games, events, activities, etc.

*Being responsible for inventory of property

*Working irregular hours, including nights and weekends

*Being responsible for booking classes and getting volunteers to assist with programs

*Scheduling and overseeing employees and volunteers to assist with programs

*Possess solid computer and people skills

*Be willing to attend training for First Aid, CPR, and perhaps First Responder Classes

The county complex is open 12 hours a day, six days per week.

Director of Schools Admonishes Community To Help Ensure Safety of Students

February 27, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

In light of recent rumors of social media threats against local schools and now a teen having been charged in a juvenile petition with making a social media threat toward a teacher, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has issued the following statement to students, families, employees, and citizens of DeKalb County to help ease concerns.

“The DeKalb County School System would like to remind all families of DeKalb County that the safety of our students is of the utmost concern and we are asking for your help to ensure all students remain safe.

We know that emotions are running high and any rumor about potential violence can be of great concern for parents and students. While we expect students to report any threats they may hear about, please remind your children that repeating rumors to their classmates that are unverified does nothing but create unnecessary panic and stress. Any and all concerns about possible threats should be reported to an adult, and not shared between students. Sharing of unfounded threats continues to create a great deal of anxiety among students and parents.

Please know the safety of our students and staff members is our top priority. We will continue to investigate any reports that are made and will keep our local law enforcement agencies involved as well. If any threat is deemed credible at any time, we will immediately take action to protect our students and staff members. DeKalb County schools, along with other districts in Tennessee and across the country, are being inundated with reports of potential safety concerns. As we move through this time of heightened concern and distress with regard to school safety, it is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of students, staff and their families in every school in the country want their schools to be safe places where teaching and learning take place. We call upon every person in DeKalb County to help our students feel safe and cared for by reporting concerns promptly, not sharing misinformation, and by taking the time to build supportive relationships with one another.

Thank you for trusting us to keep your students safe,” wrote Director Cripps.

(CLICK LINK BELOW FOR COMMUNITY CALENDAR, CHURCH NEWS, CLASSIFIEDS AND MORE)
http://www.wjle.com/community

County Commissioner Resigns After EMS Employees Left Out of Pay Raise Plan (VIEW VIDEO OF MEETING HERE)

February 27, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
2nd District County Commissioner Joe Johnson Resigns

The County Commission Monday night voted to ante up more money to give county general and sheriff’s department employees pay raises retroactive to January 1 but a proposal to increase pay for EMS staff under a plan proposed by Second District Commissioner Joe Johnson was not approved although it may be considered again soon.

Upset by the move, Johnson resigned from the commission in protest saying he was ashamed of the body’s actions and no longer wanted to be part of this group.

Near the end of the meeting, Johnson passed his resignation letter to County Mayor Tim Stribling and asked him to read it to the commission.

(VIEW VIDEO OF COUNTY COMMISSION MEETING HERE)

M2U02656 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

"I am writing this letter to inform you (County Mayor and County Commission) that I am resigning my position as County Commissioner, 2nd District.

I feel that I am not as effective as I should be in my duties as a commissioner. The decision was not an easy one to make. My work to make the pay equal in all departments has failed.

I feel the commission does not realize how important it is to treat all the employees the same.

I do not want to be a part of a commission that raises some departments and ignores others.

As of March 1, 2018, I resign as a County Commissioner," the letter concluded.

Johnson said the ambulance service has lost several employees within the last year and will lose more if they are not paid more.

“There are sixteen full time positions with the ambulance service. In 2017, twenty people quit to go to other counties for more money. Ten of those are paramedics. Today I had three paramedics to tell me after tonight they will be resigning unless they get a raise. We are losing our ambulance service,” said Johnson.

Had the entire proposal been approved as presented for the sheriff’s department staff, EMS, and county general employees), it would have added to the budget $269,792 dollars in new spending ($76,023 of that for the ambulance service) for the six month period from January 1 through June 30 this year possibly forcing the county to spend up to $894,000 of its $4 million general fund cash reserves (fund balance) although County Mayor Tim Stribling said he thought it might not be that much. “I don’t think we will go into the fund balance that much but we will more than we have in the last few years. We had budgeted for 2016-17 going into cash $554,441 but we didn’t go into cash by that much. We actually went into cash by $127, 427 which left a fund balance of $4,078,531,” said Stribling.

Third District Commissioner Jack Barton made a motion to move forward with the proposals for county general and sheriff’s department employees and to re-evaluate the pay of ambulance service staff for the 2018-19 budget. “I would like to do a more indepth analysis of the emergency services. The EMS is deserving of a raise as well but I want to try and make sure that we are competitive with all the counties we’ve compared against and that we are making the best financial decision,” said Barton.

Fifth District Commissioner Jerry Adcock offered a second to Barton’s motion.

Fifth District Commissioner Anita Puckett then moved to table Barton’s motion “so we can have more time to reappraise all this and maybe have a special called meeting to discuss this. First and foremost we don’t have any proposals on how we are going to pay for these salary increases but I know that it may be a tax increase and that’s going to be huge. I just feel like we all need some more time to absorb this and look at all our different options and if we decide to pass it next month we can go ahead and allow them to have their pay increases from January, February, and March. But definitely we need more discussion,” said Puckett.

First District Commissioner Julie Young seconded Puckett’s motion to table.

Before the vote, Sheriff Patrick Ray urged the commission not to delay on raises for his employees because they haven’t had one in four years. Although the county commission last July voted to freeze wages of all county general employees until at least January due to budget concerns, raises had already been given two years ago under a new wage scale to other county employees as well as a 4% raise to EMS staff.

“Eight months ago we passed a budget and the sheriff’s department was up for a pay increase for employees. We brought some figures over here to give to the budget committee but the budget committee wasn’t for sure at that time how we were going to come out of last year’s budget so they asked all the county employees including the raises we were up for to be put off until January to be able to see how the year ended whether we were in the plus or minus and if we could afford the raises. We got to January and began talking with the budget committee and we got put off until February and that’s how we wound up here tonight. While we have waited at the sheriff’s department for a year and eight months for my employees’ raises, everyone else has still been getting their raises. The county’s secretaries have been getting them. The directors at those places have been getting them while my employees have been waiting. If we set and wait another month or wait until the next budget year then we’re that much further behind,” he said.

Sheriff Ray said his department has also lost employees within the last year for better pay elsewhere.

“I went back to July 1 of this last year and since then I have lost nine employees with probably 50 plus years of experience. I had a Chief Deputy to leave because of money and that was the only reason he left. He got offered a better job. Some of the other directors were getting $6,600 more a year than what my Chief Deputy was making. I also have sixteen correctional officers, three secretaries, two litter guards, a cook, and all the deputies and they were making below him. We’re way behind on what we should be making. The county also takes 5% of their checks which goes to retirement. And if they have insurance, the insurance offered by the county is usually higher than what they can get through a private insurance company. All those things put together makes a hardship to work at the sheriff’s department,” he said.

After hearing from Sheriff Ray, Commissioner Young rescinded her second to Puckett’s motion to table. However Fourth District Commissioner Jonathan Norris moved to second the motion “for one month only because I want to make sure that everybody gets the raises that need to and that we can fund it properly and not put ourselves in too much jeopardy in doing so,” said Norris.

Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip then moved to amend the motion to table by voting only on the sheriff’s department raises and to table the others for 30 days. Third District member Bradley Hendrix offered a second to Atnip’s motion.

Atnip’s motion failed on a 9-5 vote. Those voting in favor were Betty Atnip, Anita Puckett, Bradley Hendrix, Jerry Adcock, and Julie Young. Voting no were Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Jonathan Norris, Jack Barton, and Mason Carter.

A vote was then taken on Puckett’s motion to table the salary increases for one month and it failed 10-4. Those voting in favor were Betty Atnip, Anita Puckett, Jonathan Norris and Julie Young. Voting no were Jerry Adcock, Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Bradley Hendrix, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Jack Barton, and Mason Carter.

Commissioner Young then seconded Barton’s original motion to move forward in funding the raises for the county general employees and the sheriff’s department and to further study EMS salaries.

Commissioner Johnson moved to amend Barton’s motion and approve raises for employees in all three departments, county general, sheriff’s department, and EMS. Second District Commissioner Jimmy Midgett seconded the motion.

Johnson’s motion failed on a 7-6-1 vote.

Those voting in favor were Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Bradley Hendrix, Kevin Robinson, and Mason Carter.

Voting no were Wayne Cantrell, Jerry Adcock, Larry Summers, Betty Atnip, Jonathan Norris, Anita Puckett, and Jack Barton. Julie Young abstained.

A vote followed on Barton’s motion to move forward in funding the raises for the county general employees and the sheriff’s department and to further study EMS salaries. The motion was adopted on an 11 to 3 vote.

Those voting in favor were Betty Atnip, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, Bradley Hendrix, Julie Young, Jeff Barnes, Wayne Cantrell, Jonathan Norris, Kevin Robinson, Anita Puckett, and Jack Barton.

Voting no were Jimmy Midgett, Joe Johnson, and Mason Carter.

Following the final vote, Commissioner Norris asked that a special meeting be scheduled soon to discuss addressing EMS wages.

Student Charged with Making Social Media Threat Toward Teacher

February 26, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

A 13 year old juvenile, who is a student at DeKalb County Middle School, has been charged with a delinquent act of making threats toward a Middle School teacher. A juvenile petition was taken against the teen on Monday, February 26.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the juvenile made the threat on social media to another person about pointing a weapon at a teacher earlier this month.

“Due to Friday’s school threat, the school staff at DeKalb Middle School spoke to students and advised them everyone was ok, but if they ever heard a rumor or knew about someone who was going to do harm to the school, to tell someone,” said Sheriff Ray.

“A student told school staff about the threat toward the teacher today (Monday),” he said.

The school staff then advised the School Resource Officer, who then contacted Sheriff Ray.

“I contacted Detectives with my department who started an investigation. During interviews and after obtaining social media messages, Detectives were able to determine the student did make the threats,” Sheriff Ray continued.

According to Sheriff Ray this incident is totally unrelated to the unfounded rumors of social media threats made against the high school which surfaced late last week.

The juvenile is currently being held in the Putnam County Juvenile Detention Center.

Sheriff Ray says “I am very proud of the student who reported this incident to the school staff. It took a lot of courage for them to tell someone. I, along with my Department, are committed to ensuring that all students and school staff are safe. Any threats of this kind will not be tolerated. I ask all parents to talk with their children about these kinds of threats and to monitor their child’s social media conversations. If a threat is discovered, please report it to law enforcement immediately. I also encourage all students to talk with the School Resource Officer or school staff about any threat they hear,” he concluded.

Johnson Injured in Wreck near Tractor Supply

February 26, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
 2007 Chevy Coba driven by Billie D. Johnson
2006 Kia Optima driven by Lois Page
2006 Kia Optima Comes to Rest on Farm Equipment (Bush Hog Mowers) at Tractor Supply after crash

One person was injured in a two vehicle crash Thursday on West Broad Street at Tractor Supply.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department said 68 year old Lois Page, driving a 2006 Kia Optima, was crossing Broad Street from Dry Creek Road to Tramel Lane as 37 year old Billie D. Johnson was traveling west on Broad Street in a 2007 Chevy Coba. After impact Page’s car came to rest on top of farm equipment in the parking lot of Tractor Supply.

Johnson was taken by DeKalb EMS to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital. Page was not transported.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene to render assistance.

Alexandria Man Answers to Burglary Charge

February 26, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Barry Wayne Lewis, Jr.

An Alexandria man arrested for breaking into an outbuilding and stealing a chainsaw and hedge trimmers in November appeared for sentencing Friday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

20 year old Barry Wayne Lewis, Jr. of Liberty Hill Road, Alexandria entered a plea by criminal information to one count of burglary. He was originally charged with burglary, aggravated criminal trespassing, and theft of property under $1,000. Lewis received a three year sentence on TDOC probation subject to judicial diversion. He must make restitution of $30 to the victim and he is under a restraining order to keep away from the victim and his property. He must also make restitution of $100 to Quick Cash Pawn in Lebanon.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday November 26 Lewis broke into an outbuilding on Coon Branch Road and took a Stihl MS 180C chainsaw and a set of hedge trimmers valued at $330.

Lewis illegally came onto the grounds to commit the crimes while being under an active restraining order to keep off the property.

The case was investigated by a detective.

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