Local News Articles

Trial Date Reset for June in Case Against UCDD Defendants

February 6, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Wendy Askins

The trial date of former UCDD officials Wendy Askins, Larry Webb, and Mike Foster has been reset for June 3 in U.S. District Court in Nashville.

The trial was originally scheduled for May 20 but U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled on January 22 in favor of a motion filed by Askins for a continuance. Askins sought the delay because her daughter is getting married in May. Webb joined Askins in the request but Foster opposed the continuance. Foster wants his case dismissed or at least tried separately from Askins and Webb.

Meanwhile, Judge Trauger granted a request by Webb on January 29 for an extension of time in which all the defendants may file pre-trial motions. The new deadline is March 14. Government prosecutors in the case have until April 4 to respond to all pre-trial motions.

But to clear up any confusion, Scarlett S. Nokes, Assistant U.S. Attorney, has filed a motion seeking a clarification of the court's ruling since the judge had previously granted a 30 day extension for filing responses to Foster's motions up until February 10.

If the judge holds to the February 10 deadline, Nokes is seeking a nine day extension for filing responses to Foster's motions through February 19.

In her motion for clarification, Nokes wrote that "The government is seeking clarification of whether the responses to Fosters motions are due on April 4 or February 10, in accordance with the court's previous order of January 13, granting the government's motion for extension."

In the event that the government's responses are due by February 10, Nokes is seeking an additional nine days to respond to Foster's motions to dismiss, for a bill of particulars, for a severance, and for early disclosure and production of material. If the request for a nine day extension is granted, the government's responses will be due on or before February 19. In the alternative, if the responses are not due until April 4, the government has spoken to Foster's counsel and has agreed to file responses to the pending motions no later than February 19.

"The responses to Foster's motions, which raise several legal issues, require thorough responses and will take additional time to research in order to fully address the issues raised in the motions. However, the government does not anticipate needing any extensions beyond February 19", wrote Nokes.

Hal Hardin, the attorney for Foster filed a motion in December asking the federal court to dismiss the case against the county mayor alleging that the former UCDD Chairman made false statements to the agency's board of directors relating to the Living the Dream facility, a home for seniors in Putnam County.

In his motion to dismiss, Hardin claims that "Mr. Foster is entitled to dismissal of the charge because the "statements" he made are ambiguous to such an extent that they cannot be prosecuted as a crime".

Hardin has also filed a motion for a "Bill of Particulars" seeking specificity of the charge against Foster, and a motion for "Severance" claiming that Foster would be prejudiced by a joint trial with his co-defendants Wendy Askins and Larry Webb

At the December 10, 2013 status conference, the court established pretrial deadlines. The court ordered a deadline for the government's responses to Foster's pretrial motions to be January 10, 2014. But a 30 day extension was granted after prosecutors requested more time to respond.

Two Weeks Left for Candidates to Qualify for Local Elections

February 5, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

With two weeks left before the February 20th qualifying deadline, the DeKalb County Election Commission has released an updated list of candidates who plan to seek election to local public offices this year.

All Democrats named below have picked up petitions for the May 6th Primary. Several have not yet filed them with the election commission. Republicans listed below have been nominated by their party to run in the August 7th County General Election. Names of Independents will also appear on the August ballot. Again, the qualifying deadline for Democrats and Independents is NOON February, 20th. School Board candidates have until NOON April 3 to qualify for the August 7th election. The Dowelltown and Smithville Municipal Elections will also be held on August 7th. A mayor and two aldermen will be elected in Smithville. Dowelltown voters will elect three aldermen. The qualifying deadline for those elections is NOON April 3.

SHERIFF:
Michael J. Agee (Democrat) has filed his petition and is certified by POST to run in May 6th Primary
Larry Flair, Sr. (Democrat) has filed his petition and is certified by POST for May 6th Primary
Patrick Ray (Republican Nominee) and certified by Post for August General Election

COUNTY MAYOR:
Mike Foster (Democrat) has been issued a petition for May 6th Primary
Tim Stribling (Democrat) has been issued a petition for May 6th Primary
Chris Bratcher, II (Independent) has been issued a petition for August General Election
Chris Smithson (Republican Nominee) for August General Election

COUNTY CLERK:
Michael Clayborn (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
James L. (Jimmy) Poss (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Daniel Critser (Independent) has been issued a petition for the August General Election

GENERAL SESSIONS JUDGE:
Bratten H. Cook, II (Democrat) has filed his petition for May 6th Primary
Margie Miller (Democrat) has filed her petition for May 6th Primary
Mingy Bryant (Republican Nominee) for August General Election

ROAD SUPERVISOR:
James (Jimmy) Sprague (Democrat) has filed his petition for May 6th Primary
Shane Walker (Democrat) has been issued a petition but will NOT be a candidate
Butch Agee (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

CIRCUIT COURT CLERK:
Katherine Pack (Democrat) has filed her petition for the May 6th Primary

REGISTER OF DEEDS:
Jeffrey McMillen (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary

TRUSTEE:
Sean Driver (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

COUNTY COMMISSIONER (TWO TO BE NOMINATED/ELECTED FROM EACH DISTRICT)

FIRST DISTRICT:
Bennett Armstrong (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary
Kenneth Clayborn (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary
Elmer Lee Ellis (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Mason Carter (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

SECOND DISTRICT:
Jerry Hutchins, Jr. (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Clarence Trapp (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Bobby Joines (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election
Jimmy Midgett (Independent) has been issued a petition for August General Election

THIRD DISTRICT:
Jack Barton (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary
Bradley Hendrix (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Jerry Scott (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary

FOURTH DISTRICT:
Charles Wayne Cantrell (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
David L. McDowell (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Bobby R. Taylor (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Jonathan Norris (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Anthony (Tony) Poss (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary

FIFTH DISTRICT:
Anita Puckett (Democrat) has filed a petition for the May 6th Primary
Rick Cantrell (Democrat) has filed a petition for the May 6th Primary
Jerry Adcock (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

SIXTH DISTRICT:
Betty Jean Atnip (Democrat) has filed her petition for the May 6th Primary
Jeffery Barnes (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Marshall Ferrell (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Danny L. McGinnis (Independent) has filed his petition for the August General Election

SEVENTH DISTRICT:
Larry Summers (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Kevin E. Robinson (Democrat) has filed a petition for the May 6th Primary

CONSTABLE (TO FILL VACANT POSITIONS)

FIRST DISTRICT:
Benjamin C. Curtis (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary
Lee Plummer (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

SECOND DISTRICT:
Chris Tramel (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election
Tony D. Lawson (Independent) has filed his petition for the August General Election
Jonathan Low (Independent) has filed his petition for the August General Election

THIRD DISTRICT:
Travis Bryant (Independent) has been issued a petition for the August General Election
Lou Ann Sanders (Independent) has been issued a petition for the August General Election

SCHOOL BOARD (ALL CANDIDATES RUN AS INDEPENDENTS OR NON-PARTISAN)

FIRST DISTRICT:
Matthew Boss has filed a petition
Danny Parkerson has been issued a petition

SECOND DISTRICT:
Charles Robinson has been issued a petition

THIRD DISTRICT:
Kenny Rhody has been issued a petition
Jonathan Willoughby has been issued a petition

SEVENTH DISTRICT:
Johnny Lattimore has been issued a petition

STATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WOMAN DISTRICT 17
Jennifer Winfree (Republican) in the State Primary in August

SMITHVILLE MUNICIPAL ELECTION:
Gayla Hendrix has been issued a petition for Alderman

DOWELLTOWN MUNICIPAL ELECTION:
Ronald Griffith has been issued a petition for Alderman
Keith Farler has been issued a petition for Alderman
Brad Driver has been issued a petition for Alderman

STATE REPRESENTATIVE 40TH DISTRICT:
Krista Eickmann has been issued a petition as an Independent in the State General Election in November

New WJLE Swap & Shop Program Begins Monday

February 5, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
WJLE's Dale Carroll to host new Swap & Shop program

WJLE is changing our radio classifieds program called "Listener's Exchange".

Beginning Monday, February, 10 listeners may call the ALL NEW "WJLE SWAP & SHOP" in a NEW TIME from 9:05 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. to report "FOR SALE", WANTS TO BUY", "FOR RENT", "LOST AND FOUND" and "TO GIVE AWAY" items for FREE!

WJLE's Dale Carroll will take your call at 615-597-4265. You may make your announcements LIVE on the air each weekday, Monday through Friday from 9:05 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Tune in for the ALL NEW "SWAP & SHOP" starting Monday, February 10 on WJLE.

DUD and City Officials Still Blaming Each Other For Water Rate Increases

February 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

Many DeKalb Utility District customers are not happy with the big rate increases in their water bills this month and a lot of them are blaming the City of Smithville

City officials claim the DUD is directing any complaints they get to the city. But while the city did increase rates to the DUD by $2.95 per thousand gallons effective January 1st, the DUD raised rates to its own customers by $4.30 per thousand gallons.

"We had quite a few calls last week from DUD customers. They were told to call city hall if they had any questions on their rate. I explained to several of them that the City of Smithville does not dictate the rates of DUD customers," said Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson during Monday night's monthly city council meeting.

"Just to clarify, we do not set their (DUD customers) rates," added Alderman Danny Washer.

"We went up $2.95 per thousand gallons and they went up $4.30 per thousand gallons to their customers. If anybody (DUD customer) wants to question their increase they'll have to go to DUD," said Hendrixson.

The DUD board typically meets on the first Thursday of the month at 3:00 p.m. at their office in Smithville.

Meanwhile, city officials extended an invitation for DUD board members to attend last night's city council meeting to discuss their concerns about the new DUD water rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons but neither of the board members could make it.

In a reply to the invitation, DUD officials said they were unable to attend. "I sent a letter last week to the Board of DeKalb Utility District to meet with us if they wanted to discuss or address the board on their water rate increase that the city gave after the contract expired December 31. I got a letter today thanking us for the invitation. However they regret to inform that their board or officials will not be able to attend tonight's meeting", said Hendrixson.

"I guess they are not that concerned about the rate hike, I don't know. However they (DUD officials) have yet to personally come before the board and address their rate hike that they have been very public about," added Hendrixson.

In a letter to subscribers Tuesday, January 14, Board of Directors and Management of the DeKalb Utility District announced that rates to customers who receive water purchased by the DUD from the city would be increased by 42% or $4.30 per thousand gallons effective with the January billing.

DUD officials said the increase was necessary to help offset the 144% rate increase the City imposed on the DUD effective January 1.

Meanwhile, as the city and DUD await a Chancellor's ruling on a judicial review of last April's decision by the state's Utility Management Review Board, city officials point out that DUD ratepayers could petition the UMRB for an ouster proceeding against DUD board members if they believe they have been wronged by the DUD's decision to build a water treatment facility.

In a court brief defending the UMRB's ruling to dismiss the petitioner's complaint against the DUD, Deputy Attorney General Scott Jackson with the Tennessee Attorney General's Office wrote that their course of action was not the proper remedy."The Utility District Law of 1937 provides an express remedy in instances when ratepayers believe a utility district has acted improperly and they want a determination that the district has acted "wrongly". Under Tennessee Code Annotated (the Ouster Provision), ratepayers may petition the UMRB to remove board members in the event they believe that board of commissioners engaged in misconduct or failed to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the customers in the operation, or oversight of the district. Such a petition requires 20% of the customers of a district to request a removal. Thus, if the ratepayers truly believe the DUD acted "wrongly" as claimed here by the ratepayers in their petition, the proper recourse is a hearing under the Ouster Provision."

"Further, the Utility District Law of 1937 expressly provides that a utility may be sued. If the ratepayers truly believe that a public utility has taken action against their best interest, they can also file a lawsuit against the utility district in the appropriate court".

Last April, the Utility Management Review Board held a hearing in Smithville to review the rates to customers charged by the DeKalb Utility District at that time and rates to be charged associated with the construction of a new water treatment plant. Ratepayers and the City of Smithville, referred to as the petitioners, also wanted the UMRB to block the DUD's decision to build a water treatment plant. DUD officials contend it is in the best interest for DUD to have its own water plant and that the result would be lower rates to DUD customers over a period of time.

The UMRB, at the April hearing, found DUD's rates at the time to be reasonable and refused to intervene in DUD's business decision to build the water plant. By not reviewing "services provided" as well as "rates charged" as requested, the petitioners contend that the UMRB violated statutory provisions and or followed an illegal procedure in arriving at its decision. Attorneys for the UMRB and DUD said the Utility Management Review Board had no authority to stop the water plant project nor to force the DUD into a contractual relationship with the city.

The petitioners later filed an appeal to the Davidson County Chancery Court for a judicial review of the UMRB's decision, hoping to win a reversal. Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle held a hearing last week in Nashville with all the parties involved and said she would issue her decision within thirty days.

Attorneys for the DUD and the State Attorney General's Office for the UMRB essentially make the same arguments for the UMRB's decision to be upheld.

DUD's attorney Dewey Branstetter, Jr. wrote in his court brief that "The UMRB correctly dismissed the petition created through the efforts of the City of Smithville and filed by the Ratepayers of the DeKalb Utility District. The petitioners have not and cannot meet the burden required for this court to overturn the decision of the UMRB, to remand this case back to the UMRB, or to do anything except affirm the UMRB Order."

"The UMRB correctly decided to limit its review to the rates charged by the DUD and not to examine the business decision of the DUD to construct its own water treatment plant. While there was significant testimony about the water treatment plant, and even though the proof was overwhelming that the decision by the DUD to build its own plant was in the best interest of the customers of the DUD, the UMRB correctly decided that it was not its duty to examine that decision."

The petitioners also contend that the UMRB failed to consider the capital expenditures associated with the new water treatment plant and how that would affect future rates. The UMRB's ruling that DUD rates were reasonable was not supported by the material evidence presented at the hearing, according to the Petitioners.

In his court brief, Branstetter wrote that "the decision of the UMRB was supported by material evidence in the record. The transcript from the hearing and the exhibits introduced at the hearing show that the rates charged by the DUD are reasonable and that the rates proposed to be charged if the water treatment plant is built will also be reasonable. There was no proof introduced by the petitioners that would support a decision that the rates of DUD are not reasonable,"

Lastly, the petitioners argue that the UMRB did not conduct an "Open Hearing" to allow anyone an opportunity to speak and that the case should be remanded to the UMRB to hold another hearing to consider testimony and opinions of the ratepayers that desire to give public comment as part of the proceedings. Although the forum was open for the public to attend, it was conducted like a court hearing, with witnesses called to testify and be cross examined.

Branstetter wrote that this argument by the Petitioners is also without merit. "The UMRB proceeding was a contested case hearing under the Uniform Rules of Procedure for Hearing Contested Cases before State Administrative Agencies. It was not an open hearing under the Rules of the Comptroller of the Treasury for the Utility Management Review Board. As such, the Petitioners cannot legitimately argue that because the UMRB didn't have "open microphone night" that the case should be remanded back to the UMRB for unfettered public comment."

In the brief, Branstetter wrote that the ratepayers and the City of Smithville were represented by counsel. If their counsel had chosen to call any additional ratepayers to testify, they certainly had the right to do so. Any of the ratepayers in attendance who desired to give testimony could have been called by the counsel representing their interest, but the Petitioners failed to even attempt to call any ratepayer witnesses other than the two designate representatives, Randy Rhody and Hunter Hendrixson. The Petitioners should not now be allowed to complain that they were not given an opportunity to have an open forum when their counsel had the full ability to call any witnesses they so desired. If counsel for the Petitioners failed to call any witnesses and now assert that they were somehow prejudiced by not doing so, then it is their own fault for not calling other individuals to testify".

Walker May be Denied Bid For Road Supervisor

February 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shane Walker

One man who had publicly announced hopes of becoming the next DeKalb County Road Supervisor may not get that opportunity this year.

The Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board has denied the application of Adam Shane Walker, who had planned to run for the Democratic nomination in the May 6th primary. Walker recently picked up a petition from the election commission office but has not yet returned it.
Meanwhile, Eddie Wayne Cook has also been denied certification by the state. Cook has not formally announced plans to run for Road Supervisor and has not picked up a petition from the election commission. Both Walker and Cook submitted their applications in January. Betty Jean Atnip submitted an application in October but later decided instead that she would make a run for the county commission in the sixth district. The state board did not deny Atnip certification but said they needed more information from her.

The Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board has approved the applications of James Douglas "Jimmy" Sprague and Wallace Mitchell "Butch" Agee to run for Road Supervisor this year.

Blake Fontenay, Director of Communications for the State Comptroller's Office, told WJLE Friday that "Neither Walker nor Cook clearly demonstrated in their applications that they met the statutory requirements".

Walker and Cook have until Thursday, February 6th to submit any additional facts if they want the board to take another look at their applications. "At this point I want it to work out and I've made some calls to see if there is any way I can send in an addendum for them to look at. I feel like I have the qualifications and I have had so many people that really want me to fight it but at this point I don't know what I can do," said Walker in an interview with WJLE Monday.

In announcing his candidacy at the local Democratic Mass Meeting on January 25, Walker mentioned his experience in the construction industry, his education in the study of engineering, and his certification as a bridge inspector. "Over the past 25 years, I've worked my way up through the ranks from laborer to the position of foreman. I have supervised numerous people in various jobs over the years. In 2009, I was laid off. I decided to further my education at Nashville State Community College, where I studied engineering. In 2010, I went to work with OCCI on the Hurricane Bridge project. I wanted to get more knowledge of bridge work. I took classes recommended by TDOT and obtained various certifications which opened the door for me to become an inspector for our state roads and bridges. I am currently a bridge inspector for an engineering consulting firm hired by the state to engineer bridges in Tennessee," he said.

In denying his application, Walker said the Tennessee Highway Officials Board found his qualifications lacking. "They tell me my four years experience as a supervisor is not there. I don't have the four years in highway maintenance. My supervisory skills was from a previous career I had in commercial and industry construction and heating and cooling but they said that wasn't enough for them. I also didn't know that Nashville State Community College was not an accredited engineering college for the year that I went there so they don't recognize it. The engineering I did was in electrical engineering for the job I was doing in my previous career. It was just a beginning of engineering. It wasn't a degree, it was just the first beginning year of college," he said.

With his background and experience, Walker contends that he is more than capable of carrying out the responsibilities of Road Supervisor. " I can lead people. As far as doing the maintenance job on these county roads and bridges, I have no problem with keeping the people (employees) busy and making sure that the money is being directed where it needs to be spent," he said.

In order to be certified, a candidate for county road supervisor must:

(1) Be a graduate of an accredited school of engineering, with at least 2 years’ experience in highway construction or maintenance; or

(2) Be licensed to practice engineering in Tennessee; or

(3) Have at least 4 years’ experience in a supervisory capacity in highway construction or maintenance; or

(4) Have a combination of education and experience equivalent to either (1) or (2).

The qualifying deadline with the election commission is February 20. For Road Supervisor candidates, the statutory deadline for filing with the Tennessee Highways Officials Certification Board is February 6th.

City Alderman Seeks Enforcement of Beer Ordinance Concerning In-Store Advertisements

February 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shawn Jacobs

Smithville stores licensed to sell beer are prohibited from displaying in-store advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages in a manner that can be seen from outside.

The regulation is specified in the city's beer ordinance.

Due to public complaints that at least one or more stores may be in violation, Alderman Shawn Jacobs Monday night during the city council meeting requested that the ordinance be enforced. "Mr. Miller, Mr. Stribling, and I have all been contacted by several residents about a number of businesses that sell beer where you can see the advertisements of the beer signs from the road," he said.

According to the beer ordinance, "It shall be unlawful for any beer permit holder to advertise within the business establishment in any manner visible from off the premises of said establishment the price or location of beer on the premises of the establishment"

"My interpretation of this and the way this has been explained to me is that you should not be able from the road to be able to see the sign advertising the beer. I know that is the way the city has enforced this in times past," said Alderman Jacobs.

The ordinance goes on to state that "Whenever any permit holder shall be deemed by the Smithville Beer Board to have violated any of the provisions of this ordinance, that permit holder shall be notified by certified, return-receipt mail. This notice shall set forth the allegations against the permit holder and shall inform the permit holder of the date, time, and place of the meeting where said violations will be adjudicated by the Smithville Beer Board".

Alderman Jacobs said it's not fair to the businesses who comply with the law when others don't. "I've had a number of people approach me about this. It is the law and I think it needs to be enforced. In addition to that, when one business violates it and another business is in compliance, you're not being fair to all the businesses. I just wonder what action the city should take in enforcing this," he said.

City attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said the ordinance is vague as to enforcement provisions but he would do more research and have a better answer by next month's meeting. " The mayor and I talked a little bit about this recently. We would like to look at it from the angle of working with the police chief and City Building Codes Inspector Mr. (Eugene) O'Neil in how to properly enforce the ordinance. It's a little vague as to how to enforce it properly. We will be working on that before the next meeting and maybe have a little better answer for you hopefully," said Parsley.

Alderman Jason Murphy asked if more than one business is in violation. "Is this one business or is it several that are doing it," he asked.

"I have only noticed one business but I have had calls from people who have said there are more than one in town in violation," answered Alderman Jacobs. "This is not a horse I am riding. It's just that it is the law and it should be enforced. My concern is that it is enforced equally. That all businesses are treated fairly. If we allow one business to violate it and another business is in compliance, that's not fair. As long as it is on the books, it behooves the city to enforce its ordinance," Alderman Jacobs concluded.

Body Found, No Foul Play Suspected

February 3, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Brandon Lee Atnip
Bianca Lynn Tollison
Sandra Lee Atnip
Neil Bernard Keenan
Amanda Brooke Washer
Jonathan Dewayne Barnes
Scotty Randall Hendrixson

The body of a woman was found Monday morning outdoors in the area of a trailer park on South Judkins Lane in the Jefferson Community.

Although Sheriff Patrick Ray would not confirm it, sources said the woman is believed to be Vickey Judkins.

The body has been sent to Nashville for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death but Sheriff Ray said it doesn't appear that the woman met with any foul play.

"The sheriff's department received the call at 9:24 a.m. to go to South Judkins Lane where a female was found unresponsive. We got there and did an investigation. We called for TBI to assist us. They have assisted us today. We are sending the body to Nashville for an autopsy but pending an answer from the medical examiner, there appears to be no foul play at this time," said Sheriff Ray.

Meanwhile, three more persons have been arrested on grand jury sealed indictments from the sheriff's department's recent undercover drug investigation. They were all arrested on Saturday, February 1.

21 year old Brandon Lee Atnip of Dennis McGuiness Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II and III drug (Opana) and (Hydrocodone). His bond is $50,000 and he will be arraigned in court February 21.

19 year old Bianca Lynn Tollison of Dennis McGuiness Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone). Her bond is $20,000 and she will be arraigned in court on February 21.

48 year old Sandra Lee Atnip of Capshaw Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Opana) and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Roxycodone). Her bond is $60,000 and she will be arraigned in court on February 21.

57 year old Neil Bernard Keenan of West Main Street Dowelltown is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of probation. His bond is $2,500. He will be in court February 6 on the drug charge and February 21 for the violation of probation. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 27 a deputy went to Keenan's residence on West Main Street in Dowelltown to serve a violation of probation warrant on him for a DUI. Upon speaking with Keenan at the front door of the residence, the officer noticed a marijuana pipe and several empty beer cans on a table inside the home which was accessible to children. While the officer was walking him to the patrol car, Keenan received a phone call reminding him that his three year old grandson that he was babysitting was still in the house. Keenan said he had forgotten the child was there. Keenan was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

26 year old Amanda Brooke Washer of McMinnville Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. She was also issued a citation for a violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), failure to maintain her lane of travel, and violation of the implied consent law. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on February 12. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, January 28 a deputy spotted Washer operating a motor vehicle on Nashville Highway weaving from her lane of travel into the oncoming lane, heading east bound. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with Washer. He noticed that her speech was slurred. Her eyes were bloodshot and she had a white powdery substance under her nose. Washer submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Washer could not produce a valid license and she refused to submit to a blood test. She was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

29 year old Jonathan Dewayne Barnes of Judkins Lane, Smithville is charged with a fifth offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $7,500 and he will be in court February 19. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, January 30 a deputy saw Barnes operating a motor vehicle on North Congress Boulevard. The officer had prior knowledge that Barnes' license are suspended. After stopping the vehicle, the deputy asked for a computer check which confirmed that Barnes has three previous driving on suspended license offenses against him. The county court system further confirmed that Barnes pled guilty on January 23 to a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license. Barnes was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

29 year old Scotty Randall Hendrixson of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville is charged with violation of probation, failure to appear, and resisting stop or arrest. He was arrested on Friday, January 31. Sheriff Ray said that on July 30, 2012, Hendrixson was supposed to have reported to the DeKalb County Jail to serve the balance of two-eleven month and twenty nine day sentences. Hendrixson failed to report. On January 31, a deputy saw Hendrixson enter a local market. The officer had prior knowledge of active warrants against Hendrixson. As the officer approached, Hendrixson backed himself into a closet. When the door was opened, Hendrixson had to be forcibly removed from the closet. Hendrixson is under a $4,000 bond on the failure to appear and the resisting stop or arrest charges. He is being held without bond for the violation of probation. Hendrixson will be in court on February 13.

County Fire Department Installed Smoke Alarms Do Their Job for Dowelltown Woman

February 3, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Firefighter at home of Donna Willoughby
Kitchen Fire at home of Donna Willoughby

Smoke alarms, recently installed by the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department in the home of a Dowelltown woman, may have helped save the residence this morning (Monday).

County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that firefighters were called to the home of Donna Willoughby on West Main Street in Dowelltown. It's a rent home belonging to Jenelle Pugh.

According to Chief Green, Willoughby was cooking when a grease fire ignited from a skillet on the stove. Willoughby got out of the residence unharmed and thanks to county firefighters, the home received only minor fire and smoke damage. "We were called to West Main Street in Dowelltown this morning to a structure fire. When we got there and upon speaking with the occupant (Willoughby), she advised us that she had been in the kitchen cooking some breakfast and apparently had left the stove eye on and it had caught fire in her kitchen. She safely evacuated out of the house. At the time of her discovering the fire, she (Willoughby) was in another room when the smoke alarms activated in the home and alerted her. When she opened the door into the kitchen, she noticed that the back wall was on fire behind the stove and the curtains were on fire. She (Willoughby) evacuated the house and called 911," said Chief Green.

This is a prime example of how working smoke alarms can help save property and lives, said Chief Green. "This is a success story we're proud of. We're glad that she got alerted in time and got out with no injuries or smoke inhalation. The alarms that alerted her (Willoughby) this morning, were those we (county fire department) put in recently under our "Get Alarmed Tennessee Smoke Alarm Program" where we're putting in free smoke alarms for people who need them in their house. It probably resulted in us being able to get there and save her home with very minimal damage to her kitchen.," said Chief Green.

Members of the Liberty Station, Main Station, and the Temperance Hall Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Woman and Infant Escape Serious Injury in Rollover Crash

February 3, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

A woman and an infant escaped serious injury Sunday in a rollover crash on Smith Fork Road.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 22 year old Ada Martinez was driving a Chevy Impala north on Smith Fork Road when she ran off the left side of the road while negotiating a curve. The car struck a utility pole and overturned down a steep embankment. An eleven week old child was in the car with Martinez.

They were taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital. They were not believed to have been seriously hurt. Martinez is a resident of Florida who is visiting family here.

Three People Involved in Sunday Wreck

February 3, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

Three people were involved in a Sunday traffic accident at the intersection of Highways 146 and 83 (New Home Road).

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 58 year old Linda Fite of Smithville was north on Highway 146 in a 2011 Ford Fiesta, turning left onto Highway 83 when she pulled into the path of a southbound Ford Focus, driven by 35 year old Amanda Arnold of McMinnville. The impact of the crash forced the Fiesta into a Kia Sorento, driven by 22 year old Emilee Anderson of Smithville, who was stopped on Highway 83 at the intersection. A 17 year old passenger was with Anderson.

According to Trooper Johnson, Fite was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital by private vehicle. Arnold was transported to the hospital by DeKalb EMS. The others were apparently uninjured.

Fite was cited for failure to yield and for misuse of registration for having a tag on her car not registered to that vehicle.

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