Local News Articles

Smithville Police Make Arrest in Theft Investigation

March 26, 2018
Dwayne Page
Benjamin Roberto Garcia

Smithville Police have arrested a man believed to have been responsible for the theft of a vehicle from a car lot, a radio from another automobile, a license tag, and several items from Wal-mart.

41 year old Benjamin Roberto Garcia of 250 Moore Taylor Road is charged with two counts of theft, two counts of burglary, two counts of vandalism, and he is cited for an additional two counts of theft.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_63.pdf (3.04 MB)

According to police, a report was filed on February 19 that someone had broken into an automobile at Davis Auto and stolen a radio causing damage to the vehicle. The following day another report was filed of someone having taken a 1994 Dodge Dakota from Auto Hut after breaking the lock and entering the gate of the car lot. During the investigation and after viewing surveillance video, police identified Garcia as a person of interest. After recovering the truck taken from Auto Hut, police checked the license plate on it through Central Dispatch and learned that the plate was stolen. Garcia found himself in more trouble after he was spotted on Sunday, March 11 shoplifting a pair of ear buds and a rugged speaker from Wal-mart. He was taken into custody on Tuesday, March 13. Garcia’s bond is $57,500 and his court date is March 29.

Another Candidate May Jump into Smithville Mayor Race

March 25, 2018
Dwayne Page

More potential candidates have picked up petitions for two upcoming city elections in August.

Curtis Rust has obtained a petition for Mayor in the August 2 Smithville Municipal Election.

In Alexandria, Doyle Hendrix picked up a petition for Mayor and Lloyd Dyer, Eddie Shane Blair and Bridgette Rogers have all picked up petitions for Aldermen in that town’s August 2 election.

The qualifying deadline for the municipal elections is Noon, April 5.

Meanwhile, local voters are reminded of key dates for the May 1 DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

“Two important things to keep in mind at this point are the registration deadline and the updating of addresses,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections.

“If you are not registered but want to participate in the May 1 primary election, April 2 is the last day you can register in person at the election office,” he said.

Voter registration forms are available at the election office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse; on line at www.dekalbelections.com (and clicking on the voter registration tab at the top left of the page) and https://sos.tn.gov/elections/voter-information.

As far as address changes go, Stanley said keeping your address up to date could prevent a delay in voting on Election Day or even during early voting.

“If you have moved since you last voted, you may have to vote at a different location on May 1,” he said. “Keep in mind, if you have moved and did not notify our office, you will have paperwork to fill out on Election Day and you may have to go to a different place to vote.”

Voters who want to check their status can call the election office at 615-597-4146 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Another tool for voters is the GoVoteTN app for smartphones and computer desktops. The app can be downloaded at the iTunes store or Google Play.

The app provides a variety of information about the upcoming election, including a way for voters to check their current status.

Woman Rescued After Her Vehicle Overturns Down Hillside (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

March 25, 2018
Dwayne Page
Woman Rescued After Her Vehicle Overturns Down Hillside
After removing Courtney Nichols from the Jeep, fire and rescue volunteers used climbing rope and a stokes basket to bring her to the top of the hill.

An 18 year old woman was injured Saturday night after her 2002 Jeep Cherokee went off Highway 56 north (Cookeville Highway) and overturned down a steep hillside embankment before coming to rest upside down in a hollow several feet below the road.

According to Trooper Sean Tramel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Courtney Nichols was driving south when the Jeep hydroplaned and then went out of control as Nichols overcorrected. The Jeep narrowly missed the end of a guardrail as it left the highway and plunged down the hillside north of Hurricane Bridge in the Blackberry Hill area.

Since there were no witnesses to the accident and the wreckage was out of view from motorists, Nichols went unnoticed for a long period of time. Entrapped in the Jeep, Nichols sounded the horn trying to attract attention.

Bobby Hull, a resident close by, heard the sound of the horn from his home and went to investigate. After spotting the wreckage, he sought help.

Members of local EMS, first responders, law enforcement, rescue and extrication operations converged on the scene. After removing Nichols from the Jeep, fire and rescue volunteers used climbing rope and a stokes basket to bring her to the top of the hill. She was then transported by ambulance to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital.

Budget Committee to Begin Work Soon on 2018-19 County Spending Plan

March 25, 2018
Dwayne Page

The county budget committee will soon begin work preparing a spending plan for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

During an all-committees workshop of the county commission Thursday night, County Mayor Tim Stribling said budget forms will be sent out to all department administrators Monday for them to return with any requests they may have for the new budget year.

Stribling shared with the Commissioners information on how much money the county is expected to receive from the current tax rate in the new fiscal year.

The overall tax rate is $1.8335 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The rate is distributed as follows:

County General: 0.9635 cents
General Purpose Schools: 0.6100 cents
Debt Service: 0.1200 cents
Highways/Public Works: 0.0300 cents
General Capital Projects: 0.1100 cents

Revenue from the current property tax assessments for the 2018-19 fiscal year based upon estimated assessed valuations of $497 million dollars is $49,700 per one cent of the property tax rate. However the county is actually expected to receive $46,658 per cent of the tax rate based on a 94% collection rate or a 6% delinquency.

The estimated net collection from the overall property tax rate is $8,565,745 in local revenue to help fund the county general department, general purpose schools, debt service, highways/public works, and general capital projects.

The net estimated local property tax collection for each department is as follows:

County General: $4,501,279
General Purpose Schools: $2,849,798
Debt Service: $560,616
Highways/Public Works: $140,154
General Capital Projects: $513,898

Fugitive from TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List Now in Custody

March 24, 2018
Dwayne Page
David Paul Vaughn

A fugitive who was added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top 10 Most Wanted list Friday is now in custody.

David Paul Vaughn of DeKalb County was captured and arrested Friday night without incident at a hotel in Dickson.

David Vaughn was wanted by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for aggravated burglary and theft over $1000 from an incident that occurred on January 9th. Vaughn is also the suspect of a vehicle theft in Indiana. In addition, he is wanted in connection with a home invasion and an assault on a law enforcement officer from Boone County, Kentucky, as well as an Armed Robbery in Escambia County, Florida. Vaughn has an extensive criminal history and has warrants in Wilson County for violation of probation.

Cleveland Named 2018 Fiddlers’ Jamboree Blue Blaze Award Winner

March 23, 2018
Michael Cleveland
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper

Award-winning fiddle player Michael Cleveland has been named the 2018 Blue Blaze Award Winner for the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival. This most recent honor will be added to a rather impressive collection of accolades among his musical peers. Cleveland has won more IBMA awards than any other fiddle player including 10 wins for Fiddle Player of the Year, six wins for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year, and fronts their 5-time Instrumental Group of the Year. On March 30th, Micheal will be inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Together with Flamekeeper members Josh Richards (guitar), Nathan Livers (mandolin), Jasiah Shrode (banjo) and Tyler Griffith (bass), Cleveland makes his way around the country performing and delighting audiences, while leaving them with jaws dropped in complete amazement. Cleveland will be accepting the Blue Blaze Award on Saturday, July 7th, 2018 during the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival at 5pm followed by a mini-concert by Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.

“Michael Cleveland embodies what we look for in a musician when choosing a recipient for the Blue Blaze Award,” said Sam Stout, President and Coordinator of the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival, “He started performing at the Jamboree as a young boy, and grew his talent to an impressive career in bluegrass music. The purpose of the Blue Blaze Award is to recognize a group or individual who keeps the embers of bluegrass music glowing for future generations. Michael Cleveland certainly does that, and more. He is an inspiration to all of us. We invite the public to come out and support Michael, while enjoying the best that bluegrass has to offer.”

Cleveland has a very loyal fan base, along with an amazing story. Michael was born blind, along with many additional health complications. He has endured over 20 reconstructive surgeries including brain
surgery. In addition to these challenges, he lost 80% of his hearing in his left ear. But Michael Cleveland is not a ‘glass half empty’ kind of guy. He prefers to focus on his goals, his love of music, and being the best in his field. Although only in his mid-30’s, Michael Cleveland, a 2018 Grammy Nominee, has reached plenty of those goals.

Cleveland began his love affair with music by taking violin lessons at only four years old. This passion for the stringed instrument led him to bluegrass music. His teachers quickly labeled him a musical prodigy. “When I started taking lessons at age 4,” he remembers, “I told the teacher right up front that I wanted to learn how to play bluegrass and I wanted to play ‘Orange Blossom Special.'" Reluctant as they were, his teachers quickly found reason to his rhyme, helping him progress to the point when, at age 9, Michael was invited to sit in with the legendary Bill Monroe at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. During this time, he visited the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and competed alongside fiddle players of all ages and skill levels. Soon after, he brought his virtuosic style to the Grand Ole Opry as a guest of Alison Kraus, and was hand-picked for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Bluegrass Youth All Stars before he was 14. His blistering prowess and technical fluency have since marked him as a sought-after musician, leading to performances with Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Tim O’Brien, J.D. Crowe and the New South, Andy Statman, and The Kruger Brothers in recent years. However, it wasn’t until 2006, when Michael formed his own band Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, that he found the right vehicle for his musical vision, and he hasn’t rested since, constantly looking for new ways to push himself and his music forward.

One would think that with all of his life-long accolades, his own award-winning band, a concert tour, and celebrity performances at the Opry, that Cleveland would have no more goals to shoot for…but we know him better than that. ‘Flamekeeper - The Michael Cleveland Story’ is a feature length documentary film coming in 2018. To follow Michael Cleveland’s journey, go to www.flamekeeperband.com or follow his facebook page.

Join us for the 47th Annual Smithville Fiddlers' Jamboree and Crafts Festival coming Friday, July 6th and Saturday, July 7th, 2018 to Downtown Smithville, Tennessee. Each day begins at 9am with over 35 music and dance categories, streets full of hand-made crafts, and food booths galore. Come and see for yourself why this FREE family-friendly festival has been named the official Jamboree & Crafts Festival of the State of Tennessee, along with being named the official Jamboree & Crafts Festival of the United States of America.

The old-time Fiddlers' Jamboree is a DeKalb County tradition that draws musicians, craft artists, and spectators to the Smithville Square each summer around the Independence Day weekend. Over time, the festival became a broader tribute to Appalachian art and culture. Thousands of tourists visit the festival every year, along with television viewers across the country via WCTE-TV and various PBS stations nationwide. For more information on the festival, go to www.fiddlersjamboree.com

Man Injured in Rear-end Collision

March 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
1994 Pontiac Grand AM  rear-ended by 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix  (shown to the right)

A Smithville man was injured in a rear end collision Thursday on Highway 56 in the Shiney Rock community.

Trooper William Jackson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 43 year old Thomas Esmond was south on Highway 56 in a 1994 Pontiac Grand AM when he stopped to make a left turn after activating his turn signal. His car was struck in the rear by a southbound 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by 19 year old Tabitha Estes of Dowelltown.

According to Estes, a truck in front of her abruptly swerved to the shoulder of the highway and she could not stop in time to avoid a collision with Esmond’s car.

Esmond was transported by DeKalb EMS to the hospital. Estes was not injured. She was cited for failure to exercise due care. Esmond was cited for failing to provide proof of insurance and registration.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department were also on the scene.

Aldermen Vote to Censure Mayor Jimmy Poss (VIEW VIDEO OF MEETING HERE)

March 23, 2018
Dwayne Page

Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss has been formally censured by the Aldermen for violating the city’s nepotism and hiring policies by putting his son Tony Poss on the payroll last September without the board’s approval.

During a special meeting held Thursday night at city hall, the aldermen took the action against the mayor which is basically a reprimand or expression of disapproval. The vote was 5-0.

In a separate move the aldermen voted 3 to 2 against asking that the city be reimbursed for the salary paid to Tony Poss during the six month period he was a part time employee. From September 1 to March 2, Poss’ gross amount of pay was $300 per week for a total of $8,100. Aldermen Gayla Hendrix and Shawn Jacobs voted to ask that the money be repaid. Aldermen Jason Murphy, Josh Miller, and Danny Washer voted against it. Had it been approved, the aldermen admitted that a reimbursement request probably could not be enforced.

As with the informal workshop last Thursday night, Mayor Poss again opted not to attend last night’s special meeting, the sole purpose of which was for the aldermen to decide whether to censure the mayor.

After calling to order the special meeting, Vice Mayor Jason Murphy recognized City Attorney Vester Parsley who read a prepared statement from the mayor who explained his actions in putting Tony to work at the golf course and swimming pool during the fall and winter.

“My hiring of my son to maintain the pool and equipment at the golf course has become an issue because of our charter and city ordinances. I want the council and the public to understand that my only goal was to safeguard and maintain the equipment located at the golf course. I want to assure you that it wasn’t a waste of the city’s funds because the equipment must be maintained and my son was the most logical choice. In hindsight, his hiring without council approving may have been a mistake. I have, however, hired other part time employees without the approval of the council in the past and at the time felt it was not necessary to seek the council’s approval,” wrote Mayor Poss.

Alderman Hendrix said while she is glad he issued a statement, the mayor’s response “didn’t really answer a lot of our questions. I think we were all hoping the mayor would be here tonight so we could communicate and ask some questions”.

“As we talked in the workshop this is in direct violation of the nepotism portion of our personnel policy by hiring an immediate family member and then hiring anyone without board approval,” said Alderman Hendrix.

Tony Poss had a ten year lease of the city’s golf course and swimming pool but he surrendered his lease of the facilities in August. The following month, the city entered into a one year contract with Riverwatch Golf & Resort to upgrade and maintain the golf course at a cost to the city of $74,115. It was also in September that Tony Poss became a part time city employee.

“We hired Riverwatch to repair and maintain the golf course at a substantial amount of money. Tony Poss had terminated his lease with the city. I don’t think his services were needed and we have no proof that anything had actually been done to earn the money that was paid out for the last six months,” Hendrix continued.

Meanwhile the aldermen raised new concerns Thursday night about other possible violations of the hiring policy. For example, Alderman Washer said he learned by accident that a cleaning service is now being paid to perform janitorial services at city hall instead of a part time custodian as had once been the practice. “I found out by accident by kind of being nosy, wondering what somebody was doing up here. I didn’t know anything about it. That’s when I was informed that we had contracted that out,” said Alderman Washer.

“We didn’t contract it out. That is the problem. This board didn’t know anything about it. We all thought we had a custodian. After the last meeting we were walking down the stairs and asked if there was somebody here to unlock the door so we could get out. One of the employees said we don’t have a custodian anymore. We have a cleaning service. I thought how can we have a cleaning service when it has not been brought before the board? Again that is a complete violation of the charter. This is as troubling to me as the other alleged violations at the pool. More and more is happening at city hall without this board knowing about it,” said Alderman Jacobs.

In response to questions concerning the city hall janitorial services, City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson explained that “we had a full time (custodian) in the past but when she retired we used a couple of part time people several years ago that didn’t quite work out. Under our repairs and maintenance line item (of the budget for city hall) we have $35,000 budgeted which I assume (this service) falls under for the maintenance part because we haven’t actually hired an employee. We have a gentlemen who comes in and does the maintenance two to three times a week. He buffs our floors and empties our trash,” said Hendrixson.

Before the vote on censure, the aldermen discussed whether to include in the motion a request for reimbursement to the city for the money paid to Tony. Both Aldermen Miller and Murphy said they had recently spoken to unbiased sources who told them they had seen Tony at the golf course/swimming pool when he was supposed to have been working there.

Alderman Murphy said he had reservations about asking that the money be paid back when there are unanswered questions about how much work he may have done there.

“Do we know how much work was done? To me that is a real gray area,” said Alderman Murphy.

In response, Alderman Hendrix suggested that Alderman Murphy’s point was moot because Poss’ hiring was a violation of the nepotism policy anyway and the board had not approved it.

Both Aldermen Hendrix and Jacobs said constituents have told them they would like for the city to be reimbursed. Alderman Washer agreed but moved that the censure go forward without a request for reimbursement.

“I know the public would like to have some money back. I hear the same thing you do but I don’t know how we can prove what was done (work) and how much money should be paid back if any,” said Alderman Washer.

Washer then moved to censure the mayor. Alderman Miller offered a second to the motion. The vote was unanimous.

Alderman Hendrix then moved to request that the money paid to Tony Poss be repaid to the city. Alderman Jacobs seconded the motion. The motion failed on a 3 to 2 vote.

Budget Committee Recommends New Pay Plan for Ambulance Service Employees (VIEW PROPOSED PAY PLAN AND SHIFT SCHEDULE HERE)

March 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
Budget Committee Recommends New Pay Plan for Ambulance Service Employees

Now that county general employees and sheriff’s department staff have been given pay raises, the county commission will consider passage of a proposed new wage scale for ambulance service workers at the next regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 26.


510 PAYSCALE LOCKED March 22,2018.pdf (45.44 KB)


24 HOUR Proposed EMS Schedule.pdf (105.76 KB)

Last month, the commission 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.

Upset by the move, Johnson announced his resignation from the commission as of March 1 in protest.

The budget committee convened before and has met since that February county commission session to consider proposals offered to address the pay of EMS personnel, who were last given a wage increase of 4% two years ago.

After reviewing plans presented in a previous meeting by EMS Director Hoyte Hale and a second plan by Commissioner Johnson, the budget committee Thursday night voted 4-1 to recommend to the county commission a proposal by 4th district commissioner Jonathan Norris. Committee members Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, and Jack Barton voted in favor. Jimmy Midgett voted against the proposal apparently preferring another plan.

According to Norris, his plan would cut down on overall EMS overtime hours but would raise each employee’s hourly pay by double digit percentage increases.

“The current pay plan does not have a baseline. Meaning a defined starting point based on Certification and years of service. It also does not have a defined starting and yearly wage chart,” said Commissioner Norris.

“The plan I have proposed, and the budget committee has recommended to the county commission for consideration works like this:

•It will establish a baseline and structure for recognizing certifications and years of service as pay enhancements.

•It will schedule as a 24/72 (24 hours on duty/72 hours off duty) with the first pay period consisting of (2) 48 hour weeks and the second pay period consisting of one 48-hour week and one 24-hour week.

•It will give a double-digit percentage hourly pay raise to each current employee of the EMS

•It reduces the amount of overtime hours employees must work each year from 824 to 312. It reduces the number of regular hours an employee has to work each year from 2080 to 1872

•It will give 10 days off the first two week pay period and 11 days off the second two week pay period, or roughly 21 days per month off.

•Each employee will have off (3) Fridays, (3) Saturdays (3) Sundays per month

•There will also be a pay increase each year for every employee.

•Years 1-4 is a 2% increase each year

•Year 5 is a 6% longevity increase

•Years 6-9 is a 2% increase each year

•Year 10 is a 5% longevity increase.

•Years 11-15 is a 1.5% increase each year

•Year 16+ is a 1% increase each year

•Current employees will automatically get the increase on their scale for service and certification.

•.50 cent increases on the hour are included for shift supervisors

“In order to establish this baseline and pay scale the schedule must change and while all employees will have double digit percentage increases hourly, some employees would not make as much annually as they did in the previous year 2017. This is due to reduction in hours from 2904 hours per year scheduled to 2184 scheduled. But their pay would continue to increase every year of service with fewer hours required.” explained Commissioner Norris.

“Other employees would receive significant increases annually versus 2017 (the current pay scale) and their pay would continue to grow each year while others would stay roughly the same for one year and then increase each year thereafter according to the established scale,” said Norris.

“The idea is to put in a system that balances the pay scale and increases the hourly wages for the EMS personnel. This is something that allows them to increase and make more money by getting increases on years of service and certifications and not having to rely solely on extra overtime to make their living. One that will allow more home and family time for those that want that and the ability to work in conjunction with other places if that is what they prefer. I believe it will also aid in the attraction of new employees and help with the retention of existing employees. It also has to be fiscally smart and not place a huge burden on the citizens of DeKalb county with huge budget jumps. This is something that we can plan for and budget for each year. It is a measurable scale that allows us to realize its true impact and still continue to increase wages that are more than deserved and needed to provide for the citizens of the county and all the Emergency services personnel. Like anything, this may not be perfect, but it does give us the chance to be financially responsible and do more for those that deserve it.” Norris continued.

If the plan should be accepted by the commission, the budget committee has recommended a 3% bonus be added for EMS employees (retroactive to January 1, 2018 thru to the effective date of the raises) in addition to the pay raises (which would not be retroactive). If the proposed plan should fail, the committee has recommended that the 3% bonus be given for January 1, 2018 through to June 30th, 2018 but no new pay scale would be considered until preparation for the new budget for 2018-19.

Dump Truck Loaded with Gravel Overturns

March 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
A Cookeville man was injured after his dump truck loaded with gravel overturned Thursday morning on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) near Center Hill Dam.
Dump Truck Loaded with Gravel Overturns

A Cookeville man was injured after his dump truck loaded with gravel overturned Thursday morning on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) near Center Hill Dam.

Trooper Jason Cobble of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Thomas Thurman was driving a 2017 Mack Dump Truck for Team Enterprises of Cookeville and lost control while trying to negotiate a curve. The truck rolled over on its right side and skidded several feet in the highway before coming to a stop. The load of gravel spilled out onto the shoulder of the road.

A bystander helped Thurman from the truck. He was transported by DeKalb EMS though his injuries were not believed to have been serious. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene.


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