Local News Articles

Applicants May Apply for Smithville Chief of Police

September 15, 2015
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

The City of Smithville is in the hunt for a new Chief of Police.

The aldermen voted 4-0 Monday night to accept applications for the position left vacant after the termination of Randy Caplinger earlier this year.

Aldermen Danny Washer, Josh Miller, Jason Murphy, and Shawn Jacobs all voted in favor. Alderman Gayla Hendrix was absent.

Although Caplinger has a lawsuit against the city still pending in court in which a judge could order his reinstatement as Chief, Mayor Jimmy Poss said he believes it's time the city moves forward.

"I just feel like it's time we do something to address this problem. These guys (police officers) have been doing a wonderful job. (Captain) Steven Leffew has (good job). But I think it's time we carried it a little further," he said.

Aldermen Jacobs and Miller, while voting in favor of taking applications, still expressed reservations with an active lawsuit against the city.

"Mr. Parsley what is the status of the lawsuit?" asked Alderman Jacobs.

"We've got a hearing set in October. Briefs have been submitted and we'll be doing oral arguments that day," replied City Attorney Vester Parsley.

"Correct me if I'm wrong but there is the chance that we could be ordered to re-instate Mr. Caplinger?" Jacobs asked.

"I think that is a possibility but I have no way of knowing. Anything is a possibility right now," Parsley responded.

" I agree I believe we do need to move forward. I'm just concerned we have jumped the gun and perhaps could cost the city some money and also make ourselves look bad if we hired somebody and then we are ordered to reinstate Mr. Caplinger," said Jacobs.

Alderman Miller asked Mayor Poss how long the city should advertise.

"That's what we were wanting to bring up and see how long you wanted to advertise it. It might be a while before you even hire somebody," answered Mayor Poss.

"Mr. Parsley, will they make a ruling in October?" asked Miller

"I don't know. It's up to the judge. The judge can defer that and study the issue and make the decision later or the judge could make a decision that day. If I were guessing I'd say there probably wouldn't be a decision made that day. Usually the judge wants to hear those arguments and not make a rash decision. I would say they wouldn't keep that decision for a long time," said Parsley.

Alderman Miller said if the city names a Chief he would rather it be on an interim basis until Caplinger's lawsuit is settled. "Again I would ask the board if you want to put a new chief in place, I would love to see him be named interim until the lawsuit is settled. I just don't want to see more trouble on the horizon," said Miller

"I don't think you would get anybody that would do it interim. They wouldn't have a guarantee of a job," Mayor Poss replied.

Alderman Jason Murphy agreed with the mayor. "The only reservation I have about designating somebody interim is would anyone apply for the job if they knew in six months they may not be able to keep it? I think that would hurt the people who apply for it. I think it would limit the number of people (applicants)," said Murphy.

The police chief prior to Caplinger, Richard Jennings had also been terminated, yet the city hired Caplinger while Jennings' case still lingered in court. Alderman Danny Washer said he saw no reason why the city could not move forward in this case in the same manner.

"This is not the first time this has happened. What have we done in the past?" asked Washer

"In the past we took applications and then did interviews and hired a chief. The case (Jennings lawsuit) previous to Chief Caplinger's went on for over a year ," replied City Attorney Parsley.

"We didn't have a problem with it the first time so why do we have a problem advertising for it now? We're going to have to have a chief. This (Caplinger lawsuit) could go on for a year or two years," said Washer.

"There could be an appeal if it goes against Mr. Caplinger or if it went against the city. Obviously we have the right to appeal. If it goes up to the Court of Appeals you're talking about many more months. Probably up to twelve to eighteen months. I'm not saying anyone will appeal. I'm saying both sides have the right to appeal," said Parsley.

"Are we willing to wait that long to get a chief? We've been fortunate. Like everybody has said the boys (police officers) have done a great job. I have no complaints. The only thing I have heard is that it's time to get one (Chief). I make a motion that we advertise and see what we get and go from there," said Washer

Alderman Miller offered a second to the motion.

Assessor of Property to Seek Re-Election

September 15, 2015
Dwayne Page
Assessor ofProperty Scott Cantrell Takes Oath from Former County Mayor Mike Foster in 2012

DeKalb County Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell plans to seek re-election.

According to Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley, Cantrell picked up a qualifying petition from the office on Monday . Cantrell plans to run for the nomination of the DeKalb County Democratic Party in the Primary on March 1.

Cantrell was elected to his first term as Assessor of Property in 2012.

Incumbent Sixth District Constable Carl Lee Webb also picked up a petition for constable on Monday for the March 1 DeKalb County Democratic primary.

Four petitions were issued Friday for the office of Constable; three for potential Democratic Primary candidates and one potential Independent candidate.

Petitions were issued to: Paul Cantrell, Constable 4th District March 1 Democratic Primary; Mark Milam, Constable 5th District March 1 Democratic Primary; Johnny King, Constable 7th District March 1 Democratic Primary; and Tom Theriaque, Constable 2nd District Independent (which will not appear on the ballot until August).

The qualifying deadline for all 7 Constable seats and the county-wide Assessor of Property seat is NOON December 10.

Askins Trial Reset for March

September 14, 2015
Dwayne Page
Wendy Askins

Wendy Askins, the former Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Development District was scheduled to appear in U.S District Court in Nashville for a "change of plea" hearing Monday but the case has been reset for trial March 8, 2016.

Last Tuesday, September 8, U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger signed an order scheduling the "change of plea" hearing for Monday, September 14 at 1:30 p.m. But on Friday, September 11 the judge granted an Askins' motion to continue the trial and sealed (made secret) the documents pertaining to the motion.

On Monday, September 14, Judge Trauger signed an order resetting the trial date from September 22, 2015 to March 8, 2016.

The order states as follows:

"This case is reset for jury trial on March 8, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 873, United States Courthouse, 801 Broadway Nashville. As soon as it appears that the case will be tried,the parties shall notify Judge Trauger's courtroom deputy of the anticipated number of trial days that will be necessary."

"Any plea agreement shall be consummated by noon on the Thursday before the trial, and the Courtroom Deputy notified thereof. Any proposed plea agreement shall be submitted to the Court by noon on the Friday before the trial. No plea agreement will be entertained unless it is in compliance with this Order."

"In advance of any plea hearing, the United States Attorney shall submit to chambers a document that lists the elements of each offense to which the defendant is pleading guilty and the statutory penalty for each, including period of incarceration, fine, and period of supervised release applicable".

"If the case is to be tried, the parties shall file the following by the close of business on the Tuesday before the trial:

1. an agreed set of jury instructions
2. alternative versions of jury instructions on which there is not an agreement, with citations to supporting authorities;
3. an agreed verdict form or alternative versions; and
4. motions in limine.

"Responses to motions in limine shall be filed by 4:00 p.m. on the Friday before trial. Parties shall deliver to chambers a computer disc containing all proposed instructions and verdict forms that are filed"

"The requirements set forth herein shall also apply to any continuances of this trial"

Both Askins and the former UCDD Deputy Director Larry Webb were indicted in September 2013 for their participation in a scheme to commit bank fraud and to steal federal and state funds intended to promote economic and housing development through a program called “Living the Dream" which was supposed to be a residential home for seniors.

Webb entered a plea last month to one count of federal bank fraud and will be sentenced November 24 though he apparently faces no fines or prison time. Under his plea arrangement, Webb reportedly agreed to testify against Askins during her trial.

Chamber Presents "Extra Miler" Award to Jim and Diane Loy

September 14, 2015
Chamber Presents "Extra Miler" Award to Jim and Diane Loy

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce presented a well-earned “Extra Miler” award to Jim and Diane Loy Monday. Since 2001, Jim and Diane have picked up over 1,600 bags of litter and have volunteered over 3,000 hours in DeKalb County.

Some of their efforts include:

•In 2001: Adopted Highway 56 from Hurricane Bridge north 2 miles to their home - On their initial cleanup, they spent 2 days picking up litter and collected 71 bags of trash

•In 2002: Adopted League Chapel Cemetery – They spent 2 weeks hauling away trash, and cutting and trimming trees. They built a sign for the cemetery, made wooden crosses and planted roses for each grave site, and created a pathway and sitting area.

•In 2007: Adopted the scenic Center Hill Lake overlook on Highway 56. They cleaned, repaired and painted the support structure for the scenic overlook sign, designed and mounted a new sign, placed landscape timbers and landscape rocks around the sign, planted flowers and cleared the area of weeds and litter.

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver was on-hand to present Jim and Diane with an American flag, a Proclamation, and the rare orange “Blue Book” filled with personal messages to the Loys by numerous legislators. Rep. Weaver also informed the Loys that Governor Haslam will be sending them a congratulatory and commendation letter next week.

In receiving this award, Jim and Diane Loy responded with appreciation for the recognition and for this beautiful area that God has entrusted to each of us. They want to encourage all residents to help with the responsibility of its care. The Loys are truly are "friends of Tennessee" and inspiring examples of going the extra mile.

Pictured l-r:
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, TDOT Highway Maintenance Supervisor Donnie Smith, Road Supervisor Butch Agee, State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, Chamber Extra Miler Award recipients Diane and Jim Loy, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Chamber Board Members Kathy Hendrixson and Gail Gentry, Jim Sullivan

Tennessee State Court Clerks Show Support for Alzheimer Awareness

September 14, 2015
Dwayne Page
Tennessee State Court Clerks Show Support for Alzheimer Awareness

From Memphis to Mountain City, court clerks and their deputy clerks are expected to wear purple and participate in the first “Purple Out Day” on Friday, Sept., 18, to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and related dementias, as well as raise funds to support the work of Alzheimer’s Tennessee.

Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack and Clerk and Master Deborah Malone from DeKalb County were among the clerks attending the Tennessee State Court Clerk's Conference September 8-10 at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns Tennessee.

To make a donation contact the clerks offices in the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies Awarded Highway Safety Grants

September 14, 2015

The Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments are among Tennessee law enforcement agencies that are receiving grant awards to support highway traffic safety efforts across the state.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole made the announcement concerning the grants totaling $17.8 million.

Both the Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments are getting High Visibility Enforcement Police Traffic Services Grants totaling at or near $5,000.

There are multiple elements that contribute to a safe roadway system, including an accurate traffic safety data collection and analysis system, well-trained and well-equipped law enforcement personnel, and effective emergency medical and trauma systems. A major part of roadway safety is educating motorists about laws and good driving behaviors.

“These grants help fund a variety of enforcement, legal, and educational initiatives across the state," Schroer said. "All of these efforts, from DUI prosecution, to speed enforcement, to child passenger safety training, support the mission of saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads through partnership with numerous public and private organizations."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding to GHSO. The grants, totaling 437 for the 2015-2016 funding cycle, were awarded to 376 agencies that successfully applied for funding based on a defined problem and statistical need. Each year, GHSO accepts applications from agencies across the state for available highway safety funds. Applications are reviewed and scored by GHSO and external highway safety advocates. The agencies that meet funding criteria received awards.

“Tennessee’s decline in traffic fatalities has occurred because of the dedication and commitment from our partners across the state,” Poole said. “They are coming up with ideas and programs that are creative, innovative, and solid. They are the foundation for the culture of safety on our roads, and I am ecstatic that we are able to support their endeavors.”

Aldermen to Consider Advertising for Police Chief

September 13, 2015
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen

Although a lawsuit remains pending against the City of Smithville over the termination of former Police Chief Randy Caplinger, the aldermen Monday night will consider granting approval to advertise for a new police chief.

The Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen will meet in regular monthly session Monday night, September 14 at 6:00 p.m. at city hall.

Upon the recommendation of Mayor Jimmy Poss, the aldermen voted 3-2 in August to advertise seeking resumes from persons interested in becoming the city's next police chief. Aldermen Danny Washer, Jason Murphy, and Gayla Hendrix voted in favor. Aldermen Josh Miller and Shawn Jacobs voted against, preferring to wait until the outcome of Caplinger's lawsuit. The city has reportedly received at least two resumes since last month.

"I think it's time we start advertising for a police chief. We've been a pretty good while without one. (Captain) Steven (Leffew) is doing a great job. But I think it's time we started thinking about it. We're talking about advertising for resumes. That's just my idea. I want to see what you think about it," said Mayor Poss.

"I think we should have already been advertising for it. Not that Steven has not been doing a good job but I'm not for sure he wants this burden on him forever. I do think we need to go forward with that," said Alderman Hendrix.

Aldermen Murphy and Washer agreed.

But Alderman Miller said anyone selected should serve on an "interim" basis until the Caplinger lawsuit is settled. "I would like to see him be named interim chief until things are smoothed over," he said.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for Caplinger, Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox are asking, among other things, that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause".

"We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," Cripps told WJLE when the lawsuit was filed.

In other business, Suzanne Williams of the Chamber of Commerce will address the Board concerning tourism.

An update will be given on the Smithville Airport fuel farm and runway lighting projects.

The Board will consider granting approval to hire Rob Alexander at the water treatment plant.

Any other business properly brought before the Board will be considered.

WJLE plans LIVE coverage

Woodmen of World Host "Honor and Remembrance" Ceremony

September 12, 2015
Dwayne Page
Assistant County Fire Chief David Agee with Wanda Poss and Regina Wilhite displaying "Flag of Honor" (Photo Provided)
The Smithville-DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling present the DeKalb County Fire Department with “Extra Miler Award" (Photo Provided)
Boy Scout Troop 347 members participating in flag raising were Jacob Williams, Cody Robinson and Jake Ramsey (Photo Provided).

The local Woodmen of the World Family Fraternity held a flag pole rededication ceremony and presented a "Flag of Honor" Thursday evening at the Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department on King Ridge Road.

Regina Wilhite, Field Representative for Woodmen of the World and local chapter President Wanda Poss made the presentation in honor and remembrance of the heroes and victims in the fight against terrorism and to celebrate the enduring spirit of all Americans.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 347 participated in the program by leading the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance and then helping retire the old flag and raising a new one to half-staff in remembrance of the 9/11 victims fourteen years ago.

A framed commemorative American flag was presented to the fire department. This "Flag of Honor" was created from the names of the 9/11 victims and the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and County Mayor Tim Stribling presented the Fire Department the "Extra Miler" Award for going the extra mile in making a difference. The department has more than 70 volunteers and ranks number three in the state for training hours and number of volunteers.

Since 2002 Woodmen of the World has been dedicating flagpoles across the country and presenting flags not only to honor the heroes and victims but to remember the men and women of our armed forces serving in combat and in addition to these ceremonies pay tribute to our men and women right here in this community who serve and protect us every day.

Woodmen of the World members celebrate patriotism in many ways, including the presentation of United States flags and flagpole dedications.

Woodmen of the World is one of the largest distributors of U.S. flags. More than 2 million American flags have been presented to worthy non-profit and community organizations. Woodmen of the World celebrates and honors the American flag throughout the year.

Out of the ashes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, Woodmen of the World members rise each year to organize In Honor and Remembrance ceremonies which honor the heroes and victims of those attacks, as well as local community heroes and volunteers.

(TOP PHOTO: Assistant County Fire Chief David Agee with Wanda Poss and Regina Wilhite displaying "Flag of Honor"

(MIDDLE PHOTO: "EXTRA MILER AWARD" presented to DeKalb Fire Department: Shown from left are Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling, Assistant Fire Chief David Agee, Matthew Boss, Seth Braseel, Caleb Haggard, Matt Adcock, Steve Rapasy, David Fleming, Harley Lawrence, Brayde Baker, Kristie Johnson, Steven Lawrence, Chris Mulford, Shawn Chausse, and Ryan Herron)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Boy Scout Troop 347 members participating in flag raising were Jacob Williams, Cody Robinson and Jake Ramsey)

Election Commission Changes Voting Precinct

September 11, 2015
Election Commission Changes Voting Precinct

The DeKalb County Election Commission, meeting in monthly session Thursday, discussed the feasibility of merging the Cherry Hill voting precinct with the Courthouse precinct.

After discussing election day issues of appointing election workers who reside in the precinct, the percentage of voter participation on election day, and the cost of operating the voting precinct; the commission voted unanimously to merge the precincts.

"The election commission was adamant that the purpose of the merger is strictly a logical and reasonable decision," said Chairman Walteen Parker.
"We certainly have no intent to prevent any qualified voter from casting his/her vote. We are looking for practical ways to streamline the efficiency of the voting process."

In the coming days all Cherry Hill voters will be notified by mail that they will now vote at the Courthouse precinct and will also be issued new voter registration cards.

Petitions Issued for 2016 Elections

September 11, 2015

The first day to pick up petitions for the 2016 local election cycle was a busy day for the DeKalb County Election Commission.

Four petitions were issued Friday by Administrator of Elections, Dennis Stanley. All four petitions were issued for the office of Constable; three for potential Democratic Primary candidates and one potential Independent candidate.

Petitions were issued to: Paul Cantrell, Constable 4th District March 1 Democratic Primary; Mark Milam, Constable 5th District March 1 Democratic Primary; Johnny King, Constable 7th District March 1 Democratic Primary; and Tom Theriaque, Constable 2nd District Independent (which will not appear on the ballot until August).

The qualifying deadline for all 7 Constable seats and the county-wide Assessor of Property seat is NOON December 10.


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