Local News Articles

Smithville Police Investigating Armed Robbery at Discount Tobacco Outlet

February 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police are investigating an armed robbery which occurred Saturday evening at the Discount Tobacco Outlet Store at 302 West Broad Street.

Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. says a female clerk, who was alone in the store, reported that at around 5:40 p.m. a white male wearing a ski mask and dark colored clothing entered and pointed a semi-automatic handgun at her. The man forced her to open the register and he left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The store clerk was not injured in the armed robbery

Anyone with information that might help solve the case is asked to call the Smithville Police Department

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

February 21, 2009

In her latest legislative report, State Senator Mae Beavers said budget issues continued to dominate discussions on Capitol Hill this week, as more of the “fine print” regarding the federal stimulus bill was revealed. Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz told members of the Senate Finance Committee that they are still studying the massive bill to see what strings are attached to the $3.8 billion that Tennessee would receive under the $787 billion federal spending package.

Goetz repeatedly cautioned state lawmakers that the federal money to begin, restore, or expand state programs would not be replaceable by the state in two years.

The stimulus package for transportation needs was discussed in the Senate Finance Committee, as well as the Transportation Committee this week, where members were told that $572 million would be available for road and bridge projects. Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely was questioned about how the projects funded with stimulus money would be prioritized. Nicely said that language in the legislation gives preference to sending the transportation money to “economically distressed areas” with high unemployment. Nicely also said they will be utilizing a list of priority projects that are “shovel ready” but still await funding. Some of those projects, however, may not be in areas listed as economically distressed.

Nicely told the committee that he expects to have the transportation projects under construction within the first 120 days. State and local governments have been working to get the project “shovel ready.” The projects must be eligible for federal funding and be complete within three years.

On unemployment, Goetz said the federal stimulus package will not help “shore up” the state’s weakening Unemployment Trust Fund. The trust fund has been stressed by the demand for benefits due to rising unemployment.

The governor has 45 days to make application to the federal government for the stimulus money. Goetz said that Tennessee’s revenues are continuing to deteriorate, making the job of balancing the state budget an increasingly difficult job. The administration must go back to the drawing board to revise their original budget draft to include the federal mandates in the stimulus package. The new budget proposal is expected by mid-March.

Missing Children Bill Debated in Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Beavers, began debating legislation this week. One piece of legislation was discussed to make sure child abductions are reported promptly to make sure the child is found. The bill is consistent with the “Adam Walsh” Act and says law enforcement should report a missing child to the NCIC (National Crime Investigation Center) within two hours of receiving a missing child report. This quick time period would give uniformity to reporting standards across the state.

“We need to uncover every stone possible to make sure a missing child is reported promptly into the NCIC system,” Chairman Beavers added. “Hopefully, this will help expedite the recovery of children who have been abducted.”

Other Issues in Brief

Open Records -- In committees this week, the State and Local Government Committee heard a presentation from Office of Open Records Counsel Ann Butterworth regarding how the new law, which was passed during the 2008 legislative session, is working. Butterworth said the Office of Open Records Counsel assists in obtaining public records from local government, both in guiding citizens to correct offices or officials and in working to resolve disputes regarding access to public records. Her office has been working to promote education and awareness of the Tennessee public records laws through direct outreach and through coordination with existing organizations.

Drug Database – The Senate General Welfare, Health and Human Resources Committee heard a presentation this week regarding the progress of the State’s Controlled Substance Database. The Tennessee Board of Pharmacy began accepting prescription information into the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database in December, 2006 after passage of legislation sponsored by Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

The database includes data on controlled substance prescriptions of schedule II-V drugs. The information includes who the prescribing practitioner is, who filled the prescription, basic patient information, and the name and form of medication that the patient received.
The most prescribed controlled substances in Tennessee as reported in the database are hydrocodone-vicodin-loratab, Alprazolam-xanax, and oxycodone-oxycontin-percocet, respectively. The committee discussed the possibility of adding personnel to look at the overprescribing of controlled substances through the database to prevent drug abuse or fraud. They also talked about the possibility of adding carasprodol and soma to the list of drugs tracked through the database. These matters may continue to be debated during the 2009 legislative session.

Housing slump – In the Senate Commerce Committee, members were told by a panel of homebuilders that the deterioration of the housing industry is “as bad as they have seen in a quarter of a century.” The panel said the major difference in this recession and those experienced by homebuilders earlier, is that it can not be fixed by a reduction in interest rates. The homebuilders said out-of-state banks have been more difficult to work with than community banks and those chartered in Tennessee. The committee will continue to look at the banking industry and mortgage laws as the session continues.

Chase Bryant Wins Sixth Annual County Spelling Bee

February 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby, Teresa, Chase, and Don Bryant, and Charles Robinson
Mark Willoughby, Joe, Makalee, and Melissa Ruch, and Charles Robinson

Chase Bryant, a fifth grader at Northside Elementary School, won the 6th annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee Friday night at DeKalb County High School.

Bryant, son of Don and Teresa Bryant of Smithville was among 31 students from the fourth grade to the eighth grade, who participated in the contest.

He correctly spelled the words "Stollen" and "Bolivar"" in the 36th round to claim the championship.

Makalee Ruch, a sixth grader at DeKalb Middle School, was the runner-up in the contest. She is the daughter of Joe and Melissa Ruch of Smithville..

Students from DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, and Northside Elementary School recently competed at the school level to become eligible for the county competition.

Along with students from twenty nine other counties, Bryant and Ruch will represent DeKalb County in the Tennessean Regional Spelling Bee on March 4th at Belmont University in Nashville.

The winner of the Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. May 26th through May 28th with all expenses paid by the Tennessean Newspaper.

The purpose of the County Wide Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling skills, increase vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

Other students competing were as follows:

Northside Elementary- Fourth graders Sara LaFever and Baylee Phillips and fifth graders Hailey Cannon, Caleb Fox, Morgan Gross, Kaitlin Rhea, and Kyra Trapp, in addition to Chase Bryant.

DeKalb Middle School- Sixth graders Haley Davis, Lenzi Dickens, Justin Johnson, Makayla Starnes, Alex Thompson, and Jacob Washer, in addition to Makalee Ruch and eighth graders Jessica Acuna, Kyra Dickens, and Martelia Tallent.

DeKalb West School- Fifth graders Morgan Vickers and Hailey Walker; sixth graders McKenzie Gann and Bruce Wilson; seventh graders, Cara Mosely, McKenzie Poteete, Crystal Vickers, Evan Ward, and Dylan Young; and eighth graders Nathan Gohs, Taylor Leach, Justin Manley, and Austin Miller.

DeKalb School District to Receive $1.2 Million

February 19, 2009

As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law on February 17th, it is estimated that the DeKalb County School District will receive an additional $1,152,000 to fund education programs for disadvantaged and disabled children.

“This money will allow DeKalb’s School District to continue educating children that need help most,” said Congressman Bart Gordon. “In these tough economic times, DeKalb County might have been forced to cut back funding for their special education programs to continue providing basic government services.”

For fiscal year 2009, the DeKalb County School District will receive an estimated $473,000 to fund educational programs for low-achieving students and $679,000 to educate children with disabilities. These funds will allow the School District to further close the achievement gap for disadvantaged children and improve the educational outcomes for disabled students.

“With people spending less money, the County is not receiving enough in sales tax revenue to sufficiently fund these programs,” explained Gordon. “Without the additional $1.2 million, it is hard to see how DeKalb would be able to continue its efforts to educate these especially needy students.”

Tennessee's 95 counties are estimated to receive a total of $174,210,000 in federal grants for low-achieving student education programs (also know as “Title 1-A” programs) and $229,486,000 for special education programs (or “IDEA” programs).

“We must ensure that all children receive the education needed to compete for 21st Century jobs,” said Gordon. “These much-needed funds will prevent the current economic crisis from getting in the way of this.”

Police Say Walmart Shoplifter Assaults Store Manager

February 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A shoplifter at Walmart, who allegedly stole a TV and DVD player last month, was arrested last week after he allegedly tried to steal other items and then assaulted the store manager upon being caught.

Hani Mohamad (B.J.) Ittayem is charged with theft of property over $500, attempted theft over $1,000, vandalism, and assault. His bond totals $15,000.

Smithville Police say that on January 11th, Ittayem took a TV and DVD player from Walmart without paying for them. The total value of the items was $747. He was identified on a video tape from the store's surveillance system.

On Tuesday, February 10th, Ittayem attempted to steal another TV and two DVD players on display and a jacket with a total value of $1,143.92. He was observed on a surveillance camera pulling wires loose to dismantle the TV and DVD players which caused damage and then placed the merchandise in a shopping cart and tried to leave the store. Ittayem allegedly assaulted the store manager when he was confronted about the theft and was told that the police had been called. The manager had red marks on his shoulder and blood on his shirt from the assault.

Meanwhile, 32 year old Andrea Kelly Alcorn of Watertown is charged with theft involving merchandise under $500. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court March 12th.

Officer Bradley Tatrow reports that Alcorn was charged on Sunday, February 15th for allegedly taking items from Walmart without paying for them and placing them in her purse. Among the items taken were a box set of DVD's, men's tank top, 10 pack of socks, pants, hoodie, and utility jeans with a total value of $196.14.

26 year old Bradley Shane Redmon is charged with theft of property involving merchandise under $500. His bond is $1,500.

Officer Matt Farmer reports that Redmon allegedly took items from Food Lion without paying for them. When confronted by the store manager, he began taking items from his person. The items included three packs of razors and a package of band aids with a total value of $36.28.

29 year old Logan Parker Brady of McMinnville is charged with simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court March 12th.

Officer Bradley Tatrow reports that he stopped Brady for speeding on Short Mountain Street on Tuesday, February 10th. Brady agreed to a request for consent to search and Officer Tatrow found 10 green pills believed to be hydrocodone in an unmarked bottle.

41 year old Carlos Reyes of McMinnville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and a second offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond totals $4,000 and he will be in court March 19th.

Officer Travis Bryant reports that Reyes was arrested for DUI on Friday, February 13th and a computer check revealed that his license was revoked for DUI on May 1st, 2007. The stop was made by Smithville Police while conducting a sobriety check point on Highway 56 south by Jewel's Market. The officer noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Reyes and he could not perform field sobriety tasks due to the language barrier. He did submit to a breathalyzer which indicated that he failed. He refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.

36 year old Sandy Deone Wheeler of Sparta is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court February 19th.

Officer Scott Davis reports that he responded to a call at 1101 Broad Street to find an intoxicated person (Wheeler). She was slumped over and unresponsive. She was awakened but her speech was very slurred and she was slow to respond to questions. She was also unsteady on her feet and her eyes were red and watery.

27 year old Jose Gerarvo Carrillo is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and a first offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond totals $4,000 and he will be in court February 19th.

Officer Matt Holmes reports that he saw a vehicle partially in the parking lot of 614 Murphy Street with the driver' side door open and a man vomiting. Upon doing a welfare check, Officer Holmes encountered Carrillo and detected a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He says the man had red watery eyes and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He submitted to a breathalyzer test and blew a .172. A computer check of his name revealed that his license had been revoked for a previous DUI.

Four Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election To Date

February 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Four people have qualified to run for alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election so far.

The latest person to get in the race is former Alderman Aaron Meeks. Others who have qualified include Incumbent Alderman Willie Thomas, former Alderman W.J. (Dub) White, and Gary Durham.

Four other persons have also picked up qualifying petitions but have not yet returned them including Incumbent Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Incumbent Alderman Tonya Sullivan, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer

Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections, says candidates have until NOON on Thursday, March 19th to qualify. The deadline to register to vote in time for the election is May 18th.

Three Aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 16th. The positions are currently held by Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan, and Willie Thomas. Each term is for two years.

Bennett Signs Softball Scholarship with Cumberland University

February 18, 2009
Victoria Bennett Signs Softball Scholarship with Cumberland University

Another DCHS student-athlete is moving on to play sports on the collegiate level.

Tigerette softball senior, Victoria Bennett, signed scholarship papers with Cumberland University in Lebanon, on Tuesday. Bennett, currently, is a member of the DCHS Tigerette program, and has been a starter for three years.

“I feel like Cumberland is a good fit for me, and I’m very excited for the opportunity to go there and play,” said Bennett, who plans to major in Athletic Training, which the Lebanon school is well known for. “I love what the coaches are doing with the program, and it excites me to have the opportunity to possibly go in and contribute right away.”

The Lady Bulldogs are coached by first-year coach, Heather Stanfill, who said the program already has 11 players signed for the 2010 athletic season, and three more verbal commitments. Stanfill, who came to Cumberland from Austin Peay, said Bennett is the kind of player she is looking for to help re-build the Lady Bulldog softball program.

"Victoria is a confident, out-going type person, and that’s what we’re looking for in our rebuilding mode at Cumberland — good character kids, who are also athletic and can play the game," Stanfill said.

DCHS softball coach, Danny Bond, is proud to be sending another student-athlete on to the collegiate level, and believes Bennett has a good opportunity.

"“I’m excited for Victoria, having the chance to continue her playing career at a four-year school like Cumberland, which is an excellent academic school,” Bond said. “She has been a solid ball player for us, and has also been outstanding in her academics."

Bennett, who has a 4.0 grade-point average at DCHS, is also a member of the Lady Tiger basketball and soccer teams. She also played golf during her junior year. In her three previous years with the Tigerette softball team, Bennett hit .330, with 104 hits, five home runs, 73 runs batted in, 44 stolen bases, while committing only two errors in the field.

City Hires Wauford Company For Design Phase of Water Plant Rehab

February 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night 5 to 0 to hire J.R. Wauford & Company Consulting Engineers, Inc. of Lebanon for the design phase of the rehabilitation of the Water Treatment Plant and the raw water intake location at the lake.

The cost for the design phase is $140,000.

Greg Davenport, Consulting Engineer for the Wauford Company, addressed the mayor and aldermen with some revised cost estimates. In the initial preliminary engineering report released in January 2008, the rehab project was estimated at $1.4 million. Davenport said Monday night that if new pumps and motors are needed at both the raw water intake facility and the water treatment plant, then the total project costs could be $2.8 million. "Basically what I was tasked with is taking the recommendations of replacing all the pumps at the raw water intake, which transports the water from the lake to the plant and replacing all of the high service pumps which transport the treated water from the plant into town. I revised the engineering report and I revised the cost estimates."

"During the discussion of the last meeting, it was decided to go ahead and price in new pumps and motors with the consideration that during the design phase, there's a possibility of re-using some of the existing facilities. After more thought about this, I think maybe an appropriate action would be to buy one new pump and motor for the raw water intake and one new pump and motor for the high service pumps (water plant) and then take the other three that you pull out and re-condition them into maybe two good pumps and motors. That would save quite a bit over replacing all the pumps and motors, but you can't tell, all three may need replacing. It's hard to say at this point.'

" At the last meeting, we were looking at a figure of $1.4 million to renovate the water plant. I solicited information from pump vendors to get the actual costs of these. I also solicited costs on the valve systems that would be necessary at each location, considering that the 30 year old valve systems may also need to be replaced. I then multiplied them by an appropriate factor for what a bid cost might be to install these. I did quite a bit of research on trying to get you a decent number."

"Renovating the raw water facilities is going to add about $550,000 to the project costs and replacing the high service pumps, valves, and using variable frequency drives, which is something that's been kicked around but is not absolutely necessary per se, is adding approximately $600,000 to the project costs. So right there you've got $1.15 million added to it and by the time you consider all the other work that was proposed, the new total estimated project costs, including engineering, administrative, environmental, and a $50,000 project contingency, is $2.8 million. What I'm saying to you is I think that's the high number. We may be able to do things differently to save Smithville some money and get a cheaper bid cost than that

Davenport says efforts will be made to save the city money where possible with in-house repairs. "The first thing I would want to do, since this report has already been prepared, is to submit it to the Division of Water Supply and say ‘we are asking for your approval and these are our plans.' We would then design the improvements. That would probably take at least 90 days. We can determine during the design phase what items can be fixed in-house versus what you will need a general contractor to take care of. You can increase the reliability of what you have. I would propose that we have a project kick-off meeting with whoever wants to attend and then sit down and talk about all the minor things that need to be done. The next step would be to assess those big ticket items and see what can be done to them. If they need to be junked, they need to be junked. But we will not make that decision for you. We'll present the facts and say, for example, this is what we think it will cost to fix it and in our opinion you should buy a new one because it's only 20% more. That would be the best thing for Smithville in this case. We could even help solicit two different estimates from two different firms on the repairs. You could then bring it before the board and make a decision as to whether or not you wanted to pursue it at that point or lump it into the big project."

The aldermen voted earlier this month to appropriate $1.4 million from almost $4 million in water and sewer fund reserves to make renovations to the water treatment plant. The money will be set aside during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1st.

The city recently voted to apply for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund the water plant rehab project

The original total estimated project cost of $1.4 million dollars breaks down as follows:
Renovate Filters with New Underdrains and Media- $250,000
Blower and accessories for Air Scour- $40,000
New 40 HP Backwash Pump, Rebuild Existing Pump for Standby- $90,000
Convert Filter Instrumentation including Water System Telemetry- $300,000
Modifications to Existing 1967 Clearwell- $10,000
New Chemical Bulk Storage and Containment- $60,000
Electrical Work- $200,000
New Standby Generator at Intake and at Plant- $200,000
Engineering: Design- $95,000
Construction Administration and Observation- $80,000
Administrative- $23,500
Environmental- $1,500
Project Contingencies- $50,000

In other business Monday night, the aldermen adopted on second and final reading an ordinance to rezone property that may soon become the location for an apartment complex for low-income grandparents raising a grandchild.

The two acre site, owned by Bruce Medley and David Bryan , is located at 721 Bright Hill Road and to the rear of Fiddler's Manor and other property owners on Walker Drive.

The proposed Fiddlers Manor Annex would actually be situated on 1.76 acres of the property.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a $1.67 million grant to build eight apartments in Smithville for low-income grandparents who are raising a grandchild.

The grant was awarded to the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) as part of HUD's Demonstration Program for Elderly Housing for Intergenerational Families.

Early Morning Fire Destroys Home in Johnson's Chapel Community

February 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire destroyed a home today (Tuesday morning) at 151 Clearview Drive in the Johnson's Chapel Community.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says Dean Lyons, who lived alone at the residence, was away when the fire started and returned home around 1:30 a.m. to find that the house had already collapsed from the blaze. The home belonged to Lyons' brother Richard Lyons.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Johnson's Chapel, and Midway Stations responded along with the county fire department's brush truck and tanker truck. Firefighters were unable to save the home or it's contents.

Chief Green says a total of seven vehicles on the property, two inside the garage, and five parked nearby were also destroyed.

The cause of the fire is apparently undetermined.

Sheriff's Department Finds Drugs while serving State Warrant-Two People Arrested

February 16, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bridgett Nicole Cantrell
Franklin Allan Knowles
Chadwick Buchanon

Two people were charged last Tuesday after authorities of the Sheriff's Department found drugs in the home while serving a state warrant.

31 year old Bridgett Nicole Cantrell of Piney Woods Road, Dowelltown and 36 year old Franklin Allan Knowles of Young-Green Road, Smithville are charged with simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for both is set at $2,500 each and they will appear in court February 19th.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, deputies and detectives from the department served a state warrant at Knowles' residence and noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming from inside the home. Detectives obtained consent to search and found drugs and drug paraphernalia in two of the bedrooms.

Sheriff Ray says marijuana, marijuana seeds, rolling papers, and a marijuana cigarette roller were found in a bedroom occupied by Cantrell. In Knowles' room, officers found marijuana, several bags of marijuana seeds, a marijuana pipe, rolling papers, hemostats, and a marijuana cigarette roller.

Meanwhile, 33 year old Chadwick L Buchanon of West Main Street in Alexandria was arrested Monday (February 16th) for theft of property over $1,000.. Buchanon was charged after detectives discovered that on June 1st 2007, he had gone to a residence on Lower Helton Road and took a 2001 Yamaha ATV, valued at over $1,000 without the owner's consent. The ATV has since been recovered. Buchanon's bond was set at $5,000 and he will appear in court on February 26th.

In another case, deputies received a call Thursday to go to Short Mountain Highway where a strange man was seen walking down the road.

Officers found 47 year old James Donald Hale of Big Hill Road, Liberty kneeling beside of the roadway on Short Mountain Road and they detected a strong odor of alcohol on Hale's person. After being placed under arrest, a search of Hale revealed marijuana in his wallet and two half smoked marijuana joints in Hale's shirt pocket. He was charged with public intoxication and simple possession of marijuana. Hale's bond was set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on February 19th.

On Saturday, deputies stopped 39 year old Paul E. Stanley of Campbell Road, Smithville for a traffic violation on Highway 70 West. Upon speaking with Stanley, officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Stanley submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Stanley was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. His bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on February 26th.

On Sunday, deputies stopped 34 year old Sonya Kaye Edge of Davis Road, Dowelltown for weaving from the center line to the shoulder of the roadway several times. Upon talking to Edge, officers detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from within the vehicle. Edge had red watery eyes and a smell of alcohol on her person. She submitted to field sobriety tasks which she failed. Sheriff Ray says Edge admitted to drinking alcohol. She was charged with driving under the influence and her bond was set at $1,500. She will appear in court on March 19th.

Sheriff Ray asks that if you have any information on any thefts or any information on any drug activities, to call him at 597-4935 or call the crime tip line at 464-6400. All calls are kept confidential.

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