Local News Articles

Downtown Smithville Mini-Grants Distributed

December 10, 2012
Downtown Smithville Mini-Grants Distributed

Smithville was one of 12 communities selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts. Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, made application for the Tennessee Downtowns Program on behalf of the city of Smithville and later for the $15,000 grant available only to communities in the TN Downtowns Program.

The Tennessee Downtowns Program Steering Committee Members - Steve White, chair; Alan Webb, Mark Ashburn, Wade Smith, & Chamber Director Suzanne Williams – have been working for almost 2 years on this state initiative. After months of attending training events, webinars, and late night meetings, the committee decided that dividing the grant money to accommodate 2 large projects would have the potential to make a more significant impact.

Project 1 would promote exterior improvements to downtown buildings. By investing a minimum of $1,000 in exterior improvements, downtown property owners were eligible to receive $500. Fortunately, the 16 applications that were submitted equaled the number of available grants, so no one was turned down. Mini-Grant recipients included The Flower Box, Cantrell’s Men Store, Cantrell’s Ladies Clothing, Attorney Keith W. Blair, Attorney Frank Buck, Thomas G. Janney, Henrietta Hale, Attorney Jeremy Trapp, Grannie’s Goldmine, Alan Webb, Attorney Gayla C. Hendrix, Richard Williams, Attorney Vester Parsley Jr., Annette Greek, Attorney J. Hilton Conger, and Gail H. Webb.

Project 2 would bring an attractive new structure to downtown - a new open-air stage located at Evins Park located across from the Smithville Post Office to be used for outdoor concerts, performances, and other community events for the public to enjoy and use. Steering Committee Members were excited to partner with the Evins Foundation on this project. Architect Gaius Overton designed the unique, hewn beam structure that will add to the charm and beauty of our downtown area. Local sculptor /wood artist of Beech Hollow Studios, William Kooienga, is also lending his expertise and talents to the project. The city of Smithville prepared and leveled the ground and Smithville Electric dug the foundation for the large wooden beams to be placed. “The stage will be a welcome and beautiful addition to the county,” says TN Downtown Committee chair Steve White. Continued community support will be needed to help complete this huge undertaking. “We will be asking for volunteers in early 2013 to help finish it,” says White. “We think it’s important for this to be a community project where lots of people and organizations have a part in its completion and success.” The Smithville Rotary Club donated $1,000 to help with the costs. The new open-air stage is slated to be finished by Spring, 2013.

Tennessee Downtowns Program Manager Amy New, Kathy LaPlante from The National Main Street Center, and Carla King, Executive Director, Main Street McMinnville attended the mini-grant check presentation to support the work that has been accomplished in downtown Smithville thus far. Amy New commented that out of the 22 TN Downtowns Program communities in which she has worked, the Smithville program has accomplished more than any other with the $15,000 grant. The amazing results have been documented in a video presentation showing the before and after pictures, as well as the new downtown businesses, ribbon cuttings, community improvement awards, 10 new directional signs to downtown, and the new Smithville logo. If anyone would like to view the presentation, stop by the Chamber office in the DeKalb Courthouse, Room 201.

“The National Trust Main Street Center applauds Smithville for embracing the revitalization of its downtown commercial district, and we look forward to hearing many more success stories here and across the state as a result of Tennessee Downtowns,” said Kathy LaPlante.

If you are interested in volunteering to help with the Open-Air Stage project, being on one of the new TN Downtowns Program Committees, or making a donation to the downtown revitalization efforts, call the Chamber of Commerce office at 597-4163.

Caption for Picture
Members of the Tennessee Downtowns Program Steering Committee present 16 Mini-Grant checks to downtown Smithville property owners for revitalization efforts.

Pictured l-r
Front Row:
Carla King, Executive Director, Main Street McMinnville; Amy New, Tennessee Downtowns Program Manager; Suzanne Williams, Chamber Director & TN Downtowns Steering Committee

2nd Row:
Paul Violet, Bessie Jones, Gayla Hendrix, Gail Webb, Chamber President Kathie McGlamery, Annette Greek, TN Downtowns Steering Committee Chair Steve White

3rd Row:
Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Kathy LaPlante of The National Main Street Center, Hilton Conger, TN Downtowns Steering Committee Member Alan Webb, Vester Parsley, Tom Janney

4th Row:
County Executive Mike Foster, TN Downtowns Steering Committee Member Wade Smith, Phillip “Fluty” Cantrell, Jeremy Trapp, Keith Blair, Frank Buck

City Receives $2.1 Million in Airport Grant Funds

December 10, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
City Receives $2.1 Million in Airport Grant Funds

The City of Smithville has been approved for more than $2.1 million in grants this year to help fund various airport improvement projects.

"Just this year in 2012, we've gotten approximately $2.1 million in grant funding for the airport," said Wesley Nokes, Manager of the Smithville Municipal Airport. "The overall cost to the city is going to average between 5 and 10% (grant match) or right around $200,000 or a little less," said Nokes.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced the latest grant for the Smithville Airport last week. This grant will help fund the design and construction of PAPI infrastructure. "This grant is for our PAPI lights, which are lights at the end of the runway that let the pilots know if they are on the right guide slope and if they are too high or too low coming in for approach for landing," said Nokes. "The wiring that supplies the electricity for these lights is extremely old. It was probably put in during the early 1970s. Its now dilapidated and corroded. This grant will replace all that wiring from the main hangar building out to each end of the runway, "he said.

Another airport project for which the city has been approved for grant funding is the resurfacing of the runway. "The first one (grant) we got this year was for just the engineering portion of the runway," said Nokes. "We're having the runway resurfaced and we are expanding the ramp and our parking area at the airport. We're repairing a spot of existing asphalt that has deteriorated probably due to an underground spring. The design for all that, the engineering portion of it, we got a grant for that and then we got a separate grant for the actual construction, the asphalt for the runway, the asphalt for the apron extension and to repair the older asphalt," said Nokes.

The city also plans to install a new fuel farm and begin offering jet fuel. "We got another grant for a new fuel farm which is for one hundred low lead and jet fuel," said Nokes. "We currently do not sell jet fuel at the airport so this will be a huge increase in traffic and revenue for us as we have not been able to provide that service before. But after this, we will. Even some of our current customers, businesses, and factories in the area that have corporate aircraft, when they come in they have no way of refueling here. They have to go somewhere else for fuel before they come in or after they leave so it will be a huge convenience factor for them and help us on the revenue aspect of it as well," he said. "The fuel farm construction hinges on the construction of the runway and the new part of the apron as the new fuel farm will be moved down to the end of the new apron expansion. There will be two above ground tanks. They will be twelve thousand gallon tanks. They will be operated on a self serve basis twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. They will be accessible by a debit or credit card," said Nokes.

Two other grants will help the city fund the purchase of a utility vehicle and a snow plow for the airport. "We got two grounds maintenance equipment grants," said Nokes. "One of those is for a utility vehicle, such as a John Deere Gator. That will be used for various grounds keeping activities at the airport such as spraying, weed eating, air field lighting repair, and that sort of thing," he said.

"The other one (grant) we got was for a snow plow to fit the current tractor that we have out here. We don't get a lot of snow in this area but when we do get some, if the need arises we'll be able to get the runway cleared off pretty quick without having to have the city or the county come out here and do it. That will be a huge help to us as well," said Nokes.

"Then we get a maintenance grant every year. It's a 50/50 matching grant. Its for basic general building repairs and computer system repairs. It covers lots of stuff. We get $29,000 a year for that. If we spend $29,000, the state will reimburse us $14,500," said Nokes.

According the Nokes, repairing the PAPI lights will most likely be the first airport project undertaken by the city. "The first project that will probably be done, depending on when the state gets the contracts out and everything, would be to repair the PAPI lights. A section of the existing ramp will have to be dug up to run those wires out to each end of the runway so that will be top priority to do that one first and then we can lay our new asphalt down over top of that," said Nokes.

The grants are made available through the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.
The Division administers federal and state funding to assist in the location, design, construction and maintenance of Tennessee's diverse public aviation system.

Except for routine expenditures, grant applications are reviewed by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission (TAC), which is a five member board charged with policy planning and with regulating changes in the state Airport System Plan. The board carefully reviews all applications for grants to ensure that the proper state and local matching funds are in place and that the grants will be used for needed improvements.

The TDOT Aeronautics Division has the responsibility of inspecting and licensing the state's 126 heliports and 75 public/general aviation airports. The Division also provides aircraft and related services for state government and staffing for the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission.

Lake Home Fire Poses Problems for County Firefighters

December 9, 2012
County Fire Chief Donny Green

The DeKalb County Fire Department responded to a structure fire Saturday afternoon at approximately 12:30 p.m. at 500 Bruer Drive off of Holmes Creek Road. A neighbor saw smoke coming from the eaves of the house, owned by Timothy and Tina Dedman, and reported the fire to DeKalb 911.

The Main Station, Short Mountain Highway Station, Cookeville Highway Station, and firefighters from other DCFD stations responded to the scene. Due to the narrow and steep driveway leading to the lake home, firefighters had difficulty getting equipment near the residence and water supply to extinguish the fire and protect a nearby structure. Firefighters were successful in containing and extinguishing the fire without any damage to a nearby house, located approximately 25 feet away.

According to Chief Donny Green, there was no one at home at the time of the incident and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation. The home was a total loss. Green said that after talking with the owners, he learned that the Dedman's primary residence is in Lebanon.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene to assist.

Later Saturday evening, DeKalb County Firefighters were called back to the scene to extinguish the fire again.

Chevy Tahoe Used in Break-In at Jewel's Market Stolen from Glynn's Auto Sales

December 8, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chevy Tahoe used in Break-in at Jewel's Market
Stolen Chevy Tahoe Left at Jewel's Market

No arrests have yet been made in the break-in at Jewel's Market but Smithville Police now know that the Chevy Tahoe used by the two burglars to crash into the store building was stolen. It was apparently taken from the car lot of Glynn's Auto Sales on West Broad Street.

Glynn Merriman, owner of the car lot, told WJLE Friday that someone broke into his office building during the night, removing a room air conditioner and making entry through a window. Three sets of car keys were taken from the office, including one set which went to the Chevy Tahoe. Merriman said the Tahoe was the only vehicle missing from the car lot.

After stealing the Tahoe, the thieves apparently wound up at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard just after midnight Friday morning where they crashed the SUV through the front doors to make entry, causing significant damage. The driver and passenger then got out of the vehicle and tried to steal the in-store ATM. The crime was captured on store video surveillance. The two men reportedly wore something covering their faces. They reportedly tied a chain to the ATM in an effort to pull it out of the store with the Tahoe. But when officers arrived, the two men abandoned the ATM and SUV and fled on foot, making their escape around back of the building and into the woods.

Nothing else appeared to have been taken from the store.

DeKalb Ambulance Involved in Three Vehicle Accident

December 7, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Hoyte Hale and James Wesley Slager treated and released. No patient on board
Chevy Blazer, driven by Michael Jones, hits Ambulance
Ambulance forced into Buick Sentry, driven by Phillip Atnip
DeKalb Ambulance Involved in Three Vehicle Accident

Three vehicles, including a DeKalb County ambulance, were involved in a traffic accident Friday at the intersection of West Broad and South Mountain Street.

Central dispatch got the call at 11:24 a.m.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that the ambulance, a 2009 Ford, driven by 50 year old Hoyte Hale of Smithville was traveling north on Highway 146 through the intersection when it was struck in the passenger side by a 2001 Chevy Blazer, driven by 33 year old Michael Jones of Smithville, who had run a red light while traveling west on Broad Street. The ambulance was then forced from the impact into a 1993 Buick Sentry, driven by 62 year old Phillip Atnip of Smithville, who was sitting in the turning lane on Highway 146 facing south. There was no patient on board the ambulance at the time of the accident.

Hale and a front seat passenger of the ambulance, 26 year old James Wesley Slager of Alexandria were taken to DeKalb Community Hospital where they were treated and released. Jones and Atnip were not seriously injured and reportedly refused transport to the hospital from the scene. One of them later went to the hospital for observation and treatment.

Jones has been charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, violation of the financial responsibility law, and failure to obey a traffic control device.

Due to the damage, the ambulance involved in the wreck has been taken out of service.

Members of the Smithville Police Department and Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Burglars Crash Chevy SUV into Jewels Market Trying to Steal ATM

December 7, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Burglars Crash Chevy  SUV into Jewels Market, Trying to Steal ATM
ATM Machine Found Near Abandoned Chevy  SUV at Jewel's Market

Smithville Police are investigating a bold break-in overnight at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard across from Dogwood Plaza. At last report, the two people responsible remained at large.

The driver of a Chevy Tahoe apparently backed the SUV into the building, crashing it through the front doors to make entry. The front of the store received significant damage. The driver and passenger then got out of the vehicle and tried to steal the in-store ATM.

Officers arrived on the scene with the burglary still in progress and nearly caught the would be thieves red handed but the two fled on foot into the woods behind the store.

911 received the call at 12:13 a.m. Friday morning.

The ATM machine was left outside by the vehicle.

A store clerk said nothing else appeared to have been taken from the store

Liberty Man Indicted In Fatal Traffic Accident

December 6, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Johnny Lynn Hickey drove the 2004 F350 full size flat bed truck
Chris and Cleva Gammons and Troy Bruno rode in the Altima.
Johnny Lynn Hickey

A 52 year old Liberty man has been indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in a June traffic accident on Highway 70 at Snow Hill that claimed the life of one man and injured two others.

Johnny Lynn Hickey is indicted on one count of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, and driving under the influence. He is under a $15,000 bond and will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 10. He was arrested on Monday, December 3.

Hickey is charged in the death of 30 year old Chris Gammons who passed away Monday, July 9 at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Gammons and Hickey were among four people in the accident which occurred on Saturday morning, June 23 on Highway 70 near the intersection of Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) on Snow Hill.

Gammons and Troy Bruno, both of Smithville were airlifted from near the scene of the crash by Life Force and Air Evac helicopter ambulances. The other person injured in the wreck was 32 year old Cleva Elaine Gammons of Smithville, wife of Chris Gammons. Hickey was not hurt.

Central dispatch received the call at 3:28 a.m that morning.

According to Trooper Darrell Knowles of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Hickey was traveling west on Highway 70 in a 2004 F350 full size flat bed truck when he crossed the turning lane and into the path of an eastbound 2002 Nissan Altima, driven by Cleva Elaine Gammons. Chris Gammons was a front seat passenger and Troy Bruno was a back seat passenger of the Altima. Chris Gammons was ejected and landed on the highway, in front of the Altima. Bruno was trapped in the backseat and had to be extricated by members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team.

Bruno and Chris Gammons were transported by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone on Highway 70 at the intersection of Toad Road. One of them was airlifted by a Life Force helicopter and the other was flown out by an Air Evac helicopter. Mrs. Gammons was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital, where she was treated and released.

On the scene were Trooper Knowles of the THP, DeKalb EMS, Sheriff's Department deputies, DeKalb Fire Extrication and Rescue, and members of the Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, Liberty, and Cookeville Highway stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

The original complaint against Hickey stated that he admitted to consuming four beers. Several field sobriety tasks were given. Hickey did not perform as demonstrated. Hickey was transported to the emergency room of the hospital for a blood alcohol test and then to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department for booking.

The vehicular homicide indictment against Hickey alleges that he "killed Chris Gammons by the operation of the motor vehicle and that the killing was the proximate result of Hickey's intoxication, constituting the offense of vehicular homicide".

The indictments for vehicular assault allege that Hickey "recklessly did cause serious bodily injury to Cleva Gammons and Troy Bruno by the operation of a motor vehicle, and the serious bodily injury was the proximate result of Hickey's intoxication, constituting the offense of vehicular assault".

The indictment for DUI states that Hickey "unlawfully did, while under the influence of an intoxicant and/or drugs, drive or was in physical control of an automobile or other motor driven vehicle upon the public roads and highways... constituting the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant and/or drug, first offense".

Smithville Police Department Sponsoring Christmas Coat Drive

December 6, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Beth Adcock

The Smithville Police Department is sponsoring a Christmas Coat Drive for needy children.

Records Clerk Beth Adcock, who is coordinating the coat drive, said gently used coats are needed for children, both boys and girls, from pre-school age sizes up to adult. "Right now we have some children that are not even asking for toys. They're asking for coats. My goal right now is to get these children some coats. We are requesting anybody that has any coats that they are not wearing., that they've outgrown or have stored away, if they want to clean out their closet and donate them (coats) we would be more than thrilled to take them. We just want to make sure they (needy children) have something. We're not asking anyone to go buy (new coats). We're just asking for some good used coats. Please donate coats by Friday, December 14. That will give me a week to get it all together. You can contact me here at the police department at 597-8210, extension 1 or if you see an officer you can give the coats to them and they (officers) will bring them to me," said Adcock.

Meanwhile, Adcock said the police department is planning a Christmas party for needy children and families. "We are planning a Christmas party for underprivileged children and families who are really needing help during this holiday season," said Adcock. The party will be Friday, December 21 upstairs in the community room of city hall. We are working with Second Harvest getting the names (of those in need). We will be sending out letters inviting them. We will be providing food. We'll have carolers and a local pastor will be reading about the birth of Christ. Santa will be there and we'll be giving some presents. This is our first year of doing this. We are trying to give back to the community and let the children know that they can come to these officers if they are in need of anything. We want to make sure we have a good public relationship with them. We want to help these children and the families," said Adcock.

TBI Arrests Brush Creek Woman For Soliciting Minor

December 5, 2012
Sabra Swaims Gentry

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested a Smith County woman for soliciting a minor after opening an investigation at the request of the District Attorney General last month.

Sabra Swaims Gentry, 35, of Brush Creek, Tenn. was indicted by the Smith County grand jury on one count of solicitation of a minor after sending sexually explicit texts and having sexually explicit conversations with a minor in November 2012. Gentry is the former cheerleading coach at Smith County High School. She was arrested and booked into the Smith County Jail today.

McMinnville Man Injured In Crash After High Speed Pursuit

December 4, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
McMinnville Man Injured In Crash After High Speed Pursuit
Aaron Gribble Injured in Crash

A 22 year old McMinnville man was injured in a one car crash at Warren County after trying to outrun a state trooper in a pursuit which started in DeKalb County just after midnight Tuesday morning.

Felony charges are pending against Aaron Gribble.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that he was north on Highway 56 headed toward Smithville in the Seven Springs area of DeKalb County at around 12:23 a.m. when he saw a vehicle traveling south at a high rate of speed toward Warren County. Trooper Jennings said after clocking the vehicle by radar traveling at 92 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour speed zone, he turned around to make a stop for the violation but the driver of the vehicle, a 2003 Lincoln LLS refused to pull over. The car continued south into Warren County at speeds over 100 miles per hour until it turned left on Highway 287 East (Green Hill Road) in Warren County. The car continued a short distance on that road until it went out of control in a curve, entered a ditchline, and overturned. The car came to a final rest on its top with the driver, Gribble, trapped inside. Gribble had to be extricated from the car.

In addition to Trooper Jennings, members of the North Warren Fire Department, Warren County EMS, and Warren County Sheriff's Department were on the scene. Gribble was transported by ambulance to Riverpark Hospital in McMinnville.

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