Local News Articles

Kyra Robinson Sentenced to House Arrest, then Probation in Cannon County Drug Case

March 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kyra Robinson

A DeKalb County woman and former nurse at the Cannon County Jail was sentenced on charges of theft and fraud Friday in Woodbury.

Kyra Robinson appeared before Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III in Cannon County Circuit Court.

Kyra and her now ex-husband Mark (Truck) Robinson were indicted last year by a Cannon County Grand Jury on charges that they stole $10,500 worth of prescription medications from the Cannon County Jail. Ms. Robinson was accused of fraud for obtaining inmate prescriptions and then keeping them. Robinson was employed by the Cannon County Jail until shortly before her arrest.

In August, 2008 the Robinson's reportedly pled guilty.

The Cannon County Radio Station, WBRY reports on it's website that Friday's hearing was to determine if Ms. Robinson would be required to serve her eight year sentence or be placed on probation. After hearing all of the evidence, Chancellor Corlew ruled that she would be placed on house arrest for 6 months and would then spend the remainder of the 8 year sentence on supervised probation. Chancellor Corlew also denied Robinson's request for judicial diversion finding that she was not a proper candidate. The Robinson's reportedly were ordered to each pay half of the $10,000 restitution to Cannon County.

The Cannon County case stemmed from a local investigation.

In December, 2007 the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant at the home of Mark and Kyra Robinson on Anthony Avenue in Smithville.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says officers made at least one drug buy from Robinson's residence and during the search, they found 193 Xanax pills, 203 empty prescription bottles with numerous individuals' names on them, hemostats, rolling papers, roach clips, syringes, and a pill grinder.

In the December case, Mark Robinson was charged with possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax) for sale and delivery and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officers seized the cash from Robinson.

Sheriff Ray says it was during the December investigation that he learned that the empty prescription bottles found at Robinson's home had the names of several Cannon County inmates on them.

He then contacted the TBI and the Cannon County Sheriff's Department with this discovery.

During the April, 2008 term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury, Mark Robinson was indicted on charges of sale and delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax), and conspiracy to sell a schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax).

Kyra Robinson was indicted for conspiracy to sell a Schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax).

New Automated Service Allows Crime Victims To Track Custody Status of Offenders

March 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has been awarded a grant to participate in a new statewide automated service that will allow local crime victims and their families to receive real-time information tracking the custody status of offenders.

Listen to Sheriff Patrick Ray discuss the new automated service. (See video public service announcement below by Charlie Daniels)

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the Tennessee Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification Service was established by the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence along with the Tennessee Sheriffs' Association. "I applied for a grant for the Sheriff's Department about six months ago with the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Tennessee Sheriff's Association is a part of that. I applied for that grant and we were able to obtain that grant. For the last month or so, they've been in the jail setting things up on our booking computer and it took effect today (Tuesday). So we're on line with it and ready to go."

"This service will tell if an offender is in jail and give you important custody information. It will also let you leave a phone number where if you want to find out if an offender is still in custody, you can call and leave your phone number and contact information in the system and when the offender gets released out of jail, it will automatically call you and tell you that they have been released from custody."

"It's primarily for domestic and sexual abuse cases where the victims. The victim will need to call 1-888- 868-4631. There will be some steps you need to go through. It's all an automated service. It's real easy to do. What it goes by at the jail is the offender's booking number. The system will give a number that will stay with the offender as long as he is in jail. That way then you call back the next time, if you want an update then you will type that number into that phone system and it will tell you if the offender is still in custody and where he is in custody. This system covers about 80 something counties here within the state so if the offender has moved from DeKalb County to another county in Tennessee then this service could be offered there too."

"There's a couple of different ways that victims will be able to get the phone numbers. You can call the Sheriff's Department. We'll give you a number there. You can get them from the deputies. When they go out on calls, you can request one from them then or the deputies will automatically hand you one, or you can call the toll free number."

As with other statewide systems, users can register to be notified of certain custody status changes such as release, transfer, or escape.

Users can call 1-888-TNVINE1 (888-868-4631) or log onto www.vinelink.com to find out if an offender is in a county jail. They can also register to be notified by phone, e-mail, pager, or TTD/TTY device when an offender is released, transferred, or escapes. Live operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist victims who need help obtaining offender information or registering for notification. Technical support professionals monitor and maintain SAVIN to ensure high reliability and availability of this potentially life-saving service. SAVIN is free to the public.

Sheriff Ray says "Our goal is to ensure that victims and their families are given timely and reliable information that allows them to protect themselves and fully participate in the criminal justice process."

Users registering by telephone must provide a number where they can be reached and a four-digit
Personal Identification Number (PIN) will be assigned by the Victim Service Unit. If registering online, a valid e-mail address must be provided. The service is available in both English and Spanish.

The implementation of Tennessee SAVIN is being funded by a Federal grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Mayor Updates Aldermen on Tax Collections During Brief City Council Meeting

March 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen met briefly Monday night at city hall.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson gave a report on sales tax and property tax collections. "Over the last three months they (sales tax collections) have declined by about $20,000 for three months, which is not as bad as it is some places. But the way the trend is going, it will probably be more than that."

"As of today (Monday), we've collected about 90% of property taxes (for the year). There's about a 10% delinquency today which is fairly good for property tax collections. I think there's probably one or two of the larger ones that will come in within a day or two and that will cut it (delinquency) way on down."

Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson updated the aldermen on a new lease agreement with a tenant at the airport, who is renting a hangar and office space. "We've had a guy come in. He's out of New Mexico but he lives here in Smithville now and he's contracted with Averit Express, but he has some private planes. He is going to rent the airport hangar, the 8,000 square foot facility along with some office space for $500 per month, which is what we gave (agreement) to our last tenant. If they get enough people interested, they are thinking about offering a flight school. I believe they will be a good asset to the city and to the airport. They just started during the month of March, leasing out the airport for one year, and then we will go from there."

The city's agreement is with Phil D'Alfessio, President of D'Alessio Enterprizes, Inc.

D'Alessio will be leasing an 8,000 square foot hangar and a 20 x 39 foot office area at the airport at $500 per month beginning March 1st, 2009 for twelve months. D'Alessio will use the property for the storage of his aircraft and may, with written approval of the city by the Secretary–Treasurer, sublease a portion of the hangar for aircrafts other than those owned by D'Alessio.

According to the lease agreement, "D'Alessio shall be responsible for his own natural gas and any fees related to hookup of services. It is further understood and agreed that D'Alessio shall pay the city 20% of the monthly electric bill for the hangar and adjoining office space during the terms of this lease. D'Alessio may use an oil burning heater located inside the hangar, but all maintenance and service including fuel or repairs shall be the sole responsibility of D'Alessio. The city shall be responsible for providing water to the facility."

"The city shall be responsible for any major structural repairs to the exterior or interior. D'Alessio shall be responsible for the general maintenance of the lease property and to keep it clean during the terms of this lease."

"D'Alessio shall obtain and maintain a liability insurance policy in the minimum amount of one million dollars. Such policy shall name the city and the Smithville Municipal Airport, their officers, agents, employees, and assigns as additional insureds to the full extent of D'Alessio's insurance coverage. Such insurance shall include contractural liability insurance to insure D'Alessio's obligation to indemnify and hold the city, its agent and its employees harmless. Further, insurance shall include coverage for any aircraft present upon the premises by virtue of any sublease entered into by D'Alessio and any other party."

Either party may terminate the lease by giving sixty days written notice with or without cause.

(Click here to listen to the March 2nd Smithville City Council Meeting http://www.wjle.com/node/6973)

Chicken Barn Destroyed by Fire

March 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire Monday night destroyed a chicken barn and gutted a well house belonging to Tony Davis in the Blue Springs Community.

Captain Mark Young of the DeKalb County Fire Department says firefighters were called to the scene at 9:40 p.m. located at the intersection of L. Hendrixson and W.L. Davis Road.

Young says the fire was well underway by the time it was discovered and reported and firefighters were unable to save the chicken barn. Some young chickens perished in the fire and other contents of the barn were destroyed.

The cause of the fire is officially undetermined.

Members of the Blue Springs, Keltonburg, Short Mountain Highway, and Tanker #1 responded.

No one was injured.

Smithville Police Charge Woman with Aggravated Robbery of Discount Tobacco Outlet

March 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tiffany Gora

Smithville Police have charged 25 year old Tiffany Gora in the February 21st armed robbery of the Discount Tobacco Outlet Store at 302 West Broad Street, Smithville.

Gora is charged with one count of aggravated robbery. She is currently incarcerated in Coffee County, where she is charged with committing a similar offense on February 24th at a Discount Tobacco Outlet Store in Manchester.

According to Chief Richard Jennings, Gora has confessed to the Smithville robbery. "Detective Jerry Hutchins, Jr went to the Coffee County Jail this morning (Monday) and obtained a full confession from her. Gora stated that she was the person who robbed the tobacco store here in Smithville and that after the robbery she used the money to buy narcotics."

Chief Jennings says police initially thought a man committed the robbery based upon a statement given by the store clerk on the night of the incident. " There was a surveillance video in the tobacco store. Detective Hutchins reviewed the surveillance video but it didn't tell us a whole lot. However, we were suspicious on the front end because the person who performed the robbery never spoke. It was a female who did the actual robbery and I think she was afraid that if she spoke they would realize it was a female."

According to Gora's statement to police, she used a toy gun to commit the Smithville robbery. "The gun was a toy gun, a wooden gun painted black, not a real firearm. But it doesn't make any difference, it's still robbery and carries the same penalty as an actual weapon", said Chief Jennings.

Detective Hutchins says Smithville Police and authorities in Coffee County worked together to solve the crimes. "They knew who it was or had a name. I helped provide some information to locate them. They obtained the tag number off of a vehicle used in the robbery up there so their information and mine together solved the cases."

Detective Hutchins' report on the robbery, based on the store clerk's account, states that on February 21st at 5:43 p.m. I arrived at the Discount Tobacco Store. Upon arrival I made contact with the store clerk, Carolyn Frances Humphrey, who advised me that she was over by the coffee station on the east side of the store when a young man came into the store. He pointed a gun at her and motioned her over to the register. She complied. When she got to the register, he motioned for her to open it and give him the money. Ms. Humphrey stated that he never said a word. She then said that after he took the money he left eastbound on foot. He was described as a white male, 18 or 19 years old, about 160 pounds, 5 foot, 8 inches tall, with brown hair and looked like he needed a shave. The gun looked like a semi-automatic. She said he got about $200 to $225."

Chief Jennings, on Monday, would not disclose the exact amount of cash taken, saying it was several hundred dollars.

The Manchester Times reported last week that Gora and 39 year old Donald Taylor of Manchester are charged in the Coffee County case. Bond for each is $50,000 bond and they will be in Coffee County General Sessions Court March 4th.

According to the report, Gora allegedly went into the store around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday (February 24th) armed with a handgun and demanded money from the clerk. Gora, who was dressed in camouflage, left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash. But on her way out, she dropped the gun, before getting into a waiting Ford F-150 pickup truck, driven by Taylor, and leaving the scene.

They were spotted Thursday morning and taken into custody by Manchester Police and officers of the Coffee County Sheriff's Department

Police say Gora used a BB gun during the robbery and, according to an investigator, the two admitted to committing the crime to get money to buy drugs to further their habit.

Arrests Made in Rash of Theft and Vandalism Cases-Sheriff Says More Forthcoming

March 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dewey Jackson Forshee III
Troy Lee Cunningham, Jr

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has been investigating a rash of recent theft and vandalism cases and some arrests have been made, with more to come.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 19 year old Dewey Jackson Forshee III of Hillbilly Lane, Smithville was arrested Saturday in a vandalism case which occurred on October 20th 2008. Through an investigation, detectives learned that Forshee and a male Juvenile went to a farm on Cookeville Highway and entered a barn. While inside, the two vandalized a pickup truck by cutting the tires and keying obscene gestures into the paint. The two also cut the tires on a tractor and a trailer and stole an all terrain vehicle out of the barn and rode it around on the farm. Before they left, the two set fire to a round bale of hay. Forshee was charged with burglary, vandalism, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His bond is $11,000 and he will appear in court on March 12th. Detectives will also seek petitions on the juvenile.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Sheriff Ray says detectives arrested 21 year old Troy Lee Cunningham Jr. and 19 year old Amanda Brook England, both of A.B. Frazier Road Smithville, and charged them with theft of property under $500 after they were found in possession of a marine radio that was stolen. Bond for Cunningham and England is set at $25,000 each and they will appear in court on March 12th.

According to Sheriff Ray, the case unfolded after detectives received reports of theft and vandalism cases at Four Seasons Marina. The officers gathered evidence at the crime scene and picked up Cunningham, England, and two juveniles for questioning. At press time Monday, Sheriff’s Department detectives were still gathering information that will link some or all of the suspects and others to many of the vandalism and theft cases in the City of Smithville and at multiple marinas, businesses, nurseries, and smash and grabs in different areas of the county. More arrests are pending.

Sheriff Ray says if you have traded or bought radio equipment such as car or marine amplifiers, car or marine radios, fishing equipment, ski equipment, Global Positioning Devices (GPS), and or guns, to please call the Sheriff's Department and let detectives look at the items to make sure they are not stolen. Most stolen items have serial numbers that have been or will be entered as stolen into the NCIC system so if the serial numbers are run through the database, they will come back stolen.

Meanwhile in other cases, 25 year old Gregory Dean Schlenker of Circle Drive, Dowelltown was stopped last Monday on Highway 70 West after deputies received a call that he was intoxicated. After stopping Schlenker, the officers noticed he had an odor of alcohol on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Schlenker submitted to field sobriety tasks and failed them. He was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail where he was booked for driving under the influence. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

Deputies arrested 24 year old Kevin James Tate of Rocky River Road, Spencer last Tuesday after a vehicle in which he was a passenger was stopped on Short Mountain Highway. Deputies received consent to search the vehicle and patted down Tate for weapons. The officers found a plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Tate was arrested and charged with simple possession of marijuana. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

Also last Tuesday, deputies stopped 41 year old Napoleon Wainwright of Dunlap Lane, Woodbury for violation of registration and driving on the wrong side of the roadway. The officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on Wainwright's person. He was also unsteady on his feet. Wainwright submitted to field sobriety tasks and failed them. He was placed under arrest for driving under the influence and he was issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law because he refused to take a blood test. Wainwright's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

Three people were arrested Sunday after a traffic stop. Sheriff Ray says deputies stopped a vehicle on West Broad Street in Smithville for a traffic violation. Upon receiving consent to search, officers found a cigarette pack containing pills believed to be hydrocodone in one of the rear door handles that was within reach of small children under the age of five who were passengers in the vehicle. The driver, 29 year old Jeremy Edward Woodard of Page Drive Smithville was charged with simple possession, driving on a revoked license, and reckless endangerment. Two passengers, 27 year old Gary Thomas Woodard and 20 year old Tonya Lynn Goodall, also of Page Drive, were charged with reckless endangerment. Jeremy Woodard's bond was set at $5,500 and bond for Gary Woodard and Tonya Goodall was set at $2,500 each. All three will appear in court on March 19th..

31 year old Wesley Lynn Chandler of Page Drive Smithville was also arrested recently after he was involved in a two car motor vehicle accident on Old Sparta Highway. After the accident, Chandler left the scene but was picked up within minutes by a deputy at Chandler's home. Chandler had an odor of alcohol on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. He submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. After entering the booking area of the Jail, Chandler was found to have a hydrocodone pill hidden in a key chain in his pocket. Chandler was charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and introduction of drugs into a penal institution. Chandler's bond was set at $8,000 and he will appear in court on March 19th.

DCHS Teacher Selected to Present at NCHE Conference

March 2, 2009
by: 
Donna B. Emmons
John Isabell (Photo by Lifetouch)

John Isabell, social studies teacher at DCHS, has been selected to present at the National Council for History Education conference in Boston on March 12-14.

For the past two years, Isabell has been a participant in the TEACH grant program through Vol State Community College, which will pay his expenses.

Isabell's proposal is based on his research on 1930's social and labor activist Myles Horton and the Highlander Folk School. Horton, from Monteagle, Tennessee, and his Highlander Folk School were key components to the success of the civil rights movement, according to Isabell.

DeKalb Middle School Students Win at National History Day Competition

March 2, 2009

DeKalb Middle School eighth graders were winners at the National History Day regional competition held Friday at MTSU. They will now advance to the State competition April 4, 2009 at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville.

National History Day is a curriculum enhancement program that engages students in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics. Students may chose research papers, dramatic performances, imaginative exhibits, multimedia documentaries and websites based on research related to an annual theme. These projects are then evaluated at local, state and national competition. The 2009 competition theme is "The Individual in History; Actions and Legacies."

The eighth grade regional winners from DeKalb Middle School are:

Katie Haggard, Chelsea Lewis and Cecilia Maciel, 1st. place in the Drama Category
Martelia Tallent, 2nd. place in the Exhibits Category
These students were under the direction of Mrs. Vicky Terrell

Jonathan Page, Hunter Collins and Evan Curtis, 1st. place in the Website Category
Gage Brown, Lucus Phillips and Cole Parsley, 2nd. place in the Website Category
Destiny Caldwell and Abbey Caldwell, 3rd place in the Documentary Category
These students were under the direction of Mrs. Anita Puckett

Other DMS students competing at MTSU were Ethan Shaw, Jacob Parsley, Ben Pafford, Anna Fox, Ashton Waggoner, Ashlee Gunter, Tyler Vanhoose and McKayla Funk

Director of Schools and Members of School Board Attend "Day on the Hill"

March 1, 2009
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and School Board Chairman Charles Robinson-
Charles Robinson, State Senator Mae Beavers, and School Board Member Kenny Rhody

Members of the DeKalb County Board of Education joined school board members from across the state in Nashville on Tuesday, February 24th for a day of legislative networking at TSBA's annual "Day on the Hill" event. This year, featured program speakers included Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Kent Williams, Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham, and House Education Committee Chair Harry Brooks.

"Day on the Hill" is designed for school board members and superintendents to study pending education legislation and discuss priorities with local legislators. The event began with a breakfast at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel and was followed by visits to legislators' offices and committee hearings.

Kenny Rhody, Third District School Board member, said in a prepared statement that " As your Tennessee Legislative Representative, I along with Charles Robinson, Chairman of the DeKalb County School Board, and Mark Willoughby, Director of Schools, had the pleasure to represent DeKalb County Schools, at the annual Day on the Hill sponsored by the Tennessee School Board Association, where your school board members and directors are turned loose on Capitol Hill to meet with and discuss issues that affect the needs of the children of DeKalb County. We had the chance to sit down with Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Senator Mae Beavers and other dignitaries that affect our concerns. The issues this year that will affect us most are the stimulus package that is now law and will help our education system statewide."

"Day on the Hill provides a terrific opportunity for school board members throughout the state to
promote public education and seek assistance from the General Assembly with one collective voice," said David Pickler, TSBA President and Shelby County school board chairman. "We look forward to partnering with the General Assembly to continue to improve the quality of our schools in Tennessee and showcase the many successes of public education in our state."

In addition to the elected vs. appointed superintendent issue, TSBA hopes the General Assembly will have a serious discussion of Tennessee's system of funding public education at the local level.

2007's adoption of the Basic Education Program (BEP) 2.0, provided much-needed revenue to school systems and a substantial step toward more appropriate funding for education in the state; however, several local governments used the increase to reduce local effort to public education. At a minimum, TSBA believes local governments should have to provide an inflationary adjustment to schools each year to recognize natural increases in education costs. In addition, TSBA would like to see school boards have more fiscal autonomy in school budgeting. Tennessee is one of only 11 states in the country where boards of education have no ability to raise revenue for schools.

"Boards of education have embraced accountability, but accountability without the authority to address funding to meet the very performance standards that have been mandated is, in our opinion, unreasonable," said Smith.

Smith added that the association will continue to urge legislators to recognize the importance of local management of schools and resist attempts to remove local flexibility. "There is no ‘one-size-fits-all' solution in public education," said Smith. "All of our priorities are designed to give school boards the flexibility, authority and tools they need to do the best jobs for their individual students and communities, all of which have their own unique strengths and challenges."

The Tennessee School Boards Association, a statewide, nonprofit organization, is a federation of the state's local school boards. It serves as an advocate for the interests of Tennessee's public school students and school districts.

Five Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election to Date

February 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

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

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

Three other persons have also picked up qualifying petitions but have not yet returned them including 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.

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