Local News Articles

THP Sergeant Mark Dial Promoted to Lieutenant

March 8, 2013
THP Sergeant Mark Dial Promoted to Lieutenant

A sergeant in the Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been promoted to Lieutenant.

Mark Dial is among fifteen members of the THP who were formally recognized for promotions in a special ceremony Thursday at the Tennessee Highway Patrol Training Center in Nashville. The announcement was made by Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security officials Commissioner Bill Gibbons, Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin, Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott, and Assistant Commissioner David Purkey were on-hand to congratulate the employees.

A commissioned state trooper since 1997, Dial's first assignment was in White County in the Cookeville District. Dial went on to serve as a Road Trooper in White County for nine years. In late 2006, Dial was promoted to Sergeant in Putnam County, where he served for 14 months before transferring to DeKalb County as a Patrol Sergeant over both Dekalb and Smith Counties, where he is currently assigned. Throughout his career, Dial has served as a member of the THP Riot Team, and after being promoted to the rank of Sergeant, he was selected as a Squad Leader on the Riot Squad. Dial is member of the THP Honor Guard. In May of 2011, Dial became the "Officer in Charge" of the Honor Guard.

(Photo above: From L-R, Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin, Commissioner Bill Gibbons, Lt. Mark Dial, Colonel Tracy Trott, Major Cheryl Sanders, Captain R.C. Christian)

Federal Sequestration Cuts to Affect L.B.J. & C. Head Start

March 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Several Smithville Head Start Children

Due to federal government spending cuts with sequestration, L.B.J & C Head Start will be adjusting its schedule in the twelve counties it serves including DeKalb starting this August.

"As everyone knows it's a federal decision across the board, across the nation and Head Start did suffer from that," said Dorothy Pippin, L.B.J. & C. Head Start Director in an interview with WJLE Thursday. " It is estimated that nationwide 70,000 children may lose their services of Head Start. In the state of Tennessee its estimated that 1,200 children may lose services of Head Start," she said.

"L.B.J. & C. has worked it out to where we will not reduce the number of children that we are serving," said Pippin. "However we've had to make other adjustments. Staff will be going to seven hours a day versus eight so they will be cut one hour. Our operation will be from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., cutting about an hour back from the services to the children who stay all day," she said.

Locally at the Smithville Head Start Center, thirteen employees will be affected. "We have four classrooms here with eight education staff. We have two cooks, a family service person and an assistant. We also have a custodian. A total of thirteen staff. This will take affect next August when they return to work from being laid off this summer," said Pippin.

"The central office staff, the administrative staff hours will be cut beginning May 1," she added.

The Smithville Head Start Center serves 74 children ages three and four. While it is not good news that the cuts are coming, Pippin said at least no one is losing their job and Head Start services are still being provided to the children. "Hopefully this is not going to have a real large impact on anyone. Its bad news but it is good news because nobody is losing their job. They are not losing any of their benefits. They are losing one hour a day which will amount to five hours a week. I'm also concerned about the children and families but I believe we can all make adjustments and make this work," she said.

L.B.J. & C Head Start will also be closing for the summer a few days earlier than normal this year according to Pippin. "We will be closing our Head Start Centers on April 26 for the children. We have extra days built into our program and all of it depends on the weather and how bad the winters are. But normally we close out the first two or three days of May so it will only affect maybe two or three days," she said.

Pippin said she is hopeful federal funding will be restored for the Head Start program. "There is a possibility that our money will be restored and we're hoping that will happen. If it does everything will go back to normal. I hope everyone will continue to support our program and send their children because Head Start is a wonderful program," said Pippin.

L.B.J. & C. Head Start is currently accepting applications for the next school year which begins in August to provide free comprehensive child development services to children 3-5 years of age from low-income families in a full day program. Services are also offered to meet the special needs of children with disabilities. L.B.J.& C. Head Start helps all children succeed.

L.B.J.& C. Head Start provides children with activities that help them grow mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. The L.B.J.& C Head Start recognizes that, as parents, you are the first and most important teachers of your children. They will welcome your involvement in L.B.J.& C. Head Start activities, and will work as partners with you to help your child and family progress.

Children who attend L.B.J.&C. Head Start participate in a variety of educational activities, receive free medical and dental care, free healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe environment.

L.B.J.& C. Head Start staff members will offer your child love, acceptance, understanding, and the opportunity to learn and to experience success.

For more information contact the Smithville Head Start Center at 615-597-5168.

Two Weeks Left to Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election

March 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Two Weeks Left to Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election

Potential candidates have two weeks to decide if they want to run for Alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election in June.

The qualifying deadline is 12 noon on Thursday, March 21

The three incumbent aldermen up for re-election, Gayla Hendrix, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer all plan to run. All three have picked up their qualifying petitions with the election commission office and all three have returned them.

Three others, Josh Miller, Anthony Scott, and Aaron Meeks have picked up petitions. Miller and Scott have returned their petitions to the election commission office.

The election will be held on Tuesday, June 18. The terms of the three elected will begin July 1 and run through August 2016. The aldermen-elect will serve a one time- three year term. Thereafter, the terms of office for these three positions will be for four years beginning with the city election in August 2016, subject to final approval of proposed changes in the city charter.

For more information, contact the DeKalb County Election Commission Office at 597-4146

City Officials Concerned About Possible Water Leaks

March 6, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville has apparently sprung some water leaks.

Todd Bowman, Supervisor of the Water Treatment Plant, informed the mayor and aldermen Monday night that even after fixing a major leak recently, the system is still pumping more water than it should be for this time of year which is indicative of more leaks.

The city has leak detecting equipment but it is older and not as reliable as new devices now available. Bowman said the city could contract with someone to come in with newer equipment to help locate the leaks throughout the system at a cost of $5,600. The city also has the option of purchasing new leak detecting devices for around $2,600.

Bowman said the amount of water the city is pumping has been ramping up in recent months. "Theoretically each month, you should pump about the same amount of water and you should meter out the same amount unless you have new businesses or industries come in. If you look at November 2011 you can see the amount of water was at 47.9 million gallons. In November 2012 is was 49.7 million gallons. That's when I noticed we had a leak," said Bowman. " In December 2011 it was 49 million and December 2012 it was 54.8 million. Then they found the big leak and fixed it at the end of January," he said.

According to Bowman, the problem has persisted even after the leak was fixed. "In January 2012 it was 49 million and January 2013 it was 56.4 million. In February 2012 it was 46.1 million and February 2013 it was 50 million. Normally in the winter your water (usage) will ramp down. There are no pools or gardens being watered and no lawns. I just wanted you to look at these numbers because I think the system still has a few problems out there. If you compare the numbers to a year ago, they are extremely high. We're up to about two million gallons (usage) per day. When I started we were at 1.7 million per day. You can just gradually see the water ramping up and it should be vice versa right now. In the winter it should fall down and pick back up in the spring. If it stays like this we'll be pumping up to 60 million gallons (per month) by summer. We have talked to a leak survey guy who said he could come in and do the whole system and the whole 54 mile of main for $5,600. He will walk every main in the city. He will spot the leaks and put an "x" on the road and then you have the guys go out and repair the leaks," said Bowman.

Mayor Jimmy Poss said he preferred the city purchasing its own new leak detecting equipment. "We've talked about buying this equipment. We've got one (leak detector). Its older and not as good. It won't detect like this (new equipment). I'd like to buy it. We've got the people to do it (find and repair the leaks)." said Mayor Poss.

New Tornado App Brings American Red Cross Safety Information to Mobile Devices

March 6, 2013
 Kathy Nesmith

The American Red Cross has launched its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in, visit or have loved ones in tornado-prone areas.

This free app—available in English or Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if the app is closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.

“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” said Kathy Nesmith, Chapter Executive, Caney Fork Chapter. “The audible alerts in this app can save lives - even if users can’t monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work.”

Other features of the app include:

·Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts;

· Enhanced weather maps;

· One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way;

·Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members;

· Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;

·Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm;

·Locations of open Red Cross shelters; and

· Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

Launched during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Tornado App is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness. The apps have been used to help save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.

“The Red Cross has made great strides in putting vital information in the hands of people who need it during emergencies. In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country,” added Nesmith.

Mobile activity soared due to Superstorm Sandy:

* More than 400,000 people downloaded the Red Cross Hurricane App;

· Nearly 6 million NOAA weather alerts were sent;

·Preparedness content was the most popular feature of the app followed by alerts and the shelter locator;

· The average time spent using the app increased 300 percent; and

· The app had 15 million page views.

Right after the storm, the Hurricane App was updated with real-time recovery information including Red Cross shelter and feeding sites, FEMA sites, open gas stations and warming centers to help those affected by the storm.

The Tornado App, along with the others, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year and we help people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

Smithville Man Injured In One Car Accident

March 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Man Injured In One Car Accident (Trooper Johnson Photo)
Roger Rapp, III Airlifted After One Car Wreck (Trooper Johnson Photo)

A 46 year old Smithville man was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital Monday night after a one car wreck near the intersection of Dry Creek Road and New Home Road.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Roger Rapp, III was driving south on Dry Creek Road in a 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII when he failed to negotiate a curve, crossed the center line, ran off the left side of the roadway, and struck a tree.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team were called to the scene to pop open the car door. DeKalb EMS treated Rapp at the scene. He was later flown from the site by a helicopter ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital.

According to Trooper Johnson, Rapp passed a county drug detective on Foster Road at a high rate of speed prior to the accident. The detective turned around but couldn't catch up to Rapp until after he crashed.

Charges are pending.

Off Duty City Employee Charged with DUI

March 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Eugene O'Neil

An off duty City of Smithville employee was charged last Friday with driving under the influence.

81 year old Eugene O'Neil, the city's building inspector, is under a $1,500 bond and he will be in court on June 13.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said on Friday, March 1 at around 5:51 p.m. he spotted a 2003 Chevy Silverado on Golf Club Drive with a brake light out and a turn signal not working. He stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, O'Neil who had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. According to Trooper Johnson, O'Neil allegedly admitted to drinking a beer. Trooper Johnson found in the truck two-40 ounce bottles of King Cobra malt liquor. One bottle was unopened and the other bottle was almost empty.

Trooper Johnson said O'Neil submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test.

In addition to being charged with DUI, O'Neil was cited for the light violations.

O'Neil was apparently off duty at the time and was driving his own personal vehicle.

Smithville Fire Department Partners with State Fire Marshal to Provide Home Smoke Alarm Installations

March 5, 2013

The State Fire Marshal's Office recently presented the Smithville Fire Department with a supply of smoke alarms to be installed in homes within the community at high risk of fire. The department personnel attended an information session and training course on the new alarms, which were purchased with FEMA grant funds and utilize a lithium battery with a 10 year lifespan.

This statewide, months-long distribution of smoke alarms is all part of the State Fire Marshal's effort to both educate and equip Tennesseans to incorporate fire safety into their daily lives.

"We want residents to make sure they have functional smoke alarms in their homes, as well as a rehearsed fire-escape plan. These are tools proven to save lives-because even one fire death is one too many," said State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak.

The alarms are free, but must be installed by the fire department or a partnering organization that has received the training course. Because supplies are limited, the fire department may need to give first preference to those who are not able to otherwise afford smoke alarms.

"We are excited to be able to partner with the State Fire Marshal's Office in providing these smoke alarms for the citizens here in Smithville said Chief Charlie Parker of the Smithville Fire Department. "Fire can spread through a home in a matter of minutes and smoke alarms can give residents the warning needed to get out safely."

To request an installation, call 615-597-4141 and provide your name, address, and phone number. A fire department representative will then contact you to schedule a time for the installation. In addition to having working smoke alarms, follow these other important tips to make sure your home is fire-safe.

* Always stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food

* Check to see that matches and lighters are kept up high in a cabinet with a childproof lock

* Develop a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and an outside meeting place. Share and practice the plan with every member of the household.

* Keep portable space heaters and candles three feet away from anything that can burn, including people, furniture, and pets

* Always turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room or go to bed

* Have the chimney cleaned and checked regularly

* Do not smoke in bed

* Make sure that all matches and ashes are cool before being thrown away.

*Make sure that extension cords are in good condition and are used to power small items only-never major appliances.

For further information on fire safety, feel free to visit the State Fire Marshal's Office website at www.tn.gov/commerce/sfm. You also may download a home fire safety checklist at http://tn.gov/commerce/sfm/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf.

Petition Seeks City Outdoor Recreation Area for Bikers and Skaters

March 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Should the City of Smithville create an outdoor recreation area for youth to ride bikes and skate?

Will and Martha Puckett came before the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen Monday night with a petition signed by more than 200 people seeking such a place. "I would like to present the idea of an outdoor recreation area for the City of Smithville," said Will Puckett. " We would like an outdoor area to ride bicycles and a place to skate. We got over 200 signatures in less than 24 hours," he said.

Many places in the city are off limits to bikers and skaters, such as the downtown area and at Greenbrook Park and its too dangerous in the streets. " Last Saturday, an event happened. Me and one of my good friends were skating on a road and a car actually swerved and almost hit me," said Will Puckett..

Martha Puckett said grant funding could be available through Walmart. "You can apply for the grants online at Walmart.com, I used to work for Walmart and for community grants, they offer up to $20,000 depending on what its for," said Martha Puckett. " And if money is an issue, we can do fundraisers. Walmart will let us set up a fundraiser outside of the store," she said.

"We want a place where they (youth) can play basketball outside. Where you can skate or ride bicycles, roller blade or anything like that," said Martha Puckett. "We're not allowed to do that at the park. People have told me they want their children to have a place to go out and have fun and there's not that many places to do that," she said.

Alderman Gayla Hendrix urged the Puckett's to apply for the grant."We have, as a board been discussing applying for grants for other recreational facilities for the city so that would be a really good start. If you could start, we could brainstorm ideas for places," she said.

"I would encourage you to get on line and go for it. We'll try to come up with some (city) property somewhere," said Mayor Jimmy Poss.

Undercover Probe Nabs Couple in the Act of Burglary and Theft

March 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Clayton Dwayne Green
Rachel Nicole Green
Johnny Wayne Trapp
Michael Brandon Redmon
 Christopher Justin Garrett
David Allen Sullivan
Howard R. Moon
David Hugh Flynn

A tip and a subsequent undercover investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department led to the arrests Sunday, March 3 of two people in an Alexandria burglary and theft.

29 year old Clayton Dwayne Green of Gordonsville is charged with aggravated burglary, theft of property over $1,000, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. Rachel Nicole Green of Gordonsville is charged with aggravated burglary, theft of property over $1,000, burglary, and theft of property under $500. Bond for each is $30,000 and they will be in court on March 14

Sheriff Patrick Ray said after receiving information of a planned break-in at a residence on Lower Helton Road in Alexandria, his department conducted an undercover investigation, placing the home under surveillance. One of detectives saw Clayton and Rachel Green enter the house. When they came out, the two were detained for questioning. They were subsequently arrested.

According to Sheriff Ray, both Clayton and Rachel Nicole Green allegedly entered the residence through a garage door. The two allegedly took a camera, bag of assorted change, knife collection, 38 special Rossie revolver, a 22 Heritage pistol, a chain saw, nail guns, jig saw, 410 shotgun, a 12 gauge bolt action shotgun, several items of gold jewelry, and other things, all valued at over $1,000. Rachel also allegedly entered a pickup truck on the property and took a 22 caliber pistol valued at under $500. While under investigation for the burglary, Clayton Green, a convicted felon, was found to be in reach of two loaded handguns, a 38 and a 22 caliber. He told the officers that he was a convicted felon and was not allowed to have guns.

Meanwhile, 56 year old Johnny Wayne Trapp of Eagle Creek Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on March 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, February 23, Trapp allegedly assaulted a female family member by throwing her to the ground and hitting her several times after she refused to carry him somewhere to get more beer.

28 year old Michael Brandon Redmon of McMinnville Highway, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on March 7. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, February 25 officers were dispatched to Jewel's Market on Highway 56 on an unwanted guest call. Upon arrival, the deputy found Redmon standing in the doorway. He was very wet. His eyes were bloodshot. He was unsteady on his feet and uncooperative. Redmon was arrested for his safety and the safety of the public and brought to the jail for booking.

22 year old Christopher Justin Garrett of Clear Creek Road, Liberty is charged with introduction of drugs into a penal institution. He will be in court March 7. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, February 26, Garrett was getting booked into the jail on a circuit court violation of probation when a correctional officer asked Garrett if he had anything on him. Garrett replied no. Garrett had piled his clothing in the corner and when he picked them up, a black metal container rolled out of his clothes. It held five diazepam pills and two plastic baggies that contained methamphetamine.

32 year old David Allen Sullivan of Kendra Drive, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, felony evading arrest, and resisting arrest. He was also cited for simple possession and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $10,500. He will be in court March 7. Sheriff Ray said on Wednesday, February 27, Sullivan was operating a motor vehicle on Dry Creek Road and failed to stop for a sheriff's department deputy who had pulled in behind him. When the officer turned on his emergency equipment, Sullivan fled. The pursuit continued from Dry Creek Road to New Home Road and then to Highway 70 before Sullivan finally stopped. When the officer tried to pull Sullivan out of the vehicle, he grabbed onto the steering wheel. After the officer finally got Sullivan out of the vehicle, he refused to be handcuffed. Sullivan had to be taken to the ground to be cuffed. The deputy detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Sullivan's person. He had red watery eyes and his speech was slurred. Sullivan admitted to drinking six beers and taking Valium pills. Two blue pills believed to be Valium, a schedule IV drug, were found in the vehicle including one in the drivers seat and one in the floor board. For his safety, no field sobriety tasks were given. Sullivan did submit to a blood test. Sullivan was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. The other prior DUI offense was on February 24, 2006.

A domestic disturbance investigation at a residence on Pine Orchard Road Thursday, February 28 resulted in alcohol related charges against two men who were staying there.

56 year old Howard R. Moon of Elkland, Pennsylvania is charged with a sixth offense of driving under the influence and felony evading. His bond is $20,000 and he will be in court on March 7. A co-defendant, 51 year old David Hugh Flynn of Sabensville, Pennsylvania is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on March 7.

Sheriff Ray said that an officer responded to a call of a domestic disturbance on Pine Orchard Road. The owner of the residence requested that Flynn be removed from the property. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. For his safety and the safety of the public, Flynn was brought to the jail for booking.

As the officer was leaving, he saw Moon's vehicle approaching. The officer attempted to do a traffic stop, turning on his emergency equipment, but Moon fled and would not stop until he got to 436 Pine Orchard Road

Moon got out of the vehicle and ran into the house. He eventually opened the door and let the officer in. Moon had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. No field sobriety task was done because of the circumstances. He did submit to a blood test. Other DUI offenses against him were on August 14, 2007, February 17, 2001, July 6, 1995, and May 19, 1989 in New York and June 12, 2001 in Pennsylvania. Moon was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

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