Local News Articles

Aldermen Approve Airport Board Requests

December 22, 2009
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night approved requests from the Airport Board to establish monthly fees for the lease of the new T-hangars to be built at the airport and to extend the leases of the tenants of the existing T-hangars.

Ten years ago, the city entered into an agreement with a group of aircraft owners, under which they would put up their own funds to build T-hangars at the airport and the city would not assess them a rental fee for ten years. That agreement ends this month.

The city is also in the process of building additional T-hangars and making other improvements at the airport, after receiving state and federal grants to help fund the project. The city's local matching obligation is 10%.

Roth Terrell, a member of the Airport Board, presented his proposals to the Mayor and Aldermen. "We are erecting a new set of T-hangars. There will be eight individual T-hangars for single planes and at the end of those T-hangars will be one large corporate hangar that will hold a larger corporate size aircraft or multiple airplanes. Currently we have a list of tenants who have already put their names on a list to reserve a spot so hopefully once the T-hangars are finished, they will be filled immediately. The airport board, the manager, and others got together a while back and discussed what the T-hangars should be leased for. We did some research on surrounding airports and found out what they are charging. For individual hangar, we would recommend that it be leased for $115 per month, and for the large corporate sized hangar, that would be leased for $225 per month. We would ask you to take that into consideration."

Terrell also asked for an extension in the lease agreements of the current T-hangar tenants. "We do have another set of T-hangars just like the ones being erected now that was constructed ten years ago. At that time, they were paid for by seven individuals who put up their own money to have these T-hangars built. Their ten year lease is up at the end of this month. Under the lease, they've paid $12,000 of their own money for an individual hangar. One individual spent a little more because he had a corporate size hangar. The city, at that time, agreed to a ten year lease for that."

"A lot of the surrounding airport boards have agreed in the past that when people are interested in building their own hangar for their own use, they have typically received a 20 year lease. The individuals here only received a ten year lease. Since their lease is coming up at the end of this month, I would like to propose that the city consider extending the gentlemen's lease by five more years under the same terms, with a five year extension. That would give them potentially a twenty year lease which is fair since they put up their own money in advance."

"The benefits to the city from these T-hangars is that the city will receive eight individual T-hangars and one corporate size T-hangar in just a few months at only 10% of your investment. 90% of it was done by the government(grant). We have a list already compiled of people who want to lease those."

"The individuals who put up the money on the other (existing) T-hangars, they are going to be staying there. Some individuals (who originally participated) have left so those T-hangars will be becoming available also. We've proposed the same fees be applied to those as the new ones."

" The city's total investment for these sixteen T-hangars and two corporate size hangars is approximately $88,000. Your monthly income would be somewhere around $1,715 per month. Shortly over four years, the city will have recuperated their investment and will be making money at that point. Not to mention the added fuel sales the city will receive from those extra airplanes based at the new hangars. Also having extra airplanes here provides the potential for an aircraft mechanic based at our facility which would add revenue for the city."

Again, the aldermen approved Terrell's requests.

In other business, the aldermen set the regular meeting dates of all 2010 city council meetings. The meetings will be held on the first and third Monday nights of each month, except for Dr. Martin Luther King Day in January and Labor Day in September. No meetings will be held on those dates.

The board also hired Larry Dickens as an employee at the Water Treatment Plant.

The city firefighters have requested a workshop meeting with the Mayor and Aldermen. That will be held on Monday, January 11th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Convicted Sex Offender Back in Custody

December 21, 2009
Dwayne Page
Freddy Sylvester Stringer
 Michael Anthony Leichtfuss

A convicted sex offender is back in custody.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 36 year old Freddy Sylvester Stringer of Church Street Liberty, was found at a residence in Smith County on Friday, December 18th. According to Sheriff Ray, Stringer, who pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted aggravated sexual assault on a child in July of this year, violated his probation after being arrested for a seventh offense of driving on a revoked license. Sheriff Ray also obtained a warrant against Stringer for violation of the sexual offender law after learning that Stringer participated in Halloween activities by having his porch light on and allowing children to come the residence to trick or treat. Stringer also had his residence decorated for the Halloween season, which is a violation of state law for sex offenders. Sheriff Ray says Stringer had been on the run until he was captured on Friday. Bond for Stringer was set at $10,000 on the sexual offender law violation but a hold without bond was placed on him for violation of the community corrections warrant. He will appear in court on January 7th.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray says on Monday, December 14th a deputy, while on patrol on New Home Road, Dowelltown, spotted 27 year old Jessica French Hale of Walker Drive Smithville driving an automobile. The officer having prior knowledge of Hale's driver's license being suspended stopped her and placed her under arrest for driving on a suspended license. Hale's bond was set at $1,500 and she will appear in court on December 30th.

On Tuesday, December 15th, a deputy responded to an accident on High Street in Alexandria where a vehicle had struck a utility pole. Before the officer arrived, the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash left the scene. Deputies later located the driver, 25 year old Kevin Matthew Bly of South Church Street in Alexandria. A check of Bly's drivers license revealed they were suspended. Bly was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and driving on a suspended license. Bly's bond was set at $4,000 and his court date is January 14th.

Also on Tuesday a DeKalb County High School student was arrested on a drug charge. The school resource officer was notified by an assistant principal that he smelled burnt marijuana coming from the boy's bathroom at the school. After investigating, the assistant principal and the resource officer learned that 18 year old Michael Anthony Leichtfuss of Old Eagle Creek Road Smithville had been in possession of a burning marijuana cigarette that had been thrown into the boy's bathroom area. The school resource officer seized more marijuana from the student's home. Leichtfuss was charged with simple possession of marijuana and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on January 7th.

46 year old Stevie Lane Holder of Rolling Hills Road, McMinnville was charged Wednesday, December 16th with driving under the influence of an intoxicant after a deputy stopped him for speeding and weaving in the roadway. Holder was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 East when an officer paced him at 70 miles per hour in a 40 mile an hour speed zone. The deputy also noticed Holder weaving in the roadway. After Holder was stopped, he submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Holder had slurred speech and poor motor skills. Holder did admit to consuming two mixed drinks and two beers earlier. Bond for Holder was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on January 7th.

46 year old Ricky Lynn Cantrell of Eckels Heights Liberty was arrested Wednesday after being involved in a two automobile accident and then leaving the scene. The deputy investigating learned that Cantrell left the scene of the accident and then drove to his residence. The officer also discovered that Cantrell's drivers license was revoked for a prior conviction of driving under the influence. Cantrell's bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on January 20th.

Also on Friday deputies received a call to"Be on the lookout" for a reckless driver in Smithville who was driving at a high rate of speed and passing vehicles. They were also dispatched to an automobile accident on Tramel Lane in Smithville. Upon arrival at the scene of the accident, officers found the same vehicle identified in the "Be on the lookout" call chained to the automobile that was involved in the accident. The driver of the "BOLO" vehicle was trying to pull the other automobile from the ditch line. 32 year old John L. Atnip Jr. of Jacobs Pillar Road Smithville was arrested for a third offense of driving on a revoked license. Atnip admitted that he passed an ambulance and two other cars to get to the accident scene. Atnip was also issued citations for violation of the driver's license change of address law, driving without vehicle insurance, and violation of vehicle registration law. Bond for Atnip was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on January 14th.

32 year old Stephanie Lee Vanatta of Old Snow Hill Road Dowelltown was arrested Sunday for a first offense of driving under the influence. While on patrol on Short Mountain Highway, a deputy spotted Vanatta's vehicle traveling in the oncoming lane of traffic and almost hit a bridge. After making the traffic stop, the officer noticed that Vanatta had slurred speech, that her eyelids were heavy, and she was unsteady on her feet. She submitted to field sobriety tasks which she failed. Vanatta's bond was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on January 14th.

24 year old Jonathan David Thomas of Nashville Highway Liberty was charged Sunday with attempted escape. Thomas, an inmate at the jail, ran out of the cell when correctional officers opened the door to deliver the inmate's food trays. Thomas was quickly caught in the visitation area of the jail annex. Bond for Thomas was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on January 14th.

Also on Sunday deputies were called to Sims Street in Dowelltown in answer to a domestic complaint where they talked with a female who had been assaulted. The woman had a cut above her eye and her eye was swollen. The victim told the officers that 22 year old Trinity J. Anderson of Sims Street Dowelltown had assaulted her, that he had fired a gun in the house, and had shot the tires on her vehicle in the driveway. Deputies located Anderson at the residence but he became belligerent, uncooperative and wanted to fight the officers.. After Anderson was cuffed and placed in the patrol car, he then kicked the back window out of the patrol car. Deputies found in the home seven bullet holes as well as holes in the tires of the victims vehicle where Anderson had allegedly fired shots. Anderson was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, vandalism to county property, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. Bond for Anderson was set at $66,500 and he will appear in court on January 14th

Local Residence Suspected of Distributing Child Pornography Raided by Police

December 21, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police conducted a raid at a West Main Street residence Friday after receiving reports that persons there were engaging in the solicitation and distribution of child pornography.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Officer in Charge, says the raid came after a four week investigation, in which the police department worked extensively collecting evidence in order to obtain a search warrant.

Several computers and pieces of computer equipment were seized in the raid. Charges are pending further investigation by the Tennessee Bureau Investigation Crime Lab.

Smithville Police officers assisting in the execution of the search warrant were Sergeant Randy King, Officer Nathan Estes and Officer Scott Davis.

Lieutenant Leffew says he would like to extend his sincere appreciation to Detective Lieutenant. Gary Harris of the Algood Police Department and to the District Attorney General's Office for their tireless efforts and their many man hours dedicated to this case as well as the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department for assisting in answering calls of service during this time.

Lieutenant Leffew added "During the course of this four week investigation I attended several meetings with District Attorney General Randall York and investigators of the District Attorney General's Office. I was made aware that this type of disturbing criminal activity is an increasing problem. If anyone has any information pertaining to this kind of criminal activity please contact the Smithville Police Department or the Crime Tip Hotline at 464-6046."

Smithville Police Receiving Reports of Counterfeit Currency

December 19, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police say there has been an increase in reports of counterfeit currency recently and all citizens and local business owners are asked to especially be on alert.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Officer in Charge, says counterfeit twenty dollar bills have been reported in increasing regularity. The Smithville Police Department asks that all citizens and business owners call the department if you have questions.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Leffew reports that investigators of the District Attorney General's Office have determined that recent allegations against Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. by Chris Whitney are unfounded. On November 16th a formal complaint was filed against Hutchins by Whitney. The complaint alleged that Whitney's criminal history was released to a private citizen and that a case involving a minor was not properly investigated. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, Lieutenant Leffew recommended that an independent agency investigate the complaint. The complaint was forwarded to the District Attorney General's Office for further investigation. On December 17th, Lieutenant Leffew met with investigators of the District Attorney General's Office. During this meeting investigators reported that all allegations were unfounded.

In crime news, 62 year old Sharon Maureen Hindsley of 830 South Mountain Street was arrested on Monday, December 14th for public intoxication. According to the report, Officer Matt Farmer was dispatched to Highway 70 and Highway 56 in response to a call concerning a woman who was attempting to cross the road from Hardees to Mapco Express. The complainant said that the woman was almost hit twice while crossing the road and appeared very unsteady on her feet. The woman was reported to be wearing blue jeans and a brown jacket. Officer Farmer says upon arrival, he was told that the woman may have gone into Mapco. He then saw her standing by the beer coolers near the rear of the store. She appeared very unsteady on her feet and was having to hold onto things to negotiate turns in the aisle ways. Officer Farmer says the woman approached him and he recognized her as Ms. Hindsley. After inquiring about her condition, Ms. Hindsley told Officer Farmer that she was okay. He asked her if she had any medical conditions and she said no. During this conversation, Ms. Hindsley had to lean against a rack of candy to keep from falling. He asked her why she was having trouble keeping her balance and she said that she had been drinking. Officer Farmer asked how much she had drank and she said one, then two beers. She then said that she hadn't been drinking alcohol, just beer. He noticed a smell of an intoxicating beverage on her breath. She was placed under arrest for public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in General Sessions Court on January 7th.

38 year old Angel Ferrell of 527 R. Arnold Road was arrested Wednesday, December 16th for theft. Officer Matt Holmes reports that on December 12th he was dispatched to 849 Luttrell Avenue in reference to a theft of property. Upon arrival, Officer Holmes made contact with the complainant, Jean Hayes who stated that her purse was missing. Ms. Hayes stated that on December 12th she went to work and placed her purse in the trunk of her vehicle and when she got home she could not locate it. On Wednesday, December 16th at approximately 3:00 p.m. while conducting a follow up investigation, Officer Holmes met with Angel Ferrell at the Smithville Police Department where it was determined that Ms. Ferrell took Ms. Hayes car keys from her coat pocket, used them to enter the trunk of Ms. Hayes' vehicle, and stole the purse.

40 year old Donna Sue Blankenship of 215 North High Street, McMinnville was arrested Friday, December 18th for a second offense of driving under the influence, violation of implied consent and possession of drug paraphernalia while 35 year old Ernest Paul Barnwell of 604 Ginger Drive, Smithville was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officer Matt Holmes reports that he was dispatched to the area of Jewels Market to check out a green KIA that was observed weaving on South Congress Boulevard. Upon arrival, Officer Holmes saw an employee of Jewels Market standing beside a green KIA, waving him over. Officer Holmes found inside the parked vehicle, a man and a woman who were both slumped over. He knocked on the window and the woman raised up. Officer Holmes says he saw what looked like to be a crushed pill on the console and a cut straw in the floor board with residue. At that point he asked the woman to exit the vehicle where she was asked to perform sobriety tasks. Officer Holmes administered the horizontal gaze and nystagmus test to which her eyes appeared to be very jerky. Ms. Blankenship said she had prescribed medication for her back and that she would not be able to do any more of the tests. When asked if she had her drivers license, Blankenship replied "yes". She added that she had driven there. A check of her license revealed they were suspended.

As for Barnwell, who was in the passenger's seat. Officer Holmes and Sergeant Randy King tried to wake him but were unsuccessful on numerous attempts. EMS personnel were called to the scene but he became conscious and alert upon their arrival and signed a refusal form. A search of the vehicle turned up a red cut straw in the driver's side floor board with residue, two open containers of Bud Light in the console which were cold, a yellow powder residue on the center console and an open bottle of Dasani water with a used hypodermic needle inside on the passenger's side.

Ms Blankenship's eyes were very droopy and her speech was slurred. Her pupils were dilated and she was unsteady on her feet.

Again, Barnwell was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia for having the hypodermic needle. Blankenship was arrested for a second offense of driving under the influence, violation of implied consent, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was also cited for violation of the open container law and driving on a suspended license. Officer Holmes asked Blankenship to submit to a blood test, after explaining implied consent. She refused to submit to a blood test but did sign the implied consent refusal form.

Meanwhile, anyone having any information on the following offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

On December 11th at approximately 3:18 p.m., Corporal Travis K Bryant responded to 740 Walker Drive in response to a call concerning a vandalism to a vehicle. Upon arrival, he made contact with the complainant identified as Peggy Gibbs who said that she had last seen the vehicle before the vandalism at about 5:00 p.m. on December 10th. She discovered the damage December 11th at approximately 2:18 p.m. The damage was to the drivers side door handle and the dash had been pried open causing the upper part of the dash to burst. Total value of the damage is estimated at $300.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

DeKalb County to Receive $20,000 Roadscapes Grant

December 18, 2009
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen announced today that the state will provide a Tennessee Roadscapes Grant in the amount of $20,000 to DeKalb County.

“These funds will help make improvements along the roadways that serve as the front door to our communities,” said Bredesen. “Well-planned landscaping programs create an inviting atmosphere that can boost local economies and improve the quality of life for citizens.”

The Roadscapes grant funds will be used for four signs that will be placed at various entry points into DeKalb County.

The Tennessee Roadscapes initiative was developed in 2006 as a partnership between community organizations across the state and TDOT to create inviting spaces through an integrated approach to roadside landscaping. TDOT funds 80 percent of the cost of a project with the grant recipient contributing the remaining 20 percent. Grants are derived from federal funds that are specifically earmarked for roadway enhancement projects.

“The Roadscapes program creates an opportunity to showcase the roadways and natural beauty of our state,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “It’s important to create welcoming places for people to live and work and to build a sense of pride in one’s community.”

The Tennessee Roadscapes program includes a variety of environmental stewardship and beautification programs:

• Landscaping with naturalized flowers and native flowering trees
• Memorials and parks
• Roadside tree planting
• Exotic and invasive plant removal
• Litter cleanup and prevention education programs
• Adopt-A-Highway and Adopt-A-Spot programs
• Community landscaping at intersections, street corners, medians, entrances, and gateways

For more information about the Tennessee Roadscapes program, please visit us on the web.

Vance Gets Eight Year Sentence in Jewelry Store Burglary Case

December 17, 2009
Dwayne Page
Comer Vance

The man charged with breaking into K & M Jewelry on West Broad Street in June pleaded guilty under a negotiated settlement Monday in criminal court and received an eight year sentence.

39 year Comer T. Vance entered a guilty plea to charges of theft and burglary. He received an eight year sentence on the theft charge and six years for burglary. The two sentences are to run concurrently as an eight year term. Charges of vandalism and unlawful possession of a handgun against him were dropped. The eight year sentence is to run consecutive to a sentence Vance is currently serving

At the time of the arrest, Smithville Police Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. said sometime during the early morning hours of Thursday, June 25th, someone (believed to be Vance) entered the business by removing plywood covering a window. Once inside, a safe, containing jewelry, was taken from the store. The intruder also busted out glass in the display cases and removed more jewelry. The total value of the stolen jewelry was estimated at $100,000.

The owner of the business, Mark Violet, discovered the burglary and theft when he arrived to open up the store later that morning..

As a result of the investigation and with assistance from an informant, Vance was identified as a suspect in the crime. Police spotted Vance, who was as a passenger in a Ford Thunderbird, on West Broad Street Saturday, June 27th. The car was pulled over and Vance, also charged in warrants unrelated to the burglary case, was taken into custody. Police confiscated a stolen nine millimeter handgun, which was loaded. Most of the jewelry taken in the break-in at K & M. Jewelry was also recovered.

Sergeant Joey Jones assisted in the traffic stop that led to Vance's arrest.

Meanwhile in other cases Monday in criminal court, 20 year old Jeremy Shelton pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and received a three year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation except for time served. He was given jail credit of 120 days.

35 year old Scotty Neisz pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to run concurrently with a sentence he is now serving.

48 year old Jeffery W. Burton pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and received two years to serve. The term is to run concurrently with sentences he is now serving in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. He was given jail credit for time already served and he must make restitution of $2,648.

24 year old Nicole M. Reynolds, charged with simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, was granted judicial diversion and will be on probation for 11 months and 29 days. She must pay a $250 fine.

42 year old Melissa Petty pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation to run concurrently with a sentence she is now serving. All jail time was suspended.

43 year old Tammy D. Miller pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation to run concurrently with a sentence she is now serving. All jail time was suspended.

23 year old Brandon M. Jennings pleaded guilty to reckless driving and received a six month sentence, all suspended except for 30 days to serve. The sentence is to run concurrently with a Tennessee Department of Corrections sentence against him. He must pay a fine of $250. Jennings must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and continue to attend AA meetings. He was given jail credit back to May 29th.

38 year old Patricia Hicks pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to good behavior probation.

44 year old Leland Todd Hasty pleaded guilty to a second offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, suspended except for 45 days to serve. He will then be on supervised probation. He will lose his drivers license for two years and he must pay a fine of $610. Hasty will serve 17 days and then be furloughed to rehab.

The presiding judge Monday was David Patterson.

Former Police Chief Files Federal Lawsuit Against City of Smithville

December 16, 2009
Dwayne Page
Richard Jennings

Former Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings and his wife June have filed a federal court lawsuit against the City of Smithville claiming he was wrongfully terminated and that his constitutional rights were violated

The Smithville board of aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, on December 7th upheld the city discipline board's decision in November to terminate Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence. Aldermen W.J. (Dub) White, Steve White, Shawn Jacobs, and Aaron Meeks all voted for termination. Alderman Cecil Burger, saying he lacked enough information, did not vote.

In the lawsuit, filed December 10th, Jennings alleges that the city never established a cause for his termination, that the city violated his constitutional due process rights, and that he was the victim of age discrimination in the dismissal.

The former police chief is asking for a jury trial, that he be awarded back pay and damages for loss of earnings and benefits in an amount to be determined at trial, that front pay be awarded to compensate him for lost employment opportunities, that compensatory damages be awarded in an amount to be determined at trial, and that he be awarded attorney's fees, expenses of the litigation, prejudgement interests, punitive damages, and such other and further relief as may be deemed just and proper."

Jennings is being represented by Murfreesboro attorney Kerry Knox.

The lawsuit states that from 1986 until his termination, Jennings was employed by the City in the Smithville Police Department; that he served as Chief from 1994 until approximately 2004; that he again served as Chief from 2007 until his termination; and that he was purportedly supervised by the "police commissioner" a member of the City's Board of Aldermen.

According to the lawsuit, "Beginning July 1st, 2009, Alderman Aaron Meeks served as the police commissioner."

"Alderman Meeks has no experience, training, certifications, or commissions in law enforcement. In fact, no alderman to hold the title police commissioner has had experience, training, certifications, or commissions in law enforcement."

"Shortly after Alderman Meeks began as police commissioner, Chief Jennings asked Alderman Meeks to discuss any issues, concerns, or suggestions with him as they arose, rather than compiling a laundry list of complaints.'

"On September 14th, 2009, Chief Jennings learned that the Board of Aldermen was going to have a "workshop" to discuss issues with the City."

"Chief Jennings asked if he should attend, and he was advised that he should but was not advised that any particular topics were to be discussed."

"The workshop quickly devolved into an interrogation of Chief Jennings, and Alderman Meeks had prepared a list of questions and complaints that he directed to Plaintiff Richard Jennings."

"On November 2nd, 2009, Alderman Meeks contacted Chief Jennings, advising Chief Jennings that he was going to move to terminate Chief Jennings at the Board of Aldermen meeting, mere hours before the meeting. Alderman Meeks gave Chief Jennings the option of retiring."

"Chief Jennings asked for more time to consider the option of retirement."

"On November 5th, 2009, Chief Jennings refused the offer to retire."

"On November 12th, 2009, Chief Jennings was suspended without pay, pending the outcome of further administrative hearings. At that time, he was provided with an ambiguous memorandum containing eleven reasons for his termination, which, according to Alderman Meeks, constituted "Dereliction of Duties/ Negligence.".

"On November 17th, 2009, a hearing was held before a three man board, consisting of Alderman Meeks, City Mayor Taft Hendrixson, and City Secretary/Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson."

"The three man board voted 2-1 to terminate Chief Jennings, with Alderman Meeks and Mayor Hendrixon voting in favor of termination."

"The November 17th meeting lasted less than ten minutes, and there was no discussion among the board members of the reasoning behind its decision."

"Chief Jennings requested a hearing before the full Board of Aldermen, which was ultimately held on December 7th, 2009."

"At the hearing before the Board of Aldermen, Chief Jennings requested the recusal of Alderman Meeks on the basis that Alderman Meeks could not consider the termination with impartiality.'

"Chief Jennings' reasonable request was denied."

"Chief Jennings additionally requested that he be allowed to question Alderman Meeks on the reasons and factual basis supporting termination."

"Chief Jennings' reasonable request was denied."

"Chief Jennings responded to the extent possible to each of the listed allegations but was unable to respond meaningfully to several of the allegations, as he did not know the basis for the allegations."

"Certain allegations from the November 12th memorandum were directly refuted and supported by documentary evidence."

"In the memorandum, Alderman Meeks alleged that Chief Jennings was working with an increase in budget. A review of the 2007-08 budget against the 2008-09 budget refutes that proposition."

"In the memorandum, Alderman Meeks alleged that Chief Jennings was not a "working chief", performing basic patrol duties. A review of the city's job description for Chief of Police does not state that the Chief of Police is expected to perform basic patrol duties."

"In the memorandum, Alderman Meeks alleged that Chief Jennings still had overtime for his officers in his budget, apparently for the proposition that Chief Jennings should have been performing more drug investigations. A review of the city's policy on overtime demonstrated that Chief Jennings had very little discretion to allow overtime, and he certainly was not allowed overtime for any extensive investigative/ operational purpose."

"In the meantime, Alderman Meeks criticized Chief Jennings for allowing the transportation of a civilian "out of the area of authority of the Smithville Police Department." Chief Jennings explained that the transportation was for a "police purpose" as authorized in the Smithville Police Department's handbook."

"The city's charter dictates that its employees may only be discharged "for cause".

"Chief Jennings was not an "at will" employee."

"Chief Jennings was terminated in a 4-0 vote by the Board of Aldermen, with Alderman Cecil Burger determining that he did not have enough information to cast a vote."

"The voting Aldermen did not debate the termination or offer any explanation on the cause supporting Chief Jennings' termination."

"Chief Jennings was terminated from a job he loved, has suffered irreparable damage to his reputation, has suffered and will continue to suffer tremendous financial injury, and has suffered emotional distress as a direct and proximate result of the city's wrongdoing."

"As the spouse of Chief Jennings, June Jennings has suffered and will continue to suffer tremendous financial injury, and has suffered emotional distress as a direct and proximate result of the city's wrongdoing."

"As the direct and proximate result of her husband's termination, June Jennings has suffered a loss of much of the consortium, companionship, society, and services she would have otherwise received from her husband during the normal course of their marital relationship."

"The city's conduct was willful, intentional, malicious, and reckless."

"The city's reasons for termination were arbitrary and capricious."

Jennings alleges that he was the victim of a wrongful discharge in that his termination was unsupported by "cause" and that he was entitled to statutory and contractual protections in the event that he was subjected to the employer's disciplinary procedures. Jennings claims that the city deprived him of his procedural and substantive due process rights that are guaranteed to him by the U.S. Constitution, the laws of the State of Tennessee, and the rules and regulations of the City.

In the age discrimination complaint, the lawsuit alleges that "Chief Jennings is over 40 years of age, and is therefore a member of a group which is protected by the Tennessee Human Rights Act".

"Chief Jennings was the subject of an adverse job decision."

"The City's termination of Jennings came under circumstances that give rise to an inference of age discrimination."

"Chief Jennings' job functions are now performed by someone substantially (more than seven years) younger than Chief Jennings.'

"Chief Jennings has suffered irreparable damage to his reputation, financial injury, humiliation, and embarrassment, and emotional distress as a direct and proximate result of the City's wrongdoing."

Voters Reminded to Report Change of Addresses

December 15, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission reminds voters it is important to report a change of address to the local election office.

"While verifying the names and signatures of some of the voters who signed candidate petitions I noticed some voters have changed their address and have not notified the local election office," said Administrator of Elections, Dennis Stanley. "In order for the name to count as 'valid' on
the petition, the voter's name, signature and address must match the information on file in the election commission office. The only exception is if the voter moved within the same precinct."
In addition, Stanley said updating your voter file now will prevent any problems or delays on election day.

To find out how to change your address with the election office, simply call the election office at 597-4146 or stop by the office on the lower floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse and fill out a change of address form.

Local candidates are reminded if they are seeking an office that pays $500 or more a month and they plan to spend more than $1,000 in the campaign, they must appoint a campaign treasurer. "Before any contributions can be received or monies spent (except for incidental monies spent by a person to determine if he/she is to become a candidate), each candidate must file an Appointment of Political Treasurer form with the appropriate receiving authority," Stanley said. "A candidate may appoint him/herself or another person as the political treasurer. If a candidate appoints another person to act as a political treasurer, the candidate must co-sign all reports required to be filed under the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act." "Also, a candidate or political campaign committee must open and maintain a separate bank account into which all campaign contributions must be deposited," Stanley added. "All expenditures must be made from this campaign account. Under no circumstances may any campaign money be
co-mingled with the candidate's private funds."

Meanwhile, Stanley said candidate petitions for next year's Smithville Municipal Election can be picked up beginning Friday, December 18th. A mayor and two aldermen seats are up for election next year. In addition, petitions for the upcoming August General Election and state primaries can be picked up beginning January 4th.

On the county level, school board candidates run as non-partisan candidates in the August
General Election and five seats are up for grabs this coming year. On the state level, candidates for state representative, state senator, governor and U.S. Congress can run for their respective party nominations in the August primaries, with the winners and any independent candidates squaring off in November.

The qualifying deadline for the August 5, 2010 elections is noon, April 1.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints During the Holidays

December 14, 2009
Dwayne Page

Local law enforcement agencies will be teaming up for the Christmas and New Year holidays to help keep roads safer in DeKalb County

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in cooperation with Alexandria and Smithville police Departments will be out in full force starting December 23rd through January 1st for the safety of you and your family. "The public's safety is a top concern for me and my department. We will be doing saturated patrols and sobriety check points looking for intoxicated people who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. We will also team with the Alexandria and Smithville Police Departments to better cover areas where drinking and driving are more prevalent. "

Nearly 23,000 people are killed every year in alcohol-related traffic accidents nationwide. Statistics show one life is lost every 22 minutes in alcohol-related traffic collisions. Law enforcement uses these checkpoints as a tool to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on our highways and to diminish the amount of pain, suffering and death that results from intoxicated driving."

The Sobriety Check Points will be conducted on the following Highways: Highway 56, Highway 70, Highway 53 in Liberty and Alexandria, and Highway 146.

Meanwhile, in his weekly update on crime news, Sheriff Ray says 35 year old Jose Cruz Quiroz of East 20th Street, Cookeville was charged Monday, December 7th with leaving the scene of an accident. On November 2nd Quiroz left the scene of an accident with property damage on Highway 56 North. Quiroz has admitted to being the driver of the vehicle. Bond for Quiroz was set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on December 17th

23 year old Justin Ray Lohorn of South Mountain Street, Smithville was charged Monday, December 7th with vandalism and theft of property after he broke into a drink machine at the Mystic Market on Highway 56 South and took approximately $31.00 in cash and caused $1,800 in damage to the machine. Lohorn's bond was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on December 17th.

Deputies responded to an accident on Evins Mill Road Tuesday, December 8th where they found 27 year old Matthew Allen Baker of Pine Orchard Road Smithville to be the driver of the vehicle. Baker was believed to be in an intoxicated state having slurred speech. He was unsteady on his feet. After failing field sobriety tasks, deputies placed Baker under arrest after which he became uncooperative, jerking away from the officers and trying to run off. Baker was loaded into the patrol car and transported to the jail. Deputies learned that Baker's driver's license was suspended for failure to maintain insurance. During the booking process at the jail, Baker became uncooperative again and a correctional officer was injured, suffering a broken finger, while trying to get him under control. Baker was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended driver's license, and two counts of resisting arrest. Baker's total bond was set at $12,500 and he will appear in court on January 14th..

21 year old Timothy William Patrick of The Loop Smithville was arrested Thursday, December 10th after a deputy spotted him driving on Midway Road. The officer had prior knowledge that Patrick's license was suspended. Patrick's bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on December 30th.

Also on Thursday deputies responded to a call of an unwanted guest on Coconut Ridge Road Smithville. Officers spotted people leaving the residence and noticed that the vehicle they were in was swaying in the roadway. After stopping the automobile, deputies found 46 year old Charles Wayne Smithson of Dogwood Place Smithville to be the driver.. Smithson appeared to be intoxicated. Deputies administered field sobriety tasks until Smithson became uncooperative and then combative. Smithson was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Bond for Smithson was set at $5,000 and he will appear in court on December 17th. A passenger in the vehicle, 51 year old Thomas David Hullett of Poplar Place Smithville was charged with public intoxication after he tried to get out of the vehicle and back into the driver's side seat. Sheriff Ray says he refused to do what the deputies were asking him to do. Hullett's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on December 17th.

41 year old Larry David Luna of Johnson Chapel Road, Sparta was arrested Friday on a sealed indictment charging him with manufacturing marijuana (more than 20 plants). Luna's bond was set at $5,000.

Also on Friday, 31 year old James "Freddy" Summers of Hodges Road Smithville and 21 year old Christopher Allen Summers of Dale Ridge Road Dowelltown were both charged with failure to report on time to the DeKalb County Jail to serve their weekend sentences. Both men showed up on Friday after their 6:00 p.m. check in time. Bond for both was set at $1,500 each and both will appear in court on December 17th.

24 year old Jennifer Colleen Rhoades of Short Mountain Highway was charged Sunday with a first offense of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, and reckless endangerment of a child. Sheriff Ray says officers found Rhoades on New Home Road in Dowelltown passed out behind the wheel of a car with the vehicle's engine running and her foot on the brake. An eight year old child was in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Rhoades appeared to be intoxicated. She was unsteady on her feet and had an odor of alcohol on her person. When deputies asked Rhoades where she thought she was, she stated that she was at Brush Creek. Bond for Rhoades was set at $6,000 and she will appear in court on January 14th. The Department of Children Services was also contacted.

Congressman Bart Gordon to retire from Congress after his current term

December 14, 2009
Dwayne Page
Congressman Bart Gordon to Retire

After more than a quarter-century of public service to his home state of Tennessee, U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon announced his plans to retire from Congress when his current term ends in 2010, in a news release issued Monday morning.

"I feel honored that the people of Middle Tennessee have allowed me to serve them for the past 25 years", said Gordon. "Every decision I have made in Congress has been with their best interests in mind." I hope the people here at home feel that I have served them as well as their good advice and views have served me."

"When I was elected, I was the youngest member of the Tennessee congressional delegation; now, I'm one of the oldest. In fact, I have members of my staff who weren't even born when I took office. That tells me it's time for a new chapter."

Gordon, the dean of the state's congressional delegation, said he made his decision after consulting with his wife, Leslie. Gordon was first elected in 1984 succeeding then Congressman Al Gore, Jr. when he gave up the seat to run for the U.S. Senate.

"Turning 60 has led me to re-evaluate what's next.? I have an 8-year-old daughter and a wonderful wife who has a very demanding job. I am the only child of my 83-year-old mother, Margaret. They have made sacrifices to allow me to do what I love by serving in Congress, and now it's my turn", said Gordon.

Strengthening families has been a common thread throughout Gordon's time in Congress. During his service, he has consistently worked to improve the quality of life for working families by providing greater access to higher education; allowing workers to keep their jobs while managing a family emergency such as a sick child, spouse or parent; and working to preserve the American dream by ensuring today's students have the strong math and science skills they will need for the jobs of the future.

His constituents have repeatedly recognized Gordon's efforts by sending him back to the U.S. Capitol to represent them - in 13 elections, Gordon has never lost any of the 15 counties in his district. In recent years, he has won re-election handily, earning 64 percent of the vote in 2004, 67 percent in 2006, and 74 percent in 2008.

The son of a farmer and schoolteacher, Gordon was named chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee in 2007, becoming Tennessee's first full committee chairman in 30 years. The congressman said he is grateful for the opportunity it presented to author landmark legislation such as the America COMPETES Act, but his goals in Congress have always remained the same.

"My dream for kids growing up in Middle Tennessee is the same that I have for my daughter, Peyton for them to grow up in a safe neighborhood, get a quality education, and be able to find a good job close to home", said Gordon. "I hope I've been able to make that dream more of a reality for the next generation."

While Gordon's congressional efforts may be coming to an end in a year, his legislative efforts and first-rate constituent service will continue in the meantime.

"I will be focusing on the work to be done in the year ahead. Our country is facing extraordinary challenges, and I will continue to work to be the best congressman I can be. My doors are open in Murfreesboro, Gallatin and Cookeville, and my staff and I will continue to listen to people's concerns and help them cut through government red tape. Staying in touch with the people I represent has been my number one priority. That will remain true throughout my last year in Congress", said Gordon, who has held more than 2,000 open meetings, call-ins and listening sessions during his service.

The congressman said his achievements wouldn't have been possible without the support of many people very close to him, including his parents.

"I couldn't have asked for more supportive and inspiring parents. My mother and my late father always stood by my side throughout the years", said Gordon. "I've also been blessed with a talented, hard-working staff that has helped me do a better job. And I will be forever grateful to the friends and volunteers who have given their counsel and support over the years."

Educated in Rutherford County public schools, Gordon graduated with honors from Middle Tennessee State University in 1971 and later received his law degree from the University of Tennessee. He served in the Army Reserves from 1971-1972. Gordon is married to Leslie Peyton Gordon, who is a partner with Korn/Ferry International, and they have one daughter.


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