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Local News Articles

DeKalb County has a New Attorney

July 29, 2010
James M Judkins

DeKalb County has a new attorney.

James M Judkins now is associated in the practice of law with local attorney, J. Hilton Conger. Their address is 200 South Third Street; hours are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and the telephone number is 615-597-4087.

Judkins graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor of Science degree in history. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the Nashville School of Law.

His mother is LeAnn Foutch Judkins and his brother is McAllen Foutch Judkins both of Smithville. His maternal aunt is Lucy Foutch of Hermitage. His father was the late Marlon Judkins.

His paternal grandmother is Macon Knowles Judkins of Smithville. His paternal grandfather was the late H.J. Judkins. His maternal grandparents were the late Sallie and McAllen Foutch.

Schools to Get Slightly More Local Funds due to Growth in new Budget, but to Receive One Cent Less from the Property Tax Rate

July 28, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

Teachers and other certified personnel and support staff are budgeted a small pay raise under the proposed 2010-11 tentative general purpose spending plan for schools, which is expected to be acted on by the DeKalb County Commission on August 10th.

The proposed $18 million budget has already been recommended for approval by the county's budget committee but it appears the property tax rate for schools will also be trimmed by one cent from 49 cents to 48 cents per $100 of assessed value. County Mayor Mike Foster says the one cent reduction will not adversely affect the school system. In fact, he says since one cent of the tax rate generates more money than last year due to growth, schools will be getting $59, 956 more in local funds this year than last year exceeding the school board's request for $33,000 in additional local monies in the new budget.

The overall county property tax rate will remain the same without an increase at $1.46 per $100 of assessed value. The tax rate breaks down as follows:

County General 75 cents, up by 8 cents from last year and up by 20 cents from two years ago
Highway/Public Works- 3 cents
General Capital Projects- 8 cents, up by 1 cent from last year
Debt Service-12 cents, down by 8 cents from last year
General Purpose Schools- 48 cents, down by 1 cent from last year

One cent of the tax rate generates $43,920 in local money with a 5.75% delinquency rate figured into the equation.

In addition to the $2-million 127-thousand 365 for schools generated by the 48 cent tax rate, the county commission is transferring $1-million 540 thousand from the $2-million 247-thousand 464 local option sales tax fund to help operate schools this year along with $580,534 to fund the school debt service for payment on the Northside Elementary School and roof at Smithville Elementary School. The state BEP allocation for schools is $12-million 508-thousand dollars.

The school budget includes a $400 increase per certified position and a 25 cent per hour increase for all support staff positions along with the step increases per salary scales and adjustments for degree advancement per salary scales.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says the total amount of the increase for raises comes to about $150,000 including local matching for social security, retirement, etc, but it's an increase the school system needs to fund, since personnel haven't had a local increase in pay in quite sometime.

The proposed tentative budget also includes one new special education resource teacher for DeKalb County High School to help meet the new diploma requirements. One of the current school nurse positions and two special education assistants, under this budget, would be funded from general purpose schools, rather than federal as they have been in the past. One part-time special education vision teacher position would become full time under this budget.

Perhaps, the category making the single largest impact on the budget is in the state mandated increase in the school system's contribution to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement, going from 6.42% to 9.05% for teachers and from 5.18% to 6.28% for support staff. That totals well over $239,000.

The bottom line on total school expenditures for next year comes to $18,029,136, exceeding total revenues by $770,476. In order to balance the budget, the school board has asked for an appropriation of $712,000 of the local school system's share of state Basic Education Program (BEP) reserves as one-time expenditures and $58,476 of Technology Reserves. The school board did not seek an increase in the local property tax rate for schools, but did request an increase in local revenue of $33,744 over last year's budget to round out this proposed spending plan.

Willoughby says this is another "bare bones" budget. "We have figured a budget that is very close. Not any excess in there. We have figured a pay raise for all our employees. When we look at where their pay was two years ago compared to where it is now, our teachers are actually making less now than what they did two years ago. The state had given them a bonus. That bonus has gone away. This year we have a $400 pay increase for our teachers and we have a 25 cent per hour increase in there for support staff, which on an eight hour day out of ten months would equal $400, the same as for the teachers. This is again a bare bones budget. We're asking for approximately $33,000(increase) from the county and we actually think that would be growth money so we hope this budget will be accepted by the county commission. Keep in mind that while there is very little money in there for pay raises, approximately $150,000 in pay raises for our system, everything (cost of living) has gone up for our employees also, whether it be gas, food, etc. Our employees have needs so we have included that raise in there, which there hasn't been one for our employees for a while."

No Discounts Likely for Early Payment of Property Taxes This Fall

July 27, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County property owners got a discount last fall for paying their property taxes in October or November, but don't look for that this year.

Although Trustee Sean Driver has proposed to the county budget committee that the discounts be offered again this year, County Mayor Mike Foster told the local media Friday that it is unlikely that the county could afford to do it this year, because "our fund balances are being hit a little more".

Last year, Trustee Driver proposed offering a two percent discount to those who paid their taxes in October and a one percent discount for taxes paid in November. The savings to county taxpayers, who took advantage of it, came to a total of $31,165.

Foster says the county does plan to offer again local property tax relief of up to $50 for those who qualify for the state property tax relief program, a proposal which was presented by Trustee Driver last year and approved by county commission. Driver has asked that the extra tax relief be granted for another year. The costs to the county would be about $18,000, according to the proposed new budget.

DeKalb Fire Department Receives State Award for Training

July 27, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Fire Department Receives Award for Training

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department was recognized Monday night by the Tennessee State Fire and Codes Academy for being tops in the state in training.

Ed Himes, director of the Fire Service Program with the academy, presented the department a special award during the county commission meeting. "Each year the fire academy tracks the number of training hours that each fire department in this state completes. They fall into three categories. The Silver category is a fire department that trains with the fire academy less than 2,000 hours. The Gold is 2,000 to 4,000 hours and the Platinum is 4,000 hours and above.

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department logged 3,203 hours.

"This year the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department finished number one in the state in the training of volunteer fire fighters and number six in the state of all fire departments, including the big fire departments like Memphis who was in that top category," said Himes.

"We wanted to meet with you (county commission) and congratulate your department. It speaks volumes of the leadership you have in the fire department here, the commitment of the members, and the dedication and commitment of this group to fund and support your fire department the way you do."

Assistant Fire Chief Roy Merriman and James Pennington, the training coordinator and training officer accepted the award on behalf of the department.

(Pictured above left to right: Assistant County Fire Chief and Training Coordinator Roy Merriman, Training Officer James Pennington, and Ed Himes, Director of the Fire Service Program of the Tennessee State Fire and Codes Academy) PHOTO BY CALLIE MATTHEWS

Court Officers Now Required to be Full Time and POST Certified under State Law

July 26, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department currently has a total of four part-time deputies who serve as court officers for the General Sessions, Juvenile, Chancery, Circuit and Criminal Courts. But under state law, the department will soon be required to have only full time POST certified courtoom officers.

According to a recent opinion by the Tennessee Attorney General, based on a 2008 state law. "Deputy sheriffs are required to be certified as peace officers by the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission. Under state law, deputy sheriffs assigned to the courts must also successfully complete forty hours of POST approved basic training in courthouse security and sixteen hours of annual training."

Sheriff Patrick Ray says he has been in consultation with the County Mayor and county commission about the law and funds to make the transition are included in the proposed new budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. "I was notified by the Tennessee Sheriff's Association back in the early part of June that they had received a state attorney general's opinion on court officers and what the requirements of those court officers would be. They sent me a copy of it We looked at it and they do state in there that the (court) officers are to work a minimum of 40 hours per week in a full time position and be certified by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission in Nashville. So I went to the county commission and explained to them what the state attorney general's opinion was and I also had the county attorney look at it and give his opinion. He also reaffirmed that they (court officers) were going to have to be certified."

Sheriff Ray says when not in court, these officers can be assigned to other duties including serving papers. He says an idea has also been discussed, but not yet approved to help pay for this additional expense. " I talked with the county commission about offsetting how much it was going to cost in our budget to do that (have four full time certified court officers) and there was some talk that they (county commission) might raise the fees of civil papers and criminal warrants and when these court officers are not in court, they could be serving civil papers and state warrants. These (full time court officers) will have full powers just like a regular deputy. They can make arrests and work calls. We can use them for anything. They're not paid from court funds. They can work different shifts and do whatever we need them to do."

In addition to their certification, Sheriff Ray says these court officers will be required to put in a certain amount of hours toward courtroom security, even after this year. "They'll have to do their forty hours of in-service just like the regular deputies do and then they'll have so many hours of courtroom security that they'll have to do in addition to that forty hours. So they'll have a little more training time than most of our regular deputies do."

"The county commission has already granted approval for me to go ahead and get these four officers trained that we plan to use in the courtrooms. We have three people who are going to the academy and we've hired one person who has already sent himself through the academy. We tried to find people who were already certified so we wouldn't have to pay the expense of sending them through the academy."

"Right now in my budget I've got funds for four part-time court officers. The courts require two armed officers for each judge's courtroom. We've hired people to fill those slots and the county commission has allotted me some money in my budget for this transition period to be able to pay them while sending these other people to get them certified. Once they're certified, then the rest of what's left out of that part-time money will go to these full time salaries."

Sheriff Ray added that this change was not something anybody sought locally but was necessary because of state law. "This was not a decision of mine or the county commission. It's a mandatory law that we have to comply with. They did not give us any options."

Sheriff Ray says all four full time court officers will be used on any day when court is in session. If two courts are in session at the same time, the four officers will be assigned, two per courtroom.

Man Helps Himself to Someone Else's Boat, Now Charged with Theft and Vandalism

July 26, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Zach Ross Hendrixson

A 24 year old man, who used somebody else's Mastercraft ski boat several times this summer without the owner's permission to entertain friends on the lake, has been charged with theft and vandalism.

Zach Ross Hendrixson of Lebanon was arrested on Monday, July 19th. The owner of the boat has taken a warrant against Hendrixson for theft of property over $1,000 and two warrants for vandalism over $10,000 for damage caused to the interior and exterior while Hendrixson was using the boat. The boat, valued at approximately $100,000, is docked at Hurricane Marina.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Hendrixson took the boat out on the lake several times since Memorial Day weekend. " He has been going down there since Memorial Day, taking people out on that boat, falsely claiming it belonged to his family. He even published pictures of the outings on his Face Book account."

When the owner discovered that Hendrixson had been using the boat, he had him charged in the case.

Sheriff Ray says Hendrixson was spotted by a deputy on Highway 70 west last Monday. Knowing there were warrants against Hendrixson in the case, the officer stopped him and also discovered that his license was suspended.

After a further investigation, Sheriff Ray says Hendrixson was also charged with theft of property over $1,000 for allegedly taking items off another boat."We started an investigation and found that he had stolen a surf board, a wake board, and life jackets from a boat at Cove Hollow Marina, valued at $1,180."

Hendrixson is also accused of committing a theft at a residence on Mullican Drive, where tools and a battery charger were taken, valued at $250. Sheriff Ray says those items have been recovered in Mount Juliet.

According to Sheriff Ray, more charges are pending against Hendrixson. "We have more cases of wake boards which have been stolen and recovered, and more charges are pending against him."

Hendrixson is currently charged with one count of theft under $500; two counts of theft over $1,000; vandalism over $10,000; and driving on a suspended license. His bond totals $76,000 and he will be in General Sessions Court on July 29th

Meanwhile, in another case 28 year old Ricardo Rodriguez of Cecil Hale Road was issued citations on Saturday, July 24th for no drivers license, for no insurance, and for crossing the center divider line of the roadway. Sheriff Ray says a deputy, while on patrol on Highway 70 east, spotted a vehicle driving erratically, crossing the center dividing line of the roadway. The officer stopped the vehicle and found Rodriguez to be the driver. He asked for his drivers license but Rodriguez couldn't produce it. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on August 25th.

58 year old Cynthia Kaye Brooks of Genesa Shockley Road, Sparta was arrested on Sunday, July 25th for a first offense of driving under the influence. Sheriff Ray says a deputy spotted a vehicle on Highway 70 east weaving in the roadway. He pulled over the vehicle and found Brooks to be the driver. She had an odor of alcohol on her person, slurred speech, and she was unsteady on her feet. She submitted to field sobriety tasks which she failed. Her bond is $1500 and she will be in court on August 5th.

Martin Riley Pleads Guilty to Burglaries

July 26, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Martin Riley

A 44 year old man, charged in connection with a rash of break-ins late last summer in DeKalb County, pleaded guilty to four of those Friday in DeKalb County Criminal Court and received a six year sentence, to serve one year before being released to probation.

Judge David Patterson presided.

Martin Riley entered a guilty plea to four charges of aggravated burglary and received a three year sentence in each case. Three of the cases are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the fourth case for a total effective sentence of six years. Under terms of his sentence, Riley is to serve one year before being released to probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with his parole violation.

Riley must make restitution to the victims in six cases, amounts of which are yet to be determined. He was given jail credit from September 15th, 2009 to July 23rd, 2010

Last September, Sheriff Patrick Ray said Riley and his brother, Timothy Riley were believed to have been responsible for several burglaries and thefts in DeKalb and other counties.

According to Sheriff Ray, the Riley brothers didn't just allegedly steal small things, they also allegedly took large expensive household appliances. "We recovered all kinds of stainless steel refrigerators, stainless steel stoves, stainless steel freezers, radios, cd players, microwaves, toaster ovens, anything they could go into a house and get."

Sheriff Ray says the Riley's favorite targets were lake homes although they allegedly burglarized other residences as well "They would make entry into the houses, mostly lake homes, where people are not there everyday, push all these appliances up next to the door or on the front porch, and then they would go, get a vehicle, come back and load it all up, and sell it right then."

Cases against Riley's brother, Timothy Riley are apparently still pending in court.

Meanwhile, in other cases Friday 32 year old Samuel McClure pleaded guilty to two counts of theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case to be served at 75% and then be on probation. The sentences are to run consecutive to each other for a total effective sentence of two years.

28 year old Chasity Phillips pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence in each case, all suspended to supervised probation except for 101 days to serve. She was given credit for time served. The sentences are to run concurrently. Phillips was fined $2,000 and she must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow any recommended treatments. Phillips must also reimburse law enforcement for all drug buy money and perform 100 hours of community service work. She was given jail credit for 101 days served.

48 year old Virginia K. Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a sentence of three years in each case to run concurrently with each other. She was fined $2,000. Jones was given credit for time served and will serve the balance of her sentence on probation.

34 year old Andre R. Watson pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence to serve 120 days with the balance on probation. The sentences are to run concurrently. Watson must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment, pay a $2,000 fine, and perform 100 hours of community service. He must also reimburse for the drug buy money. Watson was given jail credit for 85 days served.

24 year old Corey R. Winchester pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule III controlled substance and received a two year sentence in each case, all suspended to supervised probation except for 120 days to serve. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other. Winchester must pay a $2,000 fine, perform 100 hours of community service work, and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow any recommended treatment. He was given jail credit for 99 days served.

28 year old Elijah Arnold pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a three year sentence in each case, all suspended to supervised probation, except for 90 days to serve. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other. Arnold was fined $2,000 and he must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow any recommended treatment. He must perform 100 hours of community service work. Arnold was given jail credit for 85 days served.

53 year old Billy Joe Rigsby pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a three year sentence to serve 120 days. He was fined $2,000 and he must perform 100 hours of community service and reimburse $50 for drug buy money. He was given jail credit for 101 days and will be on probation for the balance of the sentence.

44 year old Tammy Miller pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and violation of probation. Miller received a three year TDOC sentence in the drug case to serve at 30% with the balance on supervised probation. Her fine was $2,000. For the violation of probation, Miller is to serve 120 days consecutively with the drug case sentence. While on probation, Miller must perform 100 hours of community service and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow all recommendations. She was given jail credit for 74 days served.

25 year old John B. Pedigo pleaded guilty to simple possession and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on supervised probation. He must pay a fine of $250.

25 year old Joshua Rhyan Cripps pleaded guilty to having a prohibited weapon, simple possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case. The two sentences in the drug cases are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the weapon case for a total effective sentence of two years. Cripps was given jail credit for 335 days served and was fined $250.

22 year old Silvia Hawkins pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation, except for 48 hours to serve. Hawkins was given credit for time served and she must pay a fine of $360. She will also lose her license for one year.

36 year old Joel Trobaugh pleaded guilty to simple assault and a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case, all suspended to probation, except for 30 days. The sentences are to run concurrently. He was given jail credit for 30 days served.

25 year old Flint Wilson Gilley, II, charged with filing a false report, a first offense of driving under the influence and simple possession, and another DUI case entered guilty pleas under a negotiated settlement. He received a two year sentence in the filing a false report case and 11 months and 29 days to serve 48 hours in each of the other two cases. The sentences in the DUI cases are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the filing a false report case for a total effective sentence of three years.

Patterson Sentenced in Aggravated Assault Cases

July 26, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bransford (Brad) Lee Patterson

A 23 year old man who allegedly stabbed his wife and step-mother and assaulted his father before being shot himself in February was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday.

Bransford (Brad) Lee Patterson entered a plea by information to two counts of aggravated assault and received three years in each case.. The sentences are to run consecutive to each other for an effective sentence of six years. Patterson was given jail credit for 161 days served and must serve the balance of the first three years, then he will be on probation for the remaining three years.

The incident occurred on February 6th. Warrants taken against Patterson at the time alleged that he stabbed both his wife, Reba Patterson and his step-mother Lisa Patterson, with a knife causing them to be in fear of their lives. This occurred at their residence at 6270 Patterson Road in DeKalb County.

Another warrant alleged that Patterson assaulted his father, Shannon Patterson, by cutting him with a knife on his hand. This also occurred at their residence at 6270 Patterson Road.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Brad Patterson had gotten into an argument with members of his family and stabbed the two females. Patterson then started beating one of the wounded females. In an attempt to get Patterson under control, another family member got a pistol and fired a warning shot. When that failed, the family member then shot Patterson one time and called central dispatch.

Patterson was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital where he was treated and later released. The others injured in the attack were treated and released at DeKalb Community Hospital.

Vinca Sentenced in Child Sex Crime

July 26, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Vinca

A 42 year old Smithville man received a five year sentence in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday after pleading guilty to a charge of attempted aggravated sexual battery.

James Aaron Vinca was originally charged on August 18th, 2009 with having sexual contact with a four year old child.

The case went before the DeKalb County Grand Jury in April.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time of Vinca's arrest that on July 17th, 2009 Vinca was accused of having unlawful sexual contact with the child at his residence. The child is a member of his family.

Criminal Court Judge David Patterson sentenced Vinca under a negotiated settlement to five years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections to be served at 30%. He must also comply with all requirements of the sex offender registry.

Vinca was given jail credit for 269 days served.

Early Voting Update

July 24, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

A total of 1,211 people have taken advantage of early voting for the August 5th elections through Friday. Saturday, July 31st is the last day for early voting at the courthouse.

One hundred forty one people voted on Friday, July 30th including 137 in person and four by absentee. Forty seven voters cast ballots in the Tennessee Republican Primary, 83 in the Tennessee Democratic Primary, and eleven voted only in the county general election. Two voted in the Dowelltown Municipal Election.

To date, 1,211 have voted including 453 in the Republican Primary, 682 in the Democratic Primary, 75 in the general election only, and eleven in the Dowelltown Municipal election.

Early Voting will be held Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on the first floor of the courthouse.

Meanwhile in the three counties of the 40th State Legislative District combined (Smith, DeKalb, and Macon), the first seven days of early voting through Friday, July 23rd reveal that 1,877 persons have voted in the Tennessee Republican Primary and 1,864 have cast ballots in the Tennessee Democratic Primary.

In the counties of the 17th State Senatorial District combined through Friday, July 23rd, a total of 6,234 have voted in the Tennessee Republican Primary and 4,490 in the Tennessee Democratic Primary.

Turnout by county through Friday, July 23rd is as follows:

Smith County:
680- Republican Primary
1,277- Democratic Primary

Macon:
997 -Republican Primary
305- Democratic Primary

DeKalb:
200-Republican Primary
282-Democratic Primary

Clay::
369 -Republican Primary
355- Democratic Primary

Cannon:
329- Republican Primary
349- Democratic Primary

Trousdale:
240- Republican Primary
442- Democratic Primary

Wilson:
2,706- Republican Primary
1,389- Democratic Primary

Sumner (Hendersonville precinct)
713- Republican Primary
91- Democratic Primary

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