Local News Articles

Prisoner's Recorded Phone Conversation From Jail Leads Sheriff's Dept to his Meth Lab

May 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
 Matthew Allen Baker
Crystal Michelle Baker

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department found a meth lab at the residence of a prisoner after hearing him talking about it with his wife in a recorded telephone conversation between the two of them from the jail last week.

31 year old Matthew Allen Baker and his wife 30 year old Crystal Michelle Baker of Pine Orchard Road are each charged in the case and will appear in General Sessions Court on Thursday, May 16.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Matthew Baker was picked up at his home on Thursday, May 9 on an outstanding state warrant against him for a violation of probation. Baker was found in his bedroom along with a bowl which contained a powdery substance believed to be meth and a plate with a powdery substance thought to be hydrocodone. Three straws, two knives, and aluminum foil containing a residue from a powdery substance were also recovered.

Meanwhile on Friday, May 10, authorities listened to a recorded telephone conversation from the jail between Matthew and Crystal Baker and heard them talking about having hidden meth lab components in their house and barn. A drug detective later received consent from Crystal Baker to search her home and there he found drain cleaner, muriatic acid, Coleman fuel, acitone, propane tanks, coffee filters, cold packs, ammonium nitrate, and several other items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine along with some finished product. Inside a child's bedroom, the detective found about a half gram of methamphetamine in a child's coat pocket. Crystal Baker admitted to knowing the items were on the property and that she tried to hide them. Matthew Baker told investigators that these items belonged to him.

Matthew Baker is charged with promotion of methamphetamine. He was also issued two citations for simple possession of a schedule II drug and another for possession of drug paraphernalia. Crystal Baker is charged with possession of a schedule II drug for resale and promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.

35 year old Grady Murphy of Andrew Street, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 30 Murphy allegedly took several steel pipes and several feet of barn lumber, valued at more than $1,000, from property on Indian Creek Road. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the sheriff's department.

39 year old Chrissy Michelle Evans of West Main Street, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 6 Evans allegedly got into a confrontation with her husband at their residence. According to Sheriff Ray, Evans allegedly got physical with him, scratching his face causing him to bleed. She also allegedly grabbed and tore his shirt. Evans was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

41 year old Tania Pegeen Sewell of Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 9, Sewell allegedly assaulted her 19 year old daughter by pushing her down, leaving red marks on the right side of her back. Sewell was transported to the sheriff's department for booking.

44 year old Everette Charles South, Jr. is charged with criminal trespassing. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 10, a correctional officer at the jail saw South come onto the jail property and throw a pack of cigarettes over a fence where inmates were exercising.

Woman Dies After Apparently Driving Chevy Blazer into Center Hill Lake

May 13, 2013
Dwayne Page

A 40 year old Putnam County woman lost her life after she allegedly drove her Chevy Blazer down a boat ramp and into the lake at Johnson Chapel Monday afternoon.

Dead is Nancy Randolph.

Two others were in the Blazer with Randolph, reportedly her daughter Sara and her daughter's boyfriend Houston Bussell, but they made it out safely.

Family members allege that Randolph intentionally drove the SUV into the water.

Nancy's daughter Sara was in the front seat and Sara's boyfriend Houston Bussell was a backseat passenger, according to reports. After they got out, Bussell allegedly went back to get Nancy out but she pushed him away.

(Video below shows TWRA Officers and Darrell Gill of DeKalb Tire and Service hooking the submerged Chevy Blazer to a roll back tow truck. Victims were already out of the Blazer by this time)

Investigators have not confirmed those details.

In a prepared statement, Sheriff Patrick Ray said the incident was reported at 12:25 p.m. at the Johnson Chapel Boat Ramp. According to Sheriff Ray, The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to the boat ramp where a car had run off into the lake. A sheriff's deputy who was close to the area arrived on the scene within seven minutes and spoke to two adults who said that the vehicle they were in had run into the lake and that the driver, a female, was still inside the automobile. Deputy Brian Williams and Detectives Mike Billings and Jeremy Taylor of the sheriff's department went into the water and pulled the body of the woman from the submerged vehicle. The water was believed to be ten to fifteen feet deep. DeKalb EMS was on the scene and started CPR on the woman. She was then taken to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The other two adults were treated at the scene but refused further medical treatment.

Sheriff Ray commended Deputy Williams and Detectives Billings and Taylor saying "They went into the cold water and risked their own lives" to try and save Randolph

The investigation is ongoing by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. No other information will be released at this time, according to Sheriff Ray.

Smithville Resident Selected to Participate in Advanced Placement Program Reading

May 13, 2013
William Freddy Curtis

Mr. William Freddy Curtis – AP US Government & Politics Teacher at Cannon County High School was selected to participate in the College Board’s Annual AP Reading in Advanced Placement US Government & Politics. Each June, AP teachers and college faculty members from around the world gather in the United States to evaluate and score the free-response sections of the AP Exams.

AP Readers are high school and college educators who represent many of the finest academic institutions in the world. The AP Reading is a unique forum in which an academic dialogue between educators is both fostered and encouraged. “The Reading draws upon the talents of some of the finest teachers and professors that the world has to offer,” said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, AP and College Readiness at the College Board. “It fosters professionalism, allows for the exchange of ideas, and strengthens the commitment to students and to teaching. We are very grateful for the contributions of talented educators like Mr. Curtis.”

The Advanced Placement Program®(AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies – with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both – while still in high school. Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue – skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students. In 2012, more than 11,000 AP Readers evaluated more than 3.7 million AP Exams.

Mr. Curtis is a 27 year veteran of the Cannon County School System serving as a teacher and principal at West Side Elementary School from 1986 to 2008, and currently serving as US Government, Sociology, and AP US Government & Politics Teacher at Cannon County High School. He is married to Trena Braswell Curtis – 2nd Grade Teacher at Smithville Elementary School and has four sons – Matt, Trent, Casey, and Evan Curtis.

Alexander Tells Corps He Won’t Approve Funding Requests if Corps Won’t Listen to the Senate on Fishing Beneath Cumberland River Dams

May 12, 2013
Lamar Alexander

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told a top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official at a budget hearing on Wednesday, May 8 that he would restrict the Corps’ ability to transfer new funds to projects if it doesn’t abandon “unreasonable” fishing restrictions that amount to “thumbing your nose at elected officials,” saying, “It sounds to me like we have a life jacket problem – not a water problem.” (Video HERE.)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is beginning to implement permanent full-time water access restrictions around Center Hill Dam and the other nine dams on the Cumberland River and their tributaries.

The restricted areas will be the minimum area allowed per Corps regulations upstream and downstream of locks, dams, and power plant facilities. All forms of water access within the restricted areas will be prohibited including boating, swimming and wading. The Corps continues to promote bank fishing in all areas that were previously approved, including areas adjacent to some restricted areas.

The Restricted Area Boundary Lengths around Center Hill Dam will be:

Upstream Restricted Area Length.....400 feet

Downstream Restricted Area Length.....750 feet

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the subcommittee chairman whose approval the Corps would also need, called Alexander reasonable “99.9 percent of the time” and told the Corps officials, “My strong advice would be to try to work something out with him.”

“We don’t need Big Brother in Washington holding our hands while we’re fishing down in Tennessee or Kentucky or any other place,” Alexander said to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. “If you’re not going to pay attention to the elected representatives of Tennessee and Kentucky and other states, I’m not going to pay attention to your judgment. You have nine major accounts, 918 project accounts, and in order to move that, you need the permission of the chairman and me to . … You’re going to find it very hard to get my approval for any reprogramming request – anywhere in the country – until I get the Corps’ attention, and if that doesn’t get your attention, I’m going to work with my colleagues to reduce the reprogramming requests to $1,000 so that any reprogramming you want to do, you’ll have to come back to me and Senator Feinstein and the chairman and ranking member in the House.”

Referring to the order in which the legislative and executive branch duties are laid out in the Constitution – Article I and Article II, respectively – Alexander said, “We’re Article I, you’re Article II – you ought to be paying attention to our judgment on this, especially when so many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have made themselves clear on this. We don’t need a government that’s big enough to interfere with us when we have enough sense to … get out of the water the 20 percent of the time when it’s spilling through the dam.”

Alexander, the lead Republican or Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development that was holding the hearing, has introduced the “Freedom to Fish Act” to prohibit the Corps from restricting fishing beneath 10 dams on the Cumberland River. On March 23, the U.S. Senate unanimously supported his amendment to the Senate budget resolution allowing Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the Corps plans.

On April 30, the Corps announced that it would move forward with full-time, permanently restricted access to tailwaters areas below the dams, through buoys and signage. Today, Alexander said the Corps would “find it very hard” to get the approval it needs from him as Ranking Member of the subcommittee for “reprogramming” required to move money among the Corps’ more than 900 project accounts.

Alexander pointed to the Corps’ own statistics showing that water only spills through the dams 20 percent of the time, on average. Alexander said, “Closing off the tailwaters 100 percent of the time would be like putting the gate down over the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time – the tracks aren’t dangerous when the train’s not coming, and the water isn’t dangerous when the water isn’t spilling through the dam.”

Former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin, an appointee of President Obama who until stepping down recently would have been responsible for defending the Corps in court, has said the Corps’ restrictions are unreasonable “in light of the tremendous protection from liability enjoyed by the Corps.” The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has also said it will not enforce the Corps’ restrictions, and Alexander has repeatedly encouraged the Corps to work out a compromise with state agencies to address safety concerns.

Community Showers Relay for Life with Love and Support

May 11, 2013
Dwayne Page

Folks flocked to Greenbrook Park Friday evening to show their love and support for cancer survivors and to join the fight against the disease during the 16th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Rains, called for in the weather forecast , eventually came but held off during the first few hours of the event as young and old alike gathered to enjoy the food, games, music, and fellowship.

The program from the stage featured singers and church groups, along with crowd favorite David Turner and Friends, a popular local ventriloquist. The opening ceremony included presentation of the Colors by Boy Scout Troop #347, the National Anthem performed by Suzanne Slager, welcoming remarks by Renea Cantrell and a song in honor of cancer survivors by Shelley Cross and Bonnie Rigsby.

Cancer survivors, introduced and presented with a medallion, took the first lap around the walking trail in the park.

Teams joined together to raise money to aid in the battle against cancer. A male beauty contest was also held again this year, featuring several men dressed as women, using their attributes to bring in as much money as possible

The walking track was also lined with luminaria in honor or remembrance of those who have battled cancer.

Relay For Life is a unique opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those lost, and fight back against the disease. Many of the participants are cancer survivors themselves.

"Backporch Friends" Share Tales During 8th Annual Storytelling

May 10, 2013
Susan Hinton
Frank Buck
Crowd Gathers to Hear Storytellers

The 8th annual storytelling event, "Backporch Friends," was held at the new DeKalb County Community Center on Saturday, May 4. Susan Hinton and Dot Tittsworth hosted the event sponsored by the Smithville Study Club. Despite the rainy weather, sixteen hometown storytellers spun their unique stories, both fiction and non-fiction including original poems, mythology, and folklore. The crowd of fifty plus responded enthusiastically and with heart-felt laughter, promising to attend next year' storytelling day and bring friends.

This event is held each year to perpetuate the tales of our town that will soon be forgotten if not passed down from generation to generation. The event drew an audience of all ages. Smiles and laughter were enjoyed by all who attended. Donations were made to support DeKalb's Imagination Library, which places books in the hands of children from one year of age until they start school. This program was started by Dolly Parton to develop life-long readers and educate our future leaders. What a great match to celebrate literacy and contribute to a worthy cause while being entertained by the joy of storytelling. If you were unable to come to this year's event, please stop by your local Justin Potter Library and make a donation to Imagination Library. Donations are accepted any time and the money will stay in our community. Thanks for your support in this great cause, and if you missed the storytelling day this year, it is always held on the first Saturday of May.

Smithville Elementary School Community Field Trip

May 9, 2013
Smithville Elementary School Students

The Smithville Elementary School's Community Field Trip was held on the Smithville Public Square. Eleven classes with over 200 students visited the DeKalb Courthouse, Justin Potter Library, Smithville Fire Hall, and Regions Bank.

County Mayor Mike Foster handed out "Go Green" backpacks sponsored by the TDOT Litter Grant and spoke to the children about the importance of not littering.

The DeKalb County Clean Up Day will be held on Saturday, May 18th. Everyone is encouraged to participate. For more info, call the Chamber at 597-4163.

New State Veterans Cemetery Proposed in the Upper Cumberland Region

May 9, 2013
Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder

Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder announced the initiative to establish a new State Veterans Cemetery in the Upper Cumberland region. TDVA has submitted a pre-application grant to the National Cemetery Administration for federal funding of the architectural design, engineer support and construction costs. However, funding for land acquisition must be raised through donations as well as city, county and state funding.

The cemetery would be located in the Upper Cumberland Region to serve Veterans and their eligible dependents in Clay, Cumberland, Dekalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren and White counties

TDVA Assistant Commissioner Don Smith hosted a community meeting on Thursday, April 25 to form a steering committee to proceed with the land acquisition process. Volunteers for the community member committee were finalized on Wednesday, May 1. Two community members from 12 counties have volunteered to participate in the Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee. Clay and Dekalb Counties will not participate in the committee efforts. The Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee will review available properties in the region and narrow the list to three recommendations which will be submitted to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs for consideration.

Chairman Jim Amerson of White County will be a non-voting member. Remaining committee members include Co-Chairman Daven Oppenheim of Fentress County, Secretary Ron Goode of Overton County as well as committee members Mark Pfaffenroth and Bill Ward of Cumberland County, E.J. Hancock and Keith Kennedy of Fentress County, Everette Vanhooser and Dale Smith of Jackson County, Mike Scott and Pat McJury of Macon County, John Alcorn of Overton County, Glenn Williams and Brian Raef of Pickett County, Frank Favia and Jim Loftis of Putnam County, Bob Baker and Scott Penfield of Smith County, Dan Belcher and William “Buddy” Hughes of Trousdale County, Vern Curry and Les Conway of Van Buren County, Angie Higgins of Warren County as well as George Schneider and Ralph Griffith of White County.

“Veterans and family members in the Upper Cumberland region currently have to drive to State Veterans Cemeteries in Nashville or Knoxville for services,” Grinder said. “It is our goal to establish a new State Veterans Cemetery within 75 miles from the Veterans and dependents we serve in the Upper Cumberland region.”

The next full steering committee meeting will be held on Friday, May 17 at the White County Courthouse, Second Floor, 1 East Brockman Way in Sparta at 10 a.m. (CDT).

For more information about the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs and existing State Veterans Cemeteries, visit the department’s website at www.tn.gov/veteran, facebook.com/myTDVA or stay up to date by following the department on twitter @TNDVA.

National Association of Letter Carriers To Conduct Annual Food Drive Saturday

May 8, 2013
Dwayne Page
Smithville Post Office

The National Association of Letter Carriers will hold its 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive on Saturday, May 11
Non-perishable food donations will be collected by U.S. Postal Service mail carriers on their routes that day.

Shopping bags will be in the mail this week along with information about the drive. Contributors are asked to fill the shopping bags with non-perishable items and place them near their mailboxes for collection on Saturday.

You may also drop off your food donation directly at the former location of MeMa's Restaurant at 430 East Broad Street Smithville which serves as the collection center for the Second Harvest Food Pantry, sponsored by the First United Methodist Church. All goods collected in DeKalb County will be distributed locally.

The association's food drive is held annually on the second Saturday in May and contributions are made from all across the U.S.

Since its inception in 1992, letter carriers have collected 1.2 billion pounds of food, according to the organization's website.

The issue of hunger is a growing concern. Fifty million people nationwide are directly affected, including 17 million children and 9 million senior citizens. The drive's timing coincides with the summer months, when many children do not have alternatives to their school's meal program.

More information about the food drive can be found at www.nalc.org.

Hendrixson and VanVranken Overall Winners of Relay for Life 5K

May 8, 2013
Travis Hendrixson and Kristen VanVranken

Travis Hendrixson was the overall winner in the male division of the Relay for Life 5K last Saturday, May 4. His time was 18:43.

Kristen VanVranken had the best time in the female division at 20:32

"The Relay 5K was a success despite the poor weather," said spokesman Roth Terrell.

"This was the largest group of Runners and Walkers the Relay 5K has ever experienced, with a total of 99 people," said Terrell. The Relay for Life 5K raised a total of $3,870.76.

"We would like to thank all of our sponsors for helping make this year's 5K a success," said Terrrell.


Results for Relay for Life 5K 2013.pdf (182.35 KB)


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