Local News Articles

DeKalb County Jobless Rate Up to 5.4% in February

March 28, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for February was 5.4%, up from 5.2% in January and 4.6% in February, 2007

The DeKalb County Labor Force for February was 10,340. A total of 9,780 were employed and 560 were unemployed.

Meanwhile Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 5.3 percent, 0.4 percent higher than the January rate of 4.9 percent. The United States unemployment rate for the month of February was 4.8 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for February show that 82 counties increased. The rate decreased in seven counties and remained the same in six counties. County unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and therefore reflect seasonal expansions and layoffs that occur during the year. The state and U.S. unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted to eliminate normal seasonal fluctuations and to indicate a more accurate measurement of actual economic change.

Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 3.9 percent. Perry County had the state's highest at 11.6 percent..

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate at 4.3 percent. Davidson County was 4.5 percent. Hamilton County was at 4.6 percent and Shelby County was 5.9 percent.

DeKalb County Agencies Provide Food, Shelter with $11,446 FEMA Grant

March 27, 2008

An $11,446 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant will help agencies in DeKalb County to better feed and shelter the county's hungry and homeless, US. Representative Bart Gordon said.

"For 25 years, Congress has funded FEMA's Emergency Food and Shelter Program to help social service agencies in more than 2,500 cities and counties nationwide, " Gordon said. "These funds are used to supplement food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs for people with non-disaster related emergencies,"

FEMA awards the grants to nonprofit community and government organizations that are chosen by local boards. The board is composed of local agencies, the county mayor and others. Nonprofit organizations apply to the board for EFSP funds. The DeKalb County Mayor's office will administer the funds this year.

"We receive calls daily from people needing assistance. We are very grateful for these funds. We wish we were able to help more people, "Kristie Miller, DeKalb County Mayor office manager, said.

Last year, EFSP funds were used to provide 2,000 meals and to help 26 individuals in DeKalb County with utilities and rent.

Former Local Manager of World Finance Corporation Charged with Forgery

March 26, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A former local manager of World Finance Corporation and Tax Service has been charged with nine counts of forgery.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings and Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins, Jr. say 37 year old Linda Ann Jones of 115 Middle Drive, Sparta is accused of making false loans and forging signatures on official loan documents while she was manager of World Finance in Smithville.

Her bond is $22,500 and her court date is April 24th.

Meanwhile, 23 year old Nickey Eudene Reece, Jr of South Fork Apartments on Miller Road is charged with one count of aggravated robbery and one count of possession of a schedule II controlled substance (Hydrocodone) while a co-defendant, 36 year old Christopher B. Pack of Evins Mill Road is charged with aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.

According to Chief Jennings and Detective Sergeant Hutchins', Reece and Pack allegedly assaulted and robbed a neighbor at the apartment complex on Saturday, taking $4,000 in cash.

The victim told police that the men grabbed him, threw him down, and began hitting and kicking him. He said Reece also threatened him claiming he was carrying a gun, although he never produced a weapon.

The victim was not seriously injured in the assault.

Meanwhile during the search, incident to arrest, officers found seven white pills believed to be Hydrocodone, which were loose in Reece's pocket. Reece had no prescription for the pills.

Reece was picked up by police Wednesday and Pack turned himself into the police later in the day.

Reece's bond is $30,000 and bond for Pack is $50,000. Both will be in court April 24th.

In another case, 36 year old Michael Joseph Foster of 191 King Ridge Road was charged Wednesday with one count of theft under $500 and one count of forgery.

Chief Jennings and Detective Sergeant Hutchins' say Foster, while at the residence of the victim in the case, took checks from the home on February 13th and forged one of the checks in the amount of $186.56 made out to Cell Plus for payment of a Verizon cell phone which he later sold for cash. The police department has recovered the cell phone.

Foster's bond is $7,500 and he will be in court on the charges April 24th.

51 year old Johnny Wayne Trapp of 235 Arrow Head Drive was charged Wednesday with hindering secured creditors.

According to Chief Jennings and Detective Sergeant Hutchins, Trapp had a loan on a 1981 International tractor at Tennessee Credit with the tractor as collateral but he sold and transferred the tractor without paying off his loan. Tennessee Credit had a UCC lien filed with the state on this tractor with a loan balance of $5,115.

Trapp's bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on the charge April 24th.

County Commission Authorizes Purchase of Property for Possible Courthouse Annex

March 26, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night voted to purchase a small lot near the public square as a possible future location for a courthouse annex.

The property, which belonged to Doug Hodges, became available as a result of a bankruptcy finalization stemming from the B. Don James case.

County Mayor Mike Foster says the county will buy the property, about eight tenths of an acre for $125,000 on a three year note. He says the appraised value of the property is more than that amount.

The site, about 200 feet x 150 feet, is located between North Congress Boulevard, East Church Street, First Street, and East Walnut Street.

There are currently no construction plans, but Foster says the county may eventually build an annex on the property and relocate the offices of some public officials there, who are now located in the courthouse. He says lack of adequate courthouse space has been a problem for several years. "The Circuit Court Clerk , Chancery Court Clerk, Register of Deeds, and Trustee especially don't have anywhere to store all the records that they need to keep. The county commission, for four or five years, has been planning to move some of the offices out of the courthouse and probably use all of the third floor and some of the second floor for the courts. The plan I've been hearing is to probably move the Property Assessor, Register of Deeds, and Trustee who are all pretty much interconnected in their work, and try to find another location for them. This would create more room for storing records and more space for the Circuit, Juvenile, and Chancery Courts"

The commission has considered purchasing one of several existing buildings in the downtown area for a courthouse annex, including the old Cumberland Insurance Building, but Foster says those sites present potential problems of their own. "We have been looking at three or four different buildings in town, but the fire at Studio Six last week raised a red flag to us. All of our records need to be in a really save place and probably need to be stored in a building that doesn't join another building because of the danger of fire."

Foster says when this property became available, the county purchasing committee recommended that the county buy it. " It's really well located, near the courthouse and city hall, and has close to 200 feet of frontage on highway 56 (North Congress Boulevard). I think the way the purchasing committee sees it is that we can buy it at a fair price and eventually use it to build a courthouse annex, but even if we don't use it for that we could, down the road, use it for some other purpose."

Walker Airlifted After Tuesday Wreck on Dale Ridge Road

March 26, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 56 year old woman was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital Tuesday after a wreck on Dale Ridge Road.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Patricia Walker was in a 1997 Plymouth Breeze traveling south on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when she failed to negotiate a curve, left the road on the right, overcorrected, came back across the road, and exited the left side of the road. The car then struck a small tree and overturned, coming to rest on it's top.

DeKalb EMS got Walker out of her car and she was airlifted by a Life Flight helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. She was not wearing her seatbelt.

Counterfeit Bills Showing Up at Local Businesses

March 25, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department reports that counterfeit bills have shown up at four businesses in recent days, including Walmart, McDonald's, Rite Aid Pharmacy, and Jewel's Market.

Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins', Jr. says the bills have no water marks or bar codes and some were not cut squarely. The bills also have some of the same serial numbers.

In the Walmart incident, Officer Travis Bryant states in his report that " On March 21st at approximately 10:00 a.m., I responded to Walmart in regard to $240 in counterfeit $20 bills. Upon arrival, I spoke with Jozef Shelton who advised me that three persons had entered the store and that one of them had passed the money at two separate registers. Then on March 22nd at noon I was called back to Walmart to speak with Mr. Shelton who said one of the three persons from the day before had attempted to pass two more counterfeit $20 bills."

In the McDonald's case, Officer Matt Holmes states in his report that, "On March 24th, I responded to McDonalds for a possible counterfeit bill that was passed through the drive through window. Upon arrival, I met with the manager, Judy Duncan, who advised me that an employee, who was attending the money window, reported that she had marked a $20 bill that was passed at the window and that the bill was a counterfeit. Duncan said she went to the window and advised the boys in the car that their $20 bill was counterfeit. She said the boys then produced the money to pay for their food and drove away. Upon a check of the money from the prior days, two more counterfeit bills were spotted. All three bills had the same serial numbers."

Detective Sergeant Hutchins says a $20 counterfeit bill also showed up at Rite Aid Pharmacy on March 24th and a phony $20 bill was passed March 25th at Jewel's Market.

Police Chief Richard Jennings and Detective Sergeant Hutchins urge local business owners and operators to examine closely any bills passed at their establishments and report any suspicious activity to the police department.

The cases have also been brought to the attention of the U.S. Secret Service.

Hutchins says there are suspects in the cases but no arrests have been made.

Sheriff Issues Update on the Latest Crime News and Announces Plans for DARE Graduations

March 24, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray issued his weekly update on crime news Monday and announced plans for the DARE Graduations next month.

Four people have been arrested since last Thursday.

Sheriff Ray says 36 year old Marshall Neely of Moores Road Turner, Kentucky was stopped on Highway 70 east for a traffic violation on Thursday, March 20th.

Upon approaching the driver, deputies noticed a strong odor of alcohol on Neely's person. He was asked to perform field sobriety tasks which he failed. Neely was placed under arrest for DUI and he was also written a citation for the Implied Consent law. Neely's bond was set at $1000 and his court date is April 3rd.

Also on Thursday, 43 year old Tony Joe Corley of Lower Helton Road, Liberty was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. Corley was a passenger in a vehicle which was stopped for a traffic violation on Highway 70 east. After deputies received consent to search the vehicle Corley was in, a used hypodermic needle fell out of Corley's pants. His bond was set at $2,500 and his court date was set for March 27th.

On Friday, deputies observed 19 year old Adam Tramel of Possum Hollow Road, Dowelltown urinating in the parking lot at Hardee's. When the officers pulled into the parking lot to speak with Tramel, he jumped into to his vehicle and attempted to flee. The deputies stopped Tramel on Highway 56 south around Whorton Springs Road. Upon speaking with Tramel, officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. After performing poorly on all field sobriety tasks, Tramel was arrested for DUI, indecent exposure, and evading arrest. Tramel also received citations for under age consumption after he admitted to drinking 8 or 9 beers and violation of the insurance law. Total bond for Tramel was set at $7,000 and his court date is set for April 3rd.

50 year old Billy Stephen Braswell of Nashville Highway, Liberty was charged Sunday with a DUI (first offense) and simple possession. Deputies stopped Braswell for a traffic violation on Highway 70 west in Liberty. When the officers spoke with Braswell, they noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Sheriff Ray says Braswell was so intoxicated he could not balance himself enough to perform field sobriety tasks. Deputies also found a marijuana cigarette in Braswell's ash tray. Sheriff Ray says Braswell admitted that the marijuana cigarette belonged to him. He received a written citation for failure to take a blood alcohol test. Braswell's total bond was set at $3,000 and his court date is set for April 3rd.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray is inviting everyone to two of the planned DARE Graduations set for April. The first DARE Graduation is planned for Tuesday, April 22nd at 1:30 p.m. inside the Gymnasium at Northside Elementary School in Smithville. The second DARE Graduation is planned for Wednesday April, 23rd at 1:30 p.m. inside the Gymnasium at the DeKalb West School in Liberty. Sheriff Ray says by participating in this program, DeKalb County 5th graders will join the millions of other DARE Graduates who have taken the pledge to stay drug free and avoid violence, The DARE Program is currently being taught in all 50 States in the U.S., as well as 53 other countries around the world. Sheriff Ray says "the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Northside Elementary School, and DeKalb West School are proud to take part in this worldwide effort to help keep our children off drugs."

Sheriff Ray says Jail and Annex Meet State Recertification Standards

March 24, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have again met standards for re-certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, in a prepared statement, says " On March 11th I received a letter from the Tennessee Corrections Institute stating that both the DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have received certification for the year of 2008."

In the letter, State Executive Director Jerry Abston wrote "The Tennessee Corrections Institute recently inspected the DeKalb County Jail and Annex. The inspection revealed that both facilities meet all applicable minimum standards. These statues shall be reported to the Board of Control at its next meeting. After approval from the Board of Control, you will receive a Certificate of Certification. You are to be congratulated for attaining this degree of professionalism in your organization."

State Jail Inspector John Hanna Jr. inspected the older part of the Jail on March 11th and found in the DeKalb County Jail the following " I conducted the physical walk-through of the cells, kitchen, and the medical section, and I found no violations. The logs and records seem to be up to date and in order. I recommend continued certification of this facility at this inspection."

Sheriff Ray said "This section of the Jail (older building) is where we house females. The female inmates are housed upstairs where they can have no visual or verbal contact with the male inmates. Some of the male inmates are housed in the basement area of the Jail away from the female inmates. As of today, Monday, there are 33 inmates (18 females and 15 males) housed in the older part of the Jail."

Also on March 11th, Inspector Hanna inspected the Jail Annex and wrote the following "This Jail was inspected on March 11th. I looked at the records and logs which seemed to be without discrepancies. The cells, medical, and kitchen were visited and looked to be in good shape. There is an area that needed to be corrected. I, (Hanna), measured the dorm in the annex and noted there was enough square footage and plumbing to add sixteen beds. This was completed in September of 2007 which raised the count from 42 to 58. I will file a new Capacity Change Report with this inspection. I recommend continued certification of the jail annex."

Sheriff Ray said "As of today (Monday), there are 47 male inmates housed in the Jail Annex. We are averaging around a total of 80 inmates per day with somewhere around 15 to 20 weekenders that come in on Friday night and are released on Sunday night. We have a total of 104 beds with the Jail and Jail Annex combined."

Man Dies in Sunday Night Crash- Another Person Airlifted

March 23, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 48 year old man died in a pickup truck crash Sunday night on Highway 56 south, just north of Cumberland Nursery.

Dead is Steve Goodwin of Woodbury Highway, Liberty.

Meanwhile, 38 year old Bessie Collins of Liberty, a passenger of the truck, was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force Helicopter Ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Another passenger, 23 year old Michael Frederick Teachout of Smithville was apparently not seriously injured. He reportedly refused treatment.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Goodwin was driving north on Highway 56 in a 1991 Dodge Dakota pickup truck and failed to negotiate a curve. The truck ran off the roadway, hit a fence, re-entered the highway, crossed both lanes, struck a ditch on the other side of the road, vaulted one time, partially ejected the driver, and then came to rest on it's top facing north. The driver was penned underneath.

Central dispatch received the call at 8:57 p.m.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department came to the scene to provide extrication services.

The THP reports that seatbelts were used but that alcohol was also involved.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.

Buck and Others Seek Due Process Hearing on Ouster of D.A. Bill Gibson

March 23, 2008

State legislators from the Upper Cumberland area, including State Representative Frank Buck, are preparing to seek passage of a resolution in the legislature asking for a due process hearing on the removal of District Attorney Bill Gibson from office.

Gibson has been unable to serve as D.A. for the 13th Judicial District since his law license was suspended in 2006 over an ethics scandal.

That scandal involved letters he wrote to a convicted murderer and efforts he made to help a woman clear a meth conviction from her record.

Gibson was investigated by the TBI and the case was recently presented to a Putnam County Grand Jury, which failed to indict him for official misconduct.

The D.A. has since has been trying to negotiate with the State Board of Professional Responsibility to get his law license back.

Buck, in a telephone interview with WJLE Saturday, explained the resolution, which is co-sponsored by himself along with State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville and State Representative Charles Curtiss of Sparta. "We called the Board of Professional Responsibility inquiring about what they were going to do. Although they may remove his law license, they cannot remove him from office. Removal from office is up to the General Assembly, and the General Assembly only. They have not scheduled a meeting until May or June and the General Assembly will be gone home by then. There were a whole group of us who felt as though the General Assembly needed an opportunity to consider the proof and make a decision as they saw fit in light of the fact that the man has been drawing a salary for a year to a year and a half and unable to do the job."

" We're asking for the General Assembly to conduct a due process hearing which is apparently required under federal court decisions and all of us who vote on it (lawmakers) are jurors. We fulfill the role of the jury so to speak and we must, by two thirds vote in each house, vote for him to be removed. We should not make up our minds as to his guilt or innocence or whether he should be removed until we give him an opportunity to be heard. He's got the right to come forward and offer his proof."

"I think a vast majority of the House members in this 13th Judicial District feel as though that this matter ought to be brought to the attention of the entire body and that the entire body ought to have an opportunity to vote on his removal. The House votes and must do so by two thirds vote under the Constitution. The Senate, by separate resolution, must vote in the same manner. It's my understanding the Governor has no role in this one. It's just a matter of the House and Senate voting to remove. It's very tantamount to impeachment is what it amounts to."

The legislators say they are concerned that Gibson is still being paid his full salary, while another prosecutor appointed to serve in his place, Tony Craighead, is also receiving the same pay.

The resolution seeks the appointment of a joint legislative committee to investigate the issue, hold a hearing, and then vote on the removal question.

If the committee is appointed and decides to recommend removal, then the full House and Senate would vote on the issue.

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