Local News Articles

Smithville Police Arrest Man for Indecent Exposure

August 4, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Detectives have arrested 66 year old Jimmy Arnold of 6886 Short Mountain Road, Smithville for Indecent Exposure.

Chief Tom Stufano says the victim reported this week that a man approached her and her infant child at Greenbrook Park and exposed his privates to her. The victim screamed and told the man, now identified as Arnold, that she was calling the police. The man left the scene in his vehicle just prior to police arrival. Detectives assigned to the case were able to establish an identity of the man and found that Arnold was responsible for the crime. Further investigation disclosed that Arnold had been a custodian for the DeKalb School system and allegedly had participated in this type of activity before. Arnold was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail. His bond is $1,000.

Smithville Police have also arrested 25 year old Willie Ray Murphy of 303 Man Hill Road, Dowelltown for DUI 2nd Offense and Driving on a Revoked Driver's License. Officer's observed Murphy driving erratically and when stopped, Officer's found that Murphy was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Additional information also disclosed that Murphy had a revoked driver's license for DUI. Murphy's vehicle has been seized under the state's forfeiture act. He was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $4,000 bond.

Meanwhile, Smithville Police have arrested 24 year old Erik Cortez Suarez of 1250 Smith Road, Smithville for Driving on a Revoked Driver's License. During the course of the investigation Officer's determined that Suarez's license was revoked for DUI and he was illegal alien. Under Tennessee law Suarez was arrested for the driving offense and his vehicle was seized under the state's forfeiture act. He was transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,000 bond.

Man Injured In Tuesday Night Wreck Facing Charges

August 4, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 38 year old man, seriously injured in a one car crash Tuesday night, has been released from Vanderbilt Hospital and is facing a possible felony DUI charge.

Trooper Shannon Brinkley of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Michael Shane Reid of Hendersonville was traveling east on Highway 70 in a 2005 Ford Mustang when he failed to negotiate a curve at the bottom of the hill at Sligo Bridge, left the roadway, went airborne, struck several trees, overturned, and plunged some eighty yards down an embankment.

Reid was ejected from the car and was found clinging to a log to keep from falling off a bluff into the lake.

A fisherman on the lake heard the crash around 10:00 p.m. and reported it.

Officers quickly responded and found where the vehicle had run off an embankment. They soon discovered the car and found Reid. A deputy helped pull him to a safer place on the embankment until more help could arrive.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says he would like to commend the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb EMS who were on the scene within minutes. He says they got to Reid, secured him in a basket, and brought him back up to the top of the hill.

Reid was flown by a helicopter ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital with serious back and head injuries.

Committee Again Votes to Recommend That County Assume Operation of EMS

August 3, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The County Emergency Services committee Thursday night again voted to recommend to the county commission that the ambulance service be brought back under the county's control.

The committee made the same recommendation last month but some members began to have second thoughts after considering the potential cost to the county.

County Mayor Mike Foster says after further study, committee members now feel more confident with their decision.

The vote Thursday night was 5 to 1. Committee members voting in favor were Larry Summers, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Wayne Cantrell, Jeff Barrett, and Jerry Scott. Willie Thomas voted against it.

Foster says two private companies, Pro Med and Trans Med were interested in contracting with the county and presented proposals for the committee to consider. However, Foster says committee members felt more comfortable with the county running the ambulance service. "Trans Med was an attractive offer except they wanted a $300,000 a year supplement. Pro Med was an attractive option. They wanted a $65,000 supplement. The committee wants to maintain a really good service like we have had, which has been run by Sumner Regional. We don't get many complaints about the ambulance service. We get good reports about them. In the past we were having some reports that the prices were too high but we talked to them about it six or eight months ago and they reduced those prices. We want to establish rates that are fairly common with our neighbors. We've got to keep in mind what the TennCare and Medicare rates are and base our prices on what they pay. The primary concern is that we have a line of continuity, that we don't miss a beat when we change employers. We feel like we can do a smoother transition with the county running it than we can with a complete new company coming in that might bring in new employees and shuffle these (current) employees around."

According to Foster, "The first year will probably be a little more expensive. We have been supplementing it (ambulance service) by $163,000 a year plus buying a new ambulance each year. You have to keep in mind that this is not a money making proposition. It's a service to the people of the county. We would like for it to break even, but we're realistic enough to know that it probably won't. We will probably still subsidize it somewhere between $155,000 and $200,000 plus the purchase of an ambulance each year. This entire ambulance service will probably cost the county about $1.1 million a year. We're hoping it will bring in revenue of $900,000 a year. When the county ran it (ambulance service) several years ago, it was losing a great deal of money. We have got to run it as a business. The secret to it is to collect as much of the fees as are due, but that we keep the fees lower than a private company would have."

Sumner Regional, which has been operating the DeKalb Ambulance Service for several years, will be giving up the operation this fall.

The county commission will be asked to approve the committee's recommendation at the next meeting on Monday, August 27th at 6:30 p.m.

TDOT To Inspect Five Deck Truss Bridges Including Hurricane Bridge in DeKalb County

August 3, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)this week held an event to educate the public about the condition of bridges across the state, and the rigid inspection process designed to ensure the safety of the bridges for the motoring public.

"The tragedy in Minneapolis certainly brings the issue of bridge safety to the forefront," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "We want to assure everyone that the integrity of our bridges is a top priority at TDOT and we will continue to look for any improvements that could be made to our Bridge Program."

Tennessee's inventory of bridges includes five deck truss bridges, which are similar in construction to the bridge which collapsed in Minneapolis. TDOT will immediately inspect the five deck truss bridges. The bridges are located at:

Jefferson County - I-40 over the French Broad River (this bridge is slated for replacement)
Carter County - State Route 67 over the Watauga River
DeKalb County - State Route 56 over the Caney Fork River (Hurricane Bridge)
Sullivan County - Netherland Inn Bridge (this bridge is slated for replacement)
Knox County - Gay Street Bridge over the Tennessee River

There are 19,519 bridges on public roads in the state of Tennessee. These bridges fall into two categories for the purpose of distributing state and federal funds. On-system bridges are those maintained, owned and operated by the state. They are found on the Interstate System, the National Highway System and the State Route System and include 8,114 bridges. There are 11,405 off-system bridges on roads owned, maintained and operated by local governments.

While the department does track deficiencies in bridges this by no means indicates a safety issue with the bridges. The term "Structurally Deficient" means that components of the bridge may be damaged or deteriorated, but not necessarily to a critical point where safety is an issue. Based on inspection and evaluation of bridges, TDOT will determine whether the bridge should be posted with a weight limit or should ultimately be closed, thus ensuring the safety of motorists.

"We have 17 bridge inspection teams who work diligently to ensure that each bridge across the state is inspected at least every two years," added TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges. "If there is any indication of a serious issue with a bridge, it is closed immediately."

Tennessee has been working to improve the conditions of its bridges for the last two decades. From 1982 until 2005, TDOT dedicated more than $1.5 billion to its Bridge Program. Approximately $100 million will be placed toward bridge programs this fiscal year. Annually, approximately $6.5 Million is dedicated to TDOT's Bridge Inspection Program.

Commissioner Nicely added, "We want to assure the public that we are confident the bridges in Tennessee are safe and are working to ensure that they remain safe into the future."

Committee Nears Completion on Proposed County Budget

August 3, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The budget committee of the county commission met Thursday night and voted to publish a summary of the proposed new budget in the local newspapers.

The committee may meet again to make some minor revisions before submitting the spending plan for approval to the county commission at it's next meeting on Monday, August 27th.

The committee proposes to cut the property tax rate by 20 cents from $1.90 to $1.70 per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed tax rate breaks down as follows:

County General Fund- 62 cents (a cut of five cents from last year)
Solid Waste- 19 cents (an increase of one cent from last year)
Debt Service- 29 cents (the same as last year)
Highways- 3 cents (the same as last year)
General Purpose Schools- 57 cents (a cut of 16 cents from last year)

Foster says even though the property tax rate for schools is being recommended for a sixteen cent cut, the county plans give back to schools the equivalent of sixteen cents from the local option sales tax fund or sinking fund.

The total county budget comes to $32,717,412.

The budget breaks down as follows:
General Fund- $5,781,689
Courthouse & Jail Maintenance- $80,425
Local Purpose Fund- $1,962,776
Drug Control- $20,908
Highways- $2,060,868
General Purpose Schools- $17,172,300
School Cafeteria Fund- $1,154,200
Debt Service- $1,264,,216
General Capital Projects- $784,210
Solid Waste- $2,435,821 (Includes a six year note for up to $1,225,000 to build a new cell at the landfill- a carry over project from last year)

Foster says the proposed budget includes a pay raise of 25 cents per hour for county general employees and a $250 bonus for employees with five years of service. Employees with up to ten years of service would get an extra $50 bonus for each year of service beyond five years.

Final Slate Of Candidates Set For DTC Election of Directors

August 2, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The final slate of candidates is set for DTC Communications’ election of directors next month.

Directors will be elected in four exchanges, including the Auburntown (464), Gordonsville (683), Temperance Hall (548), and Woodland (765) exchanges.

Incumbents Roy N. Pugh, Robert Don Malone, and David Parker are running unopposed in the Auburntown, Temperance Hall, and Woodland exchanges, respectively.

The Gordonsville exchange is represented by two candidates: Incumbent James H. Dillard, Jr. and David A. Watson who qualified by petition.

Voting for directors will take place at the cooperative’s annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 15 and during early voting Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 10-12. Thursday, Sept. 6, will be the last day to make changes to your membership for the 2007 election.

Hours and locations for early voting include:
Early Voting Hours
Mon., Sept. 10 – Noon to 7 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 11 – Noon to 7 p.m.
Wed., Sept. 12 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Early Voting Locations
Kenneth Sandlin Building, DeKalb County Fairgrounds, Alexandria
Gordonsville Clinic/DTC Conference Room, 126 JMZ Drive, Gordonsville
DeKalb County Courthouse, Room 100, 1 Public Square, Smithville
DTC Training Center (former Woodbury phone store), located beside the DTC Customer Service Center, Woodbury

On Saturday, Sept. 15, gates to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria will open at 11:45 a.m., with voting from noon until 4 p.m. The business meeting will begin at 4 p.m. or once the last person in line at that time has voted.

Only DTC members may vote, and each member must present identification. For a single membership, only that individual may vote. Either member of a joint membership may vote, but not both. In the case of a business membership, a business affidavit is required.

For questions regarding membership and voting guidelines, refer to the by-laws section included in the current DTC phone directory, or call DTC at 615-529-2955.

One Man Seriously Injured In Tuesday Night Crash

August 2, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

One man was seriously injured in a one car crash Tuesday night on Highway 70 east near Sligo Bridge.

Michael Reid apparently lost control of his car and went off an embankment.

He was later airlifted from the scene by a helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with serious head and back injuries.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says a fisherman on the lake heard the crash and reported it around 10:00 p.m.

Officers quickly responded and found where the vehicle had run off an embankment. They soon discovered the car and found Reid hanging onto to a vine to keep from falling off the bluff into the lake.

A deputy helped pull him to a safer place on the embankment until more help could arrive.

Sheriff Ray says he would like to commend the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb EMS who were on the scene within minutes. He says they got to Reid, secured him in a basket, and brought him back up to the top of the hill.

The accident was investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

DeKalb County Jail & Annex Meet Standards For Re-Certification

August 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray says he is pleased to announce that the DeKalb County Jail and the Jail Annex have both met standards for re-certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

According to Sheriff Ray, "On June 21st, John Hanna, Jr., Detention Facility Specialist for the Tennessee Corrections Institute conducted an inspection and on June 26th, we received our certification for both the DeKalb County Jail and DeKalb County Jail Annex."

Concerning the DeKalb County Jail, Hanna wrote in the summary of his report that "This facility is run by officers that seem to care about the conditions of the overall jail. I went through the cell areas that did not have evidence of pest or vermin. The medical section had a medical receipt system well established and the kitchen was up to date with the meal plans. I recommend continued certification of this jail."

As for the DeKalb County Jail Annex, Hanna wrote that "The annex is run similar to the main jail. The physical plant looked clean with no sign of bugs and vermin. I recommend continued certification."

Sheriff Ray says in spite of a growing inmate population at the jail, his administration has been able to maintain standards for state certification of the jail, while operating under budget. "When I took office on September 1st, there were 73 inmates who were housed at the jail. Since then, we have been housing an average of 95 per day and 113 on the weekends. We currently have 10 females and 85 male inmates incarcerated. We've also sent over 40 inmates to the Tennessee Department of Corrections in Nashville since September 1st."

With the support of his staff and the county commission, Sheriff Ray says improvements have been made to the jail. " Since September, I have been able to purchase new mats, blankets, and personal care items. We've done some painting, plumbing, and electrical work and we had a company come in and re-do some of the cell door locks. We're also in the process of buying new security cameras for the jail." All of these projects, he says, have been funded without overspending the budget.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray says the Tennessee Corrections Institute has granted approval for the DeKalb County Jail Annex to add 18 beds to the 88 bed facility.

D.A. Says No TBI Investigation Needed In Stufano/Ray Case

July 31, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The District Attorney General's Office will not be requesting a TBI investigation into allegations of wrongdoing against Smithville Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano by Roy Ray.

The Smithville Aldermen voted 3 to 1 on Monday, July 16th to place Chief Stufano on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an independent investigation into the Stufano/Ray case. Lieutenant Richard Jennings, the senior ranking officer within the department at the time, was named acting police chief.

Two days after that meeting on Wednesday, July 18th, Mayor Taft Hendrixson sent a written notice to city attorney John Pryor that he was casting a veto of the council's action. The aldermen were also notified. As a reault of the mayor's veto, Stufano was reinstated as Police Chief.

The city board is scheduled to meet in regular session again on Monday night, August 6th, at which time the aldermen may consider trying to override the mayor's veto, which would require a two thirds majority vote, or at least four members of the five member board.

Ray has filed a federal court lawsuit against Stufano and the city claiming his constitutional rights were violated and that he was injured as the result of excessive police force during a misdemeanor traffic stop in February. He is represented by Lebanon attorney Adam Parrish.

In a letter to city attorney Pryor, District Attorney General Pro Tempore Anthony (Tony) Craighead wrote this week that "The District Attorney's Office will not be requesting a TBI investigation. There are several reasons for this decision."

Craighead's letter states that " First, the TBI's mission is to investigate criminal activities. That is those cases where a crime has been committed with an eye toward prosecution. I do not see what crime they are being called on to investigate. The incident between Chief Stufano and Mr. Ray has been fully investigated by the City of Smithville Police, and I fail to see what additional information is needed or what crime needs to be investigated. The purpose of the TBI is not to make an investigation into whether a law enforcement officer used proper procedures in making an arrest. That is not it's job. It appears that is what the City Council needs done, but that does not fall, as I understand, under the parameters of that agency."

"Second, the City Council or the Police Department did not request or believe there was a need for an investigation until a civil lawsuit was filed some five months after the incident. It appears from our discussion it was only requested when a private attorney, who has filed the lawsuit, appeared before the City Council to suggest some form of investigation. If all these facts were known at the time of the incident and no new facts have emerged, except for the lawsuit, then I am not going to have this office or the TBI drawn into a lawsuit that we have no standing in which to be involved."

"Finally, after a review of Chief Stufano's meticulous, detailed report (which I might add, I would enjoy seeing on all law enforcement cases across the district), I do not see what additional information could be gained from a formal TBI inquiry. All the facts are there, all the statements from officers are there, and I am of the opinion there are no new facts that would emerge."

"If all the facts are as Chief Stufano and his officers state, I do not see any charges that the TBI would need to substantiate."

"This is a very unfortunate situation; however because someone chooses to sue a police officer does not automatically require a TBI investigation. As in the criminal court, making allegations against someone does not make those allegations true. If the TBI was not requested or needed when the event occurred, I fail to see why they are needed now."

Annual Sales Tax Holiday Returns August 3-5

July 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen and Department of Revenue officials remind you that the second annual Sales Tax Holiday begins this Friday, August 3, at 12:01 a.m. and ends Sunday, August 5, at 11:59 p.m.

This holiday provides statewide sales tax exemption for school and art
supplies and clothing priced $100 or less per item and computers priced
$1,500 or less. This is the first holiday that art supplies will be
exempt, which includes clay and glazes; tempera and oil paints;
paintbrushes for artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors.
Please visit the dedicated Sales Tax Holiday Web site at
www.tntaxholiday.com ( http://www.tntaxholiday.com/ ) to learn more
about what items are exempt from sales taxes.

“This holiday is another way we can show our commitment to Tennessee
families and their children’s education,” said Governor Bredesen.
“Our Sales Tax Holiday not only helps families save on their
back-to-school shopping but is a benefit for all Tennesseans, who are
encouraged to take advantage of the savings.”

Tennesseans can enjoy tax exempt purchases in local stores, but the
exemptions also apply to purchases by mail, telephone or Internet.

“Back-to-school shopping costs can add up, and we are happy to
provide this special tax savings opportunity to Tennesseans,” said
Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. “I encourage everyone to visit our
Web site and make a list of the items your family needs so they can be
ready to take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday.”

Consumers and retailers can call a designated toll free hotline at
(800) 342-1003, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for more
information. The hotline will also be available for extended hours on
Saturday, August 4, from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m. CDT and Sunday, August 5, from
10 a.m.to 4 p.m. CDT. Questions can also be asked via e-mail at
salestax.holiday@state.tn.us.

The Sales Tax Holiday is an ideal way to prepare your children for a
successful school year, but school supplies are not all that is needed.
Ensure a healthy school year for your children by enrolling them in
CoverKids, Tennessee’s free health insurance program for children 18
and under. Please visit www.covertn.gov ( http://www.covertn.gov/ ) to
learn more or enroll.
Examples of exempt items include:

Clothing
Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps,
hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms whether athletic or
non-athletic and scarves

School Supplies
Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers,
folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and
scissors.

Art Supplies
Clay and glazes; acrylic, tempera and oil paints; paintbrushes for
artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors

Computer
Central processing unit (CPU), along with various other components
including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and
preloaded software
(Note: While the CPU may be purchased separately, other items must be
part of a bundled computer package in order to be eligible.)

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