Local News Articles

Local Judges and Attorneys Pleased with Consensus Judicial Redistricting Plan

March 13, 2013
Dwayne Page
Judge Bratten Cook, II

Local judges and attorneys are delighted with the news that DeKalb County will remain part of the 13th Judicial District and that the district itself will be left intact under a consensus plan unveiled Monday by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey.

"It is certainly gratifying that our voices were heard by those in authority including the Lieutenant Governor and our representatives and state senator," said DeKalb County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II who is also president of the local bar.

Under the plan, the 13th Judicial District will remain with no changes. The district includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.

A previous plan given consideration would have included DeKalb County in a new eight county district with Coffee, Cannon, Warren, Smith, Jackson, Trousdale, and Macon.

"I certainly want to thank our State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver for their input and support of our position," said Judge Cook. We had a great meeting with them recently and they were very responsive to our concerns about moving DeKalb County to a different judicial district," said Judge Cook.

"I also want to thank all of the bar members here for working diligently to let the powers that be know that we are exactly where we need to be. That we did not need to be moved to another judicial district. That it would have wreaked havoc on our people having to travel perhaps all the way to Coffee county up to the Kentucky line. So as it stands we're going to stay exactly where we are and keep the judges that we have," he said.

"I certainly want to thank our judges for their support. It would have been a whole lot easier on them if they lost DeKalb County and picked up Van Buren County because there's hardly any litigation that occurs in Van Buren County and there is quite a bit here. It just shows that our judges really consider DeKalb County as much home as they do their respective homes, which is primarily Putnam County for them although Judge Amy Hollars is from Overton County. She, Judge John Maddux, Judge Ronald Thurman, Judge David Patterson, and Judge Leon Burns, Jr. all worked diligently to keep DeKalb County with the 13th Judicial District. I certainly want to thank them," said Judge Cook

"We, the lawyers are the winners, but the real winners are the people of DeKalb County because we have absolutely the best judges in the state and all you have to do is go to another judicial district and you'll find that out," said Judge Cook. " The people of DeKalb County are clearly the winners in this. I noticed there are a few districts on the proposed map that have been changed. Perhaps those places had problems. I don't know. All I know is we didn't have one," he said.

The legislation adopting the plan must be approved by both the State House and Senate and signed by the Governor.

DeKalb Jail and Annex Meet Standards for TCI Re-Certification

March 13, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Jail and Annex

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

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the Tennessee Corrections Institute recently performed an inspection of the DeKalb County Jail and the DeKalb County Jail Annex.

In a letter to Sheriff Ray, TCI Executive Director Beth Ashe, wrote that "The inspection revealed that this facility meets all applicable minimum standards. This status 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," wrote Ashe.

Detention Facility Specialist Joe Ferguson, in the report wrote that "On February 28, 2013 I inspected the DeKalb County Jail and Annex. With no apparent deficiencies found, I recommend continued certification for 2013".

The DeKalb County Jail and Annex have a certified capacity of 102 beds.

Two Treated for Second Degree Burns, One for Smoke Inhalation in Early Morning Fire

March 12, 2013
Kitchen Stove (Photo by Donny Green)
Stove and Cabinet Area (Photo by Donny Green)

DeKalb County Firefighters quickly extinguished an early morning mobile home fire at 3283 Student's Home Road Tuesday at around 1:30 a.m. Chief Donny Green states that the fire started on the kitchen stove as a pan of grease was left unattended. The grease ignited and spread flames to the cabinet area above the stove.

One of the parents awoke to the smell of smoke and alerted the other occupants, including 9 children ranging from 5-17 years old. All occupants were able to evacuate the mobile home but two of them received 2nd degree burns and one suffered smoke inhalation. All were attended to at the scene by DeKalb Emergency Medical Services, but none were transported to the hospital.

Chief Green says that there were 4 smoke alarms in the mobile home, but none of the alarms had batteries installed and as a result, the family narrowly missed escaping the fire. The fire damage was confined to the immediate area around and above the stove. However, the remainder of the home received extensive smoke damage. Firefighters were also able to locate and rescue 5 puppies found under a bed.

The local Red Cross chapter responded to the scene to assist the family of 11 with their immediate needs. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on hand to assist. Firefighters from the Keltonburg, Blue Springs, Belk, Short Mountain stations, along with the department's tanker truck and equipment truck responded to the blaze.

Chief Green reminds anyone that cannot buy smoke alarm batteries that the DeKalb County Fire Department is happy to assist and can be contacted at 615-464-7176. You can also visit the DeKalb County Fire Department's Facebook Page for more information.

Smithville Police Department Building Relationships with Local Schools

March 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Officer Chip Avera Greeting a Student at Northside Elementary
Northside Elementary Student Happy to see Corporal Travis Bryant

As they arrive at school in the mornings and or during the school day, students at Smithville Elementary, Northside Elementary, DeKalb Middle, and DeKalb County High School are often greeted by members of the Smithville Police Department.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger started the practice this school year so that the officers could build on their relationships with students, teachers, and parents. "Its one of the things we decided we could do that didn't cost any money," said Chief Caplinger. "We go by on our down times. The kids are getting used to us. We enjoy talking to them and the officers are learning the layout of the schools," he said.

Having a law enforcement officer on site gives everyone a better sense of security, according to Beth Pafford, assistant principal at Northside Elementary School. "We love having them here. The students love them. As an administrator, as teachers one of the primary concerns is having a safe place for them to come and learn. If you don't feel safe its very difficult to learn. We just appreciate the community effort because educating the students is a community effort and we're grateful that the police department is making time to come out and build relationships with the students and teachers. Its been a very positive thing," said Pafford.


Chip Avera, Patrol Officer said he and other members of the Smithville Police Department are visiting the schools as part of their daily patrols but are not serving as School Resource Officers. "We're on regular shift patrol and when possible when we're not too busy answering calls of service to the community we're trying to get out here and visit, more so in the mornings when everybody is coming and going. When classes get started we ease out and come back and forth throughout the day, walking the halls, checking out the schools and just hanging out. We're out here as much as we can be and when we're needed of course. We're trying to be pro-active with all of our officers being involved in getting to know the schools, students, parents, and teachers," said Officer Avera.

"We want everyone to know that we are going to be at every school (in Smithville)," said Corporal Travis Bryant. " They may see us at different times of the day. We'll stop in to talk with the students and the teachers to see how things are going. We try not to alarm anybody. If you see us at school it doesn't mean that anything bad has happened. We're just making sure everything is okay. Once people understand why we're there they feel more at ease," said Corporal Bryant.

Smithville Alderman and Police and Fire Commissioner Shawn Jacobs commended Chief Caplinger for this initiative during last week's city council meeting. "I would like to compliment you Chief for allowing your officers, when they have time to go by the schools where they're walking the halls and getting to know the kids. These aren't SRO's but its just a police presence in the schools more and in these nervous times in our schools I think that's great. I think its great for police officers to be seen there with those police cars out front. It lets the public know that when they see a police car out front its not necessarily a bad thing and that its probably a good thing. This is an initiative you started on your own and I think its very well founded," said Alderman Jacobs.

Tony Poss Asks City to Fund More Lifeguards at Swimming Pool

March 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Construction underway on more restrooms at city pool
City officials view covering to help keep debris out of pool

How many lifeguards are needed at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool?

City aldermen may revisit that issue again at the next meeting on Monday, March 18.

During the May 21, 2012 city council meeting, the aldermen voted 3 to 0 to set the pay of the lifeguards at minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for last season and to fund a maximum of three lifeguards per day at fifty eight hours per week for thirteen weeks.

But during a workshop at the club house this past Saturday morning, the tenants of the golf course and swimming pool, Tony and Jeania Poss asked the mayor and aldermen to fund at least one or two more lifeguards this season, renewing a request they made last year. " The board voted last year to only let us have three lifeguards. It was referred to us that the state required three and that's what they (city) were willing to pay for. We don't feel that this is enough for this pool. We've got slides and diving boards. It can be done but it would be a big liability on us, the city, and the lifeguards," said Tony Poss. We've saved four people in the last two years at least and that's because we had the lifeguards there. If we scale back on these guards, it (a tragedy) is going to happen. We get 150-200 people in here sometimes. We've got to have somebody at that slide and the deep end for sure," he said.

"The state says that we only have to have three (lifeguards) but as a parent, we want more than three," said Jeania Poss. "It would be nice if we could have four and possibly five at our discretion. If we have ten people in the pool we won't work all four or five lifeguards," she said.

"I thought what we had approved (last year) was to pay for three per day and anything above that you could have but you would pay for them out of pool receipts," said Alderman Gayla Hendrix.

"We were charging two dollars per person (swimmer) last year and we were paying for that extra lifeguard and sometimes two extra lifeguards (from those receipts)," said Jeania Poss.

"You allowed us to have private parties and we also paid the lifeguard wages for that," added Tony Poss. "We are in no way going to bill the city for private parties that we do. But it helped our pool business last year a whole lot. A lot of people came back and started doing that (private parties) versus going out of town," said Poss.

While the lease apparently gives him the authority to use as many lifeguards as he wants during the daily operation of the pool with the city to pay the wages, Poss still wants more specifics in writing from the city on this and on other issues before the pool season starts so there isn't any confusion. "We need a set of rules of what you expect us to do. What you want us to do and not change the rules every other month. The contract doesn't say anything about how many guards we can employ or how many we have to have here," said Poss. "There's nothing in the contract that says what we can or can't do (concerning lifeguards). But it does say in there that the city will pay all lifeguard wages during all hours of operation. The contract also says both parties have to agree on any kind of changes to that contract. We're not trying to be hard to deal with. What we're asking is to give us a little more help," said Poss.

A state health department environmentalist, after making a visit to the pool last year issued a report on the number of lifeguards needed there to satisfy state regulations. Mitzi Medley reported that only a maximum of three are required when the pool is open to the public. However, she suggested that it would be a good idea, though not required, to have an attendant assigned to help control patron traffic at the slides.

"The state lady came down, wrote a letter to the mayor and advised that it would be better if we had four (lifeguards)," said Poss. She wanted somebody on that slide. We have them stationed at the deep end, at the center, and at the other end of the pool," said Poss.

Jeania Poss said with only three lifeguards on duty at a time, swimmers would have to get out of the pool during times when a lifeguard has to take a break, which is an inconvenience to the swimmers and could increase liability to the tenants and the city. " When you have three lifeguards and one of them comes down for a 10-15 minute break where they rotate to go to the bathroom, you're leaving it wide open (to liability). We could shut down the pool for a break like McMinnville does but they still have guards, guarding the water," she said.

Since the aldermen voted last year on establishing the number of lifeguards at the pool, Alderman Hendrix asked city attorney Vester Parsley if that vote became an amendment to Poss's lease. "These things we voted on, did they become an amendment to this?," asked Alderman Hendrix.

"Technically, they needed to have been signed," answered Parsley.

"Do we redraw the lease to make it more specific?," asked Alderman Hendrix

"It needs to be amended, technically," said Parsley. They (Tony and Jeania) will have to come to the board meeting with these list of things, let the board vote on them and we'll amend the contract. It really wasn't amended (last year). It was only in the minutes," said Parsley.

"I want to get this all laid out and taken care of because there's no reason for him (Poss) to come to every city council meeting all summer long about sweeping the pool and paying lifeguards," she said.

Alderman Hendrix asked Poss if he would rather give up the lease and have the city hire him to manage the golf course and swimming pool. "Would the city be better off to recall the lease and pay a manager to manage the facility?. The city would take in all receipts but pay all expenses, be responsible for the equipment and pay a salary to manage it. Its seasonal. Though there's work to be done in the off season, its feasible you (Poss) could manage this and have a part time business as well. Does that sound like a more logical thing to do to make this place work than what we're doing now?".

"I'm not wanting to give it up," said Poss. "We've got too much time and I've got too much invested in this place," He said.

The pool is expected to open around Memorial Day weekend. Hours will be Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission will be $3.00 per person.

Poss is also asking the aldermen to consider allowing them (tenants) to open and close the pool at their own discretion and setting all hours of operation again this year. " The aldermen voted to approve that last year. We just wanted this to be put in writing to us," said Poss.

Currently, the lifeguards have to pay their own certification fees each year which comes to around $175, according to Poss. He is asking the city to consider giving the lifeguards a bonus at the end of the summer to help them recoup some of their out of pocket expense for getting certified. " A lot of these guys don't make $700-800 the whole summer and that (certification expense) comes out of mama and daddy's pocket. At least think about giving them some kind of bonus at the end of the summer to help recoup that money," said Poss.

"I think they (lifeguards) should be responsible for their certification fees," said Alderman Hendrix. "They could get certified and work for you a month and go to McMinnville next month," she said.

"We're saying if they come and quit, they don't get anything back," suggested Jeania Poss . " If they come and work all summer then give them a 20 or 30 dollar bonus," she added.

Meanwhile, the city is building more restrooms facilities for men and women at the pool and showers for swimmers to rinse off.

The city has also purchased a portable chair lift for the physically challenged to give them easier access to the pool in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The chair lift has arrived but has not yet been installed at the pool.

Alderman Tim Stribling asked that a letter be sent to the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation of Nashville requesting that they come back and fix cracks and other structural defects that have developed in the pool since their repair work during the spring of 2011. The city has a three year warranty and the company is apparently liable for work called for under the contract which was warrantied but not done properly. "They ground the plaster down to concrete," said Tony Poss. "They were supposed to have shot the grade to make the pool level when they brought it back up but that never happened," he said.

Poss also suggested that the city spend some money to upgrade the club house. "The city needs to apply for grants. They need to get what money they can to upgrade this place (club house). There's not been much money spent on this place in years. The roof is falling apart. There's leaks. But we're dealing with it," he said.

Meanwhile senior citizens who use the pool have asked that the city purchase an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) there. "Senior citizens use the pool twice a week. They wanted us to see if the city would buy a defibrillator," said Poss.

The parking lot also needs to be striped according to Poss. "We have had three or four wrecks in the last two years in the parking lot," he said.

Poss further suggested that the city invest some money to promote the city and golf course with roadside signs on Interstate 40. "We have a need for advertising of the city, pool, and the whole general area," said Poss. There is no place on I-40 that emphasizes Center Hill Lake, Smithville, the pool, golf course, or tennis courts. I have checked and you can get four signs (not billboard signs) for $1295 the first year and $527 each year after that," he said.

Looking to the future, Alderman Hendrix said she would like to see the city renovate the club house and maybe add on a small restaurant. "Other club houses have nice restaurants. We have the space to add onto this place to make a little restaurant café, which could be leased to someone. I'd like to see a design and cost estimates to fix this place up and make it look nicer," said Alderman Hendrix.

Judicial Redistricting Consensus Plan Unveiled; 13th District to Remain Unchanged

March 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
13th Judicial District (in white)
Judicial Redistricting Consensus Plan (Changes in Color)

The current makeup of the 13th Judicial District, which includes DeKalb County, would remain unchanged under a consensus plan to redraw Tennessee's judicial districts as unveiled by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today (Monday)

The districts were last drawn nearly thirty years ago in 1984.

Under the plan, the 13th Judicial District would remain intact with no changes. The district includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.



A previous plan under consideration would have included DeKalb County in a new eight county district with Coffee, Cannon, Warren, Smith, Jackson, Trousdale, and Macon.

Local judges and attorneys argued that the judicial system works well in the 13th district and that there was no need for redistricting here.

The new proposed map causes minimal disruption to the current system affecting only 22 counties in 8 districts. To maximize efficiency, the number of judicial districts has been reduced from 31 to 29. Factors such as regional integrity, geographic boundaries and ease of inter-county travel were also heavily considered.

The changes are as follows:
Cannon, Coffee, Warren, and Van Buren would form the 14th Judicial District

Rutherford County would be a district unto itself as the 16th Judicial District

Williamson County would be a district unto itself as the 21st Judicial District

Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Perry, and Wayne counties would form the 22nd Judicial District

Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, and Stewart counties would form the 23rd Judicial District

Lake, Dyer, Obion, and Weakley would form the 27th Judicial District.

Joining Lt. Governor Ramsey in making the announcement Monday were judicial redistricting bill sponsors Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) along with Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade, Tennessee Trial Judges Association President Chancellor Daryl Fansler, Tennessee Judicial Conference President Robert Holloway and Tennessee Bar Association President Jackie Dixon.

"When the issue of judicial redistricting was first presented to me it was clear action needed to be taken," said Lt. Governor Ramsey. "Tennessee is a vibrant and growing state. After thirty years, the changes experienced in our state needs to be reflected in the districts of Tennessee's judges, district attorneys and public defenders."

"While the 1984 map made great strides by consolidating public defenders, district attorneys and judges into unified districts, it clear that the particular politics of the time influenced the map resulting in untenable inefficiencies," Ramsey explained. "This map corrects those mistakes and brings our judicial districts into the 21st century."

"We came into this process with open minds and a desire to work with interested parties," Ramsey continued. "I am pleased that, in the end, all concerned could come together and agree on a consensus plan. I am extremely satisfied with the result."

"I would like to commend all involved for working hard to reach common ground," said Senator Norris. "Change is never easy but we have come together to create a map that ensures Tennesseans get the best possible service from their public defenders, district attorneys and judges."

"This is a common sense plan for judicial redistricting that corrects the mistakes of the past and updates districts to reflect population changes in the state," said Rep. Lundberg. "I'm proud to be a part of this process."

An open call for judicial redistricting proposals went out in February. Fourteen maps were submitted as well as informal input from members of the public and stakeholder groups. The current plan will be presented as Senate Bill 780/House Bill 636 and can be found online at http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/judredist/judredist.html.

Man Charged with Child Rape

March 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jose Juan Reyes

A 30 year old Smithville man has been arrested for the rape of an eight year old boy.

Jose Juan Reyes of Old Blue Springs Road is charged with two counts of rape of a child and one count of sexual battery. His bond is $135,000 and he will be in court March 14

According to the warrants, Reyes did have unlawful sexual contact with and committed the offense of child rape by sexual penetration of an eight year old boy on two occasions in February at the Reyes residence on Blue Springs Road. He was arrested on Wednesday, March 6

37 year old Russell Allen Blackwell of Sparta is charged with driving on a revoked license. His bond is $1,500.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, March 7 a deputy saw a man operating a vehicle on Short Mountain Highway outside his lane of travel. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Blackwell. After checking his license, central dispatch informed the officer that Blackwell's license were revoked for a third offense of driving under the influence on January 3, 2008.

Company Store Damaged in Saturday Night Fire

March 10, 2013
Dwayne Page
Company Store Damaged in Saturday Night Fire
County Firefighters Contain Blaze at Company Store

DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighters prevented the Company Store from being destroyed by a blaze Saturday night.

The business, located on Highway 96 near Cove Hollow, was closed at the time of the fire.

A passerby spotted the blaze coming from the roof on one end of the building and reported it.

County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that members of the Liberty, Temperance Hall, and Main Stations responded along with manpower from other stations. The tanker and equipment truck were also on site. County firefighters contained the blaze to the kitchen and office area side of the building and kept it from spreading.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Woman Seriously Injured in Motorcycle Crash

March 9, 2013
Dwayne Page
Woman Seriously Injured in Motorcycle Crash
EMS Tending to Wreck Victim at Scene of Crash

A 50 year old Nashville woman was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash Saturday evening on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road)

Central dispatch received the call 5:16 p.m.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Terri O. Allbright was operating a 2005 Harley Davidson motorcycle on Highway 96 traveling toward Highway 70 when she apparently failed to negotiate a curve and struck a guardrail. She was thrown from the motorcycle over the guardrail. Allbright landed on a wooded embankment off the road.

Allbright was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS and then loaded onto a ground ambulance and taken to meet a helicopter on Highway 70 at the top of Snow Hill. She was airlifted by Life Force to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville

Sheriff's department deputies and members of the Main Station and Liberty Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded to the crash scene and or helicopter landing zone.

Chamber To Celebrate 50 Years At Upcoming Annual Banquet

March 8, 2013
Ralph Vaughn

The 2013 Chamber Annual Membership Banquet is set for Thursday, April 11, 2013 at the DeKalb County Complex, 732 South Congress Blvd., Smithville. “We are excited to again host this enjoyable and informative event. This is a special milestone year for the Chamber as we are celebrating our 50th year. We invite you to share in this fun-filled night of dining, entertainment, and the latest updates from the Chamber including the introduction of our new Board, recognition of our retiring board members, and 2013 Officers,” says Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams. In addition, Leadership Director, Jen Sherwood, will present winners for “Community Leader of the Year” and “Legacy” awards.

The special evening begins at 5:30 PM with a “Silent Auction.” The dinner and program start at 6:00 PM. Dinner music will be performed by Tomomi McDowell. State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver will sing the National Anthem as Boy Scout Troop #347 presents the flags. The musical entertainment for the evening will be by local singing talent, Josh Melton. The delicious meal will be prepared by Chef Jason Evans of The Inn at Evins Mill. The Leadership DeKalb Class of 2013 will serve the meal.

The keynote speaker for the evening will be Ralph Vaughn, probably best remembered as the manager of WJLE for 15 years and 21 years as the Program Director and MC of the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival. Ralph was president of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce in Murfreesboro for 12 years and the Morgan County Chamber of Commerce in Madison, Georgia for 3 years. A native of DeKalb County, he recently retired from Barrett Firearms Manufacturing in Murfreesboro where he served as the Special Projects Coordinator. Ralph is currently serving as the President of the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.

At press time, Corporate Sponsors for this event are Caney Fork Electric, Cumberland Insurance, DeKalb Community Bank, DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications / DTC Wireless, Federal Mogul, FirstBank, Liberty State Bank, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas “Project Hometown Help,” Tenneco, and Wal Mart.

Special thanks to our Annual Banquet Committee Members: Ralph Vaughn, chair; Valerie House, Kathy Hendrixson, Susan Young, and Darlene Willingham.

Please contact the Chamber office at 597-4163 for more information, to donate a silent auction item or door prize, to place an ad in the commemorative tabloid that will be inserted in the April 3rd edition of the Smithville Review plus used as night’s program, or to become a Corporate Sponsor. Deadline to place your ad in the tabloid is March 15th. Banquet tickets prices are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling the Chamber or from the Chamber Board of Directors.


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