Local News Articles

Body of Nashville Banker Recovered from Center Hill Lake

July 10, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 45 year old Nashville banker lost his life on Center Hill Lake Saturday afternoon.

Dead is David Brian Williams.

Sheriff Lloyd Emmons says Williams was with his family on the lake when he went down while swimming.

TWRA Officer Ben Franklin says the incident occurred in Raccoon Hollow in the Holmes Creek area of the lake. \"He was swimming from one boat to another and went under water in the Raccoon Hollow section of Center Hill Lake between Holmes Creek and Indian Creek.\"

Officers of the TWRA, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, and members of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad were summoned to the scene around 3:11 p.m.

Officer Franklin says dragging operations began shortly thereafter and the body was subsequently recovered from the lake. \"The DeKalb County Rescue Squad recovered the body in approximately 17 feet of water. We were very lucky to find him as fast as we did. From the time we got the call until the time we recovered the body was approximately two hours.\"

The Rescue Squad left the scene at 5:14 p.m.

Officer Franklin thanked all those who assisted in the recovery effort. \"Everyone did an excellent job. They were very professional and we appreciate everybody who took part in it from the Rescue Squad, TWRA, Sheriff's Department and the Medical Examiner.\"

Sheriff Emmons says an autopsy would likely be conducted to determine if the man drowned or experienced some medical problem that caused his death.

Williams reportedly helped build Sun Trust Bank's Music Division into a National entity.

In 1990, he moved the Bank's Music Industry Division to Music Row, making it Music Row's first full service branch.

DeKalb County High School Selected for National Redesign Project

July 12, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County High School is among twenty-seven Tennessee high schools which have been selected to participate in a national initiative to model rigorous and relevant curricula.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $5.6 million to the Council of Chief State School Officers and Successful Practices Network to develop a national coalition of promising high schools. Over three years, these Tennessee schools will identify their greatest needs and develop action plans for increasing the rigor and relevance of the high school experience.

\"Tennessee is embracing an innovative approach to ensuring all students graduate with the knowledge to pursue higher education or a successful career,\" said Dr. Keith Brewer, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Education. \"Not only do we want more students to earn a diploma, we want that diploma to be symbol of true achievement.\"

The Successful Practices Network is national movement founded on the conviction that students learn better when they understand how coursework relates to their life and their future. Each high school will receive training and resources to connect instruction to students' lives and challenge them to meet high expectations. Additional training includes aligning standards, excellence in career technical education, arts education, special education, reading in grades 7-12, small
learning communities and ninth grade academies.

\"Sharing proven strategies provides administrators a wealth of options when deciding how best to meet the needs of their school community,\" Brewer said. \"When educators work together toward the common goal of student achievement, they do so armed with more diverse knowledge and
expertise.\"

The project also fosters collaboration and support amongst the participating high school to help each succeed in the endeavor. An annual model schools conference will draw participating schools from across the country together around the initiative, with a special state-specific session.

Partnering with the Tennessee Department of Education is the Tennessee Business Roundtable, an organization of CEO's working to advance the business climate in Tennessee.

Early Voting Begins For August Elections

July 12, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission reminds you that early voting for the August elections will be held through July 29th.

Early voting hours will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until noon and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse next to the election commission office.

In addition to the DeKalb County General Election, voters will be casting ballots in the Tennessee Democratic and Republican Primaries for the offices of Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S.. House of Representatives, State Senate, State House of Representatives, State Executive Committeeman and committee woman.

A referendum will also be on the ballot asking voters to cast a yes or no vote on whether the local option sales tax should be increased from 1.5% to 2.75% which would make the total sales tax in DeKalb County go from 8.5% to 9.75%.

Dowelltown voters will also be electing three aldermen on August 3rd.

Democratic candidates on the ballot running for their party's nomination in the state primary for Governor include Incumbent Phil Bredesen; John Jay Hooker of Nashville; Tim Sevier of Hixon; and Walt Ward of Chattanooga.

Republican candidates for Governor are Mark Albertini of Chattanooga; Wayne Thomas Bailey of Smyrna; Jim Bryson of Franklin; David M. Farmer of Kingston; Joe Kirkpatrick of Nashville; Timothy Thomas of Murfreesboro; and Wayne Young of Cleveland.

Candidates for State Senator, 17th District include Incumbent Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet, unopposed in the Republican Primary; and Democrats Bob Rochelle of Lebanon, and Aubrey T. Givens of Lebanon.

Candidates for State Representative, 40th District include Incumbent Frank Buck of Dowelltown, unopposed in the Democratic Primary; Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster, unopposed in the Republican Primary; and Independent candidate Carl Jones of Macon County.

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, 6th District are Incumbent Bart Gordon of Murfreesboro and J. Patrick Lyons of Bell Buckle in the Democratic Primary and David R. Davis of Brush Creek in the Republican Primary.

Democratic candidates for the U.S Senate are Harold Ford, Jr. of Memphis; Gary G. Davis of Nashville; John Jay Hooker of Nashville; Charles E. Smith of Chattanooga; and Al Strauss of Nashville.

Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate are Ed Bryant of Jackson; Tate Harrison of Dayton; Van Hilleary of Murfreesboro; and Bob Corker of Chattanooga.

Candidates in the DeKalb County General Election are as follows:

Democrat Myron Rhody and Republican Patrick Ray for Sheriff and Democrat Anthony (Doc) Green and Republican Sean Driver for Trustee;

Unopposed candidates include Democratic Incumbents County Mayor Mike Foster, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack; County Clerk Mike Clayborn; Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen; General Sessions-Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook II; and Republican Incumbent Road Supervisor Kenny Edge.

Two county commissioners can be elected from each of the seven districts in the county. County Commission candidates are Democrats Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Charles Griffith and Republican Mason Carter in the first district; Republican Incumbent Bobby Joines and Democrats Jack Barton, and Shane Cook in the second district; Republican Randy Caplinger, and Democratic Incumbents Roy D. Merriman, and Jerry Scott in the third district; Incumbent Democrat Wayne Cantrell and Democrat Chris J. Smithson in the fourth district; Democratic Incumbent John D. Green and Democrat Jeffrey Barrett in the fifth district; Democratic Incumbents Jeff Barnes and Marshall Ferrell in the sixth district; and Democratic Incumbent Larry Summers and Democrat Willie E. Thomas in the seventh district.

In the 13th Judicial District; the candidates are as follows:

Democrat Ronald Thurman and Republican Jerry Burgess of Cookeville for Chancellor; Democratic Incumbent Lillie Ann Sells and Independent challenger David A. Patterson of Cookeville for Criminal Court Judge Part II; Democratic Incumbent Leon Burns, Jr. of Cookeville for Criminal Court Judge Part I; Democratic Incumbent John A. Turnbull of Livingston for Circuit Court Judge Part I; Democratic Incumbent John Maddux of Cookeville for Circuit Court Judge Part II; Democratic Incumbent William E. (Bill) Gibson of Cookeville for District Attorney General; and Democratic Incumbent David N. Brady and Republican challenger Samuel Harris of Cookeville for District Public Defender

Candidates for the School Board are Incumbent John David Foutch in the first district; Incumbent Charles L. Robinson and challenger John Allen in the second district; Incumbent Kenny L. Rhody in the third disttrict; Joan Draper in the fourth district; and Incumbent Johnny Lattimore in the seventh district.

Candidates for Dowelltown Aldermen include Tom R. Duggin, Jr., Joe L. Bogle, Keith Farler; amd Brad Driver. Three can be elected.

Candidates for DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee include Judy A. Slager and Betty Mildred Clayborn in the first district; Peggy Pursell and Dennis Slager in the second district; and Donna Emmons in the fifth district. More than one can be elected in each district.

Democratic Candidates for State Executive Committeewoman, 17th Senatorial District are Jennifer Kyle Bassett of Castalian Springs and Mary A. Patterson of Mount Juliet. Republican candidate for State Executive Committeewoman, 17th Senatorial District is Susan Witcher of Red Boiling Springs.

Democratic candidates for State Executive Committeeman, 17th Senatorial District are David R. Harper of Hartsville and Ben Johnson of Gordonsville. Republican candidates for State Executive Committeeman, 17th Senatorial District are Bob Ousley of Mount Juliet and Albert B. McCall, Sr. of Carthage.

Bredesen Announces Grant Awards for 227 New Pre-K Classrooms Including One At Smithville Elementary School

July 13, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen and the Tennessee Department of Education Thursday announced $20 million in new pre-K grants to open 227 new classrooms under the Governor's Voluntary Pre-K for All program.

Ninety-six school systems across the state including DeKalb County will receive funds to open a new classroom for the 2006-2007 school year, providing access to pre-K for 5,000 additional four-year-olds in Tennessee.

Clay Farler, Director of the DeKalb County Pre-K program and Attendance Supervisor, says state funds will be allocated to create a new Pre-K classroom at Smithville Elementary School. With the addition of the new class, DeKalb County will have a total of four Pre-K classrooms, including three at Smithville Elementary School and one at DeKalb West School.

Farler says eligible children must be four years of age by September 30th, and their parents must meet the federal income guidelines.

Each Pre-K class may have up to twenty students. At least sixteen students per class must be enrolled by September 30th in order for the school system to retain available funds for the program.

Bredesen requested that the General Assembly appropriate an additional $20 million in this year's budget for pre-K in Tennessee, increasing total funding for the program to $55 million. With the grant awards announced Thursday, Tennessee's voluntary pre-K program now extends to 88 of the state's 95 counties.

\"I'm extremely pleased that every school system that has applied for pre-K funds has received enough to fund at least one classroom, and I want to thank the leaders of these school systems and their communities for embracing the opportunity to partner in an extraordinary program,\" Bredesen said. \"I especially want to recognize the teachers, who are responsible for maintaining the high quality of Tennessee's pre-K experience.\"

Tennessee has been recognized nationally as having among the highest standards for its pre-K program. In a ceremony in Washington D.C. Thursday, the Tennessee Alliance for Early Education was awarded the \"2006 Pre-K Champion Award\" by the national advocacy group Pre-K Now. Tennessee was one of only four states to receive such recognition.

In June, Education Commissioner Lana Seivers and Office of Early Learning Executive Director Bobbi Lussier addressed state leaders at a national conference where Tennessee's pre-K program was highlighted as a model for other states.

\"Not too long ago, pre-K was not on the public radar in this state,\" Seivers said. \"Today, we are celebrating the breakneck expansion of pre-K classrooms and Tennesseans are aware of the benefits of pre-K because Governor Bredesen has made early childhood education and the future of Tennessee's children a priority.\"

State funding for pre-K has been increased to more than five times the funding level of 2003. When school resumes, funding from excess lottery prize money and increases in state funding will have allowed 527 new pre-K classrooms to open statewide in the past two years.

Governor Bredesen also recognized United Way Thursday for rising to his challenge to help support local pre-K classrooms by securing financial commitments to provide matching funds.

\"In February, I challenged the leadership of United Way to support pre-K by raising the local match for 40 classrooms, and they have moved quickly to exceed that goal, securing financial commitments for 47 new pre-K classrooms,\" said Bredesen. \"This represents a $1.5 million commitment over three years. Public-private partnerships have always been an essential part of our voluntary pre-K program, and I want to express my appreciation to United Way for stepping up to support something so fundamentally important to the education of our children.\"

The Governor encouraged local school systems and pre-K councils to engage the leadership of their local United Way to learn more about funding match opportunities and form relationships centered on the best way for each community to grow the number of pre-K classrooms and meet the needs of parents who want to give their children access to pre-K.

One Person Airlifted Following Friday Morning Accident

July 14, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Five people were involved in a three vehicle accident around 9:15 a.m. Friday morning on Highway 56 north (Cookeville Highway)

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 62 year old Donna Lawson of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown, driving a 1997 GMC Jimmy, was traveling north and slowing to make a left turn into a residence at 3195 Cookeville Highway when her vehicle was rear ended by a northbound 1999 Dodge Ram pickup truck, driven by 57 year old Kenneth Herman of Bessie Gribble Road, McMinnville. Herman's truck was pulling a utility trailer.

According to Trooper England, the collision caused the Lawson vehicle to cross the southbound lane and make head-on impact with a 1995 Toyota 4 Runner, driven by 44 year old James Todd of Nashville.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene to perform extrication to get Lawson out of her vehicle. She was airlifted from near the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

67 year old Dorothy Smith of Old Mill Hill Road, a passenger of the Lawson vehicle, was taken by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Todd was also transported by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated and released.

Herman and a passenger of his truck, 31 year old Chris Moss of McMinnville, were not transported to the hospital. They were apparently not injured.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway and Cookeville Highway stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and officers of the Sheriff's Department were also on the scene to provide assistance.

Trooper England says the highway was closed to traffic for about two hours during the crash investigation and cleanup.

Election Commission Reports Good Turnout For Early Voting

July 14, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A total of 887 people have cast ballots during the first five days of early voting.

The DeKalb County Election Commission reports the following daily voting breakdown: Friday-139, Saturday-148, Monday-84, Tuesday- 131, Wednesday- 145, and Thursday- 240. These numbers also include the mail ballots received.

The DeKalb County Election Commission reminds you that early voting for the August elections will be held through July 29th.

Early voting hours will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until noon and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse next to the election commission office.

Willoughby Updates School Board on Personnel Moves

July 15, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his written report on personnel to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Those employed since the last meeting include Jennifer Rettig Davenport, teacher at DeKalb Middle School; Teresa Sullivan, special education assistant at DeKalb Middle School; Sabrina Kirksey, teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Bill Conger, guidance counselor at DeKalb West School; Amy Raymond, teacher at Northside Elementary School; Amy Pack, teacher at DeKalb West School; and Cynthia Preston, teacher at DeKalb West School.

Transfers include Jennifer Rice, a teacher transferred to Smithville Elementary School; Amy Fox, teacher transferred to Smithville Elementary School; Holly Espinosa, teacher transferred to Northside Elementary School; Jean Young, educational assistant transferred to DeKalb Middle School; Cathy Driver, educational assistant transferred to Northside Elementary School; Rita Leichtfuss, educational assistant transferred to Smithville Elementary School; and Julie Pugh, educational assistant transferred to DeKalb Middle School.

Three Speed Humps On West Main Street Creating Controversy

July 17, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The recent installation of three speed humps on West Main Street between Juniper Lane and the four way stop at North Mountain Street has become a controversial issue for the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The city board, earlier this year at the request of several residents in the area, voted to install the speed humps as a pilot project, but since they were put down most of the aldermen say they have heard nothing but complaints from the public, who often travel the street going to and from the downtown business district.

Based on those complaints, the city board decided to re-visit the issue Monday night during it's regular board meeting.

Having learned that the matter was on the agenda for discussion, many of the residents in the neighborhood where the speed humps are located, showed up at the meeting to voice their support for the speed humps and to request that they remain in place.

No one opposed to the speed humps attended the meeting to express their views.

Residents in the neighborhood say the speed humps have been very effective in slowing traffic on a street where speeding has been a problem and the posted speed limit is 15 miles per hour.

Bert Driver, who lives on West Main Street, presented a petition in April signed by twenty three residents requesting the speed humps. During Monday night's meeting, Driver re-stated the reasons he says the speed humps are needed..\" The residences of historical West Main Street are gravely concerned about our safety. More importantly, we are concerned about the safety of our children and grandchildren. Motorists continually speed down our street with blatant disregard to the speed limits and caution signs (Children at Play). Many years ago, government officials recognized that West Main Street was not designed to accommodate such high rates of speed; therefore, West Broad Street was developed and continues to be the most direct and safest thoroughfare for motorists. We feel that speed humps need to be installed near the intersection of Juniper Lane and at the top of the hill near the intersection of Shady Lane. Although enforcement of speed limits by police departments is an effective means of reducing speeds, limited resources do not allow such enforcement on a regular and permanent basis. Please note that we are not in favor of flashing lights because they are ineffective and can be detrimental to the historical value of West Main Street. In brief, traffic calming measures need to be implemented now in order to protect all citizens, especially our children\".

Driver says if the speed humps are removed, the problem would only worsen, especially with the new Wal-Mart store coming soon on Broad Street. \"West Main has become a collector street because of the city's steady growth over the past ten years. As a result, many motorists use West Main as a cut through (a by pass) around the red lights on highway 56 and highway 70. This will only become more intense when the new red lights are installed on Broad Street in front of the new Wal-Mart Super Center. In brief, please leave the speed humps on West Main Street and continue to protect our right to safety and to protect the lives of our children.\"

Alderman Steve White says he is also concerned about speeding on city streets but says the problem is not just on West Main Street and that if requests start coming in for speed humps all over town, the city could be creating another problem.

In fact, residents on South College Street and Smith Road, also present for Monday night's meeting, asked that speed humps be put down on their streets.

White says he has further received requests or inquiries from residents on several other city streets about the city possibly installing speed humps in their neighborhoods.

The Mayor and Aldermen plan to schedule an informal workshop with the Police Chief to discuss the speeding problem city wide and to explore possible alternative solutions to the problem.

Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks pointed out that the police department has issued more citations for speeding within the last couple of months, since Chief Gus Clemente took over as head of the department.

Meanwhile, in other business, Mayor Taft Hendrixson re-appointed Alderman Cecil Burger as the city's representative on the Smithville Electric System Board. Anthony Hagan was appointed as a citizen member, succeeding Vester Parsley.

David Terrell was reappointed and John Daniels and George Davis were appointed to the Airport Committee and Glen Nichols, Jr. was named to the Civil Rights Committee.

All the appointments were approved by the aldermen.

In other business, the city board denied a request by Smithville Police Chief Gus Clemente to adopt a vehicle take-home policy for officers of the police department.

Alderman Aaron Meeks made a motion that the resolution be adopted, but it died for the lack of a second.

Under the proposal, each officer, who is already assigned a patrol car to drive while on duty, would have been permitted to take that cruiser home after work.

Some members of the city council had reservations about that proposal since most of the city police officers reside outside the city.

Under the proposed policy, only officers living within a 25 mile radius of the corporate city limits of the City of Smithville would have been allowed to drive the police vehicles home. All other officers would have been forced to park the vehicles at the police department headquarters.

Chief Clemente says the goals of this policy would have been to promote the security of the citizens of Smithville by greater visibility and presence of vehicles on the streets and highways; provide quicker response time to certain types of calls and therefore increase the opportunity to apprehend criminals; reduce the yearly mileage on each vehicle, therefore increasing vehicle life; reduce maintenance cost on each vehicle in the fleet; provide quicker response of off-duty personnel when called back to duty because of an emergency; provide increased incentive and morale of officers participating in the program; and maintain vehicles in top condition through preventive maintenance and personalized assignment.

Members of the council agree that the policy could have provided for quicker response time by some officers in the event of an emergency, but others argue that it would have added to the city's fuel cost and potentially increased liability.

Some also questioned how that there could be greater visibility and presence of patrol cars on city streets, when most of the city patrol cars would be outside the city, when driven home by officers who live outside the city.

First Day of School Education Celebration to be held Downtown August 4th

July 18, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Board of Education Federal Programs Supervisor Michelle Burklow along with committee members Kim Foutch, Jennifer Mitchell, Angela Johnson, Pamela Poss, Suzette Barnes, Clark Oakley, and Alan Hayes are planning a first of its kind for DeKalb County, a First Day of School Education Celebration to be held on August 4th from 5-8 P.M. downtown around the Court House Square.

This Education Celebration is nationally known as First Day of School America and is held annually in a lot of the bigger cities in the United States. Since 1997 the First Day Foundation organization has been assisting schools, families and communities to come together for a celebration on the First Day of each new school year to support education and begin a year-long partnership to promote student success. This is also a time that parents and students can become more familiar with the faculty, staff and PTO of the school that they are entering.

The community can support First Day in a number of ways. Community based organizations can provide materials and resources to parents to make them aware of services available to them in the community. Community leaders- mayors, city council members, clergy, businesses, corporate leaders and others can visit the schools and events and show their support. Local businesses partner with schools by donating products, services and volunteers to the First Day Celebration.

All five schools in DeKalb County will have a booth and will be displaying a photo board with their staff and their individual credentials during the First Day Celebration. Each school will also be represented by their school's PTO about what the PTO does and how parents can help. The Lion's Club Vision Screening van will be available that day for vision screenings, the DeKalb County Health Department will be there giving out information, Tennessee Voices for Children and many other organizations will be represented, and school bus shuttle rides will be provided(we are encouraging parents to park at Northside Elementary starting at 4:45pm. Refreshments, inflatable jumping balloons and FREE school supplies will also be available.

This event is still in the planning stages and volunteers are needed. Business sponsors are also needed. If you would like to help with this event please call Michelle Burklow at 215-2107.

This celebration is totally free of charge to those who attend so make plans now to attend in Downtown Smithville on August 4th.

The First Day of School American-- Education Celebration committee would like to take to THANK the sponsors that are making this event possible:

Churches
Smithville Church of Christ
Tabernacle, The Baptist Church
Dowelltown Baptist Church
House of Prayer
St. Gregory's Church
Keltonburg United Methodist
Indian Creek Baptist Church
Covenant Baptist Church
Gospel LightHouse Baptist Church
Snow Hill Baptist Church
Smithville First Free Will Baptist Church
Johnson's Chapel
United Methodist Church
Peoples Missionary Baptist Church
Jacobs Pillar United Methodist Church
Smithville Seventh Day Adventist Church
Snow Hill Methodist
Grace Bible Church
New Hope Baptist Church
Walkers Chapel Primitive Baptist
Malone's Chapel Baptist Church
Alexandria Church of Christ
Salem Baptist Church

Businesses
Middle Tenness Natural Gas Utility District
DeKalb Telephone
Dr. Cliff Duke DDS
Triple A Coating
Architectural Custom Cabinetry
Dr. David Foutch, OD
Tri Star Aluminum
DeKalb Community Bank
Liberty State Bank

Early Morning Fire Destroys Liberty Home

July 19, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire early Wednesday morning destroyed the residence of Thomas Bogle at 3467 Adamson Branch Road, Liberty.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green says members of the Liberty, Short Mountain Highway, and Blue Springs Stations along with a tanker truck responded to the fire call around 1:05 a.m.

Bogle and his son, who were at home when the fire started, escaped unharmed.

Green says according to Bogle, he awoke to the smell of smoke and discovered the blaze coming from the subfloor in a hallway at the center of the house.

The blaze was protruding through the roof by the time firefighters arrived on the scene, and the home could not be saved.

Bogle says he was able to salvage some clothes and a few other personal belongings.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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