Local News Articles

County Commission Pays Tribute to Eagle Scout Brady Evans

September 27, 2011
Dwayne Page
Ronica Evans, Brad Evans, Brady Evans, County Mayor Mike Foster

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution honoring Eagle Scout Brady Evans.

County Mayor Mike Foster read the resolution: "Whereas, it is fitting that the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor should announce their pride, respect, and honor in the young people of our community who so capably fulfill their requirements and duties to reach lofty goals and levels of achievement.

Whereas, Brady Evans has performed the years of tasks to work his way to the highest honor bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America. Brady Evans has worked to a level achieved by a very select few and has earned the Eagle Award.

Whereas, the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor wish to thank Brady Evans, his family, other scouts who helped and his leaders for the honors they have brought to themselves and DeKalb County.

Now, therefore be it resolved by the DeKalb County Commission that September 26, 2011 be officially named Eagle Scout Brady Evans' Day.

Be it further resolved that this accomplishment be spread across the records of this meeting and preserved as a lasting part of our appreciation to Eagle Scout Brady Evans"

Foster, in mentioning some of Brady's accomplishments said that "Brady is a 2011 graduate of DeKalb County High School with an honor's diploma. He is a member of the BETA Club, Science Club, and Future Business Leaders of America. He was also named Rotary Youth of the Month for October, 2010. His Eagle project was building an amphitheater at Edgar Evins State Park. He asked for donations to build the project and received over $1,200 in donations to complete it. Brady has been active in Scouts since he was in the first grade. He earned the Arrow of Light, the Cub Scouts Highest award in 2004. He has served as Troop #347's senior patrol leader for the past year. Brady enjoys camping, canoeing, and he has completed 47 different merit badges. In 2010 he attended the National Boy Scouts Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia as a member of the Middle Tennessee Council contingent. They camped there for ten days with over 50,000 other scouts from around the United States and several countries. He is currently attending Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, majoring in business," said Foster.

More Persons Arrested for Stealing Metal Goods and Selling as Scrap

September 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
Gary Christopher Ponder
Aron Dewayne Ponder
Nicholas Cody Walls
Mickey Guinn
Joshua Lionel Jones
Daniel Lee Taylor
Tracy Michelle Vincent
Jeffery Lynn Sanders
Brittney Danielle Barnes
James Dallas McMillen, Jr

More persons have been arrested by the Sheriff's Department, accused of stealing goods made of metal and selling them as scrap

In the latest cases, 24 year old Gary Christopher Ponder and his cousin 33 year old Aron Dewayne Ponder both of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown are each charged with one count of theft of property over $500, two counts of theft under $500, and one count of theft over $1,000. Bond for each is $25,000 and they will be in court October 6.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Friday, September 9 the Ponders went to a farm on Wilder Hollow Road in the Pea Ridge community where they allegedly took a calf feeder, a horse drawn rake, two air conditioner units, a smoker grill, two kitchen sinks, cook stove, cook oven, radiator, rim, air compressor, two black kettles, and one hundred pieces of twelve feet 5V roofing, all valued at $4, 770.

Ten days later, on Monday, September 19, Sheriff Ray said that the Ponders went to three different properties on Tabernacle Road and allegedly stole items from each location. At one place the Ponders allegedly took a house jack, double row planter, and adjustment for a plow, half of a corn grinder, tractor hitch, valve, pry bar, battery, two setter trays, cultivator pieces, plow pieces, wheel, lawn mower deck, and a scraper blade, all valued at $810.

At a second location on Tabernacle Road, the Ponders allegedly took from the bed of a pickup truck, a hydraulic jack valued at $20..

From the third location on Tabernacle Road, the Ponders allegedly took gutter pipe, two fence posts, a five foot gate, exhaust pipe, and aluminum scrap, all valued at $177.

Meanwhile, 26 year old Nicholas Cody Walls of Coconut Ridge Road, Smithville and 34 year old Mickey Guinn of West Spring Street, Smithville are each charged with two counts of theft of property under $500. Bond for each is $6,000 and they will be in court on September 29.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy responded to a report of a theft in progress at a business on East Broad Street, Smithville on Tuesday, September 20. Upon arrival, the officer found Walls and Guinn loading a truck with items taken from the business including rolling steps, a rolling cart, and a solid steel shock, all valued at $220.

Sheriff Ray said a deputy had taken a report earlier that day of items stolen from the same business on East Broad Street. Walls and Guinn were also charged in that case accused of taking items from the business including five metal uprights, valued at $500. The stolen items were sold to a local recycling center where Walls and Guinn received a total of $94.30.

31 year old Joshua Lionel Jones of Hodges Road, Smithville and 46 year old Daniel Lee Taylor of Earl Avenue, Smithville are each charged with theft of property over $1,000. Bond for each is $4,500 and they will be in court on September 29.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, September 21 a deputy was called to a burglary in progress on Dale Ridge Road. Upon arrival, the officer found two men loading items from a barn. The two men, Jones and Taylor, claimed they had permission to be doing this but the officer called the man identified by Jones and Taylor as the owner but he denied owning any property on Dale Ridge Road. Items taken from the barn included a horsedrawn turnplow, three rims, a small engine, 30- nine foot steel pipes, 15-ten foot steel pipes, structural steel, and miscellaneous scrap metal, all valued at $1,040.

31 year old Tracy Michelle Vincent of Cedar Street, Liberty is charged with being a fugitive from justice. Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, September 21 his department learned that Vincent was wanted in Warren County, Kentucky for child neglect. She has been charged with being a fugitive from justice. Vincent is being held without bond. She will be in court on October 6.

39 year old Willard Darrell Brown of Anthony Avenue, Smithville was recently issued citations for driving under the influence and failure to maintain proper lane of travel. He will be in court on October 13.

According to Sheriff Ray, Brown was injured after being involved in a motor vehicle accident on Vaughn Lane. Brown was traveling east in the wrong lane causing another vehicle to collide with his automobile. Brown was taken to the hospital to be treated for a back injury. Brown was believed to be under the influence of an intoxicating drug. He submitted to a blood test.

37 year old Jeffery Lynn Sanders of Lincoln Street, Smithville is charged with escape. His bond is $30,000 and he will be in court on September 29

Sheriff Ray said Sanders was in General Sessions court on Thursday, September 22 and the judge revoked his bond. After being returned to a holding area at the jail, Sanders asked a correctional officer for permission to go to the restroom. As the correctional officer opened a door, Sanders ran out of the cell area, trying to escape. He was quickly detained.

23 year old Brittney Danielle Barnes of Belk Road, Smithville is charged with evading arrest and failure to appear in criminal court. She has been ordered to serve ten days in jail. She will then be allowed to make a $5,000 bond on the failure to appear charge. Her bond is $3,500 for evading arrest. She will be in court September 29 on the evading arrest offense. Barnes will be in criminal court in the failure to appear case on October 7

Sheriff Ray reports that on Sunday, September 25 a deputy went to Cill Street to serve a state warrant on Barnes for failure to appear. Having prior knowledge that Barnes was at this residence, the home of her great grandmother, the officer knocked on the door. Barnes' great grandmother answered. When the deputy asked if Brittney was there, the woman replied "no she is not". Brittney's mother then came to the door telling the officer that her daughter was in Warren County. While the officer searched the residence, central dispatch received a call from a witness stating that Brittney had jumped from a window at the rear of the home. About ten to fifteen minutes after the search began, a Smithville Police Officer found Barnes inside the home, hiding in a bedroom. Barnes admitted knowing she had a warrant against her.

63 year old James Dallas McMillen, Jr. of Bright Hill Road is charged with a second offense of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. McMillen will be in court on September 29. He is under a $5,500 bond.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Monday, September 19, a deputy responded to a traffic accident on Evins Mill Road where the driver of an automobile involved in the crash had left the scene. Witnesses told the officer that the driver of this vehicle was all over the roadway, before running into a ditch and damaging a fence. According to witnesses, when the man got out of the automobile after the accident he was very unsteady on his feet. Witnesses further reported that when they spoke with him, his speech was very slurred. The deputy had a computer check run on the tag information and obtained the name and address of the owner of the vehicle (McMillen). He then went to McMillen's home and spoke with him. McMillen allegedly admitted to being involved in the accident and leaving the scene. The officer detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on McMillen. He initially consented to submit to a blood alcohol test but changed his mind before arriving at the hospital.

Fire Destroys Home on Joe Turner Road

September 25, 2011
Dwayne Page

A fire Sunday morning destroyed the residence of Robert and Tressia Luna at 327 Joe Turner Road in the Jefferson Community.

Central dispatch received the call around 5:15 a.m.

Assistant Fire Chief Roy Merriman told WJLE that the Luna's were in Nashville visiting family at the time of the fire so no one was at home and no one was hurt. He said the Luna's son and daughter-in-law, who live close by, were awakened by a noise. They looked out and saw the fire and then reported it.

Members of the Keltonburg, Belk, and Blue Springs stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Three Local Industries Poised to Create Jobs

September 25, 2011
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

Although DeKalb County's unemployment rate remains high at 9.5%, the area economy may get a boost in the coming months as at least three local industries are reportedly planning to add some new jobs.

County Mayor Mike Foster shared the news during an all-committees meeting of the county commission Thursday night. Foster also plans to talk about his industry visits for September with Shiroki, Foutch Industries, and Star Manufacturing during the county commission meeting Monday night.

While the industries themselves have made no formal announcements, Foster told WJLE Friday that he is encouraged by what he has heard in his recent meetings with them. "We met last week with three of our local industries and they were all pretty positive about their situations. I think they're seeing some increases in orders which seems to be a good omen that they will be hiring some people to do this extra work. Some of it is long term, but some of it may not be (long term). I think maybe 150 to 200 new jobs will be created. Some of them will be over a two year period. They (local industries) are currently upgrading some equipment," said Foster.

"We have met with the industries and talked with TVA and Rebecca Smith of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development about some incentives (for industries). The state incentives are pretty well based. If they hire 25 new jobs and if they add about a half a million dollars in equipment, then they can get some training incentives and tax incentives from two or three different sources. We met with them last week and the week before and I have another meeting with them on October 5 to go over some of the details. They (industries) are trying to get some help (with) some of the tax rates on their equipment and some tax incentives on new jobs that are hired. They can get some tax benefits on that, some benefits on their income tax, and taxes on equipment," said Foster.

Some new jobs are apparently already being created according to Foster. "I think its (job creation) is already happening. I talked to a guy in one of the stores the night before last (Wednesday) and he was saying that he had gone to work at Star (Manufacturing) so that's a good indication that they are already hiring. I think they (Star) are going to hire in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 or maybe 28 new employees. I think that will be done right away. They (Star) got some orders from some large national companies and I think that has spurred that (job creation). I think they are actually already hiring. I think at least one of the others (industries) should be (hiring) within the next two weeks. I think the companies will have announcements on that. One of the other industries will be (adding new jobs) between now and 2013," said Foster.

The DeKalb County August unemployment rate was at 9.5%, down from 9.7% in July but up slightly from 9.4% in August 2010.

The local labor force in August was at 10,120. A total of 9,160 were employed and 960 were without work.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for August tied with Cannon for fourth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland region .


DeKalb August Jobless Rate at 9.5%

September 23, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County August unemployment rate was at 9.5%, down from 9.7% in July but up slightly from 9.4% in August 2010.

The local labor force in August was at 10,120. A total of 9,160 were employed and 960 were without work.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for August tied with Cannon for fourth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland region as follows:

Pickett County- 14.2%
White- 11.6%
Van Buren- 11.5%
Warren- 11.4%
Fentress- 11.2%
Clay- 11%
Jackson- 10.7%
Overton- 10.6%
Cumberland- 10.5%
Cannon- 9.5%
Macon- 9.3%
Smith- 9.1%%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for August show that the rate decreased in 57 counties, 28 counties increased, and 10 counties remained the same.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for August was 9.7 percent, down from the July revised rate of 9.8. The national unemployment rate for August 2011 was 9.1 percent, unchanged from the July revised rate.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, up from the July rate of 6.2 percent, followed by Williamson County at 6.8 percent, up from 6.7 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.7 percent, down from 19.8 percent in the previous month, followed by Obion County at 17.2, up from 11.4 percent in July.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.7 percent, up from 7.5 percent in July. Hamilton County was 8.6 percent, up from 8.4 percent the previous month. Davidson County was 8.8 percent, up from 8.5 percent in July, and Shelby County was 10.4 percent, down from the July unemployment rate of 10.5 percent.

MOAA Seeks Cell Phones for Soldiers

September 23, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America is asking for your help in support of the Cell Phones for Soldiers Projects.

Cell Phones for Soldiers hopes to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas in 2008. To do so, Cell Phones for Soldiers expects to collect 50,000 cell phones each month through a network of more than 3,000 collection sites across the country

The phones are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each donated phone – enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad.

"Americans will replace an estimated 130 million cell phones this year," says Mike Newman, vice president of ReCellular, "with the majority of phones either discarded or stuffed in a drawer. Most people don't realize that the small sacrifice of donating their unwanted phones can have a tremendous benefit for a worthy cause like Cell Phones for Soldiers."

"What our organization is trying to do is collect a lot of phones to be able to donate to "Cell Phones for Soldiers" and say we're going to provide soldiers with five hundred hours or so of free phone time," said Wendy Bottomley, a member of the Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.

"We're working with our communities to go out and get people to donate their phones. We'll be working on this project through the end of the year. We're going to try for the next two to three months to collect as many phones as we can. Probably the first week in December, we'll collect all the phones and send them in. We'll erase them for you if you can't erase the stuff on there. You don't have to have all the attachments. We'll send them in," said Bottomley.

In Smithville, cell phones can be dropped off at Liberty State Bank, First Bank, Regions Bank, DeKalb Community Bank, the office of State Farm Agent Jackie Smith, and at the Verizon Phone store.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.

"Cell Phones for Soldiers started as a small way to show our family's appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed the day-to-day contact with their own families to serve in the U.S. armed forces," said the teens' father, Bob Bergquist. "Over the past few years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. But, we have also seen the need to support our troops continue to grow as more troops are sent overseas for longer assignments."

Through increased fundraising efforts, the Bergquist family hopes to raise more than $9 million in the next five years to fund new programs, such as providing video phones with prepaid service to allow soldiers abroad to see their families on a regular basis.

Bottomley said the Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America supports veterans in many ways. "We work with different groups in providing funds for veterans, such as those veterans who can't afford to pay their electric bills, or need help in building a house, etc. we have funds for that. We also have scholarships in our high schools. We have the JROTC program where high school kids learn about the military and all that it means and we provide scholarships that we give away each year to a student who is going to college. Its just an organization of veterans helping veterans, "said Bottomley.

DeKalb Health Department Has the Flu Vaccine

September 22, 2011
Dwayne Page

Influenza or the flu season is right around the corner and the DeKalb County Health Department is ready to offer flu vaccine to area residents. A mass flu vaccine clinic will be held at the Health Department located at 254 Tiger Drive on Friday, October 21 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. No appointment is required. This clinic is designed to allow people to be able to get in and out quickly.

"It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine so its a good idea to get the vaccine as soon as its available," said Frances Reece, County Director. "However, we will continue to vaccinate residents through the winter or as long as we have vaccine available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months of age and older get their yearly flu vaccine as soon as vaccines become available in their community."

Flu shots (and/or) FluMist nasal spray vaccine will be provided during the vaccination clinic. There will be a charge of $32.00 for adults and $13.70 for children. The Health Department will bill traditional Medicare and TennCare.

To ask questions about flu vaccine, call the DeKalb County Health Department at 597-7599.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awards Center Hill Dam Barrier Wall Construction Contract

September 22, 2011
Barrier wall to be installed in earthen portion of Center Hill Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District announces today the award of a $106 million contract to Bauer Foundation Corporation to install a barrier wall at Center Hill Dam, which was officially awarded late yesterday.

"This important construction will provide a barrier to protect the earthen portion of the main dam from seepage problems. The barrier will significantly improve the long-term reliability of the dam and public safety" said Project Manager Linda Adcock.

Most of the construction will be accomplished below ground and requires specialized equipment as well as close monitoring.

The main components of work are:

Enlarge a work surface along the upstream (lake) side of the main dam earthen embankment
Construct approximately 200,000 square feet of concrete panels and columns in two phases through the embankment extending downward 120 feet into foundation rock to form a minimum 2-foot thick continuous barrier wall
Highway 96 across the dam is planned to remain open, as well as Long Branch Campground downstream of the dam, throughout the two and one-half year contract. The Center Hill Dam has been identified by the Army Corps of Engineers as a high risk dam due to foundation seepage. A 2008-2010 grouting contract was an important first step to reduce the seepage and to prepare the foundation for construction of the barrier wall.

"We are currently studying the appropriate improvements for the saddle dam, a smaller earthen dam northeast of the main dam" Adcock said.

The saddle dam work will be the third large contract. A final small contract will be required for site restoration.

To read more on the project, the seepage problem and the fix, visit the Nashville District webpage at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/CenterHill. For more information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and http://www.facebook.com/centerhilllake, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.

Defendants Sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court

September 21, 2011
Dwayne Page

Several defendants appeared for sentencing Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court before Judge David Patterson.

35 year old Larry Murphy pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a four year sentence in the community corrections program. He was given jail credit from June 9 to September 19, 2011. He must pay a $2,000 fine.

44 year old Thomas Somoza pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and possession of a handgun by a felon. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in the DUI case to serve 75%. Somoza got a two year sentence in the handgun case. Both sentences are to run concurrently. He was fined $365. Somoza was given jail credit from February 20 to September 19, 2011.

41 year old Michael E. Brown pleaded guilty to a second offense of driving on a revoked license. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days at 75% to serve 10 days on weekends with the balance on supervised probation. He was fined $50 and his drivers license has been suspended for two years.

30 year old Edgar Adrian Saldivar Hernandez pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving on a revoked license. He received a six month sentence suspended to probation. He was also fined $50. Hernandez' probation will be supervised by CPS for three months and the remaining three months he will be on good behavior probation.

23 year old Lesley Ann Lawrence, charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance, was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding for a period of two years. Lawrence must abide by all terms and conditions of her probation including performing 40 hours of community service work.

Rochefort Sentenced to Six Years in Shake and Bake Meth Lab Case

September 21, 2011
Dwayne Page
Robert Rochefort

A 44 year old man, arrested almost a year ago in a "shake and bake" meth lab case, was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday.

Robert Rochefort pleaded guilty to attempted initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Judge David Patterson sentenced Rochefort to a six year term and fined him $2,000. He was given jail credit from October 7, 2010 to September 19, 2011.

Rochefort was one of two people accused of conducting a shake and bake meth lab on October 7, 2010. They were arrested during a traffic stop on Coconut Ridge Road

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Rochefort and the woman, 39 year old Sandra L. Clark were each charged with initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was on routine patrol on Coconut Ridge Road when he saw a vehicle stopped in the road. When the officer stopped, the vehicle began to leave. The deputy then activated his lights signaling the vehicle to stop. After making the traffic stop the officer spoke with Clark, who was driving. Rochefort was a passenger. He said they appeared to be nervous. The deputy received consent to search but when Rochefort got out of the automobile, the officer saw him place something on the ground. There, the deputy found a two liter bottle with a three layered substance which is normally used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Rochefort emptied his pockets and produced a two liter Pepsi label. A plastic bag was found inside the vehicle. The bag contained 30 pseudoephedrine pills and four lithium batteries, which are also normally used in the manufacture of meth. Several other items used to make meth were also in the vehicle, including turkey basters, Ph test strips, coffee filters with residue, salt, water, and more.

Clark was in court last month on a charge manufacturing a schedule II controlled substance, methamphetamine. She pleaded guilty and received a six year sentence, suspended to probation with community corrections and then state probation. Clark was fined $2,000 and given credit for time served.


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