Local News Articles

High School Seniors Urged To Submit Scholarship Applications By Deadlines

February 21, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Guidance Department urges parents to encourage their high school seniors to submit scholarship applications by the deadlines.

All local scholarship applications are due at the DCHS Guidance Office by March 20th.

The following scholarships are available:

Smithville Women's Club Scholarship

DeKalb Community Hospital- for students going into the healthcare field

DeKalb Retired Teachers Award for students who will major in education.

Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club Award for female students only.

The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship for future MTSU students only

The DeKalb Farmers Coop Award for students going into an agriculture or related field.

The Kyle and Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship for student athletes

The Matthew McAfee Memorial Scholarship for students who are members of both FBLA and FCA

DeKalb Education Foundation Award

The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award for basketball players or basketball cheerleaders going into teaching.

DeKalb County Republican Women's scholarship

AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship for students who are children or grandchildren of a veteran.

The DeKalb Soil Conservation Scholarship is for students majoring in agriculture or related field, biology, or one of the life sciences.

The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship is for students who have an immediate family member or grandparent who is a firefighter, EMS, or on the rescue squad. Also for students who are in the Explorer Program.

And the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Studio Six, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Allen Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, Luigi's /Bumper's Drive-In, and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

Parents of Alleged Rape Victim Charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

February 22, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged the parents of a rape victim with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says the parents knew their daughter had been intimate with the man, prior to the alleged sexual assault.\" During the course of the initial investigation it was found that the parents were aware that their 15 year old daughter had been carrying on an intimate relationship since September 2006 with 27 year old Rafael Murillo, an illegal alien. Admissions by the parents, suspect and the victim established that the parents would allow the suspect to sleep in the same room as their daughter during overnight stays at the family residence. Also the parents would drive their daughter over to the suspect's house late at night with her returning back home at 2:00 to 3:00 am in the morning.\"

The parent's identity and address will not be mentioned to safeguard the juvenile's confidentiality.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, police arrested a 25 year old woman on drug charges Sunday, after investigating a complaint of a suspicious vehicle.

Mechal Harding of 920 South Main Street, Smithville is charged with possession of a schedule VI controlled substance for resale.

Chief Stufano says \"On February 18th at approximately 2:30 p.m. Smithville Police Officers responded to the Mapco Express located at Highway 70 & Highway 56 on reported suspicious activity involving an older model pickup truck. Upon arrival Officer's made contact with Harding A computer check noted that Harding was wanted for a Failure to Appear out of North Carolina and that she also was driving on a Suspended Driver's License. As Officer's continued their investigation Harding was also in possession of a Scheduled VI Drug for resale. Harding was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $26,000 bond. Her vehicle, a 1983 Ford truck, was also seized under the state's Drug Forfeiture Act.

Woman Files Lawsuit Against County and Former Deputy in Sex Complaint

February 26, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

One of the women who claims that she was forced into engaging in a sexual act with former DeKalb County Deputy David Sharp, has filed a circuit court lawsuit against Sharp and the county, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

In her lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, February 21st, Lisa Porterfield alleges that \"On or about May 26th, 2006, Sharp, while acting by virtue of or under color of his office, forced her to engage in a sexual act.\"

The lawsuit states that \"The actions of Deputy Sharp were unlawful and constituted an assault and battery upon Porterfield's person, and renders Sharp and the county liable for damages to Porterfield.\"

\"As a direct and proximate result of Sharp's conduct, Porterfield sustained severe emotional distress and mental injury and has had to undergo counseling.\"

\"Sharp's conduct was intentional and reckless and was intended to cause Porterfield severe emotional distress and mental injury and was outrageous. Porterfield's emotional distress, her treatment, and the expense of the treatment, as well as her embarrassment all directly resulted from Sharp's conduct.\"

\"Sharp's conduct was so outrageous such that punitive damages are warranted to deter the defendant's and others similarly situated from engaging in such conduct in the future.\"

\"As a result of the foregoing acts of Sharp, Porterfield suffered bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, hospital and medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity. Porterfield believes that the losses she has suffered are permanent, and she will continue to suffer losses in the future as a result of the acts of the defendants.\"

Porterfield names the county as a co-defendant with Sharp claiming that \"the defendant county is liable for the wrongs of it's deputy sheriff's.\"

Earlier this month, Sharp received a total of six years probation after pleading guilty in Criminal Court to two counts of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression.

County Authorizes Another Public Referendum on Proposed Local Option Sales Tax Hike

February 26, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The county commission Monday night gave it's blessing for another public referendum to increase the local option sales tax from it's current rate of 1.50% to the maximum of 2.75%, but no date for a special election was set.

The commission has also pledged to reduce the property tax rate by a minimum of nineteen and a half cents, if the referendum is approved by the voters. Last September, the commission raised the property tax rate by 39 cents to $1.90 per $100 of assessed value. A reduction of nineteen and a half cents would roll the property tax rate back to a little over $1.70 cents per $100 of assessed value

County Mayor Mike Foster says a proposed date for the referendum will most likely be set by the county commission at it's meeting in March. Community meetings may be held in the coming weeks to seek more public input on the proposal.

The first referendum to adopt the increase failed at the polls last August by 252 votes, losing 1,898 to 1,646.

Foster says that while the proposed sales tax hike would not be enough to roll back the entire 39 cent property tax increase from last fall, it would still create enough extra revenue to allow for a significant tax cut to property owners. \"We think it's fair. According to numbers supplied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, there are approximately four million people who visit Center Hill Lake each year. That's why our sales tax numbers are higher in July than in December. If we have to answer emergency calls down there (lake), you and I are paying for of the sheriff's calls, all of the benefits, and all of the infrastructure for the tourists. But this way (sales tax hike), they get to pick up part of that bill. Plus, it gives our taxpayers at least a 10% cut in property taxes.\"

Foster added that \"Everybody on this board (county commission) has agreed that they would sign a statement guaranteeing that they will take this (19 ? cents) off the property tax rate if the referendum is approved by the voters. We will publish it in the newspapers and announce it on the radio so that the people will understand what we're doing.\"

Plans Underway to Establish Freshman Academy at DCHS

February 28, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Plans are in the making to establish a Freshman Academy at DeKalb County High School, possibly starting with the 2007-2008 school year.

Supervisor of Instruction Carol Hendrix says the purpose of the Freshman Academy is to help first time high school students make the transition.\" The freshman year has never been easy for students. Research shows that among high school students, 9th graders have the most difficult time with academics and transitioning into a new environment. Research has also shown that the best way to solve this problem is for freshmen to transition into a small learning community, specifically a freshman academy. Freshman year has also been identified as a year that students have the greatest problems with the greatest possibility of failure and risk of not being promoted to the next grade and eventually dropping out of school.\"

\"The concept of the freshman academy is relatively simple. The academy operates as a school within a school as it will operate in DeKalb County High School. Students are grouped together to take core courses with the same group of teachers increasing the support received from those teachers.\"

\"Students will have the advantage of a different bell system, a different lunch schedule, and they will have all their classes in one specific area in the building. Students will attend all extracurricular activities such as band, basketball, baseball, etc along with the other student population. We're hoping clubs and events will also be developed for students in the freshman academy. This will include all first time students at DCHS if we implement it this next year.\"

\"This past year and the two years previous, a team from this county visited some of the freshman academies in the state and we decided that this would really be good for our school.\"

Murfreesboro Man Seriously Injured In Motorcycle-Pickup Truck Crash

March 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Murfreesboro man was seriously injured in a motorcycle and pickup truck collision Wednesday afternoon outside the city limits in front of DeKalb Market on Highway 70.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 56 year old William Cope, the operator of a 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle, was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga with serious injuries, especially to his leg.

Trooper England says the accident occurred at 2:45 p.m. when 61 year old Herbert Smallwood of Gainesboro, driving east on Highway 70 in a 1999 Ford Ranger, attempted to make a left turn into the parking lot of DeKalb Market. As he made his turn, Smallwood crossed into the path of Cope's motorcycle, which was traveling west on Highway 70.

Trooper England says Smallwood was cited for failure to yield. He was not injured.

The crash was investigated by Trooper England with assistance from Trooper Keith Maddox. Others providing assistance were members of the DeKalb County and Smithville Volunteer Fire Departments, DeKalb EMS, Sheriff's Deputies, and a Smithville Police Officer.

Investigator Elliott Named

March 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Investigator William Elliott, member of the Smithville Police Department, has been named \"Officer of the Month\".

Signed by Chief Thomas J. Stufano, Mayor Taft Hendrixson, and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, the commendation states that \" On behalf of the City of Smithville Police Department I would like to commend you for your recent actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as Police Investigator. Your determination and efforts this month in handling numerous drug investigations and subsequent seizures of property relating to drug activity has resulted in the successful prosecution of offenders that sold drugs within the city of Smithville.\"

\"Due to your professional training, the many hours of dedicated service on your own time and the professionalism displayed during prosecution of these crimes, know that you are making a difference for the citizens of Smithville in our joint efforts to deter drugs in our community. Your expertise enabled the citizens of Smithville, your fellow co-workers and guests of our area to know that their call for ZERO tolerance on drugs is working. You have served with distinction and are a credit to your professionalism as a Smithville Police Officer.\"

\"Additionally, your work ethic and tenacity during the month of February has shown your true commitment to the citizens we serve and your fellow officers.\"

\"I appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this Commendation becoming apart of your permanent personnel record for all to see.\"

\"Congratulations on a job well done!\"

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrest In Recent Theft and Vandalism Cases

March 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged one man with several recent burglaries and vandalisms and more charges and arrests may be forthcoming.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 39 year old Alton David Estes of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged with one count of burglary, four counts of theft, and three counts of vandalism. He is under a $35,000 bond and will be in General Sessions Court on the charges March 8th.

Sheriff Ray says Estes was arrested on Tuesday after officers went to his home to execute a search warrant looking for stolen items. He says on January 15th while the business was closed, Estes broke a door upon entry to the Clover Leaf Restaurant in Liberty and stole $60 in cash. He is charged in that case with burglary and theft of property under $500.

On January 31st, Sheriff Ray says Estes went to Tennessee Barn Builders on Highway 70 near Smithville, where he broke into a soft drink vending machine to get the change. On the same night, Sheriff Ray says Estes went to DeKalb Farmers Coop, where he broke into two soft drink vending machines and stole some change. Estes is charged with two counts of vandalism over $1,000 and theft under $500 in those cases.

On February 25th, Sheriff Ray says Estes went to Prichard's Foods on Highway 53 in Alexandria, where he broke into two soft drink vending machines and stole $150 worth of change. He is charged with vandalism over $1,000 and theft under $500 in the case.

Meanwhile, Estes' wife, Cassandra Robinson of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged in a separate case of driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license (2nd offense), and leaving the scene of an accident. Sheriff Ray says Robinson was recently involved in a wreck on Highway 70 but fled the scene as officers arrived. They later learned her identity and arrested her on Monday, February 26th. She is under a $6,000 bond and her court date is March 22nd.

Sheriff Ray says 52 year old Charles Earl West of Pine Grove Road, Smithville was arrested February 22nd for violation of the sex offender registration act because he failed to report on time. His bond is $10,000 and he will appear in court on the charge March 8th

Alexandria Mayor Announces Decision To Resign Effective In September

March 1, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Alexandria Mayor David Cripps has announced his resignation, effective September 25th.

Cripps was appointed Mayor by the Alexandria Aldermen shortly after the elected Mayor Clara Lee Vantrease resigned last summer.

In a prepared statement, Cripps says \"When I accepted the position of Mayor, I accepted it until the next General Election, at which time, a Mayor could be elected, but after speaking with the Election Commission and reviewing the City Charter, I realized that I would have to fulfill the unexpired term.\"

\"By announcing my resignation now, the Election Commission can be notified that a Mayor needs to be elected and any qualified candidates can qualify before the deadline to be put on the ballot for the September election, and the newly elected Mayor can take office on September 25th, when my original four year term will be fulfilled.\"

Six Candidates Qualify For Smithville Election With Deadline Looming

March 6, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Six candidates have qualified to run for alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election this summer with a few more days left until the qualifying deadline.

Those who have qualified to be on the ballot for the June 19th city election include Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, Todd VanDyne, W.J. (Dub) White, Paul Young, and Aaron Meeks.

White, Meeks, and Young are incumbents seeking re-election.

The election commission reports that qualifying petitions have been picked up for two more potential candidates, but they have not yet been returned.

The qualifying deadline is 12 noon on Thursday, March 15th

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