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Santa Makes Another Appearance in DeKalb County During Alexandria Christmas Parade

December 12, 2009
Dwayne Page
Santa and Mrs Claus in Alexandria

Santa and Mrs. Claus made another appearance Saturday during the annual Alexandria Christmas parade.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver served as Grand Marshal of the Parade.

The Dowelltown United Methodist Church took first place among the float entries. The Brush Creek United Methodist Church float received second place and third place went to the Girl Scouts float.

Brad Driver was awarded first place in the vintage car category for his 1969 red Camaro while Trent and Amber Hawkins received first place for best vintage truck with their 1948 green Chevy truck.

Taylor Hale received first place for best four wheeler.

Chris Hale took first place for best tractor with his 1952 John Deere

Smoke House Barbeque received first place for best motorcycle.

Drawings for prizes were held after the parade.

To see pictures of the Alexandria Christmas Parade, click the following link:


Colwells Charged with Child Neglect

December 12, 2009
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has charged two people with child neglect.

39 year old Johnny and 31 year old Heather Colwell of 253 Hayes Court were arrested on Friday, December 11th. The arrests were made by Detective Jerry Hutchins and Corporal Travis Bryant According to the warrants "On or about June 13th, 2009 the Colwell's 6 ½ month old child pulled a candle warmer onto himself causing injury. According to Johnny Colwell someone came to see his wife, Heather who was in the bedroom and that they were in there when the injury happened. According to Heather Colwell she and her husband, Johnny were involved in illegal drug sales and were both intoxicated on this date, therefore neglecting the child. Bond for each is set at $5,000 and their court date is January 7th.

In another case, 24 year old Timmy Wayne Hale of 704 Short Mountain Highway was arrested for vandalism on Tuesday, December 8th.

Smithville Police Officer Matt Holmes reports that Roy Wilkey of Big Hurricane Road had parked his vehicle at Timmy Hale's residence (with his permission) and that Mr. Hale was seen trying to break into Mr. Wilkey's vehicle on November 28th. Officer Holmes was conducting a follow up investigation on the incident and met with Timmy Hale at the Smithville Police Department where he was asked about the vandalism. According to Officer Holmes, Hale admitted to attempting to gain entry to the vehicle by using a hanger causing damage to the window trim. Bond for Hale is $1,000 and his court date is December 17th

29 year old Jared Scott Atnip of 206 Bybee Ranch Road McMinnville was arrested on Monday, December 7th for public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia. Officer Matt Holmes was called to a local business in answer to a complaint of possibly an intoxicated person. Atnip was sitting at a table inside of the business and when he was questioned Atnip did not immediately reply. After being asked a second time to reply, he said yes. Officer Holmes requested that Atnip step outside. Officer Holmes noticed Atnip’s eyes were droopy and his speech was slurred. Atnip was asked if he had taken any medication and he replied he had taken his prescribed medication, Xanax before getting dropped off at the business. Atnip was arrested for public intoxication and transported to the Smithville Police Department where he informed Officer Holmes that he might have a syringe in his jacket pocket. A search revealed a used hypodermic needle in the inside pocket of his jacket and he was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for Atnip was set at $2000 and his court date is January 7th.

Meanwhile, anyone having any information on the following offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

On Thursday, December 10th at approximately 6:45 a.m, Officer Matt Holmes responded to Royal Oak Apartments where he met with James Gibbs who said that when he went out to start his truck for work, he noticed his door was unlocked. Gibbs said after he got inside he saw that his glove box was open and after further investigation he found his radio, two matching wedding rings, a promise ring, two memory cards, 26 CD's and a pocket knife were missing from his vehicle.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police solve this or any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

The Smithville Police Department will be stepping up patrols during this holiday season for impaired drivers in an effort to keep our roadways safer. The Smithville Police Department will also team up with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department to conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints during the New Year's eve holiday.

More Potential 2010 Candidates Picking up Qualifying Petitions

December 11, 2009
Dwayne Page

Several people have picked up petitions at the DeKalb County Election Commission Office for next year's elections.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn has qualified to seek re-election in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary next May. Clayborn has picked up and returned his petition

Glynn Merriman has qualified as a candidate for County Clerk in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary. He has picked up and returned his petition.

County Commission candidates who have qualified to run in next year's elections are as follows:

Third District- Incumbent Jerry Scott

Fifth District- Johnny Ringo Colwell, Randy Braswell, and Bobby R.Taylor

Seventh District- Richard Kinsey (Independent)

Other candidates who have obtained petitions to run in the May Democratic Primary or as Independents in the August General Session are as follows:

County Mayor Mike Foster, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, First District County Commissioner Elmer Ellis, Jr., Second District County Commissioner Jack Barton, Third District County Commission Candidate Roy Merriman, Fourth District County Commissioner Wayne Cantrell, Fifth District County Commissioner John Green, Fifth District County Commission Candidate Lloyd Emmons (Independent), Sixth District County Commissioner Jeff Barnes, Sixth District County Commissioner Marshall Ferrrell, Seventh District County Commissioner Larry Summers, Seventh District County Commission candidate Jimmy W. Poss.

The Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board has certified Kenny Edge's qualifications to be a candidate for Road Supervisor. Edge plans to seek re-election as Road Supervisor, subject to receiving his party's nomination in January at the DeKalb County Republican Convention.
Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars has submitted a certified copy of her qualifying petition to the election commission office.

Offices eligible for the May ballot are County Mayor, County Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk, Trustee, Register of Deeds, Road Supervisor, and Sheriff, county commissioners in districts one through seven, 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Part 1 and District Attorney. The judge and D.A. elections are to fill unexpired terms.

Qualifying petitions may now be picked up and the qualifying deadline for the May 4th Primary is noon on Thursday, February 18th, 2010. There is another important date for potential Sheriff and Road Supervisor candidates to remember, February 4th.

Sheriff candidates must file "affidavits of qualification" with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission no later than February 4th, 2010. Road Supervisor candidates must file their affidavits of qualification with the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board no later than February 4th, 2010.

Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th, 2010. The Republican Party, which usually selects its nominees by caucus, must certify its candidates by the same date and time.

Online Application Available for Extension of Unemployment Benefits

December 10, 2009

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is on schedule to complete the online applications for the latest federal extension of unemployment benefits. The application will be available on the Tennessee Department of Labor’s Internet site on December 11, and the first benefit payments are expected to be mailed December 18, 2009.

“This project has been given the highest priority, and the department’s Information Technology division has worked nights, weekends and holidays to do the extensive programming required of our systems to extend these benefits,” said Labor Commissioner James Neeley. “Those who have already exhausted their benefits should look for instructions in the mail this week with the status of their claim.”

The online application will be necessary for claimants who have exhausted all prior benefits. Additionally, those who exhausted benefits prior to the February 27, 2009, deadline for State Extended Benefits may also be eligible and are encouraged to apply.

Tennesseans who exhaust their State Extended Benefits (EB09) after December 17, 2009, will automatically transition into the new program without having to reapply.

“During this slow economic period, we have seen an unprecedented number of Tennesseans staying on unemployment until they exhaust their benefits,” said Neeley. “This will give those who are still looking for work more time to cover their expenses through the holidays and into 2010.”

This federally funded extension is the fourth announcement of benefits beyond the initial 26 weeks of unemployment compensation provided by the state. While the intent of the bill was to add 20 weeks of payments, an oversight in the way the federal law was structured prevented individuals from receiving the maximum weeks of entitlement. Depending on an individual’s initial claim eligibility, wage history and subsequent employment status, the maximum entitlement for the latest extension of unemployment benefits is 14 weeks.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development has posted details of the extension with an extensive list of frequently asked questions on their Internet home page at www.tn.gov/labor-wfd. For Tennesseans without Internet access, Tennessee Career Centers throughout the state are available at no charge. To find a Career Center in your area please go to www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/cc/cccounty.htm or call 1-800-576-3467.

DeKalb Farmers Eligible for Federal Agriculture Relief

December 10, 2009
Dwayne Page

With extreme rainfall and flooding damaging DeKalb County farms in September, Congressman Bart Gordon announced today that the U.S. Agriculture Department declared DeKalb County a federal agriculture disaster area. The designation comes after Gordon joined his Tennessee colleagues in urging USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to grant the disaster declaration.

“The storms destroyed crop yields across DeKalb County, significantly affecting the livelihood of farmers and their families,” Gordon said. “With this disaster declaration, the many affected farmers can begin to rebuild and prepare for the start of the next farming season.”

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s disaster declaration enables qualifying farmers to apply for federal farm disaster assistance programs, including supplemental farm revenue payments and low-interest emergency loans.

“This federal assistance will not only help the countless farmers and their businesses that were affected by the rain and flooding,” Gordon added, “but it will also help the local county economies.”

DeKalb County is among the 42 Tennessee counties covered under today’s disaster declaration. Affected farmers in DeKalb County should contact the Farm Service Agency office in Smithville for more information. The office’s phone number is (615) 597-8225.

Smithville Police Department Establishes Community Nuisance Eradication Team

December 9, 2009
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Lieutenant Steven Leffew

Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Officer in Charge, says the Smithville Police Department has established a new unit to help combat the ever growing complaints from the community regarding, not just drug trafficking but all other nuisances as well. This new unit is called the Community Nuisance Eradication Team or CNET. On December 8th members of the Smithville Police Department's new CNET unit along with the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force went to multiple locations within the city of Smithville.

While investigating complaints at 830 South Mountain Street, officers arrested Anthony Robert Goff on out of county warrants and cited Todd Odell Hindsley and Amanda Riley for possession of drug paraphernalia.

The most productive narcotics investigation of the day came at 835 Anthony Avenue. Officers seized a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix and approximately $1,600 in cash from Misty Jean Ferrell of 1588 Banks Pisgah Road and Rickie Shawn Cummings of 104 Greenland Drive. Cummings was also cited to Smithville Municipal Court for violating the city's open container ordinance. Smithville Police Department officers present during this day's operation were Patrolman Matt Farmer, Sergeant Randy King, K-9 Officer Brad Tatrow, Patrolman Nathan Estes, Patrolman Matt Holmes and agents from the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force.

Lieutenant Leffew says "I am very proud to see what can be achieved when the Smithville Police Department combines efforts with other agencies such as the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department".

He adds "today's events are just the beginning of the CNET's presence within the community.

Anyone having information about any type of criminal activity within the Smithville community is encouraged to contact the Smithville City Police Department 597-8210 or the Crime Tip Hot Line 464-6046.

County 4-H Public Speaking Contest Winners Awarded

December 8, 2009
County 4-H Public Speaking Contest Participants and Winners
County 4-H Public Speaking Contest Participants
County 4-H Public Speaking Contest Winners
County 4-H Public Speaking Participants

The county 4-H Public speaking contest was held Monday night at Northside Elementary School.

The contest is a good way for 4-H members to polish their speaking and writing skills. It also helps them gain confidence. The 4-H program is open to all eligible youth regardless of
race, color, sex, national origin, or disability.

2009 County 6th - 8th grade 4-H public speaking winners: (Top Photo Left to Right) Cassie Cain, 8th grade winner, William Cain, 6th grade winner, and Lydia Trail, 7th grade winner. All are students at DeKalb West School

5th Grade participants:(Second Photo from Top Front Row Left to Right): Casey Vickers (DeKalb West), Katlyn Cox, and Allison Rogers (Northside) Second row: Emily Wallace, Makira Johson (Northside), Wyatt Martin (DeKalb West), Chloe Cripps, Grace Odom, Jeremy Wagner, Joshua Irvin, Gentry Harpole, Eli Cross, Adam Ferrell, and Daniel Patterson (all from Northside).

2009 County 4-H Public Speaking Winners: (Third Photo from Top Front Row (Left to Right):
Abigale Fontanez, 2nd place in 4th grade; Abby Evans, 1st place, 4th grade; and Hannah Brown, and Lydia Trail, 1st place in 7th grade. Second row: William Cain, 1st place in 6th grade; Cassie Cain, 1st place in 8th grade; Adam Ferrell, 3rd place in 5th grade; Eli Cross, 2nd place in 5th grade; and Wyatt Martin, 1st place in 5th grade.

2009 County 4th Grade Public Speaking participants: (Bottom Photo Front Row Left to
Right): Mackenzie Knowles (DeKalb West), Abigale Fontanez, Hayley Martin (Northside). Second row (left to right): Gage Bowman, Shauna Pedroza, Olivia Fuson, Abby Evans, and Hannah Brown (Northside).

Lohorn Charged in Recent Armed Robbery and Vandalism Cases

December 8, 2009
Dwayne Page
 Justin Lohorn

A 23 year old man, initially arrested Monday by Smithville Police for vandalism, has also been identified as the person responsible for an armed robbery last Friday at the home of W.J. Page at 826 Anthony Avenue, in which a $70 watch was stolen.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Officer in Charge of the Smithville Police Department, says 23 year old Justin R. Lohorn of Short Mountain Street, Smithville is charged by Smithville Police with one count of aggravated robbery, one count of theft of property, two counts of vandalism, and a first offense of driving on a suspended license. Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department has also charged Lohorn with one count of vandalism and one count of theft under $500. Total bond for Lohorn is $71,000 and he will appear in General Sessions Court on December 17th.

Lohorn is accused of vandalizing vending machines Monday, December 7th at Larry's Discount Grocery on West Broad Street, It's All About Looks on Dry Creek Road, and at the Mystick Market on Highway 56 south.

According to Lieutenant Leffew, Lohorn became as a suspect in the Page robbery after being arrested in the vandalism cases. Smithville Police Officer Matt Holmes and Detective Mike Billings of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department conducted the investigation after the initial arrest of Lohorn by Smithville Police Officer Nathan Estes.

According to police reports, "Officer Estes responded to a vandalism complaint at 625 Dry Creek Road (It's All About Looks) on Monday where the owner of the business reported that a drink machine had been damaged. Officer Estes got a description of the vehicle leaving the scene and later spotted it on Highway 70 west. He stopped the automobile and spoke to the driver, Lohorn. A check of his drivers license found them to be suspended. Also found in the front seat of Lohorn's vehicle were four hammers, two knives, bolt cutters, and a tire wrench." He was taken into custody and charged with the vandalism of the vending machines at both It's All About Looks and at Larry's Discount Grocery. He was also charged with a first offense of driving on a suspended license.

In the incident at Larry's Discount Grocery, the arrest warrant states that on Monday, December 7th "Lohorn did vandalize two drink machines by taking bolt cutters and cutting off two locks. He also caused damage to one of the machines by prying on it with a pry bar."

In the robbery case, the arrest warrant against Lohorn states that "he did commit aggravated robbery by confronting W.J. Page who was leaving his residence at 826 Anthony Avenue, Smithville by using a handgun and telling Page to give him his wallet and watch. Lohorn gave a written statement confessing to the robbery. A gun and the watch were recovered at Lohorn's residence."

On the theft charge, the arrest warrant alleges that " Lohorn did take a watch by gunpoint in a robbery from Page who was exiting his home at 826 Anthony Avenue, Smithville. Lohorn did admit to robbing Mr. Page and taking the watch, which was recovered from Lohorn residence. The value of the watch is $70."

In the case against Lohorn filed by the sheriff's department, the arrest warrant states that "On December 7th, Lohorn did vandalize a drink machine at Mystick Market on McMinnville Highway. He broke into the machine, causing damage to the front and inside, estimated at $1,800. Lohorn was also charged with theft of property under $500 for allegedly taking 31 one dollar bills from the drink machine at Mystick Market. He has admitted to taking that money."

Lieutenant Leffew says he is grateful for the cooperation between the city police and county sheriff's departments in this investigation."I would like to extend my gratitude to Sheriff Ray and County Detective Billings for their assistance in this matter. I'm very pleased with the combined effort of the police department and the sheriff's department in bringing this case to a close."

Lieutenant Leffew also commended Smithville Police Officers Estes and Holmes for their part in solving the crimes.

The armed robbery at the Page residence was reported to central dispatch at 4:49 a.m. Friday morning.

Smithville Police Officer Scott Davis, in his report that morning, states "I was dispatched to 826 Anthony Avenue in reference to a robbery. Upon my arrival, I made contact with the complainant, W.J. Page who stated that he was going to his garage when an unknown male with a mask and a camouflage coat came out from behind his truck and pointed something at him and stated "give me your money, wallet, watch" or words to that affect. Mr. Page stated that he threw his watch toward him and started running toward his house. Mr. Page stated that the suspect ran toward J.E. Evins Avenue. A search of the area by Sergeant Joey Jones and Deputy Barrett and myself (Davis) could not locate the suspect."

The suspect was described as a male, 5' 9 to 5' 10 inches tall, average build, wearing a mask, a camo jacket, and possibly armed with an unknown type of gun/knife.

DCHS Basketball Cheerleaders Win State Championship

December 8, 2009

The DeKalb County Basketball Cheerleaders have won the 2009 TSSAA State Cheer Non-Building Championship. The competition was held Saturday at MTSU's Murphy Center.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) began the State Cheerleading Championship in 1998. Since the first competition, the DeKalb County Basketball Cheerleaders have competed each year. During the last five years, they have won four State Cheer Championships.

The preparation for competition level performances began in July when the local cheerleaders participated in a Cheerleaders of America (COA) Cheer Camp. At the camp, Kendra Foutch and Amanda Ours were each named All American Cheerleaders, a prestigious award based on cheer skills, spirit, and leadership. Other awards presented at the camp were:

Best Gymnastics: Kendra Foutch,
Most Spirited: Amanda Ours,
Cheerleadership: Caroline Carter,
Best Stunter: Sydney Robinson,
Best Jumps: Jasmine Dimas.

The squad also a received a bid to perform during half-time at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on January 1, 2010 based on a camp evaluation of their cheer skills, spirit, work ethic, and enthusiasm. However, due to commitments to family, school, and basketball, the cheer squad will not be making the trip to Orlando for the New Year's Day bowl game.

As school began, the cheer squad practiced relentlessly in improving their cheer techniques to prepare for another state championship bid. In November, the cheerleaders learned their 2009 competition routine which is high energy and focuses on cheer skills and other abilities that encourage crowd participation. They use poms, signs, and megaphones to add variety to their routine and enhance the pride of being a DCHS Tiger.

After placing 2nd in the UCA Tennessee Extreme Regional on November 21st, the routine underwent some tweaking to improve it's visual effects, performance, and energy and all the perseverance and hard work has paid off with another state championship for the local cheerleaders

The members of the DCHS Basketball Cheerleading squad are Captains and Seniors: Amanda Ours, Kendra Foutch, and Caroline Carter;
Sophomores: Christian Atnip, Jasmine Dimas, Allyson Judkins, Allison Little, Cora Beth Rhody, Sydney Robinson, Ashlee Whitehead;
Freshmen: Destiny Caldwell, Erin Cantrell-Pryor, Kelsey Hale, Emily Webb.

Aldermen Rule Against Richard Jennings- Police Chief Loses his Job

December 7, 2009
Dwayne Page
Murfreesboro attorney Kerry Knox (left)with Richard Jennings(right)
Faye Fuqua Speaks in Support of Richard Jennings

The Smithville board of aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, upheld the city discipline board's decision last month to terminate Police Chief Richard Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence following a hearing Monday night at city hall.

Aldermen W.J. (Dub) White, Steve White, Shawn Jacobs, and Aaron Meeks all voted for termination. Alderman Cecil Burger, saying he lacked enough information, did not vote.

At the beginning of the hearing, Jennings' attorney Kerry Knox of Murfreesboro, asked that Meeks recuse himself from voting since, as police commissioner, he is the one who initiated the suspension of Chief Jennings and is a member of the three man discipline board who voted to terminate Jennings. " I think it is inappropriate for Mr. Meeks to be a voting member on this decision. I think we all know Mr. Meeks was the police commissioner who affected this termination. I don't think it gives any appearance of impartiality by this board for Mr. Meeks to be a voting member on this decision. We know where he stands and it's not fair for him to stand as both accuser and judge in this case. So for that reason I would ask that Mr. Meeks recuse in this vote."

Meeks did not recuse himself from voting.

Knox wanted to question Meeks, about the allegations raised against Jennings, but Mayor Taft Hendrixson and City Attorney Vester Parsley would not permit it, saying this was not a court of law. Knox protested saying that the board would be denying his client due process by not being able to question his accuser. "I suggest that's all we can do in this case (question Meeks) because we don't know what these allegations mean, where they come from, and what the basis is for them. So without any further explanation from Mr. Meeks about what this means and how we're supposed to respond, I don't know how to do that without having Mr. Meeks explain to this board what these allegations mean and where they come from. I'm prepared to let Chief Jennings speak on these issues but I think it would be appropriate for a response from Mr. Meeks to tell us how these allegations are substantiated because the employees of the city of Smithville can only be terminated for cause. That means you have to give us a good reason why this termination is justified. We don't have to explain to you why it's unjustified."

Knox added "It is a denial of due process. We can't respond to allegations if we don't know what they are or where they come from. We'll do our best to respond but I'm putting you on notice that we consider this a denial of due process when you're looking at the subjectivity contained in this document and somehow that is supposed to rise to the level of cause."

Knox then reviewed each of the eleven allegations against Jennings and allowed him to give an answer to them. Afterwards, Knox again renewed his objection to Meeks voting on this matter and the mayor and city attorney's refusal to allow him to question Meeks. "I think it's unfortunate and candidly unconstitutional that we're forced to stand up here and tear down a paper tiger that you created without hearing from the accuser on the justification for this sundry list of reasons that Chief Jennings was terminated so for that reason I would encourage the board, if they're not going to let me question him, for the board to question him and again, I renew my objection to him (Meeks) participating in this decision because if we're going to give at least the outward appearance that this board is impartial and is going to consider these decisions on it's own it can't do so with the participation of Mr. Meeks."

Alderman Jacobs bristled at Knox's remarks. " I'd like to say I'm personally offended by the accusation that this board does not know what's going on absent Mr. Meeks. Most of these gentlemen have been on the board for several years. I'm a newbie. I think it is ludicrous to say that the board is not aware of any of these allegations beside Mr. Meeks. I think every person on this board has gone to Mr. Jennings and begged him to make certain changes in the department in regard to drug interdiction and crime investigation which has virtually been zero for sometime in this community. I personally like Mr. Jennings very much and I hate it has come to this. I can assure you that this is about policy. It is not about politics and it is most certainly not about personality because I have a great deal of affection for Mr. Jennings. I hate the situation has come to this. I have prayed and I have prayed and I have prayed that this board will make the right decision, probably to the neglect of other things I should have prayed about. This is not a rush to judgment. This is something that some members of this board have been working on for many years before the newest members have been selected. I am very much troubled and offended that anyone would accuse this board of doing anything that is less than altruistic and certainly not above board. This is a very hard job to make a decision like this. I don't want to take a vote on this either way. If it were up to me we wouldn't be voting either way but it's come to this and I hate it. I thoroughly reject some of the comments about the board that have been made tonight and about Mr. Meeks in particular."

Alderman Steve White added " I would also like to echo a lot of what Mr. Jacobs has said. I do hate that it has come to this situation and gone this far."

Aldermen Cecil Burger, who is also former city employee and mayor, briefly mentioned his long time association with Jennings." Richard and I have worked together a long time and I hope we're friends. When I was mayor I had to call him in the office different times to discuss things. We've worked together and don't start trying to tell me how he operates or what he does or when he does it. We've been together long enough that we know each other and how we operate."

Alderman W.J. (Dub) White said he too has known Jennings for many years. "I've known Richard since back in the 60's and I have worked with him at the city since the 90's. I like Richard as a person. I hate it has come to this."

Prior to the hearing, three city residents spoke in support of Jennings

Faye Fuqua said Jennings has been an effective and professional chief. "He has cultivated a staff of professional officers. He has been fair and hard working and an even handed chief. We question whether this is a justified dismissal or maybe a personal conflict between the police commissioner, Mr. Meeks and Chief Jennings. To date there has been no evidence to support such a dismissal. If there is such evidence, why has it not been presented? Tonight we are asking you, our board of aldermen to do the right thing and to right this terrible wrong. There is a petition that is being circulated (that reads) ‘Police Chief Richard Jennings has served Smithville with honor and distinction since 1986. He is respected by other officers. He enforces the law without fear or favor, never succumbing to petty political pressures. Chief Jennings has earned the overwhelming support of our community'. Many people have responded to this petition and all will have an opportunity to give him their support on this written petition."

Lloyd Black also defended Jennings, saying this was just a political move." I really think this is just old politics being renewed. It's not a good thing. We have a good chief. We have a good police department. Things are going great. I sleep well at night and I want to continue to sleep well at night. I just think this is a mistake. You need to think it over and look at it really hard because we don't want to do the wrong thing and get the wrong person in here. We've been there. I think we'd better stick with what we've got.'

Fay Cantrell added "I think you all are doing Richard Jennings bad, and I mean bad."

With the vote going against Jennings, his only recourse now may be in a court of law. Knox says he and Jennings have not yet made a decision on their next course of action.

On Thursday, November 12th Jennings was suspended without pay pending termination and Lieutenant Steven Leffew was named "Officer in Charge" of the department until the issue with the chief position is settled.

Jennings says he was called to the mayor's office at city hall that afternoon where he was given the news. Those present were Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson.

Meeks signed the notice of suspension with the verbal concurrence of the mayor. Hunter Hendrixson was not involved in the decision. The reasons for the suspension were read to Jennings and he was given a written copy.

The notice of suspension read as follows "You (Jennings) are being suspended for the following reason- dereliction of duties/negligence.

1. In the past two years, as Police Chief, you have not developed a comprehensive plan to combat crime problems in the City of Smithville, as evidenced by your admission to the board at the workshop of September 14th, 2009. You have not reached out to other agencies for help in combating these problems.

2. You were given two additional officers by the previous board with your promise that you then would be able to do drug investigations. To date, this has not happened.

3. At the workshop on September 14th, 2009, you did not know how many officers you had employed in the department, as evidenced by the CD of the meeting.

4. You have 4 or 5 officers-including yourself and the investigator-on duty on the day shift. You could have used some of these officers to work drug operations.

5. Your claim that the police department's budget has been cut is not substantiated by the 2008-09 city budget. In fact, there was an increase in the police department's budget over the previous year's budget. Also, your claim that all of your overtime has been cut is not true. You are still having overtime in your department.

6. There has been little progress made toward having a better-trained Police Force in specialized areas.

7. Community relations between your office and the public have deteriorated over the last two years.

8. You have not been a "working chief" out patrolling, issuing traffic tickets, answering calls for service, and making arrests.

9. You have authorized the use of a police vehicle for the transportation of civilians out of the area of authority of the Smithville Police Department.

10. It is the responsibility of all department heads to be available for call out at all times. You advised that you turn off your city cell phone when you leave for the day.

11. You have demonstrated lack of adequate supervision of officers.

On Tuesday, November 17th, the City of Smithville's discipline board met briefly at city hall and by a vote of 2 to 1, dismissed Chief Jennings.

Members of the board, Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks and Mayor Taft Hendrixson both voted in concurrence with the suspension and termination. Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson voted against.

After the vote, Jennings requested a hearing before the entire board of aldermen at the December 7th city council meeting to appeal the termination.

The decision Monday night by the aldermen was final. Jennings is terminated.

Meanwhile, in other business, the aldermen approved the promotion of Patrolman Randy King to Sergeant and Patrolman Travis Bryant to Corporal.

Mayor Hendrixson added that January 26th is the tentative bid opening for water plant project.


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