Local News Articles

TDOT Re-designs Sligo Bridge Project Hoping to Reach Agreement with Marina

August 16, 2012
Dwayne Page

Officials of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, working toward right of way acquisition for construction of a new Sligo bridge, have re-designed plans for the proposed project hoping to address concerns to the satisfaction of Sligo Marina.

paul degges from dwayne page on Vimeo.
During a Projects Bus Tour Thursday at Hurricane Bridge, TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges told WJLE that a new offer will soon be made to the marina for the right of way and if all goes well, construction could be underway by next spring. "We have one property owner that we're dealing with on the project and it's the United States government through the Corps of Engineers," said Degges. "They have a lease with a marina (Sligo Marina). We're working with the Corps of Engineers but we will actually make an offer to the marina. Of course, we're not quite there yet but we're finishing up all our appraisal work to be able to go back to the marina (with an offer)," he said.

In previous interviews with WJLE, Degges has said one of the major concerns is that the marina owners want the state to pay for "potential loss of business"to them during the construction of the bridge. The problem is the state cannot legally pay for those types of damages. "They're wanting to be paid for some things. In particular, he (lessee) wants to be paid for some potential loss of business due to loss of some of his parking and the impact of construction. Under state law in Tennessee, we (TDOT) are prohibited from paying those types of damages" said Degges

Normally, when an agreement cannot be reached on right of way acquisition, the state can resort to imminent domain proceedings. But in this case, condemnation is not an option because the state cannot condemn federal property.

"We originally designed the project from what we understood were to be the ways we would least impact the marina," said Degges on Thursday. "But when we ended up going to the marina and talking to them about how we planned on delivering the project, they really weren't all that happy with it so we've been trying to work with them. We've kind of gone back and looked at our design and we've listened to the marina (owners) and some of the concerns they have. We've tried to re-design the project to meet some of the things they've got concerns about. The bridge is actually going to be designed pretty much the same but we have gone back and looked at how we would build the bridge. We're going to be going back through the Corps of Engineers to the marina and making a new offer to them on the right of way impacts due to the construction of the project. We hope to have that to them in the very near future. Hopefully it will be more in the realm of what the marina is actually looking for which will allow us to get on with the project. Hopefully we'll get everything resolved and be able to get under contract after New Years," said Degges

The Sligo project, which was funded in the 2011-12 state budget, calls for replacement of the existing overhead truss bridge which is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The new bridge will be located a few feet to the north of the existing bridge, which will remain open to traffic during construction. The new bridge will be a continuous welded plate girder design with a composite concrete deck slab and will be 1,545 feet in length. The project typical section is two-12 foot lanes with 10 foot shoulders. The total estimated cost of the project including engineering, right of way, and construction is $31-million.

"We're going to build what we call a steel plate girder bridge with a concrete deck," said Degges. " Right now, the bridge is a truss. The truss has quite a bit of age on it. The steel of that vintage, when it starts to deteriorate, deteriorates pretty fast. So its time for us to put a new bridge in there. The bridge is somewhat narrow. The new bridge we're going to put in here will have twelve foot lanes and ten foot shoulders. It will be what most people would consider a traditional bridge in that the beams of this bridge will be under the deck. One of the challenges here is that the water is over one hundred feet deep at this location which makes the construction of the bridge somewhat more challenging. Just think about trying to pour concrete one hundred feet under water. Its a pretty tough proposition. We don't have a whole lot of that type of work in Tennessee, but we do have some. We'll build the new bridge adjacent to the existing bridge. It's a vital artery for this part of the state of Tennessee. DeKalb County is very interested in this project. This county is split by the river and transportation is a key component of the economy there. So we want to make sure we get this bridge replaced before we have to do any additional repair work to the bridge," added Degges.

In addition to Degges, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer was on the Projects Bus Tour Thursday along with other TDOT officials, State Senator Mae Beavers, and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

WJLE's Fearless Forecasters Returning August 30

August 16, 2012
Dwayne Page
John Pryor, Jeff James, Joe Goodwin
Ricky Atnip, Scott Brown, and Darvin Gill
Joe Goodwin, Darrell Gill, and Chad Kirby

WJLE's "Fearless Forecasters" are returning for another season of college pigskin prognosticating Thursday afternoon's at 4:30 p.m. beginning August 30.

This season's regulars are Dewain Hendrixson, Scott Brown, Chad Kirby, Jeff James, Ricky Atnip, John Pryor, Joe Goodwin, and Darvin Gill. A different special guest will make an appearance each week. Tim Stribling will be our guest on the first show.

The "Fearless Forecasters" pick who they believe will win in fifteen of the biggest or most interesting college football games of the week.

They also make an underdog selection each week, picking a team they think will win, even though that team is not favored to win.

The program is sponsored by Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Ace Hardware, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, DeKalb County Insurance, Pizza Hut, and the Charles D. Atnip Realty & Auction Company.

Catch the "Fearless Forecasters" LIVE on WJLE Thursday's at 4:30 p.m. starting August 30.

DUD Awarded ARC Grant for Water Treatment Plant Project

August 16, 2012
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb Utility District has received another grant to help fund the construction of its own water treatment plant.

DUD officials Thursday morning announced the funding of the Appalachian Regional Commission grant award in the amount of $500,000. The grant was written by the Upper Cumberland Development District and will be administered by Rural Development. This grant is in addition to funding already approved for the project.

The grant will go to help fund part of the DeKalb Utility District Raw Water Intake Project. The project consists of the construction of a raw water intake, raw water transmission line, water treatment plant and finished water lines for the District.

The DeKalb Utility District has purchased land near Holmes Creek Road on which to construct the water treatment plant. The raw water intake structure will be on Center Hill Lake at Holmes Creek.

After completion of this project, the DeKalb Utility District will only need to purchase a limited amount of water from the City of Smithville, according to DUD officials. This will provide additional water storage capacity to its customers and industries in the event of an emergency. The DeKalb Utility District has approximately 5,137 customers. DUD officials said they are very pleased that this project will help serve their customers' more efficiently.

In May, the DUD board adopted a bond resolution for the authorization and issuance of not to exceed $9-million 250-thousand dollars in aggregate principal amount of waterworks revenue refunding and improvement bonds for the water treatment plant project.

The DUD will receive a $5,000,000 loan and a grant of $1,250,000 to fund construction of the water plant. The terms of the loan are forty years at 2.75% interest. The remaining amount needed to build the $10.5 million facility will be funded through the bond issue. DUD Board Chairman Roger Turney said that the DUD is also refinancing other loans to save money. "In this loan and grant we have applied for, we're refinancing some of the loans we already have at a savings of over $400,000 on the money that we have right now because of the historically low interest rates," he said.

Petitions signed by opponents of the water plant project have been sent to state officials asking for a review, hoping they will find no need for the project and block the sale of bonds to help fund it.

Watertown Man and Former Resident of DeKalb County Remains Missing

August 16, 2012
Dwayne Page
David Riemans

The family of a Watertown man who went missing last Wednesday are becoming more concerned with each passing day and they are asking for your help in offering any clues you may have as to his whereabouts.

According to family members, 60 year old David Riemans, a stone mason by trade who once lived in DeKalb County, was to meet a contractor about a job on Wednesday, August 8. The two were apparently driving to a construction site together, but no one has heard from David since last Wednesday, and his Ford pickup truck is still sitting at the Dollar General in Watertown.

Police don't believe David's disappearance is suspicious, but his friends think he may have gotten into a car accident somewhere. Riemans is originally from Michigan.

In an email to WJLE, Julie McManus, David's former wife, wrote that "David Riemens was a resident of DeKalb County for many years prior to moving to Watertown a few years ago. Many people in and around Smithville and Alexandria know him, and he is known for his rock work as a stone mason in the entire area. I am also a former resident of DeKalb County and Smithville, where I lived for 20 years," wrote McManus

"We are desperate for ANY information about the older man he is believed to have left Watertown with last Wednesday, August 8th, at around noon, or the contractor they were going to see at an unknown construction site believed to be in a 20-mile radius of Watertown. No one knows the name of either man, and without that information, no one knows where to even begin searching for him," she wrote

"We fear that he is injured and in need of medical attention. In fact, we believe that there may be two men in need of medical attention, one of whom has yet to be missed by his family. It is crucial that we find them immediately if there is to be a chance of survival for either man. We are hoping that someone will come forward with some information that will help lead us to the contractor they were going to see so that search teams will know where to look," wrote McManus

"We need someone to come forward with information about the identities of these two men he is believed to have been with. Anyone with ANY information that could be helpful to us should call the Wilson County Sheriff's Department at 444-1412 or the Watertown Police Department at 237-2334," she concluded.

Three Arrested on Charges in Grand Jury Sealed Indictments

August 16, 2012
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has arrested three people on sealed indictments returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury earlier this month.

Chief Randy Caplinger said Timmy Harvey George is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance while Micah Murphy and 65 year old Walter Ray Pedigo are co-indicted on charges of sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance in a drug free zone.

The indictment against George states that on or about January 9, George and a co-defendant knowingly sold and delivered a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid). The co-defendant in the case has not yet been served with the indictment.

The indictments against Murphy and Pedigo state that on or about November 10, 2011, Murphy and Pedigo knowingly sold and delivered a schedule II controlled substance (Dilaudid) within one thousand feet of a school.

In other cases, 44 year old Greta Higgins is cited for simple possession of schedule V, IV, and II controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court on August 16. Chief Caplinger said that on Tuesday, August 7 an officer responded to a call at Walmart where someone had passed out in a pickup truck parked in the fire lane. When the officer arrived, he found the woman, Higgins, awake. She told him that she was on probation. After receiving consent to search the truck, the officer found the pills along with a straw and a metal pill container.

51 year old David Petty is cited for shoplifting. He will be in court on August 16. Chief Caplinger said that on Thursday August 2, an officer responded to Walmart. Upon arrival, an employee told the officer that he had seen Petty remove his shoes and put on a pair of new boots from the store. Petty placed his own shoes in the box and tried to leave the store wearing the boots. He was stopped by store employees. Petty did not have a receipt for the boots.

20 year old Sonny Smith is cited for simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana). He will be in court on August 23. Chief Caplinger said Smith was a passenger of a vehicle which was stopped by police for a traffic violation. The officer checked both the driver and passenger and found on Smith, a small baggie in his pants containing marijuana.

45 year old Rhonda Potter is cited for shoplifting. She will be in court on August 23. According to Chief Caplinger, Potter was in Food Lion where she was seen concealing several items in her purse. As she was leaving, the officer stopped Potter and found the stolen items from the store in her purse.

32 year old Misty Dawn Barnes Goff is cited for simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. She will be in court on September 13. Chief Caplinger said that on Saturday, August 11 two officers were conducting a consent to search on a vehicle when they found a small brown bottle containing a substance believed to be methamphetamine. When questioned by police, Goff said the drug was given to her by a friend earlier that day.

25 year old Tricia Pollard is cited for shoplifting. She will be in court on September 13. Chief Caplinger said Pollard was observed at Walmart putting items from the store in her purse. As she tried to leave, Pollard was stopped by an officer who found the merchandise in her purse.

40 year old Jeffery Lynn Spears and 40 year old Jerry Hastings are each charged with theft of property. Hastings is also charged with evading arrest. Bond for Spears is $5,000. Hastings' bond is $7,500. Both will appear in court on August 23. Both are accused of trying to steal 32 inch television sets from Walmart. According to Chief Caplinger, the two men and a woman arrived at the store together in the same vehicle on Saturday, August 11. Each man got a shopping cart and loaded a 32 inch TV. As Spears and Hastings left the store, they rolled out their carts hauling the TVs, without paying for the sets. When confronted by police, Spears began to run but then stopped. Hastings continued to flee on foot toward Anthony Avenue, but was apprehended by police.

35 year old Wesley Chandler is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on August 23. Chief Caplinger said that on Wednesday, August 8 Chandler was operating a motor vehicle when he wrecked. The investigating officer noticed that Chandler's speech was very slurred and that he was unsteady on his feet. Chandler told the officer that he had been taking Loratab. He has a DUI case pending against him in General Sessions Court. Chandler was unable to successfully perform a field sobriety task

43 year old William A. Cantrell is charged with theft. He is under a $2,500 bond and he will be in court on August 16. Chief Caplinger said that on Tuesday, August 7 Cantrell allegedly tried unsuccessfully to cash a money order at Walmart in the amount of $100. The money order was taken from a vehicle belonging to Amanda Moss without her consent.

42 year old Morris Edward Knowles is charged with simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. His bond is $2,000 and he will be in court August 30. According to Chief Caplinger, police responded to Walmart on Sunday, August 5 where a man had warrants against him for his arrest. Police confronted the man, Knowles, who became visibly edgy. He began removing items from his pockets, handing them over to his wife. Inside a cigarette pack, the officer found a small bag which contained a white powdery substance believed to be meth.

52 year old Tracy Veach is charged with a fourth offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on August 30. Veach was also cited for violation of the implied consent law. Chief Caplinger said that on Saturday, August 4 an officer saw a vehicle traveling east on East Broad Street. It appeared that neither the driver nor the passenger were wearing seatbelts. Veach, the driver, was stopped for a traffic violation. While speaking to Veach, the officer noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage. Veach had very slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on field sobriety tasks but refused to submit to a voluntary blood alcohol test.

Controlled Drug Buys Result in Charges Against Two Women, More Arrests Expected

August 15, 2012
Dwayne Page
Belinda Harriett Harness
Lisa Michelle Porterfield

A drug investigation by the Sheriff's Department has resulted in charges against two women with more arrests expected soon.

53 year old Belinda Harriett Harness and 35 year old Lisa Michelle Porterfield, both of Tami Kay Road, Dowelltown were arrested Monday, August 13 by the sheriff's department.

Harness is charged with two counts of possession of a schedule II drug for resale (dilaudid and methamphetamine). Harness was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of a schedule III drug (hydrocodone). Her bond is $30,000 and she will be in court on August 30.

Porterfield is charged with one count of possession of a schedule II drug for resale (dilaudid). Porterfield was further issued a citation for driving on a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $25,000 and she will be in court August 30

According to Sheriff Ray, a search warrant was drawn up and executed at the home of Porterfield at 166 Tami Kay Road after drug detectives of the sheriff's department were able to make some controlled drug buys from there. Harness was present at the home when officers arrived to serve the search warrant.

While executing the search warrant Monday, detectives found in the master bedroom, two baggies that field tested positive for methamphetamine, a schedule II drug. Approximately twenty one hypodermic needles were also found along with four yellow pills, believed to be hydrocodone (a schedule III drug), three straws, one spoon, and two pieces of aluminum foil used for smoking. Harness produced from her body cavity, a bottle containing twenty one dilaudid pills, a schedule II drug. She was arrested and taken to the jail for booking.

Porterfield was arrested Monday during a traffic stop on King Ridge Road. An officer of the Sheriff's Department, having prior knowledge that her license were suspended, pulled over Porterfield. She was driving an automobile belonging to Belinda Harness, that the sheriff's department intended to seize. Porterfield, who is on probation, gave the officer consent to search. Found in her purse were a pill bottle containing four dilaudid pills (a schedule II drug), one needle, two straws, and $147 in cash. She was arrested and taken to the jail. A computer check confirmed her drivers license was suspended.

Meanwhile, the search of Porterfield's home turned up twenty one yellow dilaudid pills, which were seized, along with a digital camera, four cell phones, $123 in cash taken from Harness, a baggie containing a white rock which field tested positive for methamphetamine, two pieces of burned aluminum foil, a bottle of water which was believed to be used to dilute the pills so they could be injected, four straws, a spoon, four hydrocodone pills, and a box containing eight needles, a 2003 Ford Explorer belonging to Harness, $147 taken from Porterfield.

Sheriff Ray said if you know of anyone dealing in drugs or who may be involved in other crimes, please contact the sheriff's department's crime tip line. "We encourage anyone to call us if they have knowledge or are suspicious of anyone selling drugs. Our crime tip line is available, not only to report the illegal sale of drugs, but any other sort of crime. That number is 464-6400. You're encouraged to call that number and report any tips you may have that could help solve a crime," he said.

Puckett Named to Fill Vacancy on Election Commission

August 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Richard Hearon Puckett

A vacancy on the DeKalb County Election Commission has been filled.

The Tennessee Election Commission Monday appointed Richard Hearon Puckett to fill the unexpired term of Kenneth Moore, who died recently

Moore had served as one of the democratic members of the commission since 1980. His term expires next April.

Puckett, who served 42 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will join Harry Lasser as the two democratic members of the local election commission. Lasser has served since his appointment in April, 2011. Moore had also been re-appointed to another term at that time.

During his years with the Corps, Puckett served as Ranger at Center Hill Lake, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Nashville District Office, Resource Manager at Old Hickory, Cordell Hull, and Center Hill Lake, Area Manager for the Mid-Cumberland Area which included Cordell Hull, Dale Hollow, and Center Hill Lakes, and finally as Operations Manager for the Mid-Cumberland area. He retired from the Corps in 2005.

Puckett and his wife Ann have two daughters, Tecia and Mary Ann along with four grandchildren. Tecia is married to John Pryor. Mary Ann's husband is Jack Barton. Over the years, Puckett has been involved in the Gideons International and other activities. He has been a member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors, the National Forester's Association, and the Society of American Military Engineers.

The other three members of the local election commission are republicans including Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, and Jim Dean. They were all reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission in April 2011. Vanatta and Dean are in their second terms. Parker has served since 1992.

Student-Directed IEP Training Offered Under Partnership with The Arc

August 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education

DeKalb County Schools and The Arc Tennessee have partnered to offer Student-Directed IEP Training to students between the ages of 14-22 who receive special education services. This training is part of a grant funded by The Walmart Foundation. DeKalb County Schools were selected as a site for this project because of their commitment to offer best practices to their students who receive special education services.

Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education, said an informational meeting about the project is scheduled for Monday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the high school. You are encouraged to attend the meeting to learn more about this project and how it can help your child. Refreshments will be served. A door prize drawing will be held for students.

The goal of the Student-Directed IEP Training is to teach students to lead their own IEP meetings to the extent that they are able, increasing the chance that the IEP truly reflects the student's needs and wants. This Student-Directed IEP Training project is unique because students, parents/guardians, and teachers receive the introductory training as a group. This piece of the project is very important because key members of the IEP team will receive important information at the same time and begin building a spirit of teamwork at the outset of the year,

DeKalb County Schools and The ARC Tennessee are seeking students and parents/guardians interested in being a part of this training project. Much research has been done on Student-Directed IEP's that shows noticeable growth in the students' abilities to make choices and think more concretely about their futures. You will have the opportunity to be the only people in Tennessee to experience this training process and see the improvements in the students this year.

Two Arrested in Home Burglary on Johnson Chapel Road

August 13, 2012
Dwayne Page
William Richard Denton
Travis Marcus Melton

Two men were arrested last week in a recent home burglary on Johnson Chapel Road.

21 year old William Richard Denton and 20 year old Travis Marcus Melton, both of Johnson Chapel Road, Sparta are each charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Bond for each is $10,000 and they will be in court on August 23.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Melton allegedly broke into a residence on Johnson Chapel Road Sunday, July 29. Entry was made through a back window. Items taken in the burglary were gold chains, gold bracelet, rings, several handguns, and ammo, together valued at more than $1,000. According to Sheriff Ray, Denton assisted Melton in the burglary and gave him the combination to a safe where the guns were kept. Denton then allegedly sold the stolen items taken from the home. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department. Denton was arrested on Tuesday, August 7. Melton was arrested the following day.

33 year old Paul Allen Willingham of Smithville is charged with introduction of drugs into a penal institution. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 10, Willingham came to the jail to serve a weekend sentence. Upon a search of the crotch area of his underwear, officers found three cellophane wrappers with pieces of xanax and twelve whole xanax pills, which is a schedule IV drug. The case was investigated by drug detectives of the sheriff's department.

39 year old Rogelio Rivera Palomo of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for violation of the open container law, failure to exercise due care, violation of the implied consent law, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), and failure to maintain his lane of travel His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on August 23. Sheriff Ray said that Palomo was involved in a one car crash on Saturday, August 11. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Palomo performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and refused to submit to a blood test. There were several empty beer bottles and one full bottle in his vehicle. Palomo was arrested for DUI. He refused to consent to blood alcohol test.

27 year old Michael Brandon Redmon of Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on September 13. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 4, a deputy responded to Highway 56 north in reference to a person who may have been involved in a burglary earlier in the night. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with Redmon, who was very unsteady on his feet. His speech was also very slurred. Due to his walking on the roadway and being under the influence, Redmon was placed under arrest in the interest of his safety and for the safety of the public.

DeKalb County 4-H Excels at State Roundup

August 13, 2012
April B. Martin, Extension Agent
DeKalb County 4-H Excels at State 4-H Roundup
Kayley Green

DeKalb County was well represented at the State 4-H Roundup/All-Star Conference held recently at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Roundup is a state high school level event for 4-H members competing in project areas. To get to this level, 4-Hers must complete a portfolio and be one of five state finalists. At Roundup, they are required to do an interview along with a project display or resume.

Kayley Green, a junior at DeKalb County High School, received the Family and Consumer Science Leadership Award and will be attending National 4-H Congress this fall. Cassie Cain competed in the veterinary science project and Lydia Trail competed in the photography project and both received participation awards. Matthew Cain attended Roundup as an All-Star delegate and Hailey Perry attended as the State 4-H All-Star Scribe. Elizabeth Sanders attended in the role of State 4-H Council Member at Large.

State elections are also held while at Roundup. Kayley Green was elected as the Central Region Senior Representative on the State 4-H Council.

Another major event that occurs while at 4-H Roundup is the Vol State ceremony. Vol State is the highest level of recognition a Tennessee 4-H member may achieve. Vol State is presented to high school juniors and seniors in recognition of excellence in all phases of 4-H work, as well as service and leadership rendered in their communities. Kayley Green was presented with the Vol State Award.

More information about 4-H Roundup can be found at http://www.utextension.utk.edu/4H/roundup/index.htm. The University of Tennessee Extension offers all its programs to everyone in the community, regardless of race, sex, national origin or ethnicity.

(TOP PHOTO: DeKalb County 4-H members attending the 2012 Tennessee 4-H Congress were (left to right): Elizabeth Sanders, Kayley Green, Matthew Cain, Hailey Perry, Lydia Trail, and Cassie Cain)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Vol State 4-H Recipient Kayley Green)


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