Local News Articles

Sheriff Ray Named to Open Records Counsel

November 5, 2010
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray


Sheriff Patrick Ray will represent the Tennessee Sheriff's Association as a member of the Open Records Counsel.

The counsel serves as the contact for concerns on access to local government public records under the Tennessee Public Records Act. The Office assists in obtaining public records from local government, both in guiding citizens to correct offices/officials and in working to resolve disputes regarding access to public records. The Office promotes education and awareness of the Tennessee public records and open meetings laws through direct outreach and through coordination with existing organizations. This effort is addressed both to citizens and to local governments.

"I feel very honored to have been chosen to serve on the Open Records Counsel as a representative of the Tennessee Sheriff's Association", said Sheriff Ray.

The responsibilities of the Office include: answering questions and providing information to public officials and the public regarding public records; collecting data on open meetings law inquires and problems; providing educational outreach on open records laws and open meetings laws; issuing informal advisory opinions on open records issues; informally mediating and assisting with the resolution of issues concerning records; working in conjunction with the Advisory Committee on Open Government on open meetings and open records issues; and developing forms, schedule, policies, and guidelines.

Operation Medicine Cabinet Presciption Drug Take Back Program set for Saturday

November 5, 2010
Dwayne Page

Operation Medicine Cabinet, a prescription drug take back program, will be held Saturday, November 6th from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the old Smithville Food Center parking lot on South Congress Boulevard in Smithville.

The event is sponsored by the DeKalb Prevention Coalition.

Gingie Braswell, member of the Coalition and Director of Human Resources at DeKalb Community Hospital, urges you to participate. "We want to invite everyone to bring all of their unused, unwanted or expired medications for safe disposal."

"You may ask, why should we participate?. This gives us an opportunity to have collected medications disposed of in an environmentally safe method. Pharmaceuticals have been found in our drinking water due to their disposal down house drains. So many times we don't know how to dispose of these drugs. We're looking for prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications and capsules. We really do not want to accept the liquid medications or syringes at this time."

"Every day almost 2,500 teens abuse a prescription medication for the first time and the medicine cabinet in their homes and the homes of their friends are the major sources for these drugs."

"We think this is a wonderful program. Our DeKalb Prevention Coalition is a new program and we're very happy that this is one of the first projects that we're presenting for the community. We're also working with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the Smithville Police Department, and the Alexandria Police Department, with assistance from the Wal-mart Pharmacy, the City of Smithville, and the Office of the DeKalb County Mayor."

Jim Hendrixson, Director of the DeKalb Prevention Coalition, said this event is being held as part of the"Upper Cumberland Operation Medicine Cabinet Month." "Most of the other counties in the Upper Cumberland region are doing theirs on the same day. Two or three of them (counties) will be doing them later in the month. We will identify the drugs, that's where the pharmacy comes in. We'll divide the drugs into controlled and non-controlled type substances. From there, they'll be collected and the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be transporting them to a crematory either in Putnam County or White County. We request that the drugs be brought in their original containers. There will be someone there to take the labels off the containers. No one will know who is turning in what. Someone will be there to make sure your name is not on the container when it's passed on."

"We really want to urge everyone to partake of this opportunity. There's a lot of reasons to do this. We want to get the temptation out of the way for the youth. There's chances of accidental ingestion by younger children. And if people (thieves) know you have drugs in your house, they're more likely to want to enter your house."

"We're part of a national and statewide organization. Our primary focus is on early intervention and prevention of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use by youth. We have various programs such as this one that we will be putting on in the county to try to improve the situation. We meet the second Tuesday of each month at 5:00 p.m. at Haven of Hope. We're just now getting started and we're recruiting board members every day now."

For more information, call 615-785-1973.

As you adjust your clocks, change smoke alarm batteries

November 5, 2010
Dwayne Page

Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman is reminding Tennesseans to change their smoke alarms’ batteries this weekend when they set back their clocks late Saturday night for central standard time.

“Smoke alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly to ensure they’re providing the proper protection,” says Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman. “Use the extra hour we gain this weekend to make sure your home and family are fire-safe.”

Most home fires occur at night when people are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause people to sleep more deeply, narrowing the chances of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a fire in their home.

Nationally, more than 90 percent of all homes have smoke alarms, but it is estimated that one-third of them don't work because of old or missing batteries. It is critical to replace batteries regularly – even if alarms appear to be working fine. Twice a year is recommended. This reduces the chance of alarms chirping to indicate low batteries. All too often, a battery is removed and not replaced, putting a home’s occupants at risk. There's no way to predict when a fire will occur, so even one night without an operational smoke alarm can be dangerous.
Here are some other helpful hints on the importance of smoke alarms:

• Smoke alarms should be installed in every room where an occupant sleeps, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
• Smoke alarms need to be cleaned and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room, and be sure to teach it to any children who live in the home.
• When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/

Smithville Elementary School Pays Tribute to Veterans

November 4, 2010
Dwayne Page
Featured Guests at SES Veteran's Appreciation Assembly
SES Students Welcome Local Veterans at Assembly Program
SES Students Mailing Letters of Support to Local Veterans

A Veteran's Appreciation assembly program was held Thursday morning at Smithville Elementary School in recognition of Veteran's Day, which is next Thursday, November 11th.

Featured guests included Lieutenant Commander Allan Midgett, retired from the U.S. Navy. He served 25 years and did tours of duty in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.; Sergeant James Evans of the U.S. Army, who has served a tour of duty in Iraq; Sharon Wolford, President of the local Amvets Chapter and State Sergeant at Arms; and Curtis L. Rust, Second Vice Commander of the Department of Tennessee AmVets

Cindy Brody of Partners for Patriots was also on hand to talk about the dogs she trains to assist disabled veterans. Partners for Patriots is a local, non-profit organization headquartered in Liberty.

Meanwhile each class at Smithville Elementary has written letters to more than 85 local
veterans, which were collected today to be mailed to the veterans.

The purpose of the program was to honor veterans and try to instill in these children at an early
age the importance of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to
the service of our country.

Authorities Searching for Missing Rutherford County Man on Center Hill Lake

November 3, 2010
Dwayne Page

A 42 year old Rutherford County man who rented a pontoon boat from Center Hill Marina and set out on the lake Tuesday has gone missing.

Authorities are looking for Joseph Loupe.

Officials of the TWRA, DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department conducted a search on the lake Wednesday afternoon in the general area where Loupe was last seen on Tuesday, about three quarters of a mile from the marina.

According to TWRA Officer Tony Cross, Loupe's boat was spotted unoccupied but still in gear and traveling in a circle, Tuesday afternoon. " He rented the boat around midday Tuesday from Center Hill Marina. Approximately 50 minutes to an hour later, the boat was discovered unoccupied out on the lake, still moving, in gear. He has not been accounted for. Several different agencies are working on it.. We've not officially ruled it a boating accident but we're treating it as such, working side by side with the sheriff's department in DeKalb and Rutherford county."

After getting the boat stopped, an Edgar Evins Marina employee and park ranger began a visual search, scanning the banks and shoreline in the area, before contacting the TWRA.

Officer Cross said there was one sighting of the man on the lake prior to his disappearance. "We had a witness (an employee of Edgar Evins Marina) who saw the rental pontoon and saw that there was a person on board, but he was quite a distance away. He just happened to take notice of it since there is very little boat traffic on the lake right now. He noticed it was a rental pontoon from Center Hill Marina and it looked like one person was on the boat but nothing appeared to be amiss."

TWRA officers scanned the banks by boat throughout the afternoon and dragging operations by the rescue squad continued until dark, but to no avail. The search is being conducted near where the boat was found in about 110-145 feet of water

Officer Cross said the search is expected to resume Thursday. If you have information contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 597-4935.

Natural Gas Prices Expected to Remain Stable this Winter

November 3, 2010
Dwayne Page
Les Enoch

Natural gas customers could see lower home heating costs this winter.

Les Enoch, CEO of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, said prices have stabilized. Couple that with a mild winter and energy conservation, and gas customers could reap the benefits. "Fall light up season is underway and it's a great time to provide a winter update. The information we have at this time is that natural gas prices continue to remain stable due to increased supply, higher production, and robust underground storage balances. As you recall, last winter was significantly colder than normal and we're expecting a return to more seasonable weather. The good news is that the district's rates are at their lowest level in years. If you couple a five percent rate reduction when we expect moderate weather, we have a great opportunity for lower gas bills."

"We want to remind our customers that energy conservation also helps reduce gas bills. The district provides free safety inspections and pilot lightings during this time of the year and we also encourage our customers to take the time to improve insulation, weather stripping, to change their filters, and to keep their thermostats at the lowest possible comfort level. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you save about 3% on your heating bill".

"We're committed to providing quality service and we're well prepared to serve our customers with an abundant supply of clean burning and reliable natural gas. We appreciate our customers and with winter just around the corner, we encourage them to call us at 597-4388 to schedule a free pilot lighting, if they need it, or a safety inspection, if they'd like or to be able to help them with any of their appliance needs before the winter sets in."

Farm Service Agency Committee Elections

November 3, 2010
Dwayne Page

Election ballots for the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency’s local committee election will be mailed to all eligible voters in Local Administrative Area # 3 on Friday, November 5. Ballots must be completed and returned in person or postmarked no later than December 6, 2010.

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, says the farmer-elected committee is your voice in USDA’s programs here in DeKalb County. Members of the committee work with area farmers to maintain the local focus on many USDA programs, inform people of what’s available, and help producers understand how the programs work. Committee members work to help shape national programs into working local programs.

Timmie Adcock was nominated as a candidate and will be the only candidate listed on the ballot. Write-in nominations are accepted and should be written on the official ballot. All candidates must meet eligibility requirements to hold the office on the Committee.

Once eligible voters receive their ballots, careful attention should be given to the instructions provided on the ballot that outline proper procedures for voting in this election. Voters can vote for only 1 nominee listed, or can write-in only 1 eligible candidate on the ballot. A return envelope is provided to seal the ballot. After the voted ballot is placed inside the return envelope, the voter must sign the address label affixed to the outside of the return envelope. Voted ballots can be mailed back to the DeKalb County FSA, or can be hand delivered to the FSA.

“It’s vitally important that we have good participation in our County Committee Elections. We need all eligible voters to take the time to vote and return their ballots. This sends a strong message that our local farmers support the farmer-elected committee system,” says Green. Ballots will be opened and tabulated in a public meeting at the DeKalb County USDA Service Center, located at 647 Bright Hill Rd. in Smithville, at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 7. Contact the DeKalb County FSA office at 597-8225, ext. 2 for more information.

FSA committee elections are open to all voters without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or disability.

Weaver, Beavers Re-elected; Black, and Haslam also Win

November 2, 2010
Dwayne Page
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver
State Senator Mae Beavers
Congresswoman-Elect Diane Black

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver lost DeKalb County by 335 votes but carried Smith and Macon Counties enroute to re-election to a second term and a victory over her Democratic opponent James C. Hale and Independent candidate Pleas Ford.

In DeKalb County, Hale received a total of 2,564 votes (52.8%) to Weaver's 2,229 votes (45.9%) and Ford's 59 votes. Hale carried nine precincts including Alexandria, Church of Christ Annex, Courthouse, Dowelltown, Edgar Evins State Park, Elementary School, Keltonburg, Middle School, and Temperance Hall. Hale also had a majority of the combined early votes/absentees. Weaver carried Blue Springs, Cherry Hill, Johnson's Chapel, Liberty, Rock Castle, and Snow Hill. Hale and Weaver tied at Belk with 56 votes each.

District-wide, Weaver won with a total of 8,369 votes to 6,680 for Hale and 221 for Ford.
In Macon County, Weaver defeated Hale 3,120 to 1,588. Ford had 90 votes
In Smith County, Weaver won with 3,020 votes to 2,528 for Hale and 72 for Ford.



Meanwhile, State Senator Mae Beavers cruised to re-election beating Democratic challenger George McDonald. Beavers carried five of the seven counties in the 17th State Senatorial District. District-wide Beavers won with 35,747 votes to 21,332 for McDonald.

In DeKalb County Beavers received 2,571 votes (55.9%) to 2,025 (44%) for McDonald.

Beavers carried all precincts in DeKalb County except the Church of Christ Annex, where she lost by only 10 votes. She also carried a majority of the combined early votes/absentees.

In the 6th District Congressional race, Republican Diane Black was elected beating Democrat Brett Carter. Black also won in DeKalb County 2,633 (57.7%) to 1,694 (37.1%) for Carter. Black carried all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County and she had a majority of the combined early votes/absentees. Independent candidates with DeKalb County votes included Jim Boyd with 35, Brandon E. Gore 28, Tommy N. Hay 101, David Purcell 35, and Stephen R. Sprague with 26 votes.

Republican Bill Haslam will be the next Governor of Tennessee. He carried all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County and had a majority of the combined early votes/absentees in beating his Democratic opponent Mike McWherter 2,870 (58.3%) to 1,947 (39.6%) Independent candidates for Governor with DeKalb County votes include Bayron Binkley with 18, Brandon Dodds 9, Samuel David Duck 8, David Gatchell 3, June Griffin 2, Toni K. Hall 3, Mike Knois 6, Boyce T. McCall 5, Donald Ray McFolin 7, Linda Kay Perry 5, James Reesor 1, Thomas Smith, II 2, Howard M. Switzer 9, and Carl Twofeathers Whitaker 19.

DeKalb County voters also favored passage of a state Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish in Tennessee. The ballot question prevailed in all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County and received a vast majority of the combined early votes/absentees with 3,791 (93.5%) voting "yes" and 263 (6.4%) voting "no"

A total of 5,009 people voted in DeKalb County including 2,008 early voters/absentees combined and 3,001 on election day.

Aldermen Delay Decision on Golf Course

November 2, 2010
Dwayne Page

If you are interested in operating the Smithville Golf Course and Swimming Pool you have until noon Friday, November 12th to submit a proposal.

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night voted to delay a decision on the golf course until the next meeting, November 15th. That will give interested parties more time to offer a proposal, specifically someone Mayor Taft Hendrixson has talked to, who has asked for more time.

Alderman Steve White said the city needs to act soon."We just keep dragging it out. I think we need to set some type of deadline (on accepting proposals). We've been here for six weeks already. I think after two more weeks we need to make some type of decision on what we're going to do."

Smithville Golf Management LLC submitted their letter of 60 days (notice) for termination to the city on August 24th. The termination became effective on Saturday, October 23rd. The golf course has been closed since Monday, October 25th.

Mayor Hendrixson said he thought it best to close the golf course to the public until the city gets someone over there to run it. "Since no one was over there to run the golf course, I did have some chains put across the entrances (to the golf course) and closed it down last week until we do something. I don't think you can let it stay open to the public with no one over there to see after anything. So I did the best I knew what to do and that's what I did. If the board has any other thing they need to do or wants to do, that's fine. But I didn't know what else to do with it. The utilities have been changed over in our (city) name. I also had some people look at the greens to see what, if anything needed to be done, and to get the water drained out of the irrigation pipes in case it freezes. So that's what's happened over there. As it stands right now, it is closed unless you desire to do something else."

The city has already received proposals from Faron Hendrix and Tony Poss, who are interested in managing the golf course for the city, but Mayor Hendrixson wants to give others a chance to put in a proposal. "I have been in touch with two or three people that has a possible interest in it that are knowledgeable in the golf course business. There is a possibility that they may be interested. They asked me to ask the board to give them just a few days to come up with some sort of proposal, if they are all interested. Both of them been out of town."

Mayor Hendrixson said he wanted to see all proposals before the city makes a decision. " We did get two other proposals from the people that's just given up their lease (Hendrix) but I would like to see all proposals before we make a decision. We already have two people (Hendrix and Poss) with proposals and hopefully we'll have a third one. We'll review them and the board can make a decision.

Alderman Aaron Meeks suggested that the city wait two more weeks to give the people that the mayor has talked to more time to submit a proposal. "Sounds like you (mayor) have done what's necessary at the present time. My opinion is that we leave everything as it stands now until the next meeting."

The board set a deadline for noon, Friday, November 12th for all proposals to be in. Again, the next meeting is Monday, November 15th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Homeless Man Charged with Aggravated Rape of Two Children in Liberty

November 1, 2010
Dwayne Page
Joshua Taylor Cook
Richard Lee Sloan
Charles Barton Seals, Jr
David Gerald Vanatta
Kevin E. Bowling, Jr


A 22 year old homeless man has been charged with the aggravated rape of two male children, ages 6 and 10 in Liberty

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Joshua Taylor Cook, who has been staying in Liberty, was arrested on Thursday, October 28th.

According to Sheriff Ray, Cook allegedly performed sexual acts on a six year old and a ten year old male child on Church Street in Liberty and then he allegedly had the two children perform sexual acts on him. These events allegedly took place on September 15th.

Cook is under a $100,000 bond and he will be in court on November 4th.

Meanwhile, in other county crime news, 18 year old Richard Lee Sloan of Douglas Avenue, Murfreesboro is charged with three counts of simple possession of a schedule II, III, and VI controlled substance.

On Tuesday, October 26th on Highway 70 in DeKalb County, a deputy assisted another officer on a traffic stop. The officer received consent to search from the owner of the vehicle and upon a pat down search of Sloan, the passenger, a bulge was found in his left front pocket. Sloan told the officer that the bulge was a cell phone. The officer checked and found the cell phone but also a plastic bag containing methamphetamine, two hydrocodone pills, and marijuana.

Sloan is under a $4,500 bond and his court date is November 4th.

31 year old Charles Barton Seals, Jr. of Old Smithville Highway, Sparta is charged with leaving the scene of an accident and disorderly conduct.

On Wednesday, October 27th, Seals was involved in an automobile accident on Sligo Bridge but left. He was stopped by an officer on Highway 70 in the city limits of Smithville, about five miles from the scene of the accident. Sheriff Ray said Seals was very loud, used vulgar language, and refused to comply with what the officer instructed him to do.

Seals is under a $3,000 bond and he will be in court on December 16th.

40 year old David Gerald Vanatta of Snow Street, Smithville, a prisoner in the DeKalb County Jail, is now charged with possession of prohibited weapons in a penal institution.

On Friday, October 29th, correctional officers at the jail were conducting a shake down. While searching Vanatta's bed, two objects were found underneath the bunk behind the front rail, including a piece of metal 12 inches long and a piece of wood with a plastic spike sharpened on the end.

His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on November 18th.

36 year old Kevin E. Bowling, Jr. of Hillview Drive, Mount Juliet is charged with theft of property over $1,000. He is under a $5,000 bond and his court date is set for November 18th.

On Wednesday, October 27th, Bowling allegedly stole a 1958 Chevy pickup truck, valued at over $1,000 from a field on Dale Ridge Road. Bowling allegedly sold the truck at a salvage yard in Mount Juliet. The truck has been recovered.

Two people were charged with public intoxication on Friday, October 29th after an officer conducted a welfare check at their parked vehicle on Highway 70.

22 year old Matt Miller of High Springs, Florida was inside the car and 30 year old Kristy Lynn Blaylock of Knowles Street, Sparta was outside standing beside the car.

Sheriff Ray said when Miller got out of the vehicle, the officer noticed he had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was taken into custody. Miller's bond is $1,000.

The deputy also discovered that Blaylock had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. She was also unsteady on her feet. The officer tried to get her to call someone to pick her up but she refused. For her safety, Blaylock was carried to jail. Her bond is $1,000.

Miller and Blaylock will be in court on December 2nd.

30 year old Joshua Lionel Jones of Hodges Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license, felony evading arrest, and simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance.

On Saturday, October 30th, Jones was operating a motor vehicle on Miller Road in Smithville when an officer, who spotted Jones and had prior knowledge of his having a suspended drivers license, activated his emergency equipment signaling Jones to pull over. Jones instead accelerated and drove from Miller Road onto Anthony Avenue and then to the Wal-mart parking lot before stopping. Jones gave consent to search and the officer found on Jones, one and a half hydrocodone pills. A computer check confirmed that his license were suspended for failure to satisfy a citation on October 4th in Cannon County.

Jones' bond totals $8,000 and he will be in court on November 4th.

50 year old Jeffrey Mark Gibbons of Baxter is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on December 2nd.

On October 30th, Gibbons was operating a motor vehicle at night with no lights on Highway 56. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Gibbons submitted to and performed poorly on one field sobriety task and refused to do any more. He did submit to a blood test.


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