Local News Articles

Police Chief Releases Report on Recent Criminal Activity in Smithville

August 27, 2012
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger has released a report on recent criminal activity in the City of Smithville.

32 year old Cindy Sherrell is charged with public intoxication, possession of a schedule II controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Chief Caplinger said that on Thursday, August 16 Officer Matt Farmer received a complaint from Larry's Discount Grocery of a person causing a disturbance. Upon arrival, Officer Farmer spoke with Sherrell who appeared to be very intoxicated. She had slurred speech and was unsteady on her feet. She was arrested and transported to the police department where upon inventory of her purse, schedule II drugs and drug paraphernalia were found. She will be in court on September 13.

45 year old Melissa Poss Petty was arrested Thursday, August 16 on a sealed indictment returned by the grand jury charging her with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. She will be in court on September 17.

47 year old Janice Lynn Johnson is charged with driving under the influence. According to the warrant, on Friday, August 17, the Smithville Police Department received a call about someone passed out in a vehicle at Bumpers Drive-In. Upon arrival, the officer saw Johnson behind the wheel with the key in the ignition. Johnson had very slurred speech and was very unsteady on her feet. Johnson said she had taken muscle relaxers. She could not perform field sobriety tasks because of her level of intoxication. She did submit to a blood test. Her court date is September 13.

45 year old Jeffery Lee Johnson is cited for simple possession of a schedule V controlled substance. According to the citation, police stopped Johnson's vehicle for a traffic violation on Saturday, August 18. When Johnson was observed reaching into his pockets for unknown items, the officer asked for and received consent to search him. The officer recovered an unmarked pill bottle containing two schedule V controlled substances. Johnson will be in court on August 29

64 year old Willie Jewel Moser is cited for violation of the open container law. Police stopped Moser's vehicle to perform a welfare check concerning a possible DUI on Saturday, August 18. The officer found a half consumed beer inside a cup holder in the vehicle. Moser's court date is September 13.

38 year old Crissy M. Evans is cited for shoplifting. On Monday, August 20 Evans was observed by a Dollar General Store employee putting items in her purse and then attempting to leave the store without paying. Her court date is September 13.

30 year old Rhonda Michelle King is cited for simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance, a driver license violation, registration violation, financial responsibility law (no insurance) violation, and leaving the scene of an accident. King was involved in a hit and run accident on Tuesday, August 21 at Village Market. After leaving the scene, King was followed by a witness until officers made contact with her. King gave police consent to search her purse and vehicle. Detective Matt Holmes found in King's purse a clear baggy containing three (3) pills believed to be hydrocodone. Her court date is September 13.

34 year old James Fredrick Summers is charged with a fourth offense of driving while revoked. On Wednesday, August 22 Officer Joey Myers stopped a vehicle on West Broad Street for having a tail light out. The license of the driver, Summers, was found to be revoked for DUI in Warren County. Summers has three prior driving on revoked license offenses against him. Summers was placed under arrest due to the likelihood of this offense reoccurring. His court date is September 12

27 year old Benjamin Adam Caldwell is charged with shoplifting, possession of a schedule II & IV controlled substance for sale and delivery and he is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. According to the warrants, Officer Lawrence Avera was called to investigate a shoplifting incident at Wal-Mart on Thursday, August 23. Upon arrival he made contact with Caldwell, who was wearing shoes that he had not paid for. Caldwell also had two more items that he had taken by removing the packaging. Upon searching for other stolen items, the officer found on Caldwell's person schedule II & VI drugs and drug paraphernalia. He will be in court on September 13.

32 year old Callie Lisette Howell is charged with burglary & theft. According to the warrant, Howell gained entry to a vehicle on Friday, August 24 while the victim was inside the BP Station on Highway 70. Howell allegedly opened a door to the automobile and began going through it, stuffing things under her shirt. She will be in court September 13.

25 year old Justin Clyde Hale is charged with burglary & theft. According to the warrants, Hale gained entry into and drove off in a truck from the parking lot of DeKalb County High School on Sunday, August 26. The truck was recovered later. He will be in court on September 13

24 year old Melissa Gail Andrews is charged with theft over $1,000. Andrews allegedly stole a vehicle on Sunday, August 26 and took it to AEI Recycling and sold it. The victim did not consent to the vehicle being sold. Her court date is September 13.

43 year old Timothy John Perricone is charged with domestic assault. According to the warrant, Sergeant Andy Snow responded to a possible kidnaping on Highway 56 north on Sunday, August 26. A passerby reported that a man was trying to force a boy into a vehicle. Perricone's court date is September 20.

32 year old David Allen Sullivan is charged with theft and simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance According to the warrants, Officer Stephen Barrett responded to a complaint of a possible shoplifter at Wal-Mart on Sunday, August 26. Upon arrival he made contact with Sullivan, recovered the stolen property, and found an unlabeled pill bottle on Sullivan's person that contained a schedule III & IV controlled substance. Sullivan was further cited for possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. His court date is September 20.

Meanwhile anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve a criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Aldermen to Act Soon on Re-Appointment of City Judge

August 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Hilton Conger

The term of Smithville Municipal Judge Hilton Conger ends this week and while Conger will most likely be re-appointed to a new two year term, the aldermen have not yet addressed the issue.

Conger's current two year term expires August 31st.

His salary as City Judge is $1,000 per month.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen are scheduled to meet in special session Monday night at 5:00 p.m. at city hall, but only for the purpose of a public hearing and second reading action on an ordinance requiring absentee only voting for city property rights voters in the city liquor referendum in November. The next regular meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen is Monday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall. There will be no meeting on Labor Day, September 3.

The Municipal Court, up until 2002, had the same jurisdiction in city criminal cases as the General Sessions Court, and the City Judge held court several times each month with the City Attorney serving as Prosecutor.

After changes were made in the City Charter, the City Court's jurisdiction was reduced to mostly minor traffic offenses and city ordinance violations. The court now convenes usually once per month.

The City Judge, previously elected by city voters to an eight year term, now serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, appointed to a two year term.

Conger was last elected as City Judge in 1998. He was named to his first appointed term in 2006 and re-appointed in 2008 and 2010.

The changes in the City Charter, regarding the City Court, came following a State Attorney General's opinion in the fall of 2001 that only the District Attorney General and his staff had the responsibility of prosecuting state criminal action in municipal courts.

Coffee County Escapee Captured in DeKalb County After Pursuit by Law Enforcement Officers

August 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Andrew Cope

An escapee from the Coffee County jail was captured Saturday afternoon in DeKalb County after crashing the stolen car he was driving on Bright Hill Road following a pursuit by law enforcement officers.

31 year old Mark Andrew Cope, who walked away from a work detail in Manchester on Thursday, was spotted in Warren County Saturday. He was driving a green 2003 Chevy Cavalier.

Warren County officers were in pursuit of the car on Highway 56 when the chase crossed into DeKalb County. Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department also joined in the effort to get the vehicle stopped.

Trooper Jennings told WJLE Saturday that Cope led authorities from Highway 56 onto South College Street in Smithville where an officer had blocked the road. Cope then turned east onto Dearman Street from South College Street, crossed South Congress Boulevard (Highway 56) from Dearman, and then continued east on Dearman Street. From Dearman, Cope got onto Bright Hill Road and subsequently wrecked, going off the road and hitting an embankment before stopping. Cope jumped out of the car but officers quickly converged before he had a chance to flee.

Cope was placed under arrest and turned over to Warren County authorities. No one was injured.

Tigers Maul Bulldogs 65-0

August 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Tigers Maul Bulldogs 65-0

The DeKalb County Tigers cruised to a 65 to 0 road win at Clay County Friday night to go 2-0 on the young football season.

DC got on the board with 8:38 left in the first quarter on a ten yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lucas Phillips to Cody Puckett. The P.A.T. by Ben Driver was good and the Tigers led 7-0


In the second period, Lance Ball caught a four yard touchdown pass from quarterback Phillips with ten minutes left to put the Tigers up 13-0. The P.A.T. try by Ben Driver was no good.

With 6:38 left in the half, Chris Chapman scored on a four yard run. Driver's P.A.T. was good and the Tigers led 20-0.

The Tigers got a safety with 4:36 left in the second period as the Clay County quarterback fumbled near the goal line and the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone. The score was 22-0.

On the ensuing free kick, Will Molander raced 62 yards for a touchdown. The P.A.T. by Driver was good and DC built the lead to 29-0.

Sonni Fullilove added another touchdown for the Tigers on a 22 yard pass play from quarterback Phillips with thirty five seconds until halftime to give the Black and Gold a commanding 36 to 0 lead.

In the third quarter, Sonni Fullilove scored on a 14 yard pass play from quarterback Phillips with 5:55 left and the Tigers moved out front 43 to 0 after the Ben Driver P.A.T.

With 11:47 left in the fourth period, Devonta Milan scored on a 67 yard touchdown run. Driver's P.A.T. was good and DeKalb County led 50 to 0.

Milan scored again later on a nine yard run. Driver picked up the ball on a bad snap on the P.A.T. try and raced for the endzone, scoring on the two point conversion to put the Tigers up 58-0.

The last score of the night came on a 40 yard touchdown run by A.J. Mooneyham. The P.A.T. by Driver was good and for the second week in a row, DeKalb County has held it's opponent scoreless, this time winning 65-0.

Next Friday night the Tigers open the district schedule at Cannon County.. WJLE will have LIVE coverage from Woodbury at 7:00 p.m.

Pealer And Her Mother Reinstated at UCDD, Federal Lawsuit Settled

August 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Ashley Pealer

The Upper Cumberland Development District has reinstated two employees who were recently let go from their jobs and has reached a settlement agreement with one of them in her federal lawsuit against the agency

Ashley Pealer and her mother Kathy reportedly returned to work earlier this week.

Ashley Pealer filed the lawsuit against the UCDD; the man who fired her, Randy Williams, who was UCDD's interim executive director at the time; and Mike Gannon, chairman of the UCDD board. Pealer claimed her personal cell phone messages and Facebook account were hacked, a violation of her Constitutional rights.

Pealer was represented by W. Gary Blackburn of Nashville.

Allegations involved violations of the Stored Communications Act and the Wiretap Act, allegedly committed by Williams and Gannon.

Pealer claimed that after she was fired, her cell phone, issued to her by UCDD, was taken from her; that some three hundred pages of her private text messages, which were stored through Verizon, were accessed by the defendants, printed and published to various persons. Pealer alleged that at least one of the defendants used her private password to invade and access her Facebook account as well. The Defendants also allegedly intercepted a private email communication to Pealer's Facebook account, according to the lawsuit.

Pealer claimed the purpose and intent of this behavior was to embarrass and intimidate her in retaliation for her refusal to participate in or remain silent about the illegal behavior of former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins, and to determine the extent to which she (Pealer) was involved in disclosing illegal conduct to the news media.

Board members seeking reinstatement of Pealer and her mother finally received the necessary votes to forward that recommendation on to UCDD's new executive director Mark Farley.

DeKalb Unemployment Rate Climbs to 8.7% in July

August 24, 2012
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Unemployment Rate for July was 8.7%, up from 8.3% in June but still below the 9.3% rate in July, 2011

The local labor force for July was at 9,710. A total of 8,860 were employed and 840 were without work

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for July was fifth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region. Here's how they rank highest to lowest

Pickett County- 13.8%
Van Buren-12.6%
White- 12.5%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for July 2012, released today, show the rate decreased in 20 counties, increased in 59, and stayed the same in 16.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for July increased to 8.4 percent, up from the June revised rate of 8.1 percent. The national unemployment rate for July 2012 was 8.3 percent, 0.1 percentage point higher than the June rate.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Davidson County was 7.4 percent, up from 7.3 percent in June. Hamilton County was 8.4 percent, up from 8.3 percent, and Shelby County was 9.7 percent, unchanged from the June rate.

Work Searches Now Required to Receive Tennessee Unemployment

August 23, 2012

Beginning September 1, 2012, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development will begin implementation of the Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012 requiring all unemployment claimants in Tennessee to demonstrate valid work search activity and maintain a work search log. Failure to comply with the new law will result in a loss of benefits.

Notices will be mailed next week to all claimants receiving Tennessee Unemployment Compensation informing them of the new requirements to continue receiving benefits. Those receiving federal extended unemployment benefits are already required to document work search activity.

“The Accountability Act is aptly named as it raises the bar of accountability for those receiving unemployment benefits,” said Labor Commissioner Karla Davis. “Documenting three work searches each week will require a small effort, but the consequences of not doing them are very serious.”

Labor and Workforce Development will conduct random audits of 1,000 claimants’ work search documentation each week to verify work search activity. If work search claims are found to be fraudulent, the department will stop a claimant’s benefits immediately and can suspend payments for eight weeks.

Claimants are required to conduct three work searches each week. A valid work search activity is considered any of the following:

Registering at www.jobs4tn.gov and applying for jobs online

Completing a job application in person or online

Mailing a job application and/or resume, as instructed in a public notice

Making in-person visits with employers who may have job openings

Sending job applications to employers

Interviewing with potential employers in person or by telephone

Registering for work with private employment agencies, placement services or hiring unions

Using the employment resources available at Tennessee Career Centers that may lead directly to a job
Attending job search seminars, career networking meetings, job fairs or employment-related workshops that offer instruction in improving individual skills for obtaining employment

Claimants who don’t receive guidance and work search logs in the mail can find information both on the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Internet site at www.tn.gov/labor-wfd or at the nearest Tennessee Career Center. For Career Center locations visit http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/cc/cccounty.shtml.

Tennessee’s 2012 Free Hunting Day is Saturday, Squirrel Season Opens

August 23, 2012

All Tennesseans are reminded that Saturday, Aug. 25 is Free Hunting Day in Tennessee when state residents may hunt without a license. The annual event coincides with the opening day of squirrel season.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of Tennessee’s oldest and favorite traditions. The day serves as an excellent opportunity for persons to experience the enjoyment of the sport. Regular hunters are encouraged to introduce friends and family members (young and old) to the outdoors sport. It is also an excellent opportunity for those folks who have not tried hunting for some time.

On Free Hunting Day, state resident hunters are exempt from hunting licenses and WMA permits requirements. Many of the WMAs are open to hunters seeking public access on Aug. 25. Hunters are asked to check the information for particular WMAs in the newly-published 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide which is available online at www.tnwildlife.org or copies are available at any TWRA regional office or at most outlets where licenses are sold.

Hunter education requirements have not been waived for Free Hunting Day. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to have successfully completed a hunter education course. A one-time, one-year apprentice license is required for those born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 if the hunter education course has not been completed.

Hunters are allowed to harvest up to 10 squirrels a day from the opening day of squirrel season through Feb. 28, with each hunting day beginning a half-hour before sunrise and ending a half-hour after sunset.

In addition to squirrels, those species that have a year-round season will be open as well. The year-round species include armadillo, beaver, coyote, groundhog, and striped skunk.

For more information about hunting in Tennessee, visit TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org or contact your nearest TWRA Regional Office.

DeKalb Man Charged Under New State 911 Call Law

August 22, 2012

A DeKalb County man, arrested in a Cookeville domestic assault case, has also been charged there under a new state law, which makes it a crime to prevent someone from calling 911 for help

36 year old Alan Matthew Mooney of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown, is charged
with domestic assault and with "interference with an emergency call" in the case, according to a report in the Herald-Citizen of Cookeville.

The charges stem from an August 11 incident at the Cookeville, residence of Mooney's estranged wife.

According to a report by Cookeville Police Officer Adrienne Lintz, Mooney allegedly went to his wife's home to pick up their two children and became embroiled in an argument with her after demanding to see her phone

"She said he had her in a bear hug from behind and pulled the phone from her hands as she was attempting to call 911."

Mooney then allegedly took the phone, one child, and the woman's keys and left the area in her vehicle. Baxter Police later picked him up at Love's Truck Stop in that town, Officer Lintz's report says.

Officer Lintz took the woman to the location to retrieve her child and her car and then transported Mooney to the Putnam County jail, charging him with domestic assault and interfering with an emergency call.

His bond was set at $1,500, and he has a Sept. 10 court date.

The new state law went into effect July 1, making it a criminal offense to prevent someone from making a 911 call or from seeking help in an emergency.

The new law says, "An individual commits an offense if the individual intentionally renders unusable a telephone that would otherwise be used by another individual to place a telephone call to 911 or to request assistance in an emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity, the primary purpose of which is to
provide for the safety of individuals

Federal Mogul to Maintain Strong Workforce in Smithville, Despite Relocation of Some Jobs

August 21, 2012
Dwayne Page

Some sixty to seventy jobs created at Federal Mogul in Smithville within the last year due to flooding in Thailand will soon be returning to Asia, according to Jim Burke, director of corporate communications for Federal Mogul.

Those jobs, along with the loss of 120-125 others being re-located to Mexico will have an impact on the workforce here, still Federal Mogul intends to keep approximately 700 jobs with no plans of pulling up stakes in Smithville. "We did notify our employees that we will be moving some of our work to other facilities, but relative to the entire workforce in Smithville, its only a small amount," said Burke.

According to Burke, the creation of those jobs here from Thailand was never intended to be permanent. " Due to the flooding in Thailand, we moved some of that work to Smithville for a period of time. That move was never expected to be permanent. We do a lot of work for customers in Asia so it makes more sense to move those jobs back to Asia, which is where they came from in the first place about a year ago," said Burke.

As for the relocation of jobs to Mexico, Burke said those will be moved for "logistical reasons"


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