Local News Articles

Smithville Police Make Another Arrest in Recent Theft Investigation

May 28, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Investigators assigned to investigate a lost purse last week ended up charging two people who used the victim's credit card to purchase and outfit their house with a big screen TV, Surround Sound Stereo System, curtains and a variety of other items.

Detectives initially charged Nicholas Mongello with the theft of the purse.

Chief Tom Stufano says \" Further investigation discovered that Montgello's roommate was also involved. 23 year old Daniel Rose of 1222 South College Street in Smithville was charged with Criminal Conspiracy after he admitted to escorting Mongello to other area merchants with the intent to defraud. Items were eventually recovered. Mongello was additionally charged with Fraudulent Use of a credit card. Both were taken to the DeKalb County Jail under a $3,500 bond.\"

On Sunday May 27th , Smithville Detectives were contacted by the US Secret Service to accompany them to 620 Short Mountain Highway.

Chief Stufano says \"Federal agents had received information that a resident of that address had made threats against the President. Further information disclosed that the 62 year old woman being investigated had recently received notification that she would be allowed to visit the White House with other family members. After an hour and a half interview, Federal Agents and Smithville Police concluded that the woman was not a threat, although she had admitted that she had made the verbal threat against the President and had weapons in her house. A family member had phoned the information to the US Secret Service.\"

In another investigation, Chief Stufano says a flim-flam may have occurred recently at the Smithville Post Office. A female victim reported that she had run into the Post Office for just a few minutes and upon leaving she was distracted by an unknown white male in his 40's approximately 6'1\" with a slender build and sporting medium length dirty blonde hair. The subject was wearing a green tee shirt with blue jeans and driving a green Chevy pickup. During the course of the investigation she stated that the conversation was odd as it did not have any specific content. Upon returning to her vehicle the woman found her purse missing. Police are advising that these types of crimes do occur and usually involve 2 to 3 people with distraction techniques.

Chief Stufano says \"The Police Department is advising our residents to remain vigilant to suspicious activity and call when they feel something just doesn't seem right. Smithville Police are committed to investigating any and all crimes committed against our residents and guests.\"

Two Injured In Monday Afternoon Wreck

May 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two people were injured in a one car accident Monday afternoon on Short Mountain Highway.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 33 year old Rodney Gora II of 1031 Short Mountain Street, Smithville was driving north when he went off the right side of the road into a ditch.

Both Gora and his wife, 23 year old Tiffany C. Gora, a passenger of the car, were injured and airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Trooper Tisdale was assisted by members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol's Critical Incident Response Team (CERT) made up of Lieutenant Brian Lawson and Troopers Johnny Farley and Shannon Brinkley.

Others on the scene were members of the DeKalb EMS, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Trooper Tisdale says traffic was tied up for a period of time while the accident was being investigated.

Police Make Arrest In Child Assault Case

May 30, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police recently investigated a Domestic Assault and found that the victim was a 4 year old female child.

Chief Tom Stufano says police arrested the 28 year old father of the child who lived in the 100 Block of Village Place in Smithville. Investigators were summoned to the complainant's sister's address to be advised of the assault. Once at the scene, Police found that the child had a number of bruises and marks. Contact was made with the father at his address and he was intoxicated. Investigators also discovered that the father had been assaulted by 2-3 other individuals who had left the scene just prior to police response. The subjects were identified and contacted but the father refused to prosecute. The father was subsequently arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $5,000 bond.

Chief Stufano did not identify the man charged in the case.

Meanwhile, Chief Stufano says on Saturday, May 26th, Smithville Police arrested 31 year old Christopher Gibbs of 221 Sims Street in Dowelltown for DUI, Driving on a Revoked License 2nd Offense and Sale and Delivery of a Schedule III Drug. Officers responded to a citizen complaint of a possible intoxicated driver at State Route 56 and North Congress Boulevard. Upon contact, Smithville Police observed Gibbs in an intoxicated state and found an open container of beer in the front console. Field sobriety tests were administered and he performed poorly. Gibbs also had (14) Lortabs Pills concealed in cellophane in his pocket. Gibbs was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $9,500 bond.

Chief Stufano says \"Smithville Police are ever vigilant for drunk drivers and actively patrol our streets in an effort to identify suspicious activity. The interest and support the community has shown in helping deter crime has shown to make a significant difference in the safety of our neighborhoods.\"

Smithville Man Charged with Rape

May 30, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police investigating a complaint of rape have arrested 50 year old Marc Jenkins of 612 South Mountain Street in Smithville for the crime.

Chief Tom Stufano says \" the 30 year old victim, along with another female friend, had gone over to the Jenkins residence on May 25. Shortly after arriving, the victim relayed to her friend and Jenkins that she was not feeling well due to seizures and needed to leave. Jenkins advised the victim that she could lie down in a bedroom and would not be disturbed. The victim awoke in the early morning hours and began screaming, noticing her pants had been removed and finding someone sexually assaulting her.

The victim went to the DeKalb Community Hospital and was then transferred to Cookeville for a further Rape examination.

Investigators arrested Jenkins after he admitted to the sexual assault. He was taken to the DeKalb County Jail. His bond was set at $10,000.

WJLE Radiothon to Benefit Habitat For Humanity Of DeKalb County Set For June 15th

May 31, 2007
Dwayne Page

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County recently selected Felicia Gibbs and her children, as its second partner family.

The Gibbs family's Habitat house will be built on Adams Street in Smithville.

Habitat will be conducting a RadioThon on WJLE on Friday, June 15th from 9:00 a.m. to Noon to raise funds for the construction of this house. Your support is needed to help make the Radiothon successful.

Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry, providing families in need with the opportunity for affordable home ownership.

Volunteers and donors assist in building the homes and Habitat for Humanity sells the homes to the Partner Families at cost with no-interest mortgages.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can call any of these numbers during the radiothon: 597-4265, 215-5316 and 235-5317

WJLE Radiothon Planned To Raise Funds for Second Habitat for Humanity Home Here

June 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County residents can help make home ownership a reality for a local family with donations to the second Habitat for Humanity Radiothon Fundraiser on WJLE Friday, June 15th from 9 until 12.

Monies raised will be applied toward lot purchase, materials and construction of the second Habitat home on Adams St. in Smithville. “Our goal is to begin construction of a three-bedroom house later this summer,” says Nolan Turner, president of the local Habitat chapter. “In 2005, we raised over $25,000, and we hope to exceed that this year.”

The home will be built for Felicia Gibbs, a divorced single mother, and her children Dasia, 4, and Trystan Seth, 9 months old. Felicia grew up in Alexandria, attended DeKalb West Elementary School, and graduated from DeKalb County High School in 2001. She has been working since she was 15 and is raising her children on her own. They currently reside in Smithville where she is employed by Bumper’s Drive-In Restaurant.

“Felicia and her children have all the qualities we look for in partner families. She is cooperative, humble and eager to work,” says Turner. “I hope everyone who shares our commitment to help those who are less fortunate will support our efforts by contributing to this fundraiser.”

The Gibbs family met criteria used by Habitat to identify the best candidates for successful home ownership: demonstration of need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner with Habitat. Recipients of Habitat-built homes must make a downpayment and put in hours of “sweat equity” before construction can begin. After the house is built, they assume a 20-year interest-free mortgage for the purchase price, based solely on the price of materials and related services. These costs are projected to be in the $40,000 to $45,000 range, with monthly payments ranging between $200 and $300.

Gibbs says this opportunity represents “a dream come true. This is the kind of blessing I’ve prayed for...I am so grateful, excited and eager to get started.”

“Knowing I will own a home provides a feeling of security for me and my children,” she adds. “When I signed the agreement, I felt I was signing for the beginning of my life. I am so thankful to Habitat, everyone who will help make this dream come true and to God. He has been so good to me and my family.”

Radio listeners can phone in a pledge and challenge other members of the community to make a donation by calling 597-4265, 215-5316 and 215-5317 during the Friday morning event. Donations of any amount will be appreciated.

For information on making a pledge or donation, please contact these officers of the Habitat Board of Directors: Nolan Turner, president; Tecia Pryor, vice president and chairperson of the Development Committee, 597-7370; Nancy Lewis, secretary; or Glenda Davis, treasurer. You may also leave a message on the Habitat voicemail at 215-8181 and a board member will return your call.

Dowelltown Man Arrested By Sheriff's Department on Marijuana Charges

March 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested a 28 year old Dowelltown man Friday night on drug charges at his Toad Road home.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says officers executed a search warrant at the home of Jason Lee Allen and charged him with sale and delivery of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana), simple possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Allen's bond is set at $27,000 and he will be in General Session Court on the charges March 22nd.

Sheriff Ray says Allen rents the home from Darren Keith Rhea, also of Toad Road, and while officers were at the Allen home Friday night, Rhea showed up to see what was going on and was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law.

Rhea's bond was set at $1,500 and his court date is set for March 15th.

Local Illusionist Wins Magic Contest

March 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

Local Illusionist, 10 year old Devon Owens, along with his assistant, 11 year old Glenna Beaty attended the Winter Carnival of Magic in Pigeon Forge Tennessee this past weekend to compete in the stage magic contest. They performed their Tribute to ?The Most Famous Magician Ever, Harry Houdini? against 2 other youth contestants. Devon brought home not only the first place trophy but also a lot of encouragement from magicians from around the country.

Devon is the son of Greg and Tammy Owens of Smithville and Glenna is the Daughter of Kim Griffin also of Smithville and Philip Beaty of McMinnville. Both are in the 5th Grade at Northside Elementary School.

To see videos of their performance you can visit Devon?s MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/magicianboy or the Tennessee Magical Society's Web Page at http://www.tnmagic.org.

Smithville Police Make Four Arrests In Recent Days on Various Charges

March 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has made several arrests in recent days for public intoxication, theft of property (shoplifting), possession of drug paraphernalia, violation of the implied consent law, and domestic violence assault.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says 42 year old Terri Hooper of 181 Hurricane Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication, shoplifting, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He says \"On February 26th, police responded to a shoplifting complaint at Rite Aid Pharmacy where they met the manager who advised them that a white female, still present in the store, had stolen numerous items.

Stufano says officers made contact with Hooper, who was apparently under the influence. Further investigation noted that she had stolen numerous makeup items and concealed them on her person.

Hooper was placed under arrest for public intoxication and shoplifting. While an inventory was being made of her vehicle, officers also found in the console, a partially loaded syringe containing a yellow residue.

Chief Stufano says Hooper admitted that she was currently using K-4 Dilaudid daily. Hooper was transported to the DeKalb County Jail where she was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $3,000.

In a separate case, 45 year old Rhonda Kay Cains of Smithville was charged on March 1st with theft under $500.

Chief Stufano says officers had responded to a shoplifting complaint at Walmart after security had seen her conceal a BB gun and clothing items on her person. She then tried to leave without paying for them.

Cains was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail. Her bond was set at $2,500.

Meanwhile, 61 year old Danny Marlin Rigsby of 801 Fisher Avenue was arrested by Smithville Police for the crime of domestic violence-assault.

According to Chief Stufano, \"Officers responded to 803 Fisher Avenue where they made contact with a white female victim, the victim's daughter, and a neighbor. The victim was found lying on the floor bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth. Further investigation noted that the victim had just returned home from the store when Rigsby accused her of writing a check. Enraged, Rigsby pinned the victim to the floor and began hitting her with a closed fist 4-5 times in the head and face area. EMS determined that the victim may have had a broken nose along with other injuries. She was treated at DeKalb Community Hospital.\"

Rigsby, who had left the residence, was arrested and charged with domestic assault and booked into the DeKalb County Jail under a $3,500 bond.

In another case, Chief Stufano says 30 year old Armando Arellano Suastegui of 1230 Smith Road, Smithville was arrested on Sunday and charged with violating the implied consent law. He was booked into the DeKalb County Jail and his bond is set at $1,500. Chief Stufano says Suastegui is also an illegal alien from Mexico.

He says \" On March 4th at approximately 9:30 p.m., Smithville officers were dispatched to a reported drunk driver traveling on Highway 70. A concerned citizen stated that the vehicle had almost hit vehicles head on and had run up on a curb.

Officers spotted the vehicle and also observed the driver maneuver the vehicle across the center line twice and then sweep widely back over into the breakdown line. Smithville Police were able to stop the vehicle in the Northside School parking lot.

Chief Stufano says standard DUI Sobriety tests were performed and it was apparent that the driver was intoxicated.

Chief Stufano says \"The continued support the citizens of Smithville are providing is making a substantial impact in combating crime, drugs and drunk driving in our city. The Smithville Police would like to thank you for being vigilant and reporting suspicious activity immediately.\"

Authorities Say Smithville Water Quality Good Despite Deficiencies

March 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

Officials of the Cookeville Environmental Field Office of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation say customers of the Smithville Water System should not be alarmed about the quality of their water, despite a 76 inspection score based on recent violations that has placed the system in the State's \"Provisionally Approved\" category.

Personnel from the Division of Water Supply visited the Smithville Water System and performed a Sanitary Survey on February 8th and 9th, apparently at the request of concerned citizens and, according to sources, the Environmental Protection Agency.

The findings revealed several violations, but none that apparently were serious enough to cause the city to be fined or sanctioned by the state or EPA. City officials say some of the violations have already been addressed and others are in the process of being corrected.

In a letter to Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Johnny Walker with the Division of Water Supply, Cookeville Environmental Field Office, addressed the violations as well as the \"improvements made since the turbidity violation last February. In particular, the implementation of controls for automatic shutdown is a welcomed improvement. This will help eliminate finished water turbidity spikes and/or chlorine feed malfunctions providing an extra line of defense to protect the general public.\"

Tisha Calabrese Benton, Public Information Officer for the Cookeville Environmental Field Office, says the purpose of the Sanitary Survey is to check for potential problems. \"When inspectors do the sanitary surveys, they perform a comprehensive review of the water system and the score is based on that review. An \"approved\" score is 90 or better. \"Provisionally approved\" rates a score of 70-89, and a 69 or below is \"unapproved\".

\"In this case, the sanitary survey did note several things that needed to be done and the water system has certainly been agreeable to that, but I want to stress that none of these things are affecting the quality of the water. We feel the quality of the water at the Smithville system is very good. We do these sanitary surveys and we look for things before they ever affect the quality of the water. But again, nothing in this survey is affecting the quality of the water. The water is as good or better than it ever has been. The system has put better protections in place now than they have had in the past and we have asked them to make some corrections and we have every reason to believe that they will comply with that.\"

Benton further explained that the sanitary survey manual has changed in recent months with some revisions in the regulations and certain things cited in this survey as a violation now may not have been a violation in the past.

Among the violations noted in the report are:

* The Division of Water Supply has approved four construction projects for the City since the last sanitary survey. We do not have on file any construction start notifications for these projects. Smithville or the contractor performing the work must return the construction start notifications to the Cookeville Field Office prior to beginning construction on any project.

* Smithville failed to provide a Tier 2 public notice within 30 days of learning of the violation. Specifically, public notice was not provided until May 2006 for a turbidity violation, which occurred in February, 2006

* Smithville's distribution system standard operating procedures were unavailable at the time of the inspection. The city has since filed a manual with the state for approval.

* Documentation for calibration of turbidimeters was not available. City officials say that issue has since been corrected.

* Bulk chemical storage tanks at Smithville do not have level indicators or a retention basin with a drain around the tanks. Regulations for public water systems require both. Additionally, the chemical feeders and supply lines are in need of maintenance. Smithville must submit a plan to the Cookeville Field Office by April 1, 2007 that describes how the bulk tank chemical storage will be addressed including provisions for day tanks and supply line renovations

* Chlorine feed lines are vented in the chlorinator room. Regulations require chlorine feed lines to be vented to the outside atmosphere. Smithville must vent the chlorine lines to the outside atmosphere by March 15th, 2007. City officials say proper ventilation is on site and was missed by the inspector.

* Smithville collected all bacteriological samples for July 2005 on the same day. Regulations require samples to be collected throughout the month. City officials say employees have been instructed on the proper collection procedures.

* Smithville incurred a treatment technique violation in February, 2006 for having greater than 5% of the turbidity measurements less than or equal 0.3 NTU. We would like to commend Smithville for installing automatic shutoffs at the plant for turbidity. The plant shuts down for turbidity anytime the combined filter effluent stays at 0.2 NTU for 2 consecutive readings. Automatic shutoffs have also been installed for hi and low chlorine readings.

*The City of Smithville has a Cross Connection ordinance, however improvements must be made in operating procedures to ensure regular testing of backflow prevention devices. Said devices have not been inspected since the last survey. All identified backflow prevention devices must be inspected before March 12th, 2007 and documentation detailing said inspections forwarded to the Cookeville Environmental Field Office by March 15th, 2007. Any devices found to not be in good working order must be repaired or replaced by March 31st, 2007

* The intake pump house needs some improvement. Specifically, the interior ceiling needs to be repainted by May 15th, 2007. The floors and equipment need to be cleaned by March 31st, 2007. City officials say those improvements will be made.

* The Smithville Water System did not collect the required number of bacteriological samples after line extensions. City officials say that this procedure will be followed in the future.

The report also stated that \" The bacteriological sampling rate for the Smithville Water System will remain at six bacteriological samples each month based on the population served. State approval to conduct analyses for: turbidity, alkalinity, Ph, temperature, iron, manganese, hardness and chlorine residual is granted to Kenny Dyal (water plant manager). This approval is valid until the next sanitary survey and is contingent upon proper operation, calibration, and maintenance of analytical equipment.\"


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