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Local News Articles

Corps to Conduct Test of Emergency Evacuation Siren at Long Branch Campground

January 22, 2009

The Corps of Engineers will be conducting a test of an emergency evacuation siren at Long Branch Campground, located directly below Center Hill Dam, on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 at 1 p.m.

This siren serves the Long Branch and Buffalo Valley Recreation Areas immediately below the dam. Additionally, neighboring private landowners downstream of the dam may possibly hear the siren. The test will last for approximately one minute.

This is only a test.

In the unlikely event of a breach of the dam, the siren will be activated and an evacuation plan put into effect to assist the visiting public in the Long Branch and Buffalo Valley Recreation Areas. Anyone with questions should call the Center Hill Lake Resource Manager’s Office at 931-858-3125 or 615-548-4521.

TBI Investigating Cash Shortage in Circuit Court Clerk's Office

January 21, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk's Office is under investigation over a cash shortage of $8,501 in General Sessions Court funds.

The shortage was discovered during an annual state audit and is included as a finding in the latest audit report just released.

Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack says she has made the District Attorney General's Office aware of the shortage and the D.A. has requested the TBI investigation. Ms. Pack says the shortage occurred during the period of time when she was out of the office undergoing surgery.

According to the audit report, "A cash shortage of $8,501 existed in the General Sessions Court at June 30th, 2008. This cash shortage resulted from numerous bank deposits for the period April 2008 through June 2008 being less than the amount of deposits posted to the general ledger. We noted the following internal control deficiencies that should have alerted officials of possible irregularities:

A. "The bank reconciliation prepared at June 30th, 2008 did not reconcile with the general ledger by $515. This variance should have been investigated and corrected promptly."

B. "Deposits for May 22, 28, 29, and June 11 totaling $8,331 were listed as in transit on the June 30th, 2008, bank reconciliation; however, these deposits actually cleared the bank prior to June 30th, 2008; therefore, these deposits could not be in transit."

C. "Beginning April 11, 2008, several bank deposits were not made intact; i.e., funds collected during a specific period of time were not deposited together. Because the clerk used this method of depositing collections, we could not trace specific collections to specific deposits."

D. "Of the bank deposits that were not made intact, the difference between the sum of the receipts and the sum of the bank deposit was in cash receipts. This difference indicates that cash was being manipulated."

"This cash shortage has been reviewed with the district attorney."

Auditors made the following recommendation:

" The clerk should take steps to liquidate the cash shortage of $8,501. Bank statements should be reconciled with the general ledger monthly, and any differences should be investigated and corrected promptly. Deposits should be made intact."

In the management response, Ms. Pack states that "I have been in contact with the District Attorney General's Office and have extended our full cooperation to the district attorney. We have taken steps to improve the deposit and reconciliation process."

All employees of the Circuit Court Clerk's office remain on the job, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The annual audit report also reveals accounting and other deficiencies in offices of other county officials. To read the entire audit report, click the following link. (Findings, reccomendations, and management responses contained on pages 176-184 of audit)

Candidates May Now Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election

January 20, 2009
Dwayne Page

Candidates interested in running for Aldermen in the Smithville Municipal Election this summer may now pick up qualifying petitions at the DeKalb County Election Commission Office in the courthouse.

Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections, says candidates have until Thursday, March 19th to qualify. The deadline to register to vote in time for the election is May 18th.

Three Aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 16th. The positions are currently held by Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan, and Willie Thomas. Each term is for two years.

Lovell Scheduled to be Released from Prison

January 20, 2009
Dwayne Page

33 year old Karen Lynn Lovell is scheduled to get out of prison Wednesday

According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections website, Lovell's sentence, which began on February 22nd, 2004, is scheduled to end on January 21st. She has been incarcerated at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville.

The woman who escaped from the DeKalb County Jail in May, 2003 and was later shot by Captain Mark Collins of the Sheriff's Department, received a six year prison sentence after pleading guilty in Criminal Court to three of the five charges against her.

Lovell appeared before Circuit Court Judge John Maddux in October, 2003 and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, escape, and intentional killing of an animal.

Lovell received a six year sentence on the assault charge, 11 months and 29 days for escape, 11 months and 29 days and for the killing of the animal. All the sentences were to run concurrently or together for one six year sentence. The sentence however was to run consecutive to the conviction for which she was incarcerated when she escaped. She was in jail serving three concurrent 11 month-29 day sentences on charges of telephone harassment and stalking.

Other charges of attempted first degree murder and aggravated kidnaping were dismissed under the plea bargain agreement.

The story began around midnight on Friday, May 7, 2003 during the previous sheriff's administration when Lovell reportedly faked an illness at the jail and was taken to the local hospital. When she was returned to the jail authorities were conducting a marijuana search when Lovell grabbed a service revolver and the keys to a patrol car and escaped.

Lovell drove to the home of her sister, Cathy Lester, on King Ridge Road, where Lester has legal custody of Lovell's son Kaden, who was three years old at the time. Lovell shot the Lester family dog, a doberman, took the child at gun point, and then drove away with her son.

Deputy David Ward saw Lovell traveling southwest on New Home Road. Ward exited his vehicle and stood near the driver's side door when Lovell drove toward him. Ward was thrown onto the hood of his car and Lovell, after also striking the driver's side door, proceeded in the same direction before spinning out a short distance away. She then abandoned the stolen patrol car and fled on foot. A quick investigation of the scene indicated Lovell fired at deputy Ward, who was not seriously injured. Two spent shell casings from the stolen .40 Glock were found in the car and there was a bullet hole in the windshield.

Knowing Lovell had taken the child and spent only three of a possible 13 rounds in the stolen weapon, authorities began a massive search throughout the pre-dawn hours until almost noon using a tracking dog and air support with a TBI plane equipped with heat-sensing technology and a THP helicopter

Lovell then showed up around 11:00 a.m. at the home of Bill Ferrell at the intersection of New Home Road and King Ridge Road. She stood near the back door of the Ferrell residence holding her son in one arm and the gun in the other hand.

Captain Collins pleaded with Lovell to put the gun down but she continued to wave and point it at her child's head, threatening to kill him. Collins then fired a shot from his revolver, striking Lovell in the temple area of her head. Collins then rushed to rescue the boy, who was not seriously injured.

Lovell was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga where she underwent surgery and returned to the jail two weeks later. She lost sight in one of her eyes.

A parole hearing was held for Lovell in December, 2004 but she was denied early release at that time.

DeKalb County Fair Wins "Premiere" Award

January 19, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Fair received a "Premiere" Award during the 87th Annual Tennessee Association of Fairs Convention held January 15th-17th in Nashville.

As state divisional award winners from last year, the DeKalb County Fair in Division "A" along with the Middle Tennessee District Fair of Lawrenceburg in Division "AA" and the Coffee County Fair in Division "AAA" were in the running for the coveted Champion of Champions Fair award for 2008.

This year's Champion of Champions award went to the Middle Tennessee District Fair while DeKalb County and Coffee County received the "Premiere" Fair Awards in their divisions.

Meanwhile the 2008 DeKalb County Fairest of the Fair, Nicole Linn, was among the top ten finalists for the Tennessee Association's Fairest of the Fair. This year's crown went to the Warren County Fairest of the Fair. A total of 51 contestants competed for the title.

State divisional champion awards for 2008 went to the Overton County Fair, Division "A"; the Dyer County Fair, Division "AA"; and the Putnam County Fair, Division "AAA."

This year's Merit Awards dinner, attended by hundreds of fair managers, vendors and volunteers from across the state, was held at the Nashville Airport Marriott Hotel on Saturday evening. Many of the state's top county agricultural fairs were recognized for outstanding achievement during the 2008 fair season.

Woman Charged with Child Abuse

January 19, 2009
Dwayne Page

A DeKalb County woman has been charged with child abuse.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies arrested 34 year old Lori Ann Keith of King's Court Trailer Court on Wednesday. Keith allegedly assaulted her 15 year old child causing scratches and marks to the child's arm and neck area. Keith's bond was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on January 22nd.

Meanwhile, on Saturday after receiving a complaint about a vehicle driving erratic, Deputies arrested 47 year old Dolores Castorena of Walker Street, McMinnville. Deputies spotted Castorena's vehicle on Highway 146 swerving all over the road. After stopping the vehicle, officers asked Castorena to perform field sobriety tasks which he failed. Deputies also discovered that Castorena did not have insurance for his vehicle and did not possess a valid driver's license. Castorena was arrested for no driver's license and driving under the influence. He was also issued citations for violation of the implied consent law and no insurance. His bond was set at $2,000 and he will appear in court on January 29th.

Fire Destroys Home on Big Hurricane Road

January 19, 2009
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters Battle Blaze at Home on Big Hurricane Road (Photo by Callie Matthews)

Fire destroyed a home this morning (Monday) on Big Hurricane Road.

Lieutenant Bradley Mullinax of the DeKalb County Fire Department says the call came in around 6:00 a.m. Monday. A neighbor spotted the blaze and reported it.

Firefighters responded from the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Keltonburg, and Midway Stations and the Main Station, along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department.

Mullinax says the house was already too far gone by the time firefighters arrived and it could not be saved.

No one was home at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Mullinax says firefighters were told that the home belonged to Darrin Ray.

(Photo by Callie Matthews)

State Proclamation Pays Tribute to DCHS Basketball Cheerleaders and Coach Walteen Parker

January 17, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Basketball Cheerleaders have been recognized by state lawmakers for winning the 2008 TSSAA State Cheerleading Championship in the non-building last month at MTSU in Murfreesboro. DCHS Basketball Cheerleading Coach Walteen Parker was also honored for receiving the Coaches Achievement Award.

The state proclamation, signed by Lieutenant Governor Rom Ramsey, State Senator Mae Beavers, and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, was presented to Coach Parker and the squad Friday night during halftime of the girls basketball game.

School Board Chairman Charles Robinson presented the proclamation on behalf of State Senator Mae Beavers, who could not attend. The proclamation was read by Dennis Stanley.

The proclamation states that "Whereas, the General Assembly is pleased to specially honor and commend those successful high school teams that, through their magnificent exploits, bring honor to Tennessee and serve as exceptional ambassadors of this state; and

Whereas, the DeKalb County High School Basketball Cheerleading squad is renowned for its perennial nature as a bastion of extraordinary athletic facility in the world of competitive cheering; and

Whereas, the DeKalb County High School cheerleaders achieved an unsurpassed level of success during the 2008 season, winning the TSSAA State Cheer Championship in the Non-Building Division for the second year in a row and the third time in the last four years; and

Whereas, during the TSSAA State Championship competition held at Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University on December 6th, 2008, these remarkable cheerleaders awed the crowds with their strength and grace, while duly impressing the judges as they showcased their talents, which have been developed through many hours of strenuous practice; and

Whereas, DeKalb County's championship would not have been possible without the supreme knowledge and astute leadership of Cheer Coach Walteen Parker, who was also specially recognized with the Coaches' Achievement Award; and

Whereas, this very impressive cheerleading team enjoys the leadership and dedication of three tremendous team captains, Rosemary Apple, Jessica Cook, and Alison Curtis, each of whom have been members of the cheer squad on all three state championship teams; and

Whereas, the DeKalb County High School Basketball Cheerleaders are Caroline Carter, Kendra Foutch, Amanda Ours, Perri Carter, Camry White, Tiffani Hendrixson, Allyson Judkins, Cora Beth Rhody, Sydney Robinson, Ashlee Whitehead, Rosemary Apple, Jessica Cook, and Alison Curtis; and

Whereas, the members of the DeKalb County High School basketball cheerleading team epitomize all that is good in today's student-athlete, as they have achieved a premier level of success in competition while exhibiting the highest degree of character in all aspects of life; and

Whereas, the perseverance, determination, work ethic, and talent of this group of young women not only made possible a championship season, but also surely bode well for their success in every future enterprise; and

Whereas, this General Assembly finds it appropriate to acknowledge and applaud the members of the DeKalb County High School cheerleading team for their outstanding performance and for serving as examples of the exceptional quality of the youth of Tennessee; now therefore.

I, Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the Senate of the One Hundred Fifth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, at the request of and in conjunction with Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, do hereby proclaim that we honor and congratulate Coach Walteen Parker and the DeKalb County High School Basketball Cheerleaders on their exceptional legacy, their individual and collective resolve, and their triumph as the 2008 TSSAA State Cheer Champions in the Non-Building Division."

Payments Released for Tobacco Transition Program

January 17, 2009

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, announces that annual payments for the Tobacco Transition Payment Program,
for the 2009 payment year, were released Monday, January 12. DeKalb County quota holders and producers will receive $505,667 in 2009 program year payments. Green says that direct deposit transactions should arrive in bank accounts within 3 business days while mailed checks should arrive within 10 business days for quota holders and producers who have enrolled in the program.

The Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP), also called the "tobacco buy-out," helps tobacco quota holders and producers transition to the free market.
The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-357), signed by President Bush on Oct. 22, 2004, ended the Depression-era tobacco quota program and established the TTPP. The program provides annual transitional payments for 10 years to eligible tobacco quota holders and producers. Payments began in 2005 and continue through 2014. Payments are funded through assessments of approximately $10 billion on tobacco product manufacturers and importers. The remaining payments will be made in 5 annual installments that will be issued in January of each year.

For more information on the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, please contact the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency at 615-597-8225, extension 2.

Senator Beavers reappointed Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee

January 17, 2009
Dwayne Page

State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) has been re-appointed Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The announcement was made by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey as the 106th General Assembly concluded their organizational session in Nashville this week.

“I appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve as Judiciary Committee Chairman” said Sen. Beavers. “We have critical issues before us this year dealing with our courts, DUI laws, and public safety. I look forward to a challenging year with these issues, given the state’s current financial problems.”

The Judiciary Committee is responsible for hearing all bills dealing with civil laws, criminal laws, judicial proceedings, apportionment of elected officials and governing bodies, and all matters relating to the courts, as well as law enforcement. Beavers was also appointed to the Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee and the Transportation Committee. The Transportation Committee is also expected to hear legislation of critical importance to Tennessee’s road program this year.

Sen. Beavers is currently serving her second term in the State Senate, after serving four terms in the House of Representatives. Prior to being elected to the legislature, Sen. Beavers worked as a paralegal and a court reporter.

“Senator Beavers did an outstanding job as our Judiciary Committee Chairman during her first term,” said Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. “I am very pleased that she agreed to take on this huge responsibility again for our 2009 and 2010 sessions and am confident she will carry out her duties as chairman again with the same dedication and professionalism.”


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