Local News Articles

USDA Releases Payments for 2007 Tobacco Transition Payment Program

February 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, announces that annual payments for the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, for the 2007 payment year, were released Thursday, January 25. DeKalb County quota holders and producers will receive $496,726 in 2007 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 7 annual installments that are 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.

Revenue Department Extends April 15 Filing Deadline

February 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

Tennessee taxpayers will have until Tuesday, April 17, 2007, to file state taxes due April 15, the Tennessee Department of Revenue announced today. The revenue department's decision to extend the filing time follows an announcement earlier this year by the Internal Revenue Service that it was changing its federal income tax deadline nationwide to April 17 for this year only.

The April 17, 2007, deadline will apply to the following: Hall income tax and franchise and excise taxes.

?We will follow the IRS?s lead in regard to the April 17 filing deadline. As always, we encourage taxpayers to utilize our online tax filing applications,? said Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 92 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the department collected $10.3 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.8 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2005-2006 fiscal year. Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.Tennessee.gov/revenue.

Drivers License Roadside Safety Checkpoints Scheduled Friday

February 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting driver license
roadside safety checkpoints Friday, June 15th on State
Routes 53, 56, 83, 96, and 146 in DeKalb County.

Recognizing the danger presented to the public by unqualified
drivers, Troopers will concentrate their efforts on vehicles being
operated by drivers who would violate the driver license laws of

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has found these driver license
roadside safety checkpoints to be an effective means of enforcing driver
license laws of Tennessee while ensuring the protection of all motorists.

Stepped Up Police Visibility and Enforcement Efforts Lead To Several Arrests

February 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Officers working traffic enforcement and drug interdiction were busy over the past few days in stepped up efforts to have more police visibility.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says on February 2nd Officers stopped 38 year old Celina Rena Tate of 848 Foster Road in Smithville leaving the Bridgeway Motel at 4:30 a.m. on a reported Domestic disturbance complaint. During the course of the investigation Officer?s found that Tate was under the influence of a drug or alcoholic beverage and was acting in a disorderly manner by beating on motel doors disturbing patrons. A records check disclosed that this was Tate?s 3rd offense for driving under the influence. She was eventually charged with DUI 3rd Offense, Refusal to Sign a Citation, Disorderly Conduct and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Syringes), and Simple Possession of a Scheduled III Drug. She was transported to the Dekalb County Jail under an $8,500 Bond. Tate?s vehicle, a 2000 Chevy S-10 4x4, was seized under the State?s Seizure Statute.

Meanwhile, Chief Stufano says on February 4th, 25 year old Juan A. Hernandez of 962 Blue Springs Road was stopped for a traffic infraction when Smithville Officers learned that Hernandez did not have a license due to it being revoked for a DUI. He was arrested and charged with a traffic citation and Driving on a Revoked License. He was transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond and his vehicle, a 2002 Chevy Avalanche, was seized under the State?s Seizure Statute.

Also on February 4th, 19 year old Leon Birlain of 122 Delano Street in McMinnville was arrested for having an open container of an alcoholic beverage while driving, speeding and he did not have a valid Driver?s License or Insurance. Smithville Officer?s working a dedicated traffic enforcement detail on Highway 70 originally stopped Birlain for speeding. He was eventually arrested and transported to the Dekalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond.

In a separate case 33 year old Jason Cripps of 774 Four Seasons Road was arrested for Theft under $500.00 from the Walmart store on Highway 70. Smithville Police responded to the store after a Night Manager stated that Cripps was seen concealing a Dremmel Power tool under his clothing and leaving the store. He was eventually stopped and the item recovered. At the time of arrest Cripps had $420 in cash on him. He was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond.

Chief Stufano says traffic enforcement efforts over the weekend yielded 18 citations for speeding infractions, no driver?s license, no insurance and DUI. The Smithville Police Department is committed to providing the citizens and guests of Smithville a safer driving experience and would like to thank the motoring public for helping identify those drivers that put us in jeopardy.

Mobile Home Destroyed In Early Morning Fire-Two Escape Unharmed

February 6, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two people escaped injury in a mobile home fire early Tuesday morning at 230 Huddleston Loop off Adcock Cemetery Road.

Captain Jeff Williams says firefighters received a call at 3:45 a.m. to come to a trailer belonging to Melissa King being rented by Billy C. Cantrell.

Cantrell and his caretaker Cissy Petty, who were inside the trailer at the time of the fire, escaped unharmed but the mobile home was destroyed.

Captain Williams says Petty told firefighters that she was on the couch asleep when she awoke to the screams of Cantrell, who was in the same room, lying in a hospital bed, which had caught fire.

Firefighters speculate that Cantrell, who was on oxygen, may have been smoking in bed.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Midway Stations responded along with a tanker truck. DeKalb EMS was also on the scene as a precaution.

DeKalb County Gets Two New Physicians

February 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County has two new doctors, Podiatrist Dr. Timothy R. Merrell and Dr. Jyotheen Karam, Board Certified Nephrologist of Nephrology Associates, PC in Nashville.

Dr. Merrell specializes in medicine and surgery of the foot. He treats conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, heel pain, neuroma, ingrown toenails, and diabetic foot care.

Dr. Merrell received his medical degree from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa. He completed his residency program in the James H. Quillen VA Medical Hospital. Dr. Merrell has had a successful practice in Fayetteville, Tennessee for the past nine years.

Dr. Merrell is married to Marnie Merrell and has two great children. His daughter, Rae, is studying to become a Registered Nurse and his son, Blake, is a member of the United States Air Force. His interests include playing the guitar, mountain bike riding, scuba diving, fishing and organic gardening.

Dr. Merrell will be seeing patients at the Family Medical Center.

Dr. Karam specializes in the care of patients with kidney diseases and high blood pressure.

Dr. Karam received his medical degree at the India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India in 1995. He completed his internal medicine residency at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2001. In 2003, he received a nephrology fellowship and joined the faculty at SUNY Buffalo - where he taught until moving to Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Karam will see patients at the Medical Specialty Office.

Fire Damages Two Storage Buildings At Bluhmtown Road Residence

February 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at 1:36 p.m.Wednesday at 600 Bluhmtown Road.

Chief Donny Green says some burning trash on the property apparently spread to a storage building and a smaller utility building next to it causing significant damage to both structures. He says firefighters were able to save the buildings and the contents, including tools, workout equipment, beds, and other miscellaneous items were also salvageable.

The fire apparently did not threaten the residence on the property, which belongs to Al Mahan but is being rented by Pam Gaus.

A relative and neighbor of Ms Gaus, Jason Gaus spotted the fire and reported it.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Blue Springs, and Cookeville Highway Stations responded along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department. No one was injured.

Studio Six Photography Announces Fashion Show Cover Model Winners

February 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

Isabella McCoy of Alexandria and Hannah Watson of Smithville were announced as the official Cover Models of the 2007 Studio Six Fashion Show during a LIVE radio broadcast Wednesday on WJLE. Contestants were voted on by the public through the Studio Six Photography website. The ballots were drawn from two age categories: Ages 6 to 15 and 16 to 20.

\"We were amazed at the response and thousands of votes we received. We personally did not know how this would go, but the success was overwhelming. The fashion show committee was very nervous leaving our cover models up to chance,\" Beth Chandler and Amelia Lynn of Studio Six stated. \"We both agreed that a younger age category needed to be included so that all ages would have an opportunity to win. We could not be happier with the winners. The billboards and promotion will be fabulous because of them!\"

Voters purchased ballots for 25 cents with all proceeds going to the Education Foundation of DeKalb County partnering with Operation Head to Toe. Over 90 children were clothed this year and multiple scholarships given through these two important charitable organizations working specifically for DeKalb County.

\"Now that our Cover Models are in place, our next step is to contact local businesses to help us sponsor the show to raise even more money for these wonderful organizations,\" said Shan Burklow, owner of Studio Six Photography. \"Groups or individuals that would like to volunteer their time or money will have a great time doing something beneficial for their county. Busineses should be on the lookout because I will be coming soon.\"

The cover models will be used in all fashion show publicity including billboards, website, tickets, posters, and all advertising materials. The billboards featuring the 2007 Fashion Show Cover Models will go up March 1st but you can check out a preview on the Studio Six website February 13th. The show will be held Thursday, March 29th at 7:00 p.m. downtown Smithville. Tickets are on sale now at Studio Six Photography or can be purchased online at www.StudioSixLimited.com.

Alleged Big Time Marijuana Dealers Convicted In Federal Court

February 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two men, described by Sheriff Patrick Ray as major marijuana dealers in this area for several years, may be going to prison after being convicted by a federal jury in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga Wednesday.

Sheriff Ray says 48 year old Jeffory Carl Young of Short Mountain Road, Woodbury and 53 year old Morris Edward Roller of Lance Road, McMinnville were found guilty on all charges in a 20 count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in May, 2006.

U.S. District Judge R. Alan Edgar will sentence the two men at a hearing on May 7th. Roller is facing a prison term of from five years to forty years and Young's sentence could be from ten years to life in prison. The two men have been incarcerated since their arrests and will remain in custody until the sentencing hearing.

The trial began on Monday, January 29th and continued on Tuesday, January 30th, Wednesday, January 31st, and resumed Tuesday and Wednesday, February 6th and 7th.

Another hearing was held Thursday morning in Chattanooga where a forfeiture agreement was reached between the prosecutors and the defendants and approved by the Judge.

Sheriff Ray says the defendants agreed to forfeit 1,000 acres of property they own jointly in DeKalb and Cannon County, with an estimated value of $1.7 million dollars. The property will be sold at auction by the U.S. Marshal's Service at a later date.

Both men were found guilty on a charge that \"they did conspire to manufacture 100 to 1,000 marijuana plants, a controlled substance, from at least 1992 until May, 2006\".

Roller was convicted on nine counts of marijuana distribution on the following dates: January 19th, January 30th, February 18th, July 21st, September 15th, and November 17th in the year 2004, on March 2nd and December 29th in the year 2005, and on May 24th, 2006.

Roller was also found guilty of using a communication facility (telephone) to facilitate the distribution of marijuana on the following dates: September 29th, October 4th, October 5th, and December 21st, 2005.

The jury found Young guilty of aiding and abetting another person in the possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute on August 27th, 2004 and January 31st, 2006

Young was also convicted on charges that he used a telephone to facilitate the distribution of marijuana on December 21st, 2005, January 26th and January 31st, 2006 and twice on December 12th, 2005.

The men, business partners, operated farmland on the Warren-Cannon County line.

The case stems from an undercover investigation by the Warren County Sheriff's Department, the Southeastern Drug Enforcement Agency, the Middle Tennessee Drug Enforcement Agency, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Agency, and the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Officers say they made many undercover buys leading up to the raids in May.

Sheriff Ray, who worked for the Warren County Sheriff's Department at the time and was involved in the investigation, says these two men were first charged with manufacturing marijuana eight years ago in DeKalb County during Sheriff Kenneth Pack's administration but the trial ended in a mistrial with a hung jury. The men claimed they were cultivating a wildlife food plot and not marijuana, even though pictures had been taken of the men in the marijuana patch, and were entered as evidence during the trial. Sheriff Ray says some jurors later said they could not convict the men because they were fearful of them. \"During 1999, we had a case here in DeKalb County where these two individuals, Morris Roller and Jeff Young were caught in a marijuana patch. We had pictures of them. That jury was a hung jury. After talking with some of the jurors, they advised that they were scared of these two individuals because they were big time drug dealers.\"

Sheriff Ray says the investigation into the Warren County case began five years ago. \"In 2002 while I was an investigator with the Warren County Sheriff's Department, we had an informant go in and buy compressed marijuana from Morris Roller. We were paying anywhere from $1,050 and up for it. We were actually able to make several buys from him for almost four years from 2002 to May, 2006. We were also able to get another informant to go in and buy from Jeff Young. We actually bought up to nine pounds there at one time. After we had purchased some of the marijuana, we went to Chattanooga and contacted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and they set up what they call a \"pin link\" on their (defendant's) cell phones, in which we could tell who they were making calls to and who was calling them. That evolved into where we could actually listen to the phone calls. We would listen to the calls and if there was any drug transaction we would evaluate what was going on and who was going there to do business with them. They had a connection out of Mexico. It was Mexican marijuana, which was the compressed marijuana. They were also raising homegrown marijuana. There was testimony during the trial that some of the buds of the homegrown marijuana was at least an inch and a half to two inches thick and about a foot long.\"

During the arrest in May, authorities seized 31 parcels of land, equaling 1900 acres with a tax appraisal of $2.5 million; more than $10,000 in cash; and over ten pounds of marijuana.

Investigators also confiscated two farm tractors, a round hay baler, semi-truck, a ton truck, and a bob cat loader, all believed to have been purchased with proceeds from the sale of drugs.

The Tennessee Department of Revenue also levied a $60,000 tax against the two men

Sheriff Ray says more arrests may be forthcoming as a result of this investigation, including some from DeKalb County.

Sheriff Ray also adds that this is an example of a lesson that adults and young people should learn from, that dealing in drugs is dangerous and costly. \"This is an example of what we should try to teach our kids about using drugs. These two guys here were fairly successful businessmen in the cattle industry. They had nice farms, vehicles, farm equipment, and hundreds of head of cattle, and they lost it all, but more importantly they have lost their freedom. We need to teach our children that this is what can happen to you. If you deal in drugs or use drugs, you can lose everything you have, including your freedom.\"

School Board Considers Light Agenda

February 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly written report on personnel to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Those hired for the 2006-2007 school year since last month include Deona Thomas, certified substitute teacher at DCHS; Brandy Roller, certified substitute teacher; Tiffanie L. Harness, certified substitute teacher; Benita Byars, school nurse; and Mattie Ruth Frazier, custodian at DeKalb West School.

Rena Adcock, cafeteria worker was transferred to a full time position at DCHS.

In other business, Terry Ellis from the Energy Division of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development addressed the board concerning no interest loans which are available to retrofit existing local government buildings with new energy efficient lights, insulation and HVAC systems.

Ellis says the school system could apply for a $500,000 loan from the Federal Department of Energy, which if approved, would have to be repaid over seven years. Ellis explained that DeKalb County, as a Three Star community through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, could get the loan, if approved, at 0% interest.

Ellis says energy efficient audits have already been conducted at four of the schools in the county to determine the needs, at no cost to the local government. Findings of those audits reveal that DeKalb Middle School, DCHS, and DeKalb West School need new energy efficient lighting, and that Smithville Elementary School needs the new lighting, in addition to a new energy efficient HVAC system. The total cost to make these retrofits to the schools is projected to be $165,350.

The board took no action on the proposal.

Meanwhile, the board approved a December request made by Jeannie Watson and Shan Burklow authorizing them to produce a school calendar which would include photographs of children and dates of school functions. The calendar would serve as a fundraiser for the non-profit Operation Head To Toe, which provides clothes for needy children in this county. Some ninety children were served this past year.

The board voted to ask the county commission for permission to bid the purchase of three new school buses for delivery in August, to be funded in the 2007-2008 General Purpose School Budget.

In other routine matters, the board approved an overnight trip request for the DCHS Beta Club to attend the State Convention at Opryland in Nashville on April 9-11.

The board also approved an overnight trip request for DCHS football cheerleaders to attend the Contest of Champions National Cheerleading Competition in Orlando, Florida on February 24th.

Permission was granted for an overnight trip for the DCHS basketball cheerleaders to participate in the Smoky Mountain Spring Spectacular on March 10th in Gatlinburg

The board okayed an overnight trip request for the FCCLA to attend the State Leadership Meeting April 10-12 at Opryland Hotel.

Approval was given for board members to attend the ?Day on the Hill\" Legislative Conference on February 27th.


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