Local News Articles

Three Involved In Serious Traffic Accident Making Recovery

September 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

A week after being involved in a serious traffic accident on Banks Pisgah Road, three persons have been released from the hospital and are making a recovery.

Lieutenant Brian Lawson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 18 year old Kerrie Neal of Lee Braswell Road, Smithville was traveling south on Banks Pisgah Road last Tuesday evening in a 1994 Chevy pickup truck when she crossed the double yellow line and struck a northbound 1993 Nissan pickup, driven by 39 year old Lisa Evon Crowe of Parkhurst Road, McMinnville. Lieutenant Lawson says the crash occurred as both drivers were trying to negotiate a curve in front of the Banks Cumberland Presbyterian Church near Bethel Road.

According to Lieutenant Lawson, both Crowe and Neal were airlifted along with a passenger of Neal's vehicle, 17 year old Billy Gene Anderson of Page Drive, Smithville.

Two were flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga and one to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

All three have since been released.

Lieutenant Lawson says Crowe, who was the most seriously injured, suffered a broken finger, broken bones in her hand and two broken ribs.

Neal was cited for failure to keep the proper lane of travel and Anderson was cited for not wearing a seatbelt.

Four Arrested by Sheriff's Department

September 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested four people last week on charges ranging from drug offenses to aggravated assault, DUI, and disorderly conduct.

27 year old Amanda Mae Riley of Bright Hill Road Smithville was charged last week with sale and delivery of a controlled substance. Riley was a passenger in a vehicle, pulled over on a traffic stop. When the deputy asked Riley if she had any illegal drugs on her person, she produced two pill bottles containing Hydrocodone, Lorazepam, Xanax, and other drugs. Her bond was set at $40,000 and her court date is September 20th.

On Saturday night, Deputies received a call about a disturbance at a residence on Bright Hill Road. On the way to the call, deputies stopped persons in a vehicle on Bright Hill Road believed to be involved in the disturbance.

Deputies found 32 year old Leon Ramirez Santos of South College Street Smithville under the influence of alcohol. Santos and another suspect who was in the vehicle with him, 27 year old Victor Manuel Cruz of Kendra Drive, Smithville, were questioned.

When Deputies arrived at the residence they found a man identified as 24 year old Olmos Mora Gerardo of Church Street, Smithville being detained in a bedroom by other people at the residence.

Upon an investigation, deputies found that Cruz had assaulted a 21 year old man with a baseball bat at the residence by beating him on the head.

Gerardo and Santos were also causing trouble there. The victim, whose name is being withheld, was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Cruz is charged with aggravated assault and his bond is $10,000. Santos is charged with DUI and disorderly conduct and his bond is $3,500. Gerardo is charged with disorderly conduct and his bond is $2,500. All three will appear in court September 27th.

Sheriff's Department Joins HELP Program in Delivering Bottled Water

September 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the DeKalb County H.E.L.P. Program delivered bottled water last week to elderly and others in need.

H.E.L.P. Program Coordinator Wanda Poss says "The H.E.L.P. program, which stands for Helping Elderly Live Productively, is funded through donations to help our elderly and people in need. We have decided to furnish bottled water which this program has paid for. Sheriff Patrick Ray and I delivered approximately 50 cases of water Tuesday."

Sheriff Ray expressed his support for the program. "I was very excited to be apart of this very needed program. People in our communities, especially our elderly, are having a tough time due to the extreme heat and lack of well water. I feel this program is a very beneficial tool in helping our citizens."

Poss says the next program will be the Christmas meals for the Elderly.

Habitat Restore Seeks Merchandise Donations

September 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Restore of DeKalb County's affiliate chapter of Habitat for Humanity will open in late September and is ready to start accepting merchandise.

Restores are retail businesses which specialize in the sale of new, used and recyclable products which are given to Habitat but are not used in construction of Habitat homes. The store provides all members of the community an opportunity to support Habitat for Humanity's mission through their patronage and donations. Once established, the Restore will become an important source of funding for Habitat for Humanity's home building projects in DeKalb County.

The Restore will need start-up inventory of usable building materials and supplies, wooden furniture, doors,windows, cabinets, working appliances and tools, and related items. At this point, we cannot accept upholstered furniture, opened paint, any hazardous materials, computers or yard sale items.

For more information about donating, volunteering your time or the Restore project, leave a message at the Habitat for Humanity phone number, 215-8181, or contact Mike Antoniak, 536-5885.

Leffew Named "Interim Officer in Charge" of the Smithville Police Department

September 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

With Smithville Police Chief Tom Stufano stepping down, effective Tuesday, September 4th, Lieutenant Steven Leffew has been named the " Interim Officer in Charge" of the department, until a new Chief is selected by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

In a prepared statement, Leffew writes that "Recently, we here at the Smithville Police Department, have lost many knowledgeable and experienced employees. It is my belief that as police officers, we are bound by our duty to the citizens of Smithville to continue on and to fully carry out our oath of office."

"Lieutenant Richard Jennings, after being reinstated to the department, has decided to take a leave of absence. Therefore, I have agreed to accept the duties of interim officer in charge until the mayor and board of aldermen select a new Chief of Police. Upon the appointment of a new Chief of Police, I will relinquish all duties of Interim Officer in Charge and reassume my duties of Lieutenant."

"I am fully aware that there are community concerns as to whether the department will be able to provide continual police protection. Although facing the situation of being understaffed at the present time, I want to let the citizens of Smithville know that our department is fully functional. Our department will continue to provide the same honored and trusted police protection, 24 hours a day and seven days a week and will respond to all calls for service."

"As Interim Officer in Charge, I will always be available to the citizens of Smithville and will always be open to suggestions. Thank you for your continued support."

In addition to Chief Stufano, Captain Steve Deffendoll, Investigator Bill Elliott, and Sergeant Leilani Defore, are leaving Tuesday, September 4th and Central Records Supervisor Sue Mathis stepped down August 31st.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said Friday that he hoped to have some police officers hired soon, saying the city had pool of applications on file, and he emphasized that all shifts would be covered by the department to give the city as much police protection as possible, until the vacant positions are filled.

In the past, the mayor, city recorder, and the alderman/commissioner over the department would fill a job vacancy, until the next regular meeting of the city council when the aldermen would officially vote on the hiring. However Mayor Hendrixson would not say whether that would be the procedure in this case.

Since the aldermen cannot legally make decisions informally outside of a regular or special called meeting, which would violate open government laws, Mayor Hendrixson says a special meeting might have to be called before anyone is hired.

In the meantime, Mayor Hendrixson says at least two people may be hired to replace city recorder Burnace Vandergriff. According to the mayor, the city plans to advertise the opening of two positions, one for city secretary-treasurer-city recorder, and one for public works director.

Vandergiff has announced his resignation, effective later this month.

The next regular meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen is Monday, September 17th. The board will not meet on Labor Day.

Candidates for Assessor of Property and Constable May Qualify as Early as September 14th

August 31, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Democrats and Independents, interested in running for Assessor of Property and Constable, may begin picking up their qualifying petitions as early as September 14th from the election commission.

The DeKalb County Democratic Party is expected to hold it's local primary in conjunction with the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primary on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008.

Fay Fuqua, Chairperson of the DeKalb County Democratic Party, says members of the party's executive committee will formally act on setting the date for the local primary at a meeting on September 10th, but she will recommend that it be held on February 5th.

By having the local primary in conjunction with the Presidential Preference Primary in February, rather than it's normal date in May, the county is able to save several thousands of dollars in holding another election. An election in February and another one in May would be much more expensive.

DeKalb County Democrats will nominate candidates for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable in each of the county's seven districts on Tuesday, February 5th.

The incumbents are Assessor of Property Timothy "Fud" Banks and Constables Reed Edge in the Second District; Wayne Vanderpool in the Third District; Mark Milam in the Fifth District; Carl Lee Webb in the Sixth District; and Billy Thomason in the Seventh District. The First and Fourth District Constable positions are currently vacant.

DeKalb County Administrator of Elections Lisa Peterson says Democratic and Independent candidates for Assessor of Property and Constable may qualify with the Election Commission from September 14th through the deadline of noon December 13th.

Democrats will qualify for the February 5th Primary while Independents will qualify for the August 7th, 2008 DeKalb County General Election.

DeKalb County Republicans select their nominees for the DeKalb County General Election by convention, rather than a primary, but GOP candidates for Assessor of Property and Constable must also qualify for the August Election by noon December 13th.

Kennith Vanatta, Chairman of the DeKalb County Republican Party, says he plans to call a local GOP Mass Meeting around the first of November, with the GOP Convention to follow within a couple of weeks thereafter.

Early Voting for the February 5th Primary will be January 16th through January 31st

The last day to register to vote, in time for the February 5th primary, is Monday, January 7th, if you have not been registered to vote in DeKalb County.

Tennessee will be among some twenty states holding Presidential Preference Primaries on Super Tuesday, February 5th.

Voters of both political parties will select their preferences for President on February 5th. The Presidential Election will be held on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Primaries for State and other Federal Offices will be held on Thursday, August 7th, 2008 in conjunction with the DeKalb County General Election.

Voters in both parties will nominate candidates for U. S Senate, U.S. House of Representatives (6th District), and State House of Representatives (40th District). Those positions are currently held by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, Congressman Bart Gordon, and State Representative Frank Buck. Winners of the August State Primaries will meet in the November 4th State General Election, in conjunction with the Presidential Election.

Early Voting for the August 7th, 2008 General Election and State Primaries will be July 18th through August 2nd, 2008.

Early Voting for the November 4th, 2008 Election will be October 15th through October 30th.

Walk Across Tennessee Contest Kicks Off September 22nd

August 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

Being physically active is one of the best things you can do to improve and maintain your health, yet nearly two-thirds of Americans aren’t getting the activity they need. Consider taking up walking with friends or your family by participating in Walk Across Tennessee, which is an eight-week program that will spark some friendly competitions in DeKalb County. Beginning September 22nd teams of eight will compete to see who can log the most miles walking, jogging, biking, and other forms of exercise in their community. Biking or jogging teams can have a team of four. The miles walked are not literally across the state, but reported on a map posted at the UT Extension Office and Greenbrook Park. This year some of the schools in the county will be participating as well. They will be tracking minutes of exercise rather than miles walked.

Since everyone participates in a variety of sports, the Walk Across Tennessee program also has an exercise conversion chart so that participants can count aerobics, swimming, weight lifting, etc. For example, 16 minutes of high intensity aerobics would equal one mile.

The Walk Across Tennessee kickoff for DeKalb County is set for Saturday, September 22 at Greenbrook Park at 9:00. “Teams will keep track of their miles, which will be posted in the Extension office and other places around the community. Teams can be composed of coworkers, teachers, students, neighbors, etc. This is an excellent team competition for the workplace and schools” said April Martin, DeKalb County Extension Agent. Students in schools will track their progress a little differently. They will keep track of the minutes they exercise each week. For general reporting purposes, 20 minutes will equal one mile.”

According to Martin, “Last spring we had over 400 people on 53 teams. This is one of the largest Extension Walk Across Tennessee programs on record across the state, so we have been thrilled about the community’s interest. The overall top winning team last spring was Shiroki North America’s Night Owls followed by second place winner SNA Unisex Walkers. We hope to get more businesses involved this time as well.”

Many people are unaware of the positive benefits of exercise. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 1 problem in the United States. The risk of heart disease could be significantly reduced by regular exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control, the positive effects of physical activity are not limited to lowering the risk of heart disease. Not only does regular exercise help relieve stress and anxiety,” physically active people outlive inactive people. Participating in Walk Across Tennessee DeKalb County is not only a great way to get involved with our community, it’s a healthy habit,” Martin stated.

To participate in Walk Across Tennessee, first get a team together. Biking and jogging teams are limited to four people. Choose a team captain and name your team. Team captains need to download up a captain’s packet, available at the DeKalb County Walk Across Tennessee website which is http://eteamz.active.com/WalkAcrossTennesseeDeKalbCounty/ in the handout section or at the DeKalb County Extension Office, 115 West Market St. Smithville, located right beside Fuston’s Antiques. Each team member will need to complete a registration form which is included in the team captain’s packet or at the Walk Across Tennessee website. Individual as well as team forms should be returned to the Extension office.
Awards and prizes will be given to the individual who walk the most miles as well as the team who walks the most miles.

“Competition kicks off on September 22, 9:00 A.M. at Greenbrook Park under pavilion one,” Martin said. “Come out and plan to have lots of fun.” For more information, call the Extension office at 597-4945 or visit the website. Walk Across Tennessee results will be posted at http://eteamz.active.com/WalkAcrossTennesseeDeKalbCounty/, at Greenbrook park, and the Extension office each week.

All of the programs of the University of Tennessee are open to all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or disability.

TDOT to Temporarily Close Portion of State Highway 83 Tuesday For Road Work

August 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to temporarily close State Route 83 between Highways 56 and 70 on Tuesday, September 4th in order to do some work on the road.

TDOT will be resurfacing State Route 83 beginning at Old Mill Hill Road and extending 4.4 miles to State Route 56 (Congress Boulevard).

Highways Incorporated of Brentwood was awarded a bid to do the work for $324,143.

As part of the resurfacing project underway on State Route 83, the contractor will be installing drainage pipes that will entail the temporary closure of State Route 83 between State Route 56 and US Highway 70. This closure will occur on Tuesday, September 4th between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Thirty Six Sex Offenders from DeKalb County Listed on State Registry

August 29, 2007
Dwayne Page

A total of thirty six people living in DeKalb County have registered as sex offenders.

Under a new law, anyone who has ever committed a sex crime is now required to report their whereabouts to the registry.

Locating an offender near your own home has already become a lot easier as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has begun a system which pinpoints the locations where sex offenders live on a map. All this information is available for public access via the Internet.

TBI Director Mark Gwynn says " the former sex offender law only required offenders to register if they were incarcerated, on probation, or on parole as of January 1st, 1996. The new law is retroactive, meaning anyone who has committed a sex crime in the past, regardless of the date, must now report to their local law enforcement agency."

While the listing requirements were strengthened for some, they were relaxed for lesser violators as many persons convicted of statutory rape are no longer required to list themselves.

The new law also allows those formerly on the registry for statutory rape to petition to have their pictures and names removed. Statutory rape convictions of persons who were more than 10 years older than their victims are still required to list themselves in most cases.

Failure of a convicted sex offender to list his or herself on the registry is a felony, generally punished by several additional months behind bars,

The updated system also requires sex offenders who move to Tennessee from other states to list themselves here if they were registered offenders in their former state, even if their offense is not covered under Tennessee's list of requirements.

The tightening of listing laws comes as the TBI has put a new mapping system on it's Web site to assist the public in tracking convicted sex offenders. The search engine uses a map overlay of the state's 95 counties to show exactly where an offender lives. The search engine provides several ways to locate an offender. The TBI's Web site is www.tbi.state.tn.us.

High Fire Danger Prompts Early Burning Permit Requirement

August 28, 2007
Dwayne Page

Due to extremely high wildfire danger caused by the drought, record high temperatures and low humidity, state Forestry officials today announced the implementation of burning restrictions usually reserved for official wildfire season.

Effective (Aug. 27), citizens are required to obtain a burning permit from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry before conducting any outdoor, open burning of debris within 500 feet of woodlands, grasslands or forestlands.

“Although our level of wildfire activity is moderate and manageable, we’re concerned about the potential for high wildfire danger due to the extremely dry conditions and the effect it’s having on forest fuels as we move into the fall,” said State Forester Steve Scott. “We want to be proactive by helping citizens determine when and where it’s safe to burn and when it’s not.

“Considering the forecast for continued hot, dry conditions and little chance of rainfall, we will be issuing burning permits on a very limited basis, to be evaluated county by county and considering local conditions. We are taking these steps to help undercut the threat of wildfires caused by debris burning before they happen, and to protect lives and property.”

Typically, burning permits are not required by the state Division of Forestry except during official fire season, which runs Oct. 15 through May 15 each year. However, under state law the State Forester can prescribe other periods of time for requiring burning permits as conditions warrant. The burning permit requirement is expected to remain in force through May 15, 2008, when official wildfire season ends.

According to state Forestry officials, burning permits are not likely to be issued until areas of the state receive substantial rainfall. When conditions improve, citizens should inquire about burning permits by calling their local Division of Forestry office listed in the phone directory under state government between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. A directory of state forestry offices by county can also be found on the Web at www.burnsafetn.org.

Activities requiring a burning permit include, but are not limited to unconfined, outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste, and burning to clear land. Burning permits are required in most areas unless superseded by local ordinance, so citizens are encouraged to also check for any restrictions by municipalities.

Since Jan. 1, nearly 2,700 fires have burned an estimated 37,000 acres in Tennessee, well above average for what is normally seen in a 12-month period. Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfire; however, 37 percent of the wildfires this year have been due to arson, which is a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. For more information, visit the Division of Forestry’s wildfire safety Web site at www.burnsafetn.org


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