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Top news stories for the last half of 2015
top fiddle
Jamboree Coordinator Jack Barton is shown with fiddle champion Tyer Andal of White House and runner up Gail Johnson of Lavergne.


Andal named Grand Champion Fiddler


The rain-soaked ending of the 44th annual Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree and Crafts Festival saw Tyler Andal of White House take the Grand Champion Fiddler award on July 4.


Andal, winner of the Junior Fiddle contest, faced Senior Fiddle winner Gail Johnson of Lavergne and won the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award Saturday night in a Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler. The final contest of the event was held under the "porch" of the onstage farmhouse in a heavy downpour.


A short rain delay marred the Saturday morning contests, but acceptable weather prevailed for the rest of the day, until a light rain set in after dark. While some contests went ahead in spite of the drizzle, the sky opened up just before the end of the finals.


Giri Peters from Nashville earned the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award, and was named the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners.


The Driver award is named for the man who began the children’s competition at the Jamboree during the 1980’s. Members of the Driver family made the award presentation, including Driver’s sons Jim and Mickey, and great grandsons Logan Beauchamp, Brandon Turrentine, and Ashton Campbell.


Peters took first place in the Dobro guitar, Mandolin, and Flat Top Guitar competitions, and was named the "Entertainer of the Year" as well. The Entertainer of the Year award is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in Dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar.


The Jamboree Blue Blaze Award was presented to Jamboree alumni Sierra Hull on Saturday afternoon. The award recognizes a player who is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music. Hull first set foot on the Jamboree stage at the age of nine years. By time she was 11 she had accompanied Alison Krauss on the Grand Old Opry stage. She signed with Rounder Records at 13, and has played at the White House, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, releasing three albums. She has also received the Presidential Scholarship from Berklee School of Music.


Barn fire claims three animals


A Game Ridge Road barn fire claimed two horses and a jackass on July 2.


Lieutenant Brian Williams of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department told the Review that the fire, whose cause has yet to be determined, was well underway before firefighters arrived. Dispatch received a call just before eight in the morning that the barn, owned Billy Hendrixson and rented by Jeffery Carter, was engulfed in flames.


While three animals perished, the owner was able to save one horse, but the animal suffered burns before being removed from the conflagration. The barn was a total loss, and hay and farm machinery were also destroyed. Members of the Main Station, Short Mountain Highway Station, Blue Springs Station, and Tanker 1 responded to the scene, along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff’s Department.


Hospital bomb threat a false alarm


DeKalb Community Hospital was partially evacuated on July 7 after a suspicious package was found near the physician’s offices in front of the facility. The package proved to be a briefcase that had been misplaced by its owner.


According to a statement from Shan Burklow of DeKalb Community Hospital, the suspected threat turned out to be a false alarm.


"At approximately 11:15 a.m. today (July 8) a suspicious package was reported in front of the doctors building on the DeKalb Community Hospital campus in Smithville, she said. A code orange bomb threat was then issued for the entire hospital facility and a perimeter lockdown immediately took effect. Incident commander Brandon Donnell was quoted as saying, "We had a quick response from the police, fire department, sheriff’s department, State Bomb and Arson, bomb dogs from Lebanon, local TMA, THP, EMS, TEMA, and 911, as well as the hospital staff and administration who train and prepare often for this type of crisis. The DeKalb Community Hospital campus maintained the perimeter on lockdown until all communicating parties deemed the threat was no longer an issue. At approximately 2 pm, the code orange bomb threat was changed to an all-clear."


Lebanon EMS was on the scene with additional support. "From our viewpoint, when we came on the scene, the evacuation procedure was spot on for a code orange,” said a representative for Lebanon Emergency Services Unit, "I was impressed to see your local emergency, fire, police, and all involved were all working so well together, and were on the same page. That's always a great sign. I was very impressed."


Redmon retires as principal


Northside Elementary Principal Dr. Gayle Redmon announced her retirement in July after serving DeKalb County for more than forty years in education.


At the July school board meeting, Northside Assistant Principal Beth Pafford told board members that Dr. Redmon will be missed.


"Dr. Redmon retired as of June 30. She has served DeKalb County Schools for 40 years," Pafford said. "It has been a big passion of hers to make sure students in this county receive an excellent education. She established a tradition of excellence at Northside. For three years she has been my mentor, my partner, and my friend. She will be greatly missed. I want to let her know that we greatly appreciate her."


Cripps named director of schools


School Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III signed a temporary contract with the new director of schools on July 16.


The Board of Education met in special session and voted to name DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps to the post. A preliminary 30-day contract was signed until Cripps and the board can hash out the details of the document at a workshop set for July 30. A final contract will be signed after the board votes on the terms at its next regular monthly meeting on Aug. 6 after the agreement has been reviewed by attorneys.


Cripps accepted the board's offer of a two-year contract with a base salary of $85,000 per year.


Members of the board used paper ballots, as recommended by Tennessee School Boards Association attorneys, to choose the new director. The votes were counted, and a roll call was taken to verify the votes.


Cripps earned a BS degree from Tennessee Tech University in the fall of 1995 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. He earned an MA in Educational Psychology and Counselor Education at TTU in 1999, and received his Ed.S degree in Instructional Leadership at Tech in 2004.


While he served as principal at DCHS for three years, Cripps career began as a Safe Schools Counselor in DeKalb County in 1997. He was named a School Counselor at DCHS in 1999, and became an Assistant Principal at DCHS in 2005 before assuming the duties of principal.


Seven people applied for the director’s seat, the board cut the field to three final candidates, but one those, Michael Steele of Spring Hill, removed his name from consideration, leaving Cripps and Supervisor of Special Education Gina Arnold to compete for the job.


County approves budget


The county commission voted 9-4 on July 27 to increase the property tax rate by 16 cents.


The rate will increased from $1.62 to $1.78 per $100 of assessed value. Commissioners Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Betty Atnip voted against the measure, with Ellis commenting that while he had respect for the budget committee, he could not vote himself a tax increase.


Voting in favor of the increase were Jeff Barnes, Mason Carter, Jack Barton, Bradley Hendrix, Anita Puckett, Jerry Adcock, Wayne Cantrell, Kevin Robinson, and Larry Summers. Jonathon Norris was absent.


A 2015-16 budget totaling $40,936,094 was approved by the commission as well.


A public hearing on the proposed budget and tax increase preceded the regular monthly meeting of the commission. The public hearing began at 5:30 p.m., while the regular meeting took place at 6 p.m.


Many commissioners felt the 16-cent property tax increase was necessary to keep the county from borrowing money to operate before the fiscal year ends, and county financial advisor Steve Bates advised them that without the action the county would have to dip too far into reserve funds this fiscal year.


The commissioners voted 10-3 to pass an appropriations resolution for 2015-16. Johnson, Midgett, and Atnip voted against the measure. Hendrix and Puckett, both employed by the school system, declared that while they had a conflict (because the budget contains increased funds for schools), they would vote their conscience.


Bryant named DCHS principal


School Board Director Patrick Cripps chose his successor as principal at DeKalb County High School, as well as naming a new principal at Northside Elementary in late July.


Kathy Bryant, who had served as assistant principal at DCHS since 2012, was named the 11th principal at DCHS since it was opened in 1963. Her predecessors included Amon Snyder, Jim Butler, Tucker Hendrix, Ernest Ray, Dr. Charles Collier, Larry Johnson, Dr. Barry Roberts, Weldon Parkinson, and Kathy Hendrix and Cripps.


Bryant came to the high school from DeKalb Middle School, where she was also an assistant principal. She served as a teacher at Northside Elementary before moving to DMS.


Meanwhile, Karen Knowles was picked to take over as principal at Northside Elementary School after the retirement of Dr. Gayle Redmon. Knowles had worked as assistant principal at Smithville Elementary School since 2011. She was a teacher at Smithville Elementary School for nine years before accepting the assistant principal’s post.


Crews indicted for first-degree murder


Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews, 43, initially charged with second-degree murder in the February stabbing death of 28-year-old Ashley Bain, was indicted in July for first-degree murder.


Bain was found lying on Feb. 5 in a bedroom of the Cookeville Highway home she and Crews shared. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, she had been stabbed numerous times about the upper body. A copy of the indictment obtained by the Review alleges that "Crews, on February 5, did unlawfully, intentionally, and with premeditation, kill Ashley Bain, constituting the offense of first degree murder."


Crews reportedly called 911 at 2:33 p.m. to report that he had entered the residence and discovered Bain’s body. Sheriff’s deputies rushed to the scene, and were soon joined, at the request of District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, by agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A joint investigative effort by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, the TBI, and the District Attorney General’s Office determined that Crews had committed the crime and falsified the story about finding the body.


According to a TBI spokesman, "TBI Special Agents began investigating the death of 28-year-old Ashley Bain 3870 Cookeville Highway on Feb. 5. On that same day, Anthony Tyrone Crews called DeKalb County 911 to report that he had arrived at the home he shared with Bain and found his girlfriend unresponsive. During the course of the investigation, TBI Special Agents working alongside detectives from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and the 13th District Attorney General’s Office, developed information that led them to Crews as the individual responsible for the murder."


In a related story, Clay Andrew Bain, 23, the alleged murder victim’s brother, was indicted for disrupting a meeting or procession and two counts of assault as the result of an outburst in the courtroom at a preliminary hearing for Crews.


According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Bain was charged after he made verbal threats and physically assaulted Crews after the hearing in March. The sheriff said that Bain hit Crews on the head in DeKalb County General Sessions Court Thursday. He was charged with an additional count of assault after injuring Sergeant Brian Williams’ left hand while the officer was attempting to prevent Bain from gaining access to Crews.


Witnesses said that Bain stood and walked toward the door of the courtroom after the hearing, and when Judge Bratten H. Cook II asked him to return to his seat, he instead made his way to the defendant’s seat and struck the handcuffed Crews in the head with his fist, and striking a deputy in the process. Crews stood up, but was quickly restrained, and both he and Bain were removed from the courtroom by officers.


Woman cited for taking “gay flag”


According to city police, Rita Gail Houk, 52, was cited for vandalism and theft on July 23. Houk is charged with taking property from a business without the owner's permission and damaging another item in the process.


Houk contacted the Review, saying that she would like it known that the item she took was a “gay (rainbow) flag” being displayed outside the business. She said she was offended by the banner, and that she felt that it promoted homosexuality and child molestation.


Fults indicted for rape of child


Jacky Lynn Fults, 53, was one of 57 people indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in late July, including nine named in sealed indictments.


Fults was indicted for the rape of a child in connection with a September 2014 case in which he allegedly anally penetrated a seven-year-old girl with his finger at his home on Foster Road.


According to the arrest warrant, doctors at Our Kids in Davidson County reportedly examined the girl on Sept. 29 and found evidence consistent with abuse. The child allegedly also disclosed the facts of the case to staff members at the Child Advocacy Center in Cookeville on Sept. 30.


The case was investigated by Lieutenant Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department.


The Grand Jury indictment alleges that "Fults, between September 25 and 28, 2014 did intentionally and or knowingly engage in unlawful sexual penetration of a seven-year-old child, constituting the offense of Rape of a Child."


New Sligo Bridge open to traffic


The new Sligo Bridge was opened to traffic several months before the completion deadline.


The first vehicle crossed the new structure at 12:33 p.m. after a little more than two years of construction, with County Mayor Tim Stribling there to witness the occasion.


"It's been a long time coming," the mayor said. "There's a lot of history with the old bridge and people hate to see it go, but with progress comes some adjustment. The old bridge has been a part of DeKalb County for years, but we have to make improvements to keep people safe and allow traffic to flow better by cutting out some dangerous curves. People will get used to this and there will eventually be history with the new bridge."


Webb pleads guilty to federal bank fraud


Former DeKalb County Executive Larry Webb entered a guilty plea to one count of federal bank fraud in August and became a witness for the prosecution against Wendy Askins in connection with the "Living the Dream" scandal.


Webb, also the former deputy director at the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville (UCDD), agreed to testify against former UCDD executive director Wendy Askins as part of a plea deal, avoiding any jail time.


Webb was potentially facing 220 years in federal prison and $6.75 million in fines on a 16-count federal indictment for conspiracy, theft of government money, bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement. The plea deal calls for three years of supervised release with no fines.


After entering a guilty plea to Count Eight of the indictment, court documents said that: "after sentence has been imposed on the count to which defendant pleads guilty as agreed herein, the government will move to dismiss the remaining counts and forfeiture allegations of the indictment."


Count Eight of the indictment accused Webb and Askins of securing a $250,000 loan from the Bank of Putnam County for their own use and benefit and falsely representing that it was for a UCDD board of directors-approved project.


Webb was accused, along with his former boss, Askins, of pouring several hundred thousand dollars in UCDD funds into a million-dollar luxury home in rural Putnam County for needy seniors called "Living the Dream." Askins and her daughter allegedly moved into the house and made it their residence.


Webb's attorney said his client never profited from the scheme, but once he realized all that had been done, some of it without of his knowledge and some of it admittedly with his knowledge, he felt it was best to go with the deal that the government was offering.


County approves funding for animal shelter


With the basement of the DeKalb County courthouse crowded with supporters of a new animal shelter, the county commission voted in August to approve a second motion to pledge $75,000 toward the building of the facility after a similar motion failed.


Third District Commissioner Jack Barton made a motion at the monthly meeting of the commission that a request from the DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals that the county set the money aside for the building.


"This is to be a one-time donation of $75,000 by DeKalb County earmarked for the construction of an animal shelter by the DeKalb Animal Coalition. This donation is conditional. The county will not be responsible for the hiring and payroll of any employees relating to the shelter, and will not be responsible for any operation of the shelter or for the future funds needed to operate the shelter. Additionally, the coalition will pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor’s office or the sheriff’s department for a fee of $125 if it results in a successful pickup, or $75 if it’s a dead head, if they don’t successfully find the animal. The money is to be paid by the county to the coalition for those animals requested by the county mayor’s office and sheriff’s department only," Barton said in his motion.


The motion received a second from Fifth District Commissioner Jerry Adcock, but Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip voiced concerns that the county might have other priorities.


"I think what the coalition is about is an honorable thing," she said. "They are the voices for the animals that have no voice, but this county commission is for the people of the county, and we told them a month ago that we had to have money to run this county on. The coalition was not in our budget. We had heads of our departments who asked us for more employees to run their offices more efficiently, and we flat turned them down. We said no. We have had places that have asked us to build them a fire hall. We told them no. We did not have the money for that. If we don’t have the money to fulfill what the county is asking for, how do we have the money for an animal coalition that is a non-profit organization, and if we are going to give this non-profit organization a donation, are we going to start giving every non-profit organization that comes in front of this commission money? That’s where I stand in the sixth district. I represent them. I have a problem with telling the people that we had to have money to run the county on and then not fulfilling our county obligations before filling them for an organization."


With Joe Johnson absent, leaving a 13-person panel, a vote on the motion saw commissioners Bradley Hendrix, Jerry Adcock, Larry Summers, Jonathan Norris, Kevin Robinson, Jack Barton, and Anita Puckett vote their approval, while Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Mason Carter and Betty Atnip voted against the measure. Wayne Cantrell abstained, and the vote failed 7-5 with one abstention.


A 10-minute recess was called, however, when local attorney and coalition member Sue Puckett Jernigan, a member of the audience, asked County Attorney Hilton Conger to clarify how a vote to abstain is counted under Roberts Rules of Order. After a break to give Conger time to research the matter, he returned and told the assembly that the abstention was basically counted as a "no" vote.


Cantrell then asked if his vote could be changed, and was told by the city attorney that it could not be changed after the vote had been taken and announced.


Barton said he would then restate his motion for another vote, to which commissioner Larry Summers interjected, "Now, you know how I voted, but is this proper procedure?"


"It doesn’t sound proper to me," Atnip replied. "It’s already been up and voted on. Just because something doesn’t go the way somebody wanted it, we’re going to keep changing it?"


Conger informed the commissioners that the motion could not be re-entered, but a new, different motion could be entertained. "He can change his motion and introduce a new motion, but not the same motion," Conger said.


Barton then introduced a motion that varied from the first only in the amount that the shelter would receive from the county to pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor’s office or the sheriff’s department ($100) and to $50 if they fail to locate and pick up the animal. Seventh district member Kevin Robinson seconded the motion, but Atnip again said that she had problems with the idea.


"We increased your taxes by sixteen cents," she said. "We told them we had to have it to run this county on. We have told department heads no that have asked for other employees, part time and full time, which would have benefitted people in this county and given them jobs. We looked those people in the eyes and we told them no, we did not have the money. In another area for the safety of their property and their lives, we told people no to a fire hall, we do not have the money. Each and every time we are approached with something, we tell the people no, we don’t have the money for it. Now we have a non- profit organization coming and asking this county for money, and all of a sudden we’re going to find $75,000 to give away? Then we didn’t need (a tax increase of) sixteen cents to begin with. We only needed fourteen cents. I think that is doing a majority of the people wrong. It’s a majority of the people that put us in these seats. Not a handful of people. That’s the way I believe."


"I’ll also speak to the fact that I’m representing my district and my district seems to be in favor of this though I don’t take a poll every time I try and decide on an issue," Barton replied.


When a vote was called, Wayne Cantrell, Bradley Hendrix, Jerry Adcock, Larry Summers, Jonathan Norris, Kevin Robinson, Jack Barton, and Anita Puckett voting for the funding, while Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Mason Carter and Betty Atnip cast votes against the measure. It was adopted on an 8-5 vote.


The county’s contribution will be added to another $75,000 appropriated by the City of Smithville’s budget this year to fund the 1,752 square-foot facility, which will be built on property owned by the Smithville Industrial Development Board near the new solid waste transfer station behind Tenneco off Sparta Highway.


Armstrong elected Alexandria mayor


Bennett Armstrong came out on top in the Alexandria mayor’s race in September, defeating incumbent Tony Tarpley 60 votes to 35. Armstrong will finish the two-year remainder of the unexpired term of Jim York, who was elected to the office in 2013, but resigned three days later because of disagreements with the board of aldermen. Tarpley was appointed to the mayor’s seat after York’s resignation, and has held the seat since October 2013.


While nine Alexandria voters made their way to the courthouse in Smithville to vote early, 86 ballots were cast at the fairgrounds on election day for a total of 95. Armstrong received 52 election day votes and 8 early votes, while Tarpley took 34 votes on election day and one early vote


The voters of the city also cast ballots for six aldermanic positions, included four for full four-year terms and two to fill vacant seats for two years. Candidates for all six offices were unopposed.


Kelly Pyburn (71 votes), David Cripps (61 votes), and John F. Suggs (46 votes) will serve four-year terms, while Danny Parkerson (78 votes) and Matthew Boss (63 votes) will serve for two years.


Pyburn took 62 election day votes and nine early votes, Cripps received 53 votes on election day and eight early votes, and Suggs garnered 39 election day votes and seven early votes. Parkerson’s campaign netted 69 election day votes and nine early votes, while Boss got 54 votes on election day and nine early votes.


Evins returned as school board chairman


W.J. (Dub) Evins, III was re-named Chairman of the Board of Education on Sept. 10.


Evins, the Fifth District representative for the board, was chosen by members of the school board in the board’s annual re-organization, conducted every September. Sixth District board member Doug Stephens was chosen as vice-chairman, and Seventh District member Shaun Tubbs was returned as assistant secretary.


Old Sligo Bridge demolished


Demolition began on the old Sligo Bridge in September.


After two years of construction, the 57-year-old structure was replaced by a new span across Center Hill Lake. The new, almost $40 million bridge is now open for traffic. The old bridge was demolished in sections, and the scrap metal was retrieved from the water.


Bomb threat called in to SES


DCHS homecoming was interrupted by a bomb threat at Smithville Elementary School in September.


When the office at SES received an automated call that there was an explosive device on campus, school staff reacted quickly, evacuating the building and calling busses to transport almost 600 students to Northside Elementary until the threat could be investigated.


According to Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, the staff of both schools, along with Transportation Director Jimmy Sprague and his staff were to be commended for their decisive responses to the situation. He said that thanks to the cooperation of all involved, it only took seven-and-one-half minutes to evacuate the students.


While a rash of bomb threats at schools across the mid-state negated the availability of bomb-sniffing dogs right away, Cripps said a walk-through of the school was conducted, but nothing suspicious was found. Once the animals became available, the school was thoroughly searched, and was re-opened for classes Monday.


Board of Ed. Takes “Best Chili” award


Event organizers estimate that approximately 400 people turned out in October to enjoy chili and baked goods at Habitat for Humanity’s 12th Annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale at the DeKalb County Complex.


"Wonderland Chili" from the DeKalb County Board of Education won the "Best Chili" award, and "The Courthouse Gang" from the DeKalb County Officials took second place. The DeKalb County Officials won first place honors in the decorating contest with their M*A*S*H themed booth, and the DeKalb County Board of Education came in second place with their Wonderland theme.


According to Development Committee Member Tecia Puckett Pryor, the event raised over $4,500, which will be used toward the building of the next Habitat house in early 2016. "We had a great turnout for the Chili Cook-off in spite of the rain, and raised more money than any previous cook-off," said Pryor. "We had three new chili teams this year, and everyone enjoyed coming out and visiting with their friends and neighbors, while sampling all the delicious chili. We truly appreciate all the chili teams for their hard work, enthusiasm and dedication to this event year after year. We also thank everyone who brought the baked goods, including the Tiger Pride Kitchen from DCHS."


Nine teams participated in the event, including "Wonderland Chili" from the DeKalb County Board of Education; "Hot Checks Chili" from Wilson Bank and Trust; "The Courthouse Gang" from the DeKalb County Officials; "Around the Block" from H&R Block; "Natural Gas Gang" from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; "The Bean Counters" from Janney & Associates; "No Liability Chili" from the DeKalb County Bar Association; "Laughing Gas Chili" from DeKalb Dental Center/Mitchell Tatum, DDS; and "Red Hot Chili Bankers" from Regions Bank.


Drug charges against 20 dropped


Twenty people rounded up in a 2013 undercover drug sting have had their charges dropped in October.


The District Attorney General’s office dropped the charges after attorneys for one of the defendants, 63-year old Charles Ronnie Evans, successfully questioned the credibility of the undercover informant used in the case, and the audio and video of the alleged transactions turned out to be poorly recorded. A mistrial was declared on one count against Evans.


The charges were the result of a three-month investigation conducted by the sheriff’s department. A total of 64 people were indicted as a result of the operation.


Evans took his case to trial in August, and a jury returned a not guilty verdict on a charge of sale and delivery of Roxycodone, and voted 10-2 in favor of acquittal on a charge of sale and delivery of Dilaudid. Judge David Patterson declared a mistrial in the Dilaudid case.


The informant used in both Evans’ cases, as well as in the cases against the other 20 defendants, had his credibility called into question because of his criminal background, and the recordings of the incidents were apparently unconvincing.


The District Attorney’s office filed court documents to dismiss the charges against the other 20 defendants, which Patterson signed. It was also announced that the Dilaudid charge against Evans would be dismissed as well.


While Sheriff Patrick Ray said respects the D.A.’s decision to drop the other charges. The sheriff said in a prepared statement that he "does not agree that it was a practical decision to judge all cases involved on a previous ruling that questioned the integrity of a confidential informant. Many of the individuals charged in this operation had already pled guilty to buying drugs from the same confidential informant used in the case in which the court declared a mistrial," the sheriff said. "The use of confidential informants in undercover drug operations is, and has been, a very common practice used by all law enforcement agencies."


Smith named to election commission


Jackie Smith was named in October to take the seat recently by Harry Lasser on the DeKalb County Election Commission. Smith, a Smithville resident, is a former school teacher and current State Farm Insurance Agent.


 "I’m really excited about this," Smith told the Review. "It’s a new chapter, a new adventure in my life, and I take it very seriously. One of the things my father taught me was that the right to vote is one of the most important things we have, and that it should be guarded closely. I’m very honored to be doing this."


 Smith will fill the seat left open by the resignation of Lasser, who had served since 2011. She will serve out the remainder of Lasser’s term, which expires in April, 2107, as one of two democratic members of the election commission.


State orders city to close bridge


The City of Smithville received orders from the state in October to close the bridge across Fall Creek (also known as Town Creek) on Holmes Creek Road.


The 42-foot span at the bottom of what is generally known as Town Hill was closed to traffic on Oct. 30 after a Tennessee Department of Transportation evaluation found "100 percent corrosion" on the steel I-beams supporting the structure, holes in the concrete deck and inadequate bracing. Smithville Public Works Director Kevin Robinson told the Review that the bridge will be replaced, but the process could take several months.


Robinson said the majority of the cost of replacing the structure will likely come from state funds, with a small local match. "The price of building a new bridge should be covered by state aid money. The city should have to pay only a two percent match to get the state funds," he shared.


Robinson said the road will be closed for the duration of the project, and that traffic will be required to find another route.


Collins named Smithville police chief


After several months without a police chief, the City of Smithville chose a new head of the police department in November.


City aldermen voted unanimously to hire Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins as the new Smithville chief during November’s regular monthly meeting of the city council.


"I look forward to serving the people of Smithville and working with the Smithville Police Department," Collins said after the meeting. "I think there is a fine group of young officers here and I am honored and blessed to have this opportunity."


One of three people who put in applications for the position, Collins joined Smithville Police Department Patrolman Matt Farmer and Algood Police Chief Gary Harris in seeking the job.


Collins, a Smithville resident, worked for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department for 11 years before taking the job as chief in Alexandria. He served as deputy, sergeant, lieutenant, and then captain before moving on in 2006.


The new chief graduated from Gordonsville High School in 1983 and attended David Lipscomb University in Nashville from 1983-85. He served as a Sergeant in the United States Air Force from 1988-90.


Judge rules against former police chief


Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars ruled on Oct. 29 that former Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger would not be returned to the job. Caplinger, who was suspended without pay pending termination by Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss on March 13 after he refused to resign, and was fired on March 19.


After listening to testimony in a seven-hour due process hearing on May 8, city aldermen voted 3-2 in support of the mayor’s decision to terminate Caplinger. Aldermen Danny Washer, Jason Murphy and Gayla Hendrix voted to uphold the mayor's action, while Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller cast dissenting votes.


Caplinger’s representation, Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox, held, however, that based on Article III Section 3.01 of the city charter, four votes, or a super majority, was needed to decide the matter, and petitioned the court to return Caplinger to his position as chief and receive back pay from the time of his suspension.


City Attorney Vester Parsley opined that Section 3.08 of the charter, which calls for only a majority of the board, or three votes, to come to a decision on a contested termination by the mayor.


The judge ruled in the city’s favor, saying that Section 3.08 is the correct provision to observe in the firing, and that Section 3.01 was on the books for the reorganization of the city government, and that Caplinger should not be returned to his job back or receive any back pay


Review wins Halloween costume contest


The staff at the Review won the annual Chamber of Commerce Halloween Costume Contest in October.


Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack’s office came in second, while the crew at Dr. Starla Meigs office took third place. Chamber Director Suzanne Williams thanked all the businesses that participated in the contest.


“We were pleasantly surprised to have over 20 participants in the competition, making it very tough for our judges,” Williams said. “All of the costumes were so creative and well-thought out. What a fun event for our downtown and community. We are so grateful to the City of Smithville staff and Smithville Police Department for the great job they do in organizing and sponsoring this well-attended family event. And many thanks to the DeKalb County Courthouse offices, Sheriff’s Department, Justin Potter Library, Smithville Review, and all the businesses/offices that participated. Everyone working together created a fun, social, and safe environment for our children,” the director concluded.


Man charged with exposing himself to mail carrier


Smithville Police have arrested a local man in November and charged him with indecent exposure after he allegedly exposed himself to a mail carrier in front of police.


According to city police, Roy Junior Wilkey was charged after Detective Brandon Donnell was contacted by the postmaster, who reportedly informed him that Wilkey had exposed his genitals to a female mail carrier when she stopped to deliver his mail.


Police said the detective accompanied the mail carrier on her route on Oct. 29 and observed Wilkey exposing himself to the woman.


GOP chooses candidates


The Republican candidates for Assessor of Property and two Constable seats were chosen by the local GOP at their caucus Saturday.


The party formally nominated Shannon A. Cantrell to run for Assessor of Property in the August 2016 County General Election. Lee Plummer was nominated to run for constable in the first district, and Tom Theriaque was chosen for the second district.


The Republican nominees will run face any Democratic nominees and Independent candidates next fall. The deadline to register to run for these seats is at noon on Dec. 10. Independent and Democratic candidates must qualify through by petition.








Incumbent property assessor Scott Cantrell has picked up and returned his petition to the election commission. Incumbent constables Paul Cantrell in the fourth district, Mark Milam in the fifth district, Carl Lee Webb in the sixth district, and Johnny King in the seventh district have all picked up and returned petitions.








Travis Bryant, elected last year as an Independent to fill an unexpired constable term in the third district has picked up and returned a petition to seek the office again, but this time he will apparently run as a democrat.








The DeKalb County Democratic Primary will be held in conjunction with the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primary on March 1.