Former alderman passes
Former Smithville Alderman Steve White, 52, passed away on Jan. 1 at DeKalb Community Hospital.
White was an alderman for 12 years, and an active member of the local TN Downtowns Committee. He was laid to rest on Jan. 4 in DeKalb Memorial Gardens.
First father, son Tiger MVP’s
In an apparent first for DCHS football, a father and son won the Most Valuable Player award.
Senior defensive lineman Eli Gill took the honor at the Tigers’ football banquet on Jan. 10, and his father, Darrell Gill, was awarded the big trophy for his play in the 1987 season. Tiger Coach Steve Trapp presented the trophy to the younger Gill, whose work on the line helped take the Tigers to the state play-offs for the third consecutive year in 2013.
Man accused of starving dog to death
A local man was charged with animal abuse after the sheriff’s department allegedly found three dogs, one dead and two starving, on his property in January.
Roy Wilkey, Jr., 47, was charged after a deputy dispatched to check the welfare of the dogs on Poplar Street. The officer reportedly found three canines, two still living and one already dead.
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, one of the dogs was chained to a push mower and could not reach a nearby water dish and dog house. Ray said no food for the animals could be found on the premises, and all three appeared to be very malnourished
Drug sting nets 64
The sheriff’s department began picking up the first of 64 people indicted on drug charges by the grand jury in January.
The result of a three-month long investigation, the grand jury returned the indictments on Jan. 13, and the sheriff’s department made the first arrests on Jan 15.
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, his department began the operation in September 2013, and wrapped it up in mid-December.
The sheriff said that some of those indicted were caught selling drugs while working at local businesses.
“There were three businesses on West Broad Street in Smithville where we were able to conduct controlled drug buys. We had been receiving citizen complaints of drug sales and drug abuse from one business in particular where we made arrests today. We were able to conduct 12 different controlled drug buys from six different employees who worked at this business," Ray said.
“As for the other two businesses on West Broad Street, we were able to conduct four different controlled drug buys from two employees at one business, and two different controlled drug buys from one employee at the other business,” the sheriff said. “In addition, we made one controlled drug buy from an employee at a business on McMinnville Highway, and lastly, we conducted three different controlled drug buy operations from an owner of a business on Holiday Haven Drive.”
Ray said that while the 64 indictments included charges for the sale of drugs including Dilaudid, Morphine, Opana, Roxycodone, Percocet, Hydocodone, Suboxone Strips, Suboxone Pills, Adderall, Valium, Xanax, Subutex, Ecstasy, Crack Cocaine, and Marijuana, the majority of the drugs allegedly purchased were prescription pain killers.
Pain clinic raided
The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), assisted by the Smithville Police Department and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, executed a search warrant at a local pain clinic in January.
The three agencies jointly moved in to search the Health Care Team Clinic at 409 East Broad Street after an apparent investigation of their narcotic dispensation practices by the DEA and the Tennessee Inspector General's Office.
Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger and Sheriff Patrick Ray told the Review that two East Tennessee residents were arrested on unrelated charges during the search.
"The police department and sheriff's department, along with federal DEA agents, executed a search warrant at a pain clinic at 409 East Broad Street today." Caplinger said Friday.
“We arrested Martin Keith Ball, 41, of Parrottsville, and 27-year-old Laura Jean Suggs of Newport for violation of probation out of Cocke County,” Ray shared.
The sheriff said Ball and Suggs were picked up from the DeKalb County Jail by the Cocke County Sheriff's Department and transported to the Cocke County Jail.
Suspicious activity at the clinic, including the obvious fact that a large number of the facility’s customers were apparently traveling from counties from as far as nearly 200 miles away to be seen at the clinic.
City of Smithville and DeKalb Utility District battle over water.
The Smithville board of aldermen voted to increase the rate for water sold to DeKalb Utility District (DUD) from $2.05 per thousand gallons to the rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons effective January 1, 2014 in the absence of a contract between the two. The previous contract expired on December 31, 2013.
Meanwhile, the DUD Board of Commissioners voted to take the city to court over the measure in February. Chancellor Ronald Thurman presided over a hearing in Cookeville that month, and ordered the city to immediately reduce its water rate to the DeKalb Utility District from $5 to $2.67 per 1,000 gallons, the amount a 2013 water study had determined to be the actual cost to produce water.
The Chancellor granted a motion for a temporary injunction against the city, forbidding them from charging the $5 rate until proper notice and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 was given.
That same month Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle dismissed a petition for a judicial review filed by the City of Smithville and DUD ratepayers. The chancellor upheld a 2013 Utility Management Review board ruling that the petitioners had not met their burden of proof that DUD rates or services provided were unreasonable in their attempt to block DUD plans for a new water treatment plant.
City attorneys filed a counter claim in Chancery Court in March, asserting that DUD had underpaid for water purchased between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013. The city claimed that DUD owed more than one million dollars in back fees.
Attorneys for the city claimed the 2013 study found that DUD had not covered the cost of producing and distributing water at the rate they were being charged. DUD attorneys argued that the rate was set in the water purchase contract between the two entities, which was agreed on by both parties. The matter is still pending in court.
Charges against County Mayor Mike Foster in connection with the federal probe of the Upper Cumberland Development District and the ‘Living the Dream’ facility were dismissed in February.
The indictments against Foster were dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the case can never be brought against him again. The then-mayor’s attorney said Foster signed documents agreeing not to sue for any damages he may have suffered as a result of the indictments.
Foster told the Review that it was a great relief to be able to put the matter behind him.
“I really grateful it’s over. They’ve dismissed it, and that’s the end of it,” he said. It’s a shame that the timing was the way it is, people were asking me if I was going to run for re-election, and I was telling them that I was not as long as this was going on, but if it got dismissed that I would.”
Foster also expressed his thanks to the attorneys who represented him.
He said the support of the community was a great help during the ordeal.
“I really appreciated the local people who supported me through this, the people who came up to me and told me that they were praying for me, and their church was praying for me,” said the mayor. “You don’t know how much that means until you are in that situation.
Vandals strike church
Buckner’s Chapel Church on Cookeville Highway was hit by vandals in February. The church was spray-painted with offensive messages.
Evins named DCHS valedictorian
DeKalb County High School has released the names of the top academic achievers for the 2013-14 school year in February, including the Valedictorian and Salutatorian, Kelsey Evins and Ashley Barnes
Boating accident claims two
Two boaters who drowned on Center Hill Lake in February were most likely the victims of a capsized boat, authorities said.
The state medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy report concluded that both Robert Tramel, 71, and his niece, 49-year-old Barbara Beach, drowned.
According to TWRA Officer Tony Cross, no foul play was suspected in the incident.
“We think the boat overturned,” Cross said. “A combination of the cold water and the lack of lifejackets resulted in the drowning of both victims.” Cross said neither victim was wearing a lifejacket when they embarked from the Redneck Beach area on Holmes Creek Road Wednesday on a fishing trip in a small flat-bottom boat.
Woman charged with theft of more than $100,000
The sheriff’s department arrested a Murfreesboro woman and charged her with stealing more than $100,000 and a vehicle from a patient in a Smithville nursing home in February.
Robin Ann Baquedano, 31, was charged with one count of theft of property over $10,000 and one count of theft of property over $60,000 in the case.
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, a deputy was dispatched to a McMinnville Highway home on Jan. 15 to investigate a report of suspicious persons driving a Ford Fiesta belonging to a patient at NHC Healthcare Center in Smithville.
The officer reportedly questioned Baquedano and another person about the vehicle, which was apparently not present at the residence. Baquedano reportedly told the lawman that she did not know where the car was, but believed that her mother had it.
The deputy then went to NHC and spoke with the victim, who reportedly told him that no one should be driving her vehicle.
Then, on Feb. 4, Rutherford County police allegedly found Baquedano driving the victim's car in Murfreesboro. She was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and held for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.
Ray said a further investigation revealed that Baquedano had stolen approximately $105,000 from the same victim's money market account at Regions Bank in Smithville between Nov. 8 and Feb. 5.
Baquedano reportedly admitted to the theft of the money.
Haslam visits, teachers protest
Governor Bill Haslam visited Smithville in March, speaking at the DeKalb County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner at the county complex.
A number of local teachers turned out as well to protest the governor’s education policies.
DCHS teacher Anita Puckett told the Review that new guidelines sent down by the state give teachers no incentive to further their education.
“One the changes the state has done is to do away with any state raises for higher education,” Puckett said. “I would like to pursue my EDS in education, which means that basically I would go back and get a higher degree that would cost me about $13,000 out of pocket. In most positions the more education you have the more pay you make, but not if you’re a teacher. Under the current rules, it would not benefit me at all to spend $13,000 out of my pocket to further my education when I'm not going to get any pay increase. I’m no longer pursuing that idea due to the fact that I would not be compensated,” Puckett shared.
Puckett said she also was not pleased with plans for charter schools.
“We live in a very rural area, and we have some very intelligent kids, but financially they're in a situation where they would have no choices with charter schools. They would not have the options to go to some of the better schools that are better equipped. You're basically segregating the wealthy students from the poor students. That's what really bothers me about it.
DCHS student Jordan Wilkins also found the charter school program a reason to come out and speak his mind.
“The frustration is across the board with education in Tennessee,” Wilkins said. “Pressure has been put on teachers with the teacher evaluations, the test scores, common core and the charter schools. My main issue is the charter schools. You know the governor says he supports those, and we've yet to hear from our representatives whether they support them or not, but that's going to be a big issue this year. We're really concerned about that, because if it comes to the rural areas it's going to drain the funds from our public schools. We have to take a stand and not let that happen.”
Bust nets $18,000 in pills
A Banks Pisgah Road Man is charged with possession of three different kinds of drugs for resale after the sheriff’s department reportedly found pills valued at more than $18,000 in his home in March.
Homer Anthony Petty, 43, was charged with possession of a Schedule II drug for resale (Morphine), possession of a Schedule II drug for resale (Dilaudid), and two counts of possession of a Schedule II drug for resale (Oxycodone).
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the bust was part of his department's on-going investigation into the illegal sale of narcotics in the county.
Ray said drug detectives and other officers went to Petty's home on March 7 to do a probation visit and search after identifying him as a suspected drug dealer.
The search allegedly revealed 445 Dilaudid pills, packed in nine bags, in the pocket of a pair of jeans. Eight of the bags reportedly held 50 Dilaudid pills each, while one bag held 45 Dilaudid pills.
The sheriff said Petty relinquished another pill bottle that containing eighteen 30 mg Morphine pills, five 10 mg Oxycodone pills, and 23 15mg Oxycodone pills. Petty allegedly had no prescription for the pills.
Ray said the total street value of the seized drugs was $18,735.
Also seized were $6,968 in cash, scanners, and security cameras which allowed Petty to see who was entering his driveway
Frazier marks 66 years as columnist
Louise Frazier, the writer of the Review’s Dry Creek Flashes column, marked her 66th year of reporting the comings and goings in the Dry Creek Valley in March.
Frazier told the Review recently that she inherited the column from her mother-in-law.
“I started helping my mother-in-law sometime around 1948. I married in 1939, and she was writing the Dry Creek column then. I helped her out with the column for a while, but when she got sick a few years later, I started writing it.”
She said she kept her mother-in-law’s name on the column for some time after taking over.
“I just kept her name on it for a long time. I don't even know when I started putting my name on it. The name was changed to Dry Creek Flashes a few years ago. It was just called Dry Creek Community before that. I don't know who changed it, but it's pretty good. I like it.”
Many Smithville natives will remember Frazier from her days as librarian at Smithville Elementary, where she served from 1965 until 1983.
Twins celebrate 88
Edsel and Edward Frazier celebrated their 88th birthday on March 13 at Patty’s Restaurant in Smithville. Family and friends, along with several sets of twins gathered to help them enjoy their special day.
The Frazier twins were born at their Dry Creek home in 1926 to Robert Lee and Hassie Frazier. They later served in World War II in the United States Army. Edsel and Edward both moved to Smithville as young men, where Edsel retired from the United States Postal Service and Edward continued to work in Frazier Brother’s Nursery. It is the oldest nursery in the state, and Edward brags that he has never had the business closed in 68 years.
Edward served as Smithville Mayor for two terms and alderman for many years. He still remains active in local politics.
Edsel also enjoys being a Mason and still loves to work in the nursery when possible.
They both attribute their “old age” to hard work, good genes, and staying active. Both have great-grandchildren now to keep them young.
Man sentenced for statutory rape
Caught with girl, 15, at Jamboree
Judge Leon Burns Jr. sentenced a 25-year-old local man accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old-girl during the Jamboree last year in DeKalb County Criminal Court in March.
Bryan Cunningham received a two-year suspended sentence, and must register as a sex offender.
According to city police, members of the department discovered Cunningham having sex with an underage girl while patrolling during the Jamboree on July 5, 2013.
According to Lieutenant Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department, Cunningham was charged with statutory rape after officers found him having sex with the 15-year-old girl on a dirt road at the bottom of Town Hill on Holmes Creek Road.
Holmes told the Review that he and Sergeant Brad Tatrow were checking the area at the bottom of the hill, a known hangout by Fall Creek, when the illicit act was revealed.
Man loses life in three-car crash
A three-vehicle collision on Highway 70 claimed the life of a White County man in March.
According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 25-year-old Jeremy Vick lost his life after his 1997 Honda Civic struck the rear of a 2005 Ford Mustang driven by 23-year-old Joshua Smith of Morrison, and was then struck by an oncoming Mitsubishi Galant driven by 22-year-old Beth Holeton of Dowelltown.
The accident was investigated by Sergeant Eric McCormick of the THP and Trooper Johnny Farley of the THP Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). Smith was reportedly traveling east when he slowed down to make a left turn into a parking lot. Vick, also eastbound behind the Mustang, was apparently unable to stop, and struck the Mustang in the left rear. Authorities said that the impact caused the car to turn sideways and enter the westbound lane, and into the path of Holeton's Mitsubishi. Holeton was also unable to stop, and struck Vick's Honda in the driver’s side doors. Holeton, her 20-year-old passenger Kara Schneider of Dowelltown, and Smith and his 20-year-old passenger James Barrett of Morrison were injured in the crash.
Worker loots Middle School
A 30-year-old Cookeville man was been charged with five counts of theft after he was allegedly caught pillaging DeKalb Middle School while doing repairs during spring break.
According to Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger, Jason Michael Stockton of Cookeville was charged with one count of theft over $1,000 and four counts of theft under $500 in April. Stockton is accused of stealing items including laptops, cash, teacher’s and student’s belongings, and other items.
Smithville Police Department Detective Brandon Donnell told the Review that video surveillance gave the thieves away.
“Some work was being done by a company from Cookeville called Concrete Coatings at the Middle School during spring break, and when the teachers returned last Monday they noticed a lot of things were missing,” Donnell shared. “A review of surveillance tapes clearly shows some of the workers taking items from classrooms and teachers desks, and taking them to their vehicles. They took laptop computers worth more than $5,000, along with some money that was being raised for Relay for Life and personal items including a watch, a ring, bottled drinks, and an iPod.”
When Director of Schools Mark Willoughby met with the workers, the detective was called to the board of education building, and said he immediately recognized one of the men there from surveillance footage.
The stolen goods had an estimated value of nearly $6,000.
Donnell said police found many of the items stolen from the school at Stockton's home when he was arrested on April 4.
Picker visits Alexandria
Mike Wolfe of the TV show “American Pickers” participated in the Poker Run and Campaign Kick-Off Party for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Candidate Man of the Year Justin Paschal at the fairgrounds in Alexandria in April. The bike run, along with a cornhole tournament, live music and auctions raised money to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma.
Home invaders to be tried as adults
Two 16-year-olds accused of invading the home of a local woman in September 2013 were set to be tried as adults in April.
Robert Brian Callahan, II and Tony J. Starkes, Jr. were indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and theft under $500 after they allegedly entered the home and assaulted and robbed the resident.
The duo allegedly attacked the victim around 11:30 p.m. when the woman, who lives alone, opened her door to investigate a noise outside. The two were reportedly wearing hockey masks, and one of the suspects tackled the woman, pepper sprayed her several times and tried to force a washcloth into her mouth to keep her quiet.
A .38 caliber revolver and other items with a total value of approximately $600 were reported stolen.
The young men were allegedly found to be carrying razor knives, but did not use them on the woman, who suffered cuts, scrapes, and bruises, but was not seriously injured in the attack.
Police were able to trace the sale of the hockey masks back to the juveniles, who had bought them at Walmart. They were arrested at DCHS the next day.
The gun, hockey masks, and pepper spray were found in the attic of the home where the two boys, who are not related, lived.
Stribling wins mayoral primary
Democratic Party nominees for four contested county offices and five county commission seats, as well as Democratic and Republican 13th Judicial District nominees were chosen by the voters of DeKalb County in May.
A total of 3313 DeKalb Countians cast ballots in the primaries, with 1612 taking advantage of early voting, and 1701 visiting the polls on Election Day.
When the polls at all sixteen precincts closed, the race for the Democratic nomination for county mayor saw incumbent Mike Foster edged out by challenger Tim Stribling with a vote of 1183 to1770.
The sheriff’s race saw Larry Flair, Sr. take the Democratic nomination with 1306 votes against Michael J. Agee, with 967 votes.
James L. (Jimmy) Poss defeated three-term incumbent Mike Clayborn for the county court clerk’s seat. Poss took the race with 1681 votes to Clayborn’s 1265.
General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Hale "Butch" Cook, II took the Democratic nomination for his third-eight year term with 1664 votes. His challenger, local attorney Margie Rigsby Miller, received 1208 votes.
James D. (Jimmy) Sprague faced no opposition for the Democratic nomination for the office of road supervisor. Six-term Road Supervisor Kenny Edge did not seek re-election.
Three-term Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack and seven-term Register of Deeds Jeffrey McMillen, both Democratic incumbents, along with two-term Republican Trustee Sean Driver faced no opposition for the entire election season.
Two Democratic nominees each for second, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh district county commission seats were decided, with Bennett Armstrong receiving 95 votes, and Elmer Ellis, Jr. taking 146 votes for the nod in the 1st District race.
Joe N. Johnson (160 votes) and Clarence Trapp (171 votes) took the Democratic vote for 2nd District county commissioners. Jerry Hutchins, Jr. received 81 votes, and 131 ballots were cast for Frank D. Thomas.
Bradley Scott Hendrix (253 votes) and Jack E. Barton (215 votes) edged out Jerry D. Scott (194 votes) for the 3rd District Democratic nomination.
In the contest for 4th District county commission seats, incumbents Wayne Cantrell (248 votes) and challenger Jonathan Norris (176 votes) took the Dems nomination over incumbent David McDowell (122 votes), Bobby R. Taylor (131 votes) and Anthony "Tony" Poss (156 votes).
Anita Puckett (305 votes) and Rick Cantrell (228 votes) saw no opposition in the primary.
Jeff Barnes (210 votes) and Betty Jean Atnip (234 votes) took the 6th District nomination. Marshall Ferrell received 195 votes.
Larry A. Summers (189 votes) and Kevin Robinson (178 votes) took the 7th District nominations. David Agee received 169 votes.
Chad Curtis was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for constable in the 1st District.
The Democrats fielded no candidates for 2nd and 3rd District constable races.
In the Republican primary for 13th Judicial District races, candidates for the offices of district attorney general, district public defender, and circuit court judge, part I were decided.
Bryant Dunaway (129 votes) defeated Shawn Fry (77 votes) for the Republican nomination for district attorney general.
Wesley Bray (114 votes) defeated Gary McKenzie (83 votes) in the race for the GOP nomination for criminal court judge, part 1.
Craig P. Fickling (72 votes) came out on top of Edwin G. Sadler (69 votes) and John Meadows (68 votes) in the contest for the Republican nomination for district public defender.
Turnbill gets chance for parole
Melvin Eugene Turnbill, 42, who had served a little more than 11 years of a 25-year sentence for the 2002 murder of 20-year-old Joshua Murphy was given chance for parole within a year in May.
Tennessee Board of Parole members voted to grant Turnbill’s parole upon completion of a nine-12 month substance abuse program. The case will now go to the remaining five members of the parole board. Three votes for parole are required.
Turnbill entered a guilty plea to facilitating the first degree murder of Joshua Murphy in DeKalb County Criminal Court in September 2003.
Murphy was shot dead in the Laurel Hill Community on September 15, 2002. His body was not discovered until three days later.
Turnbill has served eleven years and seven months of the 25-year sentence. His application for parole was denied two years ago.
Christopher Nicholas Orlando, serving a 45-year sentence for facilitation of first degree murder in the case, is believed by authorities to have pulled the trigger. He was convicted in April, 2004. Orlando will be up for parole in 2016.
Puckett named teacher of the year
Anita Puckett, an eighth-grade teacher at DeKalb Middle School, was named the DeKalb County Teacher of the Year for 2013-14 in May.
Puckett was awarded the customary school bell, and a check for $150 from Liberty State Bank, who sponsored the seventh annual Teacher of the Year Banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church Monday night.
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank presented the awards.
Puckett was one of five DeKalb County teachers chosen as Teacher of the Year at each of the five county schools. LeVaughnda Midgett, a kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Tammy Payne, a sixth-grade teacher at DeKalb West School; Kathryn Wisinger, an ESL (English as a second language) teacher at DeKalb Middle and DCHS; Elizabeth Nolt, a fourth-grade teacher at Northside Elementary School.
DCHS senior graduates college
Ashley Barnes, a 17-year-old DCHS senior, will become the first DeKalb County student in history to earn a college degree before graduating high school when she received her diploma in May.
Barnes graduated from Motlow State community college with a two-year associate’s degree in general studies on May 10.
“I've been taking college classes since I was 14. I started in the summer my freshman year. A few classes here, a few classes there, and after four years of doing that every summer and every semester they begin to add up,” Barnes told the Review.
She has already chosen the next phase of her education.
“I'm going to be attending a University in Circe Arkansas called Harding University,” she said. “It’s a Church of Christ private Christian college. I'm going to be double majoring in biochemistry and leadership and Bible admissions. Hopefully, since I already have two years complete, I'm hoping to get that degree in two more years and then go for four years of graduate school studying the pharmaceutical sciences.”
Barnes said she would like to thank everyone who helped make her accomplishment possible.
“Mr. (Mark) Willoughby (director of schools), Mr. (Patrick) Cripps (DCHS principal) and Ms. Jamie Wright (DCHS site coordinator for online learning) have all been such a blessing. Ms. Jamie has been a great deal of help. Mr. Cripps and Mr. Willoughby gave me the approval to do this during school hours,” she shared. “I drove from the high school to TTU five days a week to take my classes. They've been such a help scheduling classes and giving me the permission to do this. They've also given me great moral support. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Ferrell, Evins awarded White Roses
The Class of 2014 said goodbye to DCHS and received their sheepskins in May.
A total of 158 students graduated. Kalab Ferrell and Kelsey Evins were presented the coveted White Rose Awards, and Crystal Vickers went home with the Citizenship Award.
The White Rose is presented each year to a boy and girl from the graduating class for outstanding achievement in leadership, academics, and other activities. The Citizenship Award is given to the senior who has demonstrated outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to DeKalb County High School.
Valedictorian Kelsey Evins advised her fellow graduates to find what they love to do and pursue it.
“Pursuing your passion, whatever that is, is the one thing that makes you forget the world. That's what will propel your dreams into the sky,” she said.
Class President Jordan Wilkins complimented the class on its dedication.
“With anything a person does in life, it takes dedication to complete. Obviously, graduating is a goal we set. Tonight, we are achieving this goal. There is only one word to describe this process. It is teamwork. With teamwork and good friendships, we bonded together, encouraged each other, and sometimes scolded one another to make this night possible,” Wilkins told his classmates.
Dr. Hugh Don Cripps, president of the first DCHS graduating class in 1964, also advised the graduates to pursue their passions.
“Dare to pursue the career about which you are passionate. Survey all the possibilities open to you, but invest your time and energy in the most likely probabilities. Dare to go the extra mile.”
Josh Davidson of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes offered the invocation, and music was provided by the DCHS Band and Chorus. The Benediction was delivered by Ashley Barnes.
Man charged with abuse of niece
Smithville City Police arrested a 40-year-old local man in June on charges that he touched his 11-year-old niece inappropriately.
According to Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger, Joel Henry was charged after an investigation into an incident at a College Street home led to his arrest. According to the warrant, the child was asleep in bed with her grandmother, and awoke to find Henry standing over her, and allegedly touching her private areas.
Teacher sues board of education
Attorneys for a Smithville Elementary School teacher filed a federal lawsuit against the DeKalb County Board of Education and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby in June.
The Hendersonville law firm of Andy L. Allman and Associates filed the employment discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Bradley Hendrix, a local physical education teacher and 3rd District county commissioner, in U.S. District Court on May 29. The suit alleges that he has been “subjected to a continuous and ongoing pattern of harassment and retaliation for his votes as a county commissioner on matters pertaining to the school system.”
The suit claims that “On or about March 2011, the issue of the land purchase and school construction came before the county commission for approval. Hendrix voted against the measure. From that point on, Hendrix was subjected to harassment and retaliation by Mr. Willoughby in his employment.”
Hendrix is asking for a jury trial in the case, in which he is suing Director of Schools and the Board of Education both jointly and severally, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
The story began in 2011, when the school board revealed plans to purchase a 52-acre tract of land on Allen Ferry Road in anticipation of the construction of a new high school. In April of that year, however, the 14 county commissioners denied the school board's request for approval of a $374,000 budget amendment, to be taken from the system's Basic Education Program Reserve (BEP) Funds to buy the property with a 7-7 vote. A majority of the commissioners, or eight votes, were required to pass the measure.
Hendrix was one of the seven commissioners who cast votes against the plan.
In December of the same year, Hendrix was given a one-day suspension for “neglect of duty” and “insubordination” after apparently leaving a field trip without getting permission from his supervisor, Dr. Bill Tanner, then principal at Smithville Elementary School.
Hendrix appealed the decision, and a hearing officer heard his case in February, 2012. The hearing officer’s written report on his "Finding of Facts and Conclusions of Law" was released within 30 days, and upheld the suspension. Hendrix then filed an appeal with the Board of Education.
The school board held a special meeting in April, 2012, voting 5-0 not only to support the one-day suspension imposed by the director, but further opining that one day’s suspension was not adequate punishment. The board subsequently voted 4-1 to extend the suspension for two more days without pay, for a total suspension of three days.
Local historian donates archives
DeKalb County Historian Tommy Webb’s personal files, which include information concerning the history of DeKalb County he has been collecting for more than 70 years, were transferred to the Tennessee State Library and Archives in June.
Webb, 83, said he had been collecting historical documents since he was a teenager.
"I am donating to the Tennessee State Library and Archives all the historical material that I have collected about DeKalb County over the past 70 years. I'll be 83 in July. I started when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I have what amounts to two four-drawer filing cabinets full of material about DeKalb County and its families, churches, schools, civil war battles, and everything else about DeKalb County.”
State Librarian and Archivist Charles Sherrill, who came personally to pick up Webb’s collection, said it is not a common occurrence to have such an impressive collection donated.
“A collection like this, accumulated over a lifetime, carefully tended, and representing many people who came from this part of the state, is a rich treasure for researchers, historians and genealogists. In the 60 years that the state archives has been in its building, we have brought in maybe seven or eight collections like this, so it's a rare opportunity to find a collection of this depth and breadth,” Sherrill said.
Webb said while the original copies are going to Nashville, he has kept a copy of each document, and he will still man his post in the genealogy room at the local library.
“We have copies at the library of all this material. The originals are going to the state library and archives. They wanted the originals and that's what they're getting, but we have copies of everything at Justin Potter Library, so we're not really letting anything go. I am at Justin Potter Library from 9 a.m.-noon every day except Sunday to answer any questions people may have.”
Justin Potter Library Director Kathy Hendrixson said she felt the archives should be a source of pride for the county.
“I think it's important for the library and for the county, because this is a great honor. How many people do you know who have their papers and their life's work put in the state library and archives? I think it's a big deal. Mr. Webb is just a treasure. He's at the library from 9 a.m.-noon every day, and hardly a day goes by that we don't have two or three people who come in with questions. He knows so many things about local history, and a lot of it is off the top of his head. It's not something he has to go to a file for,” she said.
Sherrill said one of the main goals is the preservation of Webb’s collection.
“I had known of Mr. Webb for a long time even before I became state librarian, but after I took the job he wrote me a letter and asked me to come down and take a look at his collection and to discuss with him what might be the best options for preserving it and making it available, he said. “We did that about four years ago, and he recently contacted me again and said he thought it was time to make the transfer. The originals will always be preserved. One of the services we have to offer is careful temperature and humidity controls so that the paper will be preserved in acid free folders and boxes. We will also microfilm the collection. A lot of people today say why would you still microfilm now that we have digitalization. But microfilm is the preservation media. We know that microfilm will still be here and still be readable without specialized equipment 500 years from now. We will also be able to make digital copies from the microfilm. Digital is the access medium. Digital files degrade over time. We know that we can create a digital copy and make it available on the Internet, but we will always have that microfilm backup to go to in order to make a new copy when it’s needed.”
Hendrixson said Webb is a source of pride for the local library.
“We are so proud of Mr. Webb and his accomplishments, and we are thankful for him and all the things he does for the county, especially for the library. We are really pleased that Chuck Sherrell from the Tennessee State Library and Archives has come to collect these for the archives. It's an honor for us and for Mr. Webb. We're just so proud of him,” said Hendrixson.
Sex offender busted at pool
Complaints to management at the Smithville Municipal Pool led to the arrest of a convicted sex offender in June.
According to Smithville City Police, A 41-year-old Timothy Eugene Bowman was taken into custody on June 17 after three girls at the facility reported that he had made sexual comments to them.
Bowman faced three counts of solicitation of a person under 18 years of age and violation of the sexual offender registry law. He allegedly made sexual comments toward three girls, ages 16, 14 and 13 that day, as well as to the same 13-year-old girl on the previous Friday.
Bowman also allegedly asked one of the girls if she would like to see the inside of his vehicle.
Police said a check revealed that Bowman is a convicted sex offender, is on the sex offender registry, and has been ordered not to be in the presence of children.
TDOT tour stops at Sligo
The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s three-day bus tour kicked off in DeKalb County in June.
Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody, TDOT officials and representatives of Massman Construction participated in the three-day TDOT Projects Tour for Region 2 with a luncheon at the county complex and a bus trip to the site of the new Sligo bridge construction.
“It's a massive project and very complicated,” Schroer told the media. “Deep water bridge work is very hard, but we've got a good tour of what they're doing and how they are doing it. Not being an engineer myself, this is a great educational time for me and some of the other people here to see what is going on. It's a fun way for us to get out and meet people and see what is happening out in the communities.”
Director of Operations for TDOT Region 2 Ken Flynn said the project is slightly ahead of schedule.
"The project is going real well. Right now we're slightly ahead of schedule. We've got all of our drill shafts into the lake completed and we're starting to go up with the rest of our sub-structure. It's a great milestone to get the in-water work complete. The next big challenge is how we're going to set our steel so high up in the air,” Flynn said.
The bridge is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016.
This story will be continued next week.