Election Commission Notifies Voters Affected by Boundary Changes

Because of redistricting and the realignment of precinct boundary lines, some voters may have to cast ballots at a different location than where they have been accustomed to voting.
Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, said the election commission is sending out letters informing those who will be affected by the change. “The law says we must notify voters if their voting location is changed and we have done that. Letters have now gone out to everyone that was impacted by either a district change or by a precinct change. Those who have been impacted by redistricting have now received their letter or will receive it today or tomorrow. We wanted to get those out before the holiday break. If you have any questions whatsoever, simply call us at the election office at 597-4146 and we’ll go over the issue with you and make sure you’re in the correct place and if not it will be an issue the election commission can look at down the road,” said Stanley.
By law redistricting has to be done every ten years, based on the latest census and the plan for redistricting has to be adopted by the county commission no later than January 1st. Due to a unique set of circumstances, Stanley said DeKalb County had to act sooner. ” We had district races coming up in March for the constables and we had to get that going quickly because for the March election we had to use the new district lines. So we not only needed to know where voters would have to vote, but we also had to know whether a candidate was qualifying in the correct district or not. So I want to commend the county commission for working with us and getting this redistricting plan adopted as well as David Tirpak with the state office of local government. He assisted us. That part has been done. It was then up to the election commission to draw the precinct lines. That has been done,” said Stanley.
“Going into this redistricting plan, we had a variance of seventeen percent,” said Stanley. ” What that means is, every district must be as close as possible to the same number of people. We had a variance of seventeen percent. We had one district that was nine percent over the norm and one that was eight percent under the norm. But with the help of David Tirpak and the county commission, a plan has been adopted that I am very proud of. We now have a variance of only 3.8% which is darn near perfect. Precincts is more of a boundary issue as far as size of the area but the districts have to be drawn based on population. Precincts can be done other ways. The law simply says you can’t have more than five thousand people in a precinct which is not a problem here,” said Stanley.
Meanwhile, the election commission has changed the location of the elementary school voting precinct to the new county complex building on South Congress Boulevard. Voters who have cast ballots at the elementary school in the past will now vote at the new building.

Smithville Police Department to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints

The Smithville Police Department will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrol on Thursday, December 22 thru Monday, January 2 in an ongoing effort to provide safer roadways for the public. Sobriety checkpoints will be conducted Saturday, December 31 on Highway 56 & 70. Saturation patrol will be conducted throughout the holiday season. The Smithville Police Department will continue to work with the Governors Highway Safety Office in an effort to keep our roadways safe.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) is Tennessee’s advocate for highway safety. This office works with law enforcement, judicial personnel and community advocates to coordinate activities and initiatives relating to the human behavioral aspects of highway safety.
The GHSO’s mission is to develop, execute and evaluate programs to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries and related economic losses resulting from traffic crashes on Tennessee’s roadways. The office works in tandem with the National Highway Safety Administration to implement programs focusing on occupant protection, impaired driving, speed enforcement, truck and school bus safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety and crash data collection and analysis. Programs administered by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office are 100% federally funded.
The Smithville Police Department would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy and safe New Year.

Dowelltown City Lights Contest Winners Awarded

Winners of the Dowelltown City Lights Contest have been awarded.
Best All Around
First Place: Chris Walker
2nd place:Sean & Jessica Antoniak
3rd place: Joe & Vicki Bogle
Best Window
First Place:Mike & Elizabeth Redmon
2nd place:Joseph & Bethany Chandler
Best Door
First place: Bernice Hendrixson
Vann & Billie Woodside

City Crime News

In his latest city crime report, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 23 year old Ashley LeAnn Spivey is charged with driving under the influence and two counts of simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court on January 12.
According to Chief Caplinger, an officer was called to check out a possible drunk driver on South Mountain Street on Monday, December 12. The officer spotted the vehicle and followed it to Jackson Street. After observing it travel onto the wrong side of the street, he signaled for the driver of the vehicle to pull over. The automobile continued onto Andrew Street where it finally stopped. The officer made contact with the driver, Spivey. He reported that her speech was slow and that she appeared to have had difficulty keeping her eyes open. Spivey submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. She allegedly claimed that she had earlier taken some zoloft, xanax, and soma. Spivey gave consent for the officer to search the vehicle and he found a purse in the back seat containing an unlabeled pill bottle. Inside the bottle were seven whole pills and two half pills believed to be xanax and three pills thought to be soma.
25 year old Marius Madus Schweizer is charged with domestic violence. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court on January 19.
According to Chief Caplinger, an officer was called to 558 East Main Street to investigate a possible domestic incident involving a weapon. The man who lived at the residence said that Schweizer had been staying there with him and his daughter but that he had been asked to leave. Schweizer initially left the home but later returned threatening to harm the man and his dogs. He also allegedly pushed the man’s daughter, who was in the driveway. After arriving at the scene, the officer conducted a search and found Schweizer in a shed on the property, hiding under some empty bags. The complainants told police that Schweizer had a knife on him when he made the threats, but no knife was found on him upon his arrest. Schweizer was unsteady on his feet and he had an alcohol odor about his person.
39 year old Willard Darrell Brown is cited for theft of property in a shoplifting incident at Potter’s Home Center on November 22. When confronted, Brown allegedly admitted to taking items from the store. The theft was also captured on store video surveillance. He will be in court on January 12.
39 year old Robert Matthew Hale is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on January 5.
Chief Caplinger reports that an officer was dispatched to a residence on Restview Avenue on Thursday, December 15. Upon arrival, he spoke to a woman who said that she and Hale had been arguing and that he had allegedly pushed her down while she was holding her four month old child. When she tried to get up, Hale allegedly bit her finger.
42 year old Victor Glen Gingerich is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence, simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court on January 12.
While investigating a traffic accident on East Broad Street Thursday, December 15 an officer observed a black Firebird approach, which was not involved in the mishap. After stopping, the driver of the car revved up the engine, making excessive noise. The officer made contact with the driver, Gingerich, and asked him to get out of the car. Gingerich submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and his speech was slurred. He also became belligerent. Upon being taken into custody, Gingerich told the officer that he had a bomb in his car. The officer checked but nothing was found other than a rolled up cigarette containing what was believed to be marijuana along and a glass pipe with some white residue on it.
28 year old Jennifer C. Bogle is cited for theft of property in a shoplifting incident at the Dollar General Store on Friday, December 16. An employee saw Bogle allegedly putting items from the store in her purse. When confronted, Bogle allegedly produced the items from the purse. She will be in court on January 5.
32 year old Michael Todd Jones is charged with simple possession of a schedule II and IV controlled substance. His bond is $5,500 and he will be in court on January 12.
Chief Caplinger said that an officer was called to check out a possible drunk driver on South Congress Boulevard on Friday, December 16. The officer spotted the vehicle at Jewel’s Market and made contact with the driver, Jones. He consented to a search of his person and vehicle and the officer found eleven whole pills and four half pills believed to be xanax and three pills thought to be oxycodone. After being taken to the police department, a further search of Jones’ person yielded more xanax pills in his shoe.
29 year old Cassandra Nicole Estes is charged with filing a false report. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on January 12.
Chief Caplinger said an officer was called to Evans Manor apartments on Friday, December 16 on a complaint of domestic violence. There he met with Estes who said that she was alone and that there had been no argument between her and anyone. Upon entering the apartment, the officer detected an odor of marijuana and while speaking with Estes, he asked for and received consent to search. The officer spotted a compact container that held a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.. Upon a further search, the officer found a man hiding in a cabinet under the kitchen sink. The man, 41 year old Mark Anthony Hopkins, told the officer that he had a pipe on him that he used to smoke some marijuana. He was charged simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on January 12.
25 year old Lasierra Nicole Lopez is charged with driving under the influence and cited for speeding, driving on a suspended license, violation of the implied consent law, and simple possession. She will be in court on January 12.
Chief Caplinger said that on Sunday, December 18 an officer spotted an vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed on West Broad Street, going 73 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour speed zone. The officer pulled over the vehicle and made contact with the driver, Lopez. She had slurred speech and there was an odor of alcohol on her person and in the vehicle. She submitted to and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. A computer check revealed that her license were suspended. An inventory of her vehicle revealed a small bag of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

Aldermen Act to Move City Elections from June to August

In an effort to get more people to the polls and to save the city money, the Smithville Municipal Election may be moved from June to August starting this year and from now on. The city election would still be held annually but it would run in conjunction with the county general election every two years.
During Monday night’s meeting of the board of Mayor and Aldermen, the council voted 4 to 1 to have an ordinance drawn up making the change. Passage is required on two separate readings in January during special meetings before the measure can take effect. A public hearing is also required prior to second reading passage.
Mayor Taft Hendrixson informed the aldermen that its time for the city to notify the election commission calling for the city election, which is currently scheduled for the third Tuesday in June to elect a mayor and two aldermen. He said if the election is moved, it would coincide with the County General Election on the first Thursday in August. It would also mean that the terms of the incumbent mayor and two aldermen up for re-election would be extended by up to sixty days (just for this year). “I’ve talked with an MTAS representative and a lot of cities are doing this. We can have our election in conjunction with the August election. It saves a lot of money. I believe our last city election was eight to nine thousand dollars. That’s what it cost us. But in conjunction with an August election it would probably cost twenty five percent of that. It would mean extending the term for whoever comes up this year about sixty days until the August election. We can change our election date to August by ordinance. That does not have to be a charter change. I believe you would see a greater voter turnout and it would save the city several thousand dollars. We will have to have two public (special) meetings in January to do this,” said Mayor Hendrixson.
Alderman Steve White, who voted against the proposal, said that while he favors saving the city money and encouraging a larger voter turnout, he is concerned with the legality of making these changes by ordinance, when the city charter calls for the city election to be held in June. White said he preferred waiting until other changes are made in the city charter before making this one. “With the way the charter reads, you would have to be extending somebody’s term and I don’t think we can change that without the charter being changed. As the charter reads, our election has to be in June. If we move it to August then that’s after our term is out,” said White.
Mayor Hendrixson replied “But our terms will be extended. Myself, yours (Steve White), and Mr. (Cecil) Burger’s term will be extended by approximately sixty days until the August Election this year. You can’t extend terms by more than two years but you can extend terms by up to two years,” said Mayor Hendrixson.
Alderman White continued “My thinking is that if we’re getting some more changes ready for the charter, I think we might ought to go ahead and have the election in June this time and then if we decide we want to do that (change election date) go ahead and change the charter that way if we want to change the terms we can do all that as the next elections come up,”said White.
Alderman Gayla Hendrix said it only makes sense for the city to make this move now if it will mean more voter participation. “It seems to make sense. It saves money and I would like to see a larger turnout. Despite our best efforts, its very difficult to get people out for just a city election. They will come out to a general election,” said Hendrix
Alderman Shawn Jacobs said he also supports the change
Mayor Hendrixson added that he favors changing the terms of office of the mayor and aldermen from two years to four years, but that would require a change in the charter. Any action on that measure would require passage by the aldermen and approval by the state legislature. “There’s something else we may want to look at and that’s a charter change to extend the terms of office to four years instead of two. That’s something we can look at after the first of the year. Any charter change has to go to the legislature,” said Mayor Hendrixson.
The aldermen have not yet taken up that issue.

County’s Beer Regulations To Remain Unchanged

The county’s beer regulations will remain unchanged.
On a vote of seven to seven, the county commission Monday night failed to adopt a motion to reduce the minimum distance requirement from 2,000 feet to 400 feet between stores seeking to sell beer and places of public gathering such as churches and schools.
The 2,000 foot distance regulation is the maximum allowed under state law and it has not been changed since the county adopted it in October 1939. The county has the authority to make the minimum distance something less than 2,000 feet but it cannot be greater than 2,000 feet.
Fourth district commissioner David McDowell made a motion to rescind the minimum 2,000 foot rule and change it to 400 feet, which is the same as the City of Smithville’s regulation. Third district member Bradley Hendrix seconded the motion. But the measure failed to muster the eight votes needed for passage.
Commissioners joining McDowell and Hendrix in voting for the proposed change were Jack Barton from the second district, Wayne Cantrell from the fourth district, Jerry Adcock from the fifth district, and Jimmy Poss and Larry Summers both from the seventh district.
Commissioners voting against making the change were Mason Carter and Elmer Ellis, Jr. from the first district, Bobby Joines from the second district, Jerry Scott from the third district, John Green from the fifth district, and Jeff Barnes and Marshall Ferrell from the sixth district.
County Mayor Mike Foster could have voted to break the tie but he chose not to do so saying he did not want to take one side over the other. ‘I feel like its divisive. I’m not afraid to vote and I don’t care to vote but I just think its divisive. I think if its this opinionated with seven for and seven against, we have got to work together and if I side with either side then I’m alienating somebody. We’ve got a good relationship and we work well together and I don’t want to jeopardize that,’ said Foster.
While he voted in favor of making the change, Adcock said he really didn’t like the idea that on-premises beer permits could be issued to businesses as close as 400 feet to schools and churches.”I don’t object to packaged sales at 400 feet but I do with on-premises usage,” said Adcock.
Ferrell said many of his constituents in the sixth district opposed the change. “The people I’ve had calling me in my district do not want this to happen. They don’t want it changed,” he said. Ferrell added that he would have prefered this issue be put before the voters in a public referendum.
Before the vote, Bernard Houk, pastor of the Smithville First Free Will Baptist Church spoke out against the proposed change. “I’d like to see it 10,000 (feet). I’m a pastor and I go counsel with people all the time where their husband got drunk, whipped them and left them and all that so I don’t see any good in it. I think when you move it from 2,000 feet to anything else, then in a year or two it’ll be ‘why don’t we reduce that down to somewhere else’? We could always use the argument that the city’s is 400 feet. But you can even get around that. Our church is closer than that (400 feet) under that grandfather thing (clause). A grandpa deal got us beer right in our front door at the First Free Will Baptist Church. I don’t think its right,” said Houk.
Jewel Redmon, owner of Jewel’s Market & Pizza on the Cookeville Highway, addressed the commission advocating for the change, especially since it would potentially benefit him. Under the current rules, Redmon cannot obtain a permit to sell beer because his store is within 2,000 feet of the new First Assembly of God on the Cookeville Highway. “Beer is a legal product. No one asks anyone to come in and buy it. Its there. You can go to Kroger, Walmart, or to any big store (and find it) These convenience stores have it to sell as a commodity. Right across the street from my place (Village Market in city limits) they can buy it. My place should have been grandfathered in. It’s a whole lot better looking place than it was before. You’ve got to have the product that people want in order to stay in business. We’re not asking nobody to come in and buy it. We’re not pushing it. It’s a legal product and I’m just asking to be able to sell it,” said Redmon.
Redmon added he may be able to sell alcoholic beverages at the store anyway under a state law that authorizes liquor by the drink under the Premiere Resort Act. “That store will qualify for liquor by the drink and beer through the state. It costs us $10,000 a year. So I can get them through the state. I’m not in the business to run a beer joint. I just want a clean, decent convenience market and have a product there that people want,” said Redmon.
As WJLE first reported in October, Premier Resort Status can be granted by the state to allow the sale of liquor in specific locations regardless of local restrictions.
Business owners, under certain conditions, can qualify to apply for a liquor license with passage of an amendment by the state legislature making them eligible to sell liquor by the drink under the state’s “Premier Tourist Resort Act”. Once businesses have that authority from the state, they may apply for a liquor license from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. If approved, the license is renewable annually.
The DeKalb County Beer Board, which grants local beer licenses, has no authority over the issuance of liquor licenses by the state.
DeKalb County businesses who currently sell liquor by the drink are the Inn at Evins Mill, the Blue Water Grille at Hurricane Marina, the Fish Lipz restaurant at Pates Ford Marina, and the Company Store near Cove Hollow.
Others who have the authority to apply are Maggie’s Landing on Highway 70 at Snow Hill and the restaurant at Sligo Marina.

Barbara Elaine Easterwood

45 year old Barbara Elaine Easterwood of Smithville died Saturday at the Alive Hospice residence in Nashville. She was a homemaker and a Baptist. A memorial service will be Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. at Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Virgil Hibdon, Jr. will officiate. No visitation will be held prior to the memorial service. She was preceded in death by her father, Billy Cooper Pruitt; brother, Bobby Pruitt; Grandparents, Earnest and Louise Winchester and Marvin and Flora Pruitt; and step-father, Paul Thomason. Survivors include her husband, Thomas Easterwood; a daughter, Whitney Nicole Easterwood ; and two sons, Thomas Dalton Easterwood and Dylan Kane Easterwood all of Smithville. Mother, Janie Thomason of Dowelltown. Three brothers, Billy Pruitt, Jr. of Smithville, James Hale of Woodbury, and Jimmy Hale of Wartburg. Mother-in-law, Geraldine Sherrell of Woodbury. Four nieces and two nephews. Love-Cantrell Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Javin Lee Lawson

52 year old Javin Lee Lawson of Watertown died Saturday at DeKalb Community Hospital. He was pastor of the Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Alexandria. He was born in Detroit, Michigan. The funeral will be Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. at Hunter Funeral Home in Watertown. Herb Leftwich will officiate and burial will be in the Prosperity Cemetery. Visitation will be Sunday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.; Monday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.; and Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until the service. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lemmie and Ruby Mai Estes Lawson;a sister, Louise Lawson; and a brother, James Lawson. Survivors include his wife, Cindy Fuston Lawson of Watertown. Sons, Jason and wife Christy Lawson of Mount Juliet, David and wife Melissa Lawson of Liberty, and Steven and wife Christmas Lawson of Watertown. Grandchildren, Avery and Everett Lawson of Mount Juliet and Abigail, Jonathan, and Caleb Lawson of Liberty. Sisters, Francis Shultz and Janie Spurlock both of Smithville. Brothers, Robert and wife Betty Lawson of Smithville, Jim and wife Betty Ruth Lawson of Smithville, Billy Lawson of Woodbury, Jerry and wife Patricia Lawson of Smithville, Charlie and wife Ruth Lawson of Smithville, Terry and wife Evelyn Lawson of Watertown, and Daniel and wife Kim Lawson of Liberty. Nieces, nephews, and cousins also survive. Hunter Funeral Home in Watertown is in charge of the arrangements.

Audrey Martella “Mama Tee” Kirby

89 year old Audrey Martella “Mama Tee” Kirby of Smithville died Sunday at NHC Healthcare Center. She was retired from Kingston Timer as a machine operator. She was also a member of the Mount Hope The Baptist Church. The funeral will be Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. at the Chapel of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Dwight Knowles, Virgil Hibdon, Jr. and Greg Hibdon will officiate and burial will be in Whorton Springs Cemetery. Visitation will be Monday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.; Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.; and Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. until the service at 1:00 p.m. She was preceded in death by her parents, Hebron and Elmer Turner; her husband Virgil “Bud” Kirby; two brothers, J.P. and T.Z. Turner; and a son-in-law, Willie Lee Fuson. Survivors include a daughter, Doris Fuson; two sons, Deloy and wife Diane Kirby and Darrell and wife Jewell Kirby all of Smithville. Six grandchildren, Teresa Fuson Johnson, Renee and husband Brad Hennessee, and Tarron and husband Dale Johnson all of Smithville; Stephanie Kirby of McMinnville, Chad and wife Shelia Kirby and Chris Cantrell all of Smithville. Eight great grandchildren, Corey Williams of Nashville, Jessica Bain of Murfreesboro, James Caplinger, Caleb Bain, Zackary Caplinger, Taylor Parker, and Dallas and Brylee Kirby all of Smithville. Nieces, nephews, and cousins survive along with special caregiver, Joy Fay Carter of Smithville. Love-Cantrell Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. In addition to flowers, donations may be made to the Jefferson Cemetery or the Mount Hope The Baptist Church.

IRS Seeks to Return $2.1 Million in Undelivered Checks to Tennessee Taxpayers

In an annual reminder to taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that it is looking to return $2.1 million in undelivered tax refund checks to 1,779 Tennessee filers. The refund checks could not be delivered because of mailing address errors. The checks average $1,182.
Nationwide, there are more than 99,000 undelivered refund checks worth about $153 million. The checks average $1,547.
Taxpayers who believe their refund check may have been returned to the IRS as undelivered, should use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov. The tool will provide the status of their refund and, in some cases, instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.
Taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will receive instructions on how to update their addresses. Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.
While only a small percentage of checks mailed out by the IRS are returned as undelivered, taxpayers can put an end to lost, stolen or undelivered checks by choosing direct deposit when they file either paper or electronic returns. Last year, more than 78.4 million taxpayers chose to receive their refund through direct deposit. Taxpayers can receive refunds directly into their bank account, split a tax refund into two or three financial accounts or even buy a savings bond.
The IRS also recommends that taxpayers file their tax returns electronically, because e-file eliminates the risk of lost paper returns. E-file also reduces errors on tax returns and speeds up refunds. Nearly 8 out of 10 taxpayers chose e-file last year. E-file combined with direct deposit is the best option for taxpayers to avoid refund problems; it’s easy, fast and safe.
The public should be aware that the IRS does not contact taxpayers by e-mail to alert them of pending refunds and does not ask for personal or financial information through email. Such messages are common phishing scams. The agency urges taxpayers receiving such messages not to release any personal information, reply, open any attachments or click on any links to avoid malicious code that can infect their computers. The best way for an individual to verify if she or he has a pending refund is going directly to IRS.gov and using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool.