DeKalb Jobless Rate Unchanged at 6.1% in October

DeKalb County’s unemployment rate for October was 6.1%, unchanged from the September rate but down from 8.1% in October, 2013.
The local labor force for October was 9,090. A total of 8,540 were employed and 550 were unemployed.
DeKalb County’s Jobless Rate for October was fifth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region.
Here’s how they rank from highest to lowest:
Pickett: 10.9%
Van Buren: 9%
White: 7.5%
Clay: 7.5%
Jackson: 6.9%
DeKalb: 6.1%
County unemployment rates for October show the rate decreased in 80 counties, increased in 10 counties, and remained the same in five counties.
Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate in October at 5.1 percent, down from 5.4 in September. Davidson County was 5.2 percent in October, down from 5.5 in September. The Hamilton County October rate was 6.2 percent, down from 6.6 in September. Shelby County was 7.9 percent in October, down from 8.3 in September. Tennessee’s unemployment rate for October was 7.1 percent, two tenths of one percentage point lower than the 7.3 September revised rate. The U.S. preliminary rate for October was 5.8 percent, down from 5.9 percent in September.
The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

“Love Lights a Tree” Campaign Underway

The American Cancer Society invites you to make a special donation in honor or in memory of a loved one during the holiday season through “Love Lights a Tree”. A special memory board is being erected on the south side of the courthouse that will list the names of loved ones being honored and remembered.
The DeKalb County Unit of the American Cancer Society seeks your support in the “Love Lights a Tree” fundraising campaign to raise money for research to find a cure as well as cancer education and patient services. Donations may be made throughout the holiday season. The persons you honor or remember do not necessarily have to have suffered from cancer.
The names are in “honor of” and in “memory of” for a donation of five-dollars per name. Forms may be obtained at the local banks. For more information, contact Ivadell Randolph at 615- 597-5296, Lynda Luna at 615- 597-5837, Renee Cantrell at 615-597-4551, Melanie Judkins at 615-597-1132, or Gail Taylor 615-597-5936.

County to Apply for CDBG Water Line Extension Grant

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution to apply for a $525,000 Community Development Block Grant on behalf of the DeKalb Utility District.
If approved by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the grant would help fund the extension of water lines to unserved parts of the county identified as Tramel Branch, Oakley Road, Carter Lane, Old Givens Hollow, and Dismal to Alexandria Road.
The maximum amount of the grant is $525,000 and if approved the DUD would fund the local matching portion of 16% or $96,000 plus any additional funds required to complete the project.
This is the county’s second try for the grant involving the same project.
The first application filed earlier this year was denied because it did not score high enough to be awarded a grant.
Brooxie Carlton, Director of federal programs for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development said the cutoff on the scoring was 194. DeKalb County’s scoring was 191, three points below the cutoff. In order to improve the county’s scoring, Carlton recommended testing 35% of the wells rather than the required 10% to try and get the project impact (scores) up.
Amanda Mainord of Grassroots Planning and Consulting will prepare all the necessary documents for the completion of the application for the proposed project.

Grand Jury Indicts Trio for Especially Aggravated Kidnapping

Three men accused of kidnapping a man and woman and beating them with an axe handle in July have been indicted by the new term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury, which convened Monday, November 24
42 year old Jimmy Tolbert (J.J.) Hendrixson, Jr., 36 year old Casey Joseph Jacobs, and 48 year old Comas Brian Higgins all of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown are each indicted with two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping.
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Hendrixson, Jacobs, and Higgins met their victims at a bridge on the New Bildad Road Friday night, July 18 and assaulted them with an axe handle. Both victims were then tied up and their mouths were taped shut. The male victim managed to escape and ran to a residence nearby where he called for help. The three abductors then drove the female victim to their home on the Old Snow Hill Road.
“After we got the call, I along with detectives and deputies of the sheriff’s department arrived (on New Bildad Road) and found an individual (male victim) who had minor injuries. We took a statement from him and learned who the individuals were who assaulted and tied him up. He told us of a female that had been done the same way. We found her (at residence on Old Snow Hill Road) and took her into safe keeping. We arrested the three individuals responsible,” said Sheriff Ray.
The arrest warrants against Hendrixson, Jacobs, and Higgins all alleged that on Friday, July 18 they held a woman and man against their will. The man and woman were tied up with a rope and their mouths were taped shut. The man and woman had each been assaulted with an axe handle. The woman had several marks on her body from the axe handle and rope. The man suffered bodily injuries causing him to be transported by DeKalb EMS to the hospital where he was treated and released. Neither victim was seriously hurt in the attack.
Sheriff Ray gave no motive for the kidnapping and assault.
The trio were among seventy seven people who were indicted on various charges by the Grand Jury Monday. Twenty six of them were named in sealed indictments. The names of persons charged in sealed indictments cannot be revealed until they are arrested.
All those indicted will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 8 at 9:00 a.m.
The defendants and their charges are as follows:
Robert Roy Atnip, Jr.: burglary and theft over $1,000
Joseph Stephen Audas: aggravated rape and aggravated assault
Clay Andrew Bain: domestic assault
Earnest Paul Barnwell: driving on revoked license (4th offense)
Karey Lynn Benson: worthless check
Kevin Bly: aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and violation of order of protection
Timmy Eugene Bowman: solicitation of a minor (2 counts) and violation of the sex offender registry
Shawn Patrick Byrd: aggravated arson
Donald Wayne Cantrell: manufacturing a schedule VI drug
Jason Zenn Cripps: auto burglary, public intoxication, violation of bond conditions, possession of a schedule II drug (2 counts), possession of a schedule IV drug, and aggravated assault
Johnny Lynn Devault: possession of schedule IV drug, driving on revoked license (2 counts), and aggravated assault
Rebecca Dickens: introduction of contraband
Kenny Waymon Dyal, Jr.: burglary (2 counts) and theft under $500, and theft over $500
Desiree Ferrell: sale and delivery of schedule II drug
Oscar Alexis Garcia: underage driving while impaired, reckless endangerment, evading arrest, resisting arrest, no drivers license, traffic control device, and failure to maintain lane
Demelza Jane Frances Grisham: aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, and theft over $500
John Harris: possession of a schedule VI drug for resale
Jimmy Hendrixson, Casey Jacobs, and Comas Higgins: especially aggravated kidnapping (2 counts)
Brandon Hutchings and Shannon Newby: aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000
David Ray Johnson: theft under $500 (2 counts)
Tamer Jones: theft over $500 and theft under $500 (4 counts)
Hugo Godinez-Juarez: driving under the influence
Michelle Lee Keenan: driving on suspended
Ashley Lasser: theft under $500 and forgery
Michael Leichtfuss: introduction of contraband
Steve F. Mabe, Jr.: theft over $1,000 (2 counts)
Joyce Sharon Malone: driving on suspended
Sherry Malone: theft over $1,000
Lorie Denise Maclean and Craig Alan Yarbrough: theft over $10,000 and theft under $500
Kevin Manning: driving under the influence (3rd offense)
Jermaine McCoy: possession of a schedule II drug for resale (2 counts), no drivers license, driving on revoked, speeding, and open container
Patsy McCoy: possession of paraphernalia, possession of a schedule III drug, public intoxication, and theft under $500
James Dallas McMillen, Jr.: theft over $1,000 (2 counts) and theft over $500 (2 counts), and theft under $500
Bruce Allen Morton: driving on a revoked license, DRL (2nd offense), financial responsibility, failure to carry registration, and failure to maintain lane
Melinda Murphy: forgery (2 counts)
Steven Nelson: domestic assault, violation of bond conditions and coercion of a witness
Shawn Renee Nolton: driving on a suspended license, financial responsibility, and violation of the light law
Gary Ponder: theft over $1,000
Wallace Rackley: tampering with evidence, resisting arrest, possession of a schedule II and IV drug, and aggravated assault
Brian Raynes: driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, and possession of a schedule VI drug
Raymond Howard Rollins: domestic assault
Kevin Glenn Smith: reckless endangerment ( 2 counts) and evading arrest
Scottie Lynn Sykes: Burglary, theft over $1,000, vandalism over $1,000, possession of schedule II drug and possession of paraphernalia
Brandon Keith Thomas and Shawn Renee Gibson: initiation of methamphetamine, possession of a schedule IV and VI drug, and possession of paraphernalia
Justin LaVaughn Westbrook: driving on a revoked license (3rd offense) and speeding
Joey Williams: driving on a suspended license and possession of a schedule VI drug
Robert Eugene Wright, III: driving under the influence (4th offense), driving on a revoked license, and failure to maintain lane

Reagan Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Assault in Kidnapping Case

A 32 year old man who participated with a co-defendant in the robbery and kidnapping of an elderly man over a year ago was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.
Judge David Patterson presided.
Charles Reagan pled guilty to aggravated assault and received a six year sentence to be suspended after he serves one year. He was given 125 days jail credit.
His co-defendant, 30 year old Amanda Gail Maxwell Bain pled guilty to robbery and kidnapping in October and received a four year sentence in each case as a range one offender. Her sentences are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to another TDOC sentence against her. She was given jail credit from November 6, 2013 to October 3, 2014.
According to Smithville Police, the victim was kidnapped at knifepoint on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 in Smithville and then forced to withdraw funds from his bank account at an ATM machine. The man’s abductors later drove him to McMinnville where he made his escape and called police.
The case was investigated by Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes and Detective Brandon Donnell of the Smithville Police Department.
According to Lieutenant Holmes, Bain telephoned the 81 year old victim, an acquaintance, and asked him to come to her Smithville home to talk with her. The victim, who lived in Warren County, drove to Bain’s home on Fisher Avenue. As he arrived and entered the residence, Bain allegedly attacked the man from behind and forced him at knifepoint (boxcutter) back into his car, a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix. As the victim sat on the front passenger seat, Bain drove to ATM machines at two local banks where the man was forced to withdraw cash from his account. Bain allegedly got $300 as a result of the crime.
In an attempt to get more money from the victim at another bank ATM, police believe Bain picked up Reagan at her home and the two of them drove the elderly man at knifepoint to McMinnville, according to Detective Donnell. But as they got to McMinnville and stopped at a traffic light, the victim bailed out of the car and escaped. Bain, the driver, got out and ran after him but the victim managed to get to a phone and called 911. McMinnville Police were first alerted but they then contacted the Smithville Police Department. Reagan, who was in the back seat of the victim’s car, got into the front seat and drove away. Police believe he abandoned the vehicle somewhere.
Bain and Reagan later made it back to Smithville and stayed the night at a local motel, apparently in an attempt to hide from police. They returned to Bain’s home on Wednesday, November 6 2013 where police found the two and brought them in for questioning.
Bain and Reagan were co-indicted in April, 2014 for aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and theft over $1,000.

FSA County Committee Elections Underway

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency, announces that the 2014 FSA county committee elections are underway as ballots were mailed to eligible voters in Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 2 of DeKalb County and Local Administrative Area # 4 of Cannon County on November 3rd. December 1, 2014 is the deadline for eligible voters to return ballots, either post marked in the mail or delivered in person, to their local FSA offices.
“The FSA county committee system is unique among government agencies, because it allows producers to make important decisions concerning the local administration of federal farm programs,” said Green. “I urge all eligible farmers and ranchers, especially minorities and women, to get involved and make a real difference in their communities by voting in this year’s elections.”
Committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on disaster and conservation payments, establishment of allotments and yields, producer appeals, employing FSA county executive directors and other local issues. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.
To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in FSA programs. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm, can also vote. Agricultural producers in each country submitted candidate names during the nomination period held last summer.
Eligible voters in DeKalb County LAA # 2 or Cannon County LAA # 4 who did not receive a ballot can obtain a ballot at their local USDA Service Center. December 1, 2014 is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than December 1, 2014. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office January 1st, 2015.
Close to 7,700 FSA county committee members serve in the 2,124 FSA offices nationwide. Each committee consists of 3 to 11 members who serve 3-year terms. Approximately one-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. More information on county committees, such as the new 2014 fact sheet and brochures, can be found on the FSA website or at a local USDA Service Center.

DCHS Student with Air Soft Pistols Suspended

A DCHS student who bragged to a fellow classmate about bringing a gun to school and was later found with two air soft pistols in his vehicle on campus has been suspended.
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE Tuesday that the boy has been suspended from school for Monday and Tuesday this week and Monday through Friday next week. He will then be remanded to the alternative school for the remainder of the year.
Sheriff Patrick Ray said Friday that the 17 year old youth is charged in a juvenile petition with committing a delinquent act, to wit: carrying or possessing weapons on school property. He will appear before Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II on December 3.
According to Sheriff Ray, the boy told another student at school Friday that he had a gun in his pocket. When the student said she didn’t believe him, the boy claimed he was serious and held his hand inside the pocket of a sweatshirt he wore in a manner that made it appear he had a gun. The teen never displayed a weapon and made no threats toward anyone, said Sheriff Ray.
The incident was reported to assistant principal David Gash. Both Gash and Principal Patrick Cripps went to the boy’s classroom, pulled him out of class and searched him. Finding no weapons on the boy, Gash and Cripps went to his vehicle and found two air soft pistols.

School Board to Consider Free Lunches for All Students

DeKalb County students are being offered free breakfast at school this year under the “Universal Breakfast” program. Now, the school board is considering free lunches under the Community Eligibility Provision, a universal meal plan in the National School Lunch Program that permits eligible districts and schools to provide meals to all students at no charge, regardless of economic status.
The board of education will discuss the possibility of implementing the program next year during a workshop in December.
The federal Community Eligibility Provision is one piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. “CEP was introduced last February by the State of Tennessee. All students would eat free breakfast and lunch,” said Stephanie Walker-Dyer, DeKalb County School Nutrition Supervisor during Thursday night’s monthly Board of Education meeting.
Initially, school districts wanting to participate had to commit to an entire year of offering lunches under CEP. Now, they may opt out at any time. Due to the uncertainty as to whether the school system would receive sufficient federal reimbursement revenues to cover the costs, the DeKalb County School Board instead chose to start Universal Breakfast for all this year. “We discussed this in a work session this past summer. We had to sign up by July 1st. Since that date, they have given us an extension to that deadline but I did not bring it back up because we had decided not to participate,” said Dyer.
CEP guidelines call for schools to cover the costs of free lunches for all if reimbursement rates are not sufficient. “You could actually start this now (free lunches) in January and if you saw you weren’t making any money or we were going in the hole, we could actually stop. We could run it two months and stop. But in my opinion, if we start having free breakfast and lunch for everyone in January and we run it in January and February and then we decide this is costing us more than we thought it was going to and we have to start back paying (requiring payment for meals) it’s going to be tough when everything has been free,” said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, during Thursday night’s school board meeting.
To determine which schools qualify for free lunches, the federal government uses a formula that takes into account the rates of foster children, homeless children, runaways, migrants and students on food stamps. “To be eligible, we had to have a minimum of 40% of identified students. Identified students are off of our direct certification list which comes from the State of Tennessee. It is students that are on supplemental programs such as SNAP and our homeless, runaway, Head Start, and migrant youth. All of those numbers go together. We did not feel comfortable at 51% (identified students) in being eligible. We would like to have been closer to 60%,” said Dyer.
Currently, families must fill out paperwork verifying low income levels to qualify for the federal free and reduced price lunch program. But under the CEP regulations, families would no longer have those hurdles. Still, they would need to fill out a household survey, because a school’s participation rate in free and reduced-price lunch programs plays into its ability to compete for federal grants and state funding.
Danny Parkerson, First District School Board member, said he would like to see the free lunch program offered locally because it would save families money. “This is a program that can put (money) back in a family budget at home. It’s about like gas prices going down for some of our parents who have two or three kids and are paying a lunch bill. I’d like to have a work session and talk about it. This is something we can give back to our parents,” said Parkerson.
Based on the success of Universal Breakfast, Dyer said she is hopeful free lunches can be started next year in the local school system. “In October, compared to last year to this year, DCHS (breakfast participation) has gone up 4%. That is huge for a high school. We’re very proud of that number. That is great,” she said.
“DeKalb Middle School has gone up 2%. We have since tweaked the menu a little bit and we feel like it will continue to go up in November and December”.
“DeKalb West School has gone up 3%. They are just now getting used to hot breakfasts again since their kitchen has been down”.
“Northside Elementary has gone up 7%.”
“Smithville Elementary School has gone down 2% but they have always been very high participating in breakfast,” said Dyer.

Two Teens Get Eight Year Sentences for Robbery and Kidnapping

Two seventeen year old boys accused of forcing their way into the home of a Smithville woman and then assaulting and robbing her in September, 2013 were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday.
Judge David Patterson presided.
Robert Brian Callahan, II and Tony J. Starkes, Jr. each pled guilty to charges of robbery and kidnapping and received a total sentence of eight years That’s four years for robbery and four years for kidnapping to run consecutively. They must serve at least 30% of the sentence before release eligibility. The teens were given credit for time served from September 18, 2013 to the present.
The boys appeared in DeKalb County Juvenile Court Wednesday, December 11, 2013 for a hearing on whether the cases should be transferred from the Juvenile to the Criminal Court. Judge Bratten Cook, II granted the motion.
Callahan and Starkes were indicted by the April, 2014 term of the grand jury as adult offenders.
According to Lieutenant Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department, the incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at the woman’s Smithville residence. He said the victim, who lived alone, heard something outside and when she opened the door to look outside, the two boys, who were wearing hockey masks forced their way in and assaulted her. ” Upon investigation, I found out that the victim heard a noise outside the back of her residence,” said Lieutenant Holmes. “She looked out but didn’t see anyone. She went to open the door. As she cracked the door open, two masked men forced their way into the residence. One of the suspects tackled her to the ground, pepper sprayed her multiple times, and tried to insert a wash cloth in her mouth to keep her from screaming,” he said. “One of the suspects ransacked the house and stole a 38 caliber revolver and multiple other items,” he said. The total value of the stolen items came to around $600.
The woman, though injured in the attack with cuts, scrapes, and bruises, was apparently not seriously hurt and declined medical attention.
Though the two boys were carrying razor knives at the time of the attack, they apparently did not use them on the woman.
“We worked the case until about four in the morning (Thursday, September 19) and started back again later in the day,” said Lieutenant Holmes. We went to Walmart and were able to trace the sale of the hockey masks back to the juveniles who had bought them prior to the incident,” he said.
” We located them (the two suspects) at the high school and placed them under arrest in the classroom on Thursday. Our fear was that they may have brought the gun to school but as it turned out they did not have the gun at school. It was found at their home,” said Lieutenant Holmes.
“We found in the attic of their residence the two hockey masks and a loaded 38 caliber handgun and other items that were taken from the victim’s home. We also found some pepper spray,” Lieutenant Holmes continued.
He said the boys, who lived together in the same household at the time of their arrests, are not related. Neither of the boys is related to the victim. The two boys lived in the same area of the city as the victim but police would not disclose the name of the street or neighborhood where the attack occurred.
Lieutenant Holmes, who was assisted in the investigation by Detective Brandon Donnell and Corporal Travis Bryant said police believe the two boys committed the crimes hoping to find money and drugs.
The two boys also allegedly tried to break into another residence in the same area the night before on Tuesday, September 17 but were unable to make entry.
In other cases, 52 year old Edward Judkins pled guilty to burglary and received a three year sentence on probation to be served concurrently with pending charges against him in Cannon County. He must make restitution of $1,500.
Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on November 20, 2013 Judkins allegedly broke into a shed at a residence on Adamson Branch Road. Entry was made by force and the door to the shed was damaged. Judkins allegedly took various weight equipment from the shed. The weight equipment was recovered from behind Judkins’ camper trailer where he lived on Pea Ridge Road. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff’s Department.
30 year old Roxanne Landis pled guilty to theft under $500. She was sentenced to time served and ordered to make restitution of $3.50 Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that on Thursday, January 23, Landis entered the Dollar General Store and took (shoplifted) items, which were recovered in her purse.
22 year old Lillie Dee Six pled guilty to two counts of theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case to run consecutively for a total of almost two years. She will be on supervised probation for the first year and unsupervised probation the second year of the sentence.

Poss Resigns as County Safety Director

DeKalb County is in search of a new County Safety Director.
After serving in the position since 2009, James L. “Jimmy” Poss has resigned in order to focus on the duties of his elected responsibilities as County Clerk.
Poss submitted his letter of resignation to County Mayor Tim Stribling on Monday and Stribling read the letter to the county commission Monday night during the regular monthly meeting.
The resignation becomes effective December 12 at 5:00 p.m.
The following is Poss’ letter to County Mayor Stribling:
“After being elected to serve as DeKalb County’s Clerk and taking office on September 1, you approached me about continuing to serve as the County’s Safety Director, a role that I had served in since 2009 and prior to seeking office. Considering my involvement and concern in coordination and direction of the county’s safety program, I agreed to continue serving in this role. At that time, I was hoping that my position as County Clerk would allow me to continue to obligate the time necessary to be the County Safety Director”.
“Now that I have been serving as the County Clerk for about 3 months, I have come to realize that I simply do not have sufficient time to properly carry out the roles as the county’s safety officer, while at the same time properly fulfilling my duties of County Clerk. With heavy workload and limited staffing, my attention must be focused on the job that DeKalb County citizens elected me to do. Consequently, I am humbly asking you to please accept my resignation as the Safety Director for the county’s safety program”.
“I have been honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Safety Director since 2009 and have valued the opportunity to work with our county’s department heads to improve and develop our safety program for the county’s employees. I will offer my assistance in whatever way I can provide to make sure your new appointee to this position has a smooth transition as he/she steps into the duties of providing trainings and program development for all of our county departments. I will also do my best to introduce the new Safety Director to the compliance agency contacts that they will be working with, such as the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development , our assigned TOSHA inspector for our schools, highway department, ambulance service, county fire department, sheriff’s department, landfill, county library, and court house. I will also agree to introduce the new appointee to our local government insurance pool representative, Mr. Mark Fogarty and make sure that the new appointee understands the training, certification, and compliance requirements in order for the county to continue to receive our insurance premium discounts”.
“Again, I regret that I am no longer able to continue serving as the county’s Safety Director and I appreciate the confidence that has been placed in me to oversee this program for the last several years. I am confident that you and the County Commissioners understand my oath of office that must come first and foremost in considering my service to our county. We have already coordinated and scheduled a very important and critical safety training meeting on December 12 and I would like to follow through with completing this task as my last service as Safety Director. Please accept this letter of resignation to be effective December 12, 2014 at 5:00 p.m.,” wrote Poss.