Local News Articles

DCHS Student with Air Soft Pistols Suspended

November 25, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

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

November 25, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Stephanie Walker-Dyer

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

November 25, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

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

November 25, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
James L. "Jimmy" Poss

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.

FSA County Committee Elections Underway

November 25, 2014
Donny Green

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 atwww.fsa.usda.gov/elections or at a local USDA Service Center.

One Dead, One Wounded in Sunday Shooting

November 23, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

One man is dead and another wounded after a shooting arising from a domestic disturbance Sunday evening at 308 Steeple Chase Drive in Smithville.

According to Smithville Police, Darrell Knowles forced his way into the residence and was met by Josh Hawkins. The two men got into a scuffle. Knowles allegedly pulled a handgun and shot Hawkins once in the arm. Although police have not yet completed their investigation, WJLE has learned from sources that Knowles may have died from a self inflicted gunshot wound. He passed away at the scene.

The incident occurred at the home of Knowles' father-in-law, where Hawkins had come to drop off his children for his ex-wife, who was married to Knowles.

911 received the call of the shooting at 4:51 p.m.

Police were called to the residence about an hour prior to the shooting after Knowles had shown up and gotten into a verbal argument with his wife. Officers had Knowles to leave the premises at that time.

Following the shooting, Hawkins was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital and then later transported to a Nashville hospital for further treatment of his wound, which is not believed to be life threatening.

No one else at the residence was harmed as a result of the disturbance and shooting.

The investigation is being conducted by the Smithville Police Department.

Knowles once worked as a trooper for the Tennessee Highway Patrol

Smithville Police Investigating Armed Robbery

November 23, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police are investigating an armed robbery which occurred Friday morning at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard.

According to Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes, the lone robber, believed to be male, entered the convenience store around 9:45 a.m. wearing a mask and carrying a rifle. He approached the clerk and demanded money from the register. The clerk handed him an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber then left the store, got in what was described as a white SUV and fled southbound on Highway 56.

No one was injured.

Although police have followed up on leads after the holdup, no arrests have yet been made. The investigation continues.

School Bus Drivers Recognized for Years of Service

November 22, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
School Bus Drivers Recognized for Years of Service

The local Woodmen of the World Family Fraternity and Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague hosted school bus drivers to a luncheon Friday at the county complex.

In addition to being treated to a meal, the bus drivers were recognized for their years of service and presented pins by Regina Wilhite, Field Representative for Woodmen of the World.

Some bus drivers recognized were not present.

Bus drivers named and their years of service are as follows:
Starr Ferrell: 37 years
Bobby Martin: 35 years
Danny Bond: 35 years
Lynn Griffith: 32 years
Elaine Davis: 32 years
Myron Rhody: 25 years
Dewayne Cantrell: 24 years
Bill Fowler: 22 years
Ronald Merriman: 22 years
Debbie Eaton: 20 years
Linda Fowler: 18 years
Darnette Hibdon: 17 years
Marshall Ferrell: 17 years
June Dodd: 15 years
Jenean Lawson: 13 years
Kim Lawson: 12 years
Suzanne Dunn: 12 years
Bobby Taylor: 11 years
Freda Johnson: 10 years
Melissa Hicks: 10 years
Julie Fitts: 8 years
Angela Wilkerson: 8 years
Coriene Siefert: 8 years
Dwight Knowles: 6 years
Gayle Pack: 6 years
Carol Swope: 4 years
Donald Haggard: 4 years
Donnie Lewis: 3 years
Debbie London: 3 years
Judy Wiggins: 3 years
Kathy Jacobs: 3 years
Ken Taylor: 3 years
Mike Merriman: 2 years
Rickey Edwards: 2 years
Danny Washer: 2 years
Shara Cowan: 1 year
Danny Jenkins: new hire

DCHS Student Brings Air Soft Pistols to School

November 21, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Student Brings Air Soft Pistols to School

A DCHS student who bragged to a fellow classmate about bringing a gun to school was taken into custody Friday after two air soft pistols were found in his automobile parked on campus.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that the 17 year old boy 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, according to 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, which resembled real guns. One of them was loaded.

When confronted about the air soft guns, the boy admitted that they belonged to him. He was brought by the School Resource Officer to the Sheriff's Department . After consulting with the District Attorney General, officers filed a juvenile petition against the teen.

Airsoft pistols shoot plastic pellets commonly known as "BBs.

Chamber Presents Milestone Award to Tenneco

November 21, 2014
Chamber Presents Milestone Award to Tenneco

The Smithville-DeKalb Co. Chamber of Commerce recently presented a Milestone Award to Tenneco celebrating 20 years in business in Smithville. Tenneco employs over 400 employees currently at the Smithville plant. Tenneco manufactures exhaust systems for cars and light duty trucks for Chrysler, GM, Nissan and Toyota.

(PICTURED:

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Leadership DeKalb Director Jen Sherwood, Tenneco Plant Controller Anthony Cantrell, Tenneco Plant Manager Jeff Starkey, Tenneco Human Resources Manager Tammie Russell, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Chamber Board Past President Janna Gillard, Chamber Board Secretary Joan Barrett, Chamber Board President Julia Cantrell Vanderpool

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