Local News Articles

Assessor of Property and Constables Speak at Democratic Mass Meeting (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 13, 2016
Dwayne Page
Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell, Democratic Party Chair Jordan Wilkins, and Constables Mark Milam and Travis Bryant at Mass Meeting Saturday. Other Constable candidates were unable to attend

Although their names are on the March 1 ballot and people are already voting, Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell and Constables Travis Bryant and Mark Milam officially announced their candidacies for re-nomination by the DeKalb County Democratic Party Saturday.

All three spoke briefly during the party's mass meeting held at the DCHS Cafeteria. Milam is Constable in the 5th district and Bryant serves the 3rd district.

Cantrell is seeking his second four year term as Assessor of Property. He is unopposed in the March 1 primary but he will have a Republican opponent, Shannon Cantrell in the DeKalb County General Election on Thursday, August 4.

"I just want to thank everybody that supported me during my first campaign that I went through. I am very humbled to say thank you and I am very appreciative of being unopposed through this first one (primary). But it don't mean I've got my guard down. I want to thank each and everyone who supports me and stands behind me," said Cantrell.

"It's an honor to stand up here today. I've seen many of you around the community for the past 10 years since I've been here. It's been a very good experience for me and being a Constable for DeKalb County has also been a good experience. I'd appreciate all the support I can get. It's my first time running on the Democratic ticket. I hope I can do as good by you as I tried to do for the past couple of years since I was elected as an Independent," said Bryant.

"I count it an honor and privilege to stand here again today for the seventh term. I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported me in the past. I look forward to this election this year. I'm thankful to everyone who has stood behind me and voted for me for the last six terms. I've tried to help everyone in DeKalb County and I look forward to it again. I ask everyone for their vote and support," said Milam.

Other Democratic Constable candidates who were unable to attend Saturday's Mass Meeting are Jason Taylor in the 1st district, Paul Cantrell in the 4th district, Carl Lee Webb in the 6th district, and Johnny King in the 7th district. All are unopposed in the March 1 primary. Taylor will have a Republican opponent, Lee Plummer in the August 4 DeKalb County General Election. There is no Democratic Constable candidate in the 2nd district. The Republican nominee, Tom Theriaque will be unopposed in August.

DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins read announcements from Smithville Aldermen Danny Washer and Shawn Jacobs, who plan to seek re-election in the August 4 city election. Neither Washer nor Jacobs were able to attend Saturday's meeting. Although Washer and Jacobs are Democrats, they will not run as Democrats in the Municipal Election. The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen positions are non-partisan.

Lebanon Democrat Announces Plans to Run for Pody's Seat (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 13, 2016
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins with Amelia Hipps

A Democrat will be in the race for State Representative in the 46th district this year.

Amelia Hipps of Lebanon announced her candidacy during the DeKalb County Democratic Mass Meeting Saturday at the DCHS Cafeteria. She plans to seek the Democratic nomination in August for the seat now held by Republican Incumbent Mark Pody of Lebanon. Pody is also seeking re-nomination by the GOP in August.

The qualifying deadline is April 7.

The race will be decided in the November General Election.

Hipps is currently a part time public information officer for the Wilson County School System and she has been involved in the newspaper business.

"My husband and I moved here 10 years ago when I took over the job as the managing editor of the Lebanon Democrat. I spent a little over 25 years in the newspaper business as editor and reporter at small community newspapers throughout the southeast including Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. I left about four years ago. We started our own business covering the General Assembly for small community papers that couldn't afford to send somebody up there. I also covered the General Assembly for TNReport.com and I have also worked for the other newspaper in Lebanon The Wilson Post covering the General Assembly and county government. I got out of all of it when the opportunity came up to go to work for the school system which is what I do now. I am the Public Information Officer on a part time basis for Wilson County Schools. I also do publicity for a couple of other clients," said Hipps.

After passing up an opportunity to run two years ago, Hipps decided in January to get in the race this year. "In January I decided the time was right. This is the time to go do it. I am here to tell you I am here to win. We need more Democrats in the General Assembly. We need a balance of voices in the General Assembly," she said.

Hipps criticized Republicans in the State Legislature for lack of attention to local issues. "Your tax dollars pay their salaries. When they spend most of their time dealing with issues that don't have to do with the 46th district, simply passing resolutions on national issues to support the national party, do you think that's good use of your tax dollars? I want to change that," she said.

"I want to listen to you. I can't make you a promise that every legislative endeavor I will 100% succeed at. That's unrealistic. But what I can promise you is I will be your voice for the residents of DeKalb County who are in the 46th district. The things you need to move your county forward I will be your voice at the General Assembly if you will elect me. I ask you to come out and work with me. Let's get some more Democrats in the House," Hipps concluded.

The 46th district includes all of Cannon County and a portion of Wilson and DeKalb Counties.

Miller First to Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election

February 13, 2016
Dwayne Page
Josh Miller

Incumbent Alderman Josh Miller is the first candidate to qualify for the Smithville Municipal Election in August.

Three Smithville aldermen are to be elected on Thursday, August 4. The terms are for four years.

Three others have been issued petitions for Aldermen including Gary Durham and Incumbents Shawn Jacobs and Danny Washer.

The qualifying deadline for the Smithville Election is Noon April 7.

Loretta Billings Sharritts earns Doctor of Naturopathy

February 12, 2016
Kaye Fedak
Loretta Billings Sharritts

Trinity School of Natural Health in Warsaw, Indiana announces the graduation of Loretta Billings Sharritts from their Doctor of Naturopathy program. Dr. Sharritts graduated from DeKalb County High School, Smithville, Tennessee; Madison College, Madison, Tennessee; College of Mount St Joseph, Cincinnati, Ohio; and earned her Master’s Degree in Nursing at Andrews University, Berrin Springs, Michigan. She is the daughter of the late Clyde and Ora Billings.

She plans to continue her mission in helping people to maintain their health and prevent illness through teaching, writing, lectures, and individual health counseling. She resides in Tequesta, Florida and is active in the health ministry at the Jupiter Seventh Day Adventist Church in Jupiter, Florida.

Trinity School of Natural Health is a non-profit educational institution whose courses focus on the integration of the body, mind and spirit within a nondenominational Christian framework. Their philosophy is that when the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the whole person are developed, true health can be achieved. Their courses are designed to support the integration of all three.

Naturopaths teach natural ways to enhance health, promote optimal wellness and encourage longevity. The Naturopathic approach is holistic and focuses on maintaining wellness, with an emphasis on disease prevention.

Evins Qualifies for Board of Education Election

February 12, 2016
Dwayne Page
W.J. (Dub) Evins, III

An incumbent school board member is the first to qualify for the August Board of Education Election

W.J. (Dub) Evins, III of the fifth district will be in the race for re-election.

Three school board members will be elected on August 4 including one from the 4th, 5th, & 6th districts. The terms are for four years.

Others who have obtained qualifying petitions to date are:

Kate Miller in the 4th district

Barry Mabe in the 5th district

Doug Stephens in the 6th district.

The qualifying deadline is Noon April 7

Surveillance Photo and Video Released in Liberty State Bank Robbery (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 11, 2016
Dwayne Page
Surveillance Photo and Video Released in Liberty State Bank Robbery

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has released a surveillance photo and video of the gunman entering Liberty State Bank Wednesday morning

Sheriff Patrick Ray is hoping the public can be of assistance in helping catch the robber.

As shown in the photo and video, the gunman was wearing a black jacket and hoodie as well as a mask . According to Sheriff Ray, the mask appears to be either a skull bandana or a neoprene face mask.

If you know of someone who owns this type of mask or bandana or if you are a business owner who has sold one recently, please contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 615-597-4935.

The gunman, believed to be a man, ran into the bank shortly after 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, approached a female teller, and displayed a weapon. The teller complied with the robber's demands and the gunman fled the bank with cash. No one was injured.

Another person in the bank at the time witnessed the crime and called authorities at 8:07 a.m.. The robber appeared to be a white male, five feet, six inches to five feet, ten inches in height, wearing a black jacket with a hoodie on it.

A deputy was on the scene within five minutes of the initial call. Alexandria Police Chief Chris Russell responded to assist.

The case remains under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the FBI.

Carroll Arrested in High Speed Crash

February 11, 2016
Dwayne Page
Phillip John Carroll

The man believed to be responsible for a high speed crash Monday night on Cookeville Highway near the Smithville City Limits has been arrested.

43 year old Phillip John Carroll of Possum Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and duty to render aid and give information. His bond is $7,000 and he will make a court appearance on March 10.

The warrants were served on Carroll Thursday. The case was investigated by Trooper Tommy Cooper of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Trooper Cooper told WJLE that the driver of a 1998 Dodge 1500 pickup (Carroll) was north on Highway 56 when he struck a southbound 2012 Chevy Sonic, driven by 44 year old Danny Niles of Smithville. After hitting the car, the truck kept going until it went off the highway, struck a Smithville Electric System utility pole, and then plunged down an embankment. After the wreck the driver (Carroll) abandoned the truck and fled the scene.

The warrant for Leaving the Scene states that "On February 8 Carroll was driving northbound on State Route 56 when he struck a vehicle, ran off the left side of the roadway and hit a utility pole. Carroll's vehicle came to a final rest down an embankment. Carroll failed to notify law enforcement and left the scene of the crash. On Wednesday, February 10 I (Trooper Cooper) made contact with (Carroll) at (his home). Carroll said he had not notified law enforcement about the crash".

The other warrant states that "Carroll failed to give notice or render aid after being involved in the crash. Carroll left the crash scene".

Niles, who spoke with WJLE about the accident Wednesday, said he was traveling south on Cookeville Highway when he saw the truck heading toward him in his (Niles') lane at a very high rate of speed, possibly as fast as 100 miles per hour. Niles said he swerved to the left trying to avoid a possible head-on collision. "He was in my lane and I made a left turn but he clipped my back rear passenger side. My car spun around and ended up in a ditch. He (truck driver) kept going. He went into the grass, hit a utility pole, and wrecked. He then got out and ran off," Niles told WJLE.

Niles, who suffered cuts and bruises to his face, said he went to see a doctor Tuesday morning and discovered that he also had a broken finger and a mild whiplash.

While the truck driver was traveling at a high rate of speed he was apparently not being pursued by law enforcement at the time. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that a deputy was stopped in the southbound lane at the red light on Highway 56 and East Main Street near the Post Office when he saw the truck run the stop light speeding north. No officer was in pursuit. By the time the deputy turned around, he lost sight of the truck and did not engage in a pursuit. The wreck happened moments later.

One Hundred Twenty Six Vote Early, Most Choosing Republican Primary

February 11, 2016
Dwayne Page

A total of 126 persons have cast ballots during the first three days of Early Voting in DeKalb County.

According to Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley, 122 people have voted in person. Three have cast an absentee ballot and there has been one provisional ballot.

Stanley said 91 persons have voted in the Tennessee Republican Presidential Preference Primary and a total of 35 have voted in the Democratic Primary.

The voting for each day is as follows:

Wednesday, February 10
Total- 28 voters
27 in person
1 absentee

23 Republican Primary
5 Democratic Primary

Thursday, February 11
Total-48 voters
46 in person
1 absentee
1 provisional ballot

32 Republican Primary
16 Democratic Primary

Friday, February 12
49 in person
1 absentee

36 Republican Primary
14 Democratic Primary

Early voting began Wednesday and runs Mondays through Saturdays until Tuesday, February 23. The DeKalb County Election Commission Office will be closed on Monday, February 15 for Presidents Day. The primary election day is Tuesday, March 1. Polls in DeKalb County will be open that day from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

All Early Voting in DeKalb County will be at the Election Commission Office on the first floor of the courthouse (basement).

Early Voting Hours:
Mondays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. to Noon.

Voters are urged to take advantage of early voting.

School Board Grants Tenure to Seven Educators (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 11, 2016
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education granted tenure to seven educators Thursday night during the regular monthly meeting held at DeKalb Middle School.

M2U02061 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

The following teachers were recommended for tenure by Director of Schools Patrick Cripps:

David Dixon, Jennifer Judkins, Kristen Van Vranken, Melissa Hale, Lisa Neal, Angela Johnson, and Allison Rigsby.

"These teachers have successfully completed the probationary period of five years and received evaluations demonstrating an overall performance effectiveness level of above or significantly above expectations as required for tenure. It is my recommendation that these teachers be granted tenure," wrote Director Cripps

Doug Stephens, Vice Chairman of the Board read Cripps' written recommendation. Stephens presided over the meeting in the absence of Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

Meanwhile, Director Cripps gave his monthly personnel report to the board.

James Owen as custodian at Smithville Elementary School.

Leave of absence:
Jennifer Shores, School Psychologist, leave as requested
Teresa Spencer, Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School, leave as requested
Sydney Gremmels, Teacher at Smithville Elementary School, leave as requested.

Principals Kathy Bryant from DCHS, Julie Vincent from Smithville, Elementary School, Karen Knowles from Northside Elementary, and Randy Jennings at DeKalb Middle School each gave reports on activities at their schools. (VIEW VIDEO ABOVE FOR THEIR COMMENTS)

Smithville Man on Parole in DeKalb Murder Case Arrested in Cookeville

February 11, 2016
Dwayne Page
Melvin Eugene Turnbill

A 43-year-old Smithville man, who was released from state prison on parole eleven months ago after serving more than twelve years in a 2002 DeKalb County murder case, is in trouble with the law again.

Melvin Eugene Turnbill was charged with burglary on Monday, February 8 at a residence on Pen Oak Drive in Cookeville. Two days before on Saturday, February 6, Turnbill was also arrested for a DUI in Cookeville.

Both arrests were made by the Cookeville Police Department

The Herald Citizen reports that Turnbill's arrest on Monday came upon an officer being dispatched to a possible burglary in progress.

Upon arrival, Officer Kyle Farley found Turnbill at the front door of the home. He detained Turnbill in his patrol car while checking on the home and speaking with the residents there.

According to the homeowner, Turnbill tried to enter the home through both the back and front doors and that he may have found a key to the house in an unlocked vehicle outside the residence.

Officer Farley's report states that “He (Turnbill) had unlocked the door at one point and was trying to push the door open".

According to the report, a female resident said she held the home’s deadbolt in the locked position to keep the man from entering the home.

Officer Farley returned to his patrol car and asked Turnbill if he had a key to the house.

Turnbill admitted to having a key which he got from the unlocked car, as the homeowners suspected. He turned the key over to the officer

Officer Farley placed Turnbill under arrest for burglary of a motor vehicle and transported him to the Putnam County Jail. His bond on the burglary charge is $10,000 and he will make an appearance in Putnam County General Sessions Court March 7.

Turnbill was released from prison on March 9, 2015. He had been serving a 25 year sentence for facilitation of first degree murder in the September 2002 fatal shooting of Joshua Murphy in DeKalb County.

A co-defendant in the killing, Christopher Nicholas Orlando is up for parole next month.


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