Local News Articles

DeKalb Schools to be Closed Friday and Monday due to Illness

February 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Patrick Cripps

DeKalb County Schools will be closed Friday and Monday, February 10 & 13 due to a high rate of absenteeism in the school system because of illness.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE that the absentee rate shot up from 7.6% Wednesday to 14.5% Thursday due to sickness such as strep, the flu, and stomach viruses.

“We thought that once we reached 14.5% absenteeism that it was time to close schools. While schools are closed the custodians will be working hard disinfecting classrooms and door knobs and other high-traffic areas," Cripps said.

The L.B.J.& C Smithville Head Start Center will be open Friday and Monday

Zoe Cripps is the latest "Classroom Champion"

February 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Zoe Cripps
Jim Judkins, Classroom Champion Zoe Cripps, DMS Principal Randy Jennings, and Dwayne Page

Zoe Cripps is the recipient of this week’s “Classroom Champion” award presented by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins and WJLE.

The 11 year old 6th grader at DeKalb Middle School received the award and a special gift card Tuesday from Judkins.

Zoe is the daughter of Patrick and Amy Cripps of Smithville. Her siblings are Callie and Brody.

She is a member of the DeKalb Middle School Student Council, manager for the Saints football team, active member of the Smithville Church of Christ, and a member of the Girl Scouts.

Her hobbies include baking and snorkeling and she enjoys her involvement with Student Council and Girl Scout projects.

Cripps told WJLE that English is one of her favorite subjects in school and one day she would like to become an exotic animal biologist.

“Zoe is an excellent student who is always willing to help others, “said Angela Johnson, Zoe’s 6th grade teacher.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week for the next several months.

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, and citizenship and character,” said Judkins.

Tigerette Sensation Kayley Caplinger Signs with Cumberland University

February 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tigerette Sensation Kayley Caplinger Signs with Cumberland University

DCHS Softball Pitching sensation Kayley Caplinger, a senior, signed Tuesday with Cumberland University of Lebanon to play softball after she graduates here.

Cumberland is a member of the Mid-South Conference affiliated with the NAIA

Caplinger’s family, coaches, and fellow players were also there for the happy occasion.

“ I think Kayley will come in and be an impact player right away which as a freshman comes hard when you step up to the college arena but I think she will be able to come in and be able to make an impact immediately,” said Cumberland Softball Coach Heather Stanfill.

“The last couple of years we have struggled a little bit. Pitching has been one of our biggest issues but that’s why we are really grateful to bring Kayley in and have her be able to contribute so quickly. We are expecting good things this year and for the future. We’re excited,” added Coach Stanfill.

“This is huge for me. I’ve worked my whole life for this with help from my coaches and family. It’s really a big moment,” said Kayley.

Caplinger said she chose Cumberland partly because it’s close to home. “ I really love the small campus and the team really works together. I love how close it is to home. I really wanted to be able to stay at home and play,” she said.

Although she has become a star pitcher, Kayley said that’s not how she started her athletic career. “I have really had to work hard. When I was younger I never started out wanting to pitch. I was playing third base. I remember telling my dad how bored I was not getting enough balls so he asked me one day If I wanted to try pitching because I get the ball every time so from there I had to really work for it but I made it,” said Kayley.

Tigerette Coach Danny Fish said Kayley will be remembered as one of the best DCHS softball players ever. “She has a chance to go down in the record book as maybe the greatest of all time. That’s just due to her character and the work she has put in. We are very happy for Kayley. We have sent a lot of players to Cumberland and they have been successful. We’re glad she is going there. I’m sure Kayley is going to do a great job at Cumberland,” he said.

Former Tigerette Coach Danny Bond said Kayley is an all around great athlete.” She is just as capable of hitting a homerun as she is throwing a strike. She is just an all around player. She is very dedicated and her work ethic is tremendous. She works on her game almost on a daily basis. Kayley has been a cornerstone and foundation of our success for the last three years. I’m sure she will be this year also. Cumberland is getting a great player and she will do well there,” said Coach Bond.

Last year after winning the regular district season, district tournament and region tournament, the DCHS Tigerettes advanced to the state tourney, finishing in 4th place to conclude the season with a record of 35-6-1. it was the program’s third consecutive state tournament appearance and eighth in program history, but the first time the squad reached the Final Four.

Kayley was joined at the signing by her mother Jeanna Caplinger; sister Kayna, DCHS Tigerette Coach Danny Fish and Assistant Coaches Melissa Ruch and Tim Jared; former Tigerette Coach Danny Bond; Cumberland Phoenix Coach Heather Stanfill; and fellow Tigerette teammates. Her father is the late Tracy Caplinger.


Jack Barton Resigns as President and Coordinator of Smithville Fiddlers' Jamboree

February 7, 2017
Jack Barton

After serving the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival as its President and Coordinator of nearly 9 years, Jack Barton has resigned his position of leadership. Citing increased personal and professional commitments, Mr. Barton will now serve as a board member instead of a position of leadership. Barton, who is also a 3rd District County Commissioner, started volunteering with the Jamboree in 2004 and became the President and Coordinator in 2008.

In his letter to the board, Mr. Barton wrote that he had the utmost confidence in the board to work well together to continue the efforts of putting on this great festival. He went on to say that he was very grateful to have served as the leader of such a fine organization for the nine years he served, wishing it much success in the future.

Mr. Barton stated to WJLE, “I am confident that the board will work tirelessly as they do each year to make sure that the Jamboree sustains and grows in the rich traditions formed by all those that have served it voluntarily in the past.”

As always, those interested in volunteering to help with the Jamboree in any capacity, large or small, are always welcome to help with this important event. This year is the 46th year for the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival, which will be held on June 30th and July 1st in and around the Town Square. You may reach the Jamboree at (615) 597-8500 or by message on Facebook.

Holmes Creek Bridge Over Fall Creek May be Completed In March

February 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Holmes Creek Bridge Over Fall Creek May be Completed In March

The new Holmes Creek Road Bridge over Fall Creek may be completed by the end of March barring any weather delays.

The contractor, Twin K. Construction of Helenwood, Tennessee began work in early October and the completion date under the contract is March 18th.

In September, the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen accepted Twin K’s bid of $687,791. It was the lowest of the five bids submitted and was recommended for approval by the city’s engineer for the project. In addition to the construction bid, other added costs including engineering, design, and inspection fees, geotechnical exploration, right of way, temporary construction easement, asbestos study, and permits, put the total project at $778,655.

The project is being funded under the state's Bridge Grant Program. The matching cost to the city is going to be $196,625

The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, has been closed since October 30, 2015.

The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe

Sheriff's Department Nabs Suspected Meth Dealer

February 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Andy Joe Certain
Tyler Lee Bennett
Jack Mullican, Jr.
James Howard Markham
Nicholas Paul Benedict
Christopher Cook

A deputy answering a routine a noise disturbance call Sunday found a man with pills, paraphernalia, and baggies of methamphetamine for sale.

Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_9.pdf (2.9 MB)A

39 year old Andy Joe Certain of Bright Hill Road, Smithville is charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale or delivery. He was also cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax). His bond is $15,000 and his court date is March 2.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday, February 5 a deputy responded to the Loop Circle due to a noise disturbance call. Upon arrival at the residence the officer spoke with Certain. Knowing that Certain had an active warrant against him, the officer placed Certain under arrest. After obtaining consent to search his bedroom, the deputy found several hypodermic syringes and spoons with residue along with four individual baggies which held rock like substances which weighed 2.88 grams, 3.52 grams, 3.53 grams, and 3.54 grams and field tested positive for methamphetamine. Fourteen pills believed to be Xanax, three sets of scales, a box of sandwich baggies and a grinder were also found. While walking out of the residence, the officer also spotted on the center console of Certain’s truck another small baggie containing what appeared to be the same rock like substance which weighed 0.29 grams and field tested positive for meth.

24 year old Tyler Lee Bennett of Pikeville is charged with theft of property over $10,000. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on February 16. Sheriff Ray said that on April 28, 2015 Bennett allegedly took several pieces of jewelry from a home on Puckett’s Point Road. The stolen jewelry was valued at $15,100. The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

38 year old Jack Mullican, Jr. of Wade Street Smithville is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $3,500 and his court date is February 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 30 a deputy was called to a residence on Adcock Cemetery Road due to a physical domestic. Upon arrival the officer spoke with a woman who said her boyfriend, Mullican pushed her to the ground and tried to strangle her. The officer noticed that the woman had difficulty breathing and swallowing and there were visible red marks on her neck and chest.

54 year old James Howard Markham of East Main Street, Alexandria is charged with a 4th offense of driving under the influence and being an habitual offender. His bond is $9,500 and his court date is February 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, January 31 a deputy was dispatched to Nashville Highway in reference to a possible drunk driver in a blue GMC truck. The officer spotted the truck and pulled it over. Markham, the driver, had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. He submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. A computer check revealed that his driver license were revoked in Davidson County. The Habitual offender charge was because Markham has had five prior convictions for driving on a revoked license.

28 year old Nicholas Paul Benedict of South Judkins Lane, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $3,500 and his court date is February 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, February 1 Benedict allegedly approached his female victim in an aggressive manner causing her to fear bodily harm. The woman pushed Benedict to get away but he wrapped his arms around her neck and threw her to the ground refusing to let go. Another man at the residence saw what was happening and pulled Benedict off the woman. The victim tried to get help but Benedict took her phone and keys. He also took the phone of another woman at the scene who had tried to give it to the victim to call for help. The case was investigated by a detective from the sheriff’s department.

35 year old Christopher Cook of Short Mountain Highway, Woodbury is charged with evading arrest. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is February 16. Sheriff Ray said that on December 8, 2015 a deputy pulled over a red Chevrolet truck with a brake light out. Cook, who had a Warren County failure to appear warrant against him, was a passenger of the truck. Cook got out of the truck and left the scene. He was arrested on Thursday, February 2.

Man Believed to have Hepatitis C Spits on Detective

February 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Brandon Lynn Tallent

A man believed to be positive for Hepatitis C has been charged with exposing two county officers to HBV following an arrest last week for driving under the influence after a car crash.

Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_9.pdf (2.9 MB)A

32 year old Brandon Lynn Tallent of West Broad Street, Smithville allegedly spat at one of the officers and threw an unknown liquid from a cup in the face of the other. He has told authorities before that he is Hepatitis C positive.

Tallent is charged with driving under the influence; resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest (2 counts); criminal exposure of another to HBV (2 counts); and assault. He is also cited for failing to give immediate notice of an accident, driving on highways laned for travel, violation of financial responsibility, and violation of implied consent.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, January 31 Tallent went to the home of his grandmother on Big Rock Road and told her he had a wreck on McGinnis Road. She then reported it. “A deputy arrived and noticed that Tallent was intoxicated. He asked Tallent to do a field sobriety test but Tallent refused. The officer then placed Tallent under arrest and brought him back to the jail in order to obtain a search warrant for a blood withdrawal. While he was here at the jail, Tallent took a cup of an unknown liquid and threw it in the face of a correctional officer. Tallent was then taken to the hospital for the blood withdrawal. While there, Tallent spat on one of the detectives,” said Sheriff Ray.

Reading from the arrest warrants, Sheriff Ray explained how the incident unfolded. “On Tuesday, January 31 a deputy was called to a residence on Big Rock Road. The caller, Tallent’s grandmother said that Tallent was in the front yard crying and acting “awful”. Tallent told the deputy that he had just wrecked his vehicle down the road (McGinnis Road) and asked the officer to take him back there to look at it. The deputy noticed that Tallent was very unsteady on his feet and that his speech was slurred. After the officer took Tallent back to the crash site, he asked him (Tallent) to submit to field sobriety tasks but he refused. Tallent was then taken into custody and a search warrant for a blood withdrawal was obtained. While in a holding cell at the jail, Tallent resisted arrest by “pulling and jerking” as correctional officers were trying to handcuff him during an altercation there. According to Sheriff Ray, as the correctional officers were preparing for Tallent’s transport to the hospital for the blood draw, Tallent grabbed a cup containing an unknown liquid and threw it in the face of a correctional officer. After being taken to the emergency room of the hospital Tallent became irate. “He was pulling and jerking his hands away forcibly and had to be restrained. He did spit at a detective from the sheriff’s department. Tallent has revealed in the past that he is Hepatitis C positive,” said Sheriff Ray.

Tallent’s bond on these charges totals $16,500 but he is being held without bond for a violation of parole. His court date on the charges is February 16.

Recovery Court Graduates Celebrate a New Beginning

February 6, 2017
Norene Puckett
Judge Bratten Cook II and Recovery Court  Program Coordinator Norene Puckett with Graduate Clint Cope
Judge Bratten Cook II and Recovery Court Program Coordinator Norene Puckett with Graduate Terra Goad

Two adults along with their families, friends and mentors, gathered Tuesday, January 24, 2017 to celebrate their graduation from the DeKalb County Recovery Court program.

The observance was held at the county complex. The graduates Terra Goad and Clint Cope received plaques noting their completion of the recovery court program through which participants commit to becoming clean and sober.

The recovery court program provides an alternative to incarceration for eligible non-violent offenders, who are deemed substance dependent. General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II said, “Both graduates have been drug free for more than a year. We're extremely proud of them. Both of them came to us straight from jail as most of our recovery court participants do so instead of the county spending some $18,000 or $20,000 a year each on our recovery court participants, in recovery court I think the figure is like $3,000 or $4,000 a year per person. It's a win-win for everyone, said Judge Cook.”

"The adult program lasts a minimum of twelve months. The participant must have some kind of criminal charge (to participate in recovery court). No violent offenders can be in the program. They can come (into the program) through a variety of ways as far as a violation of probation or any kind of drug charge, theft charges, and things like that. Typically they are all facing a minimum of a year to serve so this program is an alternative to incarceration. I've heard the judge tell plenty of participants it's a lot easier to just lay down there (jail) for a year and do their time and we make it very clear to them that it is easier. You can go down to the jail and get served three meals a day or you can get into this program and have a new chance at life. You can graduate like our graduates tonight who have over a year being sober and are working and having their children back and their lives restored. But there are a lot of things they have to do. A lot of the program teaches responsibility and teaches them the tools to stay sober. That's really the benefit to the participants. Of course the benefit to the community is that it saves taxpayer dollars while making the community and its citizens safer,” said Norene Puckett, Program Coordinator.

The recovery court graduation program featured guest speaker Will Taylor as well as a recovery court graduate and current juvenile recovery court participant performing “God on the Mountain.” Taylor is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist through the TN Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and works for Buffalo Valley in Castallian Springs as the Treatment Coordinator. He shared his personal story of recovery and offered encouragement and personal advice to participants and graduates. Taylor also conducts a weekly men’s group in Smithville at the Haven of Hope on Tuesday’s at 6:00pm for the recovery court program. This group is also available to any man in the county who would like to attend. For more information contact the recovery court office at 615-215-8690.

Recovery court team members who oversee the program locally in addition to Judge Cook and Recovery Court Coordinator Puckett are Sheriff Patrick Ray, Assistant District Attorney General Stephanie Johnson, John and Kay Quintero from Haven of Hope, primary treatment providers; Assistant Public Defender Scott Grissom, Probation Officer Jay Colton, Juvenile Case Manager Kristy Longmire, and Adult Case Manager Rhonda Harpole.

DCHS Class of 2017 Makes Appeal for Project Graduation Donations

February 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
Madison Butler

Members of the DCHS Class of 2017 are asking for your support of Project Graduation.

Madison Butler, a DCHS Senior, urges you to stop by any DeKalb County branch office of Liberty State Bank to make a donation.

“I am the 2017 Senior Class President, a baseball manager, a member of HOSA, Student Council, FFA, and the National BETA Club at DCHS. More importantly, I am a member of the 2017 graduating class. We are raising funds for our Project Graduation event that will take place the night of graduation in May. We will have food and fun activities. It is designed to keep us safe from the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol. In order to hold this event, we must raise funds and request the community’s help. Please stop by your local branch of Liberty State Bank in Alexandria, Liberty, or Smithville and make a donation to our account. All help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support,” said Butler

Meanwhile a raffle for a 50 inch flat screen TV will be held Monday night, February 6 during the DCHS basketball games against Smith County at home. Tickets are 2 for $15 or $8.00 each. Proceeds will benefit DCHS Project Graduation.

A Corn Hole tournament is also set for February 25.

TDOT to Let Bids Friday for Repairs to College Street Bridge

February 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
TDOT to Let Bids Friday for Repairs to College Street Bridge

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will have a bid letting Friday, February 10 for repairs to the Veterans Memorial Bridge on South College Street over Highway 70.

The bid is expected to be awarded to a contractor by mid-March. The completion time on the project is on or before September 30.

The bridge has been closed since Monday, June 27, 2016 when a DeKalb County Landfill truck, driven by 54 year old Roger Chapman, hit the underside of the bridge as it was traveling east on Broad Street. Although the truck carried no dumpster at the time, the lift was up. Chapman received minor injuries and was cited by Smithville Police for speeding.

A TDOT inspection after the crash revealed “heavy collision damage” to the bridge and it will remain closed to traffic until repairs are made.

“The bridge repair project is scheduled for the February 10, 2017 bid letting, meaning it won’t be awarded to a contractor until approximately mid-March,” Jennifer Flynn, TDOT Community Relations Officer recently told WJLE.

“Bridge repair plans have been completed by our Office of Bridge Repair (part of TDOT’s Division of Structures in Nashville). The Bridge Repair Office is responsible for the design and plans preparation of bridge repair projects on state-maintained bridges. Repair projects are let to contract through the normal bid process and administered by the HQ Construction Office. During the construction phase, the Bridge Repair Section assists regional construction personnel in construction inspection and in solving any problems that may arise,” added Flynn.

The scope of the work to be done to the bridge includes repairing damage to beams E&F in span 3 due to collision damage; injecting epoxy into cracks in the deck, sidewalk, and beams in span 3; installing steel channels on beam E in span 3; and performing partial depth repair to the sidewalk in span 3. No existing utility lines are to be affected during the repairs.

Other TDOT project bid lettings Friday, February 10 affecting DeKalb County include the following:

*The resurfacing (microsurfacing) on U.S. 70 (S.R. 26) from east of S.R. 96 (L.M. 6.10) to the Dowelltown City limits (L.M. 10.88). Project Length - 4.780 miles. Completion Time - On or before 9/30/2017

*The resurfacing (microsurfacing) on S.R. 96 from the Wilson County line (L.M. 0.00) to Center Hill Dam (L.M. 12.66). Project Length - 12.660 miles. Completion Time - On or before 9/30/2017

*The miscellaneous safety improvements on U.S. 70 (S.R. 26) from west of the DeKalb County Line (L.M. 20.16) in Wilson County to near S.R. 96 (L.M. 6.10) in DeKalb County. Project Length - 6.260 miles. Completion Time - On or before 6/30/2017 (DEKALB AND WILSON COUNTIES)




*The relensing of snowplowable pavement markers on various Interstate and State Routes. (CLAY, CUMBERLAND, DEKALB, FENTRESS, JACKSON, OVERTON, PICKETT, PUTNAM, AND WHITE COUNTIES)


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