Local News Articles

Couple Sentenced to Four Years Probation for Attempted Aggravated Burglary

September 13, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jessica Anne Jenkins
Sonny Roman Smith

Two people charged by Smithville Police in recent burglaries were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, September 11

Judge David Patterson presided.

25 year old Sonny Roman Smith and 29 year old Jessica Anne Jenkins each entered a plea by criminal information to attempted aggravated burglary. They were originally charged with two counts of aggravated burglary.

They each received a sentence of four years on supervised probation and were given credit for 35 days of jail time served. Jenkins’ sentence is to run consecutive to a case against her in Warren County.

According to police, at approximately 9:29 p.m. on Friday, August 3, Smith and Jenkins went to their victims’ home and walked into the house unwelcomed. When one of the victims confronted Jenkins, she (Jenkins) allegedly punched her in the face and ripped her shirt. Jenkins then approached the other victim, allegedly grabbed his cell phone, and damaged it by slamming the phone on the ground. By the time police arrived, the couple had left but the victims were able to identify them. The next morning, Friday August 4 at approximately 6:55 a.m., Smith and Jenkins were observed by police hiding behind a green GMC Sonoma on property where a burglary had been reported. The homeowner told police that prior to their arrival, a man and woman, identified as Smith and Jenkins were at the back door of his residence trying to gain entry. Smith and Jenkins were taken into custody without incident and charged in the case.

Old Timers Day Returns to Alexandria Saturday, September 23

September 13, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Old Timers Day in 2003 (Ria Baker Photo)

After 14 years, the Old Timers Day is returning to Alexandria on Saturday, September 23 starting at 10 a.m. on the town square.

The featured entertainment is as follows:

Tom duggin, Patsy & Nick Nokes, Susan Martin, The Collins family, DeKalb Dancing/clogging, Right on Time, Three Parts Grace, Kevin Roberts, Pickin Friends, Calvary Trio.

Food : Watertown First Baptist youth, Crazy Dawgs and more.

Vendors: Mary Kay, Designs by Roberta, Two Crafty teacher's, thirty-one, Pampered Chef, Color Street, Pie's n more, Lularoe, Paparazzi, Plunder, Rebel Edge cosmetic, Scentsy, Pink Zebra, Young living oils, Tupperware, Slick Surface, and many more

DeKalb School Bus Drivers Recertified

September 12, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb School Bus Drivers Recertified
State Troopers Craig Wilkerson and Darryl Winningham Conduct Class
Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System

All DeKalb County School bus drivers have been recertified.

State Troopers Darryl Winningham and Craig Wilkerson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, inspectors for this district, held the driver certification class Tuesday at the School Bus Garage for all the bus drivers employed by the school system.

“The driver class covers all state guidelines and safety of the buses including any operation in adverse weather, traffic, and how to deal with issues that arise while on the route. Proper procedures for evacuating a bus in an emergency are also covered in the class,” said DeKalb County School Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague .

“All drivers are certified with the state for 12 months. We usually do this in January but they (state) changed it to September so the bus drivers can put into practice what they have learned throughout the school year,” Sprague continued.

“DeKalb County is blessed with good drivers that take pride in their jobs and truly care about the children. My drivers provide transportation for the children in the morning and afternoon and our main objective is to get them safely to and from school each day,” Sprague concluded.

The state will conduct an annual DeKalb County school bus inspection in January.

DMS Cross Country Team Competes at Wilson Invitational

September 12, 2017
by: 
Kristen Van Vranken
Photo by Kristen Van Vranken

DeKalb Middle School's Cross Country team turned over several personal records from the girls and boys teams at the Wilson Country Invitational this past Saturday.

Three members of the boys team finished in the top 20, earning medals for the 2 mile race.

Aaron Gottled 2nd, 12:33
Kaleb Spears 17th, 14:11
Jaxon Humphrey 18th, 14:12

Other PR's for the season included:
Holden Trapp 14:34
Andrew Tramel 16:43
Bryson Trapp 16:52
Robert Wheeler 17:18
Liam Wallace 17:13
Colin Dickens 19:51

For the girls, Paytn Carter finished 17th, earning a medal, with a time of:17:31
Summer Morse finished with a 17:54
Blair Gipe 19:14
Jacklyn Kleparek 19:46.

DMS will race again at Cookeville on Tuesday.

Stembridge Gets 10 Years Probation in Auto Theft, Chop Shop Case

September 12, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jason Douglas Stembridge

A man charged with being involved in a major auto theft and chop shop operation got a 10 year sentence on probation Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Judge David Patterson presided.

33 year old Jason Douglas Stembridge entered a plea to one count of theft over $60,000 and one count of theft over $10,000. He received a 10 year sentence in one case and 6 years in the other to run concurrently but he was given credit for 183 days of jail time served and placed on probation. He must make restitution to the victims.

Stembridge was accused of stealing automobiles, skid steers, four wheelers, and gooseneck trailers in DeKalb and Warren County for the intended purpose of either selling them outright or dismantling them to be sold as parts or scrap metal. His sentence Monday was only for his crimes in DeKalb County.

Stembridge was arrested Tuesday, March 14 after sheriff’s department detectives found the stolen vehicles and equipment at his home and other locations in the county.

The total value of the stolen vehicles and equipment came to $221,144.

Stembridge was originally charged in DeKalb County with burglary (3 counts), theft of property over $60,000, possession of stolen property over $60,000, theft of property over $10,000, and theft of property over $1,000.

“On Monday March 13 an investigation was conducted of Jason Douglas Stembridge at his residence on Tisdale Drive in DeKalb County and it revealed several stolen vehicles, machinery and recreational vehicles that were stolen from DeKalb and Warren Counties. Some of the vehicles were found to be altered, disassembled, and destroyed by unlawful means,” Sheriff Ray told WJLE.

Items stolen in DeKalb County and recovered in the investigation included a 2004 Chevy Silverado flatbed pickup truck; a 2006 Chevy Silverado pickup truck; a 24 foot gooseneck trailer; a 2016 John Deere 323 cab skid steer; and a 1999 Yamaha Banshee 4 wheeler.

Stolen vehicles and equipment from Warren County recovered included a 2017 John Deere cab skid steer; a 1983 Chevrolet Silverado pickup; a 1984 Chevy Camaro; a 1999 Chevy Z71 pickup truck, a 2003 GMC 2500 Duramax diesel flat bed truck, a 2014 Polaris Razor, and a 40 foot gooseneck flat bed trailer.

According to Sheriff Ray, Stembridge tried to deface the VIN plates and attempted to disguise some of the stolen vehicles by painting or adding decals and stickers to them.

Detectives also learned that Stembridge had broken into East Side Market in Warren County and stolen two cartons of cigarettes. Entry was made by shattering a glass door.

Sheriff Ray explained how the story unfolded. “On Monday, March 13 we received two reports of stolen property. The first one was at a business on McMinnville Highway where a 2004 Chevy Silverado flatbed pickup truck, a 2006 Chevy Silverado pickup truck, and a 24 foot gooseneck trailer were taken”.

“A short time later we received a report that someone had found the 2004 Chevy Silverado flatbed pickup truck and gooseneck trailer in a field on Pine Creek Falls Road. Then another report came in concerning the theft of a 2016 John Deere 323 cab skid steer off of Jefferson Road,” said Sheriff Ray.

“Detectives began working the case and developed Stembridge as a suspect. On Monday, March 13 detectives went to his home and spotted the stolen 2016 John Deere 323 cab skid steer from DeKalb County at his residence. Other vehicles were also there along with a 2017 John Deere cab skid steer. Upon running the VIN plates of those vehicles and the other skid steer we learned that they were stolen out of Warren County including a 1983 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, a 1984 Chevy Camaro, a 1999 Chevy Z71 pickup truck, a 2003 GMC 2500 Duramax diesel flat bed truck, a 2014 Polaris Razor, a 40 foot gooseneck flat bed trailer, along with a 1999 Yamaha Banshee 4 wheeler reported stolen in DeKalb County in 2003.
Detectives later located the 2006 Chevy pickup stolen off McMinnville Highway in the parking lot of Pates Ford Marina,” added Sheriff Ray.

Stembridge was later charged with theft of property over $1,000. According to Sheriff Ray on December 27, 2016 Stembridge allegedly took 2016 Polaris Razor seats valued at $1,144.

Again the total value of the stolen vehicles and equipment was estimated at $221,144 including $98,144 in DeKalb County and $123,000 in Warren County.

The warrants against Stembridge alleged that on Monday, March 13 he entered an enclosed John Deere 323E Cab Skid Steer and stole it from a location on Jefferson Road in DeKalb County. He was also found to be in possession of a stolen 1984 Chevrolet Camaro; a 1983 GMC pickup truck, a 2017 John Deer Skid Steer, a 2014 Polaris Razor, a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado pickup, a 2003 GMC 2500 flatbed pickup, and a 40 foot Hank gooseneck trailer stolen out of Warren County valued at $125,000. The day before, on Sunday March 12, Stembridge allegedly stole a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado, a 2004 Chevy Silverado, and a 24 foot gooseneck trailer, valued at more than $10,000 all taken from a business on McMinnville Highway.

"Purple Out Day" Friday to Raise Awareness About Alzheimer’s Disease

September 12, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
"Purple Out Day" Friday to Raise Awareness About Alzheimer’s Disease

DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack and her staff will bring lots of color to their office on Friday, September 15 and they are inviting you to participate in "Purple Out Day," too to show support for Alzheimer's Tennessee.

The statewide campaign was first launched in 2015 through a partnership between the State Court Clerks Association of Tennessee and the nonprofit organization Alzheimer’s Tennessee.

Alzheimer’s disease impacts Tennessee families in every county from West to East, and now Court Clerks across the state, including DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk Pack, are showing their support by participating in the 3rd Annual Statewide “Purple Out Day” benefitting Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a not-for-profit organization.

“Seeing our state turn purple to show support to the hundreds of thousands of families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is incredibly powerful. I know many understand what it’s like to slowly lose a loved one to this brain disease that steals both memories and dignity. I hope our loved ones will inspire all of us to come together again and make this month’s Purple Out Day even more memorable," said Circuit Court Clerk Pack

Along with displaying your purple spirit, you may make a donation. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Tennesseans.Please make checks payable to Alzheimer's Tennessee. You may bring your donation to the DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk’s office or mail it directly to the Alzheimer’s Tennessee Main office at 5801 Kingston Pike, Knoxville TN 37919. To make an online donation go to http://www.alztennessee.org/donate

Because Alzheimer’s disease and dementia impact at least 110,000 Tennesseans, the Board of Directors for the State Court Clerks Association of Tennessee voted to adopt and support Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a Tennessee-based 501c3 not-for-profit organization that provides support services, promotes brain health through education, and champions research for better prevention and treatment strategies.

Alzheimer’s Tennessee has been based in the state since 1983 and has the following mission: To serve those facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, to promote brain health through education, and to champion global prevention and treatment efforts. Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. coordinates support groups and answers HelpLine calls for resource referrals and information, offers community and professional education, advocates for the needs and rights of those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and funds research. For more information visit www.alzTennessee.org.

Alexandria Police Make Arrest in Two Recent Thefts

September 12, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Andrew Payton West

Alexandria Police have made an arrest in two recent thefts

Police Chief Chris Russell said that on Monday, September 11, 26 year old Andrew Payton West of Tramel Branch Road, Alexandria was arrested for two counts of Theft of Property Under $1,000.

According to Chief Russell, West stole a leaf blower valued at $150, from a vehicle on Avant Circle. The crime occurred on Friday, September 1.

West is also charged with a separate offense for taking a push mower valued at $150 from another residence on Avant Circle the same day, Friday September 1st.

West was booked into the DeKalb County Jail on a $20,000 bond and will appear in General Sessions court on September 21st.

Chief Russell said these charges stem from an ongoing investigation into recent thefts in the Alexandria area and anyone with information on other crimes is urged to contact the Alexandria Police Department at 615-529-2700 or the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 615-597-4935.

City and DUD Adopt Agreement to Supply Water to Each Other in Times of Need

September 12, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen
DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners

The relationship between the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District has been strained in recent years over the DUD’s new water treatment plant but the two sides are trying to put aside past differences and work together with passage of an agreement which will allow each utility to sell water to the other in times of need.

Under the water purchase agreement adopted Monday night 4-1 by the Smithville Aldermen and 5-0 by the DUD Board of Commissioners last Thursday, the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District will sell water to each other, if needed, at the rate of $2.67 per 1,000 gallons. That’s the rate the city had been charging the DeKalb Utility District before the DUD cut ties with the city as a customer and started producing water for its own customers during the summer.

The city will maintain eight existing master meters that can service both utilities and the DUD will reimburse the city for one half of the servicing and maintenance costs.

“Last Thursday the DUD Board met and passed a water purchase agreement between DUD and the City of Smithville. Our city attorney Vester Parsley looked this over as well as Greg Davenport from Wauford Engineering. We changed a couple of things and sent it back to DUD. They were fine with the small changes. It was more or less just some wording. Their board approved it unanimously,” said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

“Now that they (DUD) have their own plant up and going, if they need to use us, we can use our master meters to provide them water and if something happens in our distribution system we can turn our meters around and use the DUD water for our customers. Its just a mutual aid agreement. It basically says we will support each other one way or the other. The $2.67 per 1,000 rate can change years down the road but both parties have to be in agreement,” Hendrixson said.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs, who voted against the agreement, expressed concern about the rate. “We’re still selling water to them (DUD) cheaper than we can produce it ourselves,” he said.

“It sticks in my craw that we’re charging our customers $5.00 per 1,000 gallons and we’re letting non taxpaying residents get it cheaper than that,” Alderman Jacobs continued.

“Its based on a wholesale number versus a retail price,” replied Hendrixson.

“It’s the same price for both sides,” added City Attorney Vester Parsley.

“Have they (DUD) given any figures on what it cost to produce their water?,” asked Alderman Danny Washer

“Not that I am aware of. I suspect its more than $2.67 per 1,000 gallons,” Parsley responded.

“I’ll sign it (vote for it) but I don’t like it,” said Alderman Washer.

The agreement states:

SALE OF WATER FROM SMITHVILLE TO DUD:

“In times of special need or as circumstances require, Smithville will sell DUD a quantity of safe, potable water under terms of this agreement. DUD will pay for the purchase of this water in a manner consistent with the lowest 1,000 gallon wholesale rate charged by Smithville at the time of purchase, which rate at the date of this agreement is $2.67 per 1,000 gallons,” the agreement states.

“Smithville will bill DUD on a monthly basis with payment being due under the same terms and conditions as any other Smithville customer”.

“Smithville will furnish as much water as practicable to address DUD’s needs. The parties do, however, acknowledge that Smithville owes a primary duty to its citizens and, therefore, that Smithville does not guarantee any specific amount or quantity of water to be available at any time and reserves the right to limit the amount of water furnished to DUD”.

“Smithville agrees to supply water to DUD in the same condition of purity and fitness for consumption to all the other customers of Smithville. Smithville does not guarantee and will not be liable for any obligation, liability, responsibility, or cause of action arising out of the furnishing of water to DUD, whether concerning the quality or quantity of water furnished.”

“DUD hereby agrees to indemnify and hold Smithville harmless from any cause of action arising out of lack of water pressure or availability of pressure which might be brought by any DUD customer or user. This indemnification shall extend to the reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by Smithville.”

SALE OF WATER FROM DUD TO SMITHVILLE:

“In times of special need or as circumstances require, DUD will sell Smithville a quantity of safe, potable water under terms of this agreement. Smithville will pay for the purchase of this water the same rate that Smithville proposes to charge DUD in the event of the sale of water to DUD by Smithville. The rate in effect as of the date of this agreement is $2.67 per 1,000 gallons,” the agreement states.

“DUD will bill Smithville on a monthly basis with payment being due under the same terms and conditions as any other DUD customer”.

“DUD will furnish as much water as practicable to address Smithville’s needs. The parties do, however, acknowledge that DUD’s primary purpose is to serve its customers within its service area and, therefore, that DUD does not guarantee any specific amount or quantity of water to be available at any time and reserves the right to limit the amount of water furnished to Smithville”.

“DUD agrees to supply water to Smithville in the same condition of purity and fitness for consumption as to all the other customers of DUD. DUD does not guarantee and will not be liable for any obligation, liability, responsibility, or cause of action arising out of its furnishing water to Smithville, whether concerning the quality or quantity of water furnished.”

“Smithville hereby agrees to indemnify and hold DUD harmless from any cause of action arising out of lack of water pressure or availability of pressure which might be brought by any Smithville customer or user. This indemnification shall extend to the reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by DUD.”

MAINTENANCE, UPKEEP, AND REPAIR OF EQUIPMENT AND CONNECTIONS:

“Smithville shall continue to service and maintain the metering equipment located at Evins Mill master meter, Highway 70 West master meter, South College Street master meter, South Mountain Street master meter, Midway Community master meter, Cookeville Highway master meter, Hobson Street master meter, and Shiroki master meter. DUD Shall reimburse Smithville one half of any costs associated in servicing and maintaining said meters. Such service and maintenance includes, but is not limited to, routine maintenance, annual testing and calibration, and repositioning, if necessary. Before performing any such service or maintenance, the parties will confer concerning the work to be performed, the party responsible for overseeing the work, and the anticipated cost of such work.”

“Except for (previous paragraph), each party will be responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and service of lines and equipment on its respective side of these meters,” the agreement concluded.

Early Voting Times Set for State Senatorial Special Primary

September 12, 2017
Early Voting Times Set for State Senatorial Special Primary

The times for early voting have been set for the upcoming Special Primary for the 17th Tennessee Senatorial District.

The DeKalb County Election Commission unanimously voted Monday night to set the following hours: Mondays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays 9 a.m. until Noon; Wednesdays 9 a.m. until Noon; Thursdays 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays 9 a.m. until Noon and Saturdays 9 a.m. until Noon.

Early voting will be held October 18 through November 2 on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

The special election was created due to the resignation of State Senator Mae Beavers, who is running for governor.

The Primary will be held on November 7th and the hours for election day at all precincts will be 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Primary winners will square off in the General Election on December 19th.

Florida Family Staying with DeKalb County Relatives as Hurricane Irma Threatened Their Home

September 12, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dimitrios and Nancy Napier Vafeas with their children, 14 year old Alexander, 10 year old Olivia

Millions in Florida were ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Irma roared toward the state.

Thousands of evacuees made their way to Tennessee including several families who found DeKalb County a good place to stay until it was safe to return home.

One such family is Dimitrios and Nancy Napier Vafeas, who along with their children, 14 year old Alexander, 10 year old Olivia, and the family dog, left home in Sarasota, Florida (a western coastal city) Saturday morning before the storm hit. They arrived later that day in DeKalb County to stay with Nancy’s mother in the home Nancy grew up in.

Having lived in Florida for 23 years, Nancy said her family has weathered Hurricanes before without taking a direct hit, but forecasts indicated that Irma might be coming straight for Sarasota.

“I have never been scared like this before,”said Nancy, who spoke with WJLE Monday night.

Living near the coast, Vafeas said her concerns grew as Irma drew closer.

“My home is two miles inland so we started really watching Irma last Sunday. We knew she was coming at us but things change so much with Hurricanes. It kept being forecast as more of an east coast event like Miami or Palm Beach. About Wednesday, it started inching closer and closer to being a west coast hit. That’s when I started watching (forecasts) every three hours. By Thursday night, we knew we were in the danger zone,” said Nancy.

The family had initially planned to ride out the storm but had a change of heart by Saturday morning.

“Friday morning I got up and heard there were some generators in town that were for sale. I ran and bought a generator. My husband put up all of the Hurricane shutters at our house. I got all of our supplies and decided to hunker down. We thought it’ll be close but it’ll still be okay. Then we heard the storm was going to be a category 4. It started getting very real at that time. Many of our friends were staying but a lot of people were going. It was kind of a mixed bag. My in-laws and my husband’s brother and his wife decided to stay. But Saturday morning I woke up and saw the latest forecast, that Irma was a category 4 coming for Sarasota. With visions of Hurricane Andrew, Katrina, and Harvey in my mind, I decided I didn’t want to stay. I have a 14 year old son and a 10 year old daughter and I didn’t want them to experience that either. I woke up my husband and said we’re evacuating to Tennessee. He said no we’ll be okay, we’ve got all our supplies, our Hurricane shutters are up, we’re going to be safe. I said I’ve got to go. He knew I meant it. So we gathered everything we could think of in an hour, wedding albums, kids photos, etc and we jumped in the car and took off down the road hoping that we would be able to get out safely before the storm hit and hoping there would be enough available gas along the way to make the trip. We were taking a chance by leaving but I felt we were taking a bigger chance by staying,” said Nancy.

Since arriving in DeKalb County, Nancy said her family has stayed in touch with relatives and friends back home through social media and have been pleased to learn that their home and neighborhood were spared any major damage.

“My house is actually perfect. Sarasota got very lucky. Irma took a more easterly turn. We got some flooding, debris, and downed trees but nothing serious. No trees fell on our house. I have seen pictures and our house looks like it did when we left it,” said Nancy.

The Vafeas family plans to return home Wednesday if conditions permit. “We’re monitoring the news from our friends down there. Over six million people evacuated from Florida and we only have Interstates 75 & 95 as the north and southbound corridors so they are going to be very packed as people return home and there may continue to be a gas shortage so we’ll see,” she said.

Nancy added that while her family was spared, the storm has caused destruction and loss of life for others and they need to be remembered by all. “We just need to pray for those who didn’t fare as well".

After returning home this week, Nancy and her husband plan to fly back to DeKalb County for her 30 year high school class reunion on September 22 & 23.

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