Local News Articles

Monterey Woman Tries to Steal Cart Load of Walmart Merchandise

January 26, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tasha Marie Cooke
Jeri Nicole Beckham

A Monterey woman was arrested for theft after trying to steal a shopping cart full of merchandise from Walmart in Smithville Tuesday, January 20

30 year old Tasha Marie Cooke is under a $5,000 bond and she will be in court February 12.

According to Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger, police were dispatched to Walmart in reference to a shoplifter. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with an employee who said that Cooke had loaded a shopping cart full of various merchandise and went out the front doors and into the parking lot. After being confronted, Cooke allegedly admitted that she was stealing the items for her friends. Items in the cart included flashlights, purses, and other merchandise with a total value of $1,742.

Meanwhile 35 year old Jeri Nicole Beckham is charged with eighteen counts of forgery. Her bond is $85,000. According to Chief Caplinger, Beckham allegedly wrote checks to herself from a family member's checkbook, forging the victim's name on the checks, and then cashing them. All eighteen checks were written in October in amounts ranging from $75 to $350 in a total amount of $3,600.

In other recent cases,

18 year old Roberto Valerio was cited for shoplifting. A Walmart employee reported to police that a man was in the sporting goods department of the store using a knife to cut open packages. The officer confronted the man, Valerio, who was found trying to empty a box containing a speaker and other equipment. He had a knife in his pocket. Valerio was accused of trying to steal $127 worth of items from Walmart.

27 year old Leslie Lawrence is charged with domestic violence. Her bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger said police responded to a domestic violence call at a residence on Foster Road. Upon arrival the officer spoke with a man who said that Lawrence had kicked him in the face and had ripped the phone cord off the wall trying to keep him from calling for help. At the time of the arrest, Lawrence was found to be intoxicated.

31 year old Johnny Devault is charged with aggravated assault and violation of bond conditions arising from a domestic assault. His bond totals $5,000. Chief Caplinger said police were called to a Miller Road apartment on a domestic disturbance call. Upon arrival the officer heard "shouting" coming from the apartment. When he entered the residence, the officer learned that Devault and a woman had gotten into an argument that became physical. The victim's left eye was swollen from the assault. A witness said that Devault had smacked the woman in the face several times. He was determined to have been the primary aggressor.

24 year old Jonathan Hummel is charged with inhalants. His bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger said police were dispatched to Walmart in reference to a trespasser. The responding officer learned that the trespasser was Hummel and that he had previously been cited that day for huffing compressed air/computer cleaner. The officer found Hummel in an automobile in the parking lot allegedly committing the same offense (huffing). His speech was slurred and he appeared to be intoxicated. He was arrested and charged in the case.

20 year old Jackson Cripps is charged with evading arrest. Chief Caplinger said an officer spotted two trucks drag racing traveling west on Broad Street at speeds of over 90 miles per hour. The officer activated his blue lights and siren. He was joined in the pursuit by another city officer and a county deputy. Cripps, the driver in one of the vehicles, pulled over on Snow Hill. He was placed under arrest. Officers terminated the pursuit on the other truck after obtaining a license tag number. The driver, who was later determined to be 19 year old Ethan Byford, has also been charged with evading arrest.

31 year old Jason Stembridge has citations against him for shoplifting, simple possession of schedule VI and II drugs, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He will be in court on January 29. Chief Caplinger said police were dispatched to the Dollar General Store in reference to a shoplifter. Upon arrival the officer spoke with the store manager who had spotted Stembridge with items inside his coat sleeve. The officer confronted Stembridge who was found with items from the store on his person along with a silver coated pill container and a plastic bag with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Stembridge also had a blue pill crusher in his pocket containing a straw and pills thought to be hydrocodone.

19 year old Hayle Hunt is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger said an officer was dispatched to a residence on Braswell Lane on a domestic complaint. Upon arrival the officer learned that Hunt and her husband had gotten into an argument. The victim, who had red marks on his face, claimed that Hunt hit him. He also said that Hunt had rammed her truck into his truck. She was placed under arrest.

41 year old Gregory Wayne Cripps is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license. His bond is $4,000 bond and he will be on court February 12. Chief Caplinger said that on Tuesday, January 6 an officer spotted Cripps driving a Nissan Altima on West Bryant Street. He stopped in the wrong lane at a stop sign. He then proceeded onto South Mountain Street , crossed the center line several items, and almost hit oncoming automobiles. The vehicle turned onto Miller Road and into the parking lot of the former popcorn factory. The officer made a traffic stop there and approached the driver, Cripps. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Cripps submitted to and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. The officer learned that Cripps license was also revoked for a prior DUI. He was placed under arrest.

26 year old Jessica Renee Scruggs is cited for theft of merchandise. She will be in court on February 12. Chief Caplinger said that on Thursday, January 15 an officer was called to Walmart in reference to a shoplifter. Upon arrival the officer spoke with a store employee who saw Scruggs conceal several items in her purse and jacket. Scruggs was confronted and allegedly admitted to the theft.

29 year old Lacey Nicole Hamilton is cited for theft of merchandise. She will be in court February 15. Chief Caplinger said police were called to Walmart concerning a shoplifter. A store employee reported to the responding officer that Hamilton was observed trying to conceal several items of clothing in her purse.

18 year old McKinley Turner is cited for shoplifting. Chief Caplinger said Turner allegedly opened packages at Walmart and tried to conceal the contents on her person. When confronted she allegedly admitted to the theft. Her court date is February 12.

59 year old Debroah Jose is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court February 12. Chief Caplinger said that on Saturday, January 17 at a residence on Odom Street Jose allegedly assaulted her ex-daughter in law by hitting her in the head leaving a red swollen place. Jose was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was arrested.

DWS 8th Graders Selected for National Achievement Test

January 26, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
DWS Principal Sabrina Farler

DeKalb West School eighth graders have been selected to represent schools across the nation by participating in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The assessment will be given on Tuesday, January 27.

"Fourth, eighth, and eleventh grades can be selected. It's a national achievement test with which students are compared nationally. Our eighth grade at DeKalb West School was selected and we will be taking that test," said DWS Principal Sabrina Farler in an interview with WJLE Sunday. " They are either to be taking a math, reading, or a science test. They have a group that comes in called the "NAEP" crew and they actually assess our students and they will be compared nationally. I think this same group was selected as fourth graders. It's a way of tracking our students to see the progress they are making and the great improvement we are making in Tennessee and across the nation in reading, science, and math," said Principal Farler.

First administered in 1969, NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students know and can do in various subject areas. It is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, within the U.S. Department of Education. NAEP is different from state assessments because it provides a common measure of student achievement across the country. The results of NAEP are released as The Nation's Report Card, which provides information about student achievement to educators, parents, policymakers, and the public.

DWS eighth graders have been selected to take a mathematics, reading, or science assessment. In addition to answering questions in one of these subjects, students will be asked questions about themselves and their educational experiences, such as the amount of reading they do and the types of classes they take. These questions provide contextual information for the assessment, as well as information that may be related to students' learning.

About 90 minutes are required for most students to participate in the assessment. The results are completely confidential and the information provided will be used for statistical purposes only. The child's grades will not be affected. While NAEP is voluntary, student participation is desired to provide an accurate measure of student achievement that will inform improvements in education.

Participating students are asked to get plenty of rest the night before the assessment.

"We know that DeKalb West School's students will help us show what our nation's students know and can do," said DWS Principal Farler.

Bridge Repairs to be Made at Hickman

January 26, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bridge Repairs to be Made at Hickman
TDOT has posted signs on area state highways alerting truckers and other motorists to the construction

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has announced that repairs will begin soon on the State Route 264 bridge over Hickman Creek just three miles north of the DeKalb County Line in the Hickman Community of Smith County.

Bids were opened on the project October 17, 2014.

The contractor for the project is Jamison Construction, LLC of McEwen, TN with a bid of $415,740.30. The completion time for the project is on or before September 30, 2015.

The project will entail repairing the bridge deck and replacing parapet railing.

TDOT has posted signs on area state highways alerting truckers and other motorists to the construction

Woman Ejected in Saturday Night Crash

January 26, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
THP Trooper Troy Withers

A 41 year old woman was ejected in a one auto crash Saturday night on Antioch Road (Highway 288).

Lisa Dillon was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Trooper Troy Withers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who investigated the accident, told WJLE that Dillon may have suffered a broken hip and other injuries.

Dillon was a passenger of a 2002 Chevy Tahoe, driven by 34 year old Mark D. Young of Smithville. According to Trooper Withers, Young went off the right side of the road as he topped a hill and then overcorrected. The Tahoe went out of control, hit a ditch, and became airborne, before crashing into a tree.

Young received minor injuries.

Charges are pending in the case.

DeKalb School System Names Teachers of the Year

January 24, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page & Lisa Cripps
Tanya Howard, a kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School
 Jennifer Griffith a third grade math, science, and social studies teacher at Northside Elementary School
Lori Pryor a third grade self-contained teacher at DeKalb West School
 Tad Webb a seventh grade math teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Sonja House a ninth grade English/10th-12th grade Theatre Arts teacher at DeKalb County High School.

The DeKalb County School System has announced its "Teachers of the Year" at the building level of the five schools in the county.

This year's honoree are Tanya Howard, a kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Jennifer Griffith a third grade math, science, and social studies teacher at Northside Elementary School; Lori Pryor a third grade self-contained teacher at DeKalb West School; Tad Webb a seventh grade math teacher at DeKalb Middle School; Sonja House a ninth grade English/10th-12th grade Theatre Arts teacher at DeKalb County High School.

Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for 7th through 12th grades said "Again this year, we're going to participate in the Teacher of the Year program, which begins on the school level, moves to the system level, the regional level, and finally to the state level," she said.

Competition for system-wide Teacher of the Year continued through February, and will be announced at the Teacher of the Year Banquet in the spring. There will be three teachers chosen by a committee to compete at the regional level in March, and if selected they will represent DeKalb County at the state level competition.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career; and to encourage public involvement in education.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year represents Tennessee at the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: Building, System, Field Service Core Center Region, Grand Division and State; and from three categories (levels of teaching); Grades Pre K-4, 5-8, 9-12.

Teachers selected at each cycle receive local recognition and awards underwritten by local sources. State recognition/awards include a banquet honoring the nine State Teacher of the Year finalists and certificates of appreciation from the Governor. In addition, the State Finalists and the State Teacher of the Year receive cash awards.

Winners Announced in DeKalb 4-H Public Speaking Contest

January 24, 2015
by: 
Leigh Fuson, 4-H Agent
4th Grade 4-H Speech Participants: Cooper Brown,  Raven Savage, Darrah Ramsey 3rd place, Jake Christian 2nd place, and Katie Patterson 1st place.  Not Pictured: Dixie Hill
5th Grade 4-H Speech Participants: Brandon Sobotka  2nd and Maeloree King 1st. 6th Grade 4-H Speech                                                   Participants: Megan Price 2nd place and Lily Martin 1st  place.
Sr. High: Wyatt Martin, 10th grade, and Lydia Trail, 12th grade won in the Sr. High level 4-H speech contest.

What are your greatest fears? For most Americans, public speaking is towards the top of that list. However, this is a skill that is important no matter what career field you are in. For DeKalb County 4-H members, this fear is quickly fading.

On January 22, the county public speaking contest was held at the Community Complex. In 4th grade, Katie Patterson was 1st place, Jake Christian 2nd, and Darrah Ramsey 3rd. Other 4th grade participants included Dixie Hill, Raven Savage, and Cooper Brown. In 5th grade, Maeloree Kirby placed 1st and Brandon Sobotka was 2nd. Placing 1st from 6th grade was Lily Martin, and Megan Price was 2nd. The top two in each grade will advance to the sub-regional contest which will be held on January 27th at the White County Middle School. Wyatt Martin, 10th grade, and Lydia Trail, 12th grade, won in the senior high division and will compete in February at the regional contest in Murfreesboro. All contestants received cash awards for their hard work at the county level.

Congratulations to all these contestants and all DeKalb County 4-H’ers who gave a speech this school year! To learn more about 4-H activities, please contact the DeKalb County Extension Office at 615-597-4549.

Photo Caption:
4th Grade 4-H Speech Participants: Cooper Brown, Raven Savage, Darrah Ramsey 3rd place, Jake Christian 2nd place, and Katie Patterson 1st place. Not Pictured: Dixie Hill

5th Grade 4-H Speech Participants: Brandon Sobotka 2nd and Maeloree King 1st. 6th Grade 4-H Speech Participants: Megan Price 2nd place and Lily Martin 1st place.

Sr. High: Wyatt Martin, 10th grade, and Lydia Trail, 12th grade won in the Sr. High level 4-H speech contest.

Scruggs Gets Two Years Probation in Meth Case

January 23, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jeremy Scruggs

A 37 year old man indicted in a meth case in 2013 was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Jeremy Scruggs entered a "Best Interest" plea to promotion of methamphetamine and received a two year sentence suspended to probation. He was fined $2,000 and his name will be on the methamphetamine registry. He was given jail credit of 113 days. The first year of his probation will be supervised. Scruggs will be on unsupervised probation the last year of his sentence.

Meanwhile 23 year old Latasha Cantrell pled guilty to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve 75% of the term before release eligibility. The sentence is to run concurrently with a violation of probation against her. She was given jail credit of 139 days.

DMS Student Council Active at School and in the Community

January 22, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dulce Maciel and Suzette Barnes
Raiden Martin, Eli Cantrell, Bill Miller, Anna Chew, Katherine Malone, and Dulce Maciel

Members of the DeKalb Middle School Student Council are collecting aluminum cans in an effort to raise money for construction of an outdoor "pavilion type" classroom for science projects and other purposes. The can drive is open to the public. You may drop off your aluminum cans in the recycling bin which is located on a trailer in front of the school by Highway 70.

The student council's recycling committee came up with the idea for the can collection drive. "We wanted to make our community a lot greener and to help with the environment. We have a recycling committee and they came together and brought up the idea of having a recycling bin. We have it up front where you can put your aluminum cans. That money will be going to our outdoor classroom (at DMS) which will resemble the pavilion at (Greenbrook) park. Our goal is to get that built and get that started with the money from the can recycling," said Dulce Maciel, an eighth grader and President of the DMS Student Council.

Suzette Barnes, DMS seventh grade science teacher and Student Council sponsor, said an outdoor classroom would be ideal for science projects and for other classes. " It doesn't have to be just for science classes. It could benefit every student in the building. We could have a signup sheet in the office where teachers could sign up to use it on certain days and class periods. Our goal is to eventually have a sink and water out there and picnic tables so that if you are doing a messy science experiment, you could do it outside versus inside. But if a math class wanted to go out there one day, they could sign up for it and have their math class just to get the students out of the building for a day," she said.

The project would be done in stages as funds are available. Once permission is sought and granted from the school board, construction could begin. " Because of the money, we'll have to do this in stages. Our goal is to get the concrete slab poured this spring. It's going to be a 20' x 30' platform. If we can get the concrete poured this spring then our goal for next school year is to raise the funds to cover the materials. We're hoping to work with the building trades class at the high school to where they would actually construct the building for us and we would just buy the materials," said Barnes.

Although the outdoor classroom project is the major goal for the DMS student council, it is by no means the only one. The student council has various committees that focus on other initiatives including the school beautification and landscaping committee. " They're in charge of putting down fresh mulch and pulling weeds," said Barnes.

A fruit garden is also in the planning stages. "We hope have a blueberry garden. Our goal is to sell blueberries with the money going to the student council account. We had five students sign up to do the fruit garden. They have called on a local nursery to check on the costs of the blueberry bushes. They plan to research the planting of those bushes, what time of year to plant, how to prep the soil for planting, and they will do a soil test to see what nutrients need to be added to the soil. Once they plant the bushes, the students will tend to them and when the bushes bear fruit, they will pick the berries and sell them with the money going to the student council account," Barnes said.

Members of the student council render aid to teachers during planning periods and encourage student involvement and support at DMS sporting events by selling half price tickets to fill a designated student section at ballgames. And when new students enroll at DMS, members of the student council "adopt the students" by serving as a guide in helping them to get to know their way around the school.

In support of the Correspondence with Soldiers Initiative, the Student Council is seeking names of DMS students who have family members in a branch of service. "If DMS students can submit to the office the names (of their families who are in the military), when we start corresponding, we will be doing it with our students families," said Barnes.

Along with being active at school, the DMS Student council seeks to be more active in the community as well. "We want to be really involved in the community. If any organization in town needs help, such as clothing closets and food pantries, etc. just contact us at school and we will be glad to get a student council group together to help them work their event. We want to serve in a leadership role," Barnes concluded.

The DMS Student Council is made up of 39 students in the 6th-8th grade.

(TOP PHOTO: DMS Student Council President Dulce Maciel and DMS 7th grade Science Teacher and Student Council Sponsor Suzette Barnes)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: DMS Student Council Recycling Committee: Raiden Martin, Eli Cantrell, Bill Miller, Anna Chew, Katherine Malone, and Dulce Maciel)

School Board to Conduct Annual Evaluation of Director

January 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education will conduct its annual performance evaluation of the Director of Schools in a work session on Monday, January 26 at the Board of Education Building.

The workshop on Director Mark Willoughby's evaluation will be held at 5:30 p.m.

The evaluation is performed annually in January in accordance with board policy and Director Willoughby's contract. The board has used the same basic instruments for making the evaluations and itself for several years.

Willoughby's contract states that the evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than January 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board will review the Director's performance, progress toward established goals, and the working relationship between the two parties.

During the workshop, the school board members will evaluate Director Willoughby on his relationship with the board, community relationships, staff and personnel relationships, educational leadership, business and finance, and strategic planning skills. Board members are to make a check mark on the four page evaluation form in each of 52 areas, if they determine expectations have been met. Spaces are also provided on the form for board members to write comments.

Willoughby's current contract with the board is scheduled to expire June 30th, 2017. He has served as Director of Schools since July 1st, 2006.

Aaron Tippin And Stonehaus Winery Uncork New Blackberry Wine

January 21, 2015
Aaron Tippin

In celebration of his 25th year in music, country singer Aaron Tippin is teaming with Stonehaus Winery to release his very own brand of wine. Stonehaus Winery’s "Aaron Tippin Country Jam" wine is set to make its shelf debut this Valentine’s Day. The new barrel select blackberry wine, taste-tested and approved by the "Hardest Workin' Man in Country Music" himself, is being bottled especially for Tippin as a commemorative 25th anniversary item.

On February 14, 2015, Valentine's Day, Tippin will host a special release party at the Stonehaus Winery in Crossville, Tennessee. The event is free and open to the public and will offer fans a chance to meet Tippin and have their purchased "Aaron Tippin Country Jam" bottle autographed by its namesake. During the event, Tippin will personally unveil his new wine and may even bring along his guitar. Tippin's new wine will be available for purchase at the event.

"Come out and toast to 25 years of music and wine with me!" says Tippin.

"I couldn’t be happier about our partnership with Aaron," says Stonehaus Winery Vice President, Rob Ramsey. "Besides being a world-class performer, Aaron truly knows his wine and is one of the most genuine people you could ever meet. I just have to say, 'you love his music, now taste his wine!' By happy coincidence, we at Stonehaus Winery are celebrating our 25th year in business. What a perfect pairing – 25 years of music and wine!"

The event will also offer a special Valentine’s Day dinner package which includes dinner for two at The Butcher’s Block at Stonehaus, a bottle of "Aaron Tippin Country Jam" wine, a box of Stonehaus Winery Cabernet Fudge and a long stem rose for that special someone. A limited number of tickets (75) for the Valentine’s Day dinner package are available for purchase ($125.00 - tax and gratuity included) and go on-sale today. Tickets can be purchased online at www.stonehauswinery.com or by calling 931-484-9463.

The free and open to the public meet and greet begins at 5:00 PM. Dinner for purchased package ticket holders begins at 6:30 PM. The Stonehaus Winery is located at 2444 Genesis Road #103, Crossville, TN, 38571.

Tippin's new wine will be available for purchase at Stonehaus Winery (phone: 931-484-WINE) and online (www.stonehauswinery.com) this Valentine's Day and will be available in liquor stores on February 16, 2015.

About Aaron Tippin
Aaron Tippin's fame was launched in 1990 with the release of his uncompromising single, "You've Got to Stand For Something." He followed with other major hits including "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly," "There Ain't Nothing Wrong with the Radio" and "Kiss This."

For more information on Aaron Tippin, visit www.aarontippin.com.

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