Local News Articles

Kindergarten Registration Set for May 16 at SES & DWS

April 11, 2017
Dwayne Page

Kindergarten registration for the 2017-18 school year will be Tuesday, May 16 from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 p.m at Smithville Elementary School and DeKalb West School. Translators will be available to assist with filling out paperwork during the 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. time period.

Children who plan to attend kindergarten must turn five years old on or before August 15, 2017 in order to enroll for the 2017-18 school year.

Please bring the following information with you on registration day:

*Social Security card

*Original birth certificate (certified copy with the state seal, not the hospital copy or mother's copy)

*Current, up to date, physical examination and immunization record (These must be on a Tennessee Department of Health Certificate of Immunization, which can be obtained from your doctor's office or the Health Department)

*Proof of residency for DeKalb County (i.e. gas/electric bill)

*Your child (they will be tested on registration day)

Man Killed in Logging Accident

April 10, 2017
Dwayne Page

A logging accident claimed the life of a local man Monday afternoon.

Dead is Norman Ferrell.

Ferrell died after a tree he was cutting fell on him. The accident occurred on a hillside in the Clear Fork area of Liberty at the end of Pistole Hollow Road.

“He had cut a tree down and it lodged in another tree and bounced back and fell on top of him,” said Joe Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad. A couple of other loggers were in the area near Ferrell at the time of the accident and made the discovery.

Because of the terrain, members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and EMS personnel had to access the scene in four wheel drive vehicles and a gator. “It was about three quarters of mile off the road and was hard to get to. We had to travel logging roads using a rescue squad and two personal four wheel drive vehicles," Johnson continued.

“When we got there one of the loggers had taken a skidder to the tree and lifted the log off of him but he was already deceased. We then had to wait on the deputy coroner to arrive,” he said.

Ferrell’s body was brought out in a four wheel drive vehicle, taken to an awaiting ambulance at the road, and then transported to the hospital.

Grand Jury Indicts Jail Escapee

April 10, 2017
Dwayne Page
Randall Joe Swindle
Angelea Nicole Vallem
Richard Allen Tilley
Frankie James Warrick
Carol Denise Cowan

The man who escaped from the DeKalb County Jail two weeks ago was indicted by the Grand Jury last week.

47 year old Randall Joe Swindle of Mount Tabor Road, Murfreesboro was served with a sealed indictment for escape and appeared for arraignment Monday, April 10 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. His bond on the charge was $25,000.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_18.pdf (3.26 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Swindle was with other inmates in the exercise yard during their recreation time on Tuesday, March 28 when he quickly stripped down to his shorts and tee shirt and slithered through a very small opening between the bottom of the security fence and the fence framework. As he ran off correctional officers gave chase on foot while deputies followed in their patrol cars. Swindle was observed standing in the highway trying to get a ride but ran toward Hardees when he saw the officers approaching. A Warren County constable and a private citizen, who were in the Hardees parking lot and saw what was happening, called for the man (Swindle) to stop and he was subsequently taken into custody by the deputies and correctional officers.

Swindle is in jail for carrying or possession of a weapon by a felon, vandalism, theft of property over $1,000, and aggravated burglary.

Meanwhile 41 year old Angelea Nicole Vallem of Estes Street, Smithville was named in a sealed indictment last week on charges of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine). She appeared for arraignment Monday, April 10 in criminal court. Her bond was $100,000. The indictment alleges that on or about the 18th day of August, 2016, Vallem knowingly did sell and deliver a schedule II controlled substance, to wit: methamphetamine (in an amount greater than 0.5 grams).

46 year old Richard Allen Tilley of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is April 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 7 deputies were dispatched to a residence on Short Mountain Highway due to a possible domestic violence incident. While enroute, Central dispatch notified the officers that the man involved had left the residence in a white Nissan Titan. A deputy spotted the vehicle and stopped it on Short Mountain Highway. The driver, Tilley submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was unsteady on his feet and had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person.

30 year old Frankie James Warrick of Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is April 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 8 deputies were dispatched to a residence on Blue Springs Road for a physical domestic. Upon arrival the officers spoke with Warrick along with his 17 year old son and the boy’s mother. According to Sheriff Ray, Warrick and the woman were in the garage when they began arguing. As the woman raised her hands to keep Warrick from yelling so close to her face, he slapped her hands down. She pushed him away but he shoved her also causing the woman to fall to the ground. As the teen stepped in to defend his mother, Warrick pushed him (son) causing the boy to fall and scrape his back. Warrick and the woman both admitted to having consumed alcohol prior to the incident. Warrick was determined to have been the primary aggressor.

55 year old Carol Denise Cowan of Brush Creek is charged with aggravated burglary. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is April 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 9 deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hillview Heights due to an unwanted guest. The caller informed central dispatch that Cowan was outside the home trying to break through the door with a hammer. Cowan gained entry and once inside broke two mirrors that were hanging on the wall. She also got into an argument and pulled a knife on the complainant. Cowan left the scene in a black Chevy Monte Carlo before officers got there. Deputies found the vehicle and Cowan on Coon Branch Road. While speaking to the officers, Cowan admitted to having been at the residence and breaking the mirrors.

Overbey Earns Certified Insurance Service Representative Status

April 10, 2017
Kelley Overbey

The designation of Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) has been conferred upon Kelley Overbey, CISR, agent at DeKalb County Insurance, Inc. in Smithville, TN, after her successful completion of five, one-day courses covering all areas of insurance risks and exposures, followed by extensive examinations.

The CISR program, available to insurance professionals in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, is distinguished from other programs of it's kind by an annual continuing education requirement, which ensures that designees stay current on the important policy changes and trends within the industry.

Mrs. Overbey is to be commended on her dedication to professionalism as evidenced by the completion of the CISR designation and her commitment to continuing education.

The CISR disignation is awarded by the Society of CISR, a not-for-profit organization and member of The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, the nation's premier provider of insurance and risk management education. Currently there are over 70,000 participants in the Society of CISR and more than 27,000 individuals holding the CISR designation.

Nashville Woman Loses Her Life on Center Hill Lake (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

April 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Nashville Woman Loses Her Life on Center Hill Lake
Members of TWRA, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and DeKalb Sheriff’s Department join family of Aimee McCray in prayer after her body is recovered from the lake Sunday
Aimee McCray

A 35 year old Nashville woman lost her life on Center Hill Lake over the weekend.

The body of Aimee McCray was recovered in about 65 feet of water Sunday afternoon at Hurricane Marina.

According to authorities, McCray was with some friends on a houseboat moored at the marina when she was last seen around 11:30 p.m. Saturday night. Authorities suspect McCray may have accidentally fallen off the boat and drowned but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

After discovering her missing Sunday morning, McCray’s friends called 911. Central dispatch received the call at 9:20 a.m. of a missing person on the lake.

Members of the TWRA, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, and DeKalb EMS responded.

“We recovered the body of an adult female from Hurricane Marina. There is an investigation on-going. We do not have any indications that there was any foul play. It appears to be an accident,” TWRA Sergeant Jon Ryan told WJLE.

“We used TWRA boat side scan sonar but were unable to find anything with that. The Rescue Squad dropped their submersible camera and were able to locate what we believed to be a body. A Putnam County Rescue Squad diver then came and dove down and was able to recover the body,” added Sergeant Ryan.

“We got a call that someone was missing off a houseboat and found some evidence that maybe that she might have fallen into the water,” Joe Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad told WJLE. “We came down and the TWRA came with us. They (TWRA) tried to find the body with sonar but was unsuccessful. We did move the big boat (houseboat) out from the marina and where we suspected there might be someone we sent down an underwater camera that we have and we were able to locate the body in about 65 feet of water at the dock right under the boat slip. Our divers don’t have enough equipment to dive in cold water so we called the Putnam County Rescue Squad and they sent their divers over. They have insulated wet suits. We waited about an hour and a half for them to arrive. One of the divers went down and the other was on standby. The diver went down and followed the rope that was attached to our camera and he went straight to the body and brought her back up," added Johnson.

Deputy Medical Examiner Terry Martin was also on the scene. After McCray’s body was recovered from the lake it was loaded on a boat and brought to shore at around 4:00 p.m. where it was then transported by DeKalb EMS to the hospital.

Johnson thanked members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, the TWRA, and the Putnam County Rescue Squad for their help.

20th Annual Relay for Life Set for May 5th

April 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
2016 Relay for Life Cancer Survivors

1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. One of those people could be you or someone you love. When you join a Relay For Life event, you're helping the American Cancer Society fund groundbreaking research, crucial patient care programs, and education and prevention information. When you Relay, you help save lives.

In DeKalb County, the 20th annual Relay for Life is scheduled for Friday, May 5 at Greenbrook Park in Smithville. Entertainment begins at 5 p.m. with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. followed by a survivors walk around the walking trail in the park and a luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. Come enjoy lots of entertainment including music, games, train ride, food, silent auction, male beauty contest, and more all in an effort to raise money to fight cancer.


Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries. Volunteers give of their time and effort because they believe it's time to take action against cancer.

Join your friends and neighbors at this year’s Relay and help bring the community together to remember loved ones lost, honor survivors of all cancers, and raise money to help the American Cancer Society make a global impact on cancer.

By selflessly devoting your time and energy through raising awareness and money, you become the voice of the American Cancer Society in your community..

Woman Comes to Court Intoxicated

April 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Sherry Renee Schreyer
Jason Douglas Stembridge

A Sparta woman has been charged with public intoxication after coming to General Sessions Court under the influence and passing out during the proceedings.

50 year old Sherry Renee Schreyer of Luna Road, Sparta is under a $1,500 bond and her court date is April 20.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, March 30 a sheriff’s department detective saw Schreyer passing in and out during court after she was warned by several officers and the judge to stay awake.

The detective took Schreyer into another courtroom and asked her to perform field sobriety tasks. She performed poorly on all tasks given and was arrested for public intoxication.

33 year old Jason Douglas Stembridge of Tisdale Drive has another theft charge against him. Sheriff Ray said that on December 27, 2016 Stembridge allegedly took 2016 Polaris Razor seats valued at $1,144. His bond is $5,000 on this latest charge, theft of property over $1,000, and his court date is April 27.

Stembridge has been in jail since his arrest last month. He is accused of having run a major auto theft and chop shop operation. Stembridge is alleged to have stolen 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. Many of the stolen vehicles and equipment have been recovered.

Jacqueline Darlene West Brown of Hartsville is charged with identity theft. Her bond is $8,000. Sheriff Ray said that on August 17, 2015, Brown obtained the personal identification of another without their consent in order to open up a credit/debit card. Brown made several transactions with the card. The case was investigated by a detective of the sheriff’s department.

30 year old Christopher Eugene Layne of Bright Hill Road, Smithville is charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $3,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, March 28 a detective of the sheriff’s department was traveling east on Highway 70 when he saw Layne driving a Chevy Malibu. Knowing that Layne’s license were revoked, the detective stopped the car. A computer check confirmed that Layne’s driver license were revoked in 2015 out of Putnam County. Layne also had two prior driving on revoked charges in 2015 and 2016.

Brad Eugene Bell of Liberty is charged with a fourth offense of driving while his license were suspended. His bond is $6,000 and his court date is April 13th. Bell was also cited for improper display of plates. He had a tinted cover over the license plate. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, March 28 a deputy initiated a traffic stop on a black and gold Ford truck on Woodbury Highway in Liberty due to a license plate violation. Bell was the driver. A validation check revealed that Bell’s license were suspended in Lebanon Municipal Court for failure to show proof of insurance on February 7, 2016. His license were also previously suspended for violations in Wilson County, Alexandria, and DeKalb County without any reinstatements.

22 year old Dakota Levi West of McMinnville is charged with failure to appear. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is April 13. Sheriff Ray said that West was served with a criminal summons for theft of property involving merchandise on January 15 and failed to report to the DeKalb County Jail to be booked within the required ten days.

Tucker Webb Named "Classroom Champion"

April 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tucker Webb
Attorney Jim Judkins, Assistant Principal Beth Pafford, Tucker , Ty, Tracy, and Tate Webb, Principal Karen Knowles, and WJLE’s Dwayne Page

This week’s “Classroom Champion” award goes to Tucker Webb, a second grader at Northside Elementary School.

The award was presented by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins and Dwayne Page of WJLE .

Tucker is the son of Tad and Tracy Webb and he has two siblings, Ty and Tate Webb. His teacher is Shanea Cantrell

Tucker said he enjoys baseball, basketball, and other sports and hash casserole is his favorite food. He dislikes lemon pie.

When he grows up, Tucker said he wants to be a game warden.

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 weeks.

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.

Representative Terri Lynn Weaver Has Concerns with Bill Requiring Seat Belts on School Buses

April 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb School Bus Involved in Minor Accident in October 2014 (Only two students, an educational assistant, and the driver were on board at the time and there were no injuries)
Terri Lynn Weaver

Legislation spurred by a 2016 Chattanooga school bus crash that killed six children passed the Tennessee Senate Education Committee Wednesday with seven senators saying yes and one member passing.

The bill now goes on to the Finance Committee.

On Tuesday, the House Transportation Committee approved the bill on a 9-7 vote, moving it along.

The bill would require all new Tennessee school buses purchased beginning July 1, 2019, to come equipped with safety-restraint systems approved by the National Transportation Safety Board. In a successful effort to cut costs to state and local government, the bill sponsor earlier this week removed the requirement that all buses must have the safety belts as of July 1, 2023. Instead, the bill relies on new belt-equipped buses eventually replacing buses without belts.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, a member of the House Transportation Committee and Subcommittee Chair of Transportation, voted no saying she has reservations about the bill. “The argument is what would happen if you have children as young as kindergarten and first graders strapped in seatbelts and the bus goes off a bridge into water or a fire ignites. In two minutes a bus can be in flames. How are these children going to get out of these buses? Who is going to make sure they get unlatched? We have to consider that,” Representative Weaver told WJLE in a LIVE Radio interview Friday morning.

“Since 2009 we have had ten deaths of children and one adult in school bus accidents and that is eleven deaths too many but one school bus accident on a bridge or in a fire with children who cannot get out as quickly as normal, you could have 20 or 30 deaths,” she added.

There are an estimated 9,000 school buses in Tennessee with some 600 of them replaced annually, according to a legislative fiscal note. A new bus costs about $100,000. Having them come equipped with seat belts adds about $10,000 more per bus, the fiscal note says.

The move to drop the mandatory 2023 implementation date for seat belts slashed projected costs of the bill dramatically. It now would boost state expenditures by $2.15 million a year going forward, with the money going to local schools. Local schools' cost would be $12.91 million annually going forward.

Originally, the bill would have cost the state nearly $12 million a year for five years and school systems about $70 million a year over a six-year period.

Congressman Diane Black Speaks at DeKalb GOP Reagan Day Dinner

April 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb GOP Chair Mingy Bryant with Congressman Diane Black at Reagan Day Dinner Friday night at County Complex
Congressman Diane Black greeted by Walteen Parker, Donny Green, and Sheriff Patrick Ray and wife Dessa Ray

Congressman Diane Black supports President Donald Trump’s decision to take military action in response to the deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria on Tuesday.

Representative Black, who was in Smithville Friday night for the annual Reagan Day Dinner sponsored by the DeKalb County Republican Party, told WJLE that the U.S. missile strikes Thursday night on a Syrian airbase should send a clear message to the Bashar al-Assad regime.

“I do believe we have to react when we have a tyrant who is killing his own people. I am proud that the president made that decision that he was going to show that the United States is not going to stand for those kinds of atrocities,” said Congressman Black.

Meanwhile, Congressman Black said she is pleased the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The vote was 54-45.

Democrats had staged a highly unusual filibuster to block the nominee but Republicans responded by changing the long-standing Senate rules to allow filibusters of Supreme Court nominees to be broken with 51 votes rather than the previous 60.

“I frankly believe the Senate rules are crazy to begin with because a majority should be 51 and not 60 so the changing of those rules obviously was necessary because of the Democrats being very partisan. Judge Gorsuch is a good man. A man who had many good things said about him by the very people who said they wouldn’t support him so this was very partisan and I am glad they (Senate Republicans) did what they did. We needed a good man like Judge Gorsuch on our Supreme Court. I am very proud of that,” said Congressman Black.

On healthcare, Congressman Black, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said she is optimistic that the Trump administration and congressional Republicans can still reach common ground on a bill that could win enough votes for House approval.

“We are continuing to work on the healthcare bill. I am insistent that we are going to get this healthcare bill passed. The people of Tennessee and across this country are suffering under Obama Care. We see rising premiums and rising co-pays where people cannot use their insurance. And in many places there is not even an option any longer because insurers have pulled out of the market. We’re going to keep working until we get this right and we pass this for the American people,” Congressman Black said.


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