Local News Articles

Fiddlers’ Jamboree President Performs at Ryman Auditorium

August 9, 2017
Sam Stout (left) played accompaniment guitar to fiddle player Jimmy Bilbrey of Cookeville

Sam Stout, President and Coordinator of the Smithville Jamboree and Crafts Festival, was recently awarded the honor to play at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Stout played accompaniment guitar to fiddle player Jimmy Bilbrey of Cookeville, Tennessee. Bilbrey was recently named the winner of The Annual Uncle Jimmy Thompson Bluegrass Festival Fiddle Competition for 2017. As part of the award, Bilbrey was asked to perform at Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman Auditorium, choosing Stout to play accompaniment to the tune Ashokan Farewell. Bilbrey and Stout performed just after intermission, prior to Dailey & Vincent taking the stage to perform the second half of the show.

Jimmy Bilbrey is a well know bluegrass performer with bluegrass bands across the Upper Cumberland. Both Bilbrey and Stout are also one of the weekly announcers of the Sutton Ole Time Music Hour Bluegrass Dinner Show at Sutton General Store in Granville, Tennessee.

“This was an unbelievably humbling experience,” said Stout, “Thinking about all of the great entertainers and artists that have performed on that stage at the Ryman is simply incredible. It was a privilege to play alongside my good friend Jimmy Bilbrey. He is such a talented musician, and we had a wonderful time. It was an additional honor to perform on the same night as Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, and we appreciated the warm welcome and hospitality that was shown by all.”

Every summer for more than two decades, Ryman Auditorium has celebrated their distinction as the birthplace of bluegrass music with their signature Bluegrass Nights summer series. When the the Grand Ole Opry put down roots there in 1943, the world would never be the same as the live radio and TV show brought the likes of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline and Roy Acuff to the stage and into living rooms around the country for thirty one years. For more information on the Ryman, go to: ryman.com

Knoxville Couple Identified in Monday Lake Tragedy

August 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Knoxville Couple Identified in Monday Lake Tragedy, 84 year old Lendon Welch and 83 year old Charlotte Welch, both of Knoxville.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has released the names of the elderly couple found dead on Center Hill Lake Monday.

According to Lieutenant Jimmy Neal of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the deceased are identified as 84 year old Lendon Welch and 83 year old Charlotte Welch, both of Knoxville. He is a former Farragut High School Coach.

In a statement to WJLE via email, Lieutenant Neal described the scene as Troopers arrived Monday afternoon at Floating Mill Campground located off Floating Mill Lane in DeKalb County.

“When Troopers arrived on scene, they noticed the top of a white vehicle a 2000 Toyota Tundra in the water. Attached to the vehicle, a boat was floating above and behind the vehicle. Troopers were advised that a male subject and a female subject were discovered floating in the lake. Prior to the Troopers arrival, those two subjects were removed from the lake and placed in a DeKalb County EMS ambulance”.

“Troopers were advised by DeKalb County EMS the male subject had in his possession a TN driver license. The male subject was identified as Lendon Welch deceased age 84 from Knoxville TN. The female was identified as Charlotte Welch deceased age 83 from Knoxville TN.”

“When the wrecker pulled the vehicle out of the lake, the vehicle's transmission was identified to be in the reverse position. Also, the vehicle's emergency brake had been partially applied. The boat was secured in the front to the trailer by the strap,” the statement concluded.

City Hires Animal Shelter Director

August 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Megan Moore
New Animal Shelter to Open Soon

A director has been hired to operate the new animal shelter, which will open soon.

During Monday night’s meeting, the Smithville aldermen voted to employ Megan Moore, upon the recommendation of the board of directors for the DeKalb Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals.

Under terms of the city’s 99 year lease with the coalition, Moore will be a city employee and she will have a part time assistant, although that position has not yet been filled.

Moore has worked as a veterinary assistant at DeKalb Animal Clinic in Smithville since September, 2014. From May to September, 2014 Moore was a veterinary assistant for PAULS Spay and Neuter Clinic in McMinnville.

A 2009 graduate of DeKalb County High School, Moore earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with a concentration in Animal Science in 2013 from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.

In her application, Moore wrote “Through my employment at DeKalb Animal Clinic and my degree in Animal Science, I have gained the experience and confidence needed to be an asset to this business and the public”.

Finishing touches are being made to the new animal shelter and an opening will soon be announced. It is located on a four acre site near the solid waste transfer station, behind Tenneco off of Highway 70 east.

The shelter will serve as a permanent and safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in permanent homes.

The City of Smithville and DeKalb County each appropriated $75,000 for the erection of the facility. The animal coalition has paid for the rest of the costs through fundraisers, grants, etc. The new shelter will take the place of a smaller one which has been in existence for years on county property but operated by the city behind the DeKalb County Highway Department Headquarters off Smith Road.

In addition to funding the director and part time assistant position, the city will also provide an animal control vehicle.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs, during Monday night’s meeting, asked what type of vehicle will be provided saying “what we had before (an old pickup truck with a kennel in the back), I was ashamed of it. It doesn’t reflect well on the city,” he said.

City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said the city would provide an older cargo van with a kennel in back to keep the animals out of the weather during transport.

(UPDATED) Couple Loses Their Lives in Unusual Accident on Center Hill Lake (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

August 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Couple Loses Their Lives in Unusual Accident on Center Hill Lake
Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad uses diver (Dustin Johnson) to attach Tow Chain to Submerged Toyota Tundra
Gill Automotive pulls Toyota Tundra and Boat from Lake
Truck and boat belonging to victims pulled from the lake

Two people lost their lives in an unusual accident on Center Hill Lake Monday afternoon at a Floating Mill camp ground boat ramp

The bodies of a man and woman were found floating in the water near their submerged Toyota Tundra pickup truck with a fishing boat and trailer still attached to the vehicle. The truck and boat were only a few feet from shore in about seven feet of water.

The accident is under investigation by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the names of the victims have not yet been released.

The couple had either been trying to launch the boat or pull it out of the water when the tragedy occurred.

Dustin Johnson, Captain of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad told WJLE that his crew was summoned to the lake at 2:47 p.m. and upon arrival found the bodies of the man and woman floating in the water several feet from their truck and boat. He said the medical examiner was notified and came to the scene. The bodies were recovered, brought to shore in a rescue squad boat, and then transported to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Others on the scene were members of the TWRA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Team, and several officers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

A wrecker from Gill’s Automotive was used to pull the truck and boat & trailer back up the ramp to shore.

Johnson dove down to attach the tow chain to the truck. The rescue squad later used sonar to make sure there were no other victims.



Earl Judkins Golf Classic to Benefit Karen Jacobs

August 7, 2017
Bill Conger
Karen Blair Jacobs

Life was going along as usual for Karen Blair Jacobs last year. Happily married to Smithville City Councilman and longtime radio broadcaster Shawn Jacobs, she had recently experienced the mixture of joy and sadness as their daughter, Caitlin, graduated from DeKalb County High School. A veteran teacher at Northside Elementary School, Jacobs also enjoyed watching her son, Justin Nokes, as he continued excelling in the education profession as a teacher and soccer coach. But life began to take a turn for the worse, when she went to the doctor to find out why she had not been feeling well for the last 3 to 6 months.

“In the fall, I was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer,” Jacobs says. “Unlike a lot of the other types of cancer it doesn’t just hit in one area. It appears that mine began in the lung and metastasized to spots on the liver.”

For now, this particular type of cancer is incurable but treatable.

“I was blessed to be healthy enough to participate in a clinical trial with Tennessee Oncology in Nashville, which could slow growth and perhaps maybe someday help find a cure.”

Jacobs goes for treatment two days a week for three weeks with the next week off. The cycle then repeats. After a leave of absence part of last school year, Jacobs will return to the classroom to teach the other three days that she isn’t undergoing treatment.

“So far, I am stable, and I will continue the treatments until they tell me differently,” she said.

To help offset medical costs, the Cantrell Cancer Foundation will donate all proceeds from the 6th Annual Earl Judkins Golf Classic on Saturday, August 26 to Jacobs and her family.

The golf tournament began in 2012.

“The year prior was when we found out about Amy’s cancer, and I wanted to do something for her,” explains Tyler Cantrell. “This was one of the ways I felt I could give back to her, and I knew we could continue it years after for other families as well.”

“I think what the Cantrell Cancer Benefit Foundation is doing is a very excellent way to help others and honor Tyler’s sister, Amy Cantrell Miller.

Originally, Relay for Life held a golf tournament in honor of Cantrell’s late great uncle Earl Judkins. When they hosted the tournament, the foundation picked it up as a way to honor him and help others.

“Since having the golf tournament, we have had five different recipients all of which vary in age and condition, including two under the age of 5,” Cantrell said. “We have raised close to $20,000 in proceeds that have gone back to the families, thanks to the help of Modern Woodman, which is a company who has been able to match up to $2,500 for a few of those tournaments.”

Besides the financial assistance, Karen’s friends, family, and colleagues have rallied around her with prayers and support.

“My heart breaks for her having to go through this,” says Annette Davis, a friend of 46 years. “She is a rock and such a strong woman, and she is there for anyone in need.

“She is a kind, compassionate person,” says Kim Young with whom Karen has shared a friendship since Kindergarten. “She is very thoughtful. She loves her family and friends. You can always depend on her. She is very strong in her faith and in her relationship with God. In this battle, she is giving it all she has. If it be God’s will, she will win.”

“She is a person that has made my life better by just being a part of it,” says Angie Young Thomas, longtime friend, college roommate, and fellow softball player. “I truly love her with all my heart and I feel a deep pain in my chest at the thought of what she is going through. I so wish I could be there to help support her. No matter how many miles there are between us or how much time goes by without us talking, I know that I can always count on her and that I will always think of her as one of my best friends.

Deadline to enter the golf tournament is August 18. For more information on the tournament or to become a sponsor contact Tyler Cantrell at centerhillcrossfit.com or 931-239-5948 and Riverwatch Golf Club at 931-761-8124. Entry fee is $75 for individuals and $300 for teams. Donations may be made to Cantrell Cancer Benefit Foundation at 625 Foster Road, Smithville.

“I would like to take this time to thank everyone for all of their thoughts and prayers as I go through this journey,” Karen said. “I have felt each and every one of them, and they help me get through the day. It also makes it a lot easier for my family. Please continue to pray for my family and me as we continue the fight!”

Smithville Police Charge Two People in Recent Burglaries

August 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Sonny Roman Smith
Jessica Anne Jenkins

Two people have been charged by Smithville Police in recent burglaries.

25 year old Sonny Roman Smith and 28 year old Jessica Anne Jenkins were arrested on Friday, August 4 for two counts of aggravated burglary.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_33.pdf (3.61 MB)

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. Bond for each is $40,000 and their court date is August 24.

23 year old Jasmine Renee Rowland and 31 year old Isaac Scott Grisham were cited for shoplifting on Wednesday, July 26. Police responded to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter and spoke with Rowland and Grisham who allegedly attempted to take items from the store. They will make a court appearance on August 10.

48 year old Billy Eugene Cook Jr.was cited for vandalism on Thursday, July 27. According to police, Cook allegedly walked by a GMC Jimmy, grabbed the passenger side mirror and pulled it off causing damage to the vehicle. A description of Cook was given to police and he was later found on Meadow Brook Drive. His court date is August 24.

43 year old Thomas Lane Marshall was recently arrested for being a fugitive from justice. According to police, Marshall is wanted on an outstanding warrant out of Texas for aggravated robbery. His court date is August 10.

23 year old Skyler L Insixiengmai was arrested on Saturday, July 29 for criminal impersonation and cited for simple possession. During a routine traffic stop, an officer spoke with a front passenger who was not able to provide identification but gave a name and date of birth that couldn't be verified through Central Dispatch. Upon further investigation, police learned that the man was Insixiengmai and that he had outstanding warrants against him in DeKalb and Rutherford County. Upon a search of his person incident to arrest, police found approximately 1 gram of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. He is under a $2,500 bond and his court date is August 24.

35 year old Jermaica Cherome League was arrested on Monday, July 31 for unlawful possession of a firearm and he was cited for simple possession. Police spotted League outside his home and served a warrant on him for a probation violation. Upon taking League into custody, police asked him if he had any weapons on his person and he informed them he had a gun in his right pocket. During a search incident to arrest, three small blue pills believed to be oxycodone hydrochloride were found in a brown container in his left pocket. League couldn't provide a prescription for the pills. A criminal record check through Central Dispatch revealed that League has a prior domestic assault offense against him and doesn't have a handgun permit. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is August 17.

52 year old Brian Franklin Strahan was arrested on Monday, July 31 for domestic assault. During an investigation, police spoke with the parties involved and learned that Strahan and a family member had been in a verbal argument when another person began talking and became excited. According to police, Strahan allegedly grabbed his victim and pushed him down, causing several red marks on or about the neck and chest area indicating that a physical altercation had occurred. Bond for Strahan is $2,500 and his court date is August 10.

34 year old Jerry Allen Chapman was arrested on Thursday, August 3 for domestic assault and resisting arrest. Police were flagged down by a pedestrian walking on Miller Road who stated that a family member identified as Chapman had beaten him up. Officers went to Chapman's residence where they found him sitting on a bed with an opened fold knife next to him. Police ordered him to step away from the knife and go to his knees but he refused to do. Chapman was then tased and taken into custody. His bond is $4,000 and his court date is August 31.

Back to School for DeKalb Students

August 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
Back to School for DeKalb Students

DeKalb County Schools will re-open with registration for all students on Monday, August 7.

It will be an abbreviated school day.

The first day of school education celebration (free school supplies) will be Monday, August 7 starting at 6:00 p.m. on the Smithville Public Square.

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 9.

Teachers only will report for an administrative day on Tuesday, August 8.

The 2017-18 school calendar is as follows:

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 4.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 16-20 (one week)

The Thanksgiving break has traditionally been for three days, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. This year, schools will be closed for an entire week for Thanksgiving, November 20-24. Those two extra days off for Thanksgiving will be made up at the end of the school year in 2017-18. The last day of school was originally set for Tuesday May 22, 2018 but has now been changed to Thursday, May 24, 2018.

The Christmas break will be December 21 through January 3.

Wednesday, December 20 will be the last day students attend before Christmas break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Wednesday, January 3, 2018 will be a stockpile day for teachers.

Students will return after the holidays on Thursday, January 4.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 15 and for President's Day, Monday, February 19.

Spring break will be March 26-30.

Students will not attend on Wednesday, May 23. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Thursday, May 24 and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 24 and Tuesday, March 6 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 26 and Thursday, March 8 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, October 24; Tuesday, January 9; Tuesday March 6; and Thursday, May 24.

Community Answers Call to Pray for Schools

August 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
Community Answers Call to Pray for Schools

Members of the community concerned about our school system answered the call to pray Sunday afternoon during what has become an annual event prior to the start of school.

This year's prayer time called " Back 2 School Call 2 Prayer" was held at DeKalb Middle School. As in past years it featured several local ministers offering prayers for each school as well as the school transportation staff, athletic activities and band program, law enforcement agencies, and the school board.

Donnie Kelly, Pastor of the First Assembly of God, made opening remarks followed by Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, who spoke briefly about plans for the school year. Alberto Lucio, Pastor of the Iglesia Bethel Church, led the opening prayer and Suzanne Slager sang the National Anthem.

In his remarks, Director Cripps said school system plans for the year include bringing 1 to 1 computer devices (Chrome Books) to every high school student in a few weeks and to 6th to 8th grade students after Christmas; improving literacy and ACT scores; and conducting a feasibility study to determine needs for new schools.

“Thank you for coming today to support our community schools. It takes our entire community to educate students. Even if you currently do not have children in our school system, you are still an integral part of our school community,” said Director Cripps.

“I have some praises that I would like to share with you. We have been fortunate to bring 1:1 computer devices for our students in grades 6-12. Our high school students will get those devices in the next few weeks, and our 6th-8th grade students will receive those devices sometime after Christmas,” he said.

“Also, this year we will take the first step toward building new schools. An architectural firm will conduct a feasibility study to determine the needs for schools in our community”.

“I would like to recognize and thank our School Board members, County Commission members, County Mayor, and our taxpayers for supporting our vision of producing productive community members.”

“Our goals to reach that vision are ongoing and we will continue to work toward a literacy goal of 90% of 3rd graders in DeKalb County reading on grade level by 2020”.

“Also, with literacy being a focus for all students, we expect that our average ACT composite will be a 21 by the year 2020 also”.

“Additionally, all high school students will leave our high school with one or all of the following: a 21 on the ACT, industry certification, and/or college credits. Upon graduation, we want to provide our students of DeKalb County with opportunities and options to be college and career ready.”

“Each step from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 needs our community support. I’m enlisting you to assist us with this endeavor,” said Director Cripps.

Local ministers participating were:

*Dan Gulley, minister at the Smithville Church of Christ (who prayed for DeKalb County High School)

*Bill Robertson, interim pastor of the Smithville First Baptist Church (who prayed for DeKalb Middle School)

*Joel Wood, pastor of the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church (who prayed for Northside Elementary School)

*Iain Swisher, youth pastor at the Smithville First Assembly of God (who prayed for Smithville Elementary School)

*Jimmy Arms, pastor of the Upper Helton Baptist Church (who prayed for DeKalb West School)

* Dr. John Carpenter, pastor of the Smithville First United Methodist and Bright Hill United Methodist Churches (who prayed for School Transportation Staff)

*Jerry Strait, youth pastor of the Smithville Church of God (who prayed for the athletic department/band)

*Nathan Thomason, pastor of the Outreach Baptist Church (who prayed for the local law enforcement departments

*Isaac Gray, pastor of the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church (who prayed for the School Board)

Truck hits McDonalds Restaurant causing damage to the building

August 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
Truck hits McDonalds Restaurant causing damage to the building

A customer at McDonalds Restaurant caused damage to the building Saturday morning after pulling up to park in his Dodge pickup truck. The driver accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake and struck the side entrance, damaging brick and shattering a glass window. No one was injured. Members of the Smithville Police and Fire Departments responded.


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