Local News Articles

UCHRA Commodities Recertification Begins Monday

January 3, 2018
Dwayne Page

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency would like to remind those who receive assistance through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, known as Commodities; it is time for recertification of their commodities card. With 2018 deliveries right around the corner, it is very important for recipients to recertify their commodity card with their local county offices prior to the first pick-up date.

Recertification date starts January 8th. First Distribution is February 8th.

If you think you or someone you know qualifies for this program, please contact the UCHRA office in your county for more information.
The UCHRA County telephone: DeKalb County 615-597-4504

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, color, national origin, religion, or disability in admission to, access to, or operations of its programs, services or activities.

“This project is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.”

Using Hand Held Cell Phones in School Zones Now Illegal

January 3, 2018
Dwayne Page
Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System


With schools set to re-open on Monday, January 8th, motorists in school zones should be aware that talking on a cell phone with the device in hand is now illegal in an active school zone.

That not only includes talking on a phone, but texting or reading texts

The law states that it’s an offense — Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $50 — for a person to knowingly operate a motor vehicle in any marked school zone in this state, when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, and talk on a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion.

However, the offense is not committed if the telephone is equipped with a hands-free device, for drivers 18 years of age and older.

A driver under age 18 is breaking the law talking either using a hands-free or handheld while driving through an active school zone.

Also as school starts again, motorists should also remember that the most dangerous part of a school bus ride is getting on and off and if they don't stop for buses when they're supposed to the potential for a tragic accident increases.

Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System and the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) remind motorists of the importance of school bus safety awareness and education.

"Riding the school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation; it's when children get on or off the bus that causes concern," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "That is why it is critical for parents, teachers, and school administrators to stress the importance of crossing in view of the school bus driver, and to instruct children on other safety tips that will keep them out of harm's way."

Each day, some 480,000 school buses transport more than 26 million children to and from school and school related activities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. An average of 19 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year – five occupants of school buses and 14 pedestrians. Most of those killed are children five to seven years old.

Sprague reminds motorists to make sure to stop when school bus lights and stop signs are deployed as students get off and on buses in school parking lot loading zones and on roads, including four lane highways. " Highway 70 is considered a driveable median and when that bus accuates its stop sign and red lights, all four lanes east bound and west bound do have to stop. They don't proceed on until the stop sign is pulled in and the lights are off and the bus is proceeding on. When that happens, vehicles can move along also," said Sprague

The "danger zone" for a school bus is the area 10 feet around the vehicle; the two most dangerous places are the front and the right rear tire area of the bus. Children must take care when boarding or leaving the school bus by following these simple rules:

•Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver;

•Be alert to traffic. Check both ways before stepping off the bus;

•Make eye contact with the bus driver, and wait for the bus driver's signal before crossing the street;

•Walk in front of the bus; never walk behind the bus to cross the street;

•Never go under the bus to retrieve something you've dropped;

•Get to the bus stop in plenty of time.

"Educating children on school bus safety is a top priority, but we also want to remind drivers to slow down in school zones and obey the stop arm," said THP Colonel Trott. "Our troopers work diligently to enforce traffic laws in the school zone, and will penalize those who blatantly disregard laws designed to protect children."

In Tennessee and in every state, drivers must stop when the stop arm is extended and red lights are flashing.

All school bus drivers in Tennessee must attend an annual training course in order to receive and maintain the school bus endorsement on their Driver License.

Social Security Beneficiaries Getting 2% Increase

January 3, 2018
Dwayne Page

Social Security Beneficiaries will receive a 2 Percent Increase in 2018

Social Security recipients are getting their largest cost of living increase in benefits since 2012, but the additional income will likely be largely eaten up by higher Medicare Part B premiums.

Cost of living increases are tied to the consumer price index, and an upturn in inflation rates and gas prices means recipients get a small boost in 2018, amounting to $27 a month for the typical retiree. The 2 percent increase is higher than last year’s .3 percent rise and the lack of any increase at all in 2016. The cost of living change also affects the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, which will grow from $127,200 to $128,700.

The increase in benefits will likely be consumed by higher Medicare premiums, however. Most elderly and disabled people have their Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security checks. For these individuals, if Social Security benefits don't rise, Medicare premiums can't either. This “hold harmless” provision does not apply to about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries: those enrolled in Medicare but who are not yet receiving Social Security, new Medicare beneficiaries, seniors earning more than $85,000 a year, and "dual eligibles" who get both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. In the past few years, Medicare beneficiaries not subject to the hold harmless provision have been paying higher Medicare premiums while Medicare premiums for those in the hold harmless group remained more or less the same. Now that seniors will be getting an increase in Social Security payments, Medicare will likely hike premiums for the seniors in the hold harmless group. And that increase may eat up the entire raise, at least for some beneficiaries.

For 2018, the monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment standard will be $750 for an individual and $1,125 for a couple.

Free Classes Available to Those Seeking High School Equivalency Diploma

January 2, 2018
Dwayne Page

If you never completed high school and would like to obtain an equivalency diploma you have that opportunity.

Free High School Equivalency (Hi-Set) Classes are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the County Complex at 722 South Congress Boulevard. Enter through the UT Extension/Motlow College Corridor, Room 119. Mary Anne Carpenter is the class instructor. On-line classes are also available.

Student registration is conducted on Mondays, beginning at 3:30 pm and then again on Tuesdays starting at 8:30 am – 12:00pm. The Toll Free phone number is: 855-516-0160.

Nearly 500,000 Tennesseans between the ages of 18 to 64 are without a high school diploma, according to the American Community Survey 5 year average. 31,015 of those reside in the Upper Cumberland region, and approximately 2,000 reside in DeKalb County alone. By 2022 the Tennessee Department of Labor estimates 32% of existing jobs and 39% of all new jobs will require some post-secondary education.

According to Paraprofessional Carol Pritchard, a focus on Adult Education saves money by reducing public assistance, health care and incarceration costs. Most importantly, adults are given the opportunity to improve their lives and better support their families. The Adult Education opportunities provided right here in Smithville are absolutely free and are designed to prepare students to successfully pass the HiSET®, general equivalency exam.

The General Educational Development (GED®) testing program was developed to give U.S. and Canadian citizens who have not graduated from high school the opportunity to demonstrate the level of achievement normally acquired through the completion of a traditional U.S./Canadian high school course of study. The current High School equivalency test, known as the HiSET®, covers five subject areas: Writing, social studies, science, reading, and math.

Benefits of Adult Education:
•Adult Education empowers individuals to become self-sufficient by providing the basic skills and knowledge necessary to complete a secondary education credential and works with individuals to help them meet their educational and career goals.

•Adult Education in Tennessee prepares students to be college and career ready, while earning a High School Equivalency Diploma. With a strong commitment to quality and efficient instruction that meets the needs of students, programs across the state help these students gain academic skills and credentials to transition to postsecondary education, be successful in the workplace, and contribute to their communities.

•Currently, a person with a high school credential earns about $10,000 annually more than a high school dropout. Individuals without a high school credential are more likely to be unemployed, three times as likely to live in poverty and eight times as likely to be incarcerated.

•Classes are available in every county across the state to enhance future employment opportunities and personal growth.

In order to enroll, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

•Must be 18 years of age.

•Not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school

•Do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent

To begin, individuals will take the CASAS® (Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems) assessment to evaluate their reading, math, and language arts abilities. This will provide both the instructor and the student with an idea of where to best start the instructional process and insure that no valuable time is wasted between enrollment and successful completion of the program.

After completing some classroom instruction hours, students take another short CASAS® test to demonstrate academic gains and to allow the instructor and student to then work together in order to refine the learning process in order to prepare the student for the official practice test, or OPT. The goal is to assist the student to reach his/her goal in the shortest amount of time possible.

The Official Practice Test (OPT) has the same look and feel as the real High School Equivalency Test (HiSET®). The OPT allows the student to obtain firsthand experience answering questions written and developed by the HiSET® test creators. The results of the OPT indicate whether or not an individual is prepared for the HiSET®.

Finally, Governor Haslam and TN General Assembly have allocated funds to cover the cost of the official HiSET® exam. Individuals throughout the State of Tennessee can now enroll in classes and take the HiSET® in order to receive a high school equivalency diploma at no cost.

16 new Tennessee laws come with the New Year

January 1, 2018
Dwayne Page

Sixteen new Tennessee State laws go into effect January 1, 2018.



Here are some that could impact you.

*Barbers will be allowed to cut your hair at home, as long as they have the right paperwork allowing them to. Until now, only sick customers could get at-home services under Tennessee law.

*You won't be allowed to use your phone while driving through an active school zone. You could get slapped with a $50 fine if it's not hands-free.

*New school bus drivers will be forced to take a training program before getting behind the wheel and must be at least 25-years-old.

*Homeowners can cancel alarm system contracts that are at least 2-years long if they give 30 days notice.

*The Alcoholic Beverage Commission won't have permission to monitor marijuana, but will regulate serving alcohol in restaurants. They once had jurisdiction to enforce criminal offences involving marijuana.

*Your car headlights will have to be white, or amber. Other colors will be illegal.

*Members of the United States Armed Forces also won't have to go though firing range training to get a handgun carry permit as long as they passed combat training.

*Disabled adults can pay personal aides to perform health maintenance tasks for them.

*The Board of Pharmacy can create a voluntary prescription drug donation repository. Drugs must be in its original packaging and must be inspected before they are dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.

DeKalb Students to Return to School Thursday

December 31, 2017
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students and teachers will return to the classrooms this week.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 will be a stockpile day for teachers.

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

The remainder of the school calendar is as follows:

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, 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, 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, January 9; Tuesday March 6; and Thursday, May 24.

Brunson Arrested on Meth Charge in Sealed Indictment

December 31, 2017
Dwayne Page
Darby Dee Brunson
Kenneth Harrison Hall
Frank Ervin Morris
Nicholas Cody Walls
Quonisha Vonique Webb

A 29 year old woman has been picked up on a sealed indictment returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in November.

Darby Dee Brunson of Cookeville was arrested Tuesday, December 26 charged in an indictment for sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) over 26 grams. Her bond is $100,000. She will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on January 17.

The offense occurred on April 5.

60 year old Kenneth Harrison Hall of Olen Drive, Smithville is charged with violation of an order of protection. His bond is $1,500 and court date is January 4.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, December 22 Hall went to the home of a woman and entered in violation of an order of protection against him. Hall admitted going there to retrieve Christmas presents.

50 year old Frank Ervin Morris of Gene Vaughn Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. He was also cited for violation of the open container law. His bond is $3,000 and court date is January 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, December 28 a deputy was dispatched to the area of Highway 56 north due to a possible drunk driver. While enroute, central dispatch informed the officer that the vehicle had pulled into the parking lot of the Dollar General Store on Highway 56 north. The deputy located the vehicle there, a white Dodge truck with the engine still running. The driver, Morris was passed out behind the steering wheel. The deputy spotted an open bottle of Vodka in the middle console. The officer awoke Morris and spoke with him. Morris admitted to having had too much to drink. Morris was unsteady on his feet. His eyes were bloodshot and he had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Morris submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Morris has a previous DUI offense against him which occurred on November 5, 2015.

A couple has been charged in a domestic dispute.

32 year old Nicholas Cody Walls of Coconut Ridge Road is charged with aggravated assault for attacking his wife, 19 year old Quonisha Vonique Webb of Sparta but she is charged with violation of an order of protection for being at Walls residence.

Bond for Walls is $7,500. Webb’s bond is $3,500. Both will make a court appearance on January 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, December 24 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Coconut Ridge Road for a possible domestic. Upon arrival, he spoke with Walls and his mother. Walls said that he and his wife, Webb had gotten into an argument and that she had left. Webb was located later and told a deputy that Walls had held her down, tried to choke her, and then punched her in the face. Webb had marks on her neck and face.

The officer also learned that Walls had taken an order of protection against Webb on September 29 and that she was not supposed to be near him. That order of protection against Webb is active through June 19, 2018. Both Walls and Webb were arrested.

Happy New Year Greetings From Our Community

December 31, 2017
Dwayne Page
Happy New Year Greetings From Our Community

WJLE and the following participating local and area businesses, public officials, and political candidates wish you and your family a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

*ABTS (Automated Business & Tax Service)
1225 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville

*A Degree Above Heating & Cooling, a RUUD dealer
631 West Broad Street, Smithville

*Alexandria Auto Parts, LLC
905 Brush Creek Road, Alexandria

*Arrow Termite & Pest Control
9341 Short Mountain Highway, Smithville

*Atnip Chiropractic Clinic
205 South Fourth Street, Smithville

*Belk Grocery & Sporting Goods
108 Wright Bend Road, Smithville

*Bumpers Drive-In
303 East Broad Street, Smithville

*Caney Fork Electric Cooperative
580 East Broad Street, Smithville

*Cantrell's Furniture & Appliances
638 West Broad Street, Smithville

*Cash Express
126 East Bryant Street, Smithville

*Center Hill Wine and Spirits
725 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville

*DeKalb County Ace Hardware
702 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville
615-597-4154 or 615-597-6175

*DeKalb Dental Center, the office of Dr. Mitchell S. Tatum, DDS
201 South Third Street, Smithville

*DeKalb Funeral Chapel
863 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville
615-597-9400. Obituary line 615-597-9600

*DeKalb County Assessor of Property Shannon Cantrell
732 S. Congress Boulevard-Room 104, Smithville

*DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss
732 S. Congress Boulevard-Room 102, Smithville

*DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack
DeKalb County Courthouse, 1 Public Square - Room 303, Smithville

*DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling
DeKalb County Courthouse, 1 Public Square - Room 204, Smithville

*DeKalb County Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen
732 S. Congress Boulevard- Room 101, Smithville.

*DeKalb County Road Supervisor Butch Agee
720 Smith Road, Smithville

*DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray
100 Public Square, Smithville
615 597-4935 or 615 597-4043

*DeKalb County Trustee Sean Driver
732 S. Congress Boulevard- Room 103, Smithville.

*Dogwood Plaza
South Congress Boulevard, Smithville

*DTC Communications
Alexandria Office: 111 High Street.
Smithville Office: 200 Walmart Drive.

*Evins Mill ~ A Tennessee Resort Property
1535 Evins Mill Road, Smithville, TN
615.269-3740 (Nashville)

*Family Care Chiropractic, Dr. Kevin Malone DC.
502 West Main Street, Smithville

*Family Medical Center
302 North Congress Boulevard, Smithville
400 East Public Square, Alexandria

*Florence & White Ford
710 West Broad Street, Smithville

*F.Z. Webb & Sons Pharmacy
608 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville
615-597-5521 Nights & Holidays
615-597-4186 Soda Shop
Alexandria Location: 105 Public Square

*Glynn's Auto Sales
605 West Broad Street, Smithville

*Good Health Family Clinic
414 East Broad Street, Smithville

*Griffins Fruit Market
316 West Broad Street, Smithville

*HG Staffing, LLC
477D North Chancery Street, McMinnville

*Jamie a. Boutique
112 West Main Street, Smithville

*Jimmy Sprague
Democratic Candidate for DeKalb County Road Supervisor

*Jim's Tire & Alignment
449 Evins Mill Road, Smithville

*Johnny's Drugs
516B West Main Street, Smithville

*Lake Homes Realty (Tony Luna)

*Larry's Discount Grocery
309 West Broad Street, Smithville
615-697-6617 or 615-597-6760

*Love Cantrell Funeral Home
100 East Church Street, Smithville
615-597-5275. Obituary line 615-597-7275

*Liberty State Bank
Smithville Branch: 735 South Congress Boulevard
615-597-2265 or 615-597-2266
Liberty Branch: 311 East Main Street, Liberty
Alexandria Branch: 100 North Public Square, Alexandria

*Middle Tennessee Natural Gas
1036 West Broad Street, Smithville
615-597-4388 or 615-597-4300

*Mark Milam
Democratic Candidate for DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk

*The Miller Team-Josh and Melissa
Sunbelt Real Estate and Appraisals
409 West Broad Street, Smithville
615-464-5882 or 615-464-684-0262

*NHC Healthcare
825 Fisher Avenue, Smithville

*Optimus Pest Solutions
409 South Mountain Street, Smithville.

*Pokey's TurnKey Bail Bonding (We have the key to set you free)
633 West Broad Street, Smithville

*Pokey's Fix-A-Flat Tire Shop (new and used tires)
633 West Broad Street, Smithville

*Poppie's Boutique
660 West Broad Street, Smithville

*Rick's Auto
255 Arrowhead Drive, Smithville

*Jackie Smith, State Farm Insurance Agent
315 North Public Square, Smithville

*Smithville Discount Wine & Spirits
413 East Broad Street, Smithville

*Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss
Smithville City Hall- 104 East Main Street, Smithville.

*Smithville Storage (Opening in the New Year)
1000 South Mountain Street, Smithville

*Swallows Insurance Agency
308 West Broad Street, Smithville

*Three Star Mall
1410 Sparta Road, McMinnville

*Webb House Retirement Center
115 Jennings Lane, Smithville

*White Possum Grille
1060 West Broad Street, Smithville
Daily Menu-Smithville 615-464-6108

*Wilson Bank & Trust
576 West Broad Street, Smithville
615-597-4663. Telephone Banker 615-597-2222
Alexandria Location: 306 Brush Creek Road

2606 McMinnville Highway, Smithville

*Woodbury Insurance Agency
234 McMinnville Highway, Woodbury
Smithville Branch at 612E South Congress Boulevard

Wilson County Commission to Appoint New Representative for 46th District

December 30, 2017
Mark Pody

Recently, Mark Pody, former State Representative of the 46th District, was elected to the Tennessee State Senate in a special election that was held during the month of December. The votes of that election have been officially certified, leaving the seat of Representative for the 46th District vacated. The Wilson County Commission is required to appoint an individual to fill the vacated seat until the general election to be held on November 5th, 2018. The Wilson County Mayor’s office has worked closely with the following individuals and offices to ensure that the law is upheld in every aspect of this appointment: Mr. Robin Roberts, CTAS representative; Mr. Phillip Warren, Wilson County Election Commission; Mr. Lee Pope, State of Tennessee Office of Open Records; Mr. Andrew Dodd, Tennessee State Election Commission; County Attorney Mike Jennings; and the State of Tennessee’s Comptroller’s Office.

T.C.A 5-5-111 states that a public notice must run in a paper of general circulation for not less than seven (7) full days prior to the meeting. Upon receiving the certification of the votes from the special election, the earliest possible date that a public notice would appear in most every paper in Wilson County is January 3, 2017. (This article does not serve as a public notice. Rather, a public notice stating the date, time and location of the special called meeting to make this appointment will run in the PUBLIC NOTICE section of this publication.) With this in mind, the County Mayor’s Office surveyed the Wilson County Commission in regards to which date the Commission as a whole would prefer to meet and make the appointment. After tallying the votes, the special called meeting is set for January 10th, 2018 at 6:00 PM in the upstairs County Commission Room of the Wilson County Courthouse. The individual selected by the County Commission to represent the 46th District will take office immediately and serve until the general election on November 5, 2018.

The State Representative for the 46th district includes Cannon County and portions of Wilson and DeKalb counties. Individuals nominated to fill the vacant position must be residents of the 46th district which consists of Cannon County and portions of Wilson and DeKalb Counties. Registered voters of these districts are allowed to submit names for consideration either during the meeting or in writing to the County Mayor prior to the meeting.

The procedure for the night of the special called meeting will be as follows: the public will be allowed to submit names to the Commissioners that they would like to see as State Representative for the 46th District until the next general election on November 5, 2018. After the public comments period has ended, the Commission will then return to regular session and review the nominations that were spoken during the public comments period. At this time, Commissioners will begin making their nominations for a 46th district representative. Though public comments will be accepted and considered, all official nominations must be made by County Commissioners. A County Commissioner can nominate an individual recommended by the public, providing the individual nominated agrees, in writing, to serve if elected. A County Commissioner can, however, choose to nominate an individual that was not discussed during the time for public comments. Should a commissioner nominate an individual that is not present at the meeting, the Commissioner making the nomination must present a signed statement by the nominee that he or she is willing to serve should they be elected. There is no second required to the nominations.

After nominations cease on the floor, the nominated individuals will be given an opportunity to address the Commission. Nominees will be asked to make a brief statement about themselves and why they are seeking the position. Please note that only the nominees that were nominated by a County Commissioner will be allowed to address the full Commission at this time. There will be no public comment period after nominations have been submitted.

Members of the County Commission will be the only individuals allowed to vote on the vacancy issue. The County Commissioners will use paper ballots to vote. It will take a majority vote, of at least 13 votes on the first ballot, or if there is a tie between two individuals, the nominees with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated and a second vote will be taken. This process will continue until one individual receives a majority, or 13 votes. Once the vacancy has been filled, the individual elected will serve until the next general election to be held on November 5, 2018.
The County Mayor’s office has submitted a public notice outlining the meeting date, time and place to every newspaper in Wilson County as well as newspapers in Cannon and DeKalb counties. Copies of the public notice have also been sent to the county mayor in both Cannon and DeKalb counties. In addition, a copy of the public notice regarding this meeting is available to view online at www.wilsoncountytn.gov. If you have any other specific questions related to this process, please contact our office and we will do our best to assist you.


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