For the first time in many years there are new faces in the County Mayor’s and Road Superintendent’s office. Smithville voters said okay to liquor stores. And, Smithville lost its’ long-standing battle with the DeKalb Utility District.
In what could be described as a year of change, local election results headed the list of top news stories in 2014, with the Smithville-DUD battle coming in second.
Wallace (Butch) Agee won a tightly-contested race to succeed Kenny Edge as DeKalb County’s Road Superintendent. Edge, who had been in office since September 1, 1990 chose not to seek another term. Republican Agee defeated Democrat Jimmy Sprague by 188 votes in the August General Election.
And, Democrat Tim Stribling won the County Mayor’s spot after defeating 3-term incumbent Mike Foster in the May Democratic Primary. Stribling then went on to defeat Republican Chris Smithson and Independent Chris Bratcher in August.
Foster’s loss came even after he was cleared in February of any criminal activity in the UCHRA Living the Dream project.
There is also a new face in the County Clerk’s office following the August election. James L. (Jimmy) Poss defeated Mike Clayborn in the May Democratic Primary and was then unopposed in the August balloting.
Not only were there changes in county wide offices, when the Democratic Primary and August General elections were over, there were six new persons elected to the county commission. The six incumbents either chose not to seek re-election or were defeated in one of the two elections. And, there were four new school board members following the August election as three incumbents lost their re-election bids and another did not seek another term.
In November, Smithville voters did an about face and voted to approve retail package stores (liquor stores). But in a strange twist, voters rejected liquor by the drink in Smithville establishments.
It was the second time voters turned down liquor by the drink and the liquor store referendum had also previously failed.
After months of planning and legal battles with opponents including the City of Smithville who tried to stop the project, the DeKalb Utility District will soon be starting construction on its own water treatment plant. During its regular monthly meeting in October, the DUD board of commissioners awarded contracts to three companies who were the lowest bidders on three different portions of the project. The total cost comes to $12,958,390.
The Smithville/DUD issue was often in the news in 2014.
With no new water purchase contract in place with DUD, the Smithville aldermen voted to increase the rate for water sold to DUD from $2.05 per thousand gallons to the rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons effective January 1, 2014. The previous contract expired as of the first of the year.
In February, the DUD Board of Commissioners voted to take the City of Smithville to court in a move to bring down the new $5.00 per thousand gallon water rate the municipality began charging the utility January 1st which resulted in higher rates to DUD customers. The board also voted to authorize the DUD management team to bring down the rate DUD charges its customers, after the city rate to the utility is adjusted. Later that month, Chancellor Ronald Thurman held a hearing in Cookeville and ordered the city to immediately reduce its water rate to the DeKalb Utility District from $5.00 to $2.67 per thousand gallons, which a water study last year found to be the city's actual cost to produce water. Chancellor Thurman granted a DUD motion for a temporary injunction barring the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gives proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons.
The City of Smithville got more bad news in February when Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle dismissed a petition for a judicial review by DUD ratepayers and the City of Smithville who were seeking to overturn a decision by the Utility Management Review Board, who in April 2013 ruled against the petitioners in their quest to halt DUD's plans for construction of a water plant. In her ruling, Chancellor Lyle affirmed the UMRB decision that the petitioners had failed to meet their burden of proof that DUD rates or services provided were unreasonable.
In March, attorneys for the city filed a counter claim in Chancery Court claiming that the DUD underpaid for water purchases from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2013 and owes the city more than one million dollars. Even though the city had a water purchase contract with the DUD from March 15, 2004 through December 31, 2013 establishing the amount the DUD would pay for water each year, city attorneys claim a 2013 water cost study found that the municipality had not charged the DUD enough to cover all of the actual costs of producing and distributing water to the DUD, and the City did not recover any of its capital costs from DUD during the period between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013. In the answer, DUD attorneys contend that the water purchase contract governed the rate to be charged over the ten year period and that there is no authority for the City to claim that it should be paid more than the water rate that was mutually agreed upon in the 2004 Water Purchase Contract. The litigation remains pending in court.
Three people lost their lives in DeKalb County fatal traffic accidents in 2014 including 25 year old Jeremy Vick of Sparta, 19 year old Roberto Cruz, and 36 year old Sarah Clark of Alexandria. Three other persons drowned in Center Hill Lake including 71 year old Robert W. Tramel, his niece 49 year old Barbara Beach both of Smithville, and 57 year old Stephen R. Morris of Collierville.
A man living in DeKalb County,38 year old Alan Mooney, Jr., was charged in Wilson County with first degree murder, aggravated arson, two counts of arson and abuse of a corpse following an August fire which occurred at the home of his father Alan Mooney, Sr. at Statesville. Human remains found at the scene were identified as those of Mooney, Sr.
Meanwhile, another man serving a twenty five year prison sentence in a 2002 DeKalb County murder case could be a free man by May 2015. After a hearing in May, Tim Gobble, a member of the Tennessee Board of Parole, voted to parole 42 year old Melvin Eugene Turnbill provided he successfully completes a nine to twelve month substance abuse program called "Therapeutic Community" while still in prison. In September 2003, Turnbill received a twenty five year sentence after pleading guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court to facilitating the first degree murder of Joshua Murphy, who was shot and killed in a secluded area in the Laurel Hill Community at the end of Old Eagle Creek Road on Sunday, September 15, 2002. His body was discovered three days later. Officials said Turnbill and a co-defendant, Christopher Nicholas Orlando suspected Murphy of stealing methamphetamine. Orlando, the triggerman in the killing, was tried and convicted of the crime by a DeKalb County Criminal Court Jury in April, 2004. Orlando, serving a 45 year prison sentence for facilitation of first degree murder, is incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee. Orlando was denied parole following a hearing in March, 2013. He will be up for parole again in 2016
Governor Bill Haslam visited DeKalb County in February for a speaking engagement at the local Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner. A group of local educators, students, and others opposed to Tennessee Common Core standards greeted the Governor with protest signs and chants as he arrived in Smithville.
Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schorer visited DeKalb County in June as he began his three day "TDOT Projects Tour" in Region 2. His first stop on the tour was at the new Sligo bridge, where construction is underway.
In sports, DeKalb County High School Tigerette Coach Danny Bond got his 600th career victory as head softball coach in April with a 14 to 0 win over York Institute at Jamestown. He also led his team to the state tournament in May, the sixth state tournament appearance for the program in Coach Bond's 28 year coaching career.
Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Tigers earned a berth in the state football play-offs after defeating the Smith County Owls 13-0 on a snowy Halloween night in Smithville. The Tigers traveled to Signal Mountain for the first round of the 4A playoffs on Friday, November 7 and lost 49-10 bringing down the curtain on their football season. The Tigers finished with an overall record of 5-6 and a second place finish in the district at 4-2. This was the fourth consecutive year the Tigers made it to the play-offs and it was their sixth appearance in the last seven years under Coach Steve Trapp.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE TOP LOCAL NEWS STORIES MONTH BY MONTH FROM JANUARY THROUGH DECEMBER, 2014 AS REPORTED ON WJLE:
*A DeKalb County couple are the proud parents of the year's first baby born in Warren County.
Elliot Bunch, son of Richard and Aleisha Bunch of Smithville, arrived at 7:54 a.m. on New Year's Day at River Park Hospital in McMinnville. The child reportedly weighed seven pounds and twelve ounces and was twenty one inches long. The baby boy was delivered by Dr. Vanessa Streicher.
The family received gifts from several local businesses in Warren County.
*Senior defensive lineman Eli Gill was named Most Valuable Player of the 2013 DeKalb County High School Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet held Saturday night, January, 11th at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center building. The awards were sponsored by Liberty State Bank. The MVP trophy was presented to Gill by Coach Steve Trapp. Gill helped lead the Tigers to an overall 6-5 record and another appearance in the state play-offs in 2013. It was the third consecutive year the Tigers earned a berth in the state play-offs and their fifth appearance in the last six years. The Tigers lost in the first round of the play-offs to Knoxville Catholic. Gill is the son of Darrell and Beth Gill. Darrell won the Tiger MVP award after the 1987 season. They are apparently the only father and son to ever win the MVP at DCHS. Meanwhile, Senior and Captain McKenzie Poteete was named Most Valuable Cheerleader.
*A three month long undercover drug investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department resulted in grand jury indictments against sixty four people on Monday, January 13. Most of the defendants were arrested Wednesday, January 15 and brought to the Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department on King Ridge Road where they were booked. " We presented a total of 112 controlled drug buys to the DeKalb County Grand Jury. There was also an additional drug indictment on another person for a methamphetamine lab. So the total number of Drug Defendants is 64,"said Sheriff Patrick Ray. Some of the defendants charged in the drug sting are employees of local businesses. " There were three businesses on West Broad Street in Smithville where we were able to conduct controlled drug buys. We had been receiving citizen complaints of drug sales and drug abuse from one business in particular where we made arrests. We were able to conduct 12 different controlled drug buys from 6 different employees who worked at this business," said Sheriff Ray.
*Local, state, and federal law enforcement officials converged on a local pain clinic shortly after noon on Friday, January 17 in Smithville. The Health Care Team Clinic at 409 East Broad Street was under investigation by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the Tennessee Inspector General's Office, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, and the Smithville Police Department apparently over the dispensing of narcotics. Activity at the clinic in prior months aroused suspicion with some patrons to the clinic coming here from counties many miles away. Sheriff Patrick Ray and Police Chief Randy Caplinger, in a joint statement said that "The sheriff's department, police department, and federal DEA agents executed a search warrant at Health Care Team at 409 East Broad Street." They would say no more about the investigation. Two persons were arrested on unrelated charges.
*Smithville Volunteer firefighter Lieutenant Donnie Cantrell received the "Highest Attendance Award" Friday night, January 17 during an appreciation dinner for city firefighters at the Smithville First United Methodist Christian Fellowship Center. The award was presented to Cantrell by Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker. Lieutenant Cantrell responded most to incidents during 2013. A total of 125 out of 144 total fire calls. Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale was next having responded to 123 calls followed by James R. Hunt with 118 and Lieutenant John Poss at 114. Deputy Chief Hale received an award for having put in the most training hours during the year at 227 followed by Lieutenant Cantrell with 161 hours, Lieutenant Danny Poss with 157 hours, and Lieutenant John Poss with 155 hours.
*The 2013 DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year is Brian Williams, Station Commander of the Main Station, located on King Ridge Road.
Williams received the award Saturday night, January 18 during the Department's Annual Awards Banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex. Williams was nominated and the evaluation of his nomination considered his fire call response, training attendance, and community service participation. Williams demonstrated an outstanding community service by taking the lead in allowing the department to partner with the Tennessee Fire Marshall’s Office in the “Get Alarmed Tennessee” Smoke Alarm Program. Starting in April 2013 and up to December 31, 2013, Brian sacrificed his personal time and expense to travel to every community in DeKalb County while installing 681 smoke alarms in homes with no alarms, or in homes with deficient alarms. Firefighter Steve Repasy received the Department’s 2013 “Git R Done" award and the "Rookie" award went to Firefighter Matt Boss of the Liberty Station.
*A January fire at a mobile home on Toad Road left a family homeless and an adult and a child with minor burns. County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that Brandon Tramel was the owner of the mobile home but that it was being rented by Amanda Duke. The initial call to 911 was that children may still be inside the structure but a few minutes later it was reported that everyone inside got out. However, an adult and a child suffered burns "Duke, three other adults, and four children ages 6 to 16 were in the residence at the time of the fire and narrowly escaped," said Chief Green. "One of the adults suffered first and third degree burns and one of the children had first degree burns on his arm and hand from the fire. The family also lost at least two dogs inside the home," added Chief Green.
*Daily operating hours of the Liberty Post Office were reduced in a cost saving measure by the U.S. Postal Service. Scott Tinsley, Post Office Operations Manager for the Tennessee District, held a community meeting at the Liberty Post Office in January to explain the changes. About twenty concerned postal customers in the area showed up to learn more about the plan. "Today we discussed the changing of hours of the Liberty Post Office, basically going from a full eight hour a day office down to six hours a day at the retail window," said Tinsley. What we have proposed is for the Liberty Post Office to be open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. with a two hour lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.. Saturday hours would be from 7:45 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. Liberty postal customers recently received surveys outlining four different options for the Liberty Post Office. A total of 987 customer surveys were mailed and 219 of them were returned. Eighty eight percent of the respondents (193 customers) said given the options they preferred a realignment of the hours. The final decision officially making the change came weeks later by the Postal Service.
*DeKalb County High School was recommended for re-accreditation by a study committee with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools who visited the school, January 16 & 17. But while DCHS drew praise for advancements, the committee found a need for more space and better technology. "Plan a new school that will hold all the students and provide adequate technology for them," said Committee Chairperson Karen Garner. The committee, made up of four Middle Tennessee educators, met with teachers, parents, and students in conducting its two day review. "We determine the institution's effectiveness in meeting the requirements of accreditation," said Garner, who spoke with WJLE at DCHS. A SACS re-accreditation committee review is conducted every five years to determine if member schools have made sufficient progress and to make recommendations for improvement. "This is a five year study. When the next five year study comes along they (DCHS) will be checked to see how they have progressed. If SACS deems it necessary they might check in two years to see if any of these things are being addressed sufficiently," said Garner. A final decision on SACS Re-accreditation of DCHS came later in the year with the school receiving approval.
*A preliminary autopsy report from the state medical examiner revealed that the two people found dead in Center Hill Lake in February drowned. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and TWRA Officers believe 71 year old Robert W. Tramel and his niece 49 year old Barbara Beach both of Smithville were the victims of a boating accident. No foul play is suspected. "We do feel like their vessel overturned and the result was that both of them actually drowned. They did not have life jackets in the boat," said TWRA Officer Tony Cross. According to Officer Cross, Tramel and Beach boarded a small flat bottom John boat Wednesday, February 19 at the launch ramp for the former location of Hidden Harbor Marina at Holmes Creek near an area known as Redneck Beech. There were apparently no witnesses to the accident. Beach's body was found by a fisherman late Wednesday afternoon. "A call was made Wednesday at 5:14 pm by a fisherman who said he found a body in the water. Through an investigation, we learned that the two (Tramel and Beach) had gone fishing earlier in the day around the Holmes Creek Boat Ramp off of Holmes Creek Road," said Sheriff Patrick Ray. "Her body was in about 12-14 feet of water," added TWRA Officer Cross. Tramel's body was found early Thursday morning by the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad. "His body was found in the lake around 4:28 a.m. Thursday morning after the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, using their sonar system, spotted an image of interest. The TWRA then used a submersible sonar, equipped with a camera and grab hook, to retrieve the body," said Sheriff Ray. "His body was recovered approximately 400-500 yards from the boat ramp, about 200 yards from Beach's body. He was in about 25 feet of water," said Officer Cross.
*DeKalb County native Dan Foutch and his wife Lisa were honored by Belmont University. The University celebrated Homecoming Saturday, February 8 with the long-anticipated grand opening of a new Alumni House on campus, named for the Foutch family. Thanks to the support of numerous alumni and donors, one of the oldest structures on campus was recently renovated to become home base for Belmont’s 28,000 alumni. The building originally served as Ward-Belmont’s Clubhouse No. 10 during the early 20th century when 10 clubhouses lined campus in the former Club Village. Each club house hosted Ward-Belmont social clubs for resident students and was used for meetings, meals for special occasions, teas and dances and housing visiting alumni. The original fireplace, banister and beams remain in Clubhouse No. 10 and were integrated into its restoration. During Saturday’s ribbon cutting, the building was formally named the Foutch Alumni House in honor of alumni Dan and Lisa Foutch, both 1982 graduates from Belmont’s College of Business Administration. A member of Belmont’s Board of Trustees, Dan Foutch is senior vice president of J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons, Inc. in Glasgow, Kent.
*A ten year old child, who went missing from his home in Alexandria in February was found unharmed some four hours later around midnight. Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins told WJLE that the boy, who lived with his mother and three siblings on Avant Circle, left home around eight p.m.. He was found by Chief Collins and Alexandria Police Sergeant Chris Russell around 11:57 p.m. hiding behind a central heat and air unit at a building on Edgewood Street about a quarter of a mile from his residence. The boy was wrapped in a comforter that he had brought from home. The child was also wearing a jacket and a back pack. Because of the extremely cold weather, officials knew it was imperative to locate the boy as soon as possible once he was reported missing by his mother. Although he appeared to be okay, the boy was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital to be checked out.
*Five months after being indicted by a federal grand jury as a result of the "Living the Dream" investigation, County Mayor Mike Foster was cleared of the charge against him. U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger signed the agreed order of dismissal in the case against Foster. Foster's attorney, Hal Hardin, phoned WJLE to confirm that the indictment against Foster had been dismissed with prejudice, meaning that this particular case can never be brought against Foster again. Foster has also agreed not to sue for any claims he might have had against the government. "Prosecutors in the case filed a notice with the court stating that they no longer wished to pursue the charge," said Hardin in his statement to WJLE. "I always felt Mr. Foster was an innocent man and I knew this day would come. I am just sorry it didn't come sooner. I am very happy for him. I know it has been a tough time for him but he has stood tall through it all and it's over now," said Hardin.
*A ruling handed down in February by a Davidson County Chancellor cleared the way for the DeKalb Utility District to build its own water treatment plant. Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle dismissed a petition for a judicial review by DUD ratepayers and the City of Smithville who were seeking to overturn a decision by the Utility Management Review Board, which in April, 2013 ruled against the petitioners in their quest to halt DUD's plans for construction of a water plant. In her ruling, Chancellor Lyle affirmed the UMRB decision.
*Three men accused of stealing more than $100,000 worth of copper and brass from Federal Mogul in Smithville last year were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court in 2014. 56 year old Billy Joe Rigsby pleaded guilty in February to theft over $60,000 while 29 year old Corey Dickens entered a plea to theft over $10,000. Rigsby received a ten year sentence to serve at least 30% as a range one offender before parole eligibility. He was given jail credit of almost six months from August 13, 2013 to February 21, 2014. Rigsby also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of delivery of a schedule II drug and was handed a three year sentence in that case to run concurrently with the theft offense. He received a drug fine of $2,000. Dickens got a five year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. He was given jail credit of almost six months from August 1, 2013 to February 21, 2014. Dickens and Rigsby are to make restitution jointly and severally to Federal Mogul in the amount of $109,771. Meanwhile in September, 48 year old Martin Riley, III was sentenced to five years after pleading guilty to theft of property over $10,000 in the case. The sentence is to run concurrently with another sentence he is now serving. Riley will be eligible for probation after serving 35% of the sentence as a range II multiple offender. He has been given jail credit since October, 2013. Riley must also make restitution.
*Vowing to continue working to make Tennessee a better place to live, work and raise a family, Governor Bill Haslam addressed a gathering at the DeKalb County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner at the county complex auditorium in February. The Governor commended state legislators for joining him in efforts to more wisely manage the taxpayers money, cut taxes, improve education so that high school graduates are more ready for college or a career, and create a business friendly climate in the state to attract more jobs.
*A group of local educators, students, and others opposed to Tennessee Common Core standards greeted Governor Bill Haslam with protest signs and chants as he arrived in Smithville to speak at the local Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner in February. The event was held at the county complex auditorium. The Governor did not acknowledge the protestors as he emerged from his automobile and entered the building where friends and supporters were waiting to welcome him.
*The City of Smithville was ordered by the Chancery Court to immediately reduce its water rate to the DeKalb Utility District from $5.00 to $2.67 per thousand gallons, which a water study last year found to be the city's actual cost to produce water. Following a two hour hearing Friday, February 28 in Cookeville, Chancellor Ronald Thurman granted a DUD motion for a temporary injunction barring the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gives proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons. The ruling was only on the motion for a temporary injunction. The lawsuit brought against the city by the DUD is yet to be litigated. The city has agreed not to disconnect water service to the DUD while it is pending. As a result of the ruling, DUD immediately reduced rates charged to its customers who receive water that the District purchases from the City of Smithville.
*Director of Schools Mark Willoughby was offered and accepted a new three year contract by the Board of Education. The school board met in special session Friday night, February 28 and voted 4-3 to enter into a new agreement with Willoughby, which will be from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017. Board members John David Foutch, Charles Robinson, Kenny Rhody, and Chairman Johnny Lattimore voted in favor. Members Billy Miller, Doug Stephens, and W.J. (Dub) Evins, III voted against it, preferring a one year contract instead.
*A Sparta man lost his life in a three vehicle crash on Highway 70 near the Midnight Express/Gentleman's Club in March. Dead is 25 year old Jeremy Vick. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Vick died when his 1997 Honda Civic struck the rear of a 2005 Ford Mustang, driven by 23 year old Joshua Smith of Morrison who had slowed to make a turn into a parking lot. The force of the crash caused Vick's car to rotate sideways into the path of an oncoming 2004 Mitsubishi, driven by 22 year old Beth Holeton of Dowelltown. Vick died at the scene. No one else was injured.
*A suspected drug dealer, already on probation for prior offenses, was arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department after officers found more than $18,000 worth of pills in his possession. 43 year old Homer Anthony Petty of 1588 Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville was charged with possession of a schedule II drug for resale (Morphine), possession of a schedule II drug for resale (Dilaudid), and two counts of possession of a schedule II drug for resale (oxycodone). Sheriff Patrick Ray said as part of the department's on-going investigation into the illegal sale of narcotics, drug detectives and other officers went to Petty's home on Friday, March 7 to do a probation visit and search after identifying him as a suspect.
During the search, officers and detectives found 445 dilaudid pills in the pocket of a pair of jeans. The pills were packed in nine individual bags. Eight of the bags contained 50 dilaudid pills each. One bag had 45 dilaudid pills. Petty also produced a pill bottle that contained eighteen morphine 30 milligram pills, five oxycodone 10 milligram pills and twenty three oxycodone 15 milligram pills. Petty had no prescription for the pills. According to Sheriff Ray, the total street value of the pills is $18,735. While there, officers and detectives also seized $6,968 in cash, scanners, and security cameras which were set up on the premises so that Petty could monitor who was coming into his driveway. In September Petty pled guilty to possession of a schedule II drug for resale and received a three year sentence, all suspended to probation. He was fined $2,000 and must forfeit all seized property. The term is to run consecutive to a Warren County sentence against him. Petty was given jail credit for 93 days.
*Senior Ethan Roller was named the DCHS Tiger basketball Most Valuable Player at the annual team banquet in March, while Senior Paige Winningham and Junior Loren Cripps shared Lady Tiger Co-MVP honors. Senior Captain Ashley Medlin was the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were sponsored by Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory Allen D. Hooper. Roller, who scored 1,190 points in his career at DCHS and led the mid-state this season in three points shots made at 111, also received the best offensive player award and was named to the All-District 1st Team. In addition to winning the MVP honor, Winningham took home awards for best offensive player and best passer. She was also named to the All-District 3rd Team. Cripps, along with the MVP award, was honored for being the best defensive player, best foul shooter, and best three point shooter. Cripps, a Junior, has also scored over one thousand points in her high school basketball career. Cripps was named to the All-District 3rd Team. The season for the DeKalb County Tigers ended with a loss to Cannon County in the District Tournament at Sparta in February. The Tigers finished the season at 19-14 overall and 4-10 in district play. The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up their season losing to Central Magnet in the District Tournament. They closed out the season with an overall record of 20-14 and 4-10 in the district.
*Although the Smithville animal shelter is supposed to be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., a Smithville woman found it closed when she went there in March. But what she discovered when she arrived there disturbed her more. "I pulled up and found a dead dog inside of the fence and then I found ten to eleven (living) puppies were inside of a turned over trash can (outside the fence in front of the building). It was definitely upsetting," said Lindsey Maestri. It's not known exactly what caused the dog's death but someone had apparently dropped off the puppies in the trash can. Maestri said the reason for her coming to the animal shelter was because she had lost her cat and was hoping someone had found it and brought it there. After finding the dead dog and the puppies she contacted the Joe Black Effort, a "no kill" animal rescue group. Mayor Jimmy Poss said sickness prevented animal shelter employees from being there that day. When they are on duty, Mayor Poss said the employees, David and Monica Summers sometimes have to be away from the shelter when they are answering a call regarding an animal. In some cases, they are also called out after hours. "They got called out last night because a dog had bitten a boy," he said. As for animals who are brought to the shelter, Mayor Poss said they are fed and watered daily and he denies assertions by the Joe Black Effort that the city is not trying to care for them. "It's not what Joe Black is saying. People drop dogs over here. Sometimes the dogs are sick. Some have Parvo. We can't help it. They (people) don't want them. Just like these eleven puppies brought here today. I can't stop people from doing that. We do have an issue but anybody who wants these dogs, we'll give the dogs to them. That's our policy," said Mayor Poss.
*A Dowelltown man, trying to outrun a state trooper in a December 2012 pursuit, was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court after pleading guilty to attempted initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and tampering with evidence. 34 year old Jessie Comer Harris received a sentence of fifteen years to serve at 30% before his release eligibility date in the meth case and five years to serve at 30% on the tampering charge. The sentences are to run consecutively or back to back with each other for a total of twenty years but concurrently with a term he is already serving in another case. Other charges against him were nollied by the court. Harris was given jail credit of 421 days. Harris was found with meth lab components after he ran his car off the Old Snow Hill Road during the pursuit and he began eating the marijuana he had on him trying to get rid of that evidence.
*In the continuing legal battle between the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District, attorneys for the municipality now claim that the DUD underpaid for water purchases from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2013 and owes the city more than one million dollars. As a result, the city filed a counter claim in Chancery Court seeking a judgment against the DUD to recover the amount of the undercharges. The case remains pending in court. On June 2, the DeKalb Utility District filed an answer asking the Chancery Court to dismiss the city's counter claim. In the answer, attorneys Dewey Branstetter, Jr. and Keith Blair for the DUD state that "the City of Smithville has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
DUD attorneys contend that the water purchase contract governed the rate to be charged over the ten year period and that the contract was reasonable and flexible and applied to these parties until its termination.
*The winner of this year's Little Mister pageant was Skyler Chase Sullivan, the six year old son of Charity Sullivan of Smithville and the late Jamie Sullivan. The contest was held at DCHS sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club. In addition to being named Little Mister, Sullivan also received the Mister Photogenic honor. The winner of the Little Miss Pageant was Averie Nicole McMinn, six year old daughter of Nathan and Amanda McMinn of Dowelltown. The first ever Young Miss was Carlee Elizabeth West, the eight year old daughter of D.J. and Megan Stewart of Smithville. The Young Miss is a new Spring Blossom Pageant started by the Smithville Women's Club. Twelve year old Shaunta Rose Koegler of Smithville was crowned Junior Miss of the Spring Blossom Pageant. Koegler is the daughter of Brian and Leticia Koegler. Fourteen year old Morgan Faith Green was the first ever Teen Miss, a new Spring Blossom Pageant started by the Smithville Women's Club. Green, daughter of Suzanne and Jon Harrison of Smithville, was also named Miss Photogenic.
*An employee of a company doing work at DeKalb Middle School during spring break was charged with theft for allegedly stealing items from classrooms including laptops, backpacks and other personal belongings of teachers and students. 30 year old Jason Michael Stockton of Cookeville was charged with one count of theft over $1,000 and four counts of theft under $500.
*The Tannery on West Broad Street was closed for a day after a Sunday night accident in which a man crashed through the front of the building in his Chevy Blazer, causing major damage. According to Smithville Police, 27 year old Jason Alexander Sturdivante was driving a 1998 Chevy S-10 Blazer when the vehicle entered the parking lot of the Tannery and crashed into the business, which was closed at the time. Sturdivant was apparently not seriously injured .
*A new group was formed to address the problem of abandoned and abused animals in DeKalb County. "It's called the DeKalb Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals, and we are in the process of securing IRS 501 c 3 charitable status," said David McDowell, Fourth District County Commissioner, who is a member of the Coalition. "The purpose is to provide for an adequate animal shelter and facilities; to provide a permanent & 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," said McDowell in a statement to WJLE. The organization later received approval for 501 c 3 status.
*DeKalb County High School Tigerette Coach Danny Bond got his 600th career victory as head softball coach in April with a 14 to 0 win over York Institute at Jamestown. Bond is the only coach the Tigerette program has had since it began in 1986. In twenty eight seasons the programs district win-loss record is 254-53 (.827). The overall win-loss record is 578-236 (.710). Under Coach Bond, the program has won fourteen regular season district titles, twelve district tournament titles, made twenty one region tournament appearances, has won four region tournament titles, made nine sub-state appearances, won five sub-state titles, and made five state tournament appearances. Coach Bond has been named District Coach of the Year eleven times and he has one Mid-State Coach of the Year and one T.A.C.A. Coach of the Year honor. In recognition of his success as softball coach, the DeKalb County Board of Education in May voted to honor Coach Bond by naming the high school softball field after him.
*The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni awards were honored in April during the Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet at the DeKalb County Complex. Darrell and Beth Gill received the Community Leaders of the Year Award and IvaDell Randolph was presented the Legacy Award. Meanwhile, the Chamber presented Golden Milestone Awards to WJLE Radio and Cantrell's the home of Fluty. Each business marked 50 years of service to the community.
*A man serving a twenty five year prison sentence in a 2002 DeKalb County murder case could be a free man within a year. After a hearing Thursday morning, May 1 Tim Gobble, a member of the Tennessee Board of Parole, voted to parole 42 year old Melvin Eugene Turnbill provided he meets certain conditions while still in prison. After the hearing, the file was sent to the other parole board members, who reviewed it and cast their votes. Three matching votes were needed for a final decision in this case. Members of the Tennessee Board of Parole voted to release Turnbill to parole supervision. However, prior to release, Turnbill will have to complete a nine to twelve month substance abuse program called "Therapeutic Community" and get a release plan approved. The board also voted that Turnbill receive a substance abuse after-care referral upon leaving prison, and that he be assessed for substance abuse treatment once he is under parole supervision. The assessment will be completed by TDOC staff. The parole hearing was held at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville, where Turnbill is incarcerated. Gobble was not at the prison. He presided by video conference from another location. In September 2003, Turnbill received a twenty five year sentence after pleading guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court to facilitating the first degree murder of Joshua Murphy, who was shot and killed in a secluded area in the Laurel Hill Community at the end of Old Eagle Creek Road on Sunday, September 15, 2002. His body was discovered three days later. Officials said Turnbill and a co-defendant, Christopher Nicholas Orlando suspected Murphy of stealing methamphetamine. Orlando, the triggerman in the killing, was tried and convicted of the crime by a DeKalb County Criminal Court Jury in April, 2004. Orlando, serving a 45 year prison sentence for facilitation of first degree murder, is incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee. Orlando was denied parole following a hearing in March, 2013. He will be up for parole again in 2016.
*An eighth grade teacher at DeKalb Middle School was named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" in May during the seventh annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church. Anita Puckett received the honor and a check for $150 from Liberty State Bank, the sponsor of the banquet. The presentation was made by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank. Puckett was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were LeVaughnda Midgett, a kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Kathryn Wisinger, an ESL(English as a Second Language) teacher at DeKalb Middle and DCHS grades 6-12; Elizabeth Nolt, a fourth grade educator at Northside Elementary School; and Tammy Payne, a sixth grade teacher at DeKalb West School.
*The Smithville Aldermen adopted an ordinance to annex six parcels of property and a portion of another parcel as well as the right of way of Old Snow Hill Road and part of Nashville Highway (Highway 70) on the west side of the city. The aldermen also approved an ordinance to amend the zoning map of the city to include three of these parcels in the R-1 Residential Zone along with a portion of the Right of Way on the Old Snow Hill Road. A third ordinance was adopted to amend the zoning map to include the remaining parcels in the B-2 General Business District as well as a portion of the right of way of Nashville Highway (Highway 70).
*Three term incumbents County Mayor Mike Foster and County Clerk Mike Clayborn lost their bids for a fourth term in the May DeKalb County Democratic Primary. Three incumbent county commissioners were also defeated including Jerry Scott in the third district, David McDowell in the fourth district, and Marshall Ferrell in the sixth district. A total of 3,313 persons voted in the primaries including 1,701 election day and 1,612 either during early voting or by absentee. Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack led the ticket with 2,426 complimentary votes.
*DeKalb Community Hospital celebrated National Nurses Week awarding Lindi Carter, RN with the hospital’s annual ‘Nurse of the Year’ award. The honor was awarded to Carter by her peers in nursing and presented by OR Director Nancy Trapp, along with ER Director Daniel Goodson, Chief Nursing Officer Kim Frazier and Chief Executive Officer Sue Conley.
*The Family Dollar Store in Smithville announced plans to close in June. The local store, which had been in operation since 1986, was among 370 underperforming Family Dollar stores across the country that closed as the company looked for ways to improve its financial performance.
*Ashley Barnes, the Class of 2014 Salutatorian at DeKalb County High School, took part in her college graduation ceremony at Motlow State Community College, two weeks before celebrating another educational milestone — high school graduation. While the numbers of students participating in dual enrollment has grown in recent years, a means for high school students to transition into college, Barnes is the only student in the history of the school at DCHS to ever have earned a college degree while completing high school credits. Through dual enrollment, high school students may take one or more college courses for which they receive both high school and college credits. On Saturday, May 10, Barnes graduated from Motlow with an Associate's Degree in General Studies.
*Almost $660,000 in scholarships were awarded to members of the Class of 2014 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards program in May. Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations. Mallory Sullivan received the largest single scholarship award of $115,000 from Belmont University where she will play golf. Kelsi Glenn received a perfect attendance award for not missing a day of school during her four years of high school. Sullivan was among fifty four students who received scholarships.
*DCHS Tigerette Softball standout Chelsey Brannon will play for the Tennessee Wesleyan Lady Bulldogs next season. A signing ceremony was held in May at the DCHS library. Her scholarship award is $58,000 from Tennessee Wesleyan. Brannon's mother, coaches, and fellow players joined her for the signing. In addition to the $58,000 scholarship from Tennessee Wesleyan, Brannon also received a scholarship from Cookeville Regional Medical Center and Pepsi for $1,000 and the David Wayne Alexander Memorial Scholarship for $1,000 during the Senior Awards program at DCHS.
*The DeKalb County High School Tigerettes punched their ticket for the State Softball Tournament after winning at Chattanooga Central in the Sub-State 2 to 0. They were later eliminated from the State Tournament at Murfreesboro with a 1-0 loss to the Dyersburg Lady Trojans. DeKalb County concluded the season with an over-all record of 40-8.
*DCHS Softball standout Danielle Tyson was named "Miss Softball Middle Tennessee" by the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association. With the title, Tyson was also in the running with West and East Tennessee "Miss Softball" designees for the title of "Miss Tennessee Softball". Meanwhile, Tyra Graham , another DCHS Tigerette, was named to the TSCA's Class AA All State Team.
*Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during the commencement in May. Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Kalab Ferrell and Kelsey Evins while the Citizenship Award was presented to Crystal Vickers . The 158 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby as their names were called by Principal Patrick Cripps and Assistant Principal Kathy Bryant. Dr Hugh Don Cripps, a 1964 DCHS graduate and President of his Senior Class fifty years ago, was the commencement speaker.
*A physical education teacher at Smithville Elementary School and a third district county commissioner filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against the DeKalb County Board of Education and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. Attorneys for Bradley Hendrix filed the lawsuit Thursday, May 29 in U.S. District Court in Nashville. He is represented by the Hendersonville law firm of Andy L. Allman and Associates. In the lawsuit, Hendrix alleges that he has been "subjected to a continuous and ongoing pattern of harassment and retaliation for his votes as a county commissioner on matters pertaining to the school system", particularly his vote against purchasing land to build a new high school. According to the lawsuit, "On or about March 2011, the issue of the land purchase and school construction came before the county commission for approval. Hendrix voted against the measure. From that point on, Hendrix was subjected to harassment and retaliation by Mr. Willoughby in his employment". Hendrix is suing the Board of Education and Director of Schools, both jointly and severally, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He also wants a jury to try the case.
*The first ever Little Miss Jamboree is Isabella Faith Rackley. She was crowned queen among contestants ages four to six at the inaugural pageant held in June at the county complex. Rackley is the six year old daughter of Gordon and Jessica Rackley of Smithville. Nine year old Arista Isabella Rigsby won the Miss Jamboree pageant among girls ages seven to ten. She was also named Most Photogenic. Rigsby is the daughter of David and Tyroma Rigsby of Lebanon. The winner of the Miss Jamboree Pageant for girls ages eleven to thirteen is Abby Marie Evans, the thirteen year old daughter of Amanda Mathis of Smithville. Liz Abigail Qualls is the first ever Miss Jamboree among girls ages fourteen to sixteen. Qualls, the sixteen year old daughter of Brad and Kim Trapp of Smithville, was also awarded for Prettiest Eyes. Katie Sue Haggard won the Miss Jamboree Pageant for young ladies ages seventeen to twenty. Haggard is the twenty year old daughter of David and Vicki Haggard of Smithville. A McMinnville woman won the first ever Miss Jamboree Pageant for beauties ages 21-29. Shea Butcher is the 22 year old daughter of Kevin and Shelia Butcher of McMinnville. She was also awarded for Prettiest Eyes and Prettiest Hair.
*Starting almost 70 years ago, DeKalb County Historian Tommy Webb began devoting his life to learning everything possible about DeKalb County and its people and documenting that information. As a means of preserving those historical papers, Webb donated his files to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Charles (Chuck) Sherrell, State Librarian and Archivist, his assistants, members of the local library board, and friends met at Webb's home on College Street in June for a formal announcement followed by a luncheon. Although Webb's original papers will be kept at the State Library and Archives, copies will remain at Justin Potter Library.
*Fifty state troopers received their badges in a graduation ceremony for the Tennessee Highway Patrol's trooper cadet class in Hermitage in June. One of the new Troopers, Christopher Delong was assigned to DeKalb County in the Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
*Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Jennings, who has worked in DeKalb County since joining the THP in 2007, received the promotion in March but was recognized in a formal ceremony on June 5 at the THP Training Center in Nashville. He received his Sergeant's pin from THP Colonel Tracy Trott. Sergeant Jennings is a Supervisor in Putnam County.
*Shiroki North America, Inc. of Smithville announced plans in June to hire more workers to keep up with the production demand on a new product line for Subaru. "We are extremely busy right now. We're right in the midst of launching a new door frame line for Subaru. This is for the Subaru Outback and the Subaru Sedan. We have recently added 80-90 people but we still have open jobs and spots to fill. So far it is starting out with a bang," said Gina Haley, Plant Manager for Shiroki North America of Smithville in an interview with WJLE. "We have about 300 hourly employees out on the floor plus support staff here so there's about 500 at this location. We're working two shifts, more than eight hours a day, seven days a week," Haley said. Workers will also be needed for another new line coming soon. "We have another door line. The Subaru Nissan Maxima door line is coming. We'll be starting production on that early in 2015 and we are needing people to come right behind these current projects to start filling those jobs and start training," she said.
*A ribbon cutting was held in June for the new 2,160 square foot Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad building which is located next to the existing facility near Green Brook Park. Joe Johnson, Treasurer and Technician for the Rescue Squad, told WJLE that while the new building is now functional, there is still some work yet to be done to complete it. Between the new building and the existing facility, Johnson said the Rescue Squad will be able to house all of its vehicles and equipment.
*Animal rights activists were back again in June holding signs in protest of the 2nd annual DeKalb County Young Farmers & Ranchers "Giggin for Grads" . The frog gigging tournament was held on one night from 7:00 p.m. until the weigh in at 1:00 am. the next morning. Participants met in the parking lot of the DeKalb County Complex. Proceeds from the tournament are used to fund an Agriculture scholarship for a high school student. Prize money also goes to the teams with the heaviest bags of frogs.
*Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer began his three day "TDOT Projects Tour" in Region 2 in June and the first stop was in DeKalb County. The Commissioner was joined by other TDOT representatives, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody and officials of Massman Construction during a luncheon at the county complex and most traveled by bus or vans afterward to the construction site of the new Sligo bridge. Upon arrival, each of the spectators donned hardhats, life jackets, and safety glasses and then boarded a barge for a ride on the lake to get an up close view of the construction. "It's a massive project and very complicated," said Commissioner Schroer. "Deep water bridge work is very hard but we've got a good tour of what they're doing and how they are doing it. In April 2013, TDOT awarded the construction contract on Sligo bridge to the Massman Construction Company based in Kansas City, Missouri at $38,903, 917. The project is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2016.
*A 13 year old girl was commended for reporting an incident in June that led to the arrest of a convicted sex offender at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool. "If this little girl hadn't told me then there is no telling what would have happened," said Jeania Poss, operator of the Pool in an interview with WJLE. 41 year old Timothy Eugene Bowman of 1507 Big Hurricane Road was accused of making sexual comments to the 13 year old and two other teens. He was charged with three counts of solicitation of a person under 18 years of age and violation of the sexual offender registry law. According to Poss, the child came forward to report the incident which had occurred the previous week and when Bowman showed up at the pool again on another day, Poss immediately called police.
*An Alexandria man, 23 year old Shawn Patrick Byrd was charged with aggravated arson in June for allegedly setting fire to the residence where he lives on Lower Helton Road. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire on Wednesday, June 18 at the residence. When firefighters found the source of the blaze they thought it to be suspicious and summoned a sheriff's department detective to the scene. The detective conducted an investigation and discovered what appeared to be an intentionally set fire. Through the investigation, Byrd was identified as a suspect. During the interview with the detective, Byrd allegedly admitted to starting the fire. Sheriff Ray said the investigation reveals that the fire was set in the upstairs portion of the residence next to the HVAC unit in the closet using a table cloth and a piece of wood. Three other adults were in the home at the time including two downstairs and one upstairs.
*Jimmy Womack was reappointed to a new four year term on the DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners in June. The county commission voted in support of County Mayor Mike Foster's appointment of Womack. Those voting in favor were county commissioners Elmer Ellis, Jr, Mason Carter, Jerry Scott, Bradley Hendrix, Wayne Cantrell, David McDowell, Rick Cantrell, Jeff Barnes, Marshall Ferrell, and Larry Summers. Jerry Adcock voted no and Jimmy Poss passed. Womack is one of two DUD board members whose current term expires this year. The other is Roger Turney of Cannon County.
*A DeKalb County man died in a pedestrian accident on Interstate 40 in Wilson County near the Smith County line at around 5:45 p.m. on Friday, June 13. Dead is 58 year old Gary A. Bouldin of Smithville. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, a 2013 Dodge CVN Minivan, driven by 36 year old Amanda Hagler of Waverly, was traveling east on I-40 in the left lane near the 249 mile marker when a pedestrian (Bouldin) entered the eastbound lanes of I-40 from the south shoulder. The vehicle collided with Bouldin in the left lane and drove off the left shoulder into the median coming to final rest. The pedestrian (Bouldin) came to final rest in the middle of lane 1 on the east bound lane. Bouldin was taken by ground ambulance to UMC Medical Center in Lebanon. Three passengers were in the vehicle with Hagler but none of them were injured.
*A suggestion by the Town of Alexandria Beer Board to allow restaurants the opportunity to apply for a permit to serve beer by the drink gave cause for concern among many residents there. Several citizens attended the monthly meeting of the Alexandria Board of Mayor and Aldermen in June to speak out against the proposal. Mayor Tony Tarpley said the beer board, which is made up of the town's aldermen, met recently in a workshop to discuss the idea. "The beer board met and made a suggestion to the city council to make an amendment to the beer permit ordinance where if it was a restaurant that applied for a permit that they could sell beer by the drink on the premises," he said. The town already allows eligible stores to be permitted to sell packaged beer for off premises consumption. City Attorney Vester Parsley explained that no permits could be issued for beer by the drink in restaurants unless the aldermen were to vote to amend the current beer ordinance, which would require two readings at city council meetings and a public hearing. No such action has been taken.
*A DeKalb EMS paramedic is being hailed a hero after saving the life of a Lieutenant of the Tennessee Highway Patrol who suffered a heart attack during an outing on Center Hill Lake on Friday, June 20. Both the paramedic, Tyler Grandstaff and THP Lieutenant David Allred were off duty at the time. Allred and his family had just set up camp at Floating Mill Recreation area when he felt faint and then collapsed. Fortunately, Grandstaff , who was with his family closeby at the same time, came to his aide. "We were at the lake at Floating Mill and we had a man exhibiting signs of chest pain and diaphoresis (profuse sweating). He was pale, grayish and didn't look well. I went to the truck and got my bag and my oxygen tank and did what we normally do. He was conscious but not alert and very disoriented. I started an IV and gave him some oxygen and fluids. Gladly an ambulance got there pretty quick," said Grandstaff. As a show of appreciation, DeKalb EMS Director Hoyte Hale presented Grandstaff with a certificate for "Outstanding Service". Allred and members of his family were also on hand for the occasion at the headquarters of the Central Dispatch/911 Center in Smithville.
*A 31 year old man indicted for raping an eight year old boy between November 2012 and March 2013 stood trial and was convicted by a jury Tuesday, July 1 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. It took the jury of six men and six women only half an hour to find Jose Juan Reyes guilty on the charge of rape of a child. Although they could have, the jury imposed no fine. During a sentencing hearing later, Reyes received a 32 year prison term, just eight years short of the maximum penalty on the charge for which he was found guilty, Rape of a child. The range of punishment in the case was 25 to 40 years. "I am very pleased with the verdict. I think the jury did an outstanding job of listening to the proof and all the evidence in considering it and returning a verdict," said Gary McKenzie, Deputy District Attorney General. According to McKenzie, Reyes was a trusted friend of the boy and his family prior to this incident and he had been renting a room in the home of the child's aunt. The child, who has just turned ten years old, testified during the trial that he was at his aunt's home when Reyes committed the act while the two of them were alone in Reyes' bedroom. The trial judge was David Patterson.
*Jacob Carrigan of Nashville was the overall winner of the 16th annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run in July. Carrigan ran the course in 16 minutes and 42 seconds. Hope Ilias, best among women, ran the course in 20:22. One-Mile Fun Run (age 12 and younger) winner: TOP MALE: Joshua Burtnett at 6:55, and TOP FEMALE: Elizabeth Welch at 6:45. The 16th Annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run featured 356 participants. Funds raised will support Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.
*Smithville's own Darrin Vincent of the award winning bluegrass group, Dailey and Vincent, received the Fiddler's Jamboree's first ever Blue Blaze Award in July. The award was presented to Vincent by Shan Burklow of the Jamboree Marketing Committee and Alexis Grace Atnip, Miss Jamboree pageant 2nd alternate. Members of Vincent's family joined him in receiving the award. The Jamboree Blue Blaze Award is presented to recognize a musician who is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music.
*A Kentucky girl won the top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the Jamboree's National Championship for Country Musician Beginners. Annabelle Watts of Philpot, Kentucky was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler and won the coveted James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award, named for the man who started the children's competition during the 1980's as part of the annual festival. Meanwhile, the "Entertainer of the Year" Award went to Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana. This award is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition for children up to age 12.
*For the first time two years ago a mother and daughter competed for the most coveted prize of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival, the Berry C. Williams Memorial award, presented to the best overall fiddler. In a repeat from 2012, the same mother and daughter made it to the fiddle-off with the daughter again winning the showdown this year Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro, who took the Junior fiddling title earlier in the evening Saturday, July 5 and then went on to win the fiddle off against her mother, Marcia Denton of Murfreesboro, who had earlier won the senior fiddling competition. Fiddler's Jamboree Coordinator Jack Barton presented Maddie her award at the conclusion of the festival.
*A Collierville man lost his life Saturday afternoon, July 5 on Center Hill Lake. The body of 57 year old Stephen R. Morris was recovered in about fifteen feet of water more than three hours after he fell off a jet ski and into the water. "If you went straight out from the mouth of Holmes Creek in a southeasterly direction, which is back upstream, it was about a mile across on the other side of the lake. There are a couple of small coves and they had pulled up in there on a houseboat," said TWRA Officer Tony Cross in describing where the incident occurred. According to the TWRA, Morris was sitting on the back of a personal watercraft, which was attached to the house boat, when he fell off the back of it and never resurfaced. " There were a number of folks who were on the houseboat and the front of it was actually grounded on the shore. The victim was on a jet ski which was pulled up on one of the slides or ramps on the back of the houseboat. It (jet ski) was actually not in the water. Our guess is that some sort of medical issue may have happened. He was sitting on the jet ski when he fell off into the water and went under. That was it," said Officer Cross. Members of the TWRA, DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and Corps of Engineers began the search at around 4:00 p.m. "We were pretty sure we had located the body maybe within an hour or so with side scan sonar. Divers were called in from the Putnam County Rescue Squad and once they arrived on the scene and went down, it probably took only eight or ten minutes for them to locate the victim," said Cross.
*DeKalb County native and former professional baseball player Greg Tubbs was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame Friday, July 11 in New York. Tubbs, who is now an assistant baseball coach at Cookeville High School, played in the outfield for the Pittsburgh Pirates-affiliated Buffalo Bisons in 1991, 1992 and 1994. He joined former Bisons manager Eric Wedge and long-time Buffalo-area scout Bob Miske in being selected for the Hall of Fame. During his three years with the Class AAA Bisons, the outfielder hit .283 (370-1,307) with 60 doubles, 19 triples, 12 home runs, 121 RBI and 67 stolen bases in 364 games. He’s third in the modern era in total hits (370) and is one of only two Bisons players since 1985 to have 100+ hits in three separate seasons.. Originally drafted by the Braves in the 22nd round of the 1984 June Amateur Draft, Tubbs played 11 combined seasons in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh’s and Cincinnati’s farm systems. In 1,243 minor league games, the outfielder hit .285 with 1,267 hits and 262 stolen bases. Tubbs made his Major League debut with the Reds in 1993 and hit .186 (11-59) with a home run and two RBI in 35 career games. Tubbs is a 1980 graduate of DeKalb County High School.
*A Dowelltown man, 29 year old Joseph Steven Audas was charged with the aggravated assault and rape of a woman in July. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, July 10 Audas allegedly tied the woman's wrist and hands with a belt and held her down at knifepoint while hitting her in the face. During the assault, Audas allegedly struck the woman's left ear and cut her under the chin and throat with the knife. He then allegedly raped the woman by digital penetration while armed with the knife and threatened to kill her if she refused to cooperate.
*Fast Pace Urgent Care officials and community members broke ground in July on the future home of Fast Pace’s new, state of the art walk-in clinic in the Smithville area at 101 W. Broad St., Smithville, TN. The clinic opened in October. “Fast Pace Urgent Care is extremely honored to bring our high-caliber, patient focused, affordable health care to the folks of Smithville,” said Stan Bevis, FNP, Founder of Fast Pace Urgent Care. “The Fast Pace mission is to make health care convenient and accessible to everyone, and we look forward to delivering on this commitment.”
*Daily operating hours of the Dowelltown Post Office are to be reduced in a cost saving measure by the U.S. Postal Service. Tracy Mofield, Post Office Operations Manager for the Tennessee District, held a community meeting at the Dowelltown Post Office in July to explain the changes. The proposal is to reduce the window hours from eight hours to six hours a day Monday through Friday. Saturday hours would remain the same. Similar plans have already been enacted at both the Alexandria and Liberty Post Offices. The Postal Service sent out surveys to Dowelltown customers with five options from which to choose. Mofield said 86% of the respondents favored the option to realign the hours of operation.
*A nursery in Smithville announced plans to close one of its operations here in the fall, a move that is expected to affect as many as 257 workers.
The Berry Family of Nurseries, located on Vaughn Lane in Smithville, filed a mandatory Employee Dislocation Notification with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announcing a closure by September 30. But while the operation on Vaughn Lane will be shutting down, WJLE learned that the Berry Family of Nurseries' second location in Smithville on Short Mountain Highway will continue in operation. Berry purchased the Short Mountain Road operation from H.J. Judkins and Sons Nursery several years ago and later acquired the Vaughn Lane nursery from Zelenka, who had purchased it from Knowles & Sons Nursery in 2001.
*Three men accused of kidnapping a man and woman and beating them with an axe handle in July were arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. 42 year old Jimmy Tolbert (J.J.) Hendrixson, Jr., 36 year old Casey Joseph Jacobs, and 48 year old Comas Brian Higgins all of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown are each charged with two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Hendrixson, Jacobs, and Higgins met their victims at a bridge on the New Bildad Road Friday night, July 18 and assaulted them with an axe handle. Both victims were then tied up and their mouths were taped shut. The male victim managed to escape and ran to a residence nearby where he called for help. The three abductors then drove the female victim to their home on the Old Snow Hill Road. "After we got the call, I along with detectives and deputies of the sheriff's department arrived (on New Bildad Road) and found an individual (male victim) who had minor injuries. We took a statement from him and learned who the individuals were who assaulted and tied him up. He told us of a female that had been done the same way. We found her (at the residence on Old Snow Hill Road) and took her into safe keeping. We arrested the three individuals responsible," said Sheriff Ray.
*The 2014 Junior Fair Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is 14 year old Caitlin Leigh Tyree, the daughter of Josh and Carrie Tyree of Liberty.
Tyree competed for the crown on the opening night of the DeKalb County Fair in July. 18 year old Lauren Ashley Medlin was also crowned the 2014 Fairest of the Fair. Medlin is the daughter of Greg and Teresa Medlin of Smithville. Abram James Koegler and Graycie Bowman were crowned Little Mister and Miss at the fair that week. Koegler is the five year old son of Brian and Leticia Koegler of Smithville and Bowman is the five year old daughter of Phillip and Natasha Waggoner of Liberty. Koegler was also named Little Mister Manners. The 2014 Miss Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is Carlee Elizabeth West, the nine year old daughter of D.J. and Megan Stewart of Smithville. Jaycee Rochelle Johnson of Alexandria won the Miss Sweetheart pageant at the Fair. She is the 10 year old daughter of Tim and Shelly Hearn and Jon and Jaylene Johnson.
*A 19 year old man lost his life in a one car crash in July on Highway 146. The Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Roberto Cruz was traveling east on Highway 146 in a 2003 Nissan passenger car, when he went off the right side of the road and overturned several times. Cruz, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected. The crash, which occurred around 11:30 p.m. near the intersection with New Home Road, was investigated by Troopers Jeremy Wilhite and Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
*Two adults and four juveniles along with their families, friends and mentors, gathered in July to celebrate their graduation from the DeKalb County Drug Court program. The observance was held at the county complex. The adult graduates Tim Bogle and Crystal Baker and the four juveniles received a framed diploma certificate noting their completion of the drug court program through which participants commit to becoming clean and sober. The drug court program provides an alternative to incarceration for eligible non-violent offenders.
*In April, 1964, WJLE Radio in Smithville first went on the air as an AM only station at frequency 1480. Some seven years later, WJLE added an FM frequency at 101.7, and this year, 2014, WJLE Radio celebrated its 50th anniversary on the air. On July 26 the station held a golden anniversary celebration, in which many of the station's former personalities, managers, employees and friends stopped by to reminisce about their years and memories at WJLE. The event was hosted by former station manager, Ralph Vaughn, and current station manager, Dwayne Page.
*An altercation between two men in August left one of them shot twice and the other charged with pulling the trigger. Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said 28 year old Jordan Adams of Smithville was charged with attempted second degree murder in the shooting of 39 year old Jamie Murphy. The incident occurred on Juniper Lane. Adams was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon as a convicted felon and reckless endangerment. According to the arrest warrants, Murphy was shot once in the back shoulder and by another bullet which grazed his arm. He was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment of his wounds. Murphy was reportedly behind the wheel of a pickup truck and trying to get out through the passenger side when Adams, who was standing outside the truck, allegedly fired rounds from a 25 caliber pistol, which struck Murphy. A male passenger in the truck with Murphy was not injured. After the shooting, Adams allegedly got in a different pickup truck driven by another man and left the scene. He was arrested shortly thereafter.
*Wallace (Butch) Agee was elected the next Road Supervisor of DeKalb County in August. Agee, a Republican, won a close race against his Democratic opponent James D. (Jimmy) Sprague to capture the seat held for the last 24 years by Republican Kenny Edge, who chose not to seek re-election to a seventh term. Tim Stribling knocked off two challengers to become the next County Mayor. The Democratic nominee defeated Republican Chris Smithson and Independent Chris Bratcher. Stribling became the Democratic nominee in May after defeating three term incumbent County Mayor Mike Foster. Meanwhile, Democratic Incumbent General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten H. (Butch) Cook, II held off a strong challenge by his Republican opponent Mingy Colwell Bryant to win a third eight year term. Sheriff Patrick Ray cruised to a third term. The Republican incumbent defeated Democratic challenger Larry Flair. Others who ran unopposed for county wide races were Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, who led the ticket with 3,828 votes; Trustee Sean Driver; County Clerk-elect James L. (Jimmy) Poss; and Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen. Poss became the Democratic nominee for County Clerk after defeating three term incumbent Mike Clayborn in May.
*Three of the incumbent school board members lost their bids for new terms in the August election. In the second district, Jerry Wayne Johnson defeated Incumbent Charles Robinson. Third district Incumbent Kenny Rhody lost to James W. (Jim) Beshearse, II and in the Seventh District, Emitt Shaun Tubbs easily unseated Incumbent Johnny Lattimore. Meanwhile, Robert D. (Danny) Parkerson, Jr. was elected to succeed Incumbent John David Foutch as a member of the school board from the first district. Parkerson defeated Matthew Boss. Foutch did not seek re-election. In the fourth district, Incumbent Billy Miller was re-elected to a second term on the school board without opposition. Miller later resigned due to job obligations and his wife, Kate Miller was appointed by the county commission to replace him until the next regular election in August 2016.
*Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss was re-elected to a second term in the August Municipal Election. Poss defeated challenger Wallace Caldwell. Meanwhile Jason Judd Murphy was re-elected to a second term as alderman and Gayla Hendrix, a former alderman, was elected to the city council again. She replaced Tim Stribling, whose term as alderman expired September 1. Meanwhile, Dowelltown voters returned three aldermen to office in the municipal election there. Brad Driver, Keith Farler, and Ron Griffith all ran unopposed.
*The county commission had six new members as of September 1 as a result of the August elections. Seven incumbent commissioners returned and a former member rejoined the commission. Meanwhile, three persons were elected to fill vacant constable positions. In the fifth district Democratic Incumbent Rick Cantrell lost a bid for his first full term on the county commission , falling to Democrat Anita Puckett and Incumbent Republican Jerry D. Adcock. Cantrell was appointed several months ago to fill the unexpired term of John Green, who had resigned. First district voters returned Incumbents Mason Carter and Elmer Ellis, Jr. to the commission. A third candidate, Democrat Bennett H. Armstrong, was unsuccessful. The second district has two new members, James (Jimmy) E. Midgett, an Independent and Joe N. Johnson, a Democrat were elected, defeating Clarence Trapp, a Democrat and Republican Incumbent, Bobby Joines, who had earlier withdrawn from the race due to an illness. In the third district, Democrat Jack E. Barton returned to the commission. He formerly served in the second district but had to resign that position after he moved to the third district. In the race, Barton was elected along with Democratic Incumbent Bradley Scott Hendrix. Independent candidate Wesley Nokes was unsuccessful. Democratic Incumbent Jeff Barnes was re-elected in the sixth district along with Betty Jean Atnip, also a Democrat. Independent candidate Danny McGinnis was unsuccessful. In the fourth district Democratic Incumbent Wayne Cantrell was re-elected along with Democrat Jonathon Norris. They ran unopposed. Democrat Larry Summers won re-election in the seventh district. Democrat Kevin Robinson also won. Both were unopposed. In those constable races. Democrat Chad Curtis defeated Republican Lee Plummer in the first district; Republican Chris Tramel won the constable seat in the second district beating Independent challengers Tony D. Lawson and Jonathan Low. In the third district, Travis Bryant defeated Lou Ann Sanders for constable.
*State Senator Mae Beavers won her battle against challenger Clark Boyd in the August Tennessee Republican Primary. She won district-wide and carried DeKalb County. She was unopposed in the November General Election.
*Two new judges, a new district attorney general, and a new public defender were elected in August to take office September 1 in the seven county 13th Judicial District which includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties. Three incumbent judges were returned to the bench. Republican Craig Flickling defeated Democratic incumbent District Public Defender David Brady district-wide. Fickling also carried DeKalb County. The new district attorney general is Republican Bryant Dunaway who defeated Democrat Tony Craighead district-wide. Dunaway also won in DeKalb County. Dunaway succeeded Randall York, who chose not to seek re-election this year. York instead ran unsuccessfully for Circuit Court Judge, Part II. In the race for Circuit Court Judge, Part II, York , a Democrat, lost to Republican Jonathan Young district-wide. In DeKalb County Young also edged out York. Young succeeded retiring judge John Maddux who had served on the bench since 1984. Meanwhile, Republican Gary McKenzie won the race for Criminal Court Judge, Part I, beating his Democratic opponent William Fred Roberson, Jr. McKenzie won district-wide and carried DeKalb County. McKenzie succeeded retiring judge Leon Burns, Jr. who had served since 1975. Democratic Incumbent Chancellor Ronald Thurman won re-election defeating Republican J. Lee Burgess district-wide. Thurman also won in DeKalb County. Two Incumbent Judges won re-election without opposition, Republican Criminal Court Judge Part II, David A. Patterson and Democratic Circuit Court Judge Part I Amy Hollars.
*A house boat, pontoon, and the fuel island were destroyed by fire in August at Edgar Evins State Park Marina. The fire began as the houseboat was being refueled. Several people on board were quickly evacuated. Some had minor smoke inhalation. The blaze spread to an unoccupied pontoon boat that was tied to the dock. Employees of the park and marina fought to contain the blaze while county firefighters were enroute. The gas pumps were turned off and the remainder of the marina was unaffected. Assistant County Fire Chief David Agee told WJLE that firefighters received a call of a gas pump explosion at the marina shortly after noon. Upon arrival, they found the two boats on fire along with the fuel island. According to Assistant Chief Agee, a party of eight who had the houseboat rented from the marina had just returned to the dock when the incident occurred. As the group was still on board, a marina employee began refueling the boat. After stepping away from the pumps for a moment, the marina worker told Agee he heard a pop and then saw a small blaze followed by an explosion. Everyone on board the houseboat was evacuated and except for minor smoke inhalation by some, no one was seriously injured. No one had to be transported to the hospital. All the group's personal belongings on board the boat were lost in the fire.
*The DeKalb County Teacher of the Year Award was named in honor of the late John Isabell. The Board of Education in August voted to name the award for Isabell at the suggestion of Second District member Charles Robinson. Isabell, a long time educator and former President of the DeKalb County Education Association, passed away this year after suffering from cancer. The DeKalb County Teacher of the Year Award is presented annually in May to one of the five teachers of the year from each school in the county.
*Heavy rains Tuesday morning, August 19 on Highway 70 at Liberty may have contributed to a traffic accident that claimed the life of 36 year old Sarah Clark of Alexandria. Trooper Tommy Cooper of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Clark was driving east in a 2009 Toyota Camry when, according to a witness, the car hydroplaned during heavy rains and crossed into the westbound lanes and into the path of a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, driven by 41 year old Jeanne McMillan of Walling. The SUV struck the Toyota Camry in the passenger side. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts McMillan was taken by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was treated and released. Clark was employed at the office of Dr. Cliff Duke, DDS in Smithville and she was apparently on her way to work when the accident occurred.
*Powerful winds from a severe thunderstorm in August caused widespread damage across DeKalb County with downed trees and power lines in various locations. Central dispatch received more than one hundred calls in the aftermath of the storm. No injuries were reported. Due to the storm, students were kept at school for about an hour longer than normal for their safety. Most of the damage was due to trees which had been uprooted or fallen in yards and across roads and utility lines. Some structure damage was also reported at several places including homes, barns, and businesses. Firefighters, utility crews, state and county highway department workers, and others were dispatched to the affected areas, many of them using chainsaws to remove trees which had blocked roads.
*Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced 168 schools including one in DeKalb County as the 2013-14 Reward Schools, the top 5 percent of schools in the state for academic achievement and the top 5 percent for annual growth. Northside Elementary School is DeKalb County's 2014 Reward School for progress (high student growth). Meanwhile, DeKalb West School was among the 2015 Focus Schools due to an achievement gap in the Gap Pathway Subgroup of Students with Disabilities versus Non-Students with Disabilities. The Reward Schools span 49 districts across Tennessee and include 90 schools that serve mostly economically disadvantaged populations.
*After a career as an educator spanning almost four decades and nearly all that time as either Teacher or Principal at DeKalb West School, Danny Parkerson announced his retirement in August. But in September, Parkerson had a new assignment, school board member in the first district. Parkerson remained principal until September 10.
*Director of Schools Mark Willoughby named Sabrina Farler to succeed Danny Parkerson as Principal at DeKalb West School. Farler, who had been assistant principal at DeKalb West School for the last three years, became principal upon Parkerson's retirement on September 10. Farler this year began her 16th year as an educator. She has nine years of teaching experience and six years in administration. Farler graduated from DCHS in 1996 and furthered her education at Tennessee Tech where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education in 1999. She earned her Master's Degree in Instructional Leadership in 2003 and in 2011 received an Educational Specialist ( Ed.S degree) at Tennessee Tech. Her teaching career began as a first grade educator at Smithville Elementary in the 1999-2000 school year. During the past fifteen years, Farler has taught at every school in DeKalb County except for DCHS.
*A portion of the County Complex will soon bear the name of County Mayor Mike Foster. During the Auguist monthly meeting, the county commission voted to name the north end of the building which houses the exercise room, game room, gym and theater the "Mike Foster Multi-Purpose Center". The motion, made by sixth district commissioner Marshall Ferrell, was adopted unanimously. Ferrell said Foster is due much of the credit for the county acquiring the building and turning it into the facility it is today. "The new county complex would not exist if it were not for the efforts of the commission and Mike Foster. Mayor Foster's experience in building was a great asset. He worked endless hours to see the project was completed properly". Prior to the vote, Seventh District member Larry Summers, who serves as Chairman Pro Temp of the County Commission, praised Foster for his twelve years of service and leadership. Summers gave Foster credit for many endeavors over the years including the county complex project. After the vote renaming the complex, Summers presented an award on behalf of the county commission to an emotional Foster.
*An investigation into the illegal distribution of marijuana in DeKalb County resulted in the arrest of a 74 year old Dowelltown man who obtained a package through the mail at the Liberty Post Office containing fourteen pounds of pot. John Harris of Cathcart Road Dowelltown was charged with Sale of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana). According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the investigation was conducted by Detectives of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and United States Postal Service Inspectors. Based upon US Postal Service profiles and information that was obtained by a US Postal Service Inspector about a sealed package that had been delivered to the Liberty Post Office, Detective Jeremy Taylor summoned Smithville Police Department K-9 Officer James Cornelius and his K-9 Leo to the scene. Leo alerted to Officer Cornelius that an illegal substance was in the sealed targeted package". "After the alert from the K-9 that an illegal substance was present in the package, Officers waited for someone to come and pick up the target package from the post office. After a short wait, Harris came and picked up the package. Officers then witnessed Harris attempt to take the package and place it in his personal vehicle. Officer’s then raided Harris and seized the targeted package. Harris gave permission for Officers to look inside of the package and found were approximately 14 pounds of Marijuana in 18 individual bags". Detective Taylor seized cash from Harris and also his 2009 Dodge Avenger car.
*County Clerk James L. "Jimmy" Poss announced in September that his office will no longer perform marriage ceremonies. While state law gives county clerks the authority to marry couples, it is not mandated that they do so. Poss told WJLE he feels weddings should be performed by ministers.
*A DeKalb County man was identified as a "person of interest" in a Wilson County arson and homicide investigation at Statesville in August. 38 year old Alan Mooney, Jr., who resides on Old Snow Hill Road in DeKalb County, was under investigation in connection with the fire which occurred at the home of his father Alan Mooney, Sr. Human remains were found at the scene. Mooney's brother, 36 year old Richard J. Mooney of Watertown stood trial in DeKalb County two years ago for felony murder and theft of property over $1,000 in the October, 2009 death of 63 year old Robert "Bob" Senick, whose remains were found in the rubble of his mobile home near Liberty, which had been burned to the ground. Although Richard Mooney was found not guilty in that case, he is currently serving a ten year prison sentence in a previous Rutherford County car jacking case. Alan Mooney, Jr. was later charged with first degree murder, aggravated arson, two counts of arson and abuse of a corpse. The case remains pending in court.
*Foutch Industries announced plans to add 40 jobs to its workforce in September. "We're looking to add 40 people to the current staff which will put us at around 170," said Tracy Foutch, CEO and President of the Company in an interview with WJLE. "We're looking for assembly line workers, warehouse personnel, truck drivers, maintenance personnel, quality personnel and managers," he said. Job opportunities are available for first, second, and third shift operations. "This is good news for DeKalb County," said County Mayor Tim Stribling. "Companies like Foutch Industries are so vital to our community. They can add jobs when business improves and this helps our local economy. We have a good workforce here and I want to see all the industries we already have grow and prosper because that's just as important as our goal of attracting new industries which we hope to do in the months and years ahead," he said.
*A host of guests joined members of the administration and faculty at DeKalb West in September to celebrate the opening of the new school addition. Surrounded by a crowd of educators, parents, students, public officials, and other members of the community retiring Principal Danny Parkerson and his successor Sabrina Farler cut the ribbon just inside the main entrance to mark the milestone. The school sports a new look from the front and includes new classrooms, restrooms, and hallway, most of them tornado safe shelters. The facility also features a new secure entrance to the school, an office, clinic, conference room, and a teacher work area. Both the kitchen and cafeteria in the older building have also been expanded.
*Smithville Municipal Judge Hilton Conger will serve for another two years. The aldermen in September approved Conger's reappointment during a city council meeting. City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. administered the oath of office to Conger during the meeting. The City Judge, who was once elected by city voters to an eight year term, now serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, appointed to a two year term.
*Deborah Goodwin was named as the new Director for the Smithville Senior Citizens Center in September. She succeeded Wanda Poss who retired after serving seventeen years as Director of the Center. In addition to the Smithville Senior Citizens Center, Liberty and Alexandria also have centers. Nancy Goad is the Director of the Liberty Senior Citizens Center and Barbara Anders is Director of the Alexandria Center
*Longtime DeKalb Middle School Physical Education Teacher Joey Agee was named Assistant Principal at DeKalb West School in September. DWS Principal Sabrina Farler made the announcement. Agee succeeded Farler as Assistant DWS Principal. Until his promotion to this new position, Agee had spent his entire teaching career at DeKalb Middle School. He is starting his twelfth year as an educator. He has also served as the DMS boys basketball coach and assistant DWS baseball coach.
*Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III is the new Chairman of the Board of Education. Evins was named by his fellow board members to serve as chairman during the September meeting. Sixth district member Doug Stephens was elected Vice-Chairman and Seventh District member Shaun Tubbs was named Assistant Secretary. The board re-organizes each September electing officers to serve for the year.
*The DeKalb County Board of Education was asked in September to ensure that each school has its own nurse by adding a new position. Dee Anna Reynolds, Coordinated School Health Coordinator, addressed the Board with this concern. The school system employs four school nurses, Chandra Adcock, Kim Turner, Christie Driver, and Joanie Williams. All are registered nurses. Each school has its own nurse except for the DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb County High School which have to share a nurse. Director Mark Willoughby said the state provides funding for one school nurse per three thousand students. Any other nurses must be funded locally. Because of the growing student population and children with chronic conditions including diabetes, Reynolds said another nurse is needed. Three parents, Darlene Evans, Ashley Bryant, and Glenda Davis, who all have children with diabetes also addressed the board that month asking that funds be found to hire another school nurse to help meet the medical needs of their children and others in the school system. Director Willoughby said he would assign a substitute nurse until the board could come up with a better solution. Two months later, the board voted to add a full time school nurse at DCHS to meet the nursing needs of a student who enrolled earlier this semester. Funds for this position will come from the Special Education General Purpose budget. While the nurse, Wade Ferrell will be serving this particular student, he will also be available to attend to other DCHS students with medical issues. Should this student move away, transfer out of the school system, or no longer need this nursing care on the advice of a physician, the school system would no longer be able to fund this nurse from Special Education. School Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III said if this were to occur the board at that time would revisit the issue of keeping a school nurse at the high school.
*Members of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (DTC Communications) elected a new member to the Board of Directors in September. Jean Chumbley Ferrell defeated Incumbent Greg Rogers from the Woodbury Exchange in the director election. The results of the voting were announced during the annual membership meeting held at the fairgrounds in Alexandria.
Two other incumbent members up for re-election, Charles Dwight Vinson of the Milton Exchange and Terry McPeak of the Norene Exchange ran unopposed.
*The DeKalb County School System will not be outsourcing its school custodial work to the GCA Services Group. During the September school board meeting, Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III brought up the subject saying he wanted to "get a conclusion drawn on our custodial services so our custodians will know whether we're going forward with this or not. Is this an issue we're eliminating so our custodians can know that their jobs are secure and everything is back to normal"? Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said he no longer intends to pursue an agreement with GCA. " I've had a couple of people ask me about that. A couple of board members. I have no intention of bringing it back up unless there is a board member that asks me to. That's dead in the water. If a board member asks me to check into it again I will. If not I won't," he said. GCA officials had sought to contract with the school system to provide custodial services for $400,000 for the first year with annual renewal options for at least up to four additional years, a move intended to save the district money. All current custodial staff working for the school system, recommended by the principals would have been hired by GCA. All chemicals, equipment, and consumables would also have been provided by GCA for maintaining the buildings year round. But the proposal became controversial as questions arose about GCA's hiring practices and whether the school system would actually save money over time.
*The DeKalb County Board of Education in September voted to honor two persons who served DeKalb West School for many years. Second District Member Jerry Wayne Johnson made a motion that a plaque be placed in the new cafeteria in memory of the late Georgia Young, who served as cafeteria manager until her death three and a half years ago. Young worked in the school system for almost 40 years. Johnson also moved that a plaque be placed in the new safe wing at the West School in honor of former Principal Danny Parkerson in recognition of his 37 year education career.
*A new Physical Education Teacher and Boys Basketball Coach was named at DeKalb Middle School in September. Cody Randolph took over from former P.E. teacher and Coach Joey Agee who was named as the new Assistant Principal at DeKalb West School. Principal Randy Jennings made the announcement.
*Physical Therapy Director Mila Vazquez of DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospitals celebrated with friends and co-workers her recent acceptance as a United States Citizen in September. “It has taken me a total of 10 years to make it through the process of becoming a United States Citizen,” beams Vazquez, “My daughter has been accepted at the same time and we are looking forward to the formal ceremony in Nashville soon. I definitely do not take my responsibility as an American lightly. It took so much for us to get where we are. This means a great deal to me.” Vazquez, formally from the Philippines, came to America on a work visa as a physical therapist. She is excited to move forward as an American citizen and encourages others who may feel overwhelmed by the process of citizenship to simply take each challenge one step at a time.
*UCDD will not be paying former County Mayor Mike Foster's attorney fees. During a brief hearing in DeKalb County Circuit Court in September , Judge Amy Hollars found that UCDD could not legally reimburse Foster for his $61,675 in attorney fees, a cost he incurred following his indictment last September. Judge Hollars based her decision on a Tennessee Supreme Court ruling in an 1870's case "Smith versus Nashville" in which the high court found that a governmental entity "could not appropriate money to defray the cost of an official who had been prosecuted for official misconduct, although he be acquitted." Foster wanted the Upper Cumberland Development District to pay his legal expenses in a federal criminal case which was brought against him stemming from the "Living the Dream" investigation. The charge against Foster was dropped in February. UCDD declined to reimburse Foster and sought a Chancery Court ruling on whether it was legal to do so. Smithville attorney Hilton Conger, who represented Foster at the hearing, argued that the Alabama Supreme Court, while concurring with the Tennessee Supreme Court ruling in "Smith versus Nashville" also stated in the case of "Birmingham versus Wilkinson" that "the same policy which demands the holding of public officials to strict account in matters of public trust, also demands their protection against groundless assaults upon their integrity in the discharge of public duty".
*A dedication ceremony was held in September by members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County to commemorate the recent completion of the fifth partner family home at 202 Hayes Street in Smithville. Tia Adcock and her children Caven Ponder and Caitlyn Adcock have now moved into the home. "I appreciate everything everybody has done for me. It meant a chance to give my kids a home. It means more to me than I could ever tell you," said Tia. The dedication ceremony included a consecration of the home led by Dr. John Carpenter of the Smithville First United and Bright Hill United Methodist Churches.
*A probation officer was arrested in September for using a client's money order to commit forgery and theft. 29 year old Ashley Lasser worked for CPS Community Probation Service. According to the warrant, Lasser passed a forged money order in the amount of $50 to the Dollar General Store in Smithville on Thursday, September 18. The money order was made out by a client of CPS as payment to Life Savers of Tennessee, which is a probation service where Lasser worked. She allegedly marked out the name Life Savers of Tennessee on the money order, wrote in Dollar General Store, and then passed the forged money order to the clerk. The probation client, a defendant in a criminal case, had made out the money order to life Savers of Tennessee as payment for attending an anger management class. Lasser allegedly used the money order at the Dollar General Store to purchase a soft drink and then received change back in cash. Lasser was terminated from her job as probation officer.
*After months of planning and legal battles with opponents including the City of Smithville who tried to stop the project, the DeKalb Utility District will soon be starting construction on its own water treatment plant. During its regular monthly meeting in October, the DUD board of commissioners awarded contracts to three companies who were the lowest bidders on three different portions of the project. The total cost comes to $12,958,390, more than $900,000 above projections. However, DUD Manager Jon Foutch told WJLE after the meeting that the project will move forward. "We are over what we projected. We have funds available for $12 million but we are fully prepared to make this treatment plant go forward. We have many options for (addressing) the overrun. We feel like we can make it happen," he said. All contracts were awarded by DUD subject to approval of the State Revolving Fund Loan, Rural Development/USDA, Appalachian Regional Council, and the availability of funds. A ground breaking date has not yet been set but the contracts call for the plant to be completed within eighteen months of the start of construction. The intake is to be finished within fifteen months and the water lines are to be in place within a year.
*Tenneco recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary of doing business in Smithville as well as National Manufacturer's Day on October 3rd.
Employees enjoyed a plant-wide cookout on all shifts. Also invited to attend were City and County Officials as well as the Industrial Board. Tenneco Plant Manager Jeff Starkey and Plant Controller Anthony Cantrell presented the officials in attendance with a plaque thanking them for their commitment to Tenneco's future growth. Tenneco has hired approximately 100 team members in 2014 and will be adding approximately 100 more jobs in 2015.
*Carl Halfacre, longtime manager of Edgar Evins State Park, announced his retirement in October, effective November 30. "I have better than 40 years of service with the State of Tennessee and 36 of those years I have been here at Edgar Evins State Park. But I feel that the time is nigh for me to retire and hand it over to a newer person. It's really been an enjoyable career. DeKalb County is one of the best counties I ever worked in. The cooperation I have received (from the community) has been unbelievable and I really appreciate that. It has made my job a lot easier. I have a lot of friends around Smithville. I will be moving to Baxter but I'll keep in touch," said Halfacre in an interview with WJLE.
*Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District announced in October that MTUD had merged with the Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District of Cumberland County. Under the merger agreement, Middle Tennessee Utility District remains as the surviving utility and modifies its legal name slightly to Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District (MTNG), serving a twenty two county area. MTUD served over 56,000 natural gas customers in all or a portion of twenty one counties and the Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District served over 2,500 customers in a portion of Cumberland and Fentress counties.
*The Board of Education in October voted to name the DeKalb Middle School Computer Lab in honor of long time educator Tom Hill while the DCHS Library will be named for Hill's wife Marie and her mother, the late Nell McBride, who were both Librarians at DCHS.
*The DeKalb County Tigers earned a berth in the state play-offs after defeating the Smith County Owls 13-0 on a cold and blustery Halloween night in Smithville. The Tigers traveled to Signal Mountain for the first round of the 4A playoffs on Friday, November 7 and lost 49-10 bringing down the curtain on their football season. The Tigers finished with an overall record of 5-6 and a second place finish in the district at 4-2. This was the fourth consecutive year the Tigers made it to the play-offs and it was their sixth appearance in the last seven years.
*By a narrow margin, Smithville voters approved a referendum in November allowing retail package stores to sell liquor within the city limits. The referendum passed by a five-vote margin, 406 votes to 401. Meanwhile, a referendum calling for the allowance of consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises within the city limits, liquor by the drink in restaurants, failed by 15 votes, 412 votes to 397.
*State Representatives, Terri Lynn Weaver in the 40th District and Mark Pody in the 46th District won re-election to new two year terms. According to the Tennessee State Election Website, Weaver, the Republican incumbent, defeated Democrat, Sarah Marie Smith, 11,354 (66.61%) votes to 5,692 (33.39%) district wide. Weaver carried all four counties that make up the 40th Legislative District. In DeKalb County, Weaver won 1,884 votes to 972 for Smith. In the 46th District, Pody, the Republican incumbent defeated his Democratic opponent Candace Reed 9,888 (67.44%) to 4,775 (32.56%) district wide. Pody carried all three counties which make up the district including in DeKalb County 554 to 356. Republican State Senator Mae Beavers, who was unopposed for re-election to a new four year term, garnered 2,622 complimentary votes in DeKalb County. District wide she received 35,431 votes.
*The 2013-14 A.F. Bridges Awards were announced in November, recognizing 63 individuals and nine schools from across the state including Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and DeKalb County High School. Director Willoughby was named "School Administrator of the Year" in Athletic District 4. The A.F. Bridges Awards, named after the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association's first executive secretary, include awards for School Administrator of the Year, Principal of the Year, Athletic Director of the Year, Female Coach of the Year, Male Coach of the Year, Official of the Year and Contributor of the Year. In addition to individual honors, the A.F. Bridges Divisional Awards are presented to schools that "have had no reported unsportsmanlike conduct incidents during the previous school year and have displayed an overall positive effort to teach, expect and demand a positive atmosphere of sportsmanship at their particular contests," according to the TSSAA. DeKalb County High School was among award winners in this category in Class AA.
*Smithville Police are investigating an armed robbery which occurred in November at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard. According to Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes, the lone robber, believed to be male, entered the convenience store around 9:45 a.m. wearing a mask and carrying a rifle. He approached the clerk and demanded money from the register. The clerk handed him an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber then left the store, got in what was described as a white SUV and fled southbound on Highway 56.
No one was injured.
*A DCHS student who bragged to a fellow classmate about bringing a gun to school was taken into custody Friday, November 21 after two air soft pistols were found in his automobile parked on campus. The 17 year old boy was charged in a juvenile petition with committing a delinquent act, to wit: carrying or possessing weapons on school property. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the boy told another student at school that he had a gun in his pocket. The incident was reported to assistant principal David Gash. Both Gash and Principal Patrick Cripps went to the boy's classroom and searched him. Finding no weapons on the boy, Gash and Cripps went to his vehicle and found two air soft pistols. In December the boy was granted pre-trial diversion in juvenile court and placed on six months probation. As part of his probation, the teen must perform 50 hours of community service. If his court costs are paid and all rules of probation are followed, the case against the teen may later be dismissed. His case will be reviewed again during a hearing in juvenile court set for May 20.
*One man died and another was wounded after a shooting arising from a domestic disturbance Sunday evening, November 23 at 308 Steeple Chase Drive in Smithville. According to Smithville Police, Darrell Knowles forced his way into the residence and was met by Josh Hawkins. The two men got into a scuffle. Knowles allegedly pulled a handgun and shot Hawkins once in the arm. Knowles apparently died from a self inflicted gunshot wound. He passed away at the scene. The incident occurred at the home of Knowles' father-in-law, where Hawkins had come to drop off his children for his ex-wife, who was married to Knowles. 911 received the call of the shooting at 4:51 p.m. Police were called to the residence about an hour prior to the shooting after Knowles had shown up and gotten into a verbal argument with his wife. Officers had Knowles to leave the premises at that time. Following the shooting, Hawkins was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital and then later transported to a Nashville hospital where he was treated and released. No one else at the residence was harmed as a result of the disturbance and shooting. Knowles once worked as a trooper for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
*Two seventeen year old boys accused of forcing their way into the home of a Smithville woman and then assaulting and robbing her in September, 2013 were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court in November. Judge David Patterson presided. Robert Brian Callahan, II and Tony J. Starkes, Jr. each pled guilty to charges of robbery and kidnapping and received a total sentence of eight years That's four years for robbery and four years for kidnapping to run consecutively. They must serve at least 30% of the sentence before release eligibility. The teens were given credit for time served from September 18, 2013 to the present. The boys appeared in DeKalb County Juvenile Court Wednesday, December 11, 2013 for a hearing on whether the cases should be transferred from the Juvenile to the Criminal Court. Judge Bratten Cook, II granted the motion. Callahan and Starkes were indicted by the April, 2014 term of the grand jury as adult offenders.
*A 32 year old man who participated with a co-defendant in the robbery and kidnapping of an elderly man over a year ago was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court in November. Judge David Patterson presided. Charles Reagan pled guilty to aggravated assault and received a six year sentence to be suspended after he serves one year. He was given 125 days jail credit. His co-defendant, 30 year old Amanda Gail Maxwell Bain pled guilty to robbery and kidnapping in October and received a four year sentence in each case as a range one offender. Her sentences are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to another TDOC sentence against her. She was given jail credit from November 6, 2013 to October 3, 2014. According to Smithville Police, the victim was kidnapped at knifepoint on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 in Smithville and then forced to withdraw funds from his bank account at an ATM machine. The man's abductors later drove him to McMinnville where he made his escape and called police. Bain and Reagan later made it back to Smithville and stayed the night at a local motel, apparently in an attempt to hide from police. They returned to Bain's home on Wednesday, November 6 2013 where police found the two and brought them in for questioning.
*The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Smithville Police, and Alexandria Police Departments conducted a roundup of defendants December 1 who were named in Grand Jury sealed indictments as a result of drug investigations. The arrests stemmed from two separate year long undercover operations, including one by the Smithville Police Department, and a joint investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Alexandria Police Department. In each case, the defendants were indicted for allegedly selling illegal drugs to undercover operatives. "The drugs bought in our investigation were marijuana, cocaine, hydrocodone, xanax, suboxone strips, percocets, roxycontin, subutex, and valium. They were bought in the city limits of Alexandria, Liberty, Dowelltown, and Smithville," said Sheriff Patrick Ray. According to Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger, Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes, Detective Brandon Donnell, and K-9 Officer James Cornelius, the Smithville Police Department's investigation netted indictments against persons who had sold drugs including hydrocodone, suboxone, xanax, dilaudid, and morphine. Although the Smithville Police Department's operation was conducted separately from the Sheriff's Department /Alexandria Police Department investigation, Sheriff Ray said all cases were presented to the grand jury on the same day on Monday, November 24 and all departments worked together in rounding up the defendants Monday, December 1. Constable Mark Milam also helped in the roundup.
*A Smithville man was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty in criminal court to the sexual exploitation of a minor. 24 year old Andrew Justin Anderson appeared before Judge David Patterson in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Although it is intended that Anderson serve 100% of the sentence, he could possibly qualify for a 15% reduction. He will also be classified as a sex offender and will be registered on the state's Sex Offender Registry. Anderson will receive credit for any jail time already served. He is to report to jail by noon on January 12. The indictment against Anderson alleged that "on or about the 9th day of June, 2010, Anderson did knowingly promote, sell, distribute, transport, or exchange material that included over 100 images of a minor engaging in sexual activity or simulated sexual activity that is patently offensive, constituting the offense of sexual exploitation and aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor".
*DeKalb County Sheriff's deputies found a meth lab and two live pipe bombs after arriving on the premises of a residence on Jefferson Road to serve a violation of probation warrant. 46 year old James Lee Adcock of Jefferson Road, Smithville, 42 year old Don Diamond Groshon of Cookeville Highway, Smithville, and 36 year old April Lee Hollingsworth of West Main Street, Smithville are each charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Adcock is also charged with having prohibited weapons (pipe bombs). Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, December 8th deputies went to Adcock's home to serve a violation of probation warrant on him. Upon arrival, the officers saw two men running from a barn on the premises. During a search, deputies found Adcock and Groshon hiding in the woods. Hollingsworth remained in the barn. After receiving consent from the property owner to search the barn, officers found a live pipe bomb made of PVC pipe containing explosives, a one liter one pot, a Toastmaster burner, 18 ounces of crystal Drano, 16 ounces of Kingford charcoal lighter fluid, digital scales, a turkey baster, an empty ice compress box, an ice compress pack that had been cut open, 10 hypodermic needles, a funnel, a 16.4 ounce propane bottle, an empty lithium battery pack, four stripped lithium batteries, and three cut straws. A search of Adcock's home turned up another live pipe bomb made of galvanized steel and containing explosives. Due to the discovery of the pipe bombs, Sheriff Ray said members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit were called to the scene.
*The DeKalb County and Alexandria Volunteer Fire Departments have formed a partnership to render specific firefighting services to each other as needed through an automatic aid agreement. The effort is meant to improve response times to fires, especially to residents in the county who are within five road miles of the Town of Alexandria's Fire Department. Under the agreement, both the Alexandria and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Departments will automatically respond to fires in the county that are within five miles of the Alexandria Fire Department and dispatched by the DeKalb County 911 Emergency Communications District. The agreement also calls for the county fire department to automatically respond to structure fires inside Alexandria along with the Alexandria Fire Department.