Local News Articles

Local Law Enforcement Agencies Awarded Highway Safety Grants

September 14, 2015

The Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments are among Tennessee law enforcement agencies that are receiving grant awards to support highway traffic safety efforts across the state.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole made the announcement concerning the grants totaling $17.8 million.

Both the Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments are getting High Visibility Enforcement Police Traffic Services Grants totaling at or near $5,000.

There are multiple elements that contribute to a safe roadway system, including an accurate traffic safety data collection and analysis system, well-trained and well-equipped law enforcement personnel, and effective emergency medical and trauma systems. A major part of roadway safety is educating motorists about laws and good driving behaviors.

“These grants help fund a variety of enforcement, legal, and educational initiatives across the state," Schroer said. "All of these efforts, from DUI prosecution, to speed enforcement, to child passenger safety training, support the mission of saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads through partnership with numerous public and private organizations."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding to GHSO. The grants, totaling 437 for the 2015-2016 funding cycle, were awarded to 376 agencies that successfully applied for funding based on a defined problem and statistical need. Each year, GHSO accepts applications from agencies across the state for available highway safety funds. Applications are reviewed and scored by GHSO and external highway safety advocates. The agencies that meet funding criteria received awards.

“Tennessee’s decline in traffic fatalities has occurred because of the dedication and commitment from our partners across the state,” Poole said. “They are coming up with ideas and programs that are creative, innovative, and solid. They are the foundation for the culture of safety on our roads, and I am ecstatic that we are able to support their endeavors.”

Aldermen to Consider Advertising for Police Chief

September 13, 2015
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen

Although a lawsuit remains pending against the City of Smithville over the termination of former Police Chief Randy Caplinger, the aldermen Monday night will consider granting approval to advertise for a new police chief.

The Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen will meet in regular monthly session Monday night, September 14 at 6:00 p.m. at city hall.

Upon the recommendation of Mayor Jimmy Poss, the aldermen voted 3-2 in August to advertise seeking resumes from persons interested in becoming the city's next police chief. Aldermen Danny Washer, Jason Murphy, and Gayla Hendrix voted in favor. Aldermen Josh Miller and Shawn Jacobs voted against, preferring to wait until the outcome of Caplinger's lawsuit. The city has reportedly received at least two resumes since last month.

"I think it's time we start advertising for a police chief. We've been a pretty good while without one. (Captain) Steven (Leffew) is doing a great job. But I think it's time we started thinking about it. We're talking about advertising for resumes. That's just my idea. I want to see what you think about it," said Mayor Poss.

"I think we should have already been advertising for it. Not that Steven has not been doing a good job but I'm not for sure he wants this burden on him forever. I do think we need to go forward with that," said Alderman Hendrix.

Aldermen Murphy and Washer agreed.

But Alderman Miller said anyone selected should serve on an "interim" basis until the Caplinger lawsuit is settled. "I would like to see him be named interim chief until things are smoothed over," he said.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for Caplinger, Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox are asking, among other things, that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause".

"We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," Cripps told WJLE when the lawsuit was filed.

In other business, Suzanne Williams of the Chamber of Commerce will address the Board concerning tourism.

An update will be given on the Smithville Airport fuel farm and runway lighting projects.

The Board will consider granting approval to hire Rob Alexander at the water treatment plant.

Any other business properly brought before the Board will be considered.

WJLE plans LIVE coverage

Woodmen of World Host "Honor and Remembrance" Ceremony

September 12, 2015
Dwayne Page
Assistant County Fire Chief David Agee with Wanda Poss and Regina Wilhite displaying "Flag of Honor" (Photo Provided)
The Smithville-DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling present the DeKalb County Fire Department with “Extra Miler Award" (Photo Provided)
Boy Scout Troop 347 members participating in flag raising were Jacob Williams, Cody Robinson and Jake Ramsey (Photo Provided).

The local Woodmen of the World Family Fraternity held a flag pole rededication ceremony and presented a "Flag of Honor" Thursday evening at the Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department on King Ridge Road.

Regina Wilhite, Field Representative for Woodmen of the World and local chapter President Wanda Poss made the presentation in honor and remembrance of the heroes and victims in the fight against terrorism and to celebrate the enduring spirit of all Americans.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 347 participated in the program by leading the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance and then helping retire the old flag and raising a new one to half-staff in remembrance of the 9/11 victims fourteen years ago.

A framed commemorative American flag was presented to the fire department. This "Flag of Honor" was created from the names of the 9/11 victims and the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and County Mayor Tim Stribling presented the Fire Department the "Extra Miler" Award for going the extra mile in making a difference. The department has more than 70 volunteers and ranks number three in the state for training hours and number of volunteers.

Since 2002 Woodmen of the World has been dedicating flagpoles across the country and presenting flags not only to honor the heroes and victims but to remember the men and women of our armed forces serving in combat and in addition to these ceremonies pay tribute to our men and women right here in this community who serve and protect us every day.

Woodmen of the World members celebrate patriotism in many ways, including the presentation of United States flags and flagpole dedications.

Woodmen of the World is one of the largest distributors of U.S. flags. More than 2 million American flags have been presented to worthy non-profit and community organizations. Woodmen of the World celebrates and honors the American flag throughout the year.

Out of the ashes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, Woodmen of the World members rise each year to organize In Honor and Remembrance ceremonies which honor the heroes and victims of those attacks, as well as local community heroes and volunteers.

(TOP PHOTO: Assistant County Fire Chief David Agee with Wanda Poss and Regina Wilhite displaying "Flag of Honor"

(MIDDLE PHOTO: "EXTRA MILER AWARD" presented to DeKalb Fire Department: Shown from left are Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling, Assistant Fire Chief David Agee, Matthew Boss, Seth Braseel, Caleb Haggard, Matt Adcock, Steve Rapasy, David Fleming, Harley Lawrence, Brayde Baker, Kristie Johnson, Steven Lawrence, Chris Mulford, Shawn Chausse, and Ryan Herron)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Boy Scout Troop 347 members participating in flag raising were Jacob Williams, Cody Robinson and Jake Ramsey)

Election Commission Changes Voting Precinct

September 11, 2015
Election Commission Changes Voting Precinct

The DeKalb County Election Commission, meeting in monthly session Thursday, discussed the feasibility of merging the Cherry Hill voting precinct with the Courthouse precinct.

After discussing election day issues of appointing election workers who reside in the precinct, the percentage of voter participation on election day, and the cost of operating the voting precinct; the commission voted unanimously to merge the precincts.

"The election commission was adamant that the purpose of the merger is strictly a logical and reasonable decision," said Chairman Walteen Parker.
"We certainly have no intent to prevent any qualified voter from casting his/her vote. We are looking for practical ways to streamline the efficiency of the voting process."

In the coming days all Cherry Hill voters will be notified by mail that they will now vote at the Courthouse precinct and will also be issued new voter registration cards.

Petitions Issued for 2016 Elections

September 11, 2015

The first day to pick up petitions for the 2016 local election cycle was a busy day for the DeKalb County Election Commission.

Four petitions were issued Friday by Administrator of Elections, Dennis Stanley. All four petitions were issued for the office of Constable; three for potential Democratic Primary candidates and one potential Independent candidate.

Petitions were issued to: Paul Cantrell, Constable 4th District March 1 Democratic Primary; Mark Milam, Constable 5th District March 1 Democratic Primary; Johnny King, Constable 7th District March 1 Democratic Primary; and Tom Theriaque, Constable 2nd District Independent (which will not appear on the ballot until August).

The qualifying deadline for all 7 Constable seats and the county-wide Assessor of Property seat is NOON December 10.

DCHS Building Trades Program Planning for Future Construction

September 11, 2015
Dwayne Page
Location for construction of 57' x 26' concrete pad for use in building houses and storage buildings/garages on DCHS campus

The DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program is making plans to build more homes and storage buildings to be sold to the public.

During Thursday night's meeting, the Board of Education voted to authorize construction of a 57' x 26' concrete pad for use in building houses and storage buildings/garages on campus. It will be located directly outside the DCHS shop area across from the parking lot in the grass.

Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director addressed the board of education Thursday night. "The pad will be poured to the top of the curb. The curb will stay and then we'll pour the pad to the top of the curb. The fence will have to come down in that section until we can get that poured. After that the fence will be placed back where it is on top of the pad. This pad will be big enough that we can build small buildings up to a house. We will be able to build a house on it," said Leach.

Homes built through this program were formerly constructed on lots which had been purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed.

But in recent years, homes and other structures have been built on campus at DeKalb County High School. When completed, they are sold and the owners are then responsible for having them moved to their own lots.

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

September 11, 2015
Dwayne Page

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

The DeKalb County School System is offering a series of three workshops for parents and caregivers to learn about age-appropriate targets and tools to use at home to ensure children begin kindergarten prepared.

The first workshop will be Tuesday, September 15 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Others will follow on December 3 and February 5 from 5:15 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and all parents with children from birth to age 5 are urged to attend. Child care will be offered and snacks will be available for parents and children including pizza, drinks, and fruit/dessert. Free toys and materials will also be provided for children to take home and keep for each session. If you are unable to attend this round of classes but would like to be on the waiting list for future classes please let the school system know.
Space is limited so call ahead to register today at 615-215-2105 and ask for "READY CLASS"

Visit www.readyforkindergarten.org for more information.

One Injured in Head-On Crash

September 11, 2015
Dwayne Page
Chevy pickup driven by 55 year old Darryl Pedigo

One person was injured in a head-on crash Thursday afternoon on the Old Bildad Road.

Trooper Sean Tramel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 20 year old Dakota Chrestman of Rock Island was traveling west in a 1986 Toyota Camry when he came over into the eastbound lane and struck a 2006 Chevy pickup driven by 55 year old Darryl Pedigo of Smithville. The truck was a company vehicle belonging to Waymon Hale Construction.

Chrestman was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital with cuts to his facial area. Pedigo was not injured.

Evins Re-elected Chairman of School Board

September 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
School Board Re-elects Officers: W.J. (Dub) Evins, III (center), Chairman; Doug Stephens (left), Vice Chairman; and Shaun Tubbs (right), Assistant Secretary

Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III has been re-elected Chairman of the Board of Education.

Evins was named by his fellow board members to again serve as chairman during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting.

Sixth district member Doug Stephens was re-elected Vice-Chairman and Seventh District member Shaun Tubbs was re-elected Assistant Secretary.

The board re-organizes each September electing officers to serve for the year.

The board consists of Danny Parkerson from the First District, Jerry Wayne Johnson from the Second District, Jim Beshearse from the Third District, Kate Miller from the Fourth District, W.J. (Dub) Evins, III from the Fifth District, Doug Stephens from the Sixth District, and Shaun Tubbs from the Seventh District.

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps updated the school board on personnel moves since last month.

Seth Willoughby has been hired as a teacher at DCHS, replacing Jenny Norris

Megan Carroll was granted a leave of absence.

Those who have resigned are Katherine Ballard, Psychologist; Elsie Miller, cafeteria employee at Northside Elementary School; Beverly Starnes, cafeteria worker at DeKalb West School; and Amanda Trapp, educational assistant at Smithville Elementary School.

DeKalb County Prevention Coalition Participating in Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

September 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Prevention Coalition Participating in Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition is participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration's 10th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This event will be at Smithville City Hall on Saturday, September 26 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. It's also being held in every State across the country. The drug take-back box is located inside Smithville City Hall so local residents can return their unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back effort addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicines, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.

DEA Acting Administer Chuck Rosenberg states, “Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem and this is a great opportunity for folks around the country to help reduce the threat. Please clean out your medicine cabinet and make your home safe from drug theft and abuse.”

In the previous nine Take-Back events nationwide from 2010-2014, a total of 4 million 823 thousand 251 pounds or 2,411 tons of drugs were collected!

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition urges DeKalb County residents to come out to this event and drop off any unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription medication. This is confidential and no names or information will be collected.


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