Local News Articles

Election Commission Reorganizes

April 18, 2017
Dwayne Page
Seated: Walteen Parker and Administrator Dennis Stanley. Standing: Barbara Vanatta, Jackie Smith, Lisa Peterson, and Jim Dean (Jordan Wilkins Photo)

The DeKalb County Election Commission has chosen its officers for the next two years.

The commission met in regular monthly session Monday afternoon at the courthouse to reorganize and to conduct other business.

Walteen Parker was named to her fifth term as chairman of the commission. Lisa Peterson was elected secretary.

In other business, the commission voted 5-0 to reappoint Dennis Stanley to his fifth term as administrator of elections for the next two years.

The DeKalb County Election Commission members include Republicans Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, and Jim Dean. Democratic members are Jackie Smith and Lisa Peterson.

Judkins Sentenced for Aggravated Burglary

April 18, 2017
Dwayne Page
John Allen Judkins, Jr.
Jacob James Damon
Aubrey Glenn Rigsby

A 43 year old man was sentenced in criminal court last Monday, April 10 on an aggravated burglary charge.

43 year old John Allen Judkins, Jr. (AKA J.J. Judkins) of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville entered a plea to the offense and was sentenced to six years, to serve one year in the county jail before being released on supervised probation. He was given jail credit from April 29, 2016 to April 10, 2017. He must make restitution of $700 to the victim.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday, April 24, 2016 Judkins allegedly broke into a home on Nashville Highway and stole a Craftsman saw, reciprocating saw, jigsaw, pole saw, chainsaw, charger, Stihl weedeater, drill bits, and saw blades all valued at approximately $1,270. The stolen items were recovered. The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

Meanwhile 23 year old Jacob James Damon of McMinnville entered a plea to theft over $1,000 and evading arrest. He received a four year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other to serve 90 days and then be on probation. He was given jail credit from August 4, 2016 to April 10, 2017. Damon must also make restitution of $430 to a victim in the case.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 Damon allegedly broke into and stole a 1991 Nissan pickup truck valued at $1,000. In the back of the truck were various items valued at $935 which were also stolen. The following day, Thursday, August 4, 2016 Smithville Police responded to a complaint of a reckless driver on Cookeville Highway coming into the city limits. Officers spotted the vehicle near Northside Elementary School and observed it go through the red light at Highways 70 & 56 at a high rate of speed. Police activated their blue lights but the driver (Damon) refused to stop and continued into Warren County through a residential area. The driver (Damon) then turned onto a driveway and drove through the back yard and field where the vehicle went out of control and spun around before going into the yard of another residence. Due to a safety threat, police determined that the driver (Damon) needed to be stopped. They implemented the controlled pit maneuver and got the vehicle stopped. The driver (Damon) exited and continued to evade on foot. Officers gave chase and apprehended Damon.

A convicted felon, armed with a loaded weapon, who got into a scuffle with police in the parking lot of Walmart on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 was sentenced Monday, April 10 in criminal court.

37 year old Aubrey Glenn Rigsby entered a plea to unlawful possession of a weapon and received a four year TDOC sentence to serve. The term is to run concurrent with any other cases or sentences against him. He must forfeit his weapons. He was given jail credit from December 7, 2016 to April 10, 2017.

Smithville Police responded to Wal-Mart in reference to a person armed with a gun. Upon arrival officers confronted the suspect, Rigsby and ordered him to put his hands in the air and step out of his car. As Rigsby got out of his vehicle, one of the officers noticed that he appeared to be reaching for his waistline and warned the assisting officer who began to wrestle with Rigsby and saw that he was gripping a gun while it was still holstered in the front of his pants. As Rigsby was unable to draw the weapon, he stopped resisting and raised his hands in the air. The officer then removed the loaded handgun from Rigsby. A certified criminal history check revealed that Rigsby is a convicted felon.

Prescription Drug Take Back Day set for Saturday, April 22

April 18, 2017
Dwayne Page
Prescription Drug Take Back Day set for Saturday, April 22

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition encourages all DeKalb County residents to join the effort to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse by participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This event will be held on the public square in front of the Smithville City Hall on Saturday, April 22 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. 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 for safe disposal. This is confidential and no names or information will be collected.

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition is partnering with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in association with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Office of Diversion Control in providing this service.

On Saturday, April 22, in communities across the state, Tennesseans have the opportunity to take part in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs from homes and offices.

Take These Steps to Remove Prescription Drugs From Your Home or Office.

•Check for unused prescriptions in medicine cabinets, bathroom, closets, bedside tables and kitchen drawers, under the sink, and in closets, purses, handbags, and containers.

•Remove all labeling and packaging on bottles and containers before disposing to ensure the protection of your privacy and personal information.

Keep in mind: the majority of Tennessee’s Take-Back Boxes are in locations that are accessible seven days a week, 24 hours a day. While there is special focus on take-back events each year in April and October, most boxes are located in law enforcement buildings and offices, where they are available for safe disposal anytime you need them.

If you or someone you care for is in need of substance use treatment, call the Tennessee REDLINE anytime at 1-800-889-9789 for help now. Resources are available across the state.

County Clerk Unveils User Friendly Office Updates

April 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
County Clerk Office
License Plate Board
Bulletin Board and Counter
Kiosk Machine

A few renovations have been made in the County Clerk’s Office to update and make it more attractive and user friendly.

“Upon taking office a little over two years ago we decided the current plate organizer in place was an obstruction. It blocked a majority of the drive-thru window from the work stations and was very difficult to view the plates without removing them individually. For the public's convenience we erected three display boards to better view the plates and relocated the original organizer. With the relocation of the previous plate organizer, customers at the drive-thru, our staff and the customers inside can now view transactions at both locations,” said County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss.

“We also decided to relocate the Kiosk machine from the far end of the hallway to inside our office. This allows us to better assist customers with it's use,” he continued.

A large bulletin board has been installed allowing us to post office related information, hours of operation and public notices. Underneath the bulletin board we installed a counter for filling out business and marriage license applications, notary applications, etc.”

“Our office strives to accommodate the public, maintain office cleanliness and a friendly and efficient customer service. We thank everyone for allowing us to serve them and desire to continue being fair and honest servants to the community,” County Clerk Poss concluded.

Man on Probation for Sale of Marijuana Found with More Pot

April 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
Sheriff's Department Officials Seize Marijuana from home of Ricky LeRoy Randall
Ricky LeRoy Randall

A suspected marijuana dealer, already on probation for sale and delivery of pot, has been found with more.

47 year old Ricky LeRoy Randall of Old Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license and possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana) for resale. His bond is $28,000 and his court date is April 27.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, April 10 sheriff’s department detectives went to Randall’s home on Old Blue Springs Road to conduct a probation search of Randall, who is currently on probation out of Warren County for sale and delivery of a schedule VI drug.

During the search, detectives found outside of Randall’s residence in a white five gallon bucket approximately ten ounces of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

Inside Randall’s home, detectives found in the bedroom/bathroom a half ounce of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana, scales, a pipe, and rolling papers along with $700. They also recovered from the residence a package which contained a white five gallon bucket with approximately four pounds of a green leafy substance that was individually packaged and believed to be marijuana.

Randall was charged with the DRL offense after he was observed operating a motor vehicle on a license which was revoked out of California.

School Board Changes Policy Regarding Student Absences Due to Personal Illness

April 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools and Board of Education

Students will be able to receive up to five excused absences for personal illness during a school year without a doctor’s statement under a policy amendment adopted on second and final reading by the Board of Education Thursday night.

The policy amendment will take effect with the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Under the current board policy, a doctor statement is required for all student absences due to illness in order to be excused. The amendment allows schools to accept notes from parents for up to five absences per school year. “This is for a personal illness. This is not for a sibling’s illness, a parent’s illness, or a trip to Disney World. Its for the child, himself or herself, being sick,” said Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder.

A doctor’s statement will be required for students who are absent after the fifth day of personal illness under the policy amendment.

The board also adopted a policy on second reading which prohibits employees from accessing social media and networking sites through the schools network or by any other means (e.g. smart phones) during work hours.

Pharmacy Burglar Pleads Guilty

April 16, 2017
Dwayne Page
Bryan Christopher Matthews

One of three persons allegedly caught breaking into F.Z. Webb & Sons Pharmacy in Alexandria last December appeared for sentencing in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 10.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_19.pdf (2.49 MB)

32 year old Bryan Christopher Matthews of Carthage entered a plea by criminal information to one count of burglary and received a four year sentence on judicial diversion probation. He must make restitution of almost $1,300.

Cases against two other defendants, 22 year old Ericka Lynn Morgan of Granville, and 50 year old Joseph Graylon Nesbitt of Pleasant Shade remain pending in court.

Alexandria Police Chief Chris Russell released the following prepared statement after the burglary. “On Wednesday night, December 28, 2016 at approximately 8:15 pm , Officer Flavis Burroughs was on patrol and noticed an audible burglar alarm going off at Webb’s Pharmacy located at 105 South Public Square in Alexandria. Upon arrival Officer Burroughs noticed the front glass door had been damaged and he observed a person inside the building climbing up a hole in the ceiling . As Officer Burroughs made his way around the back of the building , a white Dodge Truck fled the area of the burglary . Officer Burroughs stopped the truck on Edgewood Street a short distance away and detained the driver, Bryan Christopher Matthews , and a passenger , Joseph Graylon Nesbitt. DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputies arrived to assist . When the pharmacy owner arrived on scene and unlocked the building he heard a woman’s voice from inside the ceiling . The woman, Ericka Lynn Morgan was found hiding in the ceiling. Officers placed Ms. Morgan into custody. Further investigation revealed the three had made entry into the building by cutting a vent on the roof and going down through the ceiling. At the time of the report it appears nothing had been stolen . All three were arrested and booked into the DeKalb County Jail,” said Chief Russell.

WJLE Recognizes DCHS Class of 2017 (View Photo Gallery Here)

April 16, 2017
Dwayne Page
WJLE Recognizes DCHS Class of 2017 (View Photo Gallery Here)

WJLE and participating sponsors are presenting a photo gallery of the DCHS Class of 2017 in April and May. You may now view it at www.wjle.com.

Graduation is set for Friday, May 26 at the DCHS football field.

Click on the link below or the box on the left side of the WJLE homepage to view the senior formals.


Once you open the page, click each photo to view a larger image. The name of the senior you select is at the bottom of the photo. Or you may move your mouse over the photo to view the name.

There are 178 photos in the gallery divided up 30 photos to a page. Notice the box to the left in the photo gallery. After you view page 1 be sure to click the links for pages 2-6 to view the remaining photos. The names of seniors not pictured are also listed inside the box.

The WJLE photo gallery page is sponsored in April by Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, DTC Communications, Arrow Termite & Pest Control, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Road Supervisor Butch Agee, DeKalb Tire & Service, Alexandria Auto Parts, and DeKalb Funeral Chapel.

Sponsors for May are Fast Pace Urgent Care Clinic, General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten H. Cook, II, Assessor of Property Shannon Cantrell, and Trustee Sean Driver, in addition to County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, DTC Communications, Arrow Termite & Pest Control, DeKalb Tire & Service, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss.

Regional 4-H Livestock Judging Contest

April 16, 2017
By: Leigh Fuson, 4-H Agent
(Front) John Iervolino, Brooklyn Ponder, Junior Manning, Marshall Farler, and Riley Ruson. (Back) Elizabeth Seber, Jenna Cantrell, Payton Cantrell, Clayton Crook, Colby Barnes, Caleb Taylor, Ian Barnes, Luke Magness, and Ansley Cantrell.
5th Place The Junior High Livestock Judging Team placed 5th at the regional contest.
Ian & Colby Ian Barnes and Colby Barnes were the 10th and 4th place high individuals, respectively.

Fourteen DeKalb County 4-H members recently traveled to the Tennessee Livestock Center in Murfreesboro to compete in the Central Region 4-H Livestock Judging contest. In the Junior division of 4th and 5th graders, the team of Ian Barnes, Junior Manning, and Brooklyn Ponder placed 6th.

The team comprised of Ansley Cantrell, Marshall Farler, Riley Fuson, and Luke Magness placed 8th. There were 20 total teams. Ian Barnes was the 10th high individual. In the Junior High divison of 6th-8th graders, the team of Colby Barnes, Jenna Cantrell, John Iervolino, Caleb Taylor, and Elizabeth Seber placed 5th out of 28 teams. Colby Barnes was the 4th place high individual. Payton Cantrell and Clayton Crook also competed as individuals in the Senior High division, 9th-12th graders, and did a great job.

Livestock Judging teaches 4-H members decision-making skills while they learn more about the livestock industry. Beef cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs are evaluated to know which animals would be best in a farm’s breeding program or would make the most profit in a market situation. 4-H’ers also learn how to read and use genetic information (EPDs) to assist in the selection of livestock. This is very useful knowledge if these young people ever buy livestock of their own. Eight total classes of animals are judged at the contest. The Senior division also must give two sets of oral reasons to explain why they placed the class the way they did. This improves their communication skills as they must think under pressure while still using good presentation techniques.

These teams had a great time learning about livestock animals and made new friends along the way. They represented DeKalb County very well in this highly competitive contest! For more information about the 4-H livestock group, please contact the UT/TSU DeKalb County Extension Office at 615-597-4945.

Photo Caption:
Team The DeKalb County 4-H Livestock Judging Teams did an excellent job at the regional contest in Murfreesboro. (Front) John Iervolino, Brooklyn Ponder, Junior Manning, Marshall Farler, and Riley Ruson. (Back) Elizabeth Seber, Jenna Cantrell, Payton Cantrell, Clayton Crook, Colby Barnes, Caleb Taylor, Ian Barnes, Luke Magness, and Ansley Cantrell.
5th Place The Junior High Livestock Judging Team placed 5th at the regional contest.
Ian & Colby Ian Barnes and Colby Barnes were the 10th and 4th place high individuals, respectively.

Boy Scout Court of Honor

April 16, 2017
Bill Conger

Boy Scouts in Troop 347 were honored for their achievements and rank advancement at a Court of Honor on Thursday, April 13.

Two scouts advanced in rank. Kaleb Wildes moved up to Tenderfoot. He also earned merit badges for Chemistry; Citizenship in the World; First Aid; Signs, Signals and Codes; Drafting; Citizenship in the Nation; Citizenship in the Community; Photography; and his Cyber Chip. Jacob Williams advanced from Second Class to First Class and earned merit badges for Leatherwork, Woodworking, Electricity, and Space Exploration.

Nine scouts were recognized for earning various merit badges and awards. Jonathan Birmingham received his Public Health merit badge and Cyber Chip. Zackary Cantrell picked up merit badges for Astronomy, Fingerprinting, Drafting; and Cyber Chip. Gavin Conger earned merit badges for Photography, Disability Awareness, and Reading. Carter Dias earned the Home Repairs merit badge. Friedrich Dodge picked up Crime Prevention and Fingerprinting merit badges along with his Cyber Chip. Cody Robinson earned merit badges for Veterinary Medicine and Personal Management along with his Cyber Chip. Will Stephens earned merit badges for Metalwork, Woodwork, Citizenship in the Community, Communications, and Personal Management. Arthur Sullivan completed merit badges for Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, and Home Repairs. Brenden Wagner earned merit badges for Search and Rescue, First Aid, Citizenship in the World, Chemistry, Fingerprinting, Crime Prevention, and his Cyber Chip.

Dennis Wildes was recognized for completing his training as the newest adult leader for the troop.

Middle Tennessee - Black Fox District Executive Mark Lytle presented Scoutmasters Will and Jen Sherwood and Troop 347 with the 2017 Friends of Scouting participation award.

The Boy Scouts will have a fundraising spaghetti dinner on Sunday, April 23 at the First Baptist Church Family Enrichment Center. The meal will be served 11:00 am through 1 p.m. The community is invited. Donations will be accepted at the door, no ticket required, and will be used for summer camp fees and activities.


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