Local News Articles

Jessica May Denied Parole

June 14, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jessica May

Its official!

21 year old Jessica Ashley May will have to serve at least two more years behind bars before her next parole hearing.

She is serving an eight year sentence for attempted aggravated child neglect stemming from the 2015 death of her 23 month old son.

Three members of the Tennessee Board of Parole have voted and concurred that May should be declined parole due to the seriousness of the offense. Her case will be reviewed again in two years.

A parole hearing was held for May on Tuesday, May 23 at the Carroll County Jail where she is incarcerated as a state prisoner. The parole hearings officer who heard the case made a non-binding recommendation to the Tennessee Board of Parole that Ms. May be declined parole.

The board members consider a variety of factors in making decisions on whether to grant parole including the seriousness of the crime, time served, victim input, the inmate’s institutional record (programs completed, educational progress, disciplinary incidents, etc.), and other factors.

May stood before Judge Gary McKenzie in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 and entered a plea to attempted aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony, and received an eight year sentence as a range I mitigated offender to serve at least 20% before parole eligibility. At the time May had already served 568 days since her arrest on May 19, 2015.

Less than a week before May’s plea, her fiance at the time, 25 year old Cody Key was handed a 45 year prison term for the beating death of May’s child, 23 month old Colten Alexander May after entering a plea in Putnam County Criminal Court to second degree murder. Key is to serve 100% of the sentence but he was given jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016.

Key is incarcerated at the South Central Correctional Center in Wayne County, a Tennessee Department of Correction facility.

The couple brought the child to the emergency room of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital on Sunday morning, May 17, 2015 but he was already dead. It was determined that the child had suffered internal and other physical injuries that resulted in his death. Law enforcement officers concluded that Key had severely beaten the child and that May knew the abuse was taking place but did nothing to stop it.

May, who was pregnant again at the time of her arrest in 2015, was later transferred to the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction due to her special needs. After giving birth, she was initially incarcerated in the Warren County Jail. Her child was placed in the custody of the Department of Children Services and is reportedly now with May’s family members.

Erin McKenna Cantrell Graduates from Cornell University

June 14, 2017
Erin McKenna Cantrell

Erin McKenna Cantrell of Smithville graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Sustainability with a focus in Biogeochemical Science at Cornell University's commencement ceremony, held on Sunday, May 28.

While at Cornell, Cantrell's activities included research assistant, Water Soil and Water Lab; Phi Mu where she served as chapter historian; Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity; Cornell Outdoor Education Instructor for rock climbing and caving; BEARS Mentor; research and tree climbing expedition to Madagascar. She had a summer research internship at the University of Tennessee's Soil Biogeochemistry Lab. In addition she studied abroad in Denmark for two semesters. Cantrell plans to work for a year as a biotech for a non-profit before returning to school to earn her Ph.D.

Cantrell, a 2013 graduate of DeKalb County High School, is the daughter of Lori and Edgar Pryor of Smithville. She is the granddaughter of Burnace and Barbara Vandergriff of Smithville.

TVA Issues Road/Water Traffic Caution for Center Hill Lake

June 13, 2017
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Valley Authority is issuing a road and water traffic caution for Friday, June 23, 2017, due to transmission line work that crosses Indian Creek on Center Hill Lake and Highway 96 near Center Hill Dam.

TVA transmission crews will remove a transmission line (wires) that crossover the lake and highway.

TVA crews are scheduled to begin work 9 a.m. CT and work until the job is completed.

Watercraft operators should avoid the Indian Creek area or take extra precautions. Two safety boats and personnel will patrol the area while TVA crews work. Boaters should heed warnings and monitor Marine channels 13, 16 and 81.

Motorists traveling along highway 96 should use caution near Center Hill Dam. One lane of Highway 96 near Center Hill Dam will close due to the work. Traffic will stop as TVA removes the wires crossing the roadway. Traffic control personnel will direct traffic.

Steven Jennings to Host "Meet and Greet" Wednesday

June 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
Steven Jennings

Steven Jennings and his family would like to thank all the people who have supported Steven throughout his career at DeKalb County High School. Steven would like to take this opportunity to begin to give back to the school and community in which he has always been so proud to be a part.

Steven will have a meet and greet on Wednesday, June 14 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at DeKalb County High School. You are all invited to come and support him as he begins his next journey.

“We want him to enjoy the moment with the people who have supported him therefore he will not be signing autographs at this time but pictures are welcome,” said the family.

Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Steven Jennings in the Second Round of MLB Draft (VIEW VIDEO OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT HERE)

June 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
Pirates Draft  Steven Jennings in the Second Round of MLB Draft

The Pittsburgh Pirates Monday night selected former DCHS right handed pitcher Steven Jennings in the Major League Baseball Draft as the 42nd overall pick and sixth into the second round.

“This has been a dream come true. This has been a dream of mine to play professional baseball since I was old enough to know really what baseball was. It is absolutely a dream come true to make that dream a reality. Its awesome. I can’t really describe how I am feeling. I can’t tell you how thankful and grateful I am to be in the position I am in right now,” Jennings told WJLE Monday night after his selection was announced.


Jennings was a two-sport star at DCHS in baseball and football, as he was named the offensive MVP of his high school district as a junior. But he tore his ACL during a football game last September, an injury that ended his football season. Still he was named the football team's MVP his senior year. The torn ACL didn't keep Jennings off the mound, however, as he kept pitching while wearing a knee brace.

Jennings' fastball sits at 89-92 mph and touches 95 mph, and the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder could add more velocity as he develops. The athletic 18-year-old also throws a slider, curveball and changeup. Jennings posted a 0.54 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings for DCHS in his senior season.

Following his junior season, Jennings offered up a pledge to the Ole Miss Rebels and later signed a letter of intent, but with his selection in the draft he will now turn pro. ‘I am going to sign with the Pirates. We haven’t really worked out the details of when I am going to Pittsburgh to sign yet but we will probably work that out tomorrow or within the next couple of days for a time I can get up there and get all the paper work done,” Jennings told WJLE.

Jennings said he wasn’t surprised to have been taken so early in the second round. “We had said we thought it would be late in the first round or early in the second round so it was right around where we had pictured it being,” he continued.

His father Randy Jennings, said Steven will soon be leaving for Tampa, Florida to play his rookie ball. “Steven will get his orders probably later in the week as to when he is going to leave. They have told us it may be toward the end of the week. He will be going to their rookie ball league just outside of Tampa, Florida so he will be going there for the rest of the summer for his rookie ball,” said Randy Jennings.

As he celebrates reaching this important goal in his own life, Steven took a moment to offer up some words of encouragement for youngsters growing up in DeKalb County today.

“For any of the little boys or even little girls in DeKalb County, if you want to do something don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. Just work really hard. Stay humble and take all the opportunities you can and make the most of them. Don’t take anything for granted. You only get so many opportunities to do what you want with your life and you can’t let them slip by. Work really hard and stay grateful for everything you have and try to accomplish your goals,” Jennings concluded.

Residents Awake to Intruder in their Home

June 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
Alfred Mitchell Horn
Philando Darnell Fullilove
Jeffery Allen Flatt
Robert Arthur Lebel, III
Michael Davis Arrington
Barry Wayne Hobbs
Curtis Pitner Shelton, Sr.

Residents of a home on Sparta Highway awoke Sunday morning, June 11 to find a man standing in their living room.

The man, 47 year old Alfred Mitchell Horn of Eagle Creek Road, Smithville, had apparently entered the residence through a window.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_27.pdf (3.26 MB)

After being confronted, the man threw a cigarette and poured a beer on his victims. After leaving the home, Horn used a baseball bat to break windows of a 1998 Chevy Blazer parked outside.

Horn is charged with aggravated burglary and vandalism over $1,000. His bond is $11,000 and his court date is June 29.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday a deputy was dispatched to the residence due to a report of a possible vandalism. Witnesses reported that at around 8:00 a.m. they awoke to find Horn standing in their living room. Horn threw a cigarette at one of the witnesses, poured a beer on them, and then exited out of a window that he had pushed in from the outside. After leaving the home, Horn picked up a baseball bat and busted five windows out of a red 1998 Chevy Blazer causing damage estimated at $1,500.

29 year old Philando Darnell Fullilove of Shady Lane, Alexandria was picked up on Tuesday, June 6 on a grand jury sealed indictment charging him with two counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine). His bond is $50,000. He will be arraigned on June 20. Fullilove was among those indicted as a result of a recent undercover investigation by the sheriff’s department.

60 year old Curtis Pitner Shelton, Sr. of School House Road, Liberty is charged with driving under the influence. He was further cited for driving on a revoked license. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, June 5 a deputy was dispatched to the area of Salem Cemetery due to a report of a possible DUI driver. Upon arrival, the officer found Shelton who was slumped over the bed of his pickup truck. The officer noticed an odor of an alcoholic beverage about Shelton’s person. He was very unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Shelton submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was placed under arrest.

49 year old Jeffery Allen Flatt of Nashville Highway, Baxter is charged with driving under the influence and two counts of reckless endangerment for having two nephews in the vehicle with him placing them in imminent danger of bodily injury. His bond is $8,500 and his court date is June 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, June 6 a deputy was dispatched to Austin Bottom Road due to a wreck with no injury. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Flatt who said he had been driving the vehicle involved in the accident. Flatt had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Flatt performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test.

30 year old Robert Arthur Lebel, III of West Broad Street, Cookeville is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $30,000 and he will make a court appearance June 22. Sheriff Ray said that on or about July 31, 2015 Lebel allegedly stole a CF Martin guitar valued at $1,300 and sold it at a business in Cookeville for $500. The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective. Although the charge was filed in 2015, authorities only recently found Lebel and placed him under arrest.

50 year old Michael Davis Arrington of Searcy Street, Murfreesboro is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, and assault. He was further cited for violation of the implied consent law for refusing to submit to a blood test. His bond is $10,500 and his court date is June 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, June 10 a deputy was dispatched to Cookeville Highway in the area of the scenic overlook due to a fight on the side of the road. The caller gave a description of a black SUV and two males. The deputy spotted the vehicle at Captain’s Point Road and pulled it over. He spoke to the driver, Arrington who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage about his person. Two passengers were with Arrington including a seven year old child and another man, who was in the backseat, slumped over and holding his side. The man told the officer that he and Arrington had gotten into an argument while driving down the road. Arrington then stopped the SUV by the side of the road, forced his victim out of the vehicle, and then punched him on the left side of his abdomen. The victim complained of internal injuries and was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. During the investigation, the deputy noticed that Arrington’s eyes were glossy and bloodshot and his speech was slow and slurred. Arrington performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest. Due to Arrington’s state of intoxication, he was charged with reckless endangerment for placing the child in imminent danger of bodily harm.

48 year old Barry Wayne Hobbs of Leeville Road, Mount Juliet is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, June 11 a deputy was dispatched to Nashville Highway in the area of Alexandria due to single vehicle non injury traffic accident. Upon arrival the officer spoke with the driver, Hobbs and noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were glossy and bloodshot and his speech was slow and slurred. Hobbs was also very unsteady on his feet. Hobbs performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest.

Multi-Agency Drug Bust Nets Five Arrests

June 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
Samer Walid Abdalla
Courtney Paris
Ernest Grady Tanner
Amy Renee Ford
Jerry Henry Goff

Five convicted felons were arrested Friday, June 9 at 332 New Hope Road, Alexandria after an undercover drug investigation by several local and state law enforcement agencies.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_27.pdf (3.26 MB)

Agents seized approximately 5 grams of fentanyl, methodone, morphine, xanax, six weapons (including two assault rifles), a Chevy Silverado, a Dodge Dakota, a BMW car, cell phones, flash drives, home security system, digital scales, computer, ammo, and $973 cash.

36 year old Samer Walid Abdalla, 34 year old Courtney Paris, and 55 year old Ernest Grady Tanner, all of New Hope Road, Alexandria; 38 year old Amy Renee Ford of Chumbley Hollow, Watertown; and 39 year old Jerry Henry Goff of East Main Street, Smithville were taken into custody.

The narcotics search warrant was executed and served at the residence by members of the 13th & 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Alexandria Police Department, the Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Division, and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.

Adballa and Paris were in the master bedroom where agents found approximately 5 grams of a powder substance on a nightstand that tested positive for fentanyl; prescription narcotics which were packaged for resale, guns, three sets of digital scales, a large amount of hypodermic needles, and packaging material used in the distribution of narcotics.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Abdalla, who is Hepatitis C positive, fought with agents while resisting arrest and he tried to bite them. Abdalla also suffered a bloody nose during the scuffle putting the officers at risk of being infected. He was charged with criminal exposure of Hepatitis C. “Abdalla was ordered several times to raise his hands and to place them behind his back. He failed to comply, striking at agents and forcing them to restrain him to affect the arrest. Abdalla fought with the agents and tried to take an agent’s gun by grabbing the upper barrel portion of the rifle and pulling. Abdalla tried to bite two agents who were trying to restrain him. Abdalla was slightly injured and began bleeding from the nose. He continued to struggle knowing that he has Hepatitis C placing agents at risk of being infected. Abdalla acknowledged that he has Heptatis C and he has been charged with criminal exposure twice before,” said Sheriff Ray.

Abdalla was also charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest as he tried to keep agents from taking both Paris and himself into custody. Both Abdalla and Paris were each charged with possession with intent to sell or deliver a schedule II drug (fentanyl) and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Agents found a 9 millimeter pistol inside Paris’ pocketbook within reach of both Paris and Abdalla.

Bond for Abdalla is $500,000. Paris’ bond is $150,000

Sheriff Ray said Abdalla has numerous felonies on his record including two counts of possession of cocaine on May 25, 2004, criminal simulation on September 10, 2008, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony on May 7, 2012.

Paris was convicted for possession of a schedule II drug on November 16, 2011 and she has other felony convictions.

Tanner is charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. His bond is $75,000. According to Sheriff Ray, Tanner was found in another bedroom of the home along with a Ruger mini-14 rifle, a DPMS-AR 15 rifle, a Springfield Armory .45 caliber 1911 semi-automatic pistol, and approximately 150 plus rounds of ammunition of various calibers. On October 7, 2005 Tanner was convicted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) for possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic assault. Tanner was sentenced to 10 months in the U.S. penitentiary in McCreary, Kentucky.

Ford and Goff were in a guest bedroom of the home where agents recovered from a closet a Revelation. 22 caliber rifle with a bullet in the magazine but not chambered. Narcotics were discovered in a duffle bag that also held Goff’s driver license.

Both Ford and Goff were charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. Goff was further charged with possession of a schedule II drug with intent to sell or deliver.

The following day, Ford was charged with bringing contraband into a penal institution after drugs were found on her during a strip search. “Ford was being dressed out for housing at the jail and during a strip search by a female correctional officer, a small cellophane baggie with a clear crystal substance was found in her body cavity. It field tested positive for meth,” said Sheriff Ray.

Bond for Ford totals $55,000. Goff’s bond is $100,000.

According to Sheriff Ray, Ford is a convicted felon. She was sentenced to 8 years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections for initiation of methamphetamine in 2012.

Goff pled guilty to manufacturing meth on November 7, 2012

All five defendants will make a court appearance on these new charges June 29.

Avoid higher vehicle registration fees by renewing before expiration

June 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
James L (Jimmy) Poss.

Whether you have or have not received a June renewal notice from the state, the time is now to renew your vehicle registration before the fees increase.

The cost to register a vehicle in Tennessee will increase beginning July 1, 2017.

“I have been informed that many citizens here and in other counties have not received their June renewal notices. We can still renew for June and through August, 2017 at the current price but the increased fees will apply effective July 1 for anyone who renews on-line, by mail, or in person,” said County Clerk James L (Jimmy) Poss.

The registration fee for passenger motor vehicles (standard, disabled, military, motorcycle, specialty) will be increased by $5. The registration fee for commercial motor vehicles for transporting passengers for hire (buses, taxis) will be increased by $10. The registration fee for commercial and freight motor vehicles (semis, tractor trailers) will be increased by $20.

There will be a new fee for electric vehicles beginning July 1, 2017. The registration fee for electric vehicles will be $100. The electric vehicle registration fee is in addition to the standard registration fee.

These fee increases are part of the 2017 IMPROVE ACT which has been signed into law by the Governor to help shore up funding for roads and bridges across the state. 100% of these fee increases go to the highway fund.

County Clerk Poss advises individuals with upcoming renewals to take advantage of the current fees by renewing eligible vehicles prior to July 1, 2017.

Previously, the county clerk’s office has been able to complete renewal transactions within a period of 60 days or less prior to the expiration date.

Students will continue to eat free but school meal prices for adults to increase

June 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Amy Lattimore

All students in the DeKalb County School System, regardless of income, will again have access to free breakfasts and lunches when school begins in August. However, teachers, staff and other adults who eat breakfast and lunch at school will have to pay a little more.

Meal prices for the adults are increasing by twenty five cents for breakfast and twenty five cents for lunch.

The Board of Education Thursday night approved the increases as recommended by Amy Lattimore, School Nutrition Supervisor. Adults have been paying $1.25 for breakfast and $2.50 for lunch.

“The USDA requires that adult meals including for teachers and staff be paid by them. We can’t use federal funding to pay for their meals. We haven’t gone up on the prices for adults in quite a while but it’s gotten to the point now where meal costs have eclipsed our price point. We just need to go up a little bit. I would like for us to go up by twenty five cents this year for breakfast and twenty five cents for lunch. Next year we may need to look at going up some more. It may be enough or it may not be but its really comparable with what other counties around us charge,” said Lattimore.

Meanwhile, Lattimore said the free breakfast and lunch program for students continues to be successful.

“It is still going really well. We still have a couple more years on that first track that we started. At that point we’ll have to look at it again but for right now it’s going really well. We’re pleased with it,” said Lattimore.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. CEP eliminates the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meals, relying instead on information from other means-tested programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The school system had already been offering free breakfasts under the Universal Breakfast Program but opted into the free lunch program during the fall of 2015 hoping to get more students to participate. Under CEP, the school system is reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students identified as eligible for free meals. To keep the program financially self supporting, the number of students taking part must remain at a higher level.

DCHS Graduate Thanks School Board for Scholarship

June 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Erica Birmingham

A member of the DCHS Class of 2017 addressed the Board of Education Thursday night thanking them for awarding her a scholarship.

Erica Birmingham, who will further her education at Belmont University, was one of three graduates at DCHS to receive a $700 scholarship presented by members of the Board of Education. Belmont University also awarded Birmingham a $16,000 scholarship.

“I am one of the three recipients of the DeKalb County Board of Education scholarships. I just personally want to tell you all, thank you. It means a lot to me. I plan to use the money to help with my college tuition. I’ll be going to Belmont University where I will be majoring in commercial voice. This is a huge step for me toward my dream of becoming a professional singer and songwriter. I just wanted to say thank you for supporting me and helping me reach my goal. Thank you so much,” said Birmingham in addressing the school board.


Follow Us


News Feed

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree