Local News Articles

Sheriff's Department Receives Certificate of Appreciation

September 26, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jail Sergeant Anthony Boyd, Probation and Parole Officer Sherilyn Walls, Sheriff Patrick Ray, and Probation and Parole Officer Don Fox

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department recently received a Certificate of Appreciation for its close association with the Board of Probation and Parole and for providing its officers a place at the jail for their meetings.

The plaque reads:

"Certificate of Appreciation

This certificate is awarded to the Administrator and staff of the DeKalb County Jail.

In recognition of valuable contributions to the Board of Parole Hearing Staff and the Hearing Process.”

Presenting the plaque (picture) is Probation and Parole Officers Don Fox, Sherilyn Walls, (not pictured Sherry Delaney) to Jail Sergeant Anthony Boyd and Sheriff Patrick Ray

DeKalb Jobless Rate Dips to 5.8% in August

September 25, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County’s Jobless Rate for August was 5.8%, down from 5.9% in July but well below the rate of 6.7% in August, 2015.

The local labor force for August was 7,700. A total of 7,250 were employed and 450 were without work.
Jobless rates for August among the fourteen counties in the Upper Cumberland region were as follows from highest to lowest:

Jackson:7.4%
Clay: 6.4%
Fentress: 6%
Cumberland:5.9%
Van Buren: 5.8%
Pickett:5.8%
DeKalb: 5.8%
Overton: 5.6%
White:5.4%
Putnam: 5.3%
Cannon:4.9%
Warren: 4.8%
Smith: 4.6%
Macon:4.5%

County unemployment rates for August 2016 show the rates decreased in 26 counties, increased in 58, and remained the same in 11 counties.

For the month of August, Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate at 3.8 percent, increasing from 3.6 percent the previous month. Knox County was 4.3 percent in August, increasing from 4.2 percent the previous month. The Hamilton County rate was 5.0 percent, increasing from 4.9 the previous month. Shelby County was 5.7 percent, up from 5.6 percent the previous month.

The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted, while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Smithville Electric System Issues Statement About Substation Project

September 25, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
An example of how the substation is expected to look from the outside

Smithville Electric System has issued a written statement on its plans and reasons for building a new substation on South College Street.

Last Monday, the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave their blessing for the project by voting 3-1 to overturn a decision by the Smithville Planning Commission to disapprove SES’s plans for the substation at the proposed location.

The statement, signed by Interim Manager Richie Knowles of Smithville Electric System, is as follows:

“Smithville Electric System has been a vital part of the City of Smithville since 1969. The City of Smithville issued Utility Service Bonds to purchase the electric system from McMinnville Electric and formed Smithville Electric System. The city appointed an electric utility board to rule and govern entirely over the Electric Department. Being an entity of the city, however, a separate organization with its own power board to make executive decisions for the utility. The sole existence of Smithville Electric System is to provide safe, reliable electricity at the lowest possible cost to the citizens of Smithville. That has been our goal from the beginning and we will continue to improve the system for the betterment of the city”.

“Smithville Electric System only has one substation to provide power to the city of Smithville. That makes us vulnerable to city wide outages due to weather and also when an upgrade is needed. We began upgrading the current substation located on West Main Street approximately 3 years ago. Anytime you are replacing substation equipment, you have to take an outage to be able to safely do the work needed. In our case, this means a city wide power outage, because we do not have an alternate source for electricity. This is part of the reason for the need of a second substation. Taking a city wide outage is very expensive for everyone involved. A planned outage cost our industries alone approximately $200,000.00 an hour. The cost goes up drastically after the first and second hour. Most of our industries are on just in time delivery, which means if they don’t get the product delivered on time, they are penalized severely. When planning the upgrade for the West Main Street Substation, we knew that we would have to take 3-4, possibly 5 city wide power outages. We took the first two to begin the process and then discovered that one of the outages had to be 6-7 hours long. That is when we decided that we could not do this to our citizens and our industries. It would cost our industry more than two million dollars total. Our goal is to help bring industries to our town not to drive them away. We decided the only way to avoid this expense was to go ahead and build the second substation that we had been talking about for 15 years or longer”.

“We contacted TVA and asked them if they would approve a second substation for Smithville. You don’t just build a substation without a need or approval from TVA. TVA approved the second substation for reliability purposes. We then actively began to search for a piece of property that would meet the requirements for our substation. The second substation needed to be as far away as possible from the West Main Street substation. If a tornado comes through town and damaged one place maybe the other would be ok and we would be able to continue providing power to the city. So location was the big factor. The land needed to be as close to a TVA transmission line as possible. If you have to run transmission lines across property lines, it takes forever and is very costly. Last but not least, the position of the substation had to be the least obtrusive to the neighborhood. With these three things in mind, we narrowed the search for property down to three sites. We asked TVA to send their engineers to evaluate the property and see which one would be the best location. TVA and our engineers both agreed that the property located at 1233 South College Street was the ideal location. The property was located directly under the TVA transmission lines. We could also put the substation toward the rear of the property instead of out on the street in direct view of the surrounding houses. The property was on the side of the street which allows us to connect the power back to the entire city. There is a line of trees on the South and West side and some trees on the North side of the property which would mostly hide the substation from the view of the neighbors. In TVA’s opinion and ours this property was the ideal location for the least impact to the neighborhood”.

“We signed an agreement on the property in June of 2015, stating that we would purchase the property upon approval from the city for the use of a substation. The mayor contacted the city planner and he told them that substations are allowed in any zoning areas of the city and that the site was approved for a substation. The city informed us that we could use the property for a substation and we could get started on the project. We then purchased the property and began the design of the substation. We were told that we did not need to go before the planning commission because substations are allowed in all zonings. We submitted our plans to TDEC and began clearing the property in the fall of 2015 to allow us to put the substation as far away from the public view as possible. Later the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) informed us that there was a wetland and we had to go through the delineation process. We followed TDEC’s suggestion and moved the substation forward out of the wetland. We had to agree to replenish the wetland this fall with native trees to the location. We met all of TDEC’s requirements and they gave us the permit to proceed”.

“So with the city’s permission and TDEC’s approval we proceeded with the project. We took bids on the equipment needed and signed almost two million dollars in purchase orders. In January of 2016, well after the project began, we were made aware that 3 of the neighbors had decided they didn’t want the substation there and began voicing their disapproval. We were then told that there was a statute that required utilities to take improvements before the planning commission. We took our plans to the planning commission and Attorney Sarah Cripps told them that Mr. (Joe) Rice, Mr. (W.C) Braswell and Mr. and Mrs. (Gordon) Murphy would be impacted by this location. The planning commission asked if they had done any studies to see what the value of the proposed damages would be and she said that they had not. A motion was made to reject the plans. City attorney, Vester Parsley told the planning commission that if they voted to reject the plans that the Smithville Electric Power board could vote to override their decision since the power board was the sole governing body of the utility. The planning commission then voted to reject the plans based on they did not have enough information, knowing that the decision would go back to the Smithville Electric Power board to decide. City planner Tommy Lee agreed with Attorney Parsley”.

“Our board took a vote to continue with the construction since we had already committed to almost two million dollars in expense”.

“We were only doing what we had been advised by the city to do. Attorney Cripps filed a suit saying our board did not have the authority to override the planning commission’s decision. The judge agreed; he stated that we had to go before the city board of Mayor and Aldermen for approval for the site. He also stated that we did not have to stop construction. The opposition to the substation had already voiced their opinions at a planning meeting and in court. They had had almost a year to make their disapproval known to the alderman. On Monday September 19th, 2016 the city called a special meeting to vote on the use of the property. Most of the Aldermen had already done their homework and knew that Smithville Electric had only proceeded with this project with prior approval from the city officials. If they voted no, they would be voting against what the city planner, mayor and city lawyer had already advised us to do. Some people have disagreed with the Mayor’s decision not to let the crowd speak at the special called meeting, but they have been opposing this for quite some time and their voice was heard by all. The Aldermen voted 3-1 to override the planning commission’s decision and allow us to build the substation at the proposed site. This was a vote for the future of our city. The Aldermen understand their job that they were elected to do. They have to make the best decisions for the entire city, not just a few individuals, even though sometimes it is not the popular thing to do. Some of the Aldermen had already asked for the facts for the entire process and cast their votes based on the facts, not the rumors”.

“The board and the employees of Smithville Electric System are proud of the service that we provide to the citizens and the city of Smithville. It is never our intent to cause anyone harm in anything that we do. We exist today to provide the best possible service to our city at the lowest possible price. We will continue to serve all of our customers with the same dedication and conviction that we have had since 1969. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support as we continue to provide safe and reliable electricity to our customers”.

Voters to Elect President, Congressman, State Representatives, and to Decide City Referendums

September 24, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Donald J. Trump
Hillary Clinton
Diane Black
David W. Kent
Terri Lynn Weaver
Gayla Colvert Hendrix
Mark Pody
Amelia Morrison Hipps

The DeKalb County Election Commission has released the ballot for the November 8 U.S. Presidential Election and Tennessee General Election.

Names are on the ballot for President of the United States, Sixth District U.S. House of Representatives, and Tennessee House of Representatives in the 40th & 46th Districts.

The ballot in the City of Smithville also includes two referendums, one concerning liquor by the drink in restaurants and the other regarding wine in food stores.

Voters will have the choice of electors for the following Presidential candidates:

Republican:
Donald J. Trump for President and Michael R. Pence for Vice President

Democrat:
Hillary Clinton for President and Tim Kaine for Vice President

Independent:
“Rocky” Roque De La Fuente for President and Michael Steinberg for Vice President

Independent:
Gary Johnson for President and William F. Weld for Vice President

Independent:
Alyson Kennedy for President and Osborne Hart for Vice President

Independent:
Mike Smith for President and Daniel White for Vice President

Independent:
Jill Stein for President and Ajamu Baraka for Vice President

Candidates for 6th District U.S. House of Representatives (Congressman) are:

Republican:
Diane Black

Democrat:
David W. Kent

Independent:
David Ross

Candidates for Tennessee House of Representatives 40th District:

Republican:
Terri Lynn Weaver

Democrat:
Gayla Colvert Hendrix

Candidates for Tennessee House of Representatives 46th District:

Republican:
Mark Pody

Democrat:
Amelia Morrison Hipps

On the Premises Referendum City of Smithville:

“For legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in City of Smithville”

“Against legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in City of Smithville”

Wine at Food Stores Referendum City of Smithville:

“For legal sale of wine at retail food stores in the City of Smithville”

“Against legal sale of wine at retail food stores in the City of Smithville”

(see ballot here)
nov. newspaper master ballot.pdf (18.55 KB)

The ballot is available online at www.dekalbelections.com and wjle.com.

Early voting will be held October 19-November 3 on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse. Hours are Mondays 1-5 p.m.; Tuesdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; Wednesdays 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.; Thursdays 2-6 p.m.; Fridays 9a.m.- 1 p.m.; and Saturdays 9 a.m. – Noon.

Voter Registration on the Rise (VIEW NOVEMBER 8 SAMPLE BALLOT HERE)

September 23, 2016

Local voter registrations have increased this year in anticipation of the November 8 Presidential election, leading local officials to anticipate a heavy turnout.

“We have had 671 new voter registrations since January 1,” said Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections. “The largest number of registrations, 346, were logged after the March Presidential Preference Primary through the end of June. Since July, we have added 231 new registrations.”

“Those numbers indicate a great deal of interest in this election,” Stanley said. “In November 2012 nearly 6,000 voted here and we anticipate that many or more in this election cycle.”

“As of Thursday, there were 11,562 total registered voters in DeKalb County (10,038 active) and with the voter registration deadline set for Oct. 11, that number will grow a little larger before voting begins,” Stanley said.

Meanwhile, the November ballot has been finalized and released. There are seven candidates for President; three candidates for Congress in the 6th District; two candidates for State House 40 and 46 and for Smithville voters there are two liquor referendums.

(see ballot here)
nov. newspaper master ballot.pdf (18.55 KB)

The ballot is available online at www.dekalbelections.com and wjle.com.

Early voting will be held October 19-November 3 on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse. Hours are Mondays 1-5 p.m.; Tuesdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; Wednesdays 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.; Thursdays 2-6 p.m.; Fridays 9a.m.- 1 p.m.; and Saturdays 9 a.m. – Noon.

A couple of events are planned around the square during early voting and Stanley asked that the public be respectful of the campaign free zone and of voters looking for parking spaces.

“We want to be supportive of the events coming up, but at the same time we want to remind the public that there is a 100 ft. campaign free zone around the entire courthouse during voting hours,” Stanley said. “And we want to remind everyone that voters will be coming to vote during that event and to keep as many parking spots open as possible.”

Stanley also reminded workers attending training class on Monday and Tuesday to be aware of the paving going on around the square those two days. Workers are asked to park in the city parking lot near Love-Cantrell Funeral Home.

DCHS Class of 2017 Makes Appeal for Donations for Project Graduation

September 23, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chloe Cripps, a DCHS Senior, urges you to stop by any DeKalb County branch office of Liberty State Bank to make a donation to Project Graduation

Members of the DCHS Class of 2017 are asking for your support of Project Graduation.

Chloe Cripps, a DCHS Senior, urges you to stop by any DeKalb County branch office of Liberty State Bank to make a donation.

“I am a member of the National BETA Club, the Literature Club, and a Football Manager for DeKalb County High School. But more importantly, I am a member of the 2017 graduating class. We are raising funds for our Project Graduation event that will take place the night of graduation in May. We will have food, fun activities, and it is designed to keep us safe from the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol. In order to hold this event, we must raise funds and request the community’s help. Please stop by your local branch of Liberty State Bank in Alexandria, Liberty, or Smithville and make a donation to our account. All help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support,” said Cripps

Downtown Street Paving Expected Monday and Tuesday

September 23, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page

The paving of downtown city streets is tentatively scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, September 26 & 27.

City Public Works Director Kevin Robinson said officials of Tinsley Asphalt Company, the contractor for the project, have informed him that they plan to block off the public square Sunday evening in preparation for the paving project which is expected to take two days to complete. The work is to be done Monday and Tuesday, barring any further delays.

In addition to the public square around the courthouse, streets to paved are Don Cantrell Street, West Walnut Street, East Main Street, West Main Street, and West Market Street.

The courthouse and all businesses in the area will remain open during this period. Persons are advised to use the city parking lot across from Love-Cantrell Funeral Home while the project is underway.

Tiger Golfer Earns Berth in State Tournament

September 22, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tiger Golfer Isaac Walker earns berth in State Tournament. Pictured with his father Scott Walker
DCHS Tiger Golfer Isaac Walker
The DCHS Tiger Golf team:Sammy Clayborne, Ethan Jennings, Coach John Pryor, Isaac Walker, Marshal Evins, and Jadyn Young

The DCHS Tiger Golf team finished 4th in the Region 4A AA Golf Tournament at Fall Creek Falls State Park on Thursday with a score of 353.

Individually Isaac Walker earned a 2nd place finish in the Region and a berth in the State Tournament at Willowbrook in Manchester October 3-5.

Walker led the charge for the Tigers with a 75 followed by Marshal Evins who shot 81, Jadyn Young 97, Ethan Jennings 100, and Sammy Clayborne 105.

Macon County won the Region with a 324 and Jay Fox from Goodpasture won the tournament with a 74.

“I am so proud of the way my team competed and conducted themselves this entire season. These are some great kids and I have enjoyed spending time with them this season. This team loses no one to graduation so I expect things to be bigger and better next year. Isaac has worked so hard and is really talented and I look forward to seeing how he finishes at the state tournament in two weeks,” Tiger Golf Coach John Pryor told WJLE.

DCHS Quarterback Suffers Season Ending Injury (WJLE'S "TIGER TALK" PROGRAM HERE)

September 22, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Steven Jennings (Chizzy Winks Photography - Tena Edwards-Jacobs)

The DeKalb County Tigers are hoping to get their fourth straight victory and the fifth of the season Friday night as they travel to Lafayette to face the Macon County Tigers.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO HEAR WJLE'S "TIGER TALK" PROGRAM THIS WEEK)

http://www.wjle.com/audio/tiger-talk-september-23

If so, they will have to do it without their talented starting senior quarterback Steven Jennings, whose high school career ended last week after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the game at Smith County.

“He unfortunately tore his ACL and is to undergo surgery. His football career at DeKalb County is complete. He has had a great career. I know we would all like to see him finish out and do all the special things that he has done in the past but that wasn’t to be,” said Tiger Coach Steve Trapp on WJLE’s Tiger Talk Program.

“It was a rough weekend last week but ultimately when Monday started we had to move on and we just have to get our guys ready. The ones who need to step up. I sent a message to every single one of our players through our App that regardless of the injuries that we’ve had we still need people to step up. I’m super proud of the person Steven is and the type of football player he was for us,” said Coach Trapp.

Backup Junior Quarterback Tyler Cantrell will now guide the Tigers for the remainder of the season. Last week after Jennings’ injury, Cantrell came in the game and helped lead the Tigers to a 34-32 victory over the Owls.

DeKalb County is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the region with wins over Warren County 27-7, York Institute 28-21, Cumberland County 43-28, and Smith County 34-32. Their only loss has been to Stone Memorial 34-7.

Macon County is 3-2 and 0-2 in the region with wins over Smith County 34-12, Westmoreland 35-0, and Jackson County 62-42. Their losses have been to Pearl Cohn 50-14 and to Maplewood 38-17.

Listen for LIVE play by play coverage of the game with the Voice of the Tigers John Pryor and Luke Willoughby at 7:00 p.m.

WJLE’s pre-game shows begin with “Coach to Coach” at 5:00 p.m. followed by “Murphy’s Matchups” at 6:00 p.m. and “Tiger Talk” at 6:30 p.m. featuring Coach Steve Trapp and Tiger Football players Nick May, Devin Zaderiko, and Tyler Cantrell.

Listen LIVE on WJLE AM 1480/FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com

Local Man Charged in Warren County with Electronic Tracking of his Estranged Wife's Car

September 22, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Carl Michael Fleming

A DeKalb County man is in trouble with the law in Warren County for allegedly hiding a tracking device in his estranged wife’s car while under a restraining order to stay away from her.

62 year old Carl Michael Fleming of Dowelltown is charged with electronic tracking of a motor vehicle. According to a report in the Wednesday edition of McMinnville’s Southern Standard, mechanics found a land/sea tracking key inside the dash area of Mrs. Fleming's car after she had taken it to a garage for an inspection. According to the report, the woman became suspicious as to how Fleming knew where she had been and was advised to have the car inspected.

The woman believes Fleming is the person who planted the device and suspects he has been coming to her residence to periodically change the tracker's batteries. She claims he is the only other person who has a key to her car.

In May, Fleming was charged in DeKalb County with aggravated assault of his wife.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE at the time that on Tuesday, May 10 Fleming’s wife came to the sheriff’s office to report a domestic assault. According to the woman, she went to her residence on Toad Road to gather some belongings and while there she and her husband got into an argument. He allegedly cursed her, grabbed her keys, and shoved her backwards against a cabinet. When she reached for a phone to call 911, Fleming allegedly grabbed a Glock pistol from a bookcase and warned that if she made the call, she would never leave. The woman then took her car keys, ran out of the home, and across a field to get away. The woman said as she was running from the house, Fleming fired a shot from the gun.

That case has been bound to the next term of the Grand Jury.

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