Local News Articles

Body Found, No Foul Play Suspected

February 3, 2014
Dwayne Page
Brandon Lee Atnip
Bianca Lynn Tollison
Sandra Lee Atnip
Neil Bernard Keenan
Amanda Brooke Washer
Jonathan Dewayne Barnes
Scotty Randall Hendrixson

The body of a woman was found Monday morning outdoors in the area of a trailer park on South Judkins Lane in the Jefferson Community.

Although Sheriff Patrick Ray would not confirm it, sources said the woman is believed to be Vickey Judkins.

The body has been sent to Nashville for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death but Sheriff Ray said it doesn't appear that the woman met with any foul play.

"The sheriff's department received the call at 9:24 a.m. to go to South Judkins Lane where a female was found unresponsive. We got there and did an investigation. We called for TBI to assist us. They have assisted us today. We are sending the body to Nashville for an autopsy but pending an answer from the medical examiner, there appears to be no foul play at this time," said Sheriff Ray.

Meanwhile, three more persons have been arrested on grand jury sealed indictments from the sheriff's department's recent undercover drug investigation. They were all arrested on Saturday, February 1.

21 year old Brandon Lee Atnip of Dennis McGuiness Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II and III drug (Opana) and (Hydrocodone). His bond is $50,000 and he will be arraigned in court February 21.

19 year old Bianca Lynn Tollison of Dennis McGuiness Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone). Her bond is $20,000 and she will be arraigned in court on February 21.

48 year old Sandra Lee Atnip of Capshaw Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Opana) and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Roxycodone). Her bond is $60,000 and she will be arraigned in court on February 21.

57 year old Neil Bernard Keenan of West Main Street Dowelltown is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of probation. His bond is $2,500. He will be in court February 6 on the drug charge and February 21 for the violation of probation. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 27 a deputy went to Keenan's residence on West Main Street in Dowelltown to serve a violation of probation warrant on him for a DUI. Upon speaking with Keenan at the front door of the residence, the officer noticed a marijuana pipe and several empty beer cans on a table inside the home which was accessible to children. While the officer was walking him to the patrol car, Keenan received a phone call reminding him that his three year old grandson that he was babysitting was still in the house. Keenan said he had forgotten the child was there. Keenan was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

26 year old Amanda Brooke Washer of McMinnville Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. She was also issued a citation for a violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), failure to maintain her lane of travel, and violation of the implied consent law. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on February 12. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, January 28 a deputy spotted Washer operating a motor vehicle on Nashville Highway weaving from her lane of travel into the oncoming lane, heading east bound. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with Washer. He noticed that her speech was slurred. Her eyes were bloodshot and she had a white powdery substance under her nose. Washer submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Washer could not produce a valid license and she refused to submit to a blood test. She was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

29 year old Jonathan Dewayne Barnes of Judkins Lane, Smithville is charged with a fifth offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $7,500 and he will be in court February 19. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, January 30 a deputy saw Barnes operating a motor vehicle on North Congress Boulevard. The officer had prior knowledge that Barnes' license are suspended. After stopping the vehicle, the deputy asked for a computer check which confirmed that Barnes has three previous driving on suspended license offenses against him. The county court system further confirmed that Barnes pled guilty on January 23 to a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license. Barnes was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

29 year old Scotty Randall Hendrixson of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville is charged with violation of probation, failure to appear, and resisting stop or arrest. He was arrested on Friday, January 31. Sheriff Ray said that on July 30, 2012, Hendrixson was supposed to have reported to the DeKalb County Jail to serve the balance of two-eleven month and twenty nine day sentences. Hendrixson failed to report. On January 31, a deputy saw Hendrixson enter a local market. The officer had prior knowledge of active warrants against Hendrixson. As the officer approached, Hendrixson backed himself into a closet. When the door was opened, Hendrixson had to be forcibly removed from the closet. Hendrixson is under a $4,000 bond on the failure to appear and the resisting stop or arrest charges. He is being held without bond for the violation of probation. Hendrixson will be in court on February 13.

County Fire Department Installed Smoke Alarms Do Their Job for Dowelltown Woman

February 3, 2014
Dwayne Page
County Firefighter at home of Donna Willoughby
Kitchen Fire at home of Donna Willoughby

Smoke alarms, recently installed by the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department in the home of a Dowelltown woman, may have helped save the residence this morning (Monday).

County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that firefighters were called to the home of Donna Willoughby on West Main Street in Dowelltown. It's a rent home belonging to Jenelle Pugh.

According to Chief Green, Willoughby was cooking when a grease fire ignited from a skillet on the stove. Willoughby got out of the residence unharmed and thanks to county firefighters, the home received only minor fire and smoke damage. "We were called to West Main Street in Dowelltown this morning to a structure fire. When we got there and upon speaking with the occupant (Willoughby), she advised us that she had been in the kitchen cooking some breakfast and apparently had left the stove eye on and it had caught fire in her kitchen. She safely evacuated out of the house. At the time of her discovering the fire, she (Willoughby) was in another room when the smoke alarms activated in the home and alerted her. When she opened the door into the kitchen, she noticed that the back wall was on fire behind the stove and the curtains were on fire. She (Willoughby) evacuated the house and called 911," said Chief Green.

This is a prime example of how working smoke alarms can help save property and lives, said Chief Green. "This is a success story we're proud of. We're glad that she got alerted in time and got out with no injuries or smoke inhalation. The alarms that alerted her (Willoughby) this morning, were those we (county fire department) put in recently under our "Get Alarmed Tennessee Smoke Alarm Program" where we're putting in free smoke alarms for people who need them in their house. It probably resulted in us being able to get there and save her home with very minimal damage to her kitchen.," said Chief Green.

Members of the Liberty Station, Main Station, and the Temperance Hall Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Woman and Infant Escape Serious Injury in Rollover Crash

February 3, 2014
Dwayne Page

A woman and an infant escaped serious injury Sunday in a rollover crash on Smith Fork Road.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 22 year old Ada Martinez was driving a Chevy Impala north on Smith Fork Road when she ran off the left side of the road while negotiating a curve. The car struck a utility pole and overturned down a steep embankment. An eleven week old child was in the car with Martinez.

They were taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital. They were not believed to have been seriously hurt. Martinez is a resident of Florida who is visiting family here.

Three People Involved in Sunday Wreck

February 3, 2014
Dwayne Page

Three people were involved in a Sunday traffic accident at the intersection of Highways 146 and 83 (New Home Road).

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 58 year old Linda Fite of Smithville was north on Highway 146 in a 2011 Ford Fiesta, turning left onto Highway 83 when she pulled into the path of a southbound Ford Focus, driven by 35 year old Amanda Arnold of McMinnville. The impact of the crash forced the Fiesta into a Kia Sorento, driven by 22 year old Emilee Anderson of Smithville, who was stopped on Highway 83 at the intersection. A 17 year old passenger was with Anderson.

According to Trooper Johnson, Fite was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital by private vehicle. Arnold was transported to the hospital by DeKalb EMS. The others were apparently uninjured.

Fite was cited for failure to yield and for misuse of registration for having a tag on her car not registered to that vehicle.

Police Chief Warns SES Customers of Scam

February 2, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chief Randy Caplinger

At least two business customers of Smithville Electric System were recently targeted in a scam in which callers demanded payment of their bills under threat of having their power turned off.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger cautions customers not to be taken in by the scam.

"A couple of customers have said they were called from a company saying that their electric bill had not been paid.," said Chief Caplinger. " When Smithville Electric learned of the scam, a representative of SES called this company and acted like she was with the business (victim). The girl (SES representative ) said the man told her that he was an employee of Smithville Electric and he said if the bill wasn't sent in immediately to the address ( he provided), her electricity was going to be cut off," he said.

Chief Caplinger said both the Smithville Police Department and Smithville Electric System want you to know this is a scam and that if you should be targeted, please don't send any money to this company and notify police.

Farm Service Agency Releases County Committee Election Results

February 1, 2014
Dwayne Page
Donny Green

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency, says the DeKalb FSA and Cannon FSA County Committees met in regular session on Tuesday, January 21 to canvass and tabulate the ballots received in the 2013 Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 3, # 4, and # 5 County Committee Elections. The deadline to return ballots was January 17.

In DeKalb County’s LAA-3 election, R.V. Billings, Jr. was elected to serve as Committee Member and Carl Douglas Cantrell was elected to serve as 1st. Alternate. In Cannon County’s LAA-4 election, Javin Fann was elected to serve as Committee Member, James Joyner was elected to serve as 1st. Alternate, and David George was elected to serve as 2nd. Alternate. In Cannon County’s LAA-5 election, Charles Brown was elected to serve as Committee Member and Robert Barton was elected to serve as 1st. Alternate. All elected members will begin their terms on February 18, 2014. Alternates elected by write-in ballots will not officially be elected until they have submitted their written agreements to serve.

The 2013 election was a transitional election resulting from the October 2012 closing of the Cannon County FSA Office. Beginning on February 18, 2014, DeKalb and Cannon counties’ farmers will be represented by one 5-member committee (two LAA’s in Cannon County and three LAA’s in DeKalb County), instead of two 3-member committees. The DeKalb/Cannon FSA County Committee will meet on February 18, 2014 for its Organizational Meeting. The Committee will select a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson from among the members. The Committee meets quarterly at the DeKalb/Cannon County USDA Service Center located at 647 Bright Hill Rd.

Green says that the DeKalb/Cannon FSA County Committee and office staff wishes to express their appreciation to voters in LAA’s # 3, # 4, and # 5 who participated in the elections by voting and returning their ballots. "The local County Committees are a very important part of Farm Service Agency's program delivery and administrative processes," added Green.

For more information about FSA's County Committees or other program inquiries, call 597-8225 (extension 2) or come by the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency office at 647 Bright Hill Street in Smithville. You can also visit the agency’s web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 6.8% in December

February 1, 2014
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for December was 6.8%, down from 7.1% in November and below the 7.2% rate for December 2012.

The local labor force for December was 9,430. A total of 8,780 were employed and 650 were without work

County unemployment rates for December 2013 show the rate decreased in 51 counties, increased in 29 counties, and remained the same in 15.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for December was fifth lowest in the Upper Cumberland Region. Here is how the fourteen counties ranked from highest to lowest:

Pickett: 12.1%
Clay: 9.8%
Van Buren: 9.7%
White: 9.6%
Jackson: 8.9%
Fentress: 8%
Overton: 7.9%
Warren: 7.6%
DeKalb: 6.8%
Putnam: 6.6%
Smith: 6.2%
Macon: 6.1%
Cannon: 5.6%

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.7 percent, down from 5.8 percent in November. Knox County’s December rate was also 5.7 percent, down from 5.8 percent the previous month. Hamilton County was unchanged at 7.3 percent. Shelby County was 9.1 percent, down from 9.4 percent in November. Tennessee’s unemployment rate for December is 7.8 percent, which is three tenths of one percentage point lower than the November revised rate. The national unemployment rate for December 2013 was 6.7 percent, down three tenths of one percentage point from November.

WJLE Launches New Website

January 31, 2014
Dwayne Page

Welcome to the new WJLE website.

(NOTE: Most are having no problem viewing the new website but if you are experiencing difficulties with our new site not displaying correctly on your computer in Internet Explorer, please click the link below and follow the directions for turning the COMPATIBILITY MODE OFF for the WJLE website. Our site like most sites will look and perform better if using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Try looking at the site using another browser.)


As WJLE begins its 50th year of broadcasting, serving the people of Smithville-DeKalb County, we have also updated our website with a number of significant improvements.

To keep up to date with technological advances in a mobile society, the most significant change to the site is the responsive design: The new WJLE Radio website will automatically adjust itself to display properly whether you are visiting from a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet device like an iPad, or a browser on a smartphone. The page layout will adjust depending on your device to provide the ideal interactive experience, yet all devices will share the same content.

Viewers will no longer find local news stories at the bottom of the home page. The new site allows viewers to click the link for "News Headlines"
located in the top center of the homepage for a specific local news story or to read ALL local news, click the "News" link located directly below the "WJLE" banner in the upper left hand corner. Local news and sports stories will also continue to include occasional pictures and videos to help enhance our coverage.

To further enhance viewership and provide a service to the business community, the new WJLE website will feature videos of community events on the right side of the page near the top, while on the left side advertisers will have an opportunity to promote their businesses through commercial videos. The new website also offers more space for placement of advertisements, both along the left and right sides of each page as well as at the top of each page.

On the left side of the page near the top, viewers will see links under "Community" where announcements can be found for "Church News", "Classifieds", and "Community Calendar", along with audio links to the "Old Time Country Community Radio Show" and other programs as well as video links

"Obituaries" are on the top right side of the homepage.

As with the old site, the new WJLE.com offers a pictorial slideshow on the home page as well as a weekly web poll, a program guide and audio archives (in drop down box under WJLE Home) and a "Search" box near the top right side of the page where viewers can perform a word search to find older news, sports, or obituary announcements.

"LIVE Streaming" of talk programming on WJLE AM-FM such as local news, high school sports, Election return coverage, Smithville City Council, DeKalb County Commission, and School Board meetings, Chamber Chat, Sunday religious programs, and other events may be accessed next to the "Weather" link near the top center of the homepage.

“We appreciate the fact the WJLE web site is so popular, as evidenced by the over 40,000 unique or unduplicated (counted only once) visitors it receives per month,” said General Manager Dwayne Page. “The timing was right to do an upgrade to meet the needs of the public. As with any major change like this, we expect to be making adjustments over the weeks ahead, and look forward to your feedback during that process.”

Send your comments to wjle@dtccom.net or call 615-597-4265.

We hope you enjoy this new look and continue to visit wjle.com and listen at WJLE AM 1480 or FM 101.7 as we celebrate our golden anniversary of service to this community.

Candidates May Qualify for School Board and Smithville Municipal Elections

January 31, 2014
Dwayne Page
Matt Boss
Gayla Hendrix

While most of the attention has been focused on the May primary elections, petitions for the non-partisan school board seats and the Smithville Municipal Elections on August 7th are now available.

Matthew Boss has picked up a petition from the election commission office to run for the School Board in the First District.

A petition has also been issued to Gayla Hendrix for Smithville Alderman.

Five school board seats are up for election including the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Seventh Districts. Each term is for four years. Those positions are currently held by John David Foutch in the First District, Charles Robinson in the Second District, Kenny Rhody in the Third District, Billy Miller in the Fourth District, and Johnny Lattimore in the Seventh District.

The other two positions are held by W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the Fifth District and Doug Stephens in the Sixth District. They are currently in mid-term and won't be up for re-election until 2016.

A Mayor and two Aldermen will be elected on August 7th in the City of Smithville, each to serve a four year term. Those positions are currently held by Mayor Jimmy W. Poss and Aldermen Tim Stribling and Jason Murphy. Stribling will not be running for re-election. He is seeking the County Mayor's office.

The qualifying deadline for the school board and City of Smithville is NOON April 3.

Meanwhile, petitions are still available for all the races that will be on the ballot for the DeKalb County Democratic Primary and the 13th Judicial District Democratic and Republican Primary elections. The qualifying deadline for those candidates is NOON February 20th.

Drunk Driver Crashes into Porch of Short Mountain Road Home

January 30, 2014
Dwayne Page
Drunk Driver Crashes into Porch of Home (PHOTO BY KEN UNDERHILL)
SUV Knocks Porch off Foundation (PHOTO BY KEN UNDERHILL)
Franklin Rigsby

A drunk driver wasn't seriously hurt but he caused damage for at least three property owners in a traffic accident Wednesday night on Highway 146 (Short Mountain Road).

Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 36 year old Franklin Rigsby of Smithville has been charged with driving under the influence and cited for failure to maintain his lane of travel.

Sergeant McCormick said Rigsby was driving south on Highway 146 in a Ford Explorer and was near the intersection with Tabernacle Road when he failed to negotiate a curve and left the road.

According to Assistant DeKalb County Fire Chief David Agee, Rigsby's SUV first tore down a fence and gate on property belonging to Eddie Taylor and then ran through the front yard of Mary Chapman at 9088 Short Mountain Highway, damaging yard furniture and demolishing her well house. Rigsby's SUV continued through a thicket of woods, struck a fence on property belonging to Herbert Rose, and then damaged a yard swing before crashing into the front porch of Rose's home at 9126 Short Mountain Highway, knocking the porch off its foundation.

Both Chapman and Rose said they were awakened by the noise of the crash outside their homes.

Rigsby, who suffered only minor injuries, was taken into custody.


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