Local News Articles

DCHS Prom Night

April 27, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Limo Ride to the Prom

DeKalb County High School students adorned their formal wear and posed for pictures with their dates, friends, and family as they excitedly awaited departure from the school for the prom Friday evening

This year's prom was held off campus at the Embassy Convention Center in Murfreesboro

Stretch limousines picked up several groups for the ride to the dance.

The prom of course is one of the last big events of the school year prior to graduation on Friday, May 18th

Corporal Travis Bryant Honored for Five Years of Service to Smithville Police Department

April 27, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Corporal Travis Bryant Honored for Five Years of Service

The Smithville Police Department is honoring one of its own.

Corporal Travis Bryant has been presented a certificate of achievement in recognition of five years of dedicated service with the Smithville Police Department.

Corporal Bryant received the award from Chief Randy Caplinger on Wednesday, April 25

Others on hand for the observance were Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Alderman/Police Commissioner Shawn Jacobs.

Corporal Bryant serves as the department's evidence officer and radar instructor and he has helped the department secure more than $90,000 in grants through the Governor's Highway Safety Office to buy equipment such as in-car cameras, radars, computers, and overtime funding for saturation patrols, traffic control, and DUI enforcement, along with free specialized training.

Chief Caplinger said the department plans to make it a practice of honoring other members of the department for specific years of service.

(Pictured left to right: Alderman/Police Commissioner Shawn Jacobs, Corporal Travis Bryant, Chief Randy Caplinger, and Mayor Taft Hendrixson)

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 8.1%

April 27, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in March, down from 8.5% in February and much lower than the rate of 9.5% in March, 2011.

The local labor force for March was 9,810. A total of 9,020 were employed and 790 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for March was the fifth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland region as follows:

Pickett County- 13.9%
Van Buren- 11.3%
White- 10.6%
Clay- 10%
Jackson-9.7%
Cumberland-9.4%
Warren-9.1%
Fentress-9%
Overton-8.9%
DeKalb-8.1%
Macon-8%
Smith-7.6%
Cannon-7.4%
Putnam-7.2%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for March 2012 show the rate decreased in 89 counties, increased in five counties, and remained the same in one county.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for March fell to 7.9 percent, down from the February revised rate of 8.0 percent. The national unemployment rate for March 2012 was 8.2 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the February rate.

The state unemployment rate is 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.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.7 percent, down from 6.1 percent in February. Davidson County was 6.6 percent, down from 7.0 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent, and Shelby County was 9.1 percent, down from the February unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

State General Assembly Approves Kindergarten Legislation

April 27, 2012

The state Senate gave final legislative approval Thursday night to a bill that would mean most kids turning 5 after Aug. 31, 2013, would have to wait a year before entering public kindergarten that year. The cutoff date would move up to Aug. 15 in 2014 and all subsequent years.

Currently, children may enter kindergarten if they turn 5 on or before Sept. 30 of the school year in which they are entering. That date remains in effect for children who will be entering kindergarten in the upcoming 2012-13 school year. Parents may still "hold back" their children for a year if they feel they are not ready for school.

The House approved the bill Wednesday, the Senate followed through on a 21-10 vote Thursday night and it now goes to the governor, who has signaled no opposition to the bill.

House Bill 2566 as amended would move up the eligibility date in two phases: Children entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31 for the 2013-14 school year, and on or before Aug. 15 for all subsequent school years.

The bill contains two exceptions:

If the director of schools finds, through evaluation and testing at the request of the parent or guardian, that a child who is 5 on or before Sept. 30 is "sufficiently mature emotionally and academically," then the child may be permitted to enter kindergarten.

Children who participated in a pre-kindergarten program during the 2012-13 or 2013-14 school years may enter kindergarten in the 2013-14 or 2014-15 school years respectively.

Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, argued that even though the eligibility window is only being altered by six weeks, parents of children who are affected will face another year of paying for child care and the child will be behind a year. "For those who are struggling to make ends meet, it's another year of child care and it's financial," Herron said.

Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said the bill was sought by kindergarten teachers in his area because many of the youngest children who enter kindergarten aren't ready for it

Smithville Police Charge Byars with Forgery

April 26, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged a 41 year old woman with four counts of forgery.

Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE Tuesday that police arrested Michelle Byars on a failure to appear warrant March 29th and while searching her, an officer found a check belonging to another female. Upon a further investigation, Byars was found to have allegedly stolen several checks belonging to this other female. Byars allegedly forged the name of this other woman on the checks and passed three of them at Save-A-Lot and another one at DeKalb County Ace Hardware. Her bond is $6,000.

51 year old Phillip Davis is charged with shoplifting. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court April 26. Chief Caplinger reports that on Wednesday, April 4, police were called to the Dollar General Store. Upon arrival, the officer was informed by the store manager that a man, who had been doing electrical work for them, had allegedly taken an item from the store without paying for it. Camera surveillance and a witness confirmed it and Davis allegedly confessed to it when confronted.

31 year old Jason Allen Mosely is charged with two counts of theft of property over $500. His bond is $5,000. Chief Caplinger reports that on Wednesday, April 4th, police received complaints from two residents on Jennings Lane that their small utility trailers had been stolen. During a further investigation, authorities discovered that the trailers were sold to a pawn shop in McMinnville. The trailers were recovered. Moseley was later arrested. The sheriff's department also has charges against Mosely in other theft cases.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Wednesday, March 28, Moseley broke into a shed on New Bildad Road and took a riding mower, a weedeater, a leaf blower, a power washer, two propane fish fryers, two propane tanks, a black plastic tool box, and a battery charger. The total value is $3,047. He is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and burglary. He was arrested on Wednesday, April 11. Moseley's bond is $23,000 and he will be in court on April 26.

30 year old Barry Gibbs is charged with evading arrest. His bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger reports that on Tuesday, April 10 police spotted Gibbs at Walmart. Knowing that Gibbs had Warren and Macon County warrants against him, the officer confronted Gibbs. He tried to flee but was quickly apprehended and taken into custody.

28 year old Melissa Webb is cited for shoplifting. Her court date is May 10. Chief Caplinger said that on Tuesday, April 17 an officer was called to Walmart. Upon arrival, an employee said that Webb was observed taking items from the store into a restroom. She later came out of the restroom,but none of the items could be seen on her. The restroom was searched and several empty containers were found. Webb was confronted and allegedly admitted to taking the items. They were found in her purse.

22 year old Lyndsey Davenport is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court on May 10. Chief Caplinger reports that on Wednesday, April 18 an officer responded to Pack Circle on an unwanted guest call. Upon arrival, the officer confronted Davenport in the roadway. The officer obtained consent to search and in her purse, he found hypodermic needles and straws used to snort drugs. Davenport allegedly admitted to having these items for the illegal use of dilaudid

21 year old Jennifer Koon is charged with driving under the influence. Her bond is $1,500. Chief Caplinger said that on Thursday, April 19, an officer was dispatched to South Congress Boulevard in reference to a vehicle possibly being operated by an intoxicated driver. Police spotted the suspected automobile traveling at 54 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour speed zone. The officer stopped the vehicle, which was driven by Koon. He could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. She submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Koon was placed under arrest. She submitted to a blood alcohol test.

41 year old Tisha Burns is charged with simple possession of a schedule II, IV and VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court May 17. Chief Caplinger reports that on Sunday, April 22, Burns was stopped for a traffic violation. The officer received consent to search the vehicle and found a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana and a pipe believed to have been used to smoke it. She also had nine xanax pills and three roxycodone pills.

Meanwhile, due to a rise in theft reports recently, Chief Caplinger is asking city residents to keep their garage doors closed when they are away from home "We're noticing during the day while we're on patrol, a lot of people are leaving their garage doors up. You can see mowers, weed eaters, and all types of equipment inside those garages. It is very enticing for thieves," he said.

The Police Department now has two humvees in its fleet.

Chief Caplinger said the department recently applied for and received approval to obtain two humvees at no costs from military surplus in Montgomery Alabama and they will be used during tactical operations, weather related diasters, and in other emergency situations. The vehicles will be fixed up and repainted, before being deployed.

Chamber Celebrates 49 Years of Unity and Growth

April 25, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams, Victoria Vincent, Darrin Vincent
Retiring Chamber Board Members

It was a night to shine Tuesday evening for the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce as its members celebrated forty nine years leading this community in unity and growth.

The banquet took place in the brand new auditorium of the county complex on South Congress Boulevard, the first event to be held there.

Darrin Vincent, of the very popular and award winning bluegrass duo Dailey and Vincent, entertained the dinner crowd along with his teenage daughter Victoria Vincent.

Vincent was also the featured speaker. He talked of his family and music career and his impressions of the people of DeKalb County, a place he and his family have called home now for several years.

The program began with a silent auction, welcoming remarks by Chamber President Kathie McGlamery and County Mayor Mike Foster, presentation of the flags and pledge by members of Boy Scout Troop 347, and a performance of the National Anthem by Victoria Vincent. Invocation by Dr. John Carpenter of the First United Methodist Church and dinner music by Tomomi McDowell.

A video presentation was shown hosted by Chamber Director Suzanne Williams and Leadership DeKalb Director Jen Sherwood, featuring DeKalb County attractions and showcasing highlights of many activities and events held during the year.

Meanwhile, the retiring members of the Chamber board were recognized including Rob Willingham of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, Michelle Burklow of the DeKalb County Board of Education, Angie Meadows of the Smithville Review and the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, and Anita Patrick of DTC Communications.

New members are Julia Cantrell of Cumberland Insurance Agency, Craig Gates, Chief Executive Officer of DTC Communications, Carol South, Marketing Director of Bumper's Drive-In, Susan Young, Office Manager of the Customer Service Department of MTUD in the Smithville Operations Office, and Charlotte Parsley, who works in the Marketing Department of Shiroki North America.

Other member of the Chamber board are Keith Blair, Attorney-at-Law, Rhonda Caplinger of Liberty State Bank, George Oliver of the Smithville Rotary Club; Jason Ray, Leadership Alumni from the Class of 2009; Mike Williams of the DeKalb County Fair Board; Janna Gillard, publisher of the DeKalb County Guide, Valerie House, Leadership DeKalb Alumni, Bill Little, Administrator of DeKalb Community Hospital, Tony Luna of the Real Estate Team, and Lori Manns of Manns Master Mechanics.

The 2012 officers are President Kathie McGlamery, Vice President; Janna Gillard, Secretary Valerie House, and Treasurer Julia Cantrell.

(TOP PHOTO: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams with Banquet speaker and entertainer Darrin Vincent and his daughter Victoria. All three holding awards previously won by Darrin including a Grammy, held by Suzanne)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams with retiring Chamber Board Members Anita Patrick, Angie Meadows, Michelle Burklow, and Rob Willingham)

Blood Assurance and DeKalb Community Hospital Partner to Help Save Lives

April 24, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

A total of thirty seven units were collected during a blood drive Tuesday at DeKalb Community Hospital by Blood Assurance, seven units more than the goal set for the drive.

Tom Lango of Walling, Tennessee was the winner of a Flat screen TV

Blood Assurance, official blood provider to DeKalb Community Hospital, was founded in 1972 to provide a safe and adequate supply of blood in the Chattanooga area. Prior to the creation of the region's only blood bank, patients in need of blood transfusions were required to provide their own blood donors, who would donate blood at local hospitals. Your blood donation can save up to three lives. Each day a minimum of 400 donations are needed in our area

As Blood Assurance celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2012, it is once again appealing to the public for donations to ensure a continued adequate supply of blood for patients in need.

Bill Little, Administrator of DeKalb Community Hospital, said Blood Assurance partners with the local hospital to supply blood needs to our community, but more donors are needed to support it. "Its comforting to know that should you ever have an accident or blood loss, you can come here and receive that blood supply. We have a very close partner that we work with by the name of Blood Assurance and they provide all of our blood needs in the Smithville area as well as the greater surrounding middle Tennessee area. One sad fact though that we want to make sure everybody understands is that we use much more blood in our community than we receive. It is very important that we as a community rally and rise to the challenge to donate the gift of life," said Little.

Jaclyn Booker, Representative of Blood Assurance, said blood drives are held here every fifty six days. "We are the sole blood provider in your area and we do need your help. Every fifty six days we do host a drive here at the hospital. Our bloodmobile comes out and is parked in the parking lot. Our next drive is June 26 from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. The bloodmobile will also be at the Family Medical Center on June 26 from 9:00 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. So I encourage everyone to come out and donate. We have free tee shirts that every donor receives. We also give away snacks and drinks and you can register for our monthly giveaway. Its usually something very fun and exciting for the community. We just really appreciate your support and the support of DeKalb Community Hospital," said Booker.

"Blood Assurance has brought us up to this point this year, 117 units," said Deborah Tuggle, Laboratory Supervisor at DeKalb Community Hospital. "Of those we have used seventy six, but only twenty three units have been donated from the community so we are in dire need for our community to donate blood so we can replace what we use. Blood Assurance does all the preliminary testing of the blood before we receive it and we do the cross matching to be sure its compatible with the patients. So I want to encourage everyone to come out and help us with the gift of life. We cannot create blood. Its not manufactured. We need you to give," said Tuggle..

Gingie White, Marketing with DeKalb Community Hospital, urges you to make plans to donate during the next blood drive. "I want to thank everyone who came out Tuesday and to those who have helped us in the past and I want to encourage you to come out and partner with us in help saving lives. So put that on your calendar. The next Blood Assurance Blood Drive will be June 26 in the parking lot of DeKalb Community Hospital," said White.

DUD Defends Decision to Build Water Treatment Plant

April 24, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
DUD Defends Decision to Build Water Treatment Plant

Facing a public relations campaign aimed at stopping it, the DeKalb Utility District is determined to continue plans to build its own water treatment plant and has all but secured funding for the project. In fact, a ground breaking for the plant could come as early as July with completion of the facility expected within eighteen months thereafter, about the time the DUD's ten year water service contract with the City of Smithville expires.

The plan has been in the making for years, much to the chagrin of city officials who will see the loss of Smithville's biggest water customer and over a half million dollars in sales each year if this goes through. That's revenue that will have to be made up in the form of higher water rates, according to city officials. But city water customers are not the only ones who will feel the pinch. According to the city's utility engineer, J.R. Wauford, DUD customers will see increases of as much as fifty percent. Last week, the Smithville aldermen voted to hire a public relations firm, the Calvert Street Group, to launch a campaign to get this message out to city and DUD customers.

The DUD currently purchases water from the City of Smithville at $2.00 per thousand gallons and the cost to the DUD increases by five cents per thousand gallons each year during the term of the contract. That agreement expires in 2014. City officials have questioned how the DUD can produce its own water supply cheaper than it can buy it from Smithville.

Officials of the DeKalb Utility District admit that while rate increases are coming to help pay for the new plant, they are not as drastic as city officials have asserted.

In a prepared statement released to WJLE Tuesday, the DeKalb Utility District officials said that "there is a lot of misinformation being circulated in the community about the impact the new water treatment plant construction will have on our customers' rates. Here are the facts":

"The increases will be spaced out over the next three years"

"Our minimum rate for customers, who use 2,000 gallons or less, will rise from as low as $17.50 presently to $19.00 in July, 2012, then to $20.13 in July, 2013 and to $21.75 in July, 2014. That's a total of $4.25 more a month spaced out over a three year period."

"For our average customer (who uses 6,000 gallons per month), their current bill (plus tax) is $44.00. That will rise in July, 2012 to $47.75, then to $51.08 in July 2013 and $54.55 in July, 2014. That's a total increase of over $10.50 a month spaced out over the next three years."

According to the DUD media statement" Customers don't pay their water bills in percentages. They pay them in dollars and cents. We believe once our customers know and understand what is being proposed, they will see why this plan is a good idea and will be a good investment in their future and the community's future."

DUD customers in the Baxter/Silver Point areas, will not be affected by these rate increases, according to the DUD. "Their rates will not be changed in any way by the construction or operation of the new water treatment plant. They will not receive any water service from the new facility, so it would not be fair to make them have to pay for it," according to the DUD media release.

"Our customers in the Baxter/Silver Point areas receive water through a contract the DeKalb Utility District has with the city of Baxter and we agree with those there who feel their water costs are high".

"We have spent tens of thousands of dollars and months of time trying to come up with a financially viable way to provide water to that area by bringing it across the lake from the Smithville side. Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify a plan that won't result in a further increase in water rates, which is not acceptable."

The proposed $10.5 million DUD water treatment plant is to be built off Holmes Creek Road in the Yolanda Hills Drive area, funded through Rural Development and Tennessee Utility Assistance which is a program offered by the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts. The DUD media release states "To finance the project, we are receiving funding from the Rural Development Agency including a $5 million loan and a $1.25 million grant. In addition, we are receiving funding from the TUA of another $4.25 million. We believe these funds, especially the grant monies, combined with the historically very low interest rates we are receiving, will help us to finally move forward with building the water treatment plant".

Wauford, during last week's meeting of the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen, said that the city's newly renovated water treatment plant is more than capable of meeting current and future needs of both Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District for years to come. "You(Smithville) have a four million gallon a day water treatment plant. You're producing about 1.8 million gallons per day. About 700,000 to 800,000 gallons is going to the DeKalb Utility District. Your contract with DUD now gives them the right to buy two million gallons a day which is well within your capability of doing so," said Wauford.

By having its own water treatment plant, Manager Jon Foutch said the DUD is better able to control its own destiny. "We believe building such a facility will give our customers more control over the ongoing costs of their water service and ensure the reliability of that water service in the future," said Foutch.

Two water plants in the county would also be better for all residents, rather than just one plant, he said, especially during times of emergencies. "We believe having our own water treatment plant will benefit all of DeKalb County because it will provide an additional source of water for our community to plan and handle future growth. And, in case of emergencies, it will establish and maintain an interconnected, backup water system for all residents in the area if one of the water services is unavailable," said Foutch.

The DUD already has a water storage agreement with the Corps of Engineers and the authority to pull up to two million gallons per day from the lake and to build the necessary pumping station at near Holmes Creek to supply water to the proposed three million gallon a day treatment plant to be located at the top of the hill.

DUD officials have said that the Corps of Engineers only has a limited amount of water withdrawal remaining from their storage pool availability and if DUD does not act now, it may not again have the opportunity to build a treatment plant in the future. That water availability may go to some other utility or industry. If DUD passes up this opportunity, it could be gone forever.

Melba Vinca Family Selected for Next Habitat Home

April 24, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Melba Vinca Family Selected for Next Habitat Home

Another family will soon experience the dream of home ownership thanks to Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.

The Melba Vinca family was chosen by the local Habitat board of directors last Tuesday, April 17th, based on a recommendation by the Habitat family selection committee.

Marie Blair, Chairman of the Family Selection Committee told WJLE that Vinca was among thirteen who applied to become the latest partner family. The committee, she said, felt that Vinca was the best choice. Some who applied did not meet all the criteria.

To qualify, applicants must be a DeKalb County resident for at least 1 year; be a U.S. Citizen or have permanent resident alien status; have a housing need; have an ability to pay. (applicants must provide proof of income and ability to pay a monthly mortgage); and be willing to partner in the construction of their own home.

Vinca and her three grandsons, 16 year old Bradley Mullican, 15 year old Cayton Lance, and 10 year old Justin Lance, will reside at the home on Hayes Street once its completed this fall.

Vinca told WJLE Monday that she is excited to have been selected. "I really felt like I had won a lottery. I just want to thank God for allowing me this opportunity to finally own my own home and to have my own bedroom more than anything. I can't wait to get out there and help,"she said.

"We're very, very happy to have Ms. Vinca as our fourth partner family for this year", said Nolan Turner, President of the local Habitat affiliate. "We're looking forward to getting the house built and getting her in there as soon as we possibly can. Hopefully we'll be able to break ground next month and start the building and hope we'll be in there by the first of October," he said.

"We really need donations right now for the building. We've got enough to get it underway but we're looking forward to finishing the house and to possibly get enough (donations) to start another one," said Turner.

"This will be between an 1,100 to 1,200 square foot house. It'll be a three bedroom house with a bath and a half. Of course with a kitchen and dining room. It will be similar to the other (partner family) houses. A washer/dryer combination will be furnished with the house. It'll be a frame house. Most of the labor will be volunteer. Nowadays you've got to have a licensed contractor as far as electric and plumbing. We may have to employ someone to do that but most of the labor is going to come from volunteer help," said Turner.

The purpose of Habitat is to build houses and sell them at no profit and no interest to families who could not otherwise afford their own home. This Christian ministry is financed through private donations using volunteer labor and donated materials whenever possible.

(Pictured left to right: Bradley Mullican, Melba Vinca, Cayton Lance, and Nolan Turner. In front wearing orange shirt is Justin Lance)

Lady Saints Celebrate First Win on Their New Softball Field

April 24, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lady Saints (Photo by Terry Malone)

The Lady Saints Fast Pitch Softball Team played the first game on their brand new field Monday on the campus of DeKalb Middle School and a one to nothing victory over Mount Juliet added to the excitement.

The ceremonial first pitch was throw by Suzette Barnes, an avid supporter of the program.

Principal Randy Jennings said the development of this softball field has been a long time in the making. "It has been a long time coming for several years since the beginning of the program. We weren't sure we would get to play on it this year with all the wet weather we had early. We just couldn't get in there on the field to do much. But finally in the last couple of weeks with a ton of parents and the coaches, they got out there and it came a long way. Before, the team always had to go across town for practices and games. It'll be nice for them (players) to just walk out the back door from the school building to practice in the afternoons and play their games. Of course its still a work in progress but its nice to see them out there playing. All of this has been done through fundraisers and donations. A lot of people have been gracious enough to support that and I'd like to thank all those people,"he said.

Jennings said the field is still a work in progress. "The field is still not in great playing condition. The outfield is still a little rough but that is something that's going to take a little time. Of course, the outside of the fence area, hopefully in the near future we'll get a press box and some things that will make that part of the field look a little nicer also," he said

The Lady Saints scored one run in the bottom of the fourth inning. with two outs, Kayley Caplinger got a hit single, and then Katie Hall hit an RBI double to score Caplinger. Kayley Caplinger pitched a one hit shutout through five innings. She walked two.

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