Local News Articles

Assistant Biology Professor Says Frog Gigging Neither Inhumane or Unsafe

July 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Danny Bryan

An effort by animal rights activists to get a local frog gigging contest canceled has touched a raw nerve for many local folk who don't appreciate groups like PETA trying to intervene.

The DeKalb County Young Farmers and Ranchers "Giggin' for Grads", sponsored by the Farm Bureau, is an event set for July 12 aimed to provide a DeKalb County High School senior with a scholarship. But the event is apparently not just for seniors. The tournament is also open to the public. According to a Face Book source, " This is not meant to be the senior that gigs the most frogs gets a scholarship. Award money will be given out to the three teams with the heaviest bags (of frogs). The scholarship will be given with the remaining money. We will choose a graduating senior and give out the award at the end of this school year."

Though the fundraiser is not sanctioned by the DeKalb County School System, a petition to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps asks for supporters to voice their concern.

On its website, Forcechange.com. says gigging frogs, while legal, is a cruel killing of wild frogs.

However, Danny Bryan of Smithville, an assistant professor of Biology at Cumberland University told WJLE in a telephone interview Friday that frog gigging is neither inhumane or unsafe. "When a frog is gigged, it's a humane way of killing the animal. Most of the time when the frogs are gigged that includes gigging the frog in the head, which is basically instant death," said Bryan.

"As far as animal cruelty goes, I don't much believe this event (Giggin' for Grads) is any different than having some type of fishing rodeo or anything where you're going out and catching fish to win a contest or going out to a catfish pond to catch catfish to cook for dinner."

"The frogs they're going to be gigging are pretty much going to be bullfrogs and green frogs. There aren't any other frog species around large enough to eat. The other things about these types of frogs, they can carry diseases that are detrimental to other native species of frogs. Pretty much what we're looking at is the Ranavirus and the chytrid fugus which can literally just wipe out entire populations of amphibians, not just frogs but salamanders as well," he said.

"These individuals are not going out to natural wetlands to do the frog gigging. They're doing this at artificial wetlands or farm ponds. It's not like they're going out and just and wiping out entire populations of frogs," said Bryan

"I really don't think it's a dangerous sport. There are no firearms involved. There are no bows and arrows. It's a gig on a stick and it's done at night typically when you can spotlight the frogs. It's not as easy as it sounds to go out and gig a frog. It is a regulated sporting event. There is a hunting season for frog gigging so I think there has been a lot blown out of proportion," said Bryan

All waters of the state are open to bullfrog hunting except waters within state and federal wildlife refuges. The season is open year-round, except on TWRA managed lakes the season is June 1-30. The bag limit is 20 per person, per night. The use of firearms is prohibited for bullfrog hunting on Wildlife Management Areas and TWRA lakes. Pellet guns (air rifles) are not firearms. Only domestically raised bullfrogs or parts thereof may be sold. A hunting license is required to take bullfrogs. No WMA permit is required.

Twelve DeKalb County Fire Department Recruits Complete “Live Burn” Training

July 1, 2013
Twelve DeKalb County Fire Department Recruits Complete “Live Burn” Training

Over the course of the last month, 12 DeKalb County Fire Department (DCFD) recruits have completed the 16-hour Firefighter Live Burn Training Course at the Tennessee Fire and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bellbuckle, Tennessee.

Lt. David Agee, DCFD Training Officer, says that he is extremely proud of this group of firefighters who committed themselves to further their education in the fire service by completing this physically demanding course that teaches firefighter recruits how to apply the skills they learned in their previously completed 64-hour Basic Firefighter Training Course. “Live Burn Training gives recruits practical and hands-on experiences with evolutions as required in NFPA 1403. Specifically, firefighters are required to participate and successfully complete a variety of practical training drills and scenarios including search and rescue, structural fire attack and exterior fires,” says Lt. Agee.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green commended the department’s new recruits and Lt. David Agee for making DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s training program responsive to the training needs of new recruits. “It is amazing to see the level of commitment that we are getting from our volunteer firefighters who work hard and train hard to make sure our citizens have good fire protection here in DeKalb County. This is a testament to why DeKalb County Fire Department is recognized across the state and country as being one of the top ranking training departments. Without training, even the best equipment is useless. We emphasize to our members that being a professional firefighter has nothing to do with your status as ‘career’ or ‘volunteer’, it's entirely defined by how you perform.” says Chief Green.

If you are interested in learning more about the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, or would like information on how to be on our team and become a volunteer firefighter, you can visit the Department’s website at: www.dekalbfire.com or call 615-464-7176. You can also visit the Department’s FaceBook group page.

(photo): 12 DeKalb County Fire Department Recruits Recently Complete “Live Burn” Training at Academy. Pictured from L to R: Josh Arnold, Chip Avera, Bobby Anderson, Zach Arnold, Stan Morris, Billy Tiner, Brandon Pyles, Ian Johnson, Heath Robinson, Matt Boss, Drew Caldwell, and not pictured Tyler Ludwig.

Smithville-DeKalb County Community Chorus to Perform at Jamboree

June 28, 2013
Community Chorus to Perform at Jamboree

Come “Celebrate America” with the Smithville-DeKalb County Community Chorus on Friday evening, July 5th, at approximately 6:00 p.m. immediately following the presentation of flags on the Jamboree stage.

The patriotic program will include a special tribute to veterans and service members of all branches of the military and an appearance by the Upper Cumberland Honor Guard.

The Community Chorus will have a practice session near City Hall on Thursday evening, July 4th, at 7:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. The chorus is comprised of a diverse group of DeKalb Countians and is under the direction of Faye Fuqua, with Susan Hinton as accompanist.

Chamber Announces 2013 "Project Welcome Mat Winners"

June 28, 2013
Cumberland Insurance- Best Worded Sign
DeKalb Community Bank-Most Original Sign
Liberty State Bank- Peoples Choice (Side One)
Liberty State Bank- Peoples Choice (Side Two)

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the 2013 "Project Welcome Mat".

This year's winners are as follows: People’s Choice – Liberty State Bank (for messages on both sides of their sign); Most Original – DeKalb Community Bank; and Best Worded – Cumberland Insurance.

"We want to thank all the businesses that used their message signs to welcome Jamboree visitors," said Chamber Director Suzanne Williams. " It’s vitally important to make sure that our guests know how appreciated and important they are. Tourism makes a huge positive economic impact on DeKalb County, and a lot of those tourism dollars come during the Jamboree," she said.

Cumberland Insurance – Winner of "Best Worded" Sign- "Pickers & Grinners, Crafters & Dancers, Old & New like a patchwork quilt of talent to view Gracing our fair city for all to see Welcome to the 42nd Annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree!"

Cumberland Insurance received the Chamber’s “Best Worded” Award for participating in the Jamboree Project Welcome Mat contest. The sweet hometown message paints a warm greeting for our tourists and homefolks alike to enjoy. The message was composed by Cumberland Insurance employee, Glenda Randolph. The sign was made by D&S Specialtees.

Attached Picture 1

Pictured l-r:
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Chamber Board Member & Cumberland Insurance Employee Julia Cantrell, Employees Kim Kyle & Glenda Randolph, Chamber Board Members Kathy Hendrixson &Sherry Harris

DeKalb Community Bank – Winner of “Most Original” Sign-"Welcome to Jamboree 42 the Smithville version of Bonnaroo"

The Chamber of Commerce presented the Project Welcome Mat’s “Most Original” Award to DeKalb Community Bank for their very creatively written message written by DCB Employees, June Keith and Laura Stone, that will most certainly bring a smile to our Jamboree visitors.

Attached Picture 2

Pictured l-r:
Chamber President Janna Gillard, Chamber Board Member Julia Cantrell, DCB President Gentry Barnes, DCB Employees Tammy Crook, Laura Stone, June Keith, & Dava Pedigo, Chamber Board Members Sherry Harris & Kathy Hendrixson, & Chamber Director Suzanne Williams

Liberty State Bank – Winner of “People’s Choice Award” Sign (2 pics)- "42 years of dancing, food, and song, Jamboree is still going strong" (side one); "Hot and steamy, don't be blue, come celebrate Jamboree 42" (side two)

The Chamber of Commerce presented the Project Welcome Mat’s “People’s Choice Award” to Liberty State Bank who provided messages on both sides of their sign. The imaginative and friendly wording on both signs were written by LSB Employee Nancy Clement.

Attached Pictures 3 & 4

LSB Picture – Sign 1 (picture 3)
Left side of Sign 1:
Chamber Board Member Julia Cantrell, LSB Employees Trina Graham, Annette Jackoby, Amanda Green

Right side of Sign 1:
Row 1: Chamber Board Members Sherry Harris and Kathy Hendrixson, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams
Row 2: LSB Employees Lisa Garrison, Charlene Adcock, Gail Bailiff, Chamber President Janna Gillard, LSB Vice-President & Branch Manager Ronnie Goodwin

LSB Picture - Sign 2 (picture 4)

Left side of Sign 2:
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, LSB Vice-President & Branch Manager Ronnie Goodwin, Chamber Board Member Kathy Hendrixson, Chamber President Janna Gillard, LSB Employees Charlene Adcock, Gail Bailiff, & Lisa Garrison, Chamber Board Member Sherry Harris

Right side of Sign 2:
LSB Employees Amanda Green, Trina Graham, Annette Jackoby, Chamber Board Member Julia Cantrell

Honorary Mention:

DTC Communications/DTC Wireless is providing great Welcome Sign messages from both sides of their marquee at the Smithville office, one from Alexandria, and one from Woodbury. Thanks, DTC!

Bumpers Drive In encourages locals and tourists alike to “Forget the Heat, It’s time to Play.”

Judge Hands Down Sentences in DeKalb County Criminal Court

June 28, 2013
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

Several defendants appeared for sentencing Tuesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court after entering pleas under negotiated settlements.

Judge David Patterson presided.

26 year old Margie Drennan pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to six months of supervised probation and six months of good behavior probation. She must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the recommendations for treatment. Her fine is $750.

45 year old James Adcock pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a four year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with his current probation. Adcock was fined $2,000 and he must make $25 restitution to the Smithville Police Department.

31 year old Danny Ray Murphy pleaded guilty to attempting to initiate a process to manufacture methamphetamine and received a six year sentence to serve at 30% before parole eligibility. He was fined $2,000. Murphy was given jail credit .

29 year old Amanda Maxwell pleaded guilty by information to manufacturing methamphetamine and received a four year sentence reduced to time served as of June 30. She will then be on probation. She must pay a fine of $2,000. Maxwell was given jail credit from November 10, 2012 to June 25, 2013

23 year old Christopher Garrett pleaded guilty to introduction of contraband into a penal facility (jail) and received a six year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation by community corrections. The sentence is to run concurrently with his current sentence in another case. Garrett was given jail credit of 119 days.

30 year old Crystal Baker pleaded guilty by information to promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine. She received a three year sentence suspended to judicial diversion supervised probation. She must complete drug court and pay a $2,000 fine. Baker was given ten days of jail credit.

24 year old Lance Rollings pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule VI drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case to run consecutively with each other for a total of two years. He will be on supervised probation for the first year and good behavior probation the second year. He was fined $500.

38 year old Micah Murphy pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a five year sentence, all suspended to TDOC probation except for 30 days to serve on weekends. He was fined $2000 and must make restitution of $150 to Smithville Police Department and $25 to the Smithville Police Department. He was given ten days jail credit.

48 year old Karen Edwards pleaded guilty to a second offense of driving under the influence. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation except for 45 days to serve. Twenty eight days of the sentence may be served in a rehabilitation facility. Edwards was fined $610 and she will lose her driver's license as per Tennessee Department of Safety regulations. She must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

56 year old Neil Bernard Keenan pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve two days in jail. He was fined $365 and he will lose his driver's license for one year.

26 year old Jennifer Ferrell pleaded guilty to filing a false report and received a three year sentence suspended to probation.

Rigsby Airlifted After his Vehicle Crashes into a Backyard Swimming Pool Fence on Miller Road

June 27, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jeep Cherokee Crashes into Swimming Pool Fence

A local man was airlifted Thursday morning after his Jeep Cherokee went off Miller Road and crashed into a chain link fence and a wooden swimming pool fence in the back yard of a residence near the intersection of Cooper Avenue.

Corporal Travis Bryant of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that 66 year old Danny Rigsby was driving west on Miller Road in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee when the vehicle went off the street, struck a guide wire to a utility pole, and then ran through a chain link fence and struck the deck and wooden fence around the swimming pool. No one was in the pool at the time. Some of the supports for the pool were knocked out from the collision, according to Corporal Bryant. After making impact with the fences, the vehicle struck a dirt embankment and then came back up onto the street where it stopped.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb EMS rushed to the scene.

Rigsby was taken by ambulance to the Joe L Evins ball park nearby where a helicopter ambulance landed to airlift him to Vanderbilt Hospital.

The accident is under investigation by the Smithville Police Department.

Children Treated to Magic Show and More During "Dig into Reading" Program at Library

June 27, 2013
Dwayne Page

Children enjoyed a magic show and more during the Final "Dig Into Reading" Summer Reading Program Tuesday at Justin Potter Library. The entertainment for the program featured magician and storyteller Scott Humston.


The children who met their reading goal received a Digs Reading Certificate and a goody bag

Two Plea to Child Endangerment Charges for Allowing Teens to Get Drunk at Christmas Party

June 27, 2013
Dwayne Page
Treva June Hartman
Bryan Luke Vollrath

A 48 year old woman has been sentenced on two counts of child endangerment for allegedly allowing her underage granddaughter and four teenage friends to get drunk during a party at her home three days before Christmas.

Treva June Hartman appeared before Judge David Patterson in DeKalb County Criminal Court Tuesday and was sentenced to two years in each case to run consecutively with each other for a total of four years. She will be on probation. Hartman is to undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and attend parenting classes.

Meanwhile, 21 year old Bryan Luke Vollrath, who allegedly brought liquor to the party and shared it with the teenagers, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of child abuse/neglect endangerment and received two years in each case to run consecutively for a total of four years but concurrently with a Van Buren County sentence against him. He must serve at least thirty percent of the sentence before parole eligibility. Vollrath is to undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the recommendations. He was given jail credit of 185 days.

Police said the juveniles in the case included a 13 year old girl, two 15 year old girls, a 15 year old boy, and a 17 year old boy.

Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE that on Saturday December 22, Smithville Police officers were called to Hartman's residence on West Bryant Street to investigate a possible domestic complaint. Upon arrival, the officers found Hartman along with five juveniles and two adults under age 21 who were all intoxicated. According to Chief Caplinger, a 13 year old girl and 17 year old boy were so drunk that they had to be transported to the emergency room of the hospital for treatment.

Hartman, who allegedly took several shots of liquor with the teenagers, was also accused of assaulting one of the teens. "After speaking with everyone there, it was determined that Hartman had assaulted one of the juveniles," said Chief Caplinger. "The juvenile had physical marks on her body. The others (at the party) said she became upset, entered the room where the child was and started kicking her. The child had several scratches on her," said Chief Caplinger.

"Vollrath admitted to detectives that he brought alcohol and multiple bottles of liquor to the party at the residence and shared it with the juveniles, knowing their ages," Chief Caplinger said.

Byron Looper Found Dead in Prison Cell

June 26, 2013
Dwayne Page
Byron Looper Found Dead in Prison Cell

The man convicted of the 1998 killing of State Senator Tommy Burks of Monterey was found dead in his prison cell Wednesday morning at the Morgan County Correctional Complex.

A statement from the Tennessee Department of Correction said 48 year old Byron Looper was found dead at about 11:10 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

The commissioner has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the cause of his death.

The former Putnam County property assessor was convicted of murder in the 1998 fatal shooting of Burks as he sat in his pickup truck near his Cumberland County farm.

Looper was Burks' political opponent in the November election that year for the State Senate and prosecutors believed that was the motive for the killing. The murder occurred only a few weeks before the election. After Senator Burks' death, a district wide write-in campaign was launched to elect Burks' wife Charlotte to the State Senate. At that time, DeKalb County was part of Burks' district.

Looper, who legally changed his middle name to "Low Tax," stood trial later and was sentenced to life in prison.

Mother Pleads Guilty to Child Endangerment for Allowing Minor Daughter to Have Sex

June 26, 2013
Dwayne Page
Edna Jeanette Cox

A 49 year old woman who allegedly knowingly allowed her 13 year old daughter to have sex with a 19 year old man in her home last summer was sentenced Tuesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Edna Jeanette Cox appeared before Judge David Patterson and pleaded guilty to child endangerment and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to supervised probation after serving ten days. She must perform fifty hours of community service. She is being considered for judicial diversion probation. Her sentence will begin July 5.

Bryan Thomas Thompson, the man with whom the child was allegedly having sex is under indictment by the grand jury for the statutory rape of the 13 year old girl. He was indicted last November. His case remains pending in court.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the case against Thompson and Cox of Gentry Avenue, Smithville was investigated by criminal detectives of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. Thompson was also wanted in Smith County at the time for a similar offense

According to Sheriff Ray, Cox allowed Thompson to move into her home and to stay in the same room with her daughter, knowing that he and the young girl were having sex. She had even advised them to use protection. Sheriff Ray said Cox was also aware that Thompson was wanted in Smith County for possibly having sex with a minor there. The actions of Cox, according to the warrant, placed her 13 year old daughter in danger.

Sheriff Ray said that Thompson admitted to having engaged in sexual intercourse with the 13 year old girl on several occasions beginning June 30, 2012 and knew that it was wrong.


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