Local News Articles

Easter Sunday Traffic Accident Causes Natural Gas Leak

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dusty and Joe Johnson work to cap gas leak (photo by Donny Green)

A motorist struck and ruptured a high pressure natural gas line on Dale Ridge Road causing some tense moments Sunday morning.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 20 year old Brittaney Wheeler of Smithville was driving a 2001 Kia Sportage north on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when she went off the right side of the road. Wheeler overcorrected and the vehicle came back across the highway, went off the left side of the road, and struck a mailbox and an above ground gas line pressure reducer near the Memorial Baptist Church, rupturing the line causing a massive gas leak. The vehicle came to rest on top of the broken line. Wheeler grabbed a two month old infant who was in the vehicle with her and they got out safely.


Central dispatch was notified and alerted county volunteer firefighters. County Fire Chief Donny Green said he received the call at 10:39 a.m. Members of the Liberty and Main Stations responded along with county deputies and DeKalb EMS.

According to Chief Green, there was no fire from the gas leak but as a precaution the highway was closed to traffic from both the north and south within three hundred feet of the scene and one home was evacuated as a precaution until the leak was stopped. No one was at the church.

Chief Green said a special thanks goes to Joe and Dusty Johnson, local contractors who do work for the gas company. He said they responded quickly and capped off the high pressure gas leak.

Trooper Johnson said Wheeler was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance)

Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Pageants Set for Saturday

March 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
Liz Abigail Qualls of Smithville, the reigning Junior Miss
Little Miss Isabella Faith Rackley
Little Mister Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson

The annual Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Pageants will be held Saturday, April 6 beginning at 4 p.m. at the DCHS gymnasium.

The Little Miss & Mister will feature children between the ages of four and six and the Spring Blossom will include young ladies in grades six through eight.

Fifteen year old Liz Abigail Qualls of Smithville, is the reigning Junior Miss.

Qualls is the daughter of Brad and Kim Trapp and Jason and Stormy Qualls.

The retiring Little Mister is six year old Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson of Smithville, the son of Karey and Chris Benson.

The reigning Little Miss is five year old Isabella Faith Rackley of Smithville, daughter of Jessica and Gordon Rackley

All contestants are to attend the pageant rehearsal on Friday, April 5, beginning at 6 p.m. for the Little Miss and Mister contestants and at 7:30 p.m. for the Spring Blossom contestants.

Studio Six Limited will be offering portrait packages the night of event. Pageant photos will begin at 3 p.m. Admission is $3 (excluding contestants only) for anyone four and older. Concessions will be available throughout the evening.

The pageants are sponsored by the Smithville Women’s Club

WJLE Radiothon Raises Over $4,500 for DCHS Class of 2013 Project Graduation

March 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
Some of the DCHS Seniors who participated in Radiothon

More than $4,500 was raised during a three hour radiothon Friday morning on WJLE for the DCHS Class of 2013 Project Graduation.

DCHS teacher Chris Vance hosted the program and parents of high school seniors who serve on the Project Graduation committee answered phones, taking pledges during the drive. Several seniors also made an appearance on the radiothon to talk about their school activities and future plans and to ask for pledges.

Parents and students wish to thank everyone who supported the radiothon.

Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2013 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class.

The DCHS Graduation is set for Friday, May 24

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 8% in February

March 29, 2013
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for February was 8%, down from 8.6% in January and below the rate of 8.4% in February, 2012.

The local labor force for February was 9,510. A total of 8,740 were employed and 760 were unemployed..

DeKalb County's February unemployment rate was fourth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland Region.

Here's how they ranked from highest to lowest:
Pickett County: 13.1%
Van Buren County: 11.7%
White County: 11.5%
Clay County: 10.8%
Jackson County: 10.2%
Cumberland County: 10.2%
Warren County: 9.6%
Fentress County: 9.5%
Overton County: 9.5%
Smith County: 8.5%
DeKalb County: 8%
Macon County: 7.9%
Putnam County: 7.7%
Cannon County: 6.9%

County unemployment rates for February 2013 show the rate decreased in 87 counties, increased in five, and stayed the same in three.

Davidson County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.3 percent, down from 6.5 percent in January. Knox County's February rate of 6.4 percent was down from 6.5 percent in the prior month. Hamilton County was 7.7 percent, down from 8.0 percent, and Shelby County was 9.3 percent, down from 9.7 percent in January.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for February was 7.8 percent, which increased one tenth of one percentage point from the January revised rate of 7.7 percent. The national unemployment rate for February 2013 was 7.7 percent, decreasing by two tenths of one percent from the previous month.

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.

County Mayor and Commissioners to Receive John S. Wilder Rebuild Tennessee Award

March 28, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Complex

County Mayor Mike Foster and a few of the county commissioners will be in Nashville next Thursday to receive the John S. Wilder Rebuild Tennessee Award presented by The Tennessee Development District Association and The Upper Cumberland Development District.

The Wilder award is presented for a special project in each of the state's nine development districts. The DeKalb County Complex was selected as the project worthy of this year's award in the UCDD. Each recipient will receive a commemorative plaque that recognizes their achievements.

The plaques will be presented by the East, Middle, and West Tennessee Development District Association Vice-Presidents at the TDDA Annual Rebuild Tennessee Awards Breakfast on April 4th at the downtown Sheraton in Nashville. The observance is part of the 2013 Annual TDDA Annual Conference and Business Meeting April 3 & 4.

"The John S. Wilder Rebuild Tennessee Award is selected by each development district," said Teresa Sanders, Coordinator for the Conference and Annual Meeting. "Tennessee is divided into nine development districts and each one chooses a project in their district to be recognized. It can be a project they are affiliated with or it can be a project that is beneficial to that region overall," said Sanders.

The following is a description of the DeKalb County Complex project submitted for award consideration:

"The DeKalb County Commission saw that there was a major need for a multi-use community facility in their county seat, Smithville. To meet that need, DeKalb County purchased an abandoned strip center about two blocks from the courthouse on Hwy 56 South. This property is 5.5 acres of land and a 63,000 square foot building. The county conducted numerous meetings with people of different organizations, ages and agendas. After a year of planning they began working with architects, builders and the general public to develop the layout for the new facility".

"Development and construction of a 4,000 square foot Farmer's Market facility on the property commenced soon after the purchase. Last year the Farmer's Market had about 40 vendors in peak season".

"The development of the 63,000 sq ft building was split into three phases. The County developed approximately 4,500 sq ft of space for rental to the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency for offices. Office space was prepared to relocate the DeKalb County Register of Deeds, County Court Clerk, Trustee, and Property Assessor from the courthouse. A large County Archives and records space, kitchen, and approximately 3,000 sq ft for a future DeKalb County History Museum completed the first phase".

"The second phase included seven meeting/classrooms including a computer lab that will be utilized by Motlow State Community College, DeKalb County GED Program, Art Revolution, Workforce Development, and the American Red Cross. There is a section for use by the UT Extension Service, a kitchen, and a meeting room for 80 with an overhead projector. The DeKalb County Senior Citizens has an area of approximately 4,000 square feet with a meeting/dining room, kitchen, card room, storage room, and office space".

"Phase three connected the Senior Citizens with a 2,000 sq ft room used by 70 seniors for silver sneakers exercise during the day and parties, meetings, and dances as needed. There is a fitness center that house about 40 treadmills, elliptical, stationary bikes, upper and lower body machines, weight machines, benches, and other exercise machines. There is a 2,000 sq ft game room equipped with pool tables, air hockey, tables, computer games, Wii games, X-Box 360 games, traditional pinball and video games, and many other game machines".

"The auditorium seats about 400 and has a large 44'x27' stage with dressing rooms, lighting and a sound system for up to 36 microphones. This area has a projector for movies and local industry training events with a 13'x8' screen. Storage on each side of the stage has capacity for approximately 450 chairs and 80 tables".

"A café is the center of this section with seating for 100, a full community kitchen, and office space. The café has a big screen TV and wrap-around music. There is also a snack bar available".

"Total project cost was just over $3.2 million. DeKalb County received $63,000 in grant funding from USDA Rural Development, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Archives, and

"The project has been a huge success for the county giving both the old and young a safe place to gather, improve their fitness, socialize, and become a more active participant in their community".

"Some of the highlights from the first year that the DeKalb County Complex has been open include:

*Five Plays performed by the Brentwood Theater Group
*Two Ballets, the Nutcracker and Carmen, performed by the Nashville Dance Theatre
*Channel 4 Weather training with 450 people attending
*Monthly movie night
*Monthly band and Songwriter's night
*Monthly Senior's Dance
*Basketball Training 4 nights/week
*70 Senior's Exercise Silver Sneakers 2 times/week
*Fitness Membership currently has 1,010 paying members

Two Students Attend Youth Leadership Summit

March 27, 2013
Jordan Wilkins and Laura Reed

Two students recently attended a Youth Leadership Summit for Juniors in High School sponsored by the (TECA)Tennessee Electrical Cooperative Association.

Each of the 23 Cooperatives selected a male and female student to participate in the trip.

Jordan Wilkins and Laura Reed were chosen by the DCHS guidance office to represent Caney Fork Electric Cooperative. They participated in leadership activities, met with state legislators, took a tour of Nashville, and enjoyed an ice cream social with Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders and Miss Tennessee.

An awards ceremony was held and Wilkins was chosen second out of about 50 students across the state as demonstrating the best leadership.

Police Chief Releases Report on Recent Arrests and Citations

March 27, 2013
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Randy Caplinger

In his latest report on city crime news, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 28 year old Michael Brandon Redmon was arrested Friday, March 1 for falsifying a drug test. The warrant states that Redmon came into the Community Probation Office to do a required drug test and he had a bottle of urine in his underwear in an attempt to falsify the test. His bond is $5,000.

21 year old Gregorio Cruz Vanloo was arrested on Friday, March 1 for public intoxication. The warrant states that an officer was dispatched to the Community Probation Office in response to an intoxicated person. Upon arrival, the officer found Vanloo sitting in a chair nodding in and out of sleep. Vanloo allegedly admitted to taking drugs. He was unsteady on his feet and had red and watery eyes. His bond is $1,500

39 year old Jeffery Lynn Sanders was cited for shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia on Saturday, March 2. Police were dispatched to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter. An officer made contact with Sanders and recovered the merchandise. Upon speaking with Sanders, the officer observed a syringe in his left hand.

50 year old Marla Jean Trammel was cited for simple assault on Wednesday, March 6. An officer was dispatched to Omega Apparel in response to a fight. The officer spoke with the victim who stated she was struck in the face by Trammel. Witnesses confirmed the incident.

27 year old Justin Ray Lohorn was arrested for two counts of theft of property on Friday, March 15. The day before, on Thursday March 14 police received a call from a complainant on Cooper Avenue concerning a man who was seen running from a residence. While on patrol, one of the officers spotted a man fitting the description enter a house on Gentry Avenue. Police went to the residence to do a follow up and made contact with Lohorn who allowed the officers to enter the residence to speak with him. While inside, the officers saw items that had been reported stolen earlier from a job site on Love Lane. A search warrant was issued and items from at least two victims were discovered. His bond is $10,000.

Tara Jane Atnip-Summers was arrested for DUI and reckless endangerment on Friday, March 15. The warrant states that police were dispatched to the area of Holmes Creek to a possible drunk driver. The officer found a vehicle illegally stopped in the roadway. He made contact with the driver, Summers who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. Her speech was slurred. Summers was asked to exit the vehicle. She submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. Summers had a small child in the vehicle with her at the time of arrest. She will be in court on March 28. Her bond is $7,000.

30 year old Cassandra Nicole Estes was cited for shoplifting and trespassing on Tuesday, March 19. A Wal-Mart employee saw Estes put items in her purse and then try to leave the store without paying. Estes had signed a form on February 16, 2012 saying she would not come back in Wal-Mart. Her court date is April 4.

41 year old Willard Darrell Brown was arrested for public intoxication on Tuesday, March 26. According to the warrant, police responded to an attempted break in on Morgan Drive. Upon arrival, the officer found Brown at the scene. He was unsteady on his feet and he had slurred speech. Due to Brown's level of intoxication and being a danger to himself and the public he was arrested and taken to jail. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 4.

37 year old Tiffany D Hendrixson was arrested for theft and cited for possession of drug paraphernalia on Tuesday, March 26. The warrant states that police were dispatched on a shoplifting call at Wal-Mart and spoke with an employee who had detained Hendrixson. He had allegedly witnessed her taking items out of packages and putting them in her purse. Several items belonging to Wal-Mart were recovered from her purse along with two ink pen tubes containing powder residue. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on April 11.

Anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that would help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense would be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Fire Destroys Smithville Home, Damages Two Others

March 27, 2013
Dwayne Page

An early morning fire destroyed a home on Bell Street and damaged two others this morning (Wednesday).

911 received the call from a passerby who spotted the blaze at 3:19 a.m.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and Smithville Police Department responded.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker told WJLE that the cause of the fire is currently undetermined. Although the home had electricity, no one was believed to be living there.

Homes on either side of the residence were also damaged as heat from the fire melted the vinyl siding on the ends of those houses facing the fire. One of those homes was apparently occupied. No one was injured.

Former Local Assistant Scoutmaster Charged in Florida Undercover Child Sex Investigation

March 27, 2013
Richard Charles Holubek

A child sex sting operation based in St. Johns County, Florida has resulted in the arrests of 15 men, including a former DeKalb County assistant scoutmaster.

According to media reports in Florida, the sting by the Johnson County Sheriff's Office was called "Operation No Soliciting and took place over the course of five days, starting March 13.

Among those arrested was 47 year old Richard Charles Holubek of Orange Park, Florida, a former assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America Troop 347 in DeKalb County. Holubek is now a drug store manager in Florida. Authorities said Holubek was trying to meet a 13 year old male.

He is charged with one count of use of computer service to solicit a child, one count of obscene communication travel to meet after use of a computer to lure a child, and one count of utilizing a two way device to facilitate a felony. His bond totals $75,000.

According to Florida media reports, officers there used Internet chat rooms to find men looking for under-age sexual partners. Sometimes, undercover officers were posing as parents offering their children for sex.

The suspects were then invited to visit an undisclosed house in the county with the promise of sex with a minor.

However, there were no minors at the house, only officers who arrested the suspects after establishing that they were there to engage in illegal activity.

Those arrested come from several different counties, and three are from Georgia. The age of the suspects are between 19 and 49.

This was the second Internet child sex sting in the county. Operation Sheepdog was executed about two years ago, and 17 men were arrested in that sting.

County Looking to Expand Fitness Center at Complex

March 26, 2013
Dwayne Page
Fitness Center Facebook Photo

With more people making use of the fitness center at the county complex, the DeKalb County Commission Monday night authorized the purchase of more equipment to accommodate the public.

No more space is available in the existing fitness room, so the added equipment will be placed in the History room of the county complex, at least temporarily. "In the short term, we've talked about purchasing some more cardio machines for what we're calling the History room," said County Mayor Mike Foster. "On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are so many people in there (fitness room) that there is not enough equipment for them. We can put six or eight machines in there (History room)," he said.

Foster said bids will be accepted for the added equipment unless the county can make the purchase from the previous bid. "I have talked to the guy that we got the others from and he said we could get them at the same price we got the original ones for. They are all rebuilt machines. None of them are new. I believe some of them are $1,600. The treadmills are around $3,400. So it would be (total cost) in the low 20's ($20,000) depending upon the number of treadmills and ellipticals. I think probably four of each one would be about the right number," said County Mayor Foster.

To meet the growing demand, Foster said the county may have to expand the fitness room. "Long term, we've talked about putting a couple of walls on that back deck and moving all the weight machines and free weights out there and let the front room be strictly for cardio equipment," he said.

"I was out there on several different nights and there was probably fifteen people waiting but part of them could use other machines. It's a good thing to have this problem because we have right at one thousand members out there now. We've got to do things to keep the momentum going," he said.


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