Local News Articles

Lauren Ashley Medlin New Fall Fest Queen

November 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Fall Fest Queen Lauren Ashley Medlin
Fall Fest Queen and Runners-Up
Miss Congeniality Katlin Alli Emme

15 year old Lauren Ashley Medlin captured the Fall Fest Crown Saturday night during the annual pageant at the DeKalb County High School gym. The event is sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.

Nineteen young ladies, ages 14-18 competed for the title.

Medlin, daughter of Greg and Teresa Medlin of Smithville, succeeds the retiring Fall Fest Queen, 15 year old Lauren Elizabeth Colwell, daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell of Smithville.

Meanwhile, Katlin Alli Emme was named Miss Congeniality of the pageant. She is the 15 year old daughter of Jessica and Gordon Rackley and Michael and Leslie Emme of Smithville..

First runner-up in the pageant was 16 year old Zoe Elaine Whaley, daughter of Celia and Scott Whaley of Smithville.

Kami Denise Bogle was second runner-up. She is the 15 year old daughter of Amy Scott and Chris Bogle of Smithville.

17 year old Katie Sue Haggard, daughter of David and Vicki Haggard of Smithville, was the third runner-up

Fourth runner-up went to 15 year old Brittany Nicole Wilkerson, daughter of Sean Wilkerson and Michelle Cantrell of Smithville.

Others in the top ten were Kelsey Hale, the 17 year old daughter of Kevin and Judith Hale of Smithville; Stephanie Carmen Rackley, the 17 year old daughter of William and Angie Meadows and Gordon and Jessica Rackley of Smithville; Sarah Elizabeth Edwards of Liberty, the 15 year old daughter of Tena and the late Clay Edwards; Darrian Lanay Turner, the 14 year old daughter of Shane and Regina Turner of Smithville; and Christian Janette Atnip, the 17 year old daughter of Veronica Atnip of Smithville.

Others in the pageant were Paige Cantrell, the 16 year old daughter of David and Angela Cantrell of Alexandria; Carlie Sullivan, the 16 year old daughter of Inga and Darrell Johnson of Liberty; Shauna Faith Taylor, the 16 year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville; Ashlee Michelle Whitehead, the 17 year old daughter of Keneth and Tina Whitehead of Smithville; Jasmine Marie Dimas, the 17 year old daughter of Lynda Hamilton and Juan Dimas of Smithville; Makayla Shea Funk, the 16 year old daughter of Amie Funk of Dowelltown; Haley Marie Hale, the 14 year old daughter of Chad and Melissa Hale of Smithville; and Jessica Diane Ball, the 17 year old daughter of Donald and Mary Lou Ball of Smithville.

(Second Photo From Top: Pictured Left to Right: Fall Fest: 4th runner-up Brittany Nicole Wilkerson, 2nd runner-up Kami Denise Bogle, Queen Lauren Ashley Medlin, 1st runner-up Zoe Elaine Whaley, 3rd runner-up Katie Sue Haggard)

Tyra Grace Graham Crowned Autumn Sweetheart

November 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Autumn Sweetheart Tyra Grace Graham
Autumn Sweetheart and Runners-Up
Miss Congeniality Hannah Walker

13 year old Tyra Grace Graham is the first ever Autumn Sweetheart.

The inaugural pageant, sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, was held Saturday night at the DCHS gym. Twelve contestants, ages 11-14 competed for the crown.

Graham is the daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville.

First runner-up in the pageant was Hannah Walker, the 13 year old daughter of Scott and Misty Walker of Smithville. Walker was also named Miss Congeniality

Destiny Danielle Franklin, 12 year old daughter of Jennifer and Charles Ware of Smithville, was second runner-up.

Third runner-up went to Morgan Faith Green, the 12 year old daughter of Suzanne and Jon Harrison of Smithville.

Brooklyn Storm Estes was the fourth runner-up. She is the 11 year old daughter of Chris and Shanna Bogle of Smithville.

Others participating in the pageant were Alexis KaSara Davis, 12 year old daughter of Scott and Angela Davis of Smithville; Chloe Elizabeth Sykes, 11 year old daughter of Robbie and Jennifer Sykes of Smithville; Baylie Ann Davis, 11 year old daughter of Shara Cowan and Jason Davis of Smithville; Abigail Hope Taylor, the 11 year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville; Kerra Nicole Blackwell, the 13 year old daughter of Candra and Brian Neal and Russell Blackwell of Smithville; Kayla Jayne Belk, the 11 year old daughter of Chrisanne Belk and Andrew Fults of Smithville; and Madison Elaine Colwell, the 11 year old daughter of Gabe and Heather Colwell of Smithville.

Second Photo From Top: (Pictured left to right: 4th runner-up Brooklyn Storm Estes, 2nd runner-up Destiny Danielle Franklin, Queen Tyra Grace Graham, 1st runner-up Hannah Walker, 3rd runner-up Morgan Faith Green)

Anna Rachel Blair Wins Autumn Princess Crown

November 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Autumn Princess Anna Rachel Blair
Autumn Princess and Runners-Up
Miss Manners Kennedy Grace Agee

10 year old Anna Rachel Blair is the 2011 Autumn Princess

Blair, daughter of Keith and Amanda Blair of Smithville, succeeds the retiring Autumn Princess, Emma Brooke Jennings, the eight year old daughter of Chad and Shelly Jennings of Smithville

The pageant, featuring nineteen girls ages 7 to 10, was sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club and held Saturday night at the DCHS gym.

First runner-up was Natalie Morgan Snipes, the 7 year old daughter of Tim and Michelle Snipes of Smithville.

Second runner-up was Kennedy Grace Agee, the 8 year old daughter of Josh and January Agee of Liberty. Agee was also named Miss Manners.

Alexis Grace Atnip, the 8 year old daughter of Veronica Atnip and John Atnip of Smithville, was named third runner-up.

Ellisyn Kelsey Cripps was fourth runner-up. She is the 8 year old daughter of Troy and Jamie Cripps of Smithville.

Rounding out the top ten were Haylie Lockard, the 9 year old daughter of John and Brittany Lockard of Smithville; Malia Nichole Stanley, the 9 year old daughter of Steve Stanley of Smithville and the late Amy Tollison; Madison Rae Rackley, the 8 year old daughter of Gordon and Jessica Rackley of Smithville; Shaunta Rose Koegler, the 10 year old daughter of Brian and Leticia Koegler of Smithville; and Madi Elizabeth Cantrell, the 10 year old daughter of Todd and Jenny Cantrell of Smithville.

Others participating in the pageant were Sophia Eileen Angeletti, the 7 year old daughter of Stacey Angeletti of Smithville; Skylor McKinlee Fuson, the 8 year old daughter of Aleisha and Scotty Fuson of Smithville; Katherine Malone, the 9 year old daughter of Kevin and Dana Malone of Smithville; Tesla Cheyenne Tapp, the 10 year old daughter of Latisha and Jimmy Stephens of Smithville; Lera Renae Britt, the 9 year old daughter of Lou Ann Cantrell and Jason Britt of Smithville; Alley Elaine Sykes, the 9 year old daughter of Robbie and Jennifer Sykes of Smithville; Madison Faith Whitehead, the 10 year old daughter of Keneth and Tina Whitehead of Smithville; Julia Grace Curtis, the 10 year old daughter of Bruce and Amy Curtis of Smithville; and Megan Emilee Cantrell, the 10 year old daughter of Todd and Jenny Cantrell of Smithville.

Second Photo From Top: (Pictured left to right: 4th runnerup Ellisyn Kelsey Cripps, 2nd runnerup Kennedy Grace Agee, Queen Anna Rachel Blair, 1st runnerup Natalie Morgan Snipes, and 3rd runnerup Alexis Grace Atnip)

Road Supervisor Responds to State Audit Findings in WJLE Interview

November 4, 2011
Dwayne Page
Kenny Edge

The State Comptroller of the Treasury's Division of County Audit has released the annual Financial Report of DeKalb County for the year ended June 30, 2011

The audit resulted in fifteen findings and recommendations which have been reviewed with DeKalb County Management.


Six of the findings were in Road Supervisor Kenny Edge's department.

The findings were as follows:

The office did not maintain adequate controls over consumable assets
The office had deficiencies in payroll procedures
Competitive bids were not solicited for crushed stone
A property owner erected a gate on a county road
A complete county road list was not submitted to the County Commission for approval
The Highway Department performed work and provided materials on roads to private cemeteries without authorization.

When contacted by WJLE Thursday afternoon, Edge said there is no truth to the finding that competitive bids were not solicited for crushed stone. While Edge apparently could not provide sufficient proof to satisfy the state, he said the notices were clearly published in the local newspaper during the summer. "There were bids. You can go back and get the Smithville Review in June of this year and see where I bid on them and we got bids," said Edge.

Edge doesn't deny that a property owner erected a gate on a county road, as found in the audit. In fact, he said there are gates on county roads in several places across the county. "The one they're talking about here is a gate across the Love Valley Road. There's a graveyard there but they let anybody go to the graveyard who wants to. There are gates all over this county on county roads. There are two or three in Wilder Hollow. There's one at the head of Dry Creek. They are all over the county on the end of these roads, on Hurricane Ridge and everywhere. I've always worked with the landowners," said Edge.

Edge also denies that he has failed to provide the county commission a complete road list for approval, as found in the audit. Edge insists that he submits road lists to the commission each year.

As for performing work and providing materials on roads to private cemeteries, Edge said he has done that throughout his years as road supervisor and that the county commission is well aware of it even though a resolution either has never been adopted by the commission or is currently unavailable acknowledging the practice. "They're saying the county needs to pass a resolution and the county may have but they said I couldn't produce it for them,"

Edge said its frustrating how that the state has such a problem with him putting gravel or a tile in a driveway, but sees nothing wrong with the state putting down hot mix and installing guardrails to a dead end on private property in the midst of a cedar thicket on the side of a hill along side a state highway (referring to property at the foot of Snow Hill on Highway 70)

Concerning the finding about deficiencies in the payroll procedures, Edge said " You're supposed to have one (employee) to receipt the money and another employee to write the checks to the employees. But we don't have the money to hire two people for that. Its always been done this way ever since we've had a road department," he said.

As far as the finding concerning maintaining adequate controls over consumable assets, Edge said "they write me up every year on the road tiles. I furnish everybody in the county a road tile that wants a driveway to build a new house. We don't write down every tile for every particular location. We overlook them along. But if you miss one they (state) write you up just like you missed them all. They want you to put down every tile that you buy and then write down every location that you put it in. You know, you could have another employee over there doing nothing but trying to keep up with every nail, what bridge it was drove in, what gully every tile was put in, and what gully you put every gravel in. You can't keep up with everything the auditors want you to and then they write you up for it," said Edge.

WJLE will have a follow up story on other state audit findings soon.

Midnight Express Manager Inquires About Sunday Beer Sales

November 4, 2011
Dwayne Page

Should businesses licensed to sell beer in DeKalb County be permitted to sell on Sunday?

Armando Bolanco, manager of the Midnight Express Gentleman's Club on the Sparta Highway, believes they should and he briefly addressed the DeKalb County Beer Board concerning this issue Thursday night.

Bolanco said if beer sales were to be allowed on Sunday, not only would he be able to make more money, but he and other establishments that sell beer would be generating more tax money to support local government. ‘With that income that I lose, I also gain by not giving any more sales tax to the county and state. Personally, I think it would be very beneficial for the county if my place of business and the rest of the people in the county who sell beer were able to contribute more taxes by selling on Sundays. The county could use that money, whether its for the sheriff's department or for the school system," said Bolanco.

Jim Stagi, a member of the beer board, informed Bolanco that existing laws would first have to be changed and the beer board does not have that authority. "We're following the recommendations of the county, which adopted the recommendations of the state. So its got to be done (changed) legislatively for us to change our rules. We cannot change the rules for you," said Stagi.

Bolanco also asked for clarification on the law regarding beer sales after midnight during the week. Bolanco said he was under the impression that his business could not have any customers present after midnight, even though he is not serving alcohol. "We've been doing business in the county for coming up on eight years shortly. I don't believe we have caused the county any troubles. I have run it myself from day one. We cut off people (from buying beer) when they start talking crazy or are wobling a little bit. As a manager, I believe that's one of my duties. This is my case. I was told we have to clear out the building at 12:15 a.m. A good chunk of our profit on the weekends is made from 12 until 1 or 1:15 a.m. We don't sell beer past midnight. We let things cool down. But I see that small hour (12 until 1 a.m.) as a time for people to sober up a little bit before they hit the roads," said Bolanco.

Robert Rowe, beer board member, explained to Bolanco that while the law requires that no beer sales be made after midnight, the customers do not necessarily have to leave at that time. "The law doesn't say they have to leave. But at 12:15 their beer has to go. They can spend the night with you if they want to. That's the way I understand it. At 12:15 a.m. they can get the coffee pot out and say okay let's have some coffee. All we do is enforce the law that they (county) gave us. This is the law they gave us to go by," said Rowe.

The law states that "No beer or like beverages shall be sold between the hours of 12 midnight and 6:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday. No beer or like beverages shall be sold between the hours of 12 midnight on Saturday and 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. No such beverage shall be consumed or opened for consumption on or about any licensed premises in either bottle, glass, or other container after 12:15 a.m."

Meanwhile, the beer board voted to receive an application for a new on and off premises permit for the VFW Howard Gill POST on the Sparta Highway under the name of the quartermaster. Tom Skelenka appeared before the board on behalf of the VFW.

The board will take final action on the application at the next meeting on Thursday, December 1 at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse.

As you adjust your clocks, change smoke alarm batteries

November 4, 2011

Tennessee State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak is reminding Tennesseans to change their smoke alarms’ batteries this weekend when they set back their clocks late Saturday night for daylight saving time.

“Smoke alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly to ensure they’re providing the proper protection,” McPeak says. “Use the extra hour we gain this weekend to make sure your home and family are fire-safe.”

Most home fires occur at night when people are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause people to sleep more deeply, narrowing the chances of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a fire in their home.

Nationally, more than 90 percent of all homes have smoke alarms, but it is estimated that one-third of them don't work because of old or missing batteries. It is critical to replace batteries regularly – even if alarms appear to be working fine. Twice a year is recommended. This reduces the chance of alarms chirping to indicate low batteries. All too often, a battery is removed and not replaced, putting a home’s occupants at risk. There's no way to predict when a fire will occur, so even one night without an operational smoke alarm can be dangerous.
Here are some other helpful hints on the importance of smoke alarms:

• Smoke alarms should be installed in every room where an occupant sleeps, outside every sleeping area and on each level of the home. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
• Smoke alarms need to be cleaned and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room, and be sure to teach it to any children who live in the home.
• When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/

Voters Can View On-Line Video About Photo ID Law

November 3, 2011

Voters interested in learning more about the Voter Photo I.D. law that goes into effect January 1 can now view an online video about the topic.

The Tennessee Division of Elections has created a special web site devoted entirely to the Photo I.D. law and the site includes a video that was shown at the recent "Town Hall" meetings held across the state on November
"The state office and local election offices are looking at every opportunity to inform voters of the new requirements to vote at the polls beginning with elections held in 2012," said Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections. "This site explains the new law and provides examples of the photo identification cards that will be accepted and links to what voters will need to do to obtain an acceptable photo i.d. card for voting purposes."

Voters can visit http://www.state.tn.us/sos/election/photoID.htm and click on the video link to view a video presentation by State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins or click on the "Power Point Presentation" link for a simple page by page explanation of the law along with color photographs of acceptable forms of photo identification. Voters can also access the web site by logging on to http://www.state.tn.us/sos/election/ and selecting the 2012 Voter Identification Requirements link.

More information about the new law can also be obtained by calling the DeKalb County Election Commission at 597-4146 or visiting the local commission's web site at http://www.dekalbelections.com/.

Hurricane Bridge to be Closed Tuesday Night, November 8th

November 3, 2011
Hurricane Bridge

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has announced that Hurricane Bridge will be closed to all traffic on Tuesday night, November 8 between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. CST to pour a portion of the new concrete deck.

TDOT's weekly construction report released Thursday, November 3 states, " While the bridge is closed, all traffic will be redirected to the currently posted truck detour that utilizes I-40 at Exit 254 to SR-53. Message boards will be posted. The bridge will be reopened to normal one-lane signal-controlled traffic the following morning by 6:00 a.m. If the contractor is unable to perform this work, it will be rescheduled to take place on either the evening of Wednesday, November 9 or Thursday, November 10 between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Further temporary lane shifts may be implemented by flaggers on an "as needed" basis to facilitate work as it progresses".

The bridge currently is down to only one lane of traffic, and it is being maintained and controlled by a temporary signal for the safety of the traveling public. The current weight postings of 10 tons for two-axle vehicles and 18 tons for vehicles with three or more axles will remain in effect and will be strictly enforced. This will allow for work adjacent to the north side of the bridge to continue.

Estimated project completion date is October 2013.

Alexandria Alderman Sworn Into Office

November 2, 2011
Dwayne Page
Darrell Dixon Takes Oath of Office from Vester Parsley
Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen

Alexandria Alderman Darrell Dixon was officially sworn into office Tuesday night to begin his new four year term during a special meeting of the Alexandria Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The meeting was held at the Alexandria Senior Citizens Center.

Dixon was re-elected unopposed in September. He was sworn into office by Alexandria City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr.

Other members of the board are Aldermen Pat Jackson, Tony Tarpley, and Addie Farley. The Mayor is Ria Baker. Two aldermen positions on the council still remain vacant.

Meanwhile, in other business the aldermen adopted a measure giving a refund to a few land owners whose property had been annexed into the city limits two years ago and then later de-annexed. The refund is for property taxes they paid during the time their land had been annexed into the city. It involves about thirty three property owners and totals almost $8,000.

Authors of New Civil War Book Coming to Smithville Saturday

November 2, 2011
Traci Nichols-Belt and Gordon T. Belt
Authors Traci Nichols-Belt and Gordon T. Belt Coming to Smithville Saturday

The Civil War was trying, bloody and hard-fought combat for both sides. What was it, then, that sustained soldiers low on supplies and morale? For the Army of Tennessee, it was religion. Onward Southern Soldiers: Religion and the Army of Tennessee in the Civil War explores the significant impact of religion on every rank, from generals to chaplains to common soldiers. It took faith to endure overwhelming adversity. Religion unified troops, informing both why and how they fought and providing the rationale for enduring great hardship for the Confederate cause. Using primary source material such as diaries, letters, journals and sermons of the Army of Tennessee, Traci Nichols-Belt, along with Gordon T. Belt, presents the history of the vital role of the army's religious practices.

Traci and Gordon of Kingston Springs will be selling and signing copies of their new book on Saturday, November 5 from noon until 4:00 p.m. at F.Z. Webb & Sons Gifts on the Public Square in Smithville.


Traci Nichols-Belt is an ordained and licensed minister and holds a master's degree in history from Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor's degree in political science from Anderson University. During her academic career at MTSU, Traci worked for the Tennessee State Museum and wrote two National Register nominations for the Johnsonville Historic District in New Johnsonville, Tennessee, and the Historical AME Church and Cemeteries in Alexandria, Tennessee. Traci has also worked as a historical consultant and grant writer for the Clement Railroad Hotel and Museum in Dickson, Tennessee. Traci's article "Chaplains in the Army of Tennessee, CSA: Warring Disciples Carrying the Gospel" was published in the Winter 2004 issue of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Additionally, she wrote a review of Sam Davis Elliot's book, Doctor Quintard Chaplain CSA and Second Bishop of Tennessee for the Spring 2004 issue of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly.

Gordon T. Belt is an information professional specializing in local archives, historical research and government and public policy. He currently works as the library manager for the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and has written several articles for the First Amendment Center on legislative issues and history. Gordon holds a master's degree in history from Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is an active member in the Society of Tennessee Archivists and holds memberships in the Society of American Archivists, Special Libraries Association, National Council on Public History and the Tennessee Historical Society. Gordon is also the founding editor and publisher of The Posterity Project, an award-winning blog devoted to issues related to archives, history, civic responsibility and open access to public records in his home state of Tennessee


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