Local News Articles

Election Commissioners Reappointed

April 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Barbara Vanatta, Walteen Parker, Jim Dean, and Harry Lasser
 Richard Hearon Puckett

The current members of the DeKalb County Election Commission have been reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission.

The state election commission made these appointments on Monday April 6.

The term of each member is for two years.

Members of the DeKalb County Election Commission are Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, Jim Dean, Harry Lasser, and Richard Hearon Puckett.
Vanatta and Dean are beginning their fourth terms. Parker has served since 1992. All three are Republicans. Lasser, a Democrat, is starting his third term. Puckett, also a Democrat, is beginning his second full term after filling a vacancy.

Since the state legislature is made up of a majority of GOP lawmakers, Republicans have the right to hold majority memberships on the Tennessee Election Commission as well as all county election commissions in Tennessee. The appointments to local commissions are made by the state election commission.

Regarding the political division of county election commissions, state law states that " three members shall be members of the majority party and two members shall be members of the minority party".

"The members of the majority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."

"The members of the minority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."

"When members of another statewide political party are required to be appointed to a county election commission, they shall be nominated by the party's state primary board."

"Before appointing county election commissioners, the members of the state election commission shall consult with the members of the general assembly serving each of the counties as to the persons to be appointed to the county election commissions".

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Election Commission will hold its next meeting April 16 at the Election Commission Office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

The board will likely reorganize and appoint the Administrator of Elections.

Grand Jury Returns No True Bill in Cases Against Three People

April 7, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Grand Jury returned a "No True Bill" in cases against three people Monday.

A "No True Bill" is a legal procedure to dismiss charges against a defendant when the grand jury does not find enough evidence or probable cause to charge the defendant with violating a law.

A "No True Bill" was returned in the case against 28 year old Jordan Adams of Smithville who had been charged with attempted second degree murder in the shooting of 39 year old Jamie Murphy on Juniper Lane last August. Adams was also charged with reckless endangerment.

The Grand Jury also returned a "No True Bill" against 74 year old Frank Thomas of Liberty. Thomas was accused of pointing a gun at another motorist (family member) while chasing after him in his vehicle at high speeds on Highway 56 South in September. Thomas had been charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

No indictment was returned against Tamyra Taylor, charged with driving under the influence, wrong address on her drivers license, seatbelt violation, and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance).

Dowelltown Man Indicted on Child Rape Charges

April 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Jonathan Everett Jay

The DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday returned child rape indictments against a Dowelltown man for allegedly touching his eight year old niece in a sexual manner on two occasions last summer.

20 year old Jonathan Everett Jay of Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown will be arraigned on Monday, April 13.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, September 11, 2014 a Sheriff's Department Detective responded to a residence on Snow Hill Road regarding a sexual assault of an eight year old girl. According to the mother, the child said that her uncle (Jay) had touched her inappropriately. The detective and a member of the Department of Children's Services spoke with the child and she confirmed what her mother had reported. When confronted Jay agreed to speak with the detective at the Sheriff's Department. After reading Jay his rights, the detective began the interview during which time Jay allegedly admitted to having had sexual contact with the child on two occasions, Wednesday August 27 and Thursday, September 11.

Jay is one of 48 people indicted by the grand jury Monday. Eleven persons were named in sealed indictments. Arraignment for all defendants will be Monday, April 13.

Those indicted and their charges are as follows:

James Lee Adcock: aggravated burglary and theft over $500

Leslie Arnold: driving under the influence (2nd offense), driving on a revoked license, open container, and failure to maintain lane

Lavar Bass: theft under $500

Cynthia Carter: driving on a revoked license (2nd offense) and financial responsibility

Anthony Colwell and David Roger Petty: aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000

Anthony Colwell: burglary and theft over $1,000

Jackson Cripps: evading arrest, drag racing, and speeding

Johnny Lynn Devault: domestic assault and aggravated assault

Margie Grace Drennan: possession of paraphernalia

Bobby Duggin: aggravated burglary (2 counts), theft under $500, and theft over $500

Justin Dale Estes and Ashley Nicole Estes: introduction of contraband into a penal institution and child abuse/neglect

Deborah Lynn Ferrell: driving under the influence, violation of registration, financial responsibility, and failure to maintain lane

Royce Avon Foster: burglary and theft over $1,000 and driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Don Diamond Groshon: assault

Zackary Nathaniel Hale and Brandon Scott Kidd: driving under the influence, DUI by allowance, vehicular assault, incorrect address on license, financial responsibility, and failure to maintain lane

Nichole Breann Higgins: initiation of methamphetamine and child abuse/neglect

April Lee Hollingsworth, Don Diamond Groshon, James Lee Adcock: initiation of methamphetamine, resisting arrest, and possession of prohibited weapon

Jonathan Everett Jay: rape of a child (2 counts)

Terry Knowles: driving on a revoked license, child restraint device, and window tint

Molly Sue Lawrence: forgery (2 counts)

Curtis Allen Lloyd: possession of a schedule II drug over .5 grams

Brittany Lynn Lee: theft over $1,000 and theft over $500

David Linnear: driving under the influence and failure to obey traffic signal

Jo Ann Luna: forgery and resisting arrest

Melinda Beth Murphy: forgery (3 counts)

David Michael Roger Petty: driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Dennis Jason Reeder: driving under the influence (2nd offense), violation of the registration law (2 counts), failure to exercise due care, and financial responsibility

Michael Shone Saylors and Ashley Dawn Saylors: initiation of methamphetamine and aggravated child abuse (2 counts)

Sara Nicole South: theft over $10,000, a second offense of driving on a revoked license (2 counts), registration violation, possession of a schedule II drug, possession of paraphernalia, and seatbelt violation.

Sonny Alan Stults: driving under the influence, financial responsibility, and failure to maintain lane

Tara Jane (Atnip) Summers: reckless endangerment

Deborah Thistlewaite: driving under the influence, possession of a schedule VI, and possession of paraphernalia

Nathaniel Tippens: auto burglary (6 counts), theft under $500 (6 counts), theft over $500, vandalism under $500

Joshua McNeil Vincent: driving on a suspended license, financial responsibility, and seatbelt violation.

Charles Henry Ward: driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane, and no driver's license

Christopher Sam White: theft under $500 and initiation of methamphetamine

Michelle Yarbro: introduction of contraband into a penal institution

Cripps Critical of City Plans to have Morning Hearing for Police Chief

April 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sarah Cripps
Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger will soon be afforded a due process hearing before the Board of Aldermen on whether he should be reinstated after Mayor Jimmy Poss fired him last month. But before Caplinger gets that hearing, the Mayor and Aldermen have to agree on when to have it.

The city administration seems intent on conducting the hearing in the morning hours at city hall but that is not going over well with the attorney representing Caplinger, Sarah Cripps nor with Alderman Shawn Jacobs, who says he can't attend a morning meeting because of his work schedule and is asking that it be held at a more convenient time for himself and all others involved including the public.

Caplinger's due process hearing had been scheduled for a special meeting Friday, April 10 at city hall starting at 10 a.m. but Cripps, in a letter to City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said she and her co-counsel Brandon Cox were not available at that time. She suggested having it on Friday, April 24.

Cripps is also wanting to have the hearing when Caplinger's supporters can attend. In her letter to Parsley, Cripps alleges that the city's decision for a morning hearing is to avoid that. "You (Parsley) informed me that Mr. Caplinger's due process hearing will not be conducted at the City Council's regularly scheduled meeting but, instead will occur at a "special meeting" held in the morning hours. In view of the demonstration of such strong public support in favor of Chief Caplinger's retention, I am not at all surprised that the City of Smithville has taken the decision to conduct the due process termination hearing "in the morning hours" as to avoid the penetrating and unremitting gaze of the public. In this regard, Chief Caplinger again respectfully requests that he be afforded a hearing before the three person board or commission as required by Smithville City Code Section 4-205(7) prior to conducting a hearing before the entire City Council," wrote Cripps.

She also wants City Judge Hilton Conger to serve as Parliamentarian at the hearing and be designated to rule on any evidentiary and legal issues which counsel for either side may raise during Chief Caplinger's due process hearing.

Cripps addressed the Mayor and Aldermen briefly with her concerns during the regular monthly meeting Monday night . "We're here to say that we have been advised that the meeting on Chief Caplinger would be in the morning (hours). We are requesting that it be held at a regularly scheduled meeting of this body which would be in the evenings so that everybody could go. It was explained to our office that the meeting couldn't be held in the afternoon because the mayor drives a school bus for the board of education and Alderman (Danny) Washer also drives a school bus so they were not available. I was disappointed in the attempts, which I regard as reprehensible to hold a meeting of this magnitude in the morning at a time when it really makes a mockery of the term "public" hearing because two of the aldermen we know have prior commitments. It appears as though it's an attempt to circumvent the real intention of city code 4205 and to have the outcome foreordained. I just want to encourage everybody to govern in the sunshine and to make your decisions under the gaze of the public," said Cripps

"Sarah we have other meetings in the mornings that probably you are not aware of. This is not the only time," said Mayor Poss.

According to the new city charter adopted in 2013, Regular city council meetings are to be held once per month at 6:00 p.m. but special meetings may be called as needed either by the mayor or any two aldermen, giving at least 48 hours notice.

Alderman Jacobs said that he could not attend a morning meeting and added that he didn't understand why it could not be scheduled in the late afternoon or in the evening at a time when the mayor and the entire board of aldermen could attend which would also make it more convenient for the public. "The meetings we have had (previously) in the mornings were when I was able to attend in the mornings due to my work schedule. Now my work schedule has changed and I can only attend afternoon or evening meetings. My being able to attend afternoon or evening meetings is no different from you (Mayor) and Mr. Washer being able to attend morning meetings. I think as a member of this board I am entitled to be at any meeting and I think any effort should be made to let all members of the board be present. I too find it reprehensible that there seems to be no effort to accommodate those of us who are unable to attend. It certainly doesn't look good upon the city that it's going to be held when perhaps members of the public who would like to be here aren't going to be here. I think there may be some legal concern with this being scheduled (in the mornings). I think we're in some gray territory as far as whether this is even legal or not," said Alderman Jacobs

Mayor Poss asked Alderman Jacobs, "Have you checked with anybody to see if its legal?"

Alderman Jacobs replied "I have not because I hope we would all be ladies and gentlemen enough and be concerned enough about our responsibilities to the residents of the city that we could work out a time like we've always done. Before we've always worked to try to accommodate each other's schedule. I don't see why we can't do it this time. Any afternoon or evening I can be here. My work is out of town and I can't take mornings off because that's when the heaviest part of my work is done. I don't understand why we can't have an evening meeting. It seems like it would be more convenient for everybody including the public," he said.

"I don't think a meeting has been scheduled yet has it?" asked Alderman Gayla Hendrix. One was scheduled (April 10) but we got an email and Ms. Cripps asked for a different date. Several of us aren't available (to attend April 10). I've not gotten a message on another meeting. Has anyone else?" she asked

Alderman Danny Washer asked "What was the reason the first one was cancelled?"

Cripps replied "We had a conflict"

"I couldn't be here for that one either (April 10) because it was in the morning," said Alderman Jacobs.

"I think there's two or three of us who can't make that date (April 10) but we haven't discussed another date. I'm open to any date but let's discuss that through email," Alderman Hendrix said.

Alderman Washer said he would be willing to meet at any time provided it didn't conflict with his already planned personal vacation time. " You set the time and If I am in the county, if I'm available I'll be here. I don't care when it is. I want to get this done. Surely to goodness we can come together on one day when everybody can be here. I'll work my schedule to be here," he said.

"I think that is something we can easily pass an email around so we can get a consensus when we're all available. We can check calendars. There is no reason to hash on that tonight when we don't have everybody here (Alderman Jason Murphy was absent Monday night) to make a decision," said Alderman Hendrix.

Mayor Poss asked Alderman Jacobs " What time do you get off work Shawn?"

"It varies. Today I didn't get home until 4:00 p.m." he said.

"So how do we plan on that"? asked Poss

"Well I'll be home by 6 p.m. I'll certainly be home by late afternoon or by 6 p.m." replied Alderman Jacobs.

"So in other words, we've got to accommodate you. I don't even want to argue the thing," said Mayor Poss

"I don't either but we've always worked to try to accommodate everyone before," answered Alderman Jacobs.

"We can if everybody will try to work with everybody," added Mayor Poss.

"I can make any late afternoon or evening," Alderman Jacobs said

"That's what I'm saying. Everybody has got to change it for you," Mayor Poss concluded.

In a statement to WJLE after the meeting, Alderman Jacobs said "I'm really not trying to be argumentative about this. It's really very simple. I just want the hearing to be held at a time when all members of the Board of Aldermen can be there and when more of the general public can potentially be present if they want to be. I just want our action to be completely open for public scrutiny," he said.

School Board Makes Contract Buyout Offer to Director Willoughby (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Monday night during a special called meeting made a contract buyout offer to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

The vote was 6-1 in favor. Second District member Jerry Wayne Johnson voted against it.


Under terms of the proposal, the School Board has agreed to pay Mr. Willoughby his salary and all insurance benefits now in effect through June 30th. During the term of this agreement, no additional personal leave days shall accrue and salary and benefit payments shall not increase or decrease. Such salary and benefits shall be paid upon the regularly scheduled dates established by policy or practice for all currently employed licensed personnel.

Since Willoughby has already been paid for the month of April, the board believes it necessary for him to stay on as Director until an interim is named possibly by the next regularly scheduled meeting on April 16.

Director Willoughby has forty eight hours to notify the board whether he will accept the proposed settlement. He wants the terms in writing so he can have an attorney review them before he makes up his mind.

Willoughby, who last month announced his retirement date as June 30th, reminded the board that he had not sought any contract buyout. "I didn't ask for a buyout but I'll be professional if the board chooses to buyout the contract. If the board does not, I'll be happy to stay until June 30 and do my job," he said.

Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III said it is his understanding after consulting a TSBA attorney that if Willoughby does not accept the proposal, the board has the option of giving him a fifteen day notice and paying him through June 30.

While the board would have to find the money to pay an interim until a new director is under contract, funds are already in the budget to pay Willoughby through June 30th.

Elderly Woman Dies in Monday Crash

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
 83 year old Robbie D. Taylor was driving this 2007 Chevy Impala
2010 Red Chevy HHR to the left of Fire Truck driven by Jennifer Buck

An elderly woman died in a two vehicle crash Monday afternoon at the intersection of Highways 70 and 83 near Kilgore's Restaurant.

Dead is 83 year old Robbie D. Taylor of Smithville.

Central dispatch was first notified of the crash at 2:36 p.m.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Taylor was driving south on Highway 83 in a 2007 Chevy Impala when she pulled into the path of a 2010 Chevy HHR, driven by 35 year old Jennifer Buck of Dowelltown who was east on Highway 70.

According to Trooper Tisdale, Buck saw Taylor's car coming across the highway in front of her and swerved but was unable to avoid the collision.

Buck was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was treated for injuries including a fractured arm according to Trooper Tisdale. Taylor was also taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol assisted Trooper Tisdale in the crash investigation. Members of the Sheriff's Department and Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene to render assistance.

According to Trooper Tisdale, both Taylor and Buck were wearing their seatbelts.

Sheriff's Department Makes DUI Arrests

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joseph Hunter
Brian Lee Carter
Christopher Neal Patterson
Kyshanna Beth Frazier
Christopher Shannon Mooneyham

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in recent days has made two DUI arrests.

52 year old Joseph Hunter of Sycamore Street, Lebanon is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court April 30. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, March 28 a deputy spotted a vehicle traveling eastbound on Highway 70 west. The driver was observed failing to maintain his lane of travel. The officer conducted a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Hunter who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were bloodshot. Hunter performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol test. Hunter was placed under arrest.

35 year old Brian Lee Carter of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged with driving under the influence and a third offense of driving on a suspended license. He was also issued a citation for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and violation of the implied consent law (refusal to submit to a blood test). His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court on April 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 3 a deputy was dispatched to a motor vehicle accident on Possum Hollow Road, Dowelltown. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Carter who had run off the roadway in his automobile and struck a tree. Carter had a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. When asked if he had been drinking, Carter told the officer that he had drank a few. Carter performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. A computer check revealed that Carter's license were suspended for failure to show proof of insurance. He was placed under arrest.

45 year old Christopher Neal Patterson of Big Hickory Court, Smithville is charged with violation of an order of protection. His bond is $2,500. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, March 23 Patterson violated an active restraining order by being on the front porch of a residence at 135 Big Hickory Road. He was supposed to keep away from this property.

34 year old Kyshanna Beth Frazier of Martin Lane, Alexandria is charged with criminal impersonation. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court April 9. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, March 31 Frazier and a man were found to be trespassing at the bridge on New Bildad Road. An officer investigated and spoke with Frazier, who identified herself as Karissa Parker. She also lied about her birth date and gave a fake Social Security number.

35 year old Christopher Shannon Mooneyham of Green Acres Drive, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license. He was also issued a citation for driving an unregistered vehicle and for misuse of registration. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on April 30. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, April 1 a Sheriff's Department Detective saw Mooneyham operating a 1993 GMC pickup truck at the intersection of Green Acres Drive and Mountain Street. The officer, knowing that Mooneyham had a revoked license, made a traffic stop. A computer check confirmed that Mooneyham's license were revoked for a DUI on March 26 2009. The tag on the truck came back to a Honda belonging to another person. After checking the VIN number, the officer learned that the truck was not registered to Mooneyham but he had in his possession a signed title to the vehicle. He was placed under arrest and the pickup was seized. Mooneyham had been issued a citation for the same offense (DRL) in a prior stop on March 7.

Teen Airlifted After Crash Easter Sunday

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Danny Smedley Airlifted After Crash on Belk Road
Teen Airlifted After Crash Easter Sunday
Utility Pole breaks during Truck Crash on Belk Road

An 18 year old McMinnville man was airlifted after he crashed his pickup truck on Belk Road (State Highway 288) near Walker Road Sunday morning.

Danny Smedley was taken by DeKalb EMS from the scene of the accident to a helicopter landing zone set up near New Union The Baptist Church. Smedley was flown from there to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Smedley was traveling toward Warren County in a 2006 Nissan Titan when he left the road, struck an embankment, broke a utility pole, and then went back across the highway, coming to rest in the opposite direction.

Later in the day, a Murfreesboro woman was injured in a motorcycle accident on Highway 70 near the VFW Club location.

Trooper Delong said 40 year old Katherine Lawless was on a 1998 Honda motorcycle traveling east when she hit gravel and lost control in a curve. She was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital

Rabies Vaccination Clinics Scheduled

April 5, 2015
Dwayne Page

Spring and summer mean having fun in the sun and enjoying many outdoor activities. Keeping your family safe is also important. The Tennessee Department of Health reminds Tennesseans that preventing exposure of people and their pets to the rabies virus is a priority, especially during this time of year.

Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs and cats, as required by Tennessee law and local ordinances. Owners are urged to have their dogs (3 months of age or older) and cats (6 months of age or older) vaccinated. Store purchased vaccines are not legally acceptable.

Vaccination clinics will be held on the following dates and locations:
Animal Clinic of Smithville, 440 East Broad Street (Dr. Mark Burke) In the office:
April 15: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

DeKalb County Animal Clinic, 1020 West Broad Street (Dr. Scott Little) In the office:
April 15: 8:00 a.m. to Noon
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

Wheeler Veterinary Clinic, 690 North Congress Boulevard (Dr. Jamie Fornabaio) In the office:
April 14: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
April 15: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

A fee of $7.00 will be charged for each inoculation.

For more information contact an Environmental Health Specialist at the DeKalb County Health Department at 597-7590.

Humans can be exposed to rabies when attempting to assist, feed or handle wild animals. If a wild or domestic animal is seen as ill or acting strangely, it should be reported to your local animal control agency. Bats in particular should not be handled. If a bat is found inside, in a swimming pool, or brought home by your pets, use precautions and consult your local health department.

Rabies is a deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies infection occurs primarily in wildlife in Tennessee, but it can be transmitted to any mammal, including humans and family pets. Bites are the most common means of transmission; contact with saliva from an infected animal can also be a concern.

Citizens can take the following actions to help prevent the spread of rabies:

Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
Keep children away from any wild or dead animals. Educate them not to touch or attempt to pick up, feed or handle any wild or unfamiliar domestic animals, especially those that are or appear to be sick or injured.

Do not disturb bats. Instead, consult your local health department or animal control agency for assistance in dealing with potential exposure to bats.

For more information or assistance with a potential rabies exposure, call your local health department or the Tennessee Department of Health emergency line at 615-741-7247.

Elvis Tribute with J.D. Sumner’s Stamps Quartet returning to Smithville

April 4, 2015
J.D. Sumner’s Stamps Quartet
Tom Duggin and the Tim Colwell Band

By popular demand, an Elvis tribute show is returning to the DeKalb County Community Center this summer.

On Saturday, August 1, a tribute to the late King of Rock ‘n Roll will hit the community center stage for two performances, featuring local personality Tom Duggin, the Tim Colwell Band, and J.D. Sumner’s Stamps Quartet, featuring four members of the legendary gospel quartet who backed Elvis on stage from 1971 until the singer’s death in August, 1977.

“When we put on the show in 2013, we actually had the official “Stamps Quartet,” who still carry the legendary group name,” noted Duggin. “The Stamps have been regularly booked on other tribute shows, particularly in Las Vegas and in Berlin, Germany, these past couple of years, so they were unavailable to us this summer.”

Fortunately, Duggin said, Sumner’s Stamps Quartet as they are known – a quartet featuring Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Ed Hill and Larry Strickland – were available and excited about the possibility of playing an Elvis tribute show in the Middle Tennessee area.

“All four of these guys worked with Elvis during the 70s, and have each had a prestigious musical career of their own,” said Duggin. “When speaking with Donnie Sumner, he and the group were excited to be playing in a venue close to home, as all four have ties to the Middle Tennessee area.”

Sumner, the nephew of the late, legendary bass singer J.D. Sumner, whom the group was named after, actually had two stints with Elvis. Sumner sang lead when the Stamps first joined Elvis in 1971, but left the group in 1972. However, Elvis came calling again in 1973, as Sumner had joined a group called “Voice,” which backed Presley along with the Stamps for two years. Sumner penned two Presley tunes during the 1970s, and is best remembered by fans for his stellar version of the gospel classic, “The Lighthouse,” featured in the 1972 documentary, “Elvis on Tour.”

Baize was the Stamps’ tenor singer from 1971-76, when he left the group and the music business for a number of years. Baize has written many songs over the years, in addition to preaching and singing in several churches throughout the United States. Baize has also performed at a number of Elvis tribute shows in recent years.

Hill boasts a 55-year music career, six years of which he spent with Presley as a member of the Stamps from 1971-77. Of note in Elvis circles was the rich baritone voice of Ed Hill, which always proclaimed at the end of each night’s performance, “Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night.” He has also served as a backup performer for such acts as Tammy Wynette, Ronnie McDowell, Dottie West and Ricky Skaggs.

Strickland was brought on board with the Stamps in 1974, as a second bass singer in the group. He sang with the Stamps backing Elvis until his death in 1977. Strickland left the stage in 1989, when he married Naomi Judd, the mother in the famous country duo, The Judds. In addition to helping manage both Naomi and daughter, Wynonna Judd’s respective careers, Strickland has also returned to the stage in recent years to sing gospel music as well as participate in various Elvis tribute shows.

Duggin fronted Smithville’s last Elvis tribute show, titled “Aloha 40,” which was held in August, 2013. He will return to sing Elvis’ songs in this year’s event, being titled “From Memphis to Vegas.”

“That’s kind of how it went for Elvis,” Duggin said. “It all started in Memphis and then came the great concert years with many, many shows under the bright lights of Las Vegas. Much like last time, our show this year will have the feel of a live Elvis concert, with many of the songs he loved to perform live during the 1970s.”

The Tim Colwell Band will return to provide the music for the show, which will also feature a trio of female backup singers along with a brass ensemble. As was the case in the 2013 show, Sumner’s Stamps will open the show with a set of their own, which will likely include stories about their time with Elvis.

“That’s absolutely my favorite part of the show,” Duggin admitted. “I love sitting back and listening to them recounting their days with Elvis with their fond memories. Being the fan I am, I could listen to those stories all day.”

Like 2013, Duggin won’t don the jumpsuit or grow sideburns as is the case with many Elvis tribute artists. “I love Elvis’ songs,” he said. “I’m not Elvis. No one ever will be. The impersonators do what they do and for them, that’s fine. I will honor my musical hero by simply singing his songs and putting on a stage show to the best of my ability.”

A ticket pre-sale for the show will take place from April 1 to June 1, with tickets priced at $20 each. A minimum of 500 tickets must be sold by the June 1 date in order to ensure the show can be fully funded. If enough tickets are not sold by the June 1 date, full refunds will be given out to those who purchased tickets. After June 1, the price of the tickets will go up to $25 each, which will remain the price until tickets are sold out or the show date is reached.

“We’ve had so much demand for the show, I honestly expect the tickets to go fast,” said Duggin. “We’re again doing two shows to hopefully get as many people in as possible, but the number of tickets we can sell is limited. My hope is that people who are interested in going will purchase their tickets early, so we can be sure we can fully fund the cost of the show.”

Show times on Saturday, August 1, will be 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Ticket buyers can select which show they prefer to attend until each show is sold out; however, tickets are relatively limited for each show, so those interested in attending are encouraged to buy as early as possible. All seats are general admission and people will be seated at each show on a first-come, first-served basis. Current ticket outlets are the DeKalb County Community Center in Smithville, the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce Office in Woodbury, Koncept Kustom Werkz in Cookeville or by contacting Tom Duggin via call or text at (615) 464-3185.


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