Local News Articles

Man Charged with Statutory Rape of 15 Year Old, Parents of Girl Arrested for Child Neglect

May 20, 2012
Dwayne Page
Steven Michael Rogers, Jr.
Donna Smith
Bryan Smith

A 21 year old man has been charged with the statutory rape of a fifteen year old and the girl's parents have been arrested for child neglect, allowing their daughter to engage in sexual activity with this man, even providing them condoms.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE Friday that Steven Michael Rogers, Jr. charged with statutory rape, will make an appearance on June 21 in DeKalb County General Sessions Court. His bond is $5,000.

45 year old Donna Smith and 33 year old Bryan Smith are each charged with child neglect. Bond for each is $1,500 and they will be in court on June 21.

The warrant against Rogers states that "on Friday, May 11 at a residence in Smithville, Rogers did have sexual intercourse with a fifteen year old female while living with her the past four months".

The warrant against Donna Smith, the mother of the girl, states that she " did knowingly approve of the daughter's sexual intercourse with a 21 year old male, Michael Rogers. This has been happening for the past four months and on several occasions. Also the parents furnished condoms to the subjects and allowed them to live together".

The warrant against Bryan Smith, the father of the girl, states that he "did knowingly approve of his daughter's sexual intercourse with a 21 year old male, Michael Rogers. He has known of this going on for the past four months and on several occasions has furnished them with condoms and allowed them to live together knowing that this was going on in the residence."

The case was investigated by the Department of Children Services and detectives and officers of the Smithville Police Department.

In other cases, 38 year old Darrell Gurley is charged with criminal impersonation. He will be in court on May 24. His bond is $1,500. Chief Caplinger said Gurley, who had active warrants against him, was found at a residence on Tommy Harrell street. When confronted by detectives, Gurley gave a false name and date of birth to identify himself. After confirming who he really is, Police asked him again and Gurley admitted his true identity.

37 year old Brian Lasser is charged with public intoxication. He will be in court on June 21. His bond is $1,000. An officer was dispatched to the soccer field at Northside Elementary School to investigate a complaint of an intoxicated man crawling on his hands and knees, causing a disturbance. The officer arrived on the scene and found that the man, Lasser, was very unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. He also appeared to have a white pill residue around his mouth. Lasser told police that he had taken two oxycodone and one xanax before he arrived at the soccer field to watch the children play ball.

49 year old Bobbie Lisa Andrews is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. Her court date is June 14. She was stopped for a traffic violation and during the investigation, the officer asked for and received consent to search. He noticed that she was adjusting her clothing. A female correctional officer was summoned to the scene. Andrews was searched and a needle was found hidden in her blouse.

37 year old Crystal Turner is cited for shoplifting. She will be in court on June 21. An officer was called to the Dollar General Store on Sunday, May 13. An employee noticed that Turner had concealed items in her purse while in the store. When confronted, Turner produced the items.

Jeff Bandy Overall Winner of Relay for Life 5K & One Mile Fun Run

May 20, 2012
Dwayne Page
Relay for Life 5K and One-Mile Fun Run held Saturday
Relay for Life 5K and One Mile-Fun Run

Runners, both young and older, participated in the fourth annual Relay for Life 5K and One Mile Fun Run Saturday starting from Greenbrook Park.

Money raised through the run will go to the American Cancer Society to help find a cure and for patient services.

Jeff Bandy was the overall winner in the 5K. He ran the course in 20:35.
Kristen VanVranken had the best time among women at 22:19.

The following are the winners for the Relay for Life 5K.
One mile fun run winners:
1st place Caden Close 7:58
2nd place Macy Hedge 8:13
3rd place Grayson Redmon 8:29

5 K winners
12 - 19 age group
1st place Loren Cripps 35:23
2nd place Alisha Hale 46:03

1st place Bailey Hayes 31:50
2nd place Jacob Washer 31:51
3rd place Noah Parsley 35:35

19-29 age group
1st place Tasha Maynard 27:57
2nd place Jessica Terrell 28:54
3rd place Kandi Moss 31:40

1st place Travis Hendrixson 21:43
2nd place Darren Oakley 26:23
3rd place Andy McCaleb 26:32

30 - 39 age group
1st place Kristen VanVranken 22:19
2nd place Diana Moon 24:00
3rd place Deana Ruth Colwell 27:40

1st place Dale Grissom 21:30
2nd place Josh Agee 22:19
3rd place Josh Miller 23:39

40- 49 age group
1st place Melissa Ruch 26:08
2nd place Beth Gill 33:41
3rd place Beth Stephens 34:00

1st place Jeff Bandy 20:35 (Overall Winner also)

50- 59 age group
1st place Kathy Hale 46:02
2nd place Barbara Wall 47:44
3rd place Vicky Terrell 47:46

1st place Jerry Adcock 24:52
2nd place Mark Miller 28:40
3rd place Tim Robinson 29:31

60 - 69 age group
1st place Phillip Cantrell 27:56
2nd place Mike Braswell 31:28

"These are the people who placed, but everyone was a winner because they participated in the event to raise money for cancer," said spokesperson Judy Redmon. "A special thanks goes to Food Lion, who provided water and bananas; Bumpers, who provided free drink coupons; the Smithville Police Department; the Ambulance service; the Fiddler 5 K, for the loan of the clock; the City of Smithville employees, for the use of the barricades; and anyone else who volunteered or helped in any way with this most successful event." she said.

Adam James and Ally Judkins Win White Rose; Elizabeth Sanders Gets Citizenship Award (SEE LOCAL NEWS FOR VIDEOS OF GRADUATION)

May 18, 2012
Dwayne Page
DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix Presents White Rose to Adam James
DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix Presents White Rose to Ally Judkins
DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix Presents Citizenship Award to Elizabeth Sanders
Motivational Speaker Micheal Burt Delivers Commencement Address
Valedictorian Adam James speaking to the DCHS Class of 2012
Class President Victoria Tatrow speaking at the DCHS graduation

It was a night of joy and celebration Friday evening for the Class of 2012 on the occasion of graduation at DeKalb County High School.


Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Adam James and Ally Judkins while the Citizenship Award was presented to Elizabeth Sanders.

The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for outstanding achievement and leadership, academics, and other activities. The Citizenship Award is given to the senior who has demonstrated outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to DeKalb County High School. The honors students were also recognized during the program.

The 168 students received diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby as their names were called by Principal Kathy Hendrix.

In his remarks, Valedictorian Adam James urged his fellow classmates to embrace the future with courage and confidence. "This mystery of what the future holds can be scary. And sure, we can choose to be afraid. We can choose to approach life cautiously- yes, we'll be safe, but never will we ever be able to truly embrace all that life has to offer. With this guarded lifestyle, we will work and grow old, but, honestly, not much else. Or, there is another path, another lifestyle, which we can choose instead of living in the shadows, we can choose to live a life filled with joy. We can choose to be amazing. We can choose to be absolutely incredible. Because, that is just what we are–incredible. Each and everyone of us has the capabilities necessary to leading a long, happy, and successful life. The fact that we are here tonight proves that. We only get one shot–one chance–to live this life right. So live it, and live it to the fullest," said James.

"You make your own happiness. Ask yourself, why do some people have more than others? Because they visualize it and go after it. What is it that you want out of life? Because whatever your answer may be, it can be yours. All you have to do is use your imagination and ask for it. Obstacles can't stop you. Problems can't stop you. Most of all, other people can't stop you. Only you can stop you. So don't be afraid to think big, for it is the person who thinks big that lives big. No one is better than you. You truly do deserve every happiness life has to offer," he said.

"There is a quote I like that says "Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs. But its your choice whether to close your eyes and scream or throw up your hands and enjoy the ride". Whether it be 5, 10, 15, or 100 years from now, I hope each and everyone of you graduates will look back on these years as students of DeKalb County with pride and think "Wow, what a ride," said James.

Victoria Tatrow, Class President, paid tribute to the teachers and parents and challenged her fellow classmates to strive for excellence " It is true, our experiences over these past years have allowed us to discover for ourselves who we are meant to be. Furthermore, I hope in my heart that each of you find happiness and joy in everything you do throughout this next adventure. At times, it may seem difficult, but so long as you believe in yourself, nothing will be impossible. Each of you are amazing individuals, so talented, intelligent, and inspirational. Please, always remember that by knowing who you are, striving for excellence, and believing in your dreams with all of your heart, you can accomplish anything," said Tatrow.

Motivational speaker Michael Burt, in his address to the class, urged the graduates to live each day with purpose and passion. "Your destiny truly has no city limits. If you read any of the six books that I have written, I very seldom talk about goals. Not because I don't believe in goals, but what I think wins out is a dominant focus in your life. A definitive aim. For all of the parents who are here tonight, the strongest way to get these young people to chase their dream is to let them see you chasing your dreams. So remember this, young people, here's a simple concept. We become the sum average of the five people we hang around the most. The second thing is this. We will be the exact same people five years from today with the exception of two things. The people that we meet and the books that we read. Every person in this stadium has a dream. You're either at one of two places tonight with that dream. You're either ready to go after it or you're ready to give up on it. My hope is that tonight's talk will help you get the inspiration you need to go after it. Don't ever let your confidence be predicated by people who tell you that you can't do something with your life, because if this Woodbury boy can write six books, win a championship, and speak to 125,000 people, then you can do it too," said Burt.

The graduation program included the processional by the DCHS band; Invocation by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Vice President Laura Martinez; Music by the DCHS Chorus and Theater Class singing the Beatles "In My Life"; an Introduction by Senior Class President Victoria Tatrow; Recognition of Honor Students by Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick; Presentation of Valedictorian, Salutatorian, White Rose, and Citizenship Awards by Principal Kathy Hendrix; Guest Speaker Micheal Burt; Presentation of the Class by Principal Hendrix; Presentation of Diplomas by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby; Benediction by FCA President Elizabeth Sanders; and Recessional by the DCHS Band.

DeKalb West School Graduates Thirty-nine Students

May 18, 2012
Bill Conger
Tavia Cantrell, Kirkland Smallwood, James Sherwood
Anna Malone, James Sherwood, Morgan Vickers, William Cain
Justin Blair and Damian  Payne
Damian Payne and Will Cain
Will Cain
Aaron Tippin

Thirty-nine members of the 8th grade class at DeKalb West School graduated Friday, May 18. Students received a certificate of completion, and others also were recognized for special achievements.

For the highest grade averages, Kirkland Smallwood from Cynthia Preston’s class and James Sherwood from Melanie Molander’s homeroom swept the top grades in every subject except for Tavia Cantrell, who had the highest average in math, in Mrs. Molander’s homeroom.

Here’s how the final scores stacked up. Math: Cantrell, 93.29% and Smallwood, 98.32%; Science: Sherwood, 98.51% and Smallwood, 99.69%; Social Studies: Sherwood, 97.7% and Smallwood, 98.91%; Literature: Smallwood, 98.72% and Sherwood, 98.52%; English: Smallwood, 99.42% and Sherwood, 98.23%; Spelling: Smallwood, 99.96% and Sherwood, 99.09%.

William Cain and Dani Meadows were recognized for scoring a perfect 6 on the TCAP writing assessment.

Winning the peer-nominated Citizenship Awards were James Sherwood and Anna Malone from Melanie Molander’s homeroom, and Will Cain and Morgan Vickers from Cynthia Preston’s class. The Mrs. Georgia Young award was presented to Will Cain.

The Genrose R. Davis Librarian’s Award also went to Will Cain with 1954.3 Accelerated Reader points. He scored the most A.R. points among the student body this school year as well as earning the most points in Preston’s homeroom. Damian Payne finished first in his class with 1555.3.

Payne also earned an award for perfect attendance, as did Justin Blair and Kirkland Smallwood.

Country star Aaron Tippin was the guest speaker and sang a couple of songs for the crowd. Tippin and his wife, Thea, watched their son, Ted Tippin graduate. Schools Director Mark Willoughby, Principal Danny Parkerson, and Assistant Principal Sabrina Farler also spoke during the ceremony.

Students completing 8th grade are the following: Lucas Barnes, Jessica Billings, Justin Blair, Noah Byford, William Cain, Tavia Cantrell, Lane Davenport, Alex Foutch, Chyna Fullilove, Chasity Garrett, Ashley Grater, Brandon Grater, Katie Hall, Madison Hayes, Josh Hembree, Elijah Hendrixson, Anna Malone, Keely McKay, Sam McMillen, Dani Meadows, Heather Miller, Mary Mofield, Amber Montgomery, Alexis Nokes, Damian Payne, Jared Pyles, Maribel Quintero, Katie Roehner, James Sherwood, Kirkland Smallwood, Haley Smith, Christian Staten, Nathaniel Theriaque, Ted Tippin, Morgan Vickers, Hailey Walker, Chelsey Waters, Jordan Whitehead, and Mathew Winsett.

(TOP PHOTO: For the highest grade averages, Kirkland Smallwood from Cynthia Preston’s class and James Sherwood from Melanie Molander’s homeroom swept the top grades in every subject except for Tavia Cantrell, who had the highest average in math, in Mrs. Molander’s homeroom. Pictured left to right are Tavia Cantrell, Kirkland Smallwood, and James Sherwood.)

(SECOND PHOTO FROM TOP) Winning the peer-nominated Citizenship Awards were (left to right) Anna Malone and James Sherwood from Melanie Molander’s homeroom, and Morgan Vickers and Will Cain from Cynthia Preston’s class.)

(THIRD PHOTO FROM TOP) Attendance: Justin Blair, Damian Payne and Kirkland Smallwood won awards for perfect attendance. Smallwood not pictured.)

(FOURTH PHOTO FROM TOP) The Genrose R. Davis Librarian’s Award went to Will Cain, who was the top reader in his class and had the most yearly points in school, with 1954.3 Accelerated Reader points. Damian Payne finished first in his class with 1555.3 A.R.'s class.) Pictured left to right: Damian Payne and Will Cain

(FIFTH PHOTO FROM TOP) Will Cain was presented with this year's Mrs. Georgia Young award, named after the late longtime kitchen manager at DWS)

(BOTTOM PHOTO) Aaron Tippin performs for the 8th grade graduation at DeKalb West School

Mini-Grants Available to Downtown Building Owners for Revitalization

May 18, 2012

For decades, a bustling downtown was the social, cultural and financial lifeblood of communities across America. With today's interstates spidering through land that used to be thought of as "out there," Main Street's shops and diners, once filled with familiar faces, have been competing with big box stores and parking decks in sprawling bedroom communities. Here in Tennessee, we're not ready to let downtown become a memory.

Smithville is among the communities seeking to revive its downtown districts. In December, 2010, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Smithville was among 12 communities selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts. Communities with central business districts at least 50 years old are eligible to apply for a downtown revitalization package, which includes a site visit, attendance at a two-day downtown revitalization workshop, ongoing technical assistance and an innovation project grant.

Mini-grants are available to local downtown business owners who want to join in the effort.

The new Tennessee Downtowns Design Committee will be taking applications for downtown Smithville building owners who will invest a minimum of $1,000 in exterior improvements to their buildings. If your application is approved by the committee, you will be eligible to receive $500.

The deadline for filing your application is June 30. Your project must be completed within 60 days of the date of approval. After a design committee inspection and Chamber receiving receipts, a $500 reimbursement should be expected within 30 to 60 days.

Fore more information, contact the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce at 597-4163

Tennessee joins a growing national movement to improve the business climate in America's traditional downtowns. Main Street works with these communities to provide technical assistance, training and guidance to improve the economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being of traditional commercial districts. The "Main Street Approach to Revitalization"™ guides communities to develop strong, broad-based local organizations and to create a road map for implementation and management of the revitalization process.

In the middle 1980s Tennessee Main Street Program joined the National Main Street Center as a coordinating partner. Since then our program has engaged with towns and cities across Tennessee, spreading the national methodology and language of "Main Street" , developed more than 30 years ago and successful in more than 2,500 communities across America.

The National Main Street Center's © "Main Street Approach to Downtown Revitalization" comprehensive downtown revitalization advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment and the rebuilding of traditional business districts based on unique assets such as distinctive architecture, a pedestrian-friendly environment and local ownership. In other words, we believe in community-driven, common sense solutions to make our downtowns safe, appealing and vibrant places where folks want to shop, live and make memories.

Downtowns play an important role in a community's economic development strategy. These commercial cores usually account for as much as 30 percent of a community's jobs and 40 percent of its tax base. Downtown is also a community's crossroads – a place in our hearts and minds that evoke strong emotions and help define our identity.

The benefits of downtown revitalization are clear:
Revitalization protects the existing tax base. Private investment in banks, businesses and commercial property and public investment in streets, sidewalks and water and sewer lines are protected and enhanced.

Revitalization provides an incubator for new business. A viable downtown offers opportunities and incentives for the new entrepreneurs such as lower rent and technical assistance.

Revitalization helps attract industrial development. Downtown reflects the overall image a community projects to potential investors. An invigorated downtown makes a very positive statement about the whole community.

Revitalization provides a point of focus and stability. A vibrant downtown gives the whole community and region a sense of pride and positive self-image. It also serves as an anchor that holds the community together and provides the stability necessary for economic growth.

More than One Million Dollars in Scholarships Awarded to DCHS Seniors

May 17, 2012
Dwayne Page
Amy Austin of Union University Presents  $84,820 Scholarship to Heather Vidal
2012 DCHS Scholarship Recipients
Tennessee Scholars at DCHS
Adam James Receives Perfect Attendance Award from DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix

More than one million dollars in scholarships were awarded to sixty nine members of the Class of 2012 at DeKalb County High School during Thursday's annual Senior Awards Day program.

Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations.

Heather Vidal, the Class Salutatorian, received more than $108,000 in scholarships, the largest total award presented to any student during the program. Vidal was presented a scholarship of $84,820 from Union University and the $24,000 Ned McWherter scholarship.

Meanwhile, Adam James, the Class Valedictorian, was presented an award for perfect attendance during the 2011-12 school year. Honor students, Tennessee Scholars, and students who have received the High Schools That Work Award of Educational Achievement were also recognized.

Other scholarship recipients are as follows:

Lela Ambrose
University of Tennessee at Knoxville: $30,600

Joseph Angaran:
Anthony Duane Trapp Memorial: $1,000

Christian Atnip:
Smithville Women's Club: $350

Jessica Ball:
DTC Communications McAllen Foutch Memorial: $8,000

Thomas Beltz:
U.S. Marines Enlistment

Dustin Brown:
DeKalb County Children's Service Council: $500

Chelsea Cantrell:
Love-Cantrell Funeral Home: $500

Megan Cantrell:
DeKalb Fire Fighters: $500

Tiffany Cantrell:
DeKalb Funeral Chapel: $500

Michael W. Caldwell:
Jolly Angels: $1,000
DeKalb County Scottish Rite: $1,000

Yesenia Cintron:
U.S. Marines Music Award

Erin Colwell:
David Wayne Alexander Memorial: $1,000
DeKalb Funeral Chapel: $500
Smithville Rotary Club: $750

Jakob Craven:
Dailey & Vincent Scholarship: $1,000

Alex Cripps:
U.S. Navy Enlistment: $85,000

Chelsea Crutcher:
U.S. Army Enlistment: $71,500

Jonathan Edwards:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville: $23,200
CIC Foundation: $10,000
Jolly Angels: $1,000
DCHS Beta Club Scholarship: $500

Matthew Elliott:
U.S. Marines Enlistment

Katy England:
Class of 1966: $500

Whitney England:
Tennessee Tech University: $16,000
Love-Cantrell Funeral Home Allen D. Hooper Memorial Award: $500
Jolly Angels: $1,000
DCHS Beta Club Scholarship: $500

Jeremie Ferdelman
U.S. Navy Enlistment: $85,000

Sloane Garrett:
Jeff Garrett Memorial: $500
AmVets Auxiliary: $250
Jolly Angels: $1,000

Jessica Garrison:
Tennessee Tech University: $10,000
Liberty State Bank: $1,000
Leadership DeKalb

Zachary Goldstein:
Universal Technical Institute Imagine America Foundation: $1,000

Katelyn Goodwin:
First Bank: $500
Love-Cantrell Funeral Home: $500

Todd Hasty:
Mentors Association Scholarship: $5,000

Tiffini Hendrixson:
Covenant College: $12,000
U.S. Marines Athlete Award

Johnna Hensley:
Dailey & Vincent Scholarship: $1,000
DeKalb Community Hospital: $500
FCCLA: $200

Heather Hughes:
Mentors Association Scholarship:$5,000

Brooke Hutchings:
Covenant College: $12,000
DeKalb Funeral Chapel: $500

Adam James:
Belmont University: $40,000

Sarah Jones:
Tennessee Tech University: $3,000
DeKalb County Soil Conservation District: $500
Doyle & Melford Smith Scholarship: $1,000

Stephanie Jones:
Martin Methodist:$25,000

Ally Judkins:
Kyle & Kenny Robinson Memorial: $1,000

Danielle Knowles:
DeKalb PTO: $300
Smithville Rotary Math Award: $100

Monse Leon:
Martin Methodist:$41,600

Tammy Li:
Liberty State Bank: $1,000
DCHS Student Council: $500
Elzie & Nell McBride Memorial: $500

Allison Little:
Tennessee Tech University: $4,000

Sarah Lomas:
Dailey & Vincent Scholarship: $1,000

Laura Martinez:
Tennessee Tech University: $10,000
U.S. Marines Scholar Award

Alex Meadows:
Lucille Stewart Memorial: $2,000
U.S. Army Athlete Award

Mason Merriman:
Kyle & Kenny Robinson Memorial: $1,000
Smithville Rotary Club: $750

Dustin Netherton:
U.S. Marines Enlistment

Tevin Owens:
Agee Oil Scholarship: $1,500
DeKalb Firefighters: $500

Jacob Odom:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville: $30,600
U.S. Army Athlete Award

Laura Pafford:
Mentors Association Scholarship: $5,000
Tennessee Tech University: $4,000

Hailey Perry:
DeKalb Republican Women: $500

Sebastian Phillips:
Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Scholarship: $500
AmVets: $250
U.S. Marines Athlete Award

Chris Powell:
U.S. Navy Enlistment: $85,000

Kidman Puckett:
DeKalb Funeral Chapel: $500

Stephanie Rackley:
Smithville Rotary Club: $750
Smithville Business & Professional Women's Club: $500

Cora Beth Rhody:
Smithville Women's Club: $350

Louis Richards:
Smithville Rotary Vocational Award: $100

Martin Riley:
U.S. Army Enlistment: $71,500

Yazmin Rivera:
Martin Methodist: $41,600

Sydney Robinson:
First Bank: $500
Leadership DeKalb

Johnna Roller:
Tennessee Tech University Cheerleading

Elizabeth Sanders:
Eddie Crips Memorial: $1,000
DeKalb Funeral Chapel: $500
Leadership DeKalb

Russell Storey:
U.S. Navy Enlistment: $85,000

Laura Sullivan:
Motlow State Community College: $4,000
DeKalb Retired Teachers: $750

Victoria Tatrow:
Tennessee Tech University: $10,000
Jolly Angels: $1,000

Zach Thompson:
MTSU: $16,000

Briana Vidal:
Cedarville University: $42,000
Comcast: $1,000

Heather Vidal:
Union University: $84,820
Ned McWherter Scholarship: $24,000

Krystal White:
MTSU: $16,000

Ashlee Whitehead:
Smithville Business & Professional Women's Club: $500

Jacob Williams:
U.S. Marines Enlistment

Austin Wilmore:
Tennessee Tech University: $4,000

Alyssa Young:
Dailey & Vincent Scholarship: $1,000
Smithville Rotary Club: $750

Riley Young:
Tennessee Tech University: $3,000

DCHS Special Education Teacher Looking Forward to Retirement

May 16, 2012
Dwayne Page
Carol Williams

Although she has lived elsewhere for much of her life, DeKalb County is the place Carol Williams and her husband Don have called home now for about fifteen years.

For the past seventeen years, Williams has been a special education Algebra teacher at DeKalb County High School, a position she will be giving up at the close of the school year when she retires.

Williams, who has family ties in DeKalb County, lived here for a while herself as a child. "I am related to the Trapp family. All of my mother's family graduated from high school here," said Williams. " I went to first grade here at College Street Elementary. We lived here when I was sixteen months old until the end of my first grade year. My father was Chief of Flight Service at the airport when the Civil Aeronautics Administration, which is now the Federal Aviation Agency, was in the airport here over on Smith Road. They later closed this CAA down and moved it to Crossville, so we moved to Crossville and from second grade to high school I finished at Cumberland County High School," said Williams.

Williams said she knew early in life that she wanted to become a teacher, having been inspired by family members who were educators. "My goal in life was to be a teacher because my great aunt, Lillie Trapp Spencer, taught here for many years. An aunt and an uncle also taught here for a period of time until their job moved them elsewhere," she said.

When she took the job at DCHS in 1995, Williams taught both special education English and Math. "We split English and Math but as standards changed, it was hard to prepare lessons for two subjects. I've been teaching Algebra alone for four or five years," said Williams.

As a special education teacher, Williams has helped students master a subject that often poses challenges. " I love seeing the students start believing in themselves. They come in here thinking that they can't do the Algebra because its such a scary word. But over time that I have them in class, they begin to develop more self confidence and a majority of the time, they pass the tests and they feel better about themselves. I think its more than just educating math. Its also trying to build self esteem and knowing that, even though they do have some disabilities, how minor they may be, they have learned that they can be better than what they think they can," she said.

Williams and her husband Don, who is from Livingston, had lived in Cookeville for some twenty years before moving to DeKalb County, looking for a good place to retire. "Our plan was to retire. We had lived in Cookeville and our plan was to retire to DeKalb County. My husband worked for the state and got to know the people at the courthouse and he really liked the community too. That's why we moved here. It's a good place to retire and has great memories for me," said Williams.

Williams plans to stay busy, even in retirement. Her immediate plans are to help Judy Fuson and Ria Baker do some research for another DeKalb County history book. "I plan on spending more time with my husband who has been retired for twelve years. I plan to work with Judy Fuson and Ria Baker and another lady on trying to find the displaced people from Center Hill Lake. It's a new book that we will be working on, trying to find all the properties and families of the people who lived on Center Hill Lake, where they moved, where the cemeteries moved. We'll be looking for any pictures we can find and any type of memorabilia that has been handed down through the years as to what happened on the river and how their families adjusted to moving off the river. So that will take quite a bit of time. Plus, I enjoy bird watching. I have been doing the DeKalb County Christmas bird count for quite a number of years. I am going to be busy I'm sure," said Williams.

Former Navy Seal and his Carry the Load Relay Team to Pass through DeKalb County

May 16, 2012
Dwayne Page
Coleman Ruiz

In an effort to raise awareness about what Memorial Day is all about, Coleman Ruiz, a former Navy Seal, and his Carry the Load relay team will be passing through DeKalb County this week as part of their 1,700 mile march from West, Point New York to Dallas, Texas.

They began their cross-country journey on May 1 as a way of honoring the service and sacrifice of American troops past and present. The relay team will enter DeKalb County early Thursday morning, May 17 at around 1:00 a.m. coming from White County on Highway 70 through Smithville, Dowelltown, and Liberty and then onto Highway 96 toward Rutherford County.

The idea for the relay came about last year after Ruiz and other members of Carry the Load, a Dallas-based nonprofit, organized a Memorial Day relay in Dallas as a charity fundraiser. This year's relay wraps up in Dallas on May 27, the day before Memorial Day.

Proceeds from the relay go to such charities as the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which offers support to the families of fallen troops.

The team hopes to find volunteers to walk each leg of the round-the-clock relay, divided into five-mile stretches. They walk the miles themselves otherwise.

Some carry tokens in honor or in memory of friends or strangers. Ruiz carries the badge of New York Fire Department Capt. Harvey Harrell, who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Dixie Crook To Retire After 40 Years at DCHS

May 15, 2012
Dwayne Page
Dixie Crook

After 40 years of dedication to the profession she loves, Dixie Crook will be ending her teaching career this year at DeKalb County High School, the same place it all began for her in 1972.

As the longest serving teacher currently on the staff at DCHS, Ms Crook has announced her retirement, effective at the close of the school year. "I'm thinking about sitting back for a little while, relaxing, and taking it easy. I love to read. I hope to maybe get out and do some things I haven't been able to do. Maybe spend a little more time with family," she said.

During her four decades at DCHS, Ms. Crook has worked with dozens of teachers, taught hundreds of students, and served under nine principals. "The teachers that I have had the pleasure to work with have just meant so much to me. A lot of faculty and staff have gone through here. Ms Harriet (Cantrell) and I have been friends for a long time and her friendship is among those I treasure the most. Ms (Ina Ruth) Bess and I are a little bit kin, and we always had a big time together.(Ms. Bess retired a few years ago). I appreciate everyone's help throughout the years. There's been a lot of principals I've learned a lot from including Mr. Ernest Ray. I always liked the way he did things. Kathy (Hendrix) has been a Godsend. I have enjoyed serving under her these last seven years. She has worked hard and I think we have all profited from her hard work," said Crook.

In reflecting on her life, Ms. Crook talked about how she quit school as a teenager to start a family but later returned to further her education. It was during this time that she began thinking of becoming a teacher. "I quit school when I was a sophomore and had two children. I came back and finished two years of high school. During that time, I was more focused. In the back of my mind, I had always thought I would like to teach. I had Ms. Ann Puckett as a teacher. She encouraged me. That last summer I worked for Congressman Joe L. Evins and he also encouraged me to pursue my dream. So I went to Tennessee Tech and completed my BS degree.. Then I attended MTSU and completed my Masters in Business Education," said Ms. Crook.

After finishing college, Ms. Crook was hired by the school system and went to work at DCHS in 1972. "Throughout all the years I have taught different subjects but its always been in the business field. When I first started teaching, it was VOE (Vocational Office Education). Then everything changed a bit. Right now the classes that I am teaching are database, e-business, and administrative management. Those are the classes that I am teaching this semester. But everything has always been in business," she said.

Today, Ms. Crook's title is Business Technology/Computer Teacher. She is also one of the local school system's career level III teachers, an accomplishment only few have achieved.

As times have changed and new technologies have developed, Ms. Crook, like many other teachers, have had to adapt. "I started out with a few old electric typewriters. I had three rows in my room and one row had electric typewriters so to try to make it as fair as I could (for all the students), we rotated. The other two rows were manual typewriters. That was all we had at that time," said Ms. Crook.

"After they built this new (vocational) building, they bought all new IBM selectrics and that was the top of the line typewriters at that time. We progressed from those to an electronic typewriter which had a little bit of memory. And then computers came into the picture," she said.

Ms. Crook also enjoyed her club work and beamed with delight anytime one of her students excelled achieving special honors or recognition. "When I first began, the club I was affiliated with was the Office Education Association (OEA). I was fortunate enough to have a lot of students over the years that worked really hard. Several years ago I had the first national officer of any of the clubs here at DCHS, Ella Jane Parkerson Williams. Later our club merged with FBLA and she went on to be an FBLA officer as well," she said.

Whether it was helping organize high school graduations, proms, homecomings, or cheerleading activities, Ms. Crook found everything she did to be a labor of love. " I did graduation for quite a few years. I did the yearbook. I worked with cheerleaders and that was back in the day when I had both squads. I also helped with the proms and homecomings. We saw many a parade go by. I've enjoyed it all," she said.

As her career draws to a close, Ms. Crook said it has been a privilege to teach and to have perhaps made an impression on the lives of her students. " I look back and I see all those students that I had over the years. Its been real rewarding when they come up and say, I remember when we did this, or you taught me how to do that, and I appreciate it. That means a lot when students come up and tell you that. I think in teaching that's one of the most rewarding things is seeing your students succeed. Over the years, there have been quite a few and I have enjoyed every single minute of it," she said.

DCHS Graduation Friday Night

May 15, 2012
Dwayne Page
DCHS Senior Awards Day Thursday, May 17 at 8:30 a.m. at DCHS Gym
Adam James
Victoria Tatrow
Micheal Burt

A total of 177 students make up the Class of 2012 at DeKalb County High School and the seniors will receive their diplomas during graduation exercises Friday, May 18th at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field.


The program will feature remarks by the Valedictorian, Adam James and Class President Victoria Tatrow. Motivational speaker Micheal Burt will deliver the commencement address.

The prestigious White Rose and Citizenship Awards will also be presented by DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix to three outstanding members of the class. Honors students will be recognized. Diplomas will be presented to each graduate by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. The DCHS Chorus will perform.

Meanwhile the DCHS Senior Awards Day program will be Thursday, May 17 at 8:30 a.m. at the gym. Scholarship awards will be presented. WJLE will have LIVE coverage of awards day on AM 1480/FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

During the graduation exercises, the honor students will be recognized including the 2012 Valedictorian Adam James and the Salutatorian Heather Vidal.

Students among the top twenty five senior academic ranking from numbers one to twenty five are as follows:
Adam James, Heather Vidal, Whitney England, Laura Martinez, Briana Vidal, Hailey Perry, Heather Hughes, Jessica Garrison, Jonathan Edwards, Erin Colwell, Jessica Ball, Alex Meadows, Victoria Tatrow, Riley Young, Lela Ambrose, Katie Merriman, Laura Pafford, Abigail Hendrix, Allison Little, Mason Merriman, Talisa Cantrell, Elizabeth Sanders, Brooke Hutchings, Sydney Robinson, and Joseph Angaran

Students earning "Highest Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.8 to 4.0 are:
Adam James, Valedictorian 4.0; Heather Vidal, Salutatorian 4.0, Jessica D. Ball 4.0, Erin L. Colwell 4.0, Jonathan D. Edwards 4.0, Whitney N. England 4.0, Jessica B. Garrison 4.0, Heather M. Hughes 4.0, Laura E. Martinez 4.0, Hailey D. Perry 4.0, Victoria D. Tatrow 4.0, Briana Vidal 4.0, Christopher R. Young 4.0, Lela E. Ambrose, Joseph L. Angaran, Talisa M. Cantrell, Taylor M. Cantrell, Morgan S. Garrett, Abigail Hendrix, Nicholaus T. Henry, Morgan B. Hutchings, Allison Little, Alexandria Meadows, Katie L. Merriman, Mason B. Merriman, Jacob A. Odom, Laura S. Pafford, Sydney Robinson, Elizabeth Sanders, Krystal T. White, and Austin T. Willmore

Students earning "High Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.6 to 3.79 include Chelsea L. Cantrell, Megan L. Cantrell, Yesenia L Cintron, Alicia D. Crook, Jamie Florence, James D. Freeney, Tiffini Hendrixson, Johnna G. Hensley, Sarah L. Jones, David S. Phillips, Kidman D. Puckett, Lindsay B. Snyder, Erik Z. Thompson, and Alyssa A. Young.

Those earning "Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.2 to 3.59 include Christian J. Atnip, Michael W. Caldwell, Tiffany D. Cantrell, Tiffany A. Celestino, Emily B Dawson, Jasmine M. Dimas, Katy J. England, John B. Foster, Quinton R. Harbaugh, Allyson R. Judkins, Danielle L. Knowles, Mary F. Knowles, Monserrat Leon, Xing (Tammy) Q. Li, Renny A. Mason, Preston S. Melton, Lorrie M. Merriman, Kalli A. Mitchell, Samanvi R. Munagala, Tevin M. Owens, Bradley C. Pack, Stephanie C. Rackley, Johnna R. Roller, Kayla D. Self, Laura A. Sullivan, and Ashlee M. Whitehead

Members of the DCHS Class of 2012 are as follows:

Alexander J. Ader, William A. Ader, Lela Ambrose, Joseph Angaran, Jordan Arnold, Christian Atnip, Andrew Atnip, Justin Avera

Terry Bain, Jessica Ball, Thomas Beltz, Macie Bouldin, Micheal Braswell, Dustin Brown, Jennifer Butler,

Michael Caldwell, Chelsea Cantrell, Megan Cantrell, Talisa Cantrell, Taylor Cantrell, Tiffany Cantrell, Austin Carlson, Juan Carrillo, Tiffany Celestino, Yesenia Cintron, Erin Colwell, Jakob Craven, Alex Cripps, Jackson Cripps, Alicia Crook, Chelsea Crutcher, Adam Cubbins,

Tanner Davis, Emily Dawson, Jasmine Dimas, Rebecca Duffield,

Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Elliott, Katy England, Whitney England, Gage Estes,

Jeremie Ferdelman, Zacharias Ferrell, Jamie Florence, Brady Foster, Dylan Freeney, Caleb Furnival,

Benjamin Gard, Sloane Garrett, Jessica Garrison, Jordan Gash, Zachary Goldstein, Katelyn Goodwin, Clayton Gott, Joseph Gray, Hannah Green, Lucas Griffin, Jonathan Griffin,

Steven Haas, Kara Hackett, Quintin Harbaugh, Todd Hasty, John Hayes, Abigail Hendrix, Tiffini Hendrixson, Nicholaus Henry, Johnna Hensley, Taylor Hensley, Jessie Herman, Savannah Hershman, Heather Hughes, Hunter Humphrey, Brooke Hutchings,

Adam James, Jessie James, Kaitlin Jennings, Matthew Johnson, Garrett Johnson, Ian Johnson, Kenneth Johnson, Sarah Jones, Heather Jones, Stephanie Jones, Allyson Judkins

Alexander Keith, Clay Kilgore, Danielle Knowles, Mary Knowles, Tabitha Knowles,

Jeremy Landsem, Steven Lawrence, Amanda Laxton, Monserrat Leon, Tammy Li, Allison Little, Aurora Little, Sarah Lomas, Erika Lucio,

Zachery Malone, Laura Martinez, Renny Mason, Wesley Mason, Andrew McCoy, Cheyenne McDaniel, Alexandria Meadows, Preston Melton, Corey Merriman, Katie Merriman, Lorrie Merriman, Mason Merriman, Kalli Mitchell, Terry Mollinet, Justin Moore, Samanvi Munagala, Alex Murphy,

Raul Narvaez, Teddy Nelson, Dustin Netherton,

Jacob Odom, Tevin Owens,

Bradley Pack, Christopher Pack, Laura Pafford, Tiffany Pease, Ashley Pedigo, Hailey Perry, David Perry, Trey Petty, Sebastian Phillips, Westly Poss, Christopher Powell, Kayla Presley, Kidman Puckett,

Stephanie Rackley, Brenda Ramirez, Dylan Reagan, Deshon Reeder, Blake Reffue, Cora Beth Rhody, Louis Richards, Collene Riley, Martin Riley, Gabrielle Ritchie, Yazmin Rivera, Sydney Robinson, Johnna Roller, Makenzie Roller,

Elizabeth Sanders, Kayla Self, Justin Skinner, Brooke Snyder, William Sowell, Corey Spare, Daniel Stanley, Mark Stanley, Russell Storey, Laura Sullivan,

Billy Tate, Victoria Tatrow, Ashley Taylor, Zachary Taylor, Destiny Thomas, Zachary Thompson, Billy Tiner,

Nicholas Underhill, Jonathan Upton,

Gabriella Vanatta, Briana Vidal, Heather Vidal,

Brian Waggoner, Tia Ward, Krystal White, Ashlee Whitehead, Jacob Williams, Breanna Williams, Austin Willmore,

Alyssa Young and Riley Young.


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