Local News Articles

DeKalb County Education Board wins $10,000 to help low-achieving students

February 11, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County will have access to help at a new after-school academy thanks
to a $10,000 grant from the Vanderbilt Center for Child and Family Policy.

The DeKalb County Board of Education plans to use the funds to improve
after-school academic programs for high school and middle school students
with a focus on improving reading skills. Students will use software that
provides individualized programs for increasing reading ability.
Administrators hope that offering after-school academic programs will
improve their school's graduation rates and test scores.

\"We?re delighted to provide the DeKalb County board with funds to improve
their after-school programs,\" Debbie Miller, director of the Center for
Child and Family Policy, said. \"We believe projects like this can have a
direct impact on the achievement gap.\"

The grant is one of the center's \"mini-grant\" for 2006-2007 and was born
out of Family Re-Union, an annual conference started by former Vice
President Al Gore and Tipper Gore that focuses on bringing together
families, and those who work with them, to discuss and design better ways to
strengthen family life in America. The 2006 event, Family Re-Union 12,
focused on the achievement gap between children of different races,
ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Family Re-Union 12 participants were invited to submit grant proposals
detailing the programs they wanted to start or improve in their community to
close the academic achievement gap. Five recipients were chosen and invited
to a strategic planning session at Vanderbilt to help them plan how to carry
out their grant proposals, collect data and measure success.

Sheriff's Department Makes Two Arrests In Recent Vandalism and Theft Case

February 12, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested two men in connection with a recent vandalism and theft at a home under construction on Aunt Helen Road near Silver Point.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 36 year old David Condon of Bryan, Ohio and 43 year old Walter Condon of Manchester are each charged with theft over $1,000. Bond for Walter Condon is set at $10,000.

David Condon is also charged with vandalism over $10,000. His bond is set at $35,000.

Sheriff Ray says the men are accused of stealing approximately $1,700 worth of tools including ladders, saws, wire, etc.

A total of seventeen windows were broken out, seven doors busted, and several concrete blocks and house support posts were also damaged.

Total damage to the home is estimated at $12,190.

The men will be in General Sessions Court on the charges February 22nd.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, 19 year old Troy Allen Cunningham, Jr. of Keltonburg Road was pulled over by a county deputy during a traffic stop Monday morning.

Sheriff Ray says the deputy conducted a search and found some marijuana in the pocket of Cunningham's jacket. Cunningham was charged with simple possession.. He will be in General Sessions Court on the charge March 1st. His bond is $1,000.

Finally, 21 year old Victor Maguel Godinez of Bank's Pisgah Road, who was involved in a motor vehicle accident Sunday, was charged with driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. His bond is set at $1,500 and he will be in court on the charges March 8th.

Suspicious Fire Under Investigation

February 12, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department is investigating a suspicious fire Monday morning at a vacant double wide mobile home at 1558 Banks Pisgah Road.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says Vanderbilt Mortgage Company, the owner, recently repossessed the mobile home. The previous tenants moved out December 15th.

Green says the fire is suspicious because there were no utilities connected to the home.

He says the fire gutted the structure causing significant damage. There were no personal belongings or contents inside the mobile home.

No one was injured.

Members of the Blue Springs, Keltonburg, and Short Mountain Highway stations responded along with a tanker truck.

Former Deputy Gets Six Years Probation For Official Misconduct/Oppression

February 12, 2007
Dwayne Page

A former deputy for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with two different women while he was on duty in 2004 and 2006, received a total of six years probation Monday after pleading guilty in Criminal Court to two counts of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression.

David Sharp was indicted by the August term of the Grand Jury on two counts of rape, two counts of official misconduct, one count of sexual battery, and one count of official oppression, but under a negotiated agreement, state prosecutors Monday dropped the sex offenses in exchange for Sharp's guilty plea to the other counts.

Judge David Patterson sentenced Sharp to a total of two years on each of the three charges, but suspended them to probation for a total of six years. The first year, his probation will be supervised by community corrections, and for the remaining five years, Sharp will be on Tennessee Department of Corrections (state) probation.

The TBI began investigating Sharp in June, 2006 after two women came forward complaining that he pulled them over and demanded sexual favors.

The first allegation arose in May, 2006 when a woman claimed that Sharp, while serving a warrant, pressured her into committing a sexual act. Lloyd Emmons, who was Sheriff at the time, terminated Officer Sharp and ordered an internal administrative investigation as the TBI conducted the criminal probe into the matter, including the collection of DNA evidence.

According to Assistant D.A. Bill Locke, Sharp initially denied the woman's allegation, but later claimed that the contact was consensual.

After the first case came to light, the second woman came forward with an allegation against Sharp.

According to state prosecutors, the woman, a dancer at the Midnight Express, was pulled over in April, 2004 by another officer on a charge of driving on a suspended license. Officer Sharp apparently came to the scene to back up the other officer. She was later taken to the jail, where Sharp and other officers allegedly talked to her about obtaining information for them concerning possible illegal activity at the club. As the woman was getting ready to leave the jail, she allegedly told the officers she didn't know the way back to the interstate. Prosecutors say Sharp agreed to show her the way, but then pulled her over before getting to the Interstate.

Sharp, while pleading guilty to one count of misconduct and official oppression by indictment and one count of official misconduct by information, did not admit to the alleged sex offenses. He was represented by attorney Sarah Cripps.

Sharp, who is now in the mowing, landscaping, and woodworking business, is prohibited from ever serving again as a law enforcement officer. As a convicted felon, he cannot vote, and he is under a restraining order to keep away from the alleged victims.

Walk Across Tennessee Contest to Kick-Off March 24

February 20, 2006
Dwayne Page

Being physically active is one of the best things you can do to improve and maintain your health, yet nearly two-thirds of Americans aren't getting the activity they need. Consider taking up walking with friends or your family by participating in Walk Across Tennessee, which is an eight-week program that will spark some friendly competitions in DeKalb County. Teams of eight will compete to see who can log the most miles walking, jogging or even biking in their community. The miles walked are not literally across the state, but on a map posted at the UT Extension Office and Greenbrook Park. Since everyone participates in a variety of sports, the Walk Across Tennessee program also has an exercise conversion chart so that participants can count aerobics, swimming, weight lifting, etc. For example, 16 minutes of high intensity aerobics would equal one mile.

The Walk Across Tennessee kickoff for DeKalb County is Saturday, March 24 at Greenbrook Park. \"Teams will keep track of their miles, which will be posted in the Extension office and other places around the community. Teams can be composed of coworkers, teachers, students, neighbors, etc. This is an excellent team competition for the workplace and schools\" said April Martin, DeKalb County Extension Agent.

Many people are unaware of the positive benefits of exercise. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 1 problem in the United States. The risk of heart disease could be significantly reduced by regular exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control, the positive effects of physical activity are not limited to lowering the risk of heart disease. Not only does regular exercise help relieve stress and anxiety,\"physically active people outlive inactive people. Participating in Walk Across Tennessee DeKalb County is not only a great way to get involved with our community, it's a healthy habit,\" Martin stated.

To participate in Walk Across Tennessee, first get a team together. Biking and jogging teams are limited to four people. Choose a team captain and name your team. Team captains need to pick up a captain's packet, available at the DeKalb County Extension Office, 115 West Market St. Smithville, located right beside Fuston's Antiques. Each team member will need to complete a registration form which is included in the team captain's packet or at the Walk Across Tennessee website. Individual as well as team forms should be returned to the Extension office.

Awards and prizes will be given to the individual who walk the most miles as well as the team who walks the most miles.

\"Competition kicks off at 9:30 A.M. at Greenbrook Park under pavilion one,\" Martin said. \"Come out and plan to have lots of fun.\" For more information, call the Extension office at 597-4945 or visit http://eteamz.active.com/WalkAcrossTennesseeDeKalbCounty/

Forty Five Students To Compete In DeKalb County Spellling Bee

February 14, 2007
Dwayne Page

A total of forty five students will be competing during the Fourth Annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee Friday night, February 16th at 6:30 p.m. at DeKalb County High School.

WJLE plans LIVE coverage

Students from DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, and Northside Elementary School recently competed at the school level to become eligible for the county competition.

Along with students from thirty nine other counties, the first and second place winners in the DeKalb County Spelling Bee will compete in the Tennessean Regional Spelling Bee on March 12th at Belmont University in Nashville.

The winner of the Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. with all expenses paid by the Tennessean Newspaper.

The purpose of the County Wide Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling skills, increase vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

Participants in this year's County Wide Spelling Bee are:
Northside Elementary School:

Fourth Grade- Peter Antoniak, Justin Johnson, Kelsey Hedge, Savannah Driver, Brandon Chapman, MaKayla Redmon, Ashland Dillon, Brandon Leiser, and Haley Davis

Fifth Grade- Travis Ferrell, Serena Lucci, Emily Snow, Rebecca Luke, Courtney Rice, and Josh Davidson.

DeKalb Middle School:

Sixth Grade- Jacob Parsley, Ben Driver, Dalton Vaughn, Bradley Mullican, Taylor Poston, Shawna Puckett, Kyra Dickens, Martelia Tallent, and Kayley Green.

Seventh Grade- John Hayes and Michael Braswell

Eighth Grade- Josh Henry, Taylor Poss, Jessica Hodges, and Alison Thomas

DeKalb West School:

Fourth Grade- Leah Burchfield, Dalton Freeney, and Bruce Wilson

Fifth Grade- Cori Jennings, Paige Lohorn, and Dylan Young

Sixth Grade- Zach Martin, Will Molander, and Nick Sackman

Seventh Grade- Chelsea Crutcher, Katy England, and Dylan Freeney

Eighth Grade- Natalie Barrett, Logan Clark, Shelby Mulloy, and Vickey Vickers.

White County Man Dies In Traffic Accident

February 14, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 58 year old White County man was killed in a one vehicle traffic accident around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 70 east near Sligo Bridge.

Dead is Baxter Griffith of Lonnie Car Road, Sparta.

Trooper Brian Raymond of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Griffith was traveling east on Highway 70 in a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer when the vehicle went off the shoulder of the road, struck a culvert, and overturned, coming to rest upside down in the roadway.

Griffith was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also summoned to the scene to provide extrication services, but the man wasn't trapped, so no extrication was needed.

Trooper Raymond says Griffith was not wearing a seat belt and it appeared that alcohol may have been a factor.

Trooper Raymond was assisted by Sergeant Billy Prater and Lieutenant Brian Lawson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene.

Smithville Man Charged With Statutory Rape of Minor

February 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has charged a 24 year old man with the statutory rape of a 16 year old girl.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says Jason Knowles of 8956 Short Mountain Road is charged with three counts of statutory rape. His bond is set at $30,000. He turned himself in at the DeKalb County Jail late Tuesday night.

According to Chief Stufano, \"On Tuesday, police investigated the crime of statutory rape of a minor. The victim's father had suspected that there may have been some inappropriate attention directed toward his 16 year old daughter by an older male acquaintance of the family.\"

Stufano says \"Investigators discovered that Knowles had been sexually intimate with the minor on three separate occasions at the minor's residence while other family members were asleep. The juvenile stated that Knowles was aware that she was only 16 and still attending high school. During the course of the investigation, the minor also disclosed that Knowles would routinely 'snort' drugs just prior to the intimacy. The father became concerned when the adult male subject started becoming 'over-friendly' with his daughter. Both the Division of Child Services and authorities of the DeKalb County School system were also contacted about the incident.\"

Chief Stufano says \"Smithville Police are committed to actively investigating these serious crimes that put our children in harm's way. With the strong support of our citizens, criminals now know that crime will not be tolerated in our community.\"

Smithville Man Arrested On Shoplifting and Drug Charges

February 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 33 year old man, arrested Wednesday by Smithville Police for shoplifting, was also found to have in his possession illegal prescription drugs.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says Jason Bradley Cripps of 774 Four Seasons Road, Smithville is charged with theft under $500 and possession of a schedule II and III controlled substance for resale.

According to Chief Stufano, \" On February 14th Smithville Police responded to Smithville Food Store for a reported shoplifter. Upon arrival Police made contact with a Food Store employee who identified a white male now known as Cripps as the person responsible for trying to conceal store items without paying for them. Further investigation noted that Cripps did in fact have a number of items concealed inside his clothing which included (2) Crossword Puzzle Books and packages of pens along with sufficient funds on him to pay for the items. Cripps was arrested and transported to the Police Department for further processing. What Police later discovered was that Cripps was also in possession of illegal prescription drugs that amounted to felony distribution charges. Police were able to recover over 21.5 Hydrocodone and 6 Xanax pills with a street value of over $825.00.. He was transported to the DeKalb County Jail with a bond set at $11,000

Chief Stufano says \"During the course of the investigation, Cripps' background noted that he had just been arrested by the Smithville Police for a similar charge of shoplifting a power tool from Walmart on February 5th. At the time of his arrest he had over $435.00 in cash on him.\"

\"Smithville Police are finding a direct correlation between the illegal use of prescription drugs and other types of crime and are committed to actively investigating all crime in an effort to curtail illegal drug activity in our community. The continued support of the citizens and merchants has shown to be very beneficial in our crime prevention partnership.\"

Vanatta Returned as Chairman of DeKalb GOP

February 24, 2007
Dwayne Page

Members of the DeKalb County Republican Party met Saturday morning at the courthouse to elect a Chairman and Executive Committee for the next two years.

Two term Chairman Kennith Vanatta was returned to a third term as Chairman of the DeKalb County Republican Party.

Other current members of the Executive Committee were also returned for another term including Vice Chairperson Barbara Vandergriff, Secretary Larry Green, Treasurer Dennis Stanley, Vice Treasurer Vester Parsley, Jr. and Jennifer Winfree as the representative from the DeKalb County Republican Women's Club.

Vanatta thanked the party faithful for the confidence and trust they have placed in him to continue to lead the local party. He spoke of the party's growth and success in recent years, and he pledged to work for continued growth in the year's ahead, with the help of others.

Party leaders also announced plans for the Lincoln Day Dinner, organized by the DeKalb County Republican Women's Club. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and State Senator Mae Beavers will be the featured speakers during the dinner on Saturday, March 31st at 7:00 p.m. at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.


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