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Local News Articles

DeKalb Middle School Completes Outdoor Classroom

April 8, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
DMS Science Teacher Suzette Barnes and Assistant Prinicipal Amanda Dakas standing inside Outdoor Classroom
DMS Science Teacher Suzette Barnes and Assistant Prinicipal Amanda Dakas

DeKalb Middle School Science students and others now have an opportunity to take their studies outdoors.

A new pavilion, complete with six picnic tables, and access to running water and electricity, has been completed which will serve as an "outdoor classroom" for occasional use by DMS science classes and others

"The outdoor classroom was built in order to facilitate hands-on science projects which will better meet the needs of our students as we forge ahead with the S.T.E.M.-type curriculum in mind. Of course, S.T.EM. is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics," said DMS Assistant Principal Amanda Dakas.

Members of the student council began collecting aluminum cans about a year and half ago to raise money for the project. " We didn't start the project until we knew we had the funds to complete it. We had to do all the fundraising. We wrote grants and we had fund raising dances after school at night and things like that. All the money raised has been spent on the outdoor classroom and it was finished just last week during spring break," said Suzette Barnes, DMS seventh grade science teacher.

While the pavilion is mainly for science classes, Dakas said other teachers can make use of it as well. "Building this facility offers not only our science teachers an opportunity for hands-on learning , but ALL teachers will be able to use the facility as well for any student-based hands-on activity that ties the math, engineering, and sciences together. So we are really excited about this and so are the students," said Dakas.

"It's mostly for science. If science teachers are doing experiments that could get messy, they can do it in the outdoor classroom. But we're not limiting it to science. Any teacher in the building has the opportunity to hold a class out there at any time. There are six picnic tables which will accommodate a full classroom of 30 students," said Barnes.

Although the pavilion is completed, the fundraising continues to add a sidewalk from the school to the pavilion. "We will continue to raise funds. My plan for the next phase is to be able to build a sidewalk from the building to the outdoor classroom. We will continue to raise funds and take donations to accomplish that portion of the project. We also still have the recycle bin for aluminum cans in front of the school near the highway. That money goes to the outdoor classroom as well. We have been successful with that effort. Since we started we have emptied it (recycle bin) three different times and that money goes straight to the outdoor classroom," said Barnes.

"I want to thank the community and especially the student council members who have worked to raise the money for this. Without the fundraising and these grants this would not have been possible but it is something that will be used for many years to come," Barnes said.

"We are so proud of our student council for playing a vital role in making this come to fruition," Dakas concluded.

State Lawmakers Honor DCHS Valedictorian and Salutatorian

April 7, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ashli Chew
Max Pafford

Resolutions honoring DeKalb County High School Class of 2016 Valedictorian Ashli Chew and Salutatorian Maxwell Pafford were introduced in the State Senate Wednesday, April 6 and were passed on first consideration Thursday, April 7.

The Senate Joint Resolution honoring and recognizing Chew introduced by State Senator Mae Beavers states as follows:

"WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should pause to pay tribute to those students who, through their natural talents and unflagging commitment to academic excellence, have distinguished themselves in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, Ashli Chew is one such exceptional student who was recently named Valedictorian of the 2016 graduating class at DeKalb County High School; and

WHEREAS, through diligent study, steady composure during examinations, and steadfast commitment of time and talent, Ms. Chew achieved outstanding academic success and joined the ranks of the best and brightest students in Tennessee and our country; and

WHEREAS, in her remarkable high school career, Ashli Chew earned an exemplary grade point average while participating in numerous extracurricular activities, including Beta Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Climate Crew, Student Council, Science Club, and basketball; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Chew’s display of intellectual aptitude and ambition surely bodes well for her future success at Bryan College; and

WHEREAS, Ashli Chew’s noteworthy achievement is a tremendous source of pride for her parents, Lori Chew and George and Janna Chew, her school, and her community; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Chew’s dedication to excellence is clearly deserving of the respect, admiration, and commendation of this legislative body; now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate of the One Hundred Ninth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, the House of Representatives concurring, that we hereby commend and honor the 2016 DeKalb County High School Valedictorian, Ashli Chew, on her impressive academic achievement and extend to her our best wishes for a happy, successful future".

The Senate Joint Resolution honoring and recognizing Pafford introduced by State Senator Beavers states as follows:

"WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should pause to pay tribute to those students who, through their natural talents and unflagging commitment to academic excellence, have distinguished themselves in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, Maxwell Pafford is one such exceptional student who was recently named Salutatorian of the 2016 graduating class at DeKalb County High School; and

WHEREAS, through diligent study, steady composure during examinations, and steadfast commitment of time and talent, Mr. Pafford achieved outstanding academic success and joined the ranks of the best and brightest students in Tennessee and our country; and

WHEREAS, in his remarkable high school career, Maxwell Pafford earned an exemplary grade point average while participating in numerous extracurricular activities, including Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pafford’s display of intellectual aptitude and ambition surely bodes well for his future success; and

WHEREAS, Maxwell Pafford’s noteworthy achievement is a tremendous source of pride for his parents, Mark and Beth Pafford, his school, and his community; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Pafford’s dedication to excellence is clearly deserving of the respect, admiration, and commendation of this legislative body; now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate of the One Hundred Ninth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, the House of Representatives Concurring that we hereby commend and honor the 2016 DeKalb County High School Salutatorian, Maxwell Pafford, on his impressive academic achievement and extend to him our best wishes for a happy, successful future."

Golden Gets Probation for Mitigated Statutory Rape

April 7, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dustin Michael Golden

A 20 year old man arrested in March for having sex with an underage girl has been granted probation.

20 year old Dustin Michael Golden, charged with two counts of statutory rape and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 4.

Golden entered a plea by criminal information to one count of mitigated statutory rape and received a sentence of two years and one day all suspended to supervised probation. He is requesting judicial diversion. Golden has been given 35 days of jail credit. He is under a restraining order to keep away from the victim.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said on Tuesday, March 1 a Sheriff's Department Detective conducted an interview with Golden and discovered that he and a 15 year old girl had engaged in sexual acts and drug use. The girl said she and Golden had sex on Monday, February 29 and Tuesday, March 1. During questioning, Golden allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana with the girl.

31 year old Ellissa Howard was granted judicial diversion Monday. She had entered a plea last September to sale of a schedule II drug and received a three year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. At that time she filed a request for judicial diversion. Howard was fined $2,000 and given five days of jail credit.

Three Seeking 5th District School Board Seat

April 7, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
W.J. (Dub) Evins, III
Kevin Hale
Barry Mabe
Kate Miller
Doug Stephens

Three positions on the DeKalb County Board of Education will be up for election on Thursday, August 4 but only one race will be contested. Noon today (Thursday, April 7th) was the qualifying deadline

Incumbent 5th district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III will be challenged for re-election by Barry Mabe and Kevin Hale.

6th district incumbent Doug Stephens will be unopposed for re-election.

In the 4th district, Kate Miller will be unopposed for the election to fill the remaining two years of her husband Billy Miller's unexpired term. Billy Miller was re-elected to the school board in August 2014 but he resigned September 30, 2014 due to his having accepted a new job with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation which does not allow him to hold public office. The county commission appointed Kate Miller in October 2014 to fill the position until the August 2016 election. She was sworn into office in November 2014.

The 5th and 6th district winners will serve four years.

The other school board members, Danny Parkerson in the 1st district; Jerry Wayne Johnson in the 2nd district; Jim Beshearse in the 3rd district, and Shaun Tubbs in the 7th district were elected in 2014 and are in mid-term. Their terms are up August 31, 2018.

Today (April 7th) was also the qualifying deadline for the race to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired county commission term in the 1st district. The election will be Thursday, August 4th

The candidates are Republican Thomas Chandler and Democrat Julie Williams Young. They were each nominated by their party during conventions held last month. No independents qualified for the position.

The winner will fill the seat left vacant by Elmer Ellis, Jr. who recently resigned.

Meanwhile candidates chosen in the March 1 Democratic Primary or by party convention who will be on the DeKalb County General Election ballot on Thursday, August 4th are as follows:

Assessor of Property:
Scott Cantrell, Democrat
Shannon Cantrell, Republican

Constable 1st district—Lee Plummer, Republican and Jason Taylor, Democrat
Constable 2nd District—Thomas Theriaque, Republican
Constable 3rd District—Travis Bryant; Democrat
Constable 4th District—Paul Cantrell, Democrat
Constable 5th District—Mark Milam, Democrat
Constable 6th district—Carl Lee Webb, Democrat
Constable 7th district—Johnny King, Democrat

Five Candidates Running for Three Aldermen Seats in Smithville

April 7, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shawn Jacobs
Josh Miller
Danny Washer

The Smithville Municipal Election will be contested on Thursday, August 4th.

Five candidates have qualified for the race in which three aldermen will be elected, each to serve a four year term.

Incumbents Shawn Jacobs, Josh Miller, and Danny Washer are running for re-election along with newcomers Ronald Dale Stanley and Richard Steinbach.

Also on August 4th, Dowelltown voters will elect a mayor and alderman. The only candidates to qualify were Pam Redmon for mayor and William A. Davis for alderman. Another alderman position was to have been filled in the election but no other candidate qualified. The terms are for four years.

The Liberty Municipal Election is also set for Thursday, August 4th. Dwayne Blair, Todd Dodd, and Jason Ray are each seeking a four year term as alderman. They are unopposed. J.D. Bratten will be a candidate for alderman to fill a one year unexpired term.

The qualifying deadline was noon today (April 7th) for the Smithville, Dowelltown, and Liberty Municipal Elections.

(Photos of the other candidates unavailable)

State Representatives Facing Opposition In Elections

April 7, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Terri Lynn Weaver
Gayla Colvert Hendrix
Mark Pody
Amelia Hipps

State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster in the 40th district and Mark Pody of Lebanon in the 46th district will be challenged for re-election this year.

Representative Weaver will be unopposed for re-nomination in the Tennessee Republican Primary on Thursday, August 4th but she will have a Democratic opponent in the November 8th General Election.

Gayla Colvert Hendrix of Smithville and Teresa Marion of Smith County are seeking the Democratic nomination for State Representative in the 40th district in the Tennessee Democratic Primary on Thursday, August 4th. The winner will face Weaver in November.

The 40th district includes Smith, Trousdale and part of DeKalb and Sumner Counties.

Meanwhile, Representative Pody will face Jim Gibbs of Cannon County for nomination in the Tennessee Republican Primary on August 4th. The winner will be opposed by Democrat Amelia Hipps of Lebanon in the November 8th General Election. Hipps is unopposed for nomination in the Tennessee Democratic Primary on August 4th.

The 46th district includes Cannon, and part of Wilson and DeKalb Counties

Each term is for two years.

Noon today (April 7th) was the qualifying deadline.

(Photos of Teresa Marion and Jim Gibbs unavailable)

DeKalb County Man Charged with Stealing from Clients

April 6, 2016
Lawton Duane Park

An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the indictment of a DeKalb County log home salesman, charged with stealing from clients who ordered from him.

At the request of 13th District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, TBI Special Agents, working alongside detectives with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, began investigating Lawton Duane Park on September 9, 2015. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that between 2013 and 2014, Park was selling log home kits to individuals without producing the product that was sold. The name of the business under which Park sold these log home kits is Starry Hill Log Homes.

On Monday, the DeKalb County Grand Jury indicted Lawton Duane Park, 47, on three counts of Theft over $10,000 and one count of Theft over $1,000. Park was arrested Tuesday night by deputies with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and booked into the DeKalb County Jail. He was released after posting a $75,000 bond. He will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 11.

Count one of the indictment against Park alleges that on or about the 19th day of August, 2013 he knowingly did obtain or exercise control over certain property, to wit: $30,261.50 being over the value of $10,000 the property of Jodi Renwand with the intent to deprive constituting the offense of theft.

Count two alleges that on or about the 8th day of June, 2015 Park knowingly obtained or exercised control over certain property, to wit: $15,000 being over the value of $10,000 the property of Danny and Tara Hall with the intent to deprive constituting the offense of theft.

Count three states that on or about the 21st day of July, 2015 Park knowingly obtained or exercised control over certain property, to wit: $12,000 being over the value of $10,000 the property of Danny and Tara Hall with the intent to deprive constituting the offense of theft.

Count four alleges that on or about the 15th day of June 2015 Park knowingly obtained or exercised control over certain property, to wit: $4,000 being over the value of $1,000 the property of Danny and Tara Hall with the intent to deprive constituting the offense of theft.

Last September Park and his wife appeared in General Sessions Court on charges they assaulted a disgruntled customer who confronted them at McDonald's Restaurant in Smithville.

After a hearing, Judge Bratten Cook, II found Mrs. Park guilty of assault and unlawful possession of a weapon. Judge Cook dismissed an assault charge against Park.. Mrs. Park received a sentence of 30 days on the weapon charge and six months for the assault but she was placed on probation. She was also fined a total of $100 plus court costs.

The Parks' were arrested by Smithville Police on Thursday, August 27, 2015 after a Michigan man, Danny Hall confronted them at McDonald's claiming they had defrauded him. Hall claimed he and his wife ordered a brand new log home through the Starry Hill Log Homes website in January, 2015 a company run by the Parks and paid $36,000 but never got the logs to build the home.

During the confrontation at McDonalds which was captured on video, Hall was allegedly assaulted by the Parks. While finding Mrs. Park guilty of the assault, Judge Cook dismissed the case against Mr. Park after reviewing the video and reportedly determining that he appeared to be trying to break up the fight. Mrs. Park was charged with the gun offense after police found the weapon in her purse during the assault investigation for which she had no permit.

At the time, Mr. Park, a pastor, reportedly offered regular Bible studies at the New Heart Outreach located on Broad Street in Smithville.

Students Attend 69th Annual State 4-H Congress

April 6, 2016
by: 
By Sarah Anne Colwell, DCHS Student
6 delegates from DeKalb County toured the State Capital while attending State 4-H Congress in Nashville.
Sarah Anne Colwell, Madi Cantrell, Abby Evans, Addison Oakley, Lydia Brown, and Macy Hedge

Six girls from DeKalb County High School were chosen to be a part of the 2016 Tennessee State 4-H Congress, held each year in Nashville and Murfreesboro. Those attending were Lydia Brown, Madi Cantrell, Sarah Anne Colwell, Abby Evans, Macy Hedge, and Addison Oakley. This year’s event was March 20-23, 2016.

On Sunday night, we arrived at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro and watched the Tennessee 4-H Performing Arts Troup perform. On Monday, we spent the day in Nashville and took the role of Senators and Representatives. We discussed and voted on mock bills while touring the Senate and House Chambers. We also toured the Tennessee History Museum and visited the Capitol and Legislative Plaza where we met with Sen. Mae Beavers, Rep. Mark Pody, and Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver.

Tuesday was the last full day of Congress. We got the opportunity to ride the General Jackson and enjoyed lunch and entertainment on the boat. That evening, the citizenship banquet and ball was held. Other highlights included hearing the state speech contest, history bowl, electing new Congress officers, and meeting other teens from across the state. It was a great overall experience that we all enjoyed!

We would like to say thank you to Farm Bureau and the Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Project Hometown Help for sponsoring us and to Jenny Cantrell for attending as our adult volunteer. For more information about DeKalb County 4-H programs, please call 615-597-4945.

Photo Captions:

Group: Sarah Anne Colwell, Madi Cantrell, Abby Evans, Addison Oakley, Lydia Brown, and Macy Hedge attended State 4-H Congress where they learned about TN State government, met with senators and representatives, and rode the General Jackson.

Capital: 6 delegates from DeKalb County toured the State Capital while attending State 4-H Congress in Nashville.

"Reeling in the Years" Returns Saturday Night on WJLE

April 6, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shawn and D.S.

The Spring edition of Reeling in the Years with D.S. and Shawn is coming up Saturday (April 9) from 6-10 p.m. on WJLE.

Featuring hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s, the show will also feature hits that were popular this week during various years of the 70s and 80s and the song of the year for both 1971 and 1976.

To coincide with the beginning of Spring, we made this show very upbeat and fast-paced,” the two said. “Like the kids would say on American Bandstand—‘it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.’”

Again, Reeling in the Years airs this Saturday night from 6-10 on WJLE FM

Former Correctional Officer Indicted for Official Misconduct

April 6, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Francisco Rodriguez

A former Correctional Officer at the DeKalb County Jail who allegedly received money from inmates for smuggling tobacco and other items to them inside their cells has been indicted for Official Misconduct and Introduction of Contraband.

24 year old Francisco Rodriguez of Banks Pisgah Road was named in a sealed indictment returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Monday, April 4. His bond is $20,000 . He will be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday, April 11.

Rodriguez worked for the Sheriff's Department as a Correctional Officer for six months before being terminated by Sheriff Patrick Ray after an internal investigation into the allegations.

Sheriff Ray told WJLE how the story unfolded.

"This last December, I obtained information of one of the Correctional Officers putting small amounts of tobacco and other items into a cell at the DeKalb County Jail. This Correctional Officer was identified as Francisco Rodriguez".

"Rodriguez started with the department approximately six months prior to this investigation. His background check that was conducted on him had positive recommendations from people here in DeKalb County," said Sheriff Ray.

"As soon as the information about Rodriguez was given to me I immediately notified my detectives to start an internal investigation into this matter. I also contacted the District Attorney General's Office and obtained consent for my department to proceed with the internal investigation," he continued.

"During the course of the investigation my detectives did an outstanding job with their investigation work. They conducted surveillance work, obtained four search warrants, and interviewed multiple people in connection with the investigation. The detectives were also able to obtain information that Rodriguez had placed a cell phone into one of the cells where he could have secret conversations with inmates and set up drops of tobacco and other items for this particular cell. The cell phone was recovered in a cell area of the jail. The detectives also found that Rodriguez received money to perform these actions".

"As a result of the internal investigation I terminated Francisco Rodriguez on December 23, 2015", said Sheriff Ray.

"Sometimes people step over the line of the law. This here was a person of trust and authority. I have served in many positions in my 27 years of law enforcement. I personally believe all of us in law enforcement are held to a higher standard. In saying this, let me be clear. I am proud of my department and all of the employees that work here. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior that deflects from the professionalism and trust that we are trying to achieve. I will prosecute this offense to the fullest extent of the law,' Sheriff Ray concluded.

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