Local News Articles

Grateful Community Remembers Fallen Soldiers (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

May 28, 2018
Dwayne Page

Members of a grateful community gathered this morning (Memorial Day) at the county complex to honor and thank all who have served our nation and given their all for the freedoms we enjoy.

Former TWRA officer and Vietnam Veteran Ben Franklin was the guest speaker

The annual ceremony was sponsored by the American Legion Post #122 and moderated by Commander William Edmonds. Mary Lynn Page played patriotic songs on the piano prior to the start of the program.

Members of the Boy Scout Troop #347 presented the flags and led the audience in the pledge to the flag. Erica Birmingham performed the National Anthem and local minster Larry Green offered the invocation.

Judy Redmon of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary recognized Gold Star Mothers and called for a moment of silence in memory of all service men and women who have paid the ultimate price for their country.

After Mr. Franklin’s speech, Ronnie Redmon, Post Adjutant of the American Legion Post #122, adjourned the program at the complex after which attendees were asked to gather at the veteran’s memorial monument at the courthouse for the laying of a wreath and taps by DCHS band student Josh Moon. Local veteran Don Rigsby gave the benediction

Committee Offers Ideas For Moving Forward with School Building Plan

May 27, 2018
Dwayne Page
The Education Committee of the County Commission met with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, County Mayor Tim Stribling, and members of the Board of Education last Wednesday to discuss options on how to move forward with a new school building plan.
Pictured: Anita Puckett, Larry Summers (back to camera), Doug Stephens, Kate Miller, Jerry Wayne Johnson, and Jack Barton
Pictured: Danny Parkerson, Patrick Cripps, Jonathan Norris, and Jamie Vickers

The Education Committee of the County Commission met with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, County Mayor Tim Stribling, and members of the Board of Education last Wednesday to discuss options on how to move forward with a new school building plan.

A facilities study released late last year by Upland Design Group, the Board of Education’s architect, concluded that DeKalb West School was in the best condition and should remain as is; that Smithville Elementary needs to be replaced and repurposed; and that issues exist at Northside Elementary, DCHS, and DeKalb Middle Schools which should be addressed. Upland Design initially presented six options for the board to consider but later narrowed them down to three at the Board’s request.

During last Wednesday night’s meeting, Education Committee Chairman Anita Puckett asked Director Cripps and the School Board which option they were looking to recommend to the committee and county commission.

“I think it comes down to how much money you are going to give us,” said Director Cripps.

While the Board has not yet settled on a specific proposal, Cripps said there is a need for three schools.

“I am just one of eight, but as a board we haven’t decided exactly on what we want but I know what we need. We need three schools, a high school, middle school, and an elementary school,” said Director Cripps.

“How would you rank them according to the greatest need,” asked County Mayor Stribling

“The first one would be the elementary school in my opinion,” said school board member Doug Stephens.

“I don’t think we can have three school projects going on at the same time but I would like to see a plan that when we get the first one done then we immediately go into the next one followed by another one,” Stephens added.

Jonathan Norris, member of the education committee, said while he agreed that a new elementary school should be the first priority, the county commission and board of education should come to an understanding on a long range plan of building both an elementary school and a high school.

“Nobody is going to argue that Smithville Elementary is not the most immediate need that should be addressed first but then the second one that comes to mind is the high school. Those two schools are always in everybody’s conversation. But if we build another elementary school like we did Northside (by issuing a 30 year bond) our high school will be 86 years old before we can get another bond. We can’t just build one every 25 years. To me that is not a good plan,” he said.

Norris suggested that the school board consider asking the county to commit to building a new elementary school (pre-K through 2nd grade next to Northside Elementary on 17 acres the school district already owns ) by securing a 12 year note. Norris said a short term note is more appealing than a 30 year bond and it will allow the county and school board to move forward on building a new high school within 10 to 12 years after the Board of Education purchases a suitable site. According to Norris, the debt on Northside Elementary will be paid off by next year and funds for that project could be re-directed to the construction of a new elementary school. Still, Norris cautioned that the county would need to create a new revenue stream to help pay for the project.

“If we can do an elementary school at around $19.5 million and I am just talking structure and furniture, not land acquisition, we have $470,000 that will free up next year on the Northside bond and in six years we will free up another $635,000 from the county complex (when that debt is paid off) but there still needs to be a new $1.3 million revenue stream,” said Norris.

“My thought is to do this (elementary school) on a 12 year note and not a 30 year bond because a note can be gotten at a lower interest rate around 2.3% versus a bond at 4%. It could feasibly be paid off in 10 years and then after that we can issue a 30 year bond for a high school,” he continued.

Norris said the county could not afford to build both a high school and elementary school at the same time with a 30 year bond issue.

“There is no way we can borrow more than $45 million in a 30 year bond issue without downgrading the bond rating of the county. That is not fiscally smart because it would mean nothing else could happen in terms of growth or building to meet county needs for the next 30 years but using a short term note first and a bond later we could do it. It is conservatively the right way to go about it because it doesn’t break the bank and it helps our county,” said Norris.

Should the current county commission and board of education agree on such a long range plan, could future commissions and school boards be held to the commitments made by their predecessors?

“As a commission, we can’t lock another commission in,” said Norris.

“But If there is a land purchase (for a new high school), you begin to constrain how far a new commission can go 12 years down the road if you’ve made an initial investment in the land,” replied Jack Barton, member of the education committee.

“That’s why I say if we can get a plan as to what we are going to do and say we are going to build an elementary school and the board of education will purchase land for the high school and then as soon as this (elementary school) pays off within 10-12 years we will start a high school I think you stand a better shot of making that plan a realization,” added Norris.

Should the plan be approved, Norris urged the school board to get started on finding property for a new high school.

“If the county can find a way to generate the funds for the elementary school, the school board needs to find a way to purchase land for the high school even though it is ten to twelve years away,” he said.

County Mayor Stribling added that the Tennessee Department of Transportation must also be consulted on the location of any new school.

“Whatever DeKalb County decides to do as to where a new school is going we have to get TDOT involved on the front end because a traffic study will have to be done to determine the impact to state roads,” he said.

Two Arrested After Sheriff's Department Finds Methamphetamine During Search

May 27, 2018
Dwayne Page
David Sandlin, Jr
Angela Louise Howell
Willie Ray Murphy
Joshua Joel Bain

A man and woman suspected of dealing in methamphetamine were arrested last week after the Sheriff’s Department conducted a search at their residence on Cecil Hale Road.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_4.pdf (3.14 MB)

53 year old David Sandlin, Jr. and 53 year old Angela Louise Howell of 153 Cecil Hale Road are each charged with the manufacture, sale, or delivery of methamphetamine. Howell is under a $50,000 bond and will make a court appearance on June 14. Sandlin’s bond is $25,000 and he will be in court on June 7.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that a search warrant was obtained on Wednesday May 23 and was served at the residence of Sandlin and Howell by himself along with sheriff’s department detectives and deputies.

According to Sheriff Ray, Sandlin was in possession of 7.4 grams of methamphetamine and hypodermic needles and scales were also found in his bedroom. Sandlin admitted that the needles were intended for illegal drug use.

Howell was in possession of 17.3 grams of methamphetamine packaged in three separate baggies. She was also in possession of digital scales, plastic baggies, and other drug related items. Howell admitted to selling methamphetamine.

37 year old Michael Chad Owens of Shady Drive, Smithville is cited for simple possession of methamphetamine. His court date is June 14.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, May 15 a deputy went to a residence on Earl Avenue to serve a warrant on Owens. Upon entering the home, the officer detected a strong odor of marijuana. After obtaining consent to search, the deputy found a blue container which held a small amount of methamphetamine. Owens said it belonged to him.

36 year old Willie Ray Murphy of West Bryant Street, Smithville is charged with resisting stop, frisk, halt, or search. His bond is $4,500 and his court date is June 7.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 20 a deputy was dispatched to Toad Road in response to a call of “shots fired”. Upon arrival, the officer encountered Murphy, who came out of a camper on the property. After being asked by the officer to show his hands, Murphy replied “why”? When the officer ordered Murphy a second time to show his hands, Murphy responded “Okay man, okay” and then turned and fled on foot. He was later arrested.

32 year old Joshua Joel Bain of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $3,500. He also has a failure to appear warrant against him. Bain’s bond for that is $1,000. His court date is June 7.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 24 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Jacobs Pillar Road due to a possible domestic between a father and son. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Bain and another person who had been in an altercation. Bain struck his victim in the face causing multiple knots and a cut above the victim’s eye. Bain was placed under arrest.

Stephanie J. Atnip Wins "Best of Show" at DeKalb Art Exhibit

May 26, 2018
Dwayne Page
10th Grader Stephanie J. Atnip Wins "Best of Show" for this art piece at DeKalb Art Exhibit
Emily Johnson from Pre-K to 1st Grade Division Ties for "Peoples Choice" Award for this art piece at  DeKalb Art Exhibit
Ella Kirksey from Pre-K to 1st Grade Division Ties for "Peoples Choice" Award for this art piece at DeKalb Art Exhibit
7th Grader Briley Werpinisky Wins 1st place in the category of Original Painting at DeKalb Art Exhibit
Division 1- Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade: Cora Cox Wins 1st Place for this art piece at DeKalb Art Exhibit
Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades: Eva Aimino Wins 1st Place for this art piece at DeKalb Art Exhibit
Division 3- 4th & 5th grades Daniel Stiffler Wins 1st Place for this art piece at DeKalb Art Exhibit
Division 4- 6th - 8th grades Shanti Liu Wins 1st Place for this art piece at DeKalb Art Exhibit
Division 5- 9th-12th grades Malone Fletcher Wins 1st Place for this art piece at DeKalb Art Exhibit

Tenth grader Stephanie J. Atnip won “Best of Show” while Emily Johnson and Ella Kirksey from the Pre-K to 1st grade Division tied for the “People’s Choice Award” in the DeKalb Schools Art Exhibit held Saturday at the County Complex. The annual event was sponsored by the Smithville Study Club. Walteen Parker is the President of the club. Susan Hinton is the Art Chairman.

Students from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade participated in the art exhibit.

Meanwhile taking 1st place in the category of Original Painting was 7th grader Briley Werpinisky.

This year’s art exhibit featured entries from winners named at each school as follows:

*Division 1- Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade:
1st Place-Cora Cox, Homeroom, Mrs. Ferguson Smithville Elementary; Art Teacher: Ms. Carol Tripp
2nd Place- Andrew Cathey
3rd Place-Lucas Winchester
4th Place-Grant Slager
Honorable Mention: Giana Paulsen

*Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades
1st Place-Eva Aimino, DeKalb West Elementary, 3rd Grade; Art teacher: Mrs. Ria Baker
2nd Place-Delia Willingham
3rd Place-Edwardo Ramierez
4th Place-Summer Garrett
Honorable Mention-Dusty Vanatta

*Division 3- 4th & 5th grades
1st Place-Daniel Stiffler, Northside Elementary-- Homeroom, Mr. Odom; Art teacher- Ms. Carol Tripp
2nd Place-Raylie Cowan
3rd Place-Addyson Swisher
4th Place-Kylee Savage
Honorable Mention- Sarah Fuson

*Division 4- 6th - 8th grades
1st Place-Shanti Liu, DeKalb Middle School, 8th grade
2nd Place-Zoi Hale
3rd Place-Faith Tripp
4th Place-Alex Mareno
Honorable Mention: Johnatha Littleton
Special Merit Awards: Brayden Carter, Tess Barton, and Jana Liebl

*Division 5- 9th-12th grades
1st Place- Malone Fletcher, DeKalb County High School; Art teacher- Mrs. Walteen Parker
2nd Place-Kayley Padilla
3rd Place-Myla Diligard
4th Place-Allie Beshearse
Honorable Mention: Ariana Keith

THP Investigates Rear End Collision

May 26, 2018
Dwayne Page
2005 Chevy TrailBlazer driven by Ashley Singleton
2008 Dodge Ram TDOT pickup truck driven by Jarrod Bonar

The Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated a rear end collision Friday at the intersection of South Congress Boulevard and East Bryant Street.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the THP said 27 year old Ashley Singleton of McMinnville was north on Congress Boulevard in a 2005 Chevy TrailBlazer when she failed to stop and rear ended a 2008 Dodge Ram Tennessee Department of Transportation pickup truck, driven by 30 year old Jarrod Bonar of Lascassas.

Bonar had slowed due to other traffic which had stopped at the traffic light.

Neither Bonar or Singleton were injured.

Singleton’s daughters, ages 10 and 8 were passengers with her. One of them was taken by private vehicle for medical treatment at a local clinic.

Singleton was cited for failure to exercise due care.

Dekalb Farmers Market Open Today (Saturday)

May 26, 2018
Dwayne Page
Patrons Shopping the DeKalb Farmers Market

The DeKalb County Farmers Market is open today (Saturday) in time for your Memorial Day Holiday picnics and cookouts.

Spokesperson Connie Tjarks said there will be much from which to choose.

“You will need to stop by the market to pick up a few fresh greens and onions to put on those sandwiches and maybe in your salads during this Memorial Day holiday weekend,”said Tjarks.

“Ms Jean will be there with her homemade bread and fried pies. They are always a hit at any meal. She often sells out by 9 a.m. so get there early if you want to get her products”.

“Mark will have his mom’s homemade goodies including pies, cookies, and muffins. I had one of her blueberry muffins last week and every bite was full of delicious blueberries. There is also fresh eggs available,” Tjarks continued.

“Do you have a recipe that calls for honey? The DeKalb Farmers Market has quart and pint jars of DeKalb local honey”.

“If gardening is your holiday exercise, Billy still has some tomato and pepper plants for sale”.

“We have a new vendor this year with a huge variety of soy candles. They burn without soot and make a great hostess gift if you are going to a holiday party,” said Tjarks

“Of course Roy always comes with his delicious barbeque and I will be there with some herbal dips and fresh spinach and fresh lettuce,” she added.

“Check WJLE’s website often for market information”.

“We hope to see you at the Farmers Market. Remember to always pick fresh. Buy Local and Pick Tennessee,” said Tjarks.

The DeKalb County Farmers Market, located on East Bryant Street next to DeKalb County Ace Hardware and the County Complex, is open every Saturday from 7 a.m. until noon.

Support your local farmers and artisans. Pick Tennessee! Provided by the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program.

Smithville Swimming Pool Opens for Summer

May 26, 2018
Dwayne Page
Smithville Swimming Pool Opens for Summer
Kids and Grown ups Spend Friday at City Swimming Pool

School is out for the summer and kids had a chance to take a dip in the pool for free Friday during Report Card Day at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool.

By presenting their report cards at the gate, kids were able to swim at no charge. It was a “soft” opening date for the pool.

Ken Lacy, manager of the city pool and golf course, said the pool will officially open to the public for the season today (Saturday).

The pool is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 5 p.m.

Admission to the swimming pool is $2.00 per person for everyone age 4 and older.

Membership fees have also been established.

Single pool membership fees are $70.00 including tax or $135.00 including tax for a family membership.

New Bids Higher Than Previous Low Bidder to Build Four Seasons Fire Hall

May 25, 2018
Dwayne Page

Three companies have submitted bids to build a new fire hall in the Four Seasons Community but they are all much higher than the best bid the county received during the first round of bidding on the project in March.

The latest bids were opened for the fire hall Thursday morning, May 24. Triton Construction of Rockvale had the lowest base bid at $257,000 with two deductive alternates totaling $19,200 (deleting graveling and leveling the parking area and deleting external stairs and lowering the walls). Quality Builders of Sparta submitted a base bid of $278,060 with no deductive alternates and Preston Brothers of Woodbury offered a base bid of $285,300 with two deductive alternates totaling $27,690 (deleting graveling and leveling the parking area and deleting external stairs and lowering the walls).

County Mayor Tim Stribling said two local builders had come to him recently inquiring about the project but neither submitted a bid

This was the second round of bidding for the fire hall construction.

During the first round on March 29 two bids were received including one for $284,000 from Preston Brothers of Woodbury (minus $11,000 if the county put the gravel on the parking lot) and $197,000 from FTM Contracting of Cookeville (deductive alternate of $2,400).

The county commission, during its regular monthly meeting on April 23, voted to re-bid the project because the bids received were too high.

The commission will take up the issue again Tuesday night, May 29 when it meets in regular monthly session.

According to County Mayor Stribling, plans call for the fire hall to be 40’ x 55’ in size consisting of two bays, a restroom, shower, and a small meeting room. He said while the plans do not include any frills it will be a turnkey project with all the work including construction, concrete pad, septic tank, etc all to be done under one contract.

A new fire station at Four Seasons would be the 12th station in the county operated by the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department. The other fire halls are on Short Mountain Highway, Midway Community, Belk, Keltonburg, Cookeville Highway, Austin Bottom Community, Liberty, Temperance Hall, Main Station, Johnson Chapel, and Blue Springs.

Public Learns More About TDOT Plans for Highway 56

May 25, 2018
Dwayne Page
TDOT official shows Highway 56 plans to Erby France (left) and Phillip "Fluty" Cantrell (right)

Several property owners along Highway 56 south turned out for a Design Public Meeting Thursday evening hosted by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to learn more about the state’s improvement plans for the road.

Robert Rodgers of the TDOT Region 2 Project Development Office gave a power point presentation of the plans and then took questions from the audience. Detailed maps of the project were also displayed for landowners and others to view.

The Highway 56 improvement will be conducted in three phases. The state plans to build largely two lanes of a proposed four lane project and maintain traffic on the existing Highway 56 (alignment) while construction is being done on the new portion.

TDOT proposes to let bids for two of the phases in December from south of the Warren County line to near Magness Road and from south of State Route 288 near Magness Road to East Bryant Street in Smithville. Construction is expected to begin by next spring. The third segment from near State Route 287 in Warren County to near the DeKalb County Line is not yet ready for bid letting.

“The current bid schedule is the winter of 2018. Currently it is in the December letting which means construction should start in earnest when spring begins in 2019. The second and the third phases currently are scheduled to be let together. Which end is started on, that will be for discussions between our construction office and the contractor. He may decide to start on the north end or the south end of the project,” said Rodgers.

Following the meeting, Rodgers gave a general description of the project for WJLE.

“On the southern part from the DeKalb County line up to Vaughn Lane, its going to be a two lane roadway. There will be left turn lanes at the side roads. As we get closer to Smithville where some of the intersecting roads are offset there will be some extended sections of three lanes. Once we get to Vaughn Lane we will be expanding to the three lane typical all the way up to just past Morgan Branch. When we get past Morgan Branch we will be building a five lane section with curb and gutters and sidewalks,” said Rodgers.

According to Rodgers, the state will deviate from the existing road in the Shiney Rock area in order to bypass the cemeteries.The highway will then tie back in to the existing alignment in Smithville.

“Where the church and the cemetery are now, we are going off alignment because there was not room to fit the proposed finished road in between the two. Traffic on that section will stay on the existing road until the new road is complete,” said Rodgers.

One property owner affected by the project expressed his frustrations during the meeting with TDOT for changing the plans from the original design and he took issue with TDOT for saying all the rights of ways have been acquired.

“This is impacting my farm in several different places. I have been lied to from day one about how this project was going to happen and how it was going to come down. Every time we look at what you propose it changes and you have not bought all the rights of ways yet. I feel like with some people, their impact may be different now with your new drawings compared to what it was with the previous drawings. I think a lot of this is very unfair,” said the frustrated property owner.

Another man questioned how the project between Vaughn Lane and South Tittsworth Road will impact his row cropping operation in that area.

“We row crop all that land between Vaughn Lane and South Tittsworth. How am I going to operate not knowing what you are going to take?. Are you staying strictly with the right of way? It looks like there might be a 240 foot right of way purchased there. I was told when the construction phase begins they may need a lot more land,” he said.

“We are staying with the right of way we have purchased for that property,” replied Rodgers. “ However there is one spot at the beginning of the project where there is a stream where we will have to acquire slightly more property,” he added.

The proposed cross sections for the project are as follows:

*From south of State Route 287 to north of Bessie Gribble Road-two 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, four-foot shoulders and ditches.

* From north of Bessie Gribble Road to Vaughn Lane-two 12-foot travel lanes with 12-foot shoulders and ditches. There will be left turn lanes at intersecting roadways.

*From Vaughn Lane to north of Morgan Branch-two 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, 12-foot shoulders and ditches.

*From north of Morgan Branch to East Bryant Street- four 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, four foot shoulders, two-foot curb and gutter, a sidewalk within a 10 foot utility strip on either side.

DMS Seeks Donations for Saint Bernard Clothing Market (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

May 24, 2018
Dwayne Page
DMS Seeks Donations for Saint Bernard Clothing Market

If you’re planning to clean out your closets over the summer to get rid of some older clothes your kids have outgrown, the DeKalb Middle School Saint Bernard Clothing Market will be glad to take them off your hands.

Donations will be accepted for the second annual market at DeKalb Middle School on Friday, June 8th from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and Monday, July 23rd from 8:00 a.m. until noon.

Suzette Barnes and Angela Johnson, sponsors of the DMS Student Council said the clothing market was started last summer as a way of serving students who were in need of clothes and shoes.

“Last summer we had a vision of providing clothes and shoes to our students. We have several students in our building who wear the same outfit multiple days a week or their shoes are falling apart. We talked about what we wanted to do but didn’t know how it would go. We asked for donations and the community supplied us with those donations which we were very grateful for. We had our student council students come in and help sort and hang the clothes and group them by sizes which was community service hours for those students and then we went from there,” said Barnes.

After the clothes were collected, the school set aside days where all students in the 6th through 8th grade at the school could shop for clothes and shoes free of charge.

Johnson said the market served a great need.

“Last year we had a grandparent who came in to shop for a pair of shoes for her grandson. She said he desperately needed a pair of shoes. We had a teacher here who looked through all the shoes we had for boys and we had none to fit him. She (grandparent) said I think he will have to take a pair of girls shoes because he is in desperate need of shoes. At that point the teacher said no we will make sure that we get him a pair of shoes and we did,” said Johnson.

Again this summer the market will accept anything from youth large to adult extra large sizes of clothes along with shoes and backpacks. “We don’t turn anything down. We will go through it, size it, and lay it out for the students to pick from,” said Johnson.

“If you want to help but don’t have clothes to donate we will be glad to take a monetary donation then we can go buy clothes or shoes for kids,” added Barnes.

“We have also asked our student council members to prepare hygiene bags this year including shampoo, soap, hair brushes, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and those types of things. We will have those for males and females. If you would like to donate those type items, that would be very beneficial,” Barnes continued.

Johnson said students will have a three day shopping spree when school starts in late July and early August.

“ July 31 will be 6th grade registration night and those 6th grade students will be able to come in with their parents and shop that night for free. On August 1 which is registration day for 7th & 8th grade students at our school, they will be able to come in and shop that day. We will also keep the market open on the first full day in case there are students who didn’t get to come out and shop. We’ll let them shop that day,” said Johnson.

“ I want the community to know there is a need and the recipients are very thankful. We are also very thankful for the overwhelming support and response we got from the community. We want you to know that this is a great benefit," added Johnson.


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