Local News Articles

UCEMC Members Targeted by Utility Scam

February 23, 2015
Dwayne Page

Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (UCEMC) cautions members to be on alert for a telephone scam that is plaguing UCEMC’s service areas.

Scam artists are calling a home or business posing as a co-op or utility employee and threatening to shut off service unless the consumer provides immediate payment using a credit card. The caller may also request that members call a 1-888 number to provide their credit card information.

“The calls sound official, and the caller ID may even display the utility name,” says Jimmy Gregory, General Manager of UCEMC. Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to indicate to the receiver of a call that the originator of the call is a station other than the true originating station. For example, a Caller ID display might display a phone number different from that of the telephone from which the call was placed. The term is commonly used to describe situations in which the motivation is considered malicious by the speaker or writer. “This scam is particularly harmful to consumers because there is no way to track or recover the money.”

Officials stress that UCEMC will:

•NEVER call members to request credit card, banking or other financial information over the telephone.
•NEVER call members threatening immediate disconnection unless a payment is made. Some co-ops do give members with a first time delinquent account a courtesy call prior to disconnection.
•NEVER ask to enter your home unless you initiate the request for co-op personnel to perform a specific service. Co-ops do this only by appointment and with a member’s prior knowledge.

“We are asking co-op members to be wary of any phone calls,” Gregory says. “If in doubt, hang up immediately, and contact your local UCEMC District Office at: Carthage 615-735-2940; Cookeville 931-528-5449; Gainesboro 931-268-2123; Livingston 931-823-1213 or 800-261-2940. Be certain you are dealing with an official representative of the cooperative.”

UCEMC is a cooperative owned by its members. It distributes electric power through more than 4,500 miles of lines to more than 47,000 meters located primarily in Jackson, Overton, Putnam, Smith Counties and northern DeKalb County, with additional members served in the fringe areas of Clay, Fentress, Macon, Pickett, White and Wilson. Visit www.ucemc.com to learn more.

Pirtle Charged with Filing False Police Report

February 23, 2015
Dwayne Page
James Hearl Pirtle
Clayton Allen Moore
Caleb Shain Parker

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged 80 year old James Hearl Pirtle of Whorton Springs Road, Smithville with filing a false police report. Pirtle's bond is $5,000 and he will be in court March 12.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Pirtle reported the theft of his 2000 model Jeep taken from his nursery in DeKalb County when he knew that the vehicle wasn't stolen. According to Sheriff Ray "On Wednesday, February 18 a sheriff's department detective was investigating a theft report made by Pirtle. He (Pirtle) reported that his 2000 model Jeep had been stolen from his nursery in DeKalb County. Through the detective's investigation, it was found that the Jeep was not stolen from DeKalb County. Pirtle came to the sheriff's office on February 18 to speak with the detective about the report he had made. The detective read Pirtle his Miranda warnings (rights). Pirtle admitted that the vehicle was not stolen from DeKalb County but that he had let someone borrow the Jeep and allowed them to take it to another county. During this interview, Pirtle answered several of the detective's questions with false statements. He was placed under arrest," said Sheriff Ray.

32 year old Clayton Allen Moore of Lakeview Circle Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court March 5.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, February 20 a deputy was dispatched to a vehicle accident on Cookeville Highway. There he found a black Dodge Ram 1500 that had been driven by Moore. The officer observed Moore walking down Highland Avenue. He had a strong odor of alcohol on his person, slurred speech, and he was unsteady on his feet. Moore performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was arrested and taken to the emergency room of the hospital for a blood withdrawal and then to the sheriff's department for booking. Moore's first conviction for DUI was in Putnam County in 2008.

21 year old Caleb Shain Parker of Nashville Highway, Alexandria is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court March 5.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, February 22 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Nashville Highway, Alexandria for a possible domestic. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with a woman who said that she and Parker had been arguing and that he had kicked her in the thigh while she was in a bedroom sitting in a chair. Parker allegedly admitted to kicking the woman. He was placed under arrest.

Man Injured in Weather-Related Accident

February 22, 2015
Dwayne Page
Man Injured in Weather-Related Accident (Bobby Johnson Photo)
County Firefighters Work to Get Joshua Dewitt Out of SUV (Donny Green Photo)

A 34 year old man was injured when his SUV slipped off an ice and snow covered road and over an embankment on Indian Creek Youth Camp Road Friday.

Joshua Dewitt was traveling north down the steep narrow road, which runs off Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road), when he met another vehicle coming up the hill. Dewitt's 2000 Chevy Tahoe slid off an embankment, coming to rest on its passenger side about twenty feet off the road.
Dewitt was trapped in the SUV.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Rescue team, who were alerted to perform extrication, had to access the scene by a utility terrain vehicle and four wheel drive pickup due to the slippery condition of the narrow road. After the SUV was stabilized, Dewitt was removed from the back hatch and placed in a stokes basket. Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad then transported Dewitt on a gator from the scene to the top of the hill at Highway 96 to meet an awaiting ambulance. Dewitt was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital with a possible back injury.

According to Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Dewitt was enroute to make a delivery of groceries to members of his family and that his relatives were in the other vehicle coming up the hill at the time of the accident.

Harlem Wizards Returning Tuesday Night

February 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
Harlem Wizards Returning Tuesday Night

The Harlem Wizards will bring their trick-hoops and alley-oops back to DeKalb County on Tuesday night, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. but this year the event will be held at the DeKalb Middle School gym. Gates open at 6:00 p.m.

The Wizards, a show basketball team, will play local personalities to raise funds for the DeKalb Middle School Softball Team field construction.

"The Harlem Wizards have been here twice at DCHS and both years we sold out and I expect this year to sell out as well" said DMS teacher Suzette Barnes. "Proceeds from this event will go to the DeKalb Middle School Softball Team. We started construction of a softball field on the campus of DeKalb Middle in 2011. We played our first game there in the spring of 2012 and if you have driven by and seen the field we still have a long way to go. We are still in need of a concession stand and press box area with restrooms and facilities like that. Eventually we will need lights. So this is a fundraiser for our softball team to complete the project we started," Barnes said.


At a Harlem Wizards game, fans witness amazing basketball talent combined with hilarious comedy. When you're in the stands, you're more than a spectator, you're part of the show with loads of audience participation throughout the game.

Fans will experience a magical display of tricks, coordinated ball handling, fancy passing, and aerodynamic athleticism combined with high-energy comedy and audience interaction. The experience can only be summed up in two words: Awe-Inspiring!

General admission tickets will be available in advance or at the door. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase in advance for reserved seats as well as courtside plus seating. "For this fundraiser we have 850 tickets available at DeKalb Middle School. It's a little smaller seating capacity than the high school. We're doing it a little bit different on ticket prices this year. All of our general admission tickets are $10.00 in advance or $12.00 the night of the event. General admission is first come, first served as far as seating. Something new this year is we're adding reserved seats. We only have 100 of these tickets available and they are $15.00 purchased in advance. They will not be available the night of the event. We're also offering courtside plus. With courtside plus, you get courtside seating along with a meet and greet with the Wizards players before the game and a free poster. We only have 25 of those tickets and they are $25.00 each. Tickets may be purchased from any DMS softball player or at Kilgore's Restaurant, DC Fitness beside Food Lion, or if you are an employee at Star Manufacturing contact Sonya Parsley or Jamie Cripps at SW Manufacturing. Tickets may also be purchased at DMS after 3:00 p.m." said Barnes.

Ticket order forms will be sent home with students at SES, NES, and DeKalb West."Those will be sent home with the students around mid-February, about a week before the event. So if parents want to order tickets, they may fill out the ticket order form and then send back to the school with their child the ticket order form and a check made to DeKalb Middle School Softball. We will pick those up and send the tickets back home with the child. We're trying to make this very easy and convenient for people to pick up tickets, " said Barnes.

The Wizards will take the court against a DeKalb Middle School team which will include DMS Principal Randy Jennings, DMS teachers Tad Webb, Justin Nokes, Josh Agee and Justin Poteete; DeKalb West Assistant Principal Joey Agee; SES teachers Leah Magness and Ashley Barnes; NES teachers January Agee and Mike Crockett, DCHS SRO Officer Keneth Whitehead, DeKalb County School Board member Shaun Tubbs, TWRA Officer Tony Cross, DeKalb County School Bus Supervisor Jimmy Sprague; NHC Administrator Clint Hall, Jason Winningham of Legacy Athletics; Casey Agee of DeKalb Community Hospital; Jonathan Norris of Southern Landscape Supply and Fourth District County Commissioner; and Helping Hands Foundation and three time Grammy nominated Bluegrass Entertainers of the Year Dailey and Vincent.

For students who can't attend the show, the Harlem Wizards will be making a personal appearance at four of the schools in DeKalb County for a gym assembly program on the day of the event. Members of the Wizards will be at Northside Elementary and Smithville Elementary Schools at 1:00 p.m. and at DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb West School at 2:00 p.m.

New Hunting and Fishing Licenses Now on Sale

February 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
New Hunting and Fishing Licenses Now on Sale

The 2015-16 Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses are now on sale. Licenses are available at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) regional offices, license agents and on the TWRA website, www.tnwildlife.org.

The new licenses annually go on sale each Feb. 18. The 2015-16 licenses are valid through February 2016. License sales provide the primary funding for the TWRA, which does not receive any funding from the state's general fund (i.e. state sales tax). The 2014-15 licenses expire Feb. 28. Licenses purchased before July 1 are available at current prices.

Resident licenses may be purchased by persons who possess a valid Tennessee driver’s license; persons who have lived in Tennessee for 90 consecutive days with the genuine intent of making Tennessee their permanent home; military personnel on active duty in this state and their immediate families, who reside with them, regardless of resident status; students who are enrolled in a Tennessee school, college, or university for at least six months. A Social Security number is required to purchase a Tennessee hunting or fishing license.

Licenses may also be purchased online at TWRA’s website: www.tnwildlife.org or the TWRA On the Go App and charged to a credit card. Licenses may also be ordered by telephone and charged to a credit card by calling 1-888-814-8972. All licenses purchased by credit card will be charged a processing and handling fee. The fees over the telephone are $7.50 for those licenses mailed and $6.25 for those not mailed. Through the internet, charges are $4.25 for those licenses mailed and $3 for self-prints.

To expedite telephone orders, the caller should have ready the name, address, physical description, Social Security number, driver’s license number, TWRA ID number (if renewal), and credit card number.

Licenses are printed on a special tear-resistant, water-proof paper. In case of a lost license, duplicate licenses can be obtained from any REAL license agent for a $7 fee.

County Firefighters Respond to Call in Holiday Haven Area

February 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
Firefighters use chainsaw to open wood casing around flue (Donny Green photo)
Burned insulation from fire inside wood casing around flue(Donny Green photo)

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department quickly snuffed out a fire Tuesday afternoon at 195 Wildwood Drive off Cookeville Highway in the Holiday Haven area.

The home belongs to Teresa Riedley.

According to County Fire Chief Donny Green, the family has a fireplace in the home and noticed smoke coming out around the top of the ceiling. Thinking the flue was on fire, they called 911.

Firefighters arrived and discovered the fire to be coming from inside a wooden casing around the flue on an outside wall of the home. "We inspected the flue but didn't see any flame. We went outside and saw smoke coming from the wood casing around the flue. We used a thermal camera to detect the heat source and a chainsaw to open the wood casing. Flames shot out from inside the casing where some insulation had caught fire," said Chief Green.

The fire was extinguished with no damage to the inside of the home. No one was injured

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Main Station, Short Mountain Highway, and tanker of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with manpower from the Midway station.

THP Dispatcher Awarded Bethel University Scholarship

February 19, 2015
Dwayne Page
Tonya Hattaway

A DeKalb County woman, who works as a Communications Operator 2 dispatcher for the Cookeville District of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, has been awarded a scholarship to further her education through an online program at Bethel University.

Tonya Hattaway, a resident of the Seven Springs community, said she is honored to have been selected to receive the scholarship as she works toward earning a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. "Bethel University, through the Department of Safety offered us a chance to get a scholarship. They offered it to Department of Safety employees who were interested in it. We had to submit a resume, three letters of recommendation, and write a five thousand word essay. They went through and picked from that and decided who would get the scholarships for $5,000 to promote and encourage the employees to continue their education in college. I applied and was selected for a $5,000 scholarship. I am already attending Bethel and I am half way through to get my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration so this is going to help me finish my degree. They have an online program and that is what I have been doing for the last eighteen months, attending their online program. With my schedule, working at a job like I have and with a family, it's a really big help to be able to do this online at my pace when I have time to do it," Hattaway told WJLE.

Hattaway has worked for the THP, a division of the Tennessee Department of Safety for almost eleven years. She began as a Communications Operator 1 dispatcher, before advancing to Operator 2 status a year later.

She is one of only two Department of Safety (THP) employees to receive this scholarship in the Cookeville District. Similar scholarships were also made available to employees in the other THP districts across the state.

In addition to her work and studies, Hattaway is active in her community having been a leader in forming a neighborhood watch program in the Seven Springs area. "I am very proud of that. I came up with the idea after coming home from work one night and finding some people in my yard at eleven o'clock. I also knew there are elderly people in our community that live alone so that concern for the safety of my neighbors is what led me to the idea (Neighborhood Watch). Plus I wanted to be involved in the community and have our neighbors know each other," said Hattaway.

Bethel is a private, 4-year institution affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Located in McKenzie, Tennessee, Bethel also has satellite campuses in Jackson, Clarksville, Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis and Paris.

Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Pageants set for March

February 19, 2015
14 year old Morgan Faith Green was the first ever Teen Miss, a new Spring Blossom Pageant started in 2014 by the Smithville Women's Club

The Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Annual Pageants will be Saturday, March 14, beginning at 12 Noon at the DCHS gymnasium. The Spring Blossom will follow the Little Miss & Mister contests. Participants for the Little Miss & Mister must be between the ages of four and six (not younger or older by the night of pageant) and the Spring Blossom is open for girls only ages seven to eighteen.

An entry fee of $25 is required upon submission of entry form for the pageants. Also, any contestant wishing to enter the photogenic category must send a photocopy with the application. The deadline to turn in applications is Monday, March 9. No entries will be accepted past the deadline due to trophy ordering and program designing.

The pageants are open to DeKalb County residents only and contestants must be registered with the DeKalb County School System or a local day school program. Entry forms may be picked up at all DeKalb County Schools, DeKalb Community Bank, Liberty State Bank, Creative Styles, The Tannery, Savvy Scrubs and Clair’s Consignment. Entry forms are also available by email.

Concessions will be open. There will be a $4 admission fee which will apply to all (excluding contestants and children under 3).

The pageants are sponsored by the Smithville Women’s Club. For more questions or details please call 464-7910 or 464-8643.

DeKalb West Students Take Aim at Archery

February 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
Photo from TWRA Website (Student pictured is not from DeKalb West)

Students at DeKalb West School have a new subject in their physical education classes this year - archery.

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) teaches international-style target archery in physical education classes. It's available for students in grades 4-8 at DeKalb West School.

Students at DeKalb Middle School may soon have the same opportunity.

The course, taught by Coach Ricky Hendrix at DWS, covers archery history, safety, technique, equipment, concentration, core strengthening, physical fitness and self-improvement. Before presenting the archery course to students, Hendrix had to undergo a rigorous eight-hour NASP training to become a certified archery instructor.

Although students are not required to take archery, DWS Principal Sabrina Farler said most students want to participate. "A year ago we let the (school) board know that we had an opportunity from the TWRA to get a $1,000 grant for an archery program. DWS paid the remaining approximately $1,500 to cover the cost. Coach Hendrix had to attend an eight hour training before he could start teaching the classes. He is now introducing it to all DWS 4th-8th graders and the kids are so excited," she said.

Farler said DWS was made aware of the program by TWRA officer Tony Cross. "Really, my and Officer Joe Fortner's involvement was just to help the school systems get set up in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Both DeKalb West School and DeKalb Middle School last year were able to purchase archery set-up kits to get the program started in the schools. Right now at DeKalb Middle School we're still waiting to get PE instructors certified to be able to teach it at DMS," said Officer Cross.

NASP is a joint venture between state departments of Education and Wildlife. Several archery equipment manufacturers and organizations are also partners. The program promotes student education, physical education and participation in the lifelong sport of Archery. The program’s focus is to provide International Style Target Archery training in physical education classes. "There are hundreds of schools across the state and thousands of schools nationwide involved in this program. It's really a great program. It's not just geared for hunters. There's a lot of kids that maybe this is the first time they've ever picked up a bow. It's actually a compound bow that they shoot which is set up for beginning archers. But it's not just about shooting a bow and arrow. It teaches a lot of different things from discipline, responsibility, and respect for others," said Officer Cross.

The archery course, which normally runs from two to eight weeks, is designed to teach International Style target archery in 4th–12th grades. The students shoot at bulls-eye targets placed in front of an arrow resistant net in their gymnasium. The core content covers archery history, safety, technique, equipment, mental concentration, core strengthening, physical fitness and self improvement which is necessary in order to participate in and enjoy the sport of archery as a lifetime activity. The safety and instructional guidelines were adopted from the National Archery Association (NAA) and the National Field Archery Association (NFAA).

Equipment to get started:
Bows* (Original Genesis) 12 - (10 right / 2 left)
Bow rack
2 boxes of arrows (10 dozen)
5 Targets
1 Arrow Curtain
1 Equipment repair kit*
1 set of Safety rules and posters*
Arrow quivers 12 (made by the school)
Whistle (one is included in the BAI materials)
Blue painter’s tape (purchased by the school)
Clearly defined shooting range (in gym)

Coach Hendrix will be teaching archery during PE classes from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. or from 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. each day for a few weeks, according to Principal Farler.

Winter Storm Grips DeKalb County

February 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
TDOT Crews Working to Keep State Highways Clear

Traveling in DeKalb County and across Tennessee has been perilous since Monday morning as a winter storm swept through producing mostly freezing rain and sleet in this area and causing layers of ice to form on highways, backroads, trees and power lines. Many customers of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative were without power overnight due to the winter storm. Mid morning problems arose at the sub-station Tuesday causing another power interruption for CFEC customers in DeKalb County. Although that issue has apparently been resolved, still some customers are without power.

"Caney Fork Electric Cooperative is experiencing widespread power outages throughout its service territory," said Angel Wood, Communications Coordinator for CFEC. "All of our employees are working diligently to restore power to our members. Please remember our linemen are working long hours in extreme weather conditions. Due to numerous outages, we are unable to make any guarantees at this time. We are asking any of our members with a medical need for electric power to please consider alternative arrangements or call 911 if you feel you are in a life-threatening situation," she said.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Monday night activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan and declared a State of Emergency in Tennessee as road conditions across the state began to deteriorate. "The roads are still extremely slick. We want everybody to stay inside today if you can," said Sheriff Patrick Ray. " TDOT was out all night long. They would come through and do a good job salting and then a couple of hours later the roadways would become slick again. We had a few wrecks throughout the night. Nothing real serious. Most of them had just run off the roadway," he said.

Downed trees overnight became a particular concern."A lot of the southern and eastern end of the county seems to be the worst that we've had as a call volume of trees being in roads," said Sheriff Ray. "Highway 70 east, Keltonburg, Antioch, and Belk Roads have been the worst hit. The Smithville-DeKalb Rescue Squad, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, EMS, DeKalb County Highway Department, TDOT, and private citizens and neighbors were all out throughout the night helping cut trees out of the roads trying to make paths where people could get through," he said.

With temperatures expected to remain below freezing, Sheriff Ray there is little chance for a lot of thawing to occur today. "We want to ask people (motorists) to watch for trees that might be half way out in the road and there may be some blocking roads completely. Be very cautious if you have to be out. If anyone sees a tree down across a road, call the central dispatch at 615-215-3000 and we'll try to get somebody out there to clean it up. It's going to take some time for the highway department to get all these trees cleaned up. There's a lot of them down . Another danger is the trees falling. I know school is out and children want to go out and play but it could be dangerous if they were to get under any trees that are loaded down with ice," he said.

Although a few people chose to relocate temporarily overnight because of the winter storm due to power outages, no one had to be evacuated according to DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Charlie Parker. "We've had several people who have relocated to family and friends homes. I know of two or three different families with small children who went to other places but we did not physically evacuate anybody. We did open the Smithville Fire Hall Monday night for a short period of time. We had some people who came up there because their electricity was out all afternoon. Most ended up going to motel rooms to stay the night. Others went to stay with family," said Parker.

It's still a good idea to keep a regular check on family members and others who may be at risk during this winter blast. "We are encouraging everybody to do a welfare check with family, friends, and neighbors. You can call them. I know the sheriff's department was doing several welfare checks yesterday and last night just to make sure everybody was alright. If you do have a medical emergency call the 911 center and they will send the appropriate people," he said.

Parker also encourages you keep a close watch on any alternate heat source you may be using during a power outage. "You need to be extremely careful with kerosene and space heaters along with other live fire burning appliances such as stoves and fireplaces. Be careful with the heat, fire, smoke, and fumes," said Parker.


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