Local News Articles

Revolutionary War Hero Honored During Memorial Day Weekend Tribute in Alexandria

May 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
Attendees at Memorial Day Weekend Remembrance in Alexandria
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver plants American Flag at grave of Revolutionary War Soldier George Thomason and his wife Catherine in Alexandria

A Memorial Day weekend observance was held Saturday in Alexandria to honor the nation’s fallen heroes including a soldier buried at Eastview Cemetery who fought in the American Revolution.

George Thomason was a member of the 3rd Virginia Militia Continental Line and fought in the Revolutionary War.

Lee Plummer spoke of Thomason during Saturday’s remembrance held at the cemetery where the soldier and his wife, Catherine are buried. (VIEW VIDEO BELOW)

State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody were also featured speakers and each talked about the significance of Memorial Day.

Mac Willoughby briefly spoke of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan who was in Alexandria for a short time during the civil war years. (VIEW VIDEO BELOW)

The program also featured opening remarks by Alexandria Mayor Bennett Armstrong, an opening prayer by local minister Jackie Gaddes, the pledge of allegiance led by Boy Scout Troop 757, Terri Lynn Weaver performing the Star Spangled Banner, and brief remarks from other Alexandria area veterans and a member of the Tennessee Defense Force. Members of the Alexandria Police and Fire Departments were also in attendance.

Flags were planted by the grave of Soldier Thomason and others at the East View Cemetery in Alexandria.

Motorcyclist leads sheriff and other officers on high speed pursuit into DeKalb County

May 28, 2017
Smith County Insider Press
Nicholas Bratcher

(The following story and photo were provided to WJLE by the Smith County Insider)

A Carthage man was arrested after leading the sheriff and other officers on a high speed pursuit that ended in DeKalb County the evening of Thursday, May 18.

While investigating a vehicle pursuit, Sgt. Junior Fields of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office learned through dispatch that the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and the Smithville Police Department had made contact with a motorcycle and driver matching the description of one who had fled from Sheriff Steve Hopper.

According to the police report, Hopper was attempting to stop the motorcycle at 9:04 p.m. for reckless driving, at which time the motorcycle had come by him at an excessive speed.

Hopper attempted to stop the motorcycle on the Highway 25 bypass near Cumberland Mine Road, at which time the motorcycle fled from Hopper at a high rate of speed over 100 mph toward Gordonsville on Gordonsville Highway, according to the police report.

According to the police report, the motorcycle failed to stop at the intersection of Gordonsville Highway and New Middleton Highway and continued down Hickman Highway, traveling into DeKalb County.

Other officers joined Hopper in an attempt to stop the fleeing suspect.

Hopper described the rider as wearing a white t-shirt and jeans.

After the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and Smithville Police Department made contact with the motorcycle, a gray 2003 Honda CBR sports bike and rider, at DeKalb market, the driver was identified as Nicholas Bratcher (19, Carthage) and detained for Sheriff Hopper.

According to the police report, Bratcher allegedly admitted to having run from Hopper in an attempt to get away and to avoid arrest.
The police report notes that the pursuit “passed numerous vehicles and placed numerous citizens in danger of serious bodily injury or death.”

Bratcher was placed under arrest and transported to the Smith County Jail Facility for booking.

He is charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving and evading arrest. He was also issued state citations of no license, violation of financial responsibility, stop sign violation and improper display of registration plate.

Seven People Involved In Two Vehicle Crash

May 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
Seven People Involved In Two Vehicle Crash at Intersection of New Home and Dry Creek Road

Although no one was seriously hurt, seven people, including three juveniles went by private vehicle to the hospital Friday evening after a two vehicle crash at the intersection of New Home and Dry Creek Road.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 23 year old Cole Hawker, operating a 1999 Chevy S-10 was south on Dry Creek Road toward Old Mill Road Road when he crossed the path of a 2005 Dodge Caravan, driven by 71 year old Rodney Higham who was southwest on New Home Road. In addition to the three children, 59 year old Janice Higham was a passenger with Rodney and 23 year old Brandi Kirby was with Hawker.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, DeKalb EMS, and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department were also on the scene.

Mae Beavers Plans to Announce Campaign for Governor on Saturday, Promises ‘A Full Effort to Repeal the Gas Tax Increase’

May 28, 2017
Mae Beavers

State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) has decided to run for the Republican nomination for Governor of Tennessee in 2018, and her top priority will be repeal of the recently enacted 6 cents per gallon gas tax increase pushed by Gov. Haslam.

Beavers released a statement late Saturday that says she “intends to formally announce a campaign for Governor of Tennessee at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet at 1 pm on Saturday June 3.”

She will become the third candidate officially in the race for the GOP nomination. Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee have already announced their candidacies.

Congresswoman Diane Black, State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville), and Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) are all potential candidates.

With her announcement, Beavers becomes the only clearly conservative announced candidate in the race, and is the only candidate, announced or expected, to come out in support of repealing Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase.

“Over the past several weeks, it has become increasingly clear that conservatives in Tennessee are looking for bold leadership that will not shrink from standing up and speaking up on the key issues facing our state,” Beavers said in her statement released on Saturday.

“President Donald J. Trump is taking the lead in Washington to ‘drain the swamp there; but we have our own swamp in Tennessee and I intend to do the same thing in the Volunteer State,” Beavers added.

Beavers focused on two hot political issues as major priorities for her campaign: repealing the gas tax and protecting girls in public bathrooms.

“As Governor, I will make sure that Tennessee focuses on protecting children before they are born and then providing them a safe and secure environment to grow up in after they are born. That safety and security extends to making sure that men don’t go into the bathrooms and locker rooms of little girls,” Beavers said.

“I will also devote my effort and attention to insure that Tennessee taxpayers will get the biggest bang possible for their tax dollars, with spending focused on results rather than catering to special interest cronies and big corporate donors,” Beavers added.

“And that means a full effort to repeal the gas tax increase that the legislature just passed and Governor Haslam just signed into law.”

Beavers also mentioned the role she played as a member of the Tennessee General Assembly during the 1999 to 2002 period when Gov. Don Sundquist unsuccessfully attempted to force a state income tax on the residents of Tennessee.

“I didn’t lead the fight against a state income tax and spend the last several decades in public office working against tax increases in order to have a Republican majority legislature impose a tax
increase on fuel while we have a $2 billion dollar surplus,” Beavers said.

“Punishing working men and women in Tennessee with a big increase at the gas pumps when we have other revenue available to build and repair our roads is completely unacceptable and we should make repeal of that tax a priority,” she concluded.

First elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1994, Beavers has served in the State Senate since 2002. She lives in Mt. Juliet with her husband Jerry.

Johnson Wins Habitat Raffle Drawing for Kayak

May 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
Chad Driver, Caroline Driver, and Alex Woodward participate in Habitat on-air drawing to give away a Kayak
Michael Martin, Gary Johnson, Dick Kinsey, Jordan Atnip, Alex Woodward, Marie Blair, Diane Lynch, and James L. (Jimmy) Poss. Not Pictured: Chad Driver, Gina Denman, John Carpenter, Glenda Davis, and Rhonda Harpole

Teresa Fuson Johnson was the winner of an 11 foot Jackson Riviera Kayak in a Habitat for Humanity raffle drawing on WJLE Saturday morning.

Alex Woodward of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County said $1,800 was raised through the raffle ticket sales and all the proceeds will go toward construction of the next partner family home by Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.

Woodward, Chad Driver, and Caroline Driver participated in the on-air giveaway Saturday

Habitat Board Members pictured in bottom photo with Kayak: Michael Martin, Gary Johnson, Dick Kinsey, Jordan Atnip, Alex Woodward, Marie Blair, Diane Lynch, and James L. (Jimmy) Poss. Not Pictured: Chad Driver, Gina Denman, John Carpenter, Glenda Davis, and Rhonda Harpole

Long Legal Battle Between DUD and City of Smithville Finally Over

May 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Utility District Water Treatment Plant

The legal battle between the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District is finally over.

Chancellor Ronald Thurman has dismissed both a DUD complaint against the city and the city’s counter claim against the DUD. The order of dismissal was signed on Monday, May 22. Both sides agreed to the dismissal

The DeKalb Utility District took the City of Smithville to court in February, 2014 after the aldermen decided to raise the water rate it charged the DUD at the time from $2.67 to $5.00 per thousand gallons, the same rate that all other city water customers paid. DUD claimed the rate was excessive and would force the utility to pass along massive rate increases to its customers.

Following a two hour hearing later that month in Cookeville, Chancellor Thurman granted a DUD motion for a temporary injunction barring the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gave proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons. The ruling was only on the motion for a temporary injunction. The lawsuit brought against the city by the DUD had yet to be litigated. The case has lingered in court since.

The city then filed a counter claim in Chancery Court in March, 2014 claiming the DUD had underpaid for water purchases from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2013 and owed the city more than one million dollars. Even though the city had a water purchase contract with the DUD from March 15, 2004 through December 31, 2013 establishing the amount the DUD would pay for water each year, city attorneys claimed a 2013 water cost study found that the municipality had not charged the DUD enough to cover all of the actual costs of producing and distributing water to the DUD, and the City did not recover any of its capital costs from DUD during the period between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013. In the answer, DUD attorneys contended that the water purchase contract governed the rate to be charged over the ten year period. The counter claim was also never resolved by the court.

In the Order of Dismissal, Chancellor Thurman wrote that “It appearing to the Court from statements of counsel for the parties and a review of this matter that a dismissal of both the Complaint of the plaintiff (DUD) and Counterclaim of the defendant (City of Smithville) is warranted and proper, the Court finds that all causes of action pursued by both parties in this matter shall be dismissed with prejudice”.

“Therefore, the Complaint (by DUD) and the Counterclaim (by City), and all causes of action asserted in this cause by both parties, are hereby DISMISSED with prejudice and this case is closed. Concurrent with the dismissal of the Complaint and Counterclaim, the temporary injunction entered on May 12, 2014 is hereby dissolved and the injunction bond posted by the Plaintiff shall be released and returned to the plaintiff. Any unpaid court costs shall be assessed equally between the parties,” the order of dismissal concluded.

After DUD initiated plans to build its own water treatment plant, the City of Smithville hired a public relations firm in April 2012 to launch a grassroots campaign to try to stop the project. A petition drive was started and at least ten percent of DUD customers signed it, triggering a review by the state’s Utility Management Review Board (UMRB).

A year later, the UMRB held an all day hearing in Smithville and dismissed the petition filed by a group of DeKalb Utility District ratepayers and the city who were hoping to halt DUD plans to build the water plant. UMRB Board members said the petitioners had failed to meet their burden of proof that DUD rates or services provided were unreasonable.

The DUD petitioners and city then requested a judicial review asking Nashville Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle to overturn the decision by the UMRB board. Instead, the Chancellor, in February 2014, ruled against the DUD petitioners and city and affirmed the UMRB’s action clearing the way for DUD to begin building the water plant.

The new DUD water treatment plant is now completed and operational.


May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant presents White Rose Award to Kayley Caplinger at Graduation Friday Night
DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant presents White Rose Award to Eli Cross at Graduation Friday Night
DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant presents Citizenship Award to Luke Green at Graduation Friday Night
Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department Honor Guard presented the flags
Grads filing onto the DCHS football field Friday evening for Commencement

Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during Friday night's commencement.

Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Eli Cross and Kayley Caplinger while the Citizenship Award was presented to Luke Green

The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for strong academic performance and exemplary moral character. The award winners are determined by the faculty.

The Citizenship Award, chosen by the faculty, is presented to a student who exemplifies strong academic performance and contribution to DCHS and the community.

The honors, distinction, and top rank students were also recognized during the program.

The 177 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant as their names were called by Assistant Principal Jenny Norris.

In her remarks, Valedictorian Rachel Fuson urged her classmates to “always do your best and never quit regardless of adversity”.

Quoting Inky Johnson, a motivational speaker who once played as a defensive back for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Fuson said “People quit because they don’t have pride in what they do. People stop because they’re selfish and it’s just about them. Whatever you start, you make sure you finish. And the problem with the world today is people get involved with things and if they don’t like a certain person, they don’t like the process, if it’s not what they thought it was, they quit. The process is more important than the product. It’s about can you take pride in what you do as an individual and every night, can you look in mirror knowing that you gave everything you had to it. We have to get to the point where we’re willing to impose our will on certain things. At a certain point in life, it can’t just be about you, and the moment that we understand that everyday we wake up is a blessing and that life is a gift, and that if you were to check out today, how would you want to be remembered? It’s bigger than you.”

“I believe that this quote by Mr. Inky Johnson encompasses what we need to remember in our everyday lives,” said Fuson.

M2U02433 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

In closing, Fuson added “I’ve been anticipating this day for a very long time, just as everyone else has I’m sure, but I have never liked endings. But endings are always bound to happen, and today is an ending for us. We have to say goodbye to everything we’ve known and everything that is normal to us. But just because we are leaving and saying goodbye, that doesn’t mean we have to forget the people that have made us who we are. They’ll be with us for as long as we are alive. They are our foundation and our compass. They are the angel on our shoulder that will be in our hearts forever,” Fuson said.

MAH00044 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Madison Butler, Class President, admonished her friends to take five minutes to reflect on their high school years but to look ahead and “follow your dreams”. “ Graduates, before you leave tonight I urge you to take just five minutes to say goodbye to this place, because today is the day you leave behind twelve years of comfort to step out into the world and figure out what’s next. Figure out who YOU are, Figure out YOUR plan. Follow YOUR dreams. My favorite quote says, “Ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving- your life is about breaking your own limits and outgrowing yourself. You are not in competition with anyone else.” Go out into the world and find new adventure. When one ends, move on to another. And remember, its okay to give yourself just five more minutes. But then, move on to greater things,” she said.

The DCHS Band opened the program with Pomp and Circumstance as the graduates filed onto the field.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department Honor Guard presented the flags and then Hunter Robinson led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The remainder of the program was as follows:

Invocation by Luke Green, member of the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes)

Alma Mater by the DCHS Band and Chorus

Music by the DCHS Chorus" "How Do I Say Goodbye" written and performed by Erica Birmingham and then "Humble and Kind", McKenna, performed by the Vocal Music II Class accompanied by Brady Driver and Erica Birmingham.

Introduction by Class President Madison Butler

Address to the Class by Valedictorian Rachel Fuson

Recognition of Honors and Distinction students by Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick

Recognition of Top Rank and Service by Guidance Counselor Shelly Painter

Presentation of White Rose and Citizenship Awards by Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant

Presentation of diplomas by Principal Bryant and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

Benediction by Steven Jennings, FCA member

Recessional by DCHS Band

Class of 2017 Remembers Jacob Davis Billings

May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
Empty chair with balloons tied to it marks the spot where Jacob Davis Billings would have taken his place at graduation between Brittany Nicole Bennett (left) and Erica Lyn Birmingham (right). Billings died in a tragic accident four years ago.

Excitement was in the air at the DCHS graduation ceremony Friday night where members of the Class of 2017 celebrated an important milestone in their lives

There was also an air of sadness due to the absence of a classmate Jacob Davis Billings, marked by balloons tied to a chair along with a framed photo of him and a cap and gown where he would have sat among the graduates.Billings died tragically in a bicycle collision with two motor vehicles four years ago. Billings was 14 years old when he died and would have been a senior this year.

During her welcome address, Class President Madison Butler paid tribute to Billings and called for the graduates to stand and observe a moment of silence in his memory.

“The class of 2017 wants to honor one of our own. Jacob Davis Billings was a part of us. Jacob was the sweetest and happiest people most of us have ever had the chance to know. He was the kind of friend everyone should have. Tonight, Jacob has a chair among the graduates, because he is one of us. Jacob will forever be in our hearts. To end, I want to ask all the graduates to stand as we honor Jacob with a moment of silence,” said Butler.

Smithville Work Camp Returns June 19-22

May 26, 2017
Smithville Work Camp Returns June 19-22
Members of the Smithville Church of Christ rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to help show their Christian love for others

Members of the Smithville Church of Christ will be rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to help show their Christian love for others during the congregation's fifth annual Work Camp scheduled for June 19-22.

The Work Camp is an annual home rehabilitation/beautification project organized by the Smithville Church of Christ. The church began the Work Camp as a means of helping less fortunate residents of the county do some fix up and cleanup projects around their homes. The Smithville Work Camp concentrates its efforts in the Smithville-DeKalb County area.

If you would like to have your house considered for the project contact the church at 615-597-4159 by Saturday, June 10 to acquire an application and release form.

DeKalb County Schools Art Exhibit Set for Saturday

May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
Last year Leah Payton Clark won first place and “Best of Show” in the 9th through 12th grade division of the DeKalb Art Exhibit

The DeKalb County Schools Art Exhibit featuring art from the students of DeKalb County will be Saturday, May 27 from 1-3 p.m. at the DeKalb County Complex, 712 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville.

According Susan Hinton, Art Chairman, 211 pieces of art will be on display. For more information contact Susan Hinton 615-597-9300. The event is sponsored by the Smithville Study Club.

Last year Leah Payton Clark won first place and “Best of Show” in the 9th through 12th grade division of the DeKalb Art Exhibit


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