Local News Articles

Ugandan Children Perform at Smithville First Baptist Church

January 24, 2018
Bill Conger
Ugandan Children Perform at Smithville First Baptist Church

The Sozo Children’s Choir brings its vibrant and joyful voices to Smithville First Baptist Church on February 6. Twenty-two Ugandan children and six adults will sing traditional African songs, children’s church songs and the contemporary music from worship bands like Chris Tomlin, Hillsong United, and Elevation Worship. The community is invited to the performance starting at 6:30 p.m. at Smithville F.B.C., 101 West Church Street.
Seeing a need to rescue the children immediately from their suffering, abuse, and neglect, Sozo Children was formed in 2010.

“The Sozo Children are raised by born-again Christian Ugandans to become future leaders and carriers of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their country,” says Jon Brennan, Pastor of Spiritual Development and Sozo Choir Director. “Christ is our foundation, and education is a priority.”

Sozo now has 121 children. 81 live in four homes, and the others still live with their families while the ministry provides school fees and/or medical needs.

14-year-old Dennis Nabireeba, who has been with Sozo since its beginning, is one of the choir’s best singers, dancers, and performers. The 6th grader enjoys playing soccer and riding bikes.

“Dennis is all boy!” Brennan says. “He’s a trickster and you have to watch him,” he adds with a smile.

“He has a mother and father, but as is very common in Uganda, the father never married his mom, and he has rarely seen him. His mom is unable to care for him, and she placed him in a children’s home many years ago, which is where Sozo found him suffering and neglected without school fees or food. This children’s home was eventually closed by the government of Uganda.”

“Occasionally Dennis goes to visit his mother for “home visits” but there is not a strong relationship. We try to keep them connected to their families, but often the parents are not interested.”

The choir director says working with the ministry fills him with mixed emotions.

“Uganda, as much of Africa, is extremely heartbreaking because of poverty but extravagantly joyful. We, as Americans, have a lot to learn about the hospitality, immediate friendship and joy that Africans, particularly Ugandans, share with us. It is very rewarding. I get the blessing rather than them.”

Link to website performance: http://www.sozochildren.org/choir

County Approves Contract for Clean TN Energy Grant Project to Install LED lights at Courthouse and Jail

January 24, 2018
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling

Existing fluorescent lights in the DeKalb County Courthouse and the Jail will be replaced and retrofitted with light-emitting diode (LED) lights thanks to a Clean Tennessee Energy Grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

The grant for DeKalb County totals $18, 928 with a local match of $18, 928 for a total project cost of $37,856. Last February, the county commission authorized the grant application through the Upper Cumberland Development District. The grant was awarded in August.

During Monday night’s meeting, County Mayor Tim Stribling updated the county commission on the project.

“We passed a resolution in February and we were awarded a grant in August and we had a bid opening in December. There were a couple of bids. Energ3 out of Chattanooga received the bid of $34, 100 to retrofit the lighting here in the courthouse and the jail to LED with a Clean Tennessee Energy Grant. It’s a 50/50 grant. We have to pay half and the other half will come from the grant,” said Stribling.

The commission voted Monday night to approve the contract for the project.

DeKalb County is one of 24 Tennessee communities that will be receiving grant funding for clean energy projects. The total award amount statewide is $1.9 million. The Clean Tennessee Energy Grant (CTEG) program provides financial assistance to municipal governments, county governments, utility districts and other entities created by statute. Awarded projects have demonstrated a plan to reduce air emissions, improve energy efficiency and create cost savings.

A TVA Energy walk through lighting audit was conducted several months ago at the courthouse and jail as a service of Smithville Electric System to provide an energy usage analysis and the potential impact of LED lighting retrofits. Many of the lights throughout the courthouse are currently comprised of T-8, T-12, T-8 U tubes, and linear fluorescent bulbs that use a great deal of electricity. The jail also has a combination of obsolete T-8 and T-12 bulbs. LED lights, while more expensive, last much longer, consume less electricity and will make the buildings more energy efficient.

Retrofit lighting fixtures to LEDs in the Courthouse is to result in an estimated savings of 43,749 kWh and $5,955 annually. Converting lighting fixtures in the County Jail to LEDs will translate into an estimated savings of 51,132 kWh or $5,319 annually.

“Clean Tennessee Energy Grants help our communities reduce costs, increase savings, waste less energy and promote clean air,” said Governor Bill Haslam. “I appreciate the efforts of these grant recipients whose work will continue to make Tennessee a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

“We were pleased to offer this round of grant funding to communities that have not received support before or are identified as distressed by the Department of Economic and Community Development,” said Robert “Bob” Martineau, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “From more cost-effective lighting systems to efficient heating and air units, these awards will enhance service to customers while minimizing operating costs for these entities, saving taxpayer dollars.”

These projects will help improve air quality by reducing sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, oxides of nitrogen, hazardous air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

Funding preference was given to distressed counties identified by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and counties that have not previously received CTEG funding. Twenty of the grantees have not received CTEG funding before. Additionally, awarded projects must have a simple payback of less than 10 years.

Funding comes from a 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Under the Consent Decree, Tennessee received $26.4 million to fund clean air programs in the state.

DeKalb Democratic Party to Hold Mass Meeting

January 24, 2018
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Democratic Party to Hold Mass Meeting

The DeKalb County Democratic Party will hold a Mass Meeting for county and state Democratic candidates, Saturday, February 17, 2018, to kick off the election year. The event will take place at the DeKalb County High School cafeteria, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Meet the candidates for Governor, US Senator, US Representative, State Senator, State Representative, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, Road Supervisor, Sheriff, County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Trustee, County Commission, School Board, City Council.

Mary Mancini, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, will be the keynote speaker.

The event will feature live music by Jake Hoot, coffee, donuts, and conversation.

Another Candidate Expected to Enter County Mayor Race

January 23, 2018
Dwayne Page

The most interest shown in any county wide race so far seems to be for County Mayor, at least as far as potential candidates are concerned.

Randy Paris picked up a petition Tuesday to run for County Mayor as an Independent in the August 2 DeKalb County General Election.

Already Incumbent Tim Stribling and 3rd District County Commissioner Bradley Hendrix have filed petitions to run for County Mayor in the May 1 DeKalb County Democratic Primary and former County Mayor Mike Foster, who recently obtained a petition, is also expected to officially join the primary race.

No Republican has yet emerged but if Paris files his petition and becomes a qualified candidate, the August General Election for County Mayor will be contested at least between Paris and the Democratic nominee.

Meanwhile, Lloyd Emmons has picked up a petition to run for the county commission in the 5th district in the May 1 DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

Two commissioners will be elected from each of the seven county commission districts in August.

Incumbent 5th district commissioner Anita Puckett has already picked up her petition for the May Democratic Primary and Incumbent Republican 5th district commissioner Jerry Adcock will be seeking the DeKalb GOP nomination on February 11 to run in August.

The qualifying deadline for all candidates for county offices and the county commission is February 15.

Plans Moving Forward for Fire Station in Four Seasons Community

January 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling

Plans are moving forward toward development of a fire hall in the Four Seasons community.

According to DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green, site preparation work began in October at the location for the new fire station, which will become the department’s 12th station. The goal is to have the fire hall constructed and in operation by mid-summer.

County Mayor Tim Stribling updated the county commission on the project Monday night.

“I received an email from the engineer Kenny Bowdin from Cookeville who said they were wrapping up their first set of preliminary drawings for the new fire hall and he had some questions. Donny answered those questions and he (Bowdin) sent another email and said he will be in touch soon to set up a review of the preliminary drawings to see if there are any comments or concerns. Its looking more like reality every day. As soon as he gets the plans and notifies us, we’ll set up a committee meeting and take a look at it and hopefully put it out for bids shortly thereafter,” said Stribling.

In 2015 the county commission set aside $25,000 as seed money for the eventual development of a new fire hall in the Four Seasons Community. In 2016 another $50,000 was added for a total of $75,000 for this project. For the current budget year (2017-18) the fund totals $100,000 with the addition of another $25,000.

The county is getting matching grant funds to purchase firefighting equipment and possibly a fire truck for use as assigned by the department

DA Bryant Dunaway joins four other prosecutors in lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

January 23, 2018
District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway of the Thirteenth Judicial District, who represents DeKalb County, has joined four other DA’s in suing a group of opioid producers and others, alleging a “fraudulent campaign” to flood their communities with addictive pills.

The district attorney generals of Tennessee’s Thirteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Twenty-Second and Thirty-First Judicial Districts jointly filed the lawsuit Wednesday, January 10 in the Cumberland County Circuit Court.

Crossville was chosen for the filing location because the Cumberland Plateau communities are the hardest hit by opioid abuse in Tennessee which has the second highest statewide opioid prescription rate in the nation, according to a press release from the district attorneys.

“Tennessee doctors wrote more than 7.8 million opioid prescriptions in 2015,” DA Dunaway, said in the press release. “That’s more prescriptions than Tennessee has residents — men, women and children combined.”

Counties could chose to bring their own suits but DeKalb County attorney, Hilton Conger told the county commission Monday night, that he thought it best to let the District Attorney Generals pursue the legal battle.

“We’ve been approached by at least two law firms asking us to employ them to do the same thing (file lawsuit) but we knew this was coming. General Dunaway told us they (DA’s) were putting this together (lawsuit) so in my opinion we’re better off just letting them (DAs) fight this battle for us than private counsel,” said Conger.

“What we (county) hope to gain out of it is reimbursement for all the services including jails, hospitals, ambulance, emergency services and that sort of thing that can be tied into and attributed to opioid abuse ,” added Conger.

Unintentional overdose deaths now account for more early deaths in Tennessee than automobile accidents, suicides or homicides, and the vast majority of the state’s overdose deaths involve opioids — nearly 72 percent, as recorded in 2015, the press release says. Among the 19 counties named, more than 1 million opioid prescriptions were filled in 2016. The same region recorded 550 opioid-related overdose deaths from 2012 to 2016.

The defendants include prescription opioid producer Purdue Pharma L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. Additional defendants are alleged “pill mills” Montclair Health & Wellness LLC d/b/a Specialty Associates and North Alabama Pain Services LLC, plus David Florence, Mark Murphy and Nathan Paul Haskins, who are alleged to have diverted and illegally sold opioids throughout the state, the lawsuit says.

The latest suit alleges Florence, aka “DocStar” of a former reality TV show of the same name, owned and operated “pill mills” that prescribed opioids “without any legitimate medical purpose.” Florence ‘knowingly, and unlawfully,’ facilitated the distribution of the powerful and highly-addictive prescription drugs into the illicit market.”

The Perdue companies’ annual sales of OxyContin are between $2.47 billion to $2.99 billion a year, or 30 percent of the entire market for analgesic (painkiller) drugs, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit demands judgment against the defendants for damages resulting from breaches of statutory and common law, according to the press release. The suit also seeks punitive damages against the defendants for their alleged roles in flooding Tennessee with illegal opioids, seeks to award restitution to the plaintiffs, and requests an injunction to stop the flood of opioids to the region.

The suit is the third such complaint filed in Tennessee in recent months. The first was filed in June 2017 in Sullivan County Circuit Court in Kingsport, and the second was filed in September 2017 in Campbell County Circuit Court in Jacksboro. Collectively, the three complaints represent 14 district attorneys general and 47 counties in Tennessee.

According to the lawsuit, the manufacturers misled doctors and the public about the need for and the addictive nature of opioids. They turned a “blind eye” to the problems caused by addiction “and collected millions of dollars in ill-gotten profits.”

The drug manufacturers’ marketing campaign created a market for street heroin for addicts who could no longer obtain prescription opioids or afford diverted opioids, the press release says. All defendants knew of the volume of prescriptions being written and took no action to stop illegal prescriptions or diversions.

Science shows opioids are inappropriate to treat chronic pain and are dangerous and highly addictive, the lawsuit claims, citing several studies.

The lawsuit also makes a connection between opioid use by pregnant mothers and a condition called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Tennessee and border states Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi have the highest rates of NAS in the nation, in the range of 15-20 percent per 1,000 hospital births. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services reports 42.3 percent of the pregnant women it serves for addictions report opioids as the primary substance of abuse.

DCHS to Retire Number of Another Basketball Great

January 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
Jerry "Red" Foster
Jerry "Red" Foster  (Photo from the 1975-76 season)

DeKalb County High School will be retiring the number of Jerry "Red" Foster at this Friday's games against Cannon County, January 26.

Jerry Foster starred as a Tiger player in the 70's and went on to a successful career at Bethel College and later played professionally in Chile and Spain. After his playing career, he became a teacher and high school basketball coach, where he was at the helm of the Lady Tiger basketball program for 7 years.

"Foster has continued to give back to the youth of DeKalb County through the game of basketball as he has worked with boys and girls teaching the fundamentals of the game in the after school programs," said DCHS Principal Randy Jennings.

"We would like to invite everyone to come out, as we once again honor and celebrate the accomplishments of one of DeKalb County's greatest players", he added.

The ceremony will take place on Friday, January 26 at DeKalb County High School between the girls and boys games. The girls game tips off at 6:00 p.m.

Justin Potter Library to Host Book Signing for Author and DeKalb Native Larry Self

January 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
Larry Self
Mary: A Mermaid in Reverse, Book I

Cookeville author and DeKalb County native Larry Self will sign copies of his new children’s book “Mary, A Mermaid in Reverse” on February 8 at Justin Potter Library.

The signing will be from 2-4 p.m.

The new book is a sequel to Self’s first in the series.

The story is about a little girl named Mary who makes a wish at a magic fountain with her friends. She wants nothing more than to be a mermaid. Will her wish come true? What will she need to do to make the magic work?

“It’s a story of fantasy. I left a cliffhanger on the first book and the new one picks up from there. I believe all children need a fantasy world to visit,” said Self.

Larry was born at home in 1944 near Smithville. He attended school in DeKalb County and later was pastor at churches here as well. Self moved his family to Putnam County in 1973 to pastor a church there and in 1976, Larry, his wife Betty, and U.L. Whitson founded the Cookeville Rescue Mission. Larry became Executive Director of the mission and served in that role for 38 years and spent 41 years there as Pastor of Marsh Chapel. Larry and his family currently attend the People’s Baptist Church near Alexandria.

Larry is excited about his new book and invites all his old and new friends to join him at Justin Potter Library in Smithville on Thursday, February 8 from 2-4 p.m. where he will sign copies of his books I & II. The books are available for purchase at $6.00 per copy and the first book includes a bonus music CD containing the classic Eddie Raven song “Thank God for Kids”.

Another Arrest Made in December Flare Gun Case

January 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
Kylan Taylor Leeper
Norman Leo Sprague
Danny Ray Prater

Another man has been arrested for participating in the theft of a flare gun which was later fired into two DeKalb County Homes in December.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_55.pdf (1.73 MB)

19 year old Kylan Taylor Leeper of Man Road Lebanon was arrested on Wednesday, January 17 for theft of property under $1,000, aggravated arson, and reckless endangerment. His bond is $510,000 and he will make a court appearance on February 1.

A co-defendant in the case, 20 year old Daniel Lewis Dillard of Lee Braswell Road, Smithville was arrested in December and charged with the same offenses. His bond was more than one million dollars.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Leeper and Dillard allegedly went to Walmart in Smithville on December 2 and stole the flare gun (valued at $47) and took part in firing the gun into a home on Lee Braswell Road December 4 while a woman and a minor were inside causing damage to the residence. There apparently were no injuries. They also fired the flare gun into another home on Short Mountain Highway (prior to the December 4th incident), placing the victim (woman) in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Dillard was also charged with resisting stop, frisk, halt, or search. He was already on probation for a separate offense at the time of the incident.

35 year old Norman Leo Sprague of St. Johns Hollow Road, Woodbury is charged with vandalism. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is February 1.

While incarcerated for another offense at the DeKalb County Jail, Sprague allegedly tore up a mat and blanket and was informed upon his release from jail on December 4 that he had 14 days to pay $110 for the damage. After the deadline came and went without his having made payment, a warrant for vandalism was issued against Sprague.

32 year old Danny Ray Prater of Liberty is charged with violation of an order of protection. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is February 8.

Sheriff Ray said that on January 1 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Pumpkin Hollow Road due to an unwanted guest. The officer spotted Prater at the intersection of the Alexandria to Dismal Road and Pumpkin Hollow Road and stopped to speak with him. Prater admitted to having been at his mother’s home on Pumpkin Hollow Road to see his son. A computer check revealed that Prater has an active order of protection against him to keep away from his mother and child at the residence. She is the petitioner and Prater’s son is listed on the order as a protected child.

Smithville Elementary Announces Students of the Month

January 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
Smithville Elementary Announces Students of the Month

Smithville Elementary would like to recognize our Students of the Month for January. These students were selected for their outstanding character, academics, and other traits that make them an all-around excellent student. Selected as Students of the Month for January are:

Pre-K: Lily Young

Kindergarten: Layla Ahedo Blas

1st grade: Ezalee Moore

2nd grade: Taylan Driver


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