Local News Articles

Jail Escapee Quickly Captured

March 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
Randall Joe Swindle

A prisoner at the DeKalb County Jail escaped Tuesday afternoon but was captured minutes later at the parking lot of Hardees Restaurant.

47 year old Randall Joe Swindle of Mount Tabor Road, Murfreesboro is charged with escape. His bond is $6,000 and his court date is April 16.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Swindle was with other inmates in the exercise yard during their recreation time when he quickly stripped down to his shorts and tee shirt and slithered through a very small opening between the bottom of the security fence and the fence framework. As he ran off correctional officers gave chase on foot while deputies followed in their patrol cars. Swindle was observed standing in the highway trying to get a ride but ran toward Hardees when he saw the officers approaching. A Warren County constable and a private citizen, who were in the Hardees parking lot and saw what was happening, called for the man (Swindle) to stop and he was subsequently taken into custody by the deputies and correctional officers.

Swindle is in jail for carrying or possession of a weapon by a felon, vandalism, theft of property over $1,000, and aggravated burglary.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, December 5, 2016 Swindle was involved in a break-in on Pea Ridge Road. The intruder gained entry by prying open the front door, causing damage. Taken from the home were a Remington 1889 double barrel shotgun, a crescent 1900 double barrel shotgun, a sentry safe, and a jar of change. The total value of the stolen property comes to approximately $1,500.

A check of Swindle’s criminal history showed him to be a felon convicted for aggravated burglary in Franklin County.

According to Sheriff Ray, Swindle admitted to having taken the guns from the Pea Ridge residence and having them in his vehicle. He was arrested on Monday, December 12. The case was investigated by Sheriff’s Department Detectives.

Two Injured in Monday Afternoon Crash

March 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
Two Injured in Monday Afternoon Crash

Two people were injured in a crash Monday afternoon on Highway 70 near DeKalb Market.

Trooper Ronnie Smith of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 39 year old Melissa Fine of Dowelltown, operating a 2005 Kia Rio, was pulling out onto Highway 70 from the parking lot of DeKalb Market when she crossed the path of a westbound 2016 Nissan Rogue driven by 54 year old Tammy Petty of Dowelltown.

According to Trooper Smith, a tractor trailer truck was pulling into the parking lot of DeKalb Market as Fine was pulling out. Fine claims she didn’t see Petty approaching because the truck obstructed her view.

Fine was transported to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital by DeKalb EMS. Petty was taken there by a private vehicle.

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

STEM mobile Learning Laboratory Comes to DeKalb Middle School

March 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
STEM mobile Learning Laboratory Comes to DeKalb Middle School
DMS Principal Randy Jennings, Cameron Miller, Cassandra Munoz, Assistant DMS Principal Amanda Dakas: Middle Row- Landon Crepes, Morgan Hale: Top Row:  DMS Teacher  Angela Johnson, Aaron Gottlied, and Nolan Gottlied
Students Learn How to Produce Circuits at STEMmobile
STEMmobile brings hands-on lab to DeKalb Middle School

Getting children excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM subjects) can be a challenge for any teacher but DeKalb Middle School has a new tool this week to ignite students' interest: the STEM mobile.

The STEM mobile is at DeKalb Middle School this week. Its a mobile learning laboratory that provides a unique, on-site educational experience for students. This mobile classroom brings much-needed technology to the doorsteps of DeKalb Middle School, and the students have access to state-of-the-art equipment to help them to promote STEM learning in creative and hands-on ways.

The STEM mobile is the product of the Oakley STEM Center and Tennessee Tech University as part of the Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative, a grant project funded by Tennessee's First to the Top program. UCRSI is part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, whose mission is to enhance student participation and interest in STEM subjects.

Housed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer with self-contained power, the STEM mobile has its own heating and cooling system, a satellite uplink for Internet connectivity and workstations to accommodate about 24 students at a time. This classroom on wheels is stocked with equipment from the Oakley STEM Center, TTU, and includes equipment and supplies for activities for each grade level. Materials are on board and ready to go for grade levels.

“We are partnering with the Millard Oakley STEM Center Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville for a two year Math/Science Partnership Grant with learning communities for Manufacturing Careers,” said Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7th-12th.

“Through our partnership grant, participating schools receive one week of the STEM mobile use at no charge. The students enter the lab and follow teacher/online instructions to complete a group project,” she continued.

“The ultimate goal of STEM education is to encourage students to take an interest in STEM subjects at an early age. This should be beneficial to them when they enter the jobs market, and in turn it should benefit the greater economy,” said Cripps.

Teachers participating in the grant are Suzette Barnes, Nancy Cowan, Martha Melching, and Lesa Hayes from DeKalb Middle School, Karen France and Jessica Antoniak from DeKalb West School, and Brad Leach from DCHS-CTE.

The STEM mobile is designed to help students learn more about three core STEM themes particularly relevant to rural students:

*water, with a focus on its importance, usage and conservation;

*energy, which highlights how power is generated, ways to lower consumption, green energy and long-term energy needs; and

*my food, my body, my health, which help students learn more about agriculture, health, nutrition and physical fitness.

“The DeKalb County Schools System has partnered with the Millard Oakley Stem Center in Cookeville for many years. Their ongoing effort to provide free materials and training for our teachers has been very beneficial,” Cripps concluded.

You may visit www.ucrsi.org. for more information about the STEM mobile.

Florence & White Ford Makes Donation to Tigerettes

March 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tigerette Coach Danny Fish and Jimmy White of Florence & White Ford

Jimmy White of Florence & White Ford recently presented DCHS Tigerette Softball Coach, Danny Fish a check for $1500. This donation will be used for expenses for the Tigerettes to travel to Knoxville in April to play in the Gibbs Invitational Tournament. The Tigerettes would like to express their thanks and gratitude to Florence and White.

Caney Fork Electric Cooperative Announces Planned Power Outage

March 28, 2017
Dwayne Page

Caney Fork Electric Cooperative has announced a planned power outage for the northeast corner of Warren County and just into DeKalb County for
Wednesday afternoon, March 29 from 12:30 p.m – 2:30 p.m.

The outage will mainly affect the North East corner of Warren County -- from the North end of Bluff Springs Rd. in to the Corinth Church Rd. area of DeKalb County. CFEC regrets the inconvenience of the outage, however, the nature of the maintenance requires replacing equipment on a 3-phase line. This work is necessary to ensure reliable service to our members in the affected areas. Times listed are approximate. If you have a medical necessity, please make arrangements during this time.

Suspected Drug Dealer Caught Bringing Pills to Jail

March 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
Joshua Lynne Batey
Steven Levan Gandy, Jr
Nathan Theodore Harmon
Anthony Doel Atnip

A suspected drug dealer brought his pills to the jail with him last week after being arrested on a violation of probation warrant. But 29 year old Joshua Lynne Batey of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville was caught with the drugs before entering the cell and has been charged with contraband in a penal institution, possession of schedule II & IV drugs for resale, and tampering with evidence. His bond is $50,000 and he will make a court appearance April 6.


Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday March 21 after being brought to the jail, Batey was taken by a correctional officer to a room to complete his dress out. During the dress out process, the officer noticed a bottle with a red lid by Batey’s testicles. The officer ordered Batey to give him the bottle. Batey pulled the lid off the bottle and tossed the bottle in the air spilling yellow, green, and peach colored pills onto the floor. Officers recovered 40 halves of green Alprazolam (2 milligram)pills, 23 whole green Alprazolam (2 milligram) pills, 62 whole yellow Alprazolam (2 milligram) pills, 45 halves of yellow Alprazolam (2 milligram) pills, 4 whole peach colored amphetamine (20 milligram) pills, and one half peach colored (20 milligram) pill.

35 year old Steven Levan Gandy, Jr. of Old West Point Road, Smithville is charged with possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. His bond is $8,500 and his court date is March 30.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, March 15 a detective and deputy went to Old West Point Road to do a probation search on Gandy. During a search they found .01 gram of meth in the house and .03 grams of meth in a barn on the property that field tested positive. The officers also found a 45 caliber pistol in the home and a 22 caliber rifle in the barn. Gandy was convicted in 2013 of initiation of a process to manufacture meth.

24 year old Nathan Theodore Harmon of Allen Ferry Road, Smithville is charged with failure to appear, possession of methamphetamine, theft of property, and evading arrest. His bond is $15,500 and his court date is April 13.

Sheriff Ray said that at around midnight on Friday, March 24 Harmon evaded law enforcement officers in the area of Allen Ferry Road by failing to obey their commands to stop. Harmon was later taken into custody. Harmon said he was trying to avoid the officers because he knew there were warrants against him.

Harmon was found to be in possession of a crystal like substance weighing .07 grams which tested positive for meth, and a stolen Hisense TV which was taken from a residence in Dowelltown. Harmon admitted to purchasing the TV knowing that it was stolen.

Harmon was further charged with failure to appear for not reporting to jail within ten days of being issued a criminal summons and he was served with a capias for failing to make a court appearance in a separate case.

37 year old Anthony Doel Atnip of Johnson Chapel Road, Sparta is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and his court date is April 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday March 20 a deputy was dispatched to Johnson Chapel Road in reference to an unwanted guest. Upon arrival he spoke with Atnip who had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He appeared to be intoxicated. The caller said Atnip was intoxicated and he did not want him on the property. For his safety and that of the public, Atnip was arrested for public intoxication.

In other crime news, detectives of the Sheriff’s Department, acting on a tip, found an abandoned 2006 sixteen foot Hank bumper trailer on Thursday, March 23 at an address on Whorton Springs Road, where it had been setting for about a week. The VIN number was altered. Detectives learned through an investigation that the trailer was stolen in Warren County. The case remains under investigation.

Smithville Police Investigating Armed Robbery at El Rancho Restaurant

March 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Investigating Armed Robbery at El Rancho Restaurant

Smithville Police are investigating a recent aggravated armed robbery at the El Rancho Restaurant on West Broad Street near the high school.

Chief Mark Collins said two masked men entered through a back door after the restaurant had closed on Wednesday night, March 8 and held the owner and an employee at gunpoint as they were cleaning up. The intruders demanded cash and stole $3,340 before making their getaway. No one was hurt.


The owner of the restaurant told police that at around 10:30 p.m. as he and an employee were mopping the floors, two masked men armed with pistols entered through a back door that he (owner) had left cracked open. The men were roughly 5’ 5” to 6’ in height and of a medium build. They were wearing black ski masks, navy blue hoodies, gloves, and navy blue jeans.

According to the owner, the masked men demanded cash and ordered himself and the employee to get on the floor. The intruders took money from the victim’s wallets and a money bag in the safe. After grabbing the cash, the robbers then tried to steal a TV but in their haste dropped it shattering the screen. With pistols to their heads, the victims were ordered by the thieves to remain on the floor for at least ten more minutes or they would be killed. After the robbers left, the victims stayed on the floor until they felt it was safe to get up. It is not known if the intruders left on foot or by vehicle.

No arrests have been made.

DCHS FBLA Successful at State Conference

March 27, 2017
DCHS FBLA Successful at State Conference

Congratulations to the following DeKalb County High School Future Business Leaders of America members who were successful at FBLA State Conference. Forty Four members, one adviser, and three chaperones attended the conference and represented DeKalb County High School well.

1st Place:
Health Care Administration: Mackenzie Partridge

Global Business: Andrew Fuson and Parker Gassaway
Electronic Scrapbook: Elliott Cook

Health Care Administration: Ami Patel
Introduction to Business: Raiden Martin
Hard copy scrapbook: Destiny Franklin

Community Service Project: Sahara LaFever, Eli Cross and Callie Cripps
Entrepreneurship-Chance Mabe / Ethan Jenkins
Partnership with Business; Dosson Medlin and Eli Cantrell

Global business: Ealy Gassaway and Wesley Carpenter
Our chapter received the Gold Seal of Merit Award.

front row: Raiden Martin, Sahara LaFever, Eli Cantrel, Trey Fuston, Callie Cripps, Mackenzie Partridge

Back Row: Elliott Cook, Dosson Medlin, Chance Mabe, Eli Cross, Madison Mick, Ami Patel

DCHS Winter Guard makes a successful trip to Murfreesboro

March 27, 2017
DCHS Winter Guard makes a successful trip to Murfreesboro

The DeKalb County High School Winterguard traveled to Murfreesboro on Mar. 25 to Siegel High School.

They competed against winterguards from surrounding states such as, Alabama and Kentucky. They placed first overall in their class out of 4 other schools.

The guard is under the direction of Jessica Higgins, Cori Sexton and Katie Merriman and the Director of Bands at DCHS is Tracy M. Luna.

They will end their season this Saturday, Apr. 1 at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green Kentucky at the Southeastern Color Guard Circuit Championship.

TDOT Plans Bid Letting for DeKalb County Projects

March 27, 2017
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has several projects planned for DeKalb County in a bid letting set for Friday, March 31.

The projects are as follows:

*The resurfacing (microsurface or thin mix overlay) on U.S. 70 (S.R. 26) from east of S.R. 96 to the Dowelltown City limits. Project Length - 4.780 miles.

*The resurfacing (microsurface or thin mix overlay) on S.R. 96 from the Wilson County line to Center Hill Dam Project Length - 12.660 miles. Total Contract Length - 17.440 miles. Completion Time - On or before 9/30/2017

*The on-call guardrail repair and new guardrail installation on various Interstate and State Routes (several counties included). Completion Time - On or before 6/30/2018

*The crack sealing at various locations on various State Routes. (several counties included)
Project Length - 120.790 miles. Completion Time - On or before 7/31/2017

*The random on-call attenuator repairs on various Interstate and State Routes. (several counties included)
Completion Time - On or before 6/30/2018

*The resurfacing on S.R. 146 from U.S. 70S to the DeKalb County line (Cannon County)
Project Length - 9.510 miles


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