The death of a 23 month old child at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend in May; the fatal stabbing of a woman in February; and the process of selecting a new Director of Schools and Smithville Police Chief were among the top local news stories of the year 2015 in DeKalb County.
The year also saw the opening of the new Sligo bridge and the demolition of the old bridge; ground breaking for the new DeKalb Utility District water treatment plant, the indictment of a Liberty woman for fetal assault, one of the first in Tennessee under a new state law; the defeat of a union vote at Star Manufacturing; five traffic fatalities, three drownings in Center Hill Lake; a county property tax increase; the opening of two liquor stores in Smithville, the issuance of a marriage license to a same sex couple; another state tournament appearance for the DCHS Tigerette Softball team; another state play-off game for the DCHS football program ; a ruling from a judge that Cookeville Boat Dock must pay most of their back taxes, and an investigation into the death of a man found in the backseat of a car parked at the hospital.
*A Smithville mother and her boyfriend were named in sealed indictments returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in May in the death of the woman's 23-month-old son, Colten Alexander May.
23-year-old Cody Key was charged in the indictment with felony murder and aggravated child abuse while the child's mother 19-year-old Jessica May was indicted on a charge of aggravated child neglect. Bond for Key is set at one million dollars. May's bond is $300,000. "The child suffered great injuries and as a result the child died," said District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway in an interview with WJLE. According to D.A. Dunaway, the child was brought to the hospital by the couple Sunday morning, May 17 but he was already deceased. The youngster was found to have internal and other physical injuries to his body. Key was alleged to have inflicted the injuries while the mother was accused of having known the abuse had been taking place.
The case remains pending in court.
Just four days shy of what would have been his second birthday, caring members of the community joined friends and family of Colten May in a remembrance program Saturday evening, June 6. The observance, held downtown at Evins Park, featured prayers, words of encouragement from Chris Moore of the Smithville Church of God, and LIVE music, along with a candlelight vigil and a balloon release in remembrance of Colten and to promote child abuse awareness.
*28 year old Ashley Bain was found stabbed to death in her home on Cookeville Highway Thursday afternoon, February 5 and her boyfriend, 42 year old Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews was charged with killing her. He was originally charged with second degree murder but was indicted by the grand jury in July for first degree murder.
Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Bain's body was found lying on the floor of a bedroom at the home she and Crews shared at 3870 Cookeville Highway north of Smithville. She had been stabbed numerous times about the upper body. It's not known exactly how long Bain had been dead by the time authorities were notified but Sheriff Ray said she had been seen alive earlier in the day on Thursday, February 5. A knife, believed to have been the murder weapon, was found in the home. According to Sheriff Ray, Crews called 911 at 2:33 p.m. to report that he had discovered Bain's body when he entered the residence. Sheriff Ray and members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were alerted and quickly arrived on the scene. The TBI and District Attorney General's Office also joined the investigation. Sheriff Ray said authorities determined that Crews had committed the crime and made up the story about finding the body. One week later, Crews made his first court appearance in DeKalb County General Sessions Court and Judge Bratten Cook, II increased bond for Crews from $250,000 to one million dollars.
Two days after the fatal stabbing, members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were summoned to the residence of Bain and Crews where a Chevy Tahoe caught fire and burned Saturday morning, February 7. Central dispatch received the fire call at 8:59 a.m. The Tahoe belonged to Crews. Upon arrival, county firefighters found the Tahoe ablaze. It was setting in the driveway near the home, parked beside a Mazda Millenia, which belonged to Bain. Firefighters extinguished the blaze but the Tahoe was destroyed. Heat from the fire also caused some damage to the driver's side of the Millenia. The cause of the fire was undetermined.
An outburst in General Sessions Court Thursday, March 26 landed Bain's brother in trouble with the law. 23 year old Clay Andrew Bain of Lakeview Drive, Smithville was charged with disrupting a meeting or procession and two counts of assault. Bain was indicted by the grand jury in July. The incident occurred at the end of a preliminary hearing in the murder case against Crews. After Judge Bratten Cook, II ordered the case bound to the grand jury, Bain stood up and walked toward the door as if to exit the courtroom. When Judge Cook asked him to return to his seat, Bain walked past where Crews was seated and took a swing at him with his fist, hitting Crews in the head. A deputy standing beside Crews, Sergeant Brian Williams, suffered an injury to his left hand as Bain was trying to get to Crews. After being hit, Crews, who was handcuffed, stood up and turned toward Bain but he was quickly grabbed by officers and taken out of the courtroom. Bain was also escorted out. During the outburst, others in the courtroom, believed to be members of the Bain family began shouting and yelling obscenities at Crews. Following the hearing, Judge Cook increased Crew's bond to $2 million dollars.
*Former DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps became Director of Schools in July succeeding Mark Willoughby who left the position in April
Although he still had more than two years left in his contract with the Board of Education, Director Willoughby decided to retire. He had wanted to step down effective June 30 but under a negotiated settlement with the board of education, Willoughby left the position on Thursday, April 16.
Under the agreement, Willoughby was paid his salary and he received all insurance benefits through June 30th. Funds were already in the school system's budget to pay Willoughby. He had served as Director of Schools since July 1, 2006. His contract, approved last year, was supposed to run through June 30, 2017.
After the departure of Willoughby, Dr. Danielle Judkins Collins was selected by the Board of Education to become the interim Director of Schools. She served in the position until Cripps was named Director.
Cripps accepted the board's offer of a two year employment contract at a base salary of $85,000 per year and he signed the final contract Monday, August 17.
*After serving five years as Smithville Police Chief, Randy Caplinger was ousted in March and replaced in November by Mark Collins, former Chief of Police in Alexandria.
Saying he felt the department needed new leadership, Mayor Jimmy Poss placed Chief Caplinger on suspension pending termination during a meeting with him on Friday morning, March 13 at city hall. According to city officials, Chief Caplinger was given the opportunity to voluntarily resign or retire from the department. When Chief Caplinger did neither, Mayor Poss fired him on March 19 and cited eight reasons for the termination.
After a seven hour due process hearing Friday, May 8 the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Caplinger. Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Jason Murphy voted in favor of the mayor's action. Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller voted against it.
Caplinger then took his case against the City of Smithville to court. Caplinger's attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court on Thursday, June 4 seeking a declaratory judgment on provisions of the city charter dealing with the proper procedure for firing the police chief. Attorneys for the city said a simple majority vote of the aldermen was sufficient. Attorneys for Caplinger said a super majority vote of the aldermen was necessary. Caplinger's lawyers sought to have Caplinger restored to his position as chief and asked that he be given all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled.
Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars ruled in favor of the city and against Caplinger on Thursday, October 29 fifteen days after holding a hearing in the matter. Judge Hollars found that the provision of the charter that requires only a simple majority vote of the aldermen to be the proper procedure in firing the police chief. The Court further held that by voting to terminate Chief Caplinger, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on May 8 were also voting to approve the Mayor Poss’s suspension of Chief Caplinger on March 13.
Four days after the ruling came down, the Smithville aldermen voted to hire Mark Collins as the new police chief. Collins was one of three persons who applied for the position and all three were interviewed by the mayor and aldermen on Saturday, October 31 at city hall.
*After years of planning and months of legal battles with opponents including the City of Smithville who tried to stop the project, the DeKalb Utility District began construction on its own water treatment plant during the summer. The DUD Board of Commissioners held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, July 2 at the site of the water plant on Yulanda Hills Road off Holmes Creek Road near Center Hill Lake. "The purpose of this project is to provide a long term solution to providing the DUD customers with a safe, economical source of drinking water. A second purpose is to provide the region with a backup source of drinking water," said Roger Turney, Chairman of the DUD Board of Commissioners in remarks during the brief groundbreaking ceremony.
*Workers at Star Manufacturing voted against representation by the United Steel Workers Union in July. Sources told WJLE that the effort to form a union was soundly defeated 142-73 by employees voting at both the Smithville and Cookeville locations on Thursday, July 23. The vote was scheduled after issues of working conditions, workplace safety, and unrealistic production expectations were raised by some workers at Star Manufacturing, according to a union organizer. This is not the first time union plans have been upended in Smithville. Efforts for union representation at another local plant failed a few years ago.
*DeKalb County property owners are having to ante up a little more. The county commission Monday night, July 26 by a vote of 9-4, increased the overall property tax rate to $1.78 cents per $100 of assessed value, as recommended by the budget committee. That's a sixteen cent increase from the former rate of $1.62. The new budget totaling $40,936,094 was also approved. According to Steve Bates, the county's financial advisor, the primary reason for the tax increase is to keep the county from digging too deeply into fund balances to operate.
*After more than two years since construction began, the new Sligo bridge opened in August. Traffic was shifted from the old bridge to the new one at 12:33 p.m. Saturday, August 8. "We've been working on this bridge project since May, 2013 and we've finally got the bridge to the condition where it's completed. We have turned traffic across the new bridge and the new alignment on State Route 26 (Highway 70)," said Larry Langford, Operations Technician for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Although actual construction of the bridge is finished, Langford said work remains to be done including asphalt grade adjustments on each end. The project is slated for total completion in June 2016, but it is very likely that it will be finished ahead of schedule. Meanwhile two fifths of the Old Sligo Bridge was demolished Tuesday afternoon, September 15 and the remaining spans were taken down Monday, September 28.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE TOP LOCAL NEWS STORIES MONTH BY MONTH FROM JANUARY THROUGH DECEMBER, 2015 AS REPORTED ON WJLE:
*Lane Ball, a senior, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2014 DeKalb County High School Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet January 10 at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center building. The awards were sponsored by Liberty State Bank. Ball was named to the 1st Team All-District for the 2014 season and was an All Upper Cumberland Football Honorable Mention on defense for his 120 plus tackles at middle linebacker. The Tigers finished the season in November with an overall record of 5-6 and another appearance in the state play-offs. It was the fourth consecutive year the Tigers earned a berth in the state play-offs and their sixth appearance in the last seven years. The Tigers lost in the first round of the play-offs at Signal Mountain. Meanwhile, Brooke Martin, a senior, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader.
*One hundred thirty five seniors at DCHS signed up for an opportunity to receive two years of tuition-free community or technical college through Tennessee Promise. Patrick Cripps, DCHS Principal reported to the school board that he is proud of the student response to this program. "I am really proud of our seniors. We've got 135 kids signed up for (TN Promise) out of 195. Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program that will begin in the fall of 2015. It will provide students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or TSAA funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate’s degree program.
*DeKalb County School buses passed state inspection. Bus drivers were also tested and recertified. State Trooper Darryl Winningham of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, inspector for this district, completed his evaluation January 13-16 of all the buses in the fleet including the substitute buses. "We've got 37 buses on route and four sub buses and everything has passed inspection with the state that is in service. It's been a long four days but they inspected all buses from front to rear including every switch, every air line, every fan motor, every light, and I'm proud to say that DeKalb County's buses are safe. We passed 100%. There were some simple things found that were wrong such as light bulbs and we had one exhaust leak but all of that was fixed on the spot and there were no reinspections. The state passed them. Again, we have 42 buses in the fleet counting our band bus that hauls the band equipment and we have a shuttle bus we use. Thirty seven buses are on route and we have four buses that are used as sub buses, two handicapped buses and two class-D regular route 90 passenger buses that are substitute status," said School Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague.
*The 2014 DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year is Robin Summers, Station Commander of the Short Mountain Highway Station. Summers received the award January 17 during the Department's Annual Awards Banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Brian Williams was named the DeKalb County Fire Department’s 2014 Officer of the Year and Jeremy Neal, Station Commander of the Blue Springs Station, received the Department’s 2014 “Git R Done" award. The "Rookie" award went to Firefighter Steven Lawrence of the Liberty Station. In addition to these four long standing awards, a new one eas created called the "EMS Star of Life Award" which will be presented annually to a member of the department who goes above and beyond to extend joint cooperation in improving emergency medical training and responses for members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department. This year's winner was Kristie Johnson, Station Commander of the Main Station and a DeKalb EMS Paramedic.
* U.S. Army Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Bill Hawkins, whose military career has carried him to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, returned home January 17 for a promotion ceremony and reception. Hawkins has been promoted to the rank of Chaplain Colonel. The ceremony was held at the Smithville First Baptist Church, Chaplain Colonel Hawkins' hometown place of worship. Members of Hawkins' family, many friends, and veterans were in attendance. Military officials participating in the program were U.S. Army Chaplain Colonel Brent Causey, Retired Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Will Bearden, and Chaplain Captain Robert Sterling. Chaplain Colonel Hawkin's father, Billy Hawkins, Sr., his wife Trudy, and their daughter and son, Sarah and Ben pinned the Colonel insignias on his service dress coat during the ceremony.
*The DeKalb County School System announced its "Teachers of the Year" at the building level of the five schools in the county. This year's honoree are Tanya Howard, a kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Jennifer Griffith a third grade math, science, and social studies teacher at Northside Elementary School; Lori Pryor a third grade self-contained teacher at DeKalb West School; Tad Webb a seventh grade math teacher at DeKalb Middle School; and Sonja House a ninth grade English/10th-12th grade Theatre Arts teacher at DeKalb County High School.
*Firefighters battled a blaze Sunday afternoon, January 18 at an Alexandria residence but were unable to save the home. The 201 Church Street home, which belonged to Charles and Cathy Quarles, was being rented. Brenda Acorn and Patsy Keyes lived there and were at home when the fire started but they were unharmed. According to Assistant Chief John Partridge of the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department, firefighters were on the scene within minutes of the call but the blaze spread quickly and the home was lost along with family belongings. Two dogs also perished. Assistant Chief Partridge told WJLE that the fire is believed to have started from an electric heater in a bedroom, which may have caught some bedding or clothing on fire.
*The School Board began its annual performance evaluation of Director of Schools Mark Willoughby in a workshop Monday night, January 25. Board members used a four page evaluation form to rate Director Willoughby 1-5 in each of 60 areas on his relationship with the Board, the Community, Staff and Personnel, Educational Leadership, Business and Finance, Personal Qualities, Strategic Planning Skills, and Tennessee Specific questions. A rating of "1" means his performance is "Consistently Below Expectations". A "5" rating signifies that Willoughby "Meets All Expectations". A rating with an asterisk (*) symbol means he "Exceeds Expectations". The result of the evaluation showed Willougby was not meeting all the board’s expectations. His overall average score was 2.92 (Rating out of 6). Willoughby's contract states that the evaluation of the Director shall occur annually and no later than January 31 each calendar year. Willoughby's current contract with the board is scheduled to expire June 30th, 2017. He has served as Director of Schools since July 1st, 2006.
*Leigh Fuson joined the staff at the DeKalb County Extension Office as a 4-H Extension Agent and is working with Director and County Extension Agent Michael Barry and Dr. April Martin, Extension Family Consumer Science Agent. Fuson, who is originally from White County, married Zach Fuson of Smithville four years ago and the couple resides here. She is a graduate of Tennessee Tech with a degree in agriculture education and comes to this new position after having worked with the 4-H program in Putnam County for three years. According to Fuson, her 4-H assignment allows both Barry and Martin to devote more time to other programs they are already involved in. "I am a 4-H Extension agent. That's the only thing I'll be working with. Michael and April will still be doing a little of the 4-H work but this way they can focus on the adult programming with agriculture and the family consumer sciences," she said. Fuson's position is primarily being funded through Tennessee State University with a portion being financially supported by the county.
*A Hendersonville woman was injured in a bizarre crash Wednesday morning, January 28 on the Old Casey Cove Road in DeKalb County. 41 year old Krystal McFall was airlifted by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. County Fire Chief Donny Green reported that a Ford F-150 pickup truck went off a steep embankment with the front of the truck resting against a lakeside cabin. The driver, McFall was pinned between the truck door frame and a large tree stump. She was quickly freed and turned over to DeKalb County EMS for trauma treatment. McFall's 5 year old son was a passenger of the truck but he wasn't hurt. According to witnesses, McFall had attempted to turn around on the narrow road and became stuck when the front end of her truck went slightly over an embankment. As it became apparent she was stuck, McFall got the young boy out of the truck as she attempted to back the truck up. McFall put pieces of wood under the back tires to gain more traction. But, as she was still outside of the truck, the vehicle began sliding or rolling further over the steep embankment. McFall attempted to jump in the truck to apply the brakes to stop it when she became pinned between a large tree stump and the open door frame of the truck. The boy ran approximately ½ mile down the road to get help. DeKalb 911 Central Dispatch was notified of the accident and immediately dispatched appropriate resources.
*Northside Elementary School was recommended for AdvancED reaccreditation by members of an external review team who visited the school Thursday and Friday, January 29-30. "The External Review Team recommends to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that Northside Elementary School earn the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five year term that expires June 30, 2019," said Dr. Alice Patterson, AdvancED Lead Evaluator who addressed members of the administration, faculty, and WJLE at Northside Elementary in an exit report meeting Friday afternoon. But while the school drew praise for advancements, the team cited an improvement priority that must be addressed within two years. "You know you need additional resources for your students regarding mental and emotional health needs. You know this is an area in which you are not at a standard you want to be or should be, where students need to be. This will be what has to be reported to AdvancED and you will have two years to rectify this area for improvement," said Dr. Patterson. The AdvancED Network was created as a result of a merger of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
*A 28 year old woman was found stabbed to death in her home on Cookeville Highway Thursday afternoon, February 5 and her boyfriend was charged with killing her. 42 year old Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews was taken into custody that night and charged with second degree murder in the death of Ashley Bain. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Bain's body was found lying on the floor of a bedroom at the home she and Crews shared at 3870 Cookeville Highway north of Smithville. She had been stabbed numerous times about the upper body. It's not known exactly how long Bain had been dead by the time authorities were notified but Sheriff Ray said she had been seen alive earlier in the day on Thursday. A knife, believed to have been the murder weapon, was found in the home. According to Sheriff Ray, Crews called 911 at 2:33 p.m. to report that he had discovered Bain's body when he entered the residence. Sheriff Ray and members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were alerted and quickly arrived on the scene. The TBI and District Attorney General's Office also joined the investigation. Sheriff Ray said authorities determined that Crews had committed the crime and made up the story about finding the body. Although officials believe they know the motive for the stabbing, Sheriff Ray has not released it. One week later, Crews made his first court appearance in DeKalb County General Sessions Court and Judge Bratten Cook, II increased bond for Crews from $250,000 to one million dollars. Crews was indicted for first degree murder by the grand jury in July.
* Two days after a fatal stabbing there, members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were summoned to 3870 Cookeville Highway, where a Chevy Tahoe caught fire and burned Saturday morning, February 7. Central dispatch received the fire call at 8:59 a.m. The Tahoe reportedly belongs to 42 year old Anthony (Tony) Crews, the man charged with second degree murder in the stabbing of his girlfriend, 28 year old Ashley Bain. Upon arrival, county firefighters found the Tahoe ablaze. It was setting in the driveway near the home, parked beside a Mazda Millenia, which reportedly belonged to Bain. Firefighters extinguished the blaze but the Tahoe was destroyed. Heat from the fire also caused some damage to the driver's side of the Millenia. The cause of the fire was undetermined.
*Six basketball legends at DeKalb County High School were honored Thursday night, February 5 between games as the Tigers and Lady Tigers hosted Cannon County. Former Lady Tigers (Tigerette) Betty Carol Fite (DCHS playing career 1961-65), Mary Ann Puckett (1989-93), and Cynthia Woodward (2006-10) were recognized along with former Tigers Danny Foutch (1974-78), Kevin James (1976-80), and longtime Coach Harold Luna. Each honoree stepped to center court during the introductions and stood beside current Tiger and Lady Tiger players who held banners bearing the names and jersey numbers of these former basketball stars as public address announcer Chris Vance cited their high school career accomplishments. Fite was unable to attend Coach Luna's banner bears his overall 516-179 win loss record. Each standout was greeted by enthusiastic applause from a gym filled with basketball fans. But the greatest fan reception was for Coach Luna. Touched by the rousing applause and standing ovation, the long time coach became emotional during the tribute to his long and successful career. Luna Coached both boys and girls from 1964-69 and then he coached the boys program only through 1984. His total record was 516-179
*Smithville Aldermen Monday night, February 2 took another step toward authorizing liquor sales with the passage of an ordinance on first reading to amend the Municipal Code by establishing regulations for package stores in the city. The vote was 4-1.
* A three judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit on the trial court level against the DeKalb County Election Commission and several others in Tennessee brought in 2009 by former administrators of elections who claim they did not get to keep their jobs for political reasons. Nashville Attorney John Harris, III, who represents the DeKalb County Election Commission in this case, said the opinion from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the federal trial court's initial decision that a Tennessee Administrator of Elections at the county election commission level is a position that can be terminated or even hired based upon political party affiliation. The significance of that is it means that if the plaintiffs in the case were correct in alleging that in 2009 they were terminated or not rehired because of their affiliation with the Democratic party, the 6th Circuit and the federal court hearing the case have now said that's okay because the positions (administrators of elections) are political enough in nature that it is reasonable for the election commissions to consider party affiliation in making their employment decisions," he said. According to Harris, the plaintiffs are now basically left with two options should they want to pursue the case. They could ask for a review by the entire body of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals or file an appeal to the U.S Supreme Court seeking to overturn the federal court's ruling that the position of Administrator of Elections is subject to political patronage.
*Although the local VFW POST 7623 hasn't been active for a long time, it will cease to exist if the state VFW organization acts to revoke the charter.
The operation has been suspended for up to 90 days because of its inactivity but in an effort to try and save the POST, a meeting was scheduled for Saturday, March 14 to give members and local veterans of interest an opportunity to express their wishes. Acting Post Commander Ronald Miller received a letter from the State VFW Commander William G. Crawford informing him of the suspension because the local POST has failed to hold meetings and elect officers in violation of the national VFW BY-Laws. An administrative committee will make a recommendation on whether the suspension is to be kept in place, lifted, or if the charter should be revoked.
*DeKalb County High School released the names of students in the Class of 2015 Top Rank including the Valedictorian Julia Little and the Salutatorian Makalee Ruch. Little is the daughter of Dr. Scott Little and Kristin Raymond. Ruch's parents are Melissa and Joe Ruch. To be considered for Top Rank, students must take at least 10 honors, dual enrollment, and AP courses. Students must also have a 21 or higher ACT composite score. Forty DCHS students met this qualification, according to DCHS Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick Students in the Class of 2015 Top Rank (listed in alphabetical order) are as follows: Shara Adcock, Rachel Adcock, Rayanna Baker, Austin Ball, Jonathon Ball, Isaac Beck, Rebecca Benshoof, Kathryn Blair, Leah Burchfield, William Caplinger, Savannah Driver, Dakoda Eaton, Taylor Ellis, Michael Ferguson, Matthew Foutch, Sydnie Garmer, Bailey Hayes, Kelsey Hedge, Rachel Holcomb, Justin Johnson, Brandon Leiser, Julia Little, Ortega Maciel, Micah Merriman, Kenzie Morris, Cason Oakley, Jacquelyn Overbey, Bethany Poss, Makayla Redmon, Brooke Reffue, Zachary Roberts, Makalee Ruch, Harlli Silcox, Emilee Stephens, Austin Tittle, Lydia Trail, Darrian Turner, Jacob Washer, Bruce Wilson, and Charles Young.
*Traveling in DeKalb County and across Tennessee became perilous for several days beginning Monday February 16 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 for several hours and some for days due to the winter storm. A combination of ice, freezing rain, snow and wind from the winter storm caused a metal roof over a portion of the dock at Edgar Evins Marina to collapse. Although the roof fell on top of several boats docked there, marina owner Kaye Tuggle said none of them sank.
*A 39 year old McMinnville man indicted on child sex charges was sentenced to fifteen years in prison Friday, February 27 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Judge David Patterson presided. Jared Norrod entered a no contest (best interest) plea to charges of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and incest. He received a nine year sentence for especially aggravated sexual exploitation and six years for aggravated sexual exploitation to serve consecutively for a total of fifteen years. Norrod also received a three year sentence for incest and a three year term for sexual battery by an authority figure to run concurrently with each other and concurrently with the other two sentences. Again, Norod's total sentence is fifteen years. After serving his term, Norrod will be under lifetime supervision. Norrod was charged with having sexual contact with two juveniles between the ages of 13 and 18, one of them being a relative, taking pictures of juveniles engaging in sexual activity, having such photographs in his possession, and uploading them to a computer. Norrod was represented by attorney Brad Hornsby of Murfreesboro.
*A former DeKalb County resident returned home to become the new manager of Edgar Evins State Park. Jacob Young, who had been a Park Ranger for ten years at Roan Mountain State Park, began his new duties on March 1. "I grew up in Liberty. My mom is Sherry Williams and my grandparents were the late Georgia and Morris Young. I attended DeKalb West School and DeKalb County High School," Young told WJLE. " I got my degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. When I graduated college I went to work at Edgar Evins State Park as a seasonal interpretive ranger working under Mr. Carl Halfacre. I quickly fell in love with Tennessee State Parks that summer and shortly after that I was hired as a fulltime park ranger at Roan Mountain State Park in Carter County, Tennessee. I have been at Roan Mountain for 10 years. I worked there 8 years as a ranger and the last 2 years as the park manager," said Young. "I have been married to Crystal Young for 11 years and we have three children, 8 year old Madyson, 5 year old Kylie, and 1 year old Hunter. We are currently in the process of adopting Kylie and Hunter," he said. Young succeeded Carl Halfacre, the former Park Manager who retired last fall.
*A late night fire Tuesday, February 24 destroyed the two story residence of Doyle Hendrix at 1492 Sparta Highway. 911 received the call at 11:25 p.m. County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that the fire was well underway by the time it was reported and the home could not be saved. A pickup truck near the residence was also destroyed in the blaze. The cause of the fire is undetermined. Members of the Midway, Short Mountain Highway, Cookeville Highway, and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the tanker truck and manpower from other county fire stations. The fire rekindled at 4:36 a.m. the following morning and the Midway station returned to the scene. No one was at home at the time of the fire and no one was injured.
*The Lady Cats Junior Level 2 All-Star Competitive Cheer Team from Power Athletics in Cookeville brought home the gold and winners' jackets from the 2015 Cheersport National Cheer and Dance Championship in Atlanta, Georgia in February in Junior Small Gym 2 Division II. This is one of the largest cheer and dance competitions in the United States with over 1,300 teams and 50,000 cheerleaders in attendance. Competing on the Lady Cats team from Smithville are Hayley Martin, Carlee West, and Katherine Clendenon. There were 16 teams in The Lady Cats' division, which also included one team from England. Not only did they win their division, but they also had the highest raw score out all 45 teams in the Junior Small Gym 2 category with a score of 96.31, and they had zero deductions from their routine on both days of competition. This is the second National Championship that this team has won this season after winning the Athletics Platinum Championship in Chattanooga in January. The Lady Cats are coached by Ashley Farris and Jordan Todd.
*A 32 year old man who stood trial last summer and was convicted of raping an eight year old boy was denied a motion for a new trial in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, February 27. Jose Reyes is serving a 32 year prison term. He was accused of raping the boy between November 2012 and March 2013. The trial was held on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 in DeKalb County Criminal Court and it took the jury of six men and six women only half an hour to find Reyes guilty of the crime. According to prosecutors in the case, Reyes was a trusted friend of the boy and his family prior to this incident and he had been renting a room in the home of the child's aunt. That is where the crime is alleged to have occurred.
*A two year old child, Kayden Ray Fults, died Sunday March 1 after suffering an injury in a fall from a bunk bed at his Smithville home. The child was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital where he passed away. Fults is the son of Mark Johnson, a DeKalb County Firefighter from the Short Mountain Station, and Kaycie Lynn Fults.
*Senior Justin Bone was named the DCHS Tiger basketball Most Valuable Player Tuesday night, March 10 at the annual team banquet, while Junior Ashli Chew received the Lady Tiger MVP honor. Senior Kara Kanipe is the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were sponsored by Love-Cantrell Funeral Home and presented by Chad Kirby. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory of Kirby's grandfather Allen D. Hooper. Bone, a member of the 1,000 point club at DCHS was also named to the All-District second team and received the team's Best Rebounder and Best Free Throw Shooter Awards. Along with the MVP award, Chew was honored for being the team's free throw leader and having the most steals. She was named to the All-District third team. The season for the DeKalb County Tigers ended with a loss to Macon County in the District Tournament at Cookeville in February. The Tigers finished the season at 19-15 overall and 3-12 in district play. The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up their season losing to Upperman in the District Tournament. They closed out the season with an overall record of 21-13 and 4-11 in the district.
*DeKalb West School was recommended for AdvancED reaccreditation by members of an external review team who visited the school in March.
"The External Review Team recommends to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that DeKalb West School earn the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five year term that expires June 30, 2019," said Dr. Alice Patterson, AdvancED Lead Evaluator who addressed members of the administration, faculty, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, School Board member Jerry Wayne Johnson, and WJLE at DeKalb West School in an exit report meeting Wednesday afternoon, March 11. "DeKalb West School is doing a magnanimous job. You come to school every day doing what you need to do to educate the children in your community," said Dr. Patterson. But along with the recommendation for reaccreditation, the team cited an improvement priority that must be addressed with a plan of action within two years. "Every school must have one (improvement priority). That's an AdvancED mandate," said Dr. Patterson. The improvement priority for DeKalb West is to "plan, develop, and implement explicit, differentiated instruction to engage students in rigorous learning opportunities and authentic assessments to meet the individualized needs of all learners".
*An Alexandria man charged with aggravated arson for allegedly setting fire to the residence where he lived on Lower Helton Road last summer was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday, March 11. 24 year old Shawn Patrick Byrd entered a plea to the charge of arson under a negotiated settlement and received an eight year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. He will be under Tennessee Department of Correction Supervision by Community Corrections. Byrd will also undergo mental health counseling as part of the plea agreement. He was given jail credit from June 19, 2014 to August 22, 2014
*Five year old Jaxsen Theryn Speaks is the 2015 Little Mister. Speaks, the son of Justin and Donna Speaks of Smithville, succeeded last year's Little Mister, Skyler Chase Sullivan, the seven year old son of Charity Sullivan of Smithville and the late Jamie Sullivan. The contest, featuring three boys, was held Saturday, March 14 at DCHS sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club. In addition to being named Little Mister, Speaks also received the Mister Photogenic honor.
* The winner of the Little Miss Pageant Saturday, March 14 was Ella Grace Kirksey, the four year old daughter of Graden and Sabrina Kirksey of Smithville. Kirksey, who also won the title of Little Miss Photogenic, succeeded the retiring Little Miss, Averie Nicole McMinn, the seven year old daughter of Nathan and Amanda McMinn of Dowelltown. Fourteen girls, ages four to six, were in the pageant held at DCHS sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.
*Tyra Grace Graham is the first ever Miss Spring Blossom. Graham, the 16 year old daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville, won the inaugural pageant held Saturday, March 14 at DCHS sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club. She was also named Miss Photogenic.
*Twelve year old Alexis Grace Atnip won Junior Miss of the Spring Blossom Pageant Saturday, March 14 at DCHS. She is the 12 year old daughter of Veronica Atnip of Smithville. Four girls were in the contest sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.
*Fourteen year old Sarah Anne Colwell is the new Teen Miss of the Spring Blossom Pageant. She won the crown Saturday, March 14 at DCHS. Colwell, daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell of Smithville, succeeds the retiring queen Morgan Faith Green, the fifteen year old daughter of Suzanne and Jon Harrison of Smithville. Five girls were in the contest.
*The 2015 Young Miss of the Smithville Women's Club's Spring Blossom Pageant is seven year old Isabella Faith Rackley. Daughter of Gordon and Jessica Rackley of Smithville, Isabella beat out nine other girls ages seven to nine for the crown. She succeeded last year's Young Miss Carlee Elizabeth West, the nine t year old daughter of D.J. and Megan Stewart of Smithville. The pageant was held Saturday, March 14 at DCHS
*Members of the DeKalb County Republican Party met Saturday morning, March 14 at the courthouse to elect officers to serve for the next two years.Local attorney Mingy Colwell Bryant was elected Chairman of the Party. Other officers are Vice Chairman Clint Hall, Secretary Sharon Rhoten, Treasurer Tom Chandler, and Assistant Treasurer Dustin Estes.
*The VFW POST 7623 is apparently gone for good. Because of inactivity in recent years, the local VFW charter has been revoked by the State Commander, pending final approval by the national VFW organization. A meeting was held Saturday, March 14 at the county complex to give VFW members a chance to show their concern for saving the POST but only one active member showed up. "We revoked the charter as of today (Saturday). It now goes on to our national organization with our explanation," said State VFW Commander William (Bill) G. Crawford who was in Smithville for the meeting Saturday.
*Although he still had more than two years left in his contract with the Board of Education, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby decided to retire, effective June 30, 2015. Willoughby called a meeting with his central office staff and department heads Monday morning, March 16 at the Board of Education building to make the announcement. Willoughby then sent an electronic notice to members of the Board of Education. "My notice to the school board is Please let this serve as notice of my retirement as of June 30, 2015. Thank you Mark Willoughby". " I think it is in the best interest of the children," said Willoughby to the staff.
*Property owners in Liberty will see an increase in their annual tax bills this fall. In order to bring in more revenue to a general fund budget which has been showing a shortfall, the Liberty Aldermen Monday night, March 16 voted 4-1 to double the city property tax rate from .0915 to .1830 per $100 of assessed value for the 2015-16 budget year. Aldermen Jason Ray, Todd Dodd, Joe D. Bratten, and Howard Reynolds, Jr. all voted for the increase. Alderman Paul Neal cast a vote against it. If approved by the aldermen on second reading in April, taxpayers would see their bills double in October.
*Almost five years after being named to lead the department, Randy Caplinger's days as Smithville Police Chief are over. Saying he felt the department needed new leadership, Mayor Jimmy Poss placed Chief Caplinger on suspension pending termination during a meeting Friday morning, March 13 at city hall. "I told Randy I didn't believe the police department was headed in the right direction, that the morale was low among the officers, and that we needed to make a change and that change was to remove him," Mayor Poss told WJLE. According to city officials, Chief Caplinger was being given the opportunity to voluntarily resign or retire from the department and a meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen was held on Tuesday, March 17 to discuss whether to offer Caplinger a severance package if he should choose to step aside without a challenge. During the March 17 meeting, Caplinger appeared with his attorneys, Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox seeking due process. Speaking on his behalf, Cripps said that Caplinger, a veteran law enforcement officer, has done nothing wrong and will not resign. A contingent of Caplinger supporters filled the meeting room to back the embattled Police Chief.
*Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss fired in March Police Chief Randy Caplinger and cited eight reasons for the termination. In a letter to Caplinger dated March 19, Mayor Poss wrote that "Your actions and performance has had a negative impact on the Smithville Police Department since I was first elected Mayor in 2012 and can no longer be tolerated. I have lost confidence in your ability to lead the Smithville Police Department in a positive direction. As a result, your employment as Smithville Police Chief is being terminated immediately". Caplinger's attorney Sarah Cripps has answered the Mayor's letter with one of her own requesting a hearing. "Chief Caplinger categorically denies all allegations contained in your March 19 correspondence and respectfully requests that he be afforded a full and fair due process hearing before the three-person board or commission and, in the event of an adverse ruling against him, before a plenary session of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen."
*Smithville Volunteer firefighter Hoyte Hale received the "Highest Attendance Award" Friday night, March 20 during an appreciation dinner for city firefighters at the Smithville First United Methodist Christian Fellowship Center. The award was presented to Hale by Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker. Hale, currently deputy chief and a 30 year veteran of the department, attended the most incidents, training, and activities during 2014. " Out of the 220 incidents we had, Hoyte made 172 of them so that shows the dedication he had to the department," said Chief Parker. Two firefighters, Cody Fults and Dalton Roberts, were recognized as "Rookies of the Year".
*The DeKalb County Democratic Party has a new chairman. Jordan Wilkins, who has been serving as one of the Vice Chairmen, was elected as the new party leader during a Biennial Reorganization Convention held Saturday, March 21 at the courthouse. Jim Judkins, the retiring chairman who held the post for five years, did not seek another term. James Hale is the new Vice Chairman. Joyce Hendrixson was re-elected Secretary and Myra Miller remains Treasurer. Members of the new DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee were also selected during the convention, each to serve two years.
*A Liberty mother is the first person to be charged in DeKalb County under a new state law, which took effect last summer that allows the state to seek criminal charges against a woman who uses illegal drugs while pregnant. 27 year old Lindsey Paulette Davenport of Woodbury Highway, Liberty is charged with the misdemeanor offense of assaulting a viable fetus as the victim. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on January 21, Davenport gave birth to a baby boy whose urine tested positive for opiates. Blood drawn from the umbilical cord tested positive for Suboxone, Methodone, and Morphine.
*A DeKalb Middle School educator is one of four teachers from across the United States who was selected to visit Russia this summer to teach American folklore to students there. Her presentations will be about the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival. Anita Puckett will be making the trip as part of the Russian/American Educators Exchange Program. American Friends of Russian Folklore invited middle and high school teachers to apply for the program in which participants travel to rural Russia to collect Russian folklore by filming holiday celebrations, recording local singers, interviewing villagers about traditional lore, and photographing local handicrafts. During her stay, Puckett will experience Russian village life first hand, living in a village house and eating the local food. She will also visit Russian rural schools, where she will make five- 45 minute presentations through translators on American folklore and meet with Russian teachers to discuss matters of mutual professional interest. After she returns, Puckett will share with others curriculum materials from her trip, incorporating some elements of the Russian folklore she collects.
*A 74 year old Dowelltown man who obtained a package through the mail at the Liberty Post Office last August containing fourteen pounds of pot appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, March 23. John Harris of Cathcart Road Dowelltown, charged with possession of a schedule VI drug, received judicial diversion probation for a period of two years and was fined $2,000. His probation will be unsupervised. Judge David Patterson presided. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the investigation was conducted by Detectives of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and United States Postal Service Inspectors.
*Members of an AdvancED External Review Team visited Smithville Elementary School in March and liked what they saw. During an exit report meeting Tuesday afternoon, March 24 Lead Evaluator Karen Garner announced to the administration and faculty that the school will be recommended for reaccreditation. If the AdvancED Accreditation Commission concurs with the recommendation, Smithville Elementary School will earn the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five year term that expires June 30, 2019. "We will be composing this report over the next couple of weeks and then it goes to Nashville. We hope this report will help guide your future," said Garner. According to Garner, SES scored higher than the national average in better than 90% of the areas surveyed. But the school needs a computer teacher and more technology, and those areas will be noted as "Improvement Priorities" that must be addressed within the next two years.
*Three members of the Smithville Police Department have been commended for "Outstanding Service" in the line of duty. Officers James Cornelius and Andy Snow along with Sergeant Travis Bryant were recognized by Captain Steven Leffew, Officer in Charge, during a meeting of police department staff Wednesday afternoon, March 25 at city hall. Mayor Jimmy Poss and Alderman and Police Commissioner Jason Murphy were also there for the occasion. Both Officers Cornelius and Snow were commended for their response to a fire at City Walk Apartments on East Bryant Street in January 2012 where they entered the burning building in search of anyone who might need help getting out. Sergeant Bryant's commendation was for his professionalism as the department's evidence custodian in keeping files in order and properly secured.
*An outburst in General Sessions Court Thursday, March 26 landed one man in trouble with the law. 23 year old Clay Andrew Bain of Lakeview Drive, Smithville was charged with disrupting a meeting or procession and two counts of assault. Bain was indicted by the grand jury in July. The incident occurred at the end of a preliminary hearing in the second degree murder case against 42 year old Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews, who is charged in the February 5th fatal stabbing of 28 year old Ashley Bain. The woman was found dead in the home she and Crews shared at 3870 Cookeville Highway, Smithville. Clay Bain is the victim's brother. After Judge Bratten Cook, II ordered the case bound to the grand jury, Bain stood up and walked toward the door as if to exit the courtroom. When Judge Cook asked him to return to his seat, Bain walked past where Crews was seated and took a swing at him with his fist, hitting Crews in the head. A deputy standing beside Crews, Sergeant Brian Williams, suffered an injury to his left hand as Bain was trying to get to Crews. After being hit, Crews, who was handcuffed, stood up and turned toward Bain but he was quickly grabbed by officers and taken out of the courtroom. Bain was also escorted out. During the outburst, others in the courtroom, believed to be members of the Bain family began shouting and yelling obscenities at Crews. Following the hearing, Judge Cook increased Crew's bond to $2 million dollars. At the time of his arrest, Crews' bond was set at $250,000 but Judge Cook increased it to $1 million during Crews' first court appearance on February 12.
*The President and Founder of Remote Area Medical arrived in Smithville Saturday morning, March 28 to tour the clinic set up at DeKalb County High School and to speak with the volunteers. Stan Brock established RAM, a non-profit clinic, in 1985 to provide medical care through mobile events in underserved, isolated, or impoverished communities across the United States and throughout the world. Most clinics provide general medical, dental, vision, preventive care, and education. The clinic was held in DeKalb County Saturday and Sunday, March 28 & 29 to treat patients who cannot afford to pay for the services. Brock pioneered television programming focusing on nature and wildlife when he starred on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.
*A man serving a twenty five year prison sentence in a 2002 DeKalb County murder case is now a free man. According to Melissa McDonald, Communications Director for the Tennessee Board of Parole, 43 year old Melvin Eugene Turnbill has met the conditions for parole and was released from prison on Monday, March 9. He was incarcerated at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville. Almost a year ago, members of the Tennessee Board of Parole voted to release Turnbill to parole supervision provided he complete a nine to twelve month substance abuse program called "Therapeutic Community", and get a release plan approved. The board also voted that Turnbill receive a substance abuse after-care referral upon leaving prison, and that he be assessed for substance abuse treatment once he is under parole supervision. The assessment is to be completed by TDOC staff. In September 2003, Turnbill received a twenty five year sentence after pleading guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court to facilitating the first degree murder of Joshua Murphy, who was shot and killed in a secluded area in the Laurel Hill Community at the end of Old Eagle Creek Road on Sunday, September 15, 2002. His body was discovered three days later. Officials said Turnbill and a co-defendant, Christopher Nicholas Orlando suspected Murphy of stealing methamphetamine. Orlando, the triggerman in the killing, was tried and convicted of the crime by a DeKalb County Criminal Court Jury in April, 2004. Orlando, serving a 45 year prison sentence for facilitation of first degree murder, is incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee. Orlando was denied parole following a hearing in March, 2013. He will be up for parole again in 2016.
*More than $5,000 was raised during a three hour radiothon Friday morning, April 3 on WJLE for the DCHS Class of 2015 Project Graduation. DCHS teacher Chris Vance and David Hedge co-hosted the program and parents of high school seniors who serve on the Project Graduation committee answered phones, taking pledges during the drive. Several members of the DCHS Class of 2015 also participated. Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2015 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class.
*83 year old Robbie D. Taylor of Smithville died in a two vehicle crash Monday afternoon, April 6 at the intersection of Highways 70 and 83 near Kilgore's Restaurant. Central dispatch was first notified of the crash at 2:36 p.m. Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Taylor was driving south on Highway 83 in a 2007 Chevy Impala when she pulled into the path of a 2010 Chevy HHR, driven by 35 year old Jennifer Buck of Dowelltown who was east on Highway 70. According to Trooper Tisdale, Buck saw Taylor's car coming across the highway in front of her and swerved but was unable to avoid the collision. Buck was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was treated for injuries including a fractured arm according to Trooper Tisdale. Taylor was also taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. According to Trooper Tisdale, both Taylor and Buck were wearing their seatbelts.
*The current members of the DeKalb County Election Commission were reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission. The state election commission made these appointments on Monday April 6. The term of each member is for two years. Members of the DeKalb County Election Commission are Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, Jim Dean, Harry Lasser, and Richard Hearon Puckett. Vanatta and Dean are beginning their fourth terms. Parker has served since 1992. All three are Republicans. Lasser, a Democrat, is starting his third term. Puckett, also a Democrat, is beginning his second full term after filling a vacancy.
*A judge ruled Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. must pay the ad valorem (property) taxes on the boat dock property that it has refused to pay since 1998. The total tax bill owed comes to more than $200,000 including interest and penalties. Circuit Court Judge Amy V. Hollers found the boat dock’s claims that such a tax was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and was discriminatory under Tennessee’s Constitution are not valid. In her ruling, Judge Hollars wrote “neither the Supremacy Clause nor any principle of state law prevents DeKalb County from assessing Cookeville Boat Dock for its ownership interest in the boat dock facilities. The court must reject Cookeville Boat Dock’s constitutional challenge to the assessment of ad valorem taxes on its property.” The boat dock had argued such a tax could be characterized as “double taxation” since it pays fees to the United States Army Corps of Engineers which are used, in part, to pay DeKalb County a sum in lieu of taxes. The owners of the dock further argued a section of Tennessee’s Constitution “violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States by discriminating against a lessee of the United States in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee. The judge said the boat dock’s attempt to “raise a ‘double taxation’ argument fails because the amount received by DeKalb County from the lease payments to the federal government is not a tax by the county.” She went on to rule that “it is well-established that the Supremacy Clause does not prevent a state or local government from imposing a tax on an individual or a corporation ‘using government property in connection with a business conducted for its own private gain.’” In conclusion, Judge Hollars ordered that the boat dock “pay the unpaid ad valorem taxes assessed for all years in question, together with all applicable penalties and interest.”
*The DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday, April 6 returned child rape indictments against a Dowelltown man for allegedly touching his eight year old niece in a sexual manner on two occasions last summer. 20 year old Jonathan Everett Jay of Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown was arraigned on Monday, April 13. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, September 11, 2014 a Sheriff's Department Detective responded to a residence on Snow Hill Road regarding a sexual assault of an eight year old girl. According to the mother, the child said that her uncle (Jay) had touched her inappropriately. The detective and a member of the Department of Children's Services spoke with the child and she confirmed what her mother had reported. When confronted Jay agreed to speak with the detective at the Sheriff's Department. After reading Jay his rights, the detective began the interview during which time Jay allegedly admitted to having had sexual contact with the child on two occasions, Wednesday August 27 and Thursday, September 11. Jay is one of 48 people indicted by the grand jury in April. Eleven persons were named in sealed indictments.
* Mark Willoughby's last day as Director of Schools was Thursday, April 16. Director Willoughby agreed to terms in a negotiated settlement as offered by the Board of Education. The agreement was signed Thursday, April 9 by Director Willoughby and Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, on behalf of the School Board. Under the agreement, Willoughby is to be paid his salary and receive all insurance benefits through June 30th, the day Willoughby had announced last month to be the date of his retirement. Funds are already in the school system's budget to pay Willoughby. He had served as Director of Schools since July 1, 2006. His current contract, approved last year, was supposed to run through June 30, 2017.
*A 45 year old man, accused in a child sex crime, was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday, April 8th after pleading guilty to the charge of sexual battery. Thomas Copenhaver received a six year sentence suspended to supervised probation except for time served. He had been in jail for almost sixteen months from December 10, 2013 to April 8, 2015. His name will be on the state's sexual offender registry. Copenhaver was indicted by the Grand Jury in April 2014 for aggravated sexual battery in this case. Copenhaver was accused of a child sex crime involving a family member (niece).
*A drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning, April 11 was a huge success. Almost three hundred food boxes were given away and everyone in line got at least one box regardless of their income status. The event, held in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, was sponsored by the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church as part of its community outreach ministry, but other churches and community volunteers also participated. Unlike most food distributions, those served by this mobile pantry did not have to get out of their automobiles. They simply drove thru in a pickup line as volunteers delivered the food directly to their vehicles, placing the food boxes either in the back seat or trunk.
The food boxes contained such items as bread, canned goods, peanut butter, bags of potatoes, fruits, cakes, pies, and more.
*The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni awards were honored Tuesday night, April 14 during the Chamber of Commerce Banquet at the DeKalb County Complex. Jeff Cantrell received the Community Leader of the Year Award for this work with the Farmer's Market and Faye and Jack Underhill were presented the Legacy Leader Award for their work with the DeKalb County Fair. The Community Leader of the Year award goes to someone who most emulates the definition of community trustee and servant-leader in his or her recent service to DeKalb County. Nominees are considered who have made a significant and positive impact on the county, specifically during 2014 and in a capacity beyond their professional commitments. The Legacy Award goes to someone who most emulates the definition of community trustee and servant-leader in his or her continued service to DeKalb County. The recipient has made a significant and positive impact on DeKalb County over a considerable period of time and in multiple or lasting ways
*Dr. Danielle Judkins Collins was selected by the Board of Education to become the interim Director of Schools. During a special called meeting Thursday night, April 16 the Board voted 5-2 naming Dr. Collins to succeed Mark Willoughby until a new director is under contract. Dr. Collins, who has served as Federal Programs Supervisor for the school system since February 2008 will keep that position while also serving as interim director. In addition to her regular pay, Dr. Collins will receive a $2,000 per month supplement for her new assignment. Board members Jerry Wayne Johnson and Danny Parkerson voted against Dr. Collins being named interim director. Both Johnson and Parkerson told WJLE after the meeting that they were not opposed to Dr. Collins personally but felt that no one should be named interim director who might apply when the board conduct's its search for a new director because it could give that person an unfair advantage over other applicants.
*Local law enforcement agencies were called out twice Thursday, April 16 after Omega Apparel and DeKalb County High School were made the targets of bomb threats. The first call came in just before one p.m. and employees at the local industry were evacuated as a precaution. The threat directed at the high school came later in the day. Law enforcement agents and canines trained in the detection of explosives were brought in from other counties to conduct the searches but nothing was found. No one was injured. The investigation has resulted in a juvenile being taken into custody regarding the incident at DCHS. The youth was picked up Friday, April 17 by Lieutenant Matt Holmes, Detective Brandon Donnell and K-9 Officer James Cornelius of the Smithville Police Department
*DeKalb Middle School is being recommended for AdvancED reaccreditation. Members of an external review team visited the school Thursday and Friday, April 16 & 17 to conduct the evaluation. "We all have been really impressed with how you have grown through the years. You are doing good work. The External Review Team will recommend to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that DeKalb Middle School earn the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five year term that expires June 30, 2020," said, Mary Gist, AdvancED Lead Evaluator who addressed members of the administration, faculty, Interim Director Dr. Danielle Collins, school board member Doug Stephens and WJLE at DeKalb Middle School in an exit report meeting Friday afternoon. Along with the recommendation for reaccreditation, the team cited improvement priorities that must be addressed with a plan of action within two years. The AdvancED external review team, made up of four Middle Tennessee educators, met with sixty four stakeholders in conducting its evaluation of DeKalb Middle School including two administrators, sixteen teachers, nine support staff, twenty nine students, and eight parents.
*Leah Burchfield, a senior at DCHS, received a college degree less than two weeks before getting her high school diploma.
On Saturday, May 9th, Burchfield was presented her Associates Degree at Motlow State Community College. Her graduation from DCHS was thirteen days later on Friday, May 22. Burchfield's goal is to further her college education as she works toward becoming a General Physician. Burchfield is not the first student at DCHS to receive a college degree while still in high school, but she is the first to have completed college courses in just two years. Through a program called dual enrollment, high school students may take one or more college courses for which they may receive both high school and college credits. The college courses are available online.
*A McMinnville man was killed and three other people were injured in a three vehicle crash Tuesday, April 21 on Highway 56 just south of the Magness Road intersection. THP received the call at 12:20 p.m. Dead is 72 year old Edgar Louis Madewell of McMinnville. 33 year old Joshua Johnson of Smithville, 58 year old Virginia Hendrixson of Liberty, and 73 year old Neodia Cantrell of Dowelltown were all injured and transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Johnson was northbound on Highway 56 in a 1997 Olds Bravada and failed to stay in his lane of travel while negotiating a curve. Johnson crossed over into the southbound lane and struck an oncoming 2008 Mazda Tribute SUV, driven by Hendrixson. Cantrell was a passenger with Hendrixson. The impact of the crash knocked Hendrixson's SUV sideways before it came to rest in the southbound lane. Johnson's car continued northbound in the southbound lane and met an oncoming 2007 Ford Expedition, driven by Madewell, who was negotiating a curve. Madewell's vehicle veered left to avoid a head-on collision but was hit at an angle by Johnson's automobile. Madewell's Expedition was then knocked sideways into the northbound lane and yawed off the left shoulder of the highway before rolling over twice and ejecting Madewell, who was not wearing his seatbelt. Madewell's vehicle came to a final rest upright in a field. After impact with Madewell's Expedition, Johnson's car continued in the opposite lane and traveled off the left shoulder of the highway before coming to final rest on its left side in the ditchline. All were wearing their seatbelts except for Madewell.
* A kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School was named " DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" and received the "John Isabell Memorial Award" Tuesday night, April 21 during the eighth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church. The award was presented to Tanya Howard by Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins. Howard was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Jennifer Griffith, a third grade math, science, and social studies teacher at Northside Elementary School; Lori Pryor a third grade self-contained teacher at DeKalb West School; Tad Webb a seventh grade math teacher at DeKalb Middle School; and Sonja House a ninth grade English/10th-12th grade Theatre Arts teacher at DeKalb County High School. The Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career; and to encourage public involvement in education
*The city's first applicant for a license to open a retail liquor store in Smithville passed his first hurdle in May.
The Smithville Board of Aldermen Monday night, May 4 voted to issue Jim Smith of 275 Gene Vaughn Road a certificate of compliance, which signifies that he has met all the city's ordinance requirements to make application to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the agency which has the sole authority to grant a liquor license. Smith, who intends to be the sole proprietor, plans to open a liquor store at 413 East Broad Street under the name "Smithville Discount Wine & Spirits". The building is currently the location for Clair's Consignment. Smith is the owner of National Sheet Metal Machine, Incorporated in Morrison.
*Local authorities responded to another bomb threat in May. The latest incident was at Federal Mogul. In a prepared statement, Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew reported that "On Sunday, May 3 at approximately 3:17 a.m. the Smithville Police and Fire Departments were dispatched to Federal Mogul in reference to a possible threat of an explosive device. The factory was immediately evacuated. The Lebanon Emergency Response Unit was contacted. A sweep of the factory and grounds was conducted and no threat was found. Lt. Matt Holmes was able to quickly develop two suspects. The Smithville police department is working in combined efforts with the District Attorney’s office as this case remains under investigation.
*Mayor Tony Tarpley and Fire Chief Brian Partridge announced in May that the Insurance Services Office has raised Alexandria’s Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating to Class 4 from a class 7. This upgrade indicates that insurance premiums, particularly on commercial properties, could be lowered by year’s end. The improved score was a result of improvements in all categories that the town is graded on including; the Emergency Communications section which evaluates DeKalb E-911, Water Supply section that inspects the town’s hydrant system and the Fire Department Section which graded The Alexandria Fire Department. DeKalb E-911 earned 9.55 credits out of 10 available. The Fire Department improved from 11.61 to 27.99 out of 50 possible credits.
* A manager of the Dairy Queen and her boyfriend were arrested in May after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the business and then staging the scene to make it look like a break-in. 21 year old Rebecca Duffield and 20 year old Anthony Skinner were each charged with theft of property over $1,000 and vandalism. According to Smithville Police, Duffield and Skinner were inside the restaurant cleaning up before closing when they stole more than $6,800 from the safe and then ransacked the office. Before they drove away in a blue Dodge Durango, Skinner was observed by a witness breaking out a glass in the drive through window apparently to give the impression that someone had broken into the business. The witness notified police and Officer Joey Myers responded to the scene at around 11:55 p.m. Sunday, May 3. Upon further investigation, Captain Steven Leffew said that the Durango was found parked at a residence on Short Mountain Highway and that both Skinner and Duffield were inside the home. Lieutenant Matt Holmes was informed that Duffield had just closed up the Dairy Queen and left moments prior to the incident. Lt. Holmes went to the residence and requested permission to search both the home and the Durango where evidence was collected. Police recovered over $6,800 which has been returned to the owners of the Dairy Queen.
*Randy Caplinger will not be getting his job back as Smithville Police Chief. After a seven hour due process hearing Friday, May 8 the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Caplinger. Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Jason Murphy voted in favor of the mayor's action. Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller voted against it. But the vote itself has became an issue. Caplinger's attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox insist that the city's charter requires a two thirds majority vote (four out of five) to confirm a mayoral termination. And Aldermen Jacobs and Miller said they had spoken with legal representatives of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) who told them that according to the city's charter, four votes were required to approve the action of the mayor. But City Attorney Vester Parsley cited another section in the charter which allows for only " a majority of the board" to approve removal of employees by the mayor. Parsley recommended that the aldermen follow this section of the charter. "My contention is that a simple majority would be enough," Hinting that there might be a legal challenge, Parsley added that "the courts may have to decide that issue," said Parsley. Throughout the hearing, Cripps and Cox called numerous witnesses to testify on Caplinger's behalf including the former Chief himself, trying to show that he was being treated unfairly; that similar things he was being accused of were being committed by other employees who were going unpunished; and that the city administration was undermining his efforts to lead the police department. However, several officers, including the Captain, detectives, and sergeants testified against Caplinger, blaming him for creating confusion and tension between officers essentially by making decisions and then not supporting supervisors when those directives were carried out.
*An arrest was made in a shooting in May at the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area in which one man was wounded. 18 year old James Paris Goff of Window Cliff Road, Baxter was picked up on Friday, May 15 and charged with two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of reckless endangerment. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the incident occurred on Monday evening, May 11 after Goff and some friends arrived by boat to the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area. While there, Goff and another man got into a fight. After the altercation, Goff left the area by boat but returned later in a vehicle armed with a handgun. Goff again confronted the same man with whom he had fought earlier and showed him the gun. Goff then turned the gun on three other people who were leaving the area in an automobile and fired several rounds at them. One of the bullets penetrated the vehicle and struck the rear seat passenger in the back. The driver and front seat passenger were not hit.
*All students in the DeKalb County School System, regardless of income, will have access to free lunches when school begins in August under a federal program the Board of Education has decided to join. But the current rate of students participating in the lunch program has to increase by at least five percent to keep the school's nutrition program from losing money. During the regular monthly meeting Thursday night, May 14 the school board voted to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Program and offer free lunches starting this fall on a trial basis. If the program is not self supporting, the school board can opt out. CEP is a universal meal plan under the National School Lunch Program that permits eligible districts and schools to provide meal service to all students at no charge. DeKalb County schools are already offering free breakfasts under the Universal Breakfast Program.
*Officials celebrated the completion of a barrier wall in the main dam embankment of Center Hill Dam during a ceremony Monday, May 18 at the work platform on top of the dam. The $115 million foundation barrier wall is a key component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s Center Hill Dam Safety Remediation Project. This is the second of three major contracts to remediate the Center Hill project. The third and final contract expected to be advertised later this year involves the installation of a concrete berm downstream of the auxiliary dam embankment. The auxiliary dam is a secondary earthen embankment that fills a low area in the landscape just east of the main dam.
* A Rock Island man was arrested in May at Warren County and charged with criminal homicide in the death of a former DeKalb County resident. 49 year old Timmie Lee Bain is believed to be responsible for the murder two years ago of 45 year old Daniel Mayo even though Mayo's body has not been found. Mayo had been a long time resident of DeKalb County before relocating to Warren County. According to Warren County Sheriff Jackie Matheny, Mayo had worked and lived with Bain prior to his disappearance. Authorities have reportedly focused their search for Mayo's remains on a hog farm where the men worked on C. Rowland Road, near the Mud Creek Community at Rock Island. Cadaver dogs have been brought in to assist in the search. The arrest of Bain comes after an lengthy investigation which has spanned several months. While authorities had received an earlier tip concerning the homicide they were unable to establish that a murder had occurred until a new development surfaced in the case.
* A Smithville mother and her boyfriend were named in sealed indictments returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury Tuesday, May 19 in the death of the woman's 23 month old son, Colten Alexander May over the weekend. 23 year old Cody Key is charged in the indictment with felony murder and aggravated child abuse while the child's mother 19 year old Jessica May is indicted on a charge of aggravated child neglect. Bond for Key is set at one million dollars. May's bond is $300,000. "The child suffered great injuries and as a result the child died," said District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway in an interview with WJLE. According to D.A. Dunaway, the child was brought to the hospital by the couple Sunday morning, May 17 but he was already deceased. The youngster was found to have internal and other physical injuries to his body. Key is alleged to have inflicted the injuries. May is accused of having known the abuse had been taking place.
*More than $560,000 in scholarships were awarded to members of the Class of 2015 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards program, Monday May 18. Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations. Charlie Young received the largest single scholarship award of $66,176 from Western Kentucky. Clint Hawker and Lydia Trail received perfect attendance awards for not missing a day of school during their four years of high school. Hawker had perfect attendance throughout thirteen years of school from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. Trail's perfect attendance spanned from the fifth grade to her senior year.
* The DCHS Tigerettes advanced to the TSSAA Class AA State Girls Softball Tournament but were eliminated after losing to South Gibson 9-0 Wednesday morning, May 20 in Murfreesboro. The Tigerettes also lost Tuesday night, May 19 to Chattanooga Central 8 to 3. The Tigerettes finished the season at 27-8 overall. They won championships for the regular season district, district tournament, region tournament, and sub-state before advancing to the state tournament.
*Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during the commencement on Friday, May 22. And in honor of 23 month old Colten May who tragically died Sunday, May 17 each graduate wore a small blue ribbon in support of child abuse awareness. Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Bailey Hayes and MaKalee Ruch while the Citizenship Award was presented to Lydia Trail. The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for outstanding achievement and leadership, academics, and other activities. The Citizenship Award is given to the senior who has demonstrated outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to DeKalb County High School. The honors, distinction, and top rank students were also recognized during the program. The 181 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps as their names were called by Assistant Principal Kathy Bryant.
* The body of 31 year old Justin Nicholas Roper of Smithville was recovered from Center Hill Lake Memorial Day morning after he had been reported missing on Saturday, May 23 According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Central Dispatch was notified at 9:16 a.m. Monday, May 25 by the TWRA that a body was found in the lake close to the Holiday Haven area. The body was recovered from the lake shortly thereafter by TWRA and a Detective from the Sheriff's Department. A search began Saturday afternoon after a woman reported that her husband had gone missing at the Holiday Haven Boat Ramp. "On Saturday May 23rd at 12:05 p.m. DeKalb Central Dispatch received a call of a missing man at the Holiday Haven Boat Ramp. The complainant was the wife of the missing man. She reported that on Friday night, May 22nd she and her husband had spent the night in their vehicle at the boat ramp. According to the woman, her husband had walked down toward the boat ramp to go swimming and never returned. Deputies and a Detective with the Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene and started a missing person investigation. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the Corps of Engineers were also notified and assisted in the search.
*Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker shared some good news with the mayor and aldermen Monday night, June 1. The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is upgrading the City of Smithville's Public Protection Classification rating from a Class 6 to a Class 5/5x effective this summer which could result in lower homeowners insurance premiums for some families. This is the second ISO rating upgrade for the city within the last six years. In 2009, the rating improved from a Class 7 to Class 6. According to Chief Parker, ISO collects and evaluates information from communities on their fire suppression capabilities. The information is analyzed using a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule and then assigns a Public Protection Classification number. As the new classification goes into effect, Chief Parker said homeowners are encouraged to check with their insurance carriers to find out if this new ISO rating will reduce their insurance premiums.
*The Smithville Police Department is officially offering Chaplain services. During the June 1 meeting, the Smithville Aldermen approved Captain Steven Leffew's request to have local minister Dwayne Cornelius serve as Chaplain for the police department to provide spiritual and emotional support for members of the department as well as families affected by serious crimes or other tragic events. The Chaplain, serving on a volunteer basis without pay, will be available for guidance and counseling. The city will fund his training and provide the attire he will wear in the role as Chaplain to better identify himself to the public.
*Smithville's newest industry is off to a great start. After only eight months in operation, Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc. announced in June it was preparing to relocate to a larger facility. The company, manufacturer of custom cabinets, began operations in October after renting the old popcorn factory building on Miller Road. The owners, President Tim West and Vice President Chris Vanatta soon realized that the facility would not be large enough to meet the growing demands for their products. They have since purchased the old Texas Boot building just down the street. According to West, the company currently employs around twenty five people but plans are to add hundreds more over the next few years. "Our first year is going well. We started laying foundations in the very beginning in putting things in place. But the sales grew so fast that between Chris, myself, and another office person we could not keep up with it so we've had to bring extra people in to do separate jobs. We were trying to wear many hats and do several different jobs. It didn't take but a few months to outgrow that. Our ultimate plan is going to be like a seven to eight year plan. We'd love to get to a $50 million dollar a year company, which would employ 350 plus people based on those sales," he said.
*Former Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger is taking his case against the City of Smithville to court. Caplinger's attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court on Thursday, June 4. "We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," said Cripps in an interview with WJLE. In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking for a declaratory judgment "to construe the charter for the City of Smithville and to determine which provision controls and governs the number of votes required by the Board of Aldermen to ratify or confirm the mayor's decision to remove an employee of the city". Cripps and Cox are also urging the court to find that the Board of Aldermen violated a section of the charter by not convening a meeting to ratify the mayor's suspension of Caplinger without pay prior to the due process hearing. They are further asking that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause". After a seven hour due process hearing Friday, May 8 the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Caplinger.
*After a search that lasted more than four hours, the body of 57 year old Timothy Majors of Ashland City was pulled from Center Hill Lake near Floating Mill Monday afternoon, June 8. Majors was the victim of a drowning. The man had been with three other family members on a pontoon boat they had rented Monday morning at the Floating Mill Camp ground. After launching the boat, Majors and two others on board decided to go swimming. The pontoon was about 100 yards off shore when they jumped into the lake. A woman who remained on the boat tossed life jackets to all three but Majors went under before he could reach his. He never resurfaced alive. Central dispatch received the call of a possible drowning at 10:33 a.m. and members of the TWRA, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers converged on the scene to begin the search using sonar and underwater cameras. Once the body was found, a diver from the Rescue Squad went down to bring it to the surface. The discovery was made in about twenty five feet of water at around 3:15 p.m. The search was only temporarily halted due to a passing thunderstorm during the afternoon. DeKalb EMS was also on the scene.
*Just four days shy of what would have been his second birthday, caring members of the community joined friends and family of Colten May in a remembrance program Saturday evening, June 6. The observance, held downtown at Evins Park, featured prayers, words of encouragement from Chris Moore of the Smithville Church of God, and LIVE music, along with a candlelight vigil and a balloon release in remembrance of Colten and to promote child abuse awareness. Colten died on Sunday, May 17. His mother's boyfriend, 23 year old Cody Key was indicted two days later for felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of the child. Colten's mother, 19 year old Jessica May was indicted on a charge of aggravated child neglect.
*Middle Tennessee Head Baseball Coach Jim McGuire announced the addition of five transfers who have signed letters of intent to continue their careers with the Blue Raiders including former DCHS pitching standout Cody Puckett who has played two seasons for Columbia State Community College. Puckett is expected to fill an immediate need for the program as a left-handed pitcher. Blue Raider southpaws Johnathan Frebis and Nathan Foriest exhausted their eligibility following the 2015 campaign. Puckett (6-0, 190), who starred as a pitcher/outfielder at DeKalb County High School posted a 9-4 record and registered more than 125 strikeouts in two seasons at Columbia State. Puckett was a member of the weekend rotation both seasons at Columbia State and helped lead the team to the JUCO World Series in 2014 when he posted a 5-0 record. Puckett was the District 8-AA Pitcher of the Year as a junior at DeKalb County, where he led the Tigers to two Class AA state tournament appearances. "With the left-handed pitchers we are losing we felt we needed to add another lefty to the class," McGuire said. "Cody can start or relieve for us. He will definitely help us from the left side. He has a strong body, strong arm and could be a draft pick before his career is complete at Middle Tennessee."
*Although services of the DeKalb County Library System as a whole have been expanding in recent years, one library location closed in June due to declining patronage. "As of June 26 we will be closing the Liberty Library," said County Library Director Kathy Hendrixson in an interview with WJLE. "The nine member DeKalb County Library Board voted in May to close the library. It was a sad and difficult decision for the board to have to make but in order to use our staff and resources to the best advantage to the community and reach more people, we had to make this decision," she said. The Liberty Library, located in a 700 square foot room in the old high school building, opened about ten years ago after having relocated from Dowelltown. But in recent years, fewer people have been taking advantage of it. "At that time (in the beginning) it was supported. More people were coming in and more children, but the demographics have changed in the area. There is just very little usage of the library down there now. It's been coming for about a year. We tried changing our hours. The board voted last year to take it down to two days a week. We did that last year and it opened it up so we could have more staff to do programs here (Smithville). This year in May we took it to one day a week because we were having so many programs and things going on at this library (Justin Potter) and needed the staff for that," said Hendrixson.
*The Tennessee Attorney General is in agreement with Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars that Cookeville Boat Dock must pay taxes owed to DeKalb County. Henry H. Slatery, III, State Attorney General and a Counter-Defendant in the case has responded to a motion in Chancery Court asking for Judge Hollars to reconsider her recent ruling that Cookeville Boat Dock must pay more than $200,000 in property taxes, interest, and penalties. In his response filed in DeKalb County Chancery Court, the Attorney General said Cookeville Boat Dock's motion to reconsider should be denied because it merely repeats the same arguments that were thoroughly considered and rejected by Judge Hollars in her Opinion and Order entered on April 7, 2015. The boat dock has refused to pay the taxes since 1998 and Judge Hollers ruled in April that the dock’s challenge to the tax was invalid. The boat dock’s attorney, Jon. E. Jones of Cookeville, now argues the county cannot collect taxes beyond 10 years; that the judge’s ruling on the “Supremacy Clause” of the U.S. Constitution was incorrect; and that the amount of interest the county wants to charge is above what is allowed by law. In his response, Slatery states that "Cookeville Boat Dock does not allege that the taxes in dispute were imposed on property owned by the federal government. To the contrary, as this Court ruled, "Cookeville Boat Dock has been assessed for boat dock buildings and other structures that Cookeville Boat Dock actually owns". Even if this Court were to strike down Article II, Section 28, as violating the Supremacy Clause, this ruling would provide no relief to Cookeville Boat Dock. Under these circumstances, Cookeville Boat Dock lacks standing to challenge Article II, Section 28, based on its claim that the provision treats property owned by the federal government differently than state and local governmental property. In the April 7, 2015, Opinion and Order, this Court (Judge Hollars), correctly ruled that Article II, Section 28, "does not mandate a differing rule of taxation for commercial boat docks operated on state or county property", and, further, that the Supremacy Clause does not prevent a state or local government from imposing a tax on an individual or corporation that operates a business for private gain on federal property. These conclusions are amply supported by the authorities cited in the Court's opinion and, thus, Cookeville Boat Dock's motion should be denied, " Attorney General Slatery concluded. The Tennessee Attorney General was made a party to the case to defend the constitutionality of Article II, section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution.
*Two DCHS Tigerette standouts received special recognition by the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association. Dani Meadows and Kayley Caplinger were named to the TSCA's All State Class AA team. Coach Danny Bond was also selected as an All-Star Coach for the TSCA Middle Tennessee All Stars in games played against the West and East Tennessee All Stars at Columbia State Community College on Monday, June 15. In the first game, the Middle Tennessee All-Stars lost to the West 3 to 1 but won 4 to 3 in a battle with the East All-Stars later in the day. The TSCA All-Star Teams are made up only of high school seniors from schools in the various divisions throughout the state. Caplinger and Meadows could not compete. Caplinger will be a Junior next year and Meadows is a rising Senior
*The congregation of the Northside Church of Christ held worship services for the first time in their new church home Sunday, June 28. Following morning worship, lunch was served followed by a dedication service and ribbon cutting at the new church building, located beside the old one on Highway 56 north which had served as the congregation's worship center since 1970 . The congregation's beginnings date back almost seventy years. "It is very exciting," said Burnes Lyons, minister of the congregation. "One of my objectives is that I wanted to see the older members be able to see a new building erected and that's why we have them up front cutting the ribbon. We wanted to build something in the community that would be passed on to future generations that might benefit those who come behind us," said Lyons. Members of other congregations joined in helping the church commemorate Sunday's special occasion.
*One day after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states cannot ban gay marriages, the DeKalb County Clerk's Office issued the first license to a local same sex female couple. "On Saturday morning, June 27 the first couple came into the office and filled out the application. They completed the application process and obtained the marriage license. They were married over the weekend and returned their marriage license to us on Monday, June 29 " County Clerk James L (Jimmy) Poss told WJLE Tuesday.
*After years of planning and months of legal battles with opponents including the City of Smithville who tried to stop the project, the DeKalb Utility District has begun construction on its own water treatment plant. The DUD Board of Commissioners held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, July 2 at the site of the water plant on Yulanda Hills Road off Holmes Creek Road near Center Hill Lake. "The purpose of this project is to provide a long term solution to providing the DUD customers with a safe, economical source of drinking water. A second purpose is to provide the region with a backup source of drinking water," said Roger Turney, Chairman of the DUD Board of Commissioners in remarks during the brief groundbreaking ceremony.
*The Grand Champion Fiddler of the 44th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival is Tyler Andal of White House, Tennessee. He won the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award Saturday night, July 4 after the Grand Finale Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler. Andal made it to the fiddle off by winning the Junior Fiddling competition and he won the Grand Championship by beating the winner of the Senior Fiddling contest Gail Johnson of Lavergne. Due to heavy rains, the contestants were forced to fiddle off under an overhang (eave) on the stage's storefront background. Instead of three tunes, Andal and Johnson each fiddled only one song, tune of their choice.
*Giri Peters of Nashville was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler of the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners at the Fiddlers Jamboree Saturday, July 4 and won the coveted James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award. In addition to winning the top fiddler prize, Peters also captured first place in the Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, and Flat Top Guitar competition.
*Sierra Hull, who competed on the Fiddlers Jamboree stage as a child, is now a young adult with a professional career as a singer, songwriter, and musician. But she took time out of her busy schedule to return to the Jamboree stage Saturday afternoon, July 4 where she performed and was presented the Jamboree's Blue Blaze Award, which is given to a musician who is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music. The award was presented by Shan Burklow of the Jamboree Marketing Committee.
*Caleb Aikens of Cookeville was the overall winner of the 17th annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run Saturday morning, July 4. Aikens ran the course in 17 minutes and 34 seconds. Kristen VanVranken of Silver Point set a new women's course record at 19:12, breaking her previous course record from 2013. TOP MALE MASTERS (Age 40 and older): Scott Fanning of Lebanon at 17:50. TOP FEMALE MASTERS (Age 40 and older): Allison Brooks of Smithville at 24:34. One-Mile Fun Run (age 12 and younger) winner: TOP MALE: Conner Close of Smithville at 6:59. TOP FEMALE: Ella Van Vranken of Silver Point at 7:45. The 17th Annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run featured 300 participants. Funds raised will support Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County
*A suspicious package found in front of the Medical Specialty Office building near DeKalb Community Hospital Wednesday morning, July 8 turned out to be a brief case containing personal belongings of the owner. But when it was found, the building was evacuated and the hospital perimeter placed on lockdown for several hours as a precaution until the briefcase could be examined. The DeKalb Community Hospital campus maintained the perimeter on lockdown until all communicating parties deemed the threat was no longer an issue. At approximately 2:00pm, the code orange bomb threat was changed to an all clear.
*One month after being sued over the termination of Randy Caplinger as Chief of Police, the City of Smithville filed an answer in DeKalb County Circuit Court. In the answer, Filed Monday, July 6, city attorney Vester Parsley and Nashville lawyer Mark E. McGrady of Farrar & Bates, LLP claim that Caplinger was validly suspended and terminated by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and that he is not entitled to back pay from the City.
*After only ten weeks on the job, Tennessee's new Tourism Commissioner began traveling across the state on a listening tour learning how the department can better serve communities. Commissioner Kevin Triplett was in Smithville Wednesday afternoon, July 8 to meet with local government, business, and community leaders at the county complex.
*The city's second applicant for a license to open a retail liquor store in Smithville passed his first test. The Smithville Board of Aldermen Thursday night, July 9 voted to issue James E. Bradshaw of Potts Camp Road, Smithville a certificate of compliance, which signifies that he had met all the city's ordinance requirements to make application to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the agency which has the sole authority to grant a liquor license. The vote was four in favor. Alderman Shawn Jacobs passed. Bradshaw plans to open a liquor store 725 South Congress Boulevard at the location of the former Mexican Restaurant in the Food Lion shopping center under the name "Center Hill Wine and Spirits, LLC". The TABC granted approval for the license on August 25.
*The DeKalb County Fire Department was contacted by Senator Lamar Alexander’s office notifying Chief Donny Green that the department’s grant application in the amount of $153,510 has been awarded. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The funding award will be used to purchase emergency communications equipment that will be assigned to each of the DeKalb County Fire Department’s 11 fires stations across the county. The grant equipment includes portable two-way radios, fire pagers, and mobile computing devices (including software and mounting hardware). The Federal share of this award is $146,200 and the local matching share, to be provided by the DeKalb County Government, is $7,310.
*After forty years as an educator, Dr. Gayle Redmon decided to retire. She will not be returning as Principal at Northside Elementary School this fall. Assistant Principal Beth Pafford praised Dr. Redmon during July's school board meeting. "Dr. Redmon retired as of June 30. She has served DeKalb County Schools for forty years. It has been a big passion of hers to make sure students in this county receive an excellent education. She established a tradition of excellence at Northside. For three years she has been my mentor, my partner, and my friend. She will be greatly missed. I want to let her know that we greatly appreciate her," said Pafford
*Jordan Wilkins of Smithville, for the second year in a row, won the DeKalb County Fair 5K and Fun Run. Wilkins was the overall winner of the race, which was held on West Main Street in Alexandria Saturday evening. He ran the course in 24 minutes and 15 seconds. Carly Vance of Smithville took second place in the race at 26:41 and Kelly Pyburn of Alexandria came in third place at 27:01. Fun Run winners were: 1st place: Conner Vance at 5:34; 2nd place: Jordon Agee at 9:20. Funds raised from the race benefit the Paislee's Foundation whose mission is to reach out to families dealing with stillbirth and infant loss up to three years of age.
*After serving three years as Principal of DeKalb County High School, Patrick Cripps is getting a new assignment. By a unanimous vote of 7-0, the Board of Education met in special session Thursday night, July 16 and named Cripps the next Director of Schools. Cripps has accepted the board's offer of a two year employment contract at a base salary of $85,000 per year. Cripps signed an initial 30 day contract Thursday night which is valid immediately until the board finalizes the deal. After the board and Cripps settle on all the contract terms at a July 30 workshop the board plans to vote on the final agreement at its next regular monthly meeting on Thursday, August 6 after it's been reviewed by legal counsel. After agreeing on the terms, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps signed his new two year employment contract Monday, August 17.
*A 66 year old man lost his life in a motorcycle crash late Wednesday night, July 15. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Floyd Tilley of Woodbury was traveling south on Short Mountain Highway near Lee Braswell Road when he left the road and struck a utility pole. The crash was reported at 11:55 p.m. DeKalb EMS responded along with members of the Short Mountain Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and Sheriff's Department. Tilley's death marks the third traffic fatality of the year on DeKalb County roads
*High winds from a severe thunderstorm wreaked havoc in portions of DeKalb County Tuesday afternoon, July 14. Perhaps the hardest hit area was on Meadow View Lane in the Four Seasons Community where a travel trailer overturned with three persons inside. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb EMS responded along with the Sheriff's Department. Two of the occupants were helped from the trailer. The other made it out on his own before help arrived. One of them was transported to the hospital by DeKalb EMS while the other two went there by private vehicles. A portable storage shed at the scene was also moved off its foundation due to the high winds and a few trees in the area were uprooted. Trees were down in other parts of the county as well. No other injuries were reported.
* Northside Elementary School has a new principal. Karen Knowles, who for the last four years served as assistant principal at Smithville Elementary School, has been named principal at Northside Elementary School. Director of Schools Patrick Cripps made the announcement Wednesday, July 22. Knowles has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies and a Masters Degree in Instructional Leadership from Tennessee Tech University. Prior to becoming assistant principal, Knowles served as a first grade teacher at Smithville Elementary School from June, 2002 until August 20, 2011. She succeeds longtime Northside Elementary Principal Dr. Gayle Redmon, who has retired.
*Addison Jean Puckett of Smithville won the Miss Sweetheart pageant Wednesday night, July 22 at the DeKalb County Fair. She is the eleven year old daughter of Jimmy and Anita Puckett. The pageant featured eighteen girls ages 10-12.
*The 2015 Miss Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is Annabella Eleni Dakas, the eight year old daughter of John and Mandy Dakas of Smithville. Fifteen girls ages 7-9 competed for the title Wednesday night, July 22 at the DeKalb County Fair.
*Levi Hamilton Cripps and Ella Grace Kirksey were crowned Little Mister and Miss at the DeKalb County Fair Tuesday night, July 21. Cripps, who was also named Mister Photogenic, is the five year old son of Kevin and Liz Cripps of Alexandria. Kirksey is the four year old daughter of Graden and Sabrina Kirksey of Smithville.
*A convicted sex offender accused of making inappropriate comments to three teenage girls at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool last summer was in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, July 20. Judge Gary McKenzie presided. 43 year old Timmy Eugene Bowman of Smithville pled guilty to violation of the sex offender registry and received a four year sentence to serve as a range III offender at 45% before parole eligibility. The term is to run consecutive to a sentence he is currently serving in White County. Bowman was given jail credit of 224 days served. Bowman was originally charged with three counts of solicitation of a minor along with violation of the sex offender registry.
*Steven Jennings, a rising Junior could become the first DCHS Tiger ever to play collegiate baseball in the Southeastern Conference. This outstanding pitcher and short stop for the DCHS program has already earned an SEC offer from Ole Miss and has given a verbal commitment to play for the Rebels after his high school career is completed. Jennings said his goal to one day play SEC baseball took a huge step forward this summer when coaches for Ole Miss took notice of him as a member of Team Nike, Middle Tennessee's most elite 16U travel baseball club, made up of seventeen of the finest young baseball players from across the state. Steven also had an offer from MTSU and a scheduled visit to Vanderbilt before opting for Ole Miss.
* 29 year old Jordan Adams was indicted by the Grand Jury on Monday, July 27 for attempted second degree murder and reckless endangerment in the shooting of 40 year old Jamie Murphy. The incident occurred on Juniper Lane, August 5, 2014. The case was investigated by the Smithville Police Department. According to the arrest warrants at the time, Murphy was shot once in the back shoulder and by another bullet which grazed his arm. He was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment of his wounds. He has since recovered. Murphy was reportedly behind the wheel of a pickup truck and trying to get out through the passenger side when Adams, who was standing outside the truck, allegedly fired rounds from a .25 caliber pistol, which struck Murphy. A male passenger in the truck with Murphy was not injured. After the shooting, Adams allegedly got in a different pickup truck driven by another man and left the scene.
*A former manager of Tennessee Credit has been indicted for theft over $60,000. 58 year old Vicky Elaine Bogle of Lou Drive, Dowelltown was named in a sealed indictment returned by the Grand Jury on Monday, July 27. The indictment alleges that "Bogle, between the 1st day of January, 2009 and the 19th day of December 2014 knowingly did obtain or exercise control over certain property, to wit: money/cash being over the value of $60,000, the property of Tennessee Credit, without the effective consent of Tennessee Credit, with the intent to deprive Tennessee Credit of said property, constituting the offense of Theft". According to the family, Bogle is one of five owners of Tennessee Credit and is a former operating manager there.
*19 year old Kaylee Shannon Cantrell is the 2015 Fairest of the Fair. Cantrell, daughter of Shannon and Tonya Cantrell of Smithville won the crown Monday evening, July 20 during the annual pageant held on opening night of the DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria. She was also named Miss Congeniality. Nine contestants competed for the title.
*The 2015 Junior Fair Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is 14 year old Addison Grace Oakley, the daughter of Clark and Lisa Oakley of Liberty. Oakley, who was also named Miss Photogenic, was among eighteen young ladies ages 13-16 who competed for the crown on the opening night of the DeKalb County Fair Monday evening, July 20.
*Workers at Star Manufacturing have voted against representation by the United Steel Workers Union. Neither officials of Star nor the Union have apparently issued a statement, but sources told WJLE Thursday night, July 23 that the effort to form a union was soundly defeated 142-73 by employees voting at both the Smithville and Cookeville locations on Thursday. The vote was scheduled after issues of working conditions, workplace safety, and unrealistic production expectations were raised by some workers at Star Manufacturing, according to a union organizer. This is not the first time union plans have been upended in Smithville. Efforts for union representation at another local plant failed a few years ago.
*Ascension, parent organization of Saint Thomas Health, signed a definitive agreement with Capella Healthcare to acquire four Middle Tennessee hospitals previously jointly owned by Capella Healthcare and Saint Thomas Health. Upon completion of the transaction, the hospitals will become a part of the Ascension Tennessee ministry, Saint Thomas Health.Under the agreement, River Park Hospital in McMinnville, Highlands Medical Center in Sparta, DeKalb Community Hospital in Smithville and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury will become full members of the Saint Thomas Health network. The four hospitals have been part of an innovative joint venture relationship between Capella and Saint Thomas since 2012. The name of the local hospital was also changed to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital.
*A Liberty mother is the first person to be indicted in DeKalb County under a new law, which took effect last summer that allows the state to seek criminal charges against a woman who uses illegal drugs while pregnant. The DeKalb County Grand Jury on Monday, July 27 indicted 27 year old Lindsey Paulette Davenport of Woodbury Highway, Liberty on one count of assault on a viable fetus. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that on January 21, Davenport gave birth to a baby boy whose urine tested positive for opiates. Blood drawn from the umbilical cord tested positive for Suboxone, Methodone, and Morphine. WJLE obtained a copy of the indictment which states that "Davenport, between the 1st day of March, 2014 and the 21st day of January, 2015 intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly did cause bodily injury to a viable fetus, by illegally using a narcotic drug while pregnant, and the child was born addicted to and/or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addition and/or harm was a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant, constituting the offense of assault on a viable fetus."
*Joe Foutch has been appointed to a new four year term on the DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners. County Mayor Tim Stribling informed the county commission Monday night, July 27 that he had reappointed Foutch to the board. Foutch's current term expires August 31.
*Kathy Bryant has been named principal at DCHS. Director of Schools Patrick Cripps made the announcement Tuesday, July 28. "She is a very intelligent, hard working individual. She has brought a lot to DeKalb County High School already. She has the respect of the teachers and she will take it another step. I have all the confidence in the world in her," Cripps told WJLE . Bryant, who has served as assistant principal at DCHS for three years, succeeds Cripps, who was recently hired by the Board of Education as the Director of Schools.
*Although no foul play is suspected, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department is still awaiting findings of an autopsy before issuing a statement on how 21 year old Lauren Taylor Agee died. The Hendersonville woman's body was found Sunday afternoon, July 26 by a fisherman on Center Hill Lake near the Still Point Boat Ramp across from Pates Ford Marina. Reports say she had been enjoying an outing with friends known as "Wakefest" over the weekend and was camping near the edge of a steep cliff overlooking the lake prior to the tragedy.
*DeKalb County property owners will have to ante up a little more when their tax bill comes due this fall. The county commission Monday night, July 26 by a vote of 9-4, increased the overall property tax rate to $1.78 cents per $100 of assessed value, as recommended by the budget committee. That's a sixteen cent increase from the current rate of $1.62. The new budget totaling $40,936,094 was also approved. According to Steve Bates, the county's financial advisor, the primary reason for the tax increase is to keep the county from digging too deeply into fund balances to operate.
*In order to provide a secondary source of power especially in times of emergencies and to ensure continued reliability for current and future demands, Smithville Electric System has acquired property to develop a new substation. The facility, to be called the John Robert Nixon substation, will be located on just over five acres at 1233 South College Street. The name is in tribute to the man who has served as a member and Chairman of the Board of Smithville Electric since the utility was established 45 years ago. Construction is expected to begin soon with completion anticipated by late 2016 or early 2017. While SES will continue to share the existing substation on West Main Street with TVA and Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, the new one will be solely for the use of Smithville Electric System.
*The Smithville area economy is getting a boost in the very near future. Tenneco’s Smithville plant will be adding 150 new jobs by February next year with the completion of a 24,500 square-foot expansion. Work on the expansion, which is already underway, should be completed by the end of this year or early 2016. Tenneco, which currently employs 481 workers, manufactures mufflers, catalytic converters and exhaust systems for automotive companies, including GM, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Chrysler. Tenneco recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Smithville and is one of 13 U.S. clean air manufacturing plants under the Tenneco umbrella. Tenneco has 89 manufacturing facilities in 100 countries.
Cookeville’s J. Cumby Construction Company (JCC) is heading up the expansion project.
* After more than two years since construction began, the new Sligo bridge is now completed. Traffic was shifted from the old bridge to the new one at 12:33 p.m. Saturday, August 8. County Mayor Tim Stribling and the local media were present for the occasion. TDOT will have an official ribbon cutting later in the year. "We've been working on this bridge project since May, 2013 and we've finally got the bridge to the condition where it's completed. We have turned traffic across the new bridge and the new alignment on State Route 26 (Highway 70)," said Larry Langford, Operations Technician for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Although actual construction of the bridge is finished, Langford said work remains to be done including bridge painting and asphalt grade adjustments on each end.
*DeKalb Middle School had the honor and rare opportunity to host two Medal of Honor recipients and family members of a third in a tribute ceremony Friday morning, August 7. 83 year old Leo Thorsness, a retired colonel in the United States Air Force and 71 year old Harold (Hal) Fritz, a retired United States Army Officer both received the Medal of Honor for their actions in the Vietnam War. The two national heroes were scheduled to arrive in Smithville on a Blackhawk helicopter but inclement weather prevented it. They rode into town instead in a Chevrolet Suburban. Members of the community and local veterans greeted the war heroes with handshakes and salutes as they entered the school and some waved flags in a show of patriotism. Family members of the late World War I hero Sergeant Alvin C. York were also honored guests.
*A jury, following a day long trial Tuesday, August 11 in DeKalb County Criminal Court, returned a split decision in a drug case against a local man indicted in an undercover investigation by the Sheriff's Department in November 2013. 63 year old Charles Ronnie Evans of Students Home Road, Smithville was found not guilty in a unanimous verdict by the jury on one count of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Roxycodone). But the jury, made up of 10 women and 2 men, could not reach a unanimous decision on another count of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid). The vote was 10 in favor of acquittal with 2 opting for a lesser included offense. As a result, Judge David Patterson declared a mistrial in the Dilaudid case. The District Attorney General's staff must now decide whether to seek a new trial on the Dilaudid charges. An announcement is expected on October 2, the next negotiation deadline date. Evans will remain on bond pending that decision. Attorney's Jon Slager and Vester Parsley represented Evans during the trial Tuesday. Evans was one of sixty four persons named in sealed indictments by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Monday, January 13, 2014 after a three month undercover drug investigation by the Sheriff's Department. Evans, an employee in the tire shop at DeKalb Farmers Coop, was accused of selling to a confidential informant one Roxycodone pill on November 8, 2013 and one K4 Dilaudid pill five days later on November 13, 2013. The alleged transactions occurred while Evans was at work in the tire shop. The informant, Chris Hale, was contracted by the sheriff's department to make undercover drug buys during the investigation and was paid for his services from the drug fund. Hale testified that he bought a pill from Evans on both occasions. But Evans, who has never before been in trouble with the law, took the witness stand in his own defense Tuesday to deny the allegations and to assert that he was the victim of a setup.
*Many residents in the Austin Bottom community of DeKalb County met with officials of the Corps of Engineers, county commission, sheriff, and county mayor Tuesday evening, August 18 at the fire station there to vent their frustrations about public nuisance issues at a boat ramp in the area. Center Hill Lake Resource Manager Kevin Salvilla took questions and comments from the group. County Mayor Tim Stribling, Sheriff Patrick Ray, County Fire Chief Donny Green, and Fourth District County Commissioners Wayne Cantrell and Jonathon Norris were also there. While most of the residents at the meeting said they don't want the Putco Boat Ramp (Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area) closed, they would like to see more law enforcement to keep undesirables out. Complaints range from issues of illegal drug activity, public intoxication, excessive noise during the night, using the area as a camp ground, non-boaters parking on the ramp preventing access, littering the area with beer bottles, cans, etc. One person was wounded in a recent shooting there. A contributing factor is that the lake level is lower than normal due to work on the dam which exposes more beach area for patrons to congregate. In response to the public outcry, the sheriff's department will be stepping up patrols at least through the end of the summer boating season. The lake site in that area may also be added next year in the contract the Corps of Engineers has with the county for the sheriff's department to provide extra patrols during the summer.
*Larry Webb appeared in U.S. District Court Monday, August 17 and entered a guilty plea to one count of federal bank fraud stemming from the "Living the Dream" investigation. The former deputy director at the Upper Cumberland Development District will face no prison time nor fine as a result of the plea deal with federal prosecutors. He will be on three years of supervised release as approved by the Court. Webb has also reportedly agreed to testify against former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins as part of the plea deal Webb, charged with Askins in a federal indictment with conspiracy, theft of government money, bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement, agreed to enter a voluntary plea of guilty to Count Eight of the indictment, charging bank fraud. Court documents obtained by WJLE state that "after sentence has been imposed on the count to which defendant (Webb) pleads guilty as agreed herein, the government will move to dismiss the remaining counts and forfeiture allegations of the indictment."
*The county commission gave supporters of a new animal shelter something to cheer about Monday night, August 24 after voting 8-5 to appropriate $75,000 toward construction of the proposed facility. But it took roll calls on two separate motions before the commission could muster the eight votes needed for passage. The first vote failed 7-5 with one abstention but passed the second time 8-5. Members of the DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals, who will be running the new shelter, had been pushing for a financial commitment from the county for months. Although the county's pledge of $75,000 will only fund half the estimated construction costs of $150,000, the City of Smithville has also budgeted $75,000 for the project. The county will not be responsible for the hiring and payroll of any employees relating to the animal shelter and will not be responsible for the operation of the shelter or the future funds needed to operate the shelter. Also the Coalition will pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department at a fee of $100 and $50 for a dead head if they fail to pick up an animal. That will be paid by the county to the coalition for those animals that are requested by the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department. The shelter is to be built on a four acre site near the solid waste transfer station, behind Tenneco off of Highway 70 east. The property, owned by the Smithville Industrial Development Board, has been deeded to the city, which will enter into a 99 year lease with the Coalition, a 501 (c) 3 charity organization.
*DeKalb County is getting a new Dollar General Store. The site, currently under development, is located on Highway 56 (Cookeville Highway) near Buckner's Chapel Methodist Church just north of Smithville. DeKalb County already has a Dollar General Store in Smithville, at the top of Snow Hill, and at Alexandria.
*The DeKalb County Fire Department has received an elite award for 2014-15 Training Achievements. Of the 732 fire departments in Tennessee, both volunteer and paid, DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 36 for 2014-15 training achievement by the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Considering the ranking among departments that operate with 100% volunteer staff in the state, DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 3. This is the seventh consecutive year the DeKalb County Fire Department has been recognized as one of Tennessee’s elite fire departments for outstanding training achievement. Last year, the department was the #2 volunteer fire department in Tennessee for training hours. This year, the department logged 1,394 training hours at the state fire academy and was recognized as a Silver Level fire department in Tennessee for 2014-15. Roger Hawks, Executive Director of the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy, presented the department with a Certificate of Training Achievement.
*Construction is expected to begin in September on the replacement of a bridge in the Blue Springs community. The bridge is located on Underhill Road over Sink Creek. According to Road Supervisor Butch Agee, Concrete Structures, Incorporated of Charlotte, Tennessee was recently awarded a bid to be the contractor for the project. The cost is $310,729. The project is being funded under the state's 1990 Bridge Grant Program. The Tennessee Department of Transportation will pay for 98% of the costs to replace the bridge, $304, 514, and the county's portion will be $6,214 to be funded by the DeKalb County Highway Department. The job entails the construction of a reinforced concrete box bridge and approaches on Underhill Road over Sink Creek.
*Alexandria has a new mayor. Bennett Armstrong defeated Tony Tarpley by a vote of 60 to 35 to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired mayoral term in the Alexandria Municipal Election Thursday, September 3. Tarpley had served as mayor since October, 2013 when he was appointed mayor by the aldermen. Jim H. York, Jr. had been elected mayor that year but resigned three days after taking office in a dispute with the aldermen. Armstrong had been serving in an appointed alderman position. Also in the election Thursday, Kelly Pyburn, David Cripps, and John F. Suggs each ran unopposed for four year alderman terms. Their vote totals were as follows: Pyburn 71 votes, Cripps 61, and Suggs 46. Those running unopposed for two year aldermen positions were Danny Parkerson and Matthew Boss. Parkerson led the ticket with 78 votes. Boss received 63 votes. A total of 95 people voted in the election including 86 on election day and nine during early voting.
*After being denied a beer manufacturing permit in July, Alex Seitz was given conditional approval to start his own in-home research brewery operation by the DeKalb County Beer Board Thursday night, September 3. The vote was 5-2 in favor. Board members Edward Frazier, Jim Stagi, Rhonda Caplinger, Johnny King, and Robert Rowe voted "yes" while Leonard Dickens and Frank Thomas voted "no". Seitz will be issued the license once he receives and presents to the county clerk's office the required certificate of registration of his brewery from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Seitz told the board that he has already made application for the certificate from the state and is expected to receive it soon. Seitz, who resides on Floyd Drive in Lakeview Mountain Estates, told the board in July that he would be conducting the brewery primarily for research purposes but small amounts of the byproduct would be bottled and sold to the Calfkiller Brewery in Sparta, a wholesale distributor. Seitz said the brewery would be operated out of his basement and that there would be no retail sales to the public from his home and no signage on the premises.
* The DeKalb County Election Commission, meeting in monthly session Thursday, September 10 discussed the feasibility of merging the Cherry Hill voting precinct with the Courthouse precinct. After discussing election day issues of appointing election workers who reside in the precinct, the percentage of voter participation on election day, and the cost of operating the voting precinct; the commission voted unanimously to merge the precincts. Cherry Hill voters were to be notified by mail that they will now vote at the Courthouse precinct and will also be issued new voter registration cards.
*Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III has been re-elected Chairman of the Board of Education. Evins was named by his fellow board members to again serve as chairman during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting, September 10. Sixth district member Doug Stephens was re-elected Vice-Chairman and Seventh District member Shaun Tubbs was re-elected Assistant Secretary. The board re-organizes each September electing officers to serve for the year.
*Two fifths of the Old Sligo Bridge is now gone. A portion of the bridge on the Smithville side was demolished late Tuesday afternoon, September 15. The rest of the bridge remains standing but will soon come down as well. "They are shooting it up in pieces and when it falls in the water then they have to retrieve it out. They will put the pieces on barges and ship it out for waste or scrap metal," said Larry Langford, Operations Technician for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. A portion of the concrete piers supporting the old bridge will also be removed.
* Except for the columns, the old Sligo bridge is no more. Demolition of the remaining spans of the 1948 truss bridge were taken down Monday, September 28 shortly after 11:00 a.m. TDOT is nearing completion of a $39 million project to replace the truss bridge with a new welded steel plate girder bridge. The new bridge opened to traffic on Saturday, August 8. Demolition of the old bridge began Tuesday, September 15 and is an important phase in the project. The project is slated for total completion in June 2016, but it is very likely that it will be finished ahead of schedule.
*A 27 year old woman pled guilty to being an accessory to kidnapping Monday, September 14 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Judge David Patterson presided. Samantha Devault received a six year TDOC sentence to run concurrently with a Davidson County sentence against her. She was given 344 days of jail credit. Devault and three others were named in Grand Jury sealed indictments in December, 2013 for allegedly participating in the kidnapping and rape of a woman they thought stole money and Suboxone strips from them in October, 2013. The case was investigated by the Smithville Police Department.
*The 2015 Homecoming Queen at DeKalb County High School is Hannah Renea Walker. A senior, Walker is the 17 year old daughter of Scott and Misty Walker of Smithville.
*A former Smithville man is among three people arrested in a Nashville convenience store burglary Friday morning, September 18 on McGavock Pike across from Opryland in which $240 was stolen. 35 year old Jason Donnie Pack has been charged with burglary, theft of property, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The other two persons were reportedly employees of the store.
*Incumbents Ronnie Garrison, Bennie "Buck" Curtis, and Randy Campbell have all been re-elected to the DTC Communications Board of Directors. The results of the election were announced Saturday, September 19 during the annual meeting of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative or DTC Communications at the fairgrounds in Alexandria. The closest race was between Curtis and his opponent Mark Willoughby for the directorship of the Alexandria Exchange. Curtis won 476 to 463, a 13 vote margin. Garrison, Smithville Exchange member, received a total of 652 votes defeating challenger Paul Cantrell who had 291 votes. Randy Campbell of the Liberty Exchange defeated Danny Lynn Hale 512 votes to 429.
All three directors elected Saturday will serve for three years.
*In an effort to replace a 1981 fire truck and possibly improve the city's ISO rating, the Alexandria Aldermen Tuesday night, September 22 voted to authorize the filing of an application for a Community Development Block Grant to purchase a new fire engine. Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge addressed the issue with the mayor and aldermen during the regular monthly meeting. The total grant project would be for $331,580 including the city's local matching obligation of $16,580 should the grant be approved.
*A DeKalb County couple, who claims to sell fully built log homes, appeared in General Sessions Court Thursday, September 24 on charges they assaulted a disgruntled customer who confronted them at a local restaurant. After a hearing, Judge Bratten Cook, II found 47 year old Maureen Espino Park guilty of assault and unlawful possession of a weapon. Judge Cook dismissed an assault charge against her husband, 47 year old Lawton Duane Park. Mrs. Park received a sentence of 30 days on the weapon charge and six months for the assault but she will be on probation. She was also fined a total of $100 plus court costs. The Parks' were arrested by Smithville Police on Thursday, August 27 after a Michigan man, Danny Hall confronted them at McDonald's Restaurant in Smithville claiming they had defrauded him. Hall claims he and his wife ordered a brand new log home through the Starry Hill Log Homes website in January, a company run by the Parks and paid $36,000 but never got the logs to build the home.
*A bomb threat at Smithville Elementary disrupted the school day Friday, September 25 forcing administrators to have the approximately 570 students and staff bused to Northside Elementary School where they spent the remainder of the day. No one was injured and no explosives were found.
*Store owners or clerks at four local businesses have been cited for selling beer to minors as a result of an undercover investigation conducted jointly by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments. 25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir of Alexandria, owner of the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store on Nashville Highway; 32 year old Jennifer Sims of McMinnville, an employee of the Tobacco Discount Store on West Broad Street, Smithville; 56 year old Allison Ferguson of Smithville, an employee of Mapco Express on East Broad Street, Smithville; and 42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Smithville, owner of Nicole’s Market on Short Mountain Highway, have each been cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age.All four defendants will appear in General Sessions Court on October 29. If found guilty, these businesses could face fines and the loss of their beer licenses. The undercover operation occurred over a two week period.
*The DeKalb County Commission Monday night, September 28 voted to name a bridge in memory of a nine year old boy who lost his life in a 1997 accident with a horse.The bridge, over Smith Fork Creek, on the Lower Helton Road near Mount Zion Baptist Church will be named the Zachary Lee Close bridge.The bridge over Smith Fork Creek on the Alexandria to Dismal Road had been named for Close several years ago but vandals repeatedly damaged or tore down the memorial signs at the bridge. First District Commissioner Mason Carter said the child's mother requested that the memorial be transferred from the bridge on Alexandria to Dismal Road to the one on Lower Helton Road, hoping that the signs would not be vandalized there.
*Calvary Baptist Church of Smithville has a new minister. Michael Martin began his pastoral duties there on Sunday, September 20. He and his family have re-located to Smithville from Alabama. Martin grew up in Brewton, a small town in south Alabama. After graduating from Auburn University, he earned a Master’s Degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He then served two years with the International Mission Board in North Africa. There he met a fellow missionary, Erin, who is the love of his life. Michael and Erin married in 2010. Erin is from Murfreesboro, TN. She graduated from Belmont University, where she studied Early Childhood Education. She currently teaches preschool part-time. They have two children, Katie (3-years) and Titus (1-year).
*A Smithville woman lost her life in a pickup truck crash Wednesday, October 28 on the Old Blue Springs Road. Dead is 31 year old Tacy Hendrixson. Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Hendrixson was traveling north in a 1995 GMC Sierra pickup truck when she failed to negotiate a curve and ran off the left side of the road. The truck overturned and hit a tree before coming to rest upside down. Hendrixson was ejected and found underneath the bed of the truck. She was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.
*A great crowd of approximately 400 turned out on Friday, October 2, 2015, to enjoy chili and delicious baked goods at Habitat for Humanity’s 12th Annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, which was held at the DeKalb County Complex. “Wonderland Chili” from the DeKalb County Board of Education won the “Best Chili” award, and “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials followed in second place. In the decorating contest, the DeKalb County Officials won first place honors with their M*A*S*H themed booth, and the DeKalb County Board of Education came in second place with their Wonderland theme.
*Smithville Police have arrested a man believed to be responsible for a recent break-in at Center Hill Wine and Spirits. Captain Steven Leffew said that while conducting an investigation concerning a burglary earlier in the morning on Friday, September 25 at Center Hill Wine and Spirits, Detective Brandon Donnell arrested 50 year old John Amail Land for burglary, vandalism, and theft. At approximately 5:12 a.m. that morning Sergeant Travis Bryant responded to the store in reference to a burglar alarm. Upon arrival he noticed that the door to the business was busted out and a large rock was lying inside the store. Upon speaking with the owner of the business, it appeared that two bottles of Vodka had been taken. Land became a suspect in the case from store surveillance video. He was indicted for the crime in November by the grand jury.
*The six year legal battle by former administrator of elections Lisa Peterson against the DeKalb County Election Commission is over. After losing on the trial court level and in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, plaintiff attorneys had indicated an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would be coming. But none did, according to Nashville Attorney John Harris, III who represented the DeKalb County Election Commission in the case. "They started that process (appeal to U.S. Supreme Court) but then did not complete it, which resulted in the judgment in favor of DeKalb County becoming final this year. So the case is over," said Harris in a statement to WJLE. In January, a three judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit on the trial court level against the DeKalb County Election Commission and several others in Tennessee brought in 2009 by former administrators of elections who claim they did not get to keep their jobs for political reasons.
*The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is reporting that foul play is suspected in the death of a McMinnville man, whose body was found in the backseat of a still running car outside Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital Wednesday morning, October 7. The deceased has been identified as 30 year old Jace Brandon Sparkman but the cause of death has not been revealed. Hospital staff made the discovery and reported it at 2:17 a.m. According to a prepared statement by Captain Steven Leffew, "On Wednesday, October 7 at approximately 2:17 a.m. the Smithville Police Department was dispatched to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in regards to a deceased body being found in the backseat of a vehicle in the parking lot. The death was deemed to be of a suspicious nature. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway along with investigators from the District Attorney's Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene. This case remains under investigation by the TBI and Smithville Police
* A drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning. October 10 was a huge success. Food boxes were given to 304 families regardless of their income status. The event, held in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, was sponsored by the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church as part of its community outreach ministry, but other volunteers also participated.
* A new member has been named to the DeKalb County Election Commission by the Tennessee Election Commission. Jackie Smith, a resident of Smithville and a local State Farm Insurance Agent, is replacing Harry Lasser as one of the two democratic members of the local commission. Lasser resigned. Smith will serve out Lasser's term, which expires in April, 2017. Lasser served for four and a half years. He was first appointed in April , 2011.
*An employee of the DeKalb County Ambulance Service has been named the Upper Cumberland Region's EMT of the Year. Misty Green received the award during the Upper Cumberland EMS Directors Association's Annual Education Symposium held in Cookeville Thursday and Friday, October 8 & 9.
*Pam Redmon has been named the new Director of the Smithville Senior Citizens Center. She began her duties there almost a month ago. "I am really excited about the opportunity," said Redmon. Prior to taking this position, Redmon worked with UCHRA. She is also owner of the Flower Box on Walnut Street. "I worked at Lakeside Resort for four years as the catering manager and then I became a nutrition project director for the Upper Cumberland through UCHRA serving fourteen counties. We did the home delivered meals and the congregate meals at eighteen senior sites. In the process of that, my daughter and her friend got me into the flower business (Flower Box)," said Redmon in an interview with WJLE.
*A Smithville man was arrested for aggravated child abuse Monday night, October 19 after an infant was brought to Cookeville Regional Medical Center with serious injuries. Charles J. Wiggins, an acquaintance of the child's mother, is charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse. In a prepared statement, Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew said, "On Monday, October 19 at approximately 6:07 p.m., Cookeville Regional Medical Center contacted Smithville Police in regards to an infant that was severely injured and had been brought into their facility for treatment. The injury was believed to have occurred in the jurisdiction of the City of Smithville". According to the arrest warrant, "At approximately 4:00 a.m. on Monday, October 19 at his Cooper Street residence, Wiggins did knowingly treat a five week old boy in a manner as to inflict serious bodily injury. Wiggins stated that he squeezed the child's ribs and bounced the child aggressively enough to cause the child serious injury". In the second offense involving the same child, the warrant states that "At approximately 3:00 p.m., on Monday, October 19 at his residence, Wiggins did knowingly treat a five week old boy in a manner as to inflict serious bodily injury. Mr. Wiggins did state that he did pick the child up and squeeze his ribs and slammed him down aggressively into the crib causing the child's head to bounce. Mr. Wiggins stated he pressed down on both the child's legs and felt them break". The child was later taken to Cookeville Regional Medical Center for treatment. Law enforcement authorities were subsequently notified.
*It has been part of the Smithville landscape for 51 years but after Wednesday, October 21 the water tower on Kendra Drive near Mountain Street will be gone. A subcontractor for the city spent the better part of the day dismantling the water tank. "The tank has been out of service for four years so we decided to take it down", said Kevin Robinson, Public Works Director for the City of Smithville. "There's no need for it anymore. We have two million gallons worth of water in storage," said Robinson. The city maintains three other water tanks including one on Miller Road, on Highway 70 near the high school, and one near the airport. The Kendra Drive tank, which stood 119 feet tall and had a water capacity of 100,000 gallons, was erected in 1964.
*A DeKalb County teen harvested an Elk during the 2015 Young Sportsman Hunt October 24-25 at the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. Jacob Parker, the 15 year old son of Billy and Sabrina Parker, harvested an elk that field dressed at 547 pounds. The elk had five points on one side and six points on the other. Parker was the only teen in the state selected for the youth hunt. Four other Tennessee residents were selected in a TWRA computer drawing for the adult elk hunt including Trevor Childs (Knoxville), Roy Bivens (Tellico Plains), Andrew Coffey (Crossville), and Forest Landers (Afton). A North Carolina hunter also participated.
*The Alexandria Senior Citizens Center has a new director. Sandy C. Brown, a former substitute rural mail carrier for the Dowelltown Post Office, was named to the position last month.
*The City of Smithville will be closing the bridge on Holmes Creek Road over Fall Creek as of Friday, October 30 due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which details various bridge deficiencies. The bridge is to be replaced once plans are developed and bids are let for the project which could still be months away. The Holmes Creek Road Bridge is 42 feet and five inches long and 33 feet and six inches wide. The structure consists of one simply supported steel I-beam span with a concrete deck and an asphalt wearing surface. The substructure consists of concrete abutments.
*The family of a missing boy is asking for your help in locating him. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's website, 14 year old Ian James Little went missing last month. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Little was a resident at the New Frontiers boys home at Dowelltown. Both Little and a 17 year old youth left the home on September 28. The 17 year old was later located in Bartlett Tennessee and placed in another facility but he has gone missing again.
*The DeKalb Middle School Cross Country Team competed in the State Championship Race held Saturday, October 24 at Victor Ashe Park in Knoxville. Mya Ruch was the 3rd fastest runner in the state competition which included 294 in the girls varsity race. Her time was 12:41. Six other local runners competed including Carly Vance, who placed 79th with a time of 14:36; Courtney London, 258th (17:01); Bill Miller 176th (13:49), Jake Ramsey 286th (15:04); Jasper Kleparek 192nd (13:57); and Levi Driver 250th (14:26). The boys varsity race featured 312 runners. All runners had to qualify to be eligible to compete in the state competition. The DMS Cross Country program is in its second year
* The Alexandria Police Department will soon have body-worn cameras for each of its three officers. During the regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, October 27 the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted to purchase two additional cameras for the department at the request of Police Chief Mark Collins but the city will be reimbursed with grant funds. The department already has one body camera. "These body cameras will be worn by each officer to protect them and the citizens they serve," said Police Chief Mark Collins.
*The Alexandria Beer Board Tuesday night, October 27 imposed a $500 fine against the owner of a business there for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age. Both the owner of the business, the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store on Nashville Highway and the clerk who actually made the sale, 25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir appeared before the beer board. Samir was cited by the Alexandria Police Department after he illegally sold beer to an underage operative during an undercover investigation on September 22. Samir admitted to making the illegal sale of beer but claims he made a mistake in reading the birth date on the identification presented to him by the customer (undercover operative) who is 20 years old.
*Citations against three store clerks accused of illegally selling alcohol to a minor in a recent undercover investigation are set to be dismissed. 25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir of the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store on Nashville Highway; 56 year old Allison Ferguson of Smithville, an employee of Mapco Express on East Broad Street, Smithville; and 42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Smithville, owner of Nicole’s Market on Short Mountain Highway appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court Thursday, October 29. Under negotiated settlements with the District Attorney General's Office, each case is to be dismissed provided the defendants pay their court costs and have no further incidents of this kind within a certain period of time. Ferguson's case has already been dismissed. Citations are to be dismissed after 60 days for Samir and after six months in the Godinez case. The case against 32 year old Jennifer Sims of McMinnville, an employee of the Discount Tobacco Store on West Broad Street, Smithville across from the Dairy Queen has been postponed until December 10 to give her time to hire an attorney.
*Former Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger has lost his case against the City of Smithville. He will neither get his job back or any back pay.
Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars made attorneys in the case aware of her ruling Thursday, October 29 fifteen days after holding a hearing in the matter. At the heart of the case is how many aldermen votes were required to fire the police chief. In May, the council voted by a 3-2 simple majority to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Chief Caplinger based on Article III Section 3.08 of the city charter. Attorneys for Caplinger, Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox insisted that the city charter called for a super majority (four votes) for such action based on Article III Section 3.01. But Judge Hollars didn't see it that way. "Judge Hollars ruled today in favor of the city stating that the provision of the charter that requires only a simple majority, that being provision 3.08 is the provision in firing the police chief," city attorney Vester Parsley told WJLE. "The judge further ruled that the other provision, Section 3.01 (calling for a super majority) was only for the reorganization of the city government. Therefore the firing of Chief Caplinger was upheld," Parsley continued. "The Court held that the termination of Chief Caplinger by a simple majority vote of the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen was proper pursuant to Section 3.08 of the Charter of the City of Smithville. Additionally, the Court held that Section 3.08 of the Charter is the controlling provision respecting the personnel actions of promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, and removal of all employees of the City of Smithville. The Court further held that by voting to terminate Chief Caplinger, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen also voted to approve the less stringent and severe action of Mayor Poss’s suspension of Chief Caplinger on March 13, 2015," wrote Cripps in a prepared statement to WJLE.
*A Liberty man who eluded authorities for several weeks, having been involved in two separate law enforcement pursuits and crashes before escaping on foot, has finally been arrested. 32 year old Warren Brandon Glasby of Clear Creek Road, Liberty was taken into custody on Wednesday, October 28. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has him charged with felony evading. The Tennessee Highway Patrol has him charged and cited for various offenses including leaving the scene of an accident (2 counts), failure to exercise due care, failure to give information and render aid (2 counts), and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). 30 year old Juanita Young of Smithville, alleged in the warrant to be his wife, also has him charged with assault. In the assault case, the warrant states that "Glasby and Juanita Young, who are married got into an argument on Friday, September 11. Glasby did have a knife and held her down on the bed and started punching her and then he pushed her through the door. He then hit her in the head with an amplifier and fan". Four days later, a county deputy spotted Glasby in a pickup truck and tried to stop him. Young was a passenger with Glasby. A DeKalb County deputy made contact with the vehicle on Highway 53 in Liberty and observed it pass several cars and take off at a high rate of speed. The officer activated his blue lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the automobile and pursued it onto highway 70 heading west. The suspect then attempted to turn onto Old Highway 96 but due to his high rate of speed, he lost control of the vehicle and it flipped several times, ejecting the female occupant (Young). Glasby then fled on foot toward Highway 96. Officials of the Tennessee Highway Patrol came to the scene to work the accident," said Sheriff Ray. Almost a month later, Glasby was involved in a separate pursuit and crash near Alexandria. He and a passenger of the automobile both fled the scene.
*The City of Smithville has a new Police Chief. During Monday night's regular monthly meeting on November 2, the Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 to hire Mark Collins as chief. He will assume the duties within the next two weeks. Collins has served as the Alexandria Police Chief since 2006. "I look forward to serving the people of Smithville and working with the Smithville Police Department. I think there is a fine group of young officers here and I am honored and blessed to have this opportunity. I look forward to getting in here and doing the citizens of Smithville some good," said Collins after the meeting. Collins was one of three applicants for the job. Patrolman Matt Farmer of the Smithville Police Department had also applied along with Algood Police Chief Gary Harris. The mayor and aldermen held a 90 minute forum Saturday at city hall to interview each applicant. Collins, Harris, and Farmer were brought in separately and given about 30 minutes each to answer questions.
*After ministering there for almost 30 years, Bill Robertson preached his last sermon as pastor Sunday, November 8 at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church. The church honored Robertson Sunday, November 1 with a retirement reception.
* A missed field goal in the last minute of the game perhaps kept the DeKalb County Tigers from advancing in the Class 3A State Play-offs Friday night, November 6 in Smithville. The Tigers lost to the Chattanooga Christian Chargers 23-22. They concluded the season with an overall 7-4 record.
*A Veterans Appreciation assembly program was held Friday morning, November 6 at Smithville Elementary School in recognition of Veteran's Day. Kelly Birmingham led students from pre-K to the second grade in singing "God Bless the USA" and other patriotic songs in honor of veterans who have served in each branch of the military. Adrienne McCormick read a "Veterans Day" poem by Cheryl Dyson.
*A probation officer who allegedly used a client's money order to commit forgery and theft was sentenced Tuesday, November 10 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. 31 year old Ashley Lasser, who worked for CPS Community Probation Service, entered a plea to forgery and received a four year sentence fully suspended to judicial diversion probation. She cannot work in law enforcement during her term of probation. Lasser must also make restitution to CPS in the amount of $585.00. The theft charge against her was dismissed. According to the warrant, Lasser passed a forged money order in the amount of $50 to the Dollar General Store in Smithville on Thursday, September 18, 2014. The money order was made out by a client of CPS as payment to Life Savers of Tennessee, which is a probation service where Lasser worked. She allegedly marked out the name Life Savers of Tennessee on the money order, wrote in Dollar General Store, and then passed the forged money order to the clerk. The probation client, a defendant in a criminal case, had made out the money order to life Savers of Tennessee as payment for attending an anger management class. Lasser allegedly used the money order at the Dollar General Store to purchase a soft drink and then received change back in cash. Lasser reportedly was terminated from her job as probation officer after this offense came to light.
*A DeKalb County woman charged with TennCare fraud involving prescription drugs was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Tuesday, November 10. 28 year old Ashley Morgan entered a plea to TennCare Fraud and received a two year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. The term is to run concurrently with a Cannon County sentence against her. She must forfeit her TennCare benefits and make restitution of $1,187.71.
*A Republican has announced his candidacy for the office of DeKalb County Assessor of Property. Shannon A. Cantrell of Smithville made an appearance at a DeKalb County Republican Party meeting Saturday morning, November 21 at the courthouse to make the announcement. Meanwhile Lee Plummer in the 1st district and Tom Theriaque in the 2nd district announced their intentions to seek the Republican nomination for constable. These candidates were nominated by party caucus in December to run in the August 2016 county general election.
*Sergeant Chris Russell has been named Interim Chief of the Alexandria Police Department. The action was taken during Tuesday night's regular monthly meeting of the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen on November 17. Sergeant Russell, who has worked in the department for nine years, will be filling the position being left vacant by Chief Mark Collins whose last day is Friday, November 20. Collins has been hired as Smithville Police Chief and will be taking that job as of Monday, November 23.
*A middle school curriculum mandating the study of Islam in Tennessee classrooms is raising concern among many parents across the state including here at home. Up to this point education officials have given few details on the topic, and one east Tennessee parent who has researched the issue is asking why is there “so much mystery into this curriculum.” Close to 100 people filled a meeting room of the county complex in Smithville Friday night, November 13 to hear Craig Honeycutt of Bristol, who for the last fifteen months has been traveling the state speaking on behalf of Parents Against Islamic Religion in Schools. Friday night's audience in Smithville included concerned local residents, ministers, and teachers in our school system. The state's standards for 7th Grade Social Studies require every student on that grade level to learn about Islam. They are then tested on it during standardized exams. Christianity is taught in the sixth grade. Honeycutt, whose daughter is a 7th-grade student in the Bristol City Schools system, said he grew concerned over the standards when he learned she would spend four weeks studying the Islamic world. “Why do we need to give Islam four weeks?,” Honeycutt said. “If you want to teach a few days of Islam in a historic aspect, I’m fine with that. What you’re going to find ... is anything but historic. It’s indoctrination, it’s religion, it’s theology, it’s philosophy, (and) it’s how to convert.” According to the Tennessee Department of Education website, during those four weeks — which are included in the literacy in social studies subsection of the Tennessee state standards — “students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the (Islamic) civilizations.”
*The DeKalb County Grand Jury has indicted a woman with six counts of obtaining a prescription by fraud. 35 year old Brandi Lynn McPheron will be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday, December 7. According to Smithville Police, McPheron signed for and picked up prescriptions for the schedule IV drug Tramadol on six occasions at Rite Aid Pharmacy from August 11 to October 24, 2014. Each prescription was for 60, 50 milligrams. Police said a pharmacy representative reported that on each occasion, someone had called Rite Aid purporting to be from Mercy Clinic Family Medicine in Holister, Missouri on behalf of Dr. William Zeller ordering a prescription for Kari Stevens. Police were notified and arrested McPheron when she came to pick up the prescription on October 24, 2014. According to Police, Dr. Zeller was contacted and denied having a patient by the name Kari Stevens and said that the clinic in Missouri had not phoned in any prescriptions. Under an agreement, McPheron entered a guilty plea in December to two counts of obtaining drugs by fraud. She received a two year sentence in each case all suspended to supervised probation. The terms are to run consecutively with each other for a total sentence of four years.
McPheron is requesting judicial diversion probation and that the case be transferred to Missouri.
*A judge has again found that Cookeville Boat Dock must pay delinquent DeKalb County property taxes, but in a new ruling Judge Amy Hollars has granted a motion by the marina's attorney to bar the county from collecting more than 10 years in back taxes with 10 years being a statue of limitations. That ruling saves the boat dock nearly $60,000. However, the judge ruled against the boat dock when it came to the amount of interest the county could charge on the back taxes. Judge Hollars announced her decision via a telephone conference call Tuesday morning, November 24 with Vester Parsley, Jr., the county's tax attorney, and Jon Jones of Cookeville, the lawyer representing Cookeville Boat Dock. Clerk and Master Deborah Malone and County Mayor Tim Stribling were also present. The boat dock owners have refused to pay their taxes since 1998. As of Tuesday, the total amount owed comes to $204,504 including taxes, interest, penalty, court costs, and attorneys fees. As a result of the judge's decision, the boat dock will NOW owe the county only $136,051 for the delinquency from 2004-2013.
*DeKalb County High School Tiger Basketball Coach Lynus Martin reached a coaching milestone Friday, November 27 notching his 250th career victory. It came against Greater Gwinnett Christian of Norcross, Georgia in the Cannon County Thanksgiving Classic at Woodbury. The final score was 53-42.
*A 50 year old Nashville man has been indicted by the grand jury for the aggravated burglary and arson of a home in Lakeview Mountain Estates in November. Alton Ray Hinsley was arrested on Tuesday, December 1 and arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 7. His bond is $50,000. According to count one of the indictment, Hinsley intentionally, knowingly or recklessly entered the habitation of Marvin Oppenheim on Friday, November 6 with the intent to commit Arson, constituting the offense of Aggravated Burglary. Count two alleges that Hinsley did unlawfully and knowingly damage a structure by means of a fire or explosion. Meanwhile another person, 57 year old Thomas Richard Squires of Neil Drive, Smithville is charged in a state warrant with filing a false report as a result of the investigation. He was arrested on Wednesday, December 2
*A Dowelltown man charged with child rape for allegedly touching his eight year old niece in a sexual manner was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, December 2. Judge David Patterson presided. 22 year old Jonathan Everett Jay of Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown, who was indicted on two counts of child rape, entered a plea to one count of rape of a child and received a 25 year prison sentence. He is to serve 100% of the sentence day for day. Jay was given 447 days of jail credit.
*Surrounded by her parents, coaches, principal and fellow players, DCHS Softball standout Tyra Graham, a senior, signed scholarship papers Wednesday, December 2 with Cumberland University of Lebanon to play softball after she graduates here.
*The DeKalb County Beer Board voted to impose a civil penalty on the owner of Nicole's Market Thursday night, December 3 after she admitted to illegally selling beer to a minor. 42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Smithville has until next Friday, December 11 to pay the $1,000 fine or she will lose her beer license for six months. Godinez appeared before the beer board Thursday night for a revocation hearing. But Godinez decided against proceeding with the hearing and accepted the penalty assessed by the beer board. During an undercover operation in September, a 20 year old operative working for the Sheriff's Department entered Nicole's Market and bought beer from Godinez. Sheriff Patrick Ray, Detective Jeremy Taylor and other officers involved in the operation were present for the hearing Thursday night and prepared to testify.
*A 54 year old Smithville man who allegedly broke into a residence last year stood trial and was convicted in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday, December 9. After deliberating for less than an hour, a jury of six men and six women found David Michael Petty guilty of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 as charged in the indictment against him. A sentencing hearing will be held on January 7th. Petty will be held in jail without bond until the hearing. Because Petty has six previous felony convictions, Assistant District Attorney General Stephanie Johnson told WJLE after the trial that she will ask the court to sentence him as a career offender. A penalty which carries a maximum of fifteen years in prison. A co-defendant in the case, 44 year old Anthony Lynn Colwell pled guilty in July to aggravated burglary and received a TDOC sentence of eleven years at 45% before parole eligibility. The term is to run concurrently with a Warren County case against him. He was given two days of jail credit. Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time of their arrests that on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Petty and Colwell broke into a residence on Man Hill Road and stole a jewelry box containing several items of jewelry which were later pawned at a local jewelry store and at a pawn shop in Warren County.
*A former manager of the Dairy Queen who allegedly stole thousands of dollars from the business and then staged the scene to make it look like a break-in earlier this year was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, December 7. 21 year old Rebecca Dawn Duffield entered a guilty plea to a charge of theft of property over $1,000 and received a two year sentence but has been granted judicial diversion. She will be on supervised probation by TDOC. A vandalism charge against her has been dismissed. She will make restitution to the Dairy Queen in the amount of $380.27. Duffield and her boyfriend, 20 year old James Anthony Skinner were co-indicted by the grand jury on November 23 for theft over $1,000 and vandalism under $500. Skinner's case remains pending in court.
*The City of Smithville is entering into a 99 year lease agreement with the DeKalb Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals. The contract was approved by the aldermen during Monday night's monthly meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen on December 7. Under the plan, the Coalition proposes to build a new animal shelter on a four acre site near the solid waste transfer station, behind Tenneco off of Highway 70 east. The property, owned by the Smithville Industrial Development Board, has been deeded to the city, which will enter into a 99 year lease with the Coalition, a 501 (c) 3 charity organization. The goal of the coalition is for the county to have a permanent and safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in permanent homes. The City of Smithville and DeKalb County have each pledged to appropriate $75,000 for the erection of a facility. The new shelter will take the place of a smaller one which has been in existence for years on county property but operated by the city behind the DeKalb County Highway Department Headquarters off Smith Road.
*Incumbent Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell will be unopposed for re-nomination by his party in the March 1 DeKalb County Democratic Primary but he will be opposed by Republican Shannon A. Cantrell in the August General Election. Noon Thursday December 10 was the qualifying deadline for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to run for Assessor of Property and Constable in DeKalb County. The only contested Constable race will be in the first district between Democrat Jason C. Taylor and Republican Lee Plummer. Taylor will be unopposed for the Democratic nomination on March 1 but he will face Plummer in the August County General Election. Republican Tom Theriaque in the 2nd district will be unopposed in the August General Election. There is no Democratic candidate for that position. Incumbent Democratic Constables Travis Bryant in the 3rd district, Paul Cantrell in the 4th district, Mark Milam in the 5th district, Carl Lee Webb in the 6th district, and Johnny King in the 7th district will be unopposed in both the March 1 Primary and in the August General Election. The DeKalb County Democratic Primary, to select party nominees for Assessor of Property and Constable, will be held in conjunction with the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primary on March 1.
*Seventy four children at the Smithville Head Start Center were treated to bags of gifts Thursday, December 17 during the annual Cops for Kids effort by the Smithville Police Department. Police Chief Mark Collins, Mayor Jimmy Poss, and other members of the police department presented the children with the gifts. Other guests were on hand for songs and special treats. "Today is our Toys for Tots. Each year the Smithville Police Department tries to do something around this special holiday. This year we chose the Head Start. What we do is we collect donations and presents from throughout the city and we give them to the kids. They get to interact with us. Its really enjoyable for all of us to interact with the kids, " said Chief Collins.
*DeKalb County will soon have a new director of the local UT Agricultural Extension Service. Johnny Barnes will be taking over from Michael Barry effective January 1. His first day on the job will be January 4. Barry has taken another position. County Mayor Tim Stribling made the announcement during the County Commission meeting Monday night, December 14.
*UCHRA’s effort to sell Lakeside Resort and reduce the agency’s debt has cleared a preliminary hurdle. Officials were informed in December that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given initial approval to allow the buyer to enter into a lease agreement to take over operations of the facility, located off Highway 56 north in DeKalb County. UCHRA Executive Director Luke Collins explained in a recent memo that Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch has made a proposal of $600,000 for the facility along with $100,000 in services over a 10-year period (or $10,000 per year). He said if the proposal could be accepted at the agency’s next real estate meeting on December 29, a check for $50,000 would be presented as earnest money, with the balance paid at closing.”
*DeKalb County High School's Steven Jennings has been named an all-state performer by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association for Division I, Class 3A. The talented Tiger quarterback, a junior, guided DeKalb County to a 7-4 season and another appearance in the state play-offs this year. All-State football teams released on Tuesday covered all eight classifications in the state with players selected to form an all-state team for each class
*Alexandria has a new Chief of Police. Chris Russell, who has been serving as interim chief for the past month, was officially named chief during Tuesday night's regular monthly meeting of the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen on December 22. He was sworn in by City Attorney Vester Parsley. Meanwhile, the aldermen voted to appoint Randy Payne as alderman to fill a position left vacant by Pat Jackson who has resigned. Payne was sworn into office by City Attorney Vester Parsley.
*A 59 year old woman died from injuries in a Saturday evening traffic accident on Highway 70 at Dowelltown, December 26. Dead is Donna Jean Willoughby of Dowelltown. The accident occurred at 5:01 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 70 and Turner Street. Trooper Brandon Jackson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Willoughby, driving a 1995 red Chevrolet Camaro, was turning left (east) from Turner Street onto Highway 70 when she pulled into the path of a westbound 2011 Ford F150 pickup, driven by 64 year old William Davis of Dowelltown. Davis' wife, 56 year old Dana Davis was a passenger with him. The truck hit the car in the driver side door area.
*The National Weather Service said Friday that four tornadoes touched down in Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, December 23 including one in DeKalb County in the area of Lower Helton and Temperance Hall. The tornado that hit DeKalb and crossed into Smith county was classified as an EF2. There were no injuries from this storm. It touched down on Helton Creek southwest of Dry Branch Road in DeKalb County with wind speeds estimated around 125 mph. The tornado caused damage to homes and barns and uprooted trees along its path as it moved toward Temperance Hall. One of the hardest hit areas appeared to be on Jackson Hollow Road and the Old Temperance Hall Road/Smith Fork Creek Road near the DeKalb/Smith County line. The tornado ended near Lancaster.