Local News Articles

Nelson Enters "Best Interest" Plea to Coercion of Witness

May 26, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

A 37 year old man charged with coercion of a witness was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, May 22 after entering a best interest plea under a negotiated settlement.

Judge David Patterson presided.

Steven Anthony Nelson received a sentence of two years, all suspended to supervised probation by community corrections. He was given jail credit from July 8, 2014 to May 22, 2015. The term will run concurrently with a Grundy County sentence against him. His bond conditions shall be lifted to allow contact with a family member.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 a deputy was dispatched to the hospital where he spoke with a woman who reported that her husband, Nelson had come into her home while she slept. When she awoke, the woman found Nelson standing over her. Nelson allegedly got the woman out of bed and threatened her, saying that if she did not drop domestic assault warrants against him, his father would come to her home and shoot her in the face. Nelson continued making threats against the woman until she left the residence.

Nelson was previously arrested on Thursday, July 3, 2014 for the domestic assault of his wife.

37 year old Jason Cripps pled guilty to aggravated domestic assault and auto burglary. He received a four year sentence for the assault and two years for the burglary to run concurrently for a total of four years. The sentence has been suspended to supervised probation. Cripps was given jail credit of 228 days served. He is barred from having any contact with the victim.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, June 5, 2014 a deputy was dispatched to Cripps' residence on a domestic assault complaint. The officer spoke with a woman who said when she came home, her husband, Cripps was passed out on the back porch. After waking up, Cripps came into the house and an argument started. Cripps grabbed his wife by the neck, slammed her into the wall, and started choking her, causing red marks on her neck. He then left the house. Cripps was later arrested and charged with domestic assault and brought to the jail for booking.

Meanwhile, Smithville Police said that on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 officers responded to DeKalb Specialty Clinic on a complaint of an intoxicated person who had showed up at a doctor's office there. Upon arrival, the officer was told that Cripps had left but was seen walking toward the hospital.

The officer heard an auto alarm and found Cripps who had allegedly entered a Jeep Cherokee and was going through personal belongings and papers in the vehicle without the owner's consent. According to police, Cripps' speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Cripps was placed under arrest.

37 year old Gary Ashford pled guilty to sale of a schedule III drug and received a two year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. The term is to run consecutive to his current probation. Ashford was fined $2,000 and he must make restitution of ten dollars to the Alexandria Police Department. He was given jail credit from December 1, 2014 to January 25, 2015.

20 year old Thomas Nix was granted judicial diversion for two years after entering a plea to possession of a schedule VI drug for resale. The sentence is to be suspended to supervised probation. He was fined $2,000.

37 year old Stacey Ashford was granted judicial diversion for three years after entering a plea to delivery of a schedule IV drug. She was fined $2,000 and given jail credit from December 1, 2014 to January 21, 2015. Ashford will be on supervised probation.

32 year old Anthony Hawkins pled guilty by information to reckless endangerment and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on supervised probation.

34 year old Justin Lavaughn Westbrook pled guilty to driving on a suspended license and received a six month sentence all suspended to supervised probation. The case is to run concurrently with a Wilson County case against him.

Livingston Man Seriously Hurt in Motorcycle Crash

May 26, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Livingston man was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash near Sligo Bridge Sunday afternoon only minutes after his passenger fell off the bike as the two were traveling on Highway 70 east near Adcock Cemetery Road.

46 year old Troy Walker was airlifted after the accident.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Walker was operating a 2005 Harley Davidson east on Highway 70 when he lost his male passenger near Adcock Cemetery Road without noticing he had fallen off.

Walker kept going until he reached the west end of Sligo bridge, where he lost control of the motorcycle and crashed, hitting a concrete barrier severely injuring his arm on a road sign. Walker came off the Harley in the roadway, and the bike continued several hundred feet through the construction zone at the bridge before coming to rest when it wedged itself between a parked Jeep Cherokee and a rock outcropping.

Walker, suspected of being intoxicated at the time, could be facing charges . His passenger was not seriously injured in the fall from the bike.

Memorial Day Observance Held to Remember Fallen Soldiers

May 25, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Don Rigsby (left) who served over 31 years of active and reserve military service with the USAF was the guest speaker at Monday's Memorial Day Program. Pictured here with William Edmonds
American Legion Post #122 Commander William Edmonds (second from left) joins WWII Veterans Guy Mathis, Edward Frazier, and Doyle Taylor in placing wreath at Veterans Monument on Memorial Day

To commemorate the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes, the American Legion #122 held its annual Memorial Day remembrance Monday morning at the county complex.

The program featured patriotic songs by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Victoria Vincent performing the national anthem and a poem about a World War II veteran authored by the late Ben Herman and read by Susan Hinton. Members of Scout Pack #347 posted Colors and led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Judy Redman, President of the American Legion #122 Women's Auxiliary recognized Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star spouses.

"This morning I want to remember those men and women, who gave their lives for our freedom. I would also like to remember the families of those who gave their lives. I know they too have sacrificed, "said Don Rigsby, keynote speaker for the program.

Rigsby retired from the United States Air Force on July 1, 1998 after more than 31 years of active and reserve military service including duty in Southeast Asia in 1968 through 1969. Upon his retirement from the Air Force, Rigsby was the Recruiting and Retention Supervisor for the Tennessee Air National Guard.

In his remarks, Rigsby spoke of the freedoms we enjoy in America because of our veterans and he referred to a poem to help illustrate the point.

"It is the Veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the Veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Veteran, who salutes the Flag,
It is the Veteran, who serves under the Flag."

He also quoted British philosopher John Stuart Mill in saying that "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling is much worse. A person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight is a miserable creature ."

"There are some things worth fighting for. Our freedom to live in America and our freedom to worship God. I say to you this morning, God Bless the USA. God Bless those who have fought and died for our freedom. Let us never forget them," Rigsby concluded.

Following the program, a wreath was placed at the site of the Veterans Memorial Monument on the south side of the courthouse.

DeKalb West School Observes Eighth Grade Graduation

May 25, 2015
by: 
Bill Conger
Abbey Parchman and Zachery Cothern didn't miss a single day of school this year. They were presented with an award for Perfect Attendance. (Photo by Tonya Ellis)
A.J. Gaskill receives the Mrs. Georgia Young award from Sherry Williams, the oldest daughter of the late DWS Cafeteria Manager (Photo by Tonya Ellis)
Cheyenne Maxwell (left) performed best in English Language Arts (ELA) with a 97% average in Cynthia Preston's Class. Callie Mulloy earned top honors in Karen Pelham France's class for highest average in ELA with 97%, History (97%), Math (98%), and Science (98%) (Photo by Tonya Ellis)
Citizenship awards, which were chosen by their peers went to Phillip Coats, Ashley Reynolds, Cheyenne Maxwell, and Dillon Sullivan (Photo by Tonya Ellis).
Ashley Reynolds (third from left)  tied with Callie Mulloy (far right) in Math with a 98% finish in Cynthia Preston's class while Lydia Brown (far left) and Addison Oakley (second from left) tied in Math with 97%. Oakley also tied with Josh Martin in Science with a 98% average.
In Cynthia Preston’s class,  Josh Martin was tops in History with a 98% finish. He also tied with Addison Oakley (center) in Science with a 98% average.

The 8th grade class at DeKalb West said its final good-bye on May 21 when 40 students picked up their certificate of completion.

DeKalb County Trustee Sean Driver, the keynote speaker and father of 8th grader Garrett Driver, encouraged the graduating class to conquer adversity. A double amputee who has undergone five different operations, credited his faith in God with helping him to make it through the tough times. He and his wife, school nurse Christie Driver, who has faced cancer the last year, also rely on each other for strength.

"She suffers, I suffer," Driver told the students. "We attack this adversity with faith in God, and He is in control. In His word, he says he will never leave me."

Nicknamed Smiley in high school, Driver urged the students to turn to Success, Ministry, Intelligence, Loyalty, and Encouragement to overcome the troubles that will come their way.

"Do what is best for you and others, you can say no, have faith God will bring you through, family and friends are so important."

Homeroom teachers Cynthia Preston and Karen Pelham France handed out awards to students who excelled in the classroom this year.

Callie Mulloy dominated in France’s class as she picked up top honors for highest average in English Language Arts (ELA) with 97%, History (97%), Math (98%), and Science (98%). Ashley Reynolds tied with Mulloy in Math with a 98% finish.

In Preston’s class, Cheyenne Maxwell performed best in ELA with a 97% average. Josh Martin was tops in History with a 98% finish. Lydia Brown and Addison Oakley tied in Math with 97%. Oakley also tied with Martin in Science with a 98% average.

Peers elected a boy and girl from each classroom for the Citizenship award. In Preston's homeroom, students chose Dillon Sullivan and Cheyenne Maxwell, and in France’s homeroom, Phillip Coats and Ashley Reynolds received the special honor. A.J. Gaskill was selected for the annual Mrs. Georgia Young Award, named in memory of the DWS Cafeteria Manager who never allowed a child to go hungry.

Graduating from DeKalb West for the 2014-2015 school year were John Arthur Biggerstaff, Natasha Bosenbark, Lydia Ann Brown, Noah Byrge, Shelby Elizabeth Clayborn, Phillip Nathaniel Coats, Zachary M. Cothern, Cedric Anthony Cruz, Jr., Kendall Cryer, Garrett Driver, Dakota Lee Fathera, Angelo Gaskill, Justin James Gohs, Tesa Campbell Hall, Samantha Haugh, Peyton Lemons, Keaton Tyler Lowery, Joshua Martin, Zoe Hannah Evelyn Maynard, Cheyenne Lee Maxwell, Callie Elizabeth Mulloy, Jeremy Rae Nabors, Joyce Neubacher, Addison Grace Oakley, Abbey Nicholle Parchman, Grayson Micheal Redmon, Ashley Nicole Reynolds, Justin William Reynolds, Emily Danielle Roehner, Ashton Cole Sensing, Harley LeighAnn Sloan, Sarah Michelle Starnes, Dillon Sullivan, Caleb Taylor, Austin Wayne Tittle, Diego Morales Vazquez, Destiny Vincent, Kayleigh West, Austin Winningham, and Alanna Renee Woodham.

Smithville Electric System Plans Citywide Power Outage

May 24, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
SES to upgrade equipment at the Smithville Substation

Smithville Electric System will have a citywide power outage at midnight on Saturday, May 30th for 2 to 4 hours, to upgrade equipment at the Smithville substation.

Power to be turned off affecting the entire city will be back on sometime early Sunday morning May 31st as soon as the upgrades have been completed.

Smithville Electric System understands that this power outage is an inconvenience to everyone, but is necessary to insure reliable electricity to the City of Smithville. Customers who are on oxygen or have special medical needs should make preparations for this event. If customers have any questions or concerns, call the SES office at 615-597-4735.

This outage is dependent upon good weather, so continue to listen to WJLE for further announcements.

Two Airlifted After Rollover Crash in Alexandria

May 24, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Two Airlifted After Rollover Crash in Alexandria
Two persons from Lebanon Airlifted after Alexandria Wreck

Two people from Wilson County were airlifted after a one car rollover Saturday afternoon on West Main Street just outside the city limits of Alexandria.

Central dispatch was notified at 4:43 p.m.

According to Trooper Troy Withers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 45 year old Isaac Winfree, Jr. of Lebanon was traveling west on Main Street in a 2003 Buick Century when he lost control and left the road. The car overturned and came to rest upside down just off the road near 740 West Main Street.

Both Winfree and a passenger, 57 year old Helen Parrish of Lebanon were injured and taken by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone on Highway 53 (Brush Creek Highway) in Alexandria where they were airlifted by Air Evac and Life Force helicopter ambulances.

Members of the Alexandria Police and Fire Departments responded along with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, and the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Departments Liberty Station and Extrication and Rescue Team. Initial reports were that at least one of the wreck victims may have been trapped in the car.

Trooper Withers was assisted in the crash investigation by THP Lieutenant Joe Agee.

Hayes and Ruch Receive White Rose Awards, Trail Gets Citizenship Honor (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

May 23, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bailey Hayes Receives White Rose Award from Principal Patrick Cripps
Makalee Ruch Receives White Rose Award from Principal Patrick Cripps
Lydia Trail Receives Citizenship Award from Principal Patrick Cripps

Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during Friday night's commencement. And in honor of 23 month old Colten May who tragically died last Sunday, 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.

In her remarks, Valedictorian Julia Little urged her classmates to take responsibility for their own happiness. "Life only gets harder from here. You will have really great days and you will have really bad days. But you are responsible for your own happiness. If you are unhappy in any situation, be it the college you're at, the job you're in, the town you live in, or even a relationship, change it. I promise you will be much happier. Nothing lasts forever. The really bad days will come to an end, so push through them and remember to lean on those you love for support. The really good days will not last forever either, so remember to be thankful for those who are there with you and remind them how much you love them every day. Wherever life takes you, good luck. Go at it. Oh, and while you're at it, have a little fun," said Little.

Kelsey Hedge, Class President, admonished her friends to explore the limitless possibilities of their future. "The future is up to you. Every decision that you make from this day forward will have a significant effect on your future. When you make a choice, think about the long term effects it will have on your future. Remember who you are, where you are from, and what you represent. Be willing to stand for what you believe in, and always be true to yourself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Follow your passion and make your own path. Dare to be all that you can be. Be fearless, but be thoughtful and mindful in your fearlessness. Take a chance on doing what you love, and always strive to be the best at whatever you do. Stay true to your heart. Have the courage to explore the realm of possibility, and always be willing to take chances. Believe anything is possible and work hard to make it happen. Most importantly, don't be scared of the unknown. Follow your passion, be driven to succeed, and always be open to learning as you go. Never forget that your life is made up of moments. Enjoy each day as it comes, and don't miss these moments by being lost in the past or anticipating the future. From this day forward, go find your happiness, and never forget, your life is completely up to you," said Hedge.

Principal Patrick Cripps challenged the class to "explore, dream, and discover". "In the famous words of Dr. Seuss, today is your day. You are off to great places. You're off and away. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own and you know what to do. You are the guy who will decide where to go".

"You have been given a foundation by your parents, guardians, teachers, and friends to build upon. The choices you are making now will impact you and those closest to you for the rest of your lives. I ask that you not take these decisions lightly. At the same time, don't spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity that you miss the right opportunity. In choosing your path never fear to challenge yourself. Do not be afraid to fail because the only real failure in life is a failure to try. The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. And when you fall, be humble. Cling to your true self and stand up stronger. If you don't go after what you want you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place. Mark Twain said twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover," said Cripps.

"Tonight my challenge to you is that you indeed explore, dream, and discover. Travel the road you were meant to claim but at the end of the day always remember where home is. I challenge you to keep these days and memories near to you so that you may someday have a desire to return and give back to your community. Remember collectively who you are. We are DeKalb County," Cripps concluded.

The program featured an Invocation by Bailey Hayes of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Music by the DCHS Band and Chorus. DCHS Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick introduced the honors and distinction students. Guidance Counselor Shelly Painter recognized the Top Rank students in the class. The Benediction was delivered by Lane Ball, member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Mother and Boyfriend Make First Court Appearance in Child Death Case

May 22, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Cody Key escorted from courthouse after being arraigned Friday Morning
Jessica Ashley May being escorted to the courthouse for arraignment Friday morning

A Smithville mother and her boyfriend indicted Tuesday in the death of the woman's 23 month old son made their first court appearance on Friday morning.

23 year old Cody Key, indicted for felony murder and aggravated child abuse, and 19 year old Jessica May, indicted on a charge of aggravated child neglect, were arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

As WJLE first reported Tuesday, the child, Colten Alexander May was brought to DeKalb Community 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, according to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway.

During their brief appearances before Judge David Patterson Friday morning covered exclusively by WJLE, Key and May had "not guilty" pleas entered on their behalf by court appointed counsel. Judge Patterson appointed District Public Defender Craig Fickling to represent Key and McMinnville attorney Larry Bryant was named to be May's lawyer.

Before appointing them counsel, Judge Patterson asked both Key and May about their finances and whether they could afford an attorney. Key said he had no income or property. May said she owned no property and has been living in a rent home. She added that her only income was from working at McDonalds and that she had only one dollar in a savings account.

Key is under a one million dollar bond and is incarcerated at a facility in another county. May's bond is $300,000. Neither attorney requested a bond reduction.

The cases against Key and May will be back on the court docket again on October 2.

May will be transported to the Tennessee Department of Correction for safekeeping pending disposition of the criminal charge due to her being more than seven months pregnant. Assistant D.A. Greg Strong filed the motion making the request and Judge Patterson granted it over the objections of May's attorney, Bryant who said his client wished to remain in the DeKalb County Jail.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Sheriff Patrick Ray said the jail is not equipped to care for May's medical needs due to her pregnancy. "Jessica Ashley May is approximately seven months pregnant. The DeKalb County Jail employs one on-call nurse and does not have the appropriate equipment and/or staff to meet the medical needs of May. The affiant (Sheriff Ray) requests that May be transferred to the special needs facility in Nashville to ensure that she receives the medical attention required by her pregnancy".

Meanwhile, the public defender filed motions with the court asking that biological evidence and blood specimens of the child be preserved for independent testing. The judge granted those requests. Another motion by the public defender asking that the body be preserved for an independent autopsy was later withdrawn.

Intoxicated Woman Found with Bags of Pills During Traffic Stop

May 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Michelle Renee Yarbro
Tolesha Alberta Suggs
Clinton Lane Cope
Steven Lee Gebhardt
Robert James Clay
Sheena Arlene George

A Murfreesboro woman believed to be intoxicated was found with bags of pills in her vehicle during a recent traffic stop by a county deputy.

37 year old Michelle Renee Yarbro of Murfreesboro is charged with driving under the influence, possession of a schedule III drug for resale (hydrocodone), and possession of a schedule IV drug for resale (Alprazolam). She is further cited for simple possession of a schedule II drug (Opana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond totals $11,500 and she will make a court appearance June 4. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, May 11 a deputy was dispatched to the intersection of Highway 96 (Murfreesboro Highway) and Highway 70 west due to a report of a female slumped over the steering wheel of a blue car setting on the edge of the highway. The officer stopped and spoke with the driver, Yarbro who appeared to be under the influence of an intoxicant. Her speech was slurred and she was unable to stand or keep her eyes open. The officer found in the vehicle a baggie containing nineteen hydrocodone pills and a baggie with nineteen and a half Alprazolam pills all believed to be for resale. The deputy also recovered a cut off straw from the floor board and one Opana 10 milligram pill which was found on Yarbro's person.

32 year old Tolesha Alberta Suggs of Old West Point Road, Smithville is charged with simple possession of a schedule VI drug and cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court June 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 14 a deputy stopped to conduct a welfare check on a gold Nissan Altima and spoke with Suggs who was sitting in the driver seat. After obtaining consent to search the vehicle, the officer found underneath where Suggs was sitting a small black bag which held a sandwich baggie containing .18 ounces of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. He also discovered a half empty container of Bud Lite beer and under the driver's side seat was a pipe containing residue. A computer check revealed that Suggs' drivers license were suspended by the state for medical reasons on November 7, 2013.

25 year old Clinton Lane Cope of Smith Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. He is under a $2,000 bond and will make a court appearance May 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 14 a deputy was dispatched to Midway Road due to a domestic assault. Upon arrival, Cope's mother told the officer that he had left the residence in a blue truck after forcing his girlfriend to leave with him. The deputy located the truck on Midway Road where he stopped and found both Cope and his girlfriend. Cope was bleeding from his face and neck and the girl had bruises on her arms and scratch marks on her neck. She claims that Cope got on top of her, held her down, and grabbed her by the neck , forcibly keeping her from getting away. Cope was determined to have been the primary aggressor.

41 year old Steven Lee Gebhardt of Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville is charged with assault. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court June 4. According to Sheriff Ray, on Sunday May 17 deputies responded to a disturbance call at the Lake Motel. Upon arrival, one of the officers knocked on the door of a motel room there and identified himself. The man inside the room, Gebhardt did not come out and warned the deputy that he was armed with a gun and would shoot him if he did not leave. Gebhardt also told the other officer that he had a 25 caliber handgun. The deputies then forced their way into the room and took Gebhardt into custody.

Two people were arrested Sunday, May 17 after their Chevy Blazer was pulled over on Highway 56 north on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Robert James Clay of Big Hickory Court, Smithville is charged with DUI and reckless endangerment for having his three year old son in the automobile with him while driving intoxicated. He is further cited for driving on a suspended license and violation of the open container law.

Meanwhile the owner and passenger of the Chevy Blazer, 31 year old Sheena Arlene George of J.E. Evins Avenue, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence by allowance and reckless endangerment. She was arrested for allowing an intoxicated person to drive her vehicle. A computer check revealed that she had a previous offense on September 20, 2014. She too was charged with reckless endangerment due to the child in the vehicle being operated by an intoxicated driver.

Bond for Clay is $3,000. George's bond is $4,500. They will make a court appearance on June 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 17 a deputy was dispatched to Cookeville Highway due to a report of a possible drunk driver in a black Chevy Blazer. The officer along with another deputy stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Clay. He was found to have a strong odor of alcohol on his person and his speech was slurred. An open container of whiskey was found on the floorboard of his automobile. Clay performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test. Clay was then placed under arrest and booked at the sheriff's department.

D.A.R.E. Essay Winners Awarded at DeKalb West School

May 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray, DeKalb West 5th Grade D.A.R.E. Essay winners Breanna Cothern and Allison Eastes (Overall Winner), and D.A.R.E Instructor Chief Deputy Don Adamson

Fifth graders at DeKalb West School received pins and certificates during the annual D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony held Thursday.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was conducted by D.A.R.E. Instructor and Chief Deputy Don Adamson of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Each student prepares an essay during the course and those with the best essays from each class are recognized and awarded. This year's essay winners at DeKalb West School are Allison Eastes and Breanna Cothern. The fifth grade teachers are Jeanna Caplinger and Nadina Manganiello.

Eastes was the over-all winner and she read her essay during Thursday's program. In addition to the award, prizes, and recognition, Eastes gets to keep "Daren the Lion" the D.A.R.E. Mascot and she received a $50 check from Judge Bratten Cook II, presented in his absence by Matt Boss.

In addition to Sheriff Patrick Ray and Chief Deputy Adamson, others on hand for the ceremony were DeKalb West School Principal Sabrina Farler, Assistant Principal Joey Agee, Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins, Suzanne Slager on behalf of Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Trustee Sean Driver, County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss and employees of the Sheriff's Department.

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