Local News Articles

Former "Living The Dream" Executive Director Sentenced In Fraud Scheme

October 28, 2016
Wendy Askins Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Wendy Askins, 55, of Red Boiling Springs, former Executive Director for the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger to 18 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for misusing the organization’s funds, announced David Rivera, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Judge Trauger also ordered Askins to pay $233,000 in restitution.

Askins was previously charged in a 12-count superseding indictment charging conspiracy, bank fraud, embezzlement, and making false statements. Askins pleaded guilty on August 30, 2016, to theft of Federal program funds.

The fraudulent scheme was carried out from March 2010 through February 2012. During that period, Askins purchased a property outside of Cookeville, Tennessee which she named Living the Dream. Askins used funds belonging to UCDD and its sister agencies, including the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation (CAIC), to renovate the home. Living the Dream was to serve as an assisted living facility for senior citizens, however, Askins and her daughter moved into the property and made luxurious upgrades to their residential wings.

Askins also set up a company called L.A. Management to operate the senior living facility. In order to hide her wrongdoing, Askins directed employees to falsify the minutes of the board of director’s meetings. At other times, Askins lied about the circumstances of the fake board minutes.

According to court documents, Askins carried out the scheme with co-defendant Larry Webb, who previously pleaded guilty on August 17, 2015. Webb is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2016.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie N. Toussaint and William F. Abely.

Board of Education Big Winner in Habitat Chili Cook-Off

October 28, 2016
Tecia Puckett Pryor
 Cowabunga Chili” from the DeKalb County Board of Education took Top Chili Honors and Best Decorated Booth Award at 13th Annual Habitat Chili Cook-Off and Bake Sale
 Cheese Wagon Chili” from the DeKalb County Department of Transportation awarded second place for Best Chili and tied second place for Best Decorated Booth
Third place chili honors went to “Hot Checks Chili” from Wilson Bank and Trust.
“Spooky Bean Chili” from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas tied second place for Best Decorated Booth
The Golden Spoon Award went to “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials

The 13th Annual Habitat for Humanity Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, held Friday, October 28, 2016, on the Town Square was a great success! According to the Chili Cook-off Committee, there was a record turnout and more than $5,400 was raised for Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.

“Cowabunga Chili” from the DeKalb County Board of Education took Top Chili Honors, with “Cheese Wagon Chili” from the DeKalb County Department of Transportation coming in second place. Third place chili honors went to “Hot Checks Chili” from Wilson Bank and Trust.

The Best Decorated Booth Award also went to “Cowabunga Chili” from the DeKalb County Board of Education, with “Spooky Bean Chili” from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas and “Cheese Wagon Chili” from the DeKalb County Department of Transportation tying for second place.

The Golden Spoon Award went to “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials, who raised $197.00 for Habitat in cash donations at their booth.

Rounding out the nine participating teams were “Around the Block” from H&R Block; “The Bean Counters” from Janney and Associates, CPA’s; “Savvy Chili” from Savvy Scrubs/Professional Testing Services; and “No Liability Chili” from the DeKalb County Bar Association.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County thanks each of these teams for their dedication and support of the event; all those who donated the delicious baked goods; city and county officials for facilitating the event space; and all the fine folks of the community who came out to support Habitat and this great community event.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with volunteers and families in need, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged. To contact Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, please call 215-8181.

DCHS Hosts College and Career Fair

October 28, 2016
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins and other members of the department with students during DCHS College and Career Fair

Students at DeKalb County High School participated in a College and Career Fair Friday.

Representatives of local businesses, universities, healthcare facilities, law enforcement, EMS, fire departments, and members of the armed services set up booths in the gym to share information and in some cases demonstrations.

In the video below, a student is shown wearing a pair of Fatal Vision goggles from the Smithville Police Department. An alcohol impairment simulation which provides a sobering view of what impairment can do.

Participants in the College and Career Fair were as follows:

Atnip Chiropractic Clinic
Caney Fork Electric Cooperative
Cumberland University
DeKalb County Bar Association
DeKalb County Board of Education
DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department
DeKalb EMS
DeKalb County Sheriff's Department
DTC Communications
Federal Mogul
Georgia Career Institute
Huff & Puff Trucking
Motlow State Community College
NHC Healthcare Center
Nossi College Arts
Smithville Volunteer Fire Department
Smithville Police Department
St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital
Suncrest Home Health
Tennessee College of Applied Technology of Livingston
Tennessee College of Applied Technology of McMinnville
Tennessee College of Applied Technology of Hartsville
Tennessee College of Applied Technology of Murfreesboro
Tennessee Tech University
Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency
U.S. Marine Corps
UT Knoxville
Vol State Community College
Wilson Bank and Trust
University of Northwestern Ohio

Tigers at Cannon County Tonight; Tiger Talk Features Steven Jennings, Christian Pruitt, and Jesse Smith

October 28, 2016
Dwayne Page
Tigers at Cannon County Tonight

The DeKalb County Tigers will wrap up the regular season tonight (Friday) as they take on the Cannon County Lions at Woodbury.

Kick-Off is at 7:00 p.m.


No matter the outcome, the Tigers have secured a second place finish in the region and will host a first round state play-off game next Friday night, November 4 against East Ridge.

DeKalb County’s overall record is 6-3 and 5-1 in the region. Cannon County is 2-7 and 0-5 in region play.

WJLE’s coverage begins with “Coach to Coach” at 5:00 p.m. followed by “Murphy’s Matchups” at 6:00 p.m. “Tiger Talk” follows at 6:30 p.m. featuring Coach Steve Trapp and Tiger Football players Steven Jennings, Christian Pruitt, and Jesse Smith.

Listen LIVE for the Play by Play at 7:00 p.m. with the Voice of the Tigers John Pryor and Luke Willoughby.

Early Voting Turnout Expected to Break Record

October 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

An early voting record could be shattered before the week is out. That’s the word from the DeKalb County Election Commission.

“Through Friday, 2,695 votes had been cast (that number includes absentee ballots) and that’s over 500 less than the entire early voting period in 2012,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections.

“The turnout has been phenomenal with an average of 290 voters each day. With that pace, we should come close to reaching the 4,000 mark,” he continued. “That would definitely be a record here.”

On Friday, 293 voted including 287 in person and 6 by absentee.

Meanwhile, Stanley had a few reminders for voters who are making their way to the polls.

•There is a 100-foot campaign free zone around the voting location so voters should not be discussing the candidates while in line.

•You may not use a mobile electronic or communication device for telephone conversations, recording or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place. Under state law, you may use a mobile electronic or communication device for informational purposes to assist you in making election decisions in the polling place.

•State law requires voters who vote by personal appearance to present a Tennessee or U.S. Government issued photo I.D.

“We also want to remind the trick-or-treaters and their parents who will be in town Monday afternoon to use the second floor entrance to the courthouse,” Stanley said. “Early voting is conducted on the first floor and we hope those participating in the annual ‘Trick or Treat on the Square’ event to be mindful of the voters and the voting process.”

Applications For Angel Tree Project Available Starting October 31

October 27, 2016

Applications will be available for pickup for the 21st Annual Angel Tree Project from Monday, October 31st through Friday, November 4th.

Spokesperson Laura Stone said that the application turn in date has been set for one day only. "Applications can be picked up October 31st through November 4th. You will continue to pick up your applications at the Department of Human Services, but the application must be returned in person on November 9th at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center," she said.

"Completed applications must be returned to the First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center Building in downtown Smithville (on the corner across from First Baptist) on Wednesday, November 9th from 2:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Applications not returned to the Church LEC Building on November 9th WILL NOT be accepted. There are no exceptions to the requirements of the application process. It is very important that you understand we will only accept applications this one day only," said Stone.

"Applications can only be picked up at the Department of Human Services on October 31st through November 4th and can only be returned to the Church LEC Building on November 9th. In addition to bringing the completed application, applicants must provide photo identification of the person applying and social security cards and birth certificates for ALL children listed on the application. We will only be keeping the application; all other documents will be returned to the applicant. If an applicant cannot appear in person, their application can be submitted by a family member as long as all of the required information is presented." Stone continued.

"Eligible children must live in DeKalb County and be no older than age 12 by December 25, 2016. The Department of Human Services will only be passing out the applications. Nothing will be returned to them and any questions should be directed to Laura Stone at 615-464-7135”. Do not contact anyone at the Department of Human Services or First Baptist Church or anyone other than Laura. Your application will be denied if these directions are not followed. Stone adds that "the Angel Tree has been such a tremendous success in the past and with economic times extremely tough for many in our area, we want this years Angel Tree to be no exception. The Angel Tree helps so many families who are struggling to make ends meet. It is sad to think about, but many of these children would not otherwise have a single present for Christmas. With the economy still struggling, we are expecting demand to be high."

Florence & White Ford Presents Check to DCHS Football Program

October 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Coach Steve Trapp, Jimmy White of Florence & White Ford, and DCHS Quarterback Club President Darrell Gill

The DCHS Football Program received a check from Florence & White Ford of Smithville Wednesday evening in the amount of $6,020.

The check was presented to DCHS Football Coach Steve Trapp and DCHS Quarterback Club President Darrell Gill by Jimmy White of Florence & White Ford. The funds were raised in a Ford Test Drive Event held during “Football Community Night” at the high school in August sponsored by the Quarterback Club. Florence & White Ford brought in new Ford vehicles and donated money to the football program based on the number of test drives taken during the evening. Football fans also enjoyed a barbeque dinner and a scrimmage game between the Tigers and Friendship Christian.

Coach Trapp said he appreciates the support of Florence & White Ford and the community for the football program at DCHS. “This is something that will really help our program. Florence & White Ford supports DeKalb County athletics and especially football and we appreciate them. It was a good event that came together well with a lot of great people including our quarterback club. I can’t say enough how much we appreciate our county and Florence & White Ford. The money raised will be put to good use as far as supporting our program,” said Coach Trapp.

“We really appreciate Jimmy and the kind folks at Florence & White Ford. This Test Drive for Ford is great for our football program and it’s great for our community. It allowed fans to come out, enjoy barbeque, and help kick off the football season. We are looking at doing this as an annual thing and if you’re going to buy a new ford make sure you go to Florence & White Ford and give these guys a first chance,” said Darrell Gill, President of the DCHS Quarterback Club.

“We’re just happy to be able to help out and give back to the community,” added Jimmy White of Florence & White Ford.

Cumberland University President to Speak at Chamber Prayer Breakfast

October 26, 2016
Paul C. Stumb

Cumberland University President Paul C. Stumb will be the keynote speaker for the annual Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber Prayer Breakfast.

The event will be held Tuesday, November 22 from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. at the DeKalb County Complex Theatre, 712 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville. Doors open at 6:30 a.m.

Dr. Stumb officially became the 26th president of Cumberland University on April 29, 2016. Dr. Stumb has served Cumberland University since 2003, when he became an Adjunct Professor, a capacity in which he served for two years before becoming Dean of the Labry School, now the Labry School of Science, Technology and Business.

Also on the program, Suzanne Slager will be singing the National Anthem and the special music. Local Boy Scout Troop #347 will present the flags. Leaders from our community will lead prayers for our Children and Families, Health and Healing of our Communities, and Military and Emergency Response Personnel making this a meaningful and memorable experience. A delicious breakfast will be prepared by Jason Evans, head chef of The Inn at Evins Mill. The menu includes homemade buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, country ham, fruit platter, fresh baked muffins, orange juice, and coffee. Breakfast will be served with the help of the 2016 Chamber Board of Directors.

Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased at the Chamber office, from the Chamber Board of Directors, by calling the Chamber office, or emailing swilliams@dekalbcountychamber.org. We’ll be glad to hold your tickets at the door.

Chamber Executive Director, Suzanne Williams says, “I would like to invite everyone to join us at this special and inspirational event in giving thanks to God for the abundant blessings He has given us in our county and for His direction as we move forward into the future.”

The Chamber Prayer Breakfast is a wonderful way to begin the holiday season. A BIG THANK YOU to our current Chamber Prayer Breakfast Sponsors: Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital, DTC Communications, Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, and Sunbelt Realty. For tickets or additional information, call the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber at 615-597-4163.

Liberty Man Charged After Firing Pistol During Argument with Nephew

October 25, 2016
Dwayne Page
Earl J. Knox
Christopher Lloyd Stanford
Nathan Joseph Wilbert
Angelica Michelle Gillean
Jason Bradley Cripps
Dwayne Glass, Jr.
Tyson Lee Pack

A Liberty man was arrested last week after firing a pistol shot in the area of his nephew and others during an argument over a firearm.

70 year old Earl J. Knox of Bratten Street, Liberty is charged with aggravated assault (domestic related) and reckless endangerment. His bond is $6,500 and his court date is November 10. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Wednesday, October 19 a deputy was summoned to Bratten Street due to shots having been fired at others. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Knox who said that he and his nephew became involved in a verbal argument over a firearm. All parties were on separate properties. Knox said he went inside his home and grabbed a 22 caliber pistol and then came back outside and fired one round in the area of his nephew. Other persons and homes were also in the immediate area. Knox was placed under arrest.

37 year old Christopher Lloyd Stanford of Cedar Street, Liberty is charged with assault. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is October 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, October 10 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Stone Street in Liberty in response to a verbal argument that had turned physical. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the victim who said that Stanford assaulted him. The deputy also spoke with two others who said they witnessed the assault. The victim was taken to the hospital due to his injuries.

36 year old Nathan Joseph Wilbert of Vandergriff Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with vandalism. His bond is $3,000 and his court date is October 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 12 Wilbert, a prisoner at the DeKalb County Jail, hit a surveillance camera while he was in a holding cell causing it to malfunction.

27 year old Angelica Michelle Gillean of Tuttle, Oklahoma is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and her court date is December 1. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, October 18 a deputy was dispatched to the Dollar General Store on Cookeville Highway due to a woman possibly intoxicated. Upon arrival, the officer found Gillean there. She was unsteady on her feet and she had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. Gillean admitted to having taken xanax pills and drinking about a fifth of vodka about two hours before the officer’s encounter with her. For her safety and that of the public, Gillean was arrested for public intoxication.

42 year old Jason Bradley Cripps of Four Seasons Road, Smithville is charged with a fourth offense of driving while suspended or revoked. His bond is $4,000 and he will make a court appearance on October 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 12 a sheriff’s department detective was called to the Dollar General Store on Nashville Highway where a man was observed passed out behind the steering wheel of his vehicle. Upon arrival the detective found the man, Cripps, passed out in the vehicle with his foot on the brake. Keys were in the ignition and the engine was running. A computer check revealed Cripps’ license were suspended for failure to pay fines due to an original violation out of Cumberland County in 2005.

20 year old Dwayne Glass, Jr. of Liberty is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $1,000 and his court date is October 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 19 Glass allegedly assaulted his girlfriend by hitting her in the face with an open hand causing redness to the left side of her face. He allegedly admitted to committing the assault.

29 year old Tyson Lee Pack of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and his court date is December 1. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 19 Pack was observed walking down Sparta Highway in his underwear. He was unsteady on his feet and he had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Pack admitted to having consumed seven beers and two shots within the previous two hours. He was transported to the jail for his safety and that of the public.

Veterans Celebration to be held at Smithville Elementary School

October 25, 2016
Dwayne Page
Veterans Celebration to be held at Smithville Elementary School
Veterans honored during last years program at SES

The annual Veterans Appreciation assembly program will be held Friday morning, November 4 starting at 9:30 a.m. at Smithville Elementary School in recognition of Veteran's Day which is November 11.

All veterans are invited and will need to be at the school by 9:15 a.m.

Last year, 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 also read the "Veterans Day" poem by Cheryl Dyson.

For more information about this year’s program call 615-597-4415


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