Local News Articles

Man Charged with Posting Blasphemous Notes at Local Churches

July 10, 2017
Dwayne Page
Laddie Bill Jerrells

A Smithville man who recently posted offensive and blasphemous notes on the properties of five local churches has been charged in a joint investigation by the Smithville Police and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Departments .

57 year old Laddie Bill Jerrells of Long Street, Smithville was arrested Wednesday, July 5th on twenty four counts including charges of vandalism, disorderly conduct, harassment, and desecration of honored places. His total bond is $36,000 and he will make a court appearance July 20.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray and Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins, Jerrells went to two churches in the City of Smithville (June 22 and July 4) and three churches in the county (May 13, June 25, and June 29) and posted offensive notes on the church properties, either on the front doors, buildings, or signs. At one of the churches in the county, Jerrells posted a note twice but on separate days.

The incidents occurred at a time when no church services were being held and no particular denominations were targeted.

Smithville Police charged Jerrells for the two cases in the city. The rest of the charges were brought by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department against Jerrells for the incidents at churches in the county.

Although WJLE has not filed charges, a similar irreverent note bearing the name of Laddie Jerrells, was recently posted on the front door of the WJLE studios.

The disorderly conduct charges basically allege that by posting the notes, Jerrells intended to cause public annoyance or alarm and created a physically abusive condition by an act that served no legitimate purpose.

On the harassment charges, Jerrells is accused of intending to communicate with the churches in a way that annoyed, offended, alarmed, or frightened.

The vandalism charges contend that by posting the notes, Jerrells tampered with church property causing substantial inconvenience to the members.

On the desecration charges, Jerrells is accused of treating a place of worship with great disrespect by posting irreverent notes on the churches.

In a joint statement, Sheriff Ray and Police Chief Collins said their departments will always strive to keep churches safe and secure so that congregations can worship freely and in peace.

Sparta Man Involved in Rollover Crash

July 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Sparta Man Involved in Rollover Crash

A 38 year old Sparta man escaped serious injury after his vehicle went off the highway in the Wolf Creek community and overturned down a steep embankment early Sunday morning.

Rainn Martin suffered minor injuries and refused transport to the hospital by ambulance.

Trooper Brandon Jackson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Martin was driving a 2007 Honda Fit down the hill on Highway 141 when the vehicle went off the left side of the road and over a steep embankment. The automobile struck a tree and overturned coming to rest upright at the bottom of the embankment on Agee Hollow Road.

Martin was cited for failure to exercise due care.

Judd Matheny Announces Bid for Congress

July 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Congressional Candidate Judd Matheny with his wife Christy and son Aulden in Smithville on Friday

Judd Matheny, an eight term Tennessee State Representative, has formally announced that he is a candidate in the Republican primary for Congress in Tennessee's Sixth Congressional District.

He was in Smithville Friday on a campaign tour through the district.

Matheny is seeking the seat currently held by Congressman Diane Black. She is expected to make a run for Governor next year.

He is a Veteran of the Tennessee Army National Guard, and a Veteran of local and state law enforcement. He has been one of Tennessee's most consistently conservative legislators and activists.

“We’re visiting all the smaller rural counties in the sixth district today in ten stops in about eleven hours. Last week we were in nine counties. We have officially been in all nineteen counties in the district twice in the last two weeks and some of them three times,” said Matheny.

A resident of Coffee County, Matheny said he is known throughout the Upper Cumberland area having once worked as a law enforcement officer. “I worked in twelve of these counties as a police officer back in the 1990’s as a state drug enforcement officer. I was a patrolman in the Cookeville area for the City of Baxter,” he continued.

Matheny talked about his years in the state legislature. “My hallmarks have always been being pro Homeland Security and pro defense. Many of the things President Trump is talking about doing now, I have been trying to do them for fifteen years in the legislature. I passed the strongest state level anti-terrorism laws in the country. I was the first to pass comprehensive meth laws in the country when I first got elected. I intend to take the experiences that I have learned and the very strong impactful conservative record I have to Washington D.C. I am a big proponent of states’ rights. I want to make sure that the states have less reliance on the federal government. I fought for that very hard in Tennessee and when I get to Washington I’m going to push power down and give Tennesseans, not less money, but more control of the money they have,” said Matheny.

Matheny is married to his wife, Christy, of 18 years. They have two children in high school and all three have been full supporters of his years in politics.

The Tennessee U.S. 6th Congressional District consists of the following counties:Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, White, Wilson and portions of Cheatham and Van Buren.

DeKalb County Fair 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run Coming Saturday

July 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
LAST YEAR'S WINNERS: DeKalb Fair 5K Winner Josh Miller (center) and Fun Run Winner Ethan Trapp (left) with Race Director Matt Boss

The DeKalb County Fair 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run will be Saturday, July 15 in Alexandria starting at 7:00 p.m.

Registration begins at 6:00 p.m. at the fairgrounds. The cost is $25 for adults and $20 for youth.

All proceeds will go to the American Legion, a non-profit organization in DeKalb County in support of veterans.

For more information, contact race organizer Matt Boss at 615-464-8627

Josh Miller of Smithville won the race last year. He ran the course in 22:18.

Ethan Trapp was the winner of the Fun Run. His time was 10:03



DCHS Football Stepping Up to Class 4A

July 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tiger Football Coach Steve Trapp

DeKalb County High School Football is stepping up a class this year going from Class 3A to 4A.

Enrollments for Class 4A are from 822 to 1,102. The DCHS enrollment last fall was 856.

DeKalb County will be part of the new five team Region 3 Class 4A which will also include Macon County, Livingston Academy, Stone Memorial, and Cumberland County.

The first game of the regular season will be at Warren County on Friday, August 18 at 7 p.m.

“It’s changed a lot. We’ve been in Class 3A the last few years but now we’re in Class 4A. We’re in a smaller region but we’re with some familiar teams. Really our schedule just flip flopped in that our old region opponents are now our non region games and the teams we were playing as non-region opponents are now region like Stone Memorial, Macon County, and Cumberland County. A new team is Livingston Academy which is really not new but we haven’t played them in the last couple of years. Its only a five team region and the top four teams will go to the state play-offs but its going to be a quality region,” Tiger Coach Steve Trapp told WJLE last November.

For the last few years, DeKalb County has been part of Region 4 in Class 3A along with Cannon County, Grundy County, Sequatchie County, Smith County, Upperman, and York Institute.

DeKalb County's 2017 non-region opponents will include Warren County, Upperman, Watertown, Grundy County, Cannon County, and Smith County.

“We’ve got two new teams on the schedule we haven’t played in the last few years, Watertown and Livingston Academy. We’re not playing York Institute or Sequatchie County but everybody else we played last year is still on the schedule. We picked up Watertown which is always a big game and at one time we played them more than any other team in the history of DeKalb County football. I think that is going to be a good game for us. It should be a good gate. We’ve been down there at the Jamboree for the last few years and that’s been good for us so its good to get them back on the schedule,” said Coach Trapp.

“Our schedule worked out the way I hoped it would. I had to find six ball games (non-region opponents). I had already talked to a lot of our region foes from last year, Smith County, Upperman, and Cannon County. We already had those set to play if we could get the weeks worked out. There were about four or five days when I was sweating it. I was needing one more game and the weeks I were needing were our fall break and week five which was slated for a region game. I got pretty fortunate to get Grundy County back on the schedule and to have them come here. We got a bye week on fall break so it all worked out,” Coach Trapp said.

The DCHS 2017 Football Schedule is as follows:


August: Jamboree TBA
August 18: Warren County- McMinnville 7 p.m.
August 25: Upperman- Baxter 7 p.m.
September 1: Stone Memorial*-Smithville 7 p.m.
September 8: Watertown-Watertown 7 p.m.
September 15: Grundy County-Smithville 7 p.m.
September 22: Cannon County-Smithvillle (HOMECOMING) 7 p.m.
September 29: Livingston Academy*-Livingston 7 p.m.
October 6: Smith County-Smithville 7 p.m.
October 13: Macon County*-Smithville 7 p.m.
October 20-BYE WEEK
October 27: Cumberland County* Crossville 7 p.m.

2017 JV Schedule:
August 21: White County-Smithville 6 p.m.
August 28: Upperman- Smithville 6 p.m.
September 11: Watertown-Smithville 6 p.m.
September 25: Cannon County-Woodbury 6 p.m.
October 9: Smith County-Carthage 6 p.m.

Local Boy Scouts Have Fun at Summer Camp

July 9, 2017
Bill Conger
Cody Robinson learns how to navigate a canoe that has been capsized.
Friedrich Dodge sights in his target during rifle class at camp.
Front row left to right are Gavin Conger, Zackary Cantrell, Kaleb Wildes, and Jacob Williams.Back Row left to righ are Assistant Scoutmaster Bill Conger, Brenden Wagner, Friedrich Dodge, Cody Robinson and Assistant Scoutmaster David Robinson.
Several members of Troop 347 loved the high adventure of zip lining.

From zip lining to swimming to rifle shooting and robotics, the guys in Troop 347 had an adventurous time at summer camp. Seven boys from the Smithville Boy Scouts enjoyed the outdoors at the Boxwell Reservation in Gallatin the week of June 18.

Jacob Williams got into the high adventures of COPE (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience), which consists of group initiative games, trust events, and high and low ropes course. One challenge he faced was on the Giant Slider.

“It’s like little 4 x 4’s that are spaced out like 6 foot or something,” explained Williams. “You have to take your hands and you have to try to get your leg over it [each piece of lumber], and you have to climb up six of them. Then, you have to walk on like a wire from one tree to another. I was so tired. I just fell. I was done.”

While Jacob said he “fell,” he was harnessed in safely high in the trees, and that segment of the course is designed to help scouts trust their safety gear. He finished walking across the wire and zip lined to another tree.

Cody Robinson’s courses included Canoeing.

“We had to swamp it and then swim it back to shore for 50 yards,” Robinson explained. “You flip it over, and you get water in it. You sit down in the bottom of the boat, and your life jacket will pull you up so it’s easier.”

Some scouts like Zachary Cantrell and Gavin Conger put their minds to the test in STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
“I took electricity,” said Zackary Cantrell. “I got to make an electromagnet and also another electromagnet type of thing that spins the coil.”

“I liked doing robotics, programming the robot, experimenting different ways for it to move around and fix the mistakes if we made anyway, which we probably did,” said Gavin Conger.

Friedrich Dodge planned to devote his entire week to earning his B.S.A. Lifeguard certification and ended up learning an important lesson.

“I thought life guarding was going to be a pretty easy thing for me to do,” Dodge said. “I found out the complete opposite. It was actually very difficult for me to do. It taught me that life isn’t always going to be what it seems to be. You’ve just got to move forward. When something goes wrong, don’t let it affect you.”

Dodge and Robinson earned “Sharp Shooters” in their Rimfire Rifle class. They scored 160 out of 200 4 times during target practice.

Scouts also took merit badge classes in Weather, Camping, Wilderness Survival, Game Design, Sculpture and Inventing, Emergency Preparation, Personal Fitness, Scouting Heritage, Pioneering, Swimming, Salesmanship, Woodcarving, and Environmental Science.

When they weren’t in classes, scouts had the chance to fly drones, participate in a triathlon, swim, star gaze, fish, hike, and a slate of other fun activities. Several members of the Smithville troop including Kaleb Wildes opted for zip lining.

“You climb about 80 feet up on that little ladder,” Wildes explained, “and just jump off the platform and hope for the best.”

When asked if he would do it again, Kaleb quickly responded “probably not.”

At camp, the troop held elections. Jacob Williams is the new Senior Patrol Leader. Kaleb Wildes is the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader while Zackary Cantrell is Patrol Leader. Brenden Wagner was elected as the Assistant Patrol Leader and Assistant Quartermaster. Friedrich Dodge will serve as Quartermaster. Cody Robinson is the new Chaplin, and Gavin Conger is the troop Historian.

For parents and boys interested in finding out how to join Boy Scout Troop 347, contact Scoutmaster Jen Sherwood at (615) 464-0645.

Memorial Service Set for Liberty Man Killed by CSX Train

July 7, 2017
Dwayne Page

A memorial service will be held Sunday, July 9 for a Liberty man who was killed by a CSX train in Murfreesboro on Friday, June 16.

51 year old Richard “Richie” Herman, who was riding his bicycle, was struck by the freight train near Scott and Dashiel Streets, near Medical Center Parkway, according to a report by WGNS in Murfreesboro. The accident occurred around 6 p.m.

The report stated that the CSX train was traveling from North Carolina and through Tennessee when it struck Herman. Reports from police indicate the victim’s bike and backpack were found about 20 feet away from his body.

Herman was a roofer and a Christian. He was born November 1, 1966 in Detroit, Michigan. He is preceded in death by paternal grandparents Bill and Elsie Krimm and maternal grandparents Alvie and Lawanda Herman. Brother, Jimmy Williamson and uncle Melvin Daniel. He is survived by his parents, Sam Herman of Liberty and Dotty Williamson of Detroit. Daughters, Anna and Steven Tarango of Victorville, California and Halana Turner of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Grandsons, Henry and Steven, Jr. Tarango of Victorville, California. Sisters, Cindy Goad of Liberty, Michelle Hickman of Michigan. Aunt, Judy Daniel of Smithville and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. Direct cremation was chosen. A memorial service will be July 9, 2017 at Mt. Moriah The Baptist Church at 2:00 p.m.

U.S. Senate Candidate James Mackler to Speak at DeKalb Democratic Party Potluck Dinner

July 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
James Mackler

U.S. Senate candidate James Mackler, a Nashville attorney and Iraq War veteran, will be in Smithville for a potluck dinner hosted by the DeKalb County Democratic Party on Thursday, July 27 at 6:00 p.m. at the high school.

Mackler is the first Tennessee Democrat to announce plans to run in 2018 for the state's U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Senator Bob Corker.

He will speak at the event along with former Nashville Mayor and Gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean and Holly McCall, the Recruitment Coordinator for Emerge Tennessee. Music for the evening will be provided by Jake Hoot.

Mackler says he's "running to restore respect, honesty, and most importantly, integrity in Washington."

“Our country has become so divided that our leaders refuse to work together to solve our most important problems. I know first-hand the strength of team work and the benefits of diversity to accomplish even the most difficult mission,” said Mackler.

Mackler, 44, recently practiced law at Frost Brown Todd LLC and Bone McAllester Norton, PLLC, both in Nashville. He's worked in criminal law and more recently has specialized in legal issues involving unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, by providing businesses legal advice on their use.

Before those stints, Mackler spent three years as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division, according to a news release from his campaign, after he had put aside his legal work for the Army in 2001 following the attacks on 9/11. His military service included a deployment to Iraq.

Mackler, who continues serving in the Tennessee Air National Guard, earned his Parachutist Badge, Combat Action Badge and an Air Medal for "bold and audacious piloting." After his service in Iraq, Mackler transferred to the Judge Advocate General Corps, where he was a military prosecutor.

“As a military veteran and Tennessee National Guardsman I know that true leadership comes from a sense of duty-an obligation to protect and work for the benefit of others. The best results are accomplished when we recognize the value in one another and the unique contribution of each person. True leaders hold themselves and others accountable. These are values I learned serving my country and will continue to carry as your next U.S. Senator,” said Mackler.

“I will be a servant leader. I will be a Senator who truly represents all Tennessee families and is dedicated to the best of our American ideals in both word and deed,” Mackler concluded.

Students Eligible for Second Statewide ACT Retake Day

July 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Candice McQueen

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that the state is expanding its ACT Senior Retake Day to all Tennessee public high school students in the class of 2018, totaling nearly 70,000 students. In addition, the department is making it easier for public school seniors to retake the ACT this fall by offering this second opportunity during the school day in students’ own schools.

These changes will give all students equal access to take advantage of the opportunity. Unlike in the past, students do not need to sign up to retake the test – it will automatically be provided. School districts have been empowered to choose the testing date that is best for their students and causes the least disruption for those not taking the exam. Districts may offer the retake on Oct. 3, Oct. 17, or on both days.

“Tennessee is once again a national leader in education as the first state to offer an ACT retake opportunity to all public school seniors,” McQueen said. “By expanding our retake day, we send a strong signal that our state is committed to further increasing access, especially among students who stand to benefit the most from this opportunity.”

October 2016 was the first time Tennessee offered public high school seniors the chance to retake the ACT for free, but it was only available to students who had previously taken the ACT as juniors and who were able to take it on a weekend testing date at a testing center. Of those who participated in the 2016 retake, nearly 40 percent increased their overall score.

The department’s research shows that students have a high likelihood of increasing their score when they take the college entrance exam a second time. Higher composite scores not only provide access to state scholarships, but they also make a student more competitive for entry into higher education institutions and for institutional and private scholarships. In the first year of the state offering a free ACT Retake Day, an additional 1,300 students earned a composite score of 21 or above on the ACT, providing them access to $21 million in additional HOPE scholarship funds.

Higher scores also allow students to enroll directly into credit-bearing postsecondary coursework, avoiding non-credit-bearing remedial classes that take students’ time and money and can discourage their progress. On the 2016 ACT Retake Day, thousands of students improved individual subject scores in math, English, science, and reading, allowing them to avoid mandatory remediation courses in postsecondary. This is significant for Tennessee’s seniors, because last year over half of Tennessee community college students required remediation.

Also today, the department posted additional resources about the ACT, including an ACT Retake Guide and ACT Toolkit, on its website. To learn more about the ACT Retake Day, contact Jerre Maynor, director of student readiness, at Jerre.Maynor@tn.gov. For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of strategic communications and media, at Sara.Gast@tn.gov.

DeKalb Fair Accepting Non-Perishable Exhibits Saturday

July 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Fair Accepting Non-Perishable Exhibits Saturday

The DeKalb County Fair is accepting non-perishable exhibits ONLY on Saturday, July 8 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Kenneth Sandlin Center.

Perishable Items ONLY will be accepted on Saturday, July 15 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

The fair will be held Monday through Saturday, July 17-22 in Alexandria.

Click the link below to learn more.
http://www.dekalbcountyfairtn.com/ .


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