Local News Articles

Prisoner Charged with Assaulting Another Inmate

March 4, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Andrew Dayton West
Katelyn Michelle Walz

A prisoner in the DeKalb County Jail was recently charged with aggravated assault after attacking another inmate.

27 year old Andrew Dayton West of Tramel Branch Road, Alexandria is under a $20,000 bond and his court date is March 15.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, February 22 a DeKalb County Correctional Officer observed West on camera stomping on another inmate. The officer then alerted other correctional officers.

West caused serious bodily injury to another inmate by stomping his head while he was laying on a mat. The injured prisoner was transported to the emergency room of the hospital where he was treated and released back into custody.

21 year old Katelyn Michelle Walz of Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. She was also cited for violation of the implied consent law, no insurance, and open container. Her bond is $1,500 and her court date is March 15.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, February 17 a deputy was called to Sparta Highway near the Midnight Express where a vehicle was in the ditch.

Upon arrival he spoke to the driver of the automobile, Walz who said she had turned too sharply and missed the driveway. Walz had a strong odor of alcohol coming from her person and her eyes were glassy, red, and watery. She was unsteady on her feet. Walz submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. When she refused to comply with the implied consent law, a search warrant was obtained for a sample of her blood. The officer found an open can of beer under the driver seat of the vehicle.

Candidates Asked to Keep Political Signs Off School Properties

March 3, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

All political candidates are asked not to place their campaign signs on any school property in DeKalb County.

Why?

Because the Board of Education has an active policy prohibiting it.

Policy #1.806 “Advertising and Distribution of Materials in Schools” states that “No part of the school system, including the facilities, the name, the staff, and the students, shall be used for advertising or promoting the interests of any commercial, political, or other non-school agency or organization. There are exceptions but those apply mainly to non-profit or governmental agencies that promote education or are pertinent to students’ interest and not for political purposes.

The policy goes on to state that “political literature shall not be distributed through the school to students, nor sent home to parents, nor placed in teachers’ mail boxes, lounges, or on school premises.”

“Political signs for people who are running for public office shall not be allowed on school property”.

Any political signs placed on school properties are to be removed.

DCHS Names Top Rank Students in Class of 2018

March 2, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Class of 2018 Valedictorian Allison Maynard
DCHS Class of 2018 Salutatorian Marshal Evins

DeKalb County High School has released the names of 47 Top Rank students in the Class of 2018 including the Valedictorian Allison Maynard and the Salutatorian Marshal Evins.

To be considered for top Rank, students must take at least 10 honors, dual enrollment, and AP courses and students must have a 21 or higher ACT composite score.

The following students have met requirements to be considered for Top Rank:

1. Allison Maynard
2. Marshal Evins
3. Breanna Gibson
4. Kelsie Merriman
5. Abby Evans
6. Logan Painter
7. Kyle Justice
8. Austin Johnson
9. Maggie Robinson
10. Kaitlyn Cantrell
11. Hannah Evans
12. Michael Miller
13. Tyree Cripps
14. Willow Godowns
15. Hannah Brown
16. Olivia Fuson
17. Taylor Reeder
18. Eleonore Atnip
19. Makayla Cornett-Bain
20. Jaimie Alexander
21. David Pack
22. Ana Amaya
23. Jacob Frazier
24. Ethan Jennings
25. Santanna Ferrell
26. Trey Jones
27. Olivia Winter
28. Griffen Goldstein
29. Ami Patel
30. Savannah Belcher
31. Laiza Martinez
32. Madison Cripps
33. Ethan Cantrell
34. Ethan Martin
35. Thomas Driver
36. Kaylee Whitefield
37. Jasmine Parker
38. Emily Burklow
39. Kayla Belk
40. Hunter Speaks
41. Jaynee Angaran
42. Gage Delape
43. Hunter Jennings
44. Makenzie Partridge
45. Lee Randolph
46. Savannah West
47. Hailey Redmon

Heather Shehane Awarded DeKalb County "Teacher of the Year"

March 2, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Heather Shehane Awarded DeKalb County "Teacher of the Year"
Lori Isabell, Roy N. Pugh of Liberty State Bank, Smithville Elementary Principal Julie Vincent, Teacher of the Year Heather Shehane, and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps
DeKalb County and Smithville Elementary Teacher of the Year Heather Shehane with her Principal Julie Vincent
DCHS Teacher of the Year Sara Halliburton with her Principal Randy Jennings
DeKalb Middle School Teacher of the Year Suzette Barnes with her Principal Amanda Dakas
Northside Elementary School Teacher of the Year Shelly Jennings with her Principal Karen Knowles
Cynthia Wilson, Teacher of the Year at DeKalb West School. She was unable to attend the awards dinner

A first grade teacher at Smithville Elementary School was named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" and received the "John Isabell Memorial Award" Thursday night during the eleventh annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center.

The award and a check for $150 was presented to Heather Shehane by Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank, a sponsor of the banquet, along with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and Lori Isabell, whose husband John for whom the award is named, passed away in 2014. John Isabell was a long time educator and former President of the DeKalb County Education Association

Shehane, who is in her sixth year as a teacher, 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 Shelly Jennings at Northside Elementary School; Cynthia Wilson at DeKalb West School; Suzette Barnes at DeKalb Middle School; and Sara Halliburton at DeKalb County High School. Wilson and her Principal Sabrina Farler were unable to attend due to their commitment to participate in the annual Family Literacy Night at DeKalb West School which was also held Thursday night.

Jennings teaches fourth grade English Language Arts and social studies. She is in her 12th year. Wilson is in her 28th year. She teaches English Language Arts and social studies for the eighth grade. Barnes is in her 9th year of teaching seventh grade Reading/Language Arts and science. Halliburton teaches biology for ninth through twelfth grades. This is her 6th year in the classroom.

Administrators introduced the Teachers of the Year at their schools, remarked on how they deserved the honor, and presented them with a school bell award.

“It is my great honor and privilege to talk about Mrs. Heather Shehane. When you walk into her classroom it is calm. She has high expectations but she gets to know her students right off the bat really quickly. She is moving those students whether they are struggling or really high achievers and meeting their needs. She does an amazing job at Smithville Elementary School. I can say that when her students leave at the end of the school year to go to second grade they are more than ready,” said Julie Vincent, Principal at Smithville Elementary School.

Karen Knowles, Principal at Northside Elementary spoke of Shelly Jennings. “When I first came to Northside we were trying to decide how we were going to partner subjects up. She looked at me and said tell me what you need me to do? What do you need me to teach? She is a huge team player and she has great expectations of her students.”

“The DCHS Teacher of the Year, Sara Halliburton is in her sixth year of teaching and has been a level 5 teacher for the past three years. Her students always have excellent test scores. In 2014 she created the Climate Crew, an organization at the high school to try and better the school in a lot of different ways. They do a lot of things for the teachers and students and the school in general. She serves as a freshman class sponsor, is an instructional team leader, and a graduation coordinator. She makes a difference in the lives of her students,” said DCHS Principal Randy Jennings.

“Some of Mrs. Suzette Barnes’ accomplishments are that she was the 2013 DeKalb Middle School Teacher of the Year, 2014 Best of the Best Teacher, 2015 National Association of Science teacher. She helped build the DMS softball field and outdoor classroom, and started a clothes market for students, leads the local education celebration at school, a student council sponsor and Jr Beta Club fundraiser, and she is over the STEM program and oversees the 21st Century After School Program,” said Amanda Dakas, DeKalb Middle School Principal.

School board members attending were W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Danny Parkerson, and Jerry Wayne Johnson.

“Our district’s Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors outstanding teachers in DeKalb County. We applaud teachers who care about our children, who devote their professional lives to enriching the lives of DeKalb students, and who demonstrate exceptional gains in student achievement. We are not just exceptionally proud of our Teachers of the Year, but we are also grateful for all of our educators in DeKalb County,” said Director Patrick Cripps.

Two Injured in Alexandria Wreck

March 2, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two women were injured in a crash Thursday at Alexandria.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 57 year old Barbara Reynolds of Alexandria, driving a 2006 Ford Taurus, was east on Main Street crossing Highway 53 to New Hope Road when she pulled into the path of a 2011 Nissan Altima, driven by 18 year old McKenzie Meadows of Carthage who was heading south on Highway 53. Meadows’ vehicle hit the Reynolds car in the driver side.

Meadows was transported by EMS to Riverview in Carthage while Reynolds was taken by ambulance to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital.

Members of the Alexandria and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Departments were also on the scene along with the Alexandria Police Department.

Bowen Loses His Life in Tragic Accident

March 1, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joseph Bowen
Joseph Bowen's 2008 Chevy Silverado extended cab pickup in Dry Creek at Dowelltown
THP conducts Aerial Search for Joseph Bowen

A 28 year old Lebanon Police Officer who lived in DeKalb County lost his life in a tragic accident Thursday morning.

Joseph Bowen was driving home from work in his 2008 Chevy Silverado extended cab pickup when the truck left Highway 70 and went down a rocky embankment before hitting a large tree and plunging into the swift waters of Dry Creek at Dowelltown. The truck was carried a few feet downstream and came to rest partially submerged on its passenger side.

When Bowen didn’t arrive back home, family members became concerned and contacted authorities. Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan notified Sheriff Patrick Ray that family members had reported Bowen missing and a search began along the route from Lebanon to Smithville.

According to Sheriff Ray, members of the Lebanon Police Department and Wilson County Sheriff’s Department were involved in the search along with the Alexandria Police Department and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. A BOLO (Be on the lookout) was also issued by the sheriff’s department through central dispatch. Verizon pinged Bowen’s cell phone in DeKalb County in the area of Nashville Highway and Goose Creek Road. The phone was last used at 7:29 Thursday morning.

After the truck was spotted in the creek the BOLO was cancelled but Bowen remained missing. Search teams were organized to comb the creek and an aerial helicopter search was conducted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. One of the teams later found Bowen’s body in the creek several hundred yards from where his truck was located.

Agencies involved in the search included members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue, DeKalb Emergency Management Agency, DeKalb EMS, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, TWRA, Alexandria Police and Fire Departments, Smithville Police officers, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Putnam County Swift Water Rescue, Lebanon Police and Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, and several concerned citizens who volunteered to help. The THP assisted with a ground and aerial search and the THP Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) investigated the crash along with Trooper Bobby Johnson.

Prior to going to work for the Lebanon Police Department, Bowen was employed at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Ray said Bowen was a good officer and will be missed

“Joe Bowen and his family have been true servants to this county. Joe’s wife, Kim, is a 911 dispatcher for DeKalb County. His father, Dewayne, was a former deputy in DeKalb County before leaving to go to the Lebanon Police Department. Joe has served as a volunteer fireman for DeKalb County. He started his career in law enforcement working for my department as a correctional officer. I then promoted him to a deputy position where he worked in that capacity until he left my department to go to the Lebanon Police Department. Joe was much more than an employee to me. He was a true friend. His personal life and work ethics were a true example of what every officer should be like. My department, along with other emergency agencies in the county, mourn his loss and will provide his family for whatever support they need,” said Sheriff Ray.

In a Facebook post, the Lebanon Police Department “ is asking for prayers as we mourn the loss of one of our officers. Veteran Officer Joe Bowen. Officer Bowen leaves behind a wife, 2 children, and a family that loved him, both by blood and in blue”.

Witnesses to Burglary in Progress Help Police Make Arrest

February 28, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

Witnesses to a burglary in progress helped Smithville Police make an arrest last week.

53 year old Bobby F. Duggin was taken into custody on Friday, February 23 for aggravated burglary and he was cited for theft and vandalism. Police were called to 102 West Market Street due to a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, officers noticed a man, later identified as Duggin running across the intersection of West Webb Street and South College Street. He was being chased by another man who was a witness to the crime. The complainant and witness reported that Duggin had broken into a warehouse and stolen multiple miscellaneous items. During a subsequent investigation police learned that Duggin had used a hammer to break out two glass doors in the front and back of the building in gaining entry. Duggin’s bond is $20,000 and his court date is March 15.

27 year old Michael Joseph Lee was arrested on January 27 for aggravated assault, two counts of assault, disorderly conduct, and he was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. Police were called to a residence due to a domestic incident. Upon arrival officers spoke to the parties and determined that Lee had tried to choke the victim. During a search incident to arrest, police found a glass pipe containing a green leafy substance that appeared to be marijuana. Lee was taken to the emergency room of the hospital where he created a scene by using foul language in a loud voice in the presence of hospital staff and other patients. Officers gave repeated orders for Lee to calm down but he ignored the commands and threatened them saying having felony charges gave him more reason to “kill more of ya'll”. Lee’s bond is $43,500.

44 year old William Oscar Meadows was cited on January 27 for simple possession and having drug paraphernalia . Police were called to Pedigo's New & Used Store where a man was found passed out in his vehicle in the parking lot. After waking Meadows, officers discovered that he had a pipe and marijuana on his person.

41 year old Jonathan Dustin Payne, AKA Foust was arrested on January 29 in White County for theft of property over $2500, burglary, and attempted carjacking. According to the warrants, Payne stole a black 2000 Toyota truck parked at a Kwik N Ezy gas pump. Minutes earlier, Payne tried to take another vehicle by use of force or intimidation of the victim in the Arby's parking lot. The stolen vehicle was later recovered in White County after a law enforcement pursuit. Payne’s bond is $20,000.

Carson-Newman Coach to Speak at DCHS Baseball Chili Supper Monday

February 28, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tom Griffin

Tom Griffin, the head baseball coach at Carson-Newman College, will be the guest speaker at the annual DCHS baseball chili supper, LIVE auction, and silent auction on Monday, March 5.

The fundraising chili supper will be held at the DeKalb County Complex multi-purpose room starting at 6 p.m. Auction items are expected to include: backpack blower, trimmer, kayak, furniture items, lamb, rod & reel, Predators tickets, and pontoon boat rentals along with many more valuable items. A 50/50 drawing will also be held.

Griffin is entering his 13th season this year as head baseball coach at Carson-Newman.

He has compiled an overall record of 347-250 and a conference record of 154-139 at Carson Newman. He is 531-449-2 in 20 seasons as a college baseball coach.

Griffin has also authored an instructional catching baseball video, "Catch It, Block It, Throw It." A regular instructional speaker at various coaching clinics and camps, he has been the featured speaker at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Orlando, Florida in 2007, Anaheim, California in 2012, and Nashville, TN in 2015.

To get tickets find a DCHS baseball player or purchase tickets at the door. The cost is $8.00 for one person or $25 for a family. Please plan to attend and support Tiger Baseball.

New Pay Scales Adopted for County General Employees and Sheriff's Department Staff

February 27, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

The county commission adopted pay raises for county general employees during Monday night’s meeting according to new 13 tier wage scales. Sheriff’s department staff will get pay raises under a new six tier scale. The pay raises are retroactive to January 1, 2018.

Under the plan, employees of the offices of County Mayor, Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master will get step raises at a percentage of $68,682 per year, which is what all these public officials earn except for the county mayor. However, unlike the previous wage scale, the employees of the county mayor’s office will not be paid at a percentage of his salary going forward but on the same terms as the other employees with one exception. One employee of the county mayor’s office is already being paid above her tier on the new wage scale but she will not get another raise until she qualifies under the new plan. Also unlike the former wage scale, salaries of all employees will not automatically increase when their employer gets a raise by the state.

Under the former wage scale, employees of these offices were paid at a percentage of $65,221 except for the office of County Mayor whose employees were paid at a percentage of $75,329.

With the new scale, employees of all these offices will be paid at a percentage of $68,682 as follows:

STEP 1: 39% or $26,785:1 year of service
STEP 2: 40% or $27,472:2 years of service
STEP 3: 41% or $28,159:3 years of service
STEP 4: 42% or $28,846:4 years of service
STEP 5: 43% or $29,533: 5 years of service
STEP 6: 44% or $30,220: 6 years of service
STEP 7: 45% or $30,906: 7 years of service
STEP 8: 46% or $31,593: 8 & 9 years of service
STEP 9: 47% or $32,280: 10 & 11 years of service
STEP 10: 48% or $32,967: 12 & 13 years of service
STEP 11: 49% or $33,654: 14 to 16 years of service
STEP 12: 50% or $34,341: 17 to 19 years of service
STEP 13: 51% or $35,027: 20 or more years of service

Meanwhile the Library Director, Election Commission Administrator's Assistant, and Soil Conservation Secretary will be on the same scale (as noted above) with their salaries being a percentage of $68,682 which is what the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master earn.

Full time library employees and the Senior Citizens Director will get a percentage of $68,682 based on the following scale for them:

STEP 1: 31% or $21,291:1 year of service
STEP 2: 32% or $21,978: 2 years of service
STEP 3: 33% or $22,665: 3 years of service
STEP 4: 34% or $23,351: 4 years of service
STEP 5: 35% or $24,038: 5 years of service
STEP 6: 36% or $24,725: 6 years of service
STEP 7: 37% or $25,412: 7 years of service
STEP 8: 38% or $26,099: 8 & 9 years of service
STEP 9: 39% or $26,785: 10 & 11 years of service
STEP 10: 40% or $27,472: 12 & 13 years of service
STEP 11: 41% or $28,159: 14 to 16 years of service
STEP 12: 42% or $28,846: 17 to 19 years of service
Step 13: 43% or $29,533: 20 or more years of service

Sheriff’s department staff will get pay raises under a new six tier scale and be paid at a percentage of the sheriff’s salary of $75,550.

According to the new scale, the step raises for the sheriff’s department is as follows:

Chief Deputy (Performance Tiers)
Yearly Pay:
$50,000
$51,350
$52,736
$54,160

Detectives (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $18.56- $41,500
SECOND TIER: $19.07- $42,640
THIRD TIER: $19.61- $43,847
FOURTH TIER: $20.07- $44,876
FIFTH TIER: $20.59- $46,039
SIXTH TIER: $21.08- $47,134

Sergeants (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $18.56- $41,500
SECOND TIER: $18.84- $42,126
THIRD TIER: $19.11- $42,729
FOURTH TIER: $19.37- $43,311
FIFTH TIER: $19.66- $43,959
SIXTH TIER: $19.92- $44,541

Deputies (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $15.72- $35,149
SECOND TIER: $16.41- $36,692
THIRD TIER: $17.11- $38,257
FOURTH TIER: $17.79- $39,778
FIFTH TIER: $18.50- $41,366
SIXTH TIER: $19.17- $42,864

Correctional Officers (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $14.95- $33,428
SECOND TIER: $15.47- $34,590
THIRD TIER: $16.00- $35,776
FOURTH TIER: $16.53- $36,961
FIFTH TIER: $17.06- $38,146
SIXTH TIER: $17.58- $39,308

Cooks (86 hours per pay period, 2,236 hours yearly)

FIRST TIER: $13.18- $29,470 (39%)
SECOND TIER: $13.52- $30,230 (40%)
THIRD TIER: $13.85- $30,968 (41%)
FOURTH TIER: $14.19- $31,728 (42%)
FIFTH TIER: $14.53- $32,489 (43%)
SIXTH TIER: $14.87- $33,249 (44%)

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