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District Attorney General Pleased with Cody Key Sentence (LISTEN TO HIS COMMENTS HERE)

December 1, 2016
Dwayne Page
District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway is pleased that 25 year old Cody Key is going to prison over the beating death of 23 month old Colten Alexander May.

“It was a good result. A reasonable result and it sends him to prison for the next 45 years,” DA Dunaway told WJLE Thursday after Key entered a plea in Putnam County Criminal Court to second degree murder and received a sentence of 45 years to be served at 100%.He will receive jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016.


Key and the child’s mother, 20 year old Jessica May were indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in the youngster’s death. Key was indicted for first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse. May was indicted for aggravated child neglect.

The couple brought the child to the emergency room of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital on Sunday morning, May 17 but he was already dead. It was determined that the child had suffered internal and other physical injuries that resulted in his death. Law enforcement officers concluded that Key had beaten the child and that May knew the abuse was taking place.

“This is a pretty egregious case. The victim was a 23 month old little boy who had died from blunt force trauma causing internal injuries. In plain language he was beaten to the point where his internal injuries caused his death. It’s just a sad, sad case. We take these types of cases very seriously. Whenever a child is injured like this it just pulls at your heart strings. Its just not something you forget,” DA Dunaway told WJLE.

Although the case against Key was set for trial starting Monday, December 5 in DeKalb County Criminal Court, prosecutors reached a settlement with Key and his attorneys, the staff of the District Public Defender’s Office on Thursday. In the deal, Key agreed to enter a plea to the lesser offense of second degree murder and to take the 45 year sentence to be served at 100%. The hearing was held in Cookeville because Key is incarcerated at the Putnam County Jail. Had the trial been held, Key would have been transported to DeKalb County for the case.

“It was done in Cookeville for practical reasons. He was being held in the Putnam County Jail just for practical reasons. We were preparing for trial which was to begin Monday in DeKalb County. The plan was that he was to be transported back and forth to court in Smithville but the negotiated plea came together kind of in the last day. Just because he was in Putnam County and Judge Gary McKenzie happened to be there today and the lawyers were in Cookeville today it was just a practical decision to do it there. Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack came up to Cookeville to handle the clerk’s duties for the hearing and we were appreciative of that,” DA Dunaway continued.

“During the hearing, I recited the factual basis for the plea to the court and at the conclusion of the plea, the law allows the families of victims to give a victim impact statement. The paternal grandmother, Jennifer Pitts made a victim impact statement. She addressed Cody Key and just made a few statements as to her emotional feelings and how his actions affected the family. It was kind of an emotional statement. That was the nature of it and she was the only one who spoke besides the lawyers,” said DA Dunaway.

“We’re pleased with the result. Key has been in custody since May 19, 2015 and remains so and he has been sentenced to the custody of the department of correction at this point. That concludes the case against Cody Key,” he added.

As for Jessica May, Dunaway said she is expected to enter a plea under a negotiated settlement next week. “Jessica May is still in jail. I expect to bring her before the court in the next few days, hopefully next week to address her case,” DA Dunaway concluded.

Cody Key Gets 45 Years for Second Degree Murder in Beating Death of Child

December 1, 2016
Dwayne Page
Cody Ryan Key
Jessica May
Colten Alexander May

A Smithville man may spend the rest of his life in prison for the beating death of his girlfriend’s 23 month old son last year.

25 year old Cody Ryan Key appeared in Putnam County Criminal Court today (Thursday) and entered a plea under a negotiated settlement to second degree murder in the death of Colten Alexander May and received a sentence of 45 years. Because of the nature of the crime, Key’s sentence will be a 100% term not to be reduced below 85% . The sentence is outside the normal sentencing range for Key as a Class A felony based on his criminal history. He will receive jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016.

Key was due to stand trial next week in DeKalb County Criminal Court on charges of first degree (felony murder) and aggravated child abuse.

He and the child’s mother, 20 year old Jessica May were indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in May 2015. May's charge of aggravated child neglect is still pending but she is expected to enter a plea under a negotiated settlement soon.

According to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway , the child was brought to the hospital by the couple Sunday morning, May 17 2015 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.

"At approximately 3:11 am Sunday, May 17, 2015 Smithville Police Sergeant Travis Bryant and Officer Joey Myers were dispatched to the emergency room of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in reference to a possible child abuse resulting in the death of a two year old child. Investigating officers deemed the death to be of a suspicious nature," said Captain Steven Leffew. " I was notified along with Lieutenant Matt Holmes and Detective Brandon Donnell . Additionally District Attorney Bryant Dunaway and investigators from the District Attorney's office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation responded," he said.

"The child suffered great injuries and as a result the child died," said D.A. Dunaway.

The case was investigated by the Smithville Police Department , the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney General's Office.

"We presented the case to the DeKalb County Grand Jury (Tuesday, May 19, 2015) related to the death of the child," said D.A. Dunaway. " Over the weekend, May 17 2015 the child was brought to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital by the child's mother and her boyfriend. The child was deceased at the time of arrival. We believe the child was killed by the boyfriend late Saturday night, May 16 or early Sunday morning, May 17 in their home where they resided together. We believe the child died based upon physical injuries to the body and internally which were inflicted by the boyfriend," he said.

New Arby's Restaurant Opens to Line of Customers

December 1, 2016
Dwayne Page
New Arby's Restaurant Opens to Line of Customers

The new Arby’s Restaurant opened for business this morning at 10 a.m. and a line of customers from the front door to around the side of the building waited their turn to be among the first to be served and for a chance to get free meals for a year.

One customer, who had ticket #3, told WJLE she had been camped out since 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Another man said he had been there since 3:30 a.m. this morning.

As a special grand opening promotion, Arby’s issued tickets to the first 50 customers each of whom is to receive 52 free meals, one each week for a year.

County Takes Next Step On Cherry Hill Community Center Property

November 30, 2016
Dwayne Page
County Takes Next Step On Cherry Hill Community Center Property

The DeKalb County Commission has taken the next step toward outright ownership of the Cherry Hill Community Center property on Cookeville Highway.

Although the state deeded the 0.24 acre site to DeKalb County in August, 1981, a restriction requires the county to use the property for public purposes. After taking control of the site in the 1980’s the county constructed the Cherry Hill Community Center there. In recent years community interest in the center has waned and the building is now in need of repairs. Members of the commission have expressed an interest in disposing of the property.

In order to have the deed restriction removed and for the county to assume total control of the property, the county commission Monday night authorized County Mayor Tim Stribling to file with the Tennessee Department of Transportation an application for “Conveyance of Interest of Surplus TDOT Right of Way”.

County Mayor Stribling explained that this process requests the state to ascertain the fair market value of the property should the county decide to purchase it. “It is a request that TDOT come up and look at the right of way because we (county) did not purchase it (in 1981). For this restriction to be removed from the deed we (county) will have to pay a fair market value for the land. The property has approximately 0.24 acres. If its valued under $10,000 TDOT will do the appraisal and let us know. If its over $10,000 they will have an independent appraiser come up and let us know. Its up to us on whether we want to purchase the land. But in order to remove the restriction we would first have to go before the excess land committee. It meets every other month. The next meeting will be in January. They tell me it will probably be in February before we’ll have an answer. But all this amounts to is asking for TDOT to take a look at it to determine a fair market value and to remove the deed restriction. By doing this, if the county should want to lease it to an individual business, you could or sell it. But the way it is right now its restricted and there is nothing going on with it,” said County Mayor Stribling.

“I make a motion we proceed to get it in our name no matter what we do with it,” said County Commissioner Joe Johnson. Commissioner Jack Barton seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital Installs Digital Microscope

November 30, 2016
Laboratory Director Kevin Adcock with Microscope

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital now has a technology most regional hospitals in smaller towns don’t: a digital microscope. In prior years, the hospital lab used an optical microscope to process cell samples.

“We are so excited that Saint Thomas Health made funds available for this and other technology improvements that we have so desperately needed,” said Laboratory Director Kevin Adcock. “The digital microscope gives us the ability to capture images of abnormal cells, save the images and email them immediately to a board-certified hematologist or pathologist for screening and report. We see a lot of patients here who are undergoing cancer treatment because we have an oncologist on site weekly. Before, with the optical microscope, we couldn’t save the images, and each of our lab technologists could only see one field at a time. Now, we have more eyes on each slide in our lab, and we have the ability to immediately email the sample to our board-certified pathologist or board-certified hematologist, and receive an immediate response.” Saint Thomas Health is a part of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

Adcock says the end result is the sample finding is much more accurate, and the quick turnaround time means disease processes can be arrested at an earlier stage and treatment can begin sooner.

“Under the old system, we identified abnormal cells, created extra slides, sent them by courier to our pathologist in another city, and were often looking at a 72-hour turnaround time,” he added. “Now, as soon as we email the samples, we follow up with a phone call to get a verbal report.”

Adcock says all lab personnel are trained to use the new microscope and the new process is “working great,” he said. Recently, a patient was hospitalized, and cell samples were sent to the lab for review with the new digital microscope. “We identified an abnormal cell which can indicate a disease process related to sepsis,” Adcock said. “We captured the image digitally, emailed it to our pathologist, and had an affirmative answer in five minutes. We immediately were able to report the results to the patient’s physician so the seriousness of the patient’s condition could be gauged and treatment could be initiated. There was no lag time in the whole process.”

Dr. Meiklejohn McKenzie, a board-certified pathologist in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, said: Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital’s laboratory is “one of the few community hospitals in the region with digital imaging capabilities. Such technology is unique for a facility of this size. Our lab’s digital imaging will allow our medical technologists to rapidly transmit images of abnormal blood cells to our pathologists for further interpretation. This will significantly decrease turnaround time for these laboratory tests and result in more accurate results as well as more rapid treatment for patients with hematologic disorders.”

Farm Service Agency County Committee Election Underway

November 30, 2016
Donny Green

The 2016 FSA County Committee Election is underway as ballots were mailed to eligible voters in Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 3 of DeKalb County on November 7th.
A change to this year's election schedule has been made because the 2016 County Committee Election Ballots were not mailed to inactive customers, or customers who indicated they do not wish to receive mail. However, it has now been determined that ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters; regardless of their inactive or "do not mail" status.

As a result, December 13, 2016 will be the last day to vote.
Donny Green, County Executive Director, says that in LAA # 3 (DeKalb Co.), R.V. Billings, Jr. has been certified as an eligible candidate and his name will appear on the ballot. R.V. operates a beef cattle farm in the Johnson's Chapel Community, served as the former County Executive Director of the DeKalb County ASCS/FSA, serves on the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, and has served in his current position on the county committee since 2014.

Write-in candidates can be accepted on ballots. However, the write-in candidate must meet eligibility criteria and attest to his or her willingness to serve, if elected, by signing a nominating petition. Agricultural producers were encouraged to submit candidate names during the nomination period held last summer.

The FSA county committee system is unique among government agencies, because it allows producers to make important decisions concerning the local administration of federal farm programs. All eligible farmers and ranchers, especially minorities and women, are encouraged to get involved and make a real difference in their communities by voting in this year's elections.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in FSA programs. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm, can also vote.
Eligible voters in DeKalb County LAA # 3 who did not receive a ballot can obtain a ballot at their local USDA Service Center. December 13, 2016 is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than December 13, 2016. The DeKalb/Cannon FSA County Committee will meet on December 20, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. to canvass and tabulate the ballots. This meeting is open to the public. The newly elected committee member and alternates take office January 1st, 2017.

County Clerk Office to Offer New Service

November 30, 2016
Dwayne Page
County Clerk James L. "Jimmy" Poss

Anyone wishing to renew boat registrations or to purchase hunting and fishing license through the county clerk’s office will now have that opportunity.

Thanks to the TWRA’s Tennessee R.E.A.L. system, persons may make transactions electronically over the internet.

“Since beginning as County Clerk, our office has received numerous requests for watercraft vessel renewals and to purchase Hunting & Fishing license. On Monday October 31, 2016, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency launched a new system called Tennessee R. E A. L. This system will operate directly through the internet; from the same computer we currently perform all other transactions,” said County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss.

“In recent conversations with TWRA and fellow clerks this new method is expected to be more efficient and user friendly from the previous method. Although this service isn’t mandated it does provide a convenient service for many while generating income to the county. However, Due to DeKalb County closing its previous account in June 2011 we were not be eligible to provide this service until now” Poss continued.

“I coordinated with TWRA in order to reestablish a new entity ID number. Also, our software provider has completed adjustments for receipting and transferring funds electronically. When adding any new service to an already concern of staffing it’s not as appealing or without concern. However; in attempt to offer this convenience I’m willing to make the effort with optimism and a desire to provide this service. We’ve met requirements in full, have received our entity ID and are ready to begin processing December 1, 2016,” Poss concluded.

DCHS Football Stepping Up to Class 4A

November 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tiger Football Coach Steve Trapp

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

Enrollments for Class 4A are from 822 to 1,102. The DCHS enrollment is 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.

“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.

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.

County Commission Rejects Proposal to Close Portion of Taylor Lane

November 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Andy Redus addressing County Commission on November 22
Janice Martin addressing County Commission on November 22

The county commission has rejected a proposal to close a portion of a county road in the Wolf Creek area.

During the regular monthly meeting Monday night (November 28), the commission defeated a motion to give conditional approval to close 1,085 feet of the end section of Taylor Lane. The measure failed with seven voting against. Five voted in favor and one member “passed”. First district commissioner Julie Young presented a petition signed by 175 people in opposition to closing this portion of the road.

Taylor Lane is six tenths of a mile long and located near the intersection of Wolf Creek Road and the Buffalo Valley Road-Medley Amonette Road.

A landowner on Taylor Lane, Andy Redus requested that the end section of the road be closed where he has a part time residence. Redus, who lives out of the county, told the county commission in a committee meeting on Tuesday night, November 22 that he wanted to install a gate to restrict access to his private property for public safety concerns. “My residence is not a full time residence. I have no way of telling what’s going on there all the time,” he said. Redus wants to keep out sightseers, trespassers, and litterers. He had already obtained permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an adjoining landowner, to erect the gate provided the Corps has access.

Janice Martin, who also has property on Taylor Lane, opposed the closure because an old cemetery is located on the road inside the area where Redus wanted to put the gate.

Although the cemetery has been there for over a century and is unkept with overgrowth Martin told the county commission during the Tuesday night committee meeting that the road should remain open for anyone who wants to visit there. “This road is not only to my (family) cemetery back there, there are other people in this county I have talked to who own businesses that have people buried in that cemetery. This is not just the two graves that you can see (stones showing) because the markers (of the other graves) are not there now. It’s a very old cemetery,” said Martin

The DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission held a public hearing in September where Martin voiced opposition but voted to recommend to the county commission that Redus’ request be approved subject to the right of access of visitors to the cemeteryand that a 35’ x 25’ hammerhead turnaround which meets with the approval of the Road Supervisor be developed at the expense of Redus.

Martin said Tuesday night that the turnaround is not large enough especially for emergency vehicles. “I am totally opposed to closing the road. Andy knew when he bought the property what he was buying. We own both sides of the road all the way back passed that area. I’m within 50 feet of the turnaround so I will have to use that turnaround on a daily basis. I took one of our hay wagons behind my vehicle back there and I could barely get turned around. It is very hard to do. I may also build another house within 50 feet of this property so I will have to have access to fire trucks, ambulances, or other emergency vehicles that would have to come in there. They would have to use this turnaround,” said Martin.

Redus claims the turnaround is large enough and provided pictures showing where he turned around there with a pickup truck pulling a sixteen foot trailer. Redus said he would provide a key to Corps officials for access to Corps property and make access available to others requesting entry to the cemetery by opening the gate himself remotely from his phone.

During Monday night’s meeting (November 28), County Commissioner Jack Barton made a motion to adopt the planning commission’s recommendation and grant Redus’ request to close 1,085 feet of Taylor Lane but he added further conditions including that the turnaround area be enlarged and for Redus to provide a key to Janice Martin for access to the cemetery. “I believe right now the turnaround is 25 feet into the hill side and 35 feet circular. (My motion) is to make it (turnaround) 30 feet in and to make the 35 feet be 60 feet. The second contingency would be to give Mr. and Mrs. Martin a key to access the cemetery like he (Redus) did the Corps,” said Barton.

Commissioner Julie Young voiced her opposition to Barton’s motion. “I would just like to put in the minutes that I passed out (a petition) with 175 signatures of first district and county residents (all but fifteen county residents) who are in opposition to the commission putting (authorizing) a gate being put across this road and denying access to a cemetery. Also in your folder you have an entity to itself (cemetery parcel) and a tax code. The tax papers of this cemetery. You also have the deed from Ms. Bethel W. Foster to Mary Helen Gill of this cemetery. I state an objection to Mr. Barton’s motion and I stand in full protest with these 175 signatures each of you have of a gate being put across a public county road on Taylor Lane,” said Young.

Commissioners voting to close this section of Taylor Lane were Jack Barton, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jonathan Norris, and Larry Summers. Those voting against it were Julie Young, Anita Puckett, Betty Atnip, Bradley Hendrix, Jeff Barnes, Jimmy Midget, and Wayne Cantrell. Jerry Adcock “passed” and Mason Carter was absent.

Dowelltown Man Indicted for Statutory Rape

November 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Nathan Joseph Gohs

A 20 year old Dowelltown man has been indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury with three counts of statutory rape for allegedly having sex with a 16 year old girl who became pregnant.

Nathan Joseph Gohs of Dale Ridge Road will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 12.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said from June 1 to July 31, Gohs allegedly had sex with a 16 year old girl three times at a residence on Students Home Road.

In each of the three counts, the grand jury indictment alleges that on or about the date range of June 1, 2016 to July 31, 2016, Gohs did unlawfully and intentionally or knowingly sexually penetrate a minor child, a person 16 years of age. Gohs being at least four years older than the minor child.


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