Local News Articles

School Board Makes Contract Buyout Offer to Director Willoughby (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Monday night during a special called meeting made a contract buyout offer to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

The vote was 6-1 in favor. Second District member Jerry Wayne Johnson voted against it.


Under terms of the proposal, the School Board has agreed to pay Mr. Willoughby his salary and all insurance benefits now in effect through June 30th. During the term of this agreement, no additional personal leave days shall accrue and salary and benefit payments shall not increase or decrease. Such salary and benefits shall be paid upon the regularly scheduled dates established by policy or practice for all currently employed licensed personnel.

Since Willoughby has already been paid for the month of April, the board believes it necessary for him to stay on as Director until an interim is named possibly by the next regularly scheduled meeting on April 16.

Director Willoughby has forty eight hours to notify the board whether he will accept the proposed settlement. He wants the terms in writing so he can have an attorney review them before he makes up his mind.

Willoughby, who last month announced his retirement date as June 30th, reminded the board that he had not sought any contract buyout. "I didn't ask for a buyout but I'll be professional if the board chooses to buyout the contract. If the board does not, I'll be happy to stay until June 30 and do my job," he said.

Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III said it is his understanding after consulting a TSBA attorney that if Willoughby does not accept the proposal, the board has the option of giving him a fifteen day notice and paying him through June 30.

While the board would have to find the money to pay an interim until a new director is under contract, funds are already in the budget to pay Willoughby through June 30th.

Elderly Woman Dies in Monday Crash

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
 83 year old Robbie D. Taylor was driving this 2007 Chevy Impala
2010 Red Chevy HHR to the left of Fire Truck driven by Jennifer Buck

An elderly woman died in a two vehicle crash Monday afternoon at the intersection of Highways 70 and 83 near Kilgore's Restaurant.

Dead is 83 year old Robbie D. Taylor of Smithville.

Central dispatch was first notified of the crash at 2:36 p.m.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Taylor was driving south on Highway 83 in a 2007 Chevy Impala when she pulled into the path of a 2010 Chevy HHR, driven by 35 year old Jennifer Buck of Dowelltown who was east on Highway 70.

According to Trooper Tisdale, Buck saw Taylor's car coming across the highway in front of her and swerved but was unable to avoid the collision.

Buck was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was treated for injuries including a fractured arm according to Trooper Tisdale. Taylor was also taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol assisted Trooper Tisdale in the crash investigation. Members of the Sheriff's Department and Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene to render assistance.

According to Trooper Tisdale, both Taylor and Buck were wearing their seatbelts.

Sheriff's Department Makes DUI Arrests

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joseph Hunter
Brian Lee Carter
Christopher Neal Patterson
Kyshanna Beth Frazier
Christopher Shannon Mooneyham

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in recent days has made two DUI arrests.

52 year old Joseph Hunter of Sycamore Street, Lebanon is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court April 30. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, March 28 a deputy spotted a vehicle traveling eastbound on Highway 70 west. The driver was observed failing to maintain his lane of travel. The officer conducted a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Hunter who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were bloodshot. Hunter performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol test. Hunter was placed under arrest.

35 year old Brian Lee Carter of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged with driving under the influence and a third offense of driving on a suspended license. He was also issued a citation for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and violation of the implied consent law (refusal to submit to a blood test). His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court on April 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 3 a deputy was dispatched to a motor vehicle accident on Possum Hollow Road, Dowelltown. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Carter who had run off the roadway in his automobile and struck a tree. Carter had a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. When asked if he had been drinking, Carter told the officer that he had drank a few. Carter performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. A computer check revealed that Carter's license were suspended for failure to show proof of insurance. He was placed under arrest.

45 year old Christopher Neal Patterson of Big Hickory Court, Smithville is charged with violation of an order of protection. His bond is $2,500. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, March 23 Patterson violated an active restraining order by being on the front porch of a residence at 135 Big Hickory Road. He was supposed to keep away from this property.

34 year old Kyshanna Beth Frazier of Martin Lane, Alexandria is charged with criminal impersonation. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court April 9. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, March 31 Frazier and a man were found to be trespassing at the bridge on New Bildad Road. An officer investigated and spoke with Frazier, who identified herself as Karissa Parker. She also lied about her birth date and gave a fake Social Security number.

35 year old Christopher Shannon Mooneyham of Green Acres Drive, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license. He was also issued a citation for driving an unregistered vehicle and for misuse of registration. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on April 30. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, April 1 a Sheriff's Department Detective saw Mooneyham operating a 1993 GMC pickup truck at the intersection of Green Acres Drive and Mountain Street. The officer, knowing that Mooneyham had a revoked license, made a traffic stop. A computer check confirmed that Mooneyham's license were revoked for a DUI on March 26 2009. The tag on the truck came back to a Honda belonging to another person. After checking the VIN number, the officer learned that the truck was not registered to Mooneyham but he had in his possession a signed title to the vehicle. He was placed under arrest and the pickup was seized. Mooneyham had been issued a citation for the same offense (DRL) in a prior stop on March 7.

Teen Airlifted After Crash Easter Sunday

April 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Danny Smedley Airlifted After Crash on Belk Road
Teen Airlifted After Crash Easter Sunday
Utility Pole breaks during Truck Crash on Belk Road

An 18 year old McMinnville man was airlifted after he crashed his pickup truck on Belk Road (State Highway 288) near Walker Road Sunday morning.

Danny Smedley was taken by DeKalb EMS from the scene of the accident to a helicopter landing zone set up near New Union The Baptist Church. Smedley was flown from there to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Smedley was traveling toward Warren County in a 2006 Nissan Titan when he left the road, struck an embankment, broke a utility pole, and then went back across the highway, coming to rest in the opposite direction.

Later in the day, a Murfreesboro woman was injured in a motorcycle accident on Highway 70 near the VFW Club location.

Trooper Delong said 40 year old Katherine Lawless was on a 1998 Honda motorcycle traveling east when she hit gravel and lost control in a curve. She was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital

Rabies Vaccination Clinics Scheduled

April 5, 2015
Dwayne Page

Spring and summer mean having fun in the sun and enjoying many outdoor activities. Keeping your family safe is also important. The Tennessee Department of Health reminds Tennesseans that preventing exposure of people and their pets to the rabies virus is a priority, especially during this time of year.

Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs and cats, as required by Tennessee law and local ordinances. Owners are urged to have their dogs (3 months of age or older) and cats (6 months of age or older) vaccinated. Store purchased vaccines are not legally acceptable.

Vaccination clinics will be held on the following dates and locations:
Animal Clinic of Smithville, 440 East Broad Street (Dr. Mark Burke) In the office:
April 15: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

DeKalb County Animal Clinic, 1020 West Broad Street (Dr. Scott Little) In the office:
April 15: 8:00 a.m. to Noon
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

Wheeler Veterinary Clinic, 690 North Congress Boulevard (Dr. Jamie Fornabaio) In the office:
April 14: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
April 15: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
April 16: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

A fee of $7.00 will be charged for each inoculation.

For more information contact an Environmental Health Specialist at the DeKalb County Health Department at 597-7590.

Humans can be exposed to rabies when attempting to assist, feed or handle wild animals. If a wild or domestic animal is seen as ill or acting strangely, it should be reported to your local animal control agency. Bats in particular should not be handled. If a bat is found inside, in a swimming pool, or brought home by your pets, use precautions and consult your local health department.

Rabies is a deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies infection occurs primarily in wildlife in Tennessee, but it can be transmitted to any mammal, including humans and family pets. Bites are the most common means of transmission; contact with saliva from an infected animal can also be a concern.

Citizens can take the following actions to help prevent the spread of rabies:

Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
Keep children away from any wild or dead animals. Educate them not to touch or attempt to pick up, feed or handle any wild or unfamiliar domestic animals, especially those that are or appear to be sick or injured.

Do not disturb bats. Instead, consult your local health department or animal control agency for assistance in dealing with potential exposure to bats.

For more information or assistance with a potential rabies exposure, call your local health department or the Tennessee Department of Health emergency line at 615-741-7247.

Elvis Tribute with J.D. Sumner’s Stamps Quartet returning to Smithville

April 4, 2015
J.D. Sumner’s Stamps Quartet
Tom Duggin and the Tim Colwell Band

By popular demand, an Elvis tribute show is returning to the DeKalb County Community Center this summer.

On Saturday, August 1, a tribute to the late King of Rock ‘n Roll will hit the community center stage for two performances, featuring local personality Tom Duggin, the Tim Colwell Band, and J.D. Sumner’s Stamps Quartet, featuring four members of the legendary gospel quartet who backed Elvis on stage from 1971 until the singer’s death in August, 1977.

“When we put on the show in 2013, we actually had the official “Stamps Quartet,” who still carry the legendary group name,” noted Duggin. “The Stamps have been regularly booked on other tribute shows, particularly in Las Vegas and in Berlin, Germany, these past couple of years, so they were unavailable to us this summer.”

Fortunately, Duggin said, Sumner’s Stamps Quartet as they are known – a quartet featuring Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Ed Hill and Larry Strickland – were available and excited about the possibility of playing an Elvis tribute show in the Middle Tennessee area.

“All four of these guys worked with Elvis during the 70s, and have each had a prestigious musical career of their own,” said Duggin. “When speaking with Donnie Sumner, he and the group were excited to be playing in a venue close to home, as all four have ties to the Middle Tennessee area.”

Sumner, the nephew of the late, legendary bass singer J.D. Sumner, whom the group was named after, actually had two stints with Elvis. Sumner sang lead when the Stamps first joined Elvis in 1971, but left the group in 1972. However, Elvis came calling again in 1973, as Sumner had joined a group called “Voice,” which backed Presley along with the Stamps for two years. Sumner penned two Presley tunes during the 1970s, and is best remembered by fans for his stellar version of the gospel classic, “The Lighthouse,” featured in the 1972 documentary, “Elvis on Tour.”

Baize was the Stamps’ tenor singer from 1971-76, when he left the group and the music business for a number of years. Baize has written many songs over the years, in addition to preaching and singing in several churches throughout the United States. Baize has also performed at a number of Elvis tribute shows in recent years.

Hill boasts a 55-year music career, six years of which he spent with Presley as a member of the Stamps from 1971-77. Of note in Elvis circles was the rich baritone voice of Ed Hill, which always proclaimed at the end of each night’s performance, “Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night.” He has also served as a backup performer for such acts as Tammy Wynette, Ronnie McDowell, Dottie West and Ricky Skaggs.

Strickland was brought on board with the Stamps in 1974, as a second bass singer in the group. He sang with the Stamps backing Elvis until his death in 1977. Strickland left the stage in 1989, when he married Naomi Judd, the mother in the famous country duo, The Judds. In addition to helping manage both Naomi and daughter, Wynonna Judd’s respective careers, Strickland has also returned to the stage in recent years to sing gospel music as well as participate in various Elvis tribute shows.

Duggin fronted Smithville’s last Elvis tribute show, titled “Aloha 40,” which was held in August, 2013. He will return to sing Elvis’ songs in this year’s event, being titled “From Memphis to Vegas.”

“That’s kind of how it went for Elvis,” Duggin said. “It all started in Memphis and then came the great concert years with many, many shows under the bright lights of Las Vegas. Much like last time, our show this year will have the feel of a live Elvis concert, with many of the songs he loved to perform live during the 1970s.”

The Tim Colwell Band will return to provide the music for the show, which will also feature a trio of female backup singers along with a brass ensemble. As was the case in the 2013 show, Sumner’s Stamps will open the show with a set of their own, which will likely include stories about their time with Elvis.

“That’s absolutely my favorite part of the show,” Duggin admitted. “I love sitting back and listening to them recounting their days with Elvis with their fond memories. Being the fan I am, I could listen to those stories all day.”

Like 2013, Duggin won’t don the jumpsuit or grow sideburns as is the case with many Elvis tribute artists. “I love Elvis’ songs,” he said. “I’m not Elvis. No one ever will be. The impersonators do what they do and for them, that’s fine. I will honor my musical hero by simply singing his songs and putting on a stage show to the best of my ability.”

A ticket pre-sale for the show will take place from April 1 to June 1, with tickets priced at $20 each. A minimum of 500 tickets must be sold by the June 1 date in order to ensure the show can be fully funded. If enough tickets are not sold by the June 1 date, full refunds will be given out to those who purchased tickets. After June 1, the price of the tickets will go up to $25 each, which will remain the price until tickets are sold out or the show date is reached.

“We’ve had so much demand for the show, I honestly expect the tickets to go fast,” said Duggin. “We’re again doing two shows to hopefully get as many people in as possible, but the number of tickets we can sell is limited. My hope is that people who are interested in going will purchase their tickets early, so we can be sure we can fully fund the cost of the show.”

Show times on Saturday, August 1, will be 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Ticket buyers can select which show they prefer to attend until each show is sold out; however, tickets are relatively limited for each show, so those interested in attending are encouraged to buy as early as possible. All seats are general admission and people will be seated at each show on a first-come, first-served basis. Current ticket outlets are the DeKalb County Community Center in Smithville, the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce Office in Woodbury, Koncept Kustom Werkz in Cookeville or by contacting Tom Duggin via call or text at (615) 464-3185.

WJLE Radiothon Raises Over $5,000 for DCHS Project Graduation

April 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
DCHS student Jacob Washer Takes a Pledge during Radiothon (Judith Hale Photo)
DCHS Teacher Chris Vance Interviews Students Leah Burchfield and Katie Willoughby (Judith Hale Photo)
DCHS Teacher Chris Vance Interviews Student MaKalee Ruch  (Judith Hale Photo)
DCHS Teacher Chris Vance Interviews Student Bailey Hayes (Judith Hale Photo)

More than $5,000 was raised during a three hour radiothon Friday morning on WJLE for the DCHS Class of 2015 Project Graduation.

DCHS teacher Chris Vance and David Hedge co-hosted the program and parents of high school seniors who serve on the Project Graduation committee answered phones, taking pledges during the drive. Several members of the DCHS Class of 2015 also participated.

Parents and students wish to thank everyone who supported the radiothon.

Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2015 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class.

Judith Hale, President of the Project Graduation Committee said she is pleased with the results of the Radiothon. "It's more than what I was expecting. We were hoping for $5,000 and we actually got $5,060."

"Project Graduation is in its 16th year. Our community has played a huge part in wanting to keep our children of DeKalb County safe by all the donations and prayers. I would like to personally thank the people of DeKalb County for all that they have done," said Hale.

"On the night of Project Graduation, we'll have people come in and bring games and we'll have a lot of churches donate food and things along that line for the teens. With so much going on we plan to stay busy the whole night," she said.

Other fundraising events are planned including a plant sale on Saturday, April 11 starting at 8:00 a.m. at the DeKalb Middle School parking lot. Local nurseries are donating plants for the sale. A fishing tournament will take place on Saturday, April 18 from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at Ragland Bottom Recreation Area on Center Hill Lake. Proceeds will benefit the DCHS Class of 2015 Project Graduation

Local Girl Scouts Making Plans for Fundraising 5K and Fun Run

April 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
Local Girl Scouts Making Plans for Fundraising 5K and Fun Run

Local Girl Scout Troop #343 is hosting a fundraising event to help cover costs of a trip to Europe in 2017.

The "Run Your Cookies Off 5K and Samoa Shuffle one-mile fun run" will be Saturday, May 30 starting and finishing at the Smithville Church of Christ. The races will start at 8:00 a.m.

Proceeds will fund the local girl scouts' visit to the Girl Scout World Centers in London and Switzerland in 2017.

Registration is $25.00 and Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops who sign up together will get a discount. T-shirts will be available for everyone and an awesome finishers medal. Anyone who wears their Scouting Vest or Sash will get a patch.

Registration forms are at the County Complex or you may register online from their facebook page "Run Your Cookies Off and Samoa Shuffle Fun Run"

(PICTURED: SEATED- Baylee Phillips, Rachel Fuson, Sahara Lafever, and Callie Cripps; STANDING- Joannie Williams, Zoe Cripps, Kristen Parsley, and Amy Cripps)

School Board May Consider Director Buyout Offer Monday Night

April 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and School Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III

How much longer will Mark Willoughby remain as Director of Schools?

The DeKalb County Board of Education is expected to take up that issue when it convenes in a special called session on Monday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m. at the Board of Education Building. The agenda calls it a "discussion of the Director of Schools contract". A work session is tentatively set prior to the special meeting Monday night at 6:00 p.m.

Director Willoughby, who has held the position since July 1, 2006, announced plans to retire as of June 30 during a meeting with central office staff on Monday, March 16. He also notified the board with an email communication during that meeting.

Although he still has more than two years left in his contract, Willoughby believes the time has come for him to step down. But rather than let him stay on through June 30, some members of the board apparently want to cut ties with Willoughby now and offer him a buyout through June 30th. The cost of a buyout to the school system would be approximately $28,000 according to Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

The board was apparently scheduled to consider a buyout option during a special called meeting held Monday, March 23 but deferred action until April 6 in order to get a legal clarification on what the board's obligations are under the contract. Although Willoughby gave a 107 day notice of his retirement, the board apparently wants to know if a 30 day notice is sufficient?

If the board members should vote to buyout Director Willoughby's contract, they would have to find the money and then name someone to serve as interim director until a new director is under contract. "We need to talk to members of the county commission and county mayor and if they say it's good to go maybe we can pull this money out of the sinking fund (local option sales tax fund) and not affect our budget. That will give us an opportunity to find an interim director. I know we can go a few days without one but we can't go for very long," Chairman Evins said.

Election Officials Attend Voter Registration Software Seminar

April 1, 2015
Michelle Riley and Dennis Stanley

51 election officials from 25 Tennessee counties met in Wilson County on March 27th, to learn more about their voter registration software. Michelle Riley, Embry Consulting, conducted the seminar- answering questions, unveiling new applications and listening to ideas from the everyday users.

“Having this opportunity to meet with so many of our clients at one location has been a great experience. Every county in Tennessee has different needs. We strive to provide a voter registration system that works well in every jurisdiction,” said Riley.

Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections said, “Every county in Tennessee has many of the same election administration challenges just on different scales depending on the number of voters. Coming together to learn how to best utilize the tools we have and learn from each other’s experiences benefits the voters of every county.”

Accurate voter registration rolls are the foundation of elections. Election Day is the culmination of work done every day at the Election Commission in preparation for that big day. DeKalb County processes new registrations each month. In addition to new voters, the Commission staff processes address changes, name changes, removes voters that have moved from the county or are deceased. Properly maintaining DeKalb County’s voter rolls is a daily task.

With over 11,000 eligible voters, the job of maintaining voter rolls would be costly without technology. DeKalb County and 79 other Tennessee counties use Voter Central registration software. Voter Central is a Tennessee owned company serving county election commissions in Tennessee.

The seminar was hosted by the Wilson County Election Commission at their training facility in Lebanon, TN.

Contact the DeKalb County Election Commission at 615-597-4146 or dekalbelections@dtccom.net with your questions and for information about voting, voter registration and elections.



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