Local News Articles

Girl Scouts Collecting New Pajamas for DeKalb Foster Children

December 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Tori Summers, Layla Walker, Jenna Wright

As part of their Bronze Award Project, members of Girl Scout Troop 750 are collecting donations of new pajamas for the DeKalb County Foster Children's Program.

Girl Scouts Layla Walker, Jenna Wright, and Tori Summers visited WJLE Wednesday to produce a public service announcement asking for donations.

"We are asking everyone to help out and make the season better for children who cannot be with their families," said Summers

"If you can help out please bring your donations to Annette Greek at Webb's Gifts before December 11," added Wright.

"Thanks and our troop wants to wish you a Merry Christmas" said Walker.

Beer Board Imposes Civil Penalty Against Nicole's Market (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

December 4, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Beer Board voted to impose a civil penalty on the owner of Nicole's Market Thursday night after she admitted to illegally selling beer to a minor.

42 year old Areceli Soto Godinez of Smithville has until next Friday, December 11 to pay the $1,000 fine or she will lose her beer license for six months.

Godinez appeared before the beer board Thursday night for a revocation hearing. But Godinez decided against proceeding with the hearing and accepted the penalty assessed by the beer board.

During an undercover operation in September, a 20 year old operative working for the Sheriff's Department entered Nicole's Market and bought beer from Godinez. Sheriff Patrick Ray, Detective Jeremy Taylor and other officers involved in the operation were present for the hearing Thursday night and prepared to testify.

"This is an opportunity for you to make any statement you care to. You are entitled to a hearing here tonight on the issue of whether your license should be revoked based on the allegations and the sheriff and his witnesses are here if you want a hearing. The board has two options. If the board after a hearing found you had sold beer to a minor they could revoke your license for a period of time or they could impose a civil penalty or fine up to $2,500," said County Attorney Hilton Conger in addressing Godinez and her interpreter.

Conger then asked the interpreter "Do you know if she wants to have a hearing or does she acknowledge or admit that she did sell beer to a minor? After conferring with her, the interpreter replied "she says she's I guess guilty that she sold to a minor".

"It's up to the board then with her acknowledgement or her admission that she did sell to a minor to either vote to revoke her license. The board could suspend her license for any period that you choose or in the alternative you could impose a penalty of up to $2,500. That's the options," said Conger.

Beer Board member Rhonda Caplinger made a motion to impose a $1,000 fine and if it's not paid within seven days for the beer license to be revoked for six months. Board member Jim Stagi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Godinez appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on Thursday October 29 on a criminal citation for this offense. While she pled not guilty, the case against Godinez was continued for six months after which time the citation will be dismissed provided she pays the court costs of $212 and has no further incidents of this kind.

Godinez was among four persons cited for the illegal sale of alcohol to a minor as part of an undercover investigation conducted jointly by the Sheriff's Department, Smithville Police Department, and the Alexandria Police Department.

Godinez along with 25 year old Langed Bassem Nabil Samir of the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store on Nashville Highway and 56 year old Allison Ferguson of Smithville, an employee of Mapco Express on East Broad Street, Smithville appeared in General Sessions Court Thursday, October 29.

Under negotiated settlements with the District Attorney General's Office, each case is to be dismissed provided the defendants pay their court costs and have no further incidents of this kind within a certain period of time. Ferguson's case was dismissed that day. Citations are to be dismissed after 60 days for Samir and after six months in the Godinez case.

The case against 32 year old Jennifer Sims of McMinnville, an employee of the Discount Tobacco Store on West Broad Street, Smithville across from the Dairy Queen was postponed until December 10 to give her time to hire an attorney.

The Alexandria Beer Board Tuesday night, October 27 imposed a $500 fine against the owner of the Alexandria Discount Beer and Tobacco store for the violation of the town's beer ordinance. Samir, the clerk who actually made the sale, was cited by the Alexandria Police Department after he illegally sold beer to an underage operative during an undercover investigation on September 22. Samir admitted to making the illegal sale of beer but claims he made a mistake in reading the birth date on the identification presented to him by the customer (undercover operative) who is 20 years old.

Members of the DeKalb County Beer Board are Chairman Edward Frazier, Robert Rowe, Jim Stagi, Johnny King, Frank Thomas, Leonard Dickens, and Rhonda Caplinger.

Tractor Trailer Rig Overturns on Highway 56 South

December 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Tractor Trailer Rig Overturns on Highway 56 South
Driver Pinned Inside Cab of Tractor Trailer Rig Crash

A tractor trailer rig overturned on Highway 56 south near Sink Creek Thursday afternoon. The driver of the rig, 66 year old Jimmy McGowan of West Green Hill Road, Smithville was pinned inside the cab for more than an hour as fire and rescue workers labored to free him with extrication equipment. The truck had no cargo in the trailer. A helicopter ambulance was summoned and landed in a field across the highway from the scene waiting to airlift the truck driver. He was later flown to Vanderbilt hospital.

The accident was reported to Central Dispatch at 1:24 p.m.

According to Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, McGowan was traveling south on Highway 56 when the semi went off the right shoulder of the road. McGowan then overcorrected causing the rig to go back across the highway and over a private driveway and an embankment, clipping a utility pole before coming to rest on its side. Because the trailer blocked most of highway, traffic was tied up and had to be diverted for several hours.

In addition to DeKalb EMS and Life Force, others on the scene were members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, and North Warren Fire Department who were apparently called to provide mutual aid back up manpower support.

DCHS Softball Standout Signs with Cumberland University

December 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tigerette Softball Standout Tyra Graham Signs with Cumberland University
DCHS Tigerette Tyra Graham Signs with Cumberland University

Surrounded by her parents, coaches, principal and fellow players, DCHS Softball standout Tyra Graham, a senior, signed scholarship papers Wednesday with Cumberland University of Lebanon to play softball after she graduates here.

"I chose Cumberland because I really wanted to be close to home and when I went to visit there they really made me feel welcome. They were really friendly," said Graham.

"We're really excited to have Tyra. I think that she is pretty versatile and definitely very athletic so we are looking for her to make an immediate impact. She seems like a well rounded person and that's something we look for in our program," Cumberland Softball Coach Heather Stanfill told WJLE.

DCHS Tigerette Coach Danny Bond said Graham is quite talented and has contributed to his teams making back to back state tournament appearances the last two seasons. "She has helped us to achieve success with our last two teams going to the state. Her freshman year she was on the team that went to the region. We've had a lot of wins under our belt with her. The last two years Tyra has played at shortstop. Her freshman year she played at second base and in the outfield some. She leads off for us in the top order of the lineup. She has great speed. Tyra is a real scrappy player. Her glove is tremendous. She has defensive ability and batting in the upper part of the lineup means she is pretty consistent with the bat and can go either way, left handed or right handed. She can play the small game and the big game. Tyra can hit the ball long or bunt it, drag it or slap it. She has a lot of tools in her tool box," said Coach Bond.

Graham was joined at the signing by her parents, Kyle and Doris Graham, Coach Bond and his assistant softball coaches Danny Fish and Melissa Ruch, Cumberland Coach Heather Stanfill, DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant and members of the Tigerette Softball Team.

TOP PHOTO: Top Left to Right: DCHS Tigerette Coach Danny Bond, Cumberland Coach Heather Stanfill, and Assistant Tigerette Coach Danny Fish. SEATED: Left to Right: Assistant Tigerette Coach Melissa Ruch, Kyle Graham, Tyra Graham, Doris Graham, and DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant.

BOTTOM PHOTO: Top Left to Right: Kelly Roberts, Kristina Bain, Hailey Redmon, Kendal Taylor, Katie Hall, Hannah Walker, Cumberland Coach Heather Stanfill, Myranda Bailiff, Kayley Caplinger, Lexi Bates, Hannah Panter, Allison Maynard, and Maddie Dickens. SEATED left to right DCHS Princial Kathy Bryant, Melissa Ruch, Kyle Graham, Tyra Graham, Doris Graham, Danny Fish, and Coach Danny Bond.

Dowelltown Man Gets 25 Year Prison Sentence for Child Rape

December 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
Jonathan Everett Jay

A Dowelltown man charged with child rape for allegedly touching his eight year old niece in a sexual manner was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, December 2.

Judge David Patterson presided.

22 year old Jonathan Everett Jay of Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown, who was indicted on two counts of child rape, entered a plea to one count of rape of a child and received a 25 year prison sentence. He is to serve 100% of the sentence day for day. Jay was given 447 days of jail credit.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, September 11, 2014 a Sheriff's Department Detective responded to a residence on Snow Hill Road regarding a sexual assault of an eight year old girl. According to the mother, the child said that her uncle (Jay) had touched her inappropriately. The detective and a member of the Department of Children's Services spoke with the child and she confirmed what her mother had reported. When confronted Jay agreed to speak with the detective at the Sheriff's Department. After reading Jay his rights, the detective began the interview during which time Jay allegedly admitted to having had sexual contact with the child on two occasions, Wednesday August 27 and Thursday, September 11, 2014.

County Plans to Reapply for CDBG Grant for Water Line Extension

December 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Attorney Hilton Conger, County Mayor Tim Stribling, and County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss

The county plans to reapply for a Community Development Block Grant for water line extension to a certain area of the county in need.

The DeKalb County Commission last fall adopted a resolution to apply for a $525,000 Community Development Block Grant for this purpose on behalf of the DeKalb Utility District.

Had it been approved by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the grant would have funded the extension of water lines to Tramel Branch, Oakley Road, Carter Lane, Old Givens Hollow, and Dismal to Alexandria Road.

The maximum amount of the grant was $525,000. Had it been approved the DUD would have funded the local matching portion of 16% or $96,000.

This was the county's second try for the grant involving the same project.

As with the first application filed earlier in 2014, the project was denied because it did not score high enough to be awarded a grant.

During last week's county commission meeting, County Mayor Tim Stribling said discussions are underway to try again. "I met with Jon Foutch of DUD and Amanda Mainord, who wrote the grant, and we called Brooxie Carlton, the Director of the Department of Economic and Community Development. We had five more low to moderate income families added this year but our project impact score (for the grant) was lower. She (Carlton) said one way it might help would be that we get the cost per person down. By doing that DUD might could put in more money and ask for less money on the grant. That is something they (DUD) will discuss in a meeting to maybe put in more money on their end of it and lower the grant amount we're asking for to try and get the cost per person down. There will need to be a public hearing before we pass a resolution to let people know that we will be applying for a grant again for those water lines at Tramel Branch, Oakley Road, Carter Lane, Old Givens Hollow, and Dismal to Alexandria Road," said Stribling.

"She (Carlton) recommended last year (in applying for the grant) that we do 35% well testing instead of the standard 10%. We did that. We raised our score from 191 to 206 but they (state) raised the cut off (score) from 193 to 216," Stribling added.

The state approved water line extension grants this year for seven applicants including Monroe County, Greene County, Hancock County, Jefferson County, Maynardville, Macon County, and Anderson County totaling $3,456,001.

Applicants who were denied a grant included DeKalb County, Bedford County, McMinn County, Coffee County, Hickman County, Unicoi County, and the Pittman Center.

The total amount of funding requested among all fourteen applicants was $6,628,001

Another Arrest Made in Recent Burglary and Theft Investigation

December 1, 2015
Dwayne Page
Dustin Matthew Brewer
Mark E. Johnson
Richard Leon McDaniel
Taren Renee Pilley
Tammye Estes
Johnny Wayne Trapp
Olivia Hope Barber

A second arrest has been made in a recent burglary and theft investigation.

27 year old Dustin Matthew Brewer of Barnes Mill Road, Smithville is charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. He was arrested on Monday, November 23. His wife, 24 year old Brandi Louise Brewer was charged with the same offenses last week. Bond for each is $25,000 and they will be in court December 10.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on or about Monday, November 9 the Brewers allegedly broke into a building on South Tittsworth Road and stole two chainsaws, an air compressor, an air tank, two wrench sets, an Impact socket, a socket wrench, a hammer drill, a jigsaw, and a 12 volt drill. The total value of the stolen items comes to $1,374. Some of the goods has been recovered and identified by the property owner.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff's Department detective.

Meanwhile, 30 year old Mark E. Johnson of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000. He is under a $10,000 bond and will be in court December 10.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, October 25 Johnson allegedly broke into a home through a window and took clothing, sunglasses, watches, and sandals. All the items taken were new and valued at more than $2,500.

40 year old Richard Leon McDaniel of Hayes Ridge Road, Lancaster is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,000 and he will make a court appearance December 10.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, November 23 a deputy responded to a residence on Hayes Ridge Road for a possible gunshot wound. Upon arrival the officer spoke with McDaniel and his girlfriend who had been in an argument. The officer learned that McDaniel wanted her to leave the residence but she would not go. He then threatened to burn the house down which caused the woman to fear bodily harm. She went and got a gun for protection. As McDaniel tried to take the gun away from her it discharged but no one was injured. McDaniel was found to be the aggressor and he was placed under arrest.

33 year Taren Renee Pilley of Davis Street, Smithville is charged with being a fugitive from justice. Her bond is $25,000 and she will make a court appearance on December 10.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, November 24 a sheriff's department detective conducted a traffic stop on Highway 70. Pilley was a passenger in the vehicle. A computer check revealed that she is wanted in Butler County, Ohio for failure to appear and child support. Pilley was placed under arrest.

46 year old Tammye Estes of Pea Ridge Road, Liberty is charged with driving under the influence. She was further issued citations for a violation of driving on roadways laned for travel and implied consent. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court December 17.

According to Sheriff Ray, on Wednesday, November 25 a deputy responded to Short Mountain Highway in the area of Tabernacle Road in reference to a one vehicle accident. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the driver, Estes. Her speech was slurred and eyes were glazed. She was also unsteady on her feet. Estes told the officer she had earlier taken a Percocet pill. She performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and refused to submit to a blood test. Estes was placed under arrest.

59 year old Johnny Wayne Trapp of East Bryant Street, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court December 10.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, November 27 a deputy responded to Highway 56 north and Pine Grove Road where someone was seen lying in a ditch. Upon arrival the officer found Trapp in the ditch. He appeared to be unsteady on his feet and he had a strong odor of alcohol on him. Trapp admitted to having been drinking. A 25 ounce can of Bud Lite, three quarters empty, was found beside of him. Trapp was placed under arrest.

18 year old Olivia Hope Barber of South Third Street, Smithville is charged with evading arrest. Her bond is $1,500 for evading arrest and she is being held without bond on a drug court order violation. Barber will make a court appearance on December 10.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, November 27 a deputy went to Yulonda Hills Road to serve a drug court order on Barber. As he approached the residence, the officer saw Barber run out the back door. The deputy identified himself and called for Barber to stop but she kept running. The officer caught up with Barber and placed her under arrest. The drug court order against her is for breaking house arrest, not attending classes, and no contact with the drug court staff.

Traffic Stops Yield Cocaine, Marijuana, and Morphine

December 1, 2015
Dwayne Page
Braxton Kain Bennett

Two separate traffic stops Saturday by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department yielded cocaine, marijuana, and morphine.

An arrest was made in one case while citations were issued in the other.

18 year old Braxton Kain Bennett of Smith Road, Smithville is charged with possession of a schedule II controlled substance (1.9 grams of cocaine) for resale. He was also issued a citation for simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana) and for driving on the wrong side of the road. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on December 10.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, November 28 a deputy stopped a black Cadillac which was traveling on the left side of the roadway. The officer spoke with the driver, Bennett and noticed a smell of marijuana. Bennett handed the deputy a container which held a plastic bag. Inside the bag was 1.9 grams of a white powdery substance that field tested positive for cocaine. Bennett admitted that it belonged to him. Bennett also turned over a baggie containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana which weighed 1.8 grams. Bennett admitted that the marijuana belonged to him.

Meanwhile in a separate incident, 30 year old Joshua Lynn McCowan of Midway Road, Smithville is cited for driving on a suspended license, failure to maintain lane of travel, and possession of a schedule II drug (morphine). He will make a court appearance on January 21.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, November 28 a deputy stopped a Honda Accord for failing to maintain its lane of travel. McCowan was driving the car. A computer check revealed that McCowan's license were suspended for failure to pay fines. After receiving consent to search, the officer found in a plastic wrap, 30 milligrams of crushed morphine and a spoon.

Child Abuse Indictment Returned Against Judkins

November 30, 2015
Dwayne Page
Michael Andrew Judkins

The Grand Jury has indicted a DeKalb County man for child abuse.

Michael Andrew Judkins of Old Bildad Road, Smithville was named in a sealed indictment by the grand jury last Monday, November 23. He was served with the indictment on Tuesday, November 24. His bond is $1,000 and he will be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday, December 7.

According to the indictment obtained by WJLE, "Michael Andrew Judkins, on or about the 4th day of March, 2014 did unlawfully, knowingly, and other than by accidental means, inflict injury on (a female born July 13, 2000), a child under eighteen years of age, thereby committing the offense of child abuse".

Smithville Woman Indicted for TennCare Fraud

November 30, 2015
Dwayne Page
Kimberly Dawn Griffin

A Smithville woman has been indicted by the grand jury on charges of TennCare Fraud and theft of services over $10,000.

45 year old Kimberly Dawn Griffin of Pages Lane, Smithville was named in a sealed indictment last Monday, November 23. She was served with the indictment on Wednesday, November 25. Her bond is $10,000 and she will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 7

According to count 1 of the indictment, obtained by WJLE, "Kimberly D. Griffin, between the 15th day of December, 2008 and the 29th day of October, 2012 intentionally did obtain certain services, to wit: medical assistance benefits for herself and her minor child, provided by the State of Tennessee, of the value of over $10,000 but less than $60,000, by means of deception, fraud, coercion, false pretense, or other means, with the intent to avoid payment for the services, constituting the offense of theft of services over $10,000".

Count 2 of the indictment alleges that "Kimberly D. Griffin, between the 15th day of December, 2008 and the 29th day of October, 2012 did knowingly obtain medical assistance benefits for herself and her minor child, by means of her willfully false statement, representation or impersonation or by concealment of a material fact, to wit: fraudulently reporting to DHS that her minor child resided with her, in order to be eligible for TennCare benefits, constituting the offense of TennCare Fraud".


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