Local News Articles

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital Undergoes Complete Renovation of its Emergency Department

April 11, 2017
Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital Undergoes Complete Renovation of its Emergency Department
Ribbon Cutting for Newly Renovated Emergency Department
Newly Renovated Emergency Rooms

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville, Tennessee has completed its renovation of the hospital’s Emergency Department. The construction, which began in early March 2017, is now in full operation (see pictures below).

“The purpose of the renovation is to upgrade and modernize the Emergency Department and to add features, such as a security room, which will help us be more efficient in delivering care to the community,” said Bob Burritt, Interim Director of Clinical Operations. “The Emergency Department is a main front door to the hospital.” Burritt said the investment is part of Saint Thomas Health’s commitment across the system to providing the best facilities for the region’s healthcare. Saint Thomas Health is a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system.

The Emergency Department area is completely rebuilt, including a waiting room, the reception area, each individual treatment room and the nurses’ stations, including new flooring, new counters and painting.

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital serves DeKalb County, Smithville and the surrounding region, and cares for an average of 30 patients every day in its Emergency Department.

In Tennessee, Ascension’s Saint Thomas Health operates nine hospitals in addition to a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities that cover a 68-county area and employ more than 8,000 associates. Across the state, Saint Thomas Health provided more than $78 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2016. Serving Tennessee for 15 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Visit www.sthealth.com.

Owens Charged with Vehicular Assault and DUI After Saturday Night Crash

April 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Terry W. Owens

A man believed to be responsible for a serious injury traffic crash Saturday night has been charged with vehicular assault. The accident occurred at the intersection of Highway 70 and Evins Mill Road.

62 year old Terry W. Owens of Smith Road, Smithville is also charged with driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, and he has been cited for failure to exercise due care, no insurance, and failure to yield.

Trooper Brent Collier of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Owens, driving a 1997 Chevy, pulled from Evins Mill Road onto highway 70 into the path of a 2014 Kia Serento, driven by 46 year old Michael Adkins of Crossville who was traveling east on highway 70. 38 year old Tosha Adkins was a passenger. 38 year old Rebecca Pelfrey was a passenger with Owens.

According to the complaint, “Mr. Owens smelled of alcohol and admitted to drinking on this day (Saturday). He was given standardized field sobriety tests at which he performed poorly. Mr. Owens refused to give blood multiple times even after being told about the implied consent law”.

Adkins was not hurt but Ms Adkins was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital where she was treated and released. Owens and Pelfrey were taken to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital by DeKalb EMS where they were treated. Pelfrey was released by Owens was taken into custody.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department were also on the scene.

DUD Asked to Reconsider Decision Against Fluoridation

April 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
DUD Board of Commissioners
Beth Pafford
Dr. Mitch Tatum, DDS
Dr. Steven Cooper

A decision by the DeKalb Utility District to not add fluoride to its consumer water supply when the new plant opens is causing concern among some.

During the regular monthly meeting last Thursday, Beth Pafford, assistant principal at Northside Elementary School, Dr. Mitch Tatum, a local dentist, and Dr. Steven Cooper addressed the DUD Board of Commissioners asking them to reconsider their decision in the interest of the public’s dental health.

“I am here as a resident and educator in this community because I am very concerned about the decision to not include fluoridation water in with the new water treatment plant and asking that you reverse course and vote to change that decision for the health and well being of our citizens,” said Pafford.

“I brought with me a note signed by local physicians in support of water fluoridation. I also have some information from various sources regarding the benefits of water fluoridation. It is supported as a safe and effective way to prevent cavities and promote dental health by the U.S. Surgeon General, the CDC, the AMA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ADA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the EPA as well as the Tennessee Department of Health,” said Pafford.

The DUD’s decision not to fluoridate the water was based on several factors including the costs, the potential chemical hazards, and that fluoride is already in most drinking water sources as well as toothpaste and mouthwash. Before the decision was made, notices were sent, as required by law, to customers with their monthly bills making them aware of the DUD’s intentions. According to DUD Manager Jon Foutch, only four customers expressed an opinion and all were opposed to fluoridation of their water supply.

Pafford said four responses out of thousands of DUD customers is not a valid survey result and questioned whether most customers were even aware of this decision.

Dr. Tatum asked why the board chose to go against the recommendation of health department officials when they recently addressed the DUD commissioners in favor of water fluoridation.

“You went against the health department when they came to you,” he said.

“They made a very nice presentation. We listened to it and did our own research. We had to come to a decision,” answered DUD Board Chairman Roger Turney.

“Where do you have the expertise to do research on fluoridation? This is all research that is 70 years in the process and for you to say we have done our own research. That doesn’t fly,” said Dr. Tatum.

“A lot of that research you are reporting goes back to a period of time when fluoride was not in toothpaste or mouthwash. But that has changed. Isn’t there evidence that there are extreme hazards if you get too much fluoride?. That’s part of our consideration,” replied Turney.

“But if you have trained people and you are doing your job, you should be able to do that. There are systems in place that made that very safe if you do the training,” answered Dr. Tatum.

Pafford said she is concerned that the dental health of the community, especially children, will suffer without fluoridated water. “The American Dental Association says 51 million school hours are lost per year in this country due to dental related illnesses. I called the health department and we do not have dental services through our health department in this county. Not fluoridating the water disproportionally affects the poor and children in our community. All water contains some fluoride but most of it is not at levels high enough to help prevent tooth decay and cavities so that is why for over 70 years communities have added fluoride to the water to benefit the health of their residents and people that drink the water. And even though we have fluoride in tooth paste and mouth wash now they still say fluoride in the water system makes a difference in the oral health of people. It is my plea that you reconsider that decision. Its an opportunity for us to make a statement as a community about what we value here and the health of all of our residents is very important. Water fluoridation is a simple way to do that,” she said.

Turney said while the DUD has decided not to fluoridate the water supply for now, the new DUD plant has the capacity to add fluoride if the decision is ever changed. “The majority of what you presented to us was presented to us by the health department. We will be more than happy to look at what you presented. The plant is built so that we can fluoridate in the future if we decide to do so but at this particular time we have decided not to start with it. The process can be changed. We did a lot of study to consider whether to or not to do it. I personally did a lot of research and the vast majority of new plants that are going on line throughout the nation are not fluoridating and a lot of the ones that did are starting to stop, not all. There are a lot of facts out there now that support both ways,” he said.

“All the communities around here have fluoride in their water. I checked. The overwhelming evidence supports the benefits of water fluoridation. I am very concerned. We already have attendance problems at school and when we have students not coming in or coming in and beginning to complain in a few years with toothaches then that is going to add to the reasons why they are not in school,” said Pafford.

“I was involved in education for 44 years and most of that time I was involved in a school that did not have fluoride in the water. It was well water. I don’t know of a single solitary time that we had attendance problems because of cavities,” responded Turney.

“I have had many students come in years past with toothaches and I would have to send them to a nurse. There’s not a whole lot a nurse can do about a toothache. Its just anecdotal evidence. Teachers will tell you they have noticed a difference in the number of students complaining with toothaches,” said Pafford.

“I believe fluoridation is a good thing. We went through a period in the city where water was not fluoridated for a while and I did notice within a couple of years that there were more kids coming in with cavities. It takes two to three years to see that effect, a rise in the cavity rate,” said Dr. Cooper.

Dr. Tatum asked the DUD commissioners if they could be persuaded to change their minds.

“How do we get you to go about changing your mind? Do we start a petition? Do I need to get 1,000 people on a petition or 1,000 people out here? Do I need to get the ADA to come out here and present something. It’s really short sighted that this has been done. Studies show that communities that have taken fluoride out of their water see a 25% increase in cavities. We are underserved as a dental community and its going to make that even worse,” he said.

“Is it a big money thing?” asked Dr. Tatum

“Its expensive yes sir,” replied Turney.

“We’re talking about our community. There are times when you cut back on something because its worth it to save the money but there are times when you spend the money because its worth it for the residents of the community for their health. I have given you some specific studies and I would appreciate if you look at specific studies if you would publicize those and maybe put them on your website to say this is what we are basing our decision on. Again, all the major health organizations and the Tennessee Department of Health support water fluoridation,” said Pafford.

DUD Manager Foutch pointed out that while the state does not require utilities to fluoridate their water supplies, the DUD decision could be reversed if it can be proven that the lack of fluoride in the water system is contributing to an increase in cavities.

“Its not mandated because its not necessary to keep the water clean and drinkable so we don’t get sick from it but it is recommended. I do not understand why we don’t just start with fluoride,” said Pafford.

The water supply for the City of Smithville and the towns of Liberty and Dowelltown are fluoridated but not in Alexandria. The town gets its water from the Smith County Utility District.

Reeling in the Years Returns Saturday Night

April 11, 2017
Shawn Jacobs and Dennis Stanley

The Spring edition of Reeling in the Years with D.S. and Shawn is coming up Saturday (April 15) from 6-10 p.m. on WJLE.

We’ll be playing many of the songs that many listeners will remember as teens and young adults,” the former WJLE announcers said. “The music you will hear on our show will bring back many fond memories. We’ve made sure our playlist includes a few songs that were popular during 1977, which was 40 years ago, and songs that were on the Pop Charts during April throughout the 70s and 80s. It’s those little details we usually incorporate into our show to make it even more enjoyable.”

This show will also feature the “70s at 7” and the “80s at 8” with only music from the 1970s in the 7:00 hour and only music from the 80s during the 8:00 hour.

Remember, it’s Reeling in the Years on WJLE Saturday (April 15) from 6-10 p.m.

Kindergarten Registration Set for May 16 at SES & DWS

April 11, 2017
Dwayne Page

Kindergarten registration for the 2017-18 school year will be Tuesday, May 16 from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 p.m at Smithville Elementary School and DeKalb West School. Translators will be available to assist with filling out paperwork during the 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. time period.

Children who plan to attend kindergarten must turn five years old on or before August 15, 2017 in order to enroll for the 2017-18 school year.

Please bring the following information with you on registration day:

*Social Security card

*Original birth certificate (certified copy with the state seal, not the hospital copy or mother's copy)

*Current, up to date, physical examination and immunization record (These must be on a Tennessee Department of Health Certificate of Immunization, which can be obtained from your doctor's office or the Health Department)

*Proof of residency for DeKalb County (i.e. gas/electric bill)

*Your child (they will be tested on registration day)

Man Killed in Logging Accident

April 10, 2017
Dwayne Page

A logging accident claimed the life of a local man Monday afternoon.

Dead is Norman Ferrell.

Ferrell died after a tree he was cutting fell on him. The accident occurred on a hillside in the Clear Fork area of Liberty at the end of Pistole Hollow Road.

“He had cut a tree down and it lodged in another tree and bounced back and fell on top of him,” said Joe Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad. A couple of other loggers were in the area near Ferrell at the time of the accident and made the discovery.

Because of the terrain, members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and EMS personnel had to access the scene in four wheel drive vehicles and a gator. “It was about three quarters of mile off the road and was hard to get to. We had to travel logging roads using a rescue squad and two personal four wheel drive vehicles," Johnson continued.

“When we got there one of the loggers had taken a skidder to the tree and lifted the log off of him but he was already deceased. We then had to wait on the deputy coroner to arrive,” he said.

Ferrell’s body was brought out in a four wheel drive vehicle, taken to an awaiting ambulance at the road, and then transported to the hospital.

Grand Jury Indicts Jail Escapee

April 10, 2017
Dwayne Page
Randall Joe Swindle
Angelea Nicole Vallem
Richard Allen Tilley
Frankie James Warrick
Carol Denise Cowan

The man who escaped from the DeKalb County Jail two weeks ago was indicted by the Grand Jury last week.

47 year old Randall Joe Swindle of Mount Tabor Road, Murfreesboro was served with a sealed indictment for escape and appeared for arraignment Monday, April 10 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. His bond on the charge was $25,000.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_18.pdf (3.26 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Swindle was with other inmates in the exercise yard during their recreation time on Tuesday, March 28 when he quickly stripped down to his shorts and tee shirt and slithered through a very small opening between the bottom of the security fence and the fence framework. As he ran off correctional officers gave chase on foot while deputies followed in their patrol cars. Swindle was observed standing in the highway trying to get a ride but ran toward Hardees when he saw the officers approaching. A Warren County constable and a private citizen, who were in the Hardees parking lot and saw what was happening, called for the man (Swindle) to stop and he was subsequently taken into custody by the deputies and correctional officers.

Swindle is in jail for carrying or possession of a weapon by a felon, vandalism, theft of property over $1,000, and aggravated burglary.

Meanwhile 41 year old Angelea Nicole Vallem of Estes Street, Smithville was named in a sealed indictment last week on charges of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine). She appeared for arraignment Monday, April 10 in criminal court. Her bond was $100,000. The indictment alleges that on or about the 18th day of August, 2016, Vallem knowingly did sell and deliver a schedule II controlled substance, to wit: methamphetamine (in an amount greater than 0.5 grams).

46 year old Richard Allen Tilley of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is April 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 7 deputies were dispatched to a residence on Short Mountain Highway due to a possible domestic violence incident. While enroute, Central dispatch notified the officers that the man involved had left the residence in a white Nissan Titan. A deputy spotted the vehicle and stopped it on Short Mountain Highway. The driver, Tilley submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was unsteady on his feet and had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person.

30 year old Frankie James Warrick of Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is April 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 8 deputies were dispatched to a residence on Blue Springs Road for a physical domestic. Upon arrival the officers spoke with Warrick along with his 17 year old son and the boy’s mother. According to Sheriff Ray, Warrick and the woman were in the garage when they began arguing. As the woman raised her hands to keep Warrick from yelling so close to her face, he slapped her hands down. She pushed him away but he shoved her also causing the woman to fall to the ground. As the teen stepped in to defend his mother, Warrick pushed him (son) causing the boy to fall and scrape his back. Warrick and the woman both admitted to having consumed alcohol prior to the incident. Warrick was determined to have been the primary aggressor.

55 year old Carol Denise Cowan of Brush Creek is charged with aggravated burglary. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is April 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 9 deputies were dispatched to a residence on Hillview Heights due to an unwanted guest. The caller informed central dispatch that Cowan was outside the home trying to break through the door with a hammer. Cowan gained entry and once inside broke two mirrors that were hanging on the wall. She also got into an argument and pulled a knife on the complainant. Cowan left the scene in a black Chevy Monte Carlo before officers got there. Deputies found the vehicle and Cowan on Coon Branch Road. While speaking to the officers, Cowan admitted to having been at the residence and breaking the mirrors.

Overbey Earns Certified Insurance Service Representative Status

April 10, 2017
Kelley Overbey

The designation of Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) has been conferred upon Kelley Overbey, CISR, agent at DeKalb County Insurance, Inc. in Smithville, TN, after her successful completion of five, one-day courses covering all areas of insurance risks and exposures, followed by extensive examinations.

The CISR program, available to insurance professionals in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, is distinguished from other programs of it's kind by an annual continuing education requirement, which ensures that designees stay current on the important policy changes and trends within the industry.

Mrs. Overbey is to be commended on her dedication to professionalism as evidenced by the completion of the CISR designation and her commitment to continuing education.

The CISR disignation is awarded by the Society of CISR, a not-for-profit organization and member of The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, the nation's premier provider of insurance and risk management education. Currently there are over 70,000 participants in the Society of CISR and more than 27,000 individuals holding the CISR designation.

Nashville Woman Loses Her Life on Center Hill Lake (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

April 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Nashville Woman Loses Her Life on Center Hill Lake
Members of TWRA, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and DeKalb Sheriff’s Department join family of Aimee McCray in prayer after her body is recovered from the lake Sunday
Aimee McCray

A 35 year old Nashville woman lost her life on Center Hill Lake over the weekend.

The body of Aimee McCray was recovered in about 65 feet of water Sunday afternoon at Hurricane Marina.

According to authorities, McCray was with some friends on a houseboat moored at the marina when she was last seen around 11:30 p.m. Saturday night. Authorities suspect McCray may have accidentally fallen off the boat and drowned but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

After discovering her missing Sunday morning, McCray’s friends called 911. Central dispatch received the call at 9:20 a.m. of a missing person on the lake.

Members of the TWRA, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, and DeKalb EMS responded.

“We recovered the body of an adult female from Hurricane Marina. There is an investigation on-going. We do not have any indications that there was any foul play. It appears to be an accident,” TWRA Sergeant Jon Ryan told WJLE.

“We used TWRA boat side scan sonar but were unable to find anything with that. The Rescue Squad dropped their submersible camera and were able to locate what we believed to be a body. A Putnam County Rescue Squad diver then came and dove down and was able to recover the body,” added Sergeant Ryan.

“We got a call that someone was missing off a houseboat and found some evidence that maybe that she might have fallen into the water,” Joe Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad told WJLE. “We came down and the TWRA came with us. They (TWRA) tried to find the body with sonar but was unsuccessful. We did move the big boat (houseboat) out from the marina and where we suspected there might be someone we sent down an underwater camera that we have and we were able to locate the body in about 65 feet of water at the dock right under the boat slip. Our divers don’t have enough equipment to dive in cold water so we called the Putnam County Rescue Squad and they sent their divers over. They have insulated wet suits. We waited about an hour and a half for them to arrive. One of the divers went down and the other was on standby. The diver went down and followed the rope that was attached to our camera and he went straight to the body and brought her back up," added Johnson.

Deputy Medical Examiner Terry Martin was also on the scene. After McCray’s body was recovered from the lake it was loaded on a boat and brought to shore at around 4:00 p.m. where it was then transported by DeKalb EMS to the hospital.

Johnson thanked members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, the TWRA, and the Putnam County Rescue Squad for their help.

20th Annual Relay for Life Set for May 5th

April 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
2016 Relay for Life Cancer Survivors

1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. One of those people could be you or someone you love. When you join a Relay For Life event, you're helping the American Cancer Society fund groundbreaking research, crucial patient care programs, and education and prevention information. When you Relay, you help save lives.

In DeKalb County, the 20th annual Relay for Life is scheduled for Friday, May 5 at Greenbrook Park in Smithville. Entertainment begins at 5 p.m. with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. followed by a survivors walk around the walking trail in the park and a luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. Come enjoy lots of entertainment including music, games, train ride, food, silent auction, male beauty contest, and more all in an effort to raise money to fight cancer.


Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries. Volunteers give of their time and effort because they believe it's time to take action against cancer.

Join your friends and neighbors at this year’s Relay and help bring the community together to remember loved ones lost, honor survivors of all cancers, and raise money to help the American Cancer Society make a global impact on cancer.

By selflessly devoting your time and energy through raising awareness and money, you become the voice of the American Cancer Society in your community..


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