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Local News Articles

DeKalb County Nurses among 57 Motlow State Nursing Graduates

June 2, 2016
Dwayne Page
Johnny Ball and Caleb Hendrix

Motlow State Community College graduated 57 nursing students during commencement ceremonies on May 7. The evening before graduation, nurses took part in the annual nurse pinning ceremony inside Nisbett Center on the Moore County campus.

Pictured are DeKalb County nurses, from left, Johnny Ball and Caleb Hendrix.

DTC Communications names new CEO

June 1, 2016
Chris Townson

DTC Communications is pleased to announce that Chris Townson has joined the cooperative as its new chief executive officer. Townson brings with him 22 years of industry experience, along with an understanding of and commitment to the cooperative business model.

“I am excited to be joining the DTC family, and I look forward to getting to know the employees and the communities they serve,” Townson said. “DTC Communications has an established history of serving its members well, and that comes down to dedicated employees and a board that cares about their neighbors. I want to hear from our members so I can serve alongside them."

Townson understands the important role cooperatives play in their communities. Born and raised in northeast Alabama, Townson relied on cooperatives for both electricity and telecommunications service. He began work with Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative (based in Rainsville, Alabama) in 1994. His experience there included outside plant, information systems, industry and external relations, government affairs and business development.

His most recent senior management responsibilities included serving as assistant corporate secretary and manager of customer service and support. In this role he led employees in all functions of the cooperative’s local and competitive operations with respect to customer service, sales and support activities.

Townson holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and a Master of Business Administration.

Joining Townson are his wife, Melissa, a high school language arts teacher, and their two sons Christian, 17, and Ethan, 12.

“Cooperatives matter because people matter,” Townson said. “These are challenging times for the telecommunications industry. We are facing changing regulation, rapidly evolving technologies and the need for broadband expansion. But when local people work together to keep each other connected, we can accomplish great things. I’m proud to have the opportunity to lead DTC during this important period.”

DTC Communications is a member-owned telecommunications cooperative established in 1951. The cooperative provides communication, entertainment, and security products and services to residential and business customers, primarily throughout Middle Tennessee.

Lower Insurance Premiums Coming to DeKalb County Property Owners

June 1, 2016
County Fire Chief Donny Green

The fire protection services of DeKalb County Fire Department’s entire service area, as evaluated and rated by Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), will improve to a Property Protection Classification (PPC) 6 effective September 1, 2016. This PPC 6 rating will apply to all properties located within 5 miles of any one of the eleven DeKalb County Fire Department stations, regardless of distance to a hydrant or credited alternative water supply. Areas beyond 5 road miles from one of the recognized stations will continue to be rated as PPC 10.

Under the previous rating, properties had to be located within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant or credited alternative water supply to receive the PPC 6 rating. With this new rating, the 1,000 feet requirement will no longer apply effective September 1, 2016 for properties in DeKalb County Fire Department’s jurisdiction located within 5 road miles of a fire station.

In March 2016, the department was evaluated for its capabilities to supply water using the “hauling water” method. “In order to meet ISO water supply requirements using this method, we had to demonstrate that we could supply a minimum of 250 gallons of water per minute for 2 hours to all areas in the county-wide jurisdiction (264 square miles),” said Chief Donny Green. On May 31, 2016, County Mayor Tim Stribling and Chief Donny Green received official notification from ISO that the department was successful in meeting and exceeding all the requirements to be graded a county wide PPC 6, based on its proven capabilities to supply water in areas of the county where hydrants are sparse.

In addition to water supply, other criteria had to be met to achieve this rating. The Fire Department had to meet the following: 1) have a 24-hour central dispatch for contacting all firefighters on duty via pagers, 2) must have a fully equipped reserve apparatus, 3) annual tests must be conducted on pumper trucks, hoses, and hydrants, 4) a minimum number of firefighters must be active in the department and respond to alarms, 5) firefighter training and documentation must greatly exceed minimum standards, 6) the department must have a definitive and reliable water supply with adequate water tankers, 7) must train on rural water supplies, 8) must provide documentation of actual fires which hauled water was utilized and successful, and 9) must have pumper capacities to suppress a fire in any building in the community. This improvement will save affected residents in these areas an estimated $200 annually (based on coverage of a home valued at $100,000) on their homeowner’s insurance premiums. This rating does not affect the current ratings for residents in the cities of Smithville and Alexandria.

DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling says, “I am tremendously proud of our fire department, water system, and 911 Center. The fire department, as evident by this evaluation, has worked extremely hard to improve the PPC rating for more and more of our citizens across the rural areas of our county. The financial impact of this new rating is very important, but just as important is the fact that our communities are safer and better protected by the level of service DeKalb County Fire Department is providing, using an all-volunteer staff. Residents and property owners of DeKalb County should know that their investment spent to provide rural fire protection is getting results. The hard work put forth by our fire department and supporting partners has resulted in this improved rating that positively affects so many of our citizens, especially those living on fixed incomes.”

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green pointed out that this rating improvement was no small task. “I want to personally recognize our department’s officers and members who made enormous time sacrifices to make this happen. In addition, it took the support and assistance from the water utility districts that serve DeKalb County, the DeKalb County 911 Emergency Communications District, Mayor Tim Stribling, and the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. Our ability to improve our PPC classification and help lower insurance premiums for our citizens is a result of team work from an awesome group of men and women who volunteer to step up to a huge commitment, increased training activities, updated equipment, the DeKalb 911 Emergency Communication District’s efficiency in receiving and handling fire alarms, and the ability of our water systems to deliver sufficient water flows.” ISO collects information on municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data using its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). The company then assigns a Public Protection Classification from 1 to 10. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire-suppression program doesn't meet ISO's minimum criteria.

ISO will advise its subscribing insurers of this classification change. The rating becomes effective September 1, 2016. DeKalb County homeowners should check with their insurance companies after that date to make sure these savings are applied.

Portion of City Street to be Closed Temporarily for Church Vacation Bible School

June 1, 2016
Dwayne Page
Portion of City Street to be Closed Temporarily for Church Vacation Bible School

A portion of a city street will be closed temporarily five nights next week during Vacation Bible School activities at the Smithville First Baptist Church.

Each night starting on Sunday through Thursday, June 5-9 beginning at 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. there will be a road closure on North College Street between West Walnut Street and West Church Street due to high volume of children in that area.

The Smithville First Baptist Church will have Vacation Bible School Monday through Thursday, June 6-9 from 6-8 p.m. each night for kindergarten through 6th graders. The kick-off will be Sunday, June 5 at 5:30 p.m. (Free food, Bounce Houses, and Games). For more information: Like the First Baptist Smithville Face Book Page or contact the Church Office at 615-597-4275.

It’s Almost Jamboree Project Welcome Mat Time!

June 1, 2016
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams

It’s Almost Jamboree Project Welcome Mat Time!

The 45th annual Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival is coming Friday and Saturday, July 1 & 2 and the Smithville-DeKalb Co. Chamber of Commerce invites all county businesses to again use their marquees or any type of message signs to welcome Jamboree visitors to our area.

“This marks the 15th year for the Chamber’s “Project Welcome Mat”, said Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber. “ We have thousands of visitors coming into town, so we want to make every effort to show our guests that we appreciate them and welcome their business,” she said.

“We ask that businesses with changeable signs or marquees to post welcome greetings for our Jamboree visitors. The wording can be as simple or as elaborate as you chose. All businesses may participate ,” said Williams.

Plaques along with media recognition will be presented in 3 categories: "Best Worded," "Most Original" and the "People's Choice Award."

Call 597-4163 or email at if your business would like to be included in the contest. Wording should be in place no later than Friday, June 17th.

"Let's keep on showing folks how friendly the Smithville/DeKalb County area can be", said Williams

Saint Thomas Announces Changes in Leadership at St Thomas DeKalb, Highlands, and Stones River Hospitals

June 1, 2016
Gordon Ferguson, President and CEO Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and Regional Hospitals
Saint Thomas Health has announced changes in leadership at Saint Thomas DeKalb, Highlands and Stones River Hospitals.

Saint Thomas Health has announced changes in leadership at Saint Thomas DeKalb, Highlands and Stones River Hospitals.

The following statement has been released by Gordon Ferguson, President and CEO Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and Regional Hospitals:

“These communities and hospitals are very important to Saint Thomas Health and our goal is to strengthen them for continued service. We are nearly one year into the transition of ownership and, overall, things have gone very well. We have a new CEO at Saint Thomas River Park. We’ve had two successful Joint Commission surveys at Saint Thomas Stones River and River Park and we’ve made significant capital investments in the hospitals. Recent surveys of the community have shown that the ownership and management by Saint Thomas Health is perceived very positively.There are, though, additional opportunities for consolidating operations and leadership and we need to make changes."

"For this reason, after much thought and prayer, we have made the decision to bring Saint Thomas DeKalb, Highlands and Stones River Hospitals under one chief executive officer. This means that Sue Conley and Bill Little will be leaving their roles as CEOs for these hospitals. We are very grateful to Sue and to Bill for their years of service to Capella and, more recently, to Saint Thomas Health and the communities served by these three hospitals.”

Leadership changes will take effect immediately and Saint Thomas Health has begun a search for the new CEO. In the interim, Craig Norris, who was previously Chief Operating Officer at Saint Thomas River Park Hospital, will serve as interim CEO for Saint Thomas DeKalb, Highlands, and Stones River.

Omega Apparel Named National Innovation Award Winner by Apparel Magazine

June 1, 2016
Omega Apparel
Omega Apparel Named National Innovation Award Winner by Apparel Magazine

What does Nashville based Omega Apparel have in common with Cintas, Reebok, Urban Outfitters, Lucky Brand, Nautica, Lacoste, Patagonia, and Jet Blue Airlines? They are all being recognized by Apparel Magazine as a Top Innovator for 2016. Yes, Nashville’s own Omega Apparel is on the same list as all of these well recognized national and global brands. Apparel Magazine will host an apparel industry executive forum in October at the Ritz Carlton in Fort Lauderdale to honor Omega Apparel and the other national innovation winners.

“Given the complexity and challenges of the apparel industry, we are impressed by Omega’s calculated risk and their innovative approach” shared Jordan Speer, Apparel Magazine’s Editor in Chief. “At a time when many other companies would have downsized, Omega bought additional capacity and launched a full-service design and production facility to serve both large and small customers. At a time when over 97% of apparel in the US is made overseas, it is great when companies like Omega are taking the steps necessary to rebuild our domestic industry, train the skilled workforce that is required, and ultimately develop a unique solution to meet the growing interest in Made in USA.”

Omega Apparel services customers across the country, but one of their primary focuses is serving the burgeoning Nashville fashion industry and its growing cadre of fashion designers and entrepreneurs. "The proximity of the creative process and manufacturing is critically important to emerging designers and brands” added Van Tucker, Nashville Fashion Alliance (NFA) CEO. “Dean and his Omega Team are innovating new approaches to help our emerging designers find a high quality and cost efficient design and manufacturing partner right here in Nashville."

“What an honor!” exclaimed Dean Wegner, Omega’s President and CEO. “I am humbled and honored to be included on such a prestigious list of companies and iconic brands. The recognition is amazing, but it is a brief respite from the hard work we are doing each and every week. What we are doing is not easy and I never realized how difficult it would be. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”

In addition to national recognition from Apparel Magazine, Omega Apparel was the recipient of the 2016 Fashion Forward Award during Nashville Fashion Week.

Company Overview: Omega Apparel Incorporated is military veteran owned and the #1 supplier of dress trousers, slacks, and skirts for the US Military. Omega Apparel was founded in 1994 and now includes 3 Divisions: Military, Commercial, and Omega Brand. Omega has a long history of always delivering on time and with the highest level of quality. Omega operates two Tennessee based production and design facilities in Nashville and Smithville. Omega is a principles and values based organization centered on 5 Foundations of Ownership, Customer, Quality, Efficiency, and Teamwork. Omega Apparel is both committed and proud to be 100% Made in the USA. To learn more visit

Work Begins on Replacing DCHS Gym Floor

May 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
Work Begins on Replacing DCHS Gym Floor
Existing DCHS Gym Floor Being Removed

By the time school starts late this summer, DCHS should have a new gym floor.

Workers began removing the existing gym floor Tuesday. Once the old floor is taken up, a new one will be put down.

Praters Flooring of Chattanooga was awarded the bid to do the work on May 19th at a price of $153,480.

The Board of Education recently voted to authorize Director of Schools Patrick Cripps to take action after discovering that the gym floor was infested with termites which had caused damage.

Although it had been refinished several times over the years, the gym floor had never been replaced since its original install when the school was built in 1963.

Employee of New Frontiers Accused of Allowing Boys to Engage in Drug Use

May 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
John Schuylar Allen
Cody Lee Crips
Melvin Leon Crips
Gregory Michael Patton
Robert Anthony Fuston

An employee of New Frontiers Home has been charged with reckless endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after taking three boys from the home to an unapproved location on Tuesday, May 3 where he allowed them to engage in drug use.

24 year old John Schuylar Allen of North Field Lane, Alexandria is under a $15,000 bond and he will make a court appearance June 30. He is charged with three counts of each offense.

“Allen worked there at the New Frontiers Boys Home and while they were going somewhere else, Allen took the boys to a place he wasn’t supposed to go, which was not approved by the New Frontiers Director. While there Allen allowed the boys to engage in illegal drug use,” Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE.

In each of the three cases for reckless endangerment, Sheriff Ray said that “Allen recklessly engaged in conduct which placed a juvenile in immediate danger by taking him to an unauthorized location not approved by the Director of New Frontiers and allowed him to engage in illegal drug use”.

In each of the contributing cases, Sheriff Ray said that “Allen allowed a juvenile to engage in illegal drug use while under his protection and supervision as an employee of New Frontiers Boys Home”.

A father and son were arrested Friday, May 27 after a detective went to a residence to serve warrants on one of them.

30 year old Cody Lee Crips of Village Place Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation. He also has four violation of probation warrants and a failure to appear warrant against him. His bond is $2,500 for the criminal impersonation but he is being held without bond on the other warrants.

Meanwhile, his father 63 year old Melvin Leon Crips of Village Place, Smithville is charged with filing a false report. His bond is $4,500 and he will be in court on June 16.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 27 a detective went to a residence on West Main Street to serve a warrant on Cody Lee Crips. Upon arrival, he spoke with Melvin Leon Crips and asked about an employee he had but Crips gave the wrong name. The detective further explained who he was looking for and said his name was Cody Crips but Melvin Cripps still gave the wrong name to the detective.

When the detective spoke with Cody Crips and asked for his identity, Crips replied that his name was Cody Haynes. He also gave his date of birth and social security number which were also wrong. Crips was taken into custody and brought to the jail where he was identified as Cody Lee Crips. He later admitted his true identity and admitted to having lied to the detective.

40 year old Gregory Michael Patton of Oak Place Drive, Smithville is charged with public intoxication and resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest or search. He was further issued a citation for simple possession of morphine. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court June 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, May 25 a deputy stopped Patton who was walking on East Main Street in Smithville. Patton was told that an off duty detective had suspected him of making a drug exchange. Initially Patton said he had nothing nor had done anything and began to walk away. After refusing the officer’s commands to stop, Patton was taken into custody. After finding three needles on his person including one loaded with 10 units of morphine, Patton admitted to having shot up morphine. Patton was very nauseous, uncooperative, and somewhat unsteady on his feet.

48 year old Robert Anthony Fuston of Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for driving on the wrong side of the roadway and violation of the implied consent law. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on June 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 29 while on routine patrol a deputy spotted a white vehicle leave its lane of travel on Jefferson Road. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Fuston and found him to have a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were bloodshot and he submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. His refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.

19 year old Ashley Marie Starr Coates of Woodbury is cited for simple possession of marijuana. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 23 Coates was observed smoking marijuana on Cecil Hale Road. She had in her possession a small amount of marijuana, a rolled joint, and paraphernalia. The marijuana weighed 2.7 grams. She will make a court appearance on June 6

Motorcycle Operator Arrested after High Speed Pursuit

May 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
Coley Hicks

A 21 year old Nashville man who has no criminal past is in plenty of trouble now after leading a Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper on a high speed motorcycle chase on Monday.

Coley Hicks is charged with evading arrest, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault. He is also cited for failure to exercise due care, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), running red lights, improper passing, and speeding.

The incident began when Trooper Sean Tramel of the THP spotted Hicks riding a Suzuki motorcycle on Highway 70 at Snow Hill and clocked his speed at 90 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. Trooper Tramel activated his emergency equipment (lights and siren) and initiated an eastbound pursuit. The chase continued on Highway 70 through the City of Smithville at speeds of over 120 miles per hour. Hicks ran all the red lights in town and as he crossed over into the opposite lanes to pass vehicles in front of him, oncoming motorists were forced to get out of his way .

Although Hicks kept speeding east on Highway 70, Trooper Tramel terminated the pursuit near the Midnight Express. While he lost sight of Hicks, Trooper Tramel continued toward the White County line looking for him.

After returning to the parking area of the Midnight Express, Trooper Tramel encountered Hicks again, some seventeen minutes after ending the pursuit. According to Trooper Tramel, he spotted Hicks on his motorcycle approaching from the east on Highway 70 heading west. When Hicks saw Trooper Tramel’s patrol car, he pulled off the highway and stopped. Trooper Tramel activated his emergency equipment and drove up next to Hick’s motorcycle. As Trooper Tramel was getting out of his cruiser, Hicks attempted to drive away but his motorcycle struck the open car door, pushing Trooper Tramel back inside the car. As he tried to flee, Hicks’ bike crashed into a guardrail. Trooper Tramel then held Hicks at gunpoint while placing him under arrest. Neither Trooper Tramel nor Hicks were injured.

Trooper Tramel said Hicks told him the reason he was trying to evade was because he had no insurance on the motorcycle.


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