2017 was a year of triumph in DeKalb County.
Two former DeKalb County High School baseball standouts were drafted and signed by major league baseball teams. The DeKalb Utility District launched its new water treatment plant while commemorating its 50th anniversary. Smithville Electric System opened the new John Robert Nixon substation. Justin Potter Library turned 50. Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota paid a visit to DCHS with a gift of $10,000. DeKalb County voters helped elect a new State Senator. The new DeKalb Animal Shelter opened for business under management of the DeKalb Animal Coalition. And hundreds of skygazers from across the country, including NASA researchers and astronomers came to DeKalb County to get a good view of the total solar eclipse.
Sadly, 2017 was also a year of tragedy as five people lost their lives on Center Hill Lake, five others died in DeKalb County traffic accidents, one man perished in a logging accident, and another man was killed in a lawn mowing mishap. In crime, a man was charged with trying to kill his wife after she was found abandoned by the side of the road with stab wounds. A mother, serving an eight year sentence for aggravated child neglect in the 2015 death of her 23 month old son , was denied parole. A Nashville man was indicted for using a 15 year old Liberty girl for prostitution. And a man indicted for 1st degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend in DeKalb County almost three years ago was sentenced to 20 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction after pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder.
Following is a month-by-month recap of the top local news stories of 2017.
*Despite a trend of stagnant revenues, the City of Smithville will dip into its reserve fund to purchase a new fire truck. By a 3-2 vote, the Smithville Board of Aldermen Monday evening, January 23 voted to spend $751,575 over a two-year period to purchase a new Pierce Impel PUC Rescue Pumper, a combination fire engine/rescue vehicle to replace the fire department’s oldest truck, a 1992 model, and a 20-year old rescue and service truck. The new vehicle will also come equipped with five air packs and other tools and equipment. Voting for the new truck were Aldermen Jason Murphy, Gayla Hendrix, and Shawn Jacobs and voting no were Aldermen Josh Miller and Danny Washer. Although not opposed to the fire truck itself, Miller and Washer are concerned about the timing of the purchase given that the city has budgeted a lot of spending projects recently which may negatively impact the city’s surplus reserve fund. While the city has the money to pay for it now from the surplus, the aldermen voted to spread the payments out over two years through a lease purchase financing plan offered by the manufacturer. The first payment is not due for a year and it will be up to a year before the truck is available for the city to take delivery of it. Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor reminded the mayor and aldermen that city revenues over the last ten years have been largely stagnant while spending has increased and that large projects can have a negative impact on the city’s surplus reserves.
*The county is turning a portion of the solid waste operation over to a private company. During Monday night’s monthly meeting, January 23 the county commission voted to enter into a three year contract with Southern Central Waste Services, LLC. of McMinnville to operate the new soon to open solid waste transfer station located behind Tenneco Automotive. The SCWS bid proposal, one of two submitted, was recommended to the county commission by the solid waste committee. SCWS will provide operation of the transfer station, hauling, and disposal of DeKalb County’s household garbage at the Rhea County Landfill in Dayton, Tennessee, which is operated by Santec Environmental Inc. “The bid was for SCWS to operate the transfer station; to provide two employees; a scale operator; an equipment operator; to furnish the equipment to load the trucks; to pay all utilities at the transfer station; and to do the transfer station billing. The county will receive all proceeds from tipping fees of other vendors who use the transfer station," said County Mayor Tim Stribling. The county will pay SCWS based on incoming weights. Original plans were for the county to operate the transfer station itself and to ship the garbage to Smith County for disposal at $29 per ton but County Mayor Stribling said he and others found that it was cheaper to contract the service to a private company.
* Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and others Tuesday Morning, January 10 recovered the body of 22 year old Vincent McKeever Rossetti from Center Hill Lake at Sligo Marina. Rossetti , a resident of Peachtree City, Georgia had been missing since December 18, 2016. “At 7:30 a.m. today a dock worker for Sligo Marina found a body at the Sligo Marina as he was doing morning maintenance on the dock. The body was found floating by a pier. A call was placed to DeKalb Central Dispatch of the discovery. Members of the DeKalb Sheriff’s Department, Smithville DeKalb Rescue, Corps of Engineers, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Officers arrived on the scene and recovered the body from the water,” Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE. The body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Nashville for positive identification and cause of death. It had been more than three weeks since Rossetti went missing near the lake. Rossetti was last seen alive on Sunday, December 18, 2016 and his car, a Lexus, was found later in the parking lot of Sligo Marina beside Highway 70. The search was concentrated on the lake in the area of Sligo bridge and Marina almost daily from the time he was reported missing. In addition to a visual search, sonar was used to detect any objects in the water or at the bottom of the lake. Wayne Hubbs even flew his gyrocopter early in the search to get an aerial view of the area. Others who assisted included the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and volunteers from Florida and Georgia including the CUE Center for Missing Persons who brought in cadaver dogs.
*Members of the DeKalb County Republican Party met Saturday morning, January 28 at the courthouse to elect officers to serve for the next two years. Local attorney Mingy Bryant was re-elected Chairman of the Party. Other officers are Vice Chairman Clint Hall, Secretary Brandon Cox, Treasurer Tom Chandler, and Assistant Treasurer Dustin Estes. The new officers were nominated as a group and elected by acclamation with no other names placed in nomination.
*The 2016 DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year is Jerry Wayne Johnson, Station Commander of the Liberty Station. Johnson received the award Saturday night, January 28 during the Department's Annual Awards Banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Brian Williams was named the DeKalb County Fire Department’s 2016 Officer of the Year and Steve Repasy, Station Commander of the Johnsons Chapel Station, received the Department’s 2016 “Git R Done" award. The "Rookie" award went to Firefighter Andrew Cox of the Belk Station.
*The Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department paid tribute to a very special 17 year old boy Saturday, January 28 by making him an honorary member and giving him a ride around town in one of the city’s fire engines. Tanner Malone, son of Shannon and Julie Malone of Alexandria, was presented a plaque and tee shirt by Alexandria Fire Chief Brian Partridge. Other members of the department were also on hand for the occasion. Tanner was born with a very rare genetic disorder and has undergone numerous surgeries and treatments for his condition.
*A cooking fire forced residents in four units of a quadraplex from their homes Saturday, January 28 at the housing projects on Circle Drive in Dowelltown. All victims of the fire got out unharmed but were left homeless as the blaze quickly spread through the attic of the building. “We were called to 207 Circle Drive in Dowelltown to the housing projects due to a fire. It was a cooking fire. Some grease caught on fire. The occupants were unable to put it out and it spread up the back of the stove area to the attic. There was a common attic between four units and the wind spread the fire across the attic. We were able to contain the fire to the attic but there was damage from the fire to all four residential units beneath the attic due to the fire and water. All four units were pretty much totaled. Everybody from each unit got out okay. No one was hurt. The management of the housing projects helped locate housing for the displaced residents. The American Red Cross also worked to provide shelter for at least one of them and has worked to provide food and clothing for all the victims of the fire,” added Chief Green.
*Smithville Volunteer Firefighter and Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale received the "Highest Attendance Award" Friday night, January 27 during an appreciation dinner for city firefighters at the Smithville First United Methodist Christian Fellowship Center. The award was presented to Hale by Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker. This is the third straight year Hale has earned this award. Hale, a 32 year veteran of the department, attended 148 out of 175 calls during the year 2016. This includes calls, trainings, and workings. Meanwhile two first year firefighters, Seth Wright and Garrett Johnson tied for most documented training hours among non-officer firefighters during the year at 125.5 hours each. Wright and Johnson were also sworn in during the dinner. The swearing in for first year firefighters has never been done before at an awards dinner but Chief Parker said it will now become a tradition each year.
*The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce was awarded a $100,000 Community Development Grant (CDBG) for downtown Smithville. The CDBG funding will be used for commercial façade improvements for downtown Smithville including new awnings and signs, painting, windows and doors, brick repair and other upgrades. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd recently approved nearly $750,000 in Commercial Façade Improvement Grants to assist Tennessee communities with downtown improvements. Commercial Façade Improvement Grants are derived from Tennessee’s federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and are used to improve commercial buildings in downtown districts that have active revitalization programs in place through the Tennessee Main Street and Tennessee Downtowns programs.
*Talented DCHS Quarterback Steven Jennings, a senior, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2016 Tiger Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet held Saturday night, January 14 at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center building. The MVP trophy was presented to Jennings by Coach Steve Trapp. Jennings, whose high school career ended midway through the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the game at Smith County, earned the MVP award for his entire body of work at DCHS according to Tiger Coach Steve Trapp. In his 38 game high school career as quarterback, Jennings completed 472 of 912 passes for 7,104 yards and 59 touchdowns with 27 interceptions. Jennings also had 2,483 yards rushing as quarterback in 455 carries and 27 touchdowns. The Tiger football team finished the season in November, 2016 with an overall record of 7-4 and another appearance in the state play-offs. It was the sixth consecutive year the Tigers earned a berth in the state play-offs and their eighth appearance in the last nine years. The Tigers lost in the first round of the TSSAA Class 3A Football Play-Offs in Smithville to East Ridge on November 4. The final score was 23-18. Meanwhile, Rachel Fuson, a senior, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader at the football banquet Saturday night. The presentation was made by Cheer Coaches Amanda Fuller and Sonya House.
*The Smithville Police and Fire Departments paid tribute Monday night, January 9 to a man who risked his own life to save a 23 month old child during a mobile home fire in December, 2016 at 1276 South Mountain Street. Jerry Estes was presented a plaque for his act of bravery during the monthly meeting of the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen. Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins and Fire Chief Charlie Parker made the presentation. “Mr. Estes on behalf of the Smithville Police and Smithville Fire Departments we want to present you this plaque. Bravery is the quality of spirit that enables one to face danger or pain without showing fear. The Smithville Police and Fire Departments wish to acknowledge Mr. Jerry Estes for his selfless act of bravery on December 4, 2016,” said Chief Collins in presenting Estes the plaque. The fire on Sunday, December 4 claimed the lives of 27 year old Jeremy Shelton, 36 year old Crystal Fults, and 4 year old Caylix Johnson. Two others, 26 year old Heather Standridge and 23 month old Brantley Johnson were injured. Estes, a passerby, spotted the fire and saw Standridge standing outside the trailer yelling that her children, the Johnson siblings, were still inside. 911 was alerted at 12:12 p.m. and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and Police Department were summoned along with backup from the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department. According to Chief Collins, Estes climbed through a window, grabbed the 23 month old child, and pulled him to safety. After firefighters arrived, Lieutenant John Poss of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rescued the 4 year old child. Shelton and Fults perished in the fire.
*Edgar Evins State Park welcomed another native son of the area as the new park manager in January. Kenneth Gragg assumed his new duties at Edgar Evins on January 19th after nine years as a ranger at Tims Ford State Park, Winchester. The last four years of that time he served as the park manager. Kenny, as he prefers to be called, grew up in Cookeville, the son of Regina and Ken Gragg. He graduated from public schools there and from Tennessee Tech in 2006 with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. Earlier this year he graduated from the National Association of State Park Directors State Park Leadership School. Gragg is the second "new" park manager at Edgar Evins since the retirement of Carl Halfacre in the fall of 2014. Carl was followed by Jacob Young, a native of Liberty who was transferred to Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer, in October, 2016.
Two football standouts at DCHS have signed to play college football.
* Two football standouts at DCHS in February signed to play college football. Seniors Eli Cross and Tayvian Nokes put pen to paper Wednesday, February 1 making a commitment to Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky. The home of the Blue Raiders. DCHS football coach Steve Trapp, fellow teammates, and members of their families joined them for the signing. LWC is a private four-year college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Lindsey Wilson is a member of the Mid-South Conference of the NAIA.
*DCHS Softball Pitching sensation Kayley Caplinger, a senior, signed Tuesday, February 7 with Cumberland University of Lebanon to play softball after she graduates here. Cumberland is a member of the Mid-South Conference affiliated with the NAIA. Caplinger’s family, coaches, and fellow players were also there for the happy occasion. Tigerette Coach Danny Fish said Kayley will be remembered as one of the best DCHS softball players ever. “She has a chance to go down in the record book as maybe the greatest of all time. That’s just due to her character and the work she has put in. We are very happy for Kayley. We have sent a lot of players to Cumberland and they have been successful. We’re glad she is going there. I’m sure Kayley is going to do a great job at Cumberland,” he said.
*Fred's Pharmacy of Smithville closed February 21. In a recent letter to Fred's customers, Walmart actually announced the Fred's closing and said that records would be available at the Walmart Pharmacy at 515 West Broad Street in Smithville. It was also stated in the letter that Walmart is committed to making a smooth transition for the former Fred's customers.
*After serving the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival as its President and Coordinator of nearly 9 years, Jack Barton resigned his position of leadership in January. Citing increased personal and professional commitments, Mr. Barton will now serve as a board member instead of a position of leadership. Barton, who is also a 3rd District County Commissioner, started volunteering with the Jamboree in 2004 and became the President and Coordinator in 2008.
*“A Living Treasure” That’s how Alexandria Mayor Bennett Armstrong describes Carrie Smith. At 102 years young, Ms Carrie is believed to be Alexandria’s oldest resident and she was recognized as part of February’s Black History Month observance. Ms Carrie is a resident of 112 Shady Lane. She was also the Grand Marshal of the Alexandria Christmas Parade in December, 2017.
*The county’s solid waste transfer station became operational in February. Southern Central Waste Services, LLC of McMinnville began operating the new transfer station Wednesday, February 15. Although the county’s landfill remains open it is close to capacity and except for commercial solid waste all other county garbage is now coming to the transfer station. The facility is currently accepting waste from the county’s convenience sites, schools, and City of Smithville, etc and will begin taking waste in March from commercial services like Waste Management which picks up garbage from local businesses and factories and pays tipping fees to the county. The county wanted to give prior notice to those services because there will be a change in the rates they pay for dumping garbage at the transfer station versus the landfill.
*Three female prisoners were sent to the hospital Friday night, February 17 and two of them were admitted after swallowing drugs that had been smuggled into the jail. One of the two inmates hospitalized had to be airlifted. All were later returned to jail. The women, who had apparently hidden the narcotics in their body cavities, consumed the drugs fearing they would be caught with them. As a result of the investigation, a total of four prisoners were charged with possession of contraband in a penal institution including 25 year old Trinity Kystrina Wildbur of Vine Street, Chattanooga; 39 year old Amy Jeannette Lawson of Haley Road, Smithville; 24 year old Natalie Gail Barrett of Miller Road, Smithville; and 20 year old Olivia Hope Barber of Forrest Avenue, Smithville.
*The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree has a new President and Coordinator. Gainesboro native Sam Stout was elected to the position at a meeting of Jamboree board on Thursday night, February 9. Stout succeeds Jack Barton, who resigned as Jamboree President and Coordinator on February 2, after a nine-year tenure. Born to James and the late Birdie Stout, Sam Stout grew up in a musical family that included two older brothers. At the age of 9, Stout began playing guitar and soon picked up the mandolin, as well. After high school, Stout started playing in country bands, and soon began pursuing music as a full-time career. Stout was elected to the Jamboree board on February 2, and expressed an interest in the position of President and Coordinator with the Jamboree upon Barton’s resignation. In addition to his passion for music, Stout - now a resident of Cookeville – also works in real estate.
*The Liberty Senior Citizens Center is closed. The last day of operation was Friday, March 31, almost 30 years after it was chartered in 1987. The Liberty Board of Mayor and Aldermen took action to close the center due to concerns of its continued viability. “The center was closed as a result of low attendance of participants who live in the Town of Liberty along with the expense of operation to the Town of Liberty, Patty Ray, Director of the Upper Cumberland Area Agency on Aging and Disability told WJLE. According to a spokesperson in Liberty, the number of participants at the Liberty Center had fallen off over the past year which had an impact on available funding for the center. The numbers didn’t add up to get enough funding to keep the center viable.
*Sophomore Tanner Poss was named the DCHS Tiger basketball Most Valuable Player Friday night, March 10 at the annual team banquet, while Senior Hannah Panter received the Lady Tiger MVP honor. Senior Captain Allison Rogers is the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were sponsored by Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory of Allen D. Hooper. In addition to being named MVP, Poss received the team's Best Offensive Player award. He was also named to District 8AA 2nd team All-District. Panter was named Best Offensive Player for the Lady Tigers and made the District 8AA 2nd team All-District in addition to the Team MVP honor. The season for the DeKalb County Tigers ended with a loss to Smith County last month in the District Tournament at Cookeville. The Tigers finished with an overall record of 7-20. The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up their season losing to York Institute in the District Tournament. They closed out the campaign with a record of 11-16.
*Multi-GRAMMY® nominees and three-time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainers of the Year Dailey & Vincent were formally inducted into the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. March 10 by Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show and Jeannie Seely. The duo had been invited to join the Opry by Marty Stuart during their 100th Opry appearance in December. Seely, who will celebrate 50 years of Opry membership later this year, presented an Opry Member Award to Jamie Dailey, while Old Crow lead singer Ketch Secor did the same for Darrin Vincent. “We love the Grand Ole Opry. It’s in our DNA,” Dailey said as he and Vincent recognized family, friends, their band, and members of their organization who’d helped make the night possible. The duo closed their Opry segment with “I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You,” a hit by one of their musical heroes, The Statler Brothers. Darrin Vincent and his family make their home in DeKalb County.
*After more than sixteen months since the Holmes Creek Road bridge was ordered closed by the state due to deficiencies, frustrated residents and motorists longing for the re-opening of the road over Fall Creek got their wish in March after the new bridge was completed. The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, had been closed since October 30, 2015. The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe. The contractor was Twin K. Construction of Helenwood, Tennessee. The project was funded under the state's Bridge Grant Program. The total cost was $778,655 with matching expense to the city of $196,625.
*Smithville Police investigated an aggravated armed robbery at the El Rancho Restaurant on West Broad Street near the high school on Wednesday, March 8. Chief Mark Collins said two masked men entered through a back door after the restaurant had closed and held the owner and an employee at gunpoint as they were cleaning up. The intruders demanded cash and stole $3,340 before making their getaway. No one was hurt.
*Jordan Wilkins was re-elected to a new term as Chairman of the DeKalb County Democratic Party Saturday, March 25 during the Biennial Reorganization Convention held at the courthouse. The other incumbent party officers were also elected including Vice Chairman Harry Lasser, Secretary Joyce Hendrixson, and Treasurer Myra Miller. All were unopposed. The terms are for two years.
*After hearing from local democrats and public officials during a biennial reorganization meeting Saturday morning, March 25 at the courthouse, leaders of the DeKalb County Democratic Party voted to withdraw a proposed amendment to the bylaws which if approved would have given them the authority to conduct party conventions instead of primaries to choose nominees for county offices in general elections. Proponents of the change said the convention process would ensure only bona fide democrats become nominees and, unlike a primary, would keep republican voters from influencing the outcome. Democratic candidates would also be able to put all their financial resources toward the general election rather than having to spend some of their money trying to win a primary. And by not having a primary, the county would save approximately $20,000 which is what it usually costs to hold an election. Through the convention process, democratic leaders would seek a commitment from potential candidates to ensure they would work hard to win election if nominated and to help other democrats up and down the ballot get elected as well. Many democrats in attendance at Saturday’s meeting voiced their opposition to doing away with primaries with most taking the view that the nomination process should be decided by the voters and not 20 members of the Democratic Executive Committee, as the proposed bylaws amendment would have provided. Most, if not all, local democratic public officials also objected to the move.
*A prisoner at the DeKalb County Jail escaped Tuesday afternoon, March 28 but was captured minutes later at the parking lot of Hardees Restaurant. 47 year old Randall Joe Swindle of Mount Tabor Road, Murfreesboro was charged with escape. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Swindle was with other inmates in the exercise yard during their recreation time 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.
*Two local Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers were honored on March 9 at the THP Trooper and Dispatcher of the Year Ceremony in Murfreesboro. There, troopers and dispatchers were recognized for their outstanding service to the State of Tennessee. Trooper Jeremy D. S. Tramel was named Trooper of the Year for the 6th District and THP Sergeant Dewaine Jennings was recognized at the ceremony with a Lifesaver Award. Both were honored for their heroic efforts in successfully working with persons threatening suicide.
*A Cookeville man, Christopher Todd Montgomery, who failed to stop at a THP checkpoint in DeKalb County and then led State Troopers on a pursuit before crashing at Baxter in March. was found with drugs, paraphernalia, and handguns. According to THP Sergeant Greg Tramel, State Troopers were conducting a seatbelt checkpoint on State Highway 56 in DeKalb County at the Putnam County line Friday, March 10 when a vehicle traveling north failed to stop for the checkpoint. At that time, the driver threw what appeared to be drugs out of the window and continued driving north on State Highway 56 into Putnam County. Troopers Brandon Jackson and Chris Delong pursued the vehicle on Old Baxter Road until it crashed east of the Boma Community Center in Baxter. No one was injured during the crash. The driver, Montgomery, was arrested. Contraband seized during this incident included seven bags of a clear rock like substance believed to be methamphetamine totaling 4.93 ounces, one bag, 6.6 grams, of marijuana, seven Xanax pills, three other pills listed as controlled substances, one .380 caliber handgun, one .22 caliber handgun, and various drug paraphernalia.
*Retired Chancery Court Chancellor Vernon Neal of Cookeville, who served this area as a state legislator and then as a judge in the 13th Judicial District (which includes DeKalb County) for many years, died Friday, March 3 at the age of 85. Neal suffered a stroke on February 23 just as he finished his daily three-mile walk in his neighborhood. He was taken to Cookeville Regional Hospital, where he died eight days later surrounded by his family. Neal, a native of Pickett County, was a graduate of Tennessee Tech and of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1962 and then to the Tennessee Senate in 1966 and served there until 1978. In his legislative career, he was known for his vigorous support of public education, state parks and natural resources, and public health services, among many other efforts and accomplishments. His work in the House of Representatives and later in the Senate included bills that allowed for the election, rather than appointment, of county school board members and county road supervisors, bills providing training for the mentally and physically disabled and for the funding of Plateau Mental Health Institute, funding for a public educational television station for this area, and funding for establishing Edgar Evins State Park and Burgess Falls State Park. In 1980, he began a second career upon being elected chancellor in the Chancery Court for this judicial district. He retired from the bench in 2006.
*A 35 year old Nashville woman lost her life on Center Hill Lake in April. The body of Aimee McCray was recovered in about 65 feet of water Sunday afternoon, April 9 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, April 8. Authorities suspect McCray may have accidentally fallen off the boat and drowned but an autopsy was to have been 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. An underwater camera was used to locate the body in about 65 feet of water at the dock right under the boat slip.
*A one vehicle crash claimed the life of a McMinnville man and seriously injured another from Hendersonville Saturday, April 29 on Highway 70 east near the former VFW Club. Dead is 45 year old Larry Jones of McMinnville. 33 year old Brandon Temple of Hendersonville was airlifted by Life Flight to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Jones was driving east on Highway 70 in a 2001 Chevy Blazer when he failed to negotiate a curve and went off the right side of the road. The Blazer struck a wooden post and old VFW sign and then ran off a steep bluff into the hollow below. The vehicle overturned and came to rest on its top. Jones died at the scene.
Members of the DeKalb EMS, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department responded. Because of the steep hillside, EMS and rescue volunteers used ropes to access the crash scene. The victims were removed from the passenger side of the vehicle, placed in stokes baskets, and brought back up to the top of the hill. The Life Flight helicopter ambulance landed in the parking lot of the old VFW Club and airlifted Temple to Vanderbilt Hospital. Jones’ body was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital.
*A first grade teacher at Smithville Elementary School was named " DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" and received the "John Isabell Memorial Award" Tuesday night, April 11 during the tenth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church. The award and a check for $150 was presented to Whitney Brelje by Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank, a sponsor of the banquet, along with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and Lori Isabell, whose husband John for whom the award is named, passed away in 2014. John Isabell was a long time educator and former President of the DeKalb County Education Association Brelje, who is in her fourth year as a teacher, was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Jessica Hale at Northside Elementary School; Jeanna Caplinger at DeKalb West School; Jenny Elrod at DeKalb Middle School; and Todd Cantrell at DeKalb County High School. Caplinger was unable to attend.
*Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital completed its renovation of the hospital’s Emergency Department in April. The construction, which began in early March 2017, is now in full operation. 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.
* 33 year old Michael Zennie Dial II from Clarksville lost his life during an officer involved shooting in White County after leading law enforcement on a pursuit from Smithville to Sparta Thursday, April 13. All three White County officers injured during the pursuit were later released from the hospital. The incident began at around 4:30 p.m. with an attempted traffic stop in the City of Smithville. Smithville Police Officers tried to pull over a pickup truck hauling a trailer. The driver of the vehicle refused to stop, and the chase by Smithville Police at speeds up to 75 miles per hour continued from the city to about one mile into White County where the pursuit was terminated. Four city patrol units reportedly gave chase. A DeKalb County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was following Smithville Police in support, ended his involvement in the pursuit at the county line. White County authorities later picked up the pursuit from Highway 70 to north on Highway 111 in Sparta, following the vehicle. The driver of the truck crashed into several of the law enforcement vehicles, hitting them on the side, and from behind. At some point, the tires of the trailer appeared to have flattened, dumping some of the items from the trailer into the median. As the driver continued down the road, two officers, one with the White County Sheriff’s Office , and one with the Sparta Police Department, fired shots toward the truck. The truck, still hauling the trailer, veered off the highway, went down an embankment, and lodged in the tree line. The driver of the vehicle died. Three officers, one from Sparta Police Department two from the White County Sheriff’s Office, sustained injuries consistent with being in a vehicle crash and were transported to the hospital.
*DCHS Tigerettes Lexie Bates and Myranda Bailiff signed in April to play their college softball for the Lady Bulldogs of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee next season. The two senior standouts put pen to paper Thursday afternoon, April 20 at the DCHS Library. Bates and Bailiff were joined by members of their families and coaches for the occasion. “Lexie and Myranda have been very good players over the past four years,” Tigerette Coach Danny Fish told WJLE. “ As freshmen they came in as role players and started as sophomores. They have really matured over the past three years and have been a part of three consecutive state tournament runs. Lexie is our second baseman. She is a slapper and speed player. Myranda is one of our power players. She plays first base and has been a very good defensive first baseman over the last couple of years. She usually comes up with some big hits. They are playing very well for us and Union has picked up two good players. I am very happy for them. They will do well,” he said.
*A decision by the DeKalb Utility District to not add fluoride to its consumer water supply when the new plant opens caused concern among some. During the regular monthly meeting on Thursday, April 6 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. The board took no action to reverse its decision.
*A DeKalb County man was charged in April with trying to kill his wife after she was found by the side of the road in the Ragland Bottom area cut and bleeding from a stabbing. 29 year old Andrew Lafate Billings of Antioch Road,Smithville was arrested for the attempted first degree murder of his wife 19 year old Adriana Billings. Adriana was taken to an undisclosed hospital where she was treated for stab wounds. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that the victim was found Tuesday morning, April 4 on Allen Ferry Road off Backbone Ridge Road in DeKalb County. “At 9:06 a.m. a call came in to dispatch from someone who found a woman on the side of the road bleeding from the throat and said she appeared to have been stabbed. “Officers arrived ten minutes later and found the woman lying in a ditch with knife wounds to the neck, face, and hands. The victim was seen by EMS and then airlifted by helicopter. She suffered life threatening injuries. A search warrant was later obtained and executed on the vehicle Billings was driving and officers found blood and a bloody knife with hair on it inside the automobile. Billings was found to have cuts to his hands,” Sheriff Ray said. Billings was indicted for the crime in November.
*Congressman Diane Black was in DeKalb County Friday night, April 7 for the annual Reagan Day Dinner sponsored by the DeKalb County Republican Party. Black said she supported President Donald Trump’s decision to take military action in response to the deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria on Tuesday, April 4/. She told WJLE that the U.S. missile strikes Thursday night, April 6 on a Syrian airbase should send a clear message to the Bashar al-Assad regime. Meanwhile, Congressman Black said she is pleased the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court that week.
*A new member was named to the DeKalb County Election Commission in April by the Tennessee Election Commission. Lisa Peterson, a resident of Smithville and former DeKalb County Administrator of Elections, replaced Hearon Puckett as one of the two democratic members of the local commission. The other Democrat on the DeKalb County Election Commission is Jackie Smith who was appointed in October, 2015 to fill a vacancy. Smith was re-appointed in April by the State Election Commission for her first full term. The Republican members of the local election commission, reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission, are Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, and Jim Dean. Vanatta and Dean began their fifth terms. Parker has served since 1992.
*The DeKalb County High School Winterguard Traveled to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky on April 1 and was named Tennessee State Grand Champions and awarded the Bronze Medal in their class.
*A logging accident claimed the life of a local man Monday afternoon, April 10. 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. 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.
*Bailey Redmon, a senior at DeKalb County High School, didn’t have her high school diploma yet, but she had already become a college graduate having earned an Associate degree in History from Motlow State Community College in May. Through Motlow College's dual enrollment program , high school students like Redmon can earn college credits while still enrolled in high school. Students can take classes on a Motlow College campus, online, or even at a partner high school. Students who have completed their sophomore year and have met all requirements for taking the desired college courses may apply. Public, private and home-schooled students are all welcome to apply. The program gives students the chance to seamlessly transition from high school to college. The core curriculum credits transfer easily to Tennessee's public colleges and universities while allowing students who are working on a four-year degree to save money on tuition. Redmon graduated from DCHS in late May.
*Another athlete from the DCHS Class of 2017 signed a letter of intent to play college sports in May. Devin Bain signed his name on the dotted line Friday, May 19 to play football at Cumberland University, in Lebanon. Bain, who played primarily as a defensive lineman for the DCHS Tigers, said he is excited about going to school at Cumberland and becoming a member of the Cumberland University Phoenix.
*DeKalb County High School basketball MVP Hanah Panter is trading one Lady Tiger team for another. Panter, a senior, will continue her basketball career at Chattanooga State Community College, having signed with the Lady Tigers on Friday, May 12 at the DCHS library. Members of her family, teammates, and coaches joined her for the signing. Panter was named Most Valuable Player and Best Offensive Player for the DCHS Lady Tigers at the team banquet in March and she made the District 8AA 2nd team All-District.
*The season for the DCHS Tigerettes came to a close Friday night, May 19 in Smithville as they lost to Sweetwater 3 to 1 in the Class AA Sectional or Sub State. DeKalb County finished the season at 29-6. They claimed the regular season and district tournament championship as well as the region tournament crown again this season. A win for the Tigerettes would have sent them to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year and for the ninth time in program history.
*First year DCHS Tigerette Softball Coach Danny Fish was named the Coach of the Year in District 8AA in May. Coach Fish, who succeeded longtime coach Danny Bond, guided the Tigerettes to a record of 27-5 and 13-1 in the district this season. Tigerette pitching sensation Kayley Caplinger was named the District’s Most Valuable Player, District Tournament MVP, and Pitcher of the Year. Regular season District awards: All District: Lexie Bates, Myranda Bailiff, Kenzie France, Emme Colwell, Allison Maynard. All Freshman team: Megan Walker. All District Tournament Awards: Joni Robinson and Allison Maynard.
*The DeKalb County Ambulance Service along with hospital and emergency room staff at St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital were awarded the “Pediatric Call of the Year” award for their efforts in trying to save the lives of victims in a mobile home fire in December, 2016. That fire claimed the lives of three people including a four year old child. The 2017 Erlanger Life Force awards were presented Tuesday, May 23 to Greta Stone, EMT-PCC/IC and Jamie Parsley, AEMT, members of the DeKalb EMS crew who were on duty and responded to the call on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 1276 South Mountain Street in Smithville. The EMS awards ceremony was held in Chattanooga.
*21 year old Jessica Ashley May will have to serve at least two more years behind bars before her next parole hearing. She is serving an eight year sentence for attempted aggravated child neglect stemming from the 2015 death of her 23 month old son. Colten Alexander May. Three members of the Tennessee Board of Parole voted and concurred that May should be declined parole due to the seriousness of the offense. Her case will be reviewed again in two years. A parole hearing was held for May Tuesday, May 23 at the Carroll County Jail where she is incarcerated as a state prisoner. The parole hearings officer who heard the case made a non-binding recommendation to the Tennessee Board of Parole that Ms. May be declined parole due to the seriousness of the offense, and that her case be reviewed again in two years. May stood before Judge Gary McKenzie in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 and entered a plea to attempted aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony, and received an eight year sentence as a range I mitigated offender to serve at least 20% before parole eligibility. At the time May had already served 568 days since her arrest on May 19, 2015. Less than a week before May’s plea, her fiance at the time, 25 year old Cody Key was handed a 45 year prison term for the beating death of May’s child after entering a plea in Putnam County Criminal Court to second degree murder. Key is to serve 100% of the sentence but he was given jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016. Key is incarcerated at the South Central Correctional Center in Wayne County, a Tennessee Department of Correction facility.
*Steven Jennings and Eli Cross were the top scholarship award winners during the Class of 2017 Awards Night program Monday, May 22 at DCHS.
Jennings received the largest single award of $132,000 in a baseball scholarship from Ole Miss along with another $1,000 scholarship. Cross took home more than $124,000 in scholarships including a total of $114,000 from Lindsey Wilson College to further his education and football career. Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations. A perfect attendance award was presented to Clayton Hoyle who has never missed a day of school, left early, or been tardy during his entire four years of high school.
*Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during the commencement on Friday, May 26. Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Eli Cross and Kayley Caplinger while the Citizenship Award was presented to Luke Green. The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for strong academic performance and exemplary moral character. The award winners are determined by the faculty. The Citizenship Award, chosen by the faculty, is presented to a student who exemplifies strong academic performance and contribution to DCHS and the community. The 177 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant as their names were called by Assistant Principal Jenny Norris. There was also an air of sadness due to the absence of a classmate Jacob Davis Billings, marked by balloons tied to a chair along with a framed photo of him and a cap and gown where he would have sat among the graduates. Billings died tragically in a bicycle collision with two motor vehicles four years ago. Billings was 14 years old when he died and would have been a senior this year.
*Strong storms downed trees and utility lines across DeKalb County Saturday night, May 27 causing power outages and some property damage. Members of the DeKalb County Highway Department, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, TDOT and city public works department employees, emergency management, and other volunteers sprung into action with chainsaws and other cutting tools and equipment to remove the debris blocking county roads and state highways. The work continued through the night and part of early Sunday morning, May 28. In Alexandria, at least one home was damaged when a tree fell on it. No injuries were reported. The Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad was called out again on Sunday. They responded to the Riverwatch community where trees had blown across roads in the development. Chain saws were used to cut the trees and Joe Johnson, a Rescue Squad member, brought in his personal track hoe to help remove the debris from the roadways. Some of the hardest hit roads and communities were Riverwatch, Four Seasons, Temperance Hall, Dale Ridge, Hurricane Ridge, Pine Orchard Road, Alexandria, Big Hurricane Road, Holmes Creek, Bright Hill Road, Back Bone Ridge, Love Colony, Jefferson, Midway, Pates Ford, Smith Fork, among others.
*A former DCHS Tiger baseball standout got some playing time in the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series held in Mason, Ohio during May. Sam McMillen is a pitcher for the Hiwassee, College Tigers. The Southwestern Christian University Eagles opened pool play of the World Series with a 10-0 victory over Hiwassee. Down 6 to 0 after four innings, McMillen was called to the mound for Hiwassee and pitched five innings. He gave up four runs, two earned, on six hits. He struck out one and walked two. That was McMillen’s only appearance in the World Series.
*The DeKalb County Grand Jury met in special session Tuesday, May 27 and returned more than 40 sealed indictments mostly against drug offenders. Sheriff Patrick Ray said officers of his department appeared before the Grand Jury and presented cases against each offender as the result of an undercover investigation. "A variety of drugs were bought during this operation including Xanax, Hydrocodone, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Subutex, and others," he said. "We tried to focus this operation on methamphetamine. We had received information that methamphetamine has been coming up here from Georgia and not only into our county but also other places in the state," Sheriff Ray continued.
"Some of the indictments were for sale and delivery in a drug free zone which is an area 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, and daycare," he added.
*Two years after being named Principal at DCHS, Dr. Kathy Bryant transferred to another position in the school system. Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has announced in June that Dr. Bryant would be taking over from Lisa Cripps as Supervisor of Instruction for grades 6-12. She will be working out of the central office. Lisa Cripps recently announced her retirement.
*As DeKalb Utility District approached a golden anniversary, it marked another important milestone with the launch of its new water treatment plant. For the first time in its 50 year history, the DUD is now producing water on its own for the 5,300 customers it serves in either all or portions of DeKalb, Smith, Cannon, and Wilson counties. DUD, which had been buying water from Smithville for many years, officially cut ties with the city in June. The new DUD water plant is located on Yulonda Hills Road off Holmes Creek Road. The 2.0 million gallon per day water treatment plant (all under one roof) is the centerpiece of the project which also includes a new raw water intake structure and pump station on the Holmes Creek Embayment of the lake, an 18-inch diameter raw water transmission line from the pump station to the water plant, an 18-inch diameter finished water transmission line along Holmes Creek Road, Allen’s Ferry Road, and U.S. Highway 70; and new 8-inch diameter water distribution lines along Dry Creek Road, Game Ridge Road, Turner Road, Willis McGinnis Road, and Sparta Highway (Highway to Midway). The project was funded at $16-million dollars. Fund sources for the project included $5 million in loans at 2.75% interest over 38 years and $1.25 million in grants from USDA Rural Development. The utility was also approved for $500,000 in grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission; two loans through the State Revolving Fund Loan programs in amounts of $2 million and $7 million at .6% interest over 20 years; and a $500,000 forgiveness (grant) from the State Revolving Fund Program.
*The Smithville Aldermen adopted a new $6.4 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year on first reading Monday night, June 5. The proposed budget totals $6-million 411-thousand 679 dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at 64.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. Water and sewer rates increased effective July 1. City water customers are to pay $7.25 per thousand gallons of usage, up from the current rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons. Rates for customers outside the city limits are to be $10.88 per thousand, an increase from the current rate of $7.50 per thousand gallons. City sewer customers will see an increase from the current rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62 to $6.75 per thousand gallons. The rate increase is to help make up the difference in the loss of $775,000 in revenue due to the departure of the DeKalb Utility District as a water customer.
*Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital and the physicians of the Family Medical Center practice joined together in welcoming back five physicians from the Smithville practice to begin providing hospitalist services at the local hospital . The hospitalists, Dr. Kevin Rhody; Dr. Jack Rhody; Dr. Steven Cooper; Dr. Doug Hooper; and Dr. William Sherwood, in addition to making regular rounds to see patients, began providing coverage at Saint Thomas DeKalb 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Prior to this change, out of town medical staff served as hospitalists at Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital but many in the community didn't embrace it and the result was declining census numbers and more patient transfers to other facilities creating a concern about the future of the hospital.
*Five convicted felons were arrested Friday, June 9 at 332 New Hope Road, Alexandria after an undercover drug investigation by several local and state law enforcement agencies. Agents seized approximately 5 grams of fentanyl, methodone, morphine, xanax, six weapons (including two assault rifles), a Chevy Silverado, a Dodge Dakota, a BMW car, cell phones, flash drives, home security system, digital scales, computer, ammo, and $973 cash. 36 year old Samer Walid Abdalla, 34 year old Courtney Paris, and 55 year old Ernest Grady Tanner, all of New Hope Road, Alexandria; 38 year old Amy Renee Ford of Chumbley Hollow, Watertown; and 39 year old Jerry Henry Goff of East Main Street, Smithville were taken into custody. The narcotics search warrant was executed and served at the residence by members of the 13th & 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Alexandria Police Department, the Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Division, and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.
*The Pittsburgh Pirates Monday night, June 12 selected former DCHS right handed pitcher Steven Jennings in the Major League Baseball Draft as the 42nd overall pick and sixth into the second round. Jennings was to receive a $1.9 million bonus, which is reportedly $264,500 over the slot value for his pick. “This has been a dream come true. This has been a dream of mine to play professional baseball since I was old enough to know really what baseball was. It is absolutely a dream come true to make that dream a reality. Its awesome. I can’t really describe how I am feeling. I can’t tell you how thankful and grateful I am to be in the position I am in right now,” Jennings told WJLE after his selection was announced. Following his junior season, Jennings offered up a pledge to the Ole Miss Rebels and later signed a letter of intent, but with his selection in the draft he decided to turn pro. Jennings was a two-sport star at DCHS in baseball and football.
*The Oakland Athletics selected LHP Cody Puckett, a former DCHS Tiger, in the 30th round with the 861st pick of the 2017 MLB Draft Wednesday afternoon, June 16. Puckett has spent the last two years as a Middle Tennessee Blue Raider after transferring from Columbia State Community College, making 29 appearances on the mound in a Middle Tennessee uniform. The southpaw had a career 6-6 record, to go along with a 4.57 ERA and 101 strikeouts. The lefty made nine starts this past season and led the team with 71 strikeouts. Puckett also ranked 44th in the country in Strikeouts per Nine Innings with 10.89. He finished the 2017 season with the lowest ERA amongst the starting rotation, compiling a 4.76 ERA.
*DeKalb County High School became under new leadership as of July 1. Randy Jennings, who had been Principal at DeKalb Middle School for 13 years, was named by Director of Schools Patrick Cripps in June to succeed Dr. Kathy Bryant as DCHS Principal. Dr. Bryant transferred to the position of Supervisor of Instruction for grades 6-12.
*A man who was shot after drawing a weapon on two officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department over four years ago was sentenced Tuesday, June 20 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. 58 year old Randy Gerald Petty entered a plea to two counts of attempted aggravated assault and is facing a three year sentence in each case to run consecutively for a total of six years. Petty was named in a sealed indictment by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in April, 2014 charging him with the more serious offenses of two counts of attempted first degree murder. He was arrested without incident by agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. On May 23, 2013, Deputies (at the time) Jeremy Taylor and Erik Russell responded to a 911 call of shots being fired at 255 Petty Road in Smithville. There, while standing at the rear of Deputy Taylor’s vehicle, Deputy Russell saw and heard something off to his side. Using his flashlight, Russell spotted Randy Petty pointing a scoped rifle at the two deputies. Both of them drew their weapons and fired, striking Petty several times in his extremities. He later recovered from his wounds.
*The DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club won 3rd place in the finals competition Wednesday morning, June 28 at the National Convention at Disney World in Orlando, Florida for its anti-bullying drama presentation called “Be the Change” after being named in the top five on Tuesday. The club finished 1st at the Tennessee convention last November, 2016.
*DeKalb West School 8th grade graduate Garrett Hayes won top honors at the National Junior Beta Club Convention in Orlando, Florida in June. Hayes, the son of Alan and Lesa Hayes, finished first in Visual Arts for his color photography entry. Garrett, the President of the DWS Junior Beta Club, is the first student in the school's history to represent the club at the national convention. He placed in the top three at the Tennessee convention last November, 2016 which qualified him to attend the nationals.
*A former Correctional Officer at the DeKalb County Jail who allegedly received money from inmates for smuggling tobacco and other items to them inside their cells entered a plea to Official Misconduct on Tuesday, June 20 in Criminal Court. 25 year old Francisco Rodriguez, under a plea agreement, is to receive a two year TDOC sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He has applied for judicial diversion. Rodriguez was named in a sealed indictment returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Monday, April 4, 2016. He was charged in the indictment for Official Misconduct and Introduction of Contraband. Rodriguez worked for the Sheriff's Department as a Correctional Officer for six months before being terminated by Sheriff Patrick Ray after an internal investigation into the allegations.
*Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tennessee repeated as the Grand Champion Fiddler of the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree and Crafts Festival on Saturday, July 1. Phillips, who won the title for the first time last year, took home the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award again this year after the Grand Finale Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler. Phillips made it to the fiddle off by winning, for the second year in a row, the Junior Fiddling competition and she won the Grand Championship by beating the winner of the Senior Fiddling contest Tony Haley of Mount Juliet. Phillips also repeated as the winner of the Contest Fiddle competition and the Neil Dudney Award. Meanwhile the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band became the fourth annual recipient of the Fiddlers' Jamboree's "Blue Blaze Award" this year and Iris Shepherd of Henry, Tennesseel won the top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners and receivined the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award. Brayden Chunn of Greenbriar was named "Entertainer of the Year".
*An Indiana man was the overall winner of the 19th Annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run Saturday, July 1 in Smithville. Sean Edwards of Carmel, Indiana ran the course in 19:27. The 19th Annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run featured 324 participants. Funds raised will support Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.
*A Smithville man who posted offensive and blasphemous notes on the properties of five local churches was charged in a joint investigation by the Smithville Police and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Departments . 57 year old Laddie Bill Jerrells of Long Street, Smithville was arrested Wednesday, July 5th on twenty four counts including charges of vandalism, disorderly conduct, harassment, and desecration of honored places. The incidents occurred at a time when no church services were being held and no particular denominations were targeted.
*A memorial service was held Sunday, July 9 for a Liberty man who was killed by a CSX train in Murfreesboro on Friday, June 16. 51 year old Richard “Richie” Herman, who was riding his bicycle, was struck by the freight train near Scott and Dashiel Streets, near Medical Center Parkway, according to a report by WGNS in Murfreesboro. The accident occurred around 6 p.m. The report stated that the CSX train was traveling from North Carolina and through Tennessee when it struck Herman. Reports from police indicate the victim’s bike and backpack were found about 20 feet away from his body.
*Amanda Dakas is the new Principal at DeKalb Middle School. Director of Schools Patrick Cripps named Dakas in July to succeed Randy Jennings as DMS Principal. Jennings is the new Principal at DeKalb County High School. Dakas has served as Assistant Principal at DeKalb Middle School since 2012. Meanwhile Tad Webb became the new Assistant Principal at DeKalb Middle School. Webb had been a seventh grade math teacher at the school along with the Saints’ head football coach and the DeKalb West Bulldogs head baseball coach. He gave up those positions upon becoming assistant principal.
*Matthew Sinclair of Carthage won the DeKalb County Fair 5K and Fun Run Saturday, July 15. Sinclair was the overall winner of the race, which was held on West Main Street in Alexandria. He ran the course in 17:34. All proceeds went to the American Legion, a non-profit organization in DeKalb County in support of veterans.
*Pageant winners at the DeKalb County Fair:
Fairest of the Fair: 18 year old Tyra Grace Graham, daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville.
Junior Fair Princess: 14 year old Ellisyn Kelsey Cripps, daughter of Troy and Jamie Cripps of Smithville.
Little Mister & Miss Zailan Martinez and Caitlyn Lee Adcock. Martinez is the 5 year old son of Michelle and Michael Martinez of Smithville and Adcock is the 6 year old daughter of Jessie and Tia Adcock of Smithville.
Miss Sweetheart: Kyleigh Breanne Hill of Smithville, the 12 year old daughter of David and Colleen Clary of Smithville and Kyle Hill. She was also awarded Miss Congeniality. The 2017 Miss Princess: Zayleigh Grace Washer, the 9 year old daughter of Larry and Rachel Bain of Smithville.
*The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Chattanooga District located the alleged driver of a fatal hit-and-run accident it responded to Monday, July 17 on U.S. Highway 41 in Manchester. The driver was identified as Shelton G. Martin II, of Smithville. The hit and run vehicle left behind a mirror at the scene. THP’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) identified the mirror belonging to a 1999-2003 Mitsubishi Galant, champagne in color. Martin was taken into custody and transported to the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office.
*An early morning fire destroyed at least two condominiums in the Highland Cove Complex near Center Hill Lake early Monday morning, July 24. The three story, six condo complex is located on Dale Ridge Road (Highway 96) in the area of Cove Hollow. According to DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green, the fire started on the top floor of the “H” building and swept through both condos there. The two condos on each of the first and second floors were spared any fire damage because of the concrete floors in between each level of the building but there was some smoke and water damage there. The Fire Department returned to the Condos Wednesday afternoon, July 26 where an open flame from a ruptured natural gas line was discovered between the floors of another building there. The maintenance manager called for the fire department after walking into a room on the third floor of the “G” building and finding it extremely hot in there. The “G” building is some 50 feet from the “H” building where a fire destroyed two condos early Monday morning, July 24. Chief Green said the State Fire Marshal concluded that both buildings were struck by lightning Sunday night, July 23 which triggered the fires.
*The DeKalb County High School Football Program received an extra $10,000 thanks to Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota and the NFL. During a visit to DCHS Tuesday morning, July 25 Mariota announced that he was making a donation of $5,000 to the Tiger football program and that the NFL Foundation would match the award with a $5,000 donation of its own. Mariota was in town as part of a four town high school tour in partnership with Saint Thomas Health, which has hospitals in the four towns of Smithville, Sparta, McMinnville, and Woodbury. In addition to Mariota’s announcement, a check for $1,500 was presented to DCHS Principal Randy Jennings from Andy Wachtel, CEO of Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury to be used for the school.
*Due to budgetary concerns, the county commission Monday night, July 25 voted 12-2 to adopt the new consolidated budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year with a freeze on the wages of county general employees at current levels until at least January. The county property tax rate will not be increased this year. The wage freeze, which was recommended by the budget committee, will apply to employees of county officials at the courthouse and county complex along with the sheriff’s department, EMS, library, and solid waste department and the Senior Center Director. It will not include employees of the County Highway and School System because those departments have their own budgets. The action was taken because anticipated expenditures were to exceed revenues by more than $818,000 during the new budget year. Even with the wage freeze, the county could still go into cash reserves by as much as $624,000 during the year. The budget committee plans to revisit the issue again in January. If the budget picture looks better by then employees due a step raise this year could be allowed to get them as of January, 2018 or retroactive to July 1, 2017. All county general employees were given pay raises last year under a new wage scale.
*A 29 year old Hartsville man lost his life on Center Hill Lake Saturday, July 29. The body of Michael Stephen Davidson was recovered near Sligo bridge around 8:30 p.m. During a recreation outing, the man jumped off a cliff into the lake at the old rock quarry near the bridge. When he didn’t resurface, 911 was notified. Sheriff Patrick Ray said the call came in at 6:20 p.m. Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, TWRA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DeKalb County EMS, and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department responded. According to Dustin Johnson, Captain of the Rescue Squad, the body was located in about 28 feet of water
*A 38 year old pedestrian who was seriously injured after being struck by a pickup truck on Monday night, July 17 died ten days later. Jamie E. Carroll of Smithville passed away on Thursday, July 27 at Vanderbilt Hospital. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Carroll was struck by a 2001 Dodge Dakota pickup truck, driven by 21 year old James J. Messina, Jr. of Smithville. The accident occurred on Highway 56 south near Mystik Market in the Shiney Rock community. The accident report states that the truck was traveling north on State Route 56 as the pedestrian (Carroll) was walking on the eastbound side of the roadway on the right hand shoulder on the fog line. The truck traveled down a steep grade on the roadway and struck the pedestrian. The scene was dark and the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing at the time of the crash. A helicopter ambulance landed in the parking lot of the Mt. View Primitive Baptist Church for the airlift. Carroll was flown to Vanderbilt Hospital
*A special tribute was paid to the founder of Alexandria Friday morning, August 4. A large framed photograph of Daniel Alexander was placed on permanent display at the Alexandria Public Library. It was recently donated to the library by Alexander’s great great great grandson, Paul Randy Alexander, Jr. of Charlotte, North Carolina. DeKalb County Historian Thomas G. Webb hosted the observance and was joined by librarians, library board members, and local public officials.
*Ninth through 12th graders at DeKalb County High School now have modern technology in the classrooms — and in their hands.
Chrome Books were issued to each of the students at the high school to begin the new school year. Sixth to 8th graders at DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb West School will get Chrome Books later in the school year. Through these one to one laptop devices, students will be able to access the Internet, digital course materials and digital textbooks. By providing students their own notebook computer or tablet, the school is making it possible for students to find information instantly to produce rich multimedia content.
*An elderly Knoxville couple lost their lives in an unusual accident on Center Hill Lake Monday afternoon, August 7 at a Floating Mill camp ground boat ramp. The bodies 84 year old Lendon Welch and his wife 83 year old Charlotte Welch were found floating in the water near their submerged Toyota Tundra pickup truck with a fishing boat and trailer still attached to the vehicle. The truck and boat were only a few feet from shore in about seven feet of water. The couple had either been trying to launch the boat or pull it out of the water when the tragedy occurred.
*The DeKalb County Fire Department received word in August that its 2016 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) application, in the amount of $49,815, had been awarded. The AFG Program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The funding award will be used to purchase water supply equipment, automatic external defibrillators (AED’s), and portable gas-powered generators. This equipment will serve all 11 (soon-to-be 12) of the department’s stations across the county. The Federal share of this award is $47,443 and the local matching share, to be provided by the DeKalb County Government, is $2,372.
*Star Manufacturing in Smithville plans to hire another 35-40 people to fill engineering, technical, and customer service jobs. The announcement was made by Star officials Monday, August 14 followed by a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting for the new office work stations built within the existing warehouse. Plans are to add an engineering lab for research purposes and a kitchen for potential customers to test cooking equipment manufactured here before making purchasing decisions.
*Partner law enforcement agencies from across the Upper Cumberland region worked together to secure charges for 12 individuals including a Smithville man in connection to an eight-month investigation into the distribution of methamphetamine in several counties. 36 year old Joseph Israel Neely, of Smithville was charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Over 300 Grams of Methamphetamine. His bond was set at $250,000.
*The bodies of a man and woman were found Sunday afternoon, August 20 inside a mobile home on South Judkins Lane, Smithville in the Jefferson Community. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Central Dispatch received the call at 2:16 p.m. and deputies arrived at 2:28 p.m. and found the two bodies inside the mobile home. Detectives from the Sheriff's Department were summoned to the scene along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the District Attorney General's Office, and the County Medical Examiner Investigator. The deceased were identified as 51 year old Douglas Ray Ferrell and 45 year old Angel Dawn Ferrell. The bodies were sent for an autopsy. No other information was released.
*A Sunday evening fire, August 20 left a DeKalb County family homeless. The residence of Nathan and Kim Hale at 5093 Lower Helton Road near Alexandria was destroyed by the blaze which was reported at 6:02 p.m. about an hour after the family had left to attend a church service in Carthage. The owner of the home is Garland Hale. DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that a neighbor spotted the fire and reported it but the home was fully engulfed in flames and could not be saved. All the family’s belongings were lost in the blaze. The cause of the fire was undetermined.
*A man lost his life in a lawn mowing accident Sunday afternoon, August 20 on Askin Lane in the Austin Bottom area of DeKalb County. Central dispatch received the call at 4:08 p.m. and a deputy responded. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that the man was on a standard size riding mower when the accident occurred as he was mowing his yard. The man was found dead about 40 feet down an embankment by his yard.
*A 23-year old Bowling Green, Kentucky man charged with killing a woman there on Saturday, August 19 was in DeKalb County the day before. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Justin A. Denihan was arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department on Friday, August 18 at 12:27 p.m. with theft of property. He was released at 8:57 p.m. Friday night after posting a $3,500 bond. On Saturday, August 19 a woman’s body was found taped inside a tote at a residence on Pleasant Place Way in Bowling Green, Kentucky at around 12 noon. The deceased is thought to have been a resident of that home and Warren County, Kentucky authorities said there were signs of trauma on the body. Kentucky authorities said Denihan was at the home and told them that he killed the woman and put her body in the tote. Denihan was incarcerated in the Warren County, Kentucky Regional Jail charged with murder.
*The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, for the ninth consecutive year, has been recognized as one of Tennessee’s elite fire departments for outstanding training achievement. Of the 732 fire departments in Tennessee, both volunteer and paid, the DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 17 for 2016-17 training achievement by the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Considering the ranking among departments that operate with 100% volunteer staff in the state, the DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 2; only 13 hours short of the # 1 spot.
*Skygazers got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a rare total solar eclipse as it swept across a narrow corridor of 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina on Monday afternoon, August 21. For a few moments, DeKalb County was in the path of near total darkness just before 1:30 p.m. Spectators from states across the country, including NASA researchers and astronomers drove hundreds of miles to DeKalb County. Some flew in at the Smithville Municipal Airport. Stephanie Osborne from Huntsville, Alabama was among those who flew in at the airport. She is an astronomer who has worked 20 years at NASA. "It’s darn near smack on the center line of the totality path,” when asked why she chose to come to Smithville to view the eclipse. Greenbrook Park was also filled with people from across the country who gathered there for the viewing. Among them was Matt Johnson, also a NASA employee. “ I came here because I wanted some place that was out of the way off the main highway to avoid traffic,” he said. Many enjoyed free goodies and entertainment while waiting for the eclipse during the Downtown Block Party hosted by the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, Justin Potter Library, St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital, the DeKalb County Government, and the City of Smithville. Center Hill Lake and Edgar Evins State Park were also places to be for the solar eclipse. Motorists coming from Interstate 40 were lined up on Buffalo Valley Road that morning waiting to enter the park to get a good spot for this once in a lifetime event. Visitors also gathered at the scenic overlook on Highway 56 north (Cookeville Highway) including some from Pennsylvania, New York, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
*A Nashville man was indicted by a special session of the DeKalb County Grand Jury Friday, August 25 accused of using a 15 year old Liberty girl for prostitution. 34 year old Charles Earl Denton is charged in the sealed indictment with trafficking for commercial sex act. Denton was picked up in Nashville by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. He was being held by Metro Nashville Police after being taken into custody there. The indictment against Denton alleges that on or about August 1, 2017, Denton did knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, provide, purchase, or obtain by any other means, a 15 year old minor child for the purpose of providing a commercial sex act, in violation of state law. The investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department began on Friday, August 4th after the girl’s family reported her missing. The family said the teen sought and received permission to spend the night at a friend’s house two days before on Wednesday, August 2nd but she never came home. The investigation revealed that the girl knew Denton and that he had arranged through social media to meet her. Denton drove to Liberty on Wednesday, August 2, picked up the girl, and transported her to Nashville for the purpose of commercial sex. She was later found at a Nashville motel with another missing teen and an adult woman. Denton was not at the motel at the time.
*One person died and another was airlifted in a motorcycle crash Labor Day, September 4 on Highway 70 at the intersection with Snow Hill Road near Bert Driver Nursery. Dead is 60 year old Nancy L. Pipers of Portland. She was a passenger of a 2008 Suzuki motorcycle operated by 56 year old Garry L. Midgett of Westmoreland, who was seriously injured. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Midgett was traveling eastbound in the right hand lane of US Highway 70 as a 1996 Ford F350, driven by 57 year old James C. Wilkerson of Smithville was turning left from Highway 70 onto the Snow Hill Road. The truck, which was pulling a trailer with a lawnmower on board, crossed into the path of the motorcycle. The bike struck the trailer as it was turning. Pipers succumbed to her injuries at the scene. The THP reports that both Midgett and Pipers were wearing their safety helmets and Wilkerson was wearing his seat belt. Wilkerson was not injured but was cited for failure to yield to the right of way.
*A former local minister was arrested in Smith County for statutory rape by an authority figure and incest. According the Smith County Insider Press, Richard A. Petty was interviewed by Smith County Sheriff’s Office Detectives. During the interview, Petty admitted that he did have oral sex with a minor on several occasions. He was charged on September 6. Petty was minister of the Dowelltown Baptist Church.
*The Smithville Municipal Golf Course is getting a makeover. During the September 11 monthly meeting, the aldermen voted to enter into a one year agreement with RiverWatch Golf & Resort to upgrade and maintain the golf course for a year. The cost to the city is $74,115 but since it is not being leased to anyone the city will get all revenues generated from the golf course, once it re-opens next spring. The city previously had a 10 year lease with Tony Poss to operate the golf course and swimming pool, but Poss opted to terminate the lease in August. The golf course is now closed. The city had allocated $7,000 in this year’s budget for the golf course so most of that money will now go toward paying RiverWatch . The remaining $67,000 plus to pay RiverWatch will be taken from the city’s general fund surplus. The city will also have other expenses associated with the golf course as per the agreement with RiverWatch.
*A man charged with being involved in a major auto theft and chop shop operation got a 10 year sentence on probation Monday, September 11 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Judge David Patterson presided. 33 year old Jason Douglas Stembridge entered a plea to one count of theft over $60,000 and one count of theft over $10,000. He received a 10 year sentence in one case and 6 years in the other to run concurrently but he was given credit for 183 days of jail time served and placed on probation. He must make restitution to the victims. Stembridge was accused of stealing automobiles, skid steers, four wheelers, and gooseneck trailers in DeKalb and Warren County for the intended purpose of either selling them outright or dismantling them to be sold as parts or scrap metal. His sentence Monday was only for his crimes in DeKalb County. Stembridge was arrested Tuesday, March 14 after sheriff’s department detectives found the stolen vehicles and equipment at his home and other locations in the county. The total value of the stolen vehicles and equipment came to $221,144. Stembridge was originally charged in DeKalb County with burglary (3 counts), theft of property over $60,000, possession of stolen property over $60,000, theft of property over $10,000, and theft of property over $1,000.
*Members of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (DTC Communications) elected a new member to the Board of Directors, Saturday September 16. Michael Alexander defeated Incumbent Jean Chumbley Ferrell from the Woodbury Exchange in the director election. The results of the voting were announced during the annual membership meeting held at the fairgrounds in Alexandria. Two other incumbent members, Jim Vinson of the Milton Exchange and Terry McPeak of the Norene Exchange ran unopposed.
*The high school graduation rate in DeKalb County was at 95.41% for the 2016-17 year and though it was down slightly from the previous year it exceeded the state graduation rate by 6.3%. The DeKalb County graduation rate for the 2015-16 year was 97.58% and 95.8% for the 2014-15 year. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Thursday, September 14 that the 2016-17 graduation rate of 89.1 percent is the highest on record for Tennessee. The statewide graduation rate is up more than half a percentage point since last year, and overall it has increased 3.6 percent since the 2010-11 school year. This year, graduation rates increased in nearly 56 percent of districts with high schools.
*The DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners met in special session Thursday afternoon, September 21 and took action that will soon provide water to 33 new customers on Tramel Branch Road, Oakley Road, Carter Lane, and the Alexandria to Dismal Road. Bids were awarded to two contractors to extend water lines to the targeted areas. The $930,000 project will be funded through a $500,000 Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Block Grant and $430,290 in funding from the DeKalb Utility District. The DUD had originally intended to provide only $121,000 but decided to add another $309,290 after bids for the project came in higher than expected. The board accepted a bid of $392,865 from Flo-Line Contracting of Monticello, Kentucky to do the work on Alexandria to Dismal Road and for $294,345 for the project on Carter Lane and Oakley Road. Mofield Brothers Construction of Carthage got the bid for $148,580 to extend water lines on Tramel Branch Road. According to the DUD, the water line extensions will provide water to fourteen customers on the Alexandria to Dismal Road, seven families on Tramel Branch Road, and twelve households on Carter Lane and Oakley Road.
*A 50 year celebration was observed Sunday, September 24 for Justin Potter Library. Members of the community stopped by during the two hour event to visit and enjoy refreshments. State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver presented a proclamation signed by herself, State Representative Mark Pody, and Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Beth Harwell marking the occasion and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams honored the library with a Milestone Award. Current and past Library Board members, Directors, and employees joined in the celebration including Jenelle Pugh, the only surviving 1967 library board member. Justin Potter Library opened in June 1967 followed by an official dedication and open house on September 17, 1967. It was named for the late Justin Potter, a DeKalb County native and successful Nashville businessman, whose family provided funds to help build the library through the Justin and Valere Potter Foundation. Potter’s grandson, Justin Wilson was among those in attendance for the celebration.
*The Town of Alexandria is being awarded a grant for $5,400 from the Tennessee Historical Commission State Historic Preservation Office to fund the restoration of the National Register listed Seay Chapel and East View Cemetery. The grant is one of 32 matching grants being awarded totaling almost $750,000 from the Federal Historic Preservation Fund allocated to non-profits, municipalities, universities and civic organizations across the state to support the preservation of historic and archaeological resources. Seay Chapel was one of the county's earliest African American churches. Another church group now uses the building to worship. Eastview Cemetery is also among the oldest cemeteries in DeKalb County.
*A 31 year old marathon runner and Iraq War Veteran passed through DeKalb County Friday, October 6 on a cross country charity run as she makes her way to Virginia Beach. Maggie Seymour, a U.S. Marine Corps Captain who is transitioning from active duty to the Reserve, set out from San Diego July 22 on her 3,300 mile cross country run. Her plans were to make it to Virginia Beach by October 28. Captain Seymour, who founded the nonprofit Run Free Run last year, raised money along the way for the charity to support military affiliated causes and communities including veterans, gold star families, and special needs athletes.
*The award winning bluegrass group Dailey and Vincent in October premiered a new music video from their stellar eighth album Patriots and Poets and the multi-instrumentalists are giving fans a deeper look at the inspiration behind their song “Unsung Heroes.” The video features real-life veterans and first responders, an important reminder that kindness and selflessness are still a familiar scene across the country and reflected in those we encounter every day. Local fans of Dailey and Vincent will take a special interest in this video because it includes appearances by several people from DeKalb County. A large portion of the video shoot took place downtown Smithville in August.
*The 2017 average composite score on the ACT for students in DeKalb County has gone up from last year though it fell short of meeting the state goal of 21. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, the average composite score for DeKalb County is 18.8 compared to 18.25 in 2016. Scores in science, reading, math and English also improved going from 18.97 to 19 in science; from 18.82 to 19.6 in reading; from 17.03 to 17.5 in math; and from 17.55 to 18.6 in English.
*The Smithville Elementary School Cafeteria was filled with teachers Thursday night, October 12 where the monthly meeting of the Board of Education was held. These teachers who have health insurance through the school system offered by the state are facing higher premiums soon and that has them concerned because the extra out of pocket expense will affect their take home pay. In September the board voted to approve a rate hike as mandated by the state but since the school system did not absorb the increase in the plan in which most teachers are enrolled, the higher costs are being passed on to them. Of the 274 plus employees taking insurance, 146 are enrolled in the “Limited PPO” plan that took the hardest hit. The state requires that the school system pay 45% toward its teachers’ health insurance, but according to Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, “we have been paying well over that, 55% and more depending upon the plan teachers have,” he said. Under the Federal Affordable Care Act, the school system must offer at least one plan that is affordable for its lowest paid employees based on federal poverty guidelines. To meet that mandate, the school system provides a Consumer Directed Health Plan with Health Savings Account. Since September, the board of education has heard from teachers who say this extra expense will place a heavier burden on them financially. Some are concerned that many good teachers here will be forced to leave the system and take better paying jobs and health insurance benefits elsewhere if they don’t get more help. In an effort to ease that burden, the Board, following its one hour workshop on the issue, voted during the regular meeting to add another $50 per month to each teacher who has insurance through the school system . The vote was 5 -1-1.
*Work was completed in October on a $2.8 million upgrade at the Smithville Waste Water Treatment Plant. In August, 2016 the Smithville Aldermen voted to award a bid to the W & O Construction Company, Incorporated of Livingston to do the work as recommended by the city’s consulting engineer, the J.R. Wauford Company. The bid was $2,794,000 for the project which included a new headworks and pump station, a new electrical building to power the system, a new bar screen used to remove large objects, such as rags and other debris from wastewater, and a new grit classifier that separates rock, sand, and grit from screened wastewater and a new SCADA automation and monitoring system which the operators use to help maintain efficiency of the system. "The new headworks is designed to hold 8 million gallons a day to run through it. We're operating an average of 1 to 1.2 million gallons a day so we have a lot of room for growth," said Anthony Hasemann, one of the sewer plant operators. To help pay for the cost of the project, the City of Smithville was awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $525,000 from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Although the grant funded part of the costs, the bulk of the funding to pay for it was appropriated from the city's water and sewer fund surplus.
*Two employees of the DeKalb County Ambulance Service were honored in October for their response to a serious traffic accident in July.
Marie Turpin, Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic Critical Care (EMT-PCC) and Jamie Parsley, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) were recognized Friday, October 13 during the Region IV Upper Cumberland EMS Director’s Association Fall Symposium held in Cookeville. Turpin received a 2017 “Paramedic of the Year” award and Parsley was honored as “EMT of the Year” for Region IV. Turpin was one of three “Paramedic of the Year” award recipients in the region.
*One person died and nine others were injured in a two vehicle crash Saturday night, October 14 on Highway 56 near WJLE. Dead is 63 year old Judy L. Bullard of Smithville. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Bullard was driving south on Highway 56 in a 1995 Toyota Tercel when the car drifted into the northbound lane of travel and sideswiped a 2015 Dodge Journey van driven by 30 year old Virginia R. Carrier of Smithville. Carrier’s van came to rest on the right side but off the highway while Bullard’s car came to a final stop in the roadway. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were summoned to the scene to extricate Bullard, who was entrapped in her vehicle. Others on site were members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Smithville Police Department, and DeKalb EMS. A helicopter landing zone was set up near the crash scene on Highway 56. Bullard was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Two passengers with Bullard, 65 year old Mary C. Miller and a 7 year old boy were injured and taken to the hospital. Carrier was injured along with her six passengers including boys ages 1 year old, 5 years old, and 10 years old and three girls, two of them ages 13 years old, and the other who is 2 years old. All were transported to the hospital.
*The John Robert Nixon Substation is now officially up and running. Directors and staff of Smithville Electric System held a ribbon cutting and dedication Thursday morning, October 26 at the substation located on South College Street which is named for the longest serving member of the Smithville Electric System Board of Directors. Mr. Nixon himself cut the ribbon joined by his fellow board members Hilton Conger, Mayor Jimmy Poss, Tony Hagan, and Chairman Walter Burton and then pushed an energizer breaker button to mark the official start of the substation, owned and operated by SES. With the new substation, the City of Smithville now has two electrical power sources. The second substation located on West Main Street will continue to be shared by SES, TVA, and Caney Fork Electric Cooperative.
*After 16 months being closed the Veterans Memorial Bridge on South College Street is back open again. Bridge repairs were completed in late October by Mid-State Construction Company, Inc. of Livingston, the contractor for the project. The bridge had been closed since Monday, June 27, 2016 when a county landfill truck hit it causing major damage. After it was closed, the bridge was hit twice more this year, once by a freightliner car hauler in July and in August by a truck pulling a flatbed trailer loaded with a large asphalt roller. The project was initially delayed through the bidding process. In the February 10 letting, Mid-State bid $238,600.58 but there were no other bids and TDOT rejected it as too high. TDOT let bids for the project again on Friday, May 12 and Mid-State was the only bidder. In June, the Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded the contract to Mid-State for $222,894.68.
*“Cheese Wagon Chili” from the DeKalb County School System Department of Transportation took top honors for both “Best Chili” and for “Best Decorated Booth” during the 14th annual Habitat for Humanity Chili Cook-Off and Bake Sale on Friday, October 27. This crowd pleasing event held on the Town Square was another great success with $5,300 raised for Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, according to the Chili Cook-off Committee.
“DeKalb County Road Supervisor Wallace Butch Agee told WJLE Monday, October 30 that he will not seek re-election in 2018. Agee’s current term runs through the next County General Election on August 2, 2018. His official last day in office will be August 31, 2018. Agee, a Republican, was elected in 2014 to succeed longtime Road Supervisor Kenny Edge. Prior to being elected to this position, Agee served seventeen years with the Tennessee Department of Transportation including thirteen years as a TDOT supervisor.
*The DeKalb County Tigers lost 42 to 0 to the Marshall County Tigers at Lewisburg Friday night, November 3 in the 1st round of the TSSAA Class 4A playoffs ending their season at 3-8.
*Heavy rains overnight, Monday November 6 caused flooding problems in DeKalb County forcing five families from their homes. No one was injured. Dustin Johnson, Captain of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad said the first call came in at around 3 a.m. from central dispatch reporting that someone on Main Street in Dowelltown was caught in their car by rising waters. “By the time we got there that person had made it out of their car and back to the house. But we had to go back later and evacuate them from their home. From there we got another call on County House Road off McMinnville Highway where a family needed to be evacuated from a trailer. Afterwards, we came back to Dowelltown where we helped a total of four families from their homes on West Main Street,” said Johnson. The Dowelltown United Methodist Church opened it doors to provide shelter to the evacuees and the American Red Cross arrived to offer them assistance. The local rescue squad and Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Charlie Parker were assisted by members of the TWRA and the Warren, Smith, and White County Rescue Squads who were called to provide mutual aid support. Although there were no home evacuations in Liberty, at least three vehicles were caught in the flood waters.
*Mya Ruch was honored Monday, November 6 at the MSCCA Banquet for being named to the All Mid-state Cross Country Team. The Mid State Cross Country Association's banquet was held at Brentwood Academy to recognize and award the top 21 runners in both the A-AA and AAA divisions. Mya was 16th in the A-AA, landing her a position on the Bronze Team. Mya is a sophomore at DeKalb County High School, and this was the second year in a row she received this honor.
*The stage was set in November for the General Election in December to determine who will fill the remaining months of the unexpired term of State Senator Mae Beavers. Republican Mark Pody and Democrat Mary Alice Carfi each won the nomination for the office in the primaries, November 7. Both were unopposed. One of them will be the winner in the General Election set for December 19. District-wide, Pody received 2,562 votes in the GOP primary while Carfi garnered 1,283 votes in the Democratic primary. Six counties make up the 17th State Senatorial District including DeKalb, Cannon, Wilson, Clay, Macon, and Smith. In a very light turnout, (287 voters) Pody received 172 votes in the GOP primary in DeKalb County. Carfi got 111 votes from DeKalb County in the Democratic primary.
*A man was charged with arson after setting fire to the home where he lived Wednesday night, November 8 at 5078 Lower Helton Road near Alexandria. 45 year old Jason Bryan Hale is also charged with assaulting an officer and resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search. Central dispatch received the call at 5:58 p.m. and paged members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department. The caller alerted 911 that someone was still inside the home and that he refused to leave. It was later reported that the man had gone outside the home and was armed with a shotgun. Sheriff Patrick Ray and officers of the Sheriff’s Department arrived at the scene and took the man (Hale) into custody. It turns out that Hale had no weapon, but he did hit an officer while being moved to safety prior to his arrest. The home was destroyed in the blaze. The owner of the residence is Ann Greene.
*Workers at Tenneco Automotive in Smithville have been exposed to dangerous levels of Hexavalent Chromium which can cause lung cancer. Supervisors at the plant first notified employees last spring. They told workers exposure may also have impacted their families because they may have taken home cancer causing dust on their uniforms. Tenneco spokesperson Steven Blow told NewsChannel 5 in October that the company quickly took action when they discovered high levels of hexavalent chromium at the plant in February. In March, inspectors with the Tennessee Occupational and Safety Administration (TOSHA) found employees overexposed to chromium and cited the plant for 20 serious violations.
Tenneco told NewsChannel5 it had doctors examine employees and tested to see if they were taking contaminated dust home to their families. "The testing that we did on people leaving the plant did not show any elevated levels thankfully," Blow said. According to Blow, there have been no reports of medical issues, but some employees have experienced symptoms of chromium exposure such as nose bleeds and dermatitis. Tenneco told NewsChannel 5 it will install a multi-million dollar ventilation system in the plant to remove the cancer causing welding fumes and is giving welders in affected areas respirators. However TOSHA has reportedly cited Tenneco because some respirators did not fit the employees who were trying to use them.
*DeKalb County is getting a new Marriott or Hilton type 82 room hotel. The announcement was made Thursday , November 9 by Tom Sturdivant, Chief of Staff for Tootsie’s Entertainment, which owns Pates Ford Resort and Marina and the Fish Lipz Grill and now Sligo Resort and Marina and the Restaurant and Cabins at Sligo. During the noon luncheon with Chamber leaders and other guests at Sligo Restaurant, Sturdivant said the three story hotel will be constructed within 18-24 months at the former location of Center Hill Restaurant and motel on Highway 70 east which overlooks Center Hill Lake. In the meantime, Sturdivant said some renovations will be made at Sligo Marina and the cabins on the hill across from Sligo. While Pates Ford Marina has more of a club atmosphere, Sturdivant said plans are to make the restaurant at Sligo more family oriented. “This will be more of a banquet room and steak house. It will be a place where you can bring your family after church on Sunday. We may do a buffet or Sunday brunch. Not that Pates Ford is not family oriented but it has more of a club atmosphere with the bands and everything. Here it will be more steakhouse and more upscale. And while at Pates Ford the restaurant is open seasonally, the restaurant at Sligo will be open all year,” he said.
*The last of three escapees from the DeKalb County Jail was back in custody on Tuesday, November 28, one week after the trio broke out. Sheriff Patrick said 26 year old Daniel Trey Hamilton of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville was arrested in Fort Myers, Florida after being involved in a traffic accident there. He was placed into custody in Lee County, Florida and was to be extradited back to DeKalb County. Hamilton has been charged with escape. On Tuesday night, November 21 Hamilton, 38 year old Jack Mullican, Jr. of Adcock Cemetery Road and 32 year old Bryon Ray Gibbs of Gin Alley, Alexandria broke out of the jail annex through a door they jimmied open. Mullican was captured Wednesday morning, November 22 after being found in an underground water drain near Mapco Express. He became trapped there after making his escape. Gibbs was apprehended Saturday, November 25 thanks to an alert Alexandria Police Officer, Josh Arnold and a few citizen bystanders. After being confronted, Gibbs resisted and began fighting with Arnold. Citizens who witnessed the scene came to the aid of the officer to help subdue Gibbs. Deputies and detectives of the Sheriff’s Department also responded to provide assistance. Gibbs was charged by Alexandria Police with resisting arrest and aggravated assault. All three, Hamilton, Mullican, and Gibbs, were charged with escape and although a bond was set in each case, all three were incarcerated at jails in other counties.
*Four women were arrested in separate incidents of aiding jail escapees Bryon Gibbs and Daniel Hamilton who broke out of the DeKalb County Jail Annex Tuesday night, November 21 and remain at large. 40 year old Margaret Ann Taylor of Store Road, Rock Island; 40 year old Miranda Nicole Johnson of Joe Blanton Road, Woodbury; and 29 year old Jessica Anne Jenkins of Bright Hill Road, Smithville are each charged in separate cases of “permitting or facilitating an escape”. Although accused of the same offense, Sheriff Patrick Ray said these three women, Taylor, Johnson, and Jenkins, are charged individually for separate contacts with both escapees.
*The new DeKalb Animal Shelter opened to the public on Monday, November 6 and took in 25 animals the first day. A month later, the director Megan Moore reported to the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen that the response had been great. “We have been open for a full month now and we have had 72 cats and dogs through our shelter. We have 49 in house right now. Twenty one have been adopted as of this afternoon. We had two adoptions today,” said Moore. She said over $1,700 has been generated through the shelter and all that money goes right back into running the facility. “We have brought in $1,708 total in the first month. We’re doing quite well and that money stays in the shelter. We pay our vet bills and any medical needs that arise and normal everyday stuff. Everything it takes to function like paper towels, cleaning agents and stuff like that. That all stays in the shelter,” said Moore.The goal of the coalition is for the county to have a permanent and safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in permanent homes.
*Local emergency service providers and other volunteers found another way to serve their community Thursday morning, November 23 by making sure a few of the most needy and underserved among us had a hot delicious meal for Thanksgiving. Over 270 food trays were prepared and delivered by more than 50 volunteers. The meals included smoked turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, green beans, and rolls along with a homemade dessert. The project was organized by members of the DeKalb Emergency Services Association in partnership with local businesses and volunteers.
*A 69 year old Smithville man lost his life in a car accident Thanksgiving night on New Hope Road (Walker Creek Road) near Alexandria. Dead is Marvin Oppenheim. Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Oppenheim was traveling east in a 1990 Lincoln Towncar when the vehicle went off the right side of the narrow road over a steep embankment beside Walker Creek where it came to rest after hitting several small trees. Oppenheim was trapped inside the car. Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department Rescue and Extrication were summoned to stabilize the car. Oppenheim died at the scene. His body was removed from the car and taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital. Because the car was not badly damaged in the accident, Trooper Johnson said Oppenheim may have suffered a medical condition causing him to wreck. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
*A man caught during a home burglary and held at gunpoint by the homeowner until deputies arrived more than a year ago was sentenced Monday, November 27 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. 47 year old Homer Anthony Petty, Sr. , who entered a plea in October to charges of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000, was given a 14 year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Corrections to run consecutively with the balance of a three year sentence he is currently serving for a violation of probation in a previous drug sale conviction case. The total effective sentence is 17 years. Petty is classified as a Range 3 offender due to a history of five felony convictions and he will have to serve at least 45% of his term before becoming eligible for parole. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, October 20, 2016 a deputy responded to Old Givens Hollow Road, Liberty due to a burglary. Upon arrival, the officer learned that the homeowner caught Petty and another person stealing items from his home. “The homeowner witnessed Petty and another person attempting to leave the residence with a Norinco SKS rifle and a head band. The victim (homeowner) recovered the rifle and held Petty at gunpoint until law enforcement officers arrived. The other person with Petty fled the scene. Other items taken in the burglary and theft were an electronic game call, a back pack, multiple turkey calls, and numerous collectible knives. Some of those were recovered.
*A 16 year old boy was taken into custody Friday, December 15 at the county complex after a Sheriff’s Department Deputy found a pistol and marijuana on him. The officer was called to the complex around 11 a.m. Friday after the boy, who has a violation of probation offense against him, was spotted in the weight room. The deputy confronted the boy and asked him if he had anything on him. As the officer conducted a pat down search, the boy reached into his own waistband where he had a 9 millimeter pistol. The officer quickly took the boy to the ground, placed handcuffs on him, and found the gun and a bag of marijuana. Other officers from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department quickly responded to provide support.
*Smithville First Baptist Church has a new pastor in the pulpit. Chad Ramsey began preaching at Smithville F-B-C Sunday (December 3) at the 10 o’clock service. The church had been looking for a pastor over a year while Bill Robertson, former pastor at Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church, served in the interim. Ramsey comes from Central Baptist Church in Alcoa, Tennessee, where he was the pastor for almost the last three years. Ramsey and his wife grew up in Powell, a suburb of Knoxville. He’s a graduate of Carson-Newman College with a double major in Religion and Mathematics. After he received his diploma, the couple were married and moved to Waco, Texas, where Chad attended seminary at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. He has worked in a variety of ministerial positions including stints as a Student Minister, Youth Director, Students and Education Pastor, Students and Outreach Pastor, and Associate Pastor. Ramsey then says he felt a distinct call to become a Senior Pastor. Ramsey’s wife is an elementary school teacher, and the couple has two children, --Cameron, 10, and Abby, 6.
*A man indicted for 1st degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend in DeKalb County almost three years ago was sentenced Wednesday, December 6 to 20 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction but the family of the victim is not happy with the outcome. They wanted District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway to pursue harsher punishment. 44 year old Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews appeared before Judge Gary McKenzie in Putnam County Criminal Court at Cookeville where he entered a plea under a negotiated settlement to 2nd degree murder in the death of 28 year old Ashley Bain. As a range 1 offender, Crews will serve his 20 year sentence at 100% but he could earn good time credit of up to 15% off his sentence, although that is not a guarantee. After being behind bars since his arrest on February 5, 2015, Crews will be given jail credit for that time of two years and ten months. Crews has been incarcerated at the Putnam County Jail . Prior to sentencing, Judge McKenzie permitted members of Bain’s family to speak in objection to the plea deal between Crews and prosecutors. The victim’s brother Cleveland Derrick Bain, who is an attorney, and Ashley’s father Cleveland Bain, both addressed the court saying that a 20 year sentence was unjust and should be rejected by the judge. Both District Attorney General Dunaway and Crew’s attorney, District Public Defender Craig Fickling said that a 1st degree murder conviction by a jury in this case was less likely than 2nd degree murder and the plea deal offered was in line with the range of punishment Crews may have received had he gone to trial and been convicted of 2nd degree murder. They went on to say that a jury might even have convicted Crews of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter which carries a range of punishment of 3 to 6 years at 30%. The crime was committed on the afternoon of Thursday, February 5, 2015. Bain’s body was found lying on the floor of a bedroom at the home she and Crews shared at 3870 Cookeville Highway, Smithville. Bain was stabbed numerous times about the upper body. A bloody knife, believed to have been the murder weapon, was found in the home. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray at the time, Crews called 911 at 2:33 p.m. on February 5, 2015 to report that he had discovered Bain's body when he entered the residence. Sheriff Ray and members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were alerted and quickly arrived on the scene. The TBI and District Attorney General's Office also joined the investigation. Sheriff Ray said authorities determined that Crews had committed the crime and made up the story about finding the body. Dunaway told WJLE after the hearing that prosecutors believe Crews became upset with Bain over contact with a prior boyfriend and that he got drunk and confronted her about it which resulted in an argument and the murder.
*A Smithville man who was on probation for attempted especially aggravated kidnapping and theft is going to prison to serve the balance of a ten year sentence. Judge David Patterson revoked the probation of 23 year old John Thomas Mason following a hearing Friday, December 8 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Mason, who was originally charged with especially aggravated kidnapping, has been on probation since he entered a plea by criminal information in April to the lesser offense of attempted especially aggravated kidnapping and theft over $1,000. In April, Mason received a ten year sentence on the kidnapping charge as a range 1 offender to serve six months of the term with the rest to be served on TDOC probation. Mason got a two year sentence for the theft as a range 1 offender with the term suspended to probation. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other. Mason is to make restitution of $6,246 to one victim and $371.64 to another. Although Mason was to stay out of trouble and make regular reports to his probation officer, he failed to do either. A probation officer testified Friday that Mason never reported to her as part of his conditions for release. A deputy also testified that in August he spotted Mason in a vehicle running a stop sign. When he tried to pull him over, Mason failed to stop and sped away. Mason was later arrested and charged in the case for evading arrest and driving on a revoked license. Mason’s attorney, Gayla Hendrix asked the court for an alternative to incarceration such as Mission Teens but the judge denied the request and ordered that Mason’s probation be revoked. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, December 19, 2016 the Sheriff’s Department received a report of a stolen 2005 Toyota Corolla, valued at $6,000. Two days later, on Wednesday December 21 Mason and a co-defendant, 36 year old Christina Love Johnson were found in possession of the car in Warren County. A further investigation revealed that Mason held a man at gunpoint in the car forcing him to drive to Midway Road and then he took the car at gunpoint. The case against Johnson remains pending in court.
*A man who was shot after drawing a weapon on two officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department over four years ago has been granted probation. 58 year old Randy Gerald Petty appeared for a sentencing hearing Friday, December 8 in DeKalb County Criminal Court before Judge David Patterson. In June, Petty entered a plea to two counts of attempted aggravated assault and is facing a three year sentence in each case to run consecutively for a total of six years. The hearing Friday was to determine how Petty was to serve the six years, either on probation, in prison, or split confinement. As a special mitigated offender, Petty would have only been required to serve 20% of the sentence (one year and two months) before becoming eligible for parole had he gone to prison. On May 23, 2013, Deputies (at the time) Jeremy Taylor and Erik Russell responded to a 911 call of shots being fired at 255 Petty Road in Smithville. There, while standing at the rear of Deputy Taylor’s vehicle, Deputy Russell saw and heard something off to his side. Using his flashlight, Russell spotted Randy Petty pointing a scoped rifle at the two deputies. Both of them drew their weapons and fired, striking Petty several times in his extremities (arm and leg). Petty was named in a sealed indictment by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in April, 2014 charging him with the more serious offenses of two counts of attempted first degree murder. He was arrested without incident by agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Over the last four years, Petty has undergone several surgeries but the injuries he suffered in the shooting have left him with permanent damage affecting the use of his arm and hand. But Petty is now getting better medication treatment for a mental health issue and that condition has improved. During the sentencing hearing, Petty asked the judge to grant him probation, saying that while he did not fire any shots at the officers he is sorry for what he did. Three of Petty’s sisters and a nephew by marriage, who is also a McMinnville Police Officer, testified that Petty has changed since the shooting. Members of the family said since the shooting, Petty has not been in any trouble with the law and mostly stays at home supervising the care of his elderly mother. The family asked the court to grant Petty probation. Sheriff Patrick Ray, who also testified, asked the judge to not be swayed by the lasting effect of the injuries Petty sustained in making his ruling on sentencing.
*A former log home salesman and minister charged with theft for allegedly taking money from clients who ordered from him and not delivering on the product appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday, December 8. Judge David Patterson presided. 49 year old Lawton Duane Park, originally indicted for four counts of theft involving two victims, entered a best interest plea Friday to one count of theft over $10,000 (which occurred June 8, 2015) and received a five year sentence but he will be on judicial diversion during that period. Other charges against him are to be dropped. If he abides by all terms and conditions of his probation the case will be dismissed after five years and he may apply for expungement of his record. Under the plea agreement, Park maintains his innocence but he must make restitution of $30,261 to one victim and $31,000 to another. Park, former operator of Starry Hill Log Homes, was accused of entering into contracts with the victims for the sale of log home kits to be set up at their homes in another state. However after accepting payment for the kits, Park allegedly breached the contracts by failing to produce the products sold.
*Former DeKalb County High School pitching standout Steven Jennings’ first Major League Baseball card is now available. The Bowman Company’s latest Draft product features Jennings on an insert card called “Recommended Viewing,” a two-player card that pairs up prospects from the same franchise. Several copies have already appeared on ebay.
2017 Bowman Draft boxes are available at hobby shops and certain retail outlets. Drafted this summer in the 2nd round by the Pittsburg Pirates, Jennings appears along with the player the team drafted in the first round, Shane Baz. The card has 4 parallel versions-refractors, gold refractors numbered to 50 copies, red refractors numbered to only 5 copies and a superfractor which is a one-of-a-kind card.
*DeKalb County High School has been recognized for having one of the top 50 hospitality/culinary arts programs in the country by the National Center for Hospitality Studies at Sullivan University in Kentucky. Every year, the Elite 50 recognizes secondary schools that demonstrate commitment to hospitality and culinary excellence. Only three schools in Tennessee received this honor for 2018, with DCHS being the only school in Middle Tennessee. Schools nationwide applied for the recognition. The Elite 50 list is comprised of high schools and tech centers that excel in the areas of culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and/or hospitality management. Some are state and national competition winners from ProStart, SkillsUSA and Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Research was also conducted to establish schools for the list with strong hospitality enrollment and influence in their community.
*A man responsible for a burglary and theft at DeKalb West School over a year ago was sentenced Tuesday, December 12 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Judge Gary McKenzie presided. 31 year old Brian Howell entered a plea to burglary and received a four year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The term is to run concurrent with sentences against him in Wilson County in which he is to serve eight years in prison. Howell must make restitution jointly and severally of $525 to DeKalb West School.
A co-defendant, 27 year old Shauna Melissa Fleetwood of Mount Juliet received a two year sentence for burglary on Monday, November 27 and will be on probation. The term is to run consecutive to another case against her. She must make restitution of $525 jointly and severally to DeKalb West School. The burglary occurred on Sunday, September 25, 2016. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, video surveillance showed that Fleetwood, driving a green Ford Taurus, pulled up at DeKalb West School and dropped off Howell. He then used a pry bar to enter a side door and broke into a soft drink vending machine, taking $20.00. Fleetwood later returned to pick up Howell and they drove away.
*Two former DCHS basketball legends will soon be honored. During the December 14 regular monthly meeting, the Board of Education granted a request from the DCHS basketball program to retire the jersey of Jerry Foster. Board member Jerry Wayne Johnson asked that the jersey of the late Rosa Stokes also be retired. The board requested that the ceremonies be held on different nights of basketball at DCHS. Foster was a basketball star for DeKalb County during the 1970’s and went on to shine as a college and professional athlete. He graduated from DCHS in 1976. After his playing days, Foster became a teacher and high school coach. Foster was head coach of the DCHS Lady Tiger basketball program from the 1993-94 season to 1999-2000. He is now a teacher at Northside Elementary School. Coach Foster was recently diagnosed with cancer and is being treated. At the time of her death in August 2003, Stokes was head women’s basketball coach at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia. Stokes was a star athlete for the DCHS Lady Tigers (Tigerettes as they were known then) during early 1980’s.
State Representative Mark Pody will soon be moving to the upper chamber to fill the unexpired term of former State Senator Mae Beavers after beating Democrat Mary Alice Carfi in the Special Election Tuesday, December 19. Pody will be resigning his State House seat in District 46. His unexpired term is expected to be filled by the Wilson County Commission. District 46 includes a portion of DeKalb and Wilson Counties and all of Cannon County. In the six counties that make up Senatorial District 17, Pody won in a close race 5, 990 (51.32%) to 5,682 (48.68%). Pody carried Cannon County 467 to 353, Macon 428 to 238, and Wilson 3,641 to 3,561. Carfi carried DeKalb County 579 to 548, Smith County 733 to 716, and Clay 218 to 190. A total of 1,128 DeKalb County voters cast ballots in the election including 661 on election day and 467 early votes/absentees.