Local News Articles

Man Who Fled from Officers in December Now Arrested in the Case

May 19, 2014
Dwayne Page
 Kevin Glenn Smith
Joseph Scott Parsley
Carlos Soledad Perez
Stephen Hunter Pugh
Jose Manuel Muzaurieta

A man who evaded arrest last December endangering the lives of two DeKalb County Sheriff's Department detectives in making his getaway has now been charged in the case.

36 year old Kevin Glenn Smith of Beech Grove, Tennessee was arrested on Wednesday, May 14 charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and evading arrest in a motor vehicle. His bond is $15,000. Smith has been incarcerated elsewhere in recent months.

Smith has a criminal history of drug offenses, burglaries, thefts, and an escape. At the time of the incident in DeKalb County in December, Smith also had warrants against him in Warren, Coffee, and Cannon County.

The story unfolded Monday evening, December 16, 2013 when detectives of the Sheriff's Department went to a residence on Pea Ridge Road, Liberty to attempt to serve a Failure to Appear warrant on Smith’s girlfriend, 26 year old Lydia Renee Judkins of Jefferson Road, Smithville.

When detectives made contact with Smith, who was in a Nissan Pathfinder, Smith started the engine and sped away, almost hitting the officers. Smith drove down a logging road where the officers could not follow in their patrol car and got away.

A couple of hours later, someone reported finding an overturned and abandoned Nissan Pathfinder on the Alexandria to Dismal Road. It was believed to be the same vehicle that Smith had been driving when he was last seen by Detectives on Pea Ridge Road. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that the Pathfinder was stolen from another county. The tag on the vehicle was also stolen from a different county.

Sheriff Ray said after the Pathfinder was found, other law enforcement agencies were summoned to join the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in the search for Smith. "When we found the vehicle, we alerted Putnam County's K-9 unit and they came over with their track dog. We also called for a THP helicopter to fly over with their fleer system which is a heat sensing device," said Sheriff Ray.

As help arrived, the sheriff's department got a tip that Smith had already left the area. "We received information that Smith had already been picked up and taken to a residence in the city limits of Dowelltown. We left the scene on the Alexandria to Dismal Road where the Pathfinder was found and went to Dowelltown where we learned that somebody had taken Smith from there to meet someone around Statesville Road off Highway 96 in Wilson County. We got Wilson County officers to go with us over there to do some saturated patrols to see if we could find this vehicle but we never could locate it," said Sheriff Ray.

On the way back before daybreak Tuesday morning, December 17 sheriff's department detectives spotted a suspicious pickup truck in Dowelltown. But when they tried to stop it to investigate, the truck took off and a pursuit ensued. "On our way back when we were driving between Liberty and Dowelltown, detectives saw a white Toyota Tacoma that was suspicious. The truck was on Main Street in Dowelltown but turned onto Highway 70. When the detectives turned around on the vehicle, it began to flee. There were two people in the truck and by the direction of travel that the truck went, we believe Kevin Smith was one of the persons in that vehicle. The pursuit went from Highway 70 to Highway 53 in Liberty, then to Sycamore Road, Hawkins Hill Road, Highway 96, to Statesville Road and then to various roads off Statesville Road near where Smith had been dropped off earlier. During the pursuit, one of the persons in the truck fired a weapon numerous times at the lead patrol car. The detectives did not return fire. For safety of the officers and the public, the detectives backed off the pursuit. Wilson County Sheriff's Department and Watertown Police Department officers were trying to get in position to get the truck stopped, but the driver kept taking roads left and right and finally got away," said Sheriff Ray.

The Tacoma pickup was also believed to have been stolen because the tag on it was illegally taken in Wilson County three days before on Saturday, December 14.

Meanwhile, in other recent crime news, 44 year old Joseph Scott Parsley of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 5 a deputy responded to a reported domestic in progress at a residence on Cookeville Highway. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Parsley and his wife and son. The woman said that Parsley had a pot of soup on the stove that was on fire when she arrived home. Parsley was in another room asleep. The woman woke him and realized he was intoxicated. While trying to speak with him, Parsley allegedly chest bumped his wife and pressed her up against a kitchen counter. Their sixteen year old son tried to stop the argument and Parsley hit him in the face. Parsley's son had a swollen right cheek. His wife had a swollen lip from the altercation. Parsley was determined to have been the primary aggressor and he was placed under arrest for domestic assault.

23 year old Carlos Soledad Perez of Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and driving while his license were suspended or revoked. Perez was further issued a citation for failing to give immediate notice of an accident, violation of the open container law, no insurance, violation of the implied consent law, and failure to drive on the right lane of travel. His bond is $4,500. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, May 10 a deputy was dispatched to Jacobs Pillar Road to investigate a report of a one car accident involving a green Ford Mustang. While on Jacobs Pillar Road, the officer spotted the car without a front bumper traveling north. At one point, the car crossed into the deputy's lane of travel. The officer conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Perez. He had a strong odor of alcohol on his person and his eyes were glazed over. Perez submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to submit to a blood test. Perez was arrested for DUI and a search warrant was executed to obtain a blood draw due to him having a prior DUI charge on his driving record. A computer check revealed that Perez's license had been suspended for driving while impaired aged 16-20. The date of the suspension was October 13, 2011.

32 year old Joshua Leslie Johnson of Hendrixson Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court June 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 16 a sheriff's department drug detective observed Johnson driving a motor vehicle on West Broad Street in Smithville. The drug detective stopped Johnson's vehicle on East Broad Street, having prior knowledge that Johnson's driver license were suspended. He had stopped Johnson on other occasions, the most recent of which was within the last month. Johnson's license are currently suspended for failure to pay child support. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

28 year old Stephen Hunter Pugh of Liberty, a prisoner at the jail, is charged with assault for allegedly fighting with another inmate . His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on June 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 15 correctional officers of the Sheriff's Department observed on video surveillance a fight taking place in a jail cell. After breaking up the fight and reviewing the video recording, officers determined that Pugh had been the primary aggressor.

36 year old Jose Manuel Muzaurieta of Asheville, North Carolina is charged with being a fugitive from justice. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court June 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 18 Muzaurieta was arrested locally on two unrelated charges. A computer check revealed that he is wanted in Alabama for two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card. Alabama authorities have said they will extradite him.

Local Family Involved in One Auto Accident

May 19, 2014
Dwayne Page
Whitson family involved in one auto accident
2004 Chevy Tracker Hits Utility Pole

A local family was involved in a one auto traffic accident Sunday night on the Old Nashville Highway (Snow Hill Road) near the intersection with Possum Hollow Road.

Trooper Gerald Carter of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 28 year old Tosha L. Whitson of Winter Drive, Smithville was traveling east in a 2004 Chevy Tracker when the SUV went out of control, skidded sideways, and left the road, striking a utility pole. Whitson's husband, 27 year old Michael Whitson and their two children, eight year old Candace Whitson and three year old Michael Whitson, Jr. were also in the vehicle. None were seriously hurt but all went by private vehicle to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment.

According to Trooper Carter, Ms. Whitson claims she was about out of gas so she put the vehicle in neutral as she was traveling down the road. As the SUV was coasting to a stop, she tried to put it back in drive, but instead accidentally shifted to reverse, causing the vehicle to lose control.

Ms. Whitson was cited for failure to exercise due care and for not having her eight year old child in a booster seat.

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

Groundbreaking Held for Fifth Habitat Home (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

May 18, 2014
Dwayne Page
Tia Adcock, daughter Caitlin Adcock, and son Caven Ponder
Groundbreaking Held for Fifth Habitat Home

A ground breaking celebration was held Sunday afternoon for the fifth Habitat for Humanity home in DeKalb County.

Committee and Board members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County and the new partner family, Tia Adcock , her son Caven Ponder, and daughter Caitlin Adcock gathered for the brief ceremony at the future site of the home at 202 Hayes Street in Smithville.

Larry Green, President of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, said construction will soon begin and may be completed by late summer. The home will be a 1,050 square foot house plus the porch. It will have three bedrooms and a bath and a half.

During Sunday's ground breaking ceremony, Green made opening remarks and led the attendees in the Responsive Reading following prayer by local minister Larry Steffee. After the groundbreaking, Green, who is also a local minister closed the ceremony with prayer.

This is the fifth Habitat home in DeKalb County. Two of them are on Adams Street. The other two are on Hayes Street.

To qualify, applicants must: (1) have lived in DeKalb County for at least one year; (2) be willing to partner with Habitat to realize dreams of home ownership; (3) currently occupy inadequate or substandard housing; (4) demonstrate the ability to pay a mortgage; and (5) fall within Habitat's income guidelines.

All applications will be reviewed and considered by Habitat's Family Selection Committee before a partner family is selected. The partner family will work with Habitat on construction of their home and to develop the skills necessary for successful home ownership. Construction labor is provided by Habitat volunteers, and some materials are donated by Habitat supporters, as well.

Tigerettes State Tournament Bound

May 17, 2014
Dwayne Page
Tigerettes State Tournament Bound

The DeKalb County High School Tigerettes are headed for the State Softball Tournament after winning at Chattanooga Central in the Sub-State on Friday 2 to 0.

The Tigerettes scored one run in the first inning and one run in the fifth.

DeKalb County scored two runs on two hits and made one error. Chattanooga Central was held scoreless on one hit and made three errors.

Kayley Caplinger was the winning pitcher.

Danielle Tyson had a single and Kayley Caplinger doubled

The Tigerettes, 40-6 overall, are scheduled to take on Greenbrier in the TSSAA Class AA State Girls' Softball Tournament in Murfreesboro at McKnight Field on Tuesday, May 20. Game time will be at approximately 5:30 p.m.

DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court Program Holds Special Celebration Ceremony

May 16, 2014
Norene Puckett
DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program held a special celebration for three of its participants

On May 14, 2014 the DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program held a special celebration for three of its participants. The celebration was in honor of each participant having maintained one year of sobriety. Crystal Baker, John Pedigo and Tawanna Petty were each presented with a framed certificate noting their period of continuous sobriety and also received a gift certificate. The DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program utilizes individualized treatment plans based on the participants’ needs, which include, but are not limited to residential inpatient treatment, a 6 week Lifeskills course, a 12 week relapse prevention program, Moral Reconation Therapy, individual and group counseling as well as all participants being required to attend 12-step meetings (Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous). These programs and treatment, in conjunction with frequent monitoring, weekly random drug testing and judicial supervision are what make the program so successful.

Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner E. Douglas Varney said in his Spring 2014 Update in regards to Tennessee’s Drug/Recovery Courts that, “We are facing a major prescription drug problem in our state. We need to focus all of our resources in the most efficient, effective, and collaborative way to maximize our impact on this issue and drug abuse overall. And because so many people who are dealing with a substance abuse issue also have a mental health issue—a situation referred to as a co-occurring disorder—these Recovery Courts (“Drug Court”) will be able to help them get all the help that they need at one time and in one location.” The DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court is funded by multiple sources which include the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, court fees and fines of individuals charged with drug or alcohol related charges, additional funding appropriated through the County Commission and through donations of time from the Honorable Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, the Office of the District Attorney General, the Office of the District Public Defender , Sheriff Patrick Ray, Haven of Hope Counseling and Community Probation Services.

(Pictured above left to right: John Quintero (Treatment Provider at Haven of Hope), Crystal Baker (Drug Court Participant), Kristy Longmire (Drug Court Case Manager), Judge Bratten H. (Butch) Cook, II, Tawanna Petty (Drug Court participant), John Pedigo (Drug Court participant), Norene Puckett (Drug Court Coordinator), Ryan Sullivan (Alumni), Ashley Lasser (Probation Officer), Kay Quintero (Treatment Provider at Haven of Hope). Not pictured: Sheriff Patrick Ray, Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong, and Assistant Public Defender Allison West

TDOT Unveils New Proposal for Highway 56

May 16, 2014
Dwayne Page
TDOT unveils new proposal for Highway 56 (blue lines show where passing lanes would be constructed)
Map shows existing road (above) and same location (below) built with two lanes and passing lanes

Several years after first announcing plans to widen and improve Highway 56, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has a new proposal that is expected to save the state money.

Instead of building a four lane divided and five lane road from south of the Warren County line (in Warren County) to near Magness Road in DeKalb County, TDOT now proposes to build a new two lane road (typical section) with twelve foot lanes and ten foot paved shoulders and passing lanes along the 3.30 mile existing alignment. The plans also include adding extra safety features on the new road, such as guardrails, better road signage, pavement markings, and center line rumble stripes. The total projected cost is $7,611,000. That would be a savings to the state of $12,800,000 from TDOT's original plans for this portion of Highway 56, which would have cost $20,411,000.

The highway from near Magness Road to just south of the Warren County line is currently a two lane road with eleven to twelve foot lanes and two to eleven foot shoulder widths. According to TDOT officials, the rate of severe crashes on this portion of Highway 56 is (0.250) double the state average (0.128) for rural two lane routes.

County Mayor Mike Foster and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss learned of the new proposal during a meeting with TDOT officials Thursday.

The project could be let for bids by the fall of 2015.

TDOT has not yet announced a timetable for construction of the proposed project to four lane Highway 56 from Magness Road to the city limits of Smithville.

DCHS Partners with Local Banks in Personal Finance Education

May 15, 2014

DeKalb County High School has teamed up with the local banks to add resources to the Personal Finance class. Personal Finance is now a state required class for graduation. The teachers of this class pull in many resources to help the students understand that this is something they will deal with everyday throughout their lives, and that they have control over their own financial futures.

DeKalb Community Bank, an office of Wilson Bank and Trust, has been a great resource for DCHS and the Personal Finance Class. For the past several years, the students in Personal Finance have been using a checkbook simulation provided by Wilson Bank and Trust. In this simulation, students work through eight months of writing checks, paying bills, keeping a check register and reconciling their bank statements. In this activity, students get a feel of being on their own and being responsible for their finances, along with learning the techniques and procedures of handling a bank account. The simulation doesn’t only stress check writing, but also introduces other ways of making payments such as Debit cards, EFT, ATM, Online payments, and over-the-phone payments, which all incorporate technology. This simulation is updated to keep up with the changes in the banking industry. DeKalb Community Bank has also provided many speakers over the years.

DCHS has partnered with Liberty State Bank, an office of Citizens Bank, this year in educating our students in Personal Finance using the online program EVERFI. This program is sponsored by Citizen’s Bank and Liberty State Bank in a partnership to make sure that our students have the best possible resources available. Once students have completed the EVERFI program, they are “Certified in Personal Finance”. In the program, students work through modules covering a variety of topics, including: Financing Higher Education; Banking; Savings; Investing; Credit and Credit Scores; Insurance and Taxes; and Renting vs. Owning. The students watch videos, play games, take quizzes and tests over the covered information. They are graded on the items completed and those grades are used as a grade in the regular class.

Douglas Haehl, Marketing Coordinator for Citizens Bank, was on hand Tuesday, May 13 to present the students with their certificates. Students who are “Certified in Personal Finance” are:

Miranda Dyer
Noah Byford
Emerald McClanahan
Jennifer Caplinger
Sy Gohs
Chasity Garrett
Megan Strayn
Nathaniel Theriaque
Matthew Wright
Hannah Walker
Samara Williams
Carlee White
Zackery Underhill
Chloe White
Tara Bockoven
Hailey Summers
Amber Montgomery
Deveen Johnson
Angel Mathews
Ashley Beacham
Lauren Lewis
Bailey Bly
Noah Parsley

Regions Bank has also played a role in helping to educate the students on Personal Finance. Speakers from the Smithville Branch, as well as McMinnville, have come in to share ideas, information and experiences. Jeff Crips and Alex Woodward, have been representatives of Regions. Both are former DCHS students and value the opportunity to come in to speak and see students sitting where they once sat. They both shared experiences from high school, gave some advice on clubs and school involvement, how to approach their courses, as well as information on being a successful adult.

The Personal Finance Teachers of DeKalb County High School, and the students, want to say THANK YOU to the banks for everything they help us do and everything they provide. We appreciate the time, financial resources, and anything you have done to help better educate the students concerning their financial futures. We look forward to a continuing partnership with each.

Second Graders Learn Names of All U.S. Presidents and States

May 15, 2014
Dwayne Page

Students in Janet Woodward's second grade class at Smithville Elementary School have learned the names of all the U.S. Presidents in the order in which they served.

The children recited the President's names for WJLE Thursday afternoon in their classroom.

The children also learned a song naming all the states in the country.

Members of the class pictured in this video are:

SEATED LEFT TO RIGHT: Kerri Vandyne, Alia Hawkins, Madison Dawson, Suzzeth Martinez, Maleah Ruch, and Kandice Whitson

STANDING LEFT TO RIGHT: Braxton Walden, Aaron Hatfield, Cameron Caballero, Samuel Gaspar, Ian Colwell, Briz Trapp, Brayden Summers, Cooper Love, and Kholton Melton. (Not pictured-absent: Toni Atnip)

In addition to the video presentation here, you can listen to the children weekday mornings May 19-23 following the 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. morning local news on WJLE AM 1480 and FM 101.7.

Preschool Donates Bears to DeKalb Community Hospital

May 15, 2014
Shan Burklow
Preschool Donates Bears to DeKalb Community Hospital

The students and teachers of First United Methodist Preschool of Smithville, TN donated over 300 homemade teddy bears to patients of DeKalb Community Hospital recently. The bears were stuffed with love and signed by each student.

Volunteers Bessie Jones and Sheila Kirby stitched the bears to final completion.

CNO Kim Frazier of DeKalb Community Hospital accepted the bears with gratitude, “We are so excited to be able to offer these bears as comfort to patients who come to our hospital. This small token means so much to a patient who is sick or scared. I’d like to thank each little boy and girl who worked so hard on something they are willing to give away. We have such a caring community.”

Farmers Market Partners with Library and Hospital

May 15, 2014
Shan Burklow
Farmers Market Partners with Library and Hospital

The DeKalb Farmers Market Committee met recently to plan upcoming demonstration days. The DeKalb County Farmers Market has partnered with Justin Potter Library and DeKalb Community Hospital to offer live cooking, canning and craft demonstrations throughout the month of June. The market offers fresh fruits and vegetables to the public along with artisan crafts, homemade jams and jellies, smoked barbeque (year ‘round) and home grown herbs.

Open to the public each Saturday now through November from 6am to 1pm. “Supporting your farmers market ensures that you get the freshest garden varieties available while impacting your local economy in a positive way. We look forward to seeing our regular customers week after week, and encourage new customers to come see what it’s all about.”

For upcoming demonstration dates, join their facebook page: DeKalbFarmersMarket


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