Local News Articles

Store Employee Charged with Theft of Cash from Register

February 18, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Robert Wayne Davidson, Jr.

An employee of a convenience market on Highway 70 west has been charged with three counts of theft for allegedly taking money from the store cash register.

23 year old Robert Wayne Davidson, Jr. of Charity Lane, Smithville is under a $10,500 bond and his court date is March 1.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Davidson allegedly took cash in the following amounts from the register on these dates while working at the store: $327.24 on February 7; $180.97 on February 9; and $416.42 on February 11.

The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

U.S. Senate Candidate Phil Bredesen Speaks at Democratic Party Mass Meeting (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 18, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Former Governor and Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Phil Bredesen speaks with retired teacher Sherry Bush at Saturday's DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting at DCHS

Former Governor and Democratic candidate for the United States Senate Phil Bredesen spoke at the DeKalb County Democratic Mass Meeting Saturday in Smithville.

Bredesen said he believes his experience as governor can draw leaders from both sides of the political aisle to work together in Washington.

“What I found in doing some research and in talking with people around the state is that people want to get beyond this standing on opposite sides of the room and shouting at each other and find some ways to move the ball down the field. There are many issues out there. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can find ways to find compromises to get things done. Whether you are a super strong conservative and a strong supporter of the President or a super liberal on the other side of the spectrum or all in between, it seems to be universal. People are really hungry for that (compromise) and I can tell you in Washington they are not getting it,” said Bredesen.

“When I was Governor I worked really hard to try and make sure things we accomplished had some people from both sides on it to get good majorities out of the Democrats and good majorities out of the Republicans to support the important legislation because then I think it has staying power. That’s one of the things I want to take to Washington,” he continued.

Bredesen said he can help bring solutions on issues including the health care debate.

“Health care is such a huge issue. Everywhere I go in Tennessee it tops the list of things people want to talk about when they identify as problems. There are a lot of practical things that can be done without getting off into all the ideological arguments. It just takes a willingness to work together to make some of those things happen and that’s what I would very much like to bring, said Bredesen.

The former governor said he believes his entry into the race will help Democrats up and down the ballot.

“We have good tickets from top to bottom. One of the advantages of a Senate race like this is there will be a lot of money spent from the outside on voter turnout. That will help me and it will help people up and down the ticket to have that happen. That is one of the benefits I think I can help bring to the entire Democratic ticket as it goes through the months ahead,” said Bredesen.

Lady Tigers to Play for Third Place in District Tournament

February 18, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DCHS Lady Tigers fell to the Upperman Lady Bees 64 to 22 in the semi-finals of the District 8 AA basketball tournament at Cookeville Saturday night.

Upperman, the top seed in the tournament, is number one in the state and the defending state champion. The Lady Bees’ record is 29-0.

Upperman led 18 to 9 after the 1st period, 34 to 17 at halftime, and 56 to 19 after the 3rd period before going on to win 64 to 22.

For DeKalb County, Mya Ruch scored 7, Lydia Brown 6, Emme Colwell 4, Megan Cantrell 3, and Kenzie France with 2 points.

The Lady Tigers drop into the consolation game of the tournament and will play for third place Monday night at 6:00 p.m. against Livingston Academy, who lost to Macon County 67 to 36 Saturday in the semi-finals. Macon County will meet Upperman for the District Tournament Championship Monday night at 7:30 p.m.

In the boy’s tournament, Livingston Academy defeated Watertown 56 to 40 while Upperman topped Smith County 77 to 57 in the semi-finals on Saturday. Watertown will meet Smith County in the boys consolation game Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. followed by the championship game between Upperman and Livingston Academy at 7:30 p.m.

Democratic Candidates Make Announcements During Mass Meeting

February 17, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Candidates for County Offices made their announcements Saturday at the DeKalb County Democratic Mass Meeting: County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, Nicole Wright and Mark Milam each for Circuit Court Clerk, County Mayor Tim Stribling and County Mayor candidates Bradley Hendrix and Mike Foster, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, Michael Agee for Sheriff, and Jimmy Sprague for Road Supervisor.
Democratic County Commission candidates Nora Harvey in the second district; Incumbent Joe Johnson in the second district, Incumbent Jack Barton in the third district, Bobby Johnson in the third district, Dr. Scott Little in the fourth district, Incumbent Larry Summers in the seventh district, and Dennis Slager in the first district. Other candidates absent for the photo
Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, who is retiring from office after her term expires August 31,  was presented a special gift during the DeKalb Democratic Party Mass Meeting Saturday. The presentation of a clock was made by Circuit Court Clerk candidate Nicole Wright, an employee of the office, and Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins. Pack's grandson Brayden Summers also gave her a bouquet of roses
Democratic Candidate Mary Alice Carfi for State Senate in District 17
State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, Democratic Candidate for Governor
Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Democratic Candidate for Governor
Former Governor Phil Bredesen, Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate
Mary Mancini, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.
DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins with Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss

Candidates for various public offices announced their intentions during the DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting Saturday at the high school cafeteria.

The May 1st DeKalb County Democratic Primary will feature two contested races for county offices including County Mayor and Circuit Court Clerk.

The candidates for County Mayor are first term incumbent Tim Stribling, former three term County Mayor Mike Foster, and Incumbent 3rd district County Commissioner Bradley Hendrix. The winner of the Primary will face Independent candidate Randy Paris in the August County General Election.

Incumbent Democratic Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack is not seeking re-election to a fifth term this year. The Democratic candidates for the office are Nicole Wright, an employee of the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, and Incumbent fifth district constable Mark Milam. The winner of the Primary will face Republican Susan Martin in the County General Election.

Ms. Pack was presented a special gift during the mass meeting. The presentation of a clock was made by Nicole Wright and Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins. Pack's grandson Brayden Summers also gave her a bouquet of roses.

Incumbent County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss and Incumbent Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen will be unopposed in the Democratic Primary and in the County General Election on August 2nd. Poss will be re-elected to his second term. McMillen is on the way to winning his ninth term.

Also running unopposed in the Democratic Primary are Michael Agee for Sheriff and Jimmy Sprague for Road Supervisor. Both will face opposition in August. Agee will be trying to unseat three term Republican Incumbent Sheriff Patrick Ray. Sprague will face opposition from Republican Danny Hale. Both Sprague and Hale are hoping to succeed Incumbent Republican Road Supervisor Wallace (Butch) Agee who is not seeking a second term.

There is no Democratic or Independent candidate for Trustee. Republican Incumbent Sean Driver will be elected to his fourth term in August.

Democratic County Commission candidates making their intentions known in person Saturday included: Dennis Slager in the 1st district; Nora Harvey and Incumbent Joe Johnson in the 2nd district; Bobby Johnson and Incumbent Jack Barton in the 3rd district; Dr. Scott Little in the 4th district; Lloyd Emmons in the 5th district; and Incumbent Larry Summers in the 7th district.

Democratic County Commission candidates who were unable to attend the meeting Saturday but had others making announcements for them were Incumbent Julie Young in the 1st district, Myron Rhody in the 2nd district, Jenny Trapp in the 3rd district, Janice Fish-Stewart in the 4th district, Incumbent Anita Puckett in the 5th district, Incumbent Betty Atnip in the 6th district, and Beth Pafford and Incumbent Kevin Robinson in the 7th district.

Other Democratic County Commission candidates absent Saturday were Bobby Taylor and Incumbents Jonathan Norris and Wayne Cantrell in the 4th district and Incumbent Jeff Barnes in the 6th district.

A Republican candidate will also be on the ballot for the county commission in each of the seven districts on August 2.

Although the Smithville Municipal Election is non-partisan, Incumbent Mayor Jimmy Poss announced his bid for re-election in August and Incumbent Alderman Gayla Hendrix, who was unable to attend the meeting, made her re-election plans known through a spokesperson.

Prior to the local candidates, Mary Mancini, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, delivered the keynote address to the party faithful followed by speeches from former Governor Phil Bredesen, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, and State Senate candidate Mary Alice Carfi.

Bredesen is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in August hoping to capture the seat in November now held by Republican Senator Bob Corker. Dean and Fitzhugh are in the hunt for the Democratic nomination for Governor in August hoping to succeed Republican Governor Bill Haslam in November.

Carfi, who narrowly lost to Republican Mark Pody in the December special election for the State Senate in District 17 is seeking the Democratic nomination in August looking to unseat Pody in November.

More on their remarks in later stories.

DeKalb Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.9%

February 17, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County’s unemployment rate for December 2017 dropped to 3.9%, down from 4.2% in November and below the 5.9% rate in December 2016.

The DeKalb Labor Force for December was 7,660. A total of 7,360 were employed and 300 were without work.

Jobless rates for December among the fourteen counties in the Upper Cumberland region were as follows from highest to lowest:
Clay: 4.8%
Jackson: 4.1%
Cumberland: 4.1%
DeKalb: 3.9%
Fentress: 3.9%
Van Buren: 3.7%
Pickett: 3.7%
Overton: 3.3%
White: 3.3%
Warren: 3.2%
Putnam: 2.9%
Cannon: 2.8%
Smith: 2.8%
Macon: 2.6%

County unemployment rates released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) show unemployment remained below 5 percent in an overwhelming majority of the state’s 95 counties during December 2017. The latest statistics also highlight how each county had significantly lower unemployment compared to one year ago.

Eighty-nine counties experienced unemployment under 5 percent during the last month of the year. Seventy-seven counties saw their rates decrease, including Williamson County, which had Tennessee’s lowest rate at 2.2 percent, a 0.3 percent drop from the previous month. Davidson County’s rate of 2.3 percent was the second lowest in state and represents a 0.2 percent decrease from November.

The list of top ten counties with the lowest unemployment also includes Rutherford, Cheatham, Wilson and Knox Counties, which each saw a decrease of 0.3 percent in December. The rates in Sumner and Moore Counties went down by 0.2 percent last month, while Macon and Bradley Counties moved into the top ten.

“It’s great the counties with the lowest rates all experienced a decrease in unemployment during December,” TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips said. “But Tennessee’s economic outlook is even more encouraging when you compare the year-to-year figures for every county in the state.”

Lake County’s current rate of 4.9 percent represents a staggering 5.2 percent decrease from its December 2016 rate of 10.1 percent. In east Tennessee, Scott County’s rate was down 4.6 percent and Cocke County’s unemployment dropped by 3.4 percent from December 2016 to December 2017. Every county in Tennessee had significantly lower unemployment compared to December of last year.

Only seven counties saw their rates slightly increase during December, including Rhea County, which had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent. Even with a 0.2 percent increase, Rhea County’s jobless number for December 2017 was down 3.3 percent from its December 2016 rate of 8.9 percent.

“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress over the last 12 months,” Commissioner Phillips noted. “But we are constantly working to make sure every Tennessean has the opportunity to earn a good wage, at a good job, so they can provide for their families.”

Tennessee’s statewide unemployment rate is the lowest among its neighboring states in the southeast and it is the 8th lowest in the entire nation.

The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while the county rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools and other recurring seasonal events from an economic times series.

Lady Tigers to Meet Upperman in District Tournament Semi-Finals Saturday Night

February 16, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DCHS Lady Tigers defeated Cannon County 41 to 39 Friday night in the District 8AA basketball tournament at Cookeville and will advance to the semi-finals Saturday, February 17.

The Lady Tigers will face the Upperman Lady Bees at 6 p.m. at Hooper Eblen Center on the campus of Tennessee Tech University. WJLE will have LIVE coverage.

The Lady Bees are 28-0, the number one team in the state, and the defending state champion. DeKalb County is 12-16 on the season.

In the game Friday night, the Lady Tigers led Cannon County 10 to 5 after the 1st period but trailed 15 to 14 at halftime and 31 to 29 after the 3rd period. DeKalb County outscored the Lionettes in the 4th period and won 41 to 39.

Lydia Brown, Emme Colwell, and Mya Ruch each scored 10. Megan Walker 4. Megan Cantrell 3 and Maddison Parsley and Kenzie France each with 2 points.

Meanwhile the Smith County Owls knocked off York Institute 57 to 46 Friday night to advance to the semi-finals of the boy's tournament to take on Upperman, the number one seed, Saturday night, February 17 at 7:30 p.m.

In other Saturday games, the Macon County girls will face Livingston Academy in the semi-finals at 3 p.m. followed at 4:30 p.m. by a matchup between Watertown and Livingston Academy in the boys semi-finals.

Sickness Forces DeKalb Schools to Close until Tuesday

February 16, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

DeKalb County Schools will be closed today (Friday) due to a high rate of absenteeism in the school system because of illness.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE that the student absentee rate system wide shot up to 17% Thursday due to sickness. Several teachers and support staff were also out sick.

“We thought that once we reached this level of absenteeism that it was time to close schools,” said Director Cripps.

Daily student attendance system wide is usually at 94% or better but had fallen to 83% by Thursday.

Schools were already scheduled to be closed Monday, February 19 for Presidents Day but are expected to re-open on Tuesday, February 20

Foutch Industries Recognizes Employees and Retiring Plant Manager

February 16, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tracy Foutch (RIGHT) of Foutch Industries presented Plant Manager Rollin Kellogg, Jr. with a plaque during an employee appreciation lunch Thursday. Kellogg is retiring after eight years of service.
Tracy Foutch of Foutch Industries presented a certificate to Rafael Garcia for 20 years of service, the longest serving employee, during an employee appreciation lunch Thursday
Tracy Foutch of Foutch Industries presented certificates to several employees for one to twenty years of service during an employee appreciation lunch Thursday

Foutch Industries held an employee appreciation lunch Thursday to recognize employees for their years of service.

Tracy Foutch, the owner of the company, presented certificates to employees with one year or more including Rafael Garcia, who has served the longest at twenty years.

Plant Manager Rollin Kellog, Jr. was also recognized. Kellog has decided to retire after eight years of service and Foutch presented him with a plaque.

Foutch Industries currently has 130 employees working three shifts on multiple lines and continues to grow.

“We are looking at adding 75 to 80 people. We’ve acquired the old Texas Boot plant (on Miller Road). Right now we are warehousing in that but are looking at a new operation to go in there. We could go up to 100 people in that facility,” said Foutch.

Foutch Industries is involved in the manufacturing, powder coating, and painting business serving industries needing automotive services, appliances, and retail store fixtures.

“We do powder coating and painting for people like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, General Motors, Ford, Electrolux, and various other companies. We also manufacture gondola shelving for people like Dollar General and other retailers,” added Foutch.

For more information about Foutch Industries visit www.foutchindustries.com.

DeKalb Democrats to Rally Saturday at Mass Meeting

February 16, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Phil Bredesen
Karl Dean
Craig Fitzhugh
Mary Alice Carfi
Mary Mancini

Former Governor Phil Bredesen, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, and State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh are among those expected to attend Saturday’s DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting at the DCHS Cafeteria. The event begins at 10 a.m.

Bredesen is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in August hoping to capture the seat in November now held by Republican Senator Bob Corker. Dean and Fitzhugh are in the hunt for the Democratic nomination for Governor in August in hopes of succeeding Republican Governor Bill Haslam in November.

Mary Alice Carfi, who narrowly lost to Republican Mark Pody in the December special election for the state senate in District 17, will also make an appearance at the mass meeting. She is seeking the Democratic nomination for the state senate in August hoping to unseat Pody in November.

The keynote speaker for the mass meeting will be Mary Mancini, Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Local and state democratic candidates for public office will be recognized and given an opportunity to formally announce their candidacies to kick off the 2018 election year.

Meet the candidates for Governor, US Senator, US Representative, State Senator, State Representative, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, Road Supervisor, Sheriff, County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Trustee, County Commission, School Board, City Council.

The event will feature live music by Jake Hoot, coffee, donuts, and conversation

Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack Decides Not to Seek Re-Election

February 15, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack Decides Not to Seek Re-Election

DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack has chosen not to seek re-election and will be leaving office at the end of her term August 31.

Ms. Pack, who was first elected to the office in 2002, is completing her fourth term.

“I would like to thank all the citizens of DeKalb County for allowing me the opportunity to serve as DeKalb County’s Circuit Court Clerk the past 15 ½ years,” said Ms. Pack.

“I have so enjoyed working with the judges in Circuit, Criminal and Civil, General Sessions Criminal and Civil, and Juvenile Courts, all the attorneys from our local bar and surrounding counties, the District Attorney General’s Office, District Public Defender’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, City of Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments, and my special friends elected officials of DeKalb County, you all have a special place in my heart,” she continued.

“My prayer for our county and these special people is: with unity, love, and thankfulness, we all seek God’s guidance and leadership daily in all we do,” Ms. Pack concluded.

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