Local News Articles

D.C.H.S. Band is Excellent

September 18, 2017
Bill Conger
Drum Major Junior Ingram Receives Award (Bill Conger photo)
DCHS Band in action at Crossville Exhibition (Bill Conger photo)

Judges at the Upper Cumberland Marching Band Festival confirmed what many people already thought. The DeKalb County High School Band is “Excellent.” That was the overall rating the 48-member Division II band scored at the annual exhibition in Crossville on September 16.

“I thought the kids did great,” said Band Director Tracy Luna. “It was a real good first performance. I think they're right on track for Division II, our state championship on November 4th. I think we'll be ready.”

The band scored the top rating of Superior with its visual element, Superior for the percussion section, Superior for Drum Major Junior Ingram, and Superior for Auxiliary. Ingram tied for second place overall, and the percussion was overall third place in scoring.

“They [judges] look at different components of the marching and playing,” explained Luna. “They look at marching style, whether the band marches in step, and how good the forms look. The forms are the pictures we make from the perspective of the press box. They also look at music. Music has to be mostly in tune, the rhythm has to be pretty good and right, and they have to be balanced pretty well to get a good score.”

“The color guard is coming along. It adds a visual element to our repertoire that judges look for in the auxiliary section. They're right on pace to become a Superior ensemble as well.”

Bands did not compete for placement. Basically, each squad competes against itself to demonstrate where their skill level stands at this point in the marching season.

“I think they did terrific,” said Luna. “They're on the right track to being a superior band.

Bands hone in on particular musical themes for their performances, and for D.C.H.S, that focus is on Mangione Magic.

“Chuck Mangione was a terrific jazz flugelhorn player and jazz musician band leader from the 1970s, and some of his music carries over very well into today. The kids really dig the jazz we put out there and the Latin feel. “

“We open up with a piece that includes part of the "Children of Sanchez." Our second song is the "Land of Make Believe." The third song will be called "Echano" when we put it on the field in coming weeks.”

Along with the new Assistant Band Director Dalton Hawkins, Luna is making great strides with the band, improving in size and quality from the previous year.

“Quality wise the kids are learning and growing and developing better this year,” says Luna. “They're probably a good month ahead of where they were last year at this point. “

Students in 7th and 8th grades from DeKalb Middle and DeKalb West join with the high schoolers to perform at all football games, and for the two remaining competitions. Students in the band are Lauren Clark, Kyle Holmbeck, Abby Ludwig, Darrell Ludwig, Hannah Swoape, Maggie Felton, Brecken Gammons, Raiden Griffin, Javontae Martin, Skyler Southard, Kristopher Stansberry, Cheyenne Sutton, Savanna Warren, Sophia Amaya, Ana Amaya, Jaynee Angaran, Karleigh Atnip, Breanna Beaty, Brisa Brown, Molly Carrier, Alex Cowan, Hunter Davis, Brittney Edwards, Emily Glass, Natalie Gopar Torres, Junior Ingram, Savannah Jackson, Emma Johnson, Tori Linder, Liberty Mildner, Joshua Moon, Megan Mooneyham, Christian Owen, Haylea Owen, Seth Patterson, Zachary Pettit, Axel Rico, Elisabeth Saylors, Blaine Sexton, Edith Silva Godinez, Harley Sloan, Nathaniel Snell, James Tramel, Linda West, Gavin Conger, and Harmony Patterson.

Grand Opening Soon for DeKalb Animal Coalition Shelter

September 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
Grand Opening Soon for DeKalb Animal  Coalition Shelter

Although a date is not yet set, a grand opening for the new DeKalb Animal Coalition Shelter is coming soon.

Finishing touches are being made to the building located on a four acre site near the solid waste transfer station, behind Tenneco off of Highway 70 east.

During last Monday night’s meeting, the Smithville aldermen voted to set the pay of Megan Moore, the new director for the animal shelter at $15.00 per hour. Moore was hired by the aldermen in August but they had not officially set her pay at that time.

Moore was recommended for the job by the board of directors for the DeKalb Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals, which will oversee the operation of the shelter.

A city employee, Moore will have a part time assistant, although that position has not yet been filled.

Speaking with WJLE last week, Moore said volunteers and donations are needed to support the animal shelter.

“As always, we appreciate your donations. We accept monetary donations as well and encourage you to sign up as a volunteer. Thank you for supporting the DeKalb Animal Coalition Shelter”, she said

“All items may be dropped off at 129 Braswell Lane in Smithville or you may call 615-464-8701 or 615-464-5931 and we will make arrangements to meet you at the shelter,” added Moore.

If you would like to sign up to volunteer, please contact Megan at 615-464-5931.

Donation Supply List Needed:

Dog Food** Dry, Canned, Adult, Puppy
Cat Food** Dry, Canned, Adult, Kitten
Cat Litter
Litter Boxes (not large ones)
Cloth Towels
New / Gently Used Toys
New / Gently Used Leashes & Collars
Paper Towels
Laundry Detergent
Dryer Sheets
TWO 100ft Garden Hoses with Nozzles
**Preferred Brands- Purina, Eukanuba, Beneful, Pedigree, Iams, Hills Science Diet

The shelter will serve as 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.

New Member Elected to DTC Board of Directors

September 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
DTC Directors Elected Saturday: Jim Vinson of Milton, Michael Alexander of Woodbury, and Terry McPeak of Norene. Alexander defeated Incumbent Jean Chumbley Ferrell
DTC Board of Directors prior to Saturday’s Election as pictured in the DTC Annual Report. Photo by Kathleen Ann Slamkowski

Members of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (DTC Communications) have elected a new member to the Board of Directors.

Michael Alexander defeated Incumbent Jean Chumbley Ferrell from the Woodbury Exchange in the director election. The results of the voting were announced Saturday 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.

Alexander was elected in the Woodbury Exchange with 233 votes over Ferrell who received 179 votes.

In the Milton Exchange, Vinson received 303 complimentary votes and McPeak, from the Norene Exchange had 289 votes.

Vinson was appointed by the board in June 2016 to fill the unexpired term of his father, Charles Dwight Vinson, who passed away in May, 2016. Dwight Vinson had served on the board for almost three decades.

Also serving on the DTC board are Bennie Curtis of Alexandria, Roy N. Pugh of Auburntown, James H. Dillard, Jr. of Gordonsville, Randy Campbell of Liberty, Ronnie Garrison of Smithville, Jimmy Oakley of Temperance Hall, and David Parker of Woodland.

A total of 418 members cast votes in the DTC election this year. Of those, 235 took advantage of early voting.

Following the annual meeting, the board of directors met to elect officers including Roy N. Pugh, president; Bennie Curtis, vice president; Terry McPeak, secretary; and Randy Campbell, treasurer.

Sentences Handed Down in Burglary and Drug Cases

September 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
Travis W. Hayes
Braxton Kain Bennett
Joshua Batey

A man caught trying to steal an automobile in July was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, September 11.

Judge David Patterson presided.

40 year old Travis W. Hayes entered a plea by criminal information to burglary of a motor vehicle and attempted theft over $2,500. He received a two year sentence to serve in the Tennessee Department of Corrections in each case to run concurrently with each other and with a Warren County sentence against him. He was given jail credit from July 22 through September 11

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, July 22 a deputy was called to a residence on Big Hurricane Road due to a physical altercation. Upon arrival, the officer observed that the homeowner was holding another man, Hayes on the ground. The victim said the man (Hayes) had been at his home earlier that day and was asked to leave. Hayes returned about an hour and a half later and was found backing a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air out of the homeowner’s shed. Hayes did not have consent to enter the shed or get the vehicle. The value of the car is $8,000.

Meanwhile, 20 year old Braxton Kain Bennett entered a plea by criminal information to burglary of a vehicle and theft under $1,000. He received a two year sentence in one case and 11 months and 29 days in the other, all suspended to probation. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other and with a case against him in General Sessions Court.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, February 28 Bennett allegedly broke into a vehicle and took two pocket books containing a stethoscope, a blood pressure cup, a Bible, and other personal belongings. Bennett was later found to have some of these items in his possession.

30 year old Joshua Batey entered a plea to sale of a schedule IV drug and received a 10 year sentence as a range III offender to run consecutive to a violation of probation in another case against him. He has been furloughed to Teen Challenge. His sentence will be suspended if he successfully completes the Teen Challenge program. Batey was given jail credit from March 21 to September 11.

Tigers Celebrate First Win of Football Season

September 16, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tigers Celebrate First Win of Football Season

The DeKalb County Tigers were able to celebrate a win for the first time this season after swatting the Grundy County Yellow Jackets 27-7 Friday night in Smithville.

Both teams are now 1-4 .

DeKalb County grabbed the lead with 4:30 left in the 1st period on a 3 yard touchdown run by David Bradford. The PAT attempt by Andrew Fuson was no good but the Tigers led 6-0. The scoring drive was set up after a Nick May interception of Quarterback Hagen Cash. May returned it to the Yellow Jacket 18 yard line to put the Tigers in the red zone.

DeKalb County went up 8-0 with 3:46 left in the 1st period when Grundy County Quarterback Hagen Cash grounded the football after being hemmed in the endzone by the Tiger defense.

The Tigers extended their lead with 3:27 left in the 1st period on a 28 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Tyler Cantrell to Bradley Miller. The 2 point conversion attempt failed but DeKalb County led 14-0.

Grundy County’s only score of the game came on a 78 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Hagen Cash to Evan Nunley. The PAT was good and the Yellow Jackets trailed 14-7 with 1:35 left in the 1st period.

After Tyler Cantrell left the game in the 2nd period with an injury, Axel Aldino came in at Quarterback for the Tigers.

Kicker Andrew Fuson connected on a 37 yard field goal with 5 minutes left in the 2nd period to put the Tigers up 17-7.

After a Gundy County turnover, the Tigers found themselves at the Yellow Jacket 5 yard line but couldn’t cash in on a touchdown. However Andrew Fuson booted an 18 yard field goal with 2:40 left before halftime to give DeKalb County a 20-7 advantage.

The last score of the game came with 2:59 left in the 4th period on a 4 yard quarterback keeper by Axel Aldino. Fuson added the extra point for a 27-7 lead. The scoring drive was set up after Aldino found Braxton Linder on a 70 yard pass play that put DeKalb County on Grundy County’s 4 yard line.

DeKalb County will host Cannon County for Homecoming next Friday night, September 22. The game kicks-off at 7 p.m. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

DeKalb County High School Graduation Rate Again Exceeds State Average

September 15, 2017
Dwayne Page

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 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.

"Teachers and educators in Tennessee have worked tirelessly to support students and these record graduation rates show their hard work is making a difference," Haslam said. "As more students graduate from high school, we are committed to helping them go to college, succeed and become skilled members of Tennessee's workforce. The graduation rate is reflective of the many gains we are making in education in our state."
Under the Haslam administration, Tennessee has set high expectations for both students and educators, and students have made significant gains as a result. The state transitioned to a more rigorous calculation for graduation rates in 2011, and even under the new criteria, rates have continued to rise. This year, the most notable gains and overall achievements include:

13 districts improved graduation rates by 5 percentage points or more. The district with the most significant gains was Lake County, up 23.1 percentage points.

43 districts—about one-quarter of the districts in the state—have graduation rates at or above 95 percent, up from 36 districts last year.

The group of students who identify as Black, Hispanic or Native American increased its graduation rate by 0.4 percentage points to 83 percent, which is a three-year high.

Additionally, the Achievement School District (ASD) had the third largest gain of any district, up 12.8 percentage points. This historic growth for the district furthers the goals of the ASD as it creates urgency on improving education for all students, particularly those in schools in the bottom five percent of the state for academic performance.

"Teachers and students across the state should be proud of their hard work, and it is always encouraging to see that more students than ever are earning high school diplomas," McQueen said. "Now we must focus on ensuring students are fully prepared for the academic and professional opportunities that come after high school graduation, so graduates can truly use their diplomas to seamlessly move into their next step."

As part of the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Department of Education has created an accountability metric known as the Ready Graduate indicator. This new tool will measure the percentage of graduates who have met benchmarks proven to increase their probability of seamlessly enrolling in postsecondary education and entering the workforce or military.

Tigers to Host Grundy County Tonight (LISTEN TO TIGER TALK HERE)

September 15, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tigers to Host Grundy County Tonight (Friday)

The DeKalb County Tigers will host the Grundy County Yellow Jackets tonight.

Game time is 7:00 p.m.



The Tigers are 0-4 with losses to Warren County 26 to 10, Upperman 49 to 27, Stone Memorial 38 to 16, and to Watertown 59-21.

Grundy County is 1-3 with losses to East Hickman 28 to 8, York Institute 40 to 6, and to Bledsoe County 13 to 0. Their only win was against Ezell Harding 34 to 21.

Tiger Coach Steve Trapp said he is very disappointed in the 0-4 start.

“Its really disappointing. We put a whole lot of time and effort out here to make sure we get these guys in situations to be successful. Its tough on our players, our fans, and our community because this is not what our football program has grown to be known for. We want to be competitive. We know its not always perfect. I think our guys are still playing extremely hard and there is still a lot on the line for us. We just have to get our minds right and get everything where it needs to be. Its pretty hard to swallow an 0-4 start but as bad as the weekends are it seems like every Monday when I get back out here those feelings lift because it’s a new opportunity and makes the next Friday another huge challenge to feel something wonderful,” said Coach Trapp.

Coach Trapp also talks about what he expects from Grundy County.

“They like the Wing-T look and we’ve seen that against Clay County and Stone Memorial so it’s a look we’re familiar with but they will also do some other things. They will spread it out and try to get some quick passes off. Its one of those offenses where they show a lot and you have to be prepared to defend a lot. Defensively they have been in a different defense the last two years they have played against us. The games we’ve seen on tape this year they have played a couple of different defenses so there is a lot to prepare for but the bottom line is you have to see it, know what do, and go get it,” said Coach Trapp.

Kick-off is at 7 p.m. and WJLE will have LIVE coverage on AM 1480/FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com with the Voice of the Tigers John Pryor and Luke Willoughby.

WJLE’s Pre-Game shows begin with “Coach to Coach” at 5:00 p.m. featuring former UT football coach Phillip Fulmer and former UT assistant coach Doug Matthews with broadcaster Larry Stone talking Tennessee and SEC football.

“Coach to Coach” is followed by “Murphy’s Matchups at 6:00 p.m., a look at Tennessee High School Football from Murphy Fair with commentary on games and coaches interviews.

“Tiger Talk” airs at 6:30 p.m. with the Voice of the Tigers John Pryor interviewing Coach Steve Trapp and Tiger players Tyler Cantrell, Grayson Redmon, and Cedric Crews.

The game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. with play by play coverage on WJLE with John Pryor and color commentary by Luke Willoughby

Tyree Cripps and Breanna Gibson Named Mr and Miss DCHS

September 15, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tyree Cripps and Breanna Gibson Named Mr and Miss DCHS (Photo courtesy of Steve Warner)

Seniors Tyree Hollis Cripps and Breanna Leigh Gibson have been named the 2017 Mr. and Miss at DeKalb County High School.

Cripps is the 17 year old son of Scott and Gena Cripps of Smithville and Gibson, also 17, is the daughter of Erin and Shelly Gibson of Dowelltown.

Cripps is Class President as well as President of the Beta and FBLA Clubs. He is also Vice President of the Climate Crew. He has been named Most Outstanding Male in his Class for 2015, 2016, & 2017 and he is a member of the 21 + ACT Club.

Tyree attends the Smithville Church of Christ and is active in youth events. After high school, Cripps said he plans to attend a four year college to major in education and hopefully work in the Department of Education one day.

Gibson is a member of the Spanish, FBLA, Science, Senior Beta, Literature, and HOSA Clubs at DCHS.

Breanna is a four year DCHS Football Cheerleader and a Cheer Captain this year. She was also a 2015 DCHS Homecoming Attendant. In her sophomore year, Gibson was an NCA All American Cheerleader.

Other Accomplishments:

*Class Favorite
*Junior Usher
*Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Alumni
*Class secretary
*Chemistry Olympiad

Gibson is a member of Salem Baptist Church.

Board Hires Upland Design Group to Conduct Facilities Study

September 15, 2017
Dwayne Page
School Board Re-elects Officers: Doug Stephens (Vice Chairman), W.J. (Dub) Evins, III (Chairman), and Shaun Tubbs (Asistant Secretary, TLN Representative)

Upland Design Group of Crossville, an architectural firm, has been hired by the Board of Education to conduct a county-wide facilities study in planning for future building needs.

The action was taken during Thursday night’s monthly meeting. The board will pay Upland Design $19,500 for its services.

“We want them to give us a survey and preliminary report along with a number of options that we can look at for a long range plan for our school system which consists of new facilities, new structures because we have at least one (Smithville Elementary School) that is so far outdated. Hopefully we can turn this long range plan into more of a short range plan but we want the county commission involved. This is not just our decision,” said Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

“Not only will they be looking at the growth of the county but they are going to be looking at the facilities and the availability of the classrooms we have currently versus what we could add,” said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

A building program for the school system has been under consideration for several months. In this year’s budget, the board set aside $20,000 specifically for the facilities study hoping to advance the agenda.

One of the major concerns is at Smithville Elementary School, the oldest existing school building in the system, which has been expanded several times over the years. Before the addition of Northside Elementary School, which was built for students in grades 3-5, SES served kindergarten through 4th graders. Today, almost 600 students in pre-K through 2nd grade attend Smithville Elementary. Many would like to see the school closed and replaced with a new facility.

In March, 2016 Director Cripps and members of the school board met with the county commission’s education committee to share ideas.

"We're growing. We know Smithville Elementary School is overcrowded. It is the oldest school in the system. We're looking to improve facilities. What I would like to see within the next few years is for us to be able to start the building process. Getting a school added to our district. I am not saying what we want right now because I think it's got to be a joint process involving the community because we can't do it alone,” said Director Cripps at that March, 2016 meeting.

Anita Puckett, Assistant Principal at Smithville Elementary School and a Fifth District County Commissioner said at that time she preferred building a new Pre-K through 5 school and also converting SES and Northside into Pre-K through 5 schools . According to Puckett, DeKalb County needs to be prepared for an influx of new students if the state should fund mandatory pre-kindergarten in the years ahead.

Seventh District County Commissioner Larry Summers, who was also at that March, 2016 meeting said he would like to see a new Pre-K through 8th grade school built and for Northside to be expanded to Pre-K through 8th. This would give the county three Pre-K through 8th grade schools including DeKalb West School and Smithville Elementary School could be closed.

Director Cripps added that infrastructure needs at the high school would also eventually have to be addressed. "We're going to have to look at that (high school) on down the road. It was built for 400 people. If you come in the hallways (between classes) now you had better be going the same direction the kids are going or you're going to get trampled,” said Director Cripps at the March, 2016 meeting.

Upland Design is expected to have its recommendation in the hands of the Board of Education within twelve weeks after which the Board will begin meetings with school administrators and the county commission hoping to move forward.

Should there be a recommendation for one or more new school buildings, the Board of Education and County Commission would have to decide whether to build them and where, which could create a need to purchase property for a suitable site. The school system still has several acres which could be used for expansion at Northside Elementary.

In other business, the board has re-elected Evins as Chairman for another year. Doug Stephens was returned as Vice Chairman, and Shaun Tubbs was again named as Assistant Secretary (TLN representative). All members present voted in favor except Jerry Wayne Johnson who passed. Kate Miller was absent.

The board granted tenure to DCHS teacher Marilyn Roberts.

Director Cripps gave the following monthly report on personnel:

Sarah Hoover, Teacher at Northside Elementary School, fulfilling leave of absence
Sarah Jacobs, Teacher at DeKalb Middle School, replaces Debra Moore
Alexandra Winkel, Teacher at Northside Elementary School, replaces Travis Little

Leave of Absence:
Karen Jacobs, granted leave as requested
Tiffany Wheatley, granted leave as requested
Jennifer Judkins, granted leave as requested

Travis Little, resigned as Teacher at Northside Elementary
Debra Moore, resigned as Teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Suzanne Caldwell, resigned as Custodian at DeKalb Middle School.

Teachers who have health insurance through the school system offered by the state will be soon be paying higher premiums. The board of education voted to approve the seven percent hike as mandated by the state.

Blasting Activities at Center Hill Auxiliary Dam Extended to Saturdays

September 14, 2017
A Thalle Construction crew prepares for blasting operations near the Center Hill Auxiliary Dam July 13, 2017 in Lancaster, Tenn. The site is being prepared to construct a reinforcing berm

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District announces construction blasting activities at Center Hill Dam, currently taking place Monday through Friday, will also occur on Saturdays beginning Sept. 16.

The Corps of Engineers’ contractor, Thalle Construction Co., began blasting activities earlier this year to build a concrete reinforcing berm downstream of the Center Hill Auxiliary Dam. The work also includes stabilization of a previous rock cut just west of the main dam where Monday through Saturday blasts are also expected to take place beginning in December 2017.

Blasting activities are expected to occur daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Motorists should expect delays of no more than 10 minutes. Motorists, boaters and visitors will be prohibited access within 1,500 feet of the blasting area. A variety of signs and signals will be posted and flagmen will be present to restrict access during blasting periods.

“We regret the inconvenience this may cause, but public safety is paramount,” said Resident Engineer Bill DeBruyn.

Blasting activities are anticipated to continue through the summer of 2018. The current contract is the third and final major contract for dam safety-related work at Center Hill Dam. To read more on the dam safety project, visit the Nashville District webpage at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Current-Projects/Construction/Cen....


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