Local News Articles

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....

4-H Grilling Team is State Bound

September 14, 2017
Leigh Fuson, 4-H Agent
Team: Clayton Crook, Kris Barrett, Wyatt Martin, and Kayla Belk placed 3rd at Central Region 4-H Outdoor Meat Cookery Contest in Lebanon and are headed to the state competition.
Lily Martin and Hailey Bogle competed individually at the Outdoor Meat Cookery Contest. Hailey placed 3rd in the Jr. High Pork division.
Kris Barrett prepares his 3rd place lamb chops for the regional 4-H Outdoor Meat Cookery Contest.

DeKalb County 4-H members Kris Barrett, Kayla Belk, Clayton Crook, and Wyatt Martin are headed to the state competition after a very successful day at the Central Region 4-H Outdoor Meat Cookery contest, held each year at the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon. Also participating individually were Hailey Bogle and Lily Martin. The team placed 3rd overall and will be representing DeKalb County and the Central Region at the state contest in Knoxville on October 7th.

4-H’ers in grades 7-12 can participate in this fun and practical contest that not only teaches them how to grill, but how to do it safely. Each contestant must start his or her own charcoal grill, prepare the meat, and cook it to perfection. On a four person team, each member is responsible for grilling a different species of meat: beef, poultry, lamb, and pork. They are judged throughout the cooking process to make sure they start their fires properly, prepare the meat safely, and cook it to the correct temperature. The meat itself is then judged on taste, texture, appearance, and originality of recipe.

At the regional contest, Kris Barrett was 3rd in lamb, Clayton Crook placed 3rd with chicken wings, Wyatt Martin 6th in pork, Kayla Belk placed 7th in the beef category, while the team placed 3rd overall in the Sr. High division. Hailey Bogle also placed 3rd in Jr. High pork with her baby back ribs.

There were 15 total counties present at the contest. Congratulations on representing DeKalb County so well. The 4-H members would also like to say thank you to Smithville Food Lion for helping to supply quality meat for the contest. If you are interested in participating in this contest next year, or any other activities, please contact the 4-H office at 615-597-4945.

Intoxicated Man Threatens Four People with Knife

September 14, 2017
Dwayne Page
Robert Lewis Judkins
Donald Gene Rigsby
Jacob Randall Stacy
Jose Antonio Soto-Guerrero

A man, believed to be intoxicated at the time, was taken into custody on Sunday after threatening four people with a knife.

54 year old Robert Lewis Judkins of Judkins Lane, Smithville is charged with four counts of aggravated assault; public intoxication; and resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search. His bond is $24,000 and his court date is October 5.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday, September 10 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on South Judkins Lane due to a man reported to be threatening four others there with a knife. Upon arrival, the officer found the man, Judkins holding a knife. He was yelling and threatening to burn down the home. Judkins then swung the knife within inches of another man’s chest and threatened three others with the knife causing them to fear for their safety. According to the officer, Judkins appeared to be unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. The deputy concluded that Judkins was a danger to himself and to his neighbors. As the officer was placing him in custody, Judkins initially refused to put down the knife and to obey verbal instructions.

56 year old Donald Gene Rigsby of Bethel Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also cited for driving on a suspended license, driving on the wrong side of the road, and simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana). His bond is $3,500 and he will make a court appearance on September 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, September 6 a deputy spotted a red scooter traveling south in the northbound lane on South Mountain Street in Smithville. The officer made a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Rigsby. He noticed that Rigsby’s eyelids were droopy and that his eyes were glossy and bloodshot. His speech was slurred and he was very unsteady on his feet. Rigsby submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was placed under arrest. Upon a search incident to arrest, the deputy found on Rigsby 0.23 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. The officer learned that Rigsby’s license were suspended for failure to show proof of insurance on May 29, 2016.

18 year old Jacob Randall Stacy of Carthage is charged with assault. He is under a $2,500 bond and his court date is September 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, September 7 Stacy, an inmate at the jail, punched another prisoner during an argument.

35 year old Jose Antonio Soto-Guerrero of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further cited for no insurance and driving on a revoked license. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is October 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, September 10 a deputy, while on patrol, spotted a silver Nissan Maxima on Highway 56 south pull over to the shoulder of the road. The officer stopped to offer assistance and found the driver, Guerrero passed out behind the steering wheel. He also noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from the car. After being awakened by the deputy, Guerrero admitted to having consumed two to three beers. He also submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was unsteady on his feet and his eyes were bloodshot. Guerrero had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person.

Allison Brooke Maynard Named 2017 DCHS Homecoming Queen

September 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
2017 DCHS Homecoming Queen Allison Brooke Maynard
2017 DCHS Homecoming Court: Seated- Kaitlyn Cantrell, Allison Maynard (QUEEN), Kayla Belk: Standing: Leah Davis, Alley Sykes, and Callie Mulloy
Senior Attendant: Kayla Jayne Belk
Senior Attendant: Kaitlyn Elizabeth Cantrell
Junior Attendant: Callie Elizabeth Mulloy
Sophomore Attendant: Alley Elaine Sykes
Freshman Attendant: Leah Brooke Davis

The 2017 Homecoming Queen at DeKalb County High School is Allison Brooke Maynard.

A senior, Maynard is the 17 year old daughter of Stacey Dickens of Smithville.

Allison is a member of the Senior Beta, Literature, Science, and Spanish Clubs, FBLA, National Society of High School Scholars Ambassador, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Alumni, and Class Vice President. She is a four year DCHS Football Cheerleader, four year DCHS Tigerette Softball player, and a member of the Extreme Fastpitch Travel Softball Team.

Maynard’s other achievements:
*Freshman Year- 8AA All District Tournament Team-Softball
*Sophomore Year- 8AA All District Honorable Mention-Softball
*Junior Year-NCA All American Cheerleader, NCA Disney World Spirit Spectacular Performer, 8AA All District Team, UTK Governor’s School for Science and Engineering
*Senior Year-DCHS Football Cheer Captain

Allison attends the Smithville First Free Will Baptist Church and has been a Remote Area Medical Volunteer

The Homecoming Attendants are:

Senior Attendant – Kayla Jayne Belk, the 17 year old daughter of Chris Anne and Andrew Fults of Smithville. She has served as Student Council President, 4-H President, and FFA Reporter. She is also a member of the Beta, FBLA, FCA, Climate Crew, and Science, Literature, and Spanish Clubs. Kayla has played tennis at DCHS for three years.

Belk’s other accomplishments:

*Received the highest level of achievement in 4-H, Vol State
*Maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school
*Over 600 volunteer/service hours from volunteering at summer camps and various other things

Kayla attends the Dowelltown United Methodist Church and is an active member of their youth group.

Senior Attendant- Kaitlyn Elizabeth Cantrell, the 17 year old daughter of Blake and Teresa Cantrell of Smithville. She is a member of the Beta, FBLA, Science, and Literature Clubs, and FCA. Kaitlyn is a football manager. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school and is in the 21+ ACT score group. Kaitlyn attends the First Baptist Church and actively participates in their youth group.

Junior Attendant- Callie Elizabeth Mulloy, the 16 year old daughter of Randy and Nancy Mulloy of Liberty. She is a member of the Science, Literature, Spanish, HOSA, and Senior Beta Clubs. Callie is a football cheerleader. She is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and was a John W. Harris Award winner for Junior Beta in 2014. Callie attends the First Baptist Church in Alexandria.

Sophomore Attendant-Alley Elaine Sykes of Smithville, the 15 year old daughter of Robbie and Jennifer Sykes and the late Tyler Alley Sykes. She is a member of the FBLA, Climate Crew, Science, and DCHS Literature Clubs and a DCHS football cheerleader. She was an NCA All-American nominee as a Freshman and Sophomore and is a past member of a winning All-Star Cheer Team. Alley attends the Church of Trinity at Algood.

Freshman Attendant- Leah Brooke Davis, the 14 year old daughter of Kerry and Glenda Davis of Smithville. She is a member of the FBLA, Science, and Literature Clubs. Leah is a DCHS Football Cheerleader and a member of the DCHS Lady Tiger Basketball Team. She is an NCA All-American Nominee and an active member of the Upper Helton Baptist Church in Alexandria.

Spirit week activities will be held September 18-22 at DCHS. The Homecoming Parade will take place Friday afternoon, September 22 and the Tiger Homecoming Football game will be at 7:00 p.m. that night against Cannon County. WJLE will have LIVE coverage of the game.

Couple Sentenced to Four Years Probation for Attempted Aggravated Burglary

September 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jessica Anne Jenkins
Sonny Roman Smith

Two people charged by Smithville Police in recent burglaries were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, September 11

Judge David Patterson presided.

25 year old Sonny Roman Smith and 29 year old Jessica Anne Jenkins each entered a plea by criminal information to attempted aggravated burglary. They were originally charged with two counts of aggravated burglary.

They each received a sentence of four years on supervised probation and were given credit for 35 days of jail time served. Jenkins’ sentence is to run consecutive to a case against her in Warren County.

According to police, at approximately 9:29 p.m. on Friday, August 3, Smith and Jenkins went to their victims’ home and walked into the house unwelcomed. When one of the victims confronted Jenkins, she (Jenkins) allegedly punched her in the face and ripped her shirt. Jenkins then approached the other victim, allegedly grabbed his cell phone, and damaged it by slamming the phone on the ground. By the time police arrived, the couple had left but the victims were able to identify them. The next morning, Friday August 4 at approximately 6:55 a.m., Smith and Jenkins were observed by police hiding behind a green GMC Sonoma on property where a burglary had been reported. The homeowner told police that prior to their arrival, a man and woman, identified as Smith and Jenkins were at the back door of his residence trying to gain entry. Smith and Jenkins were taken into custody without incident and charged in the case.

Old Timers Day Returns to Alexandria Saturday, September 23

September 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
Old Timers Day in 2003 (Ria Baker Photo)

After 14 years, the Old Timers Day is returning to Alexandria on Saturday, September 23 starting at 10 a.m. on the town square.

The featured entertainment is as follows:

Tom duggin, Patsy & Nick Nokes, Susan Martin, The Collins family, DeKalb Dancing/clogging, Right on Time, Three Parts Grace, Kevin Roberts, Pickin Friends, Calvary Trio.

Food : Watertown First Baptist youth, Crazy Dawgs and more.

Vendors: Mary Kay, Designs by Roberta, Two Crafty teacher's, thirty-one, Pampered Chef, Color Street, Pie's n more, Lularoe, Paparazzi, Plunder, Rebel Edge cosmetic, Scentsy, Pink Zebra, Young living oils, Tupperware, Slick Surface, and many more


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