Local News Articles

Alley Beth Cook Receives "Classroom Champion" Award

July 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb West Principal Sabrina Farler, Troy Cook, Alley Beth Cook, and Attorney Jim Judkins

This week’s “Classroom Champion” award goes to DeKalb West School student Alley Beth Cook.

The award was presented recently by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins.

Cook is the daughter of Troy and Julie Cook.

A seventh grader this past year, Alley Beth is active in her youth group at Salem Baptist Church and is a member of the school’s FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). Her favorite subject is Math. Her plans are to pursue a career in Teaching. This school year will mark her fourth year as a player on the Lady Bulldogs team and a member of the Junior Beta Club.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week.

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, and citizenship and character,” said Judkins.

Back-to-School Plans Should Include Required Vaccinations

July 17, 2017

To prevent the spread of diseases and to keep kids of all ages and their classmates safe, healthy and in school learning, all students in Tennessee, from kindergarten to college, must have proof of immunizations before they can start school. State leaders of health and education say it’s best to get those important vaccines now to avoid longer wait times later and to ensure a smooth beginning to the 2017 school year.

“As a parent, there is a lot on our plate before a new school year, but as a physician I know one of the most important is getting vaccinated to prevent communicable diseases that can quickly spread in group settings like schools,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Beat the rush and give the vaccine time to start working. See your healthcare provider or local health department and help our kids get a great start.”

“All classroom time is important, including those first days of a new school year when teachers and students are building their routines and relationships,” said Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. “By having all necessary paperwork and documentation of immunizations in place, parents help to ensure their children will not miss any valuable learning time.”

“Parents and students may not be aware of some required immunizations for college admission, including those to prevent meningococcal meningitis, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and in some cases Hepatitis B,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings. “It’s best to contact the school as early as possible to learn what is needed so important classroom hours are not missed and communicable diseases prevented.”

Requirements for school vaccinations in Tennessee include:

Kindergarteners and other children enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time must provide schools with a complete Official Tennessee Immunization Certificate before classes begin. The certificate must be signed by a qualified healthcare provider or verified by the state’s Immunization Information System.

All current students entering seventh grade are required to give the school a limited Official Tennessee Immunization Certificate showing they have had a second dose of chickenpox vaccine (or a history of the illness) and a booster shot for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The HPV cancer vaccine and first meningococcal meningitis vaccine are not required for school attendance, but are recommended by pediatricians and public health experts for all children at this age and can be given at the same visit.

Incoming college students in Tennessee public colleges who will live in on-campus housing must provide proof of immunization against meningococcal meningitis after age 16. Most private colleges also have requirements for this vaccine and some schools require it of all new students. Check with your college for details.

For more information about school immunization requirements in Tennessee, visit http://tn.gov/health/article/required-immunizations.

The Tennessee Department of Health encourages all parents of preteens and teens to ask their healthcare providers about getting the human papillomavirus or HPV vaccine, which can protect against a variety of HPV-associated cancers than can develop over a lifetime. The HPV vaccine is available through most healthcare providers and all county health departments. Children and teens under age 19 without private insurance coverage for the vaccine may receive HPV vaccine and all other routine vaccines through most healthcare providers and all health departments for only a small administration fee through the federal Vaccines for Children program. To learn more about HPV, visit www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

Sinclair Wins DeKalb Fair 5K Race

July 16, 2017
Dwayne Page
Matthew Sinclair of Carthage wins the DeKalb Fair 5K race Saturday. The award is presented by Race organizer Matt Boss (left) and by Ronnie Redmon (center) and William Edmonds (right) of the American Legion Post 122. Proceeds from the race support local veterans.
Winners and several other participants and veterans pictured at DeKalb Fair 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run Saturday
Maddux Pyburn won the DeKalb Fair Fun Run at 12:20. Pictured with Race Organizer Matt Boss
Local veteran Daren Oakley (right), who completed four years service in the U.S. Army last October, competed in the DeKalb Fair 5K Saturday. This year’s race raised funds in support of veterans.

Matthew Sinclair of Carthage won the DeKalb County Fair 5K and Fun Run Saturday.

Sinclair was the overall winner of the race, which was held on West Main Street in Alexandria. He ran the course in 17:34.

Aaron Gottlied took second place in the race and Daren Oakley came in third place.

Maddux Pyburn won the Fun Run at 12:20

Other winners in the 5K were:
Ages 12 and younger:
1st place: Kaleb Spears
2nd place: Mara Oakley

1st place: Doris Graham
2nd place: Andy Armstrong
3rd place: Kelly Pyburn

1st place: Mark Sullivan
2nd place: Brenda Hooper

All proceeds will go to the American Legion, a non-profit organization in DeKalb County in support of veterans.

With the race being held this year in support of veterans, Race Director Matt Boss said it was an honor to have a veteran compete in the run.

Daren Oakley of DeKalb County finished in third place in the 5K. He returned home in October, 2016 after having served four years in the U.S. Army.

“I served four years in the military police corps in Washington State. I was deployed for nine months at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” said Oakley.

“I was anxious to get back to DeKalb County. I really missed the races including the Fiddler 5K. I wanted to do the DeKalb Fair race last year but I didn’t get back in time. I raced in the Fiddler 5K this year and I participate pretty much anywhere there is a race in Middle Tennessee,” added Oakley.

Boy Scout to Build Outdoor Classroom at Northside Elementary

July 15, 2017
Dwayne Page
Boy Scout to Build Outdoor Classroom at Northside Elementary

Northside Elementary School students will soon have an opportunity to take their studies outdoors.

The Board of Education Thursday night gave approval for Thomas Webb, a member of Boy Scout Troop 347, to build a 20’ x 30’ outdoor classroom at Northside Elementary for his Eagle Scout project. Webb told the board that the proposed outdoor classroom will be the same type pavilion as was built last year at DeKalb Middle School through fund raising efforts of the student council there.

“For my Eagle Scout Project I would like to construct an outdoor classroom at Northside Elementary School identical to the one at DeKalb Middle School. This will provide an alternate learning environment that will enrich the students’ school experience and help foster an appreciation for nature,” said Webb.

Webb has also received approved for the project from the administration of the school and Director Patrick Cripps.

“Thomas came in and met with me as well. I give him kudos for doing that (project). For a young man to come in and take this initiative, I appreciate that,” said Director Cripps.

The pavilion will have a 20’ x 30’ concrete floor with a wooden frame and a metal roof. It will be on the grounds of Northside Elementary School. The exact location will be determined later. The anticipated completion date is Thanksgiving, 2017. Webb will work with skilled contractors to complete the project and it will be funded with money raised by Webb and other members of Boy Scout Troop 347.

In other business, Cripps updated the board on personnel moves since last month.

Jennifer Sykes has been granted a leave of absence as requested.

Randy Jennings has been transferred from DeKalb Middle School to Principal at DCHS

The following have resigned:

Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education

Lisa Neal, teacher at Smithville Elementary School

Kenneth Taylor, bus driver

Kathryn Wisinger, ESL teacher

Man Arrested for Downloading Child Porn onto his Laptop Computer

July 15, 2017
Dwayne Page
Winston Puckett

A man accused of downloading child pornography onto his laptop computer has been arrested for sexual exploitation of a minor.

37 year old Winston Puckett of Charlie Brown Lane, Granville will make a court appearance July 20 in DeKalb County General Sessions Court. He is under a $250,000 bond.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_30.pdf (3.66 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, July 13 a search warrant was executed by a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department Detective on a Dell laptop computer belonging to Puckett. The computer was in Puckett’s possession on June 27 when it was turned over to law enforcement. The search warrant revealed over 400 images of child pornography that had been downloaded to the computer.

More Charges Against Jerrells for Posting Offensive Notes on Another Church

July 15, 2017
Dwayne Page
Laddie Bill Jerrells
Jay Kent Williams
Jamie Clinton Lynn
William Arthur Welch
Thomas Richard Squires

More charges have been brought against a Smithville man who recently posted offensive and blasphemous notes on the properties of several local churches.

57 year old Laddie Bill Jerrells of Long Street, Smithville, who had posted bond on the original charges July 5th, was arrested again on Wednesday July 12 on two additional counts in each case of vandalism, disorderly conduct, harassment, and desecration of honored places. His bond on these new charges is $12,000 and his court date is July 20.

Although these are new charges this is not a new offense. According to Sheriff Ray, another church group came forward after this case was publicized earlier this week to report that someone had taped notes to the front door of their church building on May 30 and July 3 which contained blasphemous and offensive remarks.

The incidents occurred at a time when no church services were being held.

Smithville Police charged Jerrells for two cases in the city. The rest of the charges were brought by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department against Jerrells for the incidents at four churches in the county.

54 year old Jay Kent Williams of South College Street, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence; resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search; and tampering with evidence. He was further cited for violation of implied consent for refusing to submit to a blood test, driving on roadways laned for travel, no insurance, and violation of the light law. His bond is $10,000 and his court date is July 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, July 5 a deputy received a call about a reckless driver in a white Kia. The officer spotted the vehicle northbound on South College Street and he pulled it over for failure to maintain lane of travel and for having a passenger rear tail light out. While speaking with Williams, the officer noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person. His speech was slurred and his eyes were glossy. Williams told the officer that he had consumed one wine cooler and that he was on Xanax. Williams submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He did not submit to a blood test and he resisted arrest forcing officers to physically restrain him. While being placed in custody, Williams grabbed something from his pocket and held it in his right hand. The officer tried to forcibly open Williams’ hand and saw a yellow bar shaped pill. Williams threw the pill into the grass. It could not be retrieved but Williams told the officer it was a Xanax pill.

34 year old Jamie Clinton Lynn of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with a sixth offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is August 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, July 10 a deputy witnessed Lynn operating a motorcycle on Miller Lane. Knowing that Lynn has active warrants against him, the officer pulled him over. A computer check confirmed that Lynn’s driver license are suspended and have been since March 8, 2004 for failure to pay or answer to original violations. Lynn has five prior offenses against him for driving while license suspended.

48 year old William Arthur Welch of Old West Pont Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license. He was further cited for failure to maintain lane of travel and for no insurance. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is August 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, July 11 a deputy observed a red Dodge Dakota failing to maintain its lane of travel and he pulled it over. The officer also knew that Welch did not have a driver license and had recently been issued a citation for the offense. Welch admitted to the deputy that his license were suspended. A computer check confirmed that his license were revoked in Haywood General Sessions Court for failure to satisfy fines and costs.

59 year old Thomas Richard Squires of Neal Drive, Smithville is charged with violation of an active order of protection and resisting stop, frisk, halt, or search. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is August 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 13 a deputy responded to a residence on Neal Drive where Squires was alleged to have violated an order of protection. Upon arrival the officer found Squires inside a trailer on property which he is under a court order to keep away from. The deputy identified himself after which Squires responded “I’ve got something for you” and “let me unload this pistol”. At that time Squires came outside from the front of the home. The officer ordered Squires several times to raise his hands and to get on the ground but he refused. Squires was forcibly taken to the ground and placed in custody.

Amanda Dakas Named Principal at DeKalb Middle School

July 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps Names Amanda Dakas as Principal at DeKalb Middle School

Amanda Dakas is the new Principal at DeKalb Middle School.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has named Dakas to succeed Randy Jennings as DMS Principal. Jennings is the new Principal at DeKalb County High School.

Dakas has served as Assistant Principal at DeKalb Middle School since 2012. She has a Bachelor’s Degree (B.S.), a Master’s Degree (M.S.), and an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S).

Tad Webb will be stepping into the role of Assistant Principal. He has been a 7th grade math teacher and a DMS Saints football and DWS Bulldogs baseball coach.

“I am very humbled and excited about being named the new principal at DeKalb Middle School! Some of the people that I respect most have once held this very same position, and I know what their leadership and guidance meant to me as a student, a colleague, and now as a friend. The teachers at DMS have a passion for teaching and learning and the atmosphere is that of a family. From the time I became Assistant Principal until now, these folks have embraced me and we have become a team! I am also beyond thrilled to know that I have the opportunity to serve the children within our county at a time in their lives when they need guidance the most. We have phenomenal teachers, educational assistants, custodians, kitchen staff, and students at DMS, and I am just so honored to be a part of this team….. and that’s what we are- A TEAM!,” Principal Dakas told WJLE

“I am also grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Mr. Randy Jennings over the past five years and now I am looking forward to working with Mr. Tad Webb. I know we’re going to work together as a great team because we already have over these past years,” she said.

“I think she is going to bring a lot of energy to the school. I have no doubt she will work hard. She is dedicated to those kids. She loves those kids. She loves that school. It’s a big job and she knows what’s coming. They have made a ton of changes in the past and we’re excited about the vision she has for the school and where she plans on taking it,” Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE.

A 1991 graduate of DeKalb County High School, Dakas attended college at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville from 1991 through 1996. From 1991-1995 she earned her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)degree with a Major in Speech Communication and a Minor in Inclusive Early Childhood Education. From 1995-1996 Dakas also received her Masters of Science (M.S.) degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Tennessee. In 2000, Dakas attended Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan where she began taking introductory educational leadership classes. In 2004 she went back to school and received her Educational Specialist (Ed.S) degree in 2006 with a focus on Instructional Leadership from Tennessee Technological University.

Dakas began teaching at John Sevier Elementary School in Maryville, Tennessee as a 1st grade teacher in 1995 and then moved back to DeKalb County in 1996 where she taught 7th grade Math at DeKalb Middle School and was the football cheerleading coach. Dakas got married that same year and her husband received a promotion within his business in the automotive industry.

“We moved to Shelby Township, Michigan where we resided for the next 5 ½ years. While living there, I became a homeschool educator for a year and a half where I was hired to go in to people’s homes and design a curriculum and deliver instruction to students within a multi-age setting before I decided to try my hand in the business world. I worked in Sales and Marketing at Dura Automotive Headquarters in Rochester Hills, Michigan for the remaining 4 years before we returned to Smithville. Once we were back home, I also returned to my love of teaching! I began teaching at Northside Elementary School in 2002 where I taught 3rd grade for 5 years and Computer and Technology for 5 years and remained at N.E.S. until I became Assistant Principal at DeKalb Middle School in 2012 where I have served until June 2017. (My first day as an Assistant Principal was also my twins’ first day of Kindergarten.) As of July 2017, I was named Principal of DeKalb Middle School. (Therefore, I have taught for a total of 16 ½ years!),” said Dakas.

“I have taught 1st grade, 3rd grade, 7th grade math, and taught ALL 2nd-5th grade students in Computer and Technology. I have been Assistant Principal at DMS for the last 5 years and am honored to begin my journey as Principal of DeKalb Middle School,” she said.

Dakas is the daughter of Rick and Sandra Widener and Donnie (and the late Margaret Ann) Pack. She married John Nikolas Dakas, from Ferndale, Michigan, on November 30, 1996 and they had twins, Andrew Jackson Dakas and Annabella Eleni Dakas, on December 20, 2006. The twins will be in the fifth grade at Northside Elementary School this year. “My husband, John, is currently a Senior Formability Engineer at Magna International/Cosma Die Technology which is based out of Troy, Michigan,” said Dakas.

The new DMS Principal has already identified specific goals she would like to see accomplished.

“Over the past 5 years as Assistant Principal, I have been able to focus on and achieve success over many of the goals that I have set for our school. While those successes are gratifying, the work is never done in the world of education. Two specific goals that I have set for this year are increasing student growth within English/Language Arts and Math and focusing on communication as a whole! The first goal will be centered around our core instruction in English and Math and within our Response to Intervention time each day where we take students where they currently are, skill-wise, and give them the tools they need in order to grow,” said Dakas

“The second goal will focus on providing information about what’s going on at DMS for parents and students on a consistent basis. Our team is working on some ideas right now that will facilitate better communication from school to home, and we are excited about that. More than anything, we just want our students to become kind and productive members of society, and we believe that a solid educational foundation combined with a nurturing and exciting environment will help grow these kinds of future leaders,” she said.

Dakas is anxious to get started as Principal and is ready for the challenge.

“My experience as a teacher for 10 ½ years and as an Assistant Principal for 5 years, combined with my years in business, has helped prepare me for this moment by giving me hands-on, real-life experiences to draw on. Looking back, I can now see how each of these experiences has served as a building block to get me to where I am today. Of course, experiences only get you so far. Without the support and belief of my wonderful family and the great teachers and educational leaders in DeKalb County, I would not be here. You never reach the mountaintop by yourself, so it’s important to always remember that success comes when you’re a member of a great team!”

“Finally, I want to thank Mr. Patrick Cripps and the school board for this wonderful opportunity and I look forward to having them visit the middle school often to see for themselves all the great things happening there,” said Principal Dakas.

Tad Webb Selected as Assistant DeKalb Middle School Principal

July 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tad Webb Named Assistant DeKalb Middle School Principal

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has selected Tad Webb as the new Assistant Principal at DeKalb Middle School.

Webb has been a seventh grade math teacher at the school along with the Saints’ head football coach and the DeKalb West Bulldogs head baseball coach. He will be giving up those positions.

“I have known Tad for several years. He is a hard worker. He has been “Teacher of the Year” at his school. Tad is a fantastic math teacher. But more than that, he is a fantastic person. He represents DeKalb County well not only in the classroom but he has represented us on the baseball field and the football field. Tad will bring a different dynamic to the position. He is well respected not only among the kids that he coaches, but the parents of those kids and the community. We’re excited about bringing him along as well,” Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE.

New head DMS football and West School baseball coaches have not yet been named.

City Updates Airport Policies on T-Hangar Usage

July 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Airport Manager Joe Johnson

The City of Smithville is updating its policies at the airport in regard to the use of Corporate and T-Hangars.

Airport Manager Joe Johnson presented the proposals to the mayor and aldermen Monday night, which have also been recommended by the city’s airport board. The aldermen voted to give their blessing.

Johnson said the first step is to renew leases with the current tenants, which hasn’t been done since 2011. The leases are currently for one year at a time.

The city has sixteen T-hangars and two corporate hangars and all are occupied. Tenants of the T-hangars pay the city $115 per month and the monthly rent for the corporate hangars is $225.

Tenants will now have the option of paying their entire years rent in one lump sum payment at the current rate or they may continue to pay monthly, but at a higher rate of $125 per month. Those who have corporate hangars can also pay up front for the year at the current rate of $225 per month or at the higher rate of $250 if they choose to continue to pay by the month.

Johnson said by paying up front for an entire year, the tenants get a price break while the city has more cash on hand to use for immediate airport needs.

The hangars are a good source of income for the airport having generated around $29,000 last year. If the city had more hangars, Johnson said that income alone could perhaps make the airport self supporting.

“We’re trying to attract as many airplanes as we can to keep our hangars full. If we keep them full we have a chance to get more t-hangars. I’m trying to keep the rates as low as I can to be competitive with other airports, yet take care of the city too. If we had one more set of nine hangars at the airport, that would generate enough revenue to be self supporting from the rent and we would be able to sell more fuel,” said Johnson.

The city has taken advantage of federal and state grant funds over the years to make airport improvements. In most cases the city’s portion of the cost has been as little as five percent of the grant amounts. But with the federal funds comes regulations and in the case of the T-hangars, the city has adopted an FAA policy with regard to their proper use.

According to the policy, the hangars must be used for the storage of active aircraft; final assembly of aircraft under construction; non-commercial construction of amateur-built or kit built aircraft; maintenance, repair, or refurbishment of aircraft, but not the indefinite storage of non-operational aircraft; and the storage of aircraft handling equipment, such as towbars, glider tow equipment, workbenches, and tools and materials used in the servicing, maintenance, repair, or outfitting of aircraft.

Anything that impedes the movement of the aircraft in and out of the hangar or impedes access to aircraft or other aeronautical contents out of the hangar is prohibited.

Airports are subject to FAA inspections and if violations of the policy are discovered the city could be at risk of losing federal airport funds.

Any tenant not in compliance with the policy will be sent a letter asking them to adhere to the terms of their lease and FAA regulations or risk being evicted.

Although the hangars are currently occupied, the city has a waiting list of potential tenants and a policy has been developed on who gets first choice. Generally, its on a first come-first served basis, but Smithville residents are given first priority and then DeKalb County citizens.

Johnson is also working on a policy in accordance with city and state fire marshal regulations to identify items not permitted for storage in a hangar which could pose a fire hazard.

New Student Registration at DCHS Begins July 26

July 13, 2017
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County High School New (to our county) Student Registration will be held on July 26th - August 4th from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (this is not for current students moving from 8th grade to 9th or any students who are currently enrolled in the DeKalb County school system. It's for new student that have moved to this county).

If you have a student who is currently enrolled with the DeKalb County school system please go on-line to www.dchstigers.com and under quick links log-in to "Skyward" to your "Family Access" and pre-register your student. When completing the information, please add any persons who may sign your student out to the emergency contact section. If they are not listed they will not be able to sign your student out.

DeKalb County High School Freshman Orientation will be held August 3rd from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Please come in the front doors and you will be directed to your homeroom. Computers will be available that night to register your student.

If you have any questions call Rhonda Merriman at DeKalb County High School 615-597-2249

Meanwhile, DeKalb County Schools will re-open with registration for all students on Monday, August 7.

The first day of school education celebration (free school supplies) will be Monday, August 7 starting at 6:00 p.m. on the Smithville Public Square

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 9.

Wednesday, August 2 will be a system-wide in-service.

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Thursday and Friday August 3 & 4

Teachers only will report for an administrative day on Tuesday, August 8.


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