Local News Articles

Alexandria Celebrates Christmas (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

December 1, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Santa Arrives in Alexandria

High school bands playing Christmas music, a waving Santa Claus, and a parade of floats, vintage automobiles and other vehicles, along with horseback riders were all it took for the folks of Alexandria to get into the holiday mood Sunday. It was the annual Alexandria Christmas Parade.

Led by Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins and Sheriff Patrick Ray, this year's parade also featured the DCHS and Watertown high school bands, Grand Marshals Billy and Sue Corley, local veterans, Alexandria Mayor Tony Tarpley, State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, members of the Alexandria, Watertown, and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Departments, DeKalb EMS, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squads, Cub Scouts, floats , entries from various businesses, horseback riders, horse and mule drawn wagons, vintage automobiles, tractors, motorcycle and ATV riders, Smoky the Bear, and of course Santa Claus. Carolers at the West Main Baptist Church performed prior to the event.

The Memorial Baptist Church won first place among church floats. The Malone's Chapel Baptist Church Youth received second place. Randy's Heat and Air took first place in the another float category. Bob McComb received second place. Lee Wilkerson received first place for his team of mules.

Prizes were given away after the parade donated by local businesses.

DWS Students Compete at Junior Beta Convention

November 30, 2014
by: 
Bill Conger
Students from the DeKalb West Junior Beta Club reenact a scene from the pages of "Alice in Wonderland" for the Living Literature event at the Junior Beta Club Tennessee Convention.

Twenty-five DeKalb West School students rocked the Tennessee Junior Beta Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. With the theme, “Betas, Rocking The Country,” the DWS students joined thousands of others at the annual event Nov. 23-25.

Students competed in a variety of academic events. Trenten Shores participated in the Math contest. Riley Overstreet tapped into her creative muse for the Poetry contest. Holly Evans put her wits to the test for the Spelling competition. Jordan Crook, Jaden Johnson, Garrett Hayes, and Noah Roberts combined their thinking skills for the Quiz Bowl. Addison Oakley, Lydia Brown, and Shelby Clayborn created a snapshot of a year in the Beta Club for the Scrapbooking contest. Dallas Cook, T.J. Alexander, Michael Martin, and Ashley Reynolds were voracious readers for the Book Battle event. Cody Antoniak, Lydia Davenport, Parker Vantrease, Christian Trail, and Peyton Lemons engineered and constructed a project for the Tower of Power. This event provides students with 200 straws and a roll of masking tape. They have 15 minutes to build the tallest free-standing tower that can hold the weight of a tennis ball at its pinnacle. Katie Bain, Kyndal Cox, Haley Dies, Zoe Maynard, Callie Mulloy, and Alanna Woodham took on the roles from “Alice in Wonderland” for the Living Literature contest. Students recreated a scene from the Lewis Carroll book.

Board Adds Another Full Time School Nurse

November 29, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby and members of school board at September meeting

The DeKalb County School System now has a full time nurse at each school.

The Board of Education, on Thursday November 20 voted to add a full time school nurse at DCHS to meet the nursing needs of a student who enrolled earlier this semester. Funds for this position will come from the Special Education General Purpose budget. While the nurse, Wade Ferrell will be serving this particular student, he will also be available to attend to other DCHS students with medical issues. Should this student move away, transfer out of the school system, or no longer need this nursing care on the advice of a physician, the school system would no longer be able to fund this nurse from Special Education. School Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III said if this were to occur the board at that time would revisit the issue of keeping a school nurse at the high school. "We need to make a stipulation (in the board minutes) that if those (nursing) services stop (for this student) then we re-evaluate the nursing position," said Evins.

The budget request for the new full time nurse position was made in writing by Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education. Director Willoughby read Arnold's letter to the school board. "On November 19, 2014 we had an Individualized Education Plan developed on a student who enrolled at DeKalb County High School earlier this semester. This student is in need of nursing services for the entire school day. Due to the seriousness of this student's health condition, the provision of a full time school nurse would be warranted and could be paid for from Special Education General Purpose funds. I am not at liberty to discuss details in a public manner due to HIPPA and FERPA regulations. I have worked jointly with the nursing department and with Dee Anna Reynolds from Coordinated School Health to verify the student's needs in regards to our state laws and TCA regulations and guidance. I've also consulted other school systems for their advice on how they regulate such nursing care. I would like to request my general purpose special education budget to be amended to include one FTE school nurse funded under 141-71200-189 which is the direct services funding code for special education. Should this student move away, transfer out of our school system, or no longer need this nursing care at advice of the physician, I would no longer be able to fund this nurse. However, at the present time my budget will accommodate and can justify this provision. I respectfully ask that this position be added to my budget in the general purpose special education services and that you allow us to pursue employment for this position immediately in order to meet this need," wrote Arnold.

In addition to Ferrell, the school system employs four other school nurses, Chandra Adcock, Kim Turner, Christie Driver, and Joanie Williams. All are registered nurses. Prior to adding a full time school nurse at DCHS, each school had its own nurse except for DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb County High School which had to share a nurse. Director Willoughby said the state provides funding for one school nurse per three thousand students. Any other nurses must be funded locally.

Because of the growing student population and children with chronic conditions including diabetes, Dee Anna Reynolds, Coordinated School Health Coordinator said during the September school board meeting that another nurse is needed. Three parents, Darlene Evans, Ashley Bryant, and Glenda Davis, who all have children with diabetes also addressed the board that month asking the board to find the funds to hire another school nurse to help meet the medical needs of their children and others in the school system.

Since this year's general purpose school budget does not provide funding for a new school nurse position, Director Willoughby said he would assign a substitute nurse at the high school to meet the needs until the board could reach a resolution on how to fund a full time position. The substitute nurse, Ferrell, has been working there since.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Unchanged at 6.1% in October

November 27, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for October was 6.1%, unchanged from the September rate but down from 8.1% in October, 2013.

The local labor force for October was 9,090. A total of 8,540 were employed and 550 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's Jobless Rate for October was fifth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region.

Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:
Pickett: 10.9%
Van Buren: 9%
White: 7.5%
Clay: 7.5%
Cumberland:7.5%
Fentress:7.3%
Jackson: 6.9%
Warren:6.9%
Overton:6.6%
DeKalb: 6.1%
Putnam.5.9%
Cannon:5.3%
Macon:5.3%
Smith:5.1%

County unemployment rates for October show the rate decreased in 80 counties, increased in 10 counties, and remained the same in five counties.

Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate in October at 5.1 percent, down from 5.4 in September. Davidson County was 5.2 percent in October, down from 5.5 in September. The Hamilton County October rate was 6.2 percent, down from 6.6 in September. Shelby County was 7.9 percent in October, down from 8.3 in September. Tennessee’s unemployment rate for October was 7.1 percent, two tenths of one percentage point lower than the 7.3 September revised rate. The U.S. preliminary rate for October was 5.8 percent, down from 5.9 percent in September.

The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment 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 economic time series.

"Love Lights a Tree" Campaign Underway

November 27, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
"Love Lights a Tree" Campaign Underway

The American Cancer Society invites you to make a special donation in honor or in memory of a loved one during the holiday season through "Love Lights a Tree". A special memory board is being erected on the south side of the courthouse that will list the names of loved ones being honored and remembered.

The DeKalb County Unit of the American Cancer Society seeks your support in the "Love Lights a Tree" fundraising campaign to raise money for research to find a cure as well as cancer education and patient services. Donations may be made throughout the holiday season. The persons you honor or remember do not necessarily have to have suffered from cancer.

The names are in "honor of" and in "memory of" for a donation of five-dollars per name. Forms may be obtained at the local banks. For more information, contact Barbara Ashford at 417-6563, Ivadell Randolph at 597-5296, Lynda Luna at 597-5837, Renee Cantrell at 597-4551, Melanie Judkins at 597-1132, or Patsy Judkins at 597-4213.

County to Apply for CDBG Water Line Extension Grant

November 26, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution to apply for a $525,000 Community Development Block Grant on behalf of the DeKalb Utility District.

If approved by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the grant would help fund the extension of water lines to unserved parts of the county identified as Tramel Branch, Oakley Road, Carter Lane, Old Givens Hollow, and Dismal to Alexandria Road.

The maximum amount of the grant is $525,000 and if approved the DUD would fund the local matching portion of 16% or $96,000 plus any additional funds required to complete the project.

This is the county's second try for the grant involving the same project.

The first application filed earlier this year was denied because it did not score high enough to be awarded a grant.

Brooxie Carlton, Director of federal programs for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development said the cutoff on the scoring was 194. DeKalb County's scoring was 191, three points below the cutoff. In order to improve the county's scoring, Carlton recommended testing 35% of the wells rather than the required 10% to try and get the project impact (scores) up.

Amanda Mainord of Grassroots Planning and Consulting will prepare all the necessary documents for the completion of the application for the proposed project.

Grand Jury Indicts Trio for Especially Aggravated Kidnapping

November 26, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jimmy Tolbert (J.J.) Hendrixson, Jr
Casey Joseph Jacobs
Comas Brian Higgins

Three men accused of kidnapping a man and woman and beating them with an axe handle in July have been indicted by the new term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury, which convened Monday, November 24

42 year old Jimmy Tolbert (J.J.) Hendrixson, Jr., 36 year old Casey Joseph Jacobs, and 48 year old Comas Brian Higgins all of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown are each indicted with two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Hendrixson, Jacobs, and Higgins met their victims at a bridge on the New Bildad Road Friday night, July 18 and assaulted them with an axe handle. Both victims were then tied up and their mouths were taped shut. The male victim managed to escape and ran to a residence nearby where he called for help. The three abductors then drove the female victim to their home on the Old Snow Hill Road.

"After we got the call, I along with detectives and deputies of the sheriff's department arrived (on New Bildad Road) and found an individual (male victim) who had minor injuries. We took a statement from him and learned who the individuals were who assaulted and tied him up. He told us of a female that had been done the same way. We found her (at residence on Old Snow Hill Road) and took her into safe keeping. We arrested the three individuals responsible," said Sheriff Ray.

The arrest warrants against Hendrixson, Jacobs, and Higgins all alleged that on Friday, July 18 they held a woman and man against their will. The man and woman were tied up with a rope and their mouths were taped shut. The man and woman had each been assaulted with an axe handle. The woman had several marks on her body from the axe handle and rope. The man suffered bodily injuries causing him to be transported by DeKalb EMS to the hospital where he was treated and released. Neither victim was seriously hurt in the attack.
Sheriff Ray gave no motive for the kidnapping and assault.

The trio were among seventy seven people who were indicted on various charges by the Grand Jury Monday. Twenty six of them were named in sealed indictments. The names of persons charged in sealed indictments cannot be revealed until they are arrested.

All those indicted will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 8 at 9:00 a.m.

The defendants and their charges are as follows:

Robert Roy Atnip, Jr.: burglary and theft over $1,000

Joseph Stephen Audas: aggravated rape and aggravated assault

Clay Andrew Bain: domestic assault

Earnest Paul Barnwell: driving on revoked license (4th offense)

Karey Lynn Benson: worthless check

Kevin Bly: aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and violation of order of protection

Timmy Eugene Bowman: solicitation of a minor (2 counts) and violation of the sex offender registry

Shawn Patrick Byrd: aggravated arson

Donald Wayne Cantrell: manufacturing a schedule VI drug

Jason Zenn Cripps: auto burglary, public intoxication, violation of bond conditions, possession of a schedule II drug (2 counts), possession of a schedule IV drug, and aggravated assault

Johnny Lynn Devault: possession of schedule IV drug, driving on revoked license (2 counts), and aggravated assault

Rebecca Dickens: introduction of contraband

Kenny Waymon Dyal, Jr.: burglary (2 counts) and theft under $500, and theft over $500

Desiree Ferrell: sale and delivery of schedule II drug

Oscar Alexis Garcia: underage driving while impaired, reckless endangerment, evading arrest, resisting arrest, no drivers license, traffic control device, and failure to maintain lane

Demelza Jane Frances Grisham: aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, and theft over $500

John Harris: possession of a schedule VI drug for resale

Jimmy Hendrixson, Casey Jacobs, and Comas Higgins: especially aggravated kidnapping (2 counts)

Brandon Hutchings and Shannon Newby: aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000

David Ray Johnson: theft under $500 (2 counts)

Tamer Jones: theft over $500 and theft under $500 (4 counts)

Hugo Godinez-Juarez: driving under the influence

Michelle Lee Keenan: driving on suspended

Ashley Lasser: theft under $500 and forgery

Michael Leichtfuss: introduction of contraband

Steve F. Mabe, Jr.: theft over $1,000 (2 counts)

Joyce Sharon Malone: driving on suspended

Sherry Malone: theft over $1,000

Lorie Denise Maclean and Craig Alan Yarbrough: theft over $10,000 and theft under $500

Kevin Manning: driving under the influence (3rd offense)

Jermaine McCoy: possession of a schedule II drug for resale (2 counts), no drivers license, driving on revoked, speeding, and open container

Patsy McCoy: possession of paraphernalia, possession of a schedule III drug, public intoxication, and theft under $500

James Dallas McMillen, Jr.: theft over $1,000 (2 counts) and theft over $500 (2 counts), and theft under $500

Bruce Allen Morton: driving on a revoked license, DRL (2nd offense), financial responsibility, failure to carry registration, and failure to maintain lane

Melinda Murphy: forgery (2 counts)

Steven Nelson: domestic assault, violation of bond conditions and coercion of a witness

Shawn Renee Nolton: driving on a suspended license, financial responsibility, and violation of the light law

Gary Ponder: theft over $1,000

Wallace Rackley: tampering with evidence, resisting arrest, possession of a schedule II and IV drug, and aggravated assault

Brian Raynes: driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, and possession of a schedule VI drug

Raymond Howard Rollins: domestic assault

Kevin Glenn Smith: reckless endangerment ( 2 counts) and evading arrest

Scottie Lynn Sykes: Burglary, theft over $1,000, vandalism over $1,000, possession of schedule II drug and possession of paraphernalia

Brandon Keith Thomas and Shawn Renee Gibson: initiation of methamphetamine, possession of a schedule IV and VI drug, and possession of paraphernalia

Justin LaVaughn Westbrook: driving on a revoked license (3rd offense) and speeding

Joey Williams: driving on a suspended license and possession of a schedule VI drug

Robert Eugene Wright, III: driving under the influence (4th offense), driving on a revoked license, and failure to maintain lane

Reagan Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Assault in Kidnapping Case

November 26, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Charles Reagan
Amanda Gail Maxwell Bain

A 32 year old man who participated with a co-defendant in the robbery and kidnapping of an elderly man over a year ago was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.

Judge David Patterson presided.

Charles Reagan pled guilty to aggravated assault and received a six year sentence to be suspended after he serves one year. He was given 125 days jail credit.

His co-defendant, 30 year old Amanda Gail Maxwell Bain pled guilty to robbery and kidnapping in October and received a four year sentence in each case as a range one offender. Her sentences are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to another TDOC sentence against her. She was given jail credit from November 6, 2013 to October 3, 2014.

According to Smithville Police, the victim was kidnapped at knifepoint on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 in Smithville and then forced to withdraw funds from his bank account at an ATM machine. The man's abductors later drove him to McMinnville where he made his escape and called police.

The case was investigated by Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes and Detective Brandon Donnell of the Smithville Police Department.

According to Lieutenant Holmes, Bain telephoned the 81 year old victim, an acquaintance, and asked him to come to her Smithville home to talk with her. The victim, who lived in Warren County, drove to Bain's home on Fisher Avenue. As he arrived and entered the residence, Bain allegedly attacked the man from behind and forced him at knifepoint (boxcutter) back into his car, a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix. As the victim sat on the front passenger seat, Bain drove to ATM machines at two local banks where the man was forced to withdraw cash from his account. Bain allegedly got $300 as a result of the crime.

In an attempt to get more money from the victim at another bank ATM, police believe Bain picked up Reagan at her home and the two of them drove the elderly man at knifepoint to McMinnville, according to Detective Donnell. But as they got to McMinnville and stopped at a traffic light, the victim bailed out of the car and escaped. Bain, the driver, got out and ran after him but the victim managed to get to a phone and called 911. McMinnville Police were first alerted but they then contacted the Smithville Police Department. Reagan, who was in the back seat of the victim's car, got into the front seat and drove away. Police believe he abandoned the vehicle somewhere.

Bain and Reagan later made it back to Smithville and stayed the night at a local motel, apparently in an attempt to hide from police. They returned to Bain's home on Wednesday, November 6 2013 where police found the two and brought them in for questioning.

Bain and Reagan were co-indicted in April, 2014 for aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and theft over $1,000.

DCHS Student with Air Soft Pistols Suspended

November 25, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

A DCHS student who bragged to a fellow classmate about bringing a gun to school and was later found with two air soft pistols in his vehicle on campus has been suspended.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE Tuesday that the boy has been suspended from school for Monday and Tuesday this week and Monday through Friday next week. He will then be remanded to the alternative school for the remainder of the year.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Friday that the 17 year old youth is charged in a juvenile petition with committing a delinquent act, to wit: carrying or possessing weapons on school property. He will appear before Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II on December 3.

According to Sheriff Ray, the boy told another student at school Friday that he had a gun in his pocket. When the student said she didn't believe him, the boy claimed he was serious and held his hand inside the pocket of a sweatshirt he wore in a manner that made it appear he had a gun. The teen never displayed a weapon and made no threats toward anyone, said Sheriff Ray.

The incident was reported to assistant principal David Gash. Both Gash and Principal Patrick Cripps went to the boy's classroom, pulled him out of class and searched him. Finding no weapons on the boy, Gash and Cripps went to his vehicle and found two air soft pistols.

School Board to Consider Free Lunches for All Students

November 25, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Stephanie Walker-Dyer

DeKalb County students are being offered free breakfast at school this year under the "Universal Breakfast" program. Now, the school board is considering free lunches under the Community Eligibility Provision, a universal meal plan in the National School Lunch Program that permits eligible districts and schools to provide meals to all students at no charge, regardless of economic status.

The board of education will discuss the possibility of implementing the program next year during a workshop in December.

The federal Community Eligibility Provision is one piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. "CEP was introduced last February by the State of Tennessee. All students would eat free breakfast and lunch," said Stephanie Walker-Dyer, DeKalb County School Nutrition Supervisor during Thursday night's monthly Board of Education meeting.

Initially, school districts wanting to participate had to commit to an entire year of offering lunches under CEP. Now, they may opt out at any time. Due to the uncertainty as to whether the school system would receive sufficient federal reimbursement revenues to cover the costs, the DeKalb County School Board instead chose to start Universal Breakfast for all this year. "We discussed this in a work session this past summer. We had to sign up by July 1st. Since that date, they have given us an extension to that deadline but I did not bring it back up because we had decided not to participate," said Dyer.

CEP guidelines call for schools to cover the costs of free lunches for all if reimbursement rates are not sufficient. "You could actually start this now (free lunches) in January and if you saw you weren't making any money or we were going in the hole, we could actually stop. We could run it two months and stop. But in my opinion, if we start having free breakfast and lunch for everyone in January and we run it in January and February and then we decide this is costing us more than we thought it was going to and we have to start back paying (requiring payment for meals) it's going to be tough when everything has been free," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, during Thursday night's school board meeting.

To determine which schools qualify for free lunches, the federal government uses a formula that takes into account the rates of foster children, homeless children, runaways, migrants and students on food stamps. "To be eligible, we had to have a minimum of 40% of identified students. Identified students are off of our direct certification list which comes from the State of Tennessee. It is students that are on supplemental programs such as SNAP and our homeless, runaway, Head Start, and migrant youth. All of those numbers go together. We did not feel comfortable at 51% (identified students) in being eligible. We would like to have been closer to 60%," said Dyer.

Currently, families must fill out paperwork verifying low income levels to qualify for the federal free and reduced price lunch program. But under the CEP regulations, families would no longer have those hurdles. Still, they would need to fill out a household survey, because a school's participation rate in free and reduced-price lunch programs plays into its ability to compete for federal grants and state funding.

Danny Parkerson, First District School Board member, said he would like to see the free lunch program offered locally because it would save families money. "This is a program that can put (money) back in a family budget at home. It's about like gas prices going down for some of our parents who have two or three kids and are paying a lunch bill. I'd like to have a work session and talk about it. This is something we can give back to our parents," said Parkerson.

Based on the success of Universal Breakfast, Dyer said she is hopeful free lunches can be started next year in the local school system. "In October, compared to last year to this year, DCHS (breakfast participation) has gone up 4%. That is huge for a high school. We're very proud of that number. That is great," she said.

"DeKalb Middle School has gone up 2%. We have since tweaked the menu a little bit and we feel like it will continue to go up in November and December".

"DeKalb West School has gone up 3%. They are just now getting used to hot breakfasts again since their kitchen has been down".

"Northside Elementary has gone up 7%."

"Smithville Elementary School has gone down 2% but they have always been very high participating in breakfast," said Dyer.

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