Local News Articles

Christmas on the Square Thursday

December 3, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Santa will be at Justin Potter Library Thursday during Christmas on the Square

The Christmas season is here which means it’s time to celebrate Christmas on the Square! This holiday event will be celebrated on Thursday, December 5th from 5 PM to 8 PM on the Smithville Public Square.

The Community Chorus & other special music beginning at 5 PM on the west side of the Courthouse. Boy Scout Troop #347 will have a Flag-Raising Ceremony at 5:25 PM.

Tree Lighting Ceremony – Held at 5:30 PM on the west side of the Courthouse. Be there for the countdown!

Courthouse Open House – Stop by to visit and enjoy the refreshments and festive atmosphere. Come by and visit the Chamber office in the Courthouse, Room 201.

A FREE Photo Booth & Christmas DJ Music will be provided by the City of Smithville – Enjoy your favorite holiday music throughout the night plus have a fun, complimentary picture made at the Cosmo Creations Photo Booth located inside the east entrance of the Courthouse.

At the Justin-Potter Library, WSMV Channel 4’s Snowbird will read to the children beginning at 6 PM. The library will have a special visit from Santa immediately after, so don’t forget to bring your camera!

Inflatables & Train Rides for the Children, if weather permits.

There will be extended hours and Open Houses at several downtown stores, offices, and restaurant. This is a wonderful time for Christmas shopping and having a nice meal downtown. Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams would like to invite everyone to this enjoyable and heartwarming experience – Christmas on the Square! For more information, call the Chamber office at 597-4163.

Rescue Squad Comes to Aid of Two Hunters Injured in Fall

December 2, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Rescue Squad came to the aid of two coon hunters, 19 year old Chris Chapman and a 17 year old boy, who were injured after falling off a bluff late Saturday night about a mile from Tabernacle Road.

Joe Johnson, member of the Rescue Squad, told WJLE that the two young men were with three other coon hunters at the time. "There were five hunting in the party and they saw the two fall down the bluff. They couldn't get down to them so they walked out on Tabernacle Road and contacted 911. They (911) dispatched us out there. We found a way to get in to the top of the hill with an ambulance and a rescue vehicle and then we used ropes to go down the rest of the way," said Johnson.

Members of the Rescue Squad were on the scene from around midnight until 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning. "We got the call at approximately 11:42 p.m. that these two hunters had fallen into a ravine down through a bluff," said Johnson.

"We had to rappel down with ropes about three hundred fifty feet to get to them and then we had to use manpower to pull each one back up in a basket," added Dustin Johnson, Captain of the Rescue Squad.

"One of the hunters had injuries to his chest area. I'm not sure, it could have been broken ribs. He was in pain. The other man couldn't walk. He had an injury to his knee and possibly a head injury. The juvenile was brought up first and taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. While they were enroute with him, we brought the other man up. He refused treatment and went home in a private vehicle. We were out until about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning getting them out and back up that bluff. The terrain was rough. We had to go down with ropes ourselves and then we had to pull each Rescue Squad member back out after getting the patients out," said Joe Johnson.

Injuries to the victims were not believed to have been life threatening.

Liberty Celebrates Christmas (VIEW ENTIRE PARADE VIDEO HERE)

December 1, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Santa's Arrival, the highlight of the parade
FIRST PLACE FLOAT:Huff & Puff Trucking, Incorporated
First Place Childrens Catefory-Eli Layne Laxton of Liberty

Main Street in Liberty was lined with enthusiastic holiday celebrants and Christmas lovers of all ages on Sunday for the town's annual Christmas Parade.

Liberty Mayor Dwight Mathis and wife Shirley served as the Grand Marshals.

Huff & Puff Trucking, Incorporated of Woodbury received first place in the float competition. Second place went to a float entry from Smithville called "True Meaning of Christmas-the Birth of Christ".

First place in the children's category went to Eli Layne Laxton of Liberty for an entry called "Sugar & Spice". Brandon and Ava Kent of Lascassas received second place.

Billy Joe and Ann Cripps of Dowelltown were awarded for best vintage automobile, a 1956-210, two door hardtop. Tommy Mullins of Readyville received second place for his 1970 Nova SS.

The parade also featured other floats and vintage automobiles, tractors, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, horseback riders, the DCHS band, local law enforcement, fire departments, DeKalb EMS, DeKalb Rescue Squad, political candidates, and of course Santa Claus.

After the parade, drawings were held for cash giveaways.

A sign on the front of the fire engine bearing Santa, read "Mayor Hale you will be missed". A reminder of Mayor Edward Hale's passing in May. Mayor Hale always looked forward to and enjoyed the Liberty Christmas parade each year.

M2U01339 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Bill Conger to Host Book Signing at F.Z. Webb & Sons Gifts

December 1, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bill Conger
"Rejoice in the Lord Always: The Jeff Hillman Story"

“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” is a commonly held belief that many Christians hold dear to their hearts. For one family, this statement could not be any truer.

The Ralph Hillman family of Murfreesboro lived a picture perfect life until a mysterious illness called Reye’s syndrome, struck their seven year old son. “Rejoice in the Lord Always” by Bill Conger follows the story of Jeffrey Hillman’s journey living with Reye’s syndrome, which is a potentially fatal illness that affects the brain and liver.

Conger was inspired to write Jeffrey’s story in order to show others the awesome power of God’s presence through faith.

Conger will be in Smithville for a book signing of "Rejoice in the Lord Always: The Jeff Hillman Story" at F. Z. Webb & Sons Gifts Thursday, December 5 from 3:30-7:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. He will also have a book signing at Justin Potter Library on Saturday, December 14 from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.

“I think seeing a family face a crisis with faith and an attitude of ‘why not us’ rather than ‘why me’ is in direct contrast to society’s usual victimized mentality,” said Conger. “This attitude shows real strength and inspired me to want to write their story so I could share it with others.”

In an interview with WJLE recently, Conger said he learned of the story in a public speaking class at MTSU taught by Jeff's father, Ralph. "The family had taken a trip to Canada on a family vacation. On the way back, Jeff started to feel poorly. His folks gave him some children's aspirin to try and help him feel better but that didn't help. A few days later he contracted Reye's syndrome, which was practically an unknown disease at the time. He was later hospitalized at Vanderbilt hospital," said Conger.

As the story unfolded, Conger learned how the boy experienced a dramatic healing, after coming face to face with death. "I was pretty amazed with this story, just from a writer's standpoint but in the beginning I was cynical. While I am a Christian and grew up in the church, somehow I expected the miracles of today to be more outstanding like when Moses parted the Red Sea instead of coming in small increments. I was also jaded having seen some shady characters in TV ministries at the time that purported to heal people. I was kind of turned off by that and it made me skeptical. But the more I got to know Ralph and his family and saw that they weren't charlatans and that they were sincere Christians and walked the Christian walk, I started to believe more and more in their story. It changed my life spiritually and I grew more as a Christian and deeper in my faith as a result of learning more about Jeff," said Conger.

A Smithville native, Conger is a freelance writer who has penned articles for publications and websites including American Songwriter, CMT.com, VH-1.com, GACTV.com, Bluegrass Unlimited, Homecoming, Fostering Families, and ParentLife. He was a reporter and anchor for WSM AM and a news reporter for local stations in Middle Tennessee. Conger's first broadcasting job was as a part time staff announcer at WJLE during his high school years in the 1980's. Conger now lives in Mount Juliet with his wife Alyssa, and son, Gavin Conger. He is a school counselor at DeKalb West School in Liberty.

To learn more about the book visit www.jeffsmiracle.com.

Cantrell Gets Six Year Sentence for Aggravated Burglary

November 29, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
William Andrew "Andy" Cantrell
Rhonda Murphy
Dakota Stith

A 45 year old man, charged with breaking into a home, an outbuilding, two vehicles, and a church on Veterans Day last year, appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, November 25

William Andrew "Andy" Cantrell pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated burglary and received a six year sentence to serve at 35% before his release eligibility date. He was given jail credit from November 11, 2012 to November 25, 2013.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday, November 11, 2012 Cantrell allegedly broke into a residence on Big Woods Road by prying open a back door. He also broke a window. Cantrell allegedly stole from the home a 22 caliber H & R target pistol, valued at $400. Cantrell also allegedly broke into an outbuilding at the residence. Entry was made through a window. Once inside he took a four wheeler and burst through the doors of the outbuilding.

On the same day, Cantrell allegedly broke into two vehicles at another residence on Big Woods Road. Both vehicles were unlocked so entry was made by simply opening the doors. Cantrell allegedly tried to steal one of the vehicles. He damaged the steering wheel column around the ignition keyhole as well as the glove box. The total amount of the vandalism to that vehicle was estimated at $1,000. Cantrell allegedly tried to steal the radio in the other vehicle and caused damage to the dashboard around the radio.

Cantrell also allegedly broke into the Old Fashion Free Will Baptist Church on Blue Springs Road. Entry was made through a back door. He allegedly stole a laptop computer, two wireless keyboards, a projector, and a black bag with a total estimated value of $2,200.

After being arrested and taken to jail on Monday November 12, 2012 Cantrell was searched by correctional officers and they found on him a small red plastic container with a powdery substance believed to be methamphetamine.

Meanwhile in another case, 31 year old Rhonda Murphy pleaded guilty Monday to one count of aggravated burglary and received a three year sentence all suspended to probation. She was given seven days of jail credit.

Murphy and 27 year old Eric Wayne Tramel were co-indicted last year on charges of aggravated burglary, theft over $1,000, and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Murphy's boyfriend, 23 year old Jason Kyle Shepard of Dowelltown was charged on a state warrant for fraudulent use of a credit card.

Sheriff Ray said that Murphy, Tramel, and Shepard were accused of using a credit card, taken from the home of a person on the Old Blue Springs Road that Murphy had been caring for. According to Sheriff Ray, while at the residence of the person she was caring for on September 28, 2012 Murphy left a window unlocked to allow Tramel to enter and steal some items from the residence. Tramel allegedly stole two laptop computers, valued at $2,000 along with assorted jewelry, valued at $3,000. Sheriff Ray said the three defendants participated in using the stolen credit card over a three month period to purchase an assortment of items.

Tramel pleaded guilty in this case and another in August and was sentenced on two counts of aggravated burglary. He received a six year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other. He must serve at least 35% of the sentence before his release eligibility date. Tramel must make restitution in one case of $234 and in an amount to be determined in the other case. He was given jail credit from November 11, 2012 to July 22, 2013.

Shepard's case apparently remains pending in court.

21 year old Dakota Stith pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary and received a four year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other. He will be on state probation. Stith was given 90 days jail credit. Restitution to be determined.

Seven Sentenced on Drug or Alcohol Charges

November 29, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

Seven people were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday after entering pleas to drug or alcohol charges against them.

Judge David Patterson presided.

23 year old Brittany Mingle pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a controlled substance and received a four year sentence in each case as a range one offender to serve at least thirty percent. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other but have been suspended to probation, except for thirty days to serve. Mingle must pay a $2,000 drug fine, make $40 restitution to the sheriff's department, and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. She was given twenty days of jail credit. Mingle has applied for judicial diversion.

45 year old Brett Anderson pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a five year sentence, suspended to supervised probation after he serves six months. He was fined $2,000. The term is to run concurrently with a violation of probation against him.

22 year old Josh Anderson pleaded guilty to sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance. He received a two year sentence in each case to run consecutively for a total of four years. He was given credit for time served and he will be on probation for the remainder of the term. He has been granted judicial diversion. Anderson was fined $2,000 and he must pay eighty dollars restitution. The sentence will run concurrently with his probation in a General Sessions court case against him.

24 year old Calen Paschal pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and possession of a schedule VI controlled substance for resale. He received a two year sentence to serve in each case to run concurrently with each other. Paschal was given jail credit from June 3, 2013 through November 25, 2013.

35 year old Andrew Wilbert pleaded guilty to attempt to deliver a schedule II drug. He received a two year sentence, suspended to supervised probation. He was fined $2,000. Wilbert has been given credit for time served. The sentence is to run concurrently with a violation of probation case against him.

25 year old Cory Ryan Hendrixson pleaded guilty to sale of a counterfeit controlled substance. He received a two year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation with credit for 33 days of time served. He must pay a $2,000 drug fine, make restitution to the Smithville Police Department, and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. Hendrixson was granted judicial diversion.

34 year old Brian E. Clark pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to supervised probation except for 28 days to serve. He was fined $360 and he will lose his driving privileges for a period of time. Clark must attend outpatient drug classes/treatment for seventeen days.

Grand Jury Complimentary of Jail Operation

November 27, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Jail

Members of the DeKalb County Grand Jury conducted a tour of the Jail Monday and filed a complimentary report as to its operation.

The reports states that "The DeKalb County Grand Jury met on Monday, November 25 to review cases presented. After the jurors were sworn in they were invited to tour the DeKalb County Jail. The group was greeted by Sheriff Patrick Ray to conduct the tour".

"The jurors were particularly impressed by the cleanliness, orderliness, and efficiency of the facility. The DeKalb County Jail is an accredited facility and adheres to regulations that meet the standards including nutritious meals and a limitation of inmates at any one time. Select privileges are allowed for good behavior. Groups or individuals are welcome to take tours of the DeKalb Jail upon request. The jurors commend Sheriff Patrick Ray and his staff for their most professional demeanor".

"All county employees met bonding requirements necessary for certification by the law," the report concluded.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Up in October to 8.1%

November 27, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's Unemployment rate for October was 8.1%, up from 7.8% in September and 7.2% in October 2012.

The local labor force for October was 9,510. A total of 8,750 were employed and 770 were unemployed.

County unemployment rates for October show the rate increased in 64 counties, decreased in 18, and remained the same in 13 counties.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for October was fourth lowest in the Upper Cumberland Region. Here's how the fourteen counties ranked from highest to lowest:

Pickett County: 12.2%
White County: 11%
Van Buren County: 10.9%
Clay County: 10.9%
Jackson County: 9.8%
Warren County: 9.1%
Fentress County:9%
Cumberland County: 9%
Macon County: 8.7%
Overton County: 8.2%
DeKalb County: 8.1%
Putnam County: 7.7%
Cannon County: 6.9%
Smith County: 6.7%

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.7 percent, unchanged from September. Knox County’s October rate was also 6.7 percent, up from 6.6 percent the previous month. Hamilton County was unchanged at 8.0 percent. Shelby County was 10.1 percent, up from 9.9 percent in September.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for both September and October is 8.4 percent, which is one tenth of one percentage point lower than the August revised rate. The national unemployment rate for October 2013 was 7.3 percent, up one tenth of one percentage point from September.

More Petitions Picked Up from Election Commission

November 26, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Three more persons have picked up qualifying petitions from the election commission office.

Travis Bryant of Holmes Creek of Holmes Creek Road, Smithville plans to run as an Independent in the August General Election to fill the remaining two years of a vacant constable position in the third district

Bobby R. Taylor of Midway Road, Smithville will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for a fourth district county commission position in the May 6 primary.

Michael Agee of Holmes Creek Road, Smithville will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Sheriff in the May 6 primary.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley said with elections on the minds of voters, now is a good time to update your address if you have moved.

“We’ve had three petitions returned already and I've noticed some of the voters signing petitions have listed addresses that are different than what we have on file in our database," Stanley said. “It is very important for voters to keep their residential address up to date with our office in order to avoid unnecessary delays when they go to the polls next year," he added.

Cunningham Indicted on Statutory Rape Charge

November 26, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bryan Cunnningham

A 24 year old man has been indicted on the charge of statutory rape for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a fifteen year old girl.

Bryan Cunningham is among more than fifty persons who were indicted by the new term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury which convened on Monday, November 25. Seven persons were named in sealed indictments

All the defendants will be arraigned on Monday, December 9.

The incident involving Cunningham occurred on Friday, July 5.

Smithville Police said that Lieutenant Matt Holmes and Sergeant Brad Tatrow caught Cunningham and a young girl engaging in sexual activity in the woods by the creek on Holmes Creek Road. The officers were patroling the area because it's a known hangout.

The names of defendants indicted and their charges are as follows:

April Lynn Anderson- Theft over $1,000

Anthony Adcock and Tammi Adams- Initiation of a process to manufacture meth; Manufacture of marijuana; and Possession of a weapon by a felon (2 counts)

Matthew Baker- Promotion of meth manufacture, Possession of a Schedule II & III drug, Possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest

Christopher Barnes-Burglary and Theft over $1,000

Bryan Keith Boring- Driving under the influence

Jason Cline-Driving under the influence (2nd offense)

Jimmy Corder- Aggravated assault and Vandalism under $500

Bryan Cunningham- Statutory Rape

Hector Alejandro Caballero- Driving under the influence and Violation of the Implied Consent law

Anthony Lynn Colwell- Initiation of a process to manufacture meth

Billy Joe Rigsby and William Cory Dickens- Theft over $60,000 and Theft over $10,000

Brandon Hutchings, Sherry Malone, and Patricia Durham- Initiation of a process to manufacture meth and Promotion of meth manufacture

Billy Joe Davis, II- Driving under the influence

David Wayne Dowell- Aggravated Burglary, Theft under $500, and Vandalism under $500

Lonnie Ray Dyer- Aggravated Burglary and Theft under $500

Crystal Dianne Fults- Introduction of Contraband into a Penal Institution, DUI, and Possession of a Schedule II drug

Don Groshon- Prescription Fraud

Steven Levan Gandy- Driving on a revoked license and Initiation of a process to manufacture meth

Victor Gingerich- Driving on a Revoked License (3rd offense)

Rhonda Goff- Forgery (5 counts)

Josh Wayne Goff- Assault and Driving on a suspended license

Thomas Bruce Greene- DUI (2nd offense) and Driving on a suspended license

Andrew Tyler Hall-DUI (2nd offense)

Jessie Comer Harris- Initiation of a process to manufacture meth, Aggravated assault, Tampering with evidence, Evading with a motor vehicle, DUI, Reckless endangerment, and Resisting arrest

Brandon Hutchings and Jessica Jenkins- Auto burglary, Theft under $500, Promotion of meth manufacture, Possession of a schedule II drug, and Possession of paraphernalia

Joseph Ray Huff- Theft over $1,000 and Evading arrest

Jason Johnson- Possession of a handgun while intoxicated, DUI, and Violation of the Implied Consent law

Rhonda Michelle King- Initiation of a process to manufacture meth

Megan Ann Lann- Theft under $500

Molly Lawrence- Theft over $1,000 (2 counts)

Sharon Malone- Possession of a schedule III drug

Jonathan K. McCormick- Burglary and Theft over $1,000

Travis Melton- Introduction of contraband into a penal institution

Stephen Jason Moore- Possession of paraphernalia

Hector Orozco-Larragaita- DUI and Driving without a driver's license

Karie Lynn Padgett- Theft under $500

Ralph Edward Pease, Jr.- Possession of a schedule II drug, Possession of paraphernalia, and Driving on a suspended license

Bradley Pugh- Initiation of a process to manufacture meth

Danny Austin Reeder- Possession of a schedule IV drug

Dennis Reeder- Possession of a schedule VI & III drug, DUI (2nd offense), and Violation of the Implied Consent law

Carl Schwartz- DUI (2nd offense) and Driving on a revoked license

Casimiro Silva- DUI and Leaving the scene of an accident

Walter Smouthers- Stalking (3 counts)

Erik Suarez- DUI (2nd offense), Driving on a suspended license, and Violation of the implied consent law

Megan Ann Tramel- Forgery (6 counts)

Abigail Vogel- Introduction of contraband into a penal institution and Public intoxication

Ryan Walden- Theft over $1,000, Evading arrest (2 counts), Resisting arrest, and Aggravated burglary

Autumn White- Possession of a schedule II drug for resale, Possession of a schedule III drug, Possession of a schedule IV (2 counts), Evading arrest, and Resisting arrest.

Jeremy Edward Woodard- Driving a revoked license

Jarrod Cain West- Driving on a suspended license

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