Local News Articles

THP Names New Nashville District Captain

November 4, 2013
Dwayne Page
Brian Lawson

Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott today named Brian Lawson the new captain of the 12-county Nashville District. Lawson replaces James Hutcherson, who was recently appointed to major over the THP’s Field Operations West Bureau.

Lawson had previously served as troop lieutenant in Warren County and Putnam County prior to this appointment. During his tenure in the Cookeville District, he served as coordinator of the field training officer program and leader of strike team 6. Under Lawson’s leadership, Putnam County also saw a consistent reduction in fatal crashes.

“Brian has proven himself as an up-and-coming leader within the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He has delivered results on the road, and has held personnel accountable as a troop supervisor. I am confident in his abilities to continue producing high marks in the Nashville District and help make our roadways safer,” Trott said.

Lawson’s initial assignment was as a road trooper in White County in 1996. In 1999, he earned the highest number of felony and DUI arrests in the Cookeville District. Lawson was later promoted to sergeant in 2002, where he served in a pair of roles including training instructor and midnight supervisor. He earned the rank of lieutenant in 2006 – a position he held until his promotion to Captain.

Lawson, 40, also brings extensive specialized skills to his role as captain. He identifies talent within the agency as a recruitment and promotional board member, and he holds certifications in DUI, driving track, and defensive tactics instruction. He is also trained in executive dignitary protection and advanced technical accident investigation.

Lawson, originally from Sullivan County, graduated from the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command as class president in 2003.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure that our state is a safe, secure place in which to live, work and travel; enforce the law with integrity; and provide customer-focused services professionally and efficiently.

Josh Issac Hoping to Win Special VIP Audition for NBC's "The Voice" (VOTE HERE)

November 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Josh Issac

The search is on for the next superstar for the hit NBC show "The Voice" and local singing sensation Josh Issac is in the running for a special VIP audition.

Issac is among a number of singers who recently recorded a performance of the National Anthem in an audition in Nashville at the Music City Center. Now through November 17, viewers can go on-line and vote for their favorite audition. One winner will have a VIP audition for a future season of "The Voice"

(Click the link below to register and cast your vote. Josh Issac is contestant #13)

Issac said if he wins VIP status, it will guarantee him an audition for the show. "Basically, it's just a chance to win a ticket to skip the initial rounds of having to wait in long lines. This gives you a chance to sit down and actually talk to a producer and tell them, not only your ability of singing but also your story of how you got there," said Issac in an interview Friday with WJLE.

"What a lot of people don't know, on the show it looks like you are just automatically there but you go through about four or five rounds before you get to the national show. This (VIP Status) would let me skip two rounds so I would be about three rounds away," said Issac.

This is by no means Issac's first try for stardom on the national stage. "Six years ago I did participate in American Idol. I made it pretty far. I was on two different episodes which showed me on there. I decided after that time in my life to hang that up. But in the last couple of months different people have contacted me and I am able now to do some things I wasn't able to do then," he said

In order to secure a VIP audition, Issac needs votes. "Everybody has been asking, can we only vote once? No. You can actually vote once a day. So you get on the link. You have to register to vote. You will then go to your email. Confirm it and then you can vote every day. It's not that hard. Once you get through the initial process you just get on there and vote. People need to know that when you vote, each vote counts. Right now I'm in second place," said Issac.

"One question everyone likes to ask is which coach I would pick if selected on the show. I always tell them that while everyone loves Blake (Shelton) because he's from around here (Tennessee), I probably wouldn't pick him just because he likes country (music) and I am more R&B. I would probably pick Adam Levine," he said.

"The Voice", NBC's blockbuster vocal competition show, features some of the strongest vocalists from across the country . Celebrity musician coaches include Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Ceelo Green along with Carson Daly as host. The show’s innovative format features four stages of competition: the first begins with the blind audition, then the battle round, the brand new knockouts and finally, the live performance shows.

During the blind auditions, the decisions from the musician coaches are based solely on voice and not on looks. The coaches hear the artists perform, but they don't get to see them -- thanks to rotating chairs. If a coach is impressed by the artist’s voice, he/she pushes a button to select the artist for his/her team. At this point, the coach’s chair will swivel so that he/she can face the artist he/she has selected. If more than one coach pushes their button, the power then shifts to the artist to choose which coach they want to work with. If no coach pushes their button, the artist is eliminated from the competition.

Once the teams are set, the battle is on. Coaches will dedicate themselves to developing their team of artists, giving them advice, and sharing the secrets of their success along with the help from their celebrity advisers. During the battle rounds the coaches will pit two of their own team members against each other to sing the same song together in front of a studio audience.

After the vocal battle, the coach must choose which of his/her singers will advance to the next round of competition, while the losing artist is available to be stolen by another coach. Each coach has two steals during the battle rounds.

At the end of the battles, only the strongest members of each coach's roster remain and proceed to the new knockout rounds. The artists will be paired again with a member of their team, but this time they find out only minutes before performing who they are being compared against. The artists each select their own song to perform individually, while their direct competitor watches and waits. They are vying for their coach’s confidence and decision to take them to the live shows. Their coach will choose the winner and the artist not selected will be sent home.

In the final live performance phase of the competition, the top artists from each team will compete each week against each other during a live broadcast. The television audience will vote to save their favorite artists and the two artists with the lowest number of votes will be sent home each week. In the end, one will be named "The Voice" and will receive the grand prize of a recording contract.

Tigers Heading East for First Round of State Play-Offs

November 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Coach Steve Trapp

The DeKalb County Tigers will travel to Knoxville Catholic for the first round of the 2013 Division I BlueCross Bowl Class 4A Football Playoffs next Friday night, November 8. WJLE will have LIVE coverage of the game.

The Tigers (6-4) are seeded fifth and the Fighting Irish (7-3) are a four seed. The winner will face either Signal Mountain (7-3) or Marshall County (4-6) on November 15. Signal Mountain is a number one seed. Marshall County is an eight seed.



This is the third consecutive year the Tigers have earned a berth in the state play-offs. It's their fifth appearance in the last six years. "It is a new season. We have an opportunity to prolong our season. We draw Knox Catholic, a very good football team. It'll be a big challenge for us. A big road trip. We're glad to have the opportunity to have this program in the post season again," said Tiger Coach Steve Trapp

Knoxville Catholic's wins this year have been:
over Notre Dame 22-13
over Coalfield 47-7
over CAK 17-14
over Tyner Academy 24-6
over Hardin Valley 15-14
over Kingston 51-7
over Scott 35-2

Knoxville Catholic's losses this year have been:
to Anderson County 61-40
to Knoxville Webb 34-7
to Alcoa 49-7

DeKalb County's wins have been:
over Warren County 20-7
over Stone Memorial 21-13
over Livingston Academy 35-28
over Cannon County 39-0
over York Institute 34-0
over Macon County 35-16

DeKalb County's losses have been:
to White County 46-21
to Trousdale County 23-21
to Upperman 61-14
to Smith County 35-31

Meanwhile in Class 3A, Alcoa (9-1) will meet York Institute (4-6) in the first round of the play-offs. Alcoa is a one seed. The Dragons are an eight seed.

Upperman (10-0) will face Grundy County (4-6) in the first round. The Bees are a one seed. Grundy County is an eight seed. The winner will meet either Smith County or Tyner.

The Owls (6-4) will take on Tyner (4-6) in the first round. Smith County is a four seed. Tyner is a five seed.

A Look at the Tennessee Legislature

November 2, 2013
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver
Terri Lynn Weaver

Fall has definitely taken center stage since last I sent The Loop. The wind chimes outside my window are whippin’ in the wind, while the screen door is flappin’ every now and then reminding me there is a storm brewing on this last day of October.

With Governor Haslam saying it is unlikely the state will present an agreement with the federal government on Medicaid expansion before the new year, a window to speak with the Governor's office concerning a more fiscally-responsible alternative to state exchanges and medicaid expansion opened up for me last month. I want to thank Governor Haslam for taking time to hear from my friend, C.L. Gray, an M.D. who presented a common sense approach that would give states the ability and incentive to create lean, efficient Medicaid programs. With our national debt now approaching $17 trillion and states operating under the current system of unlimited federal matching dollars, out of control spending continues to be propelled. The more states spend on Medicaid, the more money they receive from Washington—the trajectory is unsustainable for the feds and the states, leaving us cash-strapped, overextended, and most certainly headed for a huge train wreck not far down the tracks. Folks, the Federal Government has proven it is NOT capable to run healthcare. Ask the millions who tried to enroll through the troubled federal website. All indications continue to reveal to me this mandate called Obamacare is nothing but WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! There are ways for reform in healthcare and healthcost. To find out more info, read “The Battle for America's Soul” and watch “The Determinators” via YouTube, and decide for yourself. Are you on the side of empowering and protecting the individual OR surrendering power to the state?

The Tennessee Judicial Conference was held in October. When asked by Chief Justice Wade to “speak of your passion, Representative Weaver,” out of my heart rolled the need for Tennessee to establish more drug courts for mothers who can begin the process of healing, not only for themselves, but also for the babies they birthed who are addicted to prescription drugs. Being number one in the nation for the abuse of prescription drugs is not something to be proud of. This epidemic, stemming from the passage of the Intractable Act of 2001, plus the current lack of strong regulations on pain clinics, has resulted in the alarming number of babies being born forever affected by drugs. It will take all three branches of government to work as a team to heal our state of this sickness. Meeting the judges who already have successful drug courts in our state fueled my passion even more to stay the course. Also encouraging is to know that the Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Corrections are talking the same language and realizing there has to be accountability for this abuse which is no different than being accountable for driving drunk behind the wheel when another's life is broken or taken. Senate hearings concerning this issue showed me members are more educated than last year and see the need to pass legislation that jerks the knee out from under the illegal and legal drug pushers of Tennessee.

During the Tennessee Public Transportation Association’s Annual Conference at Music City Center, I participated in a Legislative Roundtable with three fellow legislators to discuss our state’s highway and transit funding. We are second, with Texas being first, in the nation for Transportation and Infrastructure. We live within our means and top the list in the nation with no transportation debt. Though I see at some point where public transit is going to be a top concern--currently?—well, I like my car and the freedom having my vehicle gives me. Apparently I am not alone, for the mindset of many like the ability to go and come as they please. There is much education needed in order to show the masses Nashville needs a public rapid transit system. Today we face some serious challenges, one of which is how we are going to fund maintaining our current roads and bridges when the gas tax is not sufficient and the federal matching money ceases after December 2014. Having attended Regions 2 and 3 TDOT Summits—25-Year Long Range Plan, addressing the changing demographics that will impact transportation demands across the state, I have invited a speaker from TDOT to my Coffee & Conversations in Smith County on November 15. Please join us and learn how we plan to keep Tennessee moving.

Trousdale County has had a busy and exciting October. First, the Governor visited the Elementary School, which was recognized as a Rewards School. Then a $500,000 grant for water system rehabilitation and economic development was presented to Hartsville-Trousdale County. And most recently, the schools were a district finalist and winner of the SCORE Award, demonstrating great success in student achievement, receiving $25,000 for all that hard work!!!! Great job, students and teachers. Also, it was announced that Trousdale County would be the site for a 2500-bed correctional facility that will bring many jobs and more economical boost to the smallest county in the state. Yes indeed, big things come in small packages and we are grateful for all the good things that have come by Trousdale County here of late.

In closing, what a great week Mike and I have had, taking former NFL player Herman Weaver to the schools in district 40. The response from students and teachers truly was awesome. Placing more positive influences before our children and training them in the way they should go will make a difference in the lives of our leaders of tomorrow.

Now as we begin November ,’tis the season to be thankful. In spite of all the sadness, darkness, and unsettling circumstances around us, I close with words from The Message, Colossians chapter three:

“And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ--The Message--have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives--words, actions, whatever--be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”

Be ye thankful, and have a blessed Thanksgiving,

Terri Lynn

P.S.--Do not forget to join me every Friday at 7:30 for Coffee and Conversations:
1st Friday DeKalb County—Community Complex
2nd Friday Trousdale County—L & T Early Bird Café, Hartsville
3rd Friday Smith County—Smith County Chamber
4th Friday Sumner County—Mable’s Dining Room, Gallatin

Former NFL Punter Herman "Thunderfoot" Weaver Visits DCHS

November 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Herman Weaver with DMS Assistant Principal Amanda Dakas

Former NFL punter Herman "Thunderfoot" Weaver hopes to help students make positive choices in their lives and he shared that message with students at DeKalb County High School Wednesday.

Weaver was introduced to the assembly by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Having spent the last 20 plus years speaking all over the country, Weaver is committed to helping youth make significant change in their own lives. He has had the opportunity to speak in more than 3000 schools to over 1 million students. As Weaver shares his personal faith in God, he is able to challenge students to make positive decisions in their own lives. Decisions between such things as:

•Drug & Alcohol abuse vs. freedom from chemical control.
•Dropping out of school vs. academic leadership.
•Giving into peer pressure vs. establishing positive personal values.
•Aimlessness and suicide vs. purposeful living .

Weaver is a former punter with a 11 year career in the National Football League from 1970 to 1980. He spent 11 years punting in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks. During his career, Weaver punted 693 times for 27,897 total yards. In 1975, Weaver was named the NFC Punter of the Year and in 1988 the Sporting News called him “One of the Top 20 Punters of all Time”. Weaver shares the all-time NFL record for the most punts had blocked in a career at 14.

Weaver played college football for the University of Tennessee Volunteers. While at Tennessee, he had a punt of 71 yards. He also had the best hang-time ever of 5.7 seconds.

He got his nickname from the late Sportscaster Howard Cosell. As the Detroit Lions were preparing for their game on Monday Night Football, Weaver stepped back to punt as the special teams took the field. Cosell was watching practice and at the highest point of the ball flight, a blast of thunder let out of the sky. The next night on Monday Night Football, Cosell referred to Weaver as "Thunderfoot".

Time to Change Smoke Alarm Batteries

November 1, 2013
Dwayne Page

State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak reminds Tennesseans to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors this weekend when they set back their clocks Saturday night for central standard time.

“Alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly to ensure they are providing the proper protection,” McPeak says. “Use the extra hour we gain this weekend to make sure your home and family are fire-safe.”

Many fatal fires occur at night while the victims are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause people to sleep more deeply narrowing the chances of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a fire in their home.

It is critical to install smoke alarms and replace batteries regularly. Twice a year is recommended. This reduces the chance of alarms chirping to indicate low batteries. All too often, a battery is removed and not replaced, putting a home’s occupants at risk. There’s no way to predict when a fire will occur, so even one night without an operational smoke alarm can be dangerous.

Here are some other helpful hints on the importance of smoke alarms:

•Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement. For best protection, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside sleeping rooms. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.

•For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor alarms.

•Smoke alarms with nonreplaceable (long-life) batteries are available and are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps on these units, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.

•Test alarms once a month using the test button. Replace the entire alarm if it's more than 10 years old or doesn't work properly when tested.

•Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a common meeting place. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.

•When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 911.

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist (http://tn.gov/fire/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf).

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for daily fire prevention tips!

Social Security Announces 1.5 Percent Benefit Increase for 2014

October 31, 2013
Dwayne Page

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 63 million Americans will increase 1.5 percent in 2014, the Social Security Administration announced Wednesday.

The 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2014. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2013.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $117,000 from $113,700. Of the estimated 165 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2014, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum. Information about Medicare changes for 2014 is available at www.Medicare.gov.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Hospital ER Receives Health Stream Award

October 30, 2013
Shan Burklow
Hospital ER Receives Health Stream Award

DeKalb Community Hospital’s ER Department was recently awarded Health Stream’s ‘Excellence Through Insight’ Award based on most improved patient satisfaction scores in an ER Department for 2012. (DeKalb Community Hospital reached a 99% overall satisfaction rating in 2012)

“We are honored to receive this award and are very proud of the hard work and persistence that our ER Department displayed to earn it,” said Sue Conley-CEO of DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospitals, “Patient satisfaction is very important to our hospital and that translates to quality of patient care from our staff.”

The award was presented at Health Stream’s Annual Summit at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN. Hospital’s from across the nation gathered in our state’s capital to acknowledge and honor recipients including Smithville’s own DeKalb Community Hospital.


Pictured: Chief Medical Officer Dr. Erik Swensson of Capella Healthcare, ER Director Daniel Goodson and CNO Kim Frazier of DeKalb Community Hospital, Bobby Frist—President and CEO of Health Stream, and Sue Conley-CEO of DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospital.

Bounds Granted Parole

October 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
Gerald Wayne Bounds Granted Parole

66 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds will soon be a free man.

Four members of the Tennessee Board of Parole have voted to release Bounds on parole. The decision was announced Monday afternoon.

Bounds has been in prison for 32 years and 8 months in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of Smithville. He was tried and convicted of first degree murder later that year by a DeKalb County Circuit Court jury and sentenced to life in prison.

While parole has been granted, it may still be several weeks before Bounds is actually released from prison pending completion of a satisfactory release plan for parole supervision.

According to the Rules of the Tennessee Board of Parole "A grant of parole shall not be deemed to be effective until a certificate of parole has been delivered to the inmate, such inmate has voluntarily signed the certificate and the effective date has been reached.

"When an effective date of parole has been established by the Board, release on such date shall be conditioned upon the continued good conduct of the inmate and the completion of a satisfactory release plan for parole supervision."

Bounds came up for his fifth parole hearing almost two weeks ago on Wednesday, October 16. The hearing was held at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville where Bounds is incarcerated.

Two members of the Tennessee Board of Parole present for the hearing took different views on whether Bounds should be paroled. Board member Tim Gobble voted to deny parole for another year due to the seriousness of the offense. Board member Patsy Bruce voted to grant parole.

After the hearing, Bounds' file was sent to the other members of the Tennessee Board of Parole. They reviewed the case and cast their votes. The voting continued until there were four concurring votes. In this case, four members concurred in granting Bounds parole.

Open Air Stage to be Completed Soon

October 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
Open Air Stage

A new open air stage under construction downtown will soon be completed and available to showcase a variety of community entertainment events.

"It's coming along beautifully," said Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce. "We still need to get the cedar shakes on the roof. We've still got to get the electricity going and add safety railings and beautiful wide stone steps on the front but we're getting close. We hope to have a big celebration in the spring to let everybody see it and enjoy it. We're really looking forward to that," she said.

The open-air stage, located in Evins' Park begin the Smithville City Hall, is part of an effort by the Tennessee Downtowns Program Steering Committee to help revitalize downtown, Smithville.

In December, 2010, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Smithville was among 12 communities selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts. Smithville was among several Tennessee communities with central business districts at least 50 years old which were eligible to apply for a downtown revitalization package. Mini-grants were also made available to local downtown business owners who wanted to join in the effort.

A total of sixteen Smithville building owners were awarded $500 in mini-grants by the committee for investing a minimum of $1,000 in exterior improvements to their buildings.

"I applied for the Tennessee Downtowns Program and we got accepted into that," said Williams. "After we went through about a year of being trained and meeting all these different requirements, I was allowed to apply for a $15,000 grant which we got. We used $8,000 of it to do the mini-grants downtown. We had sixteen businesses or property owners that applied and if they made at least $1,000 improvements to the outside of their buildings we gave them $500 back. That went really good. With the $7,000 we had left, we invested in this open air stage which actually has become more beautiful than we imagined," said Williams.

While the project has benefitted from generous donations, Williams said more money will be needed to finish it. "Gaius Overton, who is married to Mary Evins (daughter of the late Congressman Joe L. Evins), is an architect so he made us two models and didn't charge us a thing for that. We picked the one we liked and we've been working on it ever since. The Smithville Rotary Club gave us an extra $1,000 and Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Project Hometown Help gave us another $1,500. I've still got to raise a little bit more money to finish it out," she said.

"It'll totally be available for public use. We look forward to having all kinds of art and music events and outdoor concerts once it's finished," said Williams.

Members of the Tennessee Downtowns Program Committee are Steve White, chair; Wade Smith, Alan Webb, and Mark Ashburn.


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