Local News Articles

WJLE's Fearless Forecasters Return Next Thursday

August 22, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
John Pryor, Jeff James, Joe Goodwin
Ricky Atnip, Scott Brown, Darvin Gill
Joe Goodwin, Darrell Gill, Chad Kirby

WJLE's "Fearless Forecasters" are returning for another season of college pigskin prognosticating Thursday afternoon's at 4:30 p.m. beginning August 29.

This season's regulars are Scott Brown, Chad Kirby, Jeff James, Ricky Atnip, John Pryor, Joe Goodwin, Darvin Gill, and Darrell Gill. A different special guest will make an appearance each week. Joey Reeder will be our guest on the first show.

The "Fearless Forecasters" pick who they believe will win in fifteen of the biggest or most interesting college football games of the week.

They also make an underdog selection each week, picking a team they think will win, even though that team is not favored to win.

The program is sponsored by Liberty State Bank, DTC Communications, DeKalb County Ace Hardware, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, DeKalb County Insurance, DeKalb Tire and Service, Pizza Hut, and the Charles D. Atnip Realty & Auction Company.

Catch the "Fearless Forecasters" LIVE on WJLE Thursday's at 4:30 p.m. starting August 29.

General Assembly Recognizes Chamber for 50 Years of Service

August 21, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
General Assembly Recognizes Chamber for 50 Years of Service

The 108th Tennessee General Assembly has recognized the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce for half a century of service.

The resolution, adopted by both the State Senate and House of Representatives and signed by the Governor is as follows:

"WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should salute those organizations that, through the extraordinary efforts of their members, have improved the quality of life for Tennesseans and contributed enormously to economic development; and

WHEREAS, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is one such estimable organization that is celebrating 50 years of excellence within the community; and

WHEREAS, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce came into being with House Bill No. 468 in the Tennessee General Assembly, which became Chapter No. 84 of the Private Acts of 1963, signed on March 12, 1963 by Governor Frank Clement; and

WHEREAS, the steering committee members were Merle Meyers, Bill Dyer, George LeFevre, Norval Webb, Glen Nichols, Dr. N.R. Atnip, and James G. "Bobo" Driver; and

WHEREAS, throughout its half-century of existence, this august body has been mission driven to lead the partnership between a strong commerce and a thriving community, promoting the growth and involvement of its members in economic development, education, recreation and culture, and safety and respect for the beautiful county of DeKalb; and

WHEREAS, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce represents the business community at work, and it serves as a central agency for community development for industry, the professions, and all civic interest – doing jobs no individual or single entity can do alone and rendering many services that benefit all citizens; and

WHEREAS, numerous examples exist of important initiatives that the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has spearheaded; early on, construction of a new courthouse and health center, the addition of curbs and sidewalks, and the development of a local airport and new industrial park were incredibly important accomplishments which wrought great benefits for the entire DeKalb County community and drew accolades from then Congressman
Joe L. Evins who was in attendance at the December 1970 Chamber Board meeting; and

WHEREAS, a hallmark accomplishment of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce was the initiation of the annual Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival in 1972. The first two-day Jamboree attracted 714 musicians representing 16 states, and now some 40 years later, audiences approach 150,000 ardent fans of bluegrass, old-time, and gospel music who gather yearly to bask in the delightful ambience of DeKalb County and relish the cultural talents of nationally and internationally great string music artists and craft artisans
who have made this venue legendary; and

WHEREAS, another monumental accomplishment of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce made midway through the decade of the 1970s was the establishment of a county-wide fire protection program, which secured four fire engines that provided emergency fire services to locales throughout rural DeKalb County, and the county’s capacity to respond and protect citizens’ lives and property from destruction by fire has been faithfully
supported by the Chamber ever since; and

WHEREAS, 1998 marked the genesis of the Leadership DeKalb Program; for more than a decade this program, which has remained under the able leadership of Director Jen Sherwood, has greatly enriched the leadership corps of DeKalb County and contributed directly to remarkable improvements throughout the county; and

WHEREAS, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has been the catalyst in bringing the Tennessee Downtowns Program to DeKalb County; in 2012 and 2013, many exterior improvements to downtown Smithville buildings have been accomplished. Additionally, a new open air stage located at Evins Park will be used for outdoor concerts and other community events; and

WHEREAS, currently, the Smithville–DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is guided by president Janna Gillard, past president Kathie McGlamery, vice-president Julia Cantrell, secretary Valerie House, treasurer Jeff Crips, and board directors Kathy Hendrixson, Tony Luna, Lori Manns, Shea Colwell, Craig Gates, Charlotte Parsley, Susan Young, Sue Conley, Raul Ramirez, Sherry Harris, and Stein Prichard; and

WHEREAS, through the dedicated service of its members, the chamber has been and continues to be an ambassador of excellence for the community and has proven vital to growth and well being throughout all of DeKalb County; and

WHEREAS, this General Assembly finds it appropriate to pause in its deliberations to acknowledge and applaud the members and staff of the Smithville–DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce for their 50 years of demonstrated dedication to their county and its respective communities; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING, that we hereby honor and congratulate the members and staff of the Smithville–DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce upon their celebration of 50 years of
excellent service to DeKalb County and extend to them our best wishes for every future success.

(Pictured Above: Chamber President Janna Gillard, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Senator Mae Beavers, County Mayor Mike Foster, Chamber Past-President Kathie McGlamery, Chamber V.P. Julia Cantrell)

Supicious Fire Under Investigation

August 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Supicious Fire Under Investigation on Cookeville Highway
Monday Night Fire at Duplex on McMinnville Highway

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Division are investigating a suspicious fire which occurred Thursday morning, August 15 at 3612 Cookeville Highway, the residence of Doris Colwell and her son Eddie Colwell. Both were reportedly home at the time but were not injured.

Central dispatch was notified at 10:48 a.m.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and Tanker Truck of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded.

The fire was quickly brought under control apparently without major damage but smoke spread throughout the home.

DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

Again, investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, county volunteer firefighters quickly contained a small fire at the residence of Jackie Linder on the McMinnville Highway Monday night, August 19

According to County Fire Chief Donny Green, the structure is a duplex and the fire started in a utility room off the back porch on the side of the duplex where Linder resides. "The fire burned up the wall and got partially into the attic. We pulled the ceiling down from inside and put out the fire in the attic before it could spread to the living quarters," said Chief Green.

The fire caused extensive damage to the utility room. Smoke spread to other areas of the residence, causing minimal damage.

"While the fire is not suspicious, the cause is under investigation," said Chief Green.

Captain Anthony Boyd said while Linder is a resident there, he was not at home when the fire started. His nephew, David Linder was there but he was not injured. The owner of the dwelling is Frazier Weisley, Jr. of Murfreesboro.

Members of the Keltonburg, Belk, and Blue Springs stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the tanker and equipment truck. DeKalb EMS and officers of the Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

TDOT Commissioner Opens Hurricane Bridge in DeKalb County

August 20, 2013
TDOT Commissioner Opens Hurricane Bridge in DeKalb County

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer joined with state and local officials today (Tuesday) to celebrate a milestone in the major bridge rehabilitation project on the Hurricane Bridge on State Route 56 over the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County. After being down to only one lane for over two years to allow the contractor to safely work on the bridge, the project had progressed enough that the bridge can now be reopened to two lanes of traffic.

**NEW!!** Photos of the Hurricane Bridge when it was constructed in 1949, as well as photos of the newly reconstructed bridge can be found here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tndot/sets/72157635152159737/

"The Hurricane Bridge is very important to the DeKalb County area and the entire region," said Commissioner Schroer. "I am pleased to be here today to join with our state and local partners to celebrate the reopening of the bridge to two lanes of traffic."

(PLAY VIDEO BELOW)

Work began in February 2011 on the project to fully rehabilitate the 1954 Truss bridge, which was showing signs of aging. The structure has undergone a full rehabilitation, including truss strengthening, steel repair, painting, and bridge deck removal and replacement. The prime contractor for the $28.1 million project is OCCI, Inc. from Fulton Missouri, and the original contract completion date is October 31, 2013.

Even though the bridge has reopened to two lanes, the contractor still has some remaining work to do and will be working in the area until all remaining work is completed.

Senator Mae Beavers, Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Representative Mark Pody represent DeKalb County in the Tennessee General Assembly and have been instrumental in bringing this important project to the area.

Among those on hand for the ribbon cutting in addition to Commissioner Schroer, Senator Beavers, and Representative Weaver were County Mayor Mike Foster, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Liberty Mayor Dwight Mathis, and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams.

Sheriff's Department Makes Five Recent Arrests for Alcohol Related Offenses

August 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kerry Lynn Page
Joan Ann Massie
Jose David Torres
Charles Earl West
Dale Campbell Madden
Ryan Lee Walden
Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested five people within the past week on alcohol related offenses, one for vandalism, another for evading and resisting arrest, and one for driving on a revoked license.

20 year old Kerry Lynn Page of Green Acre Drive, Smithville is charged with underage driving while impaired. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court August 29. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, August 13 Page was operating a motor vehicle when stopped by an officer for failure to maintain his lane of travel. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he allegedly admitted to drinking five beers, according to Sheriff Ray. Page performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and refused a blood test. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

58 year old Joan Ann Massie of Potts Camp Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on August 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 16 a deputy was at a business on Highway 70 west when he saw Massie enter the building. She was very unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. Massie was arrested for her safety and that of the public and brought to the jail for booking.

Jose David Torres of Talley Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 18, an officer was dispatched to check out a white vehicle. Upon arrival, the officer found Torres walking around in a driveway. He was unsteady on his feet. When the deputy walked up to Torres, he noticed the man had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. The officer saw a large cooler of beer on ice and several bottles of alcohol in the vehicle. Torres was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

58 year old Charles Earl West of Pine Grove Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 18 West was in a motor vehicle, parked in the middle of the roadway on Hurricane Ridge Road. The officer, who stopped to do a welfare check, found West passed out in the vehicle. The engine was running with the gear in the drive position. West was awakened. He was unsteady on his feet and very disoriented. Due to health problems, only a few field sobriety tasks could be administered and West performed poorly on all tests. West submitted to a blood test. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. The other DUI offense against him was on November 2, 2006 in DeKalb County.

30 year old Dale Campbell Madden of Holsten Hills Road, Knoxville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 18 Madden was operating a motor vehicle on Evins Mill Road and involved in a property damage crash. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Madden refused to submit to a blood test. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

46 year old William Hardie Morris, Jr. of Old Snow Hill Road, Smithville is charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, August 13 Morris was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and was stopped by an officer for passing a school bus at a high rate of speed. The deputy had prior knowledge of Morris' license being revoked. A computer check confirmed Morris' license were revoked in Tennessee for driving under the influence.

29 year old Ryan Lee Walden of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown is charged with two counts of evading arrest and one count of resisting arrest. His bond is $12,500 and he will be in court on August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, August 5 Walden was walking on the sidewalk on Highway 70. He had an active warrant on him. When an officer activated his blue lights to stop and serve the warrant, Walden ran into the woods. The deputy failed to catch him. Eleven days later, on Friday August 16 an officer spotted Walden in the parking lot of Food Lion. When the officer approached Walden to serve the warrant, Walden ran and jumped off a wall. The deputy chased after, caught up with, and grabbed him. Walden tried to pull away, struggling to get free from the deputy. The officer had to take Walden to the ground to cuff him. Walden refused to heed the officer's commands and he was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

31 year old Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth of West Main Street, Smithville is charged with vandalism over $1,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, August 12 Hollingsworth, an inmate at the jail, intentionally hit and shattered a video visitation screen, valued at over $1,000. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on October 4.

Hurricane Bridge Now Open to Two Way Traffic, Ribbon Cutting Set for Tuesday

August 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Hurricane Bridge Now Open to Two Way Traffic
Hurricane Bridge Now Open

Hurricane Bridge is now open to two way traffic and a ribbon cutting will be held Tuesday morning, August 20.

According to Jennifer Flynn, Tennessee Department of Transportation Community Relations Officer, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer will be having the ribbon cutting at 10:00 a.m.

"The project is not totally complete, but the bridge has been reopened to two lanes, so we’ll be celebrating a major milestone in the project," said Flynn

The ribbon cutting will be held on the north end of the project with parking on the shoulder.

"That bridge was built during World War II and it had some pretty lite structural members," said Paul Degges, TDOT Chief Engineer in a previous interview with WJLE. " One of the things we went through on the project was to make sure it can handle traffic for the next fifty years or so. We went in and looked at every single member of the truss. Some of those metal components underneath the deck are in tension and some are in compression. So we did an analysis on all those to make sure that we replaced the ones that needed to be replaced," said Degges.

"This is an older bridge. It has a lite weight construction so we used a lite weight concrete on it. The concrete deck on this bridge weighs about twenty percent less than concrete we use in typical applications," he said.

"I think motorists will also notice that the bridge rail looks a little different. It's metal instead of concrete. It's just as strong but it's a little bit lighter than concrete," said Degges.

"We took about two feet off the shoulders. While we still have the same width twelve foot travel lanes, the shoulders are now a little bit narrower than they were before the project. What we wanted to do was to be able to put this bridge back in service and get another fifty years out of it," he added.

In October, 2010 TDOT awarded the bid on the Hurricane Bridge Rehabilitation to OCCI Incorporated at $26.9 million. The contractor had until October 31st, 2013 to complete the project. Modjeski and Masters has been the consulting firm.

Two Injured in Separate Sunday Wrecks

August 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Trooper Bobby Johnson Inspects Motorcycle which Crashed on Dale Ridge Road
Lacie Nichole Hamilton Injured in Wreck on Short Mountain Highway

A 28 year old Lavergne man was airlifted after he lost control of his motorcycle and wrecked on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) Sunday afternoon.

Central dispatch received the call at 5:41 p.m.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Waymon Rasheed Tharpe was traveling south on a 1989 Suzuki when he failed to negotiate a curve, went off the highway, struck a culvert and crashed. Tharpe, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike. He had apparently been traveling with a group of other motorcycle riders.

Tharpe was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and airlifted from there by helicopter ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and members of the Liberty Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Meanwhile in a separate crash earlier in the day, one woman was injured in a car wreck on Short Mountain Highway.

Central dispatch received the call at 12:13 p.m.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 28 year old Lacie Nichole Hamilton of Smithville was north on Highway 146 in a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am when she failed to negotiate a curve, crossed the center line of the highway, went off the left side of the road, and struck a utility pole. A small child, in the car with Hamilton, was not hurt. Hamilton was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene along with the Blue Springs Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Man in Wreck Charged with DUI

August 18, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Man in Wreck Charged with DUI

A 56 year old Smithville man was charged with driving under influence after he wrecked his car in the front yard of a residence at 709 Dry Creek Road Saturday night.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that Forrest "Frosty" Byrd was driving west on Dry Creek Road in a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am when the car went off the left side of the street, hit a mail box, and struck a culvert. The car came to a stop in the yard of a residence.

Byrd was not injured.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene.

Clint Hall is New Administrator at NHC Smithville

August 16, 2013
Clint Hall is New Administrator at NHC Smithville

Clint Hall was recently named the new administrator at NHC HealthCare Smithville. Hall takes over for Jim Finley, who transferred to NHC HealthCare Glasgow in Glasgow, KY.

NHC Smithville recently achieved the coveted NHC 5-Star Award for Excellence for the 12th consecutive year. NHC Smithville has also consistently been a leader in the areas of quality patient care and high customer satisfaction. NHC Smithville employs over 120 partners with an overall budget that exceeds $7 million. The dedicated partners of NHC Smithville cared for over 230 admissions in the past 12 months with over 70% returning back to the community.

“I am truly honored to be able to lead a wonderful healthcare center like NHC Smithville,” Clint Hall said. “The dedicated partners of NHC Smithville are a great asset and I am excited to be a part of the team and to be a part of Dekalb County. NHC Smithville has a tradition of providing quality patient care with high customer satisfaction, and I look forward to continuing that practice.”

Hall previously served as the Administrator of NHC HealthCare Scott in Lawrenceburg, TN. Hall attended the Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN and later received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the George Washington University and his Master of Business Administration in Management from Middle Tennessee State University. Hall has worked for NHC since 2009 and is a graduate of NHC’s Administrator-in-Training program. Prior to NHC, Hall served as a Research Analyst for the Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee and as a political consultant for various officeholders in Middle Tennessee. Hall and his wife, Loree, are originally from Murfreesboro, TN.

NHC Smithville offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care and accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, workers compensation, managed care, and private funds. The inpatient healthcare center offers skilled nursing and rehabilitation services to adults of all ages on a short-term and continuing care basis. NHC Smithville’s outpatient clinic offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy services to adults of all ages. For more information about NHC Smithville, visit www.nhcsmithville.com or call (615) 597-4284.

Tractor Trailer Overturns, Driver Escapes Serious Injury

August 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tractor Trailer Overturns, Driver Escapes Serious Injury
Truck Driver from Oak Ridge Receives Minor Injuries in Wreck

A 42 year old truck driver from Oak Ridge lost control of his tractor trailer rig and overturned this morning (Thursday) on the Keltonburg Road, near the intersection with Students Home Road.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Olen Haisten, III was traveling west on Keltonburg Road when the truck dropped off the right shoulder. Haisten overcorrected and came back across the highway. The truck struck a ditch and flipped over on its side in a yard.

Haisten was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS but he refused transport to the hospital. He was driving for the H.T. Hackney Company of Lenoir City which delivers goods to grocery stores. Haisten's truck had no cargo on board at the time of the accident.

A DeKalb County Sheriff's deputy was also on the scene.

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