Local News Articles

Dan Evins Remembered Fondly

January 17, 2012
Dwayne Page
Dan Evins

"He was a very private person, but was without question one of the most generous and caring individuals I had the good fortune to know," said W.J. (Dub) Evins, III of his uncle, the late Dan Evins.

The 76 year old founder of Cracker Barrel died Saturday in Lebanon and will soon be laid to rest following a private service.

Evins, according to Dub Evins, was born in Smithville in 1935. But a few years later, while still a young child, Evins and members of his family moved to Lebanon. While much attention has been given nationally in recent days of his accomplishments in starting the Cracker Barrel, Dub Evins said more focus should be placed on the man himself. "I really don't know how to express how much he has meant to me over the years, but especially the past 7 or 8 years. Anyone can log on to their computer and see the headlines from the Chicago Sun Times, Washington Post, USA Today, MSNBC, FOX Business, and scores of other publications. All of these news sources report on his success and accomplishments as CEO of the company he founded with over 600 restaurants and 60,000 employees. He possessed a gift and had a vision like no one I have ever known. What was not emphasized was Danny Evins as a person," said Dub Evins.

"He helped so many people in every way imaginable, never expecting anything in return. I have always felt so blessed to know that he was always there for me in so many different ways. He loved his children and grandchildren unconditionally. I am so grateful that his children, my cousins, welcomed me into their lives and afforded me the opportunity to spend time with him. One thing I can proudly say is that he was my friend, but most importantly, I was his friend also," said Dub Evins.

"My father, Danny's oldest brother, was very close to Danny and my heart goes out to him. This society lost a great businessman. I lost a mentor and very special friend. He cared deeply for me and I had a admiration for him that can not be put into words," added Dub Evins

D. W. "Dan" Evins, born 11 October 1935 to W.J. "Dub" Evins & Estelle McCartney Evins, passed peacefully with his family on January 14, 2012. He is preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Margarita, and his brother, E. W. "Eddie" Evins. He is survived by his brother, W.J. "Jack" Evins, sister, Myrtie Ann Evins Doak, his five children, Daina (Phillip) Warren, Meacham (LaDonna) Evins, Kate (Bob ) Page, Betsy (Bubba) Jennings, Joe Evins, and his thirteen grandchildren, Danny (Brooke) Warren, Will Warren, Mallory Jennings, Danny "Woody" Evins II, Sam Page, Madeline Jennings, Kathleen Evins, Maggie Page, Caroline Evins, Molly Jennings, Brian Evins, Merritt Jennings, and Donna Marie Evins. A private service will be held. If you would like to make a donation please do so at Joseph's Storehouse (Lebanon, TN), The Nashville Rescue Mission (Nashville, TN), or a charity of your choice.

Liberty Woman Charged with Vandalism

January 17, 2012
Dwayne Page
Robin Lee Keaton
Bobby McMen Hullett
Kathy Jo Massengail

A 32 year old woman has been charged with vandalism of a residence at the housing project in Liberty.

Bond for Robin Lee Keaton is $1,000 and she will be in court on February 9.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday, January 15 a deputy responded to Cedar Street in Liberty where someone was reported to be breaking out windows of a building belonging to the Smithville Housing Authority. Two windows were found to be broken including one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom. The complainant stated that Keaton was the person responsible. When confronted Keaton allegedly admitted to the vandalism.

A DeKalb County High School student, 18 year old Juan Carillo Perez of Talley Road, Smithville, has been cited for simple possession and carrying a prohibited weapon. He will be in court on February 2.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, January 12 a student told the school resource officer that Perez left school and then returned. Principal Kathy Hendrix and the SRO got Perez out of class. Perez submitted to but performed poorly on all sobriety tasks. He allegedly had bloodshot eyes. Perez consented to a search of his vehicle and a marijuana cigarette was found inside the automobile along with a bb gun which was made to look like a "real" gun. Perez allegedly admitted to having smoked some marijuana during lunch time. He said the marijuana cigarette belonged to him.

45 year old Bobby McMen Hullett of Smithville is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and filing a false report. His bond totals $4,000 and he will be in court February 2.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, January 13 deputies and detectives of the sheriff's department went to Hullet's home on Morse College Road to pick up a 17 year old runaway who was believed to be at this residence. Hullet denied knowing the whereabouts of the runaway, telling the officer that he had not seen him. Upon searching the home, the officer found the runaway hiding in Hullet's bedroom closet. Hullett is charged with contributing to the unruly behavior of the child by allowing him to stay at his residence knowing that the child had run away from home.

45 year old Mark Gregory Brock of Webb Lane, Smithville is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. Brock was also issued a citation for failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court February 9.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Sunday, January 15 a deputy got behind a vehicle on Highway 56 south after observing him crossing the center line of the highway several times. The officer stopped the automobile on Highway 56 south at Joe Tittsworth Road. Brock was identified as the driver. The deputy noticed that Brock's speech was very slurred and he had a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Brock submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. Brock was very unsteady on his feet. He also submitted to a blood alcohol test.

41 year old Kathy Jo Massengail of Keltonburg Road is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court February 9.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, January 15, a deputy responded to a residence on Keltonburg
Road to a physical domestic. Upon arrival the officer saw a man who had a towel wrapped around his left forearm. The man's arm was bleeding. He had a busted lip, a scratch on his nose, and a red pump knot on his forehead. The man and Massengail told the officer that they began arguing and that she punched him several times in the face. The man got mad and ran his hand through a window. It was determined the Massengail was the primary aggressor.

Habitat Names Officers and New Board Members

January 17, 2012
Habitat Officers for 2012
New Habitat Board Members

The Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County had its Annual Meeting on January 10 and officers elected for the upcoming year include Nancy Lewis, secretary; Nolan Turner, president; Brenda Hooper, treasurer; and Larry Green, vice president.

Habitat plans to build with a DeKalb County family in 2012. Anyone wanting to learn more and apply for a Habitat 0% interest mortgage, may attend a meeting on Feb. 16, 6-7 p.m. at the Methodist Family Life Center. Please call 615-215-8181 for more information.

The Board of Directors also welcomed the following new board members, who will serve for a two-year term: Nolan Turner of DeKalb Community Bank; Rob Willingham of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; and John Carpenter, pastor of First United Methodist Church. The Retiring board members are Sharon Evans, president, and Kim Wheeler, treasurer.

TOP PHOTO: (pictured left to right) Nancy Lewis, secretary; Nolan Turner, president; Brenda Hooper, treasurer; and Larry Green, vice president. Habitat plans to build with a DeKalb County family in 2012. Anyone wanting to learn more and apply for a Habitat 0% interest mortgage, may attend a meeting on Feb. 16, 6-7 p.m. at the Methodist Family Life Center. Please call 615-215-8181 for more information.

BOTTOM PHOTO: Nolan Turner of DeKalb Community Bank; Rob Willingham of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; and John Carpenter, pastor of First United Methodist Church (not pictured). The Retiring board members are Sharon Evans, president, and Kim Wheeler, treasurer.

Dan Evins, Founder of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Chain, Dies

January 16, 2012
Dan Evins

Dan Evins, the founder of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store chain, died Saturday in Lebanon.

Evins helped build the chain into a national brand as CEO from 1969 to 2001 and he served as chairman until he retired in 2004. Cracker Barrrel Old Country Store, Inc, headquartered in Lebanon, now operates more than 600 restaurants in 42 states.

On its website, the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has issued the following release:

"Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. today extended condolences to the family of Founder and Chairman Emeritus Dan (Danny) W. Evins and expressed sadness at the loss of the man who first conceived of a restaurant that would provide a safe and welcoming home-away-from-home for travelers. Mr. Evins was 76 when he passed away on January 14 in Lebanon, Tenn.

In remembering Danny, Cracker Barrel Executive Chairman Michael A. Woodhouse expressed his sympathy and said, "I first met Danny when I joined Cracker Barrel in 1995 and knew immediately what a rare individual he was. Danny was a straight-shooter and dedicated to authenticity. It was an honor and a responsibility that I took seriously to follow Danny as CEO, and then as Chairman when he retired." Woodhouse added, "Danny was the keeper of this special brand for so many, many years, and he left us with a strong culture that values quality and honesty. He will be missed deeply."

Cracker Barrel President & Chief Executive Officer Sandra B. Cochran said, "Cracker Barrel has remained true to Danny's vision in many ways, including the insistence on quality products at a fair price, and on genuine Southern hospitality. How Danny thought about his guests and his business from the beginning is captured in ‘Pleasing People,' our mission statement." She added, "We will continue to protect the concept and honor Danny's legacy by staying true to the brand and to the principles that were there at the beginning."

Danny was a Shell Oil "jobber" in 1969 when he decided to open up a restaurant on Highway 109 in Lebanon, Tenn., the community in which he lived. The restaurant had a small gift shop attached. Because Danny was modest and humble, he always downplayed his contributions to the business and attributed the company's success to good luck. But Danny knew that with the new interstate highway system, people would be traveling more. He built his business by treating his guests with genuine hospitality, offering good tasting country cookin' and charging a fair price, so that they would stop again when they were traveling back in the other direction. That approach to business led to the company's mission statement, "pleasing people," a mission statement which is about mutual respect, and which still guides all 67,000 employees today.

Danny named his restaurant Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® to recall the country stores of his youth in rural Tennessee where people would gather around to play checkers on top of an empty barrel that had been used to deliver crackers to the store, and catch up on the latest news in their small towns. He offered the Southern country cooking he had grown up on, using many family recipes, and decided to decorate the walls with authentic antiques. Danny never compromised on the quality of ingredients for the meals he served or on the quality of the gifts he sold in his retail shop, regardless of what corners the competition might be cutting. These traditions of quality and authenticity are carried on to this day.

Danny was often asked if he had ever thought that Cracker Barrel would grow so large and become such a favorite with guests. He would respond with a mock-serious "yes," and then smile as he added an offer to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to anyone who was naïve enough to believe that he had planned such growth in advance. But he knew that the idea of an old country store would be well-received outside of the South, in parts of the country that had as their traditions the very similar general stores and trading posts of the old days.

Danny was beloved by so many Cracker Barrel employees and built a unique culture that encouraged them to stay. Indeed, Cracker Barrel is fortunate to enjoy very low turnover rates and has a large number of employees who have been with the company for 20 and 30 years and more. He initiated the industry-leading Personal Achievement Responsibility, or PAR, training program, which provides for increased benefits for employees as they progress through the program from "Rising Star" to "PAR IV", and he insisted that Cracker Barrel develop computer-based-training programs years before it was standard in the industry.

Danny also kept his eye on the guest experience and was very concerned about maintaining the company's unique culture as the chain grew from its core markets in the South to reach the 42 states that it is in today. Among other innovations, he is credited with conceiving Cracker Barrel's popular book-on-audio program, which allows guests to purchase a book-on-audio at one location and then return it to any other location and get a new book-on-audio for only a nominal exchange fee.

Danny served as Chief Executive Officer from 1969 to 2001, and as Chairman of the Board until he retired in 2004, at which time he became Chairman Emeritus and a member of the Cracker Barrel Founders Board."

Infinity Athletics Allstars Win at TTU Spring Fling Championship

January 16, 2012
Infinity Athletics Allstars Win at TTU Spring Fling Championship

Infinity Athletics Allstars won 1st Place at the Tennessee Tech University Spring Fling Championship in Cookeville on Saturday, January 7th. They are coached by Jennifer Sykes and Sonja House.

Front Row L-R: Madison Colwell, Chloe Sykes, Mascot Kenna Sykes, Shaunta Koegler, Katherine Clendenen, Callie Mulloy, and Kenzie France
Bottom Row: Shelby Sprague, Alley Sykes, Emme Colwell

Chloe Sykes won 3rd Place in the 11 & up age group in the Jump Contest.
Alley Sykes won 1st Place in the 10 & under age group.

County Firefighters Respond to Structure Fire

January 16, 2012
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighters were called to a structure fire on Belk Road Saturday night.

Central dispatch received the call at around 7:00 p.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said that "the Belk Station, Keltonburg Station, Blue Springs Station, Short Mountain Station, and tanker truck from the Main Station responded to the fire at 9850 Belk Road. Upon our arrival, we found a two-story residence filled with heavy smoke. The fire had occurred in the garage area and the residents had used a garden hose and buckets of water to extinguish it. The location of the fire was determined to be on the garage floor, but the exact cause of the fire is still undetermined," said Chief Green.

"The residents had originally thought that the fire had penetrated the garage ceiling and had spread into an upstairs bedroom. However, firefighters were able to make entry and confirm that the garage fire had been extinguished and that the fire had not extended into any other portions of the structure. Crews set up ventilation fans to remove the smoke from the house. The fire damage was contained to a small area in the middle of the garage, but the entire garage suffered heat and smoke damage. Additionally, the living quarters of the residence suffered moderate smoke damage," said Chief Green.

No one was injured in the blaze. DeKalb County Emergency Medical Services and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene to render assistance.

Fire at City Walk Apartments

January 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Photo provided by Stephanie Wright

A fire Saturday night at City Walk Apartments caused extensive damage to one of the buildings in the complex on East Bryant Street but no one was injured.

Central dispatch received a call at 8:28 p.m. that a fire had started in apartment 6.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene and found flames coming from one of the upstairs apartments, according to Fire Chief Charlie Parker. "When we arrived we found flames coming from the roof and the window of an upstairs apartment. We tried to get into it as quick as we could to try and make a stop on it to keep it from going any further. The fire got up into the attic area and there's some roof additions on the side of the building that made the fire difficult to reach," said Chief Parker.

"The fire started in one of the upstairs apartments and then it moved over into the one beside of it. One apartment, where the fire started, is totally destroyed and the other is pretty extensively damaged with no ceiling or roof. There is also some water damage in a couple of apartments below on the first floor. There are eight apartments altogether in this building, four on each side. Four of them have been affected. The other four have not been damaged by fire or water but could have some smoke," said Chief Parker.

Smithville Police were among the first to arrive on the scene and made sure the apartments were evacuated. "The police department got here before we did and evacuated three of the four apartments in this building and made sure everybody got out," said Chief Parker.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, according to Chief Parker. "We do know it started in an upstairs apartment but we're still looking into it," he said.

Although the ceiling fell through in one of the apartments while firefighters were in there making the attack, no one was hurt.

Because the fire was difficult to reach in some places, Chief Parker said firefighters made use of a Smithville Electric System bucket truck which was on the scene."The way the roof is straight up on the sides, Smithville Electric was here with their bucket truck so we used them to get over in the top so we could get to where the fire was on the roof. It had already burned through in a couple of spots so we used them so we could get in there to it," said Chief Parker.

DeKalb EMS was also on the scene.

Smithville Woman Charged with "Doctor Shopping" in Joint Investigation by OIG and Sheriff's Department

January 14, 2012
Krista Mahaney

A Smithville woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), in a joint investigation with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, announced the arrest of Krista Mahaney, 26, of Smithville. She is charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by “doctor shopping.”

The charges accuse Mahaney of seeing more than one physician within a 30-day period for the purpose of getting prescriptions for Suboxone, a drug used to treat heroin addiction by mimicking the effects of the drug without the addictive qualities. The physician office visits and the medications were paid for by TennCare.

“The unauthorized use and abuse of prescription drugs is a serious crime, and it’s compounded when TennCare is used to subsidize the activity,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We’re committed to ensuring that TennCare benefits are not used for the purchase and eventual distribution of these drugs to people they weren’t prescribed for.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General Randall A. York is prosecuting.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $3.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $173 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, nearly 1,500 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or log on to www.tn.gov/tnoig and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."

Missing Elderly Man Found Dead

January 13, 2012
Dwayne Page
Charles E. Lefler

An elderly DeKalb County man, who family members say suffered from Dementia/Alzheimer disease, was found dead Friday night about a quarter of a mile from his home.

80 year old Charles E. Lefler, who lived alone at 224 Cooper Lane off of Holmes Creek Road, apparently had not been heard from since Monday night. His meds tray at home indicated that the last time he took his medications was sometime Tuesday.

He was reported missing Friday evening and members of the sheriff's department, rescue squad, county fire department, and TWRA began searching for him.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said reverse 911 calls were placed from central dispatch to residents in the area near Lefler's home asking them to keep an eye out for him. After receiving the call, a resident on Shady Place off Holmes Creek Road went looking and found Lefler's body on his property around 9:30 p.m. According to Sheriff Ray, Lefler was fully clothed when found but it appeared he had been dead for some time. No foul play is suspected but an autopsy will be performed.

Architect Updates School Board on Proposed FEMA Safe Room Construction Project

January 13, 2012
Dwayne Page

A proposed construction project to build eight "safe rooms" in a classroom addition at DeKalb West School qualifies for federal funding under the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, according to an architect for Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects of Mount Juliet.

Alan Troy of KBJM Architects, Inc. updated the Director of Schools and members of the Board of Education on the project during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting. "DeKalb West is eligible for the FEMA Hazard grant. There were a couple of requirements for that which are being taken care of. It is eligible for the grant but one of the requirements is that there needs to be a FEMA approved Hazard Mitigation Plan which you do not have. But I understand that someone with the Tennessee Emergency Management Association and those representatives have set up a meeting with the county to get that plan and to get it approved. The other requirement is that the county participate in the National Flood Insurance Program and its been confirmed that this county does participate in that so it meets the requirements," said Troy.

Millions of dollars are available to eligible applicants under the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for building safe rooms to withstand winds in the event of a tornado. In this case, not only would the new safe rooms provide a place for students and school staff to take shelter in the event of a tornado, it would also ease overcrowding at the school by providing more classroom space.

During a special called meeting in December, the Board of Education voted to pay KBJM Architects, Inc. a total of $7,500 to prepare a design for the project and to pay Lashlee-Rich, Inc. of Humbolt $7,500 to prepare cost estimates and for the grant writing.

Under this FEMA grant program, the school system could apply for up to three million dollars for this project with the federal government paying 75% of the cost, if approved. The state would pay 12.5% leaving the local share at 12.5%. Any further costs related to construction not covered by the FEMA grant, including furnishing classrooms, would be funded locally.

School officials had hoped to include construction of a new kitchen/cafeteria area for DeKalb West under this FEMA grant program, but Troy said that aspect of the plan will not qualify. "The design team met with the grant writer on January 5 to discuss the addition. There are some changes in the way the project will be approach. The plan was initially to include the kitchen and cafeteria work but its based on the area that this (construction project) will serve. You won't be eligible to include that much area (in this grant application). The kitchen and cafeteria will be standard construction but the classroom addition will be designed to meet the FEMA guidelines," said Troy

According to Troy, a specific budget for this project is not yet available, but it compares to a similar project at another school district. "A proposed budget has been submitted. Its not specific to this project but its similar in a possible dollar amount and what's eligible. In short, this project was a total preliminary construction budget of just over two million dollars and the net cost to the school district with the FEMA grant was $688,000," said Troy.

Director Willoughby said he is hopeful the kitchen concerns at DeKalb West can still be addressed and that any new cafeteria can be built under FEMA guidelines to make it a safe room for the community during severe weather. "We really need a cafeteria/lunchroom expansion down there. We really need it badly. We surveyed a half mile radius of the school and because of the fact that the population is not very dense within a half mile radius of that school, that's one of the reasons that it doesn't qualify for us to do the cafeteria in this grant. Because this is FEMA and it (safe rooms) would be used in case of emergencies, the complete school (students and staff) could go in those eight classrooms that we're hoping to build for tornado drills, tornadoes, and things like that. Those eight rooms would take care of faculty, staff, students, and everybody in the school. They would have a safe place to be. We were hoping we could get the cafeteria and the kitchen in with this (grant application) if the population had been high enough there. That way we could have also opened it (cafeteria safe room) to the community if we had an emergency situation. If we included the cafeteria in with this grant, since the population around that school is not very dense, it would decrease our chances of getting any of that grant. I would suggest that if or when we do the cafeteria and lunchroom that we build it to FEMA specifications and still have it for the community to come in. It wouldn't be a lot more expensive. But as far as being able to build the cafeteria at this time with FEMA money, that is probably not going to be in the package," said Willoughby.

Asked why DeKalb West School was considered first for the project, over the other schools, Willoughby said DeKalb West would be the most likely school to qualify for the FEMA grant, but he added that the other schools in the county could be considered in future proposals if grant funds are still available. "If these grants continue, we will be looking toward doing this at other places. But because of the population of that school, with a little bit over 400 students and the eight classrooms that it would take care of, it could get everyone in that school. So I think that's probably going to be a plus factor (in the grant evaluation process). Plus, it would take us longer (from Smithville) to get to that area (DeKalb West School) in an emergency situation.

DeKalb West has a student enrollment of around 450 students.

The deadline for submitting the grant application is March 1st.

The board of education has scheduled a workshop for Saturday, February 18 at 9:00 a.m. to meet with the architects to discuss the project further.


Follow Us


News Feed

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree