Local News Articles

DeKalb Election Commissioners Reappointed to New Terms

April 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Barbara Vanatta, Walteen Parker, Jim Dean, Harry Lasser
Richard Hearon Puckett

The current members of the DeKalb County Election Commission have been reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission.

The state election commission made these appointments on Monday April 1st. The term of each member is for two years.

Members of the DeKalb County Election Commission are Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, Jim Dean, Harry Lasser, and Richard Hearon Puckett. Vanatta and Dean are beginning their third terms. Parker has served since 1992. All three are republicans. Lasser, a democrat, is starting his second term. Puckett, also a democrat, has been filling the unexpired term of Kenneth Moore, who died last year. This will be Puckett's first full term.

Since the state legislature is made up of a majority of GOP lawmakers, Republicans have the right to hold majority memberships on the Tennessee Election Commission as well as all county election commissions in Tennessee. The appointments to local commissions are made by the state election commission.

Regarding the political division of county election commissions, state law states that " three members shall be members of the majority party and two members shall be members of the minority party".

"The members of the majority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."

"The members of the minority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."

"When members of another statewide political party are required to be appointed to a county election commission, they shall be nominated by the party's state primary board."

"Before appointing county election commissioners, the members of the state election commission shall consult with the members of the general assembly serving each of the counties as to the persons to be appointed to the county election commissions".

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Election Commission will hold its next meeting April 10 at 4:00 p.m. at the Election Commission Office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

The board will likely reorganize and reappoint the Administrator of Elections.

Grand Jury Indicts Smithville Man with HIV for Child Rape

April 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jose Juan Reyes

A 30 year old Smithville man with HIV, indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Monday for the rape of an eight year old boy, has now been served with a sealed indictment charging him with the rape of another child, a nine year old boy.

Jose Juan Reyes of Old Blue Springs Road is now facing a total of three counts of rape of a child and two counts of criminal exposure to HIV.

He is under a $100,000 bond and will appear for arraignment in criminal court on Monday, April 8.

According to the indictment, on or about March 2, 2013 Reyes allegedly engaged in unlawful sexual penetration of a nine year old boy constituting the offense of rape of a child and that he did this knowing he was infected with HIV constituting the offense of criminal exposure to HIV.

The other grand jury indictment alleges that Reyes allegedly engaged in unlawful sexual penetration of an eight year old boy on two occasions on or about February 22, 2013 constituting the offense of rape of a child and that he did this knowing he was infected with HIV constituting the offense of criminal exposure to HIV. This allegedly occurred at Reyes' residence on Blue Springs Road.

Reyes and all others indicted by the grand jury Monday will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 8. Three people were named in sealed indictments.

Others indicted and their charges are as follows:

James Adcock- sale and delivery of a schedule II drug

April Lynn Anderson- theft under $500 and fraudulent use of a credit card

Brett Anderson- vandalism over $500

Brett Alan Anderson- driving with no license (3 counts)

William David Arendall-burglary and theft over $1,000

Robert R. Atnip, Jr.- possession of paraphernalia, prohibited weapon, and public intoxication

William Andrew Cantrell- possession of paraphernalia (2 counts), possession of a schedule II drug, public intoxication, burglary (2 counts), auto burglary (2 counts), aggravated burglary, vandalism over $1,000, vandalism over $500, theft under $500, theft over $1,000, and introduction of contraband into a penal institution

Brian E. Clark- driving under the influence (2nd offense)

Barbara Ann Covington- auto burglary (3 counts)

Edna Jeanette Cox- child endangerment

Berl William Doop- criminal impersonation and evading arrest

Berl Doop, Ismay Doop, Terry Collins, and Lisa Porterfield- aggravated burglary, auto burglary, and theft over $1,000

Margie Grace Drennan- possession of a schedule II & VI drug and possession of paraphernalia

Karen L. Edwards- driving under the influence (3rd offense)

Eddie Farris- reckless endangerment, vandalism over $10,000, vandalism over $1,000 (3 counts), and vandalism over $500

Jennifer Ferrell- false report

Belinda Harness- possession of a schedule II drug for resale (2 counts), possession of a schedule III drug, and possession of paraphernalia

Treva June Hartman- theft under $500

Treva June Hartman and Bryan Luke Vollrath- child endangerment (2 counts), domestic assault, and underage consumption

Randy M. Hobbs- possession of a schedule VI drug for resale and possession of a weapon by a felon

Nicholas Hollingsworth- possession of a schedule II & VI drug, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a prohibited weapon, and theft under $500

Michael Howard- driving under the influence (4th offense)

David Tyler Hutchins-burglary and theft over $1,000

William A. Johnson- theft over $10,000

Terry Lee Jones, III- underage consumption, disorderly conduct, and forgery (5 counts)

Neil Bernard Keenan- driving under the influence, possession of a schedule II and IV drug, and violation of the open container law

Aubrey Lee Kilgore- driving under the influence (2nd offense) and failure to carry a driver's license

Crystal King- possession of paraphernalia (4 counts) and theft under $500

Robert D. Menzie- driving under the influence (2nd offense) and driving on a revoked license

Joey Lynn Mooneyham- forgery

Danny Ray Murphy- initiation of methamphetamine

Lisa M. Porterfield- possession of a schedule II drug for resale and driving on a suspended license (2nd offense)

Brian Reeves- worthless check (2 counts)

Jose Reyes- rape of a child (2 counts) and criminal exposure to HIV

Christopher Richardson- domestic assault

Joseph D. Richardson- forgery (3 counts), aggravated burglary, and theft over $1,000

Jeffery Lynn Sanders- theft under $500, possession of paraphernalia (2 counts), promotion of methamphetamine, possession of a schedule II drug, and resisting arrest

Cindy A. Sherrell- possession of a schedule III drug

Tammy Sue Steele- theft under $500 and driving on a suspended license

Eric Wayne Tramel- resisting arrest, aggravated burglary, possession of a schedule III drug, and theft under $500

Joshua K. Vickers- burglary and theft over $1,000

Lonnie L. Wheeler- theft over $1,000 and resisting arrest

Dowelltown Woman Injured in Bizarre One Car Crash at Liberty

April 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dowelltown Woman Injured in Bizarre One Car Crash at Liberty
One Car Crash at Liberty

A Dowelltown woman was injured in a bizarre one car crash this morning (Tuesday) on Highway 70 at Liberty.

Central dispatch received the call at 8:51 a.m. The mishap occurred near DeKalb West School and the old Liberty Laundrymat building.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 37 year old Amanda Tarango of Dowelltown was driving a 1999 Toyota Camry east on Highway 70 when she crossed all four lanes of traffic, struck a curb, the face of a guardrail, and then plunged over an embankment coming to rest in a gully next to concrete culvert.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's extrication team were needed to help remove Tarango from the car. DeKalb EMS, sheriff's department officers, and the Liberty Station of the county volunteer fire department were also on the scene.

According to Trooper Johnson, witnesses reported that Tarango had just dropped off children at DeKalb West School before the accident. Tarango said she had worked all night and had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel.

She was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

City Hoping to Strike Last Minute Deal with DUD Before UMRB Hearing Thursday

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page

With a rate review hearing set for Thursday by the state's Utility Management Review Board stemming from the DeKalb Utility District's plan to build its own water treatment plant, the City of Smithville is offering the DUD a last minute deal on a new ten year water purchase agreement.


During Monday night's regular meeting of the mayor and aldermen, city attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said that the municipality's engineer, J.R. Wauford is recommending that the city offer to sell the DUD water at the rate of $2.20 per thousand gallons for the first five years of a new contract and that the rate increase to $2.40 per thousand for the last five years of the agreement. The DUD currently pays $2.05 per thousand gallons. The proposal would take effect at the end of the city's current contract with the DUD which expires in early 2014. "We had Mr. Wauford to do a feasibility study for us to make an offer to the DUD regarding a possible solution to this problem by offering to them a contract which would say for the first five years that we could sell water to them at a rate of $2.20. And after that for an additional five years at the rate of $2.40," said Parsley

While that is below the city's actual cost of $2.67 per thousand gallons in producing water, according to a recent study by Warren and Associates Engineering PLLC of Lebanon, Parsley said it is better for the city to have an agreement with DUD than to risk losing it's largest water customer. "I realize that's a little below what the cost study of Mr. Warren said. However, one of the factors you have to consider is if we lose DUD, we lose roughly $300,000 plus," said Parsley. "But we can sell it to them wholesale a little cheaper because of the volume that they have. Mr. Wauford felt like it was better to reduce our rates to them for the next ten years to keep them as a customer rather than lose them as a customer and have to lose probably in excess of $300,000 annually," he said.

Parsley said while no immediate action was required by the mayor and aldermen, both the city council and the DUD board of directors would have to approve this proposal. Parsley said he plans to submit the offer to DUD Attorney Keith Blair as early as Tuesday morning. "We will submit that to them tomorrow. Don't know that we'll have any answer right away," said Parsley.

If the DUD should reject or take no action on the city's proposal before Thursday, the UMRB rate review hearing will proceed as scheduled. Parsley said with so many witnesses and lawyers for both sides involved, it could last all day Thursday and possibly go into Friday. "It is possible that the hearing may go into Friday. Its expected that if we finish on Thursday it will certainly be late into the evening," said Parsley.

The meeting will be open to the public but no one will be permitted to address the UMRB. The hearing will be conducted much like a judicial proceeding as lawyers for the DUD ratepayers, the city, and the DUD call witnesses to testify. An administrative law judge will oversee the proceeding and once all the issues are presented the seven member UMRB will render a decision in the case. "The procedure would be that the board would actually make a decision then and there," said Parsley. "It will be open. They will openly discuss the ramifications of building a new plant in front of the public. The public as a whole will not be allowed to speak. The reason for that is because the administrative law judge did not want it to get into just a gripe session. We're going to be pressed for time as it is. There's about six lawyers involved and there will be several witnesses. We expect to be in testimony for six to eight hours or longer," said Parsley.

The UMRB will actually begin Thursday morning with other business at 8:00 a.m. followed at 9:00 a.m by the DUD hearing. It will take place at the county complex on South Congress Boulevard.

Opponents say that water rates for DUD and Smithville subscribers will increase if a DUD water treatment plant is built and that it is unnecessary since the city has the capacity with its water plant to sell the DUD as much water as it desires.

At a DUD board meeting last May, Chairman Roger Turney said the county would be better served by having another water plant. "One of the reasons is to be able to control our own destiny. To determine where we can go and where we can't go," said Turney. "Over the last several years, several things have happened worldwide that has made it imperative that whenever possible, it makes good sense for areas to have backup water supply systems. If you say, well nothing has happened in years, look what happened in Nashville just a few years ago. They were flooded by a one hundred year flood. They came so close. If there had not been interconnections between other utility districts around them, Tennessee would have had a disaster unmanageable. We think its beneficial for the whole county, Smithville, our customers, and everyone to have a second treatment plant in a day and world we live in today because who knows what could happen. Something might happen to both of us. Its entirely possible," he said.

We know that most industries like to have backups because if something happens to the water treatment plant that supplies them water, if they shut down, they lose. They love to have a backup. That would be a benefit," said Turney

According to Turney, other cities would like to have access to Center Hill Lake for their water supply and if the DUD doesn't take advantage of this opportunity, some other utility may. "Center Hill Lake, I think, is the best water supply in the State of Tennessee. The Corps of Engineers, over the years, is getting more and more restrictive because a lot of people are drawing out of that lake. Cookeville and other areas want more and more water all the time. We looked that over and decided if we don't get in line and get our piece of the pie in reserve, it may be gone. If we don't do this now, ten years from now we may say we want to build a plant, and the Corps of Engineers could say I'm sorry there's no water allocated for you and you can't do it. That could well happen," said Turney.

Smithville is represented in the case by city attorney Vester Parsley along with former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell and Nashville Metro Councilman Jason Holleman who are law partners. Purcell and Holleman are also representing the ratepayers who are opposed to a DUD water plant. The DeKalb Utility District is represented by DUD attorney Keith Blair and Nashville attorney Dewey Branstetter.

Drunk Driver Found with Weapon

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jose Oscar Pena
Christopher Ward Smith
Calvin James Wilkerson

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested a man Sunday for allegedly driving under the influence with a weapon in the vehicle.

34 year old Jose Oscar Pena of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and possession of a weapon while under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law and for having a wrong address on his drivers license. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court on May 23. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday March 31 on Highway 70, Pena was observed operating a Chevy Avalanche. He allegedly crossed the center double yellow lines several times and then crossed the white line, almost hitting the guardrail, A deputy stopped him and found that Pena had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Pena refused to submit to field sobriety tasks and a blood test. The officer asked Pena if he had a weapon in his vehicle. He replied yes. Pena told the deputy where the weapon was located in the vehicle. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

40 year old Christopher Ward Smith of Morrison is charged with simple assault. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 4. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday March 28, Smith got into an argument with the owner of a residence on Short Mountain Road and allegedly hit him in the head with his fist causing a laceration on his forehead. The homeowner was transported to the hospital by EMS.

23 year old Calvin James Wilkerson of Walker Drive Apartments, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for driving on a suspended license and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on May 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday March 30, Wilkerson was observed operating a Dodge truck on Highway 70 out of his lane of travel. He allegedly crossed the center double yellow lines numerous times. A deputy stopped Wilkerson and found that he had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were red and watery and he was unsteady on his feet. Wilkerson submitted to but performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test. Wilkerson was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

TDOT Inspecting Sligo Bridge

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
TDOT Inspecting Sligo Bridge

The Tennessee Department of Transportation Region 2 Bridge Inspection and Repair team began conducting their regular inspection on the Sligo Bridge over Center Hill Lake today (Monday). In addition, they will be performing some routine maintenance to the structure, according to Jennifer A. Flynn, TDOT Regional Community Relations Officer in an email to WJLE.

During the inspection, the team will be replacing and repairing nets underneath the bridge and cleaning out the debris caught in them. They will also do some patching and repair on the bridge deck surface.

This work will be done during non-peak hours (between 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.) on Mondays - Thursdays until the inspection and maintenance is complete. TDOT maintenance crews will assist with traffic control. At least one lane of traffic will be maintained at all times. This inspection will take a couple of weeks, and maybe longer if rain causes them to lose any days. They should be done on or before April 18.

Easter Sunday Traffic Accident Causes Natural Gas Leak

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dusty and Joe Johnson work to cap gas leak (photo by Donny Green)

A motorist struck and ruptured a high pressure natural gas line on Dale Ridge Road causing some tense moments Sunday morning.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 20 year old Brittaney Wheeler of Smithville was driving a 2001 Kia Sportage north on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when she went off the right side of the road. Wheeler overcorrected and the vehicle came back across the highway, went off the left side of the road, and struck a mailbox and an above ground gas line pressure reducer near the Memorial Baptist Church, rupturing the line causing a massive gas leak. The vehicle came to rest on top of the broken line. Wheeler grabbed a two month old infant who was in the vehicle with her and they got out safely.


Central dispatch was notified and alerted county volunteer firefighters. County Fire Chief Donny Green said he received the call at 10:39 a.m. Members of the Liberty and Main Stations responded along with county deputies and DeKalb EMS.

According to Chief Green, there was no fire from the gas leak but as a precaution the highway was closed to traffic from both the north and south within three hundred feet of the scene and one home was evacuated as a precaution until the leak was stopped. No one was at the church.

Chief Green said a special thanks goes to Joe and Dusty Johnson, local contractors who do work for the gas company. He said they responded quickly and capped off the high pressure gas leak.

Trooper Johnson said Wheeler was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance)

Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Pageants Set for Saturday

March 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
Liz Abigail Qualls of Smithville, the reigning Junior Miss
Little Miss Isabella Faith Rackley
Little Mister Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson

The annual Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Pageants will be held Saturday, April 6 beginning at 4 p.m. at the DCHS gymnasium.

The Little Miss & Mister will feature children between the ages of four and six and the Spring Blossom will include young ladies in grades six through eight.

Fifteen year old Liz Abigail Qualls of Smithville, is the reigning Junior Miss.

Qualls is the daughter of Brad and Kim Trapp and Jason and Stormy Qualls.

The retiring Little Mister is six year old Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson of Smithville, the son of Karey and Chris Benson.

The reigning Little Miss is five year old Isabella Faith Rackley of Smithville, daughter of Jessica and Gordon Rackley

All contestants are to attend the pageant rehearsal on Friday, April 5, beginning at 6 p.m. for the Little Miss and Mister contestants and at 7:30 p.m. for the Spring Blossom contestants.

Studio Six Limited will be offering portrait packages the night of event. Pageant photos will begin at 3 p.m. Admission is $3 (excluding contestants only) for anyone four and older. Concessions will be available throughout the evening.

The pageants are sponsored by the Smithville Women’s Club

WJLE Radiothon Raises Over $4,500 for DCHS Class of 2013 Project Graduation

March 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
Some of the DCHS Seniors who participated in Radiothon

More than $4,500 was raised during a three hour radiothon Friday morning on WJLE for the DCHS Class of 2013 Project Graduation.

DCHS teacher Chris Vance hosted the program and parents of high school seniors who serve on the Project Graduation committee answered phones, taking pledges during the drive. Several seniors also made an appearance on the radiothon to talk about their school activities and future plans and to ask for pledges.

Parents and students wish to thank everyone who supported the radiothon.

Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2013 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class.

The DCHS Graduation is set for Friday, May 24

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 8% in February

March 29, 2013
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for February was 8%, down from 8.6% in January and below the rate of 8.4% in February, 2012.

The local labor force for February was 9,510. A total of 8,740 were employed and 760 were unemployed..

DeKalb County's February unemployment rate was fourth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland Region.

Here's how they ranked from highest to lowest:
Pickett County: 13.1%
Van Buren County: 11.7%
White County: 11.5%
Clay County: 10.8%
Jackson County: 10.2%
Cumberland County: 10.2%
Warren County: 9.6%
Fentress County: 9.5%
Overton County: 9.5%
Smith County: 8.5%
DeKalb County: 8%
Macon County: 7.9%
Putnam County: 7.7%
Cannon County: 6.9%

County unemployment rates for February 2013 show the rate decreased in 87 counties, increased in five, and stayed the same in three.

Davidson County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.3 percent, down from 6.5 percent in January. Knox County's February rate of 6.4 percent was down from 6.5 percent in the prior month. Hamilton County was 7.7 percent, down from 8.0 percent, and Shelby County was 9.3 percent, down from 9.7 percent in January.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for February was 7.8 percent, which increased one tenth of one percentage point from the January revised rate of 7.7 percent. The national unemployment rate for February 2013 was 7.7 percent, decreasing by two tenths of one percent from the previous month.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.


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