Local News Articles

Four People Injured in Wreck near Sligo

October 13, 2011
Dwayne Page
Victoria Lawson of Kentucky Injured in this 2006 Nissan
Three from Nashville Injured in this 1996 Toyota Camry

Four people were injured in a two car crash Thursday on Highway 70 just west of Sligo bridge.

Trooper David Hickey of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 25 year old Kristin Byrd of Nashville was driving east in a 1996 Toyota Camry when she crossed the double yellow line into the path of a westbound 2006 Nissan driven by 28 year old Victoria Lawson of Smithgrove, Kentucky.

Passengers with Byrd were 33 year old Africa Sunshine Brown and 31 year old Dwayne Mack both of Nashville.

All were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Trooper Hickey said Byrd would be cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and failure to exercise due care.

DeKalb Depot Delivers Utility Trailer for County Fire Department

October 13, 2011
Photo by Callie Matthews

The DeKalb County Fire Department recently took delivery of a new enclosed utility trailer from DeKalb Depot.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said the trailer will be used to transport the fire department's John Deere Gator recently acquired through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the trailer will be used to transport other emergency equipment as needed.

Chief Green added that his department is especially appreciative to DeKalb Depot for their assistance in helping obtain a purchasing discount that allowed the department to work within a tight budget to purchase the trailer.

Murfreesboro Man Dies in Motorcycle Crash

October 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Motorcycle Crash Claims Life of Murfreesboro Man
Murfreesboro Man Dies in Motorcycle Crash

A Murfreesboro man died in a motorcycle crash on State Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) Wednesday afternoon

Dead is 41 year old William Ellis, Jr.

Central dispatch received the call at 3:55 p.m.

Trooper Todd Logan of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Ellis, operating a 2005 Yamaha motorcycle, was traveling south on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when he failed to negotiate a curve, left the road, went down an embankment, and struck a tree. Ellis, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike. According to Trooper Logan, the motorcycle traveled approximately 150 feet from where it began to leave the highway to the place where it came to rest. The crash occurred less than a mile from Highway 70 on Dale Ridge Road.

Two other motorcycle operators were riding ahead of Ellis on Dale Ridge Road prior to the crash. Neither witnessed the accident but one of bikers happened to glance in his rear view mirror and noticed that Ellis was no longer following behind them. As the two bikers got to Highway 70, they turned back and began looking for Ellis near where they last spotted him. After searching by bike and on foot without success, they called 911 and deputies and DeKalb EMS arrived on the scene.

Ellis' motorcycle and his lifeless body were later discovered by a deputy while conducting a foot search in the area.

Deputy Medical Examiner Terry Martin and members of the county volunteeer fire department also came to the scene.

TDA's Division of Forestry Begins Requiring Burn Permits October 15

October 12, 2011

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Division of Fire Prevention are observing National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 9-15), by reminding homeowners to follow simple safety practices to prevent forest fires. The official start of forest fire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15.

“Because of dry conditions and the traditional start of fire season, it’s important that citizens call for a burning permit and follow outdoor burning safety recommendations,” said state forester Steve Scott. “Many areas of the state are very dry and the permit system helps us communicate to the public when and where it is safe to burn.”

Activities requiring a burning permit include unconfined outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste and burning to clear land. Burning permits are free of charge. Citizens can apply for burning permits by calling their local Division of Forestry office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Forestry offices are listed in your local phone directory under state government, or can be found by visiting www.burnsafetn.org, which also includes tips for safe debris burning. Permit holders should also check for other restrictions in their locale.

Burning permits can be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling the DeKalb County office of the Division of Forestry at 597-4015. In Smithville, call 215-3000 to obtain a burning permit. Permits can be obtained for small debris piles after hours and on the weekends by visiting www.burnsafetn.org.

New this year is the automated online system. The online permits are only available for small scale burning of leaf and/or brush piles measuring less than 8 feet by 8 feet in dimensions. The system was developed to more efficiently issue permits to landowners conducting small scale debris burns, and to provide better access through the weekend and after-work hours for landowners. These permits can be obtained on days and in counties where burn permits are allowed by visiting www.burnsafetn.org.

Homeowners living in forested communities can take steps to protect themselves and their property. Keeping gutters and rooftops free of debris, maintaining at least two to five feet of none flammable material next to the foundation of the home and clearing away flammable brush at least 30 feet from the house are just a few simple examples of what homeowners can do.

Wildfires are occasionally started by out of control house fires. The state Fire Marshal’s Office is warning citizens to also be aware of fire hazards in their home.

“For many years, Tennessee has occupied an undesirable ranking in the country for fire deaths. Falling asleep while smoking in bed or in a comfortable chair remains a significant cause of fire deaths in Tennessee,” says Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “Always make sure your home’s smoke detectors are functioning properly.”

Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires. Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

For more information, visit www.BurnSafeTN.org

Smithville Electric System Planning Power Outage

October 12, 2011
Dwayne Page

Smithville Electric System is planning a power outage which will affect all customers Sunday morning, October 23.

In a prepared news release, officials of Smithville Electric System state that " In order to upgrade our system's capacity and reliability, Smithville Electric is planning a Power Outage for all customers beginning Saturday midnight October 22nd at 12:01 a.m. thru early Sunday morning hours to approximately 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning."

"We plan to have all power restored well before sunrise on Sunday morning."

"This outage time will allow our personnel to safely install a new larger transformer in our substation. Our plans are to keep our outage time to a minimum and could be less."

"Actions you may consider before this event:

Shut down computers or provide battery backup
Leave electric garage doors open or cars outside
Notify alarm system companies of outage times
We do regret any inconvenience this outage may cause."

For more information you may contact our Smithville Electric office Monday- Friday 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. or our after hours answering service 24 hours a day at 615-597-4735 .

Fire Damages Mobile Home

October 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Photo by Callie Matthews

County firefighters responded to a fire at the single wide mobile home of Tim Johnson Monday night on Hickory Street off the Cookeville Highway.

It apparently began as a grease fire as the residents were in the kitchen doing some cooking. They put out the small blaze with a fire extinguisher and thought the problem was solved. But later, after they had left home to go to town, the fire rekindled.

911 was notified and firefighters were dispatched to the scene.

Lieutenant Brad Mullinax of the county fire department said that the blaze was confined to the kitchen and living room but the rest of the home received extensive heat, smoke, and water damage.

No one was injured.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and Tanker Truck responded.

Repair Work Underway at Veterans Memorial Bridge on College Street

October 11, 2011
Dwayne Page
Jamison Construction begins work College Street bridge
College Street closed to traffic Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Bridge

Repair work has begun on the College Street (Veterans Memorial) bridge over West Broad Street (U.S. 70) in Smithville.

TDOT let the bid to contract several weeks ago and Jamison Construction, LLC of McEwen was the successful bidder at $42,260.

According to TDOT officials, Jamison Construction plans to have temporary lane closures and pace traffic at various times depending upon the scope of the work both northbound and southbound on U.S. 70 from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. The estimated project completion date is November.

The repair work is needed apparently due primarily to collision damage caused by large trucks that have hit the bridge. The bridge underwent repairs for the same reason three years ago.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests for DUI and DRL

October 11, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department filed charges and issued citations against several persons this past week for driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that 49 year old Timothy Lloyd Caldwell of Medlin Drive of Dowelltown is charged with driving on a revoked license. He was also issued a citation for a violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and for failure to drive within his lane of traffic. His bond is $1, 500 and he will be in court on November 16

Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, October 5 a deputy stopped Caldwell on the Old Snow Hill Road for failure to maintain his lane of travel. A computer check revealed his license were revoked on August 24 for a DUI in Putnam County.

34 year old James Walter Stringer of Morgan Drive, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on October 13.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, October 6 Stringer was stopped on Highway 70 for squealing tires. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Stringer admitted to drinking beer and taking xanax. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks but refused to submit to a blood test.

43 year old Greta Lynn Higgins of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. She was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on October 13.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, October 7. a deputy stopped Higgins on Highway 70 for failure to maintain her lane of travel. Higgins had slurred speech and she was very unsteady on her feet. She performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. She also submitted to a blood test. During the arrest, the officer found a hypodermic needle in Higgins' purse.

31 year old Tanya Renee Broad of Washington Street, Sparta is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. Her bond is $3,000.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, October 8 Broad was stopped by an officer on Highway 70 for a violation of the light law. She had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person and she was unsteady on her feet. Broad performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. She also submitted to a blood test.

New Clues Revealed in Disappearance of Nashville Surgeon

October 10, 2011
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray and TWRA Officer Nick Luper
Dr. William Coltharp

The Nashville surgeon who went missing while kayaking on Center Hill Lake over a week ago remains missing but new clues have been revealed by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and TWRA that may shed more light on the case.

In a press conference Monday afternoon at the Hurricane bridge recreation area, Sheriff Patrick Ray and TWRA Officer Nick Luper updated local and Nashville media on the search and the investigation.

Sheriff Ray said the disappearance of Dr. William Coltharp is still considered a "missing person" case and no foul play is suspected. But could it have been a suicide? Officials can't say for sure because no body has been recovered. But an empty handgun case belonging to Dr. Coltharp was found last Monday near the Hurricane boat ramp and a witness came forward on Friday to report that he had seen a man on Sunday evening, October 2 loading a cylinder concrete block onto a kayak with him before paddling down stream.

In his update to the media, Sheriff Ray read from the following prepared statement: " 55 year old Dr. William Hubert Coltharp of Tyne Boulevard, Nashville left his residence in Nashville at approximately 4:00 p.m. enroute to Center Hill Lake to kayak."

"Dr. Coltharp went to Hurricane boat ramp on Sunday evening, October 2. There have been two independent witnesses that have confirmed that Dr. Coltharp arrived at the Hurricane boat ramp by himself at approximately 6:00 p.m. We have also confirmed by other sources such as cell towers where he had used his cell phone that Dr. Coltharp was in this area. A witness stated that he had spoken to Dr. Coltharp. The doctor was last seen on Center Hill Lake on the west side of Hurricane bridge".

"Sometime after midnight on Monday, October 3, Dr. Coltharp's wife left Nashville enroute to Center Hill Lake. She did not know the exact location that Dr. Coltharp had launched his kayak but was somewhat familiar with that area of Floating Mill and the Hurricane Marina. While enroute to DeKalb County, she contacted law enforcement about her husband being missing. She was directed to the dispatch center for the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. She talked with a TWRA officer and eventually found her husband's vehicle, a 1999 White Chevy Suburban, in the parking lot of Hurricane boat ramp. DeKalb Central Dispatch was notified at 1:22 a.m. by TWRA about the missing man. Deputies from the DeKalb Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene at 1:44 a.m. Monday morning, October 3. Neither Dr. Coltharp nor his kayak were anywhere to be found.",

"At approximately 2:30 a.m. a search was started for Dr. Coltharp. At approximately 5:00 a.m., an upside down kayak, which contained a life jacket, was found which is believed to be Dr. Coltharp's kayak. A paddle was found further down stream later that day. An Apple MacBook laptop computer was also found in the kayak's storage box. The computer was soaked in water but was retrieved from the kayak and has since been sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Crime Lab to see if any information can be retrieved from it. The kayak was found approximately one mile from the Hurricane boat ramp".

"Later that same morning (Monday, October 3), at approximately 9:40 a.m., a worker who is contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was working at the Hurricane boat ramp and found a handgun case as he was changing out garbage bags. There was no handgun inside the case. Through an investigation, the handgun case was found to belong to Dr. Coltharp."

"On Friday evening, October 7, authorities confirmed through a witness that Dr. Coltharp arrived at the lake right before dark (Sunday, October 2) and was seen loading a cylinder concrete block onto the kayak with him. He then paddled in the direction where the kayak was later found".

"The only thing we have in our investigation are facts and these are the facts of the case. There is no evidence that points towards foul play. Its only a missing person report at this time and it will continue to be until we find the body or find him," said Sheriff Ray.

Although Coltharp's kayak, life jacket, a pair of kayak gloves, computer and gun case have been recovered, authorities have not found the keys to Dr. Coltharp's SUV or his cell phone. As for the gun case, Sheriff Ray said authorities have confirmed that Dr. Coltharp owns a handgun and the serial numbers match those on the gun case.

TWRA Officer Luper said the search for Dr. Coltharp will continue throughout the week, if needed. The general area of the search is about a mile downstream of the Hurricane boat ramp, in about sixty feet of water. "Part of our search has involved dragging the bottom of the lake. We did a lot of that in the beginning stages. Earlier on in the week we didn't have a definite location of where we might could look or where the accident might have taken place. So we didn't have a good location. We had a wide spread search. On Friday night, we had a pretty good witness come to us and confirm for us where he had last seen Mr. Coltharp. That helped us to really hone in on a particular area that we're still searching at. As of today (Monday) we have still not located Mr. Coltharp. The Nashville Office of Emergency Management is out here today with a towfish which is a type of sonar. They continue to search today into the afternoon. If you know anything about this lake there are lots of objects on the bottom of this lake, trees, logs, different things so anytime we come across an image that's of interest to us, we'll usually send a diver down to confirm that. We've done that a few times this week. Even throughout the rest of this week there will be some type of search. We're not sure at what capacity at this time but there will be a search that will continue the rest of this week, " said TWRA Officer Luper

"This has been quite an extensive search throughout the entire week beginning during the late hours of Sunday night and early Monday morning and we've had a lot of folks here from various agencies. There's a lot of folks I believe need to be commended for being here especially the DeKalb County Rescue Squad. They have been here throughout the entire search. They've put in a lot of tireless hours. They've come from work and come before work. Some have even missed work to be here to participate in this search. These guys are all volunteers and they really need to be commended for being here. We've had a lot of folks from surrounding counties who have also participated in the search. They have come at different times throughout the week. I want to thank all those folks who came. All the rescue squads. The cadaver dog bloodhound groups that came to help us out. They deserve to be commended for that. On behalf of all the rescue workers, I would like to thank St. Thomas Hospital for donating all the food and water. Its really kept everybody going this week. It was very generous of them to do that. Its really helped in our search," said Officer Luper.

Sheriff Ray also released a prepared statement from the Coltharp family. In it, the family states " The Coltharp family would like to express our deepest appreciation for the search and rescue efforts led by the Smithville/DeKalb County Rescue Squad to locate Will Coltharp".

"The Smithville/DeKalb County Rescue Squad, led by Director Dustin Johnson, has requested and received assistance from Coffee, Cannon, Jackson, Warren, and White Counties, the City of Smyrna, the United Auto Workers of Nashville, members of the Bloodhound Search and Rescue Group, the Nashville Office of Emergency Management, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency".

"Furthermore, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has been here everyday and actively worked in the search".

"Finally, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, led by Sheriff Patrick Ray, has worked in an extraordinary and professional manner to keep us up to date".

"We very much appreciate the efforts of St. Thomas Hospital, Nashville residents, local merchants, friends and concerned people who provided food and coffee to the volunteers and family".

"The efforts of everyone in the community, to support us in the search, will be a memory remembered by all of us".

Two Big Weekends for the DCHS Band

October 10, 2011
DCHS Band Boosters
 DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band

In addition to supporting the DCHS Football team at Friday night football games, the DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band spends a lot of time preparing to compete against other high school bands. These contests are held on Saturdays and hosted by various high schools across the state.

The last two weekends have been very busy for the band. On Saturday, Oct 1st, they competed in the Blue Devil Marching Invitational at Lebanon High School. On Saturday, Oct 8th, they competed in the Small Band Championship at Forest High School in Chapel Hill. Both performances proved to be successful for the Fighting Tiger Band.

In Lebanon, the DCHS Color Guard and Percussion sections brought home trophies for 1st Place in Class. After reviewing the score sheets, both sections also placed 2nd in the Division, which is a combination of all the small classes. Although no trophies or recognitions were awarded for the Division accomplishments, it is a great indication that the band is going in the right direction.

In Chapel Hill, The Fighting Tigers performed their way to receive 1st Place Band and Percussion Class awards. In addition, Field Commander, Hannah Cantrell, also brought home a Drum Major award for 2nd Place in Class. Band Director, Jonathan Wright said, "I would like to thank our Band Boosters for all that you do to help as chaperones, pit crew, and drivers. Without your dedication, our accomplishments would not be possible." He continues, "I would also like to extend a special thanks to Eddie Rowland for providing dinner for all of the students, directors, staff, and boosters at our contest this past weekend!" Assistant Band Director, Joey Wilburn said, "I'm really proud of how the band has worked. They have raised their score by over 10 points. I'm very excited to see how far they can go."

For the next few weeks, the band will prepare for their final contest of the season on Oct 29th in Alcoa, Tennessee. They will also perform at the final two games of the regular season for the Tiger Football Team against Upperman High School on Oct 14th and again on Oct 28th against Livingston Academy.

The DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band and Boosters would like to invite everyone out to the 2nd Annual Chili Supper at the DCHS Cafeteria on Friday, Oct 21st. Serving begins at 5PM and tickets are only $5 each. Advanced tickets can be purchased from any Fighting Tiger marching band student or Booster member. Price includes a bowl of chili, a grilled cheese sandwich, a dessert, and a drink. Come out and show your support to the band! You can read more about the band and their schedule at www.DekalbBand.com or "like" them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DekalbBand .


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