Local News Articles

Hunter Graham Signs to Play Baseball for Columbia State Community College

February 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Hunter Graham Signs to Play Baseball for Columbia State Community College

Hunter Graham, a senior member of the DCHS Tiger baseball team, will play for the Columbia State Community College Chargers next season.

A signing was held Friday afternoon at DCHS. Graham was joined by his parents, Kyle and Doris Graham; his sister, Tyra Graham, DCHS baseball coach Scott Odom and assistant coach Andrew Dixon; and Mike Corn, head coach of the Columbia State Chargers.

"I'm very excited to sign to play college baseball. Its been a dream since I was a kid," said Graham.

Coach Corn said its also a pleasure to have Hunter as a member of the Chargers. "We're real excited to bring Hunter and his family into our family," he said. "Its so important for these young men to be recognized, not only as baseball players but as student athletes and Hunter is a great representation of both of those. He'll graduate (DCHS) in 2013 and start up with us in the fall of this year and we'll expect big things from him coming in. This is not a huge recruiting class for us. He's our first signee of the year. For recruiting purposes with the junior college it just now really cranks up in January for us. I think he is going to be a great talent and he would certainly project as a Division-I pitcher for me after two years with us," said Coach Corn.

Before he moves on to the next level, Graham said he is hoping to help lead his team to another state tournament appearance this spring. "Definitely going to state my freshman and sophomore year was a big deal. We're hoping to go back for a three peat my senior year," said Graham

Coach Odom said he is excited for Graham to be able to continue his baseball career at Columbia State. "It is a good program and Coach Corn has done a wonderful job there," said Coach Odom. "However, we are really glad he still has another year of eligibility left with us. Hunter has started with us since he was a freshman. In those three years the TIGERS have an impressive 75-17 record and an .815 winning percentage with two district championships, 2 region appearances, 2 region and sectional championships and 2 state tournament appearances, where we finished ranked as high as #3 in the state and #4 last year," he said..

"Hunter has a lot of talent and has put in a lot of hard work as well," said Coach Odom. "Nothing good comes easy and he has earned this right to go to college and hopefully get a degree and keep playing. They like him as a pitcher and a hitter. He has been one of our best hitters over the last two years and we rely on him a great deal as both a pitcher and hitter," he said.

"I am really happy for him and his family. They are very supportive of Hunter and the TIGER baseball team. The best part is he is as good of a young man as he is a baseball player. He is someone that all of DeKalb County can be proud of. I know that I am," said Coach Odom.

Following a record breaking 2012 season, Coach Corn at Columbia State Community College was named Coach of the Year by the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association. This marks the second consecutive year Corn has received this award.

The Chargers had an impressive 2012 season with a record 38 consecutive wins at home, a program best 43 victories and an NJCAA national ranking of number four. The 2012 team also boasts four Division-I signees and the only MLB draft pick in the TCCAA, Marsalis Holloway (34th Kansas City Royals).

In its history, Columbia State has logged six World Series appearances, sixteen state titles, twenty division titles, twenty four pro baseball signees, 238 four year signees, and 132 Division-I signees.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation.

Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association and the National Junior College Athletic Association.

(Pictured above: Left to Right- DCHS assistant baseball coach Andrew Dixon, Tiger head coach Scott Odom, Columbia State head coach Mike Corn, Kyle Graham (father), Doris Graham (mother), Tyra Graham (sister); seated, Hunter Graham)

Three Mexican Restaurants Now Approved for On Premises Beer Consumption

February 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Pablo Gonzales of Chabelita and Alfredo Villa of El Rancho

The Smithville Beer Board Thursday night granted applications from three Mexican Restaurant owners for on-premises consumption permits.

City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, who presided over the meeting, said that all three businesses, El Rancho of 1101 West Broad Street, Mercadito Chabelita Restaurant of 408-A East Broad Street, and Los Lobos of 106 East Broad Street meet all requirements including the minimum distance of 400 feet to schools, churches, and or other places of public gatherings. "El Rancho is located fairly close to the high school so I had Phillip Gotro go out and shoot a line, front door to front door since it must be 400 feet or more. He had it at 756 feet so it exceeds well over the 400 feet (minimum requirement). I have a certified surveyor letter from him,"said Hendrixson.

City Beer Board member Annette Greek asked Hendrixson to read the regulations in the beer ordinance as they relate to "on- premises consumption permits"

Hendrixson, reading from the beer ordinance, said that "To qualify for a Class 1 On Premises permit, an establishment must, in addition to meeting the other regulations and restrictions
(A) Be primarily a restaurant or an eating place; and

(B) Be able to seat a minimum of thirty people in booths and at tables, in addition to any other seating it may have; and

(C) All seating must be part of the premises. In case of any outdoor seating, the outdoor seating area must be accessible from the inside of the restaurant or eating place and the outdoor seating area must have some type of enclosure around it, such as a wall or fencing; and

(D) In addition to the requirements of subsection 8-210(1) (a) through (c), the monthly beer sales of any establishment which holds a Class 1 On Premises Permit shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the monthly gross sales of the establishment. As used herein, the term "gross sales" means all retail sales of the permit holder plus any applicable taxes. As used herein, the term "beer sales" includes all retail beer sales plus any taxes applicable to beer sales"

Hendrixson added, "basically what its saying is it (ordinance) prevents bars from opening up everywhere. Its saying your beer sales can't exceed your food sales. But I don't think that's going to be the case for any of these three applicants," he said.

City Beer Board members Annette Greek, Steve Hayes, Farron Hendrix, and Alderman Danny Washer all voted to grant the three permits. Member Lloyd Black was absent.

The Smithville aldermen in December changed the city's beer laws to allow eligible restaurants to have an on-premises permit.

Former DCHS Football Standouts Talk About Setting Single Game Rushing Records (SEE VIDEO)

January 31, 2013
Dwayne Page

Two former record setting football players at DeKalb County High School recently sat down with local attorney Sarah Cripps with Ben Herman's Country Community Radio Show on WJLE to reflect on their playing days.

Mike Corley, a local attorney for Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, and Joey Reeder, DCHS educator and former Tiger baseball coach and assistant football coach both set single game rushing records at DCHS during the 1970's.

Corley, a tailback, rushed for 190 yards at Jackson County in October 1972. Four years later, Reeder, a fullback, broke Corley's record with 210 yards on 18 carries in the season opener at Nashville Joelton. Reeder's record was broken by Mike Kress during the 1980's. Corley, Reeder, and Kress played for former DCHS Football Coach Wayne Cantrell.


Master Beef Producer Program Offered at UT Extension in Smithville

January 31, 2013
Michael Barry

The UT Extension Office in DeKalb County has scheduled a series of classes for producers who wish to participate in the University of Tennessee Master Beef Program. Along with the information gained from the event, producers will also receive a certificate recognizing their training, Master Beef manual, and a Master Beef Producer Farm sign and cap. Producers are urged to contact the UT Extension office in DeKalb County at 722 South Congress Blvd in Smithville or phone (615)597-4945 to sign up for the Master Beef Producer program.

The Master Beef Producer Program is an educational program designed to provide information to Tennessee cow-calf producers to help them be the very best in the country, improve their profitability and position the industry to be competitive with other states. The MBPP is part of the overall effort of the Tennessee Beef Cattle Improvement Initiative and enables participants to apply for a 50% cost-share through the Tennessee Ag Enhancement program.

The topics for the sessions will include: Managing and Planning for Success, Marketing Beef Cattle, Developing Genetics to meet the Needs of the Industry, Carcass Merit, Food Safety, Feeding the Beef Herd, Forage Production, Reproduction in Beef Cattle, Herd Health, Cattle Handling and Behavior, Environmental Concerns, and Management of the Beef Herd.

All classes will be at the UT Extension Office at 722 South Congress Blvd in Smithville, which is in the new County Complex building across the road from Food Lion. The classes take place from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on the following dates: Thursday, February 7; Monday, February 11; Thursday, February 14; Monday, February 18; Wednesday, February 20; Monday, February 25; Thursday, February 28; Monday, March 4; Thursday, March 7. Lunch will be provided at each session.

In order to graduate and become an official Master Beef Producer, a producer must attend a minimum of 7 of the 9 educational sessions. Registration fees are $175. Producers with BQA Certification and Premise ID are eligible for a $100 scholarship through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. The cost per person would be only $75 with a Premise ID. A Premise ID can be obtained at the USDA FSA office on Bright Hill Road.

For more information or to sign up for the Master Beef program, contact Michael Barry, County Extension Director at (615)597-4945.


January 30, 2013
Mark Willoughby


"We're going to close DeKalb County Schools Thursday and Friday in hopes that some of this sickness and stomach viruses and things like that will clear out," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby

"We've had a lot of students who have been out sick along with teachers and other folks who have had to stay home to take care of their children. I think its going to be a plus for everybody involved to be out a few days without having to be around everybody. We'll get back to school next week and hopefully everybody will be a lot healthier," said Willoughby

With schools being closed Thursday and Friday, DeKalb County will have used three of its allotted ten days for inclement weather or other reasons.

Property Tax Payment Deadline Approaching

January 30, 2013
Dwayne Page
Sean Driver

The Trustee's Office would like to remind you that February 28 is the last day to pay the 2012 property taxes before penalties start accruing March 1.

The Trustee's Office is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday- Friday. "Remember, if the last day comes and you can't make it to the post office to postmark your payment, we do have a drop box on the outside wall of our new location at the new county complex," said Trustee Sean Driver.

The Trustee's Office also offers the State of Tennessee Tax Relief. "If you would like to check on a possible tax relief for 2012, come and see us at 732 South Congress Boulevard, Room 103 or call us at 597-5176," said Driver. " The last day to sign up for tax relief is April 5. Also any 2011 unpaid property taxes will be turned over to the Chancery Court on April 1," he added.

Driver said you have four options for paying 2012 property taxes. "You can come by in person at the Trustee's Office or you may mail in your payment. We also offer online bill pay at www.tennesseetrustee.com. You go to that website and select DeKalb County and then follow the instructions. Business Information Systems has set this up for approximately 65 Trustees across the state and there is a fee to use your debit or credit card. If you do pay online the fee to use your debit or credit card is 2.75%. Or you can use an e-check for 1.5%. Online accepts Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express," said Driver.

"We are also accepting partial payments. That is new for 2012 and it's only for 2012 taxes. Partial payment can be for any amount that you want to pay of the total tax bill. Remember if you take advantage of the partial payment plan for 2012, only that portion left unpaid after the deadline will accrue the 1.5% penalty and interest per month," said Driver.

County to Schedule Public Hearing on 24-7 Beer Sales

January 29, 2013
Dwayne Page

As expected, the county commission Monday night took no action on authorizing 24-7 sales for stores licensed to sell packaged beer in the county as Smithville did for city stores in December.


With several people both for and against the proposal in attendance waiting to hear what the county commission would do, County Mayor Mike Foster announced that the commission would do nothing until a public hearing is scheduled to give citizens a chance to express their views. Foster said the commissioners want to take some time to see how the changes made in the city are working out. "We had a request from Jewel Redmon to address the county commission. He did that last Thursday night. He was asking for Sunday beer sales. We talked about that a little bit. But to fulfill the requirements of the law, we will set a hearing date for that and advertise a public hearing and proceed with that at a future date. We would like to get a couple of months history from the city to see what's happened and not go into this cold. We'll set a date in the near future for the public hearing and that will be advertised and we will invite people to speak," said Foster.

As WJLE previously reported, the county commission last Thursday night, in what is called an all-committees session, heard from local businessman Jewel Redmon, owner of Jewel's Market and Pizza on North Congress Boulevard who asked that stores be allowed to sell beer on Sunday. "I would like the county commission to consider letting us sell beer on Sunday," said Redmon. "Eighty five percent of the places (licensed stores) in DeKalb County sell beer on Sunday now anyway. We would just like to have the same opportunity to compete with our competition. I don't care about all the hours. We just need, say til twelve o'clock in the morning and Sundays. Being 24 (hours) I really don't care about that," said Redmon.

"We would like to have it the same as it is in the city" said Roger Sharp, owner of Sharp Lodge on Cookeville Highway near Silver Point.

Local minister Bernard Houk asked the county commission not to extend the hours for beer sales. Houk said this issue is personal with him because he has seen how that alcohol has destroyed lives. He urged the commissioners to think about what's best for people rather than somebody's wallet.

One county commissioner told WJLE after the meeting Monday night that he would prefer the county call for a public referendum in the 2014 elections to give the people of DeKalb County a chance to vote it up or down.

Stores in the county with permits are prohibited from selling packaged beer from midnight til 6:00 a.m. weekdays and all day on Sundays. Smithville now allows licensed stores in the city limits to sell beer 24 hours a day, seven days week.

UCHRA Selling Lakeside Resort to Brentwood Arts Society

January 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
UCHRA Selling Lakeside Resort to Brentwood Arts Society
Bob Pierce (left) and Jim Himelrick
Luke Collins

UCHRA is hoping to close on the sale of Lakeside Resort in DeKalb County to the Brentwood Arts Society in February.

"We are hoping to sell the Lakeside facility to the Brentwood Arts Society, said UCHRA Executive Director Luke Collins, who addressed the county commission Monday night.

Last April, UCHRA settled on a deal to sell the property to the Brentwood entity controlled by Jim Himelrick and Bob Pierce, real estate developers and former investors in Nashville Shores.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, last fall approved allowing the non-profit Brentwood Arts Society to assume the land lease. Rural Development had to approve a loan to Brentwood Arts before the transaction could be finalized.

Himelrick and Pierce had reached a deal in April to acquire the property from UCHRA by the first of the year but also operate it for a fee of $5,000 a month until then. Under the existing lease and loan terms, a non-profit has to be in control of the property.

Collins said the Brentwood Arts Society will bring more activities to the county through Lakeside Resort. "I think that change will be a win, win for everybody. I think the Brentwood Arts Society will bring more activities to Smithville and DeKalb County and more opportunities because that's more of what they do. They are specialized in doing those things and I think they would be a better suited organization to manage Lakeside. We (UCHRA) are primarily into social services. That's primarily what we do. But Lakeside is a great facility. It offers a lot of educational opportunities for DeKalb County and a lot of jobs. It's brought a lot of tourists here. We want it to continue to be an asset to DeKalb County and I think it will," said Collins

"It would still be run as an educational facility," said County Mayor Mike Foster. "It would still be open to the public and it would probably help create a resort area for DeKalb County and the Upper Cumberland area in that it would still be run as a motel, a destination, a training center, and would still provide a lot of the same services that it has in the past. But it would be run by a private organization," he added.

Brentwood Arts Society provides financial support to the Town Centre Theater in Brentwood, which also has a production group that recently put on play performances at the new DeKalb County Complex auditorium.

"February 6 is the date that we hope it will close (on the sale of Lakeside) but it may be a little later into February," said Collins." We feel very positive about it. The buyers keep saying they will be able to assume the loan and take it over. I think it will be positive for everybody," he said.

Lakeside Resort, consisting of 139 acres on the banks of Center Hill Lake off of the Cookeville Highway, created problems for UCHRA financially, by being unable to support itself or to service the debt on the $1.6 million note owed on property there.

Sex Offender Gets Two Year Sentence for Registry Violation

January 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
James Hesson
Shane Miller
Tommy Parsley

A 35 year old sex offender, accused of showing up on school property during a soccer game last August, appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, January 23.

James Hesson pleaded guilty to violation of the sex offender registry under a negotiated settlement. Judge Leon Burns, Jr. gave Hesson a two year sentence to serve. He was given jail credit from August 31, 2012 to January 23. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, August 31, Hesson violated the sex offender registry law by being on school property where children were present. Hesson was told to leave the school grounds due to his being a sex offender and that he was not to be within one thousand feet of the school property line. Shortly thereafter, Hesson was found in the back yard of property adjoining the high school where he was watching children at play during a sports event after regular school hours. Sheriff Ray said that Hesson was well aware that he was not to be near school property.

31 year old Shane Miller pleaded guilty to two counts of theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case all suspended to supervised probation. The sentences are to run consecutively or back to back for a total of almost two years. Miller is to make restitution in the amount of $750 to Alexandria Auto Parts. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Miller went to the same residence on Hales Lane August 2 and 4, 2011 and allegedly stole several batteries valued at less than $500 on each trip. Miller then allegedly took the batteries to a local recycling center where he sold them. Miller was arrested after an investigation by a Sheriff's Department detective assigned to the case. He was given jail credit of thirteen days.

30 year old Tommy Parsley pleaded guilty to evading arrest and received a two year sentence to serve. The case is to run concurrently with a violation of probation against him in which he is to serve the balance of a four year sentence. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, September 18, a drug detective of the sheriff's department spotted Parsley operating a motor vehicle on the Old Blue Springs Road, entering Highway 56 south. The detective knew that Parsley's drivers license were suspended. A computer check confirmed that Parlsey's license were suspended for failure to satisfy prior citations in Wilson County. The detective got behind Parsley's vehicle and activated his blue lights on Highway 56 between Keltonburg Road and Magness Road. Parsley sped up to about 80 miles per hour while approaching sharp curves and three other vehicles in front of him. The detective decided to terminate the pursuit due to Parsley's record of evading and reckless driving. Four days later, on Saturday September 22, Sheriff Ray said a deputy went to Circle Drive in Dowelltown to serve an arrest warrant on Parsley. Upon arrival, the officer saw Parsley sitting in a vehicle. The deputy activated his blue lights and pulled up to the vehicle. Parsley jumped out of his automobile and tried to flee on foot. The officer called for Parsley to stop, but he kept running. The deputy chased after Parsley and placed him under arrest.

41 year old Vickie Alvis pleaded guilty to a second offense of driving under the influence. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation except for 45 days to serve. She was fined $610 and will lose her license per state department of safety regulations. Alvis must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment for alcohol safety. She was given 82 days jail credit.

27 year old Michael Snyders pleaded guilty to evading arrest theft under $500. He received a sentence of two years in the evading case and eleven months and 29 days for the theft all suspended to supervised probation. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other and with his current probation. He was given 120 days jail credit. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, April 23 an officer tried to stop Snyders on Highway 70 for speeding. Snyders pulled over to the side of the road as if he were stopping, but he accelerated and turned down West Main Street in Liberty then to Highway 53 where the pursuit was terminated. A bystander told the officer that Snyders went down Green Hill Road in Liberty. The officer turned down Green Hill Road, met Snyders, and stopped him. A computer check revealed his license to be revoked for driving under the influence on March 10, 2006 in DeKalb County. One month later, Snyders was charged in the theft case for shoplifting, which apparently was separate from the evading incident.

Landfill Running Out of Space, County Looking at Going to Transfer Station

January 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
Overton County Recycling Center (Photo by David McDowell)
Inside Transfer Station (Notice Open Top Semi Truck Trailer to Right)
Overton County Baler for Recycling (Photo by David McDowell)
Overton County Baled Cardboard (Photo by David McDowell)

The DeKalb County Landfill may be out of space within a year but instead of searching for a new site the county is looking to develop a solid waste transfer station.

During Monday night's meeting, County Mayor Mike Foster told the county commission that its time to make a decision. "We really need to put this in high gear because the cell we have right now is filling up pretty fast. We thought it was going to be a good year (before landfill is out of space), but it now looks like eight to ten months," said Foster. "Part of the reason is because our compactor burned and we're not getting the compaction that we were. Our new compactor, which is not really new. It's rebuilt. It should be here in about two weeks. When we get that compactor in, what I'd like to do is dig part of that up and pack it back in which should give us much better compaction than we have been getting and maybe gain us that four months back," said Foster.

Under a transfer station operation, household garbage would continue to be collected at local convenience centers across the county, then loaded onto trucks and brought to the transfer station, where the garbage would be separated from recyclables and then loaded onto semi trucks and transferred to a landfill site in another county. DeKalb would contract for the garbage to be hauled out of county and for the disposal of it at a certain price per ton. The recyclables would be baled and sold.

Should the county develop a transfer station, Foster said the county could keep a Class III-IV landfill for disposal of non-household garbage, such as construction materials. "We would probably want to keep a Class III-IV cell for construction materials. We could use the property we have over there (current landfill site) for the Class III-IV or CD which is for non-household garbage. We wouldn't have to build an expensive cell with a rubber liner for it. This would just be lined with clay. It would only be for construction debris, mattresses, and things of that sort. If we go to having a transfer station, we would then probably be able to go into a really good recycling situation where we would try to recycle plastics, paper, cardboard, and metals," he said.

Convenience sites would still be required throughout the county and residents could continue to bring their household garbage there or directly to the transfer station. "You bring it (household garbage) into a transfer station. Dump it out. You have people there that pull out the cardboard, the metal, the plastics, and some of the things that you can recycle and then you dump the household garbage into a semi truck. You pull the recyclables out and put them in boxes and take them to another shed and bale them into bales of about 1300 pounds apiece. Meanwhile the garbage you put in that semi truck, you pay some landfill to take it and dispose of it that way you don't have to have a Class I landfill. So its hauled and disposed of, then you bale your recyclables and put them into a storage shed until you get enough for a load or two and sell them to some agency or company that buys it (recyclables)," said Foster.

According to Foster, DeKalb County would have fewer environmental worries about solid waste, if it had its own transfer station "It probably won't be any cheaper but it will get us out of the environmental liability that we're in. It gets worse every time you build a cell. Use to, you put a two foot clay liner under it. It (regulations) went from a two foot to a five foot clay liner. Then you added another layer with a 60 mil membrane there. Then you had to put two feet of crushed rock on top of that. It (regulations) just keeps getting worse. Now, we've got to go back in the cell we're in and put a rubber cap on that on the entire five to seven acres. That's an expensive proposition," said Foster.

In the fall of 2011, Foster and members of the county commission visited Overton County's solid waste transfer station (See photos above). Foster said Monday night he would also like to see the Crossville operation. "I will try to have some information back from an engineer by next month. I've got a copy of a couple of transfer station blueprints. But I'd like for us to go see the one at Crossville and then figure out what we want to do," said Foster.


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