Local News Articles

Springfield Youth Drowns in Center Hill Lake

May 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
Floating Mill Recreation Area (Photo Made Two Hours After Body Recovered)

A 17 year old Springfield boy drowned Sunday afternoon while swimming at the Floating Mill Recreation area on Center Hill Lake.

TWRA Officer Mike Beaty told WJLE that the young Hispanic boy was at the lake with a group of family and friends enjoying a Memorial Day weekend outing when the tragic incident occurred.

According to Officer Beaty, the victim and another boy who were inside the designated swimming area, decided to swim the approximately 75 yard distance from the bank to the buoys on the far side. As the boys were swimming across, one of the them began screaming for help. Other swimmers in the area came to his rescue and pulled him to shore. While this boy was being tended to, the other youth who had not called out for help or shown any signs of distress, suddenly disappeared in the water.

Swimmers in the area frantically tried to find the boy. Kevin Salvilla, Center Hill Lake Resource Manager, who was off duty but present at the time, dove into the lake looking for the youth.

911 received the call at 1:33 p.m. and TWRA Officers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Rangers, members of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department all soon arrived on the scene.

Officer Beaty said TWRA officers used side scan sonar to pinpoint the location and the Rescue Squad pulled up the body after making only three passes over the area with a drag bar. The youth, who was found in about seven to eight feet of water, was pronounced dead by the medical examiner. The body was recovered at 2:20 p.m., less than an hour after he drowned.

Because he is a juvenile, Officer Beaty would not release the boy's name.

Officer Beaty was joined by fellow TWRA Officers Tommy Stockling, Tommy Alexander, and Jason Miller. Corps Rangers on the scene included Chris Cantrell, Ben MacIntyre and Gary Bruce.

The boy's death marks the first drowning of the year on Center Hill Lake.

DeKalb Relay for Life Kicks Off Friday

May 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
Cancer Survivors from 2010 Relay for Life

The 14th annual Relay for Life in DeKalb County will be held starting Friday, June 3rd at Greenbrook Park going all night until early Saturday morning, June 4th.

Relay For Life, the American Cancer Society's signature event, is a fun-filled overnight experience designed to bring together those who have been touched by cancer. This year's theme is "Together We Fight....Together We Win". WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

The schedule of entertainment and events for this year's Relay program is as follows:

5:00 p.m.: Dessa Ray
5:15 p.m.: Larry Briggs
5:30 p.m.: New West Point Singers
5:45 p.m.: Kathy Goodwin

5:55 p.m.:
Presentation of the Colors by Boy Scout Troop #347
National Anthem sung by Suzanne Slager
Invocation by Michael Farr, Pastor of the Smithville Church of God


6:00 p.m. :
Opening Ceremony for Relay 2011
Welcoming remarks by Barbara Ashford
Introduction of cancer survivors
Song honoring cancer survivors by Bonnie Rigsby and Shelley Cross
Prayer for cancer survivors by B.J. Thomason, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church
Cancer survivors take the first lap around the park


6:45 p.m.: Presbyterian Praise Group
7:00 p.m.: Page Family
7:15 p.m.: Gather Round Boys
7:30 p.m.: Church of God Youth Group
7:45 p.m.: Olivia Wright
8:00 p.m.: Tina Boston
8:15 p.m.: Fluty & the Flutones
8:30 p.m.: New Life Pentecostal Praise Group
8:45 p.m.: Kevin Roberts

9:00 p.m.:
Luminaria Ceremony
Prayer: Dan Gulley, Minister of the Smithville Church of Christ

9:15 p.m.: Clata Redmon
9:30 p.m.:Barbara Green & Hannah
9:45 p.m. Elizabeth Chapel Youth Drama Team
10:00 p.m. Cumberland Presbyterian Youth Drama Team
10:15 p.m.: 61 Seconds

Announcers for the program will be Wendell Judkins and George Taylor

At Relay, people from within the community gather to celebrate survivors, remember those lost to cancer, and to fight back against this disease. Relay participants help raise money and awareness to support the American Cancer Society in its lifesaving mission to eliminate cancer as a major health issue. During Relay For Life events, teams of people gather and take turns walking or running laps. The events are held overnight to represent the fact that cancer never sleeps. Through the survivors' lap and the luminaria ceremony, the people who have faced cancer first hand are honored, and those who have been lost to this disease are remembered.

But, Relay isn't about taking laps -- it's about coming together in the fight against cancer. It's a time to remember those lost to this disease and celebrate those who have survived. It's a place where people connect with others, share the cancer experience, and find comfort and solace. And it's an opportunity to build hope for a future where cancer no longer threatens the lives of the people we love.

As volunteers and donors, your efforts support research, education, advocacy, and services that allow the American Cancer Society to offer help and hope to people across the country when they need it most. By joining together at Relay, we celebrate life, friendship, and an opportunity to work to defeat cancer for future generations.

In 2010 in DeKalb County, the American Cancer Society provided 33 people with 92 patient services. Twenty five nights of lodging were also provided at the Nashville Hope Lodge along with gas for 155 trips to treatment through the Transportation Grant Program.

On June 3rd, the community will gather together as one group to help in the battle against cancer. At Greenbrook Park in Smithville, dozens of teams, volunteers, community leaders, and citizens will enjoy the annual Relay for Life event. Plans are to have lots of entertainment and food available that evening, starting at around 6:00 pm. Planning for the Relay is a year round event and the organizers hope that you will enjoy what they have in store for you. Relay is the largest community event held in DeKalb County. Please join in for this special night and have lots of fun helping raise money.

Suspect in Smithville Statutory Rape Case Arrested in Pennsylvania

May 27, 2011
Dwayne Page
Roel Selaya Sosa

A 25 year old man accused of having sex with a fifteen year old girl during an after hours "Read Night" program at Smithville Elementary School has been located after eluding Smithville Police for more than two months.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger and Detective Matt Holmes told WJLE Friday that Roel Selaya Sosa, aka Carlos Oliver Aldino, was arrested Wednesday, May 25 by authorities in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania where he was working on a ranch and using "Martinez" as his last name.

Chief Caplinger and Detective Holmes said that Sosa is facing a court hearing in Pennsylvania where he is charged with being a fugitive from justice and for using a fake identification. He is awaiting extradition back to Smithville to face a charge of statutory rape.

Sosa, who lived in Apartment-A at 615 South Mountain Street, was employed at Zelenka Nursery as a crew leader. Workers there told police one week after the offense on Monday, March 14th that Sosa had failed to show up for work and indicated that he might have gone to Mexico.

Detective Holmes, who investigated the case, said that on the night of the incident, March 7th, the fifteen year old girl was at the school to look after her younger brother who was participating in"Read Night", a teacher supervised program where parents and students come to school after hours and read together. The mother of these two children had apparently dropped them off at the school and then returned later to pick them up.

After arriving at the school that night, the fifteen year old met up with Sosa and they separated themselves from others in the building. Police have declined to make public more details about the encounter between the two, fearing it might harm the prosecution of the case. According to Detective Holmes, a custodian later saw Sosa and the victim standing in the hallway and told them they were not supposed to be there.

The next day, Detective Holmes said the custodian informed Principal Dr. Bill Tanner of the incident and he contacted the victim's mother. She then reported it to School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead, who contacted the Department of Children Services and Detective Holmes.

Although Sosa could not be located in the days following the incident, Smithville Police seized his green Chevy Tahoe. The vehicle was found parked at Sosa's residence. Detective Holmes said police believe he drove it to the school to commit the act, which is use of a vehicle in the commission of a felony.

Police got a break in the case Wednesday after questioning an informant who was believed to have knowledge of Sosa's whereabouts. The informant told police that Sosa was working at a ranch in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Authorities there were contacted and Sosa was arrested. Chief Caplinger and Detective Holmes said Sosa has been positively identified as the suspect in the case.

Two Memorial Day Programs Scheduled

May 27, 2011
Dwayne Page

Two Memorial Day Programs will be held Monday, May 30th at the 303 Building downtown Smithville.

The first program, sponsored by the American Legion Post #122 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7623, will begin with entertainment at 9:00 a.m. by the gospel group "4 the Lord" featuring George Storie. The ceremony will get underway at 10:00 a.m.

The second program, which follows the first, will be presented by the Savage-Goodner Camp of Sons of the Confederate Veterans. It's a Grand Reunion of the 16th Tennessee Infantry. During the program, an Historian will be present to assist you with questions you may have about your ancestors; music of the period will be played; a barbeque lunch will be served (while it lasts), and Professor Tommy Webb will describe the trials and tribulations suffered by these men. Please bring memorabilia and photographs of your ancestors. Photos will be copied for archival purposes.

Mike Corley said that 150 years ago, a thousand men from the Caney Fork region volunteered to serve their country. This body of soldiers was organized as the 16th Tennessee Infantry with former Congressman John Savage selected as their colonel. They fought on battlefields in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. By the end of the war, less than one hundred remained. If you claim an ancestor among those men, please join the Savage-Goodner Camp of the Confederate Veterans at this reunion.

DeKalb 911 Board Receives State Approval to Implement Rate Increases

May 27, 2011
Dwayne Page
Brad Mullinax

DeKalb County landline telephone subscribers can expect a rate increase for 911 services within sixty days.

The DeKalb County Emergency Communications District has received approval from the state board to implement the increase and to notify telephone service providers within the ECD.

In a letter dated May 24 to Director Brad Mullinax of the local ECD, Lynn Questell, Executive Director of the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, wrote that "this letter concerns the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District's application to increase the 911 services charge on landlines in DeKalb County. On May 19, the Tennessee Emergency Communications board approved this request pursuant to (state law). Accordingly, the Board of Directors of the DeKalb County ECD may increase the emergency telephone service charge within DeKalb County to the following effective May 19, 2011:

The new rates will be $1.50 per month for residence-classification service users (up from the currrent rate of 65 cents) and $3.00 per month for business-classification users (up from the current rate of $2.00 per month).

You are hereby authorized and encouraged to immediately notify the telephone service providers delivering landline service within your ECD of the rate increase. Such service providers shall implement the new rate classification within sixty calendar days of receiving notice of the increase," wrote Questell

Mullinax told WJLE Friday that he has sent notification to the telephone service providers by certified mail.

The state (ECD) board will review the rate again with three years. According to Questell's letter " Within three years of the date of approval, DeKalb County ECD shall submit a financial report to the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board consistent with TECB policy at which time the TECB will consider the propriety of maintaining the rate".

DeKalb County landline telephone subscribers have been paying the same rates for 911 services since 1994..

Facing ever increasing costs and declining revenues due to fewer landline telephones, the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (911 board of directors) decided several months ago to seek an 85 cent per month increase for residential lines and a $1.00 increase per month for business lines. The proposed increase is expected to generate more than $88,000 per year.

Mullinax said the rate increase is needed "We have seen a decrease in the number of landlines over the years. That's not cell phones but the telephones you have in your house. It is and has been the basis of our funding since 1994 when 911 was first set up in DeKalb County. But over the last several years, people have been dropping their landlines and going exclusively with cell phones because its cheaper for them. The problem is it affects 911 services because that's where our funding comes from. For at least the past three years we've seen about a seven percent decrease in our funding from our landline 911 rates. Our revenue is going down but our costs keep going up."

Mullinax adds that while the local 911 operation does receive funds from cell phones, it has no control over those rates. " We do get money from cell phones and there's often times a misconception about that. You are paying a dollar surcharge on each cell phone you have. If you have three cell phones then you're paying a $3.00 911 surcharge. The problem is that the State of Tennessee keeps 75% of that money and we are allocated only 25% of that wireless money based on our population. Even though just about everybody has a cell phone, we don't get anywhere close to receiving the amount of money we need from cell phones to support us. From my understanding, it would take a change of state law to change the way the money is allocated or the fee that is charged on a cell phone."

In March, the DeKalb County ECD Board adopted a resolution seeking approval from the Tennessee ECB to enact the rate increases.

Members of the board are Chairman Ron Rogers, Billy Adcock , County Commissioners Wayne Cantrell, Marshall Ferrell, Elmer Ellis, Jr., and Jerry Scott, Smithville Alderman Steve White, and County Mayor Mike Foster.

Structural Engineers to Assess Storm Damage at Smithville Elementary School

May 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
Smithville Elementary School Receives Gutter and Roof Damage
Central unit dislodged from SES roof and moved to the spot pictured here
Storm Damage to Smithville Elementary Roof
Another View of Storm Damage to Smithville Elementary Roof

The last day of school before summer break is one students and teachers at Smithville Elementary School may not soon forget.

Due to Thursday morning's storm and the damage it caused at school, no classes were held. While all other schools in the county held session on an abbreviated schedule according to the school calendar, Smithville Elementary School was closed.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has announced that parents will be allowed to pick up their children's report cards at Smithville Elementary and other personal belongings on a specific day after the school building is determined safe to re-enter. In the meantime, Willoughby said structural engineers will be called upon to assess the damage to the building. "We feel like its going to be a lot more damage than what we first anticipated. The cafeteria roof, I feel will probably have to be totally replaced. It looks like it (wind) tried to pull up that part of the roof. There's actually places that you can see the sky now through the roof. It (wind) rolled the rubber roof back several feet from one end. It also took (dislodged) two heating and cooling units and turned one of them over on the roof, moved the other one, and broke some (natural gas) lines. Those are things that'll have to be fixed. It broke some windows out. Of course all of our trees behind the school and a few in front are basically destroyed," said Willoughby

" We're going to call a structural engineer to come in and do an evaluation of one part of the building to see if it is actually safe to come back into. Along the edges of the walls, we've noticed some cracks that we think are related to the storm so we'll need a structural engineer to come in and advise us on that. Other parts of the roof away from the cafeteria are damaged. There's places where there's holes in the roof. Gutters were also damaged. Electricity is still off in the main part of the building and it may not be back on until next week. We're still finding damage that we really did not anticipate. When you walk through the school, you don't really see any damage except for the cafeteria area. But when you start looking , you can spot cracks in certain parts of the building. After we get the electricity back on, I feel like we will be able to further evaluate the conditions. Right now, I would say there is very significant damage to Smithville Elementary School," said Willoughby.

" When we finish assessing the damage, get the electricity back on, and get it where we can allow people to come back in (to the school), we will send out a message through our call system to parents who might want to come in and pick up report cards. I know there are things at school that students were going to take home today (May 26th). We'll have a day for the parents to come back, hopefully real soon. We hope it will be next week but we just want to make sure the building is safe before we let people come back in," concluded Willoughby.

Storm Deals County a Blow on Construction Progress of Office/Recreation Complex

May 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
County Owned Shopping Center Building Damaged in Storm
Central unit dislodged from roof and moved to the spot pictured here
Roof damage from Thursday morning storm at county owned shopping center building
View of damage to central units and rooftop of county owned Town and Cou
View from inside shopping center building shows large hole in roof

Repairs to the county owned Town and Country Shopping Center building from Thursday morning's storm could cost as much as one million dollars. The county's Insurance carrier has been notified of the damage.

County Mayor Mike Foster told WJLE Thursday afternoon that the powerful winds tore loose brand new central heat and air units from the top of the building and tossed them across the roof, causing even more damage to the structure. "The wind tore the deck and everything off the roof of the back corner (southeast corner). The central units that are on top (of the building), which are from five ton to ten ton units, several of them tore loose and rolled across the top and pretty much destroyed the new roof. A lot of the debris from the storm also blew into the front (of the building) and did some damage but that's pretty minor. The big thing is where the roof was torn up. We also got a lot of water down through the sheet rock in the building. We're trying to get the front cleaned up because there's nails and screws everywhere and they (construction laborers) can't work so we have to try and get this all cleaned up, run a magnet over it, so that they can get back to work," said Foster.

"I would image the roof and the central units are probably (going to cost) about six hundred thousand dollars (to repair or replace) plus whatever damage there is to the front and the interior. It'll probably be (total) somewhere between $750,000 to one million dollars," said Foster. " We have contacted our insurance carrier through the local government insurance pool. They told us to go ahead with cleanup. They're going to come and do an inspection and we'll go from there," he added.

While the construction was far from complete, Foster said the portion of the complex where the UCHRA is leasing from the county, was to be finished within a few days. "I'd say it'll set us back a month because if you see the roof, the units that are still in place are sort of turned sideways or blown over. They're going to have to be done (removed) and I'm pretty well thinking they're going to have to put a complete new roof on it. That will be the major thing. They're trying to get some vacuums in now to get the water out. As long as they keep it fairly shallow, we probably won't have any major damage to that part of the sheet rock except where (the water) really poured down on it. It (damage) is much worse on the south end (of the building) but it gets progressively better as you go down toward the north end.," said Foster.

According to Foster, the Farmers Market shed also sustained some minor damage from the storm. "I think we'll only have to replace three or four pieces of metal," he concluded.

Storm Clean-up Efforts Continue

May 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
View from shopping center building overlooking scene of destruction and debr

Clean-up efforts continue from a powerful early morning storm that destroyed one business and damaged several other structures, including homes, barns, sheds, Smithville Elementary School, and the county administrative building under construction, formerly known as the Town and Country Shopping Center.

South Congress BP Convenience Market Destroyed from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Many are still unsettled on whether the storm actually spawned a tornado. Officials who make that determination apparently have not made an evaluation but the high winds ripped apart the South Congress BP convenience market on Highway 56 south.

Click here to listen to Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Charlie Parker for the latest update on the storm damage.

Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, told WJLE that no one was injured during the storm which struck around 1:00 a.m. "It looks like a possible tornado. I know the weather service likes to make the official determination on that but it looks like it had a path. We went back and surveyed the damage. It started somewhere around Short Mountain Highway where Larry Summers' barns and equipment shed are located. It did a lot of damage to his barn roofs. It went onto the BP station. Most of the damage between the two (locations) is where there are large trees and limbs that are broken out, knocked over, or twisted. It's kind of a path from there onto the BP Station (on South Congress Boulevard) and then over behind the county building (Town and Country Shopping Center) and Smithville Elementary School," said Parker.

"We had trees down on College Street, Meadowbrook and Green Acre Drive, Braswell Lane, and Jacobs Pillar Road. Green Meadow and Greenwood had some trees down. On Green Acre and Meadowbrook we had some trees that actually fell on houses. There was one on Braswell Lane also where a tree fell onto a house. It did a fair amount of damage to them. Nobody was hurt but it still did some pretty good damage to the house. At least three houses that we could tell had some fairly significant damage. There were other houses that looked like they had shingle and roof damage and maybe to some siding in the Bright Hill and Meadowbrook areas. Once it (storm) left the Bright Hill area, there was a building shed at the builders supply (Potter's Home Center) that received damage. On past that, there were reports of trees that were down in the edge of the roadways but that was not very extensive. Most of the damage was in the city in the Congress Boulevard area," said Parker.

Possible Tornado Destroys Convenience Market in Smithville

May 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
South Congress BP Convenience Market Destroyed

City and county authorities are still assessing the damage from a severe thunderstorm that possibly spawned a tornado early this morning in Smithville.

The storm destroyed the South Congress BP convenience market on Highway 56 south in the city limits. Damage was also reported to the Peking Restaurant and the county owned administrative building, currently under construction, formerly known as the Town and Country shopping center. Smithville Elementary School, which was also in the path of the storm, received damage to the roof and a central heat and cooling unit on top of the building.

Click the following link for an update on storm damage from DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Director Charlie Parker

High winds downed trees and power lines across town, especially on Bright Hill Road and the Sparta Highway.

A tree was reported to have fallen onto a home on Meadowbrook Drive.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the storm

Check back here for more details

Tigers Suffer First Loss in State Tourney

May 25, 2011
Dwayne Page

After defeating Polk County 5 to 3 in the TSSAA Class AA baseball tournament Tuesday night, the DeKalb County Tigers lost to the Lexington Tigers 5 to 2 Wednesday afternoon in the Blue Cross Spring Fling at Murfreesboro.

With the loss, the Tigers drop into the losers bracket and will face Christ Academy of Knoxville (CAK) in an elimination game tonight (Wednesday) at 6:00 p.m. at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro.

In the game with Lexington, DeKalb County scored one run in the third inning and one run in the fourth. Lexington scored one run in the fourth, three runs in the fifth, and one run in the sixth inning.

The Tigers scored two runs on seven hits and made two errors. Lexington scored five runs on ten hits and made two errors.

Cody Puckett suffered his first pitching loss of the season, going six innings and giving up five runs, two earned runs on ten hits. He struck out four, walked two, and hit four batters. His pitching record is now 9-1 on the year.

Evan Curtis- double
Shane Salley- 2 singles and an RBI
Tyler Caldwell-double
Andrew Atnip- 3 singles


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