Local News Articles

Local Artists Open Their Studios for 10th Annual Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour

October 16, 2009
Mike Antoniak

If you appreciate the arts and great outdoors, this could be the perfect weekend to combine those interests and hit the roads of DeKalb And Cannon Counties

From just over the county line in Silver Point to Short Mountain Road near Woodbury, local artists—members of the Off The Beaten Path Group— will open their studios to the public for their 10th annual studio tour.

The free event, Friday Oct. 23 through Sunday Oct. 25h, runs from 9 until 5 each day. The self-guided tour is timed with the autumn season, leading visitors through the fall colors on numerous hills and hollows, over Center Hill Lake and up Dry Creek valley.

“We spend the whole year preparing for our fall tour,” says wood sculptor William Kooienga, Off The Beaten Path co-president with his wife Sharon. “It’s something we enjoy doing, a meaningful experience for all of us and an important part of our artistic endeavors. “We all get a lot of rewarding feedback from the people who visit us on the tour.”

OffThe Beaten Path’s 10 studios and hospitality center showcase the work of an eclectic mix of 26 artists.They work in traditional or contemporary fine art and craft in glass, clay, fiber, paper, wood, photography or other media. At each studio stop, visitors can meet the artists in their creative environment, see the work of host and guest artists, and purchase or commission an original piece for years of enjoyment.

“We get repeat visitors every year who come back to see our latest creations, and the work of visiting artists featured on each year’s tour,” says Kooienga.

The Kooienga’s Beech Hollow Studios is just one of unique and scenic stops on the tour. “People enjoy the chance to see the alternative, simple lifestyle we’ve chosen for ourselves,” he says. Set deep in the woods, it features the solar powered cedar log home the family built and nearby studio.

Other featured studios include From the Earth and Sea Originals, Fresh Chairs, and Creek Ferry Pottery in Smithville; Bareglass Studio in Silver Point; Cosmic Clay, Creek Bend Pottery, and Liberty Paper Mill near Dowelltown; and Arlene’s Clay Studio and Fuhrman Glass in Cannon County.

“No two studios are alike,” note Kooienga. “The work ranges from small detailed craftwork to large scale pieces, in a full range of media.”

Stella Luna Gallery in Smithville serves as hospitality center for the Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour. Information about all stops, maps and refreshments will be available there. Also on display there is this year’s tour prize, Cosmic Offering, a contemporary sculpture in clay by Louie Colombarini, valued at $750. Tour visitors can register for the free drawing at any of the studio stops with the mailing label from their tour brochure, or by filling out an entry form.

“Anyone who can appreciate the beauty of nature, and fine handmade work will find the tour an enjoyable way to spend some time this weekend,” Kooienga promises.

For more information on the tour, participating artists and a downloadable map and brochure, please visit the group’s website, www.offthebeatenpathtour.com

Sheriff's Department Not Associated with FOP Fundraising Campaign

October 15, 2009
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray is asking you be beware of a telephone fund raising campaign by an out of state Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) group seeking funds using the name of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

According to Sheriff Ray, this group is making calls to people in DeKalb County, saying that they are raising money and that donations will go to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office to buy things the department needs.

Sheriff Ray says this may be a legitimate organization, but it is misleading people by invoking the name of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. According to Sheriff Ray, this group has not been authorized to raise money for his department, and the local sheriff's office will not receive any of this money.

If you should get a call from this group, don't give any money. Just call the sheriff's department to report it at 597-4935.

DCHS/Upperman Football Game to be Played Saturday Night at Tech

October 15, 2009
Dwayne Page

The date and location of the DeKalb County High School/Upperman Football game has been changed due to poor field conditions at DCHS.

Tiger Coach Steve Trapp says the game, which was set for Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Smithville, will be played on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. "The reason why we're having to move the game to Tech is because our field conditions are not very good right now. It's been very wet this latter half of the season and with the Middle School games, Junior Pro games, and Soccer games that have been played on it, our field is just in no condition for us to play on it Friday. It's somewhat of a safety issue. There's a lot of mud with all the rain we've had this week. It's (field) not had a chance to dry out whatsoever. We're going to try to give it (field) a chance to recover. We'll have to play Saturday because Cookeville High School is going to be playing their high school game there (Tech) Friday night. Everything will work just as if we were playing here at Vanhoosier Stadium. We still want to invite everybody to make the short drive over to Tennessee Tech and help create a good atmosphere for us. It'll be a home game for us, just in a different setting."

WJLE's coverage begins with Tiger Talk at 6:30 p.m. followed by the game at 7:00 p.m.

Denman wins Class A-AA State Golf Tournament Title

October 14, 2009
Dwayne Page
Payne Denman at State Tournament
Grant James, Payne Denman, and Austin Garrett at State Golf Tournament-

For the second year in a row, DeKalb County High School's Payne Denman, a senior, has claimed the TSSAA Class A-AA State Golf Tournament Championship.

Denman shot a 70 on Wednesday at Old Fort Golf Course in Murfreesboro. Denman's score, combined with the 70 he posted on Tuesday, gave him a two-day score of 140 for the tournament.

Meanwhile, DeKalb County's Austin Garrett tied for 6th in the state tournament with a score of 74 on Wednesday and 77 Tuesday for a two-day score of 151.

DeKalb County's Grant James shot an 85 on Wednesday and a 78 on Tuesday for a score of 163 for the two days which placed him tied for 26th in the state tournament.

DCHS Golf Coach Chris Vance says he is very proud of all three players. "Payne, Grant, and Austin all had a tremendous state tournament experience. Everybody played exceptionally well. I couldn't be any prouder of them. They represented their school and the county extremely well. I just can't say enough about how much these boys have changed our program and how much they have meant to it over the past four years. Obviously they're going to be missed next year."

TBI Arrests Trio For Wilson County Homicide

October 14, 2009
Derrick Blair
Tommy Adams
Chris Estes

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation along with the Wilson County’s Sheriff’s Office have arrested three men for the shooting death of a Wilson County man after they were indicted by a Wilson County Grand Jury.

The three suspects have been charged with Felony First Degree Murder and Especially Aggravated Robbery. Derrick Blair (top picture), 20, of Watertown, TN, Tommy Adams (middle photo), 24, of Watertown, TN and Chris Estes (bottom picture), 24, of Auburntown, TN have all booked into the Wilson County Jail.

The victim 38-year-old Darrell Sloan, 714 Washington Drive, Lebanon, TN was found shot to death on October 4, 2009 at a friend’s residence located at 155 Knight Road, Watertown, TN. The suspects and victim were acquaintances and had attended a party at the residence

Governor Bredesen Awards Highway Safety Grants to Local Law Enforcement Agencies

October 14, 2009
Dwayne Page

Tennessee officials announced today that DeKalb County has been awarded a highway safety grants in the amounts of $5,000 for the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and the Alexandria Police Department to support high visibility law enforcement campaigns.

The Smithville Police Department has also been awarded a highway safety grant in the amount of
$20,887 to support DUI enforcement efforts.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) mission is to save lives and reduce injuries on Tennessee roadways through leadership, innovation, coordination, and program support in partnership with other public and private organizations. The grant awarded will be used to promote this mission.

“These highway safety grants reflect a continued commitment to work with local and state agencies to make our roadways even safer than they are today,” said Bredesen. “The funds made available through these grants will support the efforts of many local and state highway safety partners to reduce the number of people killed and injured in traffic crashes each year.”

Grant awards are issued to agencies that successfully applied for funding based on problem and statistical need. The GHSO notified agencies across the state that applications were being accepted for highway safety grants. Applications were reviewed and scored by the GHSO and external highway safety advocates. The agencies that met the criteria for funding received awards.

I am proud that we are able to help fund important programs at the state and local level that help reduce the number of traffic crashes on Tennessee roadways,” stated Commissioner Gerald Nicely, Tennessee Department of Transportation. “These grants will make a difference in the effectiveness of our highway safety partners.”

There are several elements that contribute to a sound and safe roadway system. Some of those aspects are an accurate traffic safety data collection and analysis system; well-trained and equipped law enforcement personnel; and effective emergency medical and trauma systems. A major part of roadway safety is educating motorists about laws and good driving behaviors.

Grants awarded by the GHSO are provided in areas of need,” reported GHSO Director Kendell Poole. “Statistics show our problem areas and we strive to put the funding where it will be most effective. We are dedicated to saving lives across Tennessee and pledge to work with grantees statewide to accomplish our mission.”

Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver worked to secure these funds for DeKalb County.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding for GHSO grants.

WWII Veteran Donald Sheets Honored at DeKalb Community Hospital

October 13, 2009
 World War II Veteran Donald Sheets-

It was a trip he had looked forward to for a long time. But unfortunately, World War II Veteran Donald Sheets was unable to make his Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial. When it came time for Donald to make his trip, he became ill. He ended up requiring hospitalization and became a patient at DeKalb Community Hospital.

As one might expect, Donald was very disappointed at not being able to travel to Washington, D.C with many of his fellow soldiers. Edward and Edsel Frazier were two other local Smithville Veterans who did get to make this journey.

When Dr J.C. Wall, a Family Practice Physician here in Smithville, heard about Donald’s story from the nurses at the hospital, he knew that he wanted to find a way to honor this hero. He had the dietary department at DeKalb Community Hospital bake a very special cake that was presented to Donald Sheets in his hospital bed.

Owner of Nicoles Market Decides Against Court Challenge over Loss of Beer Permit

October 12, 2009
Dwayne Page

The owner of Nicole's Market at 7024 Short Mountain Highway is not going to challenge the county beer board's decision to revoke her off premises permit.

Areceli Soto had ten days to take the case to court but her attorney, Frank Buck told WJLE Monday that she has decided not to pursue a legal appeal.

Instead, he says Soto may consider moving the business to another location that meets the requirements for a beer permit.

The DeKalb County Beer Board, following a hearing, voted five to nothing on Thursday night October 1st to revoke the off premises permit of Nicoles Market because a survey showed that the store is only 1,439 feet from the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church, a violation of the county's distance regulations which prohibits the sale of beer within 2,000 feet of schools, churches, and other places of public gathering.

The store had been selling beer since it was granted a permit by the county beer board in November, 2008.

Investigators Believe Senick the Victim of Homicide

October 12, 2009
Dwayne Page
Body of Robert Bob Senick Found in Rubble of Burned Mobile Home
Gregory Michael Patton
Danny Lee Smithson
Nathan Ray King
James Dallas King

Sheriff Patrick Ray says dental records have confirmed that the body of a man found last week in the rubble of a burned mobile home near Liberty is that of 63 year old Robert "Bob" Senick, the man who lived at the residence.

Senick's death is also being called a homicide, according to Sheriff Ray, but no other details have been released as to the cause of the death or how the fire started.
The mobile home, which belonged to Senick, was located in an isolated area about a mile off the Liberty to Dismal Road. The fire, which destroyed the home, apparently occurred either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

According to Sheriff Ray, the mobile home had already burned to the ground by the time it was discovered and reported Wednesday morning at around 9:13 a.m.

Senick's body was later sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

The investigation is being conducted by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Bomb and Arson, and District Attorney General Randy York and members of his staff.

Sheriff Ray says if you have any information that could help investigators, please call 597-4935.

Meanwhile in other recent crime news from the Sheriff's Department, 25 year old Shannon Ray Herman of Author Hollis Lane Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. He will appear in court on October 21st. Sheriff Ray says that on October 5th, deputies while on patrol on Short Mountain Highway, stopped Herman for a traffic violation. Upon checking Herman's license, the officer learned that the license was suspended for failure to satisfy a citation in Warren County. Herman was arrested and his bond set at $1,000.

33 year old Gregory Michael Patton of Oak Place Drive, Smithville is charged with two counts of simple possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond was set at $3,500 on the drug charges. Patton also has five warrants against him for violation of probation. According to Sheriff Ray, on October 8th a deputy while on patrol on Timber Lane, spotted Patton standing beside of a vehicle. Having prior knowledge that Patton had warrants against him for violation of probation, the officer stopped and placed Patton under arrest. While making the arrest, the officer noticed a small pouch beside of Patton and in the pouch was a pill crusher, a hollowed ink pen barrel containing residue, one and a half Hydrocodone pills. and a half of a Xanax pill.

21 year old Jose B. Soto Jr. of Miller Road Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Sheriff Ray says that on October 10th, Soto was involved in an accident on Dry Creek Road in Smithville and when officers tried to arrest him, Soto fled on foot. After the officers caught up with him, Soto began to resist but he was cuffed after a deputy sprayed him with mace. Soto had a strong odor of alcohol on his person and slurred speech. He refused to submit to any field sobriety tasks and also refused a blood test. Soto's bond was set at $4,000 and he was issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. He will appear in court on October 22nd.

39 year old Danny Lee Smithson of Brook Lane, Smithville is charged with introduction of drugs into a penal institution. According to Sheriff Ray, correctional officers at the jail discovered a bulge in the sock of a weekend prisoner on October 10th. When they checked further, the officers found in Smithson's possession, a black taped wrapper containing seventeen whole pills and two half pills of Soma and six pink Hydrocodone pills. Smithson, who stands six feet tall and weighs three hundred pounds, also had a jacket under his belly containing tobacco, rolling papers, and a lighter. His bond was set at $5,000 and he will appear in court on October 22nd.

22 year old Dallas Edward Hannah of Evins Mill Road Smithville was arrested October 11th for driving on a revoked license after he was spotted driving on Highway 70 East. Hannah ‘s bond was set a $1,500 and he will appear in court on October 22nd.

23 year old Dallas James King and 18 year old Nathan Ray King both of Murray Kittrell Road, Readyville are charged with unlawful possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) for resale. Sheriff Ray says that on October 12th, a deputy while on patrol, stopped a vehicle on Highway 70 West. The officer noticed a smell of marijuana in the vehicle. After obtaining consent from the driver to search, the deputy found a Nike shoe box containing 3.65 ounces of a green leafy plant believed to be marijuana. Another bag containing marijuana was also found in the back seat of the vehicle. Bond for both men is set at $3,500 each and they will appear in court on October 22nd.

After Five Years – DCHS Fighting Tiger Band Gets It Done

October 12, 2009
By DC Band Boosters
DCHS Band Section Leaders

In the rain and drizzle, the DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band was on their practice field early Saturday morning, preparing for their contest at Goodpasture High School in Madison, Tennessee. The students were focused and ready to do whatever needed to be done to guarantee a great performance!

If you’ve been keeping up with the band over the years, you know they have done very well at their contests. However, one thing has eluded them. In the past five years, they have been unable to make finals in marching contests where preliminary and final competitions were judged. Year after year, the band would come very close, and in some cases, they would miss the finals competition by only a fraction of a point.

When the band entered Goodpasture’s field for preliminary competition around noon, huge sections of the field were nothing but mud. The field had been rain soaked the night before and was in very poor condition. As the band marched to their position to start the show, Band Director, Jonathan Wright, outwardly warned the students of the condition of the ground. “Be careful, this field is in rough shape,” he said. “We’re the first band of the day to perform, so the condition of the field is as good as it’s going to be all day long,” he continued. “It’ll only get worse from here.”

After the preliminary performance, the students returned to the buses to clean the mud off their shoes and uniforms. Mr. Wright gave them a quick critique of the show and said, “We have given our best and that is all we can do. It’s in the judge's hands now.” The students put on dry clothes and returned to the stands to watch some of the other bands in the contest.

The preliminary part of the Goodpasture Cougar Marching Invitational was broken into classes. DCHS was competing in Class A, the smallest class. All bands are comparable in size when divided this way. A band would have to do well in “prelims” competition against all other bands similar in size to continue on to finals competition. However, in finals, all bands compete against each other, regardless of size.

After all of the bands had performed, the students of the DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band heard news that they hadn’t heard since The Division II State Contest in 2004. The DCHS band would be among the top eight bands in the finals competition on the very same field they had placed five years ago. “Making finals is a very big deal for these guys,” Mr. Wright said. “The last of the 2004 students graduated last year, so none of these students have ever made finals in a competition. This is a very big accomplishment.”

The Goodpasture Band and Boosters decided that the condition of their field was much better on the visitor’s side, so while the finals bands were preparing to perform a second time, they asked the audience to move to the other side of the field. A few minor adjustments of how to get the band’s equipment on and off the field had to be made. The DCHS Pit Crew, a dedicated bunch of Band Supporters who help get the sideline instruments on and off the field, really put their time and backs into this contest. Rather than the luxury of using the trailer and John Deere tractor to move equipment, they had to move the huge pieces one at a time. The condition of the ground simply would not allow the tractor on the field without damaging it further.

The results of the preliminary competition and finals competition were announced later that evening. The section leaders of all competing bands gathered on the field to hear their placement.

In prelims, Field Commander, Hunter Tramel won 1st place in Class A. The DCHS Band placed 3rd in Class A behind Kenwood and Houston County High Schools.

In finals competition, The DCHS Fighting Tiger Band fought their way to 6th place against bands that were much larger in size. Mr. Wright said, “We made some big improvements from prelims to finals and the results showed it. We beat one of the bands in a bigger class, plus we beat a band that had beaten us in prelims. This has been a very successful day for us.”

Despite fall break, the band now makes preparations for their next couple of contest performances. The 14th Annual Highland Rim Marching Contest will be held on October 24th at Westmorland High School, and The Division II State Competition will be held at Independence High School on November 7th, which will also be a prelims/finals competition.

In addition to the contest performances, the DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band also plans to perform at the DCHS Football games against Upperman High School on October 16th, and Livingston Academy on October 30th. During the October 30th game, there just may be a Halloween surprise, so you might want to make plans to attend.

To find out more about the Band or how to become a Supporter, log onto www.DekalbBand.com or check them out on FaceBook.


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