Local News Articles

Former Major League Pitcher to Speak at DCHS Baseball Fundraiser

March 4, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Former major league baseball pitcher Aaron Small

Former major league baseball pitcher Aaron Small will be the guest speaker for the annual DCHS baseball chili supper and silent auction fundraiser Saturday, March 11 at 5:00 p.m. the county complex.

Family tickets are $25.00 which feeds the immediate family and makes the ticket holder eligible for a reverse drawing for prizes including cash awards of $125, $250, $500, and $1,000. Single tickets are $5.00 each. Purchase your tickets at the door or from any DCHS baseball player.

Small played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves during his professional career

According to Wikipedia, Small was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 22nd round of the 1989 Major League Baseball Draft. He debuted for the Blue Jays in 1994, but was traded to the Florida Marlins in 1995. Over the next ten years, Small would split most of his time between Triple-A and the majors, with major league appearances for the Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, and a second stint with the Marlins, before joining the Yankees.

In addition, Small was also a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Colorado Rockies and Anaheim Angels organizations, though he never pitched in the major leagues for those teams.

In 2005, Small played in the Yankees minor league system, pitching for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Columbus. Due to injuries, he was called up to the Yankees to fill in, making his first start on July 20, which he won.

Small recorded 10 major league victories without a loss. Small recorded his first major league complete game shutout, which came against the Oakland Athletics on September 3, 2005. Small was the first Yankees pitcher to win his first 9 decisions since Tommy John in 1979, and became just the fourth pitcher in history to win at least 10 games without a loss, joining Tom Zachary, Dennis Lamp, and Howie Krist. He finished the 2005 season 10–0 with a 3.20 earned run average and 37 strikeouts. He was re-signed to a one-year, $1.2 million contract during the off-season.

During 2006 spring training, Small injured his right hamstring. He missed the start of the season, but returned to the team on April 30, 2006.

On June 17, 2006, Small was designated for assignment by the Yankees and was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus.

On January 23, 2007, Small signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners. However, on May 18, 2007, he announced his retirement after being released by the Mariners.

On August 2, 2008, Small took part in the 62nd Annual Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium. Six weeks prior, Small survived a bout with encephalitis that included a medically induced coma lasting eight days. He was again honored by the New York Yankees at Old Timers' Day on June 26, 2011 and July 1, 2012.

Small, along with his wife Macy, is a devout Christian. He is active in his church, Fairview Baptist Tabernacle in Sweetwater, Tennessee, where he and his wife are involved in ministry to students.

Walmart Re-Opens After Electrical Fire Friday Night

March 4, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Walmart store has re-opened after an electrical fire Friday night which created smoke in the building and forced an evacuation of customers and employees. No one was injured. The store was closed overnight and part of Saturday morning.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker told WJLE that the fire started in an electrical panel. “One of the main electrical panels shorted out and burned. It caused some smoke in the building and everyone was evacuated. The fire was contained to the electrical panel,” said Chief Parker.

911 received the fire call at 6:11 p.m.

Smithville Walmart to Sell Wine

March 3, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Walmart to Sell Wine

Walmart in Smithville will soon begin selling wine.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission has added the Smithville Walmart to the list of retail food stores in the state which have been approved for a license for off premises consumption.

In 2014 Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill into law that allows wine sales in Tennessee grocery stores. There was a provision of the bill that allowed voters in individual cities and counties a referendum to decide on the issue locally.

In November, 2016 Smithville voters approved a referendum authorizing the legal sale of wine at retail food stores in the City of Smithville. The vote was 691 to 515. In a separate referendum that day, city voters also approved the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in the City of Smithville (Liquor By The Drink). It passed 665 to 597.

In an effort not to harm liquor stores, the Tennessee wine in grocery stores law permits liquor stores to sell numerous items that were previously prohibited, including publications related to alcoholic beverages or food, cigarettes, lottery tickets, mixers, corkscrews and other supplies related to alcoholic beverages, nonalcoholic beverages, gift cards, products related to beer and wine-making, snack foods, fruit and other food used in making alcoholic beverages, ice, coolers, party supplies, greeting cards and articles of clothing bearing messages related to alcoholic beverages. In addition, package stores may also sell beer kegs and growlers.

Smithville has two retail liquor stores.

DCHS Names Top Rank Students in Class of 2017

March 2, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Valedictorian  Rachel Fuson
Salutatorian Hunter Robinson.

DeKalb County High School has released the names of Top Rank students in the Class of 2017 including the Valedictorian Rachel Fuson and the Salutatorian Hunter Robinson.

The following students have met requirements to be considered for Top Rank:
Rachel Fuson
Hunter Robinson
Eli Cross
Jayrah Trapp
Allison Rogers
Baylee Phillips
Callie Cripps
Kristen Parsley
Kayley Caplinger
Luke Green
Chloe Cripps
Taylor Spare
Katherine Parsley
Sahara Lafever
Caitlyn Lawrence
Maegan Harris
Clayton Hoyle
Lexie Bates
Gentry Harpole
Erica Birmingham
Alex Steel
Steven Jennings
Alexis Roller
Jacob Self
Skylar Pease
Bailey Redmon
Hanah Panter
Zachary Parsley
Maddison Dickens
Regan Foutch
Myranda Bailiff
Emily Wallace
Paige Snyder
Kaylee Braswell
Rebekah Brandt
Jason Perricone
Rosa Payne
Caelin Crips
Neely Evans
Michael Warren
Julianne Richardson

To be considered for top Rank, students must take at least 10 honors, dual enrollment, and AP courses and students must have a 21 or higher ACT composite score.

Camp Set for Second Family Literacy Night

March 2, 2017
by: 
Bill Conger

Come pitch your tent tonight (March 2) at “Camp Read S’more.” DeKalb West School is opening its doors to the community for the second annual Family Literacy Night, starting at 5:45 p.m.

“The learning aspect is important, but to me, the memories and the family time are the most important things that would be gained from that night,” says Librarian Amanda Mullinax, who coordinates the event. “I was chatting a couple of weeks ago about what to expect from this night with our new first grade teachers, Mrs. Ashlee Thomason. She made the comment that these type things are going to be what her students remember about her. When it’s 15, 20 years down the road, they’re probably not going to remember Mrs. Ashlee teaching them a phonics lessons, but they are going to remember the night that she had a carnival out in the hall. They’re going to remember the fun, the silly, and the different things.”

Children’s author Mike Shoulders will return as a special guest speaker to kick off the festivities before the crowd is dismissed to pursue other activities. Students in all grades also will have their Literacy Fair projects on display. A Clifford the Big Red Dog carnival will be happening on the first grade hallway while visitors might spy The Cat in the Hat and other book characters roaming through the building. Hike through Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Acre Woods, stroll through a book walk with Thing One and Thing Two or tap into your inner author with a session on Cooking up Crafty Characters. Additionally, the new DWS STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Club for 5th-8th grades will be unveiled as Junior Beta President Garrett Hayes and Club Sponsor/Special Education teacher Teresa Sullivan give an overview of the club.

Besides turning literacy into a fun affair, this event highlights the strong need in education to boost children’s reading skills. DeKalb County Schools have set a goal that 90% of all students will be on or above grade level at the end of 3rd grade. Mullinax says it’s crucial to begin building a child’s reading skills as early as birth.

“A Kindergartener does not have to come in reading, but they have to come in with some recognition of sound and letters and alphabet and how letters make sounds,” says Mullinax. “Those are skills that now students are expected to bring to the table as they enter school where when I was younger, we learned that when we got to Kindergarten.”

“It used to be that first grade was for reading,” she continues. “It’s not that way anymore. Now, Kindergarten is for letter recognition and for learning to tie those letters into words and those words into sentences. Our Kindergarteners here are already expected to read sentences. If they are getting those literacy skills and that foundation from birth, then when they get here they can build, and we can keep them where they’re expected to be on their particular grade level.”

The new reading goal along with the “20 for 20” program highlights the need for families to climb aboard in helping the child with literacy in the early years.

“Literacy doesn’t need to begin when they enroll for Kindergarten or Pre-K. It needs to begin much earlier than that. It isn’t simply sitting down for 20 minutes and reading. It’s any activity that deals with the development of letters and sounds and being able to comprehend what is in that picture, even picture games where they might describe what’s in the picture. They can read a book long before they can read words. To me, the “20 for 20” in our school is very beneficial. I’m also hoping that it is trickling down in the home to the students that are going to be at the West school in the next couple of years because that ties into the 90% reading goal.”

DCHS Student Named "Classroom Champion" of the Week

March 1, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lydia Brown is this week's "Classroom Champion"
Smithville Attorney Jim  Judkins, DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant,  Classroom Champion Lydia Brown, Mom Amanda Brown, and WJLE’s Dwayne Page

A DCHS Sophomore is this week’s “Classroom Champion”.

Lydia Brown recently received the award presented by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins and Dwayne Page of WJLE.

Brown is the daughter of Stephen and Amanda Brown and her siblings are Austin and Grant.

Lydia is an active member of Salem Baptist Church. She is an athlete on the DCHS girls basketball and softball teams and a member of the FBLA, Science Club, Climate Crew, and FCA.

Brown said she loves math and hopes to one day enter the medical field after college.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week for the next several months.

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, and citizenship and character,” said Judkins.

Sex Offender Gets Probation

March 1, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
David Royden Drennan

A sex offender was in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday.

51 year old David Royden Drennan of Sparta Highway, Smithville, indicted for violation of the sex offender law, entered a plea to the lesser offense of attempting to violate the sex offender registry. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on supervised probation and was fined $350.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, February 8, 2016 Drennan allowed minor children to live with him at his home in violation of his sex offender registration.

Storm Damage in Alexandria

March 1, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Roof partially blown off a house on High Street
Metal carport  was blown across Nashville Highway
Metal carport blown down

High winds caused some structure damage this morning (Wednesday) in Alexandria but no injuries were reported.

Alexandria Police Chief Chris Russell told WJLE that a roof was partially blown off a house on High Street and a metal carport was blown across Nashville Highway. Several trees are also down. Electricity service was interrupted for some people.

"It looks like the worst of the thunderstorms is over. Alexandria seemed to get hit the hardest with some roof damage and a carport blew across the road. There were some small trees and limbs down around the county but nothing severe. There was also some wind damage with tree limbs down around the Silver Point area. There has only been some minor flooding in the usual spots at this point with some water over the road on Bright Hill Road," said DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Charlie Parker

Kenny Gragg New Manager at Edgar Evins State Park

March 1, 2017
Kenny Gragg New Manager at Edgar Evins State Park

Edgar Evins State Park, Silver Point, has seen a lot of change in the past few years. Now it is welcoming another native son of the area as the new park manager. Kenneth Gragg assumed his new duties at Edgar Evins on January 19th after nine years as a ranger at Tims Ford State Park, Winchester. The last four years of that time he served as the park manager.

Kenny, as he prefers to be called, grew up in Cookeville, the son of Regina and Ken Gragg. He graduated from public schools there and from Tennessee Tech in 2006 with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. Earlier this year he graduated from the National Association of State Park Directors State Park Leadership School.

He is married to Amanda Ballard Gragg, also of the area. They have two children, Gavin who is 6 and Elsie who is age 4. Kenny said he and his wife will be looking for a house fairly close to the park in either Putnam or DeKalb counties.

Gragg will be the second "new" park manager at Edgar Evins since the retirement of Carl Halfacre in the fall of 2014. Carl was followed by Jacob Young, a native of Liberty who was transferred to Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer, last October. Since that time Ranger Mark Taylor has been the Interim Park Manager, a role he had also filled in the months between Halfacre and Young. Despite the many changes in leadership of this park in recent years Ranger Taylor, Ranger Brad Halfacre, and Ranger Justin Vaughn, with help of all the support staff, have provided the continuity and stability to keep the park going strong and providing a positive experience for visitors.

Fount Bertram, President of the Friends of Edgar Evins State Park states "We have enjoyed a great relationship with all our previous park mangers and look forward to working with Kenny Gragg. He will no doubt continue the good work while bringing new ideas and leadership. Please drop by to say hello and welcome him home to the community."

Three Boy Scouts Advance at the last Court of Honor

February 28, 2017
by: 
Bill Conger
Boy Scouts Advance at the last Court of Honor
Zackary Cantrell moves up for 1st Class.

Three Boy Scouts advanced in their rank with Troop 347 at the last Court of Honor. Zackary Cantrell was promoted from 2nd to 1st class, Carter Dias moved up from Tenderfoot to 2nd class, and Gavin Conger graduated to Tenderfoot. Meanwhile, Sebastian Dodge and his brother, Friedrich are in the final stages of their advancement to Eagle Scout.

Several Boy Scouts also earned Merit Badges from classes taken during summer camp at the Boxwell Scout Reservation in Gallatin and from working on their own. Jonathan Birmingham picked up Mammal Studies and Digital Technology; Zackary Cantrell earned Search and Rescue, Game Design, Citizenship in the Community, Communications, Environmental Science, First Aid; Gavin Conger earned Space Exploration, Leatherwork, Music, and Wood Carving; Carter Dias received Forestry merit badge while Friedrich Dodge picked up Climbing; Sebastian Dodge earned Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Wilderness Survival, Family Life, Climbing, Citizenship in the Community, Communications, and Environmental Science; Jake Ramsey – Personal Fitness, Geology; Cody Robinson – Climbing, Citizenship in the Community, Communications, Orienteering, and Electricity; Nate Sherwood – Canoeing; Brandon Sobotka – Soil and Water Conservation; Will Stephens – Personal Fitness; Arthur Sullivan – Space Exploration; Caleb Taylor – Space Exploration, Wood Carving, and Leatherwork; Darren Waggoner – Shotgun Shooting and Thomas Webb – Personal Management, Medicine, and Citizenship in the Nation.

The next Court of Honor is scheduled for the end of March.

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