Appalachian Center for Craft Receives $425,000 Grant

The Appalachian Center for Craft at Tennessee Tech has received a $425,000 grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation to support its fine craft education programs.
“We are very honored and grateful to receive the generous support of the Windgate Charitable Foundation to strengthen the craft center studios for both current and future generations of craft artists,” said Kimberly Winkle, director of the School of Art, Craft & Design, which includes the Appalachian Center for Craft. “The Windgate gift will allow us to make great strides in attaining our goals as a leading academic and cultural center, both regionally and nationally.”
The grant includes $90,000 to fund the center’s popular high school summer intensive programs for three years. This program provides opportunities for students and teachers alike to spend an entire week creating and learning at the Craft Center. Participants spend the mornings studying one craft medium, afternoons studying a second medium, and evenings exploring additional media. Craft Center artists lead all workshops.
Based in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, the Windgate Charitable Foundation is a family foundation established in 1993 that is known for its support of the arts and education. In 2005, the foundation gave $500,000 to the craft center for student scholarships, the largest single gift ever to the center.

Top Local News Story of 2016: Mobile Home Fire Claims Three, Injures Two Others

The tragic death in December of three people including a 4 year old child in a Smithville mobile home fire sadly marks the top local news story of the year in DeKalb County.
27 year old Jeremy Shelton, 36 year old Crystal Fults, and 4 year old Caylix Johnson lost their lives in the fire which occurred at around noon Sunday, December 4 at a mobile home on Short Mountain Street in Smithville. Two others 26 year old Heather Standridge and 23 month old Brantley Johnson were injured in the blaze that is still under investigation.
A passerby, Jerry Estes spotted the fire at 1276 South Mountain Street, Smithville. He also saw Standridge standing outside the trailer yelling that her children, the Johnson siblings, were still inside. 911 was alerted at 12:12 p.m. and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and Police Department were summoned along with backup from the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.
According to Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins, Estes climbed through a window, grabbed the 23 month old child, and pulled him to safety. After firefighters arrived, Lieutenant John Poss of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rescued the 4 year old child, who died later at the hospital.
•In a follow up to one of the top stories a year ago, 25 year old Cody Ryan Key appeared in Putnam County Criminal Court on Thursday December 1 and entered a plea under a negotiated settlement to second degree murder in the death of 23 month old Colten Alexander May. He received a 45-year sentence. Because of the nature of the crime, Key’s sentence will be a 100% term not to be reduced below 85% . The sentence is outside the normal sentencing range for Key as a Class A felony based on his criminal history. He will receive jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016.
Six days later on Wednesday, December 7 the child’s mother, 20 year old Jessica May, stood before Judge Gary McKenzie in DeKalb County Criminal Court and entered a plea to attempted aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony, and received an eight year sentence as a range I mitigated offender to serve at least 20% before parole eligibility. However, she may already be near qualifying for early release after having served 568 days since her arrest on May 19, 2015. If she is released early, May would be supervised for the remainder of the eight-year term.
The two were indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in Colten’s death. The couple brought the child to the emergency room of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital on Sunday morning, May 17, 2015 but he was already dead. It was determined that the child had suffered internal and other physical injuries that resulted in his death. Law enforcement officers concluded that Key had severely beaten the child and that May knew the abuse was taking place.
The indictment against May alleged that “between the 17th day of May, 2014 and the 17th day of May, 2015 in DeKalb County, Jessica May did unlawfully, knowingly, and other than by accidental means, neglect the child so as to adversely affect the health and welfare of the child, thereby committing the offense of aggravated child neglect”.
• For the first time in a number of years, DeKalb voters elected a Republican Assessor of Property in the August DeKalb County General Election. Shannon Cantrell defeated one-term incumbent Scott Cantrell by a count of 1,216 votes to 1,162, a margin of 54 votes. Meanwhile, Fifth District School Board member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III retained his seat, holding off challengers, Barry Mabe and Kevin Hale for a new four year term. Fourth and Sixth District School Board members, Kate Miller and Doug Stephens, were each unopposed in their election bids. In the city of Smithville, the three incumbent members of the city council all retained their seats, fighting off challenges from two opponents. Incumbent Shawn Jacobs led the city ticket with 420 votes, followed by fellow incumbents Josh Miller and Danny Washer, who polled 390 and 351 votes, respectively. Challenger Ronald Dale Stanley came up short with 205 votes, while Richard Steinbach tallied 109 votes. In other local contested races, Democrat Julie Willams Young won a seat on the DeKalb County Commission in the First District, defeating Republican opponent Tom Chandler, 154 votes to 136. Young fills the seat vacated by former First District commission member, Elmer Ells Jr., who resigned earlier in the year. In the First District Constable race, Democrat Jason Taylor won out over Republican opponent, Lee Plummer, 140 votes to 117. The other constable candidates won re-election unopposed including Thomas Theriaque, Travis Bryant, Paul Cantrell, Mark Milam, Carl Lee Webb, and Johnny King. Dowelltown has a new mayor. Pam Redmon ran unopposed and received 41 votes in the Municipal Election. Meanwhile William A. (Butch) Davis was elected Dowelltown alderman. He too ran unopposed and received 37 votes. The Liberty Municipal Election saw Dwayne Blair, Todd Dodd, and Jason Ray each win a four year term as alderman. They were unopposed. Joe (J.D.) Bratten was elected alderman to fill a one year unexpired term. He was unopposed and received 55 votes.
•In November, local voters followed the rest of the state in their overwhelming support of Donald Trump for President. Trump carried every precinct in DeKalb county and won by a margin of 5,164 to 1,566 over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Republican incumbent State House of Representatives candidates Terri Lynn Weaver in the 40th District, and Mark Pody in the 46th District, each won re-election, and each easily carried DeKalb County over their opponents, Gayla Colvert Hendrix and Amelia Morrison Hipps. Congressman Diane Black was also re-elected and breezed past her opponents in DeKalb County. Meanwhile, the referendum for the legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in City of Smithville (Liquor By The Drink) passed with 665 votes for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption, with a total of 597 votes against it. In a separate referendum, City of Smithville voters approved the legal sale of wine at retail food stores in the City of Smithville. A total of 691 city voters voted in favor of the referendum, while 515 voters opposed it.
•A gunman held up Liberty State Bank in Liberty Wednesday, February 10 taking an undisclosed amount of cash. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that someone, believed to be a man, ran into the bank shortly after 8:00 a.m., approached a female teller, and displayed a weapon. The teller complied with the robber’s demands and the gunman fled the bank with cash. No one was injured. Another person in the bank at the time witnessed the crime and called authorities at 8:07 a.m.. The robber appeared to be a white male, five feet, six inches to five feet, ten inches in height, wearing a black jacket with a hoodie on it. A deputy was on the scene within five minutes of the initial call. Alexandria Police Chief Chris Russell responded to assist.The case remains under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI.
•The death of a 20 month old boy is under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney General’s Office. The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and EMS responded to a stranded motorist on Highway 70 Saturday evening, April 23 where they found an unresponsive child in the vehicle. The child, Mason Snyder, was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of death. The case remains under investigation and no arrests have been made. 27 year old Les Miller, the boyfriend of the child’s mother, was taken into custody on Sunday, April 24 on unrelated charges of being a fugitive from justice out of the state of Michigan.
•A 46 year old Smithville woman, Tammy Renae Greco, died from injuries in a two vehicle crash Friday night, November 11 on Highway 70 at Liberty. She was a nurse at the Family Medical Center. Greco was a rear seat passenger of a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, driven by her husband, 44 year old Daniel J. Greco. Their son, 24 year old Christian D. Greco was a front seat passenger. They were traveling east on Highway 70. A 17 year old female of Gordonsville was driving the other vehicle, a 2009 Dodge Avenger heading west on Highway 70. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the juvenile’s car crossed through the east bound lanes, struck and bounced off the eastbound guardrail, and hit Greco’s car in the passenger side. The Dodge Avenger came to rest in the east bound lane and Greco’s car came to a stop on the shoulder of the west bound lane. Tammy Greco was ejected from the Chevy Equinox. Christian was also injured. Both were transported from the scene by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone near DeKalb West School and airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital. Tammy later died. Daniel Greco was not injured. The juvenile was taken by private vehicle to the hospital where she was treated and released. All had been wearing their seatbelts except for Tammy Greco. According to the investigation, the crash was due to the teenager having fallen asleep while driving. She has been cited for failure to exercise due care.
•A 56 year old Spencer man, Royce Turner, lost his life in a logging accident Friday, November 11 in a remote area off the Indian Creek Youth Camp Road after a tree fell on the man and killed him. Some 13 members of the rescue squad responded along with county firefighters, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, and DeKalb EMS.
•A Smithville man cited by the TWRA for illegally killing a black bear appeared in General Sessions Court Wednesday, July 20. Jim Beshearse entered a guilty plea on the citation for killing big game during a closed season. Judge Bratten Cook II handed down a six month suspended sentence. Beshearse will be on unsupervised probation. He was fined $250 and he must make restitution to the TWRA in the amount of $1,000. His hunting privileges have also been suspended for a period of one year. Beshearse shot and killed the bear on Friday, June 3 after it wandered onto his property on the Old Snow Hill Road near the Smithville city limits. The bear had been spotted by several other people in DeKalb County that morning and the evening before. Although the bear was killed during a closed season there is not an open season for black bear in DeKalb County.
•Smithville Police charged a man with aggravated arson for intentionally setting a fire in the courthouse Tuesday afternoon, June 14. Police Chief Mark Collins told WJLE that 52 year old Gary Wayne Ponder of 7851 Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown was taken into custody by Smithville Police at his home Wednesday morning. Initially authorities speculated that someone had discarded a lit cigarette into a newspaper recycling bin causing the fire. But Wednesday, police viewed video from a surveillance camera in the courthouse which showed that Ponder grabbed newspapers from the recycling bin and started the fire by lighting them with a cigarette lighter. The fire damaged the wall behind the recycling bin and cracked a window in the vestibule near the first floor entrance to the courthouse. No one was injured but smoke spread through the first floor and into the upper floors. Local attorney Jim Judkins was the first to spot the blaze. He tried to activate the fire alarm and accessed a fire extinguisher which he used to try to put out the blaze. Members of the Smithville Fire Department were notified and quickly responded. The cleanup and repairs at the courthouse in the aftermath of the fire proved to be costly. County Mayor Tim Stribling said SERVPRO’s cost alone to the county’s insurance provider was as much as $75,000 and there were other costs to replace ceiling tiles and the courthouse fire alarm system.
•The Veterans Memorial Bridge (overpass) on College Street that crosses Broad Street was closed to traffic after a DeKalb County Landfill rollback garbage truck, with the lift up, struck the underneath of the bridge on Monday morning, June 27. There was no dumpster on the truck at the time. The driver of the 2013 Western Star truck, 54 year old Roger Chapman of Sparta, was injured and taken to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital for treatment. Trooper T.J. Withers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, told WJLE that Chapman was not seriously hurt. He suffered a few minor bumps, bruises, and cuts. The accident caused major damage to the underside of the bridge and the truck was totaled. Chunks of concrete from the bridge fell onto the eastbound lanes of Broad Street. Traffic was routed to the other side of the highway during the crash investigation, cleanup, and inspection of the bridge by TDOT. Broad Street is now completely open but College Street at the bridge remains closed. According to Trooper Withers, Chapman had just dropped off a dumpster prior to the accident but the roll back lift did not come down as he had thought. In addition to the THP, members of the Smithville Police and Fire Departments were on the scene along with DeKalb EMS and the City of Smithville Public Works Department. Chapman was cited by Smithville Police for speeding, traveling 57 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone.
•A large amount of high grade marijuana was uncovered Wednesday, June 15 in an elaborate indoor grow operation at 1117 Poss Road during a raid by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, TBI agents, and members assigned to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force. A helicopter fly over of the property was also conducted by the Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication. 51 year old Alexis Ravelo was taken into custody at 602 Larkin Springs Road, Nashville and charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana. He has owned the property at 1117 Poss Road since 2014. The discovery locally was part of a probe focused on an organized drug trafficking operation involving the cultivation and distribution of high-grade marijuana in Middle Tennessee by Cuban Nationals. More than a dozen search warrants were executed simultaneously. Six searches were conducted in Davidson County, and others were executed in Lewis, Sumner, Macon, Cannon, Bedford, Putnam, DeKalb and White Counties. Among the agencies involved in the drug investigation and search warrant executions were Metro Nashville Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug Task Forces with the 15th, 16th, 17th, 21st and 22nd Judicial Districts, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Cannon County Sheriff’s Department, and the Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication. Active indoor grow operations were found in Lewis, Macon, DeKalb and White Counties. A total of 320 plants were recovered and seized; 224 plants were found in Lewis County, 52 in Macon County, and 44 in DeKalb County. The street value of the high-grade marijuana seized is more than $560,000. More than 15 pounds of finished product, valued in excess of $37,500, and multiple weapons were found in one of the Davidson County locations. Three guns were found in the Bedford County location, and a total of more than $140,000 in cash was seized from multiple sites. Additionally, 40 plants were recovered in the White County location, along with ten pounds of finished product valued at $25,000, more than $11,500 in cash, and a gun. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, 44 buckets of marijuana were found at the Poss Road location with plants up to 7 ½ feet tall and up to 3 ½ feet wide capable of producing as much as five pounds of pot per plant. This grow operation was located in a metal barn behind a house on Poss Road. The growers had a watering, grow light, chemicals, and fertilizing system installed in the barn and they were stealing electricity from Caney Fork Electric Cooperative to power the operation,” he continued.
•A couple who fled to Michigan with their 8 month old child in November prompting an Endangered Child Alert by the TBI was returned to DeKalb County in December. 29 year old Andrew Billings and 19 year old Adriana Billings arrived at the DeKalb County Jail Tuesday morning, December 13 at 6:30 a.m. They were brought by a transport service. The Billings’ are each charged with aggravated child abuse and initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Bond for each is $17,000 and they will appear in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on January 5. An Endangered Child Alert was issued for 8 month old Xavier Billings on Thursday, November 17 after his parents took him and fled the scene of a wreck investigation a week earlier in which a meth lab was found in their vehicle. The Billings’ were found with the child at a residence in Flint, Michigan on Friday, November 18. They were arrested by the City of Flint Police Department and Xavier was placed in protective custody by the Michigan Department of Children Services.
• Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad spent the day Monday, December 19 searching for a 22 year old Georgia man, whose car was found abandoned at the parking area of Sligo Marina. The man, Vincent McKeever Rossetti of Peach City, Georgia was wearing a maroon button up shirt, blue jeans, black shoes, blueish green jacket when he left Georgia on December 17th. He is 6′ 2 ” tall and weighs 180 pounds. His eyes are blue and he has light blonde hair. He also wears glasses. He was still missing at last report.
• DTC Communications is getting out of the mobile wireless business. In a letter to customers in November, Christopher Townson, DTC Chief Executive Officer announced that Advantage Cellular Systems, Inc also known as DTC Wireless will cease operation of its mobile wireless network as of January 31, 2017. Subscribers of DTC’s fixed wireless service, landline voice service, broadband internet service, DTC TV service, DTC’s First Choice Security or other services provided by DTC Communications will not be affected by this change.“The decision to cease operating the network is based on the high cost to provide wireless service to our area,” said Townson.
•A man convicted of breaking into Center Hill Wine and Spirits and taking two bottles of vodka last year appeared for sentencing in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 12. 51 year old Amail John Land received a 12 year sentence as a career offender and must serve at least 60% of the term before parole eligibility. Land stood trial and was found guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court Tuesday, September 6. After deliberating for less than an hour a jury of ten men and two women convicted Land of burglary, vandalism, and theft and imposed a total fine of $3,250. Following the verdict, Judge Patterson scheduled a sentencing hearing of December 12 for Land and revoked his bond. He has been incarcerated at the DeKalb County jail since the trial. According to Stephanie Johnson, Assistant District Attorney General, Land has eleven prior felony convictions, including ten for burglary and that is the reason why the state sought the maximum sentence for Land as a career offender.
•Sentencing for Larry Webb, the former deputy director of the Upper Cumberland Development District, has been postponed until January after a federal judge in December rejected a plea deal. Webb, who entered a voluntary guilty plea on August 17, 2015 to one count of bank fraud in the “Living the Dream” investigation, was to have been sentenced Thursday, December 8 but that has been postponed until January 9. Under terms of his plea agreement, Webb was to have avoided paying a fine in the case. However, a court order signed Friday, December 9 by U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. stated that “the court believes a fine in the $6,000 range may be appropriate, considering Defendant (Webb’s) cooperation with the Government, his offense conduct, and ability to pay”. Webb was indicted with former UCDD director Wendy Askins in 2013 on various federal bank charges, including conspiracy, theft of government money, bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement. Askins was accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars of agency money into a million-dollar luxury home in rural Putnam County called “Living the Dream”. What was intended to become a home for needy seniors also became Askins’ home. Although Webb’s attorney Ed Yarbrough said he never profited from the scheme, Webb admitted that he was guilty of Count Eight of the federal indictment, which accused him and Askins of securing a $250,000 loan from the Bank of Putnam County “for their own use and benefit” and “falsely representing” that it was for a project that had been approved by the UCDD board of directors.” Askins entered a plea on August 31 to two counts of theft from a federally-funded entity stemming from the “Living the Dream investigation and was sentenced on October 28 to 18 months in federal prison. The sentence will run concurrently with a state sentence after her plea in Putnam County Criminal Court on October 31 to forgery over $60,000. After her release, Askins will be on supervised probation for two years. She must also pay restitution of $233,000 to the UCDD. Askins will report to prison in Alabama on January 9.
•The 2016 Upper Cumberland 911 Dispatcher of the Year Award goes to Tony Thomas of DeKalb County. Thomas, an employee of the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (Central Dispatch/911 Center) received the award for his outstanding performance during two events that both involved assisting in the life saving efforts of multiple children in DeKalb County responses. The award reads “The Upper Cumberland 911 Directors awards you for your outstanding service to DeKalb County and the Upper Cumberland Region. We would like to thank you for your outstanding service and devotion to our profession.” Thomas was nominated for the award by Brad Mullinax, Director of the DeKalb ECD.
•Members of the DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club got a sheriff’s department escort and were greeted by cheers from the student body upon their return from the State Convention Tuesday, November 22 where they won first place for their anti-bullying drama presentation called “Be the Change”. The 46 member group from DeKalb Middle School beat out fifteen other schools in their division to earn the state honor and will compete next summer during the National Convention at Disney World in Orlando Florida. Meanwhile for the first time in DeKalb West School’s history, a student will be advancing to the national finals of the Junior Beta Club. 8th grader Garrett Hayes, the DWS Junior Beta President, won second place at the Tennessee Junior Beta State Convention in the Visual Arts category of Color Photography. Hayes is the son of Alan and Lesa Hayes.
•A 44-year-old Smithville man, who was paroled in March 2015 after serving more than 12 years in a 2002 DeKalb County murder case, is back in prison after getting into trouble with the law in Putnam County in February. Melvin Eugene Turnbill was sent back to the Bledsoe Correctional Complex at Pikeville earlier this year, according to Neysa Taylor, Director of Communications at the Tennessee Department of Correction. Turnbill was released from prison on March 9, 2015 after serving over 12 years of a 25 year sentence for facilitation of first degree murder in the September 2002 fatal shooting of Joshua Murphy in DeKalb County. Eleven months after getting out of prison, Turnbill committed two offenses that resulted in him returning to prison for violation of his conditions for parole. Turnbill was arrested for a DUI on Saturday, February 6 followed by a burglary charge two days later on Monday, February 8. Both offenses occurred in Cookeville. According to the Putnam County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Turnbill later entered a plea to the DUI charge and was fined and sentenced to supervised probation. He made another court appearance on the burglary charge where he entered a plea to the lesser offense of aggravated criminal trespass and again was fined and sentenced to supervised probation to run concurrently with the DUI case and his state parole. Turnbill’s next scheduled parole hearing in the murder case is set for February, 2018. His sentence is due to expire on January 7, 2022.
• A break-in at DeKalb West School Sunday, September 25 resulted in the arrest of a man and woman. It turns out that the two, 30 year old Brian Clinton Howell of Vantrease Road, Brush Creek and 25 year old Shauna Melissa Fleetwood of Martha-Leeville Road, Mount Juliet, were also believed to be responsible for burglaries at elementary schools in Wilson and Smith Counties. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, video surveillance showed that Fleetwood, driving a green Ford Taurus, pulled up at DeKalb West School and dropped off Howell. He then used a pry bar to enter a side door and broke into a soft drink vending machine, taking $20.00. Fleetwood later returned to pick up Howell and they drove away. After being contacted by the Principal, Sheriff Ray said his department started an investigation. After learning that a school in Watertown had also been recently burglarized, the detective contacted authorities there and during their joint investigation discovered that burglaries had occurred in Smith County as well and that a “BOLO” had been issued for area law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for the suspects. On Thursday evening, September 29, Wilson County Sheriff’s Department deputies and Lebanon Police Department officers located the suspects, Howell and Fleetwood, at the Traveler’s Inn in Lebanon. In the DeKalb County case, Sheriff Ray said Howell was charged with burglary, vandalism, possession of burglary tools, and theft under $500. Fleetwood was charged with burglary and theft under $500 for being involved in a burglary in which she dropped off Howell in her vehicle, went to a gas station nearby, and then returned to pick him up. Both have admitted to detectives their involvement in the crimes. According to the “Smith County Insider”, the three elementary schools burglarized in Smith County were New Middleton Elementary, Forks River Elementary, and Carthage Elementary; and in Wilson County, Tucker’s Crossroad Elementary and Sam Houston Elementary. The burglaries took place between September 17th and September 28th.
• Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen visited DeKalb County High School Wednesday, October 5 as part of her “Classroom Chronicles” tour across the state. The focus of the tour was to meet with students to gather their perspectives on education. “This year our focus is on students and student voices and hearing from them around their readiness for post secondary, for career, and learning from them about what can we do better as a state to make sure we’re supporting our schools and our local districts better in post secondary readiness, advanced courses, and making sure they have the rigor that they need and that the cultures in our high schools are moving toward those high expectations,” Commissioner McQueen told WJLE. “DeKalb County is part of my opportunity today to hear from students and tour guides as they walked us into classrooms and they talked to me about their dreams and goals and where they are going to go and how DeKalb County has prepared them in that direction,” Commissioner McQueen added.
•A ground breaking was held Thursday morning, October 6 for the future home of a new animal shelter for the City of Smithville and DeKalb County. Members , friends, and supporters of the DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals gathered at the site located behind Tenneco Automotive and near the county’s soon to open solid waste transfer station.
•A ribbon cutting was held Thursday evening, October 6 to officially rename the Board of Education building the “Ernest Ray Education Center” on the public square. Ray was on hand for the occasion surrounded by members of his family, the Board of Education, Director of Schools, school staff, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, along with many friends and former students and co-workers of Mr. Ray. In July, the Board of Education voted to rename the central office building in honor of Ray, who served more than 30 years as an educator, principal, and Superintendent of Schools.
•A celebration was held in September to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the DeKalb County Drug Court Program now renamed the “DeKalb County Recovery Court” and to recognize the latest persons to graduate from the program, Lisa Dillon and Christina Murphy. The celebration banquet ceremony and ribbon cutting were held at the New Life Connection Center in Smithville on Monday, September 26. Not only was the event held to commemorate 10 years of restoring lives, reuniting families, and helping participants begin their journeys into recovery through the program, but also to raise awareness for the disease of addiction. TBI Director Mark Gwyn was the guest speaker.
•Andy Wachtel, FACHE, was named in October Chief Executive Officer of Saint Thomas DeKalb, Highlands and Stones River hospitals. He replaced the former CEO’s including Sue Conley of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital after a decision to bring Saint Thomas DeKalb, Highlands and Stones River Hospitals under one chief executive officer. Saint Thomas Health is a member of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. Wachtel previously served as CEO of Alliance Health located in Ponca City, Oklahoma, where he was responsible for 140-bed Alliance Health Ponca City hospital and 53-bed Alliance Health Blackwell hospital. These two hospitals blended their management teams in May 2014. Earlier he was Chief Operating Officer at Deaconess Hospital, Oklahoma City.
•For their efforts in helping save the lives of victims in an August crash on Allen Ferry Road, members of the DeKalb County Ambulance Service have earned the department the Upper Cumberland EMS Directors Association Region IV “Call of the Year” Award. The honorees, Jamie Parsley-AEMT, Tyler Grandstaff-CCEMT-Paramedic, Jonathan Rudd-EMT-Paramedic, Houston Austin-EMT-Paramedic, Donna Melton-AEMT, Greta Stone-EMT-Paramedic, and Tim Briggs-EMT-Paramedic, were recognized and awarded during the Upper Cumberland EMS Directors Association’s Annual Education Symposium held in Cookeville Thursday and Friday, October 13 & 14. DeKalb EMS Director Hoyte Hale nominated the crew for the award based on their response to a serious two vehicle crash August 12 on Allen Ferry Road in which three students, Daniel Hudson, Christian Utley, and Dustin Utley and a teacher, Cody Randolph were injured on their way to school.
•Many DeKalb County homeowners are now eligible for lower insurance premiums. Effective Thursday, September 1, DeKalb County’s Property Protection Classification or PPC rating of 6 by the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) applies to all homes or properties in the service area of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department which are located within five road miles of any of the eleven DeKalb County Fire Department Stations, regardless of whether or not these homes are near a fire hydrant or credited alternative water source. This rating does not affect the current rating for residents in the cities of Smithville and Alexandria, which have their own fire departments. Prior to September 1, homes or properties in the DeKalb County Fire Department’s service area had to be located within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant or credited alternative water supply to qualify for the PPC 6 rating. Otherwise, they had a PPC rating of 9. In March, the DeKalb County Fire Department was evaluated by ISO for its capabilities to supply water using the “hauling water” method. According to County Fire Chief Donny Green, the department had to demonstrate that it could supply a minimum of 250 gallons of water per minute for two hours to all areas in the county-wide jurisdiction (264 square miles) in order to meet ISO Water supply requirements.
•A suspected marijuana dealer found with $14,000 worth of marijuana and $10,000 in cash was arrested Friday night, September 9 at his home by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department 66 year old Michael Duane Kingsbury of 1359 Jefferson Road, Smithville was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana) and possession with intent to sell marijuana. After receiving a tip that Kingsbury had been growing marijuana, Sheriff Patrick Ray said detectives went to his home to investigate, executed a search warrant, and found 12 marijuana plants from 6-7 feet tall growing in a garden spot next to the house and more than 209 baggies of processed marijuana in the home along with drug paraphernalia. The pot had an estimated street value of $14,000. Detectives also recovered $10,000 in cash.
•Smithville Electric System had to get approval from the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen before proceeding with plans to build a new substation on South College Street. The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen granted the request for approval in special session Monday, September 19. Following a three hour hearing Wednesday morning, September 14 in DeKalb County Chancery Court, Chancellor Ronald Thurman issued a declaratory judgment in the case of Joe Rice versus the Smithville Electric System and the City of Smithville. Rice, developer of the Meadowview Subdivision, sought to block Smithville Electric System from building the substation or electric supply and service near his property. Attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed the complaint Friday, September 2 on behalf of Rice asking for a declaratory judgment to construe and apply TCA (the law) to the issue. They also sought a temporary injunction and a permanent injunction to enjoin and prohibit SES from erecting this industrial use facility in an R-1 low density residential district, and for any further relief. In his ruling, Chancellor Thurman sided with Rice in finding that when the Smithville Planning Commission disapproved the substation project at the proposed location during a meeting on June 14, SES did not have the authority to overrule the planning commission, as it had done, but should have filed an appeal with the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen asking for a simple majority vote to overturn the planning commission’s decision. But Chancellor Thurman denied a request for a temporary injunction finding no proof of immediate or irreparable harm to Rice. Instead, Chancellor Thurman said that other legal remedies were available to Rice in seeking damages against the defendants, Smithville Electric System and the City of Smithville, if he had or should suffer damages because of the substation project. Rice testified that the proposed substation has kept him from being able to sell property in his 39 lot subdivision. According to Rice, two prospective buyers recently expressed an interest in purchasing lots but when he told them about the electric company’s plans they never got back with him.
•17 year old Morgan Green of DeKalb County was crowned the National Miss Teen 2016 in July during the national pageant at The Music Road Resort Inn & Conference Center in Pigeon Forge. The pageant brought together inspirational & accomplished ladies of all ages from around the nation to compete.Morgan also won the Overall Fitness Award after participating in the on stage portion of the competition. As National Miss Teen 2016, Morgan will spend the next year traveling and promoting the mission of her pageant system as well as her platform, The Ronald McDonald House – Improving the Health and Well-Being of others while acting as a role model in her community.
•Congressman Diane Black held a town hall meeting in Smithville Thursday evening, August 11 where she addressed a range of issues from national security to the GOP’s vision for America in the House of Representatives called “A Better Way”. Speaking to a room full of constituents in the first floor courtroom of the courthouse, Congressman Black said the “Better Way” plan addresses specific proposals to reform the tax code, combat poverty, rebuild our economy, replace Obamacare, protect our national security, and restore the Constitutional separation of powers.
•A $2.7 million renovation at the Smithville Waste Water Treatment Plant will soon get underway. During a special called meeting Monday night, August 15 the Smithville Aldermen voted to award a bid to the W & O Construction Company, Incorporated of Livingston as recommended by the city’s consulting engineer, the J.R. Wauford Company. The bid of $2,794,000 was the lowest of the five bids submitted for the project which includes a renovation of the headworks and to replace the aeration system at the wastewater treatment plant.
•Twin K. Construction of Helenwood, Tennessee was awarded the bid to build the new Holmes Creek Road Bridge over Fall Creek in August. In order to expedite the project, the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen met in special session Monday evening, August 15 to award the bid. Twin K’s bid of $687,791 was the lowest of the five bids submitted and was recommended for approval by the city’s engineer for the project, Professional Engineering Services in Sparta. In addition to the construction bid, other added costs including engineering, design, and inspection fees, geotechnical exploration, right of way, temporary construction easement, asbestos study, and permits, puts the total project at $778,655. The city will be required to fund a grant match of 25% or $196,625 toward the project. The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, has been closed since October 30, 2015. The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe. Construction on the new bridge began in October and is expected to be completed by spring.
•Joe Fortner was honored in August as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). Fortner serves as a wildlife officer in TWRA Region III District 31’s DeKalb County. He was selected among other TWRA law enforcement officers to become the state recipient. He was recognized during the annual SEAFWA meeting in October at Baton Rouge, La. While assigned DeKalb County, Fortner works throughout the district’s 12 counties. Among Fortner’s activities this past year, he conducted educational and outreach events that included a kids fishing rodeo, displaying the “Wildlife on Wheels” educational trailer, “Gigging for Grads,” and the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). He also assisted with several county fair exhibits providing information. He taught several hunter education, boater education and trapper education programs.
•A portion of a state highway in her native Smith County now bears the name of an Alexandria woman who lost her life in a traffic accident two years ago. State lawmakers earlier this year issued a proclamation remembering the life of Sarah Marie Bullington Clark, originally from the Gordonsville area, and renamed part of State Highway 141 near her church in the Grant community the “Sarah M. Bullington Clark Memorial Highway” to honor her. The crash that took Sarah’s life occurred on Highway 70 in Liberty the morning of Tuesday August 19, 2014 while she was on her way to work at the office of Dr. Cliff Duke D.D.S. in Smithville. She was 36 years old.
•U.S. Senator Bob Corker, speaking in Smithville on Wednesday, August 17 said that it’s unlikely either Presidential candidate this year will emphasize what he considers one of the key issues facing the U.S., the federal budget deficit. “One of the things that won’t be discussed, unfortunately, is the deficit issue and the huge amount of indebtedness in our country,” said Corker, who spoke to a crowd of invited guests — mainly city, county, and state officials and community business leaders during an appearance at the courthouse. Corker, a Republican and former mayor of Chattanooga, said that the country is $19 trillion in debt, and tough decisions have to be made that are important to the nation’s future.
•A $10 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit was filed in DeKalb County Circuit Court by the mother of a 21 year old Hendersonville woman who lost her life on Center Hill Lake last summer. Sherry Smith of Sumner County brought the lawsuit on July 22 against several individuals claiming that her daughter, Lauren Taylor Agee was killed through the intentional, negligent, or reckless acts of the defendants. Agee’s body was found on Sunday afternoon, July 26 2015 by fishermen on Center Hill Lake near Still Point Boat Ramp across from Pates Ford Marina. According to reports at the time, Agee had been enjoying an outing with friends known as “Wakefest” over that weekend and was camping near the edge of a steep cliff overlooking the lake prior to the tragedy.
•A fight among two students at DeKalb Middle School in March has resulted in a Circuit Court lawsuit. A 13 year old and his parents are suing a fellow 14 year old Middle School student and his parents, Principal Randy Jennings, the DeKalb County Board of Education, and the County Government over an altercation at the school on March 11. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, August 2. WJLE is not publishing the names of the students because they are parties to a lawsuit as minors nor their parents names since that could essentially identify the students. The suit claims the 13 year old suffered serious and disabling permanent bodily injuries as a result of the altercation. The county government was later dropped from the lawsuit which remains pending in court.
•The gate across Sunset Drive will have to be removed for now. Following a two and a half hour hearing Wednesday, August 24 in DeKalb County Chancery Court, Chancellor Ronald Thurman granted the county’s petition and issued a temporary injunction to enjoin Robert Grant Manning from obstructing Sunset Drive with a gate. The temporary injunction will remain in effect until a final hearing in the case but Chancellor Thurman has ordered a judicial settlement conference be held between the parties to give them an opportunity to resolve their differences. The county claims Sunset Drive has been on the county road map and county road list since the late 1990’s and that Manning cannot legally keep a gate across it but Manning denies the county’s claim asserting that Sunset Drive, a nine foot wide gravel road, is a private drive which runs through his property and belongs to him. Chancellor Thurman sided with County Attorney Hilton Conger who contended that Sunset Drive is a county road based in part on a subdivision plat signed by Manning on July 21, 2004 dedicating all streets and alleys on his property to the county. In 2006 Manning also signed a deed of transfer conveying a portion of the subdivided property to his ex-wife which references Sunset Drive as being a county road. She sold her property to Bart Lay in October, 2015.
•The City of Smithville was poised to raise the water rate it assesses the DeKalb Utility District with passage of the new 2016-17 fiscal year budget. But due to an existing Chancery Court order, the city can’t move forward on that proposed increase. With only a few months remaining before the DUD opens its new water treatment plant, the city had planned to charge the DUD $3.00 per thousand gallons for the water it buys from the municipality starting July 1. That is up from the $2.67 per thousand gallons the city currently charges. Once DUD breaks ties, the city will lose its largest water customer and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. In the budget, the city has reduced projected revenues from the sale of water to the DUD from $765,000 for the year ending June 30, 2016 down to $400,000 for half the year in 2016-17. City officials say such a loss of income may eventually force the city to look at ways of cutting spending or raising new revenues to make up the difference. The proposed new rate to the DUD was included in the 2016-17 budget ordinance adopted on first reading by the aldermen Monday night, June 6. The vote was 3 to 0. Two aldermen were absent. But city officials later learned that any increase in the rate without providing proper justification would violate the court’s order. During a special meeting (June 28) to adopt the new budget on second and final reading, the aldermen removed the proposed increase to the DUD from the spending plan.
•For the second year in a row, a Nashville boy won the top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners. Giri Peters was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler Saturday, July 2 and won the coveted James G. “Bobo” Driver Memorial Award. In addition to winning the top fiddler prize, Peters also captured first place in the Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, and Flat Top Guitar competition. Peters also repeated as the “Entertainer of the Year”. The award is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition.
•The Grand Champion Fiddler of the 45th annual Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree and Crafts Festival is Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tennessee. She won the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award Saturday night, July 2 after the Grand Finale Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler. The two day festival came to a close at around 10:30 p.m. Phillips made it to the fiddle off by winning the Junior Fiddling competition and she won the Grand Championship by beating the winner of the Senior Fiddling contest Gail Johnson of Laverne. Phillips is also a two time Jamboree fiddling champion of the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners in 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, Danny Roberts who competed on the Fiddlers Jamboree stage several years ago and now has a professional career as a member of the popular group the Grascals took time out of his busy schedule to return to the Jamboree stage Saturday, July 2 and was presented the Jamborees’ Blue Blaze Award, which is given to a musician who is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music. Roberts performed with his family and members of the Grascals.
•A new pay plan for county employees was implemented with passage of the 2016-17 budget in July over the objections of some public officials who didn’t like it. Under the plan, employees of the offices of Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master are getting step raises at a percentage of what their employer earns. But since the county mayor gets $10,000 more than the other aforementioned officials, his two employees now earn more money than their clerks. Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, in addressing the county mayor and commissioners in a workshop session Tuesday evening, July 12 at the courthouse, said he didn’t think the plan was fair. “I consider my employees to be just as important as they are. Every office is important or they wouldn’t have it. I can’t imagine how you can think that they (county mayor’s two employees) are worth $4,000 more than my employees just because Tim (Stribling) makes $75,000 and I make $65,000. I’m not asking you to take anything away from Tim’s girls. They are important. They write the checks. They pay the bills and all that. We record the deeds. So we’re important too or we wouldn’t be there. Every office has got a function,” he said. McMillen claimed the proposed pay plan only adds to disparity which already exists between the county mayor’s employees and other clerks.
•The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night, July 14 voted to give pay raises to the DCHS head football and boys basketball coaches as well as the DCHS football and basketball head cheer coaches. According to the Board’s action, Tiger Football Coach Steve Trapp will get an increase of $2,500 putting his total coaching supplement pay at $7,500 this year. Tiger Head Basketball Coach Lynus Martin will get a $1,500 raise which will increase his supplement pay to $6,500. The two cheer coaches will each get a $500 increase putting their pay at $1,335. The new girls basketball coach at DCHS will not get a raise since he has just been hired. His supplement pay will be $5,000. Members of the DCHS Quarterback Club addressed the school board’s athletic oversight committee during a meeting Monday night, July 11 concerned that the current supplement pay plan does not reward coaches for their value in contributing to the success of their sports programs and for the pride they help instill in the community.
•18 year old Bethany Brooke Poss is the 2016 Fairest of the Fair. Poss, daughter of John and Lori Poss of Smithville won the crown Monday evening, July 18 during the annual pageant held on opening night of the DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria.
•The 2016 Junior Fair Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is 15 year old Abigail Hope Taylor, the daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville. Taylor, who was also named Miss Photogenic, was among eight young ladies ages 13-16 who competed for the crown on the opening night of the DeKalb County Fair Monday, July 18.
•Austin Merriman and Lakelyn Brooke Nelson were crowned Little Mister and Miss at the DeKalb County Fair Tuesday night, July 19. Merriman, who was also named Mister Manners, is the 6 year old son of Joyce and Jake Merriman of Smithville. Nelson is the 5 year old daughter of Dustin and Kristian Nelson of Smithville.
•The 2016 Miss Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is Kaylyn Isabelle Prichard, the 7 year old daughter of Andy and Chrissy Prichard of Liberty. Nineteen girls ages 7-9 competed for the title Wednesday night, July 20 at the DeKalb County Fair.
•Kenlee Renae Taylor of Smithville won the Miss Sweetheart pageant Wednesday night, July 20 at the DeKalb County Fair. She is the 11 year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor. The pageant featured 15 girls ages 10-12.Taylor was also awarded Miss Photogenic.
•The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office had a busy night Thursday, July 21 that carried into early Friday morning following a series of crimes ending safely with the arrest of an Alexandria man reported to be armed and carrying drugs. Over the course of several hours, the man, 32 year old Kevin Matthew Bly, is alleged to have broken into two homes, threatened a woman while armed and carrying drugs. He was captured after stealing a car in the southeastern portion of the county. Bly was transported to the Wilson County Sheriff’s office where he now faces charges of aggravated burglary, three counts of reckless endangerment, one count of vandalism, two counts of aggravated assault and a count of aggravated criminal trespassing. Other charges include one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count of drug paraphernalia, one count of simple possession of a drug believed to be methamphetamine, and one count of manufacturing, delivery and sale of methamphetamine.
•A DeKalb County mother indicted last year for fetal assault and later for introduction of contraband (drugs) into a penal institution (jail) appeared for sentencing Monday, July 25 in DeKalb County Criminal Court. 28 year old Lindsey Paulette Davenport entered a plea to assault and simple possession. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to CPS probation for the assault and 11 months and 29 days to serve at 75% on the simple possession charge. The assault term is to run consecutive to a violation of probation against her. She was given jail credit from December 12, 2015 to July 25, 2016. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on January 21, 2015 Davenport gave birth to a baby boy whose urine tested positive for opiates. Blood drawn from the umbilical cord tested positive for Suboxone, Methodone, and Morphine. The indictment returned against her for assault on a viable fetus stated that “Davenport, between the 1st day of March, 2014 and the 21st day of January, 2015 intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly did cause bodily injury to a viable fetus, by illegally using a narcotic drug while pregnant, and the child was born addicted to and/or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction and/or harm was a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant, constituting the offense of assault on a viable fetus.” Meanwhile on Saturday, December 12, 2015 Davenport was arrested on a violation of probation warrant. While in her jail cell, a female correctional officer saw Davenport acting suspiciously. After she was removed, the cell was searched and five suboxone strips and three xanax pills were found. Davenport had produced the drugs while in the cell after apparently having concealed them on her person. Davenport was charged with introduction of contraband into a penal institution.
•A 19 year old man charged in a shooting last year at the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, July 25. James Paris Goff entered a plea to one count of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault and received a two year sentence to serve. Goff must also make restitution of $1,575 to a victim in the case. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the incident occurred on Monday evening, May 11, 2015 after Goff and some friends arrived by boat to the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area. While there, Goff and another man got into a fight. After the altercation, Goff left the area by boat but returned later in a vehicle armed with a handgun. Goff again confronted the same man with whom he had fought earlier and showed him the gun. Goff then turned the gun on three other people who were leaving the area in an automobile and fired several rounds at them. One of the bullets penetrated the vehicle and struck the rear seat passenger in the back. The driver and front seat passenger were not hit. The victim was then taken to the hospital in Cookeville and later transported by ground ambulance to a medical facility in Nashville where he was treated and released.
•An employee of New Frontiers Home was arrested in May for reckless endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after taking three boys from the home to an unapproved location on Tuesday, May 3 where he allowed them to engage in drug use. 24 year old John Schuylar Allen of North Field Lane, Alexandria was charged with three counts of each offense. “Allen worked there at the New Frontiers Boys Home and while they were going somewhere else, Allen took the boys to a place he wasn’t supposed to go, which was not approved by the New Frontiers Director. While there Allen allowed the boys to engage in illegal drug use,” Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE.
•The new budget for the City of Smithville included pay raises for employees, a new sanitation truck, the addition of a new full time officer in the police department to help cut down on overtime, matching funds to replace the Holmes Creek Bridge, street paving including on the public square, new equipment for the fire department, and an upgrade of the waste water treatment plant, among other projects. The aldermen voted 3-0 Monday night, June 6 to adopt the new $6.6 million budget ordinance on first reading. Second and final reading action came at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 28 at city hall. There were no increases in city property taxes or water and sewer rates.
•The DeKalb County Board of Education’s annual performance evaluation of Director of Schools Patrick Cripps in June showed he is meeting “most” expectations of the board. Cripps’ overall average score is 4.48 out of a possible 6 score. In accordance with state law, the school board is required to develop and implement an evaluation plan to be used annually for the director of schools. Board members used a four page evaluation form to rate Director Cripps (1-5) in each of 60 areas from eight categories including on his relationship with the Board, the Community, Staff and Personnel, Educational Leadership, Business and Finance, Personal Qualities, Strategic Planning Skills, and Tennessee Specific questions.
•Based on overall high marks given by the Board of Education in a performance evaluation, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps was awarded a two year contract extension in June. Cripps, who was signed to a two year contract by the Board of Education last summer, is now scheduled to serve as director for a total of three more years through June 30, 2019.
•The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department arrested 36 year old Amanda Lynette Pedigo Davis Sunday, June 13 after she allegedly threatened another woman and fired shots from a handgun into her vehicle. Davis, a resident of Seven Springs Road, Smithville, was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and vandalism. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Davis pointed a handgun at another woman and warned that she would die if she didn’t leave the premises. Davis then allegedly fired several shots outside the residence including some which penetrated the victim’s 2016 Chevy Equinox and then exited in close proximity to neighbor’s homes. Damage to the Equinox from the gunshots was estimated at $10,000.
•A McMinnville teenager with ties to DeKalb County, 19 year old Ashley Dawn Celestino lost her life due to injuries suffered in a Warren County traffic accident Monday afternoon, June 13. According to the Southern Standard, the crash occurred during a brief thunderstorm as Celestino was driving north on Short Mountain Road in a Nissan Xterra. She lost control in a curve near the intersection with Patterson Road, went off the roadway and struck a utility pole head-on. Celestino was transported to River Park Hospital in McMinnville where she later died. A back seat passenger, 19 year old Megan Braswell was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 19 year old Tristian Darna, a front seat passenger, suffered minor cuts, according to the report.
•The DeKalb Telephone Cooperative Inc. Board of Directors appointed Jim Vinson in June to fill the unexpired term of his deceased father, Dwight Vinson, continuing three decades of service by the family. Vinson, 43, joined the 10-member board responsible for overseeing the cooperative. He intends to continue the legacy of his father, elected in 1987 to represent the Milton area. Dwight Vinson, 64, died from injuries he received when a tree fell during a storm on May 4 in Rutherford County. Just more than a year remains of his board term.
•An Alexandria man’s dream of refurbishing a small city park there for families to enjoy has come true. Ricky Harris, a resident of the town, received permission from the Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen late last summer to begin work in clearing the property of overgrowth and to call on volunteers to help revitalize the five acre park. A rededication and ribbon cutting were held Saturday, April 30 for the Alexandria City Park, located just off the public square between the Old Osborne Grocery store building and the fairgrounds.
•Charges were filed against two men believed responsible for an armed robbery at a residence in Alexandria and then leading officers on a high speed pursuit before being apprehended in Lebanon early Wednesday morning, May 4. Chief Chris Russell said the Alexandria Police Department charged 19 year old Tyvarious Turner of Burdock Street, Lebanon and 28 year old Davon Hicks of Oak Leaf Drive, Old Hickory with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. Sheriff Patrick Ray said Turner was also charged by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department with two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of evading arrest, and a first offense of driving on a suspended license. Both Turner and Hicks are each charged by the sheriff’s department with resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search. According to Sheriff Ray, Turner and Hicks entered the home on New Hope Road in the City of Alexandria after 3:00 a.m. and held residents there at gunpoint demanding money. They displayed a black handgun and took $1,200 from a man and woman in the home. They also hit another man in the head with the butt of the gun while committing the robbery. During the incident someone called 911 to alert authorities. Deputies arrived minutes later and spotted a white Saturn in the driveway at the scene. After refusing the officers commands to stop, the driver of the car (Turner) pulled out and took off. Hicks was a passenger. The deputies initiated a pursuit which continued on Highway 53 to Interstate 40 and then to Lebanon, where Turner and Hicks bailed out of the car at an apartment complex on Sycamore Street and tried to flee on foot. The deputies apprehended Turner and Hicks and placed them in custody. The officers were assisted at the scene of the arrest by members of the Lebanon Police Department, Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The two counts of reckless endangerment against Turner are for his having led two deputies in a pursuit that covered twenty five miles through three counties at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. He was also found to have been driving on a license which was suspended due to a previous accident with property damage in Wilson County. According to Lebanon Police, Turner was wanted for the March shooting of a 33 year old man multiple times at his home near Cumberland University in Lebanon. Lebanon Police said they believe the shooting occurred during a robbery due to a large amount of drugs found at the victim’s residence. In April, Turner crashed a car in Wilson County after a vehicle pursuit, striking two cars and a pole on Hartsville Pike near Hillcrest Baptist Church before taking off on foot. Officials say they found a weapon on the floorboard of the vehicle Turner was in after the crash.
•A fire destroyed a home at 8625 Aunt Helen Road in the Silver Point area of DeKalb County early Friday morning, April 29. Two people were also injured. Captain Anthony Boyd of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department told WJLE that Elaine Parker and Dustin Thaxton, who were at the residence at the time of the fire, were taken by DeKalb EMS to Cookeville Regional Hospital. They suffered injuries in getting out of the home. According to Captain Boyd the fire was reported Friday morning at 4:34 a.m. The blaze was well underway by that time and firefighters were unable to save the structure. The home and all contents were destroyed in the fire. Captain Boyd said Parker was renting the home from Robert and Teresa Wolfe. The cause of the fire is undetermined.
•Two McMinnville, 19 year old Logan Tyler Martin and 18 year Charles Robert Fults, Jr. were charged in April with attempted aggravated robbery after one of them pulled a knife on a DeKalb County man and asked for his wallet. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, April 29 Martin drove up to a location on McMinnville Highway where the intended victim was doing some yard work. Fults, a passenger with Martin, got out of the vehicle, pulled a silver knife as he approached the man and demanded his wallet. When the victim refused to hand over the wallet, Fults got back in the vehicle with Martin and they drove away. After the offense was reported to authorities a Be on the Lookout (BOLO) was issued to other law enforcement agencies. The vehicle was spotted in Warren County where Fults and Martin were taken into custody.
•Members of DeKalb County EMS, DeKalb 911, and Erlanger Life Force were honored Thursday, May 5 at the 8th annual EMS Star of Life Awards Dinner and Ceremony held in Nashville by the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services for Children. For their efforts in helping save the life of a eight year old Aiden Brown who was critically injured last summer in a boating accident on Center Hill Lake, Misty Green, AEMT and David Hamlet, EMT-P, both of DeKalb EMS; Chase Ferrell and Tony Thomas, both DeKalb 911 Dispatchers; and Ray Cadwallader, EMT-P, Laura Kirk,RN; Heather Marsh, Karen Mulvaney, RN; and Chuck Nabors, Pilot all of Erlanger Life Force received the Dr. Michael Carr Tennessee EMSC Star of Life Award, the highest award given at the dinner. The EMS Star of Life honors the accomplishments of EMS personnel from Tennessee who provide exemplary life-saving care to patients.
•A staff member at the Indian Mound Boys Home was assaulted by a teenager there Saturday, May 7. 18 year old Franklin Jared Prater of Sparta was charged with assault. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Prater allegedly assaulted a staff member with his fist. The blow to the face left a bruise on the staff member’s jaw. Prater allegedly admitted committing the assault saying he wanted to get out of the Department of Children Services’ custody.
•A DCHS student was arrested Thursday, May 12 after threatening to blow up the high school. 18 year old Colby Ray Clark of Smithville was charged with terrorism hoax. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, May 12 the DCHS Resource Officer was called to a teacher’s classroom to investigate a threat. According to Sheriff Ray, Clark had been sitting in a classroom when he made a

Local Artist Donates Painting to Hospital

Local DeKalb County artist, Helen Sefsik, stands in the halls of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital as she donates a beautiful hand-painted watercolor painting to the facility as a thank you for the great care she recently received as a patient there.
“I feel that when you are treated well, and with such compassion and kindness, you should show your thanks to others,” Sefsik said of her recent art donation, “This painting is one of my personal favorites, one that I was never willing to sell. This is a small way that I can show my appreciation to our hospital that took such good care of me. I hope that it will help bring joy to others, as it has to me. It is a small token, but it’s my way of showing my deep appreciation to the staff at Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital.”

Top Local Sports Story of 2016: DCHS Tigerettes Finish 4th in State

A final four finish for the DCHS Tigerettes in the TSSAA Class AA Girls Softball Tournament at Murfreesboro in May topped the year in DeKalb County sports.
After winning the regular district season, district tournament and region tournament, the Tigerettes advanced to the state tourney, finishing in 4th place to conclude the season with a record of 35-6-1.
The Tigerettes’ state tournament run began with a 5 to 3 win over Dyersburg in the first round game followed by a 6 to 2 loss to Waverly. The local team won one more with a 5 to 1 victory over Chester County before being eliminated by White House Heritage 5 to 2.
It was the program’s third consecutive state tournament appearance and eighth in program history, but the first time the squad reached the Final Four.
After the season, Tigerette Coach Danny Bond announced his retirement although he remains employed by the school system in a new position. Bond had served as coach of the DCHS girls softball program for 31 years since it began in 1986. He succeeded Marshall Ferrell as the Alternative Learning Center Director. Bond has been an educator for more than 35 years having taught Physical Education, Health, Lifetime Wellness, and Personal Fitness. In his 31 seasons as softball coach, Bond compiled an overall win-loss record of 680-258-1 (.725). His District win-loss record was 293-56 (.840). Bond also served as DCHS boys basketball coach from 1986 until 2002 and recorded an overall win-loss record of 256-220 in 17 seasons.
In July Danny Fish was named to succeed Coach Bond. Fish, who served as an assistant for the last four years moved from Northside Elementary School to DCHS where he serves as a physical education teacher.
DCHS Tigerette Pitcher Kayley Caplinger was named the Most Valuable Player of the District 8AA Softball Tournament. Caplinger pitched a shutout every night of the tournament and only allowed 9 hits in 4 games played with 28 strikeouts. Members of the All District Tournament Team from DeKalb County were Tyra Graham, Dani Meadows, Katie Hall, and Joni Robinson. DeKalb County also had its share of honors for the regular season. Tigerette Coach Danny Bond was named Coach of the Year in District 8AA. Kayley Caplinger was selected as District Co-Player of the Year, Co-Pitcher of the Year, and Offensive Player of the Year. The District’s Defensive Player of the Year is Tyra Graham. Members of the All District Team from DeKalb County are Kayley Caplinger, Tyra Graham, Dani Meadows, Katie Hall, Hannah Walker, and Myranda Bailiff. Allison Maynard received honorable mention. Maddison Parsley and Joni Robinson were named to the All District Freshman Team.
Meanwhile, two Tigerettes, who graduated in May, put pen to paper on June 20, signing to play for the Roane State Community College Raiders softball team next spring. Tigerette catcher Dani Meadows and center fielder Hannah Walker were joined by their parents, fellow high school players, and coaches for the signing at DCHS. Jessica Hackworth, Assistant Softball Coach represented Roane State.
Nine members of the 1986 DCHS Tigerette fast pitch softball team reunited Friday afternoon, April 22 at the Danny Bond Field to commemorate the 30 year existence of the program. Following the game between this year’s DCHS Tigerettes and Warren County, each member of the 1986 inaugural team was recognized including Patty Redmon Hale, Tammy Billings Eaton, Dionndra Foster, Tammy Hayes Reynolds, Tracie Webb Baker, Christie Poss Hart, Michelle Gard Roller, Vickie Hayes Gwynn, and Gena Hayes Cripps. They were joined on the field by their Coach Danny Bond, who is the only coach in the history of the program. Other members of the 1986 team unable to attend were Tina Waggoner Woodall, Tonia Foster Pack, Beth Hale Gill, Christie Frazier Young, and Lori Pugh Hall. Other DCHS Tigerette Alumni also joined the 1986 team on the field for photographs along with the 2016 team.
The season for the 2016 DeKalb County Tiger Football Team ended in November after coming up short against the East Ridge Pioneers in the first round of the TSSAA Class 3A Football Play-Offs in Smithville. The final score was 23-18. DeKalb County concluded the season with an overall record of 7-4 and finished as runner-up to Sequatchie County in the regular season region standings. Thirteen players on the 2016 DCHS football team and Assistant Coach Clarence Trapp were recognized in December for All-Region honors during an awards banquet in Cookeville. Trapp was named the Region 4-3A Offensive Assistant Coach of the Year. The players receiving honors were :Most Outstanding Linebacker Nick May; Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman Tayvian Nokes; Most Outstanding Defensive Back Bradley Miller; Most Outstanding Tight End Christian Pruitt; Most Outstanding Punter Matthew Poss; 1st Team All Region Eli Cross; 1st Team All Region Luke Green; 1st Team All Region Steven Jennings; 1st Team All Region Riley Sexton; 1st Team All Region Devin Zaderiko; 2nd Team All Region Devin Bain; 2nd Team All Region Gage Delape; and 2nd Team All Region Tyler Cantrell.
DeKalb County High School Football is stepping up a class next year going from Class 3A to 4A. Enrollments for Class 4A are from 822 to 1,102. The DCHS enrollment is 856. DeKalb County will be part of the new five team Region 3 Class 4A which will also include Macon County, Livingston Academy, Stone Memorial, and Cumberland County. For the last few years, DeKalb County has been part of Region 4 in Class 3A along with Cannon County, Grundy County, Sequatchie County, Smith County, Upperman, and York Institute.
A.J. Mooneyham, a senior, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2015 DeKalb County High School Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet held in January. The awards were sponsored by Liberty State Bank. The MVP trophy was presented to Mooneyham by Coach Steve Trapp. ” He started out as a running back and then moved around and did a lot of different things for us but for his career he rushed the football for 108 times for 540 yards and 11 touchdowns. Keep in mind he got moved around a lot. He wasn’t solely a running back for his whole career. He had 39 receptions for 351 yards and four touchdowns. Return yardage. He had 13 returns, punting and kickoff returns for 266 yards. He did a lot of different things for us in his career. Defensive stats. He had 209 total tackles including 19 for a loss, one safety, seven interceptions, five deflected passes, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and four blocked extra points or field goals,” said Coach Trapp. “In 2013 he was named 2nd Team All-District in 8AA. He was voted by his team as DeKalb County High School Defensive Back of the Year. In 2014 he was 1st Team All District in 8 AA. He was named DCHS Linebacker of the Year. In 2015 he had 11 receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. He had 57 rushes for 239 yards and seven touchdowns. A.J. received All Upper Cumberland 2nd Team Defensive Back, All Region Most Outstanding Defensive Back and 1st Team All Region for Region 4AAA. He’s had a pretty good career for us,” Coach Trapp said. The Tigers finished the season in November, 2015 with an overall record of 7-4 and another appearance in the state play-offs. It was the fifth consecutive year the Tigers earned a berth in the state play-offs and their seventh appearance in the last eight years. The Tigers lost in the first round of the play-offs to the Chattanooga Christian Chargers 23-22 in Smithville. Meanwhile, Carlee White, a senior, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader. The presentation was made by Cheer Coaches Amanda Fuller and Sonya House.
Steven Jennings, a senior at DeKalb County High School, may soon become the first DCHS Tiger ever to play collegiate baseball in the Southeastern Conference. This outstanding pitcher and short stop for the DCHS program signed a letter of intent in November to play for the Ole Miss Rebels after his high school career is completed. The signing was held in the library at DCHS. Jennings was joined by his parents, Randy and Jill Jennings, his sister Cori, DCHS baseball coach Jon Adam Kefauver, members of the Tiger baseball team, and DCHS football coach Steve Trapp. Jennings was also selected by the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association to be a member of Team Tennessee in the Junior Sunbelt Classic in Mcalester, Oklahoma. Jennings was among 20 high school players from across the state who represented Tennessee in the Classic in June.
DeKalb County High School got a new baseball coach in 2016. Jon Adam Kefauver of Crossville was named in June to replace former coach Tracy Slone who was not re-hired for another season. Kefauver came to DeKalb County after serving three years as head baseball coach and as a Wellness and Physical Education teacher at Stone Memorial High School in Crossville. In addition to his coaching duties, Kefauver is a wellness/PE teacher at DCHS.
Senior Noah Parsley was named the DCHS Tiger basketball Most Valuable Player during the annual banquet in March, while Senior Jailyn Bolding received the Lady Tiger MVP honor. Senior Chloe White is the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were sponsored by Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory of Allen D. Hooper. In addition to being named MVP, Parsley received the team’s Hustle Award, Best Defender, and Best Passer Awards. Bolding,along with the MVP award, was honored for being the team’s Best Ball Handler, Hustle Award, and Best Defensive Player. Bolding received All District Honorable Mention and was chosen to the All District Defensive Team. The season for the DeKalb County Tigers ended with a loss to Cannon County in overtime in the District Tournament at Cookeville. The Tigers finished the season at 13-20 overall. The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up their season losing to Sequatchie County in the Region Tournament. They closed out the campaign with an overall record of 24-14.
Ashli Chew, a senior and member of the DCHS Lady Tiger Basketball Squad, was selected to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association 2015-16 Girls All-State Team in Class AA. During her high school basketball years, Ashli scored a career high 1150 points. That was really a 3-season total because she had an ACL and MCL tear at the end of her freshman year that required surgery and kept her sidelined for the majority of her sophomore year. With hard work and determination she came back strong in her junior year and was named MVP. She led her team to the first win over Livingston Academy in 31 years this past season by sinking 2 free throws with only 3 seconds left on the clock. In her senior season alone Chew led her team in scoring with 619 points, and led in rebounds with 255 rebounds. An average of 16.9 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. Her free shooting was at 70 % this season. She also led her team to a win over Cannon County for the first time in 17 years in February scoring the winning points with .9 seconds left on the clock. Her team had a 3rd place finish in the District Tournament and made an appearance in the Regional Tournament. Ashli was selected to the All Freshman Team in the district as a freshman; 3rd Team All District and Upper Cumberland Honorable Mention and Junior-Girls 3-point Shooting Champion her Junior Year; And in her senior year she was named 1st team All District; All Upper Cumberland 2nd team, District 8AA All Tournament Team and now All State Basketball Team for AA. She is only 1 of 16 players across the State of Tennessee selected for this honor. In February Ashli signed a Basketball Scholarship to play at the college level with Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee.
After the season, DCHS Girls Basketball Coach Joe Pat Cope learned that he would not be re-hired for another season. In his seven seasons as the Lady Tiger Coach, Cope compiled an overall record of 126-102. His district record was 18-68 and his post-season mark was 4-10. Coach Cope later joined the women’s basketball coaching staff at Ole Miss as a video coordinator.
In May, Nathaniel (Nate) Kennard was named to succeed Coach Cope as the girls basketball coach at DCHS but Kennard changed his mind about taking the job and resigned in August to accept a teaching position near his home at Livingston Academy. Danny Fish was then selected to replace Kennard as the new DCHS girls head basketball coach. Fish is now coaching two sports at the school. He was selected in July to succeed longtime Tigerette softball coach Danny Bond.
John Pryor was named DCHS Golf Coach and Seth Willoughby took over coaching duties for the Tennis program in May. The positions were formerly held by Joe Pat Cope. As during the past season, Willoughby will continue to serve as an assistant to DCHS Tiger Basketball Coach Lynus Martin
DeKalb County High School Golfer Isaac Walker competed in the TSSAA Class A-AA Golf Tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 4 & 5 at Willowbrook Golf Club in Manchester. Walker shot a 77 on Tuesday and a 74 on Wednesday for a two day total of 151. Out of 72 golfers competing, Isaac finished in a tie for 14th place. Walker, just a sophomore, was making his second appearance at the state tournament in as many years. Walker earned his way into the state by finishing 3rd in the district tournament and 2nd in the region.
The DCHS Cross Country Team traveled to Cookeville Tuesday, October 25 to compete in the TSSAA Region 4 A-AA meet. In the girls race, Mya Ruch finished 3rd with her best time of the season coming in at 20:46. This 3rd place finish qualified her to attend and compete in the TSSAA state meet on Nov. 5th. This was the first time DCHS has had anyone to go to state for XC. Mya is a freshman this year and also earned a spot on the MSCCA All Mid-State Bronze Team . She qualified for this honor over fall break. In the State Meet, Mya placed 15th out of 181 runners and medaled, hitting her best PR by finishing with a time of 20:32, which earned her a spot on the TSSAA All-State Team.
DeKalb County High School Tiger Basketball Coach Lynus Martin reached a coaching milestone in mid-November, notching his 257th career victory and passing former Coach Danny Bond for 2nd on the all time list, behind former Coach Harold Luna. Martin is in his 15th season. The victory came in the season opener against the Chattanooga Patriots in which the Tigers won 87-36.
DeKalb Middle School Lady Saints Head Coach Josh Agee recently won his 200th game in his 14 years coaching at the school
The DeKalb West School Bulldogs took first place at the annual Best of the West tournament in October/November while the Lady Bulldogs captured a third place finish.
The DeKalb County Pee Wee Tigers won the First Ever Middle Tennessee Youth Football Conference Super Bowl in October at York Institute. They avenged their only loss of the season by beating Fentress County 6 to O. The Peewees won 9 straight games after their season opening loss to Fentress.
Local Coach Josh Agee and the 7th grade team of the AAU organization Tennessee Rush played in the AAU Division II National Basketball Championship July 3-8 in Kingsport. The girls of the Rush team were up against 27 other teams of stellar competition from all across the United States. The team was undefeated for the tournament with a record of 7-0.
The DeKalb County 7-9 year old Girls Coach Pitch All Stars claimed the Championship of the Tennessee Youth Baseball Association on July 17 in Murfreesboro. They competed in the TYBA’s 7-9 year old Girls Coach Pitch Open State Championship. DeKalb County defeated the Christiana Diamond Queens 11 to 1 in the Championship Game after first beating Unionville 11 to 4 in the Semi-Finals earlier in the day. The local team began tournament play on a Friday with an 11 to 5 win over Unionville and then played two games on Saturday, beating Christiana 8 to 5 and Adrenaline 13 to 1.
DeKalb County native Darvin Gill was named in June to be the head basketball coach of the girls program at Rhea County High School located near Dayton Tennessee at Evansville. In addition to his basketball coaching duties, Gill is an educational assistant at the school and may serve in other coaching positions. From 2007 to 2015, Gill was an assistant to head girls basketball coach Michael Dodgen at Cannon County High School before the two of them left for White County High School in the same roles this past season. Prior to joining the Cannon County program, Gill served as an assistant to former DCHS girls head basketball coach Victor Harrison in 2004-05.
He caught it on April Fools’ Day, but Sasa Krezic had a fish tale that was verified and placed in the record books by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. It is no joke! A new northern brook trout state record was on the Caney Fork River near Smithville by Krezic, a resident of Nashville. Will Collier, a TWRA fish biologist, verified the record weight at 4 lbs., 12 oz. The old state record was set in 1973 by Jerry Wells while fishing the Hiwassee River near Chattanooga. It weighed 3 lbs., 14 oz. and stood the test of time over 43 years. Northern strain brook trout have been stocked on the Caney Fork River since 2008.
Boosters, players, donors, and local public officials joined the administration of DeKalb West School in a groundbreaking on April 21 for the new baseball indoor hitting and pitching practice facility. The DeKalb West School Bulldog Baseball Boosters Club plans to build a 40 x 100 foot structure on campus which is to include hitting cages, restrooms, concession stand, storage, office, and locker room.
Smithville was well represented at the 2016 Cheersport Nationals held February 12-14 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Cheersport Nationals is the largest cheerleading competition in the world with over 1,250 teams and over 25,000 cheerleaders in attendance. Power Athletics’ Storm Cats, a Senior Coed Level 3 team, took home the National Championship in their division. Power Athletics’ Lady Cats, a Junior Level 2 team and defending National Champions, took home second place after a very close two-day competition.
The DeKalb Middle School Cross Country Teams had a successful season. On Saturday October 8th, the boys team earned 2nd place out of a field of 12 teams, qualifying them for the state cross country meet in Knoxville. The regional meet was held at Macon County High School in Lafayette. Out of a field of 89 runners the boys showed amazing teamwork and determination edging out tough competitors such as Tuckers Cross Roads, Cannon County, and Macon County. Aaron Gottlied led the boys team placing 3rd overall with a time of 12:38, a personal record for him. Cameron Miller finished 9th with at PR of 13:09. Connor Vance was close behind finishing 20th with a PR of 13:39, followed by Braden Martin 24th with a PR of 13:43, Levi Driver 47th with a PR of 14:24, Holden Trapp 15:50, Gage Trapp with a PR of 16:05, Liam Wallace PR of 16:01, Bralin Moss PR of 17:01, and Brenden Wagner 20:27. Representing DeKalb girls at the state meet in Knoxviille were Carly Vance, who placed 13th in the region with a time of 14:28 and Alex Moreno who placed 41st with a time of 15:46.
37 year old Brian Shelton was the overall winner of the 18th annual fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run Saturday, July 2 and he set a new course record at 16:12. Meanwhile Kristen VanVranken won the race among females. She ran the course in 20:23. Winners in other categories were: TOP MALE MASTERS (Age 40 and older): Sean Edwards at 19:21: TOP FEMALE MASTERS (Age 40 and older): Kendra Faith Edwards at 24:53. One-Mile Fun Run (age 12 and younger) winner: TOP MALE: Conner Vance of Smithville at 6:47. TOP FEMALE: Bella Bryson of Woodbury at 8:19. The 18th Annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run featured 321 participants. Funds raised will support Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.
Josh Miller of Smithville won the DeKalb County Fair 5K and Fun Run in July. Miller was the overall winner of the race which was held on West Main Street in Alexandria. He ran the course in 22:18. Danny Mayo took second place in the race at 23:24 and Emily Davis came in third place at 24:15. Fun Run winners were:1st place: Ethan Trapp at 10:03; 2nd place: Maddox Pyburn at 13:50; and 3rd place: Max Hendrixson at 14:47.

Uninsured Motorists Identified by New Insurance Verification System

The Tennessee Department of Revenue is launching a new insurance verification system in early 2017 to promote compliance with the state’s Financial Responsibility Law.
Ahead of the program’s launch next month, the Department of Revenue is encouraging motorists to ensure that proper insurance coverage or other financial responsibility is in effect for their vehicles. In particular, motorists should make sure that their Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, is correct on registration and insurance documents.
“Rather than checking for insurance coverage at the time of registration renewal, the system will verify insurance coverage on a continual basis throughout the year. At this point Clerk’s have been instructed not to require physical proof of insurance while conducting transactions in our office. However; Revenue requires every county and each Clerk across the state to secure two proofs of residency distinguishing a person’s physical address in order to complete Motor Vehicle Registrations and Renewals,” said DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss.
“Tennessee already has a financial responsibility law that applies to Tennessee drivers,” Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said. “The goal of this new system is to efficiently and effectively check compliance in order to reduce the number of motorists who lack insurance or another form of financial responsibility.”
The James Lee Atwood, Jr. Law was passed during the 2015 legislative session in order to help reduce the overall number of uninsured drivers on Tennessee roadways. As part of this law, the Tennessee Department of Revenue developed an insurance verification program which will be implemented in January 2017.
Under the program, all insurance carriers registered to write personal automobile liability policies in Tennessee must register with the Department and provide required policy information. The state’s new insurance verification system will check the policies provided by the insurance companies against all currently registered VINs in Tennessee. Rather than checking for insurance coverage at the time of registration renewal, the system will verify insurance coverage on a continual basis throughout the year.
If the system is unable to confirm insurance coverage for a vehicle, a notice will be sent to that owner directing him or her to a website where he or she can provide proof of minimum liability insurance or other means of financial responsibility. If a customer does not respond to the initial notice, subsequent notices will follow. Failure to comply with the notices could result in fines and eventual vehicle registration suspension.
For more information about the Department’s new program, please visit

County Seeks Bids for Solid Waste Transfer Station Operation

The new solid waste transfer station is expected to begin operation in a few months located in the Smithville Industrial Park on Highway 70 east behind Tenneco Automotive.
From the beginning, the county has planned to operate the transfer station itself, but bids are now being sought from companies interested in running it for the county. If the county should opt to operate the transfer station, it will still need to contract with a company to haul away the solid waste.
“The solid waste committee has met several times in the last couple or three months to discuss the transfer station operation. We bid the hauling and also the hauling and operation of the transfer station and we did not receive any proposals. I think that was back last August or September. Then I was contacted by a couple of companies that were interested in doing something to that effect. They have presented some proposals and have shown some interest. But I have talked to the auditor and he has said we’ll need to re-bid it even though we bid it the first time and didn’t receive any proposals. Once we advertise and receive bids we’ll have a bid opening in early January. We’ll meet with the Solid Waste Committee and get their recommendation and then bring it back before the commission,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling during Monday night’s monthly county commission meeting.
In August, 2014 the county commission voted to enter into a five year contract with Smith County to dispose of DeKalb County’s household solid waste at the rate of $29.00 a ton after the transfer station becomes operational.
According to County Mayor Stribling, once the transfer station is open for the disposal of household waste, the existing landfill can still be used for dumping construction materials and other non-household garbage until a Class III/IV site is developed in a new cell there.

SES Awards Top Sellers In Fundraiser

Students at Smithville Elementary School recently participated in a candy sale fundraiser to raise money for SES. These three students took the top selling spots and won a money prize!
1st Place Seller – Gracelynn McKeown
2nd Place Seller – Zailan Martinez
3rd place Seller – Mekazya Waggoner
Students pictured from left to right with Principal Julie Vincent
Zailan Martinez, Mekazya Waggoner, Gracelynn McKeown

County Offers DCS Use of Cherry Hill Community Center Building

It may not be the place they preferred, but the Department of Children Services has been offered a site for children in their care to visit with family and participate in activities.
During Monday night’s monthly meeting, the county commission voted to make available, at least temporarily, the Cherry Hill Community Center over the wishes of Fourth District Commissioner Jonathan Norris who wanted the county to provide a specific vacant room in the county complex. The room previously used by judicial commissioners is in the section of the building where the county officials are located.
“Children in the care of the Department of Children Services don’t have a very good place to meet with their parents and families. Many times they are forced to meet in small corners of the DCS office or local restaurants. But it doesn’t allow really good quality time for them to visit with their parents. It’s been brought to my attention that there are up to 80 children from DeKalb County needing these services. The room that formerly housed our judicial commissioners is an empty room in the back of the county complex with access in and out of the building without using main hallways or public entrances. It would make a great place to help provide for these children. This would be at no expense to the county. The county’s only goal would be to offer a helping hand to these kids in need of these services. By providing the room it would allow the opportunity for quality time with their parents or guardians,” said Commissioner Norris.
While DCS has been using a public area of the county complex for visitation, Commissioner Norris said it doesn’t provide enough privacy. “They are already using this building. They use the county complex to do some of their visitations in the general area. All we would be doing is saying you can use this room so that when these kids are getting to see their parents, there are not 50 other kids or other people running around or distracting them. It’s not that we’re providing them office space. The idea is to give 80 kids an opportunity to see their parents and spend some time with them at no cost to us,” said Norris.
“I would like to make a motion that we allow the DCS to use the vacant room with a private room entrance at the rear of the county complex for the use of parents, guardians, and children,” added Norris.
After Norris’ motion received a second, Commissioner Joe Johnson of the Second District offered an amendment to Norris’ motion for the county to offer DCS the Cherry Hill Community Center instead of the vacant room at the county complex. Johnson said that room is unfinished and needs work. “I’m for the kids having a place to meet 100% but I think we need to look at some alternatives and I have come up with one. We’ve got the Cherry Hill Community Center. Why couldn’t we use it? I went over there and looked at the room (county complex). It doesn’t have a ceiling in it. The heat and air ducts are knocked down. It’s never been inspected by an electrical inspector. There are some more rooms that go to it. It’s going to cost 10 or 12 thousand dollars to put a ceiling in it, to finish the duct work, and get it inspected. I don’t see why the Cherry Hill Community Center wouldn’t suffice,” said Commissioner Johnson.
“Did we not have to have the electrical inspection when the judicial commissioners were using it”, asked Norris
“Should have been,” answered Commissioner Johnson.
“At the time we put the judicial commissioners over there we were pressed to find a place for them,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling.
Fifth District Commissioner Jerry Adcock argued that the Cherry Hill Community Center is not suitable because it is not centrally located in the county.
Second District Commissioner Jimmy Midget offered a second to Johnson’s motion amending Norris’ motion. The vote was 10-4 on the amendment to offer the Cherry Hill Community Center instead of the room at the County Complex.
The motion as amended was adopted 13-1. Although a few commissioners still oppose the Cherry Hill Community Center as a suitable location, ll but one voted in favor of the motion as amended supporting the county’s effort to provide space to DCS.
Seventh District Commissioner Larry Summers asked County Mayor Stribling to look into the possibility of grant funding or other resources that could be used to help finish the vacant room at the county complex “to make it presentable and safe” so that it might be used.

Four DeKalb Firefighters Graduate from Live Burn Training Class

Four members of the DeKalb County Fire Department have graduated from the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Training Academy’s Live Burn Firefighter I and Firefighter II class.
The instruction was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 16, 17, and 18. Those graduating locally were Tony Tramel, Chandler Haynes, Clint Cope, and Eli Turner.
Lieutenant Brian Williams said this 22-hour course requires students to demonstrate skills needed to extinguish a passenger vehicle fire attack, exterior Class A fire attack, interior structure fire attack, commercial buildings and ground cover fire attack. “We are extremely proud of these recent graduates. Today, our department stands better prepared to respond to emergencies because of the high standards for training we set for our firefighters,” said Lieutenant Williams
Photo Pic Left to Right
Tony Tramel
Chandler Haynes
Clint Cope
Eli Turner

Two Involved in Rollover Crash

Two people from McMinnville were involved in a rollover crash on Highway 70 east near the Midnight Express on Saturday.
Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 21 year old Gabriel Isaac was driving east in a 2000 Toyota Tundra when he lost control while trying to negotiate a curve. The vehicle hit a guardrail and overturned coming to rest on its top off the highway. Both Isaac and his passenger, 22 year old Shaylas Dunlap were wearing their seatbelts and received only minor injuries. They were treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS but refused transport to the hospital.
Isaac was cited for failure to exercise due care.