Local News Articles

Almost 1,000 Have Voted Early in DeKalb County

April 27, 2014
Dwayne Page

Almost one thousand people have taken advantage of early voting for the May 6th primaries in DeKalb County.

age 4-26-14.pdf (22.95 KB)

As of the close of business Saturday, April 26, a total of 996 persons had voted early, including 934 in the Democratic Primary and 62 in the Republican Primary, according to the DeKalb County Election Commission.

On Saturday, 115 voters participated including 87 in person and twenty eight by absentees/nursing home.

Of the 996 who have voted, 730 are over the age of fifty and 398 of them are age sixty five and older.

The following are the age groups of the early voters as of Saturday, April 26:

Age 18-20: 16 voters
Age 21-30: 43 voters
Age 31-40: 81 voters
Age 41-50: 126 voters
Age 51-65 : 332 voters
Age 65 and older: 398 voters

Four years ago, there were a total of 2,907 voters in the primary including 1,149 who voted either early or by absentee and 1,758 who cast ballots on election day.

The following is a break down of the number of early voters who have come to the courthouse to cast ballots from the various precinct areas as of Saturday, April 26:


Early Voting continues through Thursday, May 1 on the following dates and times on the first floor of the courthouse:
Monday, April 28 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, May 1 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Election day is Tuesday, May 6

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 6.8% in March

April 25, 2014
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for March was 6.8%, down from 7.1% in February and well below the 8.6% rate in March, 2013.
The Labor Force in DeKalb County for March was 9,110. A total of 8,490 were employed and 620 were without work.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for March was fifth lowest in the Upper Cumberland Region. Here is how the fourteen counties ranked from highest to lowest:

Pickett: 12.4%
Van Buren: 10.4%
Clay: 10%
White: 8.9%
Jackson: 8.2%
Overton: 8.1%
Fentress: 7.6%
Smith: 6.6%
Putnam: 6.5%
Macon: 6%
Cannon: 5.6%

County unemployment rates for March 2014 show the rate decreased in 86 counties, increased in four, and remained the same in five.
Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.5 percent in March, down from 5.6 percent in February. Knox County’s March rate was 5.6 percent, down from 5.7. Hamilton County was 6.8 percent, down from 6.9. Shelby County was 8.4 percent, the same as for February. Tennessee’s unemployment rate for March was 6.7 percent, which is two-tenths of one percentage point lower than the February revised rate. The national unemployment rate for March 2014 was also 6.7 percent, the same as for February.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

DCHS Graduation Set for May 23 (VIEW PHOTOS HERE)

April 24, 2014
Dwayne Page
Kelsey Evins- Valedictorian
Ashley Barnes-Salutatorian
Jordan Wilkins- Class President

DeKalb County High School has set graduation for Friday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field.

Dr. Hugh Don Cripps will be the guest speaker. Dr. Cripps was President of the Class of 1964 at DCHS.

The commencement program will also feature the presentation of the White Rose and Citizenship Awards to members of the Class, a performance by the DCHS Chorus, and remarks by the Class Valedictorian Kelsey Evins and Class President Jordan Wilkins. Honor students will also be recognized including those who have earned top rank, honors, and distinction status. The DCHS band will perform the processional and recessional. Principal Patrick Cripps will make brief comments and present the class to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, who will then award diplomas to the graduates as their names are called.

A total of 175 students make up the Class of 2014 at DCHS including the following.


Marisol Acuna, Salma Yvette Acuna, Annatasia D. Alexander, Jorge Luis Alvarez-Tinajero, Elisha Brooke Anderson, Jordan Eugene Angle, Peter Zechariah Antoniak, Julia Carolina Armendariz, Courtney McKenzie Avera,

Karem Sylvana Bain, Brayde Magallester Baker, Hannah Michelle Ball, Zachary Bandy, Ashley Michelle Barnes, Brandon Cole Barnes, Charles Hudson Beltz, Dean Andrew Betsworth, Dustin Hunter Billings, Chelsey Michelle Brannon, Erika Nichole Brown,

Christopher Thomas Caldwell, Courtney Nicole Caldwell, Hannah Grace Cantrell, James Robert Cantrell, Taneah Brooke Cantrell, Taylor Brook Cantrell, Kayna Elizabeth Caplinger, Jacqueline Danielle Ruth Chastain, Nathaniel Andrew Chastain, Rachel Nicola Checchi, Morgan Shenee Clark, Tiffany Ann Collier, Dillon Michael Colwell, Lauren Elizabeth Colwell, Austin Taylor Cook, Kayla Grace Cook, Alexis Cintara Cornelius, Juan Rodrigo Cuellar, Chelsie Loraine Cunningham, Briana Nicole Cutliff,

Joshua Philip Davidson, Jenice D. Davis, Makala Jaye Dawson, William Gatlin Dougherty, Joe Delmer Driver, Bryan Christopher Duncan,

Hunter Lee Eckert, Sarah Elizabeth Edwards, Katlin Alli Emme, Kelsey Elizabeth Evins,

Joseph Bradley Faulk, Darian Cheyene Ferrell, Dustan Lee Ferrell, Kalab Anthony Ferrell, Travis Dale Ferrell, Austin Tyler Frazier, Shannon Randall Freeman, Corey Blaine Frye,

Thomas Dustin Garrett, Michelle Gay, Hannah Rebekah Gaylord, Seth Joseph Gerringer, Conner Anne Giddens, Eli Cody Gill, Kelsi Nichole Glenn, Cody Daniel Gooch, Thomas I. Graham, Haley Jada Gray, Christianna Faith Grubb, Ricky Wilson "Trey" Guinn, Geovani Guadalupe Guzman Godinez,

Deana Marie Hale, Kaylee Megan Hale, Anthony J. Hamlet, Michael Cody Harrell, Cody Wayne Hattaway, Megan Nicole Hawker, Ashley Caitlin Hershman, Kayla Lynn Hogue, Chase Ramsey Hoke, Sarah Elizabeth Hunt,

Christopher Lewis Jablonski, Zachary Bly Jerrells, Daniel Lynn Johnson, Magan Jewell Johnson, Nicholas Wade Johnson, Kaitlynn Jones, Ethan Curtis Judkins,

Tyler Blane Keen, Lukas Phillip Knowles,

Cayton Lance, Matthew Charles Lane, Elizabeth Catherine Lasser, Haley Rachea Lawson, Steven Jay Laxton, Lauren Alexandrea Lewis, Nicholas Cade Linder, Eli Nathanial Lomas, Tiffany Amber Ludwig,

Kelsey Ann MacDonald, Elizabeth Jane Mason, Tayza Cristina Matthews, Lauren Ashley Medlin, Brittany Leisha Merriman, James Joseph Messina, Anthony Mofield, Tyler Ryne Monette, Caleb Joshua Moore, Jacob William Moore, Mickael Flyn Mosley,

Chancy Newsom, Megan Nicole Nichols, Alivia Jade Nokes,

Ashley Nichole Pack, Steven Allen Page, David Ross Parker, John Hunter Parkhurst, Brandon Fransisco Pilcher, Thomas Franklin Pollard, McKenzie Brooke Poteete,

Victoria Ann Redmon, Danielle Taylor Reed, Laura Lynn Reed, Cameron Allen Rhea, Courtney Leigh Rice, Emma Katherine Rigsby, Jody Dayzion Ringo, Austin Rochefort, Ethan Lyn Roller, George Eugene Roller, Victor John Roller, Jr., Joshua Lynn Rushing,

Carlos Alfonso Serna, Roger David Sharp, III, Samantha Renee Sircy, Emily Anne Snow, Zack Snyder, Bryan Ezequiel Sosa Morales, Patrick Bailey Spare, Zachary Dominic Sparks, Cheyenne Delores Stacy, Mallory Elizabeth Sullivan, Devin James Cobb Summers,

Allison Renee Taylor, Jordan Chase Taylor, Kristen Nicole Taylor, Shauna Faith Taylor, Andrew McilWain Thomas, Rebecca Nathallia Hope Thomas, Kalynn Michelle Thompson, Krysta Renee Thompson, Jordan Alexander Turner, Danielle Franseen Tyson,

Eloy Nehemias Velazquez, Crystal Page Vickers,

Dakota Esbie Waggoner, Xena J.B. Walker, Katelyn Michelle Walz, Evan Gregory Ward, Waylon John West, Kayla Ashley Wheeler, Brittany Nicole Wilkerson, Jordan Allen Wilkins, Jessica Marie Williams, Matthew Dillon Williams, Skylar Paige Winningham, Justin Brady Wiser,

Dylan Howard Young and Taylor Brook Youngblood.

Unwanted Prescription Drug Takeback Set for Saturday

April 24, 2014
Dwayne Page
Unwanted Prescription Drug Takeback Set for Saturday

The Smithville Police Department, DeKalb County Health Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Saturday, April 26 from 9:00 a.m. until Noon will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your medications for disposal to Smithville Police Department parking lot at 104 East Main Street. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.

Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners. In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like Smithville Police Department and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.

Local Church Group Carries a Cross in Easter Observance

April 23, 2014
Dwayne Page
Local Church Group Carries a Cross in Easter Observance
Church Group Reaches Courthouse

Members of the Snow Hill Baptist Church and others demonstrated a small part of what Jesus went through on the day of His crucifixion by carrying a cross from Liberty to the courthouse Saturday.

Those participating were Ronnie Redmon, Patty Hale, Pastor Steve Puckett, Donald Cantrell, Tammy Cantrell, Addison Hale, Sandra Dunn, Memphis Shunt, Joe King, Ivy Lance, Judy Redmon, Chad Buchanan, Amy Buchanan, Spencer Buchanan, Haley Keck, Ethan Keck, Ralph Tramel, Peggy Tramel, Lisa Vickers, Hunter Vickers, Bradley Vickers, Russell Vickers, Chuck Wilson, Dennis Plattenburg, and Louvernna Harris

(UPDATED AGAIN) Early Voting Turnout Remains Heavy

April 22, 2014
Dwayne Page

Voter turnout remains heavy and is on pace to top early voting participation in the May primary four years ago according to the DeKalb County Election Commission.

A total of 881 people have cast ballots during the first eight days of early voting including 828 who have voted in the Democratic Primary and 53 in the Republican Primary. Four years ago, there were a total of 2,907 voters in the primary including 1,149 who voted either early or by absentee and 1,758 who cast ballots on election day.

On Friday, April 25, a total of 103 voters participated including 100 in person and three by absentee ballot.

Early Voting continues through May 1 on the following dates and times on the first floor of the courthouse:

Mondays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. to Noon

Election day is Tuesday, May 6

Judge Candidates Outspending Other Local Primary Races

April 22, 2014
Dwayne Page

The latest local financial disclosure reports are in, providing a window into how much money candidates have raised and spent on advertising and other campaign materials from January 16 through March 31.

The most money spent in any race during the period was for General Sessions Judge at more than $13,500.

Incumbent Judge Bratten Cook, II showed receipts (contributions to his campaign) of $7,162 with only $800 of that in donations from others. The rest, $6,362 was Cook's own money. During the period, Judge Cook spent $5,780. His Democratic opponent, Margie Rigsby Miller reported
receipts totaling $6,552 of her own money. Disbursements (expenditures) totaled $7,785. The winner of the primary on May 6 will face Republican nominee Mingy Bryant in August.

In the race for Sheriff, Larry Flair reported disbursements of $6,196 and $7,550 in contributions including $3,800 of his own money for the campaign. His opponent in the primary, Michael Agee had $1,057 in total receipts and spent $1,182. The winner of the May 6th primary race will face incumbent Republican Sheriff Patrick Ray in August. Ray reported receipts of $2,000 during the quarter. He spent $1,062.

County Clerk candidate James L. Poss reported contributions of $6,439 which included $2,289 of his own funds. He spent $6,136. Incumbent
County Clerk Mike Clayborn reported disbursements of $1,842.

County Mayor Mike Foster put $2,950 of his own money into the campaign for re-election during the reporting period and spent $1,606. His
Democratic Primary opponent Tim Stribling showed receipts of $2,500, one thousand dollars of which was his own money. Stribling reported
disbursements of $1,867 for the period. The winner of the primary will face Republican nominee Chris Smithson and Independent candidate Chris Bratcher. Neither of them showed receipts or disbursements during the reporting period.

Democratic Road Supervisor candidate Jimmy Sprague reported $409 in contributions and $406 in expenditures. His Republican opponent Butch
Agee showed receipts of $4,800 including $3,700 of his own funds. Agee has spent $3,777.

Democratic Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, who is unopposed, reported $700 in receipts and $280 in disbursements.

Democratic Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, also unopposed, reported only $45 in receipts and disbursements during the period.

Another uncontested office holder, Republican Trustee Sean Driver showed $555 in expenditures.

The only county commission candidate who filed a campaign financial disclosure report is Jonathon Norris in the fourth district. He showed
receipts of $2,000 of his own money. He spent $1,561.

The two candidates for Smithville Mayor, Incumbent Jimmy W. Poss and challenger Wallace Caldwell, also filed reports. Poss showed
expenditures of $243. Caldwell reported $221 in disbursements.

Election Commission Offers Reminders

April 22, 2014
Dwayne Page

With interest running high in the May 6 primary elections, local voters are reminded of certain deadlines that are fast approaching.

“The last day the election office can receive a request for an absentee ballot is April 29,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. “Of course the actual ballots can arrive as late as election day, but the request to receive an absentee ballot must be in our office no later than April 29.”

Also, the last day of early voting is May 1. “The turnout for early voting has been high and we hope that trend continues,” Stanley said.

Meanwhile, the election office took occasion to remind candidates about laws and issues relating to campaign signs.

“There is a 100 ft campaign free zone from every entrance to a polling place,” Stanley said. “We have received reports that some political signs may be closer than 100 feet at a couple of the polling places, a direct violation of state law that could result in a Class C misdemeanor charge.”

Also, Stanley said candidates should be mindful of where they are displaying their signs for other reasons, particularly visibility.

“The City of Smithville has received a few complaints about signs causing a visibility problem for motorists, especially around the courthouse,”
Stanley said. “Candidates need to be mindful of the motorist visibility.”

Drunk Driver Found with Handguns and a Small Child

April 22, 2014
Dwayne Page
Jeremy Aaron Bilbrey
Harold Gene Blackwell
Rikke Patterson
Michael Anthony Leichtfuss
James Clayton Henley, Jr.

A Smithville man was arrested last week after he was found driving drunk with a small child and two handguns in the vehicle with him at the time.

39 year old Jeremy Aaron Bilbrey of Village Place, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while under the influence. He was also cited for violation of the implied consent law and for Roadway Laned for Travel. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on May 15.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, April 18 a deputy was dispatched to McMinnville Highway in response to a complaint of a blue Cadillac driving recklessly. The officer spotted the vehicle, which crossed over the center line several times into the turning lane. The driver, Bilbrey was stopped and found to have glassy eyes and his speech was slurred and mumbled. He was asked to step out of the car and perform standard field sobriety tasks. He performed poorly on the tasks. Bilbrey admitted to taking his pain medication earlier in the day. A two year old child was in the vehicle with Bilbrey and two handguns, a SIG Sauer P223 and a Glock 19, were on the front passenger side. He was arrested for DUI and taken to the jail for booking. He refused to submit to a blood test.

64 year old Harold Gene Blackwell of Sparta is charged with evading arrest. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court May 15. Blackwell was also issued citations for Reckless Driving and Driving on a Roadway Laned for Traffic.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, April 16 the sheriff's department received a radio call from an officer in another county that a blue Toyota Tacoma had almost hit his patrol car head-on and was coming toward Smithville on Sparta Highway. A local deputy met the vehicle near the four lane of Highway 70 just east of Evins Mill Road. When the officer turned around to make a traffic stop, the vehicle turned onto Evins Mill Road and fled at a high rate of speed. The deputy turned onto Evins Mill Road and activated his emergency lights and siren but the fleeing vehicle continued to evade until it reached the entrance of Evins Mill where it came to a stop. Blackwell, the driver, was placed under arrest.

40 year old Rikke Patterson of Big Hickory Court Smithville is charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest. Patterson is under a $3,500 bond and she will be in court April 24. She was arrested on Friday, April 18. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 1, a deputy responded to Highway 56 north (North Congress Boulevard) in response to a suspicious person inside a business, who was upset and asking for money, telling an employee there that she needed cash for her dog, her family, and to pay bills. The deputy spoke with the woman, Patterson, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and or drugs. She had slurred speech and was unsteady on her feet. She also had a bluish white powdery substance in the corners of her mouth. Outside the business, Patterson told the officer that she needed money because someone had tied up her husband and that her children may also be in danger. During the conversation, the officer noticed that Patterson became more upset and she began moving toward the driver's side door of her vehicle. The deputy grabbed her arm to prevent her from getting in the automobile, fearing she might try to leave. Patterson pulled away and swung her arms at the deputy. He grabbed and tried to cuff her but she again pulled away. The officer then took her to the ground and cuffed her by force. Patterson was taken to the hospital and later charged with Public Intoxication due to her being a danger to herself and to the public. Officers of the Sheriff's Department conducted a welfare check on Patterson's husband and children and they were found to be well and in good health.

22 year old Michael Anthony Leichtfuss of Old Eagle Creek Road, Smithville is charged with introduction of contraband or drugs into a penal institution. His bond is $5,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, April 14 Leichtfuss was observed on video surveillance at the jail performing a suspicious act. When correctional officers investigated, Leichtfuss rose to his feet and a pill believed to be xanax, a Schedule IV drug, fell from his person onto the floor near his bunk. Leichtfuss admitted that the pill belonged to him. Leichtfuss has been serving weekends in jail for another offense.

42 year old James Clayton Henley, Jr. of Poss Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court May 1. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 19 a deputy responded to Willis McGinnis Road in response to a domestic assault. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Henley and the victim, Henley's brother-in-law. Henley was bleeding from a head injury. He also had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet. After speaking to all parties, the officer learned that Henley had driven to the residence. He was highly intoxicated and upset about an argument he had with his wife earlier in the day. Henley's brother-in-law said he met Henley in the driveway to see what was wrong and that Henley began yelling and screaming at him. Henley then removed his glasses and swung his fist trying to hit his brother-in-law in the face. The brother-in-law said he blocked the punch and then used force against Henley to defend himself. Due to Henley being intoxicated, the brother-in-law removed the keys from Henley's vehicle to prevent him from driving.

Students to Hear Why Farmers Need Science & Technology to Grow Healthier Food

April 22, 2014

How are farmers using science and technology to grow healthier food? What’s the impact on our food, animal care and the environment? Students at DeKalb County High School will get those questions answered on Wednesday, April 23. Phyllis Ferguson of the Tennessee Pork Producers Association will address culinary and horticulture students starting at 7:45 a.m. and continuing through 2:45 p.m. at the high school located at 1130 Broad Street in Smithville.

Titled “Modern Animal Agriculture & Pork Production” the speech by Ferguson will highlight how ongoing advancements in agricultural science are helping farmers raise better food while using fewer natural resources than ever before. “Farmers who raise pigs have been able to make great progress in animal health, food safety and protecting the environment,” said Ferguson. “And farmers know they must always keep learning and working to get better at what they do.” Farmers now use 41-percent less water and 78-percent less land to raise pigs than they did 50 years ago.

“Modern barns, a focus on nutrition and animal care mean pigs live healthier lives than ever before,” said Ferguson. “And, healthy pigs mean healthy food. For example, pork tenderloin today is as lean as a skinless chicken breast and is certified by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy food. I’d like to thank DeKalb County High School for giving me an opportunity to share with these students what farmers are doing to make sure safe and healthy food gets to the dinner table today and in the future.”

There are 68,000 pork producers in the United States. The industry generates more than a half million jobs and produces more than $21 billion in personal income each year.


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