Local News Articles

Twenty Nine Pounds of Unwanted Drugs Collected During Take-Back Day

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
(Pictured: Carrie Farmer, Barbara Kannapel, Kyle Farley, Susan Grey, Elisa Allen, Norene Puckett, Rita Bell, Kate Miller, Kay Quintero, Sue Conley, Steven Leffew)
 Permanent drop off box for unwanted medicines inside Smithville City Hall at the Police Department

Twenty nine pounds of unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs were collected Saturday during the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, sponsored locally by the DeKalb County Prevention Coalition.

"The Take-Back was a very huge success. We took back twenty nine pounds on that day from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.," said Norene Puckett, Vice President of the Coalition.

Although National Drug Take Back Day is officially over, local residents may continue to dispose of their old or expired drugs anytime at the permanent drop off box inside Smithville City Hall at the Police Department . "Anyone can come and utilize the drop box during normal business hours at the police department free of charge, " said Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department.

"Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital also wants citizens to know that they cannot accept any medicines there (for disposal). The medicine needs to be brought here (city hall). On the front of the (collection) box, it tells what things they are not allowed to accept," said Puckett.

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Prevention Coalition is seeking new members. "The DeKalb Prevention Coalition welcomes any citizens to join. Our coalition meets the last Tuesday every month at Haven of Hope starting at noon.

(Pictured: Carrie Farmer, Barbara Kannapel, Kyle Farley, Susan Grey, Elisa Allen, Norene Puckett, Rita Bell, Kate Miller, Kay Quintero, Sue Conley, Steven Leffew)

Rescue Squad and EMS Come to Aid of Crash Victim

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joe Johnson (Older Photo)

Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and DeKalb EMS put their training into action Monday to help an elderly woman whose automobile plunged off a steep embankment on Ford Road in the Austin Bottom Community.

"We got a call at 11:06 a.m. that a woman (Pamela Mather) had a wreck and went off the road and down a steep embankment approximately 75-100 feet," said Joe Johnson, member of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad.

"She got off the edge, backed up and went off backwards, hit a tree and spun around. She went almost straight off the embankment. It was so steep you could not walk up or down it," Johnson continued.

"When we got there, DeKalb EMS had her out of the vehicle and she was sitting on the ground beside it. The vehicle was on its wheels sitting on an incline and someone had chained it to a tree to keep it from turning on over," said Johnson.

"She wasn't badly injured but she was elderly and could not walk back up the hill under her own power. The incline was so steep we had to use ropes, winch, and a stokes basket. We placed her in the basket and brought her up to the road. We had about 12 rescue squad members and three trucks over there. It was a very successful rescue and our rope training from about two weeks ago was very helpful in handling this particular incident," Johnson said.

The crash was investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. A county deputy was also on the scene.

Judicial Commissioners Appointed

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page

Three judicial commissioners were appointed by the county commission Monday night to serve for the next year.

As recommended by the judicial committee, the county commission approved the appointment of Taft Hendrixson, James Harvey Barnes, and Tammy Ashburn. Each will serve a one year term. Hendrixson was reappointed. Barnes and Ashburn will replace Hoyte Barrett and Jerry Taylor, who were not recommended for reappointment by the judicial committee.

The county commission voted on each appointee separately. All fourteen commissioners voted for Ashburn. All but Wayne Cantrell voted for Barnes. Hendrixson's appointment was approved on a 9-5 vote. Kevin Robinson, Betty Atnip, Jeff Barnes, Joe Johnson, and Bradley Hendrix voted against him.

Other applicants for the three positions not recommended by the judicial committee were Felisha Oakley, Joan Washer, Richard Mielke, Scotty Colwell, McClure Cantrell, and Sandy Brown.

The judicial committee is made up of the General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge, Sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk, County Mayor, and a representative of the District Attorney General's Office.

Judicial commissioners are responsible for the issuance of criminal arrest warrants upon finding probable cause. They are subject to call at all hours of the day and night. Judicial commissioners serve at the pleasure of the county commission and their terms of office can be one year to four years.

County Appropriates $75,000 for New Animal Shelter

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page

One month after pledging $75,000 toward construction of a new animal shelter, the county commission Monday night adopted a budget amendment to appropriate the funds with conditions.

The commission voted 9-4-1 to transfer the $75,000 from the county's fund balance. Those voting in favor were Jack Barton, Anita Puckett, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jonathon Norris, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, Bradley Hendrix, and Wayne Cantrell. Mason Carter, Betty Atnip, Jeff Barnes, and Jimmy Midgett voted against it. Elmer Ellis, Jr. passed.

Members of the DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals, who will be running the new shelter, had been pushing for a financial commitment from the county for months. Although the county's appropriation of $75,000 will only fund half the estimated construction costs of $150,000, the City of Smithville has also budgeted $75,000 for the project.

During the August meeting, Third District Commissioner Jack Barton moved that the county allocate the $75,000 but with conditions. "This is a one time donation of $75,000 by DeKalb County earmarked for the construction of an animal shelter by the DeKalb Animal Coalition. This donation is conditional. The county will not be responsible for the hiring and payroll of any employees relating to the animal shelter and will not be responsible for the operation of the shelter or the future funds needed to operate the shelter. Also the Coalition will pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department at a fee of $100 and $50 for a dead head if they fail to pick up an animal. That will be paid by the county to the coalition for those animals that are requested by the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department," said Barton.

Barton's motion passed on an 8-5 vote.

Since last month some commissioners have posed new questions including the length of the agreement and if fees to the county will increase over time for animal pickup.

County Attorney Hilton Conger said a memorandum of understanding will be prepared between the county and animal coalition."There was a question that came up at the workshop (last Thursday night) about any time limit on the fee for pickup. We do need a memorandum of understanding with the coalition and I've talked with Sue Puckett, their attorney, and they are agreeable to putting a suggested four year (term) under which they would operate under this arrangement being $100 for pickup and $50 for a dead head. A suggestion was then made at that time (after four years) we (county) would increase that fee by ten percent. There were some other conditions that were mentioned at the time the donation was approved and that was that we wouldn't be responsible for the hiring or payroll of any employees at the animal shelter. We also want to make it clear that this is a one time donation. The coalition is meeting on Thursday night, but Sue told me she had contacted their steering committee and they were agreeable to these terms. With that understanding, I feel comfortable if you want to go ahead and make that budget amendment tonight. Obviously we're not going to hand them a check until they sign our agreement," said County Attorney Hilton Conger.

The shelter is to be built on a four acre site near the solid waste transfer station, behind Tenneco off of Highway 70 east. The property, owned by the Smithville Industrial Development Board, has been deeded to the city, which will enter into a 99 year lease with the Coalition, a 501 (c) 3 charity organization.

The goal of the coalition is for the county to have a permanent and safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in permanent homes.

Smithville Man Charged with Four Counts of Forgery

September 28, 2015
Dwayne Page
James Mitchell Johnson
Kevin Troy Coe
Dana Annette Kennedy

A 40 year old Smithville man is charged with four counts of forgery for allegedly passing forged checks at local businesses earlier this month.

James Mitchell Johnson of East Bryant Street, Smithville is under a $40,000 bond and he will be in court October 8. He was arrested on September 22.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Johnson passed forged checks on the following dates: Friday, September 11 at Wilson Bank and Trust in the amount of $300; Sunday, September 13 at DeKalb Market in the amount of $100 and at Save-A-Lot for $125; and on Monday, September 14 at Walmart for $21.81.

54 year old Kevin Troy Coe of Auburntown is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and issued citations for violation of the implied consent law, violation of the light law, violation of the financial responsibility law, and violation of the open container law. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court October 1.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, September 23 a deputy spotted a red Chevy S-10 traveling east on Nashville Highway with a brake light out. He conducted a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Coe who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person. Coe submitted to field sobriety tasks but performed poorly. Two open containers of beer were found in the vehicle. Coe refused to take a blood test. He was placed under arrest.

43 year old Dana Annette Kennedy of McMinnville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on October 29.
Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, September 26 Kennedy allegedly assaulted her sister by punching her in the face causing cuts to her face and a busted lip. The incident occurred at a location on Blue Springs Road. Kennedy was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was placed under arrest.

Old Sligo Bridge Gone (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

September 28, 2015
Dwayne Page

Except for the columns, the old Sligo bridge is no more.

Demolition of the remaining spans of the 1948 truss bridge were taken down this morning (Monday) shortly after 11:00 a.m.

TDOT is nearing completion of a $39 million project to replace the truss bridge with a new welded steel plate girder bridge. The new bridge opened to traffic on Saturday, August 8. Demolition of the old bridge began Tuesday, September 15 and is an important phase in the project. The project is slated for total completion in June 2016, but it is very likely that it will be finished ahead of schedule.



Smithville Teen Injured in Car Crash

September 27, 2015
Dwayne Page
2005 Chevy Malibu driven by Kelsey Braswell
1994 Mercury driven by Richard Coughlin

A Smithville teenager was injured in a two car crash Saturday afternoon at the intersection of Broad Street and Anthony Avenue.

Sergeant Brad Tatrow of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that 18 year old Kelsey N. Braswell of Smithville was north on Anthony Avenue turning west on Broad Street in a 2005 Chevy Malibu as 53 year old Richard J. Coughlin of Smithville was traveling east on Broad Street in a 1994 Mercury.

Braswell was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. Coughlin was not believed to have been injured. A passenger of Braswell's car, 19 year old Jason D. Smith of Alexandria was also uninjured.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene.

Smithville Elementary School to Re-Open Monday Morning

September 27, 2015
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

Students and teachers at Smithville Elementary School will be back in their classrooms Monday after a bomb threat Friday morning forced administrators to bus the children to Northside Elementary School for the rest of the day.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE that Mike Justice and Joe Brown from the Lebanon Special Unit brought in a dog to search the building Saturday and nothing suspicious was found.

Central dispatch received a call from the school's SRO reporting the bomb threat incident at 10:07 a.m. Friday.

Once the automated call reporting the threat was received at the school, administrators sprung into action to begin evacuation of the building.

Only seven and a half minutes elapsed between the time Cripps placed a call to Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague to get buses in route until the last child was removed from Smithville Elementary.
Members of the Smithville Police and Fire Departments also quickly converged on the scene along with the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS. Authorities conducted a walk through of the school Friday but nothing was found. A bomb sniffing dog could not be obtained Friday because several other schools in middle Tennessee had also received similar bomb threats that day.

Director Cripps told WJLE that he wishes to thank the Smithville Police and Fire Departments for their efforts and to Captain Steven Leffew for lining up the search with the dog on Saturday.

The school system has received an all clear and Smithville Elementary will re-open on time Monday morning.

DCHS to Host College Application Week

September 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County High School will host College Application Week September 28-October 2. All DCHS seniors who have not already applied to college or technical school are encouraged to do so during that week. If you need assistance, please visit the counseling office.

The schedule is as follows:

*Monday Sept. 28 – College Planning / Financial Aid Information Night – 5:30PM Cafeteria
Students from all grade levels, bring your parents to this event. Guest speakers will be discussing college admissions, financial aid and scholarships, and TN Promise.

*Wednesday – September 30 – College Shirt Day
All faculty, staff, and students are invited to wear your favorite college shirt.

*Thursday, October 1 – Scholarship / College Essay Lab - Mrs. Walteen Parker’s Classroom – 1st and 5th Blocks
Any senior who is not enrolled in Mrs. Parker’s English classes this semester who would like to sit in on this lesson is welcome to sign up to attend during 1st or 5th blocks. Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Lori Myrick will co-teach a lesson on how to write a well-written scholarship essay. A well written essay greatly increases your chances of winning a scholarship. Please take advantage of this assistance.

*Friday - October 2 – College / TN Promise Application Lab - Library – 1-5th Blocks
The counselors along with Sam Mullins from TSAC and Jonathan Graham from MSCC will set up a college/technical college applications lab in the library. Students may come to the lab during the school day for assistance with college applications. In order to provide better service to students and gage how many volunteers are needed, students are asked to come to the counseling office and sign up for a time-slot. If anyone needs assistance with the TN Promise Application, help can be offered at this time. Computers will be available for student use, but feel free to bring your own computer.

DCHS is also hosting a couple of events the week after College Application Week

*Tuesday, October 6 – College Applications Lab – Library – 3:00-6:00PM during Parent/Teacher Conference
Any student who has not already applied to college/technical college or the TN Promise Scholarship may complete applications during this time. Parents are invited to this event also. Jim Gray from TTU is assisting with this event. Please sign up in the counseling office so it's known how many to expect.

*Friday, October 9 – DCHS 2015 College & Career Fair – 8:35-11:10
All DCHS students will have the opportunity to visit with college and career representatives in the gym.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 7.1% in August

September 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for August was 7.1%, down from 8.2% in July and 8.2% in August 2014.

The local labor force for August was 7,150. A total of 6,640 were employed and 500 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's Jobless Rate for August was fifth highest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region.

Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:
Clay: 7.9%
Jackson: 7.6%
Van Buren: 7.5%
Fentress: 7.3%
DeKalb: 7.1%
Overton: 6.6%
Putnam: 6.1%
White: 6%
Warren: 5.9%
Cannon: 5.7%
Smith: 5.3%

County unemployment rates for August show the rates decreased in 93 counties and increased in two.

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate in August at 4.5 percent, down from July’s rate of 4.9 percent. Knox County was 4.8 percent in August, down from 5.4 the previous month. The Hamilton County August rate was 5.7 percent, down from 6.2 in July. Shelby County was 6.9 percent in August, down from 7.4 percent the previous month.

Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for August was 5.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month. The U.S. preliminary rate for August was 5.1 percent, down two tenths of one percentage point from July.

The state and national unemployment rates are 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.


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