Local News Articles

TDOT Commissioner Opens Hurricane Bridge in DeKalb County

August 20, 2013
TDOT Commissioner Opens Hurricane Bridge in DeKalb County

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer joined with state and local officials today (Tuesday) to celebrate a milestone in the major bridge rehabilitation project on the Hurricane Bridge on State Route 56 over the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County. After being down to only one lane for over two years to allow the contractor to safely work on the bridge, the project had progressed enough that the bridge can now be reopened to two lanes of traffic.

**NEW!!** Photos of the Hurricane Bridge when it was constructed in 1949, as well as photos of the newly reconstructed bridge can be found here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tndot/sets/72157635152159737/

"The Hurricane Bridge is very important to the DeKalb County area and the entire region," said Commissioner Schroer. "I am pleased to be here today to join with our state and local partners to celebrate the reopening of the bridge to two lanes of traffic."

(PLAY VIDEO BELOW)

Work began in February 2011 on the project to fully rehabilitate the 1954 Truss bridge, which was showing signs of aging. The structure has undergone a full rehabilitation, including truss strengthening, steel repair, painting, and bridge deck removal and replacement. The prime contractor for the $28.1 million project is OCCI, Inc. from Fulton Missouri, and the original contract completion date is October 31, 2013.

Even though the bridge has reopened to two lanes, the contractor still has some remaining work to do and will be working in the area until all remaining work is completed.

Senator Mae Beavers, Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Representative Mark Pody represent DeKalb County in the Tennessee General Assembly and have been instrumental in bringing this important project to the area.

Among those on hand for the ribbon cutting in addition to Commissioner Schroer, Senator Beavers, and Representative Weaver were County Mayor Mike Foster, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Liberty Mayor Dwight Mathis, and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams.

Sheriff's Department Makes Five Recent Arrests for Alcohol Related Offenses

August 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kerry Lynn Page
Joan Ann Massie
Jose David Torres
Charles Earl West
Dale Campbell Madden
Ryan Lee Walden
Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested five people within the past week on alcohol related offenses, one for vandalism, another for evading and resisting arrest, and one for driving on a revoked license.

20 year old Kerry Lynn Page of Green Acre Drive, Smithville is charged with underage driving while impaired. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court August 29. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, August 13 Page was operating a motor vehicle when stopped by an officer for failure to maintain his lane of travel. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he allegedly admitted to drinking five beers, according to Sheriff Ray. Page performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and refused a blood test. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

58 year old Joan Ann Massie of Potts Camp Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on August 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 16 a deputy was at a business on Highway 70 west when he saw Massie enter the building. She was very unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. Massie was arrested for her safety and that of the public and brought to the jail for booking.

Jose David Torres of Talley Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 18, an officer was dispatched to check out a white vehicle. Upon arrival, the officer found Torres walking around in a driveway. He was unsteady on his feet. When the deputy walked up to Torres, he noticed the man had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. The officer saw a large cooler of beer on ice and several bottles of alcohol in the vehicle. Torres was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

58 year old Charles Earl West of Pine Grove Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 18 West was in a motor vehicle, parked in the middle of the roadway on Hurricane Ridge Road. The officer, who stopped to do a welfare check, found West passed out in the vehicle. The engine was running with the gear in the drive position. West was awakened. He was unsteady on his feet and very disoriented. Due to health problems, only a few field sobriety tasks could be administered and West performed poorly on all tests. West submitted to a blood test. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. The other DUI offense against him was on November 2, 2006 in DeKalb County.

30 year old Dale Campbell Madden of Holsten Hills Road, Knoxville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 18 Madden was operating a motor vehicle on Evins Mill Road and involved in a property damage crash. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Madden refused to submit to a blood test. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

46 year old William Hardie Morris, Jr. of Old Snow Hill Road, Smithville is charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, August 13 Morris was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and was stopped by an officer for passing a school bus at a high rate of speed. The deputy had prior knowledge of Morris' license being revoked. A computer check confirmed Morris' license were revoked in Tennessee for driving under the influence.

29 year old Ryan Lee Walden of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown is charged with two counts of evading arrest and one count of resisting arrest. His bond is $12,500 and he will be in court on August 29. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, August 5 Walden was walking on the sidewalk on Highway 70. He had an active warrant on him. When an officer activated his blue lights to stop and serve the warrant, Walden ran into the woods. The deputy failed to catch him. Eleven days later, on Friday August 16 an officer spotted Walden in the parking lot of Food Lion. When the officer approached Walden to serve the warrant, Walden ran and jumped off a wall. The deputy chased after, caught up with, and grabbed him. Walden tried to pull away, struggling to get free from the deputy. The officer had to take Walden to the ground to cuff him. Walden refused to heed the officer's commands and he was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

31 year old Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth of West Main Street, Smithville is charged with vandalism over $1,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, August 12 Hollingsworth, an inmate at the jail, intentionally hit and shattered a video visitation screen, valued at over $1,000. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on October 4.

Hurricane Bridge Now Open to Two Way Traffic, Ribbon Cutting Set for Tuesday

August 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Hurricane Bridge Now Open to Two Way Traffic
Hurricane Bridge Now Open

Hurricane Bridge is now open to two way traffic and a ribbon cutting will be held Tuesday morning, August 20.

According to Jennifer Flynn, Tennessee Department of Transportation Community Relations Officer, TDOT Commissioner John Schroer will be having the ribbon cutting at 10:00 a.m.

"The project is not totally complete, but the bridge has been reopened to two lanes, so we’ll be celebrating a major milestone in the project," said Flynn

The ribbon cutting will be held on the north end of the project with parking on the shoulder.

"That bridge was built during World War II and it had some pretty lite structural members," said Paul Degges, TDOT Chief Engineer in a previous interview with WJLE. " One of the things we went through on the project was to make sure it can handle traffic for the next fifty years or so. We went in and looked at every single member of the truss. Some of those metal components underneath the deck are in tension and some are in compression. So we did an analysis on all those to make sure that we replaced the ones that needed to be replaced," said Degges.

"This is an older bridge. It has a lite weight construction so we used a lite weight concrete on it. The concrete deck on this bridge weighs about twenty percent less than concrete we use in typical applications," he said.

"I think motorists will also notice that the bridge rail looks a little different. It's metal instead of concrete. It's just as strong but it's a little bit lighter than concrete," said Degges.

"We took about two feet off the shoulders. While we still have the same width twelve foot travel lanes, the shoulders are now a little bit narrower than they were before the project. What we wanted to do was to be able to put this bridge back in service and get another fifty years out of it," he added.

In October, 2010 TDOT awarded the bid on the Hurricane Bridge Rehabilitation to OCCI Incorporated at $26.9 million. The contractor had until October 31st, 2013 to complete the project. Modjeski and Masters has been the consulting firm.

Two Injured in Separate Sunday Wrecks

August 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Trooper Bobby Johnson Inspects Motorcycle which Crashed on Dale Ridge Road
Lacie Nichole Hamilton Injured in Wreck on Short Mountain Highway

A 28 year old Lavergne man was airlifted after he lost control of his motorcycle and wrecked on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) Sunday afternoon.

Central dispatch received the call at 5:41 p.m.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Waymon Rasheed Tharpe was traveling south on a 1989 Suzuki when he failed to negotiate a curve, went off the highway, struck a culvert and crashed. Tharpe, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike. He had apparently been traveling with a group of other motorcycle riders.

Tharpe was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and airlifted from there by helicopter ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and members of the Liberty Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Meanwhile in a separate crash earlier in the day, one woman was injured in a car wreck on Short Mountain Highway.

Central dispatch received the call at 12:13 p.m.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 28 year old Lacie Nichole Hamilton of Smithville was north on Highway 146 in a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am when she failed to negotiate a curve, crossed the center line of the highway, went off the left side of the road, and struck a utility pole. A small child, in the car with Hamilton, was not hurt. Hamilton was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene along with the Blue Springs Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Man in Wreck Charged with DUI

August 18, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Man in Wreck Charged with DUI

A 56 year old Smithville man was charged with driving under influence after he wrecked his car in the front yard of a residence at 709 Dry Creek Road Saturday night.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that Forrest "Frosty" Byrd was driving west on Dry Creek Road in a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am when the car went off the left side of the street, hit a mail box, and struck a culvert. The car came to a stop in the yard of a residence.

Byrd was not injured.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene.

Clint Hall is New Administrator at NHC Smithville

August 16, 2013
Clint Hall is New Administrator at NHC Smithville

Clint Hall was recently named the new administrator at NHC HealthCare Smithville. Hall takes over for Jim Finley, who transferred to NHC HealthCare Glasgow in Glasgow, KY.

NHC Smithville recently achieved the coveted NHC 5-Star Award for Excellence for the 12th consecutive year. NHC Smithville has also consistently been a leader in the areas of quality patient care and high customer satisfaction. NHC Smithville employs over 120 partners with an overall budget that exceeds $7 million. The dedicated partners of NHC Smithville cared for over 230 admissions in the past 12 months with over 70% returning back to the community.

“I am truly honored to be able to lead a wonderful healthcare center like NHC Smithville,” Clint Hall said. “The dedicated partners of NHC Smithville are a great asset and I am excited to be a part of the team and to be a part of Dekalb County. NHC Smithville has a tradition of providing quality patient care with high customer satisfaction, and I look forward to continuing that practice.”

Hall previously served as the Administrator of NHC HealthCare Scott in Lawrenceburg, TN. Hall attended the Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN and later received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the George Washington University and his Master of Business Administration in Management from Middle Tennessee State University. Hall has worked for NHC since 2009 and is a graduate of NHC’s Administrator-in-Training program. Prior to NHC, Hall served as a Research Analyst for the Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee and as a political consultant for various officeholders in Middle Tennessee. Hall and his wife, Loree, are originally from Murfreesboro, TN.

NHC Smithville offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care and accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, workers compensation, managed care, and private funds. The inpatient healthcare center offers skilled nursing and rehabilitation services to adults of all ages on a short-term and continuing care basis. NHC Smithville’s outpatient clinic offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy services to adults of all ages. For more information about NHC Smithville, visit www.nhcsmithville.com or call (615) 597-4284.

Tractor Trailer Overturns, Driver Escapes Serious Injury

August 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tractor Trailer Overturns, Driver Escapes Serious Injury
Truck Driver from Oak Ridge Receives Minor Injuries in Wreck

A 42 year old truck driver from Oak Ridge lost control of his tractor trailer rig and overturned this morning (Thursday) on the Keltonburg Road, near the intersection with Students Home Road.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Olen Haisten, III was traveling west on Keltonburg Road when the truck dropped off the right shoulder. Haisten overcorrected and came back across the highway. The truck struck a ditch and flipped over on its side in a yard.

Haisten was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS but he refused transport to the hospital. He was driving for the H.T. Hackney Company of Lenoir City which delivers goods to grocery stores. Haisten's truck had no cargo on board at the time of the accident.

A DeKalb County Sheriff's deputy was also on the scene.

Trio Charged in Theft of Copper and Brass from Federal Mogul

August 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sample of the copper grain stolen from Federal Mogul
Billy Joe Rigsby
William Corey Dickens
Martin Riley, III

Three men accused of stealing more than $100,000 worth of copper and brass from Federal Mogul in Smithville over an eight month period have been arrested by Smithville Police.

Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE Wednesday that 56 year old Billy Joe Rigsby of Raymond Road, 28 year old William Corey Dickens of Forest Avenue, and 46 year old Martin Riley, III of Poss Road are all charged with theft of property and will be in court on August 22.

According to police, the thefts occurred multiple times from December 2012 to August 2013 during the middle of the night after the second shift when no one else was at the plant. The intruders went under and over a fence, entered through an unlocked door at the receiving area behind the building, and loaded carts with 50 pound bags of almost pure grain copper, which is used in the manufacture of brake pads at the facility. In some cases, pieces of EDM brass were also stolen.

According to Lieutenant Matt Holmes, the investigation began after police first received a tip and then a formal complaint by an official of Federal Mogul. "We spoke to a representative of Federal Mogul who advised us that they had been suspecting some copper was being stolen. They placed a hidden camera out there. He (Federal Mogul official) provided us with some video. When we watched the video and through investigation, we were able to identify the two subjects on the video as Martin Riley and Billy Joe Rigsby," he said.

"They way they were doing it was after hours they were entering the building, loading up carts while no one else was there, and wheeling the carts out the back door. They would go during the times they (plant) were closed during the middle of the night and take anywhere from 10 to 25 to 30 bags at a time or however many they could get loaded and feasibly get out of there with. They went under the fence and loaded their truck," said Lieutenant Holmes.

After committing the thefts, the men allegedly sold the copper and brass at the Southern Central business in McMinnville. "He (Federal Mogul official) initially didn't know how much copper had been taken but they were working on doing an inventory so we started calling around, trying to locate the copper. We learned the copper had been sold to Southern Central in McMinnville," he said. "They would take the copper and brass to the scrap yard. In some cases, they transferred the copper from the bags they came in to totes to transport it to the scrap yard," said Lieutenant Holmes.

The investigation revealed that Rigsby and Dickens were allegedly partners in the crimes from December, 2012 to March, 2013, until Dickens was arrested on a separate charge. Rigsby then allegedly continued with the thefts from the plant and was allegedly joined by Riley, on at least one occasion, through August 4, 2013.

Dickens is charged with one count of theft of property over $60,000. His bond is $25,000. Riley is charged with one count of theft of property over $10,000 (for thefts from June-August, 2013). His bond is $10,000. Rigsby faces two charges, one for theft of property over $10,000 (for thefts from June-August) and another for theft of property over $60,000 (for thefts since December 2012). Lieutenant Holmes explained that the second warrant was taken against Rigsby after it was discovered further in the investigation that he had allegedly been involved in the thefts as far back as December. Bond for Rigsby totals $35,000.

One of the warrants against Rigsby states that on August 4, Rigsby was seen on video taking multiple bags of copper from the back door of Federal Mogul. This activity has been going on from June 1, 2013 to August 4, 2013. An estimated 45 bags of copper has been taken valued at $18,000.

The other warrant against Rigsby alleges that on or about August 4 he was seen on video taking multiple bags of copper from the back door. After an investigation, Lieutenant Holmes determined this activity had been going on since December, 2012. The copper was sold to Southern Central in McMinnville. The copper is valued at over $60,000.

The warrant against Dickens alleges that on August 4 suspects were seen on video taking bags of copper. After an investigation it was determined Dickens was involved from December, 2012 to March, 2013. Dickens entered the business through the back door after hours about fifteen times, taking a total of about 150- 50 pound bags of copper and sold it to Southern Central in McMinnville. The copper is valued at over $60,000.

Riley's warrant states that on August 4, 2013 at Federal Mogul, Riley was seen on video taking multiple bags of copper from the back door. This activity has been going on from June 1, 2013 to August 4, 2013. An estimated 45 bags of copper has been taken all valued at $18,000.

The case was investigated by Chief Caplinger and Lieutenant Holmes.

Student Enrollment Up By Ten Students Over Last Year, Numbers Show More Boys than Girls

August 14, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

Enrollment in the DeKalb County School System is up by ten students over last year at this time.

Total enrollment, as of Tuesday, August 13, was 3,052 compared to 3,042 last year on the same day, according to Joey Reeder, Attendance Supervisor.

"As of (Tuesday) at 1:30 p.m. we're up by ten students county wide from where we were on this date a year ago. Of course, that's a pretty fluid number and it will be changing daily from now until probably after Labor Day," he said.

DeKalb County High School (grades 9-12) has 834 students, nine fewer than one year ago.

Enrollment at DeKalb Middle School ( grades 6-8) is 592, twenty two more than last August.

Northside Elementary School's enrollment (grades 2-5) is 591, three students fewer than last year at this time.

Smithville Elementary School (Pre-K through 2nd grade) has 621 students, sixteen more than a year ago.

Four hundred fourteen students are enrolled at DeKalb West School (Pre-K through 8th grade), sixteen students fewer than last year.

County wide, there are more boys than girls, 1,605 to 1,447

DCHS:
Boys- 429
Girls-405

DeKalb Middle School:
Boys- 321
Girls- 271

Northside Elementary:
Boys- 305
Girls- 286

Smithville Elementary:
Boys- 327
Girls-294

DeKalb West School:
Boys- 223
Girls-191

Reeder encourages students to be in school on time every day when classes are in session. "According to Tennessee state law, once you miss five unexcused days in a school year you are considered truant. Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II has been a big friend to education. He realizes the importance of education and he wants all our students in school. He has been a big help," said Reeder.

"We've got a new website www.dekalbschools.net with an attendance page that answers your questions about truancy and getting your driver's license or if you lose those license because of absences or lack of academic progress, what you have to do in order to get those driver's licenses back. Our new website is really informative. You can find out a lot there about all of our programs. I encourage people to use that. A lot of times people want to pick up the phone and call the school to ask questions. Now you can go straight to that website and more than likely get your questions answered," said Reeder.

Two Sentenced on Drug Charges in Criminal Court

August 14, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

Two men were sentenced on drug charges in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.

38 year old Caleb Andrew Lincoln pleaded guilty by information to promotion to manufacture methamphetamine. Judge David Patterson sentenced him to two years. He was fined $2,000. Lincoln was given jail credit from May 20 to August 12, 2013. The sentence is to run consecutive to a TDOC sentence against him.

Lincoln's plea on Monday was the result of an investigation and a subsequent charge brought by the Smithville Police Department. Officer Andy Snow spotted Lincoln operating a pickup truck on Broad Street Monday, May 20. Having knowledge that Lincoln's license were suspended or revoked, Officer Snow pulled over the truck on West Main Street. Officer Snow asked for and received consent from Lincoln to search his truck. Found in the bed were meth lab components. Lincoln was placed under arrest. Lieutenant Matt Holmes was also involved in the investigation.

The sheriff's department, two months before on March 20, cited Lincoln in a separate case for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Wednesday, March 20 a deputy performed a welfare check on a man who appeared to be intoxicated at the Mapco Express. The officer asked Lincoln for his drivers license but he could not produce a valid license, only an ID. Lincoln told the officer that he had needles and methamphetamine. Found were needles and two small plastic baggies that contained less than a gram of methamphetamine.

54 year old Randy Mitchell Hobbs pleaded guilty to felony possession of a schedule VI controlled substance. He received a two year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He must return a gun to a family member.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 a sheriff's department drug detective assisted a probation official in checking on Hobbs at his residence. Hobbs let the officers into his home and they performed a search. Found in a living room dresser drawer were several buds of marijuana which weighed over five ounces. A search of Hobbs' person turned up a plastic bag containing marijuana. More than twenty marijuana seeds were found on a living room desk. Meanwhile, in a bedroom closet, officers found a 12 gauge shotgun. Seven- twelve gauge shotgun shells were also found in the living room. Hobbs was arrested and transported to the jail for booking.

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