Local News Articles

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.

Library Announces DeKalb BookShare Pilot Program

September 27, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Library Director Kathy Hendrixson and SES Librarian Jane Ramsey
Rochelle Turner of Justin Potter Library and SES Librarian Jane Ramsey

Justin Potter Library is pleased to announce its 2015-16 pilot program in partnership with Smithville Elementary School, the DeKalb BookShare program. This new program aims to expand teacher and student resources. This works by allowing Smithville Elementary School teachers to reserve various resources for their classes through Justin Potter Library, which are delivered to Smithville Elementary School weekly. By working directly with local schools, the public library system can more effectively provide students with information relevant to their homework assignments and extracurricular interests. The goal for the DeKalb BookShare is for both organizations to work together to better serve the community and students.

The DeKalb BookShare is the first program of its kind in DeKalb County, but a growing number of schools and libraries across Tennessee have already partnered for student success including Nashville and Murfreesboro. Rita Shacklett, Director of Linebaugh Public Library System, was of great assistance in sharing the details of her program. She advocates the value of such a program and its positive impact on the students. It is the mission to provide a similar opportunity for DeKalb County students.

"We at Justin Potter Library are excited to take this opportunity to help our community," said County Library Director Kathy Hendrixson. "Through our pilot DeKalb BookShare program, we hope to improve the educational resources available to our students and make Justin Potter Library more accessible to everyone. We look forward to working with Principal Julie Vincent, Librarian Jane Ramsey and the teachers and staff at Smithville Elementary School and thank them for their assistance and support in implementing this program that benefits the students," she said.

"We encourage everyone to take advantage of the free resources offered at Justin Potter Library. Our free services include Wi-Fi, public access computers, genealogy research, books, movies, magazines, and much more," added Hendrixson.

If you have any questions about the pilot program DeKalb BookShare call Justin Potter Library at 615-597-4359.

Smithville Police Arrest Suspect in Bread Theft

September 27, 2015
Dwayne Page
Captain Steven Leffew

Smithville Police recently arrested a man for stealing bread off pallets outside a local grocery store.

Captain Steven Leffew reports that 48 year old Jeffrey Lee Johnson was arrested by Detective Brandon Donnell for theft on Tuesday, September 8. According to Police, someone took bread that was setting on several pallets outside of a Smithville grocery store on Monday, September 7. After reviewing surveillance of the theft, Johnson became a suspect. During the investigation, Johnson was located and some of the bread was recovered. He was placed under arrest for the theft. His bond is $1,500.

Sergeant Brad Tatrow took a report on Monday, September 7 of someone taking a vehicle from the parking lot of Napa Auto Parts . The automobile was found near the Cannon/DeKalb line at Barnes Cemetery. 36 year old Jeffery Scott McAlister became a person of interest and upon further investigation by Detective Matt Holmes it was determined that McAlister had taken the vehicle from the parking lot, driven it to the cemetery, and left it there. McAlister was arrested for theft. His bond is $5,000.

Officer Lance Dillard arrested 41 year old Jeffery Lynn Sanders for public intoxication on Thursday, September 10. Officer Dillard was dispatched to the public square in reference to an intoxicated man in a truck. Upon arrival Officer Dillard found Sanders who was lying across the front seat of the truck. Sanders' speech was slurred. He was unsteady on his feet and couldn't control his movements. Sanders was found to be a danger to himself and was placed under arrest. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on October 29.

Sergeant Travis Bryant arrested 63 year old Ernest Eldridge for aggravated domestic assault on Thursday, September 10. According to Police, a verbal altercation became physical when Eldridge allegedly attempted to choke a family member. His bond is $5,000 and he will make a court appearance on October 1.

Officer Will Judkins cited 18 year old Issac Corbin Beck for possession of alcohol on Saturday, September 12. Officer Judkins received consent to search Beck's vehicle and found a bottle of Crown Royal and nine cans of beer.

45 year old Joseph Lamar Birdsong was arrested for DUI on Sunday, September 13. Sergeant Brad Tatrow received a call of a possible intoxicated person leaving Mapco Express. While patrolling the area, Sgt Tatrow spotted the vehicle which was traveling in the wrong lane. The driver was operating the vehicle erratically. The automobile was weaving and the driver appeared to have trouble negotiating curves. Sgt Tatrow initiated a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Birdsong who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Birdsong was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Birdsong submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on October 1.

33 year old Lacy Lee West was arrested for domestic assault on Sunday, September 13. Corporal Chip Avera was called to check out a possible domestic incident. He discovered that what started out as being verbal later turned physical between the parties. The victim had scratches on neck and hand and a red mark on the cheek. Bond for West is $2,500.

Nine days later on Tuesday, September 22, Lacy West was arrested again, this time for public intoxication. According to the warrant, Corporal Chip Avera was dispatched to a residence and found West in the front yard burning trash at 12:41 am. She had a strong odor of alcohol coming from her person. Her eyes were red and watery. Her speech was slurred and she was unsteady on her feet. West had been warned on two previous occasions about being drunk in public, becoming a nuisance, and being a danger to herself and the public. She was placed under arrest for the safety of others and herself. Her bond is $1,500.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Set for Today

September 26, 2015
Dwayne Page
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Set for Today at Smithville City Hall

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition is encouraging you to do your part in properly disposing of your unused medications on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Saturday, Sept. 26. Misuse of prescription medication can put your health at risk and lead to accidental overdoses, poisoning addiction, and possible death.

Locally, you may drop off your unused or unwanted medications at Smithville City Hall on Saturday, September 26 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The drug take-back box is located inside Smithville City Hall so local residents can return their unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal.

“It is so important to discard unused prescription medications from your home to ensure they are not obtained, misused, and abused by family and friends,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “By joining in Drug Take-Back Day, you will be taking the best approach in removing unused, unwanted, or expired prescription drugs from your home and eliminating the possibility they’ll harm someone else who gets their hands on them.”

Take the following steps to get rid of Prescription Drugs from your home:

•Check for unused prescriptions in your medicine cabinets, under the sink, in kitchen drawers, purses, and other containers or bags.

•Bring prescriptions in their original containers and remove all labeling on packages, bottles and containers before disposing, to ensure your protection and privacy.

“This is a great partnership with law enforcement. It’s free, anonymous and no questions asked,” said Commissioner Varney. “We need to do all we can to encourage people to participate, as the rate of prescription drug abuse in Tennessee is high, as are the number of accidental poisonings.”
It is estimated that more than 1,000 people in Tennessee die each year from drug overdoses. Many of those deaths could have been prevented if unused prescriptions were disposed of properly.

“Every pill that’s not properly disposed of is a chance it will result in an unintended overdose of death,” said Commissioner Varney. “I urge all Tennesseans to take part in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, so these unused drugs don’t harm those we love and care for the most.”

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition urges DeKalb County residents to come out to this event and drop off any unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription medication. This is confidential and no names or information will be collected.


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