Local News Articles

Smithville Police Department Partnering in "Click It Or Ticket" Campaign

May 3, 2017
Smithville Police Department Partnering in "Click It Or Ticket" Campaign

As summer kicks off and families hit the road for vacation, Smithville Police Department is partnering with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) to remind motorists to “Click It or Ticket.” From May 22 to June 4, participating agencies across the state will increase seat belt enforcement as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) nationwide mobilization.

According to Tennessee’s Integrated Traffic Analysis Network (TITAN), 349 people killed in Tennessee traffic crashes last year were not wearing a seat belt. This represents approximately 34 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities in 2016.

Although the state’s average seat belt usage rate increased from 86.2 percent in 2015 to 88.95 percent in 2016, Tennessee is still nationally classified as a “low use” state. In 2017, the THSO strives to change this by achieving 90 percent or higher.

“Our goal is to prevent fatalities and keep the roadways safe,” said Vic Donoho, Director of the THSO. “We ask every Tennessean to buckle up, every trip, every time.”

According to the NHTSA, nearly half of the 22,441 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2015 was unrestrained. At night from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m., that number soared to 57 percent of those killed. Therefore, the primary focus of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign is nighttime enforcement. Participating agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement. In Tennessee, the maximum penalty for a seat belt violation is $50.00.

For more information about seat belt safety or the THSO, visit www.tntrafficsafety.org.

Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad Participates in Rescues on Caney Fork River

May 3, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad Participates in Rescues on Caney Fork River

Kayaking and canoeing can be dangerous on the Caney Fork River especially during times when the generators are running at Center Hill Dam.

Two river rescues took place over the weekend.

Dustin Johnson, Captain of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad told WJLE that on Sunday a man and child who had been with others on the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam found themselves clinging to a downed tree after the swift current forced them out of their vessel. The man was actually holding onto the child while hanging on to the tree.

A similar incident occurred on Saturday when a couple of people were forced into the river after their vessel capsized. No one was injured in either case.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross urges boaters, canoers, and kayakers to exercise extreme caution, to wear their life jackets, and not to embark on any river ride while the dam’s generators are running.

“If you get on the water you really have to respect the environment you are in. Because of what they have been doing recently below the dam with all the generators running and several of the sluice gates open, it creates very turbulent water below the dam. If you are not a very seasoned kayaker, canoer , or boater you can get in trouble in a heartbeat. That happened Saturday and Sunday below the dam. Fortunately passersby were able to pull the folks who had overturned out of the water. Down on the river there are a lot of fallen trees on the banks and the current will get you into those trees and if you are in a kayak or canoe and you get swept into a downed tree you are in trouble and that’s what happens time after time. Just be really cautious about water conditions,” said Officer Cross.

Members of the TWRA, US Army Corps of Engineers, and Sheriff's Department were also summoned to the scene,

City Property Owners Admonished to Keep their Lots Free of Junk and Clutter

May 3, 2017
Dwayne Page
Dilapidated House on Hayes Street (still standing today) as it appeared in the fall of 2013
Couch and Mattress on the side of O'Conner Street in front of a residence

City officials are admonishing property owners to keep their lots maintained free of junk and clutter and to remove any dilapidated and unsafe structures.

During Monday night's city council meeting, Alderman Danny Washer said there are clear violations of the city's property maintenance ordinance across town.

“It’s ridiculous. We’ve got to do something about it. I don’t want to look out my front door and see it and I know of lot of others don’t. It’s bringing down property values. On one street there’s a couch, mattress, and TV laying out in the yard and has been for months. That’s just one example. It’s getting out of hand. We have got to start enforcing this ordinance,” said Alderman Washer.

“We (city sanitation department) don’t pick up couches, mattresses or things like that. We have sent them (violators) letters but they are not keeping their property up,” said Mayor Jimmy Poss.

“We have an ordinance it just may need to be updated. I’m just afraid the fines we have in place now are archaic,” added City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

“We have building codes we have to go by. How can anyone put up a carport or garage out of tin with a plastic roof over it or different colors of tin,” asked Alderman Washer?. "And there are yards that need to be cut. When the weeds start getting up high enough that you can't see the trash then that's bad," added Washer.

“I’ll send you (aldermen) a copy of our current ordinance and by the time we meet again (June 5) if we need to amend it to put more (enforcement) teeth in it we can,” said City Administrator Hendrixson.

The city's "Minimum Property Maintenance Requirements" states that "no person owning, leasing, renting, occupying, including vacant lots, shall maintain or allow to be maintained on such property, except as may be permitted by any other city ordinance, any of the following conditions visible from any public street or alley:

Junk, litter and trash;
Outdoor nuisances dangerous to children, including but not limited to abandoned, broken or neglected equipment, machinery, or any appliance with a latching door;

Shopping carts in any front yard, side yard, rear yard or vacant lot of any property;

Dead, decayed, diseased or hazardous trees, or any other vegetation a majority of which (excluding vegetation located in flowerbeds, or trees, or shrubbery or existing hayfields) exceeds twelve (12) inches in height, or which is dangerous to public health, safety, and welfare, located in any front yard, side yard, rear yard, or upon any vacant lot".

The city's property maintenance ordinance provides for enforcement stating that "It shall be the duty of the Building Inspector of the City of Smithville to serve notice upon the property owner of record in violation. The property owner shall be notified in writing specifying the nature of the violation, specifying the corrective measures to be taken, and require compliance within not more than 30 days. The notice may be served upon the owners of the premises where the violation is located by:

Posting notice in plain view on the property in violation, or sending notice by mail.

The date the notice is posted or received by the offender shall serve as the beginning of the specified time period allowing for corrective action."
The ordinance further states that "Failure by the property owner to take corrective action to bring the property within compliance shall constitute a violation and be a civil offense."

"Any person violating this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of $50 for each separate violation of this chapter. Each day the violation of this chapter continues shall be considered a separate violation," according to the ordinance.

City Takes Step Toward Lifting Ban on Sales of Fireworks

May 2, 2017
Dwayne Page
Mayor and Aldermen

Fireworks sales inside the City limits of Smithville may be permitted in time for Independence Day celebrations

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen Monday night took the first step toward lifting the ban which has been in effect since 1982.

Under the proposed ordinance, which was adopted on first reading, a vendor may apply for a permit good for 12 months at a fee of $500 but sales would only be permitted from June 20 through July 9 and from December 21 through January 5 covering the time periods of Independence Day and New Year’s Day.

Applicants must also adhere to state laws applicable to the sales of fireworks as well as other regulations outlined in the city ordinance.

Second and final reading passage is planned at the next meeting of the mayor and aldermen on June 5

Wilkins Accuses Senator Beavers of Trying to Keep Lisa Peterson from Serving on Election Commission

May 2, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jordan Wilkins

The Chairman of the DeKalb County Democratic Party is taking issue with State Senator Mae Beavers over a measure she has tried to get passed in the General Assembly that would keep Lisa Peterson from serving as a member of the local election commission.

Peterson, a former Administrator of Elections in DeKalb County, mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge after she lost her position when Republicans took control of the election commission in 2009.

Wilkins recently recommended Peterson for a term on the local election commission to replace Richard Hearon Puckett, who resigned. The Tennessee Election Commission, which has the final say, approved Peterson’s appointment.

Senator Beavers has sought legislation this year to bar anyone from serving on a county election commission if he or she has ever been in litigation against that particular election commission and lost the case.

The amendment to Senate Bill 0925 states that “no person may serve as a member of a county election commission if the person has been a plaintiff in litigation against the county election commission on which the person seeks to serve and the court ruled in favor of the county election commission”.

Wilkins is accusing Beavers of targeting one person, Peterson, in seeking such action.

“Senator Mae Beavers has committed an egregious act of pettiness and vindictiveness by proposing an amendment that violates a number of provisions in State and Federal Constitutions,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins further alleged that Senator Beavers is also abusing her power as a State Senator.

“The proposed amendment (Senate Amendment 0223) to Senate Bill 0925/House Bill 0671 targets a particular individual, Lisa Peterson of DeKalb County, who was recommended by the DeKalb County Democratic Party to fill one of two seats on the local Election Commission,” Wilkins explained. “Since the Democrats are the minority party, the Republicans are allowed to select three and the Democrats to select two Commissioners.”

According to Wilkins, both candidates recommended by the DeKalb County Democratic Party were approved by the State Election Commission on April 3, 2017. Later that same day, Sen. Beavers proposed SA0223 to a bill that had already passed the House. Wilkins said the purpose of the amendment is to deny Mrs. Peterson the right to serve as a Commissioner on the DeKalb County Election Commission.

“The position put forth by Sen. Beavers is that since Mrs. Peterson had sued the DeKalb County Election Commission this should render her ineligible to serve as Commissioner,” he explained. “Sen. Beavers’ proposed amendment is intended to use the law retroactively to remove Mrs. Peterson from the DeKalb County Election Commission. Mrs. Peterson has been sworn in by the State and has been elected by unanimous consent by the DeKalb Election Commission to serve as its secretary for the next two years.”

Wilkins went on to state that not only does Sen. Beavers’ proposed amendment violate the principles of the two-party system guaranteeing each political party the right to select their choice of commissioners to represent their respective interests on the commission, it is an abuse of power.

According to the legal opinions sought by Wilkins and others, Sen. Beavers’ proposed amendment, on its face, is unconstitutional, based on the following:

1.Sen. Beavers’ proposed amendment violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by prohibiting a person who has sued an entity or persons serving in that entity from serving in a public office, thus violating the guaranteed constitutional right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

“Citizens are guaranteed the right to file suit in our court system and not be punished or denied an opportunity to be of service to the public because they have availed themselves of their constitutional right to do so,” Wilkins said.

2.The proposed amendment is a violation of the United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 10, which states that no state shall … pass any bill of attainder or Ex Post Facto law. “A bill of attainder was a legislative act that singled out one or more persons and imposed punishment on them” (Justice William H. Rehnquist).

“SB0925 was amended with SA0223 to single out one commissioner that the State Election Commission unanimously approved to serve on the DeKalb County Election Commission,” Wilkins explained.

3.SA0223 is a violation of Ex Post Facto Law. Article 1, Section 10 of the United States
Constitution states that “no state shall pass any bill of attainder, Ex Post Facto Law,”
and Article 1, Section 11 of the State Constitution states that principle of law: a state
cannot pass a retroactive law.

“Therefore, a retroactive law is unconstitutional,” he said. “It violates both Federal and State Constitutions.”

“We should expect more from Senator Beavers than her unconstitutional targeting of an individual willing to provide public service,” Wilkins said. “Shouldn’t Senator Beavers, for example, be more concerned about healthcare, education, job opportunities and improved infrastructure for the citizens of our state?”

Sparta Woman Charged with Assault of Six Month Old Child

May 2, 2017
Dwayne Page
Vickie Lenae Alvis

A 46 year old Sparta woman has been charged with public intoxication and assault after committing a disturbance at the Ragland Bottom Day Use Area and sticking her tongue in the mouth of a six month old child.

Vickie Lenae Alvis of North Carter Street, Sparta is under a $3,000 bond and her court date is May 18.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on April 29 a deputy responded to the Ragland Bottom Day Use Area where someone was causing a disturbance. Upon arrival the officer spoke to Alvis who was very unsteady on her feet. She had a strong odor of alcohol on her person and her speech was slurred. She was placed under arrest for her safety and that of the public. Through that investigation, the officer learned of another complaint on Alvis while she was at the day use area. A detective was assigned to the case and learned that Alvis allegedly assaulted a six month old child by putting her tongue in the child’s mouth. The child’s mother witnessed the assault.

Cripps Accused of Assaulting his Mother

May 2, 2017
Dwayne Page
Justin Matthew Cripps
Michael Eugene Lattimore
Edward Dale Caldwell
Shannon Dawn Stanick

A 29 year old man has been arrested after allegedly assaulting his mother and vandalizing her home and automobile.

Justin Matthew Cripps of Evins Mill Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault and three counts of vandalism. His bond totals $12,500 and his court date is May 11.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_21.pdf (3.77 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on April 27 a deputy responded to Short Mountain Highway for a possible domestic assault and vandalism. Upon arrival the officer spoke with a woman who reported that her son, Cripps smacked her several times in the face with his hands. He also allegedly head-butted her several times in the forehead. She further claimed that Cripps grabbed her arm, twisted it backward, and told her he was going to break her arm. Cripps is accused of vandalism for allegedly taking his mother’s walking cane and punching it through the wall and for using a hammer to break out the back passenger glass in the door of her vehicle.

Two days later on April 29 while in jail, Cripps vandalized a monitor after using a phone in the booking area. While hanging up the phone (slamming it down), he hit and broke the monitor.

34 year old Michael Eugene Lattimore of Pine Orchard Road, Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation. His bond is $3,500 and his court date is May 11. Sheriff Ray said that on April 26 a deputy was patrolling on Magness Road when he saw a vehicle on fire at a residence. The automobile was near a woodline. The officer also spotted a man walking down the road. He stopped and spoke to the man who said his name was Joseph Anthony Herman. The man did not provide his date of birth or any other personal information. A computer check failed to confirm his stated identity. After a further investigation, the officer learned that the man could be Michael Eugene Lattimore and confirmed it through central dispatch and a photo identification. Lattimore was subsequently arrested for criminal impersonation.

51 year old Edward Dale Caldwell of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is May 11. Sheriff Ray said that on April 29 an officer was dispatched to Fishlipz Bar & Grill on Jefferson Road due to an intoxicated man on the premises. Upon arrival the officer found the man, Caldwell lying in the grass near the parking lot. Caldwell had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were bloodshot and watery. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Caldwell initially submitted to field sobriety tasks but refused to take any more after the first task. He was placed in custody for his safety and that of the public.

40 year old Shannon Dawn Stanick of Lefever Street, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. Sheriff Ray said that on April 29 a deputy was dispatched to a possible intoxicated driver in-bound from Cookeville Highway. After receiving a description, the officer spotted the vehicle at Village Market and a woman slumped over behind the steering wheel. He spoke with the driver, Stanick and noticed that her speech was very slurred and she did not know where she was. Stanick submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. She also submitted to a blood alcohol test. According to Sheriff Ray, Stanick admitted to having taken valium.

Smithville Head Start Students Graduate

May 1, 2017
Dwayne Page
Graduation held for 74 Smithville Head Start Students Monday
 Head Start Student Jasmine Grace Gallegos Receives Perfect Attendance Award for the 2016-17 School Year

Seventy four students in the L.B.J. & C. Smithville Head Start Program received certificates during a graduation ceremony held Monday at the county complex auditorium.

Parents and other family members and friends turned out for the program which featured the children singing songs including ”Goodbye Friends” and dancing to the recording of “Happy”.

Students in each of the four classes wore graduation caps and came to the podium to receive their certificates as their names were called by the teachers.

Director Cathy Shehane read a graduation poem in honor of the students and presented a “Perfect Attendance” award to Jasmine Grace Gallegos for the 2016-17 school year.

20th Annual Relay for Life Friday Night, May 5

May 1, 2017
Dwayne Page
20th Annual Relay for Life Friday Night, May 5

The 20th annual Relay for Life to raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society will be Friday, May 5 at Green Brook Park in Smithville.

This year’s theme is “Relaying Southern Style”

The entertainment begins at 5:15 p.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. featuring personal testimonies from cancer survivors and then a Survivors' Lap, during which those who have survived the struggle circle the track together to help everyone celebrate what has been achieved against cancer.

A Luminaria Ceremony begins at 9:00 p.m. to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to honor those who have battled the disease.

The schedule of events for the evening is as follows:

5:15 p.m.- Terry Hodges

5:35 p.m.- Kathy Goodwin

5:55 p.m.- Presentation of the colors by Boy Scout Troop #347

The National Anthem:
Invocation by Chris Moore, pastor of the Smithville Church of God

Welcome by Ivadell Randolph

Introduction of cancer survivors

Prayer for cancer survivors by Dwayne Cornelius, pastor of the New Life United Pentecostal Church
Song honoring cancer survivors by Don and Bonnie Rigsby

6:20 p.m.-Suzanne Slager

6:30 p.m.-Tina Boston

6:45 p.m.-DeKalb Middle School Beta Club Chorus

7:00 p.m.- David Turner & Friends

7:30 p.m.- Fluty and the Flutones

7:45 p.m.- Heritage from the Smithville First Assembly of God

8:00 p.m.- Elvis (Kevin Roberts) Salem Baptist Church

8:30 p.m.- Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church Young Adults

8:45 p.m.- Smithville Church of God Praise Team

9:00 p.m.- Luminaria Ceremony

Prayer by Alex Woodward, preacher at the Gassaway Church of Christ

9:15 p.m.- Seth Willoughby

9:30 p.m. Zone Status

11:30 p.m.- Closing Ceremony

Midnight-Relay Ends

WJLE Recognizes DCHS Class of 2017 (View Photo Gallery Here)

May 1, 2017
Dwayne Page
WJLE and participating sponsors are presenting a photo gallery of the DCHS Class of 2017 in May

WJLE and participating sponsors are presenting a photo gallery of the DCHS Class of 2017 in May. You may now view it at www.wjle.com.

Graduation is set for Friday, May 26 at the DCHS football field.

Click on the link below or the box on the left side of the WJLE homepage to view the senior formals.

Once you open the page, click each photo to view a larger image. The name of the senior you select is at the bottom of the photo. Or you may move your mouse over the photo to view the name.

There are 178 photos in the gallery divided up 30 photos to a page. Notice the box to the left in the photo gallery. After you view page 1 be sure to click the links for pages 2-6 to view the remaining photos. The names of seniors not pictured are also listed inside the box.

The WJLE photo gallery page is sponsored in May by Fast Pace Urgent Care Clinic, General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten H. Cook, II, Assessor of Property Shannon Cantrell, Trustee Sean Driver, County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, DTC Communications, Arrow Termite & Pest Control, DeKalb Tire & Service, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss.


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