Local News Articles

Leadership DeKalb's Class of 2015 Celebrates Completion

June 20, 2015
by: 
Jen Sherwood
Class of 2015 Front L-R: Ale Maciel, Norene Puckett, Lydia Trail. Row 2: Becky Thompson, Kalah Donnell, Josh Issac, Beth Adcock.  Back row: Todd Hasty, Rhonda Harpole, Andrea Kalina.  Photos provided by Laura Stone
Jeff Cantrell with wife Deborah, Leadership DeKalb’s Community Leader of 2014 Photos provided by Laura Stone
Faye and Jack Underhill, Leadership DeKalb’s Legacy Leader Award 2014 winners.Photos provided by Laura Stone

Leadership DeKalb completed the program’s 17th year with the Class of 2015 graduation celebration this past Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at the New Life Connection Center in Smithville. The welcome was made by Jen Sherwood, Leadership DeKalb Director, and Suzanne Williams, Executive Director, Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.

Each of the class members of the Class of 2015 had a part in the evening’s festivities, all centered around a theme of “Red Carpet Glam”. The program was MC’ed by the effervescent Rhonda Harpole. Dinner music was coordinated by Andrea Kalina. Ale Maciel recognized the leader award winners, who were announced at the chamber’s annual banquet; Legacy Leader award winners Jack & Faye Underhill, in particular for their many years of volunteer service and leadership given to the DeKalb County Fair, and Community Leader of 2014 Jeff Cantrell, for his leadership and service to the Farmer’s Market.

Each year, the class selects a community project to give back and improve DeKalb County in some way. The Class of 2014 class project final report was presented by Lisa Cripps (LD Class of 2014). Their class project was to raise funds supporting the “specials” at each of the five DeKalb County Schools. Todd Hasty of the Class of 2015 announced that the class of 2015 has chosen two projects. The first is “Bucks for Beds” which will partner with Cantrell’s Furniture and the Department of Children’s Services to help provide resources for at risk families who need beds for their children. The second class project is to revive the Youth Leadership DeKalb program at DCHS.

A fun and poignant slideshow overview of the Class of 2015 was presented by class president, Josh Issac. Norene Puckett read a thorough day-by-day explanation of the year. An original poem was recited by Lydia Trail. Participants’ biographies and program layout was compiled by Beth Adcock. Becky Thompson arranged for the decorations, Laura Stone photographer, and the banquet meal. Jen Sherwood and Suzanne Williams recognized each member of the class at the evening’s end, signifying the completion of the program. The members of the class of 2015 are: Beth Adcock, Smithville Police Department; Kalah Donnell, Wilson Bank & Trust, Alexandria; Rhonda Harpole, DTC-TV host - State of the Arts; Todd Hasty, Premier Realty at Center Hill Lake; Andrea Kalina, Federal Mogul; Ale Maciel, DCHS student/Smithville Rotary Club; Josh Issac, Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce; Norene Puckett, DeKalb Co Drug Court; Becky Thompson, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; and Lydia Trail, DCHS student/Smithville Rotary Club.

Many thanks to Leadership DeKalb’s program presenters, sponsors and hosts throughout the year. A special thank you to the wonderful folks of New Life Pentecostal Church’s Connection Center, Family Medical Center (program copies), Kilgore’s Restaurant and Donna Hendrix for catering, DCHS for the use of their red carpets, Laura Stone for photography, and Susan Young for helping to serve the delicious meal.

Leadership DeKalb is an adult leadership enhancement program. This program is for individuals who are or show the desire for the role of community trustees. Participants will study the county in-depth; strengthen leadership skills; and build a network of fellow leaders through Leadership DeKalb classmates, alumni, presenters, and current leaders in business, services and our community. Leadership DeKalb shapes our county’s future with knowledgeable, effective and active leaders. Our next class will begin in September of 2015. For more information on being in next year’class, please contact program director Jen Sherwood at 615-464-0645 or the chamber office at 615-597-4163.

Tramel Graduates from THP Cadet Class

June 19, 2015
TN State Chief Operating Officer Greg Adams, Trooper Jeremy D.S. Tramel, and Colonel Tracy Trott.
Missy and Chris Tramel, Trooper Jeremy Tramel, and Annette and Jeff Clayton.

Trooper Jeremy David Sean Tramel of DeKalb County graduated from the Tennessee Highway Patrol Cadet Class Thursday evening after 20 weeks of intensive training. A ceremony was held Cadet Class 615 at the Tennessee War Memorial in Nashville, where he was sworn in by Governor Bill Haslam.

Speakers during the event included THP Colonel Tracy Trott and Chief Operating Officer - State of Tennessee Greg Adams. Others in attendance included former Tennessee Governor Winfield Dunn.

Tramel was one of 45 graduates, out of over 1,600 applicants, to graduate to the THP, and served as the Vice President of his class. He is the son of Chris and Shawn (Missy) Tramel of Liberty, and Annette and Jeff Clayton of Chattanooga. He has been assigned to the DeKalb County district.

“Congratulations to all of the trooper cadets graduating today,” Adams said. “This evening, you officially become a member of one of the most respected, the most advanced and the most forward thinking state law enforcement agencies in the country.”

“Each one of you has earned this incredible honor of being chosen to serve as a Tennessee state trooper,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. You are the best of the best, chosen from more than 1,600 applicants. Congratulations on this accomplishment, and represent us well as one of Tennessee’s finest.”

Trooper Mariah Woodman was named the top cadet and presented the Calvin Jenks Memorial Award for Excellence for his leadership, work ethic and academics. She is the first female to earn this honor. The award was named in honor of the late Trooper Jenks, who was killed in the line of duty in January 2007. Trooper Woodman will serve in Crocket County in the THP’s Memphis District.

“We are proud to honor the first female with the Calvin Jenks Memorial Award for Excellence,” Colonel Trott said. “It’s a remarkable compliment to be viewed by your instructors and peers as a leader. We know that you will continue to excel on the roadways and serve Tennessee with professionalism and pride.”

Bethel University also presented one $5,000 scholarship to Trooper Isaiah Lloyd. Trooper Lloyd will serve in Anderson County of the Knoxville District.

As part of their community service, Cadet Class 615, whose motto is “Sacrifice Self, Honor Others,” participated in two blood drives with the American Red Cross, collected over 900 canned goods for donation, and gifted funds to the Frankie Watson Memorial Scholarship Fund ($1,000) and Sgt. Joshua Mabe’s family ($350), who was killed in an off-duty farming accident in Hancock County on June 6.
The new graduates will now advance to a maximum of 10 weeks of field training.

(Pictured - TN State Chief Operating Officer Greg Adams, Trooper Jeremy D.S. Tramel, and Colonel Tracy Trott.)

(Pictured - Missy and Chris Tramel, Trooper Jeremy Tramel, and Annette and Jeff Clayton)

Smithville Man Arrested in Cookeville Meth Lab Discovery

June 19, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Caleb Andrew Lincoln
Michelle C. Clouse

Cookeville Police arrested a Smithville man and Cookeville woman Tuesday after they were found with a meth lab in their truck during a traffic stop for following too closely to a vehicle in front of them.

40 year old Caleb Andrew Lincoln of Lee Braswell Road in Smithville and 29 year old Michelle C. Clouse of West Jackson Street in Cookeville are charged with manufacturing a controlled substance. Lincoln was also charged with driving under the restriction of being a habitual motor offender. Clouse was further charged with introduction into a penal facility. Lincoln is free on a $30,000 bond. Clouse's bond is $10,000. They are to make a court appearance in Putnam County next month.

In his report of the incident, Cookeville Officer Dustin Hensley wrote that on Tuesday, June 16 "I observed a blue Ford Ranger following extremely close behind a silver truck heading east on Broad Street. Getting behind the blue Ford Ranger I also observed it was displaying an expired registration from April 2015. I then conducted a traffic stop at 2500 West Jackson Street (Cane Creek Apts)."

Officer Hensley's report continued, "I approached the driver side of the vehicle and asked the male driver, who I later found out to be Caleb Lincoln, for his identification. Mr. Lincoln said he didn't have his driver license on him and I asked him if he had a driver license and he said he did not. I then asked the female passenger who was later identified as Michelle Clouse if she had any identification and she said she didn't. I explained to Mr. Lincoln the reason for the traffic stop and he admitted to following too close to the vehicle in front of him. I also noticed that Mr.Lincoln had a fresh red bloody area in the crevice of his right arm that he was trying to cover up with a bandage. I asked Mr. Lincoln when was the last time that he had “shot up” and he said about 10 days ago. I then asked both subjects if there was anything illegal in the vehicle and Ms. Clouse said no but Mr. Lincoln was very hesitant about answering. Mr. Lincoln then said he had some methamphetamine residue and some “rigs”.

"While waiting for my backup to arrive before searching the vehicle, a computer check of Mr. Lincoln through dispatch revealed that he had an active warrant in Putnam County and that he was an Habitual Motor Offender in the state of Tennessee. Mr. Lincoln was placed under arrest in double locked restraints with his hands behind his back. During my search of the vehicle I found in the bed of the truck a plastic “Wal Mart” bag with a plastic one gallon jug. It was ¼ of the way full of a bi-layer,, separating liquids commonly used in the “One Pot” method of manufacturing methamphetamine," according to Officer Hensley's report.

"At this time I had (another officer)detain Ms. Clouse in double locked restraints behind her back. I also found in the bed of the truck in a separate Wal Mart bag an empty Mason quart jar that had white residue. Inside of a yellow “Dollar General” bag in the bed of the truck was a Lithium battery that had been cut open with the Lithium strip removed, and a folded up coffee filter that had a white substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine. Searching inside of the truck, I found a “K Swiss” back pack that Mr. Lincoln said was his. Inside of the back pack was a black case with 2 used syringes, 8 coffee filters and 3 ft of hollow tubing that had a clear liquid in it. From my training at the Methamphetamine Task Force these components are commonly used to process and manufacture methamphetamine. Both subjects were transported to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office where they were charged accordingly," wrote Officer Hensley.

"After arriving at the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, (another officer) told me that a female Corrections Officer had found a small plastic bag with a white substance believed to be methamphetamine around the crotch area of Ms. Clouse. Ms. Clouse was also charged with introduction into a penal facility", according to the police report.

Fifty Two Students from DeKalb County Named to Dean's List at TTU

June 19, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

More than 4,000 students were named to Tennessee Tech University’s spring 2015 dean’s list including 52 from DeKalb County.

The list is made up of the university’s top students, based on grade point average. To be included on the list, students must have at least a 3.1 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

This semester’s list includes students from 88 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

The state’s only public technological university, Tennessee Tech University offers more than 40 bachelor’s and 20 graduate programs to more than 11,000 students on its 282-acre campus. TTU students include outstanding high-school graduates, accomplished military veterans and students from around the world, many of whom graduate debt free. With more than 200 student organizations, community service projects and intramural sports, TTU offers a full campus experience.

Students from DeKalb County on the Dean's List are as follows:

Joseph L Angaran
Peter Z Antoniak
Michael C Arms
Christian J Atnip
Hannah M Ball
Ashley M Barnes
Matthew Wayne Boss
Benjamin F Brandt
Robert Wesley Burchfield
Britney M Campbell
Caleb Blake Cantrell
Joshua Ray Cantrell
Talisa Marie Cantrell
Taylor B Cantrell
Katrina A Collier
Ethan B Duke
Whitney N England
Brady S Evans
Christina B Ferguson
Morgan Sloane Garrett
Jessica Brooke Garrison
Callie A Gash
William G Graham
Katie S Haggard
Alexander D Hayes
Abigail E Hendrix
Angela Denise Jones
Elizabeth Catherine Lasser
Taylor C Leach
Samantha K Lewis
Mary A Little
Kristen M Lynch
Zachary R Martin
Laura E Martinez
Elizabeth J Mason
Alexandria B Meadows
Katie L Merriman
Olivia C Norton
Jacob Ethan Parsley
Laura L Reed
Breanna Jo Russell
Aaron Jordan Shirah
Emily A Snow
Lindsay B Snyder
Emily Kaye Summers
Jonathan Hunter Tramel
Dalton H Vaughn
Tracy A Walls
Martha Alan Webb
Brittany N Wilkerson
Justin Brady Wiser
Christopher Riley Young

Students at Northside Elementary Perform Skits and Play on Last Day of Summer School

June 18, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Students at Northside Elementary School concluded three weeks of Summer School Wednesday by performing Reader's Theater skits and plays for their parents and friends.

"We had about 40 students participating in our summer school program. It lasted three weeks and we focused heavily on reading but also they worked on math and some health education," said Beth Pafford, Assistant NES Prinicipal. "Each day they had thirty minutes of enrichment time. The teachers decided to do Reader's Theater with skits and plays this year. Doing things like Reader's Theater helps students become better readers. It increases their vocabulary. It helps them build fluency which means they are reading like they would talk and that helps with comprehension. The students helped create a power point with visuals for the play along with costumes and sets and they practiced. Today their families came to watch their performance. They have worked hard and we are real proud of them," said Pafford.

"The second and third graders did not do a full blown play. They did skits. One group did a reading of the poem "Pop Poppity Pop" about popcorn and the other group did "Duck for President". Teachers Sandy Willingham and Jessica Hale worked with our second and third grade students", Pafford said.

"Teachers Alisha Day and Amanda Griffith worked with our fourth and fifth grade students on the play "The Sword in the Stone", she added.

"We had huge parent participation and we were so tickled to see all the families come out", Pafford concluded.

Alexandria Mayor Race to be Contested

June 18, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two men will be vying to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired mayor's term in the Alexandria Municipal Election on September 3

All the aldermen candidates will be unopposed.

Noon today (Thursday, June 18) was the qualifying deadline

According to the election commission Bennett Armstrong and Tony Tarpley are seeking the mayor's office. Armstrong is currently an alderman appointee. Tarpley was appointed mayor in 2013 after Jim York was elected mayor and resigned three days after taking office. Tarpley has served the first two years of York's unexpired term as mayor.

Meanwhile three aldermen are to be elected, each to serve a four year term. Two other aldermen are to be elected to fill vacancies or the remaining two years of unexpired terms.

Kelly Pyburn, David Cripps, and John F. Suggs are each running unopposed for the four year alderman terms. Cripps and Suggs are incumbent aldermen, appointees serving out unexpired or vacant terms

Matthew Boss and Danny Parkerson will each be running unopposed for the two year alderman terms.

The sitting members are Mayor Tony Tarpley and Aldermen Pat Jackson, David Cripps, John Suggs, and Bennett Armstrong. All are serving as appointees except for Jackson, who was elected in 2013 and still has two years remaining in his term.

County Fire Department Looks to Retain and Recruit Members with Incentive Plan

June 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Donny Green

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department may soon be starting an incentive plan based on a points system hoping to retain members and recruit new ones.

Funding for the proposal was approved Tuesday night by the county budget committee as part of the department's 2015-16 spending plan.

Under the incentive approach, County Fire Chief Donny Green said firefighters may accumulate points for performing duties or services within the department. The more points accumulated, the greater the reward.

"All across the country volunteerism has been something that has been a challenge, specifically here because we do take a lot of pride in having a volunteer fire department. We want to be able to shore up our staffing of volunteers. That has been on the decline for several years so we're looking at ways to beef that up and provide incentives, not only to recruit new volunteers but to be able to retain those we already have on board," said Chief Green in an interview with WJLE.

The fire department plans to abolish two long time incentive efforts to launch this new and more comprehensive initiative. The cost is $50,000 but only $15,000 in new money will be needed to fund the program. "We've had a couple of programs for about five years now. One of them is a (grant funded) training incentive that we have given at the end of the year that rewarded firefighters (money) for excelling in training attendance. The other program we had was the fuel reimbursement. It has paid firefighters ten dollars per call for all their fire response calls they go on. We will be taking the money from those two programs, which comes to $35,000 and applying it to this $50,000 (incentive plan) which would mean we would only need an additional $15,000 to fully fund the points system. So we're basically deleting the training incentive program and the fuel reimbursement program and putting it all toward the points system as a more comprehensive approach to provide different incentives to volunteers," Chief Green continued.

Firefighters may accumulate points in a variety of ways. "We'll set up a committee to designate how to award points. We'll use this money through the points system to reward firefighters for training, fire call response, work sessions, fundraisers, and even for those who might have other obligations. If they want to hang out at the station, they could get a certain number of points for being available. While there they could do things like wash trucks, clean the station, and do general maintenance. It's a two pronged approach to get people to hang out at the station and yet give them some kind of reward without having to get into hiring firefighters. If we can provide incentives to encourage volunteerism and keep our department staffed with volunteers we can save a lot of money in the long run by providing these incentives to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters," said Chief Green.

Meanwhile, the budget committee has also approved $33,000 in funding to repair three fire trucks in the fleet which have failed pump tests. "Our oldest vehicle (in the fleet) is forty one years old. It's a 1974 model. We've done a lot of work on it in the past and now have it in decent shape. But we have three of our fire engines this time including our reserve pumper, the pumper on Cookeville Highway, and the pumper at the Austin Bottom Station that all failed our annual pump test which is a requirement of the Insurance Services Office (ISO) that dictates our fire protection rating in the community," said Chief Green. We have to annually pump test these (fire engines) and if they don't pass then we lose those points and could potentially lose our fire protection rating for insurance purposes. We really don't have much of a choice but to replace those (trucks) or to repair them. This year it looks like the county budget committee has chosen to try and get those repaired. I think the total cost of repairing them is around $33,000. Some pretty major repairs are going to have to be done on them but we really don't have a choice because two of them are front line pumpers and the other is a reserve pumper which means if we have one of the pumpers in our eleven stations that goes down then we have to use the reserve pumper to fill in while the other truck is in the shop. It's going to cost about $33,000 to get these three pumpers repaired to where they are back in shape and can actually pass the pump test," he said.

The fire department had hoped to establish a new fire station in the Four Seasons community later this year but the budget committee has not yet given its approval for the project to move forward. "We have been talking about adding a fire station in the Four Seasons Community for a few years now. One of the main reasons is because there are a lot of homes in that area, especially a lot of expensive homes down by the lake and the entire area is outside of the five mile road distance of one of our fire stations so they (residents) don't get any fire protection coverage down there as far as insurance considers it. Of course we do respond down there (to fire calls) but if you (residents) are not within five road miles insurance basically doesn't consider you to have fire protection and that reflects in your insurance premiums. You have to pay really high insurance premiums when you are more than five miles away from one of our stations. We've been working to address that. Last year the county commission purchased a small lot at the corner of Young Green Road and Four Seasons Road. Hopefully in the future we can build a station there and get it equipped with a pumper so that we can provide adequate fire protection in that area. Again this year I presented the projected cost to build a fire station and to equip it. The budget committee has considered that. We have met a couple of times and we've talked about it and from my understanding it is still under consideration but no decision has been made on it at this time," Chief Green concluded.

The budget committee's recommendation on the county fire department budget will go to the entire county commission for final approval later this summer.

State Coordinator for Clinton Presidential Campaign to Speak at Rally

June 17, 2015
Lenda Sherrell

The Tennessee State Grassroots Coordinator for the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign , Lenda Sherrell, will be the speaker at a DeKalb County Hillary for America election rally Saturday, June 27 at 10 a.m. at the courthouse in the ground level courtroom.

According to Jordan Wilkins, DeKalb County Democratic Party Chair, “everyone is looking forward to hearing from Lenda about plans for
grassroots organization to elect Hillary and other Democrats in 2016 .”

"The Hillary for America campaign is focusing on building the economy, strengthening families, defending America and our core values, and revitalizing our democracy," said Wilkins.

DCHS Tigerettes and Coach Receive TSCA Recognition

June 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dani Meadows, Coach Danny Bond, and Kayley Caplinger

Two DCHS Tigerette standouts have received special recognition by the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association.

Dani Meadows and Kayley Caplinger were recently named to the TSCA's All State Class AA team.

Coach Danny Bond was also selected as an All-Star Coach for the TSCA Middle Tennessee All Stars in games played against the West and East Tennessee All Stars at Columbia State Community College on Monday, June 15. In the first game, the Middle Tennessee All-Stars lost to the West 3 to 1 but won 4 to 3 in a battle with the East All-Stars later in the day.

The TSCA All-Star Teams are made up only of high school seniors from schools in the various divisions throughout the state. Caplinger and Meadows could not compete. Caplinger will be a Junior next year and Meadows is a rising Senior.

Both Caplinger and Meadows along with their Tigerette teammates just completed another successful high school season last month under Coach Bond. The 2015 Tigerettes finished at 27-8 overall. They won championships for the regular season district, district tournament, region tournament, and sub-state before advancing to the state tournament for the second year in a row.

City Budget Adopted on First Reading

June 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

It appears Smithville property taxes and water and sewer rates will remain the same for another year.

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday afternoon met in a workshop and then a special session to adopt the new 2015-16 budget on first reading.

A workshop will be held next Tuesday to give the aldermen a chance to make changes before second and final reading passage at a special meeting yet to be scheduled.

The new budget totals $7-million 625-thousand 323 dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at .6490 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Water and sewer rates are to remain the same. City water customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are $7.50 per thousand gallons.City sewer customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62.

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District will remain at $2.67 per thousand gallons. City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said initial plans were to increase that to $3.00 per thousand but because of a Chancery Court order setting the rate at $2.67 it cannot be changed at this time.

Hourly city employees are budgeted to get a 2% cost of living pay raise except for police officers who are due to get a raise under the eight step wage scale for all hourly employees in the department. Pay for the city administrator and police chief position will increase significantly in order to keep their salaries above the highest paid employee in the police department, the Captain, whose salary including overtime and bonus pay is budgeted at more than $60,000 this year.

Aldermen are concerned about the disparity in pay between some department supervisors. Alderman Shawn Jacobs pointed out that the Fire Chief and Airport Manager are paid well below other city department heads and suggested that they each should get a larger pay hike this year. Alderman Gayla Hendrix agreed and said she would speak with the city's financial advisor Janice Plemmons-Jackson concerning wage issues. Jackson helps prepare the city's budget each year.

Capital outlay projects include:

*Street paving- $200,000. That's about double what is normally budgeted. Hendrixson said plans are to mill and repave the downtown square area and to replace any old worn out water and sewer lines ($30,000) in the process.

*New sanitation truck and trash containers- $350,000

*New extrication "Jaws of Life" equipment ($25,000) and a new thermal imaging camera ($9,600) for the Fire Department.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker also requested a new rescue vehicle as well as funding for another paid firefighter and money to pay volunteers more for doing extra duties through an incentive program. The city has put those requests on hold for now but may revisit the purchase of a new rescue vehicle later in the budget year.

*Police Car-$28,000

*New Animal Shelter- $75,000.That money will only be spent if the county appropriates $75,000 to match the cost of the project

* Airport: Land acquisition and other improvements (Mostly funded by grants)

*Water service truck (water and sewer department)- $50,000

Total general fund revenues are projected to be $3,689,250, not enough to cover total estimated expenditures of $4,370,393. The city plans to appropriate $681,143 from the general fund surplus to balance the budget. The water and sewer fund is expected to show a surplus of $8,155 by year's end with total revenues at $2,628,600 and expenditures of $2,620,445

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