Local News Articles

Hatfield Faces Child Abuse or Neglect Charges

January 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jeff Mark Hatfield

A man who allegedly left two youngsters home alone, including one who wandered out into the road has been charged with child abuse or neglect.

26 year old Jeffery Mark Hatfield of Adcock Cemetery Road, Smithville is charged with two counts of the offense and is under a $20,000 bond. His court date is January 26.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that a detective was patrolling Adcock Cemetery Road just before dark on Thursday, January 12 when he came upon a three year old girl standing in the center of the road. After almost hitting the child, he stopped and tended to the youngster while contacting the Department of Children Services. After searching for more than an hour, authorities finally located the child’s home. Upon arrival, they found a two year old boy who was home alone. According to Sheriff Ray, Hatfield left the children in an unsafe situation placing them in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Man Allegedly Found with Child Porn on his Laptop Computer

January 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
Louis Simon Lopez, III

Smithville Police have charged a 44 year old man with sexual exploitation of a minor after photos and videos of child porn were allegedly found on his laptop computer.

Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_5.pdf (2.93 MB)

Chief Mark Collins told WJLE that Louis Simon Lopez, III is under a $25,000 bond and will make a court appearance on January 26. He was arrested on Tuesday, January 10.

According to Chief Collins, police were informed on Saturday, January 7 that Lopez was the owner of a laptop that had several pictures and videos of what appeared to be children under the age of 18 naked and engaging in sex acts. Upon investigation, a warrant was obtained and Lopez was taken into custody without incident.

The case remains under investigation by the Smithville Police Department and the District Attorney General's Office.

Lopez reportedly has a criminal record for similar offenses in the past while a member of the U.S. Army and received a dishonorable discharge. He is listed on the sex offender registry in another state

City Sewer Plant Upgrades Underway

January 17, 2017
Dwayne Page
Head Works to be Renovated
Aeration System to be replaced
Aeration Infrastructure to be Upgraded

Work is well underway on a renovation at the Smithville Waste Water Treatment Plant.

In August the Smithville Aldermen voted to award a bid to the W & O Construction Company, Incorporated of Livingston as recommended by the city’s consulting engineer, the J.R. Wauford Company. The bid was $2,794,000 for the project which includes an upgrade of the headworks and to replace the aeration system.

To help pay for the cost of the project, the City of Smithville was recently awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $525,000 from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Although the grant will fund part of the costs, the bulk of the funding to pay for it will be appropriated from the city's water and sewer fund surplus.

“We had a meeting Thursday, January 5. They have begun a lot of construction there. They have 365 calendar days and are 80 days into it. Out of the $2.8 million we have paid out about $350,000. Of course the first $500,000 we will get reimbursed from the state for our CDBG. Everything is going well down there,” said city administrator Hunter Hendrixson during last week’s monthly meeting of the mayor and aldermen.

Coffee County Man Rescued from Cave at Dry Creek

January 16, 2017
Dwayne Page

Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad came to the aid of a Coffee County man in a cave rescue early Sunday morning.

Dustin Johnson, Captain of the Rescue Squad, told WJLE the man was with a group of others deep inside the Indian Grave Point Cave off Frazier Hollow Road at Dry Creek when he found himself trapped down a 60 foot hole in the cave.

“We got the call around 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning. It was probably more than a mile back in the cave where the man was trapped. There were some places we could walk but we had to do a lot of crawling and bluff climbing to get to him. He was more than 60 feet down in a hole in the cave. Although the man had a rope, he couldn’t get back out. He was trying to come back up on a rope but the wall caves back in making it hard for a lot of people to come back up it. He tried several times to come back up but fell off the rope and finally injured his left arm. We repelled down with harnesses and put a harness on him and then assisted in getting him out of the hole. At around 8:30 a.m. we were back out of the cave and DeKalb EMS took the man to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office was also on the scene,” said Johnson.

Advanced Master Beef Producers’ Classes Upcoming

January 16, 2017
Johnny Barnes

Cannon, DeKalb, and Warren County Extension will be offering Advanced Master Beef Producers’ (AMBP) classes for those who participated in the original or advanced classes or for newcomers who wish to participate in the Tennessee Ag Enhancement Program (TAEP) cost-share in the future. This program is also an excellent opportunity for those that wish to learn more about raising beef cattle.

The classes will begin on Thursday, February 2 and will meet each Thursday through March 2. We will be offering morning classes in the DeKalb Community Complex Building starting at 9:00 AM, or you can attend evening sessions in the Centertown Community Center at 6:30 PM, whichever is more convenient for your schedule. As a reminder, University of Tennessee Extension provides programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development with University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Topics will include Carcass Merit, Economic Updates and Forecast, Cattle Grading, Forages, Herd Health, Quality Assurance, Pasture Management, and Transportation.

The topics will be covered by various Extension Specialists and Industry Experts from across the state. The cost of the course will be $75 for those with current Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification which will include materials and refreshments. If you do not have a current BQA certification, that will be covered during the AMBP classes. You can stop by the DeKalb County Extension office at 722 South Congress Blvd., Smithville to register or call Johnny Barnes at 615-597-4945 for more information.

Upcoming Fundraisers Planned for DCHS Class of 2017 Project Graduation

January 16, 2017
Dwayne Page
Allison Rogers

Members of the DCHS Class of 2017 are asking for your support of Project Graduation.

Allison Rogers, a DCHS Senior, urges you to stop by any DeKalb County branch office of Liberty State Bank to make a donation.

“I am the DCHS Basketball Cheerleading Captain , President of the BETA Club, HOSA Treasurer, and President of FCA. More importantly, I am a member of the 2017 graduating class. We are raising funds for our Project Graduation event that will take place the night of graduation in May. We will have food and fun activities. It is designed to keep us safe from the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol. In order to hold this event, we must raise funds and request the community’s help. Please stop by your local branch of Liberty State Bank in Alexandria, Liberty, or Smithville and make a donation to our account. All help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support,” said Rogers.

Meanwhile you may purchase Boston Butts for $25 and Ribs for $15 as a fundraiser for DCHS Project Graduation. Contact any member of the DCHS Class of 2017 to place your order. Pickup will be Friday, February 3 before the Super Bowl. A Corn Hole tournament is also set for February 25.

Stevens Jennings Named Tiger Football MVP, Rachel Fuson MVC

January 15, 2017
Dwayne Page
2016 DCHS Tiger Football MVP Steven Jennings and MVC Rachel Fuson
DCHS Football (FR) Matt Judkins, Tyler Cantrell, Steven Jennings, Bradley Miller, Justin Perricone (BR)-Christian Pruitt, Eli Cross, Matt Poss, Riley Sexton, Luke Green, Tayvian Nokes, Colton Seifert
DCHS Football Cheerleader Award Winners: Seated-Kaitlyn Roller, MVC Rachel Fuson, and Lexie Bates; Standing-Grace Odom, Susan Webb, Sarah Carver, and Rosa Payne
Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Award presented to Luke Green. Pictured here with Abram Edwards (left) and Sarah Edwards (right), son and daughter of the late Clay Edwards and their mother Tena

Talented DCHS Quarterback Steven Jennings, a senior, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2016 Tiger Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet held Saturday night at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center building.

The MVP trophy was presented to Jennings by Coach Steve Trapp. Jennings, whose high school career ended midway through the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the game at Smith County, earned the MVP award for his entire body of work at DCHS according to Tiger Coach Steve Trapp.

“This award was voted on by his teammates. This is something he deserves. He has been the face of our program for four years. He’s just one of those all time great football players here. Steven was definitely a special player for us from day one as a freshman. Unfortunately he got hurt this season and only played in four and a half games. If that had not happened he would now hold every quarterback record here. I wish he could have stayed healthy but one of the greatest things about our whole season was not only how he handled that situation but how his teammates handled it as well. Steven was still a tremendous leader for us even after that. He never missed a practice. He came to the game the day he had surgery. Steven is not just a great football player but a great guy. He is just one of those football players that people in DeKalb County will remember for a long time,” said Coach Trapp.

In his 38 game high school career as quarterback, Jennings completed 472 of 912 passes for 7,104 yards and 59 touchdowns with 27 interceptions. Jennings also had 2,483 yards rushing as quarterback in 455 carries and 27 touchdowns.

In 2013, Jennings received the following awards:
1st Team All District 8AA
Most Outstanding Quarterback in District 8AA
DCHS Offensive Back of the Year
1st Team Quarterback on the All Upper Cumberland Offensive Team

In 2014, Jennings earned more honors:
1st Team All District 8AA
Most Outstanding Quarterback in District 8AA
DTC Player of the Year
DCHS Offensive Player of the Year
1st Team Quarterback on the All Upper Cumberland Offensive Team

In 2015, Jennings received the following honors:
1st Team All Region 4-3A
All Region 4-3A Offensive Player of Year
Examiner.com Class 3A All State Quarterback
TN Sports Writers Association Class 3A All State Quarterback
DTC Player of the Year
1st Team Quarterback on the All Upper Cumberland Offensive Team

"For 2016 in only four games, Steven, as quarterback, led our team in rushing. He led our team in total yards and was second in scoring and he never missed a practice even after he got hurt. He was also named 1st Team All Region this year by the coaches even though he only played in two district games. He was also named to the All Herald Citizen Team this year even though he only played in four games," added Coach Trapp.

Jennings, who is also a member of the DCHS baseball team, has signed to play baseball for the Ole Miss Rebels after he graduates.

The Tiger football team finished the season in November with an overall record of 7-4 and another appearance in the state play-offs. It was the sixth consecutive year the Tigers earned a berth in the state play-offs and their eighth appearance in the last nine years. The Tigers lost in the first round of the TSSAA Class 3A Football Play-Offs in Smithville to East Ridge on November 4. The final score was 23-18.

Meanwhile, Rachel Fuson, a senior, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader at the football banquet Saturday night. The presentation was made by Cheer Coaches Amanda Fuller and Sonya House.

“Rachel is an outstanding student and cheerleader. She has been a cheerleader for four years. She is above a 4.0 student and is in the running for Valedictorian. She was elected by the entire school as Miss DCHS. Rachel has great character, great work ethic, and of course is extremely talented to even be considered for this. The MVC was voted on by the girls (cheerleaders). Rachel shows kindness to them and in a leadership way. It’s just is a unique quality,” said Coach Fuller.

Other individual Football Player Awards are as follows:
Offensive Player of the Year- Tyler Cantrell
Offensive Lineman- Eli Cross
Offensive Back- Colton Seifert
Receiver- Christian Pruitt
Defensive Player of the Year-Bradley Miller
Defensive Lineman- Tayvian Nokes
Linebacker- Matthew Judkins
Defensive Back- Riley Sexton
Special Teams Player-Matthew Poss
Most Improved- Justin Perricone
MVP-Steven Jennings
Coach Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Award-Luke Green

Individual Cheer Awards are as follows:
Best Stunts- Lexie Bates
Most Spirited- Grace Odom
Best Jumps- Kaitlyn Roller
Best Dance-Rosa Payne
Most Improved- Sarah Carver
MVC- Rachel Fuson
DEAR (Dedication, Enthusiasm, Attitude, and Responsibility)-Susan Webb

The DCHS Football Cheerleaders earned other honors during the year. According to Coach Fuller, their other awards and accomplishments include:

*The 2016 National Cheerleaders Association Top Team
*Technical Excellence Awards for stunts and motions
*Five girls named to the NCA All-American Team including Kaitlyn Roller, Lexie Bates, Rachel Fuson, Rosa Payne, and Allison Maynard
*Kaitlyn Roller-Top All American
*Three were asked to sign with NCA Staff: Kaitlyn Roller, Rosa Payne, and Lexie Bates
*Individual Leadership Award-given to the Captain with the best leadership skills- Rachel Fuson
*Four performed at Walt Disney World in the Spirit Spectacular Parade including Rosa Payne, Kaitlyn Roller, Lexie Bates, and Allison Maynard.

Two Tiger football players, Defensive Back Bradley Miller and Punter Matthew Poss, were recently named to the Class 3A All State Team by TNHIGHSCHOOLFOOTBALL.COM

Miller, as defensive back, was also selected by the TN Sports Writers Association to the Class 3A All State Team and to the Tennessean 3rd Team All Mid State.

Tigers selected to the All Herald Citizen Team from the Upper Cumberland Area were:
1st Team Punter Matthew Poss
2nd team Defensive Line Tayvian Nokes and Devin Bain
Honorable Mention Quarterbacks Steven Jennings and Tyler Cantrell
Honorable Mention Wide Receiver Matthew Poss
Honorable Mention Offensive Line Eli Cross, Luke Green, Devin Zaderiko, Gage Delape
Honorable Mention Linebacker Nick May
Honorable Mention Defensive Back Bradley Miller and Riley Sexton.

Thirteen players on the 2016 DCHS football team and Assistant Coach Clarence Trapp were recognized in December for All-Region honors during an awards banquet in Cookeville.

Trapp was named the Region 4-3A Offensive Assistant Coach of the Year.

Tiger players honored were as follows:
Region 4-3A Most Outstanding Linebacker Nick May
Region 4-3A Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman Tayvian Nokes
Region 4-3A Most Outstanding Defensive Back Bradley Miller
Region 4-3A Most Outstanding Tight End Christian Pruitt
Region 4-3A Most Outstanding Punter Matthew Poss
Region 4-3A 1st Team All Region Eli Cross
Region 4-3A 1st Team All Region Luke Green
Region 4-3A 1st Team All Region Steven Jennings
Region 4-3A 1st Team All Region Riley Sexton
Region 4-3A 1st Team All Region Devin Zaderiko
Region 4-3A 2nd Team All Region Devin Bain
Region 4-3A 2nd Team All Region Gage Delape
Region 4-3A 2nd Team All Region Tyler Cantrell

DeKalb School Buses Pass Annual State Inspection, Drivers Recertified

January 14, 2017
Dwayne Page
THP School Bus Inspector Darryl Winningham  and School Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague
Mechanic Justin Coats, THP Inspector Darryl Winningham, Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague, THP Inspector Craig Wilkerson, and Mechanic Michael Agee

All DeKalb County School buses have passed state inspection.

State Troopers Darryl Winningham and Craig Wilkerson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, inspectors for this district, completed their evaluation this week of all the buses in the fleet including the substitute buses. Meanwhile all bus drivers in the school system have also been re-certified.

“We had a total of 36 buses inspected and 100% passed. The annual inspection was held this week at the shop and on Monday, January 9 we had driver certification. All drivers passed,” said Jimmy Sprague, School Transportation Supervisor.

"We do a complete level one inspection on the buses. We go from the bottom to the top and inside, outside. We check every bolt. Every nut, tire tread, brake pads, seats. We make sure the dash works and all the lights inside. We want to make sure everything is safe. We check tie rod ends. Everything about the vehicle. We're always going to find something. No matter how minor we still want to find everything we can find to get it all repaired. But they have done a great job here. The buses are in good shape. What little issues we found were repaired on the spot," said Trooper Winningham.

The inspectors conduct an annual inspection for three days in January but spot checks may be made during the year." We spend three days now but we'll be here more than this once a year. We also do 10% spot checks throughout the year. We just pull in and walk through the lot and say we want to check this bus or look at that bus. They pull them in and we'll do a complete inspection on them again," said Trooper Winningham

“The driver class covers new state guidelines and safety of the buses including any operation in adverse weather, traffic, and how to deal with issues that arise while on the route. Proper procedures for evacuating a bus in an emergency are also covered in the class,” said Sprague

“DeKalb County is blessed with good drivers that take pride in their jobs and truly care about the children. My drivers provide transportation for the children in the morning and afternoon and our main objective is to get them safely to and from school each day,” Sprague concluded.

DeKalb West School Honors Students of the Month

January 14, 2017
Bill Conger
DeKalb West School Honors Students of the Month

DeKalb West School has selected the Students of the Month for January. Teachers from each grade level choose students for the important honor based on factors like academics, character, work ethic, and other traits that make for an outstanding student.

The following students were recognized: Bella Gonzalez, Kindergarten; Autumn Crook, 1st grade; Pierce Moreno, 2nd grade; Ethan Reynolds, 3rd grade; Caroline Crook, 4th grade, Alex Antoniak, 5th grade; Aly Griffith, 6th grade; Alley Beth Cook, 7th grade; and Gracie Griffin, 8th grade.

DWS also recognized 5th grader Carson Donnell for the Perfect Attendance Award for the 2nd nine week session of school. 76 students had perfect attendance during this time period, and Donnell’s name was selected from a drawing. He won a $25 gift certificate. The first nine weeks of school Zoey Skeen in first grade was chosen for the Perfect Attendance Award from 113 students who were at DeKalb West every day and had no tardies or left early from school. From the start of the school year, 50 students so far have perfect attendance.

Federal Judge Approves Supplemental Plea Deal for Larry Webb

January 14, 2017
Dwayne Page
Larry Webb

Larry Webb, the former deputy director of the Upper Cumberland Development District will be on supervised release for three years and pay a $2,000 fine for bank fraud in the 2013 Living the Dream scandal.

U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. signed an order accepting and approving a supplemental plea agreement in the case after a sentencing hearing for Webb on Monday, January 9.

Under terms of the agreement, Webb is sentenced to time served (one day) and three years supervised release. His fine is $2,000 and he must pay a criminal monetary penalty of $100. As a special condition of supervision, the defendant is prohibited from owning, carrying or possessing firearms and during his supervised release, the defendant is permitted to travel between the Eastern District of Tennessee and the Middle District of Tennessee for business purposes.

Meanwhile, Wendy Askins, the former UCDD Director reported to federal prison in West Virginia on Monday, January 9th. Federal Prison Camp Alderson, where Askins is housed, is the same place Martha Stewart spent her time in 2004 for her conviction on insider trading.

Webb, who entered a voluntary guilty plea on August 17, 2015 to one count of bank fraud in the “Living the Dream” investigation, was to have been sentenced Thursday, December 8 but that was postponed until January 9.

Under terms of his original plea agreement, Webb was to have avoided paying a fine in the case. However, a court order signed Friday, December 9 by Judge Crenshaw stated that “the court believes a fine in the $6,000 range may be appropriate, considering Defendant (Webb’s) cooperation with the Government, his offense conduct, and ability to pay".

Webb was indicted with Askins in 2013 on various federal bank charges, including conspiracy, theft of government money, bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement.

Askins was accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars of agency money into a million-dollar luxury home in rural Putnam County called "Living the Dream". What was intended to become a home for needy seniors also became Askins' home.

Although Webb's attorney Ed Yarbrough said he never profited from the scheme, Webb admitted that he was guilty of Count Eight of the federal indictment, which accused him and Askins of securing a $250,000 loan from the Bank of Putnam County "for their own use and benefit" and "falsely representing" that it was for a project that had been approved by the UCDD board of directors."

Court documents relating to Webb's plea agreement state that, “On February 2, 2010, Webb incorporated “Living the Dream/Independent Living for Seniors, Inc.” While “Living the Dream” had the appearance of being a project approved by the Cumberland Regional Development District, of which Webb was a director, it was in fact owned and operated by Webb and Askins. A portion of the property was intended to be used as an independent living facility, while another portion was used as a luxury home for co-defendant Askins.”

“In order to partially fund the purchase of the “Living the Dream facility, Webb and Askins obtained a loan from the Bank of Putnam County. To obtain this loan, Webb made false statements to loan officers relating to the true nature of “Living the Dream”. Specifically, Webb told the loan officers that “Living the Dream” was an approved UCDD/CRDC project. Additionally, Webb presented false documents, including CRDC resolutions dated May 7, 2010 purportedly authorizing a loan application for “Living the Dream” in the amount of $750,000. As Webb very well knew, the CRDC had not approved the “Living the Dream” project, and had not authorized a $750,000 loan application,” the court documents state.

“In reliance upon these false statements and representations, the Bank of Putnam County on May 27, 2010 approved a loan in the amount of $250,000 for “Living the Dream”. Webb and Askins applied the loan proceeds to the purchase of “Living the Dream”. The bank would not have approved the loan or disbursed funds had it known UCDD and/or CRDC did not approve of the project or the loan application”, the court documents continued

“The bank eventually foreclosed on the property and subsequently recovered all of its loan proceeds”.

Askins entered a plea on August 31 to two counts of theft from a federally-funded entity stemming from the “Living the Dream investigation and was sentenced on October 28 to 18 months in federal prison. The sentence will run concurrently with a state sentence after her plea in Putnam County Criminal Court on October 31 to forgery over $60,000. After her release, Askins will be on supervised probation for two years. She must also pay restitution of $233,000 to the UCDD.


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