Local News Articles

Hayes and Ruch Receive White Rose Awards, Trail Gets Citizenship Honor (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

May 23, 2015
Dwayne Page
Bailey Hayes Receives White Rose Award from Principal Patrick Cripps
Makalee Ruch Receives White Rose Award from Principal Patrick Cripps
Lydia Trail Receives Citizenship Award from Principal Patrick Cripps

Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during Friday night's commencement. And in honor of 23 month old Colten May who tragically died last Sunday, each graduate wore a small blue ribbon in support of child abuse awareness.

Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Bailey Hayes and MaKalee Ruch while the Citizenship Award was presented to Lydia Trail.

The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for outstanding achievement and leadership, academics, and other activities. The Citizenship Award is given to the senior who has demonstrated outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to DeKalb County High School. The honors, distinction, and top rank students were also recognized during the program.

The 181 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps as their names were called by Assistant Principal Kathy Bryant.

In her remarks, Valedictorian Julia Little urged her classmates to take responsibility for their own happiness. "Life only gets harder from here. You will have really great days and you will have really bad days. But you are responsible for your own happiness. If you are unhappy in any situation, be it the college you're at, the job you're in, the town you live in, or even a relationship, change it. I promise you will be much happier. Nothing lasts forever. The really bad days will come to an end, so push through them and remember to lean on those you love for support. The really good days will not last forever either, so remember to be thankful for those who are there with you and remind them how much you love them every day. Wherever life takes you, good luck. Go at it. Oh, and while you're at it, have a little fun," said Little.

Kelsey Hedge, Class President, admonished her friends to explore the limitless possibilities of their future. "The future is up to you. Every decision that you make from this day forward will have a significant effect on your future. When you make a choice, think about the long term effects it will have on your future. Remember who you are, where you are from, and what you represent. Be willing to stand for what you believe in, and always be true to yourself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Follow your passion and make your own path. Dare to be all that you can be. Be fearless, but be thoughtful and mindful in your fearlessness. Take a chance on doing what you love, and always strive to be the best at whatever you do. Stay true to your heart. Have the courage to explore the realm of possibility, and always be willing to take chances. Believe anything is possible and work hard to make it happen. Most importantly, don't be scared of the unknown. Follow your passion, be driven to succeed, and always be open to learning as you go. Never forget that your life is made up of moments. Enjoy each day as it comes, and don't miss these moments by being lost in the past or anticipating the future. From this day forward, go find your happiness, and never forget, your life is completely up to you," said Hedge.

Principal Patrick Cripps challenged the class to "explore, dream, and discover". "In the famous words of Dr. Seuss, today is your day. You are off to great places. You're off and away. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own and you know what to do. You are the guy who will decide where to go".

"You have been given a foundation by your parents, guardians, teachers, and friends to build upon. The choices you are making now will impact you and those closest to you for the rest of your lives. I ask that you not take these decisions lightly. At the same time, don't spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity that you miss the right opportunity. In choosing your path never fear to challenge yourself. Do not be afraid to fail because the only real failure in life is a failure to try. The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. And when you fall, be humble. Cling to your true self and stand up stronger. If you don't go after what you want you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place. Mark Twain said twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover," said Cripps.

"Tonight my challenge to you is that you indeed explore, dream, and discover. Travel the road you were meant to claim but at the end of the day always remember where home is. I challenge you to keep these days and memories near to you so that you may someday have a desire to return and give back to your community. Remember collectively who you are. We are DeKalb County," Cripps concluded.

The program featured an Invocation by Bailey Hayes of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Music by the DCHS Band and Chorus. DCHS Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick introduced the honors and distinction students. Guidance Counselor Shelly Painter recognized the Top Rank students in the class. The Benediction was delivered by Lane Ball, member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Mother and Boyfriend Make First Court Appearance in Child Death Case

May 22, 2015
Dwayne Page
Cody Key escorted from courthouse after being arraigned Friday Morning
Jessica Ashley May being escorted to the courthouse for arraignment Friday morning

A Smithville mother and her boyfriend indicted Tuesday in the death of the woman's 23 month old son made their first court appearance on Friday morning.

23 year old Cody Key, indicted for felony murder and aggravated child abuse, and 19 year old Jessica May, indicted on a charge of aggravated child neglect, were arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

As WJLE first reported Tuesday, the child, Colten Alexander May was brought to DeKalb Community Hospital by the couple Sunday morning, May 17 but he was already deceased. The youngster was found to have internal and other physical injuries to his body. Key is alleged to have inflicted the injuries. May is accused of having known the abuse had been taking place, according to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway.

During their brief appearances before Judge David Patterson Friday morning covered exclusively by WJLE, Key and May had "not guilty" pleas entered on their behalf by court appointed counsel. Judge Patterson appointed District Public Defender Craig Fickling to represent Key and McMinnville attorney Larry Bryant was named to be May's lawyer.

Before appointing them counsel, Judge Patterson asked both Key and May about their finances and whether they could afford an attorney. Key said he had no income or property. May said she owned no property and has been living in a rent home. She added that her only income was from working at McDonalds and that she had only one dollar in a savings account.

Key is under a one million dollar bond and is incarcerated at a facility in another county. May's bond is $300,000. Neither attorney requested a bond reduction.

The cases against Key and May will be back on the court docket again on October 2.

May will be transported to the Tennessee Department of Correction for safekeeping pending disposition of the criminal charge due to her being more than seven months pregnant. Assistant D.A. Greg Strong filed the motion making the request and Judge Patterson granted it over the objections of May's attorney, Bryant who said his client wished to remain in the DeKalb County Jail.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Sheriff Patrick Ray said the jail is not equipped to care for May's medical needs due to her pregnancy. "Jessica Ashley May is approximately seven months pregnant. The DeKalb County Jail employs one on-call nurse and does not have the appropriate equipment and/or staff to meet the medical needs of May. The affiant (Sheriff Ray) requests that May be transferred to the special needs facility in Nashville to ensure that she receives the medical attention required by her pregnancy".

Meanwhile, the public defender filed motions with the court asking that biological evidence and blood specimens of the child be preserved for independent testing. The judge granted those requests. Another motion by the public defender asking that the body be preserved for an independent autopsy was later withdrawn.

Intoxicated Woman Found with Bags of Pills During Traffic Stop

May 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
Michelle Renee Yarbro
Tolesha Alberta Suggs
Clinton Lane Cope
Steven Lee Gebhardt
Robert James Clay
Sheena Arlene George

A Murfreesboro woman believed to be intoxicated was found with bags of pills in her vehicle during a recent traffic stop by a county deputy.

37 year old Michelle Renee Yarbro of Murfreesboro is charged with driving under the influence, possession of a schedule III drug for resale (hydrocodone), and possession of a schedule IV drug for resale (Alprazolam). She is further cited for simple possession of a schedule II drug (Opana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond totals $11,500 and she will make a court appearance June 4. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, May 11 a deputy was dispatched to the intersection of Highway 96 (Murfreesboro Highway) and Highway 70 west due to a report of a female slumped over the steering wheel of a blue car setting on the edge of the highway. The officer stopped and spoke with the driver, Yarbro who appeared to be under the influence of an intoxicant. Her speech was slurred and she was unable to stand or keep her eyes open. The officer found in the vehicle a baggie containing nineteen hydrocodone pills and a baggie with nineteen and a half Alprazolam pills all believed to be for resale. The deputy also recovered a cut off straw from the floor board and one Opana 10 milligram pill which was found on Yarbro's person.

32 year old Tolesha Alberta Suggs of Old West Point Road, Smithville is charged with simple possession of a schedule VI drug and cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court June 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 14 a deputy stopped to conduct a welfare check on a gold Nissan Altima and spoke with Suggs who was sitting in the driver seat. After obtaining consent to search the vehicle, the officer found underneath where Suggs was sitting a small black bag which held a sandwich baggie containing .18 ounces of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. He also discovered a half empty container of Bud Lite beer and under the driver's side seat was a pipe containing residue. A computer check revealed that Suggs' drivers license were suspended by the state for medical reasons on November 7, 2013.

25 year old Clinton Lane Cope of Smith Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. He is under a $2,000 bond and will make a court appearance May 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 14 a deputy was dispatched to Midway Road due to a domestic assault. Upon arrival, Cope's mother told the officer that he had left the residence in a blue truck after forcing his girlfriend to leave with him. The deputy located the truck on Midway Road where he stopped and found both Cope and his girlfriend. Cope was bleeding from his face and neck and the girl had bruises on her arms and scratch marks on her neck. She claims that Cope got on top of her, held her down, and grabbed her by the neck , forcibly keeping her from getting away. Cope was determined to have been the primary aggressor.

41 year old Steven Lee Gebhardt of Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville is charged with assault. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court June 4. According to Sheriff Ray, on Sunday May 17 deputies responded to a disturbance call at the Lake Motel. Upon arrival, one of the officers knocked on the door of a motel room there and identified himself. The man inside the room, Gebhardt did not come out and warned the deputy that he was armed with a gun and would shoot him if he did not leave. Gebhardt also told the other officer that he had a 25 caliber handgun. The deputies then forced their way into the room and took Gebhardt into custody.

Two people were arrested Sunday, May 17 after their Chevy Blazer was pulled over on Highway 56 north on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Robert James Clay of Big Hickory Court, Smithville is charged with DUI and reckless endangerment for having his three year old son in the automobile with him while driving intoxicated. He is further cited for driving on a suspended license and violation of the open container law.

Meanwhile the owner and passenger of the Chevy Blazer, 31 year old Sheena Arlene George of J.E. Evins Avenue, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence by allowance and reckless endangerment. She was arrested for allowing an intoxicated person to drive her vehicle. A computer check revealed that she had a previous offense on September 20, 2014. She too was charged with reckless endangerment due to the child in the vehicle being operated by an intoxicated driver.

Bond for Clay is $3,000. George's bond is $4,500. They will make a court appearance on June 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 17 a deputy was dispatched to Cookeville Highway due to a report of a possible drunk driver in a black Chevy Blazer. The officer along with another deputy stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Clay. He was found to have a strong odor of alcohol on his person and his speech was slurred. An open container of whiskey was found on the floorboard of his automobile. Clay performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test. Clay was then placed under arrest and booked at the sheriff's department.

D.A.R.E. Essay Winners Awarded at DeKalb West School

May 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray, DeKalb West 5th Grade D.A.R.E. Essay winners Breanna Cothern and Allison Eastes (Overall Winner), and D.A.R.E Instructor Chief Deputy Don Adamson

Fifth graders at DeKalb West School received pins and certificates during the annual D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony held Thursday.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was conducted by D.A.R.E. Instructor and Chief Deputy Don Adamson of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Each student prepares an essay during the course and those with the best essays from each class are recognized and awarded. This year's essay winners at DeKalb West School are Allison Eastes and Breanna Cothern. The fifth grade teachers are Jeanna Caplinger and Nadina Manganiello.

Eastes was the over-all winner and she read her essay during Thursday's program. In addition to the award, prizes, and recognition, Eastes gets to keep "Daren the Lion" the D.A.R.E. Mascot and she received a $50 check from Judge Bratten Cook II, presented in his absence by Matt Boss.

In addition to Sheriff Patrick Ray and Chief Deputy Adamson, others on hand for the ceremony were DeKalb West School Principal Sabrina Farler, Assistant Principal Joey Agee, Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins, Suzanne Slager on behalf of Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Trustee Sean Driver, County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss and employees of the Sheriff's Department.

Farm Service Agency Presents 30 Year Length of Service Award

May 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
Farm Service Agency Presents 30 Year Length of Service Award

The DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency recently presented Shawn Rice, Program Technician, with her 30 Year Length of Service Award.

Pictured from left to right: R.V. Billings, Jr (County Committee Member), Shawn Rice (Program Technician), Jack Campbell (County Committee Chairperson), Charles Brown (County Committee Member), and Donny Green (County Executive Director).

Introducing Tiger Media's first literary magazine

May 21, 2015
Donna Emmons
Mirage authors and artists - Front row (l-r): Lydia Trail/Juliette Aurora (editor), Leah Clark, Anna May, Savannah Anderson, Dakotah Cool, Madison Kemper. Middle row (l-r): Hannah Brown, Savannah Belcher, Kristena Bain, MaKayla C. Bain, Ami Patel, Jhoany Gaspar. Back row (l-r): Shea Hicks, Caleb Rowland (graphic designer), Riley "Rcade" Sexton, Megan Evans, Dev Johnson, Kyle Satcher, and Moses Hernandez. Not pictured: Jaynee Angaran, Allen Smithee, Laiza Martinez, Nowhere Man, Kelly Armour, Kupo and Olivia
Tiger Media's first literary magazine, titled Mirage

Embracing the opportunity to try something new, co-advisers Nallely Prater and Donna Emmons, along with Tiger Media staff members Lydia Trail and Caleb Rowland, chose to publish a product that would showcase student creative talent. Thus, the concept for Tiger Media's first literary magazine, titled Mirage, was conceived. Twenty-six students chose to submit their creative works of art, photography, poetry and short stories in the full-color, 44 page publication.

"This has been one of the most rewarding experiences as an adviser. Creating this magazine was a learning experience for all of us," Mrs. Prater said about her contributions to the finished product.

The work was submitted and completed over three months, and each participating student received a free copy of the magazine.

Junior Megan Evans said, “It’s awesome! It isn’t something I typically do, put my poems out there. It felt good to get published.”

"I am always willing to try something new," Mrs. Emmons said, "and the excitement surrounding this project has been infectious. I am so happy for the students to be able to reach an audience with their incredible talents, and I am honored to have been a part of this effort."

Besides athletics and the active clubs at the high school, many of the more creative students find it hard to showcase their talents because there has not been an outlet.

“I’m glad to be able to get my work out to express myself and get people to see it,” freshman Riley "Rcade" Sexton said.

Freshman Ami Patel added, "This is a good start for our school, so we can each express our individuality."

“Maybe others will submit works to publish now that they've seen we have put ourselves out there,” freshman Hannah Brown said.

A limited number of magazines are still available to purchase for $5 at DCHS through next Wednesday. Call, come by or send word to own your exclusive copy.

"The staff of Tiger Media would like to thank its sponsors. We greatly appreciate the support of Harry Lasser, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Family Medical Center, Callie Herman with Art Revolution, and Wilson Bank & Trust," added Mrs. Emmons.

Picture Caption:

Mirage authors and artists - Twenty-six DCHS students contributed their collective creative talents to publish the first ever Tiger Media literary magazine, Mirage. Front row (l-r): Lydia Trail/Juliette Aurora (editor), Leah Clark, Anna May, Savannah Anderson, Dakotah Cool, Madison Kemper. Middle row (l-r): Hannah Brown, Savannah Belcher, Kristena Bain, MaKayla C. Bain, Ami Patel, Jhoany Gaspar. Back row (l-r): Shea Hicks, Caleb Rowland (graphic designer), Riley "Rcade" Sexton, Megan Evans, Dev Johnson, Kyle Satcher, and Moses Hernandez. Not pictured: Jaynee Angaran, Allen Smithee, Laiza Martinez, Nowhere Man, Kelly Armour, Kupo and Olivia Winter.

DCHS Recognizes Tennessee Scholars

May 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
DCHS Recognizes Tennessee Scholars

The 2015 DCHS Tennessee Scholars were recognized during Monday night's Annual Awards Program at the high school

The Tennessee Scholars program encourages students to take a more rigorous and challenging course of study in high school. Students graduating as Tennessee Scholars have to maintain good academic, disciplinary, and attendance standards as well as volunteer in the community. Tennessee Scholars also choose to take rigorous courses beyond what is required to graduate. Janney & Associates CPAs generously provided the Tennessee Scholars Medals.

Ruth Woodall, Associate Vice President of Education and Workforce Development for the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry/Tennessee Manufacturing Association, helped make the presentations.

The following students have met all requirements for the Tennessee Scholars Program.


County Clerk Completes Training to Become Certified Public Administrator

May 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
CTAS Training Consultant Christopher R. Payne presents County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss Certificate as Certified Public Administrator

DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss is among county officials across the state who have earned status as a Certified Public Administrator after completing the County Officials Certificate Training Program (COCTP).

COCTP is a comprehensive training program administered by the University of Tennessee (UT) County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) in cooperation with the Tennessee County Services Association and the County Officials Association of Tennessee

The program is designed to provide specialized, technical and managerial training to elected officials and their employees in order to help them run their office more effectively. It also offers a comprehensive knowledge of the inner workings of county government. CTAS believes that a broader understanding of the mechanics of county government will afford COCTP graduates a better knowledge of the county as an entity, which will help them to better serve their constituency. Graduates of the COCTP will obtain a thorough understanding of county government and be designated with the title of Certified Public Administrator.

"Once participants go through the County Officials Certified Training Program and complete the process they become a certified public administrator," said Ben Rodgers, CTAS County Government Consultant. "The training gives participants a good knowledge of what it takes to be in county government and how to run offices and be involved with the county commission and all the legislative branches. After everything is said and done its eighty hours of training to become certified," he said.

"Jimmy did a great job. He is a great guy. I know they bragged on him from the training he went through. He learned a lot and I am proud of him," Rodgers added.

Participants must complete four of the
10 core classes.

Core classes include:
• Audit
• Capital Budgeting
• Debt Management
• Ethics
• Financial Issues
• Legal Issues – for each Elected Office
• Operating Budget
• Personnel
• Purchasing
• Risk Management

Once completed the individual is recognized as a Certified Public Administrator for their county.

In order to retain the designation of Certified Public Administrator, participants are required to complete 16 hours of continuing education each fiscal year to maintain their certification.

DCHS Tigerettes Eliminated from State Softball Tournament

May 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tigerettes Season Ends at State Tournament

The DCHS Tigerettes have been eliminated from the TSSAA Class AA State GIRLS Softball Tournament after losing to South Gibson 9-0 Wednesday morning in Murfreesboro.

The Tigerettes also lost Tuesday night to Chattanooga Central 8 to 3.

South Gibson scored nine runs on nine hits and made one error. DeKalb County was held scoreless on two hits and made one error. Tyra Graham and Loren Cripps each singled.

South Gibson scored three runs in the first inning, four runs in the second, and two runs in the sixth inning.

Kayley Caplinger, the losing pitcher, gave up nine runs on nine hits through seven innings. She struck out nine and walked four.

The Tigerettes finished the season 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.

In the game Tuesday night, the Tigerettes lost 8-3 to Chattanooga Central

Chattanooga Central scored eight runs on six hits and made one error. The Tigerettes scored three runs on seven hits and made three errors.

DeKalb County scored one run in the first, fifth, and seventh innings. Chattanooga Central scored two runs in the first inning, one run in the third, fourth, and sixth innings, and three runs in the seventh.

Kayley Caplinger, the losing pitcher, faced thirty one batters through seven innings. She gave up eight runs on six hits. She struck out eight and walked two.

Loren Cripps and Kayley Caplinger each belted a homerun while Dani Meadows, Katie Hall, Myranda Bailiff, Hannah Walker, and Allison Maynard each singled.

Proclamation Recognizes EMS Week

May 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling presents Interim EMS Director Hoyte Hale Proclamation designating May 17-23 as EMS Week. Joined by EMS Staff members Kim Johnson, Misty Green, David Hamlet and Allen Mason

A week dedicated to celebrating emergency service workers is being recognized in DeKalb County.

The community relies on emergency workers to rush to the rescue, no matter what the circumstance.

County Mayor Tim Stribling signed a proclamation Monday designating May 17-23 as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week in DeKalb County. Interim EMS Director Hoyte Hale and other EMS staff joined County Mayor Stribling for the occasion at the ambulance service headquarters.

The proclamation is as follows:

"Whereas, Emergency Medical Services is a vital public service; and

Whereas, the members of Emergency Medical Teams are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and

Whereas, access to quality Emergency Care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury; and

Whereas, the Emergency Medical Services system consists of emergency physicians, emergency nurses, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, educators, administrators, and others; and

Whereas, the members of Emergency Medical Services teams, whether career or volunteer, engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their lifesaving skills; and

Whereas, it is appropriate to recognize the value and the accomplishments of Emergency Medical Services providers by designating Emergency Medical Services Week;

Now, Therefore, I Tim Stribling, County Mayor, DeKalb County, Tennessee, in recognition of this event do hereby proclaim the week of May 17-23, 2015 as Emergency Medical Services Week.

With the theme, EMS STRONG, I encourage the community to observe this week with the appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities".

Members of the DeKalb EMS Staff in addition to Interim Director Hoyte Hale are:

Donna Melton- EMT-IV

Jonthan Rudd-EMT-P

Kristie Johnson-CCEMT-P

Tyler Grandstaff-EMT-P

David Hamlet-EMT-P

Misty Green-AEMT

Kim Johnson-EMT-P

Allen Mason-EMT-P

Trent Phipps-EMT-P

Daniel Summers-EMT-P

Becky Atnip-EMT-IV

Tim Briggs- EMT-P

Matt Melton-EMT-IV

James Allen-CCEMT-P

Jamie Parsley-EMT-IV

Stephanie Brown-EMT-P

Charles Nokes-EMT-P

Houston Austin-EMT-P

Greta Stone-EMT-P

Jamie Williams-EMT-P

John Poss-EMT-IV

Lonnie Laxton-EMT-IV

Wesley Slager-EMT-IV

Trent Hillis-AEMT

Jennifer Phillips-AEMT-IV

Jason Rice-EMT-IV

Scotty Jones-EMT-IV

Richard Underwood-AEMT

Edward Brooks-AEMT

Dick Kinsey-AEMT

Teena Allen-EMS Office Manager


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