Local News Articles

Local Student Attends National Leadership Forum

August 12, 2014
Lydia D. Trail

A senior at DCHS, 16 year old Lydia D. Trail, attended Harding University's 58th annual National Leadership Forum in Searcy, Arkansas on June 1-6. Lydia was sponsored by DeKalb County Farm Bureau as a delegate to the Forum, which is presented by Harding University's American Studies Institute.

Area Farm Bureaus and civic clubs selected the delegates, who were instructed in the values and qualities of leadership and learned how our country has developed its leaders.

Young people attending the Forum were taught about comparative economic systems and ways to defend our society and its freedoms. They heard presentations by such leaders as Dean Sikes, Spirit of American Foundation, who addressed "Discover Your Destiny", John Foppe, motivational speaker who spoke on "Life is an Attitude", Andrew Baker spoke on "Social Media for Social Good", and Pat Socia, who encouraged the delegates to be leaders in sexual morality.

More than 220 young people from five states attended this year's National Leadership Forum. Harding University, with an enrollment of over 7,000, is the largest private university in Arkansas. Trail is the daughter of Heidi Trail and the granddaughter of George and Linda Tripp of Liberty.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests for Assaults and DUI

August 12, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Johnny Lynn Devault
Michael Dwight Foutch
Ariane Ruth Lorance

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made arrests in two assault cases and a DUI within the last week.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 31 year old Johnny Lynn Devault of Talpha Drive, Dowelltown is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 14. He was arrested on Wednesday, August 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, July 4 an officer was called to Devault's residence in response to a physical altercation in progress. Upon arrival, the deputy spoke with a woman who said she had been assaulted by her boyfriend, Devault. He allegedly strangled the woman, grabbing her by the throat and the back of the neck, and squeezing her face. The assault resulted in the woman having physical marks on parts of her body. After the assault, Devault left the scene prior to the officer's arrival.

42 year old Michael Dwight Foutch of College Street, Liberty is charged domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court August 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 9 a deputy was dispatched to the emergency room of DeKalb Community Hospital in response to an assault which occurred at a local residence. After the assault, the victim was taken to the hospital. Upon arrival, the complainant reported that during an argument Foutch slapped him in the face, punched him, and then placed him in a choke hold. The victim was treated at the hospital for a busted lip, scratches to his neck and back, and injuries to his wrist.

35 year old Ariane Ruth Lorance of Nashville Highway, Dowelltown is charged with driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license. She was further issued citations for Roadways Laned for Traffic, Violation of the Implied Consent Law, Violation of the Financial Responsibility Law (No Insurance), Violation of the Open Container Law, and Simple Possession of a Schedule III drug. Her bond is $3,000 and she will be in court September 4. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 10 a deputy was behind a red Ford Ranger traveling west on Nashville Highway and observed the vehicle cross over the white line multiple times, go off the right side of the highway, and then come back across the road and over the yellow lines into the opposite lane of traffic. The officer pulled over the truck and spoke with the driver, Lorance. She had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person and she was unsteady on her feet. Lorance submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Her license was found to be suspended for failing to satisfy a citation in Davidson County. Inside the vehicle was an open container of beer and suboxone strips.

American Red Cross Battle of the Badges Begins

August 12, 2014

The American Red Cross Battle of the Badges is coming to Smithville. Where local law enforcement will “battle” it out with local firefighters and EMS to see who can recruit the most people in their community to donate blood.

The Battle of the Badges blood drive is a friendly competition to encourage community members to join local heroes and perform a heroic duty of their own. All presenting donors at the blood drive will get to cast their vote to help decide the winner of this year’s competition.

“EMS, fire and law enforcement know first-hand how important it is to have blood readily available during emergencies,” said Tim Ryerson, CEO of River Valley & Tennessee Valley Regional Blood Services. “This is their chance to join forces and partner with the Red Cross to encourage the community to take on the civic responsibility of blood donation.”

Join the Battle of the Badges and donate September 9 from 1:30 pm – 6:30 pm at Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Your votes are needed to help determine the winner of this year’s battle; so, mark your calendar! The winner of the battle will earn bragging rights.

Schedule an appointment to donate at the Battle of the Badges blood drive today. Visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code Smithville19 or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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Reports of Sex and Drug Offenders Having Worked for GCA Services Group Raises Concerns

August 11, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
W.J. (Dub) Evins, III

As the DeKalb County Board of Education ponders whether or not to outsource its school custodial work to GCA Services Group, reports of sex and drug offenders having worked for GCA in other counties has given rise to some concerns.

The school board does not have the contract issue on Thursday night's agenda for the regular monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. but a workshop is set for Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. to discuss GCA Services and other matters.

Fifth district school board member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III told WJLE he already had reservations about the local school system contracting with GCA but the revelations about some of their past employees deeply troubles him. " My initial concern was my perception that we were not properly thinking of our employees and rushing into an issue that needed time to evaluate. After enabling ourselves more time, there appears to be too many issues with GCA that have emerged and appear to be quite serious and troubling," said Evins.

Published reports available on the Internet reveal several incidents in recent months and years where custodians who worked for GCA Services at the time had run afoul with the law or had criminal records.

In January, a janitor who worked for GCA Services Group at a Williamson County elementary school was arrested for allegedly hiding in the ceiling and peeping on young girls in the bathroom. 48 year old Victor Alvarado was found at Scales Elementary School hiding in the crawlspace above the ceiling in the girl's restroom. Investigators reportedly also found misplaced ceiling tiles in other female restrooms throughout the building, including a faculty restroom. Alvarado was charged with observation without consent. He received a six-count indictment from the Williamson County grand jury in March.

After Alvarado's arrest, GCA released a statement to the Nashville media reading, "All proper background checks were conducted and documentation was in place. Upon learning of the incident at Scales Elementary, GCA Education Services immediately terminated Mr. Alvarado. GCA is fully supporting law enforcement and school officials to resolve this matter."

Four years ago, Danny J. Hawkins, 20 years old at the time, was indicted by a Putnam County Grand Jury after being accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl but apparently not on school property. After being indicted, officials said he was taken into custody without incident at Northeast Elementary School in Cookeville, where he had been employed by GCA Services Group, the contractor who does janitorial work there.

In January 2011, a woman suspected of being in the country illegally and working as a janitor for GCA Services at a Maury County middle school was extradited to Texas after she was charged with being a fugitive from justice. According to a WKRN news report at the time, the woman was facing a probation violation in Texas stemming from a felony drug arrest.

A janitor at Cookeville High School was arrested in March 2009 for allegedly selling drugs to an undercover police officer but apparently not on school property. Putnam County authorities said Walter Savage sold crack cocaine to the undercover officer. Savage was employed by GCA Services, hired to clean the schools in the county.

In a phone interview with WJLE Monday, Craig Colquitt, Senior Sales Director for GCA said the company conducts thorough background checks on new employees and gives due process to any custodian accused of improper conduct. "Our first approach in hiring is to do a background check and fingerprinting before they are employed. Our company has a long list, that is actually more aggressive than the school system's, on who we will and won't hire. Anything can change after somebody is hired. People are people. But before they walk in the door employed for us we'll know if they are wanted or shouldn't be in the building period. If there is an offense (by an employee) they are immediately removed from the building and then we go through the process. It's pretty thorough. What we find won't be hearsay. It's not guilty until proven innocent but we go through the steps to not only protect their rights but also the rights of the public education system," Colquitt told WJLE.

Representatives of GCA Services Group have made a proposal to contract with the DeKalb County School system to provide system wide custodial services for $400,000 for the first year with annual renewal options for at least up to five years, a move that is intended to save the district money.

Evins told WJLE he has doubts about the cost savings to the school system in the long run by contracting with GCA. "The financial savings is something I have not been able to justify. If it costs us $400,000, it will also cost GCA the same, unless they cut wages or positions. That is simple math," he said.

During last month's regular meeting of the school board, Sixth District member Doug Stephens asked how GCA could save the school system money. "What you presented is very impressive but how can we either be so bad or you so good that you can save us $50,000 a year," he asked?

"Purchasing power. All equipment, training and consumables are provided by us and we're getting our equipment and consumables at a much lower rate than you can. All those costs to you, we'll absorb including insurance, benefits, and workman's comp," said Josh Helton, Senior Regional Manager. We keep our workman's comp costs down with proper training, equipment, education, and supplies they (custodians) need, " added Adam Miles, Sales Director.

Part of the savings on equipment is coming from the fact that we're buying the equipment full price but we're negotiating that. We're getting a better price than you do. You'll buy it at full cash price. We'll depreciate that over five years. If we don't maintain the contract for five years we're out. So it behooves us to keep it for five years because we've bought new equipment and depreciated it over that period of time. That's part of the savings. With 36,000 employees, we can negotiate on any kind of supply with our buying power," said Colquitt.

According to GCA officials, all current custodial staff working for the school system, recommended by the principals would be hired by GCA and be subject to the same background checks as new employees. However according to a WKRN news report in 2011 the Maury County School Board voted to outsource school cleaning to GCA in May of that year, a move which resulted in nearly 70 custodians, many of whom had worked for the school system for decades, losing their jobs with the district. When asked about that WKRN report, Colquitt suggested it was misleading. "The way they stated that, it tells me the reporter didn't understand that the employees were no longer employed by the district but became employees of GCA", Colquitt told WJLE.

During the July school board meeting, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said he had contacted several school systems where GCA works and all had given him a good report. "I have not found anybody that had anything negative to say. The quality of work they do that I have heard about and looked at is extremely good," he said.

Director Willoughby told WJLE Monday that while the final decision to contract with GCA rests with the school board members, it was his decision to present this proposal to them. "After checking with three other school systems in this area and learning they (GCA) did a good service for them and also realizing we had a chance to save $60,000 which would help us with our always tight budget, I decided to bring this proposal to the board's attention," said Willoughby.

"As for the issue of past GCA employees, I can say that GCA does conduct background checks on people before hiring them. While I don't condone having criminal types around our children, I do believe GCA does everything it can to prevent that. But like any organization of GCA's size, there are bound to be a few bad apples. I do commend GCA for taking appropriate actions to deal with those issues when they arose. Further, I hope this would not be a concern here because GCA has agreed to hire all our existing staff recommended by principals at the same rate of pay," said Director Willoughby.

Meanwhile on another issue, questions have arisen as to why GCA equipment has already been in the school system when no contract with the company has yet been approved to provide services. " We were looking to replace two pieces of our own equipment that had broken down, a square scrubber and a squeegee machine. Instead of purchasing new equipment to replace them I asked GCA to let us borrow two pieces of their equipment pending approval of the proposed contract, thinking that should the board contract with GCA, we would not have to buy any new equipment and GCA would provide all the equipment themselves," Director Willoughby told WJLE.

According to its website, GCA Services Group, Inc. is a leading national provider of quality facility services, including janitorial/custodial services, contamination control for cleanroom manufacturing, facilities operations and maintenance, grounds management, in-sourced production staffing and labor management, diversified staffing, and more.

With over 36,000 employees in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, GCA serves a variety of sectors, including K-12 schools, higher education, manufacturing, corporate office buildings, and others. GCA’s management team is recognized as one of the strongest and most experienced in the industry.

Cantrell Airlifted After Sunday Accident

August 11, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jeep Cherokee pulled over on Jennings Lane (Photo by Ken Underhill)
DeKalb EMS and Smithville Fire Department on Jennings Lane (Photo by Ken Underhill)
Life Force helicopter lands by Jennings Lane (Photo by Ken Underhill)

A 55 year old Smithville man was airlifted by Life Force Sunday after apparently being involved in an accident with his vehicle.

Tim Cantrell was driving a 2003 Jeep Cherokee when he was pulled over on Jennings Lane by Constable Mark Milam.

Cantrell is believed to have wrecked his vehicle in the Jefferson community and drove away from the scene. No other automobile was involved. Central dispatch was notified of a possible reckless driver on Jefferson Road and officers were alerted to watch for the vehicle.

Constable Milam spotted the automobile at Highway 56 south and Vaughn Lane. He got behind it on South Congress Boulevard to make a traffic stop. Milam followed until the vehicle turned onto Jennings Lane and pulled over. Smithville Police also arrived on the scene.

The Jeep Cherokee had damage to the driver side door area. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication team were called to the scene to pop open the driver side door.

Cantrell was treated by DeKalb EMS and a Life Force helicopter ambulance landed in a field by the road to airlift Cantrell.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the accident.

Flickling Unseats Brady for District Public Defender

August 9, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Craig Fickling
Bryant Dunaway
Jonathan Young
Gary McKenzie

Two new judges, a new district attorney general, and a new public defender will take office September 1 in the seven county 13th Judicial District which includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties. Three incumbent judges will return to the bench.

Republican Craig Flickling defeated Democratic incumbent District Public Defender David Brady on Thursday. District-wide, Fickling won 24,726 to 14,612. Fickling carried DeKalb County 1,706 to 1,501. Brady has served in the office since it was established in the late 1980's.

The new district attorney general will be Republican Bryant Dunaway who defeated Democrat Tony Craighead district-wide 26,438 to 15,034. In DeKalb County Dunaway won 1,778 to 1,710. Dunaway will succeed Randall York, who chose not to seek re-election this year. York instead ran unsuccessfully for Circuit Court Judge, Part II.

In the race for Circuit Court Judge, Part II, York , a Democrat, lost to Republican Jonathan Young. District-wide, Young defeated York 22,287 to 19,548. In DeKalb County Young edged out York, 1,706 to 1,703. Young will succeed retiring Democratic Judge John Maddux, who has served since 1984.

Meanwhile, Republican Gary McKenzie won the race for Criminal Court Judge, Part I, beating his Democratic opponent William Fred Roberson, Jr. District-wide, McKenzie won 27,176 to 13,086. McKenzie carried DeKalb County 1,937 to 1,198. McKenzie will succeed retiring Democratic Judge Leon Burns, Jr. who has served on the bench since 1975.

Democratic Incumbent Chancellor Ronald Thurman won re-election defeating Republican J. Lee Burgess. District-wide, Thurman received 21,938 votes. Burgess had 18,994. In DeKalb County Thurman won 1,792 to 1,555.

Two Incumbent Judges won re-election without opposition. Republican Criminal Court Judge Part II, David A. Patterson received 32,369 votes district-wide and 2,469 in DeKalb County. Democratic Circuit Court Judge Part I Amy Hollars got 26,049 votes district-wide and 2,231 in DeKalb County.

State Senator Mae Beavers Wins Primary

August 9, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Senator Mae Beavers

State Senator Mae Beavers won her battle against challenger Clark Boyd in Thursday's Tennessee Republican Primary.

District-wide, Senator Beavers received 16,164 votes to 11,100 for Boyd. She carried DeKalb County, winning 1,344 (70.48%) to 563 (29.52%).

Senator Beavers will be unopposed in the November Tennessee General Election. In addition to DeKalb County, Senator Beavers serves Wilson, Cannon, Smith, Macon, and Clay Counties.

Meanwhile, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver of the 40th district and Representative Mark Pody of the 46th district were unopposed in their state GOP primaries Thursday. In DeKalb County Weaver received 1,322 votes. Pody got 337 votes. District-wide, Representative Weaver polled 7,745 votes. Pody received 7,543 votes.

In the state Democratic Primary, Sarah Marie Smith garnered 713 votes in DeKalb County while Candace Reed had 345 votes. Smith was unopposed Thursday and will be running against Representative Weaver in the November Tennessee General Election. Reed was also unopposed in her primary Thursday and will face Representative Pody in November. District-wide, Smith garnered 3,560 votes while Reed had 2,487 votes.

Representative Weaver's District includes most of DeKalb County, all of Smith and Trousdale Counties and a portion of Sumner County.

The 46th district, represented by Pody, includes a portion of DeKalb County, all of Cannon County, and a portion of Wilson County

County Commission to Have Six New Members

August 8, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

The county commission will have six new members come September 1 as a result of Thursday's elections. Seven incumbent commissioners will be returning and a former member will be rejoining the commission. Meanwhile, three persons were elected to fill vacant constable positions.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW ELECTION BOXES OF LOCAL RACES BY PRECINCT)

http://www.wjle.com/results/

In the fifth district Democratic Incumbent Rick Cantrell lost a bid for his first full term on the county commission Thursday, falling to Democrat Anita Puckett and Incumbent Republican Jerry D. Adcock. Cantrell was appointed several months ago to fill the unexpired term of John Green, who had resigned. Adcock led the race with 364 votes (37.72%). Puckett was next with 354 votes (36.68%) and Cantrell had 247 votes (25.60%).

First district voters returned Incumbents Mason Carter and Elmer Ellis, Jr. to the commission. Carter, a Republican, had 386 votes (50%) to 253 (32.77%) for Ellis, a Democrat. A third candidate, Democrat Bennett H. Armstrong received 128 votes.

The second district will have two new members, James (Jimmy) E. Midgett, an Independent and Joe N. Johnson, a Democrat. Midgett led with 277 votes (28.47%) and 252 (25.90%) for Johnson. A third candidate, Clarence Trapp, a Democrat received 220 votes (22.61%) and Republican Incumbent, Bobby Joines, who had earlier withdrawn from the race due to an illness, garnered 224 votes (23.02%).

In the third district, Democrat Jack E. Barton will return to the commission. He formerly served in the second district but had to resign that position after he moved to the third district. In the race Thursday, Barton got 347 votes (40.21%). Democratic Incumbent Bradley Scott Hendrix was re-elected with 300 votes (34.76%). Independent candidate Wesley Nokes was unsuccessful with 215 votes (24.91%).

Democratic Incumbent Jeff Barnes was re-elected in the sixth district along with Betty Jean Atnip, also a Democrat. Independent candidate Danny McGinnis was unsuccessful. Both Atnip and Barnes each received 337 votes (37.82%) while McGinnis had 217 votes (24.35%).

In the fourth district Democratic Incumbent Wayne Cantrell was re-elected along with Democrat Jonathon Norris. They ran unopposed. Cantrell received 476 votes while Norris had 373.

Democrat Larry Summers won re-election in the seventh district. Democrat Kevin Robinson also won. Both were unopposed. Summers got 290 votes and Robinson had 280.

In those constable races. Democrat Chad Curtis defeated Republican Lee Plummer in the first district. Curtis received 287 votes (58.81%) to 199 (40.78%) for Plummer.

Republican Chris Tramel won the constable seat in the second district beating Independent challengers Tony D. Lawson and Jonathan Low. Tramel received 345 votes (62.73%). Lawson had 159 votes (28.91%) and Low got 46 votes (8.36%)

In the third district, Travis Bryant defeated Lou Ann Sanders for constable. Bryant garnered 301 votes (68.10%) to 139 votes (31.45%) for Sanders. Both ran as Independents.

Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss Re-elected

August 8, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mayor Jimmy Poss
Alderman Jason Judd Murphy
Alderman-elect Gayla Hendrix

Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss was re-elected to a second term Thursday in the Municipal Election. Poss defeated challenger Wallace Caldwell 583 votes (59.98%) to 388 (39.92%).

Poss won three of the four precincts and had more early votes/absentees than Caldwell. The results are as follows: Early votes/absentees: Poss 417, Caldwell 276. Church of Christ Annex: Poss 91, Caldwell 58. Courthouse: Poss 12, Caldwell 6. County Complex: Caldwell 9, Poss 5. Church of God: Poss 58, Caldwell 39.

Meanwhile Jason Judd Murphy was re-elected to a second term as alderman and Gayla Hendrix, a former alderman, was elected to the city council again. She will replace Tim Stribling, whose term as alderman is expiring.

Murphy received 605 votes. Hendrix had 584 votes. Both were unopposed.

Mayor Poss and Aldermen Murphy and Hendrix will each serve a four year term.

The other aldermen are Danny Washer, Shawn Jacobs, and Josh Miller.

Meanwhile, Dowelltown voters returned three aldermen to office Thursday in the municipal election there. Brad Driver received 80 votes, Keith Farler 66, and Ron Griffith 65. All three ran unopposed.

Three Incumbent School Board members Swept out of Office

August 7, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jerry Wayne Johnson
Jim Beshearse
Emitt Shaun Tubbs
Danny Parkerson
Billy Miller

Three of the incumbent school board members lost their bids for new terms in the election Thursday.

In the second district, Jerry Wayne Johnson defeated Incumbent Charles Robinson 345 votes (54.94%) to 283 votes (45.06%). Johnson led in early votes/absentees 152 to 97 and he carried Dowelltown 69 to 57 and Snow Hill 63 to 51. Robinson carried Liberty 78 to 61

Third district Incumbent Kenny Rhody lost to James W. (Jim) Beshearse, II 273 (43.20%) to 205 votes (32.44%). A third candidate in the race, Johnathon Willoughby received 153 votes (24.21%) Beshearse had more early votes/absentees than his opponents and he carried the Church of God precinct. The results are as follows: Early votes absentees: Beshearse 198, Rhody 141, Willoughby 105. Church of God precinct: Beshearse 75, Rhody 64, and Willoughby 48.

In the Seventh District, Emitt Shaun Tubbs easily unseated Incumbent Johnny Lattimore 293 (59.19%) to 108 (21.82%). Brandon Joe Cox came in third place with 94 votes (18.99%) Tubbs had more absentees/early votes than his opponents and he won the Church of Christ Annex precinct. The results are as follows: Early votes/absentees: Tubbs 176, Lattimore 68, Cox 50. Church of Christ Annex: Tubbs 117, Cox 44, Lattimore 40.

Meanwhile, Robert D. (Danny) Parkerson, Jr. will be succeeding Incumbent John David Foutch as a member of the school board from the first district. Parkerson defeated Matthew Boss 351 votes (65.98%) to 181 votes (34.02%). Foutch chose not to seek another term. Parkerson carried all three precincts and had more early votes/absentees than Boss. The results are as follows: Early votes/absentees: Parkerson 109, Boss 51. Alexandria: Parkerson 191, Boss 94. Edgar Evins State Park: Parkerson 9, Boss 6; and Temperance Hall: Parkerson 42, Boss 30

In the fourth district, Incumbent Billy Miller was re-elected to a second term on the school board without opposition. Miller received 596 votes.

The new school board will be made up of Danny Parkerson in the first district, Jerry Wayne Johnson in the second district, Jim Beshearse in the third district, Billy Miller in the fourth district, W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the fifth district, Doug Stephens in the sixth district, and Emitt Shaun Tubbs in the seventh district.

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