Local News Articles

DCHS Project Graduation Raffle Winners Announced

April 20, 2017
Dwayne Page
Participating in the drawing Thursday were  members of the Project Graduation Committee: Kathy Bates, Elizabeth Redmon, Bailey Redmon (Elizabeth’s daughter), and Chenoa Whittaker

As a DCHS Project Graduation fundraiser, raffle tickets were sold for a Yeti Cooler, an 8 foot kayak, and a $150 gift card for fishing equipment at DeKalb Ace Hardware. The drawing was held Thursday afternoon on WJLE.

The winners are as follows:

*$150 DeKalb Ace Hardware Gift Card for fishing equipment- Keisha Payton

*8 foot kayak: Mike Bowman

*Yeti Cooler: Sean Driver

During the year, more than $33,000 was raised through various fundraisers in support of the DCHS Class of 2017 Project Graduation.

Participating in the drawing Thursday were members of the Project Graduation Committee: Kathy Bates, Elizabeth Redmon, Bailey Redmon (Elizabeth’s daughter), and Chenoa Whittaker

Two DCHS Tigerettes Sign with Union University to Play Softball

April 20, 2017
Dwayne Page
DCHS TIgerettes Lexie Bates and Myranda Bailiff signed today (Thursday) to play softball next season at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee
DCHS TIgerettes Lexie Bates and Myranda Bailiff with members of their families and coaches
DCHS TIgerettes Lexie Bates and Myranda Bailiff with their teammates

DCHS Tigerettes Lexie Bates and Myranda Bailiff have signed to play their college softball for the Lady Bulldogs of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee next season.

The two senior standouts put pen to paper Thursday afternoon at the DCHS Library. Bates and Bailiff were joined by members of their families and coaches for the occasion.

“I went up there for a visit and loved the environment, the place where the college is located, and all the girls and coaches. Overall it was somewhere where I thought would be great to spend the next four years,” Bates told WJLE.

“I chose Union mainly for the Christian environment. I know I’ll be surrounded by really great people and professors. It’s a great nursing school,” added Bailiff.

As for this season, both Lexie and Myranda are hoping to help guide the Tigerettes to another state tournament appearance. “I think we’re doing wonderful this year and I think we have a good opportunity to go to state again and maybe even win it,” said Bailiff.

“Lexie and Myranda have been very good players over the past four years,” Tigerette Coach Danny Fish told WJLE. “ As freshmen they came in as role players and started as sophomores. They have really matured over the past three years and have been a part of three consecutive state tournament runs. Lexie is our second baseman. She is a slapper and speed player. Myranda is one of our power players. She plays first base and has been a very good defensive first baseman over the last couple of years. She usually comes up with some big hits. They are playing very well for us and Union has picked up two good players. I am very happy for them. They will do well,” he said.

Located in Jackson, Tennessee, Union is a private, Christian, four-year, coeducational, liberal arts-based university offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.

Founded in 1823, Union is the oldest institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Union is a member of the Gulf South Conference affiliated at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II level

Heather Hall, head softball coach at Union University, is now in her 10th season with the Lady Bulldogs and has compiled a record of 284-194 (.594) over her career.

Upper Cumberland AAAD Participating in The Big Payback

April 20, 2017
Left to Right: Nicole Watson, AAAD Intern; Jessica Pruett, AAAD Disaster Preparedness Coordinator; Clare Farless, AAAD Family Caregiver Manager; and Whitney Jones, AAAD Intern.

The Upper Cumberland Area Agency on Aging and Disability is participating in The Big Payback, a 24-hour, online giving event created to help Middle Tennessee nonprofits raise funds vital to continuing their work and directly improving the community around them. This is the first year that the Upper Cumberland AAAD is taking part in the event.

Presented by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, this region’s dedicated day of giving begins at midnight on Wednesday, May 3 and runs for 24 hours. Once the clock starts, anyone can visit TheBigPayback.org/UCAAAD and make donations to the Upper Cumberland AAAD as well as other participating nonprofits - including schools and religious institutions - serving the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee.

Money raised for the Upper Cumberland AAAD will help provide emergency preparedness bags for seniors, caregiver respite, holiday food bags for seniors in need and unmet needs that are not covered by community resources.

The Upper Cumberland AAAD strives to enhance the quality of life for older adults and adults with disabilities across the 14-county region by connecting them to resources and services. Resources provided by Upper Cumberland AAAD such as emergency preparedness education and items for 72-hour emergency preparedness bags, food for the holidays, and respite for caregivers are solely dependent upon donated funds and volunteer hours. Additional funds will allow these services to continue and expand to serve more seniors and caregivers in need.

The Big Payback has made a tremendous impact on the Middle Tennessee community, helping raise more than $6.75 million for area organizations during the last three years of giving days.

“Nonprofits do important, life-changing work every day across Middle Tennessee,” said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. “The Big Payback has become an exciting opportunity for us to come together as a community to support their efforts and recognize the positive impact they have on our neighbors. It’s an easy, fun and a meaningful way for us to show our local pride, give back, and make an enormous impact in the process.”

About AAAD
The Area Agency on Aging and Disability(AAAD), a division of the Upper Cumberland Development District, connects older adults and adults with disabilities in the 14-county Upper Cumberland region with services and resources to improve their quality of life. Find AAAD on the web at www.ucdd.org and at facebook.com/UCDDconnect. For more information about Upper Cumberland AAAD and The Big Payback, contact Clare Farless at 931-432-4111 or cfarless@ucdd.org.

About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits, and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people who have great hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit www.cfmt.org.

Picture attached:
Left to Right: Nicole Watson, AAAD Intern; Jessica Pruett, AAAD Disaster Preparedness Coordinator; Clare Farless, AAAD Family Caregiver Manager; and Whitney Jones, AAAD Intern.

Jacob Lawson is "Classroom Champion" of the Week

April 20, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jacob Lawson
Attorney Jim Judkins, Assistant Northside Elementary Principal Beth Pafford, Christy, Jacob, and Tim Lawson, Northside Principal Karen Knowles, and WJLE’s Dwayne Page

This week’s “Classroom Champion” award goes to Northside Elementary School student Jacob Lawson.

The award was presented by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins and WJLE .

Jacob is the son of Christy and Tim Lawson of Smithville. His siblings are Isaac, Bryson, and Brayden.

A fourth grader, Lawson said he likes video games including Battlefield, as well as softball, spaghetti, and pizza. He dislikes green beans. When he grows up, Jacob said he would like to become an architect. His teacher is Sandy Willingham.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week .

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, and citizenship and character,” said Judkins.

DeKalb County Recovery Court Hosts Art Exhibit

April 19, 2017
By Marie Crosson
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, County Mayor Tim Stribling, and Recovery Court Coordinator Norene Puckett
DeKalb County Recovery Court Hosts Art Exhibit
Blake and Terra Goad
Program Coordinator Norene Puckett and Counselor Kay Quintero received Community Spotlight awards for their work with recovery court from the Smithville-DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital

More than 100 people attended the opening reception of the DeKalb County Recovery Court Art Exhibit on Wednesday, April 5. The exhibit was open April 5th through April 7th.

The art at the exhibit was produced by recovery court participants from across Tennessee and was originally shown at the annual Tennessee Association for Drug Court Professionals (TADCP) conference this past December. One of the Dekalb County Recovery Court participants, Michael Blanchfield, who also produced art for the exhibit, spoke at the reception, as well as County Mayor Tim Stribling.

Program Coordinator Norene Puckett and Counselor Kay Quintero received Community Spotlight awards for their work with recovery court from the Smithville-Dekalb Chamber of Commerce and St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital. Along with TADCP, local sponsors of the event included the Dekalb County Prevention Coalition and St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital. This event was an impressive example of local collaboration. Not only were all the sponsors on site helping to set up, providing food for volunteers and setting up the reception, but there was also a local radio station on site as well as iCUBE from Tennessee Tech University (http://ttuicube.com/). They had a station where one could participate in a simulation to experience the impact of driving under the influence of a variety of substances.

County Mayor Stribling read the following proclamation for 2017 NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month, Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery

"WHEREAS, excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year; and

WHEREAS, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United
States; and

WHEREAS, nearly 10 million young people, ages 12 to 20, report that they've consumed
alcohol in the past 30 days; and

WHEREAS, young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more
likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21; and

WHEREAS, drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, yet people aged 12 to
20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the typical American will see 100,000 beer commercials before he or she
turns 18; and

WHEREAS, kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, to be
Involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes, and to have serious school-related
problems; and

WHEREAS, a supportive family environment is associated with lowered rates of
alcohol use for adolescents; and

WHEREAS, kids who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the
dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use alcohol and drugs than
those who don’t have such conversations.

THEREFORE, I, DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling now join the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) and do hereby proclaim that April 2017 is Alcohol Awareness Month in DeKalb County, Tennessee. As the DeKalb County Mayor, I also call upon all citizens, parents, governmental agencies, public and private institutions, businesses, hospitals, schools and colleges in DeKalb
County, Tennessee to support efforts that will provide early education about alcoholism and addiction and increase support for individuals and
families coping with alcoholism. Through these efforts, together, we can provide Hope, Help and Healing for those in our community who are facing challenges with alcohol use and abuse.

May it be so decreed."

Sign Up for 4-H Summer Camp!

April 19, 2017
Leigh Fuson
Sign Up for 4-H Summer Camp!
Water Slide

Summer time is just around the corner, and school is almost over! Keep your kids busy and active over summer break by signing them up for 4-H camp. There are several options available for 4th-8th graders.

Junior camp is for anyone in 4th-6th grade and takes place at Clyde York 4-H center in Crossville. This camp will take place June 12th-16th. It features shooting sports, arts and crafts, swimming and a water slide, canoeing and kayaking, zip lining, sports and games, and much more! Cost is $300 which includes all meals, room & board, transportation, t-shirt, and activities. Registration deadline is May 23rd.

Junior High camp also takes place in Crossville, May 29th-June 2nd. It is available for 7th & 8th graders. The theme this year is “Technology Revolution” and will feature activities with robotics and drones, along with the traditional camp activities of junior camp. Cost is $290 and includes everything besides transportation. Registration deadline is May 1st.

Electric camp is open to 6th and 7th graders and takes place at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. It will be held June 27-30th. Campers learn about electricity and energy through fun, hands-on activities. They also get to visit Dollywood! Cost is $275, and includes transportation, boarding at UT, meals, and activities. Sign up by May 1st.

Experience! Taste of Culinary camp is for 6th-8th graders and will be held July 11-13th in Murfreesboro. If you love cooking and being creative in the kitchen, this camp is for you! Cost is $150 which includes hotel, meals, and activities. Transportation is not included.

“Tennessee 4-H camps are an opportunity for youth to explore their relationship with the world around them while at the same time having loads of fun. Tennessee 4-H camps allow youth to “learn by doing,” through 4-H’s experiential learning method of 'Do, Reflect, and Apply.' Youth are engaged and involved from the time they arrive to the time they depart,” said Daniel Sarver, a youth development specialist with University of Tennessee Extension.

At camp, when children make new friends, explore, and learn that "I can" is much more powerful than "I can't", magic happens. In an environment created just for them, children learn life skills, develop self-esteem, and gain a sense of independence and community. Whether children are playing, exploring nature, conquering new heights, or becoming part of a camp family, they are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

For more information and to register for camp, please stop by the UT/TSU Extension office located in County Complex or call 615-597-4945. Payment plans are available. 4-H is a proud part of UT/TSU Extension, the UT Institute of Agriculture, and the TSU Cooperative Extension Program. UT/TSU Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment through the cooperation of county, state, and federal governments. Programs are open to all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or disability.

Female Prisoner Gets Four Year Sentence for Bringing Drugs Into Jail

April 19, 2017
Dwayne Page
Natalie Gail Barrett

A female prisoner who allegedly smuggled drugs into the jail in February appeared for sentencing in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 10.

24 year old Natalie Gail Barrett of Miller Road, Smithville entered a plea by criminal information to one count of introduction of contraband into a penal institution and received a four year sentence as a range 1 offender. The sentence is to run consecutively to a violation of probation against her. She is to enter a treatment facility and her sentence will be suspended upon her completion of long term treatment.

Barrett was one of four female prisoners charged with bringing contraband into the jail after three of them were sent to the hospital Friday night, February 17 for swallowing drugs that had been smuggled into the jail. One of the two inmates hospitalized had to be airlifted. All were later returned to jail. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Barrett had on her a blue pill believed to be morphine and a white capsule pill thought to be Lyrica while in jail.

The women, who had apparently hidden the narcotics in their body cavities, consumed the drugs fearing they would be caught with them.

The cases against the others, 25 year old Trinity Krystina Wildbur of Vine Street, Chattanooga; 39 year old Amy Jeannette Lawson of Haley Road, Smithville; and 20 year old Olivia Hope Barber of Forrest Avenue, Smithville remain pending in court.

County Donates Old Ambulance to Motlow for Student Training

April 18, 2017
Dwayne Page
County Commissioner Joe Johnson, Drew Hooker, EMS Director of the Motlow State EMS Education Department, County Mayor Tim Stribling, DeKalb EMS Director Hoyte Hale, and Kristie Johnson, AEMT/EMT Coordinator for Motlow EMS Education and part time DeKalb EMS employee.

Although it has been retired from service, an older DeKalb County ambulance will continue to have a useful purpose.

The county commission last month voted to declare the ambulance as surplus and donate it to the EMS Education department of Motlow State Community College to be used for student training.

County Mayor Tim Stribling presented the keys and title of the ambulance Tuesday to Drew Hooker, EMS Director of the Motlow State EMS Education Department.

“This ambulance can assist in the type of training that we do specifically in the DeKalb and Upper Cumberland area,” said Hooker.

“It will create realistic training for students and when they come out and show up at the EMS services they will be work ready. We don’t want to train a student for a year and turn around and have to spend six or eight more weeks training. We want them to be ready when they get here so being able to put them in a real unit with real supplies will ensure that they have all the training necessary during the time they are with us. We want to provide the best education for the students and continue the relationship between the college and the EMS services along with the county governments because we need each other. We need the students and they need the employees to provide the best care for the citizens,” Hooker continued.

“We are a program that provides students that attend clinicals in DeKalb County as well as future employees to the DeKalb EMS department. Our program is one that works hard to provide work ready EMT/AEMT and paramedic students so they are ready to work once they are hired by the county services. This ambulance will allow for us to train as close to the “real life” simulations as possible. This will allow for us to broaden our training at the McMinnville classes. This unit will be used in our classes and will directly influence each student that graduates our program. We are in the process of ramping up our program in the upper Cumberland area with the hope that provides more possible employees for the DeKalb EMS service. We hope that this donation will continue the partnership of our educational facility and the DeKalb EMS service to bring greater training to the area, as well as provide more employees for DeKalb County to be able to hire,” said Hooker.

“This donation will help us with real life scenarios. One of the biggest complaints we have is students who come out not exactly knowing how to use the equipment or driving the vehicles. This gives us an opportunity to run real life scenarios. We do a twenty four hour class where the students actually run twenty four hours with the lights, sirens, load patients, etc. This gives us an edge because nobody else has a truck in the Upper Cumberland area to use for practice. This is unbelievable for us as far as being able to train and get employees. We are very thankful to have this truck,” said Kristie Johnson AEMT/EMT Coordinator for Motlow EMS Education and part time DeKalb EMS employee.

“We are proud to help the college by giving them a teaching tool which will return people back to us who are already trained to run our ambulance service. I think the cost of the old ambulance we will reap in benefits by having more and better trained employees,” said Second District County Commissioner Joe Johnson, who is a member of the county commission’s emergency services committee.

"A Crazy Little Thing Called Love" Returns

April 18, 2017
Cast of " A Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

The Cast of " A Crazy Little Thing Called Love" has not seen their final curtain call after all!

At the beginning of April Josh Issac led a new cast on a journey to share his newest musical. Josh has written and directed another hit Musical and this show focuses on LOVE. After 5 shows in four days the cast had rave reviews and the last show was an emotional one. The cast even had a cast party to watch the show and reminisce their memories over the course of the last three months. Josh Issac went to talk to The Park Theater in McMinnville and is now partnering with them to bring " A Crazy Little Thing Called Love" back to the stage for one more night.

" So many people have reached out and shared how the show touched them so much. Many have called asking if we could just do it one more time so they can see it. This is their chance. My dream has always been to take my shows to other counties so I am so excited to introduce this amazing cast to Warren county. This cast has what it takes to move forward for another great show," says Josh.

Burglar Caught After Returning to Scene of the Crime

April 18, 2017
Dwayne Page
David Matthew Hill
Sonny Roman Smith
James Cary Hicks, Jr.
Christopher Kyle Atnip
Guadencio Perez Martinez

A burglar was allegedly caught after returning to the scene of the crime the next day.

34 year old David Matthew Hill of Highland Drive, Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary (2 counts), burglary, and theft over $1,000 (2 counts). His bond is $25,000 and his court date is May 4.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_19.pdf (2.49 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, April 14 Hill allegedly broke into a residence and an outbuilding on Twilla Lane, Smithville and stole a lawnmower, a chainsaw, a weedeater, and a mini bike valued at more than $1,000. The victim discovered the break-in upon returning home and reported it to the sheriff’s department.

The following day on Saturday, April 15 Hill returned to the scene of the crime looking for his cell phone that he had lost during the burglary the day before. While there, Hill broke into the same residence again and stole property this time valued at $2,748. The victim returned home while Hill was still on the property and called the sheriff’s department. Officers responded and placed Hill under arrest.

25 year old Sonny Roman Smith of Wade Street, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. He was also cited for no insurance and simple possession or casual exchange. His bond is $3,000 and his court date is April 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 11 a deputy was dispatched to a wreck with no injury on Keltonburg Road. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Smith who admitted to having been the driver of the vehicle. A computer check revealed that Smith’s license were suspended for failure to pay fines in Lebanon Municipal Court on May 17, 2015. Smith said he had no insurance and he had in his possession 3.0 grams of marijuana.

37 year old James Cary Hicks, Jr. of Clear Fork Road, Liberty was charged with criminal impersonation on Tuesday, April 11 after giving officers a fake name while being booked into the jail on a driving offense. According to Sheriff Ray, Hicks told the correctional officer several times that his name was Mike Hicks. After the officers discovered his real name was James Cary Hicks, Jr. he was charged with criminal impersonation.

23 year old Christopher Kyle Atnip of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is April 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, April 13 deputies responded to a residence on Pine Orchard Road due to an assault. Upon arrival the officers spoke with witnesses who said that Atnip assaulted another man after the two of them became involved in a verbal altercation. Atnip allegedly punched the man repeatedly until he was incapacitated. The victim was transported to the hospital by EMS with injuries to his face and head. Atnip and the victim had lived together previously on E.H. Haas Road during the spring and fall of 2015.

30 year old Guadencio Perez Martinez of Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is May 4. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 15 a deputy noticed a white SUV bright lighting him three times as it approached from Herman Road. The officer conducted a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Martinez. The deputy also spotted a bottle of beer in the center console and an empty alcohol bottle in the floor board on the passenger side. Martinez’s eyes were bloodshot and he had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Martinez was unsteady on his feet and he submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks.


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