Local News Articles

Parents Plea to Child Abuse and Neglect

April 13, 2017
Dwayne Page
Donnie Ray Gillman
Christina Dawn Mooneyham

The parents of a 25 month old youngster who were charged with child abuse and neglect in November after testing positive for meth while caring for their toddler appeared in criminal court Monday, April 10.

36 year old Donnie Ray Gillman and 39 year old Christina Dawn Mooneyham each entered a plea by criminal information to child abuse and neglect. Gillman received a sentence of two years all suspended to probation. He must comply with DCS/ treatment. Mooneyham will be on judicial diversion and supervised probation for two years. She must continue treatment and abide by DCS requirements.

Smithville Police took a report from a case worker of the Department of Children Services on Monday, November 28, 2016 who said she had received a referral alleging that Gillman and Mooneyham had been abusing methamphetamine. During an investigation by DCS Gillman and Mooneyham tested positive for methamphetamine during a urine drug screen and both admitted to having used drugs in the home while caring for their child. A hair follicle on the child also tested positive for methamphetamine. The toddler was placed in a foster home on Wednesday, November 9.

"Generation Found" to be Presented Friday Night in Smithville

April 12, 2017

Come watch "Generation Found" from the creators of the amazing documentary Anonymous People at the DeKalb County Complex at 712 South Congress Boulevard Smithville on Friday, April 14 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

There will also be a live performance by Matt Butler! Check it out!!! A great chance to learn more about addiction and how you can help!

Join a group who are passionate about the upcoming documentary and discussion about addiction and the incredible communities developing in the U.S. to provide vital support for young people in recovery. Check out this exciting film trailer here:http://generationfoundfilm.com .


About the film: From the creators of the groundbreaking film, THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE, comes GENERATION FOUND, a powerful story about one community coming together to ignite a youth addiction recovery revolution in their hometown. Devastated by an epidemic of addiction, Houston faced the reality of burying and locking up its young people at an alarming rate. And so in one of the largest cities in America, visionary counselors, law school dropouts, aspiring rock musicians, retired football players, oil industry executives, and church leaders came together to build the world’s largest peer-driven youth and family recovery community.

Independently filmed over the course of two years, GENERATION FOUND takes an unprecedented and intimate look at how a system of treatment centers, sober high schools, alternative peer groups, and collegiate recovery programs can exist in concert to intervene early and provide a real and tested long-term alternative to the “War on Drugs.” It is not only a deeply personal story, but one with real-world utility for communities struggling with addiction worldwide.

Liberty Mayor and Aldermen Seek to Change Election Cycle

April 12, 2017
Dwayne Page

The Liberty Mayor and Aldermen are seeking state legislative action to amend the city charter changing the timing of municipal elections so that all seats are filled in the same election every four years and authorizing the mayor and aldermen to receive pay for attending monthly city board meetings.

Under legislation by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, the next municipal election in Liberty would be on the first Thursday in August 2018, and every four (4) years thereafter, to fill the office of mayor and five (5) aldermen.

Under the existing charter, Liberty elects its city officials in a four year cycle but in back to back years. For example, three aldermen were elected in 2016 and this year (2017) a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected. Without a change the cycle would be repeated in the years 2020 and 2021.

In order to get all future city elections on a four year cycle, the Liberty mayor and aldermen want to reschedule this year’s city election to August, 2018 to coincide with the county general election.

Under the proposed city charter amendment, the mayor and aldermen so elected in August, 2018 shall hold their respective offices for a term of four (4) years and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. In order to have the elections for the board of mayor and aldermen coincide, the terms of the mayor and two (2) aldermen who were elected in the election held in August 2013 shall be extended for one (1) year to August 2018.

The board of mayor and aldermen, after each of their respective elections, shall take office on or before the first succeeding Monday night, at which time the board shall meet, organize, and begin the discharge of its duties.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen also want the power to authorize a payment to the mayor and each alderman for their attendance at meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Such payment shall not exceed forty-five dollars ($45.00), may not be paid to the mayor or to an alderman more often than once a month, and is conditioned on the mayor and alderman's attendance at the regular monthly board meeting.

If the Board votes to authorize payment to the mayor and aldermen, such payment shall not take effect until after the next regular election after such authorization vote has occurred.

If adopted by the state legislature, the city charter amendments must be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the legislative body of the Town of Liberty.

Jobs4TN Hiring Event Coming to DeKalb County

April 12, 2017
Jobs4TN Hiring Event Coming to DeKalb County
Mobile Career Coach

DeKalb County Government and Justin Potter Library will be teaming with The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to bring the Jobs4TN Hiring Event to DeKalb County.

This free employment services event will take place on Wednesday, April 26th from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm in the mobile Career Coach that will be located in the parking lot of the DeKalb County Complex at 712 South Congress Blvd in Smithville.

The Career Coach staff will be able to assist individuals in registering on the Jobs4TN job site, show them how to navigate the site of 90,000 plus jobs, create and post resumes, and search for jobs. They will give you tips on interview skills and assist you in connecting with other services if needed. No appointment necessary, just come by and check out the services they have to offer those seeking a job. For additional information contact Justin Potter Library at 615-597-4359.

Whitney Brelje Named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year"

April 12, 2017
Dwayne Page
Whitney Brelje
Whitney Brelje named DeKalb County Teacher of the Year and receives the John Isabell Memorial Award, school bell, and a check for $150 presented by Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank, a sponsor of the banquet along with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and Lori Isabell (left)
Teachers of the Year at the school level: Todd Cantrell at DeKalb County High School, Jenny Elrod at DeKalb Middle School,  Whitney Brelje at Smithville Elementary School, and Jessica Hale at Northside Elementary School. Jeanna Caplinger of DeKalb West School was unable to attend
Local Attorney Sarah Cripps spoke at Teacher of the Year Banquet Tuesday night. Pictured with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

A first grade teacher at Smithville Elementary School was named " DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" and received the "John Isabell Memorial Award" Tuesday night during the tenth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The award and a check for $150 was presented to Whitney Brelje by Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank, a sponsor of the banquet, along with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and Lori Isabell, whose husband John for whom the award is named, passed away in 2014. John Isabell was a long time educator and former President of the DeKalb County Education Association

Brelje, who is in her fourth year as a teacher, was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Jessica Hale at Northside Elementary School; Jeanna Caplinger at DeKalb West School; Jenny Elrod at DeKalb Middle School; and Todd Cantrell at DeKalb County High School. Caplinger was unable to attend.

Hale teaches second grade. She is in her 10th year.

Caplinger is in her 23rd year. She teaches Math and Science for the 5th grade.

Elrod is in her 10th year of teaching Reading/Language Arts

Cantrell teaches Career Technical Principals of Machining I and II and Manufacturing. This is his 8th year in the classroom.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career; and to encourage public involvement in education.

Administrators introduced the Teachers of the Year at their schools, remarked on how they deserved the honor, and presented them with a school bell award.

Local attorney Sarah Cripps served as guest speaker for the banquet.

School board members attending were Doug Stephens, Danny Parkerson, and Jerry Wayne Johnson.

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital Undergoes Complete Renovation of its Emergency Department

April 11, 2017
Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital Undergoes Complete Renovation of its Emergency Department
Ribbon Cutting for Newly Renovated Emergency Department
Newly Renovated Emergency Rooms

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville, Tennessee has completed its renovation of the hospital’s Emergency Department. The construction, which began in early March 2017, is now in full operation (see pictures below).

“The purpose of the renovation is to upgrade and modernize the Emergency Department and to add features, such as a security room, which will help us be more efficient in delivering care to the community,” said Bob Burritt, Interim Director of Clinical Operations. “The Emergency Department is a main front door to the hospital.” Burritt said the investment is part of Saint Thomas Health’s commitment across the system to providing the best facilities for the region’s healthcare. Saint Thomas Health is a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system.

The Emergency Department area is completely rebuilt, including a waiting room, the reception area, each individual treatment room and the nurses’ stations, including new flooring, new counters and painting.

Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital serves DeKalb County, Smithville and the surrounding region, and cares for an average of 30 patients every day in its Emergency Department.

In Tennessee, Ascension’s Saint Thomas Health operates nine hospitals in addition to a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities that cover a 68-county area and employ more than 8,000 associates. Across the state, Saint Thomas Health provided more than $78 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2016. Serving Tennessee for 15 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Visit www.sthealth.com.

Owens Charged with Vehicular Assault and DUI After Saturday Night Crash

April 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
Terry W. Owens

A man believed to be responsible for a serious injury traffic crash Saturday night has been charged with vehicular assault. The accident occurred at the intersection of Highway 70 and Evins Mill Road.

62 year old Terry W. Owens of Smith Road, Smithville is also charged with driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, and he has been cited for failure to exercise due care, no insurance, and failure to yield.

Trooper Brent Collier of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Owens, driving a 1997 Chevy, pulled from Evins Mill Road onto highway 70 into the path of a 2014 Kia Serento, driven by 46 year old Michael Adkins of Crossville who was traveling east on highway 70. 38 year old Tosha Adkins was a passenger. 38 year old Rebecca Pelfrey was a passenger with Owens.

According to the complaint, “Mr. Owens smelled of alcohol and admitted to drinking on this day (Saturday). He was given standardized field sobriety tests at which he performed poorly. Mr. Owens refused to give blood multiple times even after being told about the implied consent law”.

Adkins was not hurt but Ms Adkins was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital where she was treated and released. Owens and Pelfrey were taken to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital by DeKalb EMS where they were treated. Pelfrey was released by Owens was taken into custody.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department were also on the scene.

DUD Asked to Reconsider Decision Against Fluoridation

April 11, 2017
Dwayne Page
DUD Board of Commissioners
Beth Pafford
Dr. Mitch Tatum, DDS
Dr. Steven Cooper

A decision by the DeKalb Utility District to not add fluoride to its consumer water supply when the new plant opens is causing concern among some.

During the regular monthly meeting last Thursday, Beth Pafford, assistant principal at Northside Elementary School, Dr. Mitch Tatum, a local dentist, and Dr. Steven Cooper addressed the DUD Board of Commissioners asking them to reconsider their decision in the interest of the public’s dental health.

“I am here as a resident and educator in this community because I am very concerned about the decision to not include fluoridation water in with the new water treatment plant and asking that you reverse course and vote to change that decision for the health and well being of our citizens,” said Pafford.

“I brought with me a note signed by local physicians in support of water fluoridation. I also have some information from various sources regarding the benefits of water fluoridation. It is supported as a safe and effective way to prevent cavities and promote dental health by the U.S. Surgeon General, the CDC, the AMA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ADA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the EPA as well as the Tennessee Department of Health,” said Pafford.

The DUD’s decision not to fluoridate the water was based on several factors including the costs, the potential chemical hazards, and that fluoride is already in most drinking water sources as well as toothpaste and mouthwash. Before the decision was made, notices were sent, as required by law, to customers with their monthly bills making them aware of the DUD’s intentions. According to DUD Manager Jon Foutch, only four customers expressed an opinion and all were opposed to fluoridation of their water supply.

Pafford said four responses out of thousands of DUD customers is not a valid survey result and questioned whether most customers were even aware of this decision.

Dr. Tatum asked why the board chose to go against the recommendation of health department officials when they recently addressed the DUD commissioners in favor of water fluoridation.

“You went against the health department when they came to you,” he said.

“They made a very nice presentation. We listened to it and did our own research. We had to come to a decision,” answered DUD Board Chairman Roger Turney.

“Where do you have the expertise to do research on fluoridation? This is all research that is 70 years in the process and for you to say we have done our own research. That doesn’t fly,” said Dr. Tatum.

“A lot of that research you are reporting goes back to a period of time when fluoride was not in toothpaste or mouthwash. But that has changed. Isn’t there evidence that there are extreme hazards if you get too much fluoride?. That’s part of our consideration,” replied Turney.

“But if you have trained people and you are doing your job, you should be able to do that. There are systems in place that made that very safe if you do the training,” answered Dr. Tatum.

Pafford said she is concerned that the dental health of the community, especially children, will suffer without fluoridated water. “The American Dental Association says 51 million school hours are lost per year in this country due to dental related illnesses. I called the health department and we do not have dental services through our health department in this county. Not fluoridating the water disproportionally affects the poor and children in our community. All water contains some fluoride but most of it is not at levels high enough to help prevent tooth decay and cavities so that is why for over 70 years communities have added fluoride to the water to benefit the health of their residents and people that drink the water. And even though we have fluoride in tooth paste and mouth wash now they still say fluoride in the water system makes a difference in the oral health of people. It is my plea that you reconsider that decision. Its an opportunity for us to make a statement as a community about what we value here and the health of all of our residents is very important. Water fluoridation is a simple way to do that,” she said.

Turney said while the DUD has decided not to fluoridate the water supply for now, the new DUD plant has the capacity to add fluoride if the decision is ever changed. “The majority of what you presented to us was presented to us by the health department. We will be more than happy to look at what you presented. The plant is built so that we can fluoridate in the future if we decide to do so but at this particular time we have decided not to start with it. The process can be changed. We did a lot of study to consider whether to or not to do it. I personally did a lot of research and the vast majority of new plants that are going on line throughout the nation are not fluoridating and a lot of the ones that did are starting to stop, not all. There are a lot of facts out there now that support both ways,” he said.

“All the communities around here have fluoride in their water. I checked. The overwhelming evidence supports the benefits of water fluoridation. I am very concerned. We already have attendance problems at school and when we have students not coming in or coming in and beginning to complain in a few years with toothaches then that is going to add to the reasons why they are not in school,” said Pafford.

“I was involved in education for 44 years and most of that time I was involved in a school that did not have fluoride in the water. It was well water. I don’t know of a single solitary time that we had attendance problems because of cavities,” responded Turney.

“I have had many students come in years past with toothaches and I would have to send them to a nurse. There’s not a whole lot a nurse can do about a toothache. Its just anecdotal evidence. Teachers will tell you they have noticed a difference in the number of students complaining with toothaches,” said Pafford.

“I believe fluoridation is a good thing. We went through a period in the city where water was not fluoridated for a while and I did notice within a couple of years that there were more kids coming in with cavities. It takes two to three years to see that effect, a rise in the cavity rate,” said Dr. Cooper.

Dr. Tatum asked the DUD commissioners if they could be persuaded to change their minds.

“How do we get you to go about changing your mind? Do we start a petition? Do I need to get 1,000 people on a petition or 1,000 people out here? Do I need to get the ADA to come out here and present something. It’s really short sighted that this has been done. Studies show that communities that have taken fluoride out of their water see a 25% increase in cavities. We are underserved as a dental community and its going to make that even worse,” he said.

“Is it a big money thing?” asked Dr. Tatum

“Its expensive yes sir,” replied Turney.

“We’re talking about our community. There are times when you cut back on something because its worth it to save the money but there are times when you spend the money because its worth it for the residents of the community for their health. I have given you some specific studies and I would appreciate if you look at specific studies if you would publicize those and maybe put them on your website to say this is what we are basing our decision on. Again, all the major health organizations and the Tennessee Department of Health support water fluoridation,” said Pafford.

DUD Manager Foutch pointed out that while the state does not require utilities to fluoridate their water supplies, the DUD decision could be reversed if it can be proven that the lack of fluoride in the water system is contributing to an increase in cavities.

“Its not mandated because its not necessary to keep the water clean and drinkable so we don’t get sick from it but it is recommended. I do not understand why we don’t just start with fluoride,” said Pafford.

The water supply for the City of Smithville and the towns of Liberty and Dowelltown are fluoridated but not in Alexandria. The town gets its water from the Smith County Utility District.

Reeling in the Years Returns Saturday Night

April 11, 2017
Shawn Jacobs and Dennis Stanley

The Spring edition of Reeling in the Years with D.S. and Shawn is coming up Saturday (April 15) from 6-10 p.m. on WJLE.

We’ll be playing many of the songs that many listeners will remember as teens and young adults,” the former WJLE announcers said. “The music you will hear on our show will bring back many fond memories. We’ve made sure our playlist includes a few songs that were popular during 1977, which was 40 years ago, and songs that were on the Pop Charts during April throughout the 70s and 80s. It’s those little details we usually incorporate into our show to make it even more enjoyable.”

This show will also feature the “70s at 7” and the “80s at 8” with only music from the 1970s in the 7:00 hour and only music from the 80s during the 8:00 hour.

Remember, it’s Reeling in the Years on WJLE Saturday (April 15) from 6-10 p.m.

Kindergarten Registration Set for May 16 at SES & DWS

April 11, 2017
Dwayne Page

Kindergarten registration for the 2017-18 school year will be Tuesday, May 16 from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 p.m at Smithville Elementary School and DeKalb West School. Translators will be available to assist with filling out paperwork during the 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. time period.

Children who plan to attend kindergarten must turn five years old on or before August 15, 2017 in order to enroll for the 2017-18 school year.

Please bring the following information with you on registration day:

*Social Security card

*Original birth certificate (certified copy with the state seal, not the hospital copy or mother's copy)

*Current, up to date, physical examination and immunization record (These must be on a Tennessee Department of Health Certificate of Immunization, which can be obtained from your doctor's office or the Health Department)

*Proof of residency for DeKalb County (i.e. gas/electric bill)

*Your child (they will be tested on registration day)


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