Local News Articles

Director of Schools Signs Two Year Contract (VIEW ACTUAL CONTRACT HERE)

August 18, 2015
Dwayne Page
Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps on July 16

After agreeing on the terms, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps signed his new two year employment contract Monday, August 17.

The deal was also signed by School Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III and Vice Chairman Doug Stephens.


DS Contract for DeKalb County BOE 2015.pdf (108 KB)

Cripps was hired by the Board on July 16 and has served in the position for the past month under a temporary contract until finishing touches could be put on the final deal subject to a review by legal counsel.

The term is for a period commencing July 17, 2015 and ending June 30, 2017.

The contract calls for Cripps' annual salary to be $85,000 paid in twelve equal monthly installments in accordance with the policy. The Board shall evaluate the Director annually and shall review the Director's salary annually. In no event shall the Director's salary be reduced except as provided by law. If any adjustment in salary is made during the term of this Contract, all of the other provisions of the Contract, including its termination date, shall remain as stated herein.

Under terms of the agreement, the Board will provide a medical insurance plan for Cripps on the same terms that it is made available to other employees. The Director will be able to participate in any other insurance program offered by the Board on the same terms as any other employee of the Board.

Cripps will also be provided with an automobile and all expenses involved in said automobile for him to carry out his official duties. He may use the automobile for personal purposes not interfering with school purposes, provided he shall pay or reimburse the cost of all fuel during such use.

The Director’s year shall consist of 240 duty days of normal office hours. Vacation time should be avoided at the beginning and end of the school year. The Director serves and is on duty during regular school session. Non duty days include 10 holidays and 12 annual leave days.

Cripps shall be granted one day of sick leave for each month of contractual employment. Sick leave days shall be cumulative and unused sick leave days may be used for retirement credit in accordance with the policies of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System,

The evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than January 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board shall review with the Director his performance, progress toward established goals, and the working relationships between the Director and Board, the staff, students, and community at large; and any other matters relative to the employment of the Director.

As part of the evaluation process, by July 30 of each year, the Director will present a Strategic Plan to the Board for the upcoming school year. The plan will incorporate the results of the Director's most recent evaluation, will identify the strengths and needs of DeKalb County Schools, and will describe the Director's Plan of Action to reach the goals adopted by the Board.

The contract may be terminated by mutual agreement of the parties or due to the retirement, disability, or death of the director. It may also be terminated by the Board for cause pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in TCA, the Teacher's Tenure Act. If the Board terminates the contract for cause, the Director would be entitled to no further benefits of compensation.

The Board reserves the right to transfer the Director to any position within the system; however compensation and insurance benefits included in this agreement shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of the contract as specified in Article 1. In the event the Director declines to accept the transfer, this contract shall be terminated and the Director would be entitled to no further benefits or compensation.

The Director retains any rights to tenure as a teacher that he has already acquired in the DeKalb County Schools. Even so, the Director understands and agrees that, upon the termination of his duties as Director, he will be placed in a position for which he is licensed and qualified by the Board or any subsequent director of schools. No rights to a particular position are retained by seniority or any other means, and the Board or any subsequent director of schools, as appropriate, has the sole right to determine placement. However after placement, he will return to the pay scale prior to his appointment as Director.

The Director will not hire immediate family members in new administrative roles. Prior job assignments are grandfathered.

Larry Webb Pleads Guilty to Federal Bank Fraud

August 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
Larry Webb

Larry Webb appeared in U.S. District Court Monday and entered a guilty plea to one count of federal bank fraud stemming from the "Living the Dream" investigation.

The former deputy director at the Upper Cumberland Development District will face no prison time nor fine as a result of the plea deal with federal prosecutors. He will be on three years of supervised release as approved by the Court.

Webb has also reportedly agreed to testify against former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins as part of the plea deal. Her trial is scheduled for next month in U.S. District Court.

Webb, charged with Askins in a federal indictment with conspiracy, theft of government money, bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement, agreed to enter a voluntary plea of guilty to Count Eight of the indictment, charging bank fraud. Court documents obtained by WJLE state that "after sentence has been imposed on the count to which defendant (Webb) pleads guilty as agreed herein, the government will move to dismiss the remaining counts and forfeiture allegations of the indictment."

According to court documents, "The parties understand and agree that the offense to which defendant (Webb) will enter a plea of guilty (bank fraud) carries the following maximum penalties: (a) a maximum term of 30 years imprisonment; (b) a fine not to exceed $1,000,000; (c) a term of supervised release of not more than five years; and (d) a mandatory special assessment of $100 to be deposited into the Crime Victim Fund.

Had he gone to trial on all counts and been convicted, Webb could have faced a potential 220 years in federal prison and $6.75 million in fines.

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

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

In pleading guilty, court documents state that defendant (Webb) admits the following facts and that those facts establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt:

"At all times relevant to this case, defendant Larry Webb was the Deputy Director of the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), and the Director of the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation (CRDC). UCDD is a quasi-governmental agency responsible for promoting economic development in the Upper Cumberland area. UCDD is governed by a Board of Directors made up of County Executives and Municipal Mayors from within the 14-county Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee. The UCDD office is located in Cookeville."

"Likewise, CRDC is an organization which operates under the UCDD umbrella, and is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of county executives and municipal mayors from within the 14-county Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee. The CRDC Board of Directors has membership separate from the UCDD Board of Directors. In some instances, however, individuals may be members of both the UCDD and CRDC boards. One purpose of the CRDC is to create affordable housing within the Upper Cumberland region."

"On February 23, 2010, Defendant Webb incorporated "Living the Dream/Independent Living for Seniors, Inc." (Living the Dream). While "Living the Dream" had the appearance of being a project approved by CRDC, it was in fact owned and operated by defendant Webb and codefendant Wendy Askins. A portion of the property was intended to be used as an independent living facility, while another portion was used as a luxury home for codefendant Askins."

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

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

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

"At all times relevant to Count Eight of the indictment, the Bank of Putnam County was insured by the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (FDIC)".

Parents Asked to Complete Survey to Keep Free Lunch Program From Possibly Costing Schools Funding

August 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

For the first time, all students in the DeKalb County School System are getting free breakfasts and lunches regardless of their families' household income. The move is meant to ensure that all students get the nutrition they need. But bureaucratic rules also mean it could cost schools state and federal funding.

It depends on how many parents return a form being sent home this month asking them to provide income information on a voluntary basis. A shift in how the school district accounts for the number of low-income students it has could potentially impact how much funding the district receives for crucial services funded by federal grants. If too many parents don’t turn in their income information to schools, it will appear that the number of low-income students has dropped, and the district could get less money.

In a letter to parents, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps is asking parents to complete a "Household Information" survey in order for local schools to show continued eligibility for various state and federal program benefits.

"The income level of the families in our school system determines the funding that each school receives from the federal and state government such as: additional instructional materials, computers and additional teachers and staff. The information you provide will help ensure that your child continues to have access to the level of resources he/she currently has at school," said Director Cripps, in the letter.

"All information provided is private and confidential as required by state and federal statute. State and federal formulas use only aggregate information for funding calculations," said Cripps.


cep household survey.pdf (295.27 KB)

The actual letter states:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

"We are pleased to announce that all schools in DeKalb County will be implementing a new option available to select schools in Tennessee that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. It is called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and will begin in school year 2015-16."

"What does CEP mean for my child(ren) who attend a school in DeKalb County? In a CEP school, all students receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch at no cost."

"What if my child changes schools? Your child is eligible for free meals at any school in DeKalb County."

"Why is the district requesting financial information? The income level of the families in our school system determines the funding that each school receives from the federal and state government such as: additional instructional materials, computers and additional teachers and staff. The information you provide will help ensure that your child continues to have access to the level of resources he/she currently has at school."

"How will this information be protected? In keeping with current practices, all information provided is private and confidential as required by state and federal statute. State and federal formulas use only aggregate information for funding calculations."

"What do I need to do? Please complete the attached form and return it to your child’s school. Your assistance in maintaining current funding levels is greatly appreciated."

"If you have any questions, please contact Danielle Collins at 615- 597-4084."

Beginning this month, the school system joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Program, a universal meal plan under the National School Lunch Program that permits eligible districts and schools to provide meal service to all students at no charge. DeKalb County schools also offer free breakfasts under the Universal Breakfast Program.

All students in the DeKalb County School System, regardless of income, now have access to free lunches and breakfasts under the program.

Lebanon Man Armed with Gun Allegedly Breaks into Liberty Home

August 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
James Michael Tatum
Julie Lynn Fayette
Albert Dayton West

A Lebanon man who allegedly broke into a residence in Liberty armed with a gun last month has been arrested by the Sheriff's Department

48 year old James Michael Tatum is charged with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault. His bond is $100,000 and he will make a court appearance on August 20. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, July 31 Tatum allegedly broke into a home at Wilson Hollow Road in Liberty and knowingly pointed a Glock .45 caliber handgun at the homeowner. Tatum camouflaged his face in an attempt to keep the victim from identifying him. Tatum was later arrested after an investigation by a sheriff's department detective.

38 year old Julie Lynn Fayette of Oak Drive, Smithville is charged with three counts of aggravated domestic assault. Her bond totals $15,000 and she will be in court August 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 15, Fayette intentionally grabbed the steering wheel of a vehicle, driven by her husband on Holmes Creek Road while their daughter and nephew were passengers, putting the lives of her husband, daughter, and nephew in danger. Her actions caused the vehicle to run off the road. The case was investigated by a deputy.

An Alexandria man is in trouble after trying to outrun the law while drunk and then having a wreck.

46 year old Albert Dayton West of Tramel Branch Road, Alexandria is charged by the sheriff's department with evading arrest and by the Tennessee Highway Patrol with driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, and leaving the scene of an accident. His bond totals $14,000 and he will make a court appearance on August 27.

Sheriff Ray said the incident occurred on June 19 as a deputy was checking out a report of a domestic dispute. The officer apparently spotted a suspect in the case riding with West. The deputy got behind the vehicle and activated his blue lights but West refused to stop. As the officer activated his siren, West picked up speed traveling on West Main Street in Dowelltown. West then turned left onto Smith Fork Road and continued to evade for approximately one and a half miles before he wrecked. The officer had already terminated the pursuit prior to the accident. West and his passenger then got out of their automobile and fled. Two hours later, an officer found West on Main Street in Dowelltown. West admitted to being the driver and said he had been hurt in the wreck. West also confessed to picking up the man involved in the domestic dispute to keep him out of trouble. A witness identified West as the driver of the vehicle. West was determined to have been the driver of the vehicle and was placed under arrest.

33 year old Kenneth Adam Wright of Lower Helton Road, Alexandria is charged with a third offense of driving under the influence. He was also issued citations for driving on a revoked license, violation of the financial responsibility law, driving on roadways laned for travel, and violation of the implied consent law. His bond is $4,500 and he will make a court appearance on October 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 14 a deputy spotted a gray truck cross the white dotted line several times on Highway 70 West in Dowelltown. After stopping the vehicle, the deputy spoke with the driver, Wright who had an odor of alcohol coming from his person. Wright admitted to having consumed four beers. He submitted to and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Although Wright refused to submit to a blood test, a search warrant was issued to obtain a forced blood draw due to his record of multiple convictions for DUI.

Former Manager of Tennessee Credit Indicted for Theft

August 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
Vicky Elaine Bogle
 Frank Donald Thomas
Kenny Ray Herman
Timmy Harvey George
Riley Anthony Bullard
James Madison Currie

A former manager of Tennessee Credit has been indicted for theft over $60,000.

58 year old Vicky Elaine Bogle of Lou Drive, Dowelltown was named in a sealed indictment returned by the Grand Jury on Monday, July 27. Her bond is $50,000 and she will be arraigned in criminal court on September 14. She was arrested on August 12.

The indictment alleges that "Bogle, between the 1st day of January, 2009 and the 19th day of December 2014 knowingly did obtain or exercise control over certain property, to wit: money/cash being over the value of $60,000, the property of Tennessee Credit, without the effective consent of Tennessee Credit, with the intent to deprive Tennessee Credit of said property, constituting the offense of Theft".

According to the family, Bogle is one of five owners of Tennessee Credit and is a former operating manager there.

Bogle is among six people picked up by the Sheriff's department last week on Grand Jury sealed indictments returned on Monday, July 27.

75 year old Frank Donald Thomas of Nashville Highway, Liberty is charged in a sealed indictment with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. His bond is $50,000 and he will be arraigned in criminal court on September 14. He was arrested on August 14.

Count 1 of the indictment alleges that "Thomas, on or about the 27th day of September, 2014 intentionally or knowingly did engage in conduct which caused (the victim) to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury, said offense being committed with a deadly weapon, to wit: a gun, constituting the offense of aggravated assault".

Count 2 of the indictment alleges that "Thomas did engage in conduct which placed or which might have placed the citizens of DeKalb County in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, said offense being committed with a deadly weapon, to wit: a motor vehicle, constituting the offense of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon."

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, September 27, 2014 central dispatch received a call that Thomas, driving a red Chevy Avalanche on Highway 56 south, was chasing after a man in a red Dodge pickup truck at speeds of over 100 miles per hour. During the chase, Thomas allegedly pointed a small silver gun out of the window, causing the victim to fear for his life.

A deputy spotted Thomas behind the victim's truck. Another witness said he was run off the road by the red Dodge being chased by the red Avalanche.

Thomas later told officers that the reason he was following the man was because of something he had done in the past. Thomas said he wanted to get his hands on him. Thomas was placed under arrest and a silver revolver, containing three live rounds and three spent rounds, was found in his vehicle.

Thomas is a former county commissioner and member of the county beer board.

54 year old Kenny Ray Herman of West Main Street, Smithville; 47 year old Timmy Harvey George; and 49 year old Riley Anthony Bullard of V.L. Wilson Loop, Smithville are co-indicted on a charge of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydromorphone). Bond for each is $30,000 and they will appear in criminal court for arraignment on September 14. Herman and George were arrested on August 12. Bullard was picked up on August 13.

According to the indictment, "Herman, George, Bullard, and another man, Joel Hayes, on or about the 24th day of February, 2015 knowingly did sell a schedule II controlled substance, to wit: Hydromorphone, constituting the offense of sale of a schedule II controlled substance, to wit: Hydromorphone, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated." Hayes was arrested on August 9.

45 year old James Madison Currie of Village Place, Smithville is indicted for two counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug. His bond is $60,000 and he will be arraigned in criminal court on September 14. Currie was arrested on August 12.

The indictments allege that Currie knowingly sold a schedule II drug, to wit: Dihydrocodeinone on or about the 29th day of January, 2015 and the 5th day of February, 2015,constituting the offense of sale of a schedule II controlled substance, to wit: Dihydrocodeinone.

One Airlifted After Rollover Crash

August 16, 2015
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Firefighters working to get Kanday Fish out of her car
One Airlifted After Rollover Crash
Two Involved in Saturday Night Crash

Two people were involved in a one car crash Saturday night on Highway 70 east at the intersection of Brent Taylor Road.

50 year old Kanday Fish of Dowelltown was airlifted from near the scene by helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Fish was eastbound on Highway 70 in a 2003 Nissan Morano SUV when she went off the right side of the road, struck a culvert, and overturned. The vehicle came to rest on the driver side. 41 year old Jason Cripps of Cookeville and formerly of Smithville was a passenger.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department rescue team were summoned to the scene to perform extrication services to help get Fish out of the vehicle. Cripps was not seriously hurt and did not have to be transported to the hospital.

DeKalb EMS and members of the Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

Meanwhile, a Hickman man was charged Saturday night with DUI after a one car crash on Highway 264 about a mile south of the DeKalb-Smith County line in DeKalb County.

Trooper Adam Cothron told WJLE that 45 year old James Nixon was traveling north in a 2013 Dodge Challenger when he went off the road, struck a tree, and then ran through a fence. He was transported by EMS to Riverview Regional Medical Center in Carthage. He was also charged with driving under the influence and cited for failure to exercise due care, a violation of the financial responsibility, violation of the open container law, and violation of the seat belt law.

TWRA Hunter Education Class Scheduled

August 14, 2015
Dwayne Page
TWRA Officer Joe Fortner

A TWRA Hunter Education Course will be held at the Smithville Church of Christ on Friday and Saturday, August 28 & 29.

According to TWRA Officer Joe Fortner, the Friday class will be at 5:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

"Anyone who wants to hunt in the State of Tennessee born after January 1, 1969 must complete the course before they go hunting. You have to be nine years old before you can take the class," said Fortner.

"Pre-registering for the class is the easiest way to sign-up. You can do that by going to www.tnwildlife.org. Click on the hunting section. That will bring you to the hunter education part of the website. You can sign up from there. If you don't have access to the Internet and you show up for the class that will be fine. I prefer that you pre-register so that we will know how many to expect but if you don't have access to the Internet that will be fine, just show up," said Fortner.

TDOT Employee Involved in Accidents

August 14, 2015
Dwayne Page
TDOT Employee Involved in Accidents
TDOT Employee Escapes Injury in Accidents

An employee of the Tennessee Department of Transportation escaped injury in a truck accident Friday morning.

66 year old Roger Ruble of Overton County was traveling west on Highway 70 east in the Hillcrest area in a 2011 TDOT Ford Ranger pickup truck when he went off the right side of the highway and struck guide wires and two utility poles. The truck came to rest on its side.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team were summoned to help remove Ruble from the truck.

Moments prior to the accident, Ruble's truck sideswiped an eastbound pickup, driven by Randall Blaylock, knocking off a side mirror on the driver side door of Blaylock's truck.

According to Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who investigated the accidents, it is believed that Ruble suffered a medical condition which contributed to the mishaps.

Although DeKalb EMS came to the scene, Ruble refused transport to the hospital.

"Coach to Coach" Returns on WJLE

August 14, 2015
"Coach to Coach" Returns on WJLE

You are invited to the weekly coach's meeting for the coach's view of every Tennessee Football game. Coach To Coach is your weekly connection to your favorite team, driven by the Governor's Highway Safety Program. The program will air again this college football season on WJLE AM 1480 and FM 101.7 Fridays at 5:00 p.m. and will repeat Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m.

Former coaches Phillip Fulmer and Doug Mathews go Coach To Coach every week with one hour of intense football discussion. It’s just like you’re in the coaches’ meeting, talking offense and defense with the men who called the plays to win the big games.

Share the lessons from last week's game. Breakdown the SEC slate. Talk about the issues inside college football. Coach To Coach comes your way every weekend, hosted by one of the state’s premiere sports broadcasters, Larry Stone.

Get inside the 2015 Tennessee football season. Go Coach To Coach with Phillip Fulmer and Doug Mathews, presented by the Delta Dental of Tennessee

Relentless Student Ministries brings home 3rd in the Nation

August 13, 2015
Relentless Student Ministries brings home 3rd in the Nation

The Smithville First Assembly of God Youth just recently attended the 2015 National Fine Arts Competitions held in Orlando Florida. They represented Tennessee in three categories including Large Human Video, Worship Dance Troupe, And Large Drama Ensemble. They came in 3rd out of 97 groups from around the world. Being one of the most active Youth groups in DeKalb County everyone around knows how they excel in Drama & Dance.

Relentless Student Ministries lead by Iain & Kassy Swisher & Josh Issac, started their journey in March when they competed at the Tennessee State Competitions held at Trevecca University located in Nashville. Relentless Students competed in 8 all original and self-choreographed categories taught by Josh Isaac & Kassy Swisher and came home with 7 winning state titles. The Titles included Large Human Video, Small Drama Ensemble, Large Drama Ensemble, Worship Dance Troupe, and Solo Worship Dance. The hardest decision was figuring out what they wanted to take to nationals.They couldn’t afford to take all 7. Relentless Students raised all their own money by having bake sales, yard sales, RADA, Donuts, Dinners, and Dinner Theaters. They left for their 9 day trip to Orlando on July 31st and was honored with top 3 out of 97 teams on Friday, August 7th at the 56th Assemblies of God General Council 2015 Fine Arts Celebration Ceremonies. DeKalb county should be proud of these teens who all represented our church, city, county, and state well. These students have chosen to use their talents to impact their schools and city in a positive way. Each student is very active in school activities as well. We have DeKalb Tiger Football Players, Cheerleaders, Mr. & Mrs. DCHS, and Tiger Basketball Players. These students strive to be that light in all that they do. It’s always great to see their hard work pay off. They embody the bible verse they wear on the shirts: Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good, and acceptable and perfect in the will of God.


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