Local News Articles

Man Injured in Pickup Truck Crash Has Died

April 3, 2018
Dwayne Page
Robert Page

A Smithville man who was seriously injured in a pickup truck crash last week has died.

70 year old Robert Page passed away Monday night at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. The body is at DeKalb Funeral Chapel. Arrangements are incomplete.

The accident occurred Tuesday night, March 27 on Dale Ridge Road (Highway 96) about a mile from Highway 70.

According to Trooper Sean Tramel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Page was driving south in a 1993 Nissan pickup truck when he went off the edge of the roadway while going around a curve. As the truck slid sideways, Page overcorrected and the vehicle clipped the end of a guardrail before going down an embankment. The truck then crashed into a tree.

Although there were no eye witnesses to the wreck, Trooper Tramel said Richard Summers, a resident closeby, heard the crash but didn’t see the truck at first when he went outside his home to investigate. A short while later, Summers spotted the truck from the lights of a passing car on the highway and alerted authorities.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Team were summoned to the scene to perform extrication as Page was trapped in the truck.

Page was taken by DeKalb EMS from the scene to a helicopter landing zone on Highway 70 at the top of Snow Hill. From there he was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department were also at the scene of the crash to provide traffic control and other assistance.

The investigation was conducted by Trooper Tramel and THP Sergeant Eric McCormick. Trooper Tramel said Page was wearing his seatbelt.

Two Indicted in Flare Gun Arson Investigation

April 3, 2018
Dwayne Page
Kylan Taylor Leeper
Daniel Lewis Dillard

Two men who allegedly participated in firing a flare gun into homes in December have been indicted by the Grand Jury

19 year old Kylan Taylor Leeper of Man Road Lebanon is under indictment for aggravated arson, reckless endangerment, and theft under $1,000. Another defendant in the case, 20 year old Daniel Lewis Dillard of Lee Braswell Road, Smithville has been indicted for attempted aggravated arson.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Leeper went to Walmart in Smithville on December 1, allegedly stole a flare gun (valued at $47), and went to a residence on Short Mountain Highway where he fired the flare gun placing the victim (woman) in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury constituting the offense of reckless endangerment

Three days later, Leeper and Dillard allegedly participated in firing the flare gun at a home on Lee Braswell Road while a woman and a minor were inside causing damage to the residence. There apparently were no injuries. Leeper is indicted for actually damaging the residence. Dillard’s indictment is for attempting to damage the home.

Dillard was already on probation for a separate offense at the time of the incident.

Smithville Elementary Names Students of the Month

April 3, 2018
Dwayne Page
Smithville Elementary Names Students of the Month

Smithville Elementary would like to recognize Students of the Month for March. These students were selected for their outstanding character, academics, and other traits that make them an all-around excellent student. Selected as Students of the Month for March are:

Pre-K: Braylen Ferrell

Kindergarten: Gabriel Stuart

1st grade: Baylee Killian

2nd grade: Peyton Bandy
(Photo attached, students are pictured with Assistant Principal Anita Puckett and Principal Julie Vincent)

City Sells Fire Truck to County

April 3, 2018
Dwayne Page
City sells 1992 fire truck to County

The City of Smithville has sold its oldest fire engine to the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the Smithville Aldermen voted 3 to 1 to accept the county’s bid of $30,000 to purchase the 1992 fire truck. The only other bid came from the Town of Alexandria, totaling $28,770. The Alexandria town government bid $27,270 plus $1,500 by the Alexandria Firefighters Association.

Aldermen Josh Miller, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer voted to award the bid to the county. Alderman Gayla Hendrix, who felt Alexandria had a greater need for the truck, voted against it. Alderman Jason Murphy was absent.

Prior to the vote Monday night, Alexandria Mayor Bennett Armstrong addressed the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen asking that they accept Alexandria’s bid over the county’s. “Our situation is we have a fire engine that is 38 years old and it is losing its operational ability. The air brakes are failing. The water tank is leaking and the engine is not reliable. There is a need in our part of the county. I have no objection against the county getting the fire truck its just I feel we have a greater need,” said Mayor Armstrong.

“Is there a requirement that we take the highest bid,” asked Alderman Hendrix?

“You can make that choice,” said Vester Parsley, who is the city attorney for both Smithville and Alexandria.

“State law is you take the highest bid but if you take a lower bid you have to give a very good reason,” said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

Alderman Miller said he felt like the city had an obligation to the residents it serves to accept the highest bid.

“It takes a lot of grit for the mayor (Bennett Armstrong) to come and ask for what he did. I also had another representative of Alexandria call me last week over this same issue. But I don’t know what kind of reason we could give Smithville for taking the lower bid. At the end of the day we are fiscally responsible for Smithville. I wish we had two (fire trucks) to sell but being fiscally responsible for Smithville I believe we need to take the high bid and I make a motion to accept the county volunteer fire department’s bid of $30,000,” said Alderman Miller.

Alderman Jacobs seconded the motion.

Again, the vote was 3 to 1 to accept the county’s bid.

City Administrator Hendrixson said funds from the sale of the fire truck will go into city’s general fund but it will be line itemed as fire department revenue and could be put toward the purchase of the city’s new fire truck.

In January, the city received a new Pierce Impel PUC Rescue Pumper, which is a combination fire engine/rescue vehicle. The new truck cost the city $751, 575.
In addition to the new fire truck, the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department has two others, a 2001 model along with a 2012 ladder truck.

The county already has funding in place to purchase the truck from a USDA Community Facility Grant of $15,000 with a $28,000 local match for a total project amount of $43,000 which is budgeted in the county's capital projects fund. The grant was approved in April 2017 for firefighting equipment, protective gear, and other resources. County Mayor Tim Stribling filed for the grant with the approval of the county commission. In August, 2017, the county received approval for a second USDA grant of $16,000 also with a local match.

The Town of Alexandria has tried at least twice within the last three years to obtain a Community Development Block Grant to purchase a new fire engine but has had no success due to the town’s inability to score high enough to qualify and the number of applicants in competition for the grants.

The Alexandria Fire Department is staffed with volunteers and two fire trucks. The oldest truck, a 1981 model, is on indefinite loan to the city from Wilson County, but would be returned if a new truck were to be purchased. The other fire truck is a 1997 model.

In May, 2015, the city learned that the Insurance Services Office raised Alexandria's Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating from a Class 7 to a Class 4 making it the best ISO rate in the county. The City of Smithville’s ISO improved from a 6 to a 5/5x during the summer of 2015 and the county’s ISO has improved to a Class 6 for all areas of DeKalb County located within 5 road miles of one of the department’s 11 stations.

Meanwhile, Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker informed the aldermen Monday night that plans are to sell the department’s service truck using an on-line service. “ I have pictures turned in on it to get it listed with a company in Alabama that does on-line fire truck sales. We are waiting to hear from them as to a fair price to put on that truck to put it on line. They are not buying the truck but will give us a good estimate of what they think we should ask for it. We will then advertise on their website,” said Chief Parker.

Thirty People Indicted by Grand Jury

April 3, 2018
Dwayne Page

Thirty people were indicted for various crimes by the new term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday.

Those indicted will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 9 at 9:00 a.m. There were no sealed indictments.

The defendants and their charges are as follows:

Zachary Tyler Adams: driving under the influence and DUI per se

Amanda Michelle Arnold: theft over $1,000

Kenneth Lee Bain, Jr.: driving under the influence

Olivia Hope Barber: introduction of contraband (2 counts)

Jose Alberto Narvaez Becerra: aggravated assault and domestic assault (2 counts)

Timmy Eugene Bowman: violation of an order of protection

John William Cline: driving on a suspended license (3rd offense), 2 counts

Billy Eugene Cook, Jr.: theft over $1,000

Jason Bradley Cripps: driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license

Daniel Louis Dillard: attempted aggravated arson

Bryon Ray Gibbs: aggravated assault (2 counts), resisting arrest, vandalism over $2,500, driving under the influence, and failure to exercise due care

Bryon Ray Gibbs and Jack Junior Mullican: aggravated burglary, theft under $1,000, and vandalism under $1,000

Jerry H. Goff: possession with intent to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance and unlawful possession of a weapon

Rhonda Joy Goff: retaliation for past action and evading arrest

Russell Bryan Johns: driving under the influence (5th offense) and driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Aubrey Lee Kilgore: driving under the influence (3rd offense), violation of financial responsibility, and failure to exercise due care

Scotty Wayne Knowles: driving on a revoked license (2nd offense), 3 counts; violation of financial responsibility, speeding, violation of registration, and violation of the light law

Phillip Lane Lawrence: unlawful possession of a weapon

Kylan Taylor Leeper: aggravated arson, reckless endangerment, and theft under $1,000

Crystal Lachelle Thompson Murphy: driving on a suspended license. violation of financial responsibility, and failure to obey traffic control device

Gregory Eugene Neal: auto burglary (2 counts), burglary, theft over $1,000, and vandalism under $1,000

David Harold Pack: domestic assault (2 counts)

Ronald Jeffrey Patterson: aggravated assault, reckless endangerment (2 counts), and evading arrest

Mark Dewayne Petty: unlawful possession of a weapon and simple possession of a schedule VI drug

Michael Brandon Redmon: retaliation for past action, aggravated criminal trespass, vandalism under $1,000, and disorderly conduct

Timothy Shawn Roller: driving under the influence and DUI per se

Curtis Pitner Shelton: driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, and vandalism under $1,000

Patty Sue Tatrow: aggravated burglary, theft up to $1,000, and false report

Ryan Davis Taylor: burglary (6 counts), theft over $10,000, theft over $2,500 (2 counts), auto burglary, theft over $1,000 (2 counts), theft under $1,000 (4 counts), vandalism under $1,000 (2 counts), and aggravated burglary

Trinity K. Wildbur: introduction of contraband

Two Inmates Found with Contraband in Jail

April 2, 2018
Dwayne Page
Christopher Keith Derrick
Thomas Braxton Nix
Daniel Lynn Johnson
Riley Anthony Bullard

Two inmates at the DeKalb County Jail were found with contraband during a search last week.

22 year old Christopher Keith Derrick of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and bringing contraband into a penal institution. His bond is $8,500 and his court date is April 12.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that at 6:40 a.m. on Monday, March 26 a correctional officer was notified by radio that Derrick had something in his possession as the officer was walking inmates out of the jail annex preparing to conduct a search. As the officer approached him to conduct a search, Derrick tried to pass two small Tylenol tubes and a lighter to another inmate. The officer obtained the tubes and opened them. Inside one of the tubes were five small blue pills. The other tube was empty. When the officer asked Derrick about the pills, he said it was Clonazepam.

Meanwhile, 22 year old Thomas Braxton Nix is charged with bringing contraband into a penal institution. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is April 12.

Sheriff Ray said that at 6:49 a.m. on Monday, March 26 during a search of the Jail annex, a correctional officer found on Nix’s bunk a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

21 year old Daniel Lynn Johnson of Page Drive, Smithville is charged with theft of property. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is April 12.
Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, March 27 Johnson allegedly stole a Yamaha dirt bike from a residence on Page Drive valued at $1,400.
The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

52 year old Riley Anthony Bullard of Kings Court, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is April 12.
Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 1 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Sparta Highway due to an unwanted guest. Upon arrival he spoke with Bullard who had a strong odor of alcohol on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. Bullard was taken into custody for his safety and that of the public.

Take Pride in Center Hill Lake at This Year’s Cleanup

April 2, 2018
Center Hill Lake Litter (Photo by David Vincent)
Volunteering to remove litter (Photo by David Vincent)

Attention everyone who enjoys a litter free and pristine Center Hill Lake! The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Hurricane Marina are hosting the annual Center Hill Shoreline Cleanup, and are seeking volunteers that want to make a difference!

This year’s cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, from 9:00 AM. – 1:00 PM at Hurricane Marina. Volunteers will be provided gloves and garbage bags, and be taken by boats to designated areas along the lake. Volunteers should wear work clothes and sturdy footwear and, depending on the weather forecast, pack rain gear . . . just in case.

AND…because no good deed should go unrewarded, breakfast and lunch will be provided to all volunteers.

All participants are encouraged to pre-register for the cleanup by calling the Center Hill Lake Resource Manager’s Office at (931) 858-3125. Pre-registration will help planners prepare the proper number of lunches and select desired lakeshore cleanup areas. Day-of registration will begin at 8:30 AM at Hurricane Marina.

Sponsors for this year’s cleanup include: Hurricane Marina, JBeez Watercraft/Canoe the Caney, Hydro Hoist of Middle Tennessee, Middle Tennessee Houseboats, Big Fish, Southern Boat Club, Executive Choice Boat Cleaning, Center Hill Boat Repair, Motor Works Machine, and Blue Water Grille.

For more information on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Center Hill Lake, visit http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/Lakes/Center-Hill-Lake/, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/centerhilllake.

Smithville Golf Course to Open Soon

April 2, 2018
Dwayne Page
Dan Delacruz of Smithville Computer; Bob Carlsen, member of Riverwatch;  Larry Green, volunteer at Riverwatch; Ken Lacy and Pete Ferguson, Managers of Smithville Golf Course

The Smithville Municipal Golf Course and Swimming Pool will be opening soon.

Since it was closed last fall, the course has been undergoing renovations and upgrades under a maintenance agreement the city entered into with Riverwatch Golf & Resort for a year.

Last month the Smithville Aldermen also voted to hire Ken Lacy and Pete Ferguson to manage the facilities for at least one year.

During an appearance on WJLE’s Tech Talk program Thursday, Lacy said golfers will notice a change this season.

“The city golf course has been going through renovations and upgrades since August. The anticipated opening is within the next couple of weeks. Things people can look forward to are new greens. The putting greens have been renovated and growing throughout the fall and winter. We are currently mowing them down to the same heights that we have our greens at Riverwatch. If you like playing at Riverwatch and enjoy the speed and texture of our greens you will experience similar playing conditions at the city golf course. The city crews have been in there redoing the clubhouse, getting it up and going. New golf carts will be coming in possibly by this week. Everything is going to look different and better. And within the next 45 days or so the pool will be opening,” said Lacy.

According to Lacy, plans are to have more opportunities for golfers at the city golf course this year including events which will be held in partnership with Riverwatch.

“Junior Golf is a big focus with us. We (RIverwatch) have maybe the only FREE junior golf program in the state. Last year we had about 48 to 50 children involved in this program. I do it one day a week and in that time you get two hours of instruction and we offer a small snack. We’re going to do the same thing at the city golf course. And for the second year in a row we will have the AJGA, an International Junior Golf event, held at Riverwatch featuring elite Junior golfers from around the world who will come here for seven days of competition the week of July 4,” said Lacy.

“We also plan to do a reciprocal type membership. If you join the city golf course, you can play Riverwatch at a discount and If you become a member at Riverwatch you can play the city golf course at a discounted rate. We want to make it to where golf is fun again,” Lacy said.

Voter Registration Deadline Arrives for May 1 Primary

April 2, 2018
Dwayne Page

Today (Monday, April 2) is the registration deadline in person if you want to vote in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary on Tuesday, May 1.

“Two important things to keep in mind at this point are the registration deadline and the updating of addresses,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections.

“If you are not registered but want to participate in the May 1 primary election, April 2 is the last day you can register in person at the election office,” he said.

Voter registration forms are available at the election office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse; on line at www.dekalbelections.com (and clicking on the voter registration tab at the top left of the page) and https://sos.tn.gov/elections/voter-information.

As far as address changes go, Stanley said keeping your address up to date could prevent a delay in voting on Election Day or even during early voting.

“If you have moved since you last voted, you may have to vote at a different location on May 1,” he said. “Keep in mind, if you have moved and did not notify our office, you will have paperwork to fill out on Election Day and you may have to go to a different place to vote.”

Voters who want to check their status can call the election office at 615-597-4146 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, the qualifying deadline for the school board, municipal elections, and state primaries is Noon, April 5.

WJLE Recognizes DCHS Class of 2018 (View Photo Gallery Here)

March 31, 2018
Dwayne Page
WJLE Recognizes DCHS Class of 2018

WJLE and participating sponsors are presenting a photo gallery of the DCHS Class of 2018 in April and May. You may now view it at www.wjle.com.

Graduation is set for Friday, May 18 on the DCHS football field.

Click on the link below to view the senior formals.

Once you open the page, click each photo to view a larger image. The name of the senior you select is at the bottom of the photo. Or you may move your mouse over the photo to view the name.

There are 171 photos in the gallery divided up 30 photos to a page. Notice the box to the left in the photo gallery. After you view page 1 be sure to click the links for pages 2-6 to view the remaining photos. The names of seniors not pictured are also listed inside the box.

The WJLE photo gallery page is sponsored in April by Sheriff Patrick Ray, County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, County Mayor Tim Stribling, St Thomas DeKalb Hospital, DTC Communications, Gill Automotive LLC, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, Road Supervisor Butch Agee, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, and Alexandria Auto Parts. Sponsors in May will be Assessor of Property Shannon Cantrell, A Degree Above Heating and Cooling, Good Health Family Clinic, and Trustee Sean Driver, in addition to Sheriff Ray, County Clerk Poss, County Mayor Stribling, St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital, Gill Automotive, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, and DTC Communications,


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