Local News Articles

DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS TO BE CLOSED MONDAY, JANUARY 6TH

January 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Schools to Re-Open

The winter break has been extended by at least one day as DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED MONDAY, JANUARY 6TH DUE TO FORECASTS OF SNOW AND BITTERLY COLD TEMPERATURES.

The remainder of the school calendar is as follows:

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20 and for President's Day, Monday, February 17.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 24-28

No school for students on Good Friday, April 18 and Memorial Day, Monday May 26.

The following are designated as Early Release dates: Friday, February 14; Friday, March 7, and Friday, March 21
Students will not attend on Tuesday, May 27. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Wednesday, May 28. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, March 11 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 13 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards to be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, January 7. DCHS report cards to be sent home Monday, March 10 and at all other schools Tuesday, March 11.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 4

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3-7.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 28 through May 9

Road Supervisor Kenny Edge Will Not Seek a Seventh Term

January 2, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kenny Edge to Retire After Current Term as Road Supervisor

After working for the people of DeKalb County as their Road Supervisor for almost 24 years, Kenny Edge has decided the time has come to retire when his current term expires August 31.

The six term incumbent has announced that he will not be a candidate for re-election in 2014.

"They (supporters) beg me every day to run again. It's not that I don't love them and don't want to do the work. It's just I'm not as young as I used to be. I've enjoyed working for them (people of the county). I'm still their friend. I just feel like this is a time in my life that I need to retire and do the things I want to do," said Edge in an interview with WJLE Thursday.

Edge was first elected Road Supervisor in 1990 and he was re-elected in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010. Prior to 1990, Edge served the county in other capacities. "I've got 43 years in working for DeKalb County and I've enjoyed every bit of it. (Then County Judge) Billy J. LaFever hired me in 1971 when the new courthouse and new school houses were being built. I did the maintenance and electrical work. He wanted me to do all the mechanical work so I worked for the county as well as the school system together up until 1990 when I ran for this office," he said.

In spite of tight budgets, Edge said he has been able to manage his resources over the years to maintain as many roads and bridges as possible. "The roads in DeKalb County are better than they have ever been. Almost all roads are either paved or oiled and chipped but there are certain roads you can't spend that kind of money to upgrade, knowing when the first flood comes it is going to destroy it. But basically all of the roads are in good shape," said Edge.

"The bridges are basically in real good shape. Since I've been in office, I don't know how many federal bridge programs I've participated in. The last big one I built was on Smith Fork. I believe it was a $1.1 million project. We've built bridges across the county including several under the hill because most of the water problems are under the hill," he said.

Edge said he appreciates the support he has received from county mayors and county commissions over the years in helping the road department fund certain projects. " They have been good to work with me. They bought me a new wheel loader for the crusher and a new road grader in 1995. I also borrowed a million dollars and paved forty miles of road across this county. It took me ten years at $100,000 a month to pay it back but I've paid it all back," he said.

Asked if he had any regrets , Edge said he wishes he could have had the money to hot mix more roads. "Everybody loves hot mix and I do too. I'd like to have done more asphalt work instead of oil and chipping. I'd hot mix every road in this county if I had the money to do it. The average life of a good paved road is twenty years before you need to put a top on it. The average life of an oil and chipped road is about eight years. We (road department) can oil and chip a road, but we can't hot mix it because we have to contract it out. We don't have the equipment. Right now it costs right around $100,000 to pave a road twenty feet wide, two and a half inches deep, a mile long," said Edge.

"My total budget (revenues) is less than two million dollars. I carry over about a half a million dollars every year (fund balance) and budget it. I'll average $120,000 to $130,000 of new money (revenue) each month. I get it monthly. But if you bought $130,000 worth of hot mix each month then you wouldn't have enough to pay your hands, buy fuel, or do anything. You've got to keep your operation going," said Edge.

By saving where he could, Edge said he has been able to hot mix a few more miles of roads while meeting other needs of the department. "You've got to save as much as you can during the year so that maybe you can hot mix five or six miles of road. Sometimes you have to do that over a two year period. It just depends on what breakdowns you have or what equipment you need to buy. The last two new dump trucks I bought cost $121,000 each. Tires are also expensive. It's hard to operate on what money we get especially with the economy like it is," he said.

For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the DeKalb County Road Department is budgeted to receive almost two million in revenues, including over $1.4 million from its largest source, state gas tax revenues and more than $400,000 from the state aid program. The county budgets three cents of the property tax rate or $128,860 along with a mineral severance tax of $15,474. The department's fund balance (carry over from last year) was more than $378,000. Total appropriations for this budget year are projected to be $2.1 million.

Edge still makes use of the county rock crusher but it's mostly used on a seasonal basis now with a smaller staff to help man the department. "The rock crusher is in excellent shape. We use it but I don't run it 100% of the time because my work force has gone from twenty five to fifteen employees. They crush in the fall and winter but as soon as the grass gets up, I'll have them go to mowing," he said.

Like all public officials, Edge has his critics but he believes most people appreciates the job he has done. "I try to help everybody. I try to listen to them and try to do everything they ask me to do. I realize it's their highway department. Anybody who calls here and they need a tile put in, if they're building a house, I'll put them a tile in and fix them a driveway. I do it for everybody. It don't matter who they are or where they live in the county. I gravel every road to every cemetery. I always have. I fix everybody an entrance off a county road anywhere they want to" Edge continued.

In recent years, state auditors have noted findings in yearly audit reports concerning such practices by the county road department but Edge defends his work for the public. "I get wrote up saying you can't do that. It's frustrating how that the state has such a problem with me putting gravel or a tile in a driveway, but sees nothing wrong with the state putting down hot mix and installing guardrails to a dead end on private property in the midst of a cedar thicket on the side of a hill along side a state highway (referring to property at the foot of Snow Hill on Highway 70). I wish they would operate under the same law they want me to," he said.

Edge said he is thankful to the people of DeKalb County for supporting him all these years. "I want to thank all the people of this county for their trust in me and for voting for me. I love them all and I'll still help them anyway I can," he said.

As for his retirement, Edge said he has no particular plans. "I've got a farm I can play around on and do like some of the rest of them, run out here to Hardees every now and then and get me some coffee and a ham and biscuit," concluded Edge.

New Year's Day Fire Destroys Home (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

January 1, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
New Year's Day Fire Heavily Damages Smithville Home
New Year's Day Fire Heavily Damages Smithville Home

A New Year's Day fire swept through the residence of Andrew and Caitlin Wilbur at 904 West Main Street this morning (Wednesday)

911 received the call just before 1:00 a.m.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene but could not save the home.

Shortly after the fire was spotted and reported, flames could be seen coming through the roof.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker told WJLE that the Wilbur's were not home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. He said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

This is the fourth home fire within the past three weeks in DeKalb County.

Members of the Smithville Police Department, Sheriff's Department, DeKalb EMS, and Smithville Electric System were also on the scene.

Election Commission to Issue Petitions for School Board Races

December 31, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

While most of the attention has been focused on the May primary elections, petitions for the non-partisan school board seats will be available beginning Friday, January 3rd.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley said Friday is the first day petitions can be issued for the school board seats that will be up for election August 7th. Those seats are in Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7.

“School Board seats are considered non-partisan positions and thus are not on the ballot until August,” Stanley said. “As a result, the petition and qualifying dates were different from the May primary election cycle.”

Again, petitions for school board seats will be available beginning Friday and the qualifying deadline is NOON April 3.

Also, Stanley said the City of Smithville Municipal Election will be held in August and petitions for the Mayor and two Aldermen seats will also be available beginning Friday, January 3rd. The qualifying deadline will also be NOON April 3rd.

Meanwhile, petitions are still available for all the races that will be on the ballot for the DeKalb County Democratic Primary and the 13th Judicial District Democratic and Republican Primary elections. The qualifying deadline for those candidates is NOON February 20th.

Man Allegedly Caught Stealing Scrap Metal

December 31, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Justin Keith Manley
 Killian Blake Ellis
Martha Cheyenne Silcox
Lydia Renee Judkins
John Thomas Bailey
Timothy Donald Bates

An 18 year old Murfreesboro man is charged with theft of property under $500 for trying to steal scrap metal from a property owner on Antioch Road.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Justin Keith Manley is under a $1,500 bond and he will be in court on February 6.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was called to Antioch Road on Wednesday, December 18 to a possible theft in progress. When the officer arrived, he saw two men and a woman loading a large pile of scrap metal onto a trailer. One of the men took off running through the woods when he saw the officer. The other man, Manley, and the woman stayed and spoke with the officer. The woman said that their landlord had given them permission to gather up the scrap metal. But a further investigation revealed that all the metal had actually been taken from the adjoining property of a neighbor. The officer found that a fence between the two properties had been cut.

Manley was placed under arrest for the crime. He was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia after the officer found a marijuana pipe in Manley's pocket.

20 year old Killian Blake Ellis of New Hope Road, Alexandria and 36 year old Martha Cheyenne Silcox of Hartsville Pike, Carthage were arrested on December 23 after a joint investigation by the Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff's Department detectives into the vandalism and theft from drink machines at Prichard's Foods on Brush Creek Highway.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 23, Ellis did vandalize a drink machine by using a pry bar to the door of the machine causing damage to the front and to the side of the machine. The damage cost over $1,000. Ellis was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Meanwhile through an investigation, a detective learned that Silcox was the driver of a vehicle who dropped off and picked up Ellis. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Sheriff Ray said more arrests are expected in the case.

Bond for Ellis and Silcox is $5,000 each and they will be in court on January 16.

A woman arrested recently on a failure to appear warrant is now facing more charges after she tried to conceal drugs and paraphernalia when brought to the jail.

26 year old Lydia Renee Judkins of Jefferson Road, Smithville is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of drugs in a penal institution. Her bond is $6,500 and she will be in court on January 9.

Sheriff Ray said that it is customary that when prisoners are brought to the jail, they are searched before being locked up. In this case officers asked Judkins if she had any contraband on her. She did not answer. As officers began to search her, Judkins produced two empty syringes, a small container of marijuana, and a bag of marijuana and three more empty syringes. She had tried to conceal these items in her body cavity.

43 year old John Thomas Bailey of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with assault and resisting arrest. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on January 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, December 30, the sheriff's department was summoned to Bailey's home in answer to a domestic call. Upon arrival, officers spoke with Bailey. But during the conversation, Bailey became very irate with the officers. He approached the deputies and then pushed them. When placed under arrest for assault, Bailey refused to be handcuffed and had to be taken to the floor. While on the floor, he continued to struggle with the officers to keep them from handcuffing him. Bailey was subsequently handcuffed, placed under arrest for assault, and brought to the jail for booking.

53 year old Timothy Donald Bates of Williams Road, Alexandria is charged with a fourth offense of driving under the influence, and a sixth offense of driving while revoked. His bond is $17,500 and he will be in court January 16.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 21, a deputy was dispatched to Highway 70 in Liberty in response to reports of a reckless driver. The officer noticed a gold van traveling in the wrong lane and on the wrong side of the road. After stopping the vehicle, the officer made contact with the driver, Bates. His speech was slurred and he had a smell of alcohol on his person. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Bates was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. A computer check revealed his license were revoked for a DUI. He was further issued a citation for failure to maintain his lane of travel.

Davis Dies in White County Car Crash

December 30, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Joshua Tyler Davis

A man from the Johnson Chapel Community died in a one car crash just after midnight Saturday, December 28 in White County.

Dead is 25 year old Joshua Tyler Davis of Young Ridge Road.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Davis was in a 2006 Chrysler Sebring traveling south on Indian Mound Road near the intersection of Pin Hook Road when he lost control while attempting to negotiate a curve and left the roadway, striking a tree.

Davis was not wearing his seatbelt.

The Sparta-White County Rescue Squad was dispatched to the scene to extricate Davis from the car.

The accident was investigated by Trooper Kevin Ballew and Sergeant Jeff Cook of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Davis was a member of the Johnson Chapel Freewill Baptist Church. The funeral was held Monday at 2:00 p.m. at the Chapel of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Elmore Judd and Tim Judd officiated and burial followed in the Peeled Chestnut Cemetery.

Davis was preceded in death by his brother, Scott Lee Davis; an uncle, Bobby Rice; and his paternal grandparents, Leonna and Norman Davis.

Survivors include his parents, Jimmy "Hammer" and Connie Davis; maternal grandparents, Bob and Ruth Rice; four uncles, Jack and wife Mary Davis, Kenneth and wife Shawn Rice, Terry Rice, and Les and wife Regina Davis; and one aunt, Tootsie Taylor all of Sparta. Two nieces, Kylee Davis and Kyra Agee both of Smithville.

Love-Cantrell Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements

Seats up for Grabs in 13th Judicial District Elections

December 30, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Some of the hottest races in the 2014 elections may be in the 13th Judicial District where three open seats are to be filled including two judgeships and the District Attorney General office. The Incumbent District Public Defender, David Brady will also be challenged for re-election.

Incumbent Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns, Jr. and Circuit Court Judge John Maddux will be retiring from the bench when their terms expire on August 31, 2014 and Incumbent District Attorney General Randall York has announced that he will not be running for re-election as D.A. but instead will be seeking Judge Maddux's seat in the 2014 elections.

Criminal Court Judge David Patterson, Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars, and Chancellor Ronald Thurman plan to seek re-election.

WJLE contacted each county election commission in the 13th Judicial District Monday morning for a list of persons who have picked up petitions.

Of the seven counties in the district, only Putnam, Cumberland, White, and Overton have had candidates from those counties to pick up petitions. Some candidates have already completed and returned the petitions.

Candidates who have picked up qualifying petitions to run for offices in the 13th Judicial District in the May 6th Democratic Primary are as follows:

Ronald Thurman of Putnam County for Chancellor (Incumbent)

William F. Roberson of Putnam County for Criminal Court Judge, Part I (now held by Judge Burns) Petition picked up and returned.

Anthony Craighead of Putnam County for District Attorney General

David N. Brady of Putnam County for District Public Defender (Incumbent)

Amy Hollars of Overton County for Circuit Court Judge, Part I (Incumbent)

Randall York of Cumberland County for Circuit Court Judge, Part II (now held by Judge Maddux) Petition picked up and returned.

Candidates who have picked up qualifying petitions to run for offices in the 13th Judicial District in the May 6th Republican Primary are as follows:

Johnathan Young of Putnam County for Circuit Court Judge, Part II (now held by Judge Maddux) Petition picked up and returned.

Wesley Bray of Putnam County for Criminal Court Judge, Part I (now held by Judge Burns) Petition picked up and returned.

Gary McKenzie of Putnam County for Criminal Court Judge, Part I (now held by Judge Burns)

David A. Patterson of Putnam County for Criminal Court Judge, Part II. (Incumbent) Petition picked up and returned.

Bryant C. Dunaway of Putnam County for District Attorney General

Shawn C. Fry of Putnam County for District Attorney General. Petition picked up and returned.

Craig P. Fickling of Putnam County for District Public Defender. Petition picked up and returned.

John M. Meadows of White County for District Public Defender. Petition picked up and returned.

The qualifying deadline is noon February 20, 2014. Candidates running for judicial offices in the 13th district must file qualifying petitions with their home county election commission office. Copies of their qualifying petitions must be filed with the other counties in the district to get their names on the May 6th primary ballots in those counties.

Winners of the primaries will run in the August General Election.

Fire Victim Laid to Rest

December 28, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Michael Dewayne Stoglin

The man who is believed to have perished in a mobile home fire Christmas eve morning was laid to rest today (Saturday).

The service for 59 year old Michael Dewayne Stoglin was held today (Saturday) at 2:00 p.m. at DeKalb Funeral Chapel. Burial followed in DeKalb Memorial Gardens. Danny Bandy and Michael Hale officiated.

The fire occurred at Stoglin's home at 218 Poplar Place in Lakeview Mountain Estates just before 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Section. The body found inside the home was sent to Nashville for an autopsy. Local officials have refused to release the man's name pending confirmation of a positive identification. But after the autopsy was completed, the body was released to the funeral home and final arrangements were made by the Stoglin family.

Stoglin was preceded in death by his Father, Kenneth Stoglin. He was a Freewill Baptist and a machine mechanic.

He is survived by three Children; his mother, Bonnie Summers of Smithville; three brothers, Johnny Stoglin of Smithville, Ronnie and wife Veronica Stoglin of Chattanooga, and Randy and wife Tammy Summers of Smithville. A sister, Dianne and husband Dewayne Allen of Cookeville. Several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and many special friends also survive.

In lieu of flowers, the family ask that donations be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital in memory of Michael. DeKalb Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

Federal Indictments Against UCDD Officials Top Local News Story of 2013

December 27, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Wendy Askins
 Jacob Billings died in bicycle accident in May
Man dies in Christmas Eve Fire at 218 Poplar Place
Howard Dixon Convicted in 2012 Double Murder
Former Smithville Mayor Cecil Burger died in January
Liberty Mayor Edward Hale died in May
All Five Schools Now Have SRO Officers
Construction Begins on new Sligo Bridge
Construction Begins on new Sligo Bridge
Putnam County woman dies after driving SUV in Lake in May
Construction Begins on DeKalb West School Tornado Safe Rooms
Two Drownings on Center Hill Lake
Kyle Thomas of Alexandria awarded a scholarship on national television
Body of Joseph Loupe found in lake three years after he went missing
February Manhunt in Bright Hill Road area
Christopher Nicholas Orlando died parole in 2002 Murder
Gerald Wayne Bounds granted parole after serving 32 years in 1981 Murder
Six Fatalities on DeKalb County Roads in 2013.
Josh Miller elected Smithville Alderman in June
Dwight Mathis elected Mayor of Liberty in August
Tony Tarpley (right) appointed Mayor of Alexandria
DCHS Golfer Mallory Sullivan competes for fourth year in State Tournament
New Dollar General Store Opened on Snow Hill
Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 50 years in DeKalb County
Sandy Willingham named DeKalb Teacher of the Year
DCHS Football MVP Lucas Phillips and MVC Callie Gash
DCHS Basketball MVPs Chelsea Lewis, Braxton Atnip and MVC Kaylee Cantrell
DCHS Football MVP Lucas Phillips and MVC Callie Gash
Tracy Slone of Murfreesboro (left) named new DCHS baseball coach
John Boulware of Kimball (right) named Grand Champion Fiddler at Jamboree
DCHS Senior Erin Cantrell-Pryor received more than $212,500 in scholarships,
Norvell breaks ground for new 15,000 square foot facility in Alexandria
Graduation night for DCHS Class of 2013

The controversy surrounding the "Living the Dream" home for the elderly in Putnam County and federal indictments against three people including County Mayor Mike Foster stemming from the investigation of it serves as the top local news story of the year in DeKalb County.

In September, Former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins and former Deputy Director Larry Webb were named in a sixteen count federal grand jury indictment accusing them of conspiring to misuse government funds at the "Living the Dream" complex.

The grand jury also indicted Foster, the former Chairman of the UCDD Board of Directors, alleging that he read a statement that he knew was false at the UCDD board's January 19, 2012 meeting to cover up Askins' and Webb's alleged illegal activity.

The cases against the three are currently scheduled for trial on May 20, 2014.

In the latest development as WJLE first reported, Hal Hardin, the attorney for County Mayor Foster has filed a motion asking the federal court to dismiss the case against Foster claiming that "Mr. Foster is entitled to dismissal of the charge because the "statements" he made are ambiguous to such an extent that they cannot be prosecuted as a crime".

Hardin has also filed a motion for a "Bill of Particulars" seeking specificity of the charge against Foster, and a motion for "Severance" claiming that Foster would be prejudiced by a joint trial with his co-defendants Wendy Askins and Larry Webb.

Other major news stories of the year in DeKalb County included:

*The tragic death in May of 14 year old Jacob Billings in a bicycle accident with two vehicles on Casey Cove Road.

* A Christmas eve fire that claimed the life of 59 year old Michael Dewayne Stoglin at 218 Poplar Place in Lakeview Mountain Estates.

*45 year old David Howard Dixon pleads guilty to two counts of second degree murder in the August 7, 2012 shootings of 55 year old Ervin Raymon Beacham and Jose Sagahon Ticante on Tommy Harrell Street in Smithville. Judge David Patterson sentenced Dixon to 35 years in each case to run concurrently with each other for a total of 35 years.

*The death of two long time city leaders, former Smithville Mayor Cecil Burger and Liberty Mayor Edward Hale.

*The successful effort to get SRO officers in all five schools

*The awarding of a construction contract on the new Sligo bridge and the completion of construction on Hurricane bridge.

*The death of 40 year old Nancy Randolph of Putnam County after she drove her SUV into Center Hill Lake.

* Two teenage boys accused of forcing their way into the home of a Smithville woman and then assaulting and robbing her were taken into custody the next day while at school. They are to be tried as adults.

*The shooting of 54 year old Randy Gerald Petty, who drew a weapon on officers of the sheriff's department. Petty later recovered.

*Construction begins on the new addition including several "tornado safe rooms" at DeKalb West School.

*The drownings of 19 year old Ricardo Duenas of McMinnville in June and 27 year old William Bates of Tullahoma in September

* OTHER TRAFFIC FATALITIES: The death of 29 year old Joshua Jernigan of Mount Juliet in a motorcycle crash on Dale Ridge Road; 69 year old Haskel Hawkins, Jr. of Smithville died in a car crash on Highway 146 (Short Mountain Highway); 53 year old Lisa Fineis of Alexandria lost her life in a pickup truck crash on Highway 70 between Dowelltown and Liberty; 61 year old Michael J. Dean of Smithville was found dead in an automobile accident on Four Seasons Road; 62 year old Lebanon Dentist Dr. Steven Thaxton with ties to DeKalb County died in a motorcycle accident in Lebanon; 38 year Nathan Estes died in a pickup truck crash on Highway 264 (Temperance Hall Road) just across the county line in Smith County; A head-on crash on Highway 53 near the DeKalb line in Smith County claimed the life of 68 year old Wanda Williams of Brush Creek; 24 year old Joshua Maston Owens of Alexandria died in a single vehicle traffic accident in Murfreesboro; 65 year old Linda Summers of Smithville lost her life in a two vehicle accident in Rockwood; 82 year old Mildred Spencer of the Temperance Hall area died two days after being involved in a two car crash at the intersection of Highway 53 and New Hope Road in Alexandria.

*20-year-old Kyle Thomas of Alexandria awarded a scholarship on the nationally televised Ricki Lake TV show.

*The legal battle between the DeKalb Utility District and the City of Smithville over DUD plans to build a water treatment plant.

*The body of a man found floating in Center Hill Lake was positively identified as Joseph Loupe of Rutherford County. Loupe's badly decomposed body was spotted by a fisherman on what would have been the victim's 45th birthday. The remains surfaced near where his boat was found on the day of his disappearance three years ago.

* 35 year old Howard Eugene Brown of Smithville leads authorities on a three county pursuit before bailing out of pickup truck on Bright Hill Road and escaping on foot. He was later arrested at his home on Green Acre Drive.

*40 year old Christopher Nicholas Orlando, serving a 45 year prison sentence, denied parole in the death of 20 year old Joshua Murphy who was shot and killed in September 2002.

*66 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds granted parole after serving 32 years for the fatal shooting of Sherman Wright in 1981.

* Elderly man kidnapped at knifepoint in Smithville and then forced to withdraw funds from his bank account at an ATM machine. The man's abductors later drove him to McMinnville where he made his escape and called police. 29 year old Amanda Maxwell is charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, theft over $1,000, and aggravated assault. 31 year old Charles Wayne Reagan is charged with aggravated kidnapping and theft over $1,000.

WJLE HAS COMPILED A SUMMARY OF THE TOP NEWS STORIES MONTH BY MONTH FROM JANUARY TO DECEMBER AS FOLLOWS.

JANUARY:
*Former Smithville Mayor and alderman Cecil Ray Burger passed away at NHC Healthcare Center. He was 89 years old. Mr. Burger served the City of Smithville for more than forty five years, including sixteen years as mayor and six years as alderman. Burger was first elected mayor in 1990. He served eight terms, sixteen years in that office until 2006 when he chose instead to run for alderman. He ended his long career with the city on June 30, 2012 when his third term as alderman came to an end. Mr. Burger began his career with the city in 1966 as secretary-treasurer, which also meant overseeing the city's public works operation and city employees. He served as city judge for the first couple of years as well. Burger retired from the secretary-treasurer position in 1989 but came out of retirement fifteen months later after being elected mayor in 1990.

*The DeKalb County Board of Education approved an architect contract with Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects of Mount Juliet for the DeKalb West School building project. The school system recently received final approval for a FEMA grant to fund the classroom addition including eight tornado "safe rooms".

*Morris Multimedia, the owner of the Smithville Review announced that it had acquired the DeKalb County Times newspaper.

*The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen received both public praise for and public appeals to reconsider passage of an ordinance amendment allowing 24-7 beer sales and on premises permits in eligible businesses. After the public comment period at a January meeting, the aldermen adopted the minutes from the regular meeting on December 17 and special meeting on December 27 and moved on to other business. They did not reconsider their vote on the beer ordinance amendment and the mayor did not cast a veto.

*A sheriff's department detective doing a New Year's Day welfare check on a child arrested a man after finding meth lab components in the home. 39 year old Scott Lynn Sykes of Alexander Street, Smithville was charged with initiation of a process intended to manufacture methamphetamine. Sykes admitted that these items belonged to him. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. The house was placed under quarantine.

*The sheriff's department and Tennessee Bomb and Arson investigated a suspicious fire in Liberty. Lieutenant Anthony Boyd of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department told WJLE that firefighters were called to a vacant home at 226 Eckles Heights Street. The home belonged to Debbie Hardaway. The home, which was up for sale, contained some furnishings but no one lived there. The cause and origin of the fire were not immediately determined, according to Lieutenant Boyd but the upstairs and the back left side of the home were destroyed in the blaze with heat, water, and smoke damage to other parts of the house.

*DeKalb County School buses passed state inspection. State Trooper Darryl Winningham, inspector for this district, told WJLE that he had completed his weeklong evaluation of the thirty three buses in the fleet along with the seven substitute buses and all passed inspection. "We do annual inspections on all buses but we also do spot checks through the year if we have a reason. Every bus we've run through passed inspection. Right now we're at 100% here. We work to ensure that everything is properly working on a bus before it gets back on the highway," he said.

*The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department apparently solved a rash of burglaries and thefts in the Dowelltown and Dry Creek Road area with the arrest of two men. 24 year old Allen R. Lester, Jr. of Church Street, Dowelltown and 18 year old Ronald Deshon Reeder of Smith Road, Smithville. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that the burglaries and thefts occurred on December 28 and from January 7-10 mostly in Dowelltown but also on Dry Creek Road in the area from New Home Road to the city limits of Smithville. There were nine victims altogether. According to Sheriff Ray, Lester was responsible for the actual burglaries and thefts. Reeder is charged with Lester in three of the crimes on Dry Creek Road because he rode along with Lester and sat in the vehicle, while Lester was out committing the burglaries and thefts, knowing what Lester was doing. Sheriff Ray said after Lester was identified as a suspect, detectives and officers of the Sheriff's Department raided his home and found most of stolen items.

*An Alexandria man, who was left paralyzed by a tragic car accident two years ago in DeKalb County, was surprised with a full tuition-paid, four-year grant to Colorado Technical University on the nationally televised Ricki Lake Show. The grant, presented to 20-year-old Kyle Thomas, will help him pursue his dream of earning a college degree. The grant was announced as part of the show's "Hidden Heroes" series led by cosmetic dentist and TV personality Dr. Bill Dorfman. Thomas plans to use the CTU grant to earn his bachelor's degree through Colorado Technical University's award-winning virtual campus, which offers flexibility in taking classes online, from anywhere and anytime.

*A mistrial was declared after a day long jury trial of 54 year old Jeffrey Leigh Sloan of Sparta charged with the misdemeanor offense of boating under the influence on Center Hill Lake. After deliberating for two hours, the jury of ten women and two men informed Judge Leon Burns, Jr. that they could not reach a unanimous decision on a verdict. Had he been found guilty, Sloan could have received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days and fined from $250 to $2,500. Sloan might also have lost his boating privileges. Sloan was arrested on the night of October 7, 2011 by TWRA officers Nick Luper and Mike Beaty .

*Saying they desire a "level playing field", several store owners, licensed to sell packaged beer at their establishments in the county came before the DeKalb County Beer Board to find out how they can be afforded the same opportunity as city stores to extend their hours for selling beer. The meeting was called, apparently for the purpose of allowing store owners to speak on this issue. No other business was discussed, other than approval of the minutes from the last meeting. Beer Board members informed the store owners that they would have to see County Mayor Mike Foster about getting this issue placed on the agenda for the next county commission meeting.

*Steve Repasy of the Midway Station was named the "2012 County Firefighter of the Year", for the second consecutive year during the department's annual awards banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex. Captain Brad Mullinax received the "Officer of the Year" award. The "Rookie" award went to Kristie Johnson of the Main Station. Ronald Merriman of the Keltonburg Station was presented an Honorary Lifetime Membership award. Thirteen firefighters were recognized and presented pins for their years of service.

*Smithville Volunteer firefighter Danny Poss received the "Highest Attendance Award during an appreciation dinner for city firefighters at the Smithville First United Methodist Christian Fellowship Center. The award was presented to Poss by Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker. Poss attended the most incidents, training, and activities during 2012. A total of 124 out of 148 calls. Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale was next having attended 114 calls and Lieutenant John Poss attended 105 calls. Meanwhile city firefighters were also presented pins for years of service.

*Senior Quarterback Lucas Phillips was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012 DeKalb County High School Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center building. The awards were sponsored by Liberty State Bank. The MVP trophy was presented to Phillips by Coach Steve Trapp. Phillips helped lead the Tigers to an overall 10-2 record and another appearance in the state play-offs in 2012. The team won its first ever home playoff game but was eliminated the following week in the second round at Livingston Academy. Coach Trapp said Phillips had 5,368 yards passing for his high school career and threw for 71 touchdowns in twenty eight games played. Phillips rushed for 1,307 yards on 263 carries and scored thirteen rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Senior Callie Gash was named Most Valuable Cheerleader. The presentation was made by Cheer Coaches Amanda Fuller and Sonya House.

*The Genesis Diner on Highway 70 in Alexandria was heavily damaged by fire. The restaurant was apparently closed at the time and no one was there. The Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department quickly responded with mutual aid support from the Liberty station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and the Watertown fire department. There were apparently no injuries.

*After months of delay, the new Sligo bridge is expected to be under construction by this summer. During a meeting with County Mayor Mike Foster and the county commission, Paul Degges, Chief Engineer of the Tennessee Department of Transportation said bids will likely be opened in April or May with construction to begin soon after. Before TDOT could begin with the project, it had to work out a deal on right of way acquisition with the only landowner in the area, being the federal government, through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The problem was that owners of Sligo Marina, who have a lease with the Corps were concerned that the bridge construction would adversely affect their business. The marina owners wanted the state to pay for potential loss of business to them during the construction of the bridge. But Degges, in previous forums, had said that the state cannot legally pay for those types of damages. Over time, TDOT re-designed plans for the bridge hoping to address concerns to the satisfaction of Sligo Marina, but to no avail. So, the state came up with another alternative. To build the bridge from the river. Barges will be assembled on the river for the cranes and other equipment needed in construction. The project will be more costly to build the bridge from the river, according to Degges but the marina will not be impacted in this manner. The project will let for bids this spring and be under construction by summer and should be finished within twenty four to thirty months.

*As expected, the county commission took no action on authorizing 24-7 sales for stores licensed to sell packaged beer in the county as Smithville did for city stores in December. With several people both for and against the proposal in attendance waiting to hear what the county commission would do, County Mayor Mike Foster announced that the commission would do nothing until a public hearing is scheduled to give citizens a chance to express their views. Foster said the commissioners want to take some time to see how the changes made in the city are working out.

*A 35 year old sex offender, accused of showing up on school property during a soccer game last August, appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, January 23. James Hesson pleaded guilty to violation of the sex offender registry under a negotiated settlement. Judge Leon Burns, Jr. gave Hesson a two year sentence to serve. He was given jail credit from August 31, 2012 to January 23. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, August 31, Hesson violated the sex offender registry law by being on school property where children were present. Hesson was told to leave the school grounds due to his being a sex offender and that he was not to be within one thousand feet of the school property line. Shortly thereafter, Hesson was found in the back yard of property adjoining the high school where he was watching children at play during a sports event after regular school hours. Sheriff Ray said that Hesson was well aware that he was not to be near school property.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Falls to 7.1% in November

December 27, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's Unemployment rate for November was 7.1%, down from 8.1% in October. The rate for November 2012 was also 7.1%.

The local labor force for November 2013 was 9,560. A total of 8,880 were employed and 680 were without work.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for November was fifth lowest in the Upper Cumberland Region. Here's how the fourteen counties ranked from highest to lowest:

Pickett County: 12%
Van Buren County: 10%
Clay County: 10%
White County: 9.9%
Jackson County: 9.2%
Cumberland County: 8.4%
Overton County: 8.3%
Fentress County: 8.1%
Warren County: 7.9%
DeKalb County: 7.1%
Macon County: 6.6%
Putnam County: 6.6%
Smith County: 6.1%
Cannon County: 5.8%

County unemployment rates for November show the rate increased in one county, decreased in 93, and remained the same in one county.

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.8 percent, down from 6.7 percent in October. Knox County’s November rate was 5.9 percent, down from 6.7 percent the previous month. Hamilton County was down from 8.0 to 7.1 percent. Shelby County was 9.4 percent, down from 10.1 percent in October.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for November is 8.1 percent, which is four tenths of one percentage point lower than the October revised rate. The national unemployment rate for November 2013 was 7.0 percent, down three tenths of one percentage point from October.

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