A double murder/suicide, Destructive storms, a missing Nashville surgeon on Center Hill lake, and several fatalities and drownings sadly were among the top news stories of the year for 2011 in DeKalb County
21 year old Heather Nichole Eley and her step mother 42 year old Lori Ann Eley were found dead in their home on Thursday, October 27 on Allen's Chapel Road. They had been shot and stabbed. The suspect, 22 year old Brandon Michael Gray, later shot himself and died the next day at Vanderbilt Hospital. He was the ex-boyfriend of Heather Eley.(See more details below in the October listing of local news stories)
A Nashville surgeon went missing while kayaking on Center Hill Lake on Sunday, October 2 and has hasn't been seen since. Sheriff Patrick Ray said the disappearance of Dr. William Coltharp, who was last seen on the lake near Hurricane boat ramp, is still considered a "missing person" case. All efforts to locate him or his body have been unsuccessful. However, Coltharp's kayak, life jacket, a pair of kayak gloves, computer and gun case have been recovered. (See more details below in the October listing of local news stories)
Three other people died in 2011 as the result of drownings on Center Hill Lake in DeKalb County including a 17 year old Springfield boy who drowned Memorial Day weekend while swimming at the Floating Mill Recreation area on Center Hill Lake Sunday, May 29. His name was never released because he was a juvenile. A Labor Day outing on Center Hill Lake turned tragic for a Murfreesboro family on Monday, September 5 as the body of 10 year old Elizabeth Grace Hathaway was recovered from the lake near their houseboat at Hidden Harbor Marina. The child was the victim of a drowning. On Wednesday, October 26 the body of a 70 year old Putnam County man was recovered from Center Hill Lake at Cookeville Boat Dock in DeKalb County. Dead is Mineth (Doc) Burchett of Cookeville. Burchett's body was found in about eight feet of water near the boat dock, only a few feet from his boat. His death was later determined to be the result of drowning.(See more details below in the May, September, & October local news stories)
A boating accident on Saturday, August 20 claimed the life of one person and injured two others. Dead is 41 year old Robert S. Schafer of Brentwood. Those injured were 36 year old Melinda M. McGee and 35 year old John Carter Collins both of Nashville. TWRA Officer Tony Cross told WJLE that the boat, a 22 foot Cobalt runabout, was underway on the lake when it ran aground and overturned, pinning Schafer, the operator, underneath. He died at the scene. The crash occurred about three miles from Hidden Harbor Marina in the Raccoon Hollow area.
Four people died in traffic accidents on DeKalb County Roads in 2011, including two pedestrians. 49 year David Lynn Judkins, walking near the middle of Jefferson Road, was killed after being struck by a motorist on Sunday night, May 29 (Memorial Day weekend).An elderly Nashville woman died from injuries in a one car crash on Highway 70 east near the Gentleman's Club location on Saturday, August 13.. Dead is 75 year old Gale Link of Nashville. Link was a passenger of a 1997 Mazda Miata convertible, driven by 56 year old Eddie Doss also of Nashville. A 33 year old pedestrian lost her life after being accidentally struck by a motorist on Highway 70 near DeKalb Market on Friday night, September 9. Dead is Christina Adams of Hodges Road. A Murfreesboro man died in a motorcycle crash Wednesday, October 12 on State Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road).Dead is 41 year old William Ellis, Jr. Trooper Todd Logan of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Ellis, operating a 2005 Yamaha motorcycle, was traveling south on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when he failed to negotiate a curve, left the road, went down an embankment, and struck a tree. Ellis, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike.
Severe thunderstorms spawning tornadoes, straight line winds, and flash floods wreaked havoc in various parts of the county on several occasions from March to May. The worst damage occurred on Thursday, May 26 when a tornado touched down in the middle of the night in Smithville, destroying the South Congress BP convenience market on Highway 56 in the city limits. The storm caused roof damage to Smithville Elementary School, and the new county complex, which at the time was still under construction . Trees were uprooted and blown down in yards including in the South College Street and Meadowbrook Drive area. Several homes, barns, and sheds were damaged from the high winds. The storm struck on what was the last day of school for the summer. All schools opened on time that day, except for Smithville Elementary School, which could not open due to the storm damage.
A severe thunderstorm which is believed to have spawned a tornado blew through Alexandria on Wednesday, March 23 causing structure damage to a few homes and outbuildings. Two buildings on the DeKalb County Fairgrounds known as Jennings Produce and Jennings Barber Shop were completely destroyed. Heavy damage was also inflicted on the Alexandria City Park and the Alexandria Lions Club Softball Field. The Mahome community between Alexandria and Watertown was also hit hard with damage to homes and barns and numerous uprooted or blown down trees. Damage was also reported at homes on East Main Street just off the town square in Alexandria.
Just twelve days after the Alexandria storm, DeKalb County was hammered again by another round of severe weather on Monday, April 4 with the Jefferson and Keltonburg communities taking the hardest blows this time. Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, said high winds uprooted trees, blew off shingles, metal roofing and guttering from homes, and ripped off tin from barn roof tops and outbuildings. One of the worst hit areas was at the residence of Woody and Carolyn Adcock on Jefferson Road where a free standing garage behind the house collapsed onto the vehicles parked inside
From high winds early in the morning to high water during the afternoon, DeKalb County was pounded yet again by another day of springtime storms on Wednesday, April 27. Portions of DeKalb County were placed under a tornado warning at least three times during the day but no touchdowns were reported, although high winds from the storms blew down trees in various locations and caused some power outages. DeKalb County Schools were also closed for the day due to the storms. Heavy downpours of rains caused street flooding in many areas and several creeks overflowed. High water forced the closure of a portion of the Old Nashville Highway at Dowelltown for a period of time. Rising creek waters also came dangerously close to a few homes, especially at Dowelltown and Alexandria, but apparently no one had to be evacuated. No widespread structure damage was reported across the county although the Industrial Machine Services facility in Alexandria needed some roof repairs due to the high winds.
The board of education and county commission had confrontations this year over the budget and the purchase of land for a new school. (See local stories below in the January, April, and August segments)
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE TOP NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR (MONTH BY MONTH):
*The DeKalb County Board of Education, during a special meeting, voted unanimously to enter into a contract to buy land on Allen's Ferry Road for the future site of a new DCHS complex, subject to approval by the county commission and a favorable site assessment study by the engineers who will do the core drilling, etc. on the property. The fifty seven acre site, which is located near the existing DCHS/DeKalb Middle School campuses, belongs to Mark and Karen Adams, Melvin and LeeAnn Crips, and Billy Crips. The purchase price is $374,000.
*A Rock Island man, convicted of reckless homicide in the 2009 brutal beating of 24 year old David Joseph Clark on Center Hill Lake, received a four year prison sentence in DeKalb County Criminal Court. 39 year old James Vernon, under an agreement between his attorney, assistant district public defender Allison Rasbury and assistant district attorney general Greg Strong, accepted the four year sentence rather than go through with a sentencing hearing. The range of punishment for reckless homicide is two to four years. He was originally charged with first degree murder.
*Dick Kinsey, Commander of the Short Mountain Highway Station was named "2010 County Firefighter of the Year" during the department's annual awards banquet held at the Smithville Church of God annex. Lieutenant Anthony Boyd, for the second year in a row, received the "Officer of the Year" award. The "Rookie" award went to Kevin Adcock of the Short Mountain Station. The Git-R-Done award went to Billy Fuson of the Belk Station.
*Senior running back Kevin Kijanski was named Most Valuable Player of the 2010 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. Meanwhile, Quincie Winchester, a senior, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader
*Seven people were injured in a January crash which occurred on Highway 70 just east of Alexandria near the stock barn including 42 year old Timothy Estes, 47 year old David Glenn Cole of Watertown, 30 year old Brandyn Lee Wright of Smithville, and 37 year old Shirley Ann Hardy, 30 year old Jeff Bush, 16 year old Dustin Lee Hardy, and 12 year old Devyn Wayne Jones all of Rutledge, Alabama. According to Trooper Dewaine Jennings, Ms Hardy was traveling west on U.S. 70 in a blue 1994 Honda Accord when a maroon 1999 Chrysler Sebring, driven by Estes, came up behind her at a high rate of speed. According to Ms. Hardy, the driver seemed anxious to pass her, making more than one attempt to do so. When Estes finally pulled into the eastbound lane to pass Hardy, he found himself in the path of an approaching black 2000 Ford Focus, driven by Wright. The Estes car struck Wright's vehicle, causing Hardy's car to also be involved in the crash. Estes's car ripped apart in the wreck. The front half of the car came to rest across the westbound lane, while the back section was off to the side of the highway. Both Estes and his passenger Cole were ejected as neither was wearing a seat belt. Estes was airlifted from the scene by an Air Evac helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Cole was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital with serious injuries and later taken by ground ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital. Hardy and her passengers, Bush, Jones, and Dustin Hardy were all taken by private vehicle to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment. Wright was treated and released at the hospital. For choosing to buckle up, Brandyn Wright received the "Saved by the Belt" Award from the Governor's Highway Safety Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. THP Sergeant Mark Dial and Trooper Dewaine Jennings presented the award to Wright in March.
*The DeKalb County School System announced it's "Teachers of the Year" at each of the five schools in the county. The honorees were Christina Ontiveros, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Lisa Mabe, a second grade teacher at Northside Elementary School; Michelle Jones, a sixth grade teacher at DeKalb Middle School; Shelia McMillen, a second grade teacher at DeKalb West School; and Jenny Norris, a teacher at DeKalb County High School.
*The new Tractor Supply Company store in Smithville opened for business in February.Tractor Supply Company is the largest retail farm and ranch supply store chain in the United States and has been operating in Tennessee since 1959
*Chase Bryant, a seventh grader at DeKalb Middle School, won the 8th annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee at DeKalb County High School. This is the second county spelling championship for Bryant, who also won the title two years ago. Bryant, the 13 year old son of Donald and Teresa Bryant of Dowelltown was among thirty nine students from the fourth grade to the eighth grade who participated in the contest.
*A Smithville Elementary School teacher and her educational assistant received a written reprimand from school officials after a four year old child left his pre-kindergarten classroom and the school building without anyone noticing. The child, Kameron Luther, was picked up by a passing motorist, Joyce Ferrell near the Regions Bank branch ATM location on Bryant Street. Ferrell took the child to the Smithville Police Department, who then alerted Dr. Bill Tanner, principal of the school. Dr. Tanner told WJLE that the teacher was out of the classroom when Kameron left and the educational assistant, who was still in the room, did not notice the child leave since it was nap time for the students and the lights were off. Dr. Tanner said he is thankful that the child was unharmed and for the actions of Mrs Ferrell.
*DeKalb County High School released the names of the Honor Students including the 2011 Valedictorian Britney Campbell and the Salutatorian Martha Webb. Campbell is the daughter of Michael Campbell and Kimberly Cox of Smithville and Webb is the daughter of Alan and Lora Webb of Smithville.
*Two former Smithville city employees, who had been charged with theft of property for allegedly taking scrap brass from the water treatment plant and selling it to a recycling center, filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court against the City of Smithville. The suit was filed Thursday, February 17th. 45 year old Kenny Waymon Dyal, Sr. and 42 year old Christopher Derrick Ferrell are asking for a jury trial. They want their old jobs back, compensatory damages for wages and benefits lost during the period of their unemployment, punitive damages for intentional, malicious, and reckless conduct of the city, for attorney fees and costs, and any other relief to which they may be properly and justly entitled. In the event they cannot be given back their jobs, Dyal and Ferrell are seeking lost differential wages and benefits to the date of their expected retirement. Dyal was the supervisor of the Smithville Water Treatment Plant and Ferrell was a city maintenance employee and water meter reader. In January, Dyal and Ferrell appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court where, under a settlement, they agreed to make restitution in the amount of $1,348 jointly and severally. Once each defendant pays his half of the restitution or $674, the case against him will be dismissed and his record expunged
*After months of delay and indecision on the future of the golf course, the Smithville aldermen voted 5 to 0 to enter into a ten year lease agreement with Tony Poss to operate the Smithville Municipal Golf and Swim Club. Poss will pay the city $100 per year in rent. After the first ten years, Poss will have an option to extend the term of the lease agreement for an additional ten years.
*City secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson had to serve out a five day suspension without pay for allegedly "deliberately falsifying city records" in violation of city rules of conduct based on findings in a state audit. The Smithville aldermen voted 3 to 2 to impose the suspension, based upon a recommendation of city attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. Aldermen Aaron Meeks, Shawn Jacobs, and Cecil Burger voted for the suspension but Alderman Stephen White and W.J. (Dub) White voted against the suspension because they wanted to fire Hendrixson. Prior to the vote on the suspension, Alderman Stephen White made a motion to dismiss Hunter Hendrixson. Alderman W.J. (Dub) White seconded the motion but Aldermen Meeks, Jacobs and Burger voted against firing him so White's motion failed on a 2 to 3 vote.
*The Tennessee Highway Patrol honored it's Troopers of the Year and a DeKalb County man was among them. Trooper Charlie Caplinger was named Trooper of the Year for the Nashville District. On August 23, 2010, Trooper Caplinger, currently assigned to the Special Programs Division, responded to a citizen report of a burglary at a residence (in another county). Working an overtime assignment at the time, Trooper Caplinger requested assistance and then took action. Upon arriving at the scene, he observed a male running from the home and into the woods. Trooper Caplinger instructed the suspect to throw away his weapon and surrender. The suspect refused and moments later, a gunshot was heard and Trooper Caplinger believed he was under fire. Caplinger returned fire, provided cover and directions to the assisting Trooper, who later located the male deceased from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Trooper Caplinger confirmed his bravery and dedication in protecting the citizens of Tennessee. Trooper Caplinger was among several State Troopers who received Trooper of the Year honors in their respective districts.
*The DeKalb County Board of Education, by a five of 5 to 2, offered Director of Schools Mark Willoughby a new three year employment contract during the regular monthly meeting which was held at DeKalb West School. The agreement, which Willoughby signed, took effect July 1st, 2011 and runs through June 30th, 2014. Seventh district member Johnny Lattimore made the motion to offer the contract with essentially the same terms as the previous contract. Willoughby's base salary will remain at the current level of $93,067 per year except for any additional raises that the state or local government may approve for educators. Third district member Kenny Rhody offered a second to Lattimore's motion. Fourth district member Billy Miller tried unsuccessfully to amend Lattimore's motion saying that this contract does not specify what the board expects of Willoughby other than to run the school system. Sixth district member Bruce Parsley joined Miller in voting against the contract offer.
*A 25 year old Roel Celaya Sosa was charged with statutory rape after allegedly having sex with a fifteen year old girl in an unoccupied classroom at Smithville Elementary during a "Read Night" program on Monday evening, March 7th. Detective Matt Holmes, who investigated the case, told WJLE that on the night of the offense, the fifteen year old girl was at the school to look after her younger brother who was participating in"Read Night", a teacher supervised program where parents and students come to school after hours and read together. The mother of these two children had apparently dropped them off at the school and then returned later to pick them up. After arriving at the school that night, the fifteen year old met up with Sosa and they separated themselves from others in the building. According to Detective Holmes, a custodian later saw Sosa and the victim standing in the hallway and told them they were not supposed to be there. The next day, Detective Holmes said the custodian informed Principal Dr. Bill Tanner of the incident and he contacted the victim's mother. She then reported it to School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead, who contacted the Department of Children Services and Detective Holmes. In November, Sosa received a two year sentence for statutory rape in DeKalb County Criminal Court after entering into a plea agreement by information. He must also register with the state as a sexual offender. Sosa has been given credit for time served
*DeKalb County grew 7.5% to a population of 18,723 according to 2010 census results released by the government. That's an increase of 1,300 people from the 17,423 count in the 2000 census for DeKalb County. The DeKalb County Hispanic population almost doubled going from 633 to 1,239. The cities of Smithville, Alexandria, and Dowelltown experienced some growth over the last ten years but Liberty's population decreased. 2010 census figures show Smithville's population at 4,530, an increase of 13.4%. That's 536 more people than the 3,994 counted in the 2000 census. Alexandria's population is at 966, an 18.7% increase or 152 more people than the 2000 census count of 814. Dowelltown's population count grew by 53 people from 302 to 355, an increase of 17.5%. Liberty's population dropped from 367 to 310, a decrease of 57 people or 15.5%.
*Attorneys for a local family involved in an April 2010 traffic accident with a DeKalb County School bus filed a circuit court lawsuit in March, 2011 seeking a total of one million dollars in damages against the bus driver Walter Phillips, individually; DeKalb County, and Phillips' employer, the DeKalb County Board of Education. Ashley Spivey is suing on behalf of herself and her minor children, Isaac Dyal and Alissa Dyal, asking for "a money judgment in favor of herself in the amount of $300,000; for a money judgment in favor of herself for loss of consortium in the amount of $100,000; for a money judgment in favor of her daughter Alissa Dyal, a minor, in the amount of $300,000; and for a money judgment in favor of her son, Isaac Dyal, a minor, in the amount of $300,000. The accident occurred on Tuesday afternoon, April 27th, 2010 near the school zone at the intersection of North Congress Boulevard and Smith Road in front of Northside Elementary School. Phillips and the eighteen students aboard his bus (#3) escaped injury. However, Kenny Waymon Dyal, Jr., Ashley LeAnn Spivey, Alissa Dyal, and Isaac Dyal, who were in the 1992 Chevy Blazer that struck the bus, were injured in the crash and taken to the hospital. After conducting the investigation that day, Lieutenant Randy Maynard of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that bus # 3, driven by 81 year old Walter Phillips, had just left the school with the students and was on Smith Road, turning south on Highway 56 when a Chevy Blazer, driven by 23 year old Kenny Waymon Dyal, Jr. of Smithville, struck the bus. Dyal was traveling north on Highway 56 (North Congress Boulevard). The impact damaged the rear left side of the bus and detached the rear axle from the frame. The bus had to be towed away and the blazer was totaled. Lieutenant Maynard said the three persons in the Blazer with Dyal were 23 year old Ashley LeAnn Spivey and their children, a two year old girl (Alissa Dyal) and a one year old boy (Isaac Dyal).
*A severe thunderstorm which apparently spawned a tornado blew through Alexandria causing some structure damage to a few homes and outbuildings. Two buildings on the DeKalb County Fairgrounds known as Jennings Produce and Jennings Barber Shop were completely destroyed. Heavy damage was also inflicted on the Alexandria City Park and the Alexandria Lions Club Softball Field. The Mahome community between Alexandria and Watertown was also hit hard with damage to homes and barns and numerous uprooted or blown down trees. Damage was also reported at homes on East Main Street just off the town square in Alexandria.
*Seniors Martha Webb and Destry Wiggins were named the 2011 DCHS basketball Most Valuable Players at the annual team banquet, while Juniors Allison Judkins and Ashlee Whitehead were each selected as Most Valuable Cheerleaders. The awards were presented by Chad Kirby of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory Chad's grandfather, Allen D. Hooper
*Just twelve days after fierce winds from a severe thunderstorm dipped down in Alexandria causing property damage, DeKalb County was hammered again by another round of storms in April with the Jefferson and Keltonburg communities taking the hardest blows this time. Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, said high winds uprooted trees, blew off shingles, metal roofing and guttering from homes, and ripped off tin from barn roof tops and outbuildings. One of the worst hit areas was at the residence of Woody and Carolyn Adcock on Jefferson Road where a free standing garage behind the house collapsed onto the vehicles parked inside
*Thirteen year old Kelsey Sueanna Hedge of Smithville was crowned the Junior Miss of the Spring Blossom Pageant, which was held at the high school and sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.Hedge, daughter of David and Trina Hedge, succeeded the 2010 Junior Miss Haley Marie Hale, the fourteen year old daughter of Melissa and Chad Hale. Hedge was also named Miss Photogenic.
*Six year old Addison Jean Puckett of Smithville was named the 2011 Little Miss of the annual spring pageant sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club. Puckett, daughter of Jimmy and Anita Puckett, succeeded the retiring Little Miss Kenlee Renae Taylor, the five year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville.
*Five year old Trevor Matthew Kirby of Smithville won the Little Mister of the annual spring pageant sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club. Kirby, the son of Cindy and Clent Shehane, was also named Mister Personality of the pageant. He succeeded the 2010 Little Mister, Anthony Gage Trapp, the seven year old son of Amanda and Tony Trapp of Smithville
*Harry Lasser, a resident of Smithville and Cookeville attorney, was named to replace Nolan Turner as one of the two democratic members of the local election commission. Turner served for 32 years. He was first appointed in 1979 and completed his sixteenth and final term this year. Kenneth Moore, the other democrat on the commission, was reappointed. Moore has served since 1980. The other three members of the DeKalb County Election Commission, Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, and Jim Dean, were reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission. Vanatta and Dean began their second terms. Parker has served since 1992. All three are Republicans.
*The Smithville Police Department recently conducted an undercover drug investigation as well as a joint operation with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department which resulted in several grand jury sealed indictments and arrests in April. Evidence from the undercover operations were presented to the DeKalb County Grand resulting in sealed indictments against fourteen defendants.
*The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni awards were honored during the Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church. Casey Midgett received the Community Leader of the Year Award and Kay and John Quintero were presented the Legacy Award.
*The DeKalb County Board of Education was not allowed to purchase fifty two acres of property on the Allen Ferry Road for the future home of a new school.The DeKalb County Commission, on a 7 to 7 tie vote in April, denied the school board's request for approval of a budget amendment in the amount of $374,000 from the school system's Basic Education Program Reserve (BEP) Funds to buy the property. Eight yes votes were needed for passage. County Mayor Mike Foster, who could have broken the tie either way, chose not to vote.
*An educator from DeKalb County High School was named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" during the fourth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at DCHS. Jenny Norris received the honor and a check for $150 from Liberty State Bank, the sponsor of the banquet. The presentation was made by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank. Norris was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Christina Ontiveros from Smithville Elementary School, Michelle Jones from DeKalb Middle School, Shelia McMillen from DeKalb West School, and Lisa Mabe from Northside Elementary School.
*Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Transportation Commissioner John Schroer released a three-year transportation program in April, which includes replacement of Sligo bridge in DeKalb County. Sligo bridge, to be funded with passage of the state's 2011-12 budget, is among more than 152 individual projects in 59 Tennessee counties included in the three year program which provides $1.7 billion for highways and bridges. The proposal was presented to the Tennessee General Assembly. Transportation projects in TDOT's Region Two, which includes DeKalb County, will be funded through TDOT's state and federal aid program. TDOT officials have previously said that the estimated cost to replace Sligo bridge is $30 million dollars. The new Sligo bridge is expected to be erected some sixty feet to the north of the existing bridge and plans are for traffic to continue on the old bridge while the new structure is under construction. Right of way acquisition with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and any other adjoining landowners must also be resolved.
*From high winds early in the morning to high water during the afternoon, DeKalb County was pounded yet again by another day of springtime storms in late April. Portions of DeKalb County were placed under a tornado warning at least three times during the day but no touchdowns were reported, although high winds from the storms blew down trees in various locations and caused some power outages. DeKalb County Schools were also closed for the day due to the storms. Heavy downpours of rains caused street flooding in many areas and several creeks overflowed. High water forced the closure of a portion of the Old Nashville Highway at Dowelltown for a period of time. Rising creek waters also came dangerously close to a few homes, especially at Dowelltown and Alexandria, but no one had to be evacuated. No widespread structure damage was reported across the county although the Industrial Machine Services facility in Alexandria needed some roof repairs due to the high winds.
*Fifteen months after opening for business in Smithville, Roses closed on Saturday, May 7th.
*The DeKalb Utility District resurrected a proposal to build its own water treatment plant off Holmes Creek Road in the Yolanda Hills Drive area and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson and members of the city council are not happy about it. If the DUD goes through with it's plans, the City of Smithville stands to eventually lose it's largest water customer and over a half million dollars in sales each year. That could mean increases in water rates to city customers as well as those served by DUD, according to Mayor Hendrixson. In order to build this proposed $10 million water plant, the DUD needs financial assistance and is seeking help through USDA Rural Development's loan/grant program. The aldermen, apparently in an effort to derail DUD's funding for this project, voted in May to send a letter, written by Mayor Hendrixson, to the USDA stating the city's opposition. Jon Foutch, DUD manager, told WJLE that the DeKalb Utility District is growing, adding more customers, and the utility wants its own water treatment plant in order to better control its future water supply expansion issues. Currently, the DUD purchases almost all of its water supply from the City of Smithville except for the Silver Point Community of DeKalb County. DUD buys water to serve that area from the City of Baxter
*Almost $637,000 in scholarships were awarded to forty three members of the Class of 2011 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards Day program. Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations.
*Three of the most outstanding members of the Class of 2011 at DCHS were singled out for special recognition during the commencement program in May.. This year's White Rose Awards went to Ethan Duke and Britney Campbell while the Citizenship Award was presented to Wesley Burchfield. A total of 160 graduates received their diplomas.
*The DeKalb County Tiger baseball team punched its ticket for the state tournament in May for the second year in a row with a 12 to 2 win in five innings over the visiting East Hamilton Hurricanes in a Sub-State game played in Smithville. The Tigers won their opening game of the state tournament, beating Polk County 5 to 3 in the Blue Cross Spring Fling State Tournament in Murfreesboro. But their hopes for a state title were dashed as they lost to Lexington 5 to 2 and to Christ Academy of Knoxville 3 to 1. After falling to Lexington, the Tigers dropped into the elimination bracket for a must win game against Christ Academy of Knoxville and lost 3 to 1. The Tigers ended their season with an overall record of 28-4, a regular season district championship, a district and region tournament championship, a sub-state win, and with one victory in the state tournament in Class-AA.
*A 31 year old DeKalb County man was sentenced in May for vehicular homicide in an SUV crash at Dowelltown in December, 2009 that claimed the life of Troy Edward Bain. Dwayne Allen Reeder, on Friday, May 20, pleaded guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court to vehicular homicide and received a three year sentence to serve at least 30% as a range one offender. He was given 116 days of jail credit from August 13th, 2010 to December 6th, 2010. According to information released at the time by Lieutenant Randy Maynard of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Reeder, 39 year old Walter Redmon, 27 year old Courtney Paris and 41 year old Troy Edward Bain were traveling east on Highway 70 in a 1997 Ford Expedition. Reeder was operating the vehicle when he apparently fell asleep. The SUV went off the left side of the road and embankment. The vehicle overturned and plunged almost straight down to the creek below. Reeder, Redmon, and Paris were injured and transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. Bain died in the crash. According to Lieutenant Maynard, Bain and Redmon, back seat passengers, were ejected. They were not wearing their seatbelts. Reeder and Paris, in the front seat, were apparently wearing their seatbelts.
*Work began in May on the rehabilitation of Hurricane Bridge. Several months earlier, TDOT awarded the bid to OCCI Incorporated of Fulton, Missouri at $26.9 million. The estimated project completion date is October 2013.
*A 17 year old Springfield boy drowned Memorial Day weekend while swimming at the Floating Mill Recreation area on Center Hill Lake. TWRA Officer Mike Beaty told WJLE that the young Hispanic boy was at the lake with a group of family and friends enjoying a weekend outing when the tragic incident occurred. According to Officer Beaty, the victim and another boy who were inside the designated swimming area, decided to swim the approximately 75 yard distance from the bank to the buoys on the far side. As the boys were swimming across, one of the them began screaming for help. Other swimmers in the area came to his rescue and pulled him to shore. While this boy was being tended to, the other youth who had not called out for help or shown any signs of distress, suddenly disappeared in the water. Officer Beaty said TWRA officers used side scan sonar to pinpoint the location and the Rescue Squad pulled up the body after making only three passes over the area with a drag bar. The youth, who was found in about seven to eight feet of water, was pronounced dead by the medical examiner. The body was recovered at 2:20 p.m., less than an hour after he drowned. Because he is a juvenile, Officer Beaty would not release the boy's name.
*A 49 year old man, walking near the middle of Jefferson Road, was killed on Memorial Day weekend after being struck by a motorist around 8:55 p.m. on Sunday night. Dead is David Lynn Judkins. Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 19 year old Duncan Delille of Silver Point was driving east in a 1995 Jeep Cherokee when he saw a man walking east in front of him near the center line of the two lane road. Judkins was wearing black jeans and no shirt. Delille swerved to the right but the left front of his vehicle hit Judkins. After impact, Judkins came to rest in a ditch on the northside of the roadway. He died instantly. Delille pulled over to the right side of the road after the accident and authorities were notified. Neither Delille nor the juvenile passenger of his vehicle were injured
*Rate increases were approved for DeKalb County landline telephone subscribers in May. The DeKalb County Emergency Communications District received approval from the state board to implement the increase and to notify telephone service providers within the ECD. The new rates will be $1.50 per month for residence-classification service users (up from the previous rate of 65 cents) and $3.00 per month for business-classification users (up from the previous rate of $2.00 per month).
*A tornado touched down in the middle of the night in Smithville on May 26, destroying the South Congress BP convenience market on Highway 56 in the city limits. The storm caused roof damage to Smithville Elementary School, and the new county complex, which at the time was still under construction . Trees were uprooted and blown down in yards including in the South College Street and Meadowbrook Drive area. Several homes, barns, and sheds were damaged from the high winds. The storm struck on what was the last day of school for the summer. All schools opened on time that day, except for Smithville Elementary School, which could not open due to the storm damage.
*Sounds of music and celebration filled the air at Greenbrook Park as caring neighbors from throughout our community gathered to rally support for cancer survivors and to raise money in the search for a cure and for patient services during the 14th annual Relay for Life. More than $54,000 dollars was raised. This year's theme was "Together We Fight...Together We Win!
*Michael Mathis was the overall winner of the third annual "Relay for Life 5K and One Mile Fun Run held to benefit the American Cancer Society. He ran the course in 19 minutes and 38 seconds, a new course record. Doris Graham was the overall winner among females. Her time was 27 minutes and 36 seconds. In the One Mile Fun Run, Macey Hedge took first place, finishing the course in 8 minutes and 35 seconds. Fifty seven runners took part in the event, which originated and ended at Greenbrook Park. This year's Relay raised $1,250.
*A man held a woman at knifepoint during a carjacking in the Silver Point community. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that the man, described as being bald, in his 30's, was wearing Levi blue jean shorts and a yellow shirt. The victim, after escaping from the vehicle, was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment. According to Sheriff Ray, the suspect walked up to a home in the Silver point community of DeKalb County, where a woman, Lisa Mackie, was outside doing some garden work. The man told her that he had run out of fuel and needed a ride to the gas station. The woman gave him a ride to one of the businesses near Interstate 40 but as she drove in, the man pulled a knife, pointed it at her throat, and ordered her to keep driving. The woman immediately got out of the vehicle and the suspect took control of the automobile and drove north on Highway 56 a short distance before he wrecked. The man then turned the vehicle around and drove back into DeKalb County where he wrecked again at Captains Point Road. The man then got out of the automobile and fled on foot. Putnam and DeKalb County officers rushed to the scene immediately after the incident and conducted a ground search. They also made contact with some of the residents in the area to alert them. Sheriff Ray said the suspect's car was found at the intersection of Lafever Ridge Road and Highway 56 north at Silver Point. No arrest was made in the case
*Smithville businessman Danny Washer and local attorney Gayla Hendrix won seats on the Smithville City Council, unseating incumbents W.J. (Dub) White and Aaron Meeks during the Municipal Election. Washer polled 290 votes, or 21.72 percent of the vote, to lead the ticket and won election to the City Council for the first time. Incumbent Shawn Jacobs retained his seat on the board with 249 votes, getting18.65 percent of the vote, while Hendrix was third in the balloting with 211 votes, or 15.81 percent of the vote. Hendrix narrowly defeated White and Cordell Walker, who each tallied 209 votes, which accounted for 15.66 percent of the vote. Meeks received 165 votes, or 12.36 percent of the vote.
*Capella Healthcare announced the execution of a definitive Purchase Agreement for a subsidiary that owns a majority interest in White County Community Hospital, LLC, (WCCH) to acquire a 60% ownership interest in Cannon County Hospital, LLC, (CCH) which owns and operates Stones River Hospital (SRH) in Woodbury and DeKalb Community Hospital (DCH) in Smithville. The transaction was subject to customary federal and state regulatory approvals. Physician investors own the balance of CCH's equity. The minority owners of CCH and WCCH will contribute their ownership interests in the respective joint ventures to a new entity, which, other than Capella is the only member of these joint ventures. Following the closing of the transaction, which was planned for June 30, Capella Healthcare will manage all three hospitals pursuant to management agreements. Bill Little, who has served as CEO for the two CCH facilities since July 2009, will assume responsibility for all three hospitals as Market CEO. The current CCH Chief Financial Officer at that time, Sarah Clark will become Market CFO for the new entity.
*A 61 year old Warren County man was killed when his motorcycle crashed into a backhoe on Highway 56 in the Dibrell Community. Dead is J.D.Wilson of the Greenhill Community. The accident occurred at the intersection of Highway 56 and Sullivan Road in Warren County. According to Sergeant Billy Prater of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Wilson was traveling south on Highway 56 on a 2004 Honda motorcycle when he ran into the right side of a 1992 John Deere backhoe belonging to the Warren County Utility District, driven by 37 year old Marshall Green of the Irving College Community. Green was crossing Highway 56 from the east side to get to the west side of Sullivan Road. Green was not injured in the crash but Wilson, who was wearing a helmet, reportedly died at the scene.
*Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer began his statewide "TDOT Projects Tour" in June and the first stop was in DeKalb County. Several local and state officials joined the Commissioner and other TDOT representatives on the bus tour locally to view Hurricane bridge, where a rehabilitation construction project is now underway, and to Sligo bridge, where a replacement construction contract is expected to be awarded soon as part of TDOT's "Three Year Program".Among those on the DeKalb County bus tour with Commissioner Schroer were State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, County Mayor Mike Foster, Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson, and other interested local persons. During the bus ride and at the bridge locations, TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges and other transportation officials discussed the specifics of both local projects. The Sligo project, which has been funded in the 2011-12 state budget, calls for replacement of the existing overhead truss bridge which is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The new bridge will be located a few feet to the north of the existing bridge, which will remain open to traffic during construction. The new bridge will be a continuous welded plate girder design with a composite concrete deck slab and will be 1,545 feet in length. The project typical section is two-12 foot lanes with 10 foot shoulders. The total project length including bridge and approaches is approximately 0.8 mile. The total estimated cost of the project including engineering, right of way, and construction is $31-million. Roadway and bridge plans are being finalized. Discussion is being held with the US Army Corps of Engineers concerning Right of Way easements and the permit application is nearing completion. The project is scheduled to go to construction soon. TDOT Officials said work on the Hurricane bridge consists of a certain amount of strengthening to the steel truss members and some additional stringers which actually support the concrete deck. The existing rails and deck will eventually be removed from the bridge and replaced with a lite weight concrete deck. The bridge will also be repainted . In October, 2010 TDOT awarded the bid to OCCI Incorporated at $26.9 million. The contractor has until October 31st, 2013 to complete the project.
*A 52 year old man indicted for vehicular homicide pleaded guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court to attempted aggravated assault. Under a negotiated settlement, Donald Ray Henson received a two year sentence, suspended to time served. Henson, who was given jail credit for 267 days, will be on supervised probation. Henson was indicted for vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in the death of 44 year old Priscilla Judkins. The wreck occurred on September 15th, 2010 on Broad Street in Smithville.. As part of the plea deal, the vehicular homicide charge was reduced to attempted aggravated assault and the other two charges were dropped. Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong informed Judge David Patterson that while Judkins had suffered head and internal injuries, the state could not advance the vehicular homicide charge against Henson, based on the findings of the medical examiner in the case. Strong did not elaborate further.
*The Grand Champion Fiddler of the 40th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival is Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama. He won the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award after the Grand Finale Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler. McMeans made it to the fiddle off by winning the Junior Fiddling competition and he won the Grand Championship by beating the winner of the Senior Fiddling contest Don Sadler of Cookeville
*A Greenbrier girl, for the second year in a row, took home this year's top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners. Cara Digiovanni was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler and won the coveted James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award. The presentation was made by members of Mr. Driver's family including Bert, Milas, Sadie, Jim, Mickey, Allison, and Adam Driver. Meanwhile Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana received the "Entertainer of the Year" Award, which is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition. Ramey took home first place in three of those categories and third place in two others.The National Championship for Country Musician Beginners showcases the talents of children up to age twelve in seven categories of competition
*40 year old Scott Fanning of Lebanon was the overall winner of the 13th annual Fiddler 5K held in Smithville. Fanning completed the course in 17:29. Meanwhile, 16 year old Morgan Voyles of Sparta was the overall winner in the women's race. She completed the course in 21:41. In the male master's category, 53 year old Jimmy Dawson of Cookeville was the overall winner. His time was 19:52. In the female masters, 43 year old Lora Simpson of Sparta was the overall winner. Her time was 25:19. The overall winner of the One Mile Fun Run was nine year old Caden Close of Smithville. His time was 7:13. Twelve year old Tyra Graham of Smithville completed the One Mile Fun Run course in 8:20, the best among females.The Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run is a fundraiser to benefit Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.
*Two people from Brush Creek lost their lives and seven others, including two from Smithville were injured in a two car head-on crash in Warren County. Dead are 31 year old Derrick Reeder and 24 year old Brittnay Fitts. Those injured were 24 year old Kara Funk and 22 year old Brandon Byford both of Smithville, 24 year old Tammy Edwards of Woodbury and four juveniles including three from Woodbury and one from Gordonsville. The Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that the crash occurred on the Shelbyville Road in Warren County. It was investigated by Trooper Dwaine Jennings and Lieutenant Randy Maynard. According to the THP, 24 year old Tammy Edwards of Woodbury was driving east on Shelbyville Road in a 1995 Ford Mustang as 31 year old Derrick Reeder was heading west in a 1997 Accura. The THP reports that Edwards' car crossed over the center line causing Reeder's vehicle to go into a slide when he locked his brakes. The two cars then hit head-on in the center yellow line of the highway. Edwards and three children passengers were injured including a five year old boy, a four year old boy, and a two year old girl all from Woodbury. Reeder died in the crash along with a passenger, 24 year old Brittnay Fitts. Other passengers with Reeder who were injured were 24 year old Kara Funk and 22 year old Brandon Byford, both of Smithville, and an eleven year old girl from Gordonsville.
*A Rock Island man, serving a four year sentence for reckless homicide, blew any chance he had to be set free from prison after telling a state parole board member that he should not be granted early release. The parole hearing for 40 year old James P. Vernon was held at the Cookeville offices of the Tennessee Board of Probation. Neither Vernon nor the state parole board member, Lisa Jones were present in Cookeville for the hearing. Jones presided by video conference from her office in Savannah while Vernon was connected by video from the Turney Center Industrial Complex in Hickman County, where he is incarcerated. Members of the victim's family and the assistant district attorney general, who were present in Cookeville, could see Jones and Vernon on a television monitor and they could be seen by Jones and Vernon on a monitor from their locations. Vernon, convicted of reckless homicide in the brutal beating of 24 year old Joseph David "Joey" Clark on Center Hill Lake in July, 2009, received the four year prison sentence in DeKalb County Criminal Court on January 26th. At the conclusion of the hearing, Jones said "because of the serious nature of the crime of which you have been convicted, I can't vote to parole you. My vote is going to be to balance your sentence." Other members of the parole board later concurred and Vernon was denied parole.
*17 year old Katie Sue Haggard of Smithville is the 2011 Fairest of the Fair. Haggard, daughter of David and Vicki Haggard, succeeded the retiring Queen Amanda Bee Martin of Smithville, the 21 year old daughter of Lynn and the Late Freddie Martin. In addition to being named Fairest of the Fair, Haggard was also chosen Most Photogenic.
*The 2011 Junior Fair Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is 16 year old Melanie Grace Rush of McMinnville, daughter of Susan and Greg Rush. She succeeded the retiring Junior Fair Princess, 17 year old Victoria Dawn Tatrow of Smithville, daughter of Corey and Vickie Funk and the late Shanna Tatrow.
*Six year old Holden Craig Trapp of Smithville was crowned Little Mister of the DeKalb County Fair. Trapp, son of Amanda and Tony Trapp, succeeded the 2010 Little Mister, Trevor Matthew Kirby, the five year old son of Cyndi and Clent Shehane of Smithville. Trapp also received the distinction of being Mister Photogenic
*Carlee Elizabeth West won the Little Miss Title of the DeKalb County Fair. West, the six year old daughter of D.J. and Megan Stewart of Smithville, succeeded the retiring Little Miss Kenlee Renae Taylor, the six year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville
*The 2011 DeKalb County Fair Miss Sweetheart is 12 year old Tyra Graham, the daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville. The pageant was held during the fair in Alexandria. Graham succeeded the 2010 Miss Sweetheart Jailyn Bolding, the 13 year old daughter of Lori Hendrix and Brad Bolding of Dowelltown
*Eight year old Madison Rae Rackley of Smithville was crowned Little Miss Princess at the DeKalb County Fair. Rackley is the daughter of Gordon and Jessica Rackley. She succeeded the 2010 Little Miss Princess 10 year old Sarah Anne Colwell of Smithville, daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell.
*Elizabeth Koegler of Smithville was the winner of the DeKalb Idol competition held at the DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria. Six contestants competed for the title and Koegler was among the top three called back after the first two rounds. Ashlee Whitehead of Smithville received second place as well as the Peoples Choice Award and $100. Olivia Wright of Smithville received third place. As the winner of DeKalb Idol, Koegler received a $300 cash prize.
*Although he is a strong believer in the lawful rights of gun owners, an incident at the DeKalb County Fair convinced Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins that handguns should be banned during the fair. During a city council meeting, Chief Collins asked that the Alexandria aldermen adopt an ordinance making possession of handguns illegal at the DeKalb County Fair. Although the fairgrounds are leased and operated by the DeKalb County Fair Association, the property belongs to the City of Alexandria. The cause for concern arose when a patron at the fair reported losing his handgun from the holster he was wearing while on one of the carnival rides. Chief Collins said some of the rides were shut down for a short period of time as members of the Alexandria Police Department, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, carnival workers, and fair association volunteers searched for the weapon. Chief Collins said he was fearful that the gun might have been picked up by a teenager or a small child. It turns out that the patron had not even brought the gun to the fair in the first place. During the search at the fairgrounds, Chief Collins asked the patron to return home just to make sure he had not left the gun there. While conducting a search at home, the man found his gun. The aldermen have not yet acted on Chief's Collins' request.
*The Alexandria Aldermen adopted the city's new budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year on first reading in July and on final reading the following month.. The city's property tax rate is established at .7896 cents per $100 of assessed value. The budget includes higher water and sewer rates. A separate ordinance adopting the new rates was approved by the aldermen following a public hearing, prior to action on the budget ordinance. Under the plan, the minimum bill for Alexandria water and sewer customers will increase by a total of ten dollars per month, going from $29.50 to $39.50. The rate for Alexandria water customers will increase from $14.75 to $19.75 for a minimum bill up to 2,000 gallons. Customers will pay an extra 70 cents per additional 100 gallons of usage. The minimum sewer bill up to 2,000 gallons will also increase by $5.00, going from $14.75 to $19.75. Water customers outside the corporate limits will see their rates jump from $21.30 to $28.52 per month for a minimum bill of up to 2,000 gallons. Customers will pay an extra 70 cents per additional 100 gallons of usage per month. The City of Alexandria purchases its water supply from the Smith County Utility District. City officials have said one of the reasons for the rate increase is due to higher costs being passed on to Alexandria from the Smith County Utility District. Aldermen explained that the city water and sewer fund has been running in the red for the last two or three years because there hasn't been a rate increase for sometime, and that the state is now forcing the city's hand. Aldermen said if the city does not get the water and sewer fund back in the black to make it self supporting soon, then the state could set rates for the city, which could be much higher than the rate increases in this plan.
*DeKalb County's new director of the local UT Agricultural Extension Service was named in July. Michael Barry took over from longtime director and county agent Steve Officer, who retired from the position effective July 1. Ron Rogers, who also served as a local county extension agent for many years, also retired. Barry comes to DeKalb County from the Warren County Extension Office, where he served for fourteen years. He began his career with the extension service in 1994 at White County before transferring to Warren County three years later. A native of Whitehouse, Barry attended MTSU where he earned his Bachelor's degree. He then furthered his education at UT-Knoxville where he earned his Masters degree. He is the father of one son, a 13 year old.
*The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is upgrading the DeKalb County Fire Department's service area rating from a Class 9 to a Class 6, effective November 1 which is expected to result in lower homeowners insurance premiums for many families across the county. County Fire Chief Donny Green made the announcement during a meeting of county volunteer firefighters at the department's main station on King Ridge Road. County Mayor Mike Foster was also present for the announcement. In a prepared statement, Chief Green said that the fire-protection services of the DeKalb County Fire Department's entire service area, as evaluated and rated by Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), has improved from Class 9 to Class 6. In 2009, the department improved the rating for residents of the cities of Liberty and Dowelltown. In March 2011, the department underwent another intensive and comprehensive ISO survey to collect and evaluate the fire protection capabilities of the remainder of the county. On Friday, August 5 the department was officially notified of the rating improvement. Effective November 1, 2011 all areas serviced by the DeKalb County Fire Department will be classified as an ISO Class 6 protection area. If your property is within 5 road miles of one of the department's eleven fire stations and a fire hydrant or credited alternative water source is located within 1,000 feet of your property, you will receive a Class 6 Protection Rating. This improvement will save residents in these areas an estimated $200 annually on their homeowner's insurance premiums. This rating does not affect the current ratings for residents in the cities of Smithville and Alexandria.
*Four of the public officials from the courthouse moved to the new DeKalb County Administrative Office Complex, formerly known as the Town and Country Shopping Center in August. Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, Assessor of Property Timothy "Fud" Banks, Trustee Sean Driver, and County Clerk Mike Clayborn are now operating out of the new building. The new UCHRA office opened in the complex earlier in the year.
*Work on bridge projects at Dry Creek and Tramel Branch Road were to be completed in August. In February, the Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded a bid to Mountain States Contractors, LLC of Mount Juliet in the amount of $505,991 to build a new concrete box beam bridge on Tramel Branch Road over Helton Creek near Alexandria. The project included grading, drainage, and paving. TDOT also awarded a bid to Roads, LLC of Brentwood in the amount of $623, 963 to build a concrete I-Beam bridge on Pea Ridge Road over Dry Creek. The project included grading, drainage, and paving. Once the new bridge is completed at Dry Creek, the old one next to it will be removed. Both projects were funded with 80% federal funds and 20% local matching money, including 14% from the DeKalb County Highway Department budget (state aid) and 6% from the county general fund.
*An elderly Nashville woman died from injuries in a one car crash on Highway 70 east near the Gentleman's Club location. Dead is 75 year old Gale Link of Nashville. Link was a passenger of a 1997 Mazda Miata convertible, driven by 56 year old Eddie Doss also of Nashville. The top was down on the car at the time of the crash. Sergeant Mark Dial of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Doss was traveling east on Highway 70 and lost control while negotiating a curve. The car skidded off the north side of the highway and rolled over crashing top first into a utility pole. Morning rains had made the pavement wet which could have contributed to the crash. Doss did not have to be extricated from the vehicle but Link was pinned in between the car and the pole. Tow trucks from local wrecker services were used to stabilize the car and then to pull it away from the pole so members of the extrication team could get to her. Link was removed from the car and taken by DeKalb EMS to the Midway fire station where a Life Force helicopter ambulance had landed to pick her up. However because her injuries were so serious, Link was instead taken on to DeKalb Community Hospital by ground ambulance. After being stabilized, Link was then airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital, where she later died. Doss was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS but he wasn't believed to have been seriously hurt. Link's death marked the second traffic fatality of the year on DeKalb County roads at that time.
*A little more than thirteen months after being charged with felony theft in a previous case, a Smithville businessman got in trouble with the law again, this time accused of selling a stolen U.S. military issue laser sight .Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that Mark Violet of K & M Jewelry was named in a sealed indictment returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury charging him with theft over $1,000. The indictment alleges that on or about the 6th day of January, 2011, Violet knowingly obtained or exercised control over certain property, to wit: a military issue "inoculator" laser sight being over the value of $1,000, the property of the United States Government, constituting the offense of theft.The case against Violet was presented to the Grand Jury in August and a sealed indictment was returned that afternoon. He was arrested on the charge and he posted bond. Violet was charged with two counts of theft over $1,000 in a separate investigation by the Smithville Police Department and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in June, 2010. Violet was indicted on those charges in December,2010. That case against him also remains pending in court.
*For the third consecutive year, the DeKalb County Fire Department was recognized as one of Tennessee's elite fire departments for outstanding training achievement. Last year, the department was awarded the Gold Level Award and was the #1 volunteer fire department in Tennessee for training hours. This year, the department logged 1,393 training hours and was recognized as a Silver Level fire department in Tennessee for its 2010-11 training efforts. Additionally, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department ranks #33 overall considering all 732 fire departments in Tennessee, both paid and volunteer. Chief Donny Green commended Assistant Chief/Training Coordinator Roy Merriman and Lieutenant/Training Officer James Pennington for their determination in making the training program one of the best. "Properly trained firefighters are the best tools a fire department has. Without training, good equipment is useless," said Chief Green. The Department's training was a core element in the recent Insurance Services Office (ISO) evaluation that resulted in a dramatic improvement to DeKalb County's Public Protection Classification Rating of Class 6. This translates in significant savings to DeKalb County homeowners' insurance premiums.
*The county commission, by a vote of 12-2, increased the overall property tax rate to $1.62 cents per $100 of assessed value, as recommended by the budget committee. That's almost a ten cent increase above the new certified tax rate of $1.5214 set by the state after reappraisal this year. A nickel of the tax hike will go to schools and the other five cents will be for the county general fund. Supporters, including a large group of educators, showed up during a public hearing prior to the special meeting to back the school board's request for a bigger tax hike for schools. Several members of the audience addressed the county mayor and commissioners asking them to do more for education. But their pleas failed to win over any support for the plan as the commission unanimously rejected the school board's proposal and instead adopted a plan put forth by the budget committee, which gives schools more money, but not as much as the board of education had sought. By a vote of 14 to 0, the county commission turned thumbs down on the school board's request for passage of a revised budget which County Mayor Mike Foster said included an 11.54 cent tax hike for schools and an additional $169,000 in funding from the sales tax/sinking fund. The school board wanted the extra money from the proposed tax increase to fund some new positions in the school system without having to dip deeper in reserve funds to pay for them. Instead, the county commission voted 13-1 to adopt the consolidated budget, as recommended by the budget committee which includes an overall ten cent tax increase. The five cent increase for schools equates to about $210,000 which is expected to be enough to cover pay raises for school personnel. Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE that even though the school board's proposed revised budget was rejected by the county commission, some of these new positions may still be filled using reserve funds this year.
*A boating accident on Center Hill Lake in August claimed the life of one person and injured two others. Dead is 41 year old Robert S. Schafer of Brentwood. Those injured were 36 year old Melinda M. McGee and 35 year old John Carter Collins both of Nashville. TWRA Officer Tony Cross told WJLE that the boat, a 22 foot Cobalt runabout, was underway on the lake when it ran aground and overturned, pinning Schafer, the operator, underneath. He died at the scene. The crash occurred about three miles from Hidden Harbor Marina in the Raccoon Hollow area..The two injured, McGee and Collins were brought by a TWRA boat to one of the ramps near Hidden Harbor Marina, where they were loaded aboard a DeKalb EMS ground ambulance and transported to a helicopter landing zone set up in a field on Hurricane Ridge Road. One of the victims was airlifted by Life Flight and the other by Life Force. They were reportedly flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. Their injuries were not believed to be life threatening.
*A criminal court jury of seven men and five women handed down a guilty verdict against two men charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and reckless endangerment. 30 year old Scott B. Carroll, Jr. and 20 year old Francisco Bustamonte stood trial on the charges in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Judge David Patterson presided. The two men were accused of engaging in a process to make methamphetamine at a residence at 200 the Loop Circle in the Midway Community on January 23, 2011. The reason for the reckless endangerment charges was because the men were allegedly cooking meth in the presence of Carroll's sixteen year old sister-in-law, a juvenile, placing her in danger of serious bodily injury from the chemicals which produce a strong odor that is toxic. Another man, 19 year old Wesley J. Hayes, was also charged in the case but he did not stand trial with the other two men. His case, at the time, remained pending in court. In addition to Carroll and Bustamonte being found guilty as charged in the indictments, the jury imposed the maximum fines in the case, $27,500 against each man. That's $25,000 each for initiation and $2,500 for reckless endangerment. In September, Carroll received a 30 year sentence as a career criminal while 20 year old Bustamonte was handed an eleven year term in the local case to run consecutively to a six year sentence in a Cannon County case for the same type of offense.
*Lighthouse Christian Camp expanded its "Sing for Joy" Widows Home ministry.Groundbreaking was held in August for a second widows home. The first one was opened in 2006. Ben Chapman, President of Lighthouse Christian Camp, told WJLE that he felt impressed to begin this ministry several years ago based upon the scriptural mandate of caring for widows. He said the goal and mission of "Sing for Joy" is to offer widows safe, independent retirement living with unlimited opportunities to serve in ministry.
*Director of Schools Mark Willoughby hired the new assistant principals in August. Willoughby, who made the announcement on WJLE, said that Julie Vincent has been hired as assistant principal at Northside Elementary School and Karen Knowles at Smithville Elementary School. Sabrina Farler, who has been at DeKalb Middle School asked for a transfer to become the assistant principal at DeKalb West School. Kathy Bryant will be moving from Northside Elementary to take Farler's place as assistant principal at DeKalb Middle School. These assistant principals are needed, according to Willoughby, and they will help to ease the burden of increased teacher evaluations mandated by the state. "This is being done primarily due to the new evaluation system but really this is something that should have been done years ago. These are great people going into some needed positions and this will enhance the education of students in DeKalb county," said Willoughby. Although a total of $225,000 was budgeted to fund those positions from the school system's BEP reserves, Willoughby said their salaries are not in the $70 thousand dollar range as some have speculated. The salaries actually range from $44,623 to $54,466. Contracts for the new assistant principals are for 10 months and two weeks.
*Former Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, who had sued the City of Smithville claiming he was wrongfully terminated in 2009, lost an appeal of his case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Jennings filed the lawsuit in DeKalb County Chancery Court in February, 2010 claiming that his termination by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was fraudulent, arbitrary, and capricious. Jennings asked the court to have a hearing and order the city to restore him to his position with the Smithville Police Department. Chancellor Ronald Thurman held a hearing in September, 2010 and in a final order in November, 2010 affirmed the decision of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen "in all respects".Jennings filed an appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals and in a majority opinion, handed down on August 11, 2011, the appellate court, affirmed the judgment of the Chancery Court.The Smithville board of aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, on December 7th, 2009 upheld the city discipline board's decision in November, 2009 to terminate Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence. Jennings initially filed a federal court lawsuit, which was dismissed in February, 2010. Jennings alleged that the city never established a cause for his termination, that the city violated his constitutional due process rights, and that he was the victim of age discrimination in the dismissal.
*A DeKalb County man lost his life after his Chevy 2500 crashed into a tree on private property off Dry Creek Road. Dead is 49 year old Timothy "Tadpole" Adcock. According to Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Adcock, who died at the scene, was found in his truck which apparently had crossed a field and wrecked in the tree line of a wooded area.
*Darrell Dixon was elected alderman in the Alexandria Municipal Election. That is not surprising since his name was the only one on the ballot. Dixon received a total of twelve votes, including ten on election day and two absentees. Three aldermen were to have been elected but no one else qualified to run. It'll apparently be up to the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen to appoint persons to fill those other two positions along with a third aldermen seat, which has been vacant for several months. The Alexandria city government is made up of a mayor and six aldermen. Each term of office is for four years.
*A Labor Day outing on Center Hill Lake turned tragic for a Murfreesboro family as the body of 10 year old Elizabeth Grace Hathaway was recovered from the lake around 6:15 p.m. near their houseboat at Hidden Harbor Marina. The child, who was not wearing a life jacket, was the victim of an apparent drowning. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that members of the Rutherford County Special Operations unit, using a sonar device, pinpointed the location of what they suspected was the body. Divers then went down and found the body of the child in about forty feet of water. The body was near the back of the family's houseboat, which was docked at the marina. Witnesses reported having seen the child on the deck of the boat around 8:30 Monday morning, shortly before her disappearance.After the family discovered her missing, they called 911 and the search effort began. Not knowing at the time whether the child had fallen into the lake or had wandered away from the houseboat and into the woods, a search by ground and water was initiated and conducted throughout the day. Searchers checked the woods and roads in the immediate area as well as vehicles parked in the vicinity. Any houseboats docked at the marina that were open or occupied were also searched. DeKalb 911 placed automated reverse calls to residents in the area asking them to be on the look out for the child.
*The 2011 Homecoming Queen at DeKalb County High School was Kidman Dawn Puckett. A senior, Puckett is the 17 year old daughter of Jimmy and Anita Puckett of Smithville. The Homecoming Attendants were: Senior Attendants are Johnna Rochele Roller, the 16 year old daughter of John and Michele Roller; and Taylor Marie Cantrell, the 17 year old daughter of Jeff and Renea Cantrell; the Junior Attendant was Zoe Elaine Whaley, the 15 year old daughter of Celia and Scott Whaley of Smithville; the Sophomore Attendant was Sarah Elizabeth Edwards of Liberty, the 15 year old daughter of Tena and the late Clay Edwards; and the Freshman Attendant was Haley Marie Hale, 14 year old daughter of Chad and Melissa Hale of Smithville.
*Second district school board member Charles Robinson was re-elected Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Education. The vote, however, was not unanimous. Third district member Kenny Rhody nominated Robinson for re-election as chairman but Fourth district member Billy Miller nominated Sixth district member Bruce Parsley for chairman. The board voted on Robinson's nomination first and he received five votes to be elected chairman. Board members Miller and Parsley voted against him. All other board members voted for Robinson including Rhody, First district member John David Foutch, Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, and Seventh district member Johnny Lattimore. Robinson also voted for himself. The school board reorganizes each September, naming a chairman, vice-chairman, and an assistant secretary. In addition to Chairman Robinson, the board re-elected Third district member Kenny Rhody as Vice-Chairman and First district member John David Foutch was named assistant secretary without opposition.
*Ten years after that fateful day for America, members of our community gathered Sunday afternoon, September 11 on the public square to pray, lift their voices in song, and to remember the events of September 1, 2001.The Smithville Community 911 Memorial Service was presented by several local church groups. The program began with a welcome and invocation by Anthony Rosolowski of the First Baptist Church. Susan Hinton, on piano, and Colton Rhody on guitar performed accompaniment as the crowd joined in singing "O God Our Help In Ages Past" and "God of Our Fathers. Members of the First United Methodist Preschool Choir performed "God Bless America " under the direction of Emily Bass. The program also featured Thea Tippin, who performed a song of praise and worship. Later, her husband, country music entertainer Aaron Tippin sang "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly", the same song he performed for the first time in public ten years ago at the first memorial service on the town square, held just days after the 911 tragedy. Three local ministers quoted scripture and offered prayers during the service including, Mark Bass of the Smithville First Baptist Church, Larry Green of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and Dr. John Carpenter of the Smithville First United Methodist Church. To close out the service, the crowd joined in singing "America, the Beautiful"
*A 33 year old pedestrian lost her life after being accidentally struck by a motorist on Highway 70 near DeKalb Market. Dead is Christina Adams of Hodges Road, Smithville. According to Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol a 17 year old female was traveling west on Highway 70 in a 2005 Ford Mustang and accidentally hit Adams, who was standing in the lanes of traffic on the highway. Adams died at the scene. The driver of the car was not believed to have been seriously hurt but was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was examined, treated, and released. Trooper Jennings told WJLE that Adams, who had been at Maggie's Landing, apparently walked to DeKalb Market and was returning to Maggie's Landing when the accident occurred
*The DTC Board of Directors introduced their new Chief Executive Officer, Craig Gates, at their Annual Meeting held on September 17th. Gates is a 27-year veteran of the telecommunications industry. Gates started his career in 1984 and served most recently as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Project Mutual; a cooperative located in Rupert, Idaho. "Craig distinguished himself with his industry experience and expertise. We are fortunate to have him join us, and welcome him and his family to Tennessee," said Dwight Vinson, President of DTC. Gates holds a Bachelors of Science Degree from Indiana Institute of Technology and a Masters of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. He and his wife, Suzette, will be relocating to the area. They have three grown children."I'm proud to be at DTC. I look forward to working in the community and ensuring that DTC maintains its commitment to our members," Gates said. "With the technological and economic challenges that face our industry today, DTC must present itself to be the premier service provider for our members."
*Three members of the DTC Communications Board of Directors were re-elected during the annual meeting in Alexandria.Charles Dwight Vinson of Milton, Terry McPeak of Norene, and Greg Rogers of Woodbury ran unopposed.
*Mallory Sullivan, a sophomore at DCHS, earned second place in the State Class A-AA Golf Tournament at Willowbrook in Manchester. Sullivan shot an 80 the first day, just four shots off the lead, and a 73 on the second day for a score of 153, six shots behind the state champion Marlee Ingham of Creekwood who shot a 147 in the tournament. Callie Mitchell, a senior at DCHS, shot a 98 on the first day and 96 on the second day for a score of 194 in the tournament. In the boys competition, Ethan Roller, a sophomore at DCHS shot an 85 on the first day and 76 on the second day for a score of 161. The boys state champion is Dowling Armstrong of David Lipscomb who shot a 138 in the tournament.
*Effective October 1, DeKalb Farmers Coop became a branch of Rutherford Farmers Coop. The local board of directors of DeKalb Farmers Coop recently voted to enter into a five year lease agreement with Rutherford to run the day to day operations of the business. The local coop will retain ownership and receive lease payments from Rutherford. The local board will continue to exist and manage the property and assets. Representatives of the co-op made the announcement in September during a public meeting held at the Whorton Springs Baptist Church annex building. Gilbert Martin, who has been the local manager for several years, will be taking on another position with the coop, but many of the store employees are expected to remain. Mack Wilhite, the new manager of the coop, said he is looking forward to serving the people of DeKalb and surrounding counties.DeKalb Farmers Coop has been in operation for 50 years, since 1961.
*The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District announced the awarding of a $106 million contract to Bauer Foundation Corporation to install a barrier wall at Center Hill Dam. "This important construction will provide a barrier to protect the earthen portion of the main dam from seepage problems. The barrier will significantly improve the long-term reliability of the dam and public safety" said Project Manager Linda Adcock. Most of the construction will be accomplished below ground and requires specialized equipment as well as close monitoring. The main components of work are: Enlarge a work surface along the upstream (lake) side of the main dam earthen embankment; Construct approximately 200,000 square feet of concrete panels and columns in two phases through the embankment extending downward 120 feet into foundation rock to form a minimum 2-foot thick continuous barrier wall; Highway 96 across the dam is expected to remain open, as well as Long Branch Campground downstream of the dam throughout the two and one-half year contract. The Center Hill Dam has been identified by the Army Corps of Engineers as a high risk dam due to foundation seepage. A 2008-2010 grouting contract was an important first step to reduce the seepage and to prepare the foundation for construction of the barrier wall. "We are currently studying the appropriate improvements for the saddle dam, a smaller earthen dam northeast of the main dam" Adcock said. The saddle dam work will be the third large contract. A final small contract will be required for site restoration.
*The new chemistry/science lab was completed at DeKalb County High School in September and classes were held for the first time since the update after fall break. The old lab equipment was removed at the end of the school year in May and the room underwent a major renovation over the summer. Although most of the work was completed by the start of school in August, the new lab equipment did not arrive until September. Dylan Kleparek, one of the teachers who will be using the lab, told WJLE that the facility is state of the art. "I'm very impressed. I think its going to be great. It's a well needed update to our school and its going to help us do things we weren't able to do before. We have a long line of storage cabinets along the side wall with a dishwasher to wash glassware and a handicapped accessible sink in the back. Along the back wall we have a fume hood that is used for experiments and things that create fumes which are not good for inside the classroom. We have lots of storage cabinets in the back to hold glassware and various experiment equipment and things. We have eight lab tables where we can have four students per table. Each table is equipped with gas, water, and electricity and more storage. In the front, we have a teacher work station. Its going to be great for setting up demonstrations and teaching from. We have a promethean smart board in the front which is the most up to date technology we can get. We have all the makings of a really good lab setup. Its about as state of the art as we can get," said Kleparek.
*A Nashville surgeon who went missing while kayaking on Center Hill Lake on Sunday, October 2, remains missing. Sheriff Patrick Ray said the disappearance of Dr. William Coltharp is still considered a "missing person" case and no foul play is suspected. But could it have been a suicide? Officials can't say for sure because no body has been recovered. But an empty handgun case belonging to Dr. Coltharp was found on Monday, October 3 near the Hurricane boat ramp and a witness came forward on Friday, October 7 to report that he had seen a man on Sunday evening, October 2 loading a cylinder concrete block onto a kayak with him before paddling down stream. "There is no evidence that points towards foul play", said Sheriff Ray." Its only a missing person report at this time and it will continue to be until we find the body or find him," he said. Although Coltharp's kayak, life jacket, a pair of kayak gloves, computer and gun case were recovered, authorities have not found the keys to Dr. Coltharp's SUV or his cell phone. As for the gun case, Sheriff Ray said authorities have confirmed that Dr. Coltharp owns a handgun and the serial numbers match those on the gun case.
*A Murfreesboro man died in a motorcycle crash on State Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road).Dead is 41 year old William Ellis, Jr. Trooper Todd Logan of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Ellis, operating a 2005 Yamaha motorcycle, was traveling south on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when he failed to negotiate a curve, left the road, went down an embankment, and struck a tree. Ellis, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike. According to Trooper Logan, the motorcycle traveled approximately 150 feet from where it began to leave the highway to the place where it came to rest. The crash occurred less than a mile from Highway 70 on Dale Ridge Road. Two other motorcycle operators were riding ahead of Ellis on Dale Ridge Road prior to the crash. Neither witnessed the accident but one of bikers happened to glance in his rear view mirror and noticed that Ellis was no longer following behind them. As the two bikers got to Highway 70, they turned back and began looking for Ellis near where they last spotted him. After searching by bike and on foot without success, they called 911 and deputies and DeKalb EMS arrived on the scene. Ellis' motorcycle and his lifeless body were later discovered by a deputy while conducting a foot search in the area.
*A former DeKalb County High School basketball coach died in Monticello, Kentucky. Dead is 80 year old Howard Lowe Corder. He served as coach of the Lady Tiger basketball program at DCHS from 1985 to 1994.His overall record at DCHS was 146-112. He coached the Lady Tigers to the Region semis in 1993, which was the last year the program won a post-season game until 2010.
*Jewel's Market & Pizza will not be allowed to sell beer. On a vote of 5 to 2, the DeKalb County Beer Board voted to deny the application of Viva Gail Johnson for an on and off premises permit to sell beer at Jewel's Market & Pizza at 600 North Congress Boulevard because the store is within 2,000 feet of the new First Assembly of God Church. County Attorney Hilton Conger, who was asked to render a legal opinion, said the problem in this situation is that a survey shows the store within two thousand feet of the church, and under regulations established by the county commission in October 1939, no business can be licensed to sell beer if it is within 2,000 feet of a school, church, or other place of public gathering. "That's been the rule here in the county ever since (1939). Counties can change that and make it less than 2,000 feet but DeKalb County has never chosen to do that," said Conger.
*64 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville will to serve at least two more years in prison before being eligible for another parole hearing. Following a hearing in October, one member of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Yusuf Hakeem voted to deny parole for Bounds due to the seriousness of the offense in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of DeKalb County. Three members of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles later voted to concur with Hakeem. Bounds will not be eligible for parole again until 2013. The hearing was held at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville where Bounds is incarcerated. Bounds is serving a life sentence for the first degree premeditated killing of Wright, who was shot once in the head just outside the Odyssey Arcade on West Broad Street, across from the Dairy Queen. The incident occurred on the afternoon of February 2nd, 1981, allegedly over a gambling debt. The game room no longer exists. The building now serves as the location for the Discount Tobacco Outlet. Bounds was found guilty of first degree murder by a DeKalb County Circuit Court Jury following a trial in October 1981 and he has been in prison since. He has been up for parole three other times, in September 2002, August 2005, and October 2010.
*The body of a 70 year old Putnam County man was recovered from Center Hill Lake at Cookeville Boat Dock in DeKalb County. Dead is Mineth (Doc) Burchett of Cookeville. The TWRA told WJLE that Burchett, according to family members, left home that morning to go fishing. At around 6:00 p.m. that evening, a marina operator spotted a bass boat on the water just a few feet from the boat dock. No one was aboard the boat but the engine was running (idling). 911 was notified and members of the TWRA arrived on the scene along with the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS, and officers of the Sheriff's Department. Burchett's body was found in about eight feet of water near the boat dock, only a few feet from his boat. His death was later determined to be the result of drowning.
*The DCHS Band finished another successful season of competition in October. The full list of awards this year include: · Hendersonville Golden Invitational: 1st Place Band, 1st Place Color Guard, 1st Place Hornline, and 1st Place Percussion; ·Blue Devil Invitational: 1st Place Color Guard, 1st Place Percussion, and Superior Percussion; ·Middle Tennessee Small Band Championship: 1st Place Band, 1st Place Percussion, and 2nd Place Field Commander.;·Alcoa Marching Invitational: 1st Place Percussion in division, 1st Place Percussion in class, 2nd Place Field Commander, Superior Color Guard, Field Commander, and Percussion.
*The bodies of a woman and her step mother were found at their residence on Allen's Chapel Road in October, the victims of a shooting and stabbing while the man believed responsible for their deaths died later at Vanderbilt Hospital of a self inflicted gunshot wound. Dead are 21 year old Heather Nichole Eley and her step mother 42 year old Lori Ann Eley. The suspect, 22 year old Brandon Michael Gray of Foster Road Smithville, died at Vanderbilt Hospital. He was the ex-boyfriend of Heather Eley. Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that Gray called 911 from his cell phone at 3:45 p.m. asking that someone be sent to the residence on Allen's Chapel Road to check on his children. Gray said that he thought something was wrong there. Since the residence is located near the city limits line, both a Smithville Police Officer and a DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy were dispatched to the home. Officers arrived and found the front door locked but they were able to enter through a back door. A boy and girl, both under the age of three, were found in the home. They were unharmed. The bodies of the two women were discovered in the living room and kitchen area. Sheriff Ray said that it appeared that the women had been shot and stabbed. The officers removed the children from the residence and summoned other law enforcement officers and detectives to the scene. The children, who belong to Gray and Heather Eley, were placed in the care of the Department of Children Services. Sheriff Ray said that after Gray was identified as a person of interest, officers began looking for him. A deputy later spotted who he thought was Gray in a green Mazda pulling out of the parking lot of the Mapco Express convenience market at the corner of East Broad Street and North Congress Boulevard in Smithville. The officer got behind the car on Highway 56 north and radioed central dispatch to run the tag number. It revealed that the car was registered to one of the victims. The deputy tried to pull over the car but it failed to stop. The officer and a sheriff's department detective then initiated a pursuit from near the city limits to the intersection of Rolling Acres Road in the county. As the car pulled over and came to a stop, the officers heard a gunshot. They approached the vehicle and found that the driver, Gray, had shot himself in the head. The officers called for an ambulance and Gray was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital. Because of the weather, Gray could not be airlifted so he was transported by ground ambulance from the local hospital to Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. Sheriff Ray said that authorities recovered pistol that Gray used to shoot himself. They also recovered from the Eley home, kitchen knives which may have been used in the stabbing of the two women. The bodies were sent to Nashville for an autopsy.Authorities never commented publicly on a possible motive for the murders.
*Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced that DeKalb County has achieved certification under the state's Three-Star program for excellence in economic development. DeKalb County is now eligible to receive additional incentives under the guidelines of the Tennessee Three-Star program. In order to receive the certification, communities are required to meet criteria in planning, leadership, community, business and education and work force development categories. Incentives for receiving the certification include identification on all FastTrack infrastructure and job training applications; eligibility for matching grants, if criteria set by ECD are met; earning points in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; assistance from ECD's regional field staff and the sharing of "best practices" in community development; and the establishment of a strategic plan that is updated annually with measurable goals, specific actions, responsible parties and a timeline. Beginning in 1980, the Three-Star program has now grown to 89 programs certified, representing more than 340 cities and towns.
*15 year old Lauren Ashley Medlin captured the Fall Fest Crown during the annual pageant at the DeKalb County High School gym. The event is sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.Medlin, daughter of Greg and Teresa Medlin of Smithville, succeeded the retiring Fall Fest Queen, 15 year old Lauren Elizabeth Colwell, daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell of Smithville.
*13 year old Tyra Grace Graham is the first ever Autumn Sweetheart. The inaugural pageant, sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, was held at the DCHS gym. Graham is the daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville.
*10 year old Anna Rachel Blair is the 2011 Autumn Princess. Blair, daughter of Keith and Amanda Blair of Smithville, succeeded the retiring Autumn Princess, Emma Brooke Jennings, the eight year old daughter of Chad and Shelly Jennings of Smithville. The pageant was sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club and held at the DCHS gym.
*The DCHS Football team hosted its first ever state high school football play-off game in November but lost to Giles County 35-28, eliminating the Tigers from further post-season play. The Tigers compiled an 8-3 overall record, with losses only to Smith County, Livingston Academy and Giles County. Their wins were over Warren County, Clay County, Cannon County, White County, Hixson, Upperman, Macon County, and York Institute
*Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty have approved more than $23 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist with infrastructure improvements in Tennessee including a $500,000 grant for the DeKalb Utility District. County Mayor Mike Foster told WJLE that the local grant will be used to install water lines to serve approximately ninety residents on Oakley Road, Dismal, Tramel Branch, Long Branch, and Givens Hollow. Foster said he received the news of the grant award from State Senator Mae Beavers. The county applied for the grant on behalf of the DeKalb Utility District and the DUD will fund the local matching obligation.
*Students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program completed their latest home and its now ready for sale.The Board of Education voted to advertise the sale of the home at cost plus ten percent. Up until this year, all homes built through this program were constructed on lots which had been purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed. But for the first time, a home has been built on campus at DeKalb County High School and now that its finished, the house is to be sold and the owner will be responsible for the costs and liability of moving it to his or her own lot. Since the home will have to be moved, some finishing work will be required by the owner once its relocated. The home, a 1,456 square foot structure, has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Money from the sale of the home will go back into the building trades program to start another house.
*The City of Smithville's engineering firm will be asked to determine the cost of treating landfill leachate at the waste water treatment plant. Once the board of aldermen has that information it will determine whether or not the city should starting charging the county again for this service. Although no vote could be taken, Mayor Taft Hendrixson said during a brief workshop in November that city officials would contact the J.R. Wauford Company to conduct the cost study. The workshop was held between city and county leaders in an effort to come to terms on an agreement on the treatment and disposal of landfill leachate in the city waste water treatment plant. County Mayor Mike Foster said if the county has to pay, it could be a costly venture, and if Smithville were to refuse to accept the leachate, the county could be forced to shut down the landfill until an arrangement could be worked out with another city or county. The City of Smithville, since August 2008, has not been paying the county for the disposal of city garbage in the landfill and the county, since March 2009, has not been paying for the treatment of landfill leachate being hauled to the city's waste water treatment plant. County Mayor Foster has said that this non-payment verbal agreement between he and Smithville Mayor Hendrixson was reached months ago. But according to Mayor Hendrixson, there was no such deal. He said the city's refusal to pay is based on the principle that the county should not be charging Smithville a fee to dump city garbage in the county landfill since city residents are already supporting the operation of the landfill as county taxpayers.
*The DeKalb County Republican Party has nominated a candidate to run for Assessor of Property in the August 2012 General Election. Mason Carter, a first district county commissioner, made his announcement official during the local GOP convention held at the courthouse. Delegates to the convention nominated him without opposition.Carter and his wife Pamela reside in the Temperance Hall community. He worked with DTC Communications for some thirty years before his retirement. Carter was elected to the county commission from the first district in 2006 and he was re-elected in 2010.No other candidate came before the delegation. DeKalb County voters will be electing an Assessor of Property and Constable from each of the seven districts in the county during the General Election next August.
*The 2011 Report Card on DeKalb County schools shows overall academic progress, according to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, still two schools were placed on the "target" list and another made "School Improvement 2" for falling short of No Child Left Behind benchmarks in certain subgroups. According to the report card, DeKalb Middle School made the "Target" list because the sub-group of students who are economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities failed to meet the necessary benchmarks for the year in the subject of math. DeKalb West is a "Target" school because the sub-group of students with disabilities failed to meet the benchmarks in reading and language arts. Northside Elementary is listed as "School Improvement 2" due to the sub-group of students who are economically disadvantaged failed to meet the necessary benchmarks in reading and language arts. DCHS is in "Good Standing", according to the Report Card. However ACT scores "took a dip" this year, according to Director Willoughby. The state now requires mandatory ACT testing of all juniors, not just college bound students. County wide, the school system made "Good Standing" status in grades 3-8
*Three candidates will be in the race for Assessor of Property in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary on March 6. Incumbent Assessor Timothy (Fud) Banks, Scott Cantrell, and Jonathan Bryan Keith have qualified for the race with the DeKalb County Election Commission. Noon (December 8th) was the qualifying deadline. The only contested constable race in the March primary is in the sixth district between Richard Bullard and Carl Lee Webb. Incumbent constables Wayne Vanderpool in the third district, Paul Cantrell in the fourth district, Mark Milam in the fifth district, and Johnny King in the seventh district will be running unopposed. There will be no candidates for constable in the first or second districts
*Capella Healthcare and Saint Thomas Health have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to form a partnership that will result in the joint ownership of Capella's four Middle Tennessee Hospitals including DeKalb Community Hospital. According to a Monday, December 5th Capella Healthcare news release, this partnership will create an innovative venture that will improve healthcare throughout Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. Based in Nashville, Saint Thomas Health includes five hospitals affiliated with Ascension Health Ministry, the largest Catholic system and the largest non-profit in the United States. Capella Healthcare, based in Franklin, operates 15 hospitals in seven states, including five in Tennessee. The pending partnership will result in the joint ownership and operation of Capella's four Middle Tennessee hospitals and potentially additional healthcare facilities in a 60-county area of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. Capella hospitals included in the joint venture are River Park Hospital in McMinnville, White County Community Hospital in Sparta, DeKalb Community Hospital in Smithville and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury, all in Tennessee. These hospitals will operate as part of the Saint Thomas Health Network, which will hold an equity interest. In addition, Saint Thomas Health will become the tertiary care partner for the hospitals within the new venture. Capella will be the managing member and the majority partner in the new venture, and under the agreement, Capella will be the exclusive development partner for Saint Thomas Health across Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. Officials expect the new partnership to begin operations on or before March 1, 2012, subject to customary closing conditions, including due diligence, further negotiations and execution of definitive agreements.
*The county's beer regulations will remain unchanged. On a vote of seven to seven, the county commission failed to adopt a motion to reduce the minimum distance requirement from 2,000 feet to 400 feet between stores seeking to sell beer and places of public gathering such as churches and schools. The 2,000 foot distance regulation is the maximum allowed under state law and it has not been changed since the county adopted it in October 1939. The county has the authority to make the minimum distance something less than 2,000 feet but it cannot be greater than 2,000 feet. Fourth district commissioner David McDowell made a motion to rescind the minimum 2,000 foot rule and change it to 400 feet, which is the same as the City of Smithville's regulation. Third district member Bradley Hendrix seconded the motion. But the measure failed to muster the eight votes needed for passage.