Local News Articles

Two Teens Airlifted After Three Vehicle Crash

March 17, 2013
Dwayne Page
EMS and Fire Dept Volunteers Remove Teenage Wreck Victim from Car
Wreck Scene Shows All Three Vehicles
Two 16 year old girls injured in this car

Two sixteen year old girls were airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital after a three vehicle crash Saturday afternoon on Highway 56 south near the Mystik Market at Shiney Rock. Two others were also involved in the accident.

Central dispatch received the call at 2:11 p.m.

The names of the two girls were not released by the Tennessee Highway Patrol because they are juveniles. WJLE has learned that the girls are Taneah Cantrell and Keri Sanders.

Trooper Jeremy Wilhite of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 57 year old Kenneth Lattimore of Smithville, driving a white 2005 Nissan car north on Highway 56, had stopped to make a left turn onto Old Blue Springs Road. Behind him was a red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, driven by 42 year old Christopher Barrett of Rock Island, which had also stopped. A black 2012 Toyota Corolla, driven by a 16 year old girl, traveling north, came up behind and struck the back of the pickup truck. According to Trooper Wilhite, the truck spun around and hit the Lattimore car in front of it. The car driven by the teenager, went off the right side of the road and came to a stop ahead of the other two vehicles.

Lattimore was not hurt but Barrett went by a private vehicle to DeKalb Community Hospital. The teen driver and her teenage passenger were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where they were airlifted by a helicopter ambulance.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Blue Springs Station and extrication and rescue unit also responded.

TDOT to Let Bids for New Sligo Bridge, Flashing Beacon Light, Resurfacing Projects in DeKalb County

March 16, 2013
Dwayne Page
Sligo Bridge
Accident in June 2011, one of many at intersection of HWY 70 & 83

The Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to open bids Friday, April 5 on a construction contract for the new Sligo bridge, the installation of a flashing beacon at U.S. 70 and State Route 83, and several highway resurfacing projects in DeKalb County.

The Sligo project calls for the construction of a welded steel plate girder bridge and three retaining walls on US. 70 (state route 26) over the Caney Fork River and Sligo Road. The completion date is on or before June 30, 2016.

TDOT will open bids for the installation of a flashing beacon on U.S. 70 (State Route 26) at the intersection of State Route 83 near Kilgore's Restaurant. The completion date is on or before July 31, 2013. Many serious traffic accidents have occurred at this intersection in recent years.

Bids will be let for:

The resurfacing (either micro-surface or thin mix overlay) on State Route 96 beginning at Center Hill Dam and extending to the Putnam County line. Project length- 2.970 miles. Completion time on or before September 30, 2013

The resurfacing (either micro-surface or thin mix overlay) of State Route 141 beginning at State Route 96 and extending to the Putnam County line. Project length- 3.330 miles. Completion time on or before September 30, 2013

The resurfacing (either micro-surface or thin mix overlay) of State Route 264 beginning at State Route 96 and extending to the Smith County line including bridge deck repair. Project length- 5.480 miles. Completion time on or before September 30, 2013.

The resurfacing (micro-surfacing) of State Route 56 beginning at Church Street and extending to the Putnam County line. Project length- 11.760 miles. Completion time on or before September 30, 2013

The resurfacing (micro-surfacing) on State Route 56 beginning at the DeKalb County line and extending to the I-40 overpass. Project length- 0.540 miles. Completion time on or before September 30, 2013

The resurfacing (micro-surfacing) of State Route 141 beginning at the DeKalb County line and extending to State Route 56. Project length- 3.410 miles. Completion time on or before September 30, 2013.

DeKalb Suicide Rate Declines in 2011 But Still Higher Than State and National Average

March 16, 2013
Dwayne Page

In 2011, the latest year for which county-specific figures are available, DeKalb County's age-adjusted suicide rate was 26.5 per 100,000 people, translating into five reported suicide deaths. This rate and number are down from the previous year but still above the state and national average as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Hancock County had the state's highest suicide rate among the state's ninety five counties at 74.5 per 100,000 with five deaths and Johnson County had the lowest rate at 5.5 per 100,000 with one death.

DeKalb County's suicide rate was at 16.6 per 100,000 in 2006 and 2007 with three deaths each of those years. But the rate soared to 48.1 per 100,000 in 2008 with nine deaths. The rate dropped to 26.5 per 100,000 with five deaths in 2009 but went back up to 37.4 per 100,000 with seven deaths in 2010. The year 2012 numbers are not available.

Jackson County recorded the highest suicide rate among the fourteen Upper Cumberland Counties for 2011. Here's how they ranked from highest to lowest.

Jackson 52.8 per 100,000 (6 deaths)
White 42.1 (11)
Clay 38.6 (3)
Van Buren 36.6 (2)
Fentress 33.3 (6)
Macon 26.7 (6)
DeKalb 26.5 (5)
Pickett 19.6 (1)
Cannon 14.6 (2)
Putnam 13.7 (10)
Cumberland 10.6 (6)
Smith 10.4 (2)
Warren 10 (4)
Overton 9 (2)

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) has published its Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2013 report, detailing suicide trends and prevention efforts in Tennessee. The current report includes a summary of suicide trends within Tennessee, both overall and for various subgroups.

Tennessee's age-adjusted suicide rate for 2011 was 14.6 per 100,000 people, translating into 938 reported suicide deaths. This rate and number are down from previous years but are still above the national average of 12.4 per 100,000 as reported for the year 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rates among teens and older adults, both groups traditionally at high suicide risk, remain stable. White males aged 35-64 account for the largest share of suicide deaths, and suicide rates are higher for white males across the lifespan.

Attention is also given to the nature of non-fatal versus fatal attempts and common suicide methods-almost two-thirds of all suicides in Tennessee involve a firearm.

"At least 150 Tennesseans who deeply care about the suicide prevention are meeting monthly to raise their own suicide awareness and to implement activities that educate their communities about suicide. They are also working together to apply the Tennessee Strategies for Suicide Prevention," observes TSPN Advisory Council Chair Jennifer Harris. "The maintenance and growth of the regional and county efforts should inspire all of us."

The document also includes a summary of common suicide risk factors and an account of TSPN's suicide prevention projects. The report concludes with a listing of suicide numbers and rates for all 95 Tennessee counties for the years 2006 through 2011.

All over the state, TSPN offers presentations and training sessions for schools, churches, and civic groups and partnerships with state departments and other non-profits. TSPN also networks with and faith-based groups to implement suicide prevention strategies; debriefs schools and other institutions affected by suicide death; and promotes awareness and educational events across the state of Tennessee.

"Of course, our work here is hardly finished," adds TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgway. "Our goal is not merely fewer suicides, it is zero suicides. Suicide remains a major and tragic threat to middle-aged adults in our state. The ebb of the Middle East conflicts means more soldiers will be trying to reconcile their wartime experiences with civilian life. We hope to ensure that those who have served their country will get the help they need.

"We hope that the Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2013 report will inspire everyone to join us in the ongoing effort to make zero suicides not just an objective, but a reality for the people of our state."

Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2013 will be published online via the TSPN website (www.tspn.org

Bid Approval Delayed for DeKalb West Construction Project

March 15, 2013
Dwayne Page

Bid approval for the DeKalb West School construction project has been delayed by a month


David Brown of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones, & Morris Architects of Mount Juliet, updated the school board on the project Thursday night. Brown said bidding will be delayed a month but that won't affect the projected completion date. "We are hard at work wrapping up DeKalb West," said Brown. "We have a couple of loose ends we're tying up this week. One is your low voltage and technology package where the budget came in way, way not where we wanted it to be so we have been working with Systems Integration to repackage that and get it back down where it needs to be budget wise. We're also wrapping up the kitchen design. We've got a few improvements to make there. We're going to meet one last time on Monday and wrap that up. I am going to slide the schedule. Not your move in schedule. You're still going to have everything done and move in by August 2014 but I need to slide the date that you approve the bids. Instead of approving bids at your April school board meeting, I need you to approve bids at your May school board meeting. That affects when we get started a little bit but not when you move in. On bid day we'll have different packages for the contractors to submit pricing on. One is the storm shelter itself. The next is the traditional construction which would be any miscellaneous renovation, the kitchen and all the work that goes along with that. Number three is the roof which we can evaluate. Number four is what Johnson Controls is doing as apart of the new construction where they are guaranteeing the (energy) savings that you're going to see. We have been working with Johnson and their folks. Their engineers evaluate and recommend but its actually our engineers that do the drawings, stamp them and have them in the plans. We're having to work with them very closely to make sure we have everything just right. So basically we're in the home stretch and we'll have an update next month. By May we'll have numbers you folks can evaluate and act on hopefully and then get mobilized and be ready to go by the time school gets out. We're not going to get done in August. We'll get done over the summer to give us time to do a punch list and give you folks time to move in and then open for business in August 2014. But the construction will be done before then," said Brown

The proposed addition will be constructed in the front of the school, including eight classrooms, restrooms, a new secure entrance, an office, clinic, conference room, guidance and teacher work area. A cafeteria and kitchen renovation is also included for the school.

Construction Begins on New Football Field House at DCHS

March 15, 2013
Dwayne Page

Ground has been broken for the construction of a new field house for the DCHS Tiger Football program.


Tiger Coach Steve Trapp updated the Board of Education on the plans Thursday night. "It's been about three and a half years but we did break ground last week. There have been a couple of changes but they have not been made without talking to the appropriate people, Mr. Mark Willoughby, Mr. Patrick Cripps, Maintenance Supervisor Earl Jared, the Fire Marshal, the Architect Gaius Overton. Originally we had an all block building. We've made a change. Its still the same building as far as layout, size, and function purposes of the building but we have decided to go with a steel building instead of an all block building," said Coach Trapp. "It was the recommendation of the architect and fire marshal to look in that avenue (to make these changes) so that the time frame and a little bit of the cost will be saved as well. We have broken ground. We have everything started. The steel building will arrive next Thursday and we'll have all of spring break to get after it and get that thing up. The perfect scenario is to have that thing put together and have everything cleaned up on the outside before graduation so it won't be a mess. All the plans have been resent to the fire marshal so he knows our plans. He has seen everything and he has signed off on it and everything is in good order," said Coach Trapp

The original plans were for the new field house to be a 50 x 70 foot block exterior structure with a metal roof located near the existing facility between the practice field and playing field. It would be for the Tiger football program complete with a dressing room area, locker room, training room, utility room, showers and bathrooms, an office for the coach, and two dry storage areas, one of which would be for the youth football league.

The board adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring Professional Services Staff.

The resolution states that "Whereas, the DeKalb County School System is served by an admirable group of special teachers and staff members including related arts teachers, music teachers, school nurses, guidance counselors, school resource officers, psychologists, and speech and hearing specialists; and

Whereas, this group of professionals consists of competent and dedicated individuals who play a large role in the success of the students in DeKalb County; and

Whereas, the special teachers and staff members in the DeKalb County School District are responsible for providing a variety of special services to many students on a daily basis; and

Whereas, these professionals join the efforts of our teaching and administrative staff to help us meet the unique needs of each student from teaching physical conditioning, library skills, bandaging a wound to offering encouragement and hope for students in despair; and

Whereas, the DeKalb County Board of Education wishes to honor the commitment and service the special teachers and staff provides

Now, Therefore, Be it resolved that, the Board of Education hereby establishes March 21, 2013 as Special Teachers and Staff Appreciation Day in all DeKalb County Schools; and

Be it further resolved that the board expresses appreciation and thanks to all who provide special services in our school system and encourages each school and community to recognize these individuals for their role in the success of our school system.

Meanwhile, Director Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel to the board. Those employed since last month are Shelby Mulloy, Amie Buchanan, and Tammy Maynard as substitute cafeteria workers.

The DCHS Boys Soccer team was granted permission to attend an invitational soccer tournament at Franklin County High School in Winchester on Saturday April 6 through Sunday, April 7.

The FBLA Club of DCHS was given permission for an overnight trip to Chattanooga April 7-10. Approximately 25 students, one advisor, and one chaperone will attend the FBLA State Leadership Conference. This is an annual trip for the club.

The board also voted to grant permission for FFA students to attend the State FFA Convention in Gatlinburg March 24-28.

Orlando Denied Parole, Next Hearing Set for March, 2016

March 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
Christopher Nicholas Orlando

40 year old Christopher Nicholas Orlando has heard from the Tennessee Board of Parole and the news for him isn't good. He will have to spend at least three more years in prison.

Three members of the board have voted to deny parole for Orlando due to the seriousness of the offense and to reconsider the case in March, 2016.

Orlando is serving a 45 year prison sentence for facilitation of first degree murder in the death of 20 year old Joshua Murphy. Orlando is incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee.

A parole hearing was held for Orlando on Monday, March 4.

Murphy was shot and killed in a secluded area in the Laurel Hill Community at the end of Old Eagle Creek Road on Sunday, September 15, 2002. His body was discovered three days later. Officials said Orlando and a co-defendant, Melvin Turnbill suspected Murphy of stealing methamphetamine. Orlando was tried and convicted of the crime by a DeKalb County Criminal Court Jury in April, 2004.

Turnbill entered a guilty plea to facilitation to first-degree murder in September, 2003 and was given a 25-year sentence, of which he must serve at least 30 percent. Turnbill remains incarcerated at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville. His parole hearing is set for April, 2014.

While Orlando said he was sorry for the death of Murphy during the parole hearing, he denied being the triggerman in the shooting, blaming Turnbill for actually committing the murder.

The parole board members conducting the hearing, Chairman Charles Traughber and Richard Montgomery found Orlando less than forthcoming about his involvement in the crime.

Gary McKenzie, Deputy District Attorney, speaking on behalf of the victim's family, also insisted that Orlando was not being candid with the board.

Board Members consider factors such as seriousness of the offense, time served, victim input, any programs the offender may have completed or disciplinary actions against the offender while incarcerated, etc..

In making this decision, the Board cited seriousness of the offense as the primary reason for their decision. Voting ends when the required number of matching votes have been cast – either to parole or not to parole. In this case, that was three votes of the seven-member board.

Local Judges and Attorneys Pleased with Consensus Judicial Redistricting Plan

March 13, 2013
Dwayne Page
Judge Bratten Cook, II

Local judges and attorneys are delighted with the news that DeKalb County will remain part of the 13th Judicial District and that the district itself will be left intact under a consensus plan unveiled Monday by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey.

"It is certainly gratifying that our voices were heard by those in authority including the Lieutenant Governor and our representatives and state senator," said DeKalb County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II who is also president of the local bar.

Under the plan, the 13th Judicial District will remain with no changes. The district includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.

A previous plan given consideration would have included DeKalb County in a new eight county district with Coffee, Cannon, Warren, Smith, Jackson, Trousdale, and Macon.

"I certainly want to thank our State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver for their input and support of our position," said Judge Cook. We had a great meeting with them recently and they were very responsive to our concerns about moving DeKalb County to a different judicial district," said Judge Cook.

"I also want to thank all of the bar members here for working diligently to let the powers that be know that we are exactly where we need to be. That we did not need to be moved to another judicial district. That it would have wreaked havoc on our people having to travel perhaps all the way to Coffee county up to the Kentucky line. So as it stands we're going to stay exactly where we are and keep the judges that we have," he said.

"I certainly want to thank our judges for their support. It would have been a whole lot easier on them if they lost DeKalb County and picked up Van Buren County because there's hardly any litigation that occurs in Van Buren County and there is quite a bit here. It just shows that our judges really consider DeKalb County as much home as they do their respective homes, which is primarily Putnam County for them although Judge Amy Hollars is from Overton County. She, Judge John Maddux, Judge Ronald Thurman, Judge David Patterson, and Judge Leon Burns, Jr. all worked diligently to keep DeKalb County with the 13th Judicial District. I certainly want to thank them," said Judge Cook

"We, the lawyers are the winners, but the real winners are the people of DeKalb County because we have absolutely the best judges in the state and all you have to do is go to another judicial district and you'll find that out," said Judge Cook. " The people of DeKalb County are clearly the winners in this. I noticed there are a few districts on the proposed map that have been changed. Perhaps those places had problems. I don't know. All I know is we didn't have one," he said.

The legislation adopting the plan must be approved by both the State House and Senate and signed by the Governor.

DeKalb Jail and Annex Meet Standards for TCI Re-Certification

March 13, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Jail and Annex

The DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have again met minimum standards for certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the Tennessee Corrections Institute recently performed an inspection of the DeKalb County Jail and the DeKalb County Jail Annex.

In a letter to Sheriff Ray, TCI Executive Director Beth Ashe, wrote that "The inspection revealed that this facility meets all applicable minimum standards. This status shall be reported to the Board of Control at its next meeting. After approval from the Board of Control, you will receive a Certificate of Certification. You are to be congratulated for attaining this degree of professionalism in your organization," wrote Ashe.

Detention Facility Specialist Joe Ferguson, in the report wrote that "On February 28, 2013 I inspected the DeKalb County Jail and Annex. With no apparent deficiencies found, I recommend continued certification for 2013".

The DeKalb County Jail and Annex have a certified capacity of 102 beds.

Two Treated for Second Degree Burns, One for Smoke Inhalation in Early Morning Fire

March 12, 2013
Kitchen Stove (Photo by Donny Green)
Stove and Cabinet Area (Photo by Donny Green)

DeKalb County Firefighters quickly extinguished an early morning mobile home fire at 3283 Student's Home Road Tuesday at around 1:30 a.m. Chief Donny Green states that the fire started on the kitchen stove as a pan of grease was left unattended. The grease ignited and spread flames to the cabinet area above the stove.

One of the parents awoke to the smell of smoke and alerted the other occupants, including 9 children ranging from 5-17 years old. All occupants were able to evacuate the mobile home but two of them received 2nd degree burns and one suffered smoke inhalation. All were attended to at the scene by DeKalb Emergency Medical Services, but none were transported to the hospital.

Chief Green says that there were 4 smoke alarms in the mobile home, but none of the alarms had batteries installed and as a result, the family narrowly missed escaping the fire. The fire damage was confined to the immediate area around and above the stove. However, the remainder of the home received extensive smoke damage. Firefighters were also able to locate and rescue 5 puppies found under a bed.

The local Red Cross chapter responded to the scene to assist the family of 11 with their immediate needs. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on hand to assist. Firefighters from the Keltonburg, Blue Springs, Belk, Short Mountain stations, along with the department's tanker truck and equipment truck responded to the blaze.

Chief Green reminds anyone that cannot buy smoke alarm batteries that the DeKalb County Fire Department is happy to assist and can be contacted at 615-464-7176. You can also visit the DeKalb County Fire Department's Facebook Page for more information.

Smithville Police Department Building Relationships with Local Schools

March 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Officer Chip Avera Greeting a Student at Northside Elementary
Northside Elementary Student Happy to see Corporal Travis Bryant

As they arrive at school in the mornings and or during the school day, students at Smithville Elementary, Northside Elementary, DeKalb Middle, and DeKalb County High School are often greeted by members of the Smithville Police Department.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger started the practice this school year so that the officers could build on their relationships with students, teachers, and parents. "Its one of the things we decided we could do that didn't cost any money," said Chief Caplinger. "We go by on our down times. The kids are getting used to us. We enjoy talking to them and the officers are learning the layout of the schools," he said.

Having a law enforcement officer on site gives everyone a better sense of security, according to Beth Pafford, assistant principal at Northside Elementary School. "We love having them here. The students love them. As an administrator, as teachers one of the primary concerns is having a safe place for them to come and learn. If you don't feel safe its very difficult to learn. We just appreciate the community effort because educating the students is a community effort and we're grateful that the police department is making time to come out and build relationships with the students and teachers. Its been a very positive thing," said Pafford.


Chip Avera, Patrol Officer said he and other members of the Smithville Police Department are visiting the schools as part of their daily patrols but are not serving as School Resource Officers. "We're on regular shift patrol and when possible when we're not too busy answering calls of service to the community we're trying to get out here and visit, more so in the mornings when everybody is coming and going. When classes get started we ease out and come back and forth throughout the day, walking the halls, checking out the schools and just hanging out. We're out here as much as we can be and when we're needed of course. We're trying to be pro-active with all of our officers being involved in getting to know the schools, students, parents, and teachers," said Officer Avera.

"We want everyone to know that we are going to be at every school (in Smithville)," said Corporal Travis Bryant. " They may see us at different times of the day. We'll stop in to talk with the students and the teachers to see how things are going. We try not to alarm anybody. If you see us at school it doesn't mean that anything bad has happened. We're just making sure everything is okay. Once people understand why we're there they feel more at ease," said Corporal Bryant.

Smithville Alderman and Police and Fire Commissioner Shawn Jacobs commended Chief Caplinger for this initiative during last week's city council meeting. "I would like to compliment you Chief for allowing your officers, when they have time to go by the schools where they're walking the halls and getting to know the kids. These aren't SRO's but its just a police presence in the schools more and in these nervous times in our schools I think that's great. I think its great for police officers to be seen there with those police cars out front. It lets the public know that when they see a police car out front its not necessarily a bad thing and that its probably a good thing. This is an initiative you started on your own and I think its very well founded," said Alderman Jacobs.


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