Local News Articles

County Firefighters Contain Carport Fire

April 30, 2013
Dwayne Page

County firefighters kept a carport fire from spreading to the rest of Bessie Atnip's home at 6770 Short Mountain Highway Tuesday afternoon.

Central dispatch received the call at 12:52 p.m.

Atnip and her caregiver Diana Malone were at home when the fire started from a 2002 Dodge Ram pickup truck parked on the carport. They had apparently just started up the truck to let it run a while and went back inside to eat lunch when the pickup caught fire. Malone discovered the blaze and got Atnip out of the house. Neither of them was injured. The fire was then reported to 911.

According to County Fire Chief Donny Green, the fire destroyed the truck and caused extensive damage to a 1995 Pontiac Bonneville parked outside near the carport. He said the fire broke through the carport into the attic above the kitchen but firefighters got the blaze stopped before it could spread to the house. The fire and water damage was confined to the carport area but smoke spread to other parts of the home.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Blue Springs, and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the tanker and equipment truck. DeKalb EMS and officers of the Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

Massman Construction Awarded Contract to Build Sligo Bridge

April 30, 2013
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has awarded the construction contract on Sligo bridge to the Massman Construction Company based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Massman, at $38,903, 917, had the lowest bid of the six bids submitted for the project. According to Jennifer A. Flynn, TDOT Regional Community Relations Officer, the bid came in at well under TDOT's estimated cost of the project at $43.5 million dollars.

Flynn told WJLE Monday a pre-construction meeting will be held within a few weeks in which all parties involved will gather to discuss issues related to the project. Construction is expected to begin later this year.

Paul Degges, Chief Engineer for TDOT, met with County Mayor Mike Foster and members of the county commission in January to update them on plans for the Sligo project. Since the state could not reach a right of way agreement with Sligo Marina, the bridge will be built primarily from the water. "We brought in a lot of contractors and did a constructability review so now we have come up with a way to build the bridge from the water and from the roadway so we're not going to have to be off our reservation so to speak with the bridge," said Degges.

The project will be more costly to build the bridge from the river, according to Degges but the marina will not be impacted in this manner. A construction staging area will be set up at the Highland Trail (Dubland) Boat Ramp near Riverwatch where contractors may gain access to the lake in getting to the bridge. The project will be under construction by summer and should be finished within twenty four to thirty months. "For the most part we're going to be building the bridge from the river. It is going to run our costs up but we believe we have the resources available to deliver it," said Degges. Certainly there will be some construction delays through there but we won't have a traffic signal. As far as construction impacts, there will still be access to the marina during construction and there will still be access across the bridge. It will be posted. Its at 22 tons right now and we hope to be able to keep it at that weight posting. I don't see anything happening that's going to have us change that," he said.

The new bridge will be built next to the existing one. Once the new bridge is completed, the existing bridge will be removed. "We're going to build what we call a steel plate girder bridge with a concrete deck," said Degges. "Right now, the bridge is a truss.The bridge is somewhat narrow. The new bridge we're going to put in here will have twelve foot lanes and ten foot shoulders. It will be what most people would consider a traditional bridge in that the beams of this bridge will be under the deck," he said.

The project is being funded under TDOT's Better Bridges, a four year program approved in 2009 by the Tennessee General Assembly that utilizes bonds to pay for the repair or replacement of more than 200 structurally deficient bridges in the state including Sligo. "We were able to come up with a new funding mechanism which we call our Better Bridges Program that allows us to utilize dollars available so we don't have to borrow money. It is a way that we use bond authorizations that allow us to let bigger projects and pay for them as they're being constructed. It keeps us from having to borrow any money but it allows us to advance pretty expensive projects," said Degges.

Early Voting Set for Smithville Municipal Election

April 30, 2013
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission has set the dates and times of early voting for the Smithville Municipal Election. Three aldermen are to be elected.

Voting will be May 29 through June 13 on the following days and hours:

Mondays: Noon until 5:00 p.m.
Tuesdays: 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Wednesdays: 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Thursdays: 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Fridays: 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. until Noon

Election day is Tuesday June 18. All voting will be done on the first floor of the courthouse. The last day to register to vote in time for the election is May 20.

Candidates for aldermen are incumbents Gayla Hendrix, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer and challengers Aaron Meeks, Josh Miller, and Anthony Scott.

TBI Arrests DeKalb County Man for Theft

April 29, 2013
Paul Allen Willingham
Abigail Vogel
Matthew Allen Baker
Bruce Lee Gammons

On Friday April 26, 2013, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrested a Dekalb County man on a theft charge for stealing computers from his employer after he was indicted by the Davidson County grand jury last month.

Paul Allen Willingham, 33, of Smithville, Tenn. was charged with one count of theft of property over $1,000. While working as a computer tech for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Willingham stole two computers from the agency. The 20th Judicial District Attorney General requested TBI to investigate on March 20, 2013. The laptops were later recovered and Willingham was fired from his position.

Willingham was booked into the Dekalb County Jail on $10,000 bond and was transferred to the Davidson County Jail.

Meanwhile in his latest report on crime, Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 33 year old Abigail Vogel of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication and introduction of drugs into a penal institution. Her bond is $6,500 and she will be in court on Thursday, May 9.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 26 a deputy responded to a call of an unwanted visitor at a residence on Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown. Upon arrival, the officer found Vogel on the property. She was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. For her safety and the safety of the public, Vogel was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

After arriving at the jail, Vogel was asked several times if she had anything on her person that was illegal that the officers needed to know about. She replied no. When the correctional officer searched her before being booked, a plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana was found in Vogel's pocket.

31 year old Matthew Allen Baker of Pine Orchard Road, Smithville is charged with resisting arrest. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on Thursday, May 9.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 26 a deputy went to Royal Oak Apartments on Miller Road to serve a state warrant out of Cannon County on Baker. As a drug detective was trying to handcuff Baker, he jerked away and attempted to flee. After a struggle, Baker was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

30 year old Bruce Lee Gammons of Shady Drive, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on Thursday, May 2.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 28 Gammons and a woman got into a confrontation. She threw a half filled bottle of soda at him and he threw it back, hitting his eight year old son in the side leaving a red swollen area. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Three Teens Involved in Car Wreck

April 28, 2013
Dwayne Page
Three Teens Involved in Car Wreck

Three local teens were involved in a one car accident Saturday night on Jacobs Pillar Road.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that the driver of the car lost control in a curve on the rain slick road. The vehicle struck a culvert and flipped over on its side.

A female passenger of the car was taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital in Cookeville. The other two occupants of the car, both males, were not injured.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

Smithville Man Charged with Theft of Money from Vending Machines

April 27, 2013
Dwayne Page
William Corey Dickens

A 28 year old Smithville man has been charged with four counts of theft for allegedly using special tools and access codes to break into and steal money from vending machines at Federal Mogul, NHC Health Care Center, and DeKalb EMS. The cases have been under investigation by the Smithville Police Department.

William Corey Dickens is under a $17,500 bond and he will be in court on May 2. More charges are pending against him locally. He is also charged with similar offenses in Putnam and Warren County.

According to the warrants, Dickens allegedly broke into vending machines belonging to Five Star Food Services at Federal Mogul on Grizzly Lane in Smithville on February 1 & 8 taking over $500 in cash. On February 1, Dickens was escorted off the property by security on two occasions.

Dickens then went to NHC on Fisher Avenue in Smithville Saturday, March 18 where he allegedly took over $500 in cash from vending machines belonging to Five Star Food Services.

Finally, Dickens went to DeKalb EMS in Smithville on Wednesday, April 17 and allegedly took less than $500 from vending machines belonging to the Dr. Pepper Company. Since that date, Dickens has been charged and incarcerated in Putnam and Warren County for similar offenses. While in custody, Dickens was found to have coins, access codes, and special tools for entering the vending machines.

DeKalb’s Got Talent Raises Money for Project Graduation

April 26, 2013
Shan Burklow
“The Beta Group”
People’s Choice Award Winners

Hundreds of people turned out to show their support for their favorite contestants during Thursday evening’s sold out talent and variety show, “DeKalb’s Got Talent” sponsored by DeKalb Community Hospital to raise money for DCHS Project Graduation 2013.

Twenty acts of various talents and ages included drama, singing, instrumental, dance, and even a very impressive hula hoop performance. Although judges were brought in to choose the winning act, the crowd got in on the action by placing twenty five cent votes for the People’s Choice Award which raised several hundred dollars for the cause. Singing duo, Ashlee Medlin and Elizabeth Koegler raised $132.00 in votes and were named the People’s Choice Winners of the night. A grand total of $1,800.00 was raised by the end of the evening.

“We are so very blessed to have such a good and supportive community that comes out and backs our school’s efforts to provide a safe and fun graduation for our high school seniors,” Host Shan Burklow commented, “I was amazed to see this first year event sell out within minutes of opening the doors. They just kept pulling out more and more chairs. It makes me proud to live here.”

After a hilariously entertaining night of fun and talent, the vocal styling's of “The Beta Group” claimed the $250 cash prize from DeKalb Community Hospital. The evening ended with a live auction as well as beautiful silent auction baskets donated by parents of DCHS Seniors. So, what have we learned from this whole experience? Apparently, DeKalb’s got talent!

(Photo – Winners) Winners from left to right: Host-Shan Burklow with “The Beta Group” Hunter Collins, Jacob Parsley, Makayla Duke, Kelsey Evins, Lauren Craig, and Justin Wiser claiming their $250 cash prize compliments of DeKalb Community Hospital with the help of Co-Host-Matt Boss.

(Photo-People’s Choice) Host-Shan Burklow with People’s Choice Winners Ashlee Medlin and Elizabeth Koegler with Matt Boss and Lora Webb of Project Graduation.

Former DeKalb County High Graduate Receiving Honors at TTU

April 26, 2013
Stephanie Knowles

Stephanie Knowles will soon receive her Master's Degree in the Science of Nursing with a specialty focus as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Commencement ceremonies will be Saturday, May 11 at Tennessee Technological University Cookeville. Stephanie graduated among the top of her class in 2003 from DeKalb County High School. A recipient of the prestigious University Service Scholarship and Gladys Owen's Nursing Scholarship, she chose Tennessee Tech to continue her education. With a culimination of awards and honors such as appointment to Tennessee Tech Mortar Board, Tennessee Tech Honor Society, National Honor Society, Tennessee Tech Dean's List, and National Dean's List, Knowles graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2007 receiving her Bachelor's Degree in the Science of Nursing.

After gaining clinical experience, Knowles decided to further her career and professional education. With hard work and determination, Knowles will once again obtain high honors as she graduates from Tennessee Tech in May. Knowles may soon become a published author as well with research articles submitted for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Stephanie would like to thank her Heavenly Father for his unfailing love and guidance as well as her husband, Darrell Knowles, family, and friends for their continued encouragement and support. She would like to give a special thanks to Dr. James Wall of Smithville, Dr. Robert Treece of Cookeville Pediatric Associates, Dr. Kalyani Kumar of Highland Women's Healthcare, and Gionna Owens, ANP of Smithville for their clinical expertise, guidance, and support in the pursuit of her degree.

With great revelry and pride, we send our graduate into the future.....

The friends and family of Stephanie Summers Knowles would like to say congratulations on her upcoming graduation from Tennessee Tech University. Stephanie will graduate with honors on May 11 and receive her Master's Degree in the Science of Nursing with a specialty focus as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Congratulations Stephanie! We are so proud of you!

DeKalb Jobless Rate Inches Up In March

April 26, 2013
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for March rose to 8.2%, up from 8% in February and 8.1% in March 2012.

The local labor force for March, 2013 was 9,690. A total of 8,900 were employed and 790 were without work.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for March was fifth lowest among the fourteen Upper Cumberland counties. Here's how the ranked highest to lowest:

Pickett County: 13.3%
Van Buren: 12.1%
White: 11.7%
Clay: 10.6%
Cumberland: 10%
Jackson: 9.6%
Warren: 9.6%
Overton: 9.5%
Fentress: 9.3%
DeKalb: 8.2%
Smith: 7.9%
Putnam: 7.5%
Macon: 7.4%
Cannon: 6.5%

County unemployment rates for March 2013 show the rate decreased in 58 counties, increased in 24, and stayed the same in 13.

Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.2 percent, down from 6.4 percent in February. Davidson County rate of 6.3 percent was unchanged from February. Hamilton County was 7.7 percent, up from 7.6 percent in the previous month. Shelby County was 9.5 percent, up from 9.3 percent in February.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for March was 7.9 percent, which increased one tenth of one percentage point from the February revised rate of 7.8 percent. The national unemployment rate for March 2013 was 7.6 percent, decreasing by one tenth of one percentage point from the previous month.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

GED Class Orientation

April 25, 2013
Dwayne Page

Registration for GED classes is scheduled for Monday, April 29 at 4:00 p.m. in the DeKalb County Complex on South Congress Boulevard. Please enter through UT Extension/Motlow College doors.

Anyone age eighteen and older may sign up. The ten week course is offered at no charge locally but the cost is $55.00 to take the final GED test. The fee will increase to $120.00 in 2014.

Tom Werling, GED Volunteer Instructor said after a student registers, a test is given to determine his or her grade level in certain subject areas. "Step two is going to be the TABE Test Tuesday, April 30 at 4:00 p.m. The TABE Test will give us an idea of where you (students) are education wise. We have had people from the second grade (level) all the way to the twelfth grade (level) so this will give us an idea of the books we need to give you and the things we need to do for you," said Werling.

Step three will be the OPT test Thursday, May 2 at 4:00 p.m. which is the official practice test for the GED program, according to Werling. "The GED test is divided into five categories, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Math. To get your GED you just need to average 450 in each one of the those areas. The new GED test will be coming out in 2014. It will be a computer based test and it will be harder. The fee will also be going from $55.00 to $120.00 for the test. Right now it is $55.00. There is no charge or fee for the classes here in Smithville. We'll provide you the books you need. We teach on a one to one basis because of the variance in the education level of the people we will be seeing," said Werling.

For more information call 931-528-8685.


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