Local News Articles

County to Acquire Property for New Fire Station

August 5, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

The county is making plans to eventually establish a fire department station in the Four Seasons community.

County Mayor Mike Foster said the county commission last week voted to acquire property, a little more than an acre in size, near the intersection of Four Seasons Road and Young Green Road for the future home of the new fire station. Though the land is appraised at $13,000, Foster said the owner is selling it to the county for $4,000. And it is a better location for a fire station than property the county already owns at Pine Creek Saddle Club in that it will improve the ISO rating for more residents. "The county owns two or three acres where the Pine Creek Saddle Club is, but in order for people to get the benefit of it (better ISO Rating), it (fire station) must be a couple of miles on down the road. It's got to be within five miles of the majority of those houses for them to get the benefit of a better ISO rating. This property is about five miles to town and five miles to the boat dock," said Foster.

According to Foster, the Four Seasons community is perhaps the area of the county in the greatest need for a fire station. " As far as looking at the number of houses outside the five mile range of a fire station, that's probably the biggest area of the county. There are probably 300 houses down in there. Just at Four Seasons is 179 (houses). From there back to town, there's a lot of houses. So this (fire station) would help," said Foster.

While the owner is making the county a deal on the property, he is asking that the fire station have an attractive look that blends in with other structures in the community. " He asked that the facade be brick. He owns the subdivision there (nearby). He's going to take a deduction for a donation because it benefits his subdivision (to have a fire station closeby) but it also benefits everybody down there," Foster said.
There are no immediate plans to start construction. "It may be a little while in the future doing that," said Foster.

County Fire Chief Donny Green included a request for an additional fire station in his 2014-15 budget proposal for the fire department. In the request, Green wrote, "We have been meeting and discussing a proposal to build an additional fire station in the Four Seasons (Young Bend) area of the county. Our fire needs assessment shows that this is an area with many residences that are beyond the 5-road mile service area from any of our existing stations. Because of this distance, homeowners are charged much higher insurance premiums and fire and other related incident arrival times are significantly longer. Our last fire station construction project, in 2007, in the Austin Bottom community cost about $55,000," wrote Green.

The county currently has eleven fire stations.

DeKalb County Excels During 2014 Great American Cleanup in Tennessee

August 4, 2014
DeKalb County Excels During 2014 Great American Cleanup in Tennessee

DeKalb County has done a stellar job in leading their community to success during this year’s Great American Cleanup (GAC) in Tennessee.

DeKalb County, led by 2014 GAC Coordinator Suzanne Williams, collected 42,500 pounds of trash. A total of 200 volunteers contributed 600 hours.
“We are grateful that the state of Tennessee has volunteers that take ownership of their community, helping Keep Tennessee Beautiful achieve remarkable results each year during Keep America Beautiful’ s annual spring event, the Great American Cleanup,” said KTnB Executive Director Missy Marshall. “We look forward to cultivating our relationship with organizations in each county; as well as strive to help Tennessee become a cleaner and greener state.”

KTnB expects to have 100 percent county participation during this year’s GAC. So far we have received planning forms from each county in the state. The process of collecting the wrap-up reports is currently ongoing, as over 50 have been submitted.
The National Sponsors of the 2014 GAC are: Dow, The Glad Products Company, Lowe’s, Phillips 66, Troy-Bilt® Lawn and Garden Equipment, and Waste Management.

For more information on GAC, contact KTnB’s Stine Moss-Cooperwood at 901-678-4160, or visit www.keeptnbeautiful.org/get-involved.

Man Tries to Escape After being Arrested for Aggravated Assault

August 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Michael Pierre Napier Rose
David Ray Johnson
Amanda Gail Maxwell
Sherry Kay Malone
Tonya Amber Marie Audas
Cynthia Gail Sorrell
Michael Andrew Snyders, Jr.

In his latest report on crime, Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 30 year old Michael Pierre Napier Rose of Capshaw Road is charged with aggravated assault, vandalism, and escape along with outstanding warrants for violation of General Sessions Court probation, violation of a check law (worthless check), and two counts of failure to appear. His bond totals $23,500 but he is being held without bond on the failure to appear warrants. He will be in court on August 28.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 3 Rose allegedly assaulted another man by pulling him off a horse and throwing him on the ground. Rose then pulled a knife, pointed it at the man and threatened to kill him, placing the victim in fear of his life. Rose was later taken into custody and transported to the sheriff's department. While enroute, Rose pulled the inside back door panel off the patrol car which broke the locks and windows. He then escaped from the back seat of the patrol car and tried to flee from custody but he was quickly apprehended.

51 year old David Ray Johnson of Old Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property under $500. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court August 25. He was arrested on Tuesday, July 29. Sheriff Ray said that on December 1, 2013 Johnson allegedly stole and then sold a yellow tilt trailer for $175.

30 year old Amanda Gail Maxwell of Fisher Avenue, Smithville and 35 year old Sherry Kay Malone of Commerce Street, Watertown are each charged with assaulting another woman. Bond for each is $5,000 and they will be in court August 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, July 30 during an altercation, Malone and Maxwell allegedly assaulted their victim by kicking her in the head. Malone also allegedly hit and punched the woman repeatedly about her body resulting in scratches on the victim's right arm.

30 year old Tonya Amber Marie Audas of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged with driving under the influence. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court August 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 31 a sheriff's department detective was called to the Dollar General Store on a complaint of an intoxicated woman. Upon arrival he spoke with Audas as she was putting two young daughters in her vehicle. Audas appeared to have been on an intoxicant. Audas submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. She also submitted to a blood test. According to Sheriff Ray, Audas admitted to having taken percocet, valium, adderall, and Klonopin. She was placed under arrest.

55 year old Cynthia Gail Sorrell of North Turner Drive, Sparta is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court August 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 2 a deputy was dispatched to a Lower Helton Road residence on an abduction . Upon arrival, the officer discovered that there had been no abduction. He spoke with Sorrell who said she and a friend had gotten into a dispute and that she was told to leave her friend's property. Sorrell said she couldn't leave because she had left her keys in her friend's home. Sorrell had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person and she was unsteady on her feet. She admitted to consuming alcohol and was placed under arrest.

29 year old Michael Andrew Snyders, Jr. of West Main Street, Smithville is charged with assault. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 2 Snyders allegedly assaulted another man by pushing him. Snyders and the victim then began hitting each other and went to the ground wrestling. Snyders was determined to have been the primary aggressor.

Smithville Senior Citizens Director Wanda Poss to Retire

August 4, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Wanda Poss

As she prepares to retire as executive director of the Smithville Senior Center, Wanda Poss says what she will miss most are the seniors whom she has gotten to know.

“The best part of this job has been helping people needing help.” said Poss, who will officially step down as director of the senior center August 31 after serving in that capacity for the past 17 years. “I have enjoyed being out there associating with the seniors, playing cards with them and organizing activities for their benefit. The seniors here are very important to me," she said in an interview Friday with WJLE.

Poss took on the job as director of the Smithville Senior Center in 1997 after working in the private sector. "I was working at Kingston Timer but my orthopedic surgeon took me off of repetitious work. I went home and stayed for a while but when I heard about this opportunity, I decided to put in for it," she said.

Over the years, Poss has seen more programs become available to help seniors live more productively. "The Silver Sneakers Fitness program has been a big help and has grown. We also have the HELP Program. The Rotary Club joined up with us several years ago to help us take food out at Christmas time. We deliver about 80-90 boxes at Christmas time. At times I have gone into homes and taken food when they (seniors) call," she said.

In addition to her daily duties as Senior Director and Coordinator of the HELP Program, Poss has helped organize other activities and events including community fund raising dances for the senior center as well as the annual Veteran's Day lunch. Last year, she said more than 200 were fed as a way of honoring local veterans.

A dream long held by Poss finally became a reality after the county bought the building now known as the complex and developed a new senior center there. " The existing city hall was built during the 1970s and they (senior citizens center) were there on the second floor. We were fortunate and blessed to have the city let us use the city hall for all those years. But when the county bought this building (complex) I went to County Mayor Mike Foster and asked to get the seniors (a new center) on the ground floor. He said "we'll try to". He did and it's a beautiful center and we're very proud of it," said Poss.

While she looks forward to retirement, Poss said she plans to remain active. "I'm going home and rest a while. I'll rest until September and that's when we'll leave on our Colorado trip", she said. Called Wanda's Traveling Friends, Poss will continue planning vacation trips for seniors and others who want to join her on visits to places around the world.

Poss said she wishes to thank all those who have supported the senior citizens program over the years including local businesses, the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, UCDD, the City of Smithville including past and present mayors and aldermen, past and present county mayors and county commissioners, the Smithville Police Department and Sheriff's Department, the Smithville Rotary Club, DeKalb EMS, and the senior citizens.

Community Joins in Prayer for Our Schools

August 3, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Local Ministers Offer Prayers for Our Schools
Members of Community Join in Prayer for Our Schools
Annual Prayer for Our Schools Observance

Members of the community turned out Sunday afternoon to join in a special "Prayer Service for Schools" observance at the DeKalb County High School gym.

The prayer service has become an annual event conducted by local ministers offering prayers for each school as well as the students, teachers, transportation staff, and other employees. "It started out a long time ago with a group of teachers who got together on the Sunday before school started and prayed. Each year they invited more and more people. Somewhere along the line someone said we need to keep this thing going so we started organizing and getting the ministers involved. We try to get ministers from all across the county from different denominations because it's great when different denominations come together to praise God and pray. I truly believe God blesses those efforts," said local minister Larry Green who moderated the program Sunday.

Among the local ministers participating were Larry Steffee of the Center Hill Brethren In Christ (who prayed for Smithville Elementary School), Jimmy Arms of the Upper Helton Baptist Church (who prayed for DeKalb West School), Isaac Gray of the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church (who prayed for DCHS), Phil Tollett of the Allen's Chapel and Buckner's Chapel United Methodist Churches (who prayed for the Transportation Department), Jeff Armstrong of the Smithville Church of God (who prayed for Northside Elementary School), and Don Davidson of the Real Life Community Church (who prayed for DeKalb Middle School)

Green gave persons in the audience an opportunity to offer a prayer. Luke Willoughby stepped forward to pray for parents and their children and School Board member Kenny Rhody prayed for the school board.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby also made some remarks at the beginning of the program on the importance of prayer.

After the program, Green spoke with WJLE. "I think in everything we do, we need to bathe it in prayer. The Bible tells us we need to pray about everything. The scripture says pray without ceasing so prayer is an important part of our lives as Christians and as people of God so we need to pray for our school system. If we don't have enough faith in God to protect our school system and protect our students, teachers, and administration then we need to take a look at what we're really about because prayer is that lifeline," said Green.

(TOP PHOTO: Larry Steffee, Jimmy Arms, Isaac Gray, Phil Tollett, Jeff Armstrong, Don Davidson, and Larry Green)

Almost 2400 Vote Early, Election Day is Thursday

August 3, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

A total of 2,399 persons cast ballots during the fourteen days of early voting for the August 7 elections. Early voting concluded Saturday, August 2

A total of 2,253 voted in person and 146 by absentee.

Of the 2,399 voters, a total of 866 voted in the Tennessee Republican Primary, 696 voted in the Tennessee Democratic Primary, and 835 voted only in the DeKalb County General Election without voting in either state primary. There were three provisional ballots cast.

Thursday, August 7 is election day. Voting at all sixteen precincts will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. WJLE will have LIVE election return coverage.

The following is the early voting turnout each day between July 18 and August 2

Friday, July 18: 213 voters
Saturday, July 19: 115 voters
Monday, July 21: 211 voters
Tuesday, July 22: 153 voters
Wednesday, July 23: 147 voters
Thursday, July 24: 210 voters
Friday, July 25: 178 voters
Saturday, July 26: 135 voters
Monday, July 28: 187 voters
Tuesday, July 29: 144 voters
Wednesday, July 30: 132 voters
Thursday, July 31: 223 voters
Friday, August 1: 173 voters
Saturday, August 2: 178 voters

The following is the early voting turnout by precinct:
Alexandria: 122
Temperance Hall: 66
Edgar Evins State Park: 6
Liberty: 96
Dowelltown:66
Snow Hill:143
Church of God:514
Cherry Hill:12
Rock Castle:3
Courthouse:439
Johnson Chapel:60
County Complex:301
Belk: 48
Keltonburg:103
Blue Springs:87
Church of Christ:330

Leadership DeKalb Assisting School Programs

August 3, 2014
by: 
By: April B. Martin, PhD
Leadership DeKalb Assisting School Programs

In his classic essay titled The Servant as a Leader, author Robert Greenleaf introduced us to the concept of servant leadership and defined it as “the desire to serve.” The "servant's heart," is a fundamental characteristic of a servant-leader. It is not about being servile; it is about wanting to help others. It is about identifying and meeting the needs of colleagues, customers, and communities.

The Leadership DeKalb Class of 2014 was comprised of ten community leaders, citizens, business owners, students, educators, health care professionals, and managers. During our monthly meetings over the last year, we learned an immense amount of information about the community in which we all live. Now, as we direct our energies into our class service project, we are learning the importance of servant leadership.

Our class discussed several worthwhile and deserving projects which we could contribute to, but the one which we felt would have the most impact is what we call “Tools for Students.”

The Leadership DeKalb Class of 2014 is asking for support from the community in assisting our schools with the resources they need to teach arts, music, and the physical education for every student in the DeKalb County school system. This project is being coordinated with the DeKalb County Foundation for Education, which is a 501 (c) 3 organization and will allow contributions to be tax deductible.

How can you help? Our class will be collecting new or gently used art supplies from companies or individuals. Examples include paint, paintbrushes, paper, pastels, and charcoal pencils. To assist with physical education classes, companies or individuals can donate new or gently used sports equipment such as balls, jump ropes, and hula hoops. Music classes need gently used or new instruments.

Who will benefit from your donation? Every child in DeKalb County who participates in any physical education, art, or music class will have the benefit of these resources made possible through your donation. Monetary donations can also be accepted. Checks should be made out to DeKalb County Foundation for Education.

Who do I contact and where can I make my donation? There are three locations in Smithville where donations or monetary gifts can be dropped off. 1) Kim Frazier, DeKalb Community Hospital; 2) April Martin, UT Extension Office; and 3) Eli Gill, DeKalb Tire and Service.

For more information on this project, please contact either April Martin at 615-597-4945, Kim Frazier at 615-215-5000 or Eli Gill at 615-597-9400.

Photo Caption: Leadership DeKalb 2014 Class Members. Front row, left to right: Jen Sherwood, Executive Director of Leadership DeKalb , David Barrett, Lisa Cripps, Alejandra Cisneros Conohan, and Raul Ramirez. Second row, left to right: Shannon Atkins, Joe Green, April Martin, and Eli Gill. Third row, left to right: Jordan Wilkins, Kim Frazier, Shannon Jones, and Emmaly Bennett.

Man Sentenced for Burglary and Attempted Assault

August 2, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

A Smithville man pled guilty Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court to aggravated burglary and attempted aggravated assault for allegedly breaking into his neighbor's apartment and attacking another neighbor with a knife last October.

Judge David Patterson sentenced 38 year old Russell Blackwell to three years of probation in the attempted aggravated assault case with the sentence to run consecutive to a violation of probation against him. The aggravated burglary case was dismissed. Blackwell was given jail credit from November 1, 2013 to July 28, 2014.

According to Detective Brandon Donnell, who investigated the case, Smithville Police received a call of a stabbing on Tuesday, October 15 at City Walk Apartments. "Sergeant Andy Snow contacted me and I initiated an investigation. It was determined that Blackwell forced his way into an apartment, causing damage to the front door, and started fighting with the resident there. As another neighbor got between the two to try and break up the fight, Blackwell allegedly pulled a large kitchen knife and cut the neighbor several times who was trying to stop the fight. After the assault, Blackwell ran out of the apartment and allegedly threw the knife on top of the building before returning to his own residence in the apartment complex," said Detective Donnell.

After witnesses identified Blackwell as the man responsible for the assault, police went to his apartment where they found Blackwell and placed him under arrest. The knife was also retrieved from the top of the apartment building.

The wounded man in the knife attack was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where he was treated and released.

38 year old David Wayne Dowell pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and vandalism under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case to run consecutively for a total sentence of almost two years with ninety days to serve.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, May 16, 2013 Dowell allegedly vandalized a lock on a garage and broke into a residence on Echols Heights in Liberty. Upon talking with the owner, it was determined the following items were stolen: a weedeater and string, boat oars, tool box, tools, orange extension cord, and a yellow five gallon gas can all totaling less than $500. After an investigation, it was determined that Dowell had committed the crimes. He was arrested on Saturday, May 18, 2013.

19 year old Zack Walker pleaded guilty to burglary and received a two year sentence on state probation. He must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the recommendations.

30 year old Ronald "Jag" Jagnandan pled guilty to sale of a schedule II drug and received a three year sentence suspended to probation. He was fined $2,000 and must make $60 restitution to the sheriff's department.

33 year old Garth Wayne Cantrell pled guilty to attempted sale of a schedule II drug and received a two year sentence suspended to probation. He was fined $2,000.

42 year old Kristie Renea Waggoner pled guilty to a second offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 45 days to serve. She will be on supervised probation for 11 months and 29 days and will lose her license for a period of two years. She was fined $610. Waggoner must complete the Alcohol Safety Education Program and submit to an alcohol and drug assessment and follow any recommended treatment. She must serve seventeen days in jail and will be given twenty eight days credit for in-house treatment as scheduled.

30 year old Erik Cortes Suarez pled guilty to a second offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to 45 days to serve including twenty eight days in rehab and seventeen days at a DUI education center. He will be on supervised probation. Suarez was also fined $610 and he must complete an alcohol safety education program.

Infinity Athletics Holds Summer Camp

August 1, 2014
Infinity Athletics Holds Summer Camp

Infinity Athletics held their annual Summer Stars Cheer Camp July 28-30 for ages 6-12. The campers learned how to do motions and jumps, and stunt and tumble like an allstar. A 2 minute 30 second routine was performed for the parents on the final day. Each camper received a certificate, t shirt and trophy.

Pictured are:
(Top Row) Kendall Davis, Marissa Clark, Lydia Phillips, Audrey Philips, Sophia Angeletti

(Middle Row) Natalya McCarty, Keara Milligan, Kennedi Clark, Jayme Hayes

(Bottom Row) Lola Colwell, Annabella Dakas, Caroline Crook, Lilly Anderson, Brylee Kirby

DeKalb Jobless Rate Increases to 7% in June

August 1, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for June was 7%, up from the rate for May of 6.3% but still below the rate for June, 2013 of 8.8%.

The local labor force for June, 2014 was 9,260. A total of 8,620 were employed and 650 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's Jobless Rate for June was fourth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region.

Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:
Pickett: 10.7%
Van Buren: 10.3%
Clay: 9.3%
White: 9.1%
Jackson: 8.8%
Cumberland: 8.3%
Overton: 8.3%
Warren: 8.2%
Fentress: 8%
Putnam.7.2%
DeKalb: 7%
Macon: 6.9%
Cannon: 6.7%
Smith:6.3%

County unemployment rates for June 2014 show the rate increased in all 95 counties.

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate in June at 6.0 percent, up from 5.2 in May. Knox County was 6.3 percent in June, up from 5.3 in May. The Hamilton County June rate was 7.2 percent, up from 6.2 in May. Shelby County was 8.8 percent in June, up from 7.5 in May.

The Tennessee unemployment rate for June was 6.6 percent, up from 6.4 in May; the U.S. rate was 6.1 percent, down from 6.3 in May.

The state and national unemployment rates are 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.

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