Local News Articles

Puckett Named to Fill Vacancy on Election Commission

August 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Richard Hearon Puckett

A vacancy on the DeKalb County Election Commission has been filled.

The Tennessee Election Commission Monday appointed Richard Hearon Puckett to fill the unexpired term of Kenneth Moore, who died recently

Moore had served as one of the democratic members of the commission since 1980. His term expires next April.

Puckett, who served 42 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will join Harry Lasser as the two democratic members of the local election commission. Lasser has served since his appointment in April, 2011. Moore had also been re-appointed to another term at that time.

During his years with the Corps, Puckett served as Ranger at Center Hill Lake, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Nashville District Office, Resource Manager at Old Hickory, Cordell Hull, and Center Hill Lake, Area Manager for the Mid-Cumberland Area which included Cordell Hull, Dale Hollow, and Center Hill Lakes, and finally as Operations Manager for the Mid-Cumberland area. He retired from the Corps in 2005.

Puckett and his wife Ann have two daughters, Tecia and Mary Ann along with four grandchildren. Tecia is married to John Pryor. Mary Ann's husband is Jack Barton. Over the years, Puckett has been involved in the Gideons International and other activities. He has been a member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors, the National Forester's Association, and the Society of American Military Engineers.

The other three members of the local election commission are republicans including Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, and Jim Dean. They were all reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission in April 2011. Vanatta and Dean are in their second terms. Parker has served since 1992.

Student-Directed IEP Training Offered Under Partnership with The Arc

August 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education

DeKalb County Schools and The Arc Tennessee have partnered to offer Student-Directed IEP Training to students between the ages of 14-22 who receive special education services. This training is part of a grant funded by The Walmart Foundation. DeKalb County Schools were selected as a site for this project because of their commitment to offer best practices to their students who receive special education services.

Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education, said an informational meeting about the project is scheduled for Monday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at the high school. You are encouraged to attend the meeting to learn more about this project and how it can help your child. Refreshments will be served. A door prize drawing will be held for students.

The goal of the Student-Directed IEP Training is to teach students to lead their own IEP meetings to the extent that they are able, increasing the chance that the IEP truly reflects the student's needs and wants. This Student-Directed IEP Training project is unique because students, parents/guardians, and teachers receive the introductory training as a group. This piece of the project is very important because key members of the IEP team will receive important information at the same time and begin building a spirit of teamwork at the outset of the year,

DeKalb County Schools and The ARC Tennessee are seeking students and parents/guardians interested in being a part of this training project. Much research has been done on Student-Directed IEP's that shows noticeable growth in the students' abilities to make choices and think more concretely about their futures. You will have the opportunity to be the only people in Tennessee to experience this training process and see the improvements in the students this year.

Two Arrested in Home Burglary on Johnson Chapel Road

August 13, 2012
Dwayne Page
William Richard Denton
Travis Marcus Melton

Two men were arrested last week in a recent home burglary on Johnson Chapel Road.

21 year old William Richard Denton and 20 year old Travis Marcus Melton, both of Johnson Chapel Road, Sparta are each charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Bond for each is $10,000 and they will be in court on August 23.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Melton allegedly broke into a residence on Johnson Chapel Road Sunday, July 29. Entry was made through a back window. Items taken in the burglary were gold chains, gold bracelet, rings, several handguns, and ammo, together valued at more than $1,000. According to Sheriff Ray, Denton assisted Melton in the burglary and gave him the combination to a safe where the guns were kept. Denton then allegedly sold the stolen items taken from the home. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department. Denton was arrested on Tuesday, August 7. Melton was arrested the following day.

33 year old Paul Allen Willingham of Smithville is charged with introduction of drugs into a penal institution. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 10, Willingham came to the jail to serve a weekend sentence. Upon a search of the crotch area of his underwear, officers found three cellophane wrappers with pieces of xanax and twelve whole xanax pills, which is a schedule IV drug. The case was investigated by drug detectives of the sheriff's department.

39 year old Rogelio Rivera Palomo of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for violation of the open container law, failure to exercise due care, violation of the implied consent law, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), and failure to maintain his lane of travel His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on August 23. Sheriff Ray said that Palomo was involved in a one car crash on Saturday, August 11. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Palomo performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and refused to submit to a blood test. There were several empty beer bottles and one full bottle in his vehicle. Palomo was arrested for DUI. He refused to consent to blood alcohol test.

27 year old Michael Brandon Redmon of Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on September 13. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 4, a deputy responded to Highway 56 north in reference to a person who may have been involved in a burglary earlier in the night. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with Redmon, who was very unsteady on his feet. His speech was also very slurred. Due to his walking on the roadway and being under the influence, Redmon was placed under arrest in the interest of his safety and for the safety of the public.

DeKalb County 4-H Excels at State Roundup

August 13, 2012
April B. Martin, Extension Agent
DeKalb County 4-H Excels at State 4-H Roundup
Kayley Green

DeKalb County was well represented at the State 4-H Roundup/All-Star Conference held recently at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Roundup is a state high school level event for 4-H members competing in project areas. To get to this level, 4-Hers must complete a portfolio and be one of five state finalists. At Roundup, they are required to do an interview along with a project display or resume.

Kayley Green, a junior at DeKalb County High School, received the Family and Consumer Science Leadership Award and will be attending National 4-H Congress this fall. Cassie Cain competed in the veterinary science project and Lydia Trail competed in the photography project and both received participation awards. Matthew Cain attended Roundup as an All-Star delegate and Hailey Perry attended as the State 4-H All-Star Scribe. Elizabeth Sanders attended in the role of State 4-H Council Member at Large.

State elections are also held while at Roundup. Kayley Green was elected as the Central Region Senior Representative on the State 4-H Council.

Another major event that occurs while at 4-H Roundup is the Vol State ceremony. Vol State is the highest level of recognition a Tennessee 4-H member may achieve. Vol State is presented to high school juniors and seniors in recognition of excellence in all phases of 4-H work, as well as service and leadership rendered in their communities. Kayley Green was presented with the Vol State Award.

More information about 4-H Roundup can be found at http://www.utextension.utk.edu/4H/roundup/index.htm. The University of Tennessee Extension offers all its programs to everyone in the community, regardless of race, sex, national origin or ethnicity.

(TOP PHOTO: DeKalb County 4-H members attending the 2012 Tennessee 4-H Congress were (left to right): Elizabeth Sanders, Kayley Green, Matthew Cain, Hailey Perry, Lydia Trail, and Cassie Cain)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Vol State 4-H Recipient Kayley Green)

Tiger Football Season Kicks-Off Friday Night

August 11, 2012
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Tigers will get the season underway next Friday night, August 17 at 7:00 p.m. hosting their border rivals from Warren County. WJLE will have LIVE coverage with the Voice of the Tigers John Pryor.

Coach Steve Trapp spoke with WJLE Friday about this year's team and the season upcoming. (PLAY VIDEO BELOW)

steve trapp from dwayne page on Vimeo.

DTC Director Election to be Uncontested

August 11, 2012
Bennie Curtis, Ronnie Garrison, and Randy Campbell

The final slate of candidates is set for DTC Communications’ election of directors next month. Directors will be elected in the Alexandria, Liberty, and Smithville exchanges.

Incumbents Bennie Curtis, Randy Campbell, and Ronnie Garrison are running unopposed in the Alexandria, Liberty, and Smithville exchanges, respectively.

Voting for directors will take place at the cooperative’s annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 15. Gates to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria will open at 11:45 a.m., with voting from noon until 4 p.m. The business meeting will begin at 4 p.m. or once the last person in line at that time has voted.

Only DTC members may vote, and each member must present identification. For a single membership, only that individual may vote. Either member of a joint membership may vote, but not both. In the case of a business membership, a business affidavit is required.

The last day to make changes to your membership or to be eligible to vote in the 2012 election will be Thursday, September 6.

DTC Communications is a member-owned telephone cooperative established in 1951. The cooperative supplies communication, entertainment, and security products and services to residential and business customers primarily throughout Middle Tennessee.

Anniversary Celebration held at Edgar Evins State Park

August 11, 2012
Dwayne Page
Anniversary Celebration held at Edgar Evins State Park
Commissioner Bob Martineau
Park Manager Carl Halfacre
State Senator Mae Beavers and State Rep Terri Lynn Weaver Present Proclamation
Former State Senator and Chancellor Vernon Neal Making Remarks

A celebration was held Thursday at Edgar Evins State Park to commemorate the park's 37th anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the Tennessee State Park system.

The park was officially dedicated in 1975 and named after the father of Congressman Joe L. Evins, James Edgar Evins.

Carl Halfacre, park manager, who presided over the formal ceremony Thursday, explained how the park came into existence. "As early as 1949, our first term U.S. Congressman Joe L. Evins began a letter-writing campaign that lasted for the better part of 20 years, wanting a state park built on Center Hill Lake. It wasn't until 1969 that those dreams and those wishes came to fruition when then State Senator Vernon Neal got a bill passed to appropriate money to build a state park."

The man for whom the park is named, James Edgar Evins, "had been a school teacher, justice of the peace, a salesman and a businessman with several businesses in Smithville, had the first bus line from Smithville to Lebanon, and he was also the Smithville mayor and was also the state senator, to name a few of his endeavors," Halfacre said.

Today, the park includes about 6,000 acres: 1,500 on north side of the lake and 4,500 on south of the lake, which is largely undeveloped.

During the celebration on Thursday, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Senator Mae Beavers read a proclamation to commemorate the anniversary, and Cornelia Overton and Joseph Overton, both great grandchildren of James Edgar Evins, performed the national anthem. Officials thanked everyone involved in the creation and maintenance of the state parks over the 75 years of their existence. There were also performances by James Westerfield of Murfreesboro who portrayed himself as James Edgar Evins and Charles Robinson who portrayed himself as Adam Dale, founder of Liberty. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau and deputy commissioner Brock Hill also made remarks during the program

A traveling exhibit commemorating the 75th anniversary of Tennessee State Parks is visiting the parks. It includes information about the origins and heritage of the park system and the award won for the Best State Park System in America in 2007.

(TOP PHOTO: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Ramble the Raccoon, and Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill)

Police Keeping Tight Lipped About Murder Investigation; David Dixon Believed to be Person of Interest

August 10, 2012
Dwayne Page
David Dixon (Photo from Previous Arrest)
Ramon Beacham
Jose Sagaon

While Smithville Police are keeping tight lipped about the double murder investigation on Tommy Harrell Street, WJLE has learned that investigators have talked to a man named David Dixon and that he may be a person of interest.

Apparently no charges have been filed in the case.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger has not given a public statement on this investigation since Tuesday night, apparently not wanting to talk without the okay of the District Attorney General's Office.

Meanwhile, one of the victims in the double murder will be laid to rest Saturday.

The funeral for 55 year old Ramon Beacham will be tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. at the Chapel of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Mike Clayborn and Virgil Hibdon, Jr. will officiate. Burial will be in Whorton Springs Cemetery.

Beacham was found dead in his home Tuesday afternoon, apparently the victim of a shooting. The body of the other man, an Hispanic, was reportedly found beneath a pile of debris in the back yard of the residence. He too had been shot. WJLE has learned that his name is Jose Sagaon.

Local Mexican restaurants and stores have collection boxes apparently trying to raise money to send Sagaon's body back to his home country.

School Enrollment Up

August 10, 2012
Dwayne Page
Clay Farler

School enrollment numbers are up compared to this time last year

Attendance Supervisor Clay Farler, during Thursday night's school board meeting, said that county wide, the enrollment is currently 3,055 and could be as many as 3100 once all the pre-k students are counted. DeKalb County High School's enrollment is currently at 869 where the 12th grade is at 201 students, higher than in the past for the senior class at this point in the school year. "There were only 847 students at DCHS on the fifth day of school last year. There's 869 now and we pretty much have accounted for the no shows except for two or three. It's a little larger number, especially at the high school," said Farler.

"Mr (Danny) Parkerson's school (DeKalb West) is about the same as last year. I think he's got 435 students at the moment but that doesn't include all the pre-K students there so it's probably more like 440. The total throughout the county is 3,055. Of course, this will change some by next Thursday, the tenth day of school. That's the official day everything should be accounted for. All students who haven't shown up yet, we've got to track them down. We only have about 45 or 46 students that we don't know for sure if they're coming or not. It's probably less than that," said Farler.

"We also don't have all the pre-K students on the roll yet but that was also the case last year. When they get added to the roll, there will be approximately 40 more students. So it will be pushing 3100 students county-wide. But like I said, there are several no shows that will probably come off that number. Even at that, we'll probably still be up from last year. There are no grade levels at the present time that have under 200 students. They all have over 200 students except for Pre-K. The smallest class is the senior class or 12th grade. They are at 201 students at the moment. The largest class has been moving through year by year. Now they're up to the sixth grade. They have 256 students county wide. They're by far the largest class. Most of the other classes are between 210 students on up to 233 so all the classes from kindergarten to the 12th grade have over 200 students. We usually start at 175 to 180 students in the senior class. The fifth grade county wide is 241 students. The fourth grade is 235 and the third grade is 228," said Farler.

Farler added that its hard to determine the number of students to anticipate at the start of school each year because there's a lot of movement of families in and out of the county.

Meanwhile, Farler reported that for the first time in several years, three year old children will be attending pre-kindergarten at DeKalb West School. "There are two pilot classrooms in the county and have been since 2002. Those pilot classrooms can have three and four year old students. But the other three pre-k classes at Smithville Elementary School can only have four year old students. We're already full in the four year old classes and we're within one or two students being full at DeKalb West School and Smithville Elementary School mainly because they have three year old students in those classrooms. You cannot have a full 20 students if you have three year olds in the room," he said.

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby gave his monthly report on personnel to the school board.

Carl Douglas Cantrell, substitute custodian
Rick Cross, special education teacher at Northside Elementary School
Bethany Davis, Transition Coordinator Teacher at DCHS
Michelle McManus, substitute cook
Diana Moon, teacher at DeKalb West School
Chris Moore, special education assistant at DeKalb Middle School
Joshua Odom, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Michael Shaw, teacher at DCHS
Kristen Kell, special education teacher at DeKalb West School

Holly Bain, transferred to Pre-K Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School
Katherine Ballard, full time School Psychologist
Brenda Bandy, transferred from DCHS to DeKalb West School
Shelly Gibson, transferred to Regular Education Assistant at DeKalb West School
Lynn Griffith, transferred from bus assistant to Special Ed Bus Driver
Debbie Knowles, transferred to new Special Ed Assistant position at Northside Elementary School
Daniel Lawson, transferred from sub bus driver to Special Education Bus Driver
James Donnie Lewis, transferred from sub bus driver to full time route
Paula Pinegar, transferred to Library Assistant position at DeKalb Middle School
Teresa Spencer, transferred to Special Education position at DeKalb Middle School
Carol Tallent, transferred to new Special Education Teacher position at Smithville Elementary School Kindergarten
Judy Wiggin, transferred from sub bus assistant to full time.

Jimmy Poss, bus driver

TDOT Projects Tour to Make Another Stop in DeKalb County

August 9, 2012
Dwayne Page
Hurricane Bridge

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer will be visiting DeKalb County next week on his statewide "TDOT Projects Tour" in Region 2.

During this week-long tour, Commissioner Schroer, elected officials and transportation officials will travel by bus to view TDOT projects currently underway and those listed on the department's "Three Year Program." . The visit locally will be to Hurricane bridge on Thursday, August 16

The Region 2 Tour is the first of four tours that will be held in East, Middle, and West Tennessee. The Region 2 Tour kicks off in Cannon County on Monday, August 13 and will wind up in DeKalb County.

The TDOT Projects Tour visited DeKalb County last year, stopping to view both Sligo bridge and Hurricane bridge.

Hurricane bridge currently is down to only one lane of traffic, and it is being maintained and controlled by a temporary signal for the safety of the traveling public. The current weight postings of 10 tons for two-axle vehicles and 18 tons for vehicles with three or more axles will remain in effect and will be strictly enforced. This will allow for work adjacent to the north side of the bridge to continue. Further temporary lane shifts may be implemented by flaggers on an “as needed” basis to facilitate work as it progresses. Estimated project completion date is October 2013.


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