Local News Articles

Newby Charged in Rash of Burglaries and Thefts

October 31, 2011
Dwayne Page
Shannon Lynn Newby
Steven Michael White

A 45 year old Smithville man is charged in a rash of recent burglaries and thefts.

Shannon Lynn Newby of Anthony Avenue is charged with three counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of burglary, three counts of theft of property over $1,000, one count of theft of property over $500, and one count of theft of property under $500.

His bond totals $235,000 and he will be in court on November 3.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Monday, September 5, Newby allegedly entered an outbuilding on McMinnville Highway and took two chainsaws, two hedge trimmers, and other items all valued at over $1,000.

On Sunday October 9, Newby allegedly entered a residence through the front door on Cordell Love Road . He allegedly took a Browning 300 Magnum, a Mossberg shotgun, a Marlin 30-30, and several other items all valued at over $1,000

Six days later on Saturday, October 15, Newby allegedly entered a residence through a back window on Coconut Ridge Road and took a nine millimeter Ruger pistol, a Savage rifle, two laptop computers, and several other items all valued at over $1,000.

Newby then allegedly entered an outbuilding on New Home Road Monday, October 17 and took two tool boxes with miscellaneous tools valued less than $500.

In the last incident, Sheriff Ray reports that Newby entered a residence on Robinson Road Thursday, October 20 by prying open the back door. He allegedly took a storm door, cedar chest, and coins all valued at over $500.

Meanwhile, in another case 62 year old Steven Michael White of Pea Ridge Road, Liberty is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on November 17.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Monday, October 24 White was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and was stopped for crossing the center line several times. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage and marijuana on his person. White was unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and he submitted to a blood test. White admitted to drinking beer and smoking marijuana while driving down the road.. His other DUI offense was on February 5, 2009 in DeKalb County.

Applications now being accepting for the 16th Annual Angel Tree Project

October 31, 2011

Applications are now being accepting for the 16th Annual Angel Tree Project through Friday, November 4th .

Spokesperson Laura Stone said changes have been made to the application process again this year." Applications can be picked up October 31st through November 4th. You will still pick up your applications at the Department of Human Services, but one of the changes will be that the application must be returned in person the following week to the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center."

"Completed applications will have to be returned to the First Baptist Church LEC Building in downtown Smithville (on the corner across from First Baptist) on one of the following days; Monday, November 7th from noon until 8 or Tuesday, November 8th from noon until 8. Applications not returned to the Church LEC Building on one of these three dates WILL NOT be accepted. There are no exceptions to the requirements of the application process", said Stone.

"Applications can only be picked up at the Department of Human Services on October 31st through November 4th and can only be returned to the Church LEC Building on the dates listed. In addition to bringing the completed application, applicants must provide photo identification of the person applying and social security cards and birth certificates for ALL children listed on the application. We will only be keeping the application; all other documents will be returned to the applicant. If an applicant cannot appear in person, their application can be submitted by a family member as long as all of the required information is presented."

"Eligible children must live in DeKalb County and be no older than age 12 by December 25, 2011. The Department of Human Services will only be passing out the applications. Nothing will be returned to them and any questions should be directed to Laura Stone at 615.597.5060"

Stone adds that "the Angel Tree has been such a tremendous success in the past and with economic times extremely tough for many in our area, we want this years Angel Tree to be no exception. The Angel Tree helps so many families who are struggling to make ends meet. It is sad to think about, but many of these children would not otherwise have a single present for Christmas. With the economy still struggling, we are expecting demand to be high."

Final Weekend for the DCHS Band was Grand

October 31, 2011
Band Boosters
Band Wins More Awards in Final Competition

The DCHS Band had a fun and rewarding final weekend for their regular marching season. On Friday, members were encouraged to be creative in coming up with their best costume. Band Director Jonathan Wright said, “It has become a tradition for the band to get dressed up on the Friday that falls around Halloween.” One fan of the Fighting Tiger Marching Band told staff members, “My daughter looks forward to the band’s Halloween performance every year.” They marched their regular show; however, the “uniform” was a little different. Mr. Wright says, “They get really creative when it comes to finding a costume.” On the field were the likes of Thing #1 and Thing #2, Larry the Cable Guy, Lady Gaga, Cleopatra, gangsters, tooth fairies, and a whole host of different characters.

Saturday, October 29th was the final competition performance for the DCHS Fighting Tiger Band in Alcoa, Tennessee. They met at the high school and loaded the buses at 7AM. The road trip to Alcoa was around two hours. Performance time was 1:45 eastern time.

The DCHS Fighting Tiger Band represented DeKalb County very well. After a very successful run of the program, Mr. Wright and Assistant Director Joey Wilburn told the students that they should be proud of themselves. They went on to point out the seniors of the band, Renny Mason, Megan Cantrell, Brianna Vidal, and Heather Vidal, had just marched their last competition show. Mr. Wilburn said, “We are very proud of our seniors.”

Mr. Wright said, “It has been another very successful year for the Marching Band. There was some concern that since we had nine seniors graduate last year that the quality of our performance would take a hit. Though we have a young group this year (only four seniors and eight 7th and 8th graders), this has been the hardest working group of students I have had the pleasure to work with. Because of their dedication, we won awards at all of the contests we attended and placed first in our class at two of them.”

During the awards ceremony, it was announced that DCHS Field Commander Hannah Cantrell would be bringing home the 2nd place trophy for class “A.” The Percussion section not only scored higher than any other percussion section in their class, guaranteeing the 1st place trophy, but also scored higher than any other percussion section in the Small Division (Class A and Class AA combined), which made them the “Grand Champion” of the Small Division. “Another highlight this year is our strong percussion section. They won 1st place percussion in their class at every contest we attended and placed first in their division at Alcoa, beating out groups twice their size.” Mr. Wright continued, “This would not be possible without help. I would like to thank my Assistant Band Director Joey Wilburn, staff members Jonathan Turner and Matthew Bimstein, and all of the Band Boosters who support and take care of the students.”

Mr. Wilburn says, “We’re extremely glad to show the community the program is continuing to grow and improve every year and it would not be possible without supportive parents and school board members. The MANY awards received this year is a testimony to how hard the students work.”
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 Band and Boosters would like to congratulate the DCHS Tiger Football Team for their success this season. Although the band has completed their marching season for this year, they will continue practicing for the performance at the football team’s playoff games during halftime. Students will also begin preparations for performances at the annual Christmas concert and parades.

To learn more about the DCHS Fighting Tiger Band and their upcoming performance schedule, log onto www.DekalbBand.com or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DekalbBand .

Infinity Athletics All Stars Open Competition Season

October 31, 2011
Infinity Athletics All Stars

The Infinity Athletics All Stars opened their 3rd competition season at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, October 29th in the Cheersport Grand Championship. They came home with 4th place in their division. Their next competition will be at Tennessee Tech University Sunday, November 6th.

The girls are:
Top (L-R): Emme Colwell, Madison Colwell, Katherine Clendenen, Callie Mulloy, Kenzie France
Bottom (L-R): Shaunta Koegler, Chloe Sykes, Alley Sykes, Shelby Sprague
Coached by Jennifer Sykes and Sonja House

DCHS to Host its First Ever State High School Football Play-Off Game

October 29, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigers will host their first ever state high school football play-off game Friday night, November 4th at 7:00 p.m. in Smithville.

The fourth seeded Tigers (8-2) will host Giles County (7-3), a fifth seed. The winner of that game will meet either East Hamilton (6-4) or Brainerd (5-5) in the second round on November 11.

WJLE will have LIVE coverage.

Tiger Coach Steve Trapp told WJLE Saturday that he is pleased that his team has accomplished one of its goals. "At the beginning of the season, we set goals each and every year. First and foremost we want to become a district champion. We fell short of that goal this year but our second goal is to get a playoff game at home and we've accomplished that so I'm really proud of the guys and the regular season that they gave to us even though we did not perform at our best in our final game. We've got to regroup and rebound and those guys will do that. The same guys that didn't execute very well Friday night against Livingston Academy are the same guys that gave us an 8-2 record so we're proud of them. We're going to get back to work this week. We're going to represent DeKalb County well for our first ever home play off game," said Coach Trapp

Murder Suspect Dies

October 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
Brandon Michael Gray Died Friday

The man believed to have been responsible for the deaths of his ex girlfriend and her step mother on Thursday has died.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that 22 year old Brandon Michael Gray of Foster Road, Smithville died Friday evening at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville where he was being treated for a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Authorities believe that Gray shot and stabbed his ex-girlfriend, 21 year old Heather Nichole Eley and her step mother, 42 year old Lori Ann Eley at their residence on Allens Chapel Road on Thursday afternoon and later called 911 to have officers do a welfare check on his two young children who were also in the home.

Officers later spotted Gray leaving the Mapco Express in a Mazda car. They initiated a pursuit on Cookeville Highway. Gray pulled over near Rolling Acres Road and shot himself. He was first taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and then to Vanderbilt Hospital.

The bodies of the victims were taken to Nashville for an autopsy.

The Sheriff's Department and TBI Special Agent Billy Miller have been investigating but have not released any information as to a possible motive for the murders.

DeKalb Board of Education Wins "Best Chili" Award at Habitat for Humanity Cook-off

October 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
"Wild West Gang" from the DeKalb County Board of Education
Phil Tollett and Bobby Ponder of Allens Chapel and Buckners Chapel

Another great crowd turned out on Friday to enjoy chili and delicious baked goods at Habitat for Humanity's Eighth Annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, which was held at the 303 Building on the square. The DeKalb County Board of Education won the "Best Chili" award, and "Blessed and Highly Flavored" from Allen's Chapel and Buckner's Chapel Methodist Churches followed in second place. "Wild West Gang" from the DeKalb County Board of Education also won first place honors in the decorating contest.

According to Sharon Evans and the Habitat Chili Cook-off Committee, the event raised $3,000.00, which will be used toward the building of the fourth Habitat house in DeKalb County next year. "Hot chili on such a cold day - what could be better?" said Evans. "It has turned into a great community event that people look forward to. We appreciate all the chili teams for their hard work and dedication to this event and to everyone who brought the delicious baked goods and beautiful plants." Evans added.

Ten teams participated in the event, including "Blessed and Highly Flavored" from Allen's Chapel and Buckner's Chapel Methodist Churches; "Wild West Gang" from the DeKalb County Board of Education; "Hot Checks Chili" from DeKalb Community Bank; "The Courthouse Gang" from the DeKalb County Officials; "Unconditional Chili" from Harbinger Media Partners; "Hale's Bowls of Fire" from James C. Hale; "Comfort Builders" from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; "Avant-garde Chili" from Art Revolution; "Bumpers Web-Slingers" from Bumpers Drive In; "Building Chili - One Bean at a Time" from Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with volunteers and families in need, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged. To contact Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, please call 215-8181.

Artists Studio Tour this weekend

October 28, 2011
Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour

It is time again for the annual Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour in which more than 25 artists in 11 different locations open their workshops and invite the public to see what they make. From 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 28- 30, the roads will be full of curious visitors who make their way from studio to studio, talking with the artists and seeing what they make, how they do it, and what inspires them. Many of them will buy or commission work directly from the person who makes their livelihood with their hands.

Many tour goers have received a brochure in the mail. The brochure includes a map to the studios and descriptions of what they will find at each destination. A good place to start the tour and get a brochure is at the Stella Luna Art Gallery at 412 S. Mountain Street in Smithville. A downloadable brochure is also available at the studio tour's website: www.offthebeatenpathtour.com.

The annual tour is free and open to the public. Everyone who comes on the tour is eligible to enter a drawing for a beautiful ceramic platter donated by Smithville potter, Susan DeMay. The drawing will be held on WJLE's Chamber Chats radio program on Wednesday, November second.

The fall colors will be at their peak, so this weekend is a beautiful time to travel the back roads and see what this area has to offer. Follow the yellow Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour signs and you are assured to be delighted with what you find.

Double Homicide, Suicide Under Investigation

October 28, 2011
Dwayne Page
 Brandon Michael Gray
Heather Eley (Facebook Photo)

The bodies of a woman and her step mother were found at their residence on Allen's Chapel Road Thursday afternoon, the victims of an apparent shooting and stabbing while the man believed responsible for their deaths died Friday evening 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 Friday evening 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, are now 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 rushed to 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 have the pistol that Gray used to shoot himself. They have also recovered from the Eley home, kitchen knives which may have been used in the stabbing of the two women. The bodies have been sent to Nashville for an autopsy.

Authorities will not yet comment on a possible motive for the murders.

The case remains under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and TBI Special Agent Billy Miller. Members of the Smithville Police Department, District Attorney General's Office, and Tennessee Highway Patrol all assisted at the scene.

Body of Putnam County Fisherman Recovered from Center Hill Lake at Cookeville Boat Dock

October 27, 2011
Dwayne Page

The body of a 70 year old Putnam County man was recovered from Center Hill Lake at Cookeville Boat Dock in DeKalb County Wednesday night.

Dead is Mineth (Doc) Burchett of Cookeville.

The TWRA told WJLE that Burchett, according to family members, left home Wednesday morning to go fishing.

At around 6:00 p.m. Wednesday 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.

TWRA officials said they are not certain whether Burchett drowned, had some sort of accident, or suffered a medical incident causing his death. Authorities do not suspect foul play.


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