Local News Articles

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.

More Bleacher Seats Added for Friday Night's DCHS Football Game

October 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
More Bleachers Added for Friday Night's DCHS Football Game
More Seats Brought In for Friday Night's DCHS Football Game

In anticipation of a larger home crowd for the regular season finale Friday night between the DeKalb County Tigers (8-1) and the Livingston Academy Wildcats (7-2), arrangements have been made through the quarterback club for extra seating.

Darrell Gill said portable bleacher seats have been moved in for the game. "Some people don't come to the games because there's not enough seating so for Friday night's game we've added about 250 seats. We've filled in the section between the band bleachers and the home crowd bleachers. It's a section (of bleachers) that we borrowed that is portable. You actually have to take it apart, move it in, and set it up. Its basically the same height as the bleachers that are already there. We also moved in another set of bleachers on the far end of the home side that will hold about fifty people. So there's going to be enough seats for another 250 people. So don't worry about not having a seat. Just come on out Friday night and support the Tigers. They have an 8-1 record and we hope after Friday night they'll be 9-1. We'll have a home state play-off game if we win that game Friday night. On behalf of the DeKalb County High School Tigers Football and the Quarterback Club I'd just like to ask everybody to come on out and support the Tigers," said Gill.

WJLE will have LIVE coverage of the game with the Voice of the Tigers, John Pryor. Our coverage starts at 6:15 p.m. with Murphy's Match-ups followed by Tiger Talk at 6:30 p.m. and the game at 7:00 p.m. Listen LIVE on WJLE AM 1480/FM 101.7 or LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

City and County Leaders to Conduct Workshop Thursday Night

October 26, 2011
Dwayne Page

County and city leaders will be meeting in a workshop Thursday night in an effort to reach an agreement on whether or not the county should pay the city for the treatment of landfill leachate at the wastewater treatment plant. The meeting is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Smithville City Hall building.

County Mayor Mike Foster and members of the county commission's solid waste committee will meet with Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson and city aldermen to discuss the issue.

As WJLE reported last week, the City of Smithville, since August 2008, has not been paying the county for the disposal of city garbage in the landfill and the county, since March 2009, has not been paying for the treatment of landfill leachate being hauled to the city's waste water treatment plant.

County Mayor Foster told WJLE last week that this non-payment agreement was worked out between he and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson months ago. But according to Mayor Hendrixson, there was no such deal. He said the city's refusal to pay is based on the principle that the county should not be charging Smithville a fee to dump city garbage in the county landfill since city residents are already supporting the operation of the landfill as county taxpayers. That, he said, is double taxation.

Whatever the arrangement has been between the city and county, Smithville Alderman Shawn Jacobs, during last week's city council meeting, asked that city officials revisit the issue with County Mayor Foster in a workshop.

Foster made the announcement of the workshop during Monday night's county commission meeting. "We've kinda had a deal with them for the last couple of years. We were getting a lot of storm water with the new (landfill) cell. There was some discussion about whether or not they (city) should pay for taking their garbage to the landfill. For the last two years we've not been charging them and they've not been charging us for storm water but we need to revisit that. I had sent (the city) a resolution to extend that agreement between the city and the DeKalb County landfill. I had sent it sometime in August but everybody has just been busy. We just need to sit down and agree to whether we charge each other or we don't charge each other and discuss how we're going to do that and rather than operate under a verbal understanding, we need a written agreement either way," said Foster

In July, Foster told WJLE that the county's solid waste fund no longer receives any county property tax money. The fund is supported by revenues derived from payment-in-lieu of taxes, local option sales taxes, hotel-motel tax, bank excise tax, and the wholesale beer tax, etc. Up until two years ago, the solid waste fund was supported by a portion of the property tax rate. Since then, the tax rate previously designated for solid waste, 20 cents, has been added to the general fund.

THP, Chamber of Commerce to Relocate Offices to Courthouse

October 26, 2011
Dwayne Page
County Commissioners David McDowell, Jimmy Poss, and Bradley Hendrix
County Commissioners Jeff Barmes, Marshall Ferrell, Bobby Joines, Jack Barton
County Commissioners John Green, Jerry Adcock, Jerry Scott, Mason Carter

Now that four of the public officials have re-located from the courthouse to the new county administrative building on South Congress Boulevard, the county commission has authorized the assignment of that courthouse space to others, including some who are currently not in the courthouse.

During Monday night's meeting, County Mayor Mike Foster said plans are for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who currently has an office in the old Veteran's Building, to move into the courthouse where the trustee's office had been. The Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to save expense, plans to relocate from its office on the public square to the courthouse, either where the county clerk or register of deeds had been. Foster plans to take the other office. Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack will keep her upstairs offices, but may also get County Mayor Foster's current office for various uses including storage of records.

Second district member Jack Barton said that TBI agent Billy Miller has asked that the county provide space somewhere for a TBI office. Foster added that Paul Cantrell, the county's veterans service officer, needs an office to meet and counsel with veteran's families. Judge Bratten Cook has also requested office space for the drug court.

Seventh district member Jimmy Poss strongly advised that the county take care of all those in the courthouse needing space before assigning all of the available courthouse space to others. Poss said the election commission is in dire need of extra space."I think we should take care of the ones in the courthouse first before we start giving rooms out," said Poss.

Mike Foster responded "We are. We already are"

Poss: "We've got an office right over here (election commission) that's crammed up. Pushed up. And the guy needs room".

Foster: "That's what we're trying to do."

Poss: "I mean, everybody's wanting to come into the courthouse."

Foster: "I don't think everybody is. I think we've got two people that are wanting to. We've also got to look at space for Paul Cantrell. He has been using our conference room and working around me. That's not a good situation for him. Now that he is having to do it all on computer, He is going to have to have space with a computer. He's got to have a locked storage space for veteran's records. That's going to require some space".

The county commission authorized County Mayor Foster to proceed with plans to assign space in the courthouse but to keep the working committees apprised of the moves. The commission also voted to look into the possibility of installing public wi-fi technology in the courthouse.


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