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TDOT Announces Temporary Road Closure For Pavement Repairs

September 2, 2016
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has announced that a contractor will be doing some repair work on State Route 141 in DeKalb County after Labor Day.

To correct issues with some cracking of the asphalt that has occurred in the pavement of the super elevated curve, the contractor must close the roadway to make the necessary repairs. This is scheduled to begin on September 6 after the Labor Day Holiday. It is expected to be closed for 2-3 weeks maximum during this time. The contractor has notified the school boards, local officials and 911 of the expected closure and signs will be reinstalled alerting motorists of the expected closure.

The work is apparently part of a slide repair between log mile 0.93 and log mile 1.10 which included grading, drainage, and paving.

The contractor is Jones Brothers, Inc.

Animal Coalition Extends Bidding Period for New Shelter

September 2, 2016
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals is taking another step toward construction of a new shelter for the county.

The Coalition’s board members are expected to open bids next Friday, September 9 during a meeting set for 5:30 p.m. at the Smithville City Hall building.

Plans were to award a bid Thursday night during the regular monthly meeting of the Coalition but only one sealed bid was received. In order to give others more time who had earlier expressed an interest in submitting a bid, the board voted to extend the period to receive bids until next Friday.

“Two weeks ago we had five or six people here that thought were going to bid. Tonight we only had one sealed bid. They (coalition board) put it off until next Friday to give these other people time to get their bids in. The bids must be in by Friday, September 9 at 5:30 p.m. and then they (board) will have a meeting at that time to open the bids,” said Mike Foster, who meets with the Coalition.

According to Foster, the Coalition also hopes to be able to take advantage of its non-profit status to make tax exempt purchases of materials. “They want to take a look at their 501 c 3 status where they can buy the materials to save the sales tax and let somebody build it (shelter) to make this project as cost effective as we can so we can hurry up and get it going," said Foster.

Once a bid is awarded, Foster said the Coalition expects construction to begin soon after. “We’d like to break ground right away. The water, sewer, electricity, and road are all there and Road Supervisor Butch Agee helped get the site prep done. It’s (shelter) going to be close to 3,000 square feet but part of that is dog runs so it’s really a 2,400 square foot building plus the runs on it. They are hoping they can get it in the dry and maybe get half of it open as soon as possible to get the (public) interest back in it to where people see something happening out there. They also hope to get some grant money to help operate it with feed and those kinds of things,” Foster told WJLE.

The Coalition Board also voted Thursday night to hire grant writer Amanda Mainord of Grasroots Planning & Consulting to search out grants. She is to be paid on a percentage basis if grants are awarded to the Coalition.

Last December, the City of Smithville entered into a 99 year lease agreement with the Coalition.

Under the plan, the Coalition proposes to build a new animal shelter on a four acre site near the solid waste transfer station, behind Tenneco off of Highway 70 east. The property, owned by the Smithville Industrial Development Board, was deeded to the city, which has entered into the lease with the Coalition, a 501 (c) 3 charity organization.

The goal of the coalition is for the county to have a permanent and safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in permanent homes.

The City of Smithville and DeKalb County have each donated $75,000 for the erection of a facility. The new shelter will take the place of a smaller one which has been in existence for years on county property but operated by the city behind the DeKalb County Highway Department Headquarters off Smith Road.

The city currently employs one full time person and one other person half time and also provides an animal control vehicle for the purpose of running the existing animal pound. Under the agreement, the city will continue to provide the personnel and vehicle to assist in the day to day operation of the animal shelter to be erected by the Coalition.

The Coalition operates a yard sale store and holds regular activities and events to raise funds in support of the new shelter.

Marsha Darrah, President of the Coalition, said more support and volunteers are needed. “We need people to give money and we need people to help with our yard sale store. We are very much in need of volunteers now to help operate the store and to help raise money. If you would like to help, you may stop by the store on Walnut Street or call me at 615-417- 2473 or Jim Wood 615-464-8561,” she said.

“We are very sorry that we are not yet able to take care of animals but we do have a program that we are joined with in McMinnville called “Paws”. We have a grant for our county and you can get your cats or dogs spayed or neutered at a very nominal fee or if you are on some kind of assistance you can get it done free,” Darrah told WJLE.

Former UCDD Director Wendy Askins Pleads Guilty to Theft

September 1, 2016
Wendy Askins

Wendy Askins, 55, of Red Boiling Springs, Tenn., pleaded guilty Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger, to two counts of theft from a federally-funded entity, announced David Rivera, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. At the time of the offenses, Askins was the Executive Director for the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), and also oversaw the daily operations of the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation (CAIC). UCDD and its related organizations received thousands of dollars annually in federal funds during the time Askins led UCDD.

During the plea hearing, Askins admitted that she used UCDD and CRDC funds to purchase a property she named Living the Dream. Living the Dream was supposed to serve as an assisted living facility for senior citizens. Shortly after purchasing the home, Askins and UCDD Deputy Director Larry Webb set up a company called L.A. Management to operate the senior facility. Askins subsequently converted a portion of the property that was owned by the public agency into a home for her daughter and herself. Her upgrades to the property included adding elaborate, luxury showers in the bathrooms used by the Askins; wiring another bedroom to service a tanning bed, and spending an additional $25,000 to erect a double-winding staircase.

Askins admitted she moved money belonging to UCDD and its components to Living the Dream bank accounts, without the approval of the boards of directors. Askins attempted to hide the unauthorized transfer of other UCDD funds by directing an employee to falsify the minutes of a board of director’s meeting, in order to conceal the fact that she had spent a total of $233,000 without board approval. She also admitted that she lied to the media, board directors, and UCDD attorneys about why the meeting minutes were incorrect.

Askins will be sentenced by Judge Trauger on October 28, 2016. Federal program fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release following a term of imprisonment.

Larry Webb, a co-defendant, pleaded guilty to bank fraud on August 17, 2015, and is currently scheduled to be sentenced on September 19, 2016.

The investigation was led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigation; the Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; and the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie N. Toussaint and William F. Abely.

Smithville Man Airlifted After Rollover Crash on Keltonburg Road

August 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
Gary Cantrell Airlifted After Rollover Crash

55 year old Gary Cantrell of Smithville was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital Wednesday morning after he lost control of his 1993 Jeep Wrangler and overturned on Keltonburg Road.

Trooper Jason Cobble of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Cantrell was east on State Highway 288 (Keltonburg Road) when the Wrangler went off the right side of road, came back across the highway and overturned, before going off the left side of the road. The Wrangler came to rest on its side.

Cantrell was partially penned underneath the roll bar of the Wrangler. Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins, a County Fire Fighter, and another passerby came upon the wreck and stopped to assist. They were able to lift the vehicle enough to free Cantrell.

DeKalb EMS treated Cantrell at the scene and transported him to the Keltonburg Community Center grounds where he was airlifted by helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s extrication and rescue team were summoned and enroute to the scene but were not needed after Cantrell was freed from underneath the vehicle.

The Keltonburg Station of the County Fire Department established the helicopter landing zone.

DTC Communications to Host Annual Meeting

August 31, 2016
DTC Directors Jimmy Oakley of Temperance Hall, Roy N. Pugh of Auburntown, David Parker of Woodland, and James H. Dillard Jr. of Gordonsville Running Unopposed in September DTC Election

DeKalb Telephone Cooperative, Inc. d/b/a DTC Communications will host its annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria.

Directors will be elected in the Auburntown, Gordonsville, Temperance Hall, and Woodland exchanges.

Incumbents Roy N. Pugh, James H. Dillard, Jr., Jimmy Oakley, and David Parker are running unopposed in the Auburntown, Gordonsville, Temperance Hall, and Woodland exchanges, respectively.

Voting for directors will take place at the cooperative’s annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 17. Gates to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria will open at 11:45 a.m., with voting from noon until 3 p.m. The business meeting will begin at 3 p.m. or once the last person in line at that time has voted.

Only DTC members may vote, and each member must present proper photo 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 2016 election will be Thursday, September 8.

For questions regarding membership and voting, call DTC at (615) 529-2955.

WJLE's "Fearless Forecasters" Return Today (Wednesday)

August 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
WJLE's "Fearless Forecasters" Return Today (Wednesday)

WJLE's "Fearless Forecasters" are returning for another season of college pigskin prognosticating today (Wednesday, August 31) at 4:30 p.m. After this week, the program will be on Thursday’s at 4:30 p.m.

This season's regulars are Dewain Hendrixson, Scott Brown, Chad Kirby, Jeff James, Ricky Atnip, John Pryor, Joe Goodwin, and Darrell Gill. A different special guest will make an appearance each week. TWRA Officer Tony Cross will be the guest today.

The "Fearless Forecasters" pick who they believe will win in fifteen of the biggest or most interesting college football games of the week.

They also make an underdog selection each week, picking a team they think will win, even though that team is not favored to win.

The program is sponsored by Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Ace Hardware, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, DeKalb County Insurance, DeKalb Tire and Service, and the Charles D. Atnip Realty & Auction Company.

Catch the "Fearless Forecasters" LIVE on WJLE weekly starting today.

September Proclaimed Suicide Prevention Month

August 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss and County Mayor Tim Stribling sign proclamations designating September Suicide Prevention month. TSPN members Lena Higgins and Mark Allison look on

In Tennessee, an estimated 950 men, women, and children die by suicide each year. More people die by suicide each year than from homicide, AIDS, or drunk driving. Suicide is the leading cause of violent deaths in our state, nationally, and worldwide, far above homicide and death due to natural disasters.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 15-24 in Tennessee and for the United States at large. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 945 recorded suicide deaths in our state in 2014, at a rate of 14.4 per 100,000 people.

On Tuesday, County Mayor Tim Stribling and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss signed proclamations designating September as Suicide Prevention Month in DeKalb County and Smithville.

In 2014, the latest year for which county-specific figures are available, DeKalb County's age-adjusted suicide rate was 15.6 per 100,000 people, translating into three reported suicide deaths. This number of suicides in DeKalb County for 2014 is the same as the previous year but the local rate is higher than the state average of 14.4 per 100,000 population for 2014 as reported by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

Clay County had the highest suicide rate among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland Region at 38.6 per 100,000 with three deaths. Overton County had the fewest with one death at a rate of 4.5 per 100,000.

Stewart County had the state's highest rate at 52.7 per 100,000 with seven deaths. Decatur and Houston Counties reported no suicides in 2014.

DeKalb County's suicide rate was at 16.6 per 100,000 in 2006 and 2007 with three deaths each of those years. But the rate soared to 48.1 per 100,000 in 2008 with nine deaths. The rate dropped to 26.5 per 100,000 with five deaths in 2009 but went back up to 37.4 per 100,000 with seven deaths in 2010. DeKalb's suicide rate for 2011 was 26.5 per 100,000 with five deaths and 15.9 per 100,000 in 2012 with three suicides and 15.7 per 100,000 in 2013 with three deaths.

In almost all cases, suicide can be traced to unrecognized, untreated, or poorly treated mental illness. It can happen to people of either sex, any race or ethnicity, and any economic status. The average suicide death leaves behind six survivors—family and friends of the deceased—all of whom are at increased risk for a suicide attempt themselves. As if the emotional and psychological toll were not enough, suicide and suicide attempts cost the state of Tennessee $1 billion a year in medical treatment, lost wages, and lost productivity.

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) and its allies in the public health, mental health, and social service fields are joining forces to recognize the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. During this annual observance, TSPN and its allies arrange several educational and memorial events across Tennessee. These projects help teach the general public about the problem of suicide and how it can be prevented. They also give us an opportunity to remember those lost to suicide; to encourage survivors of suicide, survivors of suicide attempts, and people who have triumphed over mental illness; and to recognize individuals who have made notable contributions to suicide prevention efforts in our state.

As part of this observance, mayors and county executives across Tennessee will receive proclamations declaring September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which they will sign in support of our state’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month efforts. These proclamations will be presented at the annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Day event, scheduled for 10:30 AM on Wednesday, September 14, at Trevecca Community Church, located at 335 Murfreesboro Pike in Nashville.

Details about the Suicide Prevention Awareness Day observance and other events planned across the state will be announced on the TSPN website (www.tspn.org). Additional information about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is available from the TSPN central office at (615) 297-1077 or tspn@tspn.org.

DCHS Cross Country Team Making Great Strides

August 31, 2016
Mya Ruch and Will Stephens

DeKalb County Cross Country Team is making great strides this year

The DCHS Cross Country Team had a very successful meet this past Saturday (August 27th) at the Voyles Classic in Sharp Springs with
the Boys Varsity clinching a top 10 team spot and medals going out to two of their top runners.

Receiving medals were: in Girls Varsity, Mya Ruch (freshman), out of 141 varsity girls, placed 9th with a time of 22:18 and in Boys Varsity, Will Stephens (sophomore), out of 192 varsity boys, placed 17th with a time of 19:23.

A neck n neck finish with the next two top runner of the boys varsity team kept the spectators on their toes as Luke Bryant (sophomore) battled Bill Miller (freshman) for another high spot at the finish line. Bryant edged out Miller by 19th of a second with Bryant’s time as 21:25.10 and
Miller’s time as 21:25.29.

The Boys Varsity also clinched a top 10 finish, placing 9th out of the 23 Boys Varsity teams at the meet!

DCHS Cross Country Team competed again Tuesday, August 30th at the MSCCA Midweek competition at Warren Co. High School.

The Head Coach is Melissa Ruch and the Assistant Coach is Sonja House

DCHS Seniors Can Retake ACT For Free

August 30, 2016
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County High school seniors can now retake the ACT for free on October 22.

The statewide "ACT Senior Retake Opportunity" allows seniors at all Tennessee public high schools who took the test as a junior to retake the test regardless of socioeconomic status, according to the Tennessee Department of Education.

The ACT is used across the country as an assessment of college and career readiness. Many colleges require the ACT or the SAT for admission and the tests are often used to determine eligibility for scholarships.

“DCHS seniors received their wavier/vouchers last week with their registration codes and directions to register for the retake test on October 22 at any National test site. Each student will be responsible for their own registration, transportation, and documentation by the registration deadline of September 16th. Many students across the state will be registering, so register now to ensure your first site choice. By retaking the ACT, many students will gain valuable scores that will help in admission or placement into their technical programs, colleges and career choices,” said Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for 7th through 12th grade in DeKalb County.

Historical ACT data for Tennessee shows that students who take the test again typically increase their composite score by one to three points, according to the state department of education.

That could make the difference for students to qualify for the HOPE scholarship by earning a score of 21 out of 36 and also would allow more students to avoid remediation courses when they get to college.

"Allowing students an additional opportunity to show what they know by retaking the ACT can expand the possibilities for our students' futures," said State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen.

The statewide goal is to have an average ACT score of 21 by 2020, according to the department. A score of 21 is the benchmark for college readiness according to the ACT.

As of August 2015, the state average score was 19.8.

The registration deadline for the October 22 test is September 16 and if students register late, they are responsible for paying the late fees. The retake voucher expires on the late registration deadline, Sept. 30, and can't be used for another national test date.

If students were to pay to retake the test, the cost is $39.50 for the test and $56.50 with the writing portion, according to the department.

If you have questions concerning this ACT RETAKE opportunity please contact Lisa Cripps at 615-215-2107. And If any DCHS senior missed taking the ACT last year as a junior they may take it this year with the junior class on April 19, 2017. Just notify your school counselor

You may also visit http://tn.gov/education/topic/act-sat. for more information.

Tinsley Asphalt Company Begins Milling Downtown Streets

August 30, 2016
Dwayne Page
Tinsley Asphalt Company Begins Milling Don Cantrell Street

The Tinsley Asphalt Company this morning (Tuesday) began milling downtown city streets in preparation for repaving.

The work has primarily been done today (Tuesday) on Don Cantrell Street and West Walnut Street on the north side of the courthouse. Traffic has been blocked in that area.

According to City Public Works Director Kevin Robinson, Officials of Tinsley have informed him that all the milling work downtown should be completed within three days and then the paving project will begin.

As a convenience to downtown businesses and their customers, the City of Smithville will provide transportation to anyone needing to get to a downtown business who cannot park on or near the public square because of the milling and paving project. You are asked to park in the city parking lot across from Love-Cantrell Funeral Home and call 615-597-6318 extension 1 to make arrangements for a city worker to pick you up and transport you by golf cart downtown and then back to your vehicle.

In addition to the public square around the courthouse, streets to be milled and repaved are Don Cantrell Street by City Hall, West Walnut Street, East Main Street, West Main Street, and West Market Street. The work is being done in sections and only the sections being worked on will be closed. The remainder of the square and streets are open

The courthouse and all businesses in the area will also remain open during this period


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