Local News Articles

Change Your Clock, Change Your Smoke Alarm Batteries

October 26, 2014
Lieutenant Brian Williams
Lieutenant Brian Williams Installing Smoke Alarm

Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, Nov. 2, and while you are changing your clocks, the DeKalb County Fire Department wants to remind you to change your batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms also. Our message is simple and it’s easy to do! Please take a few minutes to make sure life-saving alarms have fresh batteries so you, your family, and your home are protected.

Lieutenant Brian Williams, DeKalb County Fire Department’s Fire Prevention and Safety Officer, reminds DeKalb County residents that after batteries are changed in alarms, take a few extra minutes to test your alarms and remind family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. Not all smoke alarms have batteries that have to be replaced each year. Some newer model alarms have batteries that last up to 10 years. However, it is still very important to test and clean your alarms. You can clean and maintain them simply by using compressed air to remove dust residue that accumulates on alarms that can cause the alarm’s sensor to not operate properly.

If your home is not furnished with smoke alarms, or if your alarms are older than 10 years old, DeKalb County Fire Department will install new smoke alarms in your home free of charge. There’s simply no reason anyone should lay down to sleep at night without having a working smoke alarm in their home! All you have to do is contact Lt. Brian Williams at (615) 330-4066 and provide your name, address, and phone number to get your free alarms installed.

Eighty percent of child fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. It’s a tragic statistic that can be prevented. Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year, testing those alarms, and reminding others to do the same are some of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries. “The vast majority of our house fires happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most families are sleeping,” said Lt. Williams. “Smoke alarm installation and maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working smoke alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.”

A working smoke detector doubles your chance of surviving a home fire. So, why would you not want you and your family to have this protection? For more information about fire safety, visit the DeKalb County Fire Department’s FaceBook Group page or the department’s website at www.dekalbfire.com.

Social Security Announces 1.7 Percent Benefit Increase for 2015

October 26, 2014

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 64 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2015, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 58 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2015. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2014. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $118,500 from $117,000. Of the estimated 168 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2015, about 10 million will pay higher taxes because of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2015 is available at www.Medicare.gov.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops in September

October 24, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for September was 6.1%, down from 6.9% in August and 7.8% in September 2013.

The local labor force for September was 9,090. A total of 8,540 were employed and 560 were without work.

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

Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:
Pickett: 9.6%
Van Buren: 9.1%
White: 8%
Clay: 7.6%
Cumberland:7.5%
Fentress:7.2%
Overton:6.9%
Jackson: 6.8%
Warren:6.8%
DeKalb: 6.1%
Putnam.6%
Cannon:5.6%
Macon:5.4%
Smith:5.3%

County unemployment rates for September show the rate decreased in 94 counties and increased in one.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate for September at 5.4 percent, down from 6.3 in August. Davidson County was 5.5 percent, down from 6.2 in August. The Hamilton County September rate was 6.6 percent, down from 7.4. Shelby County was 8.4 percent in September, down from 8.9.

The Tennessee preliminary unemployment rate for September was 7.3 percent, one tenth of one percentage point lower than the 7.4 August revised rate. The U.S. preliminary rate for September was 5.9 percent, down from 6.1 percent in August.

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.

Off the Beaten Path Tour Begins Today

October 24, 2014
Carved Wooden Bowl by William Kooienga of Stop #6  on the tour
Handmade Paper Box Grouping by Claudia Lee of Stop #7
Raku Vessel by Louis and Christine Columbarini of Stop #5 on the tour

Every fall, on the last full weekend in October, when the colors are breathtaking and there is a crispness in the air, the artists of the Off the Beaten
Path Tour in DeKalb and Cannon Counties of Middle Tennessee open their studios to the public for a free, three day event. The event starts today, Friday October 24 and continues through Sunday, October 26.

Celebrating it's 15th anniversary, the tour has grown to include 14 stops with 25 participating artists.

Visitors can download a map detailing directions to each studio as they make their way through the countryside while also following the bright yellow signs posted along the way.

Visitors will find artists demonstrating their craft as they welcome you to their studios and you will have the unique shopping opportunity of buying hand-crafted work directly from the artist.

The Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour had it's beginnings 15 years ago when Louis and Christine Columbarini, potters and owners of Stella Luna Gallery, hatched a plan to bring together artists in DeKalb and Cannon Counties and to invite the public to their studios for demonstrates, sales and a get to know you kind of experience. From that first small handful of innovative artists the tour has grown from a two-day event into a much loved and anticipated three-day long autumn weekend.

At each stop along the tour visitors will find beautifully made contemporary and traditional fine crafts, many made by award-winning artists. Look for wood fired and rake pottery, shaker boxes, hand-blown glass, functional and sculptural ceramics, handmade paper, handbound books, reclaimed jewelry, custom designed jewelry in semi-precious stones and sterling silver, woven wearables, custom designed handbags, stained glass, furniture, large scale pulp-painted canvases, ethnic inspired dolls, artist boxes inspired by original stories, traditional face jugs, large scale one-of-a-kind wood sculpture, original paintings and more.

The Studio Tour attracts local and regional visitors each year as well as Cultural Heritage travelers and many guests from around the country who plan vacations to the area during the Tour.

Whether it's a weekend getaway or a family outing, the tour offers something for everyone. Pack a picnic lunch, get a map and enjoy this once a year event!

For more details about the artists at each of the 14 stops and to download your map of the tour, visit www.offthebeatenpathtour.com and see you in October!

Young Sportsman Deer Hunt This Weekend

October 23, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Young Sportsman Deer Hunt This Weekend

The first of two Tennessee young sportsman deer hunts for the 2014-15 season will be held the weekend of October 25th-26th.

Youth ages 6-16 years of age may participate, Young sportsmen must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 21 or older who must remain in position to take immediate control of the hunting device.

The adult must also comply with the fluorescent orange regulations as specified for legal hunters. Multiple youth may be accompanied by a single qualifying adult.

Archery season began in the state on September 27th and the first segment ends October 24th, the day prior to the opening of the young sportsman hunt. The second segment of archery only season resumes on Monday, October 27th through November 7th.

The TWRA makes the recommendation that all archery hunters obtain a 2014 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide lists license requirements, the counties and bag limits for each of the different deer management units. "Here in DeKalb County, hunters are allowed two antlerless deer per hunter. That can be both (harvested) at the same time or one each day. They (hunters) are also allowed one buck per day. The ultimate success for a young hunter here in DeKalb County is that he or she could actually kill four deer, two bucks and two antlerless deer over the weekend. The statewide limit is three antlered bucks and there can be no more than one per day," said TWRA Officer Tony Cross.

The guides are available where hunting and fishing licenses are sold and on the TWRA website, www.tnwildlife.org

Hunters are reminded that they must possess the appropriate licenses and permits. Any hunter born on or after January 1st, 1969 is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the Apprentice Hunting License (along with other required licenses), while hunting any species in Tennessee

Thursday Marks Last Day of Early Voting

October 23, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

Thursday, October 30 marks the last day of Early Voting for the November 4 election.

Voting will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday in the first floor courtroom of the courthouse.

A total of 1,292 persons have cast ballots to date in DeKalb County.

The total vote totals each day to date are as follows:
Wednesday (October 15): 85 in person and 16 by absentee for a total of 101
Thursday: 82 in person and 2 by absentee for a total of 84
Friday: 77 in person and 1 by absentee for a total of 78
Saturday: 62 in person
Monday: 98 in person and 3 by absentee for a total of 101
Tuesday: 92 in person
Wednesday: 80 in person and 7 by absentee for a total of 87
Thursday: 122 in person and 9 by absentee for a total of 131
Friday: 89 in person and 2 by absentee for a total of 91
Saturday: 58 in person and 5 by absentee for a total of 63
Monday: 116 in person and 6 by absentee for a total of 122
Tuesday: 99 in person and 10 by absentee for a total of 109
Wednesday: 167 in person and 4 by absentee for a total of 171

Election day is Tuesday, November 4. Voting at all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Listen for LIVE coverage of local election returns Tuesday night when the polls close at 7:00 p.m.

DCHS Class of 1964 Celebrates 50th Year Reunion

October 22, 2014
by: 
Kaye Fedak
DCHS Class of 1964 Celebrates 50th Year Reunion

The DeKalb County High School - Class of 1964 commemorated the proud distinction of being the first graduating class of the current DeKalb County High School, with a day of celebration on October 4, 2014. The festivities included a tour of the high school; a “meet and greet” at the home of Don and Rita Cripps (Don was the president of the senior class); and dinner, entertainment, memorials, etc. at the First Methodist Church Christian Fellowship Center.

The class included 126 graduates and 41 class members that attended at sometime during the four years of high school. Of the 167 class members, 39 have passed away.
95 people attended the reunion with 57 class members, 4 teachers and 34 guests. Special appreciation for attending goes to the teachers, James Cantrell, Ina Ruth Bess, Tommy Webb and his wife Audrey, Ann Puckett and her husband Hearon.

This was the year of Consolidation and Integration -
1963-1964 was the year of consolidation and integration. On September 2, 1963, the schools at Liberty and Smithville were consolidated into a new DeKalb County High School. This began the first year of consolidation as well as the first year of integration.

In 1964, the new school was an example of modern design and conveniences, including air conditioning, television, modern laboratory facilities for science and language, new home economics equipment, an additional workshop, individual lockers, and an intercommunication system, which provided music before school and in the cafeteria and provided more effective communication throughout the building.

School History -

Smithville -
In 1923, a new high school was built in Smithville. It was originally named Pure Fountain High School, but within a few years, it was renamed DeKalb County High School; however, it was usually called Smithville High School. The building had ten classrooms and an auditorium that seated six hundred. It accommodated eight elementary grades as well as all high school classes. The high school faculty consisted of only three teachers and only fifty students, with a graduating class of two pupils. The building had two things rarely found in a school during that time period, indoor plumbing and an indoor gymnasium. Until that time, the boys played basketball outdoors. With the construction of the new gymnasium, girls were allowed to play basketball for the first time. In 1926, football was introduced in Smithville, as an interscholastic sport. In addition to the limited athletic program, there were other activities, consisting of plays and dramatic presentations, music recitals, field days, a junior-senior reception, picnics, and literary societies, which promoted school spirit and enthusiasm among the students.

The number of pupils continued to grow and in 1939, a new elementary school was built. Further growth in the student body occurred in 1948, when the first public school buses went into operations. In the same year, a new gymnasium seating two thousand people was constructed. In 1956 the boys’ basketball team went to the state tournament. Then in 1959 both the boys’ and girls’ teams went to the state tournament, with the girls achieving the runners-up position.
The school had grown to include sixteen teachers and approximately 420 students by the time the building burned on January 7, 1962.

Makeshift classrooms were used for high school classes until the new school opened in the fall of 1963.

Liberty -
When the old wooden school burned in Liberty in 1917, a new school was built the following year. Constructed of solid stone, the two-story building contained four large classrooms downstairs, with two smaller rooms and a three hundred-seat auditorium upstairs. Also the upstairs was used as a meeting place for the Masonic Lodge. With only approximately twenty high school pupils, this building served as both elementary and high school and was adequate for both at the time. The first graduating class in 1920 consisted of two pupils. The school had only one high school teacher. In 1918, boys’ basketball was played on an outdoor court. A few years later a girls’ basketball team was formed and also played outdoors. Around 1934, a gymnasium was constructed on the Liberty campus. Basketball was the main form of athletics, but literary societies were organized in the 1920’s, to provide other types of activities. By 1939, the number of pupils had grown to a level that required a new school to be built for the elementary grades. The campus was expanded further in 1958, when a new gymnasium was constructed with a seating capacity of approximately eight hundred.

In 1962, the last year a high school was operated at Liberty, there were eight teachers and approximately 150 students in the high school. The school buildings are still standing today.

Left to right -
Row 1 - seated on floor - Bobby Reynolds, Phyllis Braswell Frost, Doreta VanHooser Blazer, Jewel Jones Wiser, Kaye Billings Fedak, Patsy Thomason Drury, June Hale Oliver, Danny Gunter, Pameline Vanatta, Linda Redmon Judkins, Marie Lawrence Jackson, Jannie Thweatt Christenberry

Row 2 - seated - Sherry Kay Hale Hall, Peggy Turner Cantrell, Gary Young, Sandra Russell Harville, Trena Redmon Hayes, Darvin Snyder, Elizabeth Young Smith, Beverly Tittsworth Jones, Phillip Washer, Judy Thweatt Warren, Carlon Mabe, Helen Page Cantrell, Joyce Faye Murphy, Ray Donald Webb

Row 3 - standing - Wayne Shehane, Carolyn Ashburn Adcock, Jimmy Young, Billy Parsley, Hooper Judkins, Frieda Nixon Durham, Don Cripps, Mike Foster, Larry Taylor, Sherry Taylor Fox, Brenda Womack Whittinghill, Kay Turner Redmon, Clyde Paschal

Row 4 - standing - Kenneth Besherse, Jerrell Hall, Donnie Tramel, Larry Johnson, Jimmy Poss, Donnie Foutch, Kenneth Young, Boyd Trapp, Kenneth Magness, Tucker Hendrix, Larry Ponder, Drew Fedak, Jerry Oliver, Peggy Hayes

Not Pictured - Marvin Barnes, Eugene Haley, Sue Robinson Blair, Jane Sullins Clemons

Fast Pace Urgent Care to open new, walk-in clinic in Smithville community

October 22, 2014

Fast Pace Urgent Care will open its new, state of the art walk-in clinic in the Smithville area on Monday, November 3 at 101 W. Broad St., Smithville, TN. The Open House Celebration and Ribbon Cutting will be held on Friday, October 31.

“We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to serve the community of Smithville,” stated Founder of Fast Pace Urgent Care, Stan Bevis, FNP. “We consider it a true blessing to aid people in a time of need and help get them on the road to health. Our hope is that offering patients the convenience of short wait times and the ability to be seen by a provider without an appointment will make it easier for folks to feel better faster.”

The new clinic will be conveniently located next to KFC/Taco Bell on the corner of East Broad Street and Oak Street, across from Pennzoil. Open seven days a week with extended hours, Fast Pace will provide a broad array of urgent care, walk-in and occupational health services. Equipped with multiple exam rooms, on-site lab testing and x-ray capabilities, the clinic will offer treatment for a wide range of illnesses, injuries, and common conditions, as well as provide a variety of wellness, diagnostic and screening services.

“This new state-of-the-art facility in Smithville demonstrates a significant advancement in the delivery of quality and efficient health care services to patients,” said Fast Pace Urgent Care Medical Director, Reams Powers, M.D. “We combine a wide-range of services with a dedicated staff, in a comfortable and inviting setting. By providing a comfortable and stress-free health care experience and medical care from our experienced clinicians, we help patients get back to work and back to life.”

To celebrate the opening of the new clinic, Fast Pace will host an Open House Celebration on Friday, October 31 from 11AM to 1PM. During this time, the community will have the opportunity to receive a free t-shirt, meet the staff, tour the clinic, enjoy light refreshments and register to win door prizes. Children will be able to enjoy face painting, a Halloween costume contest, trick-or-treat goodies, pumpkin painting and a coloring contest. The celebration will take place at the new Fast Pace clinic located on the corner of East Broad Street and Oak Street at 101 W. Broad St.

More information about Fast Pace Urgent Care is available at FastPaceUrgentCare.com.

Two Smithville Aldermen Speak Out Against Liquor

October 21, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller

Although the decision rests with city voters, two Smithville Aldermen are speaking out publically against proposed liquor sales in stores and restaurants, issues that will be decided November 4 in two city referendums.

Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller have jointly paid for ads on WJLE asking city voters to oppose liquors sales in Smithville. "We are urging all voters to vote against the referendums and show a chosen few we do not want this for our town," said Alderman Miller.

"When you expand the sale of liquor, it also often leads to the easier access for underage consumption of alcohol which is something we already have a major problem with in our community and something we feel we do not want to contribute to. We're asking voters of the City of Smithville that you vote against both of these referenda," said Alderman Jacobs.

Aldermen Miller and Jacobs stress that by speaking out, they are not necessarily representing the views of the other members of the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Local businessman Randy Paris conducted successful petitions drives earlier this year to get the referendums on the ballot during the November State General Election.

In a previous interview with WJLE, Paris said liquor sales is a way to boost the local economy and bring in more tax revenue. "The decision really shouldn't be about whether you drink or not or whether you approve of it or not. It should be a business decision that will help our city economically. We have a huge tourism trade and this is a way of generating revenue for our city from the amount of tourism we have as well as our local people who are spending money in Putnam County, Rutherford County, Jackson County, and all the surrounding areas. The money would stay in our county and our city to help us," he said.

Paris successfully organized two liquor referendum petition drives two years ago but both were defeated at the polls.

In this election, the Consumption on the Premises Referendum asks city voters to either vote "for legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in Smithville" or "against legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in Smithville."

The Retail Package Store Referendum asks city voters to either vote "To permit retail package stores to sell beverages in Smithville" or "not to permit retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in Smithville".

A simple majority is all that is needed for passage.

DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court Re-certified

October 21, 2014
DeKalb Drug Court Coordinator Norene Puckett

On October 1, 2014 the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Criminal Justice Services performed a site visit for the purpose of re-certifying the DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program. The process was to ensure continued compliance with the 10 Key Components and Benchmarks set by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. The site visit activities included a review of the program’s Policy and Procedures Manual and the Participant Handbook; observing the team meeting and the court session; meeting with the program coordinator, Norene Puckett; and meeting with a group of the program participants. The DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program demonstrated adherence to the components and the benchmarks and was found to be in full compliance.

In a letter from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Recovery Court Administrator Liz Ledbetter writes to Judge Bratten H. Cook II, “You and the recovery court team are to be commended for the hard work, dedication and commitment to working with offenders who are experiencing substance abuse/co-occurring disorders by utilizing available resources in order to support and assist them toward becoming productive citizens. The DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program has maintained certification status which will be applied for four years.”

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