Local News Articles

"Purple Out Day" to raise Alzheimer's Awareness

August 27, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
"Purple Out Day" to raise Alzheimer's Awareness

Alzheimer’s disease impacts Tennessee families in every county from west to east, and now court clerks across the state, including DeKalb County are showing their support by participating in the inaugural statewide “Purple Out Day” benefitting Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a not-for-profit organization.

“Alzheimer’s is truly devastating, and we all know how hard it is to watch a loved one begin to forget things and then eventually need care and support twenty-four hours a day. This is a brain disease that shows no mercy, and while there is no cure, we want to make sure there is hope and help available for everyone in our county,” said Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack.

From Memphis to Mountain City, 205 court clerks and their deputy clerks are expected to wear purple and participate in the first “Purple Out Day” on Friday, Sept., 18, to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and related dementias, as well as raise funds to support the work of Alzheimer’s Tennessee. Circuit Court Clerk Pack has already made a personal donation of at least $50 and each deputy clerk in the office has made a $10 donation.

“If the public would like to pitch in, and other court clerks in the state make similar donations, together we can raise more than $15,000,” said Pack. "There is a competition for "Purple Out Clerk Champion" in East, Middle, and West Tennessee, and we hope to represent our county well."
Everyone in DeKalb County is encouraged to wear purple on Friday, Sept. 18, for the state’s first “Purple Out Day”.

Because Alzheimer’s disease and dementia impact at least 110,000 Tennesseans, the Board of Directors for the State Court Clerks Association of Tennessee voted to adopt and support Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a Tennessee-based 501c3 not-for-profit organization that provides support services, promotes brain health through education and champions research for better prevention and treatment strategies. Court clerks had the opportunity to learn more about the disease at their annual conferences this year.

Information about Alzheimer’s and related dementias will be available to the public at www.alzTennessee.org or by calling toll-free statewide 888-326-9888.

Thank you DeKalb County for your support in this great cause.

Sheriff's Dept Plans More Patrols in Austin Bottom Area

August 27, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Residents in the Austin Bottom Community can expect to see law enforcement patrols a little more often over the next few weeks.

In response to a public outcry, the sheriff's department will be stepping up patrols at least through the end of the summer boating season. The lake site in that area may also be added next year in the contract the Corps of Engineers has with the county for the sheriff's department to provide extra patrols during the summer.

"They (public) are concerned about activities that have been going on there at the lake access at Austin Bottom. It was a pretty spirited discussion (at public meeting last Tuesday). Basically what is going to happen right now is that the sheriff is going to increase patrols out in that area. I have talked to Center Hill Lake Resource Manager Kevin Salvilla and he will try to include that area next year in our law enforcement agreement to try and provide some money for that. We have in our law enforcement agreement now where the sheriff patrols the different campgrounds. He'll (Salvilla) try to add some money there where that area can be patrolled more," said County Mayor Tim Stribling during Monday night's county commission meeting.

Last Tuesday, August 18, many residents in the Austin Bottom community of DeKalb County met with several local officials and the Corps of Engineers at the fire station there to vent their frustrations about public nuisance issues at a boat ramp in the area.

Resource Manager Salvilla took questions and comments from the group. County Mayor Stribling, Sheriff Patrick Ray, County Fire Chief Donny Green, and Fourth District County Commissioners Wayne Cantrell and Jonathon Norris were also there.

While most of the residents at the meeting said they don't want the Putco Boat Ramp (Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area) closed, they would like to see more law enforcement to keep undesirables out.

Complaints range from issues of illegal drug activity, public intoxication, excessive noise during the night, using the area as a camp ground, non-boaters parking on the ramp preventing access, littering the area with beer bottles, cans, etc. One person was wounded in a recent shooting there. A contributing factor is that the lake level is lower than normal due to work on the dam which exposes more beach area for patrons to congregate.

Sheriff Ray said his officers patrol the area but residents are concerned about the time it takes DeKalb County law enforcement to respond if called. Because the community is cut off from the rest of the county due to the lake, residents say it could be as much as forty five minutes to an hour before help arrives.

DeKalb County has mutual aid agreements with surrounding counties including Putnam to assist in case of emergencies.

Morgan Faith Green to Compete For Miss Teen Tennessee USA 2016

August 26, 2015
Morgan Faith Green

Morgan Faith Green, 16, of Smithville will compete for the title of Miss Tennessee Teen USA 2016 on October 8, 9, and 10, 2015 at the Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.

Green is the daughter of Jon and Suzanne Harrison. She attends DeKalb County High School and is a member of “Crowns for a Cause” which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people in need. Her sponsors for the pageant ate Auto Hut, B&G Supply Company, Center Hill Nursery, City Court Clerk Dana Poss, D&S Special Tees, DeKalb County Florist, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Florence & White Ford, Industrial Machine Service, InstaCash of Smithville, jamie a. Boutique, Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, Mayor Jimmy Poss, Optimus Pest Solutions, Robert H. Jones, DDS Orthodontist, Tax Clerk Holly Anderson, and last but not least family and friends.

The Miss Tennessee Teen USA and Miss Tennessee USA pageants are the Official Preliminaries to the Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants are a Donald J. Trump venture. The young woman chosen as Miss Tennessee USA 2015 will go on to represent the state of Tennessee in the 2016 Miss USA pageant as seen Live on National television, one of the most anticipated events of the year.

Leadership DeKalb Seeks Participants for its 18th Class

August 26, 2015
by: 
Jen Sherwood

Leadership DeKalb, an adult leadership enhancement program now in its 18th year, is seeking participants for a new class. This program is for individuals who live or work in DeKalb County interested in leading and serving our community in economic development, education, government and the quality of life for the citizens of our beautiful county. Participants will study the county in-depth; strengthen leadership skills; and build a network of fellow leaders through Leadership DeKalb classmates, alumni, presenters, and current leaders in business, services and our community. Leadership DeKalb shapes our county’s future with knowledgeable, effective and active leaders.

Each year, a new class embarks on the year-long program which meets monthly from September to May. Applications will be accepted now through September 4, 2015. Director Jen Sherwood states,“We are looking for leaders who care about making a difference for the future of DeKalb County. If this sounds like you, please consider this invitation to get involved in Leadership DeKalb.” More information about the program can be found at the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce or by calling Jen Sherwood at 615-464-0645.

Manhunt Conducted Tuesday Evening in Alexandria

August 26, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

A manhunt was conducted Tuesday evening in Alexandria for an individual wanted by Wilson County authorities.

At last report, the man was still at large but not believed to be in Alexandria

In a prepared news release, Sergeant Chris Russell of the Alexandria Police Department stated that "On Tuesday , August 25th at 4:55 pm DeKalb Central Dispatch was notified that Wilson County Sheriff's Deputies were in pursuit of a wanted person in a vehicle on Hwy53/ Brush Creek Highway coming into DeKalb County and the Town of Alexandria. Wilson County Deputies pursued the vehicle to the intersection of High Street and Avant Street where it was stopped. A male passenger exited the vehicle and ran on foot. A female passenger was apprehended in the vehicle."

"Multiple agencies responded to the area , Including Alexandria Police , DeKalb Sheriff's Deputies , Tennessee Highway Patrol, and additional Wilson County Sheriff's Deputies. Officers set up around the area and a tracking K-9 was brought in from Wilson County."

"After several hours of searching, the suspect could not be located. He was last seen around the area of Allen Street in Alexandria running west . It was determined that the man is wanted by the Wilson County Sheriff's Department for outstanding warrants . He is described as an African American in his early twenties. He was wearing a white shirt and red shorts. It is not believed that the suspect is still in the area but the Alexandria Police Department is asking for residents to be aware and notify law enforcement if anyone matching the description is spotted," according to the statement.

DeKalb GOP to Host Free Fall Picnic

August 25, 2015
Mingy Bryant

The DeKalb County Republican Party will be hosting a FREE Fall Picnic at Green Brook Park on Saturday, September 19 from 11:00AM-1:00PM. All DeKalb County residents are invited to come and share in fellowship and hear from some of our Republican elected officials. Invited attendees include US Congressman Diane Black, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, State Representative Mark Pody, County Trustee Sean Driver, Road Superintendent Butch Agee, and Sheriff Patrick Ray.

"This is a fun opportunity to spend time together with old and new friends," GOP Chair Mingy Bryant said. "Our country is hungry for strong, principled leadership and this is a great way to kick off the election season. The Presidential Primary in Tennessee is March 1 and it will be here before you know it."

Voter registration will be available. The Dekalb County Republican Women will also have GOP items to purchase and live musical entertainment will be provided. Again, this is a free event and open to all residents of Dekalb County. For more information, go to our Facebook Page at Dekalb County Republican Party.

Wilkins Named Leader of District Democratic County Chairs

August 25, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jordan Wilkins

The leader of the DeKalb County Democratic Party has been named Chairman of the 6th District County Chairs.

Jordan Wilkins was elected to the position on Saturday, August 22 in Carthage.

The district includes the following counties: Pickett, Fentress, Cumberland, White, DeKalb, Cannon, Coffee, Wilson, Smith, Jackson, Overton, Clay, Putnam, Trousdale, Macon, Sumner and Robertson counties.

“My goal is to make sure each county party is strong and active in their communities, spreading our message on what Democrats are doing to help make life better for all Americans. I plan to work closely with each county Chair to ensure that we have good candidates running up and down the ballot in 2016," said Wilkins.

Smithville Man Caught with Stolen Motorcycle

August 25, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Christopher Eugene Layne
Jessica Leigh Estes
 Don Diamond Groshon
Joe Riley Tittle

A Smithville man was found with a stolen motorcycle last week in the Midway community.

28 year old Christopher Eugene Layne of Bright Hill Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license and theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $9,000. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, August 18 a deputy was called to Midway Road where a man was observed pushing a yellow motorcycle down the roadway. Upon arrival the officer spoke with the man, Layne. After checking with central dispatch the deputy learned that the motorcycle, valued at $3,000, was stolen in Putnam County. A computer check revealed that Layne's license were revoked on March 26, 2015 for failure to appear in a Putnam County court. Layne was placed under arrest.

22 year old Jessica Leigh Estes of Mount Juliet is charged with theft of property over $500. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court August 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, July 25 at around 6:00 a.m. Estes allegedly broke into a residence and entered a bedroom while the victim slept and took car keys and $200 cash from a billfold. Estes then left the residence in the victim's 2000 Buick LeSable without permission.

43 year old Don Diamond Groshon of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with assault. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court October 1. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, August 19 Groshon walked up to an individual and started punching him in the face. After knocking the victim down, Groshon got on top of the victim and continued to punch him until another person broke it up.

28 year old Joe Riley Tittle of Sparta Highway, Smithville was charged twice with violation of bond conditions over the weekend. His total bond on both charges is $6,500 and he will be in court August 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, August 23 a deputy was dispatched to Sparta Highway in reference to Tittle possibly violating his bond conditions. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Tittle who admitted that the woman who had brought a charge against him was in his residence. Tittle's bond conditions are that he have no contact with the victim. He was placed under arrest. The following morning, Monday August 24 Tittle was charged again with the same offense after he allowed the victim to enter the camper where he was residing.

Commission Fails to Make Judicial Commissioner Appointments

August 25, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Several members of the County Commission

The appointment of three judicial commissioners will have to wait until September.

During Monday night's meeting, the county commission failed to come up with the eight votes needed to make the appointments.

A judicial committee recently met and recommended three persons for the appointments including Taft Hendrixson, a current judicial commissioner, along with Tammy Ashburn and James Harvey Barnes. Two current judicial commissioners who had re-applied, Jerry Taylor and Hoyte Barrett, were not recommended for reappointment by the judicial committee.

Other applicants for the three positions are Felisha Oakley, Joan Washer, Richard Mielke, Scotty Colwell, McClure Cantrell, and Sandy Brown.

On a procedure vote, Third District Commissioner Jack Barton moved that the county commission take action on the appointment of all three appointees instead of one at a time, as some members wanted to do. Fifth District Commissioner Anita Puckett offered a second to the motion which carried on a voice vote with three members voicing opposition.

Barton then moved that Hendrixson, Ashburn, and Barnes be appointed as recommended by the judicial committee. But the vote failed 7-6. Eight votes are required for passage.

Those voting in favor of making the appointments as a group were Mason Carter, Jeff Barnes, Anita Puckett, Jack Barton, Betty Atnip, Jonathan Norris, and Jimmy Midgett.

Commissioners voting against naming them as a group were Kevin Robinson, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, Bradley Hendrix, Elmer Ellis, Jr., and Wayne Cantrell.

The issue will be brought back before the county commission at the September meeting.

In June, the commission authorized the judicial committee to accept and review applications and then make a recommendation to the entire county commission. That committee is made up of the General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge, Sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk, County Mayor, and a representative of the District Attorney General's Office.

An advertisement was published seeking applicants for the three judicial commissioner positions.

Judicial commissioners are responsible for the issuance of criminal arrest warrants upon finding probable cause. They are subject to call at all hours of the day and night. Judicial commissioners serve at the pleasure of the county commission and their terms of office can be one year to four years.

County Commission Votes Funding for New Animal Shelter Building (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

August 24, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jack Barton
Betty Atnip
Marsha Darrah and Sue Puckett Jernigan look on as county commission considers animal coalition request

The county commission gave supporters of a new animal shelter something to cheer about Monday night after voting 8-5 to appropriate $75,000 toward construction of the proposed facility. But it took roll calls on two separate motions before the commission could muster the eight votes needed for passage.

The first vote failed 7-5 with one abstention but passed the second time 8-5.

Members of the DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals, who will be running the new shelter, had been pushing for a financial commitment from the county for months.

Although the county's pledge of $75,000 will only fund half the estimated construction costs of $150,000, the City of Smithville has also budgeted $75,000 for the project.

"We really want to thank our county commissioners for getting behind this. I know it was a hard vote for them. They have a lot of different things on their agenda but this is something that will benefit our whole county for years to come. We're very grateful that they came through for us," said Marsha Darrah, President of the Coalition in a statement to WJLE after the meeting.

The shelter is to be built 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, has been deeded to the city, which will enter into a 99 year lease with the Coalition, a 501 (c) 3 charity organization.

"We're excited about this. It is long overdue and we're going to get started immediately", said Sue Puckett Jernigan, a member of the Coalition in a statement to WJLE after the meeting.

"The shelter will be 1,752 square feet and then there will be some runs outside. We have basic plans but we've got to get an engineer or an architect to finalize those (plans). It'll (project) have to be bid. We now have the money to do the shell of the building and the coalition will equip the inside completely which is going to cost about as much as the building," she added.

The coalition has already raised $13,000 through various fundraisers and more events are planned in the weeks ahead. Anyone who wishes to volunteer or donate funds may contact members of the coalition.

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.

During Monday night's meeting, Third District Commissioner Jack Barton moved that the county allocate the $75,000 but with conditions. "This is to be a one time donation of $75,000 by DeKalb County earmarked for the construction of an animal shelter by the DeKalb Animal Coalition. This donation is conditional. The county will not be responsible for the hiring and payroll of any employees relating to the shelter and will not be responsible for any operation of the shelter or for the future funds needed to operate the shelter. Additionally, the coalition will pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department for a fee of $125 if it results in a successful pickup or $75 if it's a dead head. If they don't successfully find the animal. The money is to paid by the county to the coalition for those animals requested (to be picked up) by the county mayor's office and sheriff's department only," said Barton.

Fifth District Commissioner Jerry Adcock offered a second to Barton's motion.

But Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip raised objections to providing funding for this purpose when the county has other needs that are not being fully addressed. " I think what the coalition is about is an honorable thing. They are the voices for the animals that have no voice. But this county commission is for the people of the county and we told them (people) a month ago that we had to have money to run this county on (tax increase). The coalition was not in our budget. We had heads of our departments that asked us for more employees to run their offices more efficiently and we flat turned them down. We said no. We have had places that have asked us to build them a fire hall. We told them no we did not have the money for that. So if we don't have the money to fulfill what the county is asking for, how do we have the money for an animal coalition that is a non-profit organization?. And if we are going to give this non-profit organization a donation are we going to start giving every non-profit organization that comes in front of this commission money?. That's where I stand in the sixth district. I represent them. I have a problem with telling the people that we had to have money to run the county on and then not fulfilling our county obligations before filling them for an organization," said Atnip.

When the vote was taken on Barton's motion, Commissioners Bradley Hendrix, Jerry Adcock, Larry Summers, Jonathan Norris, Kevin Robinson, Jack Barton, and Anita Puckett voted in favor. Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Mason Carter and Betty Atnip voted in opposition. Wayne Cantrell abstained. Second district commissioner Joe Johnson was absent.

After a question was raised by Coalition member Sue Puckett Jernigan about how an abstention is considered under Roberts Rules of Order, a recess was called to give County Attorney Hilton Conger an opportunity to research it.

After the recess, Conger reported that an "abstention" essentially counts as a "no" vote.

Cantrell then asked if he could change his vote. "Not after the vote had been taken and announced," replied Conger.

Barton said he would then restate his motion for another vote.

Larry Summers asked if taking another vote was "proper procedure"?

"It doesn't sound proper to me," said Atnip. " It's already been up and voted on. Just because something doesn't go the way somebody wanted it, we're going to keep changing it?" she asked.

But according to Conger it was proper for the commission to entertain a new but different motion on the same issue. "He (Barton) can change his motion and introduce a new motion but not the same motion," said Conger.

Except for a couple of changes (noted by *) Barton's second motion was identical to the first. "This is a one time donation of $75,000 by DeKalb County earmarked for the construction of an animal shelter by the DeKalb Animal Coalition. This donation is conditional. The county will not be responsible for the hiring and payroll of any employees relating to the animal shelter and will not be responsible for the operation of the shelter or the future funds needed to operate the shelter. Also the Coalition will pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department at a fee of *$100 and *$50 for a dead head if they fail to pick up an animal. That will be paid by the county to the coalition for those animals that are requested by the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department," said Barton.

Seventh district member Kevin Robinson offered a second to the motion.

Again Atnip voiced her objections. " We increased your (peoples) taxes by sixteen cents. We told them we had to have it to run this county on. We have told department heads no that have asked for other employees, part time and full time, which would have benefitted people in this county and given them jobs. We looked those people in the eyes and we told them no we did not have the money. In another area for the safety of their property and their lives, we told people no to a fire hall, we do not have the money. Each and every time when we are approached with something, we tell the people no we don't have the money for it. Now we have a non- profit organization coming and asking this county for money and all of a sudden we're going to find $75,000 to give away? Then we didn't need sixteen cents (tax increase) to begin with. We only needed fourteen cents. I think that is doing a majority of the people wrong. It's a majority of the people that put us in these seats. Not a handful of people. That's the way I believe," said Atnip.

"I'll also speak to the fact that I'm representing my district and my district seems to be in favor of this though I don't take a poll every time I try and decide on an issue," said Barton in response to Atnip.

Barton's second motion was adopted on an 8-5 vote. This time, Wayne Cantrell joined Bradley Hendrix, Jerry Adcock, Larry Summers, Jonathan Norris, Kevin Robinson, Jack Barton, and Anita Puckett in voting for it. While Jimmy Midgett, Jeff Barnes, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Mason Carter and Betty Atnip again voted in opposition.

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