Local News Articles

Crews Gets 20 Years for 2nd Degree Murder in Fatal Stabbing of Ashley Bain, Victim's Family Upset

December 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews
Ashley Bain
District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway
Cleveland Derrick Bain, the victim's brother who is also an attorney
Criminal Court Judge Gary McKenzie

A man indicted for 1st degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend in DeKalb County almost three years ago was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction but the family of the victim is not happy with the outcome and feels betrayed by District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway for not pursuing harsher punishment.

44 year old Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews appeared before Judge Gary McKenzie in Putnam County Criminal Court at Cookeville where he entered a plea under a negotiated settlement to 2nd degree murder in the death of 28 year old Ashley Bain. As a range 1 offender, Crews will serve his 20 year sentence at 100% but he could earn good time credit of up to 15% off his sentence, although that is not a guarantee. After being behind bars since his arrest on February 5, 2015, Crews will be given jail credit for that time of two years and ten months. Crews has been incarcerated at the Putnam County Jail.

WJLE was in the courtroom for the hearing and spoke with the D.A and a member of the Bain family afterward.

Prior to sentencing, Judge McKenzie permitted members of Bain’s family to speak in objection to the plea deal between Crews and prosecutors. The victim’s brother Cleveland Derrick Bain, who is an attorney, and Ashley’s father Cleveland Bain, both addressed the court saying that a 20 year sentence was unjust and should be rejected by the judge.

“Please don’t let this happen. Twenty years is not right. Ashley and her children deserve better,” said Derrick Bain.

Other members of the victim’s family were also present in the courtroom including her mother, but they did not address the court.

Had Crews gone to trial and been convicted as indicted for "premeditated" 1st degree murder, he could have faced a sentence of life in prison either with or without the possibility of parole. In a 2nd degree murder, one must have "knowingly" killed another. "Premeditation" is not an element of that crime. The punishment for a range 1 offender for 2nd degree murder, such as Crews is 15 to 25 years.

Both District Attorney General Dunaway and Crew’s attorney, District Public Defender Craig Fickling said that a 1st degree murder conviction by a jury in this case was less likely than 2nd degree murder and the plea deal offered was in line with the range of punishment Crews may have received had he gone to trial and been convicted of 2nd degree murder. They went on to say that a jury might even have convicted Crews of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter which carries a range of punishment of 3 to 6 years at 30%.

In defending his position, Dunaway said “I believe this is a legally responsible result to this case”.

“I feel for the Bain family. I can’t imagine the pain they feel losing a family member. I understand their frustration, their anguish. It’s always difficult conversations that I have with victim’s families in homicide cases but on a legal basis I do strongly believe that a 2nd degree murder conviction with a 20 year sentence is legally reasonable and just and that is where my conscience landed in this situation,” said Dunaway.

In accepting the plea agreement, Judge McKenzie acknowledged that it was a difficult decision and said his heart goes out to the victim’s family, but that as judge “my job is not to be prosecutor but to be impartial as all the facts are presented. If there is a legal basis for the plea then that is the test here. I understand there are different views but I have to make a decision today. I will accept the plea agreement,” said Judge McKenzie

In addressing Crews prior to sentencing, Judge McKenzie said “you have taken a life, a sister, mother, and friend to many people. Everything she ever would be or was you put an end to it,” he said.

The murder trial had been set for February 13, 2018 with pre-trial motions to have been heard December 13.

The crime was committed on the afternoon of Thursday, February 5, 2015.

Bain’s body was found lying on the floor of a bedroom at the home she and Crews shared at 3870 Cookeville Highway, Smithville.

Bain was stabbed numerous times about the upper body. A bloody knife, believed to have been the murder weapon, was found in the home.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray at the time, Crews called 911 at 2:33 p.m. on February 5, 2015 to report that he had discovered Bain's body when he entered the residence. Sheriff Ray and members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were alerted and quickly arrived on the scene. The TBI and District Attorney General's Office also joined the investigation. Sheriff Ray said authorities determined that Crews had committed the crime and made up the story about finding the body.

Dunaway told WJLE after the hearing that prosecutors believe Crews became upset with Bain over contact with a prior boyfriend and that he got drunk and confronted her about it which resulted in an argument and the murder.

“The victim in this case (Bain) and Anthony Crews (who was married to another woman at the time) were in a relationship. They (Bain and Crews) were not married. The victim had contact and dealings with a prior boyfriend close in time to this event. We believe Mr. Crews got intoxicated and they got to arguing about this prior boyfriend and then the murder happened. We have Mr. Crews on video at 1 p.m. on February 5, 2015 buying alcohol at a local convenience store. He appeared to be acting normal at that time. Just an hour and a half later we have him making a 911 call. He appeared obviously intoxicated on that 911 call and he appeared to be intoxicated when law enforcement officers arrived at the scene. We found those empty alcoholic beverage containers that he had purchased an hour and a half earlier in the home. We feel confident he was intoxicated and based upon all the circumstances we feel like it was a domestic argument that went really badly and unfortunately Ashley Bain lost her life,” said Dunaway.

Upset over the plea deal, Derrick Bain told WJLE after the hearing that the Bain family feels that the District Attorney misled them into thinking he would prosecute this brutal killing to the fullest extent of the law.

“Over what will be three years in February the District Attorney’s Office had been steadfast in their position that they were going to prosecute this case fervently. It wasn’t until last week that they told us (members of the family) they were going to do a plea agreement. The plea agreement they told us then was different than the plea agreement today (Wednesday). We as a family believe that it is unjust and its wrong. We don’t believe that justice was served today,” said Bain.

“Ashley keeps being re-victimized. She was originally a victim of this horrible crime. She and her children are being re-victimized today by this plea agreement. Its unbelievable to think that you could stab somebody multiple times in the middle of the afternoon and possibly be out of jail in 17 years. Not only is it a concern for us and our family, its a concern for other families in this area. What peace and solace do they have when their elected officials, the district attorney and the judges are allowing these types of plea bargains in these types of cases. That is one of our biggest concerns,” Bain continued.

“This is what I want people to know. It is the district attorney’s job to go into the courtroom and take the hard cases, the brutal cases and try them. They are not easy. They are not pleasant but its their job. When he signed up for this job, he took an oath that he was going to go in there and pursue these cases and pursue justice but what he did was plea a guy out who stabbed somebody multiple times. I don’t think that he did his job,” said Bain.

For the first time, the Bain family learned Wednesday during the hearing that while Crews had never confessed to investigators, he had told his wife on the phone after killing Bain that he had done it because “she crossed me”.

“He did not confess to the murder in anyway,” D.A. Dunaway told WJLE. “What that reference amounts to is that while Crews was in a relationship with Bain he was still married at the time of this murder to a woman who lived outside of Smithville. Crews’ wife would have testified that on the night of the murder that Crews made a phone call to her letting her know that he was being charged with murder. She would have testified that she thought he was just kidding. When she asked him why he did it he made the statement “because she crossed me”. That can be interpreted in a lot of ways. But that is the only thing that comes close to a confession. Crews never confessed to killing Ashley Bain,” said Dunaway.

Although Crews was under indictment for 1st degree murder in the death of Bain, he was originally charged with 2nd degree murder. Proving 1st degree murder in this case, Dunaway said would have been a legal challenge.

“That’s what we felt like that facts of the case supported at that time (2nd degree murder). Later when we presented the case to the grand jury it was indicted as a 1st degree murder. But as we continued on evaluating the proof, going through it with a fine tooth comb we (prosecutors and myself) came to the conclusion that proving the element of premeditation in this case was going to be quite a large hurdle. To convict somebody of 1st degree murder in this case we would have to prove the element of premeditation and in a nutshell premeditation means that the murder was planned ahead of time. When we looked at all of the proof and all of the witnesses and physical evidence that we had available to us, premeditation was very thin. Then we have to begin an analysis of if we take this to trial, what is a jury likely to convict Anthony Crews of? I believed after looking at all the evidence that we had was that the best scenario was that a jury would convict him of 2nd degree murder. That is what happened today. Anthony Crews stood before the court and declared that he was guilty of the 2nd degree murder of Ashley Bain and he agreed to accept a 20 year prison sentence,” said Dunaway.

“With a 2nd degree murder conviction, the only possible punishment that could be imposed on Mr. Crews would be a range of 15 to 25 years. The sentence that he accepted today was right in the middle of that range. Had a jury convicted him of 2nd degree murder at trial, then in that process the judge would have had to determine what amount of sentence he would have served between that range of 15 to 25 years. In that scenario its possible the judge would have sentenced him to 15 years. Its possible it would have been 25 years. There is really no way to know until that type of hearing is held,” Dunaway continued.

“Another thing which came into consideration was that based upon the facts and proof in this case a jury could have come back with a conviction of involuntary manslaughter which is a lesser offense. Had he been convicted of that he would have walked out of the courtroom today or very shortly after because he has been in custody over two and a half years. A sentence for involuntary manslaughter would have been served at 30% of whatever the sentence was so that was a result we couldn’t accept and didn’t think would be just,” he said.

In addition to proving premeditation, Dunaway said prosecutors had other legal hurdles to overcome in this case. For example Two days after the murder someone set fire to Crews’ Chevy Tahoe which was parked at the scene of the crime, which might have potentially destroyed evidence and affected the case. “The defense had filed a motion claiming that the case should be dismissed because the Tahoe likely had some evidentiary value to it and had been destroyed. That was a legal hurdle that had we proceeded to trial, we would have had to argue that legal issue before the court and had the state lost that issue, the case would have been dismissed and Crews would have walked out of the courtroom. Had we won that motion then we could have proceeded to trial. There were several moving parts involved in this case,” he said.

White County Crash Claims Child

December 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
Klayton Alan Chapman

A one vehicle crash in White County Saturday night claimed the life of a three year old child and injured two others

The funeral for 3 year old Klayton Alan Chapman and stillborn infant, Kolton James Chapman, sons of Cory and Tiffanie Youngblood Chapman will be Friday at 1 p.m. at DeKalb Funeral Chapel.

The accident occurred at 9:48 p.m. Saturday night on Highway 70 near mile marker 2 in White County. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, a 2011 Ford driven by a 25 year old woman of Sparta crossed the center line to the left of the roadway, went over the embankment, and struck another embankment. The vehicle came to a final rest facing east. There was no sign of braking or any attempt made to return to the roadway found at the scene. The name of the driver was not given in the THP accident report because the crash remains under investigation.

All occupants of the vehicle, the driver, the 3 year old boy, and a 10 month old girl, were transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. The 3 year old child succumbed to his injuries there. The names of the children were not given in the accident report because they are juveniles.

The crash is being investigated by Trooper Jody Looper of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Klayton and Kolton were preceded in death by maternal grandmother, Judy Youngblood and paternal grandfather, Richard Chapman. In addition to their parents, they are survived by 1 sister, Kayleigh Chapman of Sparta and 1 half-sister, Morgan Hale of Woodbury; paternal grandmother, Connie Dodd of Woodbury; 2 uncles, Tom (Autumn) Vaughn and Chris Vaughn both of Smithville; several aunts, uncles and cousins also survive. Joint Funeral Services will be conducted 1 PM Friday, December 8, 2017 at DeKalb Funeral Chapel with Bro. Michael Hale officiating and burial will follow in DeKalb Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be given to help with cemetery costs. Visitation with the family will be on Friday 11 AM until the time of the service at 1 PM. DeKalb Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

Plans Finalized for Thursday Night's Christmas on the Square

December 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
Community Chorus
Santa to visit with Children at Justin Potter Library
County Officials and others last year at Christmas on the Square Open House
Shan Burklow and Suzanne Williams at Lighted Christmas Tree

The Christmas season has arrived and you are invited to join in the celebration Thursday evening, December 7 downtown Smithville for “Christmas on the Square”.

The event will be held from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on the public square.

The fun begins at 5:00 p.m. with special singing in the 303 building on the north side of the square along with a LIVE nativity (no animals), the cast of Steel Magnolias, and a festival of trees provided by local businesses and organizations.

The Community Chorus will perform Christmas Classics inside the 303 building beginning at 5:30 p.m. along with the flag and pledge presentation by members of Boy Scout Troop #347. This portion of the program has been rescheduled from outside to the 303 building because of expected cold weather.

Courthouse officials and the Chamber of Commerce will have an Open House starting at 6 p.m. Visit county officials on the main floor (2nd floor) of the courthouse where you’ll find lots of goodies to enjoy. A Free Photo Booth and Holiday DJ Music will be featured in the courthouse compliments of the City of Smithville.

Santa will be making an appearance at Justin Potter Library at 6:30 p.m. so remember to bring your camera. A Santa’s Workshop will also give children a chance to make their own Christmas ornament and do other activities at the library.

The DeKalb Animal Shelter will have an Adopt-A-Pet event at the DeKalb Animal Coalition’s Restore building on West Walnut Street from 5-8 p.m.

A tree lighting ceremony is also planned outside the courthouse. Beautiful outdoor Christmas trees, courtesy of the City of Smithville, will be displayed on the east and west sides of the courthouse.

And don’t forget about all the great downtown shopping!

Hope you can come for this special night – Thursday, December 7 from 5 to 8 PM - Christmas on the Square!

Newby Gets 15 Year Prison Sentence for Aggravated Burglary as Career Offender

December 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
Shannon Lynn Newby

A 50 year old man was scheduled to stand trial today (Tuesday) in a three and a half year old aggravated burglary case but he decided instead to enter a plea in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Shannon Lynn Newby received a sentence of fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections as a career offender. He must serve at least 60% of the term before becoming eligible for parole. The sentence is to run consecutive to a five year term he is already serving in another case.

Newby and two others, 28 year old Brandon Wayne Hutchings, and 38 year old Sherry Kay Malone were arrested in a burglary and theft investigation in June, 2014 after a concerned citizen came forward to report suspicious activity in the neighborhood.

The three were believed to have been responsible for a burglary and theft at a residence on Early Bain Road on Monday, June 2, 2014. Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time that the investigation revealed that Malone dropped off Newby and Hutchings at the residence, drove away, and then parked nearby. While Malone was gone, Newby and Hutchings allegedly broke into the residence and removed from the home a 32 inch Element television, a 42 inch Sanyo television, several nail guns, and assorted tools. Malone was to have picked up Newby and Hutchings after they brought the stolen goods outside the home but a neighbor, who became suspicious when he saw Malone parked in the driveway of another residence in the area, went to confront her. The neighbor then notified central dispatch by cell phone and officers of the sheriff's department were sent to investigate. The officers found the stolen items from the victim's home outside near the garage but by that time Newby and Hutchings had already fled the scene.

Prior to the burglary and theft, the observant neighbor had already become suspicious when he spotted more than one person in a strange car driving back and forth several times down the road in the area. Later, he saw the same car again going down the road with only one person inside.

According to Sheriff Ray, Malone was questioned by detectives and subsequently charged in the case. Later that night, Newby was found walking on Robinson Road while Hutchings was picked up on Dry Creek Road. Both were wet and had scratches on them. Detectives believe at least one of the burglars cut himself during the break-in because blood was found inside the victim's home. The DNA evidence was collected and sent to the crime lab.

Malone entered a guilty plea to a charge of aggravated burglary in December, 2015 and received a five year sentence all on TDOC probation. A theft charge against her was dismissed. The sentence was to run consecutively with another case against her.

Brandon Hutchings pled guilty in August, 2015 to aggravated burglary and received a five year sentence to serve. The term was to run consecutive to a violation of probation sentence against him. He was given jail credit at the time of 420 days.

County Clerk James L. “Jimmy” Poss Announces Plans to Seek Re-Election

December 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
James L. "Jimmy" Poss

DeKalb County Clerk James L. “Jimmy” Poss has announced his intentions to seek re-election in 2018.

Poss will be a candidate for nomination in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary on March 1.

“I have enjoyed serving as your County Clerk and I am very humbled and honored for the support I have received while serving as DeKalb County Clerk,” said Poss.

“I am asking for each person’s continued support while seeking to serve a second term, in the office as DeKalb County Clerk”.

“During my first term as your County Clerk, I have begun fulfilling my campaign promises, which was to provide efficient and courteous service in the Clerk’s Office and to complete County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) training. I have completed the (COCTP) training receiving my Certified Public Administrator certificate. We have worked hard on improvements throughout the office. We are providing an increase in transactions across the board, but are most proud of new services now offered to our citizens previously not available”.

“I’ve worked with both civic organizations and individuals, providing assistance throughout the county assisting with various individual requests”. I have and will continue making myself available to provide assistance at all times. I would like the opportunity to continue to lead our County Clerk’s Office in a forward direction,”.

“Changes that have been implemented during the last 3 years have proven positive, providing more service and convenience to every citizen who utilize our office. Revenue collected ending Fiscal year June 30, 2017 increased more than $200,000.00. Also, the number of completed daily transactions continue to rise. While we have brought change to our office, my commitment for fair and equal, courteous and efficient service has not changed. “It is my desire to continue to work with honesty and integrity for the citizens of DeKalb County,” said Poss.

Friday is the Deadline to Buy Gifts for Angel Tree Project

December 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
Friday is the Deadline to Buy Gifts for Angel Tree Project

You have until Friday, December 8 to support this year’s 22nd Annual DeKalb County Angel Tree Project.

The Angel Tree provides Christmas gifts for underserved and needy children in DeKalb County. You can pick up your Angel at any local bank in Smithville or Alexandria. This year there were 368 children representing 175 local families. The adoption tags have suggested wish items but it is not necessary to purchase everything listed. Donations can also be made at any bank branch if you would prefer to have someone do the shopping for you. It is always the goal to have each child adopted but for those who are not, the shopping will be done for them by others.

The deadline to return your gifts is Friday, December 8th. The continued support of the community is what makes this such a successful program.

DeKalb Animal Shelter Off to Great Start

December 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Animal Shelter has plenty of dogs and cats available for adoption

The first month of operation for the new DeKalb Animal Shelter has been a great success.

“We have been open for a full month now and we have had 72 cats and dogs through our shelter. We have 49 in house right now. Twenty one have been adopted as of this afternoon. We had two adoptions today,” said Megan Moore, Director of the local shelter who addressed the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen during their regular monthly meeting Monday night.

Moore said over $1,700 has been generated through the shelter and all that money goes right back into running the facility.

“We have brought in $1,708 total in the first month. We’re doing quite well and that money stays in the shelter. We pay our vet bills and any medical needs that arise and normal everyday stuff. Everything it takes to function like paper towels, cleaning agents and stuff like that. That all stays in the shelter,” said Moore.

Along with Moore, the shelter has a part time employee James Wilkerson, who are both employed by the City of Smithville. But Moore said volunteers have pitched in to help.

“Without volunteers it wouldn’t be possible for it (shelter) to function the way it does. We need volunteers during the day. There are so many things that need to be done. It takes a lot of time. Right now our part time guy, who had an accident Sunday, will be out for just a little bit but I made some phone calls this morning (Monday) and people came in and helped,” Moore continued.

In addition to volunteers, Moore said the community has also responded to the call for donations.

“I want to thank everyone for supporting us. We have had a lot of donations come in. That has been great. We have asked for cat food, dog food, puppy food, detergent for our laundry and dishwasher, people have really come through for us and helped out so much”.

Although the bricks have arrived they have not yet been placed.

“The bricks are in but are not laid. We are waiting on the weather and we’ll have to decide where they will be placed. I think they will be placed in front of the building. We’re planning to plant some crepe myrtles out there too,” Moore said.

Anyone wanting to purchase bricks to honor or remember a person, pet or to have other tributes engraved on them may do so.

“It’s an ongoing order. Anytime we get 15 or more requests for bricks we can place an order, they will ship them to us, and they will replace the plain bricks we have down. Forms are available at the shelter,” said Moore.

If you would like to volunteer or adopt a pet, especially with the Christmas holiday upcoming, you may stop by the shelter at 186 Transfer Station Road, located behind Tenneco off Highway 70 east in Smithville. The phone number is 615-597-1363.

Adoption Fees for Dogs Unaltered: $90 (includes a $50 dollar refundable spay/neuter deposit). You will be refunded the $50 dollars deposit with proof of alteration within 30 days. $40 altered Cats: $20/$30.

Moore said the shelter is planning to have adoption events soon and will have pets available during Christmas on the Square Thursday night downtown.

Pet lovers may see what the shelter has to offer on the DeKalb Animal Coalition Facebook page.

The shelter is under the operation of the DeKalb Animal Coalition, a non-profit 501 c 3 organization.

Drunk Driver Arrested with Child and Meth in Vehicle

December 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jonathan Tyrone Scott

A McMinnville man is facing several charges and citations including possession of methamphetamine after he was found driving drunk with a seven year old child in the vehicle with him.

35 year old Jonathan Tyrone Scott of Hannah Brook Circle, McMinnville is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, sell, or possess, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, a second offense of driving on a revoked license, and evading arrest. He was further cited for violation of the open container law, registration violation (Illegal covering of license plate), no insurance, failing to drive on the right side of the roadway, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Scott’s bond is $19,000 and his court date is December 21.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, November 30 a deputy spotted a white Chevy Tahoe on Corinth Road failing to stay on the right side of the road and he attempted to pull it over. As the officer turned on his emergency lights and siren, the vehicle increased speed and tried to flee placing the lives of the child, himself, the public, and the deputy in danger. The Tahoe finally stopped at Belk Grocery.

The deputy spoke with the driver (Scott), who stuttered and appeared to be very jittery. A seven year old child was in the Tahoe with Scott and the officer could smell an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. Scott submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to give blood. A search warrant was subsequently obtained for a blood sample from him.

During an inventory search of the Tahoe, the officer found an open container of a clear liquid along with a small glass container which held small clear crystals that weighed less than 0.5 grams and field tested positive for methamphetamine. Scott said the substance was medication for his dog.

Scott’s license were found to be revoked and the Tahoe had a black piece of plastic covering the numbers on the tag, which is illegal. Scott’s license was originally suspended on December 10, 2001 in Warren County for failure to pay an original violation. He has a prior offense for driving while revoked in Warren County on January 5, 2015.

Convicted Felon Found with Drugs and Paraphernalia

December 4, 2017
Dwayne Page
Patty Sue Tatrow
Wendy Michelle Steep

A convicted felon was arrested last week after sheriff’s department detectives found drugs and paraphernalia in her possession while serving a warrant in a separate case.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_50.pdf (3.89 MB)

42 year old Patty Sue Tatrow of Jackson Street, Smithville is charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver and unlawful possession of a weapon. She was further cited for simple possession of schedule II & VI drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia, Her bond is $23,000 and her court date is December 21.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, November 28 two detectives went to a residence on McMinnville Highway to pick up Tatrow on an active warrant. Upon entering her bedroom, they spotted a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana on a small mirror and a marijuana cigarette on her dresser. A further search of the room turned up several bags of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. The bags weighed 6.3 grams; 0.01 gram; and 8.25 ounces. They also found in Tatrow’s wallet a small baggie which held a clear rock like substance believed to be methamphetamine ice which weighed 0.82 grams. Two sets of digital scales were found and a 22 caliber handgun was recovered from a nightstand next to her bed. Tatrow is a 2005 Warren County convicted felon.

In a separate case, 34 year old Wendy Michelle Steep of High Street, Alexandria is charged with criminal impersonation. Her bond is $3,500 and her court date is December 14.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, November 27 a deputy spotted a vehicle setting by the side of the road on County House Road and stopped to investigate. He spoke with the driver (Steep) and asked for identification. The woman identified herself as Kristen Thomason and gave her date of birth as June 17, 1987. A further investigation revealed that her name is actually Wendy Steep. When confronted, Steep admitted to intentionally giving the wrong name because her license were revoked and she didn’t want her probation to be revoked for driving a vehicle.

Architect Study Recommends Replacing/Repurposing Smithville Elementary School (VIEW OPTIONS FOR EACH SCHOOL HERE)

December 4, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Elementary School

Following an evaluation of current school facilities and projected future needs, the DeKalb County Board of Education has been presented a variety of construction plans at a cost ranging from $17 million to $45 million for new or renovated facilities.

Members of the local board of education met in a workshop Thursday night for their first look at results of a School Facilities Study prepared by the Upland Design Group of Crossville.

The study concluded that Smithville Elementary School, the oldest core building in the district, should be replaced and repurposed for other uses.

The board hired the architectural firm in September to conduct a county-wide facilities study in planning for future building needs. Upland Design is being paid $19,500 for its services.

“We asked them to give us a survey and preliminary report along with a number of options that we can look at for a long range plan for our school system which consists of new facilities. Hopefully we can turn this long range plan into more of a short range plan but we want the county commission involved. This is not just our decision,” said Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III during the September meeting.

The school board plans are to narrow the number of options and then present them to the county education committee and then the county commission for consideration.

The facilities study by Upland Design concluded that DeKalb West School was in the best condition and should remain as is; that Smithville Elementary needs to be replaced and repurposed; and that issues exist at Northside Elementary, DCHS, and DeKalb Middle Schools which need to be addressed.

Derrick Clemow and Brian Templeton of Upland Design Group met with the school board during Thursday night’s workshop to review the findings and to offer options for addressing them.

Upland Design presented six (construction) options (schemes) for the board to consider along with the pros and cons of each option or scheme.

A summary of those options is as follows: (CLICK PDF LINK BELOW EACH OPTION TO VIEW SPECIFICS)

A-OPTION (SCHEME): (2) Pre-K to 5th grade elementary schools; middle and high schools expanded for increased lifespan (CLICK LINK TO VIEW OPTION)
scheme a.pdf (22.9 KB)

B-OPTION (SCHEME): Replace Smithville Elementary School; middle and high schools expanded for increased lifespan (CLICK LINK TO VIEW OPTION)
scheme B.pdf (162.8 KB)

C-OPTION (SCHEME): All schools Pre-K to 8th grade; high school expanded for increased lifespan (CLICK LINK TO VIEW OPTION)
scheme c.pdf (210.56 KB)

D-OPTION (SCHEME) Pre-K to 8 grade options; high school takes over middle school campus(CLICK LINK TO VIEW OPTION)
scheme D.pdf (190.78 KB)

E-OPTION (SCHEME) All schools Pre-K to 8th grade; high school takes over middle school campus(CLICK LINK TO VIEW OPTION)
scheme E.pdf (189.77 KB)

F-OPTION (SCHEME) New high school; middle school takes over high school campus; elementary school takes over middle school campus (CLICK LINK TO VIEW OPTION)
scheme F.pdf (225.27 KB)

Upland Design was asked to come up with another option involving the middle school and to report back to the school board.

Following is a synopsis of each school:


Smithville Elementary School, originally built in 1958, now is 70,557 square feet in size, and has a current enrollment of 575 students.

“For the purpose of this study, Smithville Elementary is to be obsolesced,” said Clemow. Basically, we evaluated and started with a premise that this is a site (Smithville Elementary) that should be repurposed for some other purpose. We looked at maybe moving the central office there. Maybe maintenance could move there. Maybe an alternative school could be located there.”

The facilities study concluded that “as the oldest campus facility, condition is a major concern. In consideration of the following providing an alternative location for the students is a consensus:

A. Campus location is undesirable
B. Traffic flow is poor
C. Cafeteria/Kitchen is undersized
D. Oldest portion is over a crawl space and mold is potential
E. Security is difficult to maintain when multiple buildings are present
F. Spaces are not functionally ideal
G. Three of the second-grade classes are currently at Northside Elementary

Upland Design gave options how Smithville Elementary School could be used for other purposes:
A. Move central office staff to Smithville Elementary
B. Move maintenance storage and staff to area in and around kitchen/cafeteria
C. Relocate Adult Education or Alternative School Classrooms in the eastern wing
D. Make the site available for other county programs.


Northside Elementary School, built in 2000, is 85,000 square feet in size with an enrollment of 655 students.

Upland Design concluded that Northside is at capacity.

“It (Northside) was originally planned for 650 students in grades 3-5. It is at capacity today based on the fact that there are second graders over there that fill it out all the way,” Clemow said. “If you were to pull the second graders out of there it would be back to a fair-sized school and would have a little bit of expansion in it as a grade 3, 4, 5 facility. But as a grade 3,4,5 it doesn’t have the lower grade toilet facilities that are normally connected to existing classrooms. Little kids really need to have a toilet handy. So if this school should become a Pre-K through 8 or whatever, there would have to be some modifications toilet wise. Also for the size kids there and the numbers who are run through there, the cafeteria is just about maxed out in terms of its usage. It takes a few hours to feed the kids. It basically is functioning as intended and conditionally is in fairly good shape. The school was also built during the pre-security days. A parent can walk in and make it to the back of the school without anyone knowing. That is a fairly easy correction in this case because you do have a central entrance and you could make a vestibule there” he added.

The facilities study found that “this site now accepts 3 classes of second graders due to overcrowding at Smithville Elementary. Northside was originally planned for grades 3-5 and 650 pupils. The campus is at capacity. This is quite evident in the afternoon rush. Lower grade in-classroom toilets were not provided. The cafeteria is at capacity.

The site is large enough to consider expansion, although traffic circulation is a challenge. There needs to be a security vestibule created at the entry.

The cafeteria space is limited as is other core spaces encouraging a 625 pupil population.”


DeKalb Middle School, built in 1971, is now 86,990 square feet in size with an enrollment of 550 students.

According to the facilities study, “the school was originally designed as a modified open plan and as a result acoustic problems and circulation create an interruptive classroom arrangement. Dining and library spaces lack acoustical isolation. The newer gymnasium provides needed P.E. space although it is not cooled (no air conditioning). Security is a challenge since the administrative space is a central space and students go outside to get to the gymnasium. Toilet accommodations are marginally sufficient for the student population. All spaces are currently utilized. The auditorium is too small for assemblies. The site does not provide for several sports and lacks space for addition without site drainage developments.”


DeKalb County High School, constructed in 1963, is now 127,317 square feet in size with an enrollment of 860 students.

“There are portable classrooms. The high school has six to eight floating teachers. What that means is while they have other things they do in their capacity, they don’t have a home room,” Clemow said. “When they go to work they have to use a room that is shared with somebody else. What happens with high schools is that the curriculum changes all the time and with this school it is clear that with the 860 kids who are there now, they are pretty much falling out the doors (overcrowded). The first thing we always hear there (DCHS) is that the corridors are ridiculously tight and when there is a class change, it’s a zoo. That’s a difficult one to treat because it falls right at the core of the building. Security is also really difficult to handle. The only way to handle security at a campus situation like this is to gate it but once you gate it, you have to man the gate but in this case you not only have a high school but a junior high school so there is no telling how difficult it would be to create a security situation for this facility.
It is one of those things that is definitely on the radar as needing repair, update, potential replacement,” he continued. “We looked at all of it. It is not something that we found in particularly great shape and you all know it," said Clemow

The facilities study found that “the high school has grown on this site for many years. Over the years there have been four major additions and many other renovations. The primary circulation spaces are as original and are woefully undersized. Although well maintained, the original structure shows signs of aging. Campus security is inadequate as many buildings require exterior access. Pedestrian and vehicular flow intersects. Playing field spaces are marginal and do not accommodate all organized team activities. Some P.E. programs are held outside of designated school facilities. Three or four temporary portable classrooms house educational functions. Many spaces have been repurposed for more contemporary curriculum, but many program offerings would require spaces with specific features".


The facility study found DeKalb West School to be in the best condition of all the five schools.

DeKalb West School, built in 1974, is now 76,044 square feet in size with an enrollment of 405 students.

According to the facilities study, “this school has adequate facilities for the current population and programs for the near future. Some students are brought by parents from out of the bus routes. Uniquely, the county-wide Middle School baseball program is at this site. Class sizes vary from 40-48 with a downsized 4th grade at 30.

Administrators note that moving on to the high school is a social adjustment when compared to DeKalb Middle School entrants.

For this study, this campus is to remain as is.”


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