Local News Articles

It’s Almost Jamboree Project Welcome Mat Time!

May 31, 2017
Suzanne Williams

The 46th annual Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival is coming Friday and Saturday, June 30 & July 1 and the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce invites all county businesses to again use their changeable signs or marquees to post welcome greetings for our Jamboree visitors.

“This marks the 17th year for the Chamber’s “Project Welcome Mat”, said Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber. “With thousands of visitors coming into town, every effort should be made by the local merchants to show our guests that we appreciate them and welcome their business.
The program has been successful over the past years with many businesses participating. Let's keep on showing folks how friendly the DeKalb County / Smithville area can be!," she continued

All businesses may participate in "Project Welcome Mat." The wording may be only a simple “Welcome to the Jamboree” or as elaborate as you choose. There will be recognition awards in 3 categories: "Best Worded," "Most Original" and the "People's Choice Award." Plaques will be presented to winners along with media recognition.

If your business would like to participate in the contest, email the Chamber at swilliams@dkekalbcountychamber.org or call 615-597-4163. Wording should be in place no later than Friday, June 16, 2017.

Pierce Moreno Earns "Classroom Champion" Award

May 30, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb West School Principal Sabrina Farler, Yolanda and Pierce Moreno, and Attorney Jim Judkins

This week’s “Classroom Champion” award goes to DeKalb West School student Pierce Moreno.

The award was presented recently by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins.

Moreno is the son of John and Yolanda Moreno.

A second grader in Shelia McMillen’s class this last year, Pierce said his favorite subject is math and when Moreno grows up he would like to be a firefighter.

When he’s away from school, Pierce plays football, baseball with his dad, and collects baseball cards. He is a Bear in the Cub Scouts.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week .

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, and citizenship and character,” said Judkins.

Tennessee Department of Education Awards Voluntary Pre-K Funding to DeKalb County

May 30, 2017
Dwayne Page
Patrick Cripps

The DeKalb County School System is being awarded $486,167 from the Tennessee Department of Education to fund five voluntary Pre-K classes to serve up to 100 students for another year.

“We are excited to receive this news”, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE. "With the funding, the school system will continue to offer four Pre-K classes at Smithville Elementary and one class at DeKalb West School. Parents interested in enrolling their children for voluntary Pre-K may pick up an application form at the Ernest Ray Education Center downtown", he said.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Tuesday that 18,340 students in 917 classrooms across the state will benefit from the Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) program in the 2017-18 school year. Nearly 95 percent of districts in Tennessee will receive VPK funding designed to serve 4-year-olds who are at-risk. A list of preliminary funding amounts by district and the number of classrooms that funding supports is located on the department’s website.

The application process was strengthened this year to ensure the program provides children with a high-quality opportunity to develop school readiness skills and a strong foundation for learning. Pursuant to the requirements outlined in the Pre-K Quality Act of 2016, this year VPK funding was awarded on a competitive basis in order provide consistently high-quality VPK programs that prioritize serving students from low-income families.

“High-quality early learning opportunities are one of the best investments we can make in our kids,” Commissioner McQueen said. “We want to ensure we are supporting strong early learning opportunities for our students with the greatest need, and that is reflected in the updated application process and in these grantees.”

To ensure VPK funds are used to maximize and increase student outcomes, the funding for districts for 2017-18 VPK programs changed from a formula-based allocation to a competitive grant process based on program quality standards, including:

•full enrollment in programs serving the highest-need students;
•use of a quality curriculum aligned to the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards for 4-year-olds;
•daily schedule that maximizes instructional time, minimizes transitions, and contributes to children’s healthy growth and development;
•use of student outcome data to improve instruction;
•frequent classroom observations with job-embedded support for pre-K teachers; and
•family outreach to maximize enrollment and support at-home learning.

Moving to a competitive application process is the first of many targeted updates the department is undertaking to ensure VPK funding is utilized to support high-quality pre-K programs across the state. As the department continues to make pre-K program quality improvements, we will continue to partner with districts across the state to measure program quality and to provide strategic professional development and support.

Former DCHS Tiger Plays in NCCAA World Series

May 30, 2017
Dwayne Page
Sam McMillen

A former DCHS Tiger baseball standout got some playing time in the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series held last week in Mason, Ohio.

Sam McMillen is a pitcher for the Hiwassee, College Tigers.

The Southwestern Christian University Eagles opened pool play of the World Series with a 10-0 victory over Hiwassee last Wednesday. Down 6 to 0 after four innings, McMillen was called to the mound for Hiwassee and pitched five innings. He gave up four runs, two earned, on six hits. He struck out one and walked two. That was McMillen’s only appearance in the World Series.

Hiwassee lost to Emmanuel, Georgia 11 to 4 before beating Oakland City, Indiana 8 to 1 on Thursday. Hiwassee was eliminated by Bethesda, California 4 to 0 on Friday.

The Oklahoma Baptist University Bison went on to repeat as NCCAA Baseball National Champions with a 7 to 6 win over Campbellsville University, Kentucky on Saturday.

Birmingham Big Winner at DeKalb Art Exhibit

May 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
Division 5- 9th-12th grades: 1st Place Jonathan Birmingham Art Work
*Division 4- 6th - 8th grades: 1st Place Madison Peregoy Art Work
Division 3- 4th & 5th grades: 1st Place Bryce Stembridge Art Work
Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades: 1st Place Larissa Mooneyham Art Work
Division 1- Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade: 1st Place Camille Barton Art Work

Jonathan Birmingham won first place, “Best of Show”, and took the “People’s Choice Award” in the 9th through 12th grade division of the DeKalb Art Exhibit held Saturday at the County Complex. The annual event was sponsored by the Smithville Study Club. Susan Hinton is the President of the club.

This years art exhibit featured 211 entries from winners named at each school.

*Division 1- Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade:
1st Place-Camille Barton
2nd Place- Sophie Desimone
3rd Place-Elliot Barnes
4th Place-Maggie Hendrixson
Honorable Mention: Lance Duke and Kloe Parsley

*Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades
1st Place-Larissa Mooneyham
2nd Place-Izzy Hendrixson
3rd Place-Sklar Chausse
4th Place-Ben Barton
Honorable Mentions- Cadence Reynolds and Pierce Moreno

*Division 3- 4th & 5th grades
1st Place-Bryce Stembridge
2nd Place-Laina Winfree
3rd Place-Tess Barton
4th Place-Madelyn Johnson
Honorable Mentions-Chloe Lawson, Landon Purdue, and Sarah White

*Division 4- 6th - 8th grades
1st Place-Madison Peregoy
2nd Place-Shanti Liu
3rd Place-Presley Agee
4th Place-Katherine Gassaway
Honorable Mentions: Gabby Wheatley, Reyna Edmonds, and Jacob Johnson

*Division 5- 9th-12th grades
1st Place- Jonathan Birmingham
2nd Place-Savannah Anderson Howell
3rd Place-Dulce Maciel
4th Place-Danny Guzman Viel
Honorable Mentions-Brooke Gannon, Ashley Phillips, Braya Murphy, and Damion Estes

Tommy Webb Shares Story of DeKalb WWII POW in Memorial Day Observance

May 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
Veterans and others place wreath at courthouse monument in observance of Memorial Day

Members of a grateful community gathered Memorial Day at the county complex to honor and thank all who have served our nation and given their all for the freedoms we enjoy.

DeKalb County Historian Tommy Webb, the guest speaker, told the story of the late Burnace Hill of Dowelltown, a World War II POW who was taken prisoner in Japan. He was liberated in 1945 and returned home after the war, four years after he had joined the military. (VIEW VIDEO OF SPEECH BELOW)

The annual ceremony was sponsored by the American Legion Post #122 and moderated by Commander William Edmonds.

M2U02452 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Members of the Boy Scout Troop #347 presented the flags and led the audience in the pledge to the flag. Local minister Larry Green offered a prayer and Erica Birmingham performed the National Anthem. Susan Hinton performed a song “Til They Come Home” as a special Memorial Day tribute.

Judy Redmon of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary recognized Gold Star Mothers and called for a moment of silence in memory of all service men and women who have paid the ultimate price for their country.

After Mr. Webb’s speech, Ronnie Redmon, Post Adjutant of the American Legion Post #122, adjourned the program at the complex after which attendees were asked to gather at the veteran’s memorial monument at the courthouse for the laying of a wreath and taps by DCHS band student Josh Moon.

(UPDATED) Murfreesboro Men Charged with Stealing Box of Firewood

May 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
John Robert Savko
Cory Nethaniel Nelson
Roxanna Landis
Clarence Edward Sexton
Samuel Dylan Giles
Nicholas Carter

Two Murfreesboro men are charged with stealing a wooden box filled with firewood from a residence on Old Casey Cove Road last week.

25 year old John Robert Savko and 25 year old Cory Nethaniel Nelson are each charged with theft of property. Bond for each is $1,500 and they will be in court on June 15.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_25.pdf (2.46 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, May 25 a deputy responded to a residence on Casey Cove Road where a theft had been reported. Savko and Nelson allegedly admitted to having taken a wooden box full of firewood from an address on Old Casey Cove Road. The value of the box and wood was $200.

33 year old Roxanna Landis of Old West Pointe Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,500 and her court date is June 8. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 26 a deputy found Landis in the middle of the roadway on Midway Road. She was very unsteady on her feet. Her speech was slurred and her eyes glazed. Landis told the officer that she had taken Subutex, Klonopin, and Neurontin earlier in the day. Landis submitted to but performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Due to her level of intoxication Landis was taken into custody for her safety and that of the public.

47 year old Clarence Edward Sexton of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving on a revoked license. He was also cited for running a stop sign. His bond is $2,000 and his court date is June 15. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, May 27 a deputy witnessed a blue car running a stop sign at Duncan Street and West Broad Street in Smithville. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke to the driver, Sexton. A driver license check through central dispatch revealed that Sexton’s license had been revoked in Putnam County. He was placed under arrest for a second offense of driving on a revoked license.

22 year old Samuel Dylan Giles of Judkins Lane Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,000 and his court date is June 15. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, May 27 a deputy responded to a residence on South Judkins Lane due to a physical domestic call. After arrival the officer spoke to a woman who said that she and Giles had gotten into an argument over his being loud. She was concerned that Giles might wake up her five week old baby. The woman claims that Giles pushed her and then slapped her on the face. Marks were observed on the woman’s face and ear. Giles was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was placed under arrest.

23 year old Nicholas Carter of Smyrna is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 8. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 28 a deputy was dispatched to Cove Hollow Road due to a man who was intoxicated. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Carter who was very belligerent. He had an odor of alcohol on him. Carter was unsteady on his feet. His eyes were glazed over and his speech was slurred. He was placed under arrest for his safety and that of the public.

Strong Storms Down Trees and Cause Power Outages

May 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tree down across Riverwatch Trace
Members of Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad using chainsaws to cut tree across road in Riverwatch Area Sunday
Joe Johnson of Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad uses his own trackhoe to remove trees from road in Riverwatch Area Sunday

Strong storms downed trees and utility lines across DeKalb County Saturday night causing power outages and some property damage.

Members of the DeKalb County Highway Department, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, TDOT and city public works department employees, emergency management, and other volunteers sprung into action with chainsaws and other cutting tools and equipment to remove the debris blocking county roads and state highways. The work continued through the night and part of early Sunday morning.

In Alexandria, at least one home was damaged when a tree fell on it. No injuries were reported.

The Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad was called out again on Sunday. They responded to the Riverwatch community where trees had blown across roads in the development. Chain saws were used to cut the trees and Joe Johnson, a Rescue Squad member, brought in his personal track hoe to help remove the debris from the roadways.

Some of the hardest hit roads and communities were Riverwatch, Four Seasons, Temperance Hall, Dale Ridge, Hurricane Ridge, Pine Orchard Road, Alexandria, Big Hurricane Road, Holmes Creek, Bright Hill Road, Back Bone Ridge, Love Colony, Jefferson, Midway, Pates Ford, Smith Fork, among others.

Revolutionary War Hero Honored During Memorial Day Weekend Tribute in Alexandria

May 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
Attendees at Memorial Day Weekend Remembrance in Alexandria
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver plants American Flag at grave of Revolutionary War Soldier George Thomason and his wife Catherine in Alexandria

A Memorial Day weekend observance was held Saturday in Alexandria to honor the nation’s fallen heroes including a soldier buried at Eastview Cemetery who fought in the American Revolution.

George Thomason was a member of the 3rd Virginia Militia Continental Line and fought in the Revolutionary War.

Lee Plummer spoke of Thomason during Saturday’s remembrance held at the cemetery where the soldier and his wife, Catherine are buried. (VIEW VIDEO BELOW)

State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody were also featured speakers and each talked about the significance of Memorial Day.

Mac Willoughby briefly spoke of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan who was in Alexandria for a short time during the civil war years. (VIEW VIDEO BELOW)

The program also featured opening remarks by Alexandria Mayor Bennett Armstrong, an opening prayer by local minister Jackie Gaddes, the pledge of allegiance led by Boy Scout Troop 757, Terri Lynn Weaver performing the Star Spangled Banner, and brief remarks from other Alexandria area veterans and a member of the Tennessee Defense Force. Members of the Alexandria Police and Fire Departments were also in attendance.

Flags were planted by the grave of Soldier Thomason and others at the East View Cemetery in Alexandria.

Motorcyclist leads sheriff and other officers on high speed pursuit into DeKalb County

May 28, 2017
Smith County Insider Press
Nicholas Bratcher

(The following story and photo were provided to WJLE by the Smith County Insider)

A Carthage man was arrested after leading the sheriff and other officers on a high speed pursuit that ended in DeKalb County the evening of Thursday, May 18.

While investigating a vehicle pursuit, Sgt. Junior Fields of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office learned through dispatch that the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and the Smithville Police Department had made contact with a motorcycle and driver matching the description of one who had fled from Sheriff Steve Hopper.

According to the police report, Hopper was attempting to stop the motorcycle at 9:04 p.m. for reckless driving, at which time the motorcycle had come by him at an excessive speed.

Hopper attempted to stop the motorcycle on the Highway 25 bypass near Cumberland Mine Road, at which time the motorcycle fled from Hopper at a high rate of speed over 100 mph toward Gordonsville on Gordonsville Highway, according to the police report.

According to the police report, the motorcycle failed to stop at the intersection of Gordonsville Highway and New Middleton Highway and continued down Hickman Highway, traveling into DeKalb County.

Other officers joined Hopper in an attempt to stop the fleeing suspect.

Hopper described the rider as wearing a white t-shirt and jeans.

After the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and Smithville Police Department made contact with the motorcycle, a gray 2003 Honda CBR sports bike and rider, at DeKalb market, the driver was identified as Nicholas Bratcher (19, Carthage) and detained for Sheriff Hopper.

According to the police report, Bratcher allegedly admitted to having run from Hopper in an attempt to get away and to avoid arrest.
The police report notes that the pursuit “passed numerous vehicles and placed numerous citizens in danger of serious bodily injury or death.”

Bratcher was placed under arrest and transported to the Smith County Jail Facility for booking.

He is charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving and evading arrest. He was also issued state citations of no license, violation of financial responsibility, stop sign violation and improper display of registration plate.


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