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Local News Articles

Work Begins on Replacing DCHS Gym Floor

May 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
Work Begins on Replacing DCHS Gym Floor
Existing DCHS Gym Floor Being Removed

By the time school starts late this summer, DCHS should have a new gym floor.

Workers began removing the existing gym floor Tuesday. Once the old floor is taken up, a new one will be put down.

Praters Flooring of Chattanooga was awarded the bid to do the work on May 19th at a price of $153,480.

The Board of Education recently voted to authorize Director of Schools Patrick Cripps to take action after discovering that the gym floor was infested with termites which had caused damage.

Although it had been refinished several times over the years, the gym floor had never been replaced since its original install when the school was built in 1963.

Employee of New Frontiers Accused of Allowing Boys to Engage in Drug Use

May 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
John Schuylar Allen
Cody Lee Crips
Melvin Leon Crips
Gregory Michael Patton
Robert Anthony Fuston

An employee of New Frontiers Home has been charged with reckless endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after taking three boys from the home to an unapproved location on Tuesday, May 3 where he allowed them to engage in drug use.

24 year old John Schuylar Allen of North Field Lane, Alexandria is under a $15,000 bond and he will make a court appearance June 30. He is charged with three counts of each offense.

“Allen worked there at the New Frontiers Boys Home and while they were going somewhere else, Allen took the boys to a place he wasn’t supposed to go, which was not approved by the New Frontiers Director. While there Allen allowed the boys to engage in illegal drug use,” Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE.

In each of the three cases for reckless endangerment, Sheriff Ray said that “Allen recklessly engaged in conduct which placed a juvenile in immediate danger by taking him to an unauthorized location not approved by the Director of New Frontiers and allowed him to engage in illegal drug use”.

In each of the contributing cases, Sheriff Ray said that “Allen allowed a juvenile to engage in illegal drug use while under his protection and supervision as an employee of New Frontiers Boys Home”.

A father and son were arrested Friday, May 27 after a detective went to a residence to serve warrants on one of them.

30 year old Cody Lee Crips of Village Place Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation. He also has four violation of probation warrants and a failure to appear warrant against him. His bond is $2,500 for the criminal impersonation but he is being held without bond on the other warrants.

Meanwhile, his father 63 year old Melvin Leon Crips of Village Place, Smithville is charged with filing a false report. His bond is $4,500 and he will be in court on June 16.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 27 a detective went to a residence on West Main Street to serve a warrant on Cody Lee Crips. Upon arrival, he spoke with Melvin Leon Crips and asked about an employee he had but Crips gave the wrong name. The detective further explained who he was looking for and said his name was Cody Crips but Melvin Cripps still gave the wrong name to the detective.

When the detective spoke with Cody Crips and asked for his identity, Crips replied that his name was Cody Haynes. He also gave his date of birth and social security number which were also wrong. Crips was taken into custody and brought to the jail where he was identified as Cody Lee Crips. He later admitted his true identity and admitted to having lied to the detective.

40 year old Gregory Michael Patton of Oak Place Drive, Smithville is charged with public intoxication and resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest or search. He was further issued a citation for simple possession of morphine. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court June 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, May 25 a deputy stopped Patton who was walking on East Main Street in Smithville. Patton was told that an off duty detective had suspected him of making a drug exchange. Initially Patton said he had nothing nor had done anything and began to walk away. After refusing the officer’s commands to stop, Patton was taken into custody. After finding three needles on his person including one loaded with 10 units of morphine, Patton admitted to having shot up morphine. Patton was very nauseous, uncooperative, and somewhat unsteady on his feet.

48 year old Robert Anthony Fuston of Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for driving on the wrong side of the roadway and violation of the implied consent law. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on June 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 29 while on routine patrol a deputy spotted a white vehicle leave its lane of travel on Jefferson Road. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Fuston and found him to have a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were bloodshot and he submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. His refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.

19 year old Ashley Marie Starr Coates of Woodbury is cited for simple possession of marijuana. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 23 Coates was observed smoking marijuana on Cecil Hale Road. She had in her possession a small amount of marijuana, a rolled joint, and paraphernalia. The marijuana weighed 2.7 grams. She will make a court appearance on June 6

Motorcycle Operator Arrested after High Speed Pursuit

May 31, 2016
Dwayne Page
Coley Hicks

A 21 year old Nashville man who has no criminal past is in plenty of trouble now after leading a Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper on a high speed motorcycle chase on Monday.

Coley Hicks is charged with evading arrest, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault. He is also cited for failure to exercise due care, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), running red lights, improper passing, and speeding.

The incident began when Trooper Sean Tramel of the THP spotted Hicks riding a Suzuki motorcycle on Highway 70 at Snow Hill and clocked his speed at 90 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. Trooper Tramel activated his emergency equipment (lights and siren) and initiated an eastbound pursuit. The chase continued on Highway 70 through the City of Smithville at speeds of over 120 miles per hour. Hicks ran all the red lights in town and as he crossed over into the opposite lanes to pass vehicles in front of him, oncoming motorists were forced to get out of his way .

Although Hicks kept speeding east on Highway 70, Trooper Tramel terminated the pursuit near the Midnight Express. While he lost sight of Hicks, Trooper Tramel continued toward the White County line looking for him.

After returning to the parking area of the Midnight Express, Trooper Tramel encountered Hicks again, some seventeen minutes after ending the pursuit. According to Trooper Tramel, he spotted Hicks on his motorcycle approaching from the east on Highway 70 heading west. When Hicks saw Trooper Tramel’s patrol car, he pulled off the highway and stopped. Trooper Tramel activated his emergency equipment and drove up next to Hick’s motorcycle. As Trooper Tramel was getting out of his cruiser, Hicks attempted to drive away but his motorcycle struck the open car door, pushing Trooper Tramel back inside the car. As he tried to flee, Hicks’ bike crashed into a guardrail. Trooper Tramel then held Hicks at gunpoint while placing him under arrest. Neither Trooper Tramel nor Hicks were injured.

Trooper Tramel said Hicks told him the reason he was trying to evade was because he had no insurance on the motorcycle.

National Get Outdoors Day at Center Hill Lake

May 30, 2016

Center Hill Lake will be participating in National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day), the ninth annual event to encourage heathy, active outdoor fun. This year’s event will be held at Floating Mill Park and Hurricane Marina Saturday, June 11 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, with a beachfront movie at dusk. Attendance is free to the public.

Primary goals of the day are reaching first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors. This GO Day event will offer a mix of information centers, and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids can fish (Tennessee’s Free Fishing Day), take pontoon rides to the island, games, scavenger hunt, fitness programs, live music, and much more. At dusk Floating Mill Park will be showing Pirates of the Caribbean at the swimming area.

There will also be two types of “boat” races the public may participate in. At Floating Mill Park there will be an “Anything that Floats Race.” Participants may build their “boat” out of any materials that floats. Hurricane Marina will be hosting a “Non-motorized Boat Race.” This event is open to anyone with a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, etc. that is not motorized. Both events will have prizes. For more information, please contact the Center Hill Resource Manager’s Office at: (931) 858-3125.

The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008 and has grown every year. Last year over 171 official GO Day sites across the nation welcomed over 48,000 new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors. GO Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! Campaign, which encourages Americans, especially our youth, to see our healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges, and other public lands and waters.

To find a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project near you visit

Clark Wins "Best of Show" at DeKalb Art Exhibit

May 30, 2016
Dwayne Page
This exhibit by Leah Payton Clark won first place and  “Best of Show”  in the 9th through 12th grade division
People's Choice Award went to Ella Grace Kirksey in the pre-kindergarten to 1st grade division for this exhibit.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade: 1st Place-Wade Evans for this exhibit
Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades: 1st Place- Lela Fayette for this exhibit
Division 3- 4th & 5th grades: 1st Place-Hannah Swoape for this exhibit
Division 4- 6th - 8th grades; 1st Place-Preston Miller for this exhibit
Leah Payton Clark-Overall Best of Show Art Winner Grades 9-12

Leah Payton Clark won first place and “Best of Show” 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.

Meanwhile, the People's Choice Award went to Ella Grace Kirksey in the pre-kindergarten to 1st grade division.

Winners of Outstanding Art Awards in other categories were:
Pre-K to 2nd grade: Lela Fayette
Grades 3-5: Hannah Swoape
Grades 6-8: Preston Miller

This year’s art exhibit featured 265 entries from winners named at each school.

Division 1- Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade:
1st Place-Wade Evans
2nd Place- Chase Young
3rd Place-Michelle Torres Soto
Honorable Mention-Cora Cox

Merit Awards:
Kayce Hale
Valeria Serrano
Ben Barton

Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades
1st Place- Lela Fayette
2nd Place-Tacoma Maples
3rd Place-Addison McBroom
Honorable Mention-Keana Milligan

Merit Awards:
Tatum Young
Abby Joe Crook
Avery Agee
Larissa Mooneyham
Nick Tallent
Mireya Barrett
Violet Nunez
Caleb Tipton
Emily Robinson
Emily Young

Division 3- 4th & 5th grades
1st Place-Hannah Swoape
2nd Place-Eric Soto
3rd Place-Anniston Farler
Honorable Mention-Jade Mabe

Merit Awards:
Micah Bogle
Tess Barton
Amelia Atnip
Madelyn Johnson
Madyson Young
Ellie Dillard
Devon Maxwell
Abby Ludwig
Abigail Ferrell
Briahna Murphy

Division 4- 6th - 8th grades
1st Place-Preston Miller
2nd Place-Jadyn Dawson
3rd Place-Skylar Fuson
Honorable Mention: Shanti Liu

Merit Awards:
Stephanie Atnip
Michael Elswick
Kammi Horton
Kyndal Cox
Alley Rader
Makayla Riddley
Noah Terry
Ricky Pack
Logan O’Conner
Sara Carver

Division 5- 9th-12th grades
1st Place- Leah Payton Clark
2nd Place-Shannon Freeman
3rd Place-Hunter Speaks
Honorable Mention-Destiny Ambrose

Merit Awards:
Jasmine Elise Parker
Tyler Farmer
William Dowling

The winning art exhibits will be displayed soon at the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Crafts

Special thanks to art teachers Carol Tripp, Walteen Parker, and Mary Ann Puckett along with all the parents of the students who submitted art.

Pictures will be available through the students’ art teachers and Justin Potter Library June 1.

Fallen Heroes Remembered on Memorial Day (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

May 30, 2016
Dwayne Page
Local veterans and others gather at the Memorial Monument at the courthouse Monday to observe Memorial Day
Guest Speaker Major Jerry Parker with Susan Hinton
Guest Speaker Major Jerry Parker with Susan Hinton and Three Parts Grace

Members of our community paused to recognize fallen heroes during a Memorial Day program sponsored by the American Legion Post #122 held Monday morning at the county complex auditorium.

Following a program of patriotic music and religious songs by Susan Hinton and Three Parts Grace, guest speaker Major Jerry Parker paid tribute to those who served our nation and particularly those from DeKalb County.

"Memorial Day is one of our two national holidays when we honor and remember those who served in our Armed Forces. On November 11 each year we honor our living veterans. Six months later on Memorial Day, we remember and honor the veterans who died for our country and those who have passed on since," said Major Parker.

"America is only 240 years old. But since July 4, 1776, there have been 1-million, 354-thousand 664 Americans killed in action in our armed forces. That figure does not include the thousands missing in action," he said.

"Memorial Day has gone from being a sacred day of remembrance to a day associated with the beginning of the summer season, big sales at the malls, and car races at the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600. There are even some people today who refer to Memorial Day as National Barbeque Day. However, there are still communities such as DeKalb County, who still take time from their Memorial Day activities to pause and remember and honor those who have served in our armed forces and died for our country," said Major Parker.

“While we are gathered here today, let us take a few minutes to remember the men from DeKalb County who gave their lives in battle in foreign lands and on far away oceans. We can find their names on a plaque at the courthouse. We can see their pictures on the walls at churches and schools here in DeKalb County. We notice how young they were. Most of them were in their late teens or early twenties. We can find the picture of a young man in a living room, where a grieving mother or sister still mourns for her son or brother who never came home," he said.

"These men from DeKalb County who died in service to our country did not want to die. But when they were called to duty, they did not flinch and they did not back down when they laid their lives on the line. They were and are our heroes today. We look at their faces in the pictures and notice how young they were. They never grew old. They are forever young. In some ways they are our greatest generation because they gave two lives for their country. They gave the life they had and they gave the life they never had so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in America and here in DeKalb County," said Major Parker.

"I don’t believe our fallen veterans from DeKalb County would want us to be sad faced today. I think they would want us to enjoy the benefits of freedom they fought for and died for. I think they would want us to remember them today and remember what they did for us," he said.

"Let all of us with gratitude in our hearts rededicate ourselves and promise that our veterans will always be remembered and honored and never forgotten," said Major Parker.

Prior to Major Parker’s remarks, Susan Hinton read “In Flanders Field”, a poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

"In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."

The program also included posting of the colors by Boy Scout Troop #347, welcome remarks by American Legion Commander William Edmonds, an invocation by Larry Green, Pledge of Allegiance, a recognition by Judy Redmon of local veterans in attendance who served in the various wars since World War II, and recognition of local public officials in attendance by Ronnie Redmon, Adjunct American Legion Post #122, benediction by Charles Olson, and the laying of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial Monument in front of the courthouse. DCHS band member Josh Moon blew taps on his trumpet at the conclusion of the program.

DeKalb School System Offering Kids Free Summer Meals

May 28, 2016
Dwayne Page

Schools in DeKalb County are now closed for the summer. And while most students have left their classrooms happy for the break, some parents may fret about how to feed their children without meals provided through schools.

To make sure children get healthy meals for the next two to three weeks when they aren’t in school, the DeKalb County School System will be providing meals free of charge to those ages 18 and younger.

The meals will be served at DeKalb County High School and DeKalb West School May 27 through June 10 and at Northside Elementary and DeKalb West School May 27 through June 17.

Meal times are:
Breakfast: 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. (DWS-7:45 to 8:15 a.m.)

Lunch: 11:00 a.m. to Noon (DWS- 11:30 a.m. to Noon)

For more information call 615-215-2104

DCHS Announces New Golf and Tennis Coaches

May 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
John Pryor
Seth Willoughby

The new DCHS Golf Coach is John Pryor while Seth Willoughby is taking over coaching duties for the Tennis program. Both positions were formerly held by Joe Pat Cope.

Pryor has been a math teacher at DCHS for eight years. He is a 1993 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a B.S. in Business Administration. Pryor also graduated from law school in 1997 and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.

“I have played golf since I was nine years old and over the years I have played on some great courses across the country. I love the game of golf and look forward to a lot of fun and success with the high school program,” Pryor told WJLE.

When he is not teaching or coaching, Pryor serves as the WJLE play by play broadcaster for football, basketball, baseball and softball.

Willoughby, a 2010 graduate of DCHS, has just completed his first year as a biology teacher at the high school.

“I am glad to have this opportunity to coach tennis. It’s a fun sport and I really enjoyed playing it in high school. I’m happy to be back here at the high school coaching the same sport that I once played,” Willoughby told WJLE.

Willoughby has a B.S. Degree in Wildife and Fisheries Science from Tennessee Tech University and is working toward obtaining a Masters Degree in Curriculum & Instruction.

As during the past season, Willoughby will continue to serve as an assistant to DCHS Tiger Basketball Coach Lynus Martin.

Kennard Named DCHS Girls Basketball Coach

May 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Nathaniel (Nate) Kennard
Andrew Dixon

DeKalb County High School has a new girls basketball coach.

Nathaniel (Nate) Kennard has been named to replace former Coach Joe Pat Cope. Meanwhile, Andrew Dixon, DCHS Computer Science and Math teacher, will be an assistant to Kennard.

Kennard, who teaches U.S History and World History at DCHS, served as an assistant to Tiger basketball coach Lynus Martin this past season. He has just completed his first year at DCHS.

“It’s my first year of teaching. I was in retail for a while. I also did some volunteer assistant coaching at Livingston Academy for five years prior to coming to DeKalb County. I finally finished up my degree at Tennessee Tech last May and was looking for a teaching job. DeKalb County High School gave me my first opportunity,” Kennard told WJLE.

A resident of Rickman, Kennard received a B.S. degree in Secondary Education-History from Tennessee Tech University in May 2015. His teaching license endorsement is in History and Geography 7-12.

Kennard began his 13 year coaching career at Hilham Middle School in Overton County as the Boys Basketball Coach from 2003-2010 where he was responsible for all aspects of the boys basketball program involving the 6th and 8th grade teams. During those years, the program won two county championships and had five final four state tournament finishes compiling an overall record of 100-85.

From 2010 to 2015 Kennard served as an assistant boys basketball coach (non faculty position) at Livingston Academy. During those years, Livingston Academy had one final four finish, three state tournament appearances, five sectional appearances, three regional championships, and three district championships with an overall record of 128-48.

Prior to his coaching stints, Kennard worked at Food Lion in Livingston as assistant store manager from June 2003 to June 2006 and then store manager from June 2006 to March 2013. He became assistant manager for Houchens Industries in March 2013.

Kennard and his wife Erin are the parents of two sons, 16 year old Benjamin and 7 year old Cooper.

Coach Kennard told WJLE he has gotten to know a lot of people his first year here and is looking forward to next season. “I really like this community. Being from Livingston and driving to Smithville, I didn’t know a lot of people here at first. But they have been very good to me,” he said.

“I have found that the girls coming in next season are very eager to learn. They are very respectful and easy to coach so far and I’ve just had them in tryouts. I’m very excited . I think this is a program on the verge of really blossoming. I think it’s on the verge of a lot of success. Over the last couple of years they have had successful seasons if you look at the record. I am ready to continue that and hopefully move it into the direction that we can go deeper in tournaments in the future,” said Kennard.

“As far as my coaching style, we plan to play an up tempo game. We will be fun to watch and they will have fun while playing,” Kennard said.

DCHS in Search of New Baseball Coach

May 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Former DCHS Baskeball Coach Tracy Slone

Another DCHS Coach has lost his job.

Baseball Coach Tracy Slone will not return as teacher or coach next season. Slone was hired three years ago as a wellness teacher and coach.

In his three seasons, Slone compiled an overall record of 53-50. His district mark was 26-16 and 8-7 in the post season.

The position is posted as follows on the TSSAA website:

DeKalb County High School is seeking Head Baseball coach. Current teaching positions available: Secondary Math, World History/Geography and PE. If you are interested, contact Kathy Bryant: (615) 597-4094 or


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