Local News Articles

Tigerettes Fall to Sweetwater in Sub-State

May 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
Tigerettes Fall to Sweetwater in Sub-State

The season ended for the DCHS Tigerettes Saturday with a 7 to 4 loss to Sweetwater in the Class AA Sub-State or Sectionals in Smithville.

Sweetwater scored 7 runs on 13 hits and made no errors. DeKalb County scored 4 runs on 6 hits and made no errors.

Sweetwater scored 1 run in the 1st inning and 3 runs in the 5th and 6th innings. DeKalb County scored 1 run in the 1st and 2nd innings and 2 runs in the 3rd inning.

Kenzie France was the losing pitcher.

Kenzie France had a homerun. Megan Walker had 2 singles. Jonie Robinson and Kenzie France singled and Kristena Bain had a double.

The Tigerettes conclude the season at 23-12 and 11-3 in the district. They won both the District and Regional Tournament Championships.

Two Arrested for Aggravated Criminal Trespassing

May 20, 2018
Dwayne Page
Sherry Gunter
Darrell Wayne Newby
Randall Eugene Tittle
John Michael Turner
Robin Lynn Woodard
Tabitha Danielle Martin
Garrett Michael Johnson

Two people caught inside someone else’s home have been charged with aggravated criminal trespassing.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_3.pdf (3.49 MB)

36 year old Sherry Gunter of Shady Drive, Smithville and 42 year old Darrell Wayne Newby of McMinnville were arrested after they were discovered at a home on Neil Drive. Gunter and Newby were also cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of a schedule II drug (0.06 grams of methamphetamine).

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, May 7 a deputy was dispatched to Neil Drive due to a possible burglary in progress. Upon arrival the officer found both Gunter and Newby inside the residence. The owner of the home told the deputy that no one was supposed to be there. Gunter and Newby were placed under arrest for aggravated criminal trespassing.

During the investigation, Gunter and Newby were found with 0.06 grams of methamphetamine along with approximately 20 hypodermic needles, five glass pipes, digital scales, and a grinder.

Gunter’s bond is $2,000 and she will make a court appearance on June 28. Newby’s bond is $5,000.

48 year old Randall Eugene Tittle of Tubb Street, Liberty is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $10,000.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 6 Tittle stole a Champion Model 8500 generator from a construction site on Nashville Highway in Liberty. The generator is valued at $1,800. The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

49 year old John Michael Turner of A.B. Frazier Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $2,000 and his court date is June 14.

According to Sheriff Ray, on Wednesday, May 9 law enforcement officers were requested by EMS to provide immediate assistance. Upon arrival, the officer met with EMS and Turner, outside Turner’s home. Turner was aggressive and combative and he had a very strong odor of alcohol on him. He was also unsteady on his feet. Sheriff Ray said Turner cursed and yelled at both the officer and EMS personnel and he refused commands to calm down and get back inside the residence. Turner was then placed into custody.

33 year old Robin Lynn Woodard of Hogan Drive, Gordonsville is charged with criminal impersonation and evading arrest. She is under a $7,000 bond and her court date is June 14.

Sheriff Ray said that on April 27 a deputy stopped a gray Ford truck for failure to yield at a stop sign and spoke with the driver and passenger. He asked the passenger, Woodard for her identification. She handed him an ID which belonged to another woman. A computer check revealed the woman identified had an active warrant against her in Coffee County. During the investigation (Woodard) escaped on foot as the officer was unable to catch up to her. After a further investigation, the deputy learned that Woodard was the passenger of the truck who had fled the scene. Woodard was arrested later and admitted to having handed the deputy another person’s ID before escaping on foot.

32 year old Tabitha Danielle Martin of Chapman Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with violation of an order of protection. Her bond is $3,500 and her court date is June 14.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 11 a deputy was called to do a welfare check at a residence on East Main Street in Dowelltown concerning Martin. Upon arrival the officer spoke with the homeowner but was told Martin was not believed to be there. The deputy searched the residence and found Martin hiding in a bedroom closet. A computer check revealed that Martin has an order of protection against her to stay away from the woman at this home. The homeowner surmised that Martin had entered the residence while she was sleeping. Martin was placed under arrest.

24 year old Garrett Michael Johnson of Green Brook Drive, Lebanon is charged with public intoxication and aggravated criminal trespassing. He was also cited for possession of a schedule IV drug (Diazapam) and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is June 14.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 13 a deputy was dispatched to check out a suspicious vehicle at a vacant home on Wenger Lane. Upon arrival the officer noticed that the garage door was open. Johnson came out of the house. According to the officer, Johnson was shaking and his speech was slurred. He admitted to having taken drugs.The deputy found on Johnson needles and two and a half pills of Diazapam but not in the proper prescription bottle. Johnson could not produce a valid prescription for the drugs. According to Sheriff Ray, the officer discovered that the garage door to the home would not stay shut because it was warped and the door inside the garage leading to the basement had been pried open. Johnson told the deputy that he knew the mortgage company now owned the home because of papers posted on the door. Johnson was placed under arrest.

Four High School Students Among Six Involved in Three Vehicle Crash

May 20, 2018
Dwayne Page
Four High School Students Among Six Involved in Three Vehicle Crash (Jim Beshearse Photo)
Picture shows 2001 Ford F-150 blue truck, driven by 59 year old Ricky Dowell of Alexandria. Dowell’s wife, 57 year old Shelia Dowell was a passenger with Ricky. Behind it is a 2007 white Ford truck FX4 Off Road,which was driven by a 17 year old boy. Riding with this teen was a 15 year old girl (Jim Beshearse Photo)
A 17 year old girl, driving a 2005 white Chevy Cavalier (SHOWN HERE), was turning left (West) onto West Broad Street from Anthony Avenue and crossed the path of an eastbound 2001 Ford F-150 blue truck, driven by 59 year old Ricky Dowell of Alexandria (Jim Beshearse Photo).

Six people including four teens enroute to the high school graduation were involved in a three vehicle crash Friday evening at the intersection of West Broad Street and Anthony Avenue.

Three of the teens are age 17 and the other is 15. Smithville Police did not release their names because they are minors.

According to Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew, a 17 year old girl, driving a 2005 white Chevy Cavalier, was turning left (West) onto West Broad Street from Anthony Avenue and crossed the path of an eastbound 2001 Ford F-150 blue truck, driven by 59 year old Ricky Dowell of Alexandria. Dowell’s wife, 57 year old Shelia Dowell was a passenger with Ricky. A 17 year old girl was a passenger with the teen driver in the Cavalier.

Although Dowell swerved trying to avoid a collision, his truck hit the Cavalier, and then struck another vehicle, a westbound 2007 white Ford truck FX4 Off Road, driven by a 17 year old boy. Riding with this teen was a 15 year old girl.

According to the police report, the teen driver of the Cavalier told officers that it was raining really hard and she could not see very well. The girl said she pulled out on to West Broad Street and never saw Dowell’s truck.

Dowell told police that the teen driver of the Cavalier never stopped at the intersection stop sign at West Broad and Anthony Avenue and pulled out in front of him.

Both Ricky and Shelia Dowell were transported by EMS to St Thomas DeKalb Hospital as were the two teens in the Chevy Cavalier. The teens in the Ford FX4 were not injured.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene providing assistance.

The crash was investigated by Officer Tyler Patterson of the Smithville Police Department.

Rains Didn't Dampen Spirits of DCHS Graduates (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

May 18, 2018
Dwayne Page
Marshal Evins Receives White Rose Award from DCHS Principal Randy Jennings
Olivia Winter Receives White Rose Award from DCHS Principal Randy Jennings
Trey Jones Receives Citizenship Award from DCHS Principal Randy Jennings

Two rounds of thundershowers forced a one hour delay in Friday night’s commencement for the Class of 2018 at DeKalb County High School but the rains couldn’t dampen the spirits of the graduates who waited out the weather to go through with the ceremony and receive their diplomas.

All did not go as planned however. Because of the rains, neither the DCHS Chorus or Band were able to perform as scheduled.

Graduating seniors are now looking toward the next chapter in their lives after saying their goodbyes to DCHS as students.

Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Marshal Evins and Olivia Winter and while the Citizenship Award was presented to Trey Jones.

The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the senior class with strong academic performance and contribution to the school and community and exemplary moral character.

The Citizenship Award is given to a student in the senior class who exemplifies strong academic performance and contribution to the school and community.

The honors, distinction, and top rank students were also recognized during the program.

The 177 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and DCHS Principal Randy Jennings as their names were called.

In her remarks, Valedictorian Allison Maynard challenged her classmates to chase their dreams. “ It is okay to make mistakes. The biggest mistake you could possibly make in life in constantly fearing you will make one. Don let yourself stray from your dream. Dreams may change, but you always ned to have a goal set in mind. Tony Gaskins said if you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs. The future is uncertain, but you have the opportunity to make it however you please. Create dreams and do whatever it takes to live them. Take chances, create opportunities, and change the world. We all have the power to do so. It just takes someone to begin it. The secret to getting ahead is getting started,” said Maynard.

Tyree Cripps, Class President, admonished his fellow graduates to set high goals and not let obstacles discourage them. “ I am confident that our class can truly make a change in the world if we set our ambitions high enough. Do not be afraid to set high goals, because with a strong dedicated work ethic, anything is reachable. Obstacles will definitely be in each of our paths, but the way in which we respond to those obstacles is what molds us into who we will be in the future. Oh the places we can go if we just start by putting one foot in front of the other,” said Cripps.

The program featured an Invocation by Kaitlyn Cantrell of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. DCHS Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick introduced the honors and distinction students. Guidance Counselor Shelly Painter recognized the Top Rank students in the class. Principal Jennings presented awards to both the Class Valedictorian Allison Maynard and the Salutatorian Marshal Evins. After the diplomas were presented, the Benediction was delivered to close out the commencement by Trey Jones, member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

DeKalb Farmers Market to be Open Again Saturday, May 19

May 18, 2018
Dwayne Page
Connie Tjarks at the Farmers Market last Saturday
Patrons at the Farmers Market last Saturday

Farmers Markets are a Tennessee tradition. Consumers can find almost anything their heart's desire from fresh fruits and vegetables to fresh flowers and crafts.

The DeKalb County Farmers Market is now open for the season every Saturday from 7:00 a.m. until noon.

“This weekend you are in for a special treat especially if you love to prepare delicious meals for your family. I will be conducting a demonstration on how to prepare a great spinach salad and we want you to join us,” said Connie Tjarks.

“We will have some spinach there for you along with some fresh radishes and fresh green onions. Be sure to also check out our selection of spring time vegetables, herb plants, and everything else we have to offer. It is all locally grown and some of it is even organic and there’s a different variety each week. Stop by to see us this Saturday at the DeKalb Farmers Market and show your support for local farmers and artisans. Be sure to stay tuned to WJLE or check the WJLE website each week to find out what we are going to be offering at the market,” added Tjarks.

The DeKalb County Farmers Market is located on East Bryant Street next to DeKalb County Ace Hardware and the County Complex.

Support your local farmers and artisans. Pick Tennessee! Provided by the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program.

DMS Students Present “That Other 70’s Show” (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

May 18, 2018
Dwayne Page

Students from DeKalb Middle School performed in the 8th grade musical on Tuesday, May 15 entitled “That Other 70’s Show”. Over 150 students, teachers, and staff were involved in the show which was arranged and directed by music teacher, Mrs. Emily Phillips.

“This is the 5th show I’ve done at DeKalb Middle and I would like to congratulate my ‘First Class’ on graduating high school this year,” said Phillips, “‘First Class’ was the name of the first show here, performed in 2014 by the students who are now DCHS seniors. I’m so proud of them. They really made my first year at DMS a memorable one.”

DeKalb EMS Gets New Respiratory Equipment With Grant Funds (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

May 17, 2018
Dwayne Page
DeKalb EMS Gets New Ventilators and IntuBrite Video Laryngoscopes. Pictured Jason Rice, Trent Hillis, Cody Johnson, Stephanie Brown, Matthew Adcock, Hoyte Hale, and Joey Criddle

The DeKalb County Ambulance Service is now better equipped to enhance the respiratory care of patients with the recent acquisition of three new ventilators and IntuBrite video laryngoscopes.

An Operations and Safety Grant, the amount of $24,000, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program was awarded over a year ago to help purchase the equipment.

Hoyte Hale, local EMS Director, and Bradley Mullinax of the Emergency Communications District (911) applied for the grant two years ago. Hale explained that it took time to obtain and make use of the equipment after the grant was awarded because of the bidding process in making the purchase and due to the training that was required of the EMS staff.

“In 2016 I applied for an AFG grant with the help of Bradley Mullinax for ventilators and IntuBrite Video Laryngoscopes. We were awarded the grant in 2017 and then got bids on the equipment to purchase. We got a really good deal and were able to buy three ventilators instead of two. We even had money left over to buy the video Laryngoscopes. I am very proud that we got this grant awarded to us. It will help out the citizens of DeKalb County. When we take vent patients to Nashville it will help us provide a better quality of care for them,” said Hale.

Cody Johnson, a Critical Care Paramedic, explained how this upgrade in respiratory equipment will be a benefit to the ambulance service and to its patients.

“Ventilators allow paramedics to ventilate the patient with a more custom approach. Three year old pediatrics have different breathing needs than full grown adults and with that (ventilator) each patient is able to get a better rate of oxygen delivery. Once we get a patient stabilized and take them to the nearest hospital, if their breathing ability is compromised and we have to breathe for the patients we are able to place them on a ventilator and after they are stabilized at a local hospital, we are able to transfer them to a higher level of care. With the ventilator, it allows paramedics more time to better calculate medicines and to reassess the patients all without having to worry so much about making sure the patient is getting the proper amount of oxygen and proper ventilation rate,” said Johnson.

“We also now have video laryngoscopes. With a normal classis laryngoscope, a paramedic is able to place the device into the patient’s mouth and it lifts up their tongue and epiglottis so that when he inserts an intubation tube to get perfect access to the patient’s lungs he can get a direct visual on the vocal chords. With a video laryngoscope, the paramedic is able to see around the tongue a lot easier and a lot better for patients that may have a bigger tongue or who is really hard to intubate for any number of reasons. With this we’re able to see around the tongue and intubate a lot easier better confirming that we have a good airway when transporting a patient,” added Johnson.

Local Pilot Receives Prestigious "Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award"

May 17, 2018
Dwayne Page
Local Pilot Lee Bridges Receives Prestigious "Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award"
Gennie and Lee Bridges

A local pilot has earned the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for more than 50 years of safe flying.

Lee Bridges of Smithville was presented the award at a dinner in his honor Wednesday evening at the Smithville airport.

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is presented to pilots who have flown for more than 50 years with no accidents, incidents, violations or civil penalties. It is the most prestigious award the Federal Aviation Administration issues to pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61.

The award is named after the Wright Brothers, the first US pilots, to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as “Master Pilots”.

Bridges met all the prerequisites for this award including zero accidents, incidents or deviations in his 50 years of flying with over 30,000 flying hours. His career over these 50 years includes Flight Instructor, Corporate Pilot, and Airline Captain flying for both United Airlines and US Airways.

Bridges retired from US Airways in 2012 with over 32 years of service. He is an aircraft owner and also a certificated Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic and he holds an Inspection Authorization. His love of flying was passed down from his father who was a World War II pilot and Airline Captain as well.

Lee’s wife Ginnie is also a certified pilot as are his two children, Bo and Heather. His wife, his two children, his four grandchildren, and many other well-wishers were all present at the dinner when Lee received this award.

DCHS Seniors Visit Elementary Schools for "Senior Walk" (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

May 17, 2018
Dwayne Page

Donned in their caps and gowns, DeKalb County High School seniors walked through their old stomping grounds – Smithville Elementary School and DeKalb West School – during the Annual Senior Walk held today (Thursday, May 17).


School administrators and staff, some showing emotion, joined in and congratulated each of the soon to be graduates upon their arrival by school bus. Many of the elementary students, lined down the halls, greeted the seniors with waves, high fives, confetti, and cheers as they passed by. Some seniors also got hugs from proud parents and former teachers. Cheerleaders at DeKalb West School led cheers to welcome the graduates there.


The Senior Walk is an opportunity for students to return to their elementary campuses and parade through the hallways in their caps and gowns while the Graduation Pomp and Circumstance (song) is played over the P.A. While we hope this will inspire our future graduates, we are excited about our seniors being able to see their elementary school teachers one last time before they graduate,” said DCHS Principal Randy Jennings.

Proposed New School Budget Includes Pay Raises for Teachers and Other Staff

May 17, 2018
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools and Board of Education Members
School Board Members

The Board of Education wants to give teachers and other certified personnel a $3,000 pay raise and is asking the county commission for sufficient funding to help make it happen.

During a brief special called meeting Wednesday evening, the Board approved a proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year which includes pay raises for teachers and support staff.

If approved, the actual local increase for the 228 teachers would be $2,400 each since the state is funding a $600 raise per teacher. Non-certified staff would get a $1,500 pay raise, all funded by local dollars.

The county commission’s budget committee will get its first look at the proposed spending plan for schools when it meets Monday night, May 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the courthouse.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said giving teachers a significant pay raise is needed and would help their retirement. “When you look at retirement and what is going to help the teachers long range, it’s their salary because their retirement is based on their high five years,” he said.

As for teacher concerns about rising out of pocket health care costs, Cripps added “We will try to cover the costs with the increase that the state sends. They (state) are looking at probably 3% (increase) so we’ll try to cover that within our budget so that the teachers won’t incur another increase on their insurance,” he said.

In addition to asking for pay raises for personnel, the Board of Education wants more money to purchase Chrome Books for the 3rd through 5th grades. Students from the 6th grade through high school already have Chrome Books. Extra funds would be included to repair and replace existing Chrome Books; to purchase new text books; and to implement a Dyslexia Program to help children at the elementary school grade level in reading. Due to the increasing demands of technology, the board wants to create a new full time computer tech position which would give the school system three techs. One new bus is usually purchased each year. The board wants to buy two new school buses this year.

The proposed new spending for schools in this budget comes to more than $1.7 million dollars over expenditures budgeted this past year. Unless cuts are made or more money is taken from the school system’s fund balance/reserves to balance the budget, a significant property tax hike might be needed to fund the school board’s request.

The overall county property tax rate is $1.8335 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
The rate is distributed as follows:
County General: 0.9635 cents
General Purpose Schools: 0.6100 cents
Debt Service: 0.1200 cents
Highways/Public Works: 0.0300 cents
General Capital Projects: 0.1100 cents

Revenue from the current property tax assessments for the 2018-19 fiscal year based upon estimated assessed valuations of $497 million dollars is $49,700 per one cent of the property tax rate. However the county is actually expected to receive $46,658 per cent of the tax rate based on a 94% collection rate or a 6% delinquency.


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