Local News Articles

Several Holiday Weekend Blazes Keep Firefighters Busy

July 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

County volunteer firefighters spent the better part of their holiday weekend fighting fires, some of them triggered by lightning.

Assistant County Fire Chief Roy Merriman says a fire was reported Sunday at 7:12 p.m. at the residence of Charles Jaco on the Allen Bend Road in the Belk Community. The residence is a rent home, belonging to Doug and Helen Smoot. According to Merriman, a neighbor, John Michael, spotted the fire, entered the residence, and assisted Jaco safely outside. Jaco had been asleep on the couch. Members of the Blue Springs, Keltonburg, Belk, and Short Mountain Highway stations responded along with the tanker truck. The fire caused extensive damage.

On Sunday afternoon, lightning struck a three story cedar lake home belonging to Dr.Jonas Sidrys on Austin Lake Road, sparking a fire in the basement. The Sidrys, who were home at the time, smelled smoke and discovered the blaze. They extinguished it with a garden hose as firefighters were enroute. Members of the Austin Bottom, Cookeville Highway, and Short Mountain Highway Stations responded along with mutual aid assistance from the Putnam County Fire Department. No one was injured.

Early Sunday morning, a fire destroyed a home, belonging to Frank Morris, on Gene Vaughn Road. The Belk, Keltonburg, an Blue Springs Stations responded.

A lightning strike Saturday night caused a fire at the residence of Jerry Cripps at Alexandria. Chief Donny Green says lightning ran in on a telephone line, starting a fire in an exterior wall of the living room. Firefighters opened up the wall and extinguished the blaze. The Cripps', who were home at the time, were not injured. The Alexandria Fire Department was first on the scene, providing mutual aid assistance to the county. Members of the Liberty, Short Mountain Highway, and Main Stations also responded.

Meanwhile on Friday at 10:32 p.m. DeKalb 911 dispatchers received a call of a house fire at 138 Holiday Haven Road. Lieutenant Bradley Mullinax says the home was rental property owned by Doug Stephens. The structure was reportedly fully involved with fire when fire crews arrived on the scene. The owner of the residence arrived and reported that the home was unoccupied. The DeKalb County Fire Department's Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain, and Main Stations were dispatched to render aid on the scene along with the department's tanker truck and manpower from additional stations. The house could not be saved. No one was injured in the incident and the cause of the fire is unknown.

Also, on Friday at 10:11 p.m. DeKalb 911 dispatchers received a call from Warren County 911 requesting a mutual aid fire response from the Keltonburg and Blue Springs stations of the DeKalb County Fire Department. Lieutenant Mullinax says Keltonburg's response unit and man power from the Blue Springs station assisted Warren County Fire Fighters with a structure fire on I D Adcock Road in Warren County.

Florida Fiddler Crowned Champion of 38th Annual Jamboree

July 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Gailanne Amundsen Receives Berry C Williams Award from Jamboree Coordinator Jack Barton
Sarah Twilley Receives Neil Dudney Bluegrass Fiddle Award from Brandon and Ethan Shaw

The Grand Champion Fiddler of the 38th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival is Gailanne Amundsen of Longwood, Florida.

She won the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award early Sunday morning after the Grand Finale Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler.

Amundsen made it to the fiddle off by winning the Junior Fiddling competition and she won the Grand Championship by beating the winner of the Senior Fiddling contest Scott Miller of Hanceville, Alabama.

The two day festival came to a close just after 2:00 a.m Sunday morning.

Rain and lightning forced a delay in the competition during the preliminaries of the square dancing and several hours later, as the weather continued to threaten, a decision was made to resume the festival but to move from the stage to inside of the Smithville Fire Hall, where the fire trucks are usually housed. All the contestants in the finals performed directly in front of a table of judges without microphones, and while there was no television or radio audience, a small crowd gathered in the fire hall to hear them.

All the preliminaries, except for the square dancing competition, were concluded before the rains came and six of the eleven square dance teams scheduled had already performed. The others apparently chose to withdraw during the rain delay, along with two of the teams which had previously competed. There was no finals competition for the remaining square dance teams. They apparently agreed to allow their scores in the preliminaries to determine how they would place.

Winners in the Saturday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree are as follows:
(Click here to see pictures of the Saturday session of the Fiddlers Jamboree)
http://www.wjle.com/node/7878

Junior Fiddlers (Ages 13-39): First Place-Gailanne Amundsen of Longwood, Florida; Second Place- Tori Huntley of Loretto, Tennessee; and Third Place- Austin Vick of Lyles, Tennessee.

Junior Old-Time Appalachian Flatfoot Dance (Ages up to 39): First Place- Chris Stewart of Lyles; Second Place- Matthew Campbell of White Bluff; and Third Place Jacob Campbell of Murfreesboro.

Senior Old-Time Appalachian Flatfoot Dance (Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Jay Bland of Kenneson, Georgia; Second Place- Thomas Maupin of Murfreesboro; and Third Place- Darrin Stryker of Crossville.

Senior Buck Dancing (Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Stanley Reece of Whitleyville; Second Place- Tammy Scruggs of Hartsville; and Third Place- Eileen Stewart of Nashville.

Bluegrass Fiddle (Neil Dudney Award): First Place- Sarah Twilley of Hermitage; Second Place- Chris Gray of St. Joseph, Tennessee; and Third Place- Tori Huntley of Loretto. This award was presented to Twilley by Brandon and Ethan Shaw, grandsons of Neil Dudney.

Senior Clogging (Ages 40 & Over): First Place-Tammy Scruggs of Hartsville; Second Place- Danny Campbell of Murfreesboro; and Third Place- Tommy Jackson of Franklin.

Bluegrass Banjo: First Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg; Second Place- Jeremy Stephens of Danville, Virginia; and Third Place- Andrew Rigney of Normandy, Tennessee.

Bluegrass Band: First Place- Rigney Family of Normandy; Second Place- Mountain Cove of Signal Mountain; and Third Place- The Ward Family of Columbia.

Senior Fiddlers ( Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Scott Miller of Hanceville, Alabama; Second Place- R.B. Scruggs of Hartsville; and Third Place- Chris Talley Armstrong of New Athens, Illinois (absent during the finals)

Square Dancing: First Place-Tennessee Toe Tappers of Hendersonville; Second Place- Rocky Top Revue of Franklin; and Third Place- Little Texas of Franklin.

Grant Rigney Wins Top Two Jamboree Awards in Beginners Competition

July 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Grant Rigney

A boy from Normandy, Tennessee took home this year's top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners.

Grant Rigney was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler Saturday and won the coveted James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award, named for the man who started the children's competition during the 1980's as part of the annual Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

Rigney also received the "Entertainer of the Year" Award, which is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition.

The National Championship for Country Musician Beginners showcases the talents of children up to age twelve in seven categories of competition.

This year's winners are as follows:

Fiddle: First Place- Grant Rigney of Normandy, Tennessee; Second Place- Cole McCracken of Floyds Knob, Indiana; and Third Place- Conner McCracken of Floyds Knob, Indiana..

Buck Dancing: First Place- Sierra Tomlin of Springfield; Second Place- Raygan Sellers of Ashland City; and Third Place- Kelcy Tomlin of Springfield.

Clogging: First Place-Sierra Tomlin of Springfield; Second Place- Shelby Dunn of Fairview; and Third Place- Raygan Sellers of Ashland City.

Dobro Guitar: First Place- Adam Keckritz of Tullahoma; Second Place- Cole McCracken of Floyds Knob, Indiana; and Third Place- Frances DiGiovanni of Greenbrier..

Mandolin: First Place-Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana; Second Place- Grant Rigney of Normandy, Tennessee; and Third Place- Aaron Clegg of Monroe,Georgia.

Five String Banjo: First Place-Aaron Clegg of Monroe, Georgia; Second Place- Adam Keckritz of Tullahoma, and Third Place- Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana.

Flat Top Guitar: First Place- Grant Rigney of Normandy, Tennessee; Second Place-Abby Ward of Columbia; and Third Place- Kati Huntley of Loretto, Tennessee.

Craft Awards Presented at Fiddlers Jamboree

July 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Darren Jenkins, April Jenkins, and Emma Adkins (Best of Show)
Emma Adkins and Jared Weaver (Best Appalachian Crafts)
Claire Penn, Emma Adkins, Dale Penn (Best Newcomer)
Sam Matheny (Best Display)

The annual Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards were presented Saturday.

Darren and April Jenkins of Trade, Tennessee received the "Best of Show" award for their display of handmade birdhouses, bird feeders, and flower planters.

Meanwhile, Jared Weaver of Lenoir City was presented the "Best Appalachian Craft" award for his handmade Mountain Dulcimers made of oak, maple, cherry, and walnut. Weaver also makes Canjos, musical instruments made with spam and soft drink cans.

The "Best Newcomer" Award went to Dale and Claire Penn of Gallatin, who make handcrafted ink pens, pencils, winestoppers, and letter openers using local, exotic, and Historic hardwoods, antlers, and rifle shells.

Sam and Vickie Matheny of Algood received the "Best Display" award for their old handwoven baskets.

The awards were presented by Emma Adkins, the Fiddler's Jamboree Director of Crafts.

(Top Photo: Darren Jenkins, April Jenkins, and Emma Adkins (Best of Show)

(Second Photo from Top: Emma Adkins and Jared Weaver (Best Appalachian Crafts)

(Third Photo from Top: Claire Penn, Emma Adkins, Dale Penn (Best Newcomer)

(Bottom Photo: Sam Matheny (Best Display)

England Repeats as Overall Winner of Fiddler 5K Race

July 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Christopher England
Lisa Glover (Pictured on the Right) Overall 5K Winner among Women

35 year old Christopher England of Murray, Kentucky was the overall winner of the 2009 Fiddler 5K race held Saturday morning in Smithville.

England completed the 5K in 16 minutes and 51 seconds. He was also last year's overall winner.

Meanwhile, 18 year old Lisa Glover of Warrington, Pennsylvania was the top overall female, with a time of 20 minutes and 30 seconds.

In the age group, 12 and younger, 12 year old Kristen Hale of Smithville had the best time for girls at 6 minutes and 46 seconds in the One Mile Fun Run and 11 year old Jake Pierce of Gordonsville had the best time in the boys category at 6 minutes and 47 seconds.

A total of 387 runners competed in this year's Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run, a new record. There were 143 women, 156 men, and 88 in the Fun Run.

Flags Presented to Jamboree Visitors from Alaska and Vietnam

July 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Senator Mae Beavers Present Flags
Elizabeth Musgrove of Palmer Alaska Gets Tennessee Flag-
 United States Flag Presented to Nica Ellis and Laela Ellis of Vietnam

A family from Vietnam received a United States flag and an Alaska woman was presented a Tennessee State flag during the Fiddler's Jamboree on Friday night

The flags go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here.

The flags were presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

The American flag went to Nica Ellis and Laela Ellis of Vietnam and Elizabeth Musgrove of Palmer, Alaska received the Tennessee flag.

The first day of the 38th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival ran non-stop from about 8:30 a.m. Friday morning until about 12:10 a.m. Saturday morning..

Preliminaries were held in sixteen categories of music and dance competition followed by the finals featuring the top three acts in each event.

Click here to see photos from the Friday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree
http://www.wjle.com/node/7877

A new event, Youth Square Dancing, was held this year and Jackson Hollow of Franklin, Tennessee won first place. The Main Stage Fusion of Springfield, Tennessee was the runner-up.

The following are the winners in each category:

Old Time Appalachian Folk Singing (Solo/Duet): First Place- Sierra Tomlin of Springfield; Second Place-Scott Miller of Hanceville, Alabama; and Third Place-Joe Overton of Smithville.

Flat Top Guitar: First Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg; Second Place- Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama; and Third Place- Hannah Ward of Columbia..

Junior Clogging (Ages 13-39): First Place-Chris Stewart of Lyles; Second Place- Joey Jonte of Fort Eustis, Virginia; and Third Place- Lauryn Bos of Bloomington, Springs.

Junior Buck Dancing (Ages 13-39): First Place- Woody Stephenson of Nashville; Second Place- Justin Frazor of Smyrna; and Third Place- Devon Stewart of Lyles

Dobro Guitar: First Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna; Second Place- David Currey of Columbia, Missouri; and Third Place- Michael Stockton of Milton.

Mountain Dulcimer: First Place-Gailanne Amundsen of Longwood, Florida; Second Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna; and Third Place- Eric Vick of Lyles

Hammer Dulcimer: First Place- Scott Miller of Hanceville, Alabama; and Second Place- Chris Brown of Beechgrove.

Novelty Event: First Place- Siamese Fiddlers of Snellville, Georgia; Second Place- Backwards Bluegrass of Danville, Virginia; and Third Place- Dueling Dad & Lad of Crossville.

Youth Square Dancing: First Place- Jackson Hollow of Franklin; and Second Place- The Main Stage Fusion of Springfield.

Old Time Fiddle Band: First Place- Spring Creek of Lester, Alabama; Second Place- The Sow Belly String Band of Murfreesboro and Longwood, Florida; and Third Place- DeKalb County Hilltoppers of Danville, Virginia..

Autoharp: First Place-Jeremy Stephens of Danville, Virginia; Second Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg; and Third Place- Bobby Nobley of LaGrange, Georgia.

Gospel Singing (Solo): First Place- Gailanne Amundsen of Longwood, Florida; Second Place- Emily Dean of Greenbrier; and Third Place- Ty Jackson of Cedarhill.

Country Harmonica: First Place- Isaac Vick of Lyles; Second Place- Luke Richardson of Lawrenceburg; and Third Place- Daniel Amick of Pleasantville

Old Time Banjo: First Place- Jeremy Stephens of Danville, Virginia; Second Place- Eric Vick of Lyles; and Third Place- Daniel Rothwell of Smyrna.

Gospel Singing (Duet, Trio, & Quartet): First Place- Kurt & Jeremy of Danville, Virginia; Second Place- Jubals Kin of Longwood, Florida; and Third Place- Ty Jackson & Emily Dean of Springfield.

Mandolin:First Place- Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama; Second Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg; and Third Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna.

The Saturday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree begins at 9:00 a.m. WJLE will have LIVE coverage.

Neil Dudney Day Observed at Fiddlers Jamboree

July 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Taft Hendrixson, Neil Dudney, and Mike Foster

"Neil Dudney Day" was observed Friday, July 3rd at the 38th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

Dudney, longtime President and Coordinator of the Jamboree and a founding member, received special recognition on-stage Friday night.

County Mayor Mike Foster presented a plaque to Dudney inscribed with a resolution adopted by the county commission earlier this year. Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson joined Foster in making the presentation to Dudney who was surrounded on stage by members of his family and close friends.

The resolution states "Whereas, it is appropriate that the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor should announce their pride, respect, and admiration for people who so ably serve DeKalb County."

"Whereas, those who volunteer their time and abilities to unselfishly serve our communities should be recognized for the positive work they do."

"Whereas, Mr. Neil Dudney and many volunteers helped establish, nurture, and expand the Smithville Jamboree into a nationally recognized music and crafts event. The two-day gathering is honored as one of the top tourist events in the country."

"Whereas, the Jamboree helps perpetuate our local mountain music and craft history. This event also helps finance many of DeKalb County charities, volunteer organizations, county functions, and churches from food booth sales and sales tax receipts."

"Whereas, DeKalb County's many attributes are presented to a National TV audience because of the Jamboree committees' and Mr. Dudney's years of work,"

"Now, therefore, be it resolved by the DeKalb County Commission that July 3rd, 2009 be officially named ‘Neil Dudney Day'"

"Be it further resolved that this resolution and a presentation be also given to Mr. Neil Dudney as part of the opening ceremony of the Smithville Jamboree on July 3rd, 2009."

"Be it further resolved that this resolution of appreciation be spread across the records of this meeting and preserved as a lasting part of our respect and pride in the Smithville Jamboree and Mr. Neil Dudney."

Due to his health, Dudney has had to step down as Coordinator of the Fiddler's Jamboree.

Ready for Some Pickin' and Grinnin'?

July 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Community Chorus Performing at 303 Building-

The 38th annual Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival is in progress downtown Smithville.

(Click link at the bottom of the page to see photos from the Friday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree)

The program officially kicked off at 9:00 a.m. this morning (Friday) but some shade tree musicians, who couldn't wait, got together to do a little pickin' and grinnin' on the courthouse lawn Thursday evening

But they weren't the only ones getting in on the fun. Over at the 303 building beside the Chamber of Commerce Office, the Community Chorus performed a stirring rendition of patriotic songs before a packed house, in celebration of the Independence holiday weekend.

Preliminaries are being held in the following categories:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (solos and duets); Flat Top Guitar; Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event; Youth Square Dancing, Old Time Fiddle Band; Autoharp; Gospel Singing (solos); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Gospel Singing (duets, trios, and quartets); and Mandolin. Youth Square Dancing will be a new event this year.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

Almost every street around the public square area will also be lined with craft booths/

WJLE is broadcasting the on-stage music LIVE.

Click here to see photos from the Friday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree
http://www.wjle.com/node/7877

Chamber Awards "Project Welcome Mat" Winners

July 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
 DeKalb Community Bank Awarded for Best Worded Sign
 First Free Will Baptist Church Awarded for Most Original Sign
Liberty State Bank Two Sided Sign Receives Award for Peoples Choice
Liberty State Bank Two Sided Sign Gets Peoples Choice Award

The Smithville- DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce honored the winners Wednesday in "Project Welcome Mat".

"Project Welcome Mat" awards three categories, "Most Original", "Best Worded", and "People's Choice"

DeKalb Community Bank received the "Best Worded" award for their sign "Fiddlers Food & More is What's in Store at the Fiddlers Jamboree July 3 & 4".

The "Most Original" award went to the First Free Will Baptist Church for their sign "God is a Smiling Cause He Loves Jamboreers Too, so Come on Down and Worship with Us & Sing & Fiddle Too"

Liberty State Bank won the "People's Choice Award" for their two-sided sign "Picking, Grinnin', Cloggin', Oh How Great! See this and more at Jamboree 38; and "Cloggin', Fiddlin, Bring Your Mate. It's Time to Celebate Jamboree 38"

Project Welcome Mat Honorable Mentions include Community Probation Services on Church Street for their sign and Bumper’s Drive-In with their “Grab your Fiddles and Do-Si-Do, Come on in and Say Hello” sign.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, expressed her thanks to all the businesses, churches, and DeKalb County Middle School for using their message signs to welcome Jamboree visitors. "It’s vitally important to make sure that our guests know how appreciated and important they are. We also are grateful for the five businesses that allowed the Chamber to set up Jamboree Information & Welcome Centers. They include Eastside Inn/A&B Market, Premier Realty of Center Hill Lake, DeKalb Ace Hardware, The Real Estate Team, & Center Hill Realty’s Silver Point location.

(DeKalb Community Bank – Winner of Best Worded Sign:
Pictured from left: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams; DeKalb Community Bank employees – Tammy Crook, Cynthia Agee, Jerry Tramel; DeKalb Community Bank Manager/County President Gentry Barnes; Chamber President Robin Driver)

(First Free Will Baptist Church – Winner of Most Original Sign:
Pictured from left: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, New pastor Bernard Houk, Church member Ann Hawkins, Chamber President Robin Driver)

(Liberty State Bank – Winner of People’s Choice Award: First Picture
Pictured from left: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams; Bank Employees Charlene Adcock & Linda Neal, Liberty State Bank Vice President Ronnie Goodwin; Bank Employee Nell Raymond, Chamber President Robin Driver)

(Liberty State Bank: Second Picture
Pictured from left: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams; Liberty State Bank V.P. Ronnie Goodwin; Linda Neal, Nell Raymond, Charlene Adcock, & Chamber President Robin Driver)

Governor Signs Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits

July 2, 2009

Governor Phil Bredesen recently signed into law legislation extending unemployment benefits with federal funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Tennessee Extended Benefits Program adds a maximum of 20 weeks of benefits for claimants who exhausted their emergency unemployment compensation benefits on or after February 28, 2009.

"The extended benefits provided by the Recovery Act will help eligible Tennesseans who have exhausted their emergency unemployment benefits," said James Neeley, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. "And since the federal government pays 100 percent of the costs to extend the benefits, the money will not be drawn from Tennessee's unemployment trust fund."

Unemployed Tennesseans who believe they may be eligible for state extended benefits will file online by accessing the department's Web site at http://tn.gov/labor-wfd/. The extended benefit application will be available online beginning July15, 2009. No applications will be available before July 15. Unemployment claimants who are receiving benefits as of July 15 will automatically transition to the extended benefits and will not have to reapply.

Those who meet the requirements to establish an extended benefits claim will receive a notice of monetary entitlement that will be mailed within 28 days advising claimants of the amount of benefits. Benefits will not be paid until eligibility is determined. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will contact individuals directly if additional information is required.

Individuals who do not have access to a personal computer may go to their nearest Tennessee Career Center where staff will assist claimants in accessing the Internet application. Paper copies of the applications may be requested; however mail-in claims will take longer to process.

State extended benefits differ from regular state unemployment and federal emergency unemployment in two major ways:

Claimants will be required to make a minimum of two tangible and documented work searches each week. Claimants will be required to keep a journal of these work searches that is subject to periodic inspection by the agency to verify compliance. An additional question will be added to extended benefit weekly certifications asking claimants if they have documented their work searches for the week.

The definition of suitable work has changed. If a claimant refuses a job where the weekly wage is greater than the weekly benefit amount of unemployment, the unemployment claim is stopped.

The extended benefit program ends on December 26, 2009.

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