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Local News Articles

Meet the DCHS Class of 2011

April 30, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
WJLE congratulates all members of the DCHS Class of 2011

Meet the DeKalb County High School Class of 2011

Click the following link to see a photo gallery featuring members of the class (some photos unavailable)

http://www.wjle.com/node/14383

WJLE congratulates all members of the Class of 2011 at DCHS

Graduation is set for Friday, May 20th at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field

Prom Night for DCHS Students

April 29, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Taking a Limo Ride to the Prom

DeKalb County High School students adorned their formal wear and posed for pictures with their dates, friends, and family as they excitedly awaited departure from the school for the prom Friday evening

This year's prom was held off campus at the Doubletree Heartland Ballroom in Murfreesboro

Stretch limousines picked up several groups for the ride to the dance.

Limo loaded with DCHS Students headed for the Prom from dwayne page on Vimeo.
The prom of course is one of the last big events of the school year prior to graduation on Friday, May 20th.

State legislators Pass E-Tracking Legislation To Fight Meth Production

April 29, 2011
State Senator Mae Beavers

The Tennessee Senate Thursday passed SB 1265, which calls for the implementation of a statewide, real-time electronic tracking system, called NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange), to monitor and block illegal purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), an ingredient used in methamphetamine production. The bill also calls for felony charges for manufacturing meth in front of children and increases penalties for meth-related offenses. The legislation is a compromise brokered by Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and members of the legislature.

"I commend Safety Commissioner Gibbons and the Tennessee Senate for supporting a compromise that will prevent methamphetamine production in Tennessee while maintaining consumer access to important cold and allergy medications," said state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill's sponsor. "E-tracking is the only solution that will stop illegal sales of pseudoephedrine products by providing a real-time, preventive system in every Tennessee pharmacy."

There is currently no mechanism in place in Tennessee to block illegal PSE sales in real time, as many pharmacies rely on handwritten paper logbooks to track purchases. As a result, criminals have learned to circumvent the current system. SB 1265 and its companion bill in the House (HB 1051) will provide a secure, interconnected electronic logbook that advises pharmacists when to refuse a sale based on an individual's purchase record elsewhere in the state and beyond its borders. In addition, the state's comptroller will conduct a thorough study of Tennessee's meth production, which will be released by January 1, 2013.

"Most importantly, electronic tracking preserves access to the trusted medicines that many Tennesseans rely on and trust for cold and allergy relief," continued Sen. Beavers.

E-tracking, which has been adopted by 13 states nationwide, will give local law enforcement officials a powerful investigative tool to track meth production across state lines. E-tracking allows law enforcement to find previously undiscovered meth labs and helps them identify meth cooks without costing taxpayers one penny.

The provision stiffening penalties against making meth in the presence of a child would take place on July 1, 2011. The bill would make the crime aggravated child endangerment which is punishable as a Class A felony if the child is eight years old or younger and a Class B felony if the child is over the age of eight.

Senator Beavers said the bill would make illegal "smurfing" or pharmacy shopping in order to obtain enough drugs to make meth and upon conviction in court, defendants would be required to pay fines that could go toward clean up of meth labs locally.

For a first conviction for such an offense, the offender would be subject to a $1,000 fine, and for a second or subsequent conviction the offender would be subject to a $2,000 fine. All proceeds from such fines would be used by the jurisdiction making the arrest for methamphetamine clean-up activities in that jurisdiction. Any person convicted of such offense would also be placed on the methamphetamine registry and would be prohibited from purchasing a nonexempt product for the seven years such person is required to be on the registry.

SB 1265/HB 1051 is supported by the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The NPLEx system would be fully integrated into Tennessee pharmacy systems by January 1, 2012.

DeKalb County to Participate in the Great American Cleanup

April 28, 2011
Jen Sherwood, Mike Foster, and Suzanne Williams

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Executive’s office would like to invite residents across the county to participate in the DeKalb County Clean Up campaign on Saturday, May 14th. This event will be held in conjunction with the Keep American Beautiful initiative going on across the country. This organization’s mission revolves around a core belief that beauty is a silent but powerful force that makes communities safer, healthier and more livable.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, would like to remind everyone that DeKalb County’s peak tourism season is about to begin, so now is a great time to start getting things spruced up for our coming visitors. According to Williams, “I think we are all aware of the value and importance of beautification in our communities to attract newcomers and tourists to our area and to maintain a stable and growing economy.”

To get a head start on clean up, dumpsters will be set up at highly visible and convenient locations a few days prior to the main event. Dumpster locations will be at the Dowelltown Community Center, Liberty Community Center, Alexandria City Parking Lot (behind square), and the Shopping Center parking lot (close to DeKalb Ace Hardware), 702 South Congress Blvd., Smithville.

County Executive Mike Foster says, “We would like for people to come out and help clean our communities and roadways. Folks are welcome to pick their own locations to clean, or we will be glad to assign a safe place for each person to participate.”

DeKalb Clean Up volunteers are asked to come to the Chamber office located at 301 North Public Square, Smithville on May 14th between 9 AM and 11 AM to sign-in and pick up the provided trash bags, rubber gloves, bottles of water, and hand sanitizer. For early sign-up, you can stop by the Chamber anytime during regular office hours before May 14th to pick up supplies. Or if stopping by is not convenient, call the Chamber office at 597-4163 to be counted as a DeKalb Clean Up volunteer -- just give your name and the general area where you will be working. Whether you’re beautifying your street, a highway, a park, ball field, a stream, or your own home, what a difference we can make through working together!

New Sligo Bridge Included in Governor's Transportation Program

April 28, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
November 2009 photo of Sligo bridge

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Transportation Commissioner John Schroer have released a three-year transportation program, which includes replacement of Sligo bridge in DeKalb County.

Sligo bridge, to be funded with passage of the state's 2011-12 budget, is among more than 152 individual projects in 59 Tennessee counties included in the three year program which provides $1.7 billion for highways and bridges. The proposal has been presented to the Tennessee General Assembly.

Transportation projects in TDOT's Region Two, which includes DeKalb County, will be funded through TDOT's state and federal aid program. TDOT officials have previously said that the estimated cost to replace Sligo bridge is $30 million dollars.

The new Sligo bridge is expected to be erected some sixty feet to the north of the existing bridge and plans are for traffic to continue on the old bridge while the new structure is under construction. Right of way acquisition with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and any other adjoining landowners must also be resolved.

State Senator Mae Beavers told WJLE Thursday that the Governor's announcement is great news for DeKalb County. "I'm delighted that Sligo bridge is included in the budget. I'm further delighted that this Commissioner of Transportation has committed to not using bonds, not borrowing money. I think that's important especially with the way the economy is right now. That was a big issue in some of our campaigns and I'm happy to announce that not one penny has been borrowed. All of the money thus far to fix the bridges and roads have come from the federal and state money. I'm delighted that Sligo bridge has been included and I think the people of DeKalb County are going to be happy that finally we're getting some relief on the Sligo bridge," said Senator Beavers.

"A quality transportation system is vital to the continued growth of the state's economy and increasing job opportunities for our residents," said Governor Haslam. "The commissioner and I believe this three-year program balances the needs of communities across the state and makes solid investments in Tennessee's infrastructure."

"Taking a multi-modal approach to transportation planning allows TDOT to be responsive to the citizens of this state, tailoring projects to provide the greatest benefits in both our urban and rural areas," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. "The department will address a number of needs through this three-year program, including congestion relief, improving access to communities, and the replacement or repair of dozens of aging bridges."

To view a complete list of projects and programs funded through the 2011-2014 three-year multimodal program visit http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/mediaroom/documents.htm.

Another Day of High Winds, Heavy Rains for DeKalb County

April 27, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

From high winds early in the morning to high water during the afternoon, DeKalb County was pounded yet again by another day of springtime storms Wednesday.

Dowelltown Home Surrounded by Rising Creek Waters from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Portions of DeKalb County were placed under a tornado warning at least three times during the day but no touchdowns were reported, although high winds from the storms blew down trees in various locations and caused some power outages. DeKalb County Schools were also closed for the day due to the storms.

Creek Overflows at Dowelltown from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Heavy downpours of rains caused street flooding in many areas and several creeks overflowed. High water forced the closure of a portion of the Old Nashville Highway at Dowelltown for a period of time. Rising creek waters also came dangerously close to a few homes, especially at Dowelltown and Alexandria, but apparently no one had to be evacuated.

Another Dowelltown Home Threatened by Flood Waters from dwayne page on Vimeo.
No widespread structure damage was reported across the county although the Industrial Machine Services facility in Alexandria will need some roof repairs due to the high winds.

Smithville Beer Board Grants Permit to Mercadito Chabelita

April 27, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Another Smithville business has been licensed to sell beer.

The Smithville Beer Board Monday night approved the application of Pablo Gonzalez-Rosales to sell beer at 408 East Broad Street known as Mercadito Chabelita after finding that the applicant met all criteria in accordance with city codes.

Members of the beer board voting in favor were Lloyd Black, Steve Hays, Annette Greek, and Cecil Burger. Farron Hendrix was absent.

A total of twelve city businesses are now licensed to sell beer in Smithville including Walmart, Food Lion, Dollar General Store, Mapco Express, Kwik-N-Ezy, Jewel's Market, Village Market, South Congress BP, West Broad BP, Eastside Citgo, El Mariachi, and now Mercadito Chabelita.

End of Course Assessments Begin Next Week

April 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Jonathan Fontanez, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7-12, reminds students and parents about the upcoming state assessments.

Jonathan Fontanez Speaking of Upcoming Testing from dwayne page on Vimeo.

"It is testing time at the secondary level in Tennessee once again and we are looking at beginning our testing season on May 3rd, 4th, & 5th with secondary assessments, end of course assessments in Algebra I, English X, and Biology I. The following week we will continue our testing in the areas of English IX, U.S. History, and Algebra II. The state has also rolled out a new assessment this year in 11th grade English, English III. We'll also have final exams toward the end of the month and then graduation on May 20th," said Fontanez.

"We just want to remind everyone to make the necessary preparations for these assessments. Be sure students that you get enough rest the night prior to these assessments and eat a good breakfast and come to school ready to do well on these end of course assessments", said Fontanez.

Hardcastle Seeks Parole in 2009 Aggravated Burglary and Robbery of Elderly Alexandria Woman

April 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Debralee Hardcastle

A 31 year old woman, serving an eight year sentence for the aggravated robbery and burglary of an elderly Alexandria woman, may learn within days if she will be granted an early release.

A parole hearing was held last Monday, April 18th for Debralee Mai Hardcastle at the White County Jail in Sparta where she is currently incarcerated.

Hardcastle was charged on August 23rd, 2009 in an early Sunday morning assault on her 95 year old landlord, Lilae Belle Gilliam, at the residence they shared at 309 West Main Street in Alexandria.

Hardcastle pleaded guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court on October 15th, 2010 to one count of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary. She received an eight year sentence to serve in the robbery case and three years to serve in the burglary. The two sentences are to run concurrently as one eight year term and concurrently with a Wilson County violation of probation against her.

She was given jail credit for time served from August 23rd, 2009 to October 15th, 2010.

Last Monday, Hardcastle appeared before parole hearing officer Don Fox asking that she be granted an early release. Hardcastle expressed remorse for her crimes adding that the actions were fueled by her past drug use. Two members of Hardcastle's family also spoke in her behalf along with her drug counselor.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Strong and Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins spoke in opposition to Hardcastle's release due to the seriousness of the crime, the victim's advanced age, and due to the close relationship Hardcastle once had with the victim as landlord and tenant.

At the conclusion of the hearing last Monday, Fox announced that he would recommend to members of the state parole board that Hardcastle not be granted parole. If at least a majority of the parole board members concur, then Hardcastle will have to wait two years before her next parole eligibility. A final decision is expected within a few days.

After her arrest on August 23rd, 2009, Chief Collins reported that Hardcastle had been charged with especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated assault in the attack on Mrs. Gilliam. Hardcastle was also charged at the time with theft under $500 in a separate case.

According to Chief Collins, Gilliam, who lived alone, rented a portion of her home to Hardcastle and another woman less than a month before this incident occurred. They apparently moved here from Wilson County. Both dwellings in the Gilliam home were under the same roof but had separate entrances.

Chief Collins said Hardcastle, in order to alter her appearance, dressed disguised as a man and then left her room around 3:15 a.m. He said she went outside, went around the house, and knocked on Mrs. Gilliam's side door. When Mrs. Gilliam answered the door, Hardcastle, holding a 14 inch knife, forced her way inside and demanded the elderly woman's medication. Mrs. Gilliam, who apparently did not recognize Hardcastle, resisted and tried to defend herself. Though she fought off the attack, Gilliam suffered lacerations and bruises from blows to her head and upper body.

After the assault, Hardcastle returned to her room, taking three bottles of medication from Gilliam's residence. Mrs. Gilliam, bleeding from the attack, dropped to her hands and knees, crawled to the foyer near the door and began screaming for help.

Apparently in an attempt to avoid arousing suspicion as to her involvement, Hardcastle removed her disguise, changed her clothes, cleaned up and went back to assist Mrs. Gilliam and called 911.

Gilliam was transported by DeKalb EMS to UMC Medical Center in Lebanon where she was treated and released.

Chief Collins said after interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence at the scene, Hardcastle was identified as a suspect.. She was picked up for questioning, but she refused to cooperate or give a statement. She was subsequently charged in the case.

The case was investigated by the Alexandria Police Department in cooperation with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Aldermen Postpone Work to Make City Pool ADA Compliant

April 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Steve White (right) speaking with Taylor Dobbs (center) and Tony Poss (left)

The Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool isn't as accessible for the physically challenged as it should be in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the city has until next spring to bring it into compliance.

In February, the aldermen voted to accept a bid from the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation of Nashville in the amount of $83,649 to replace the fiberglass coating of the pool and that work will be finished by May 10th but the renovation project didn't include making the pool more user friendly for the handicapped. City officials were apparently unaware at the time that the ADA requirements had to be met by next year.

During a special meeting on the issue Monday night, the aldermen considered proceeding with the renovations to accommodate the handicapped now. However, since no specific plans have yet been drawn up and facing the possibility that any such work would not be completed in time for the swimming season, the aldermen decided to delay the project until at least after the summer.

Alderman Steve White said while he understands the work will have to be delayed, he would have preferred to do it now. "I brought this up to the guys over there at the pool (Langley and Taylor) back whenever they first came in probably a couple of months ago. He was supposed to be getting with the owners of the company and the health department to let us know what requirements and specific things we would need like grade, jets, drain vents and all. Of course, they kind of dropped the ball and here we are two months later and we still haven't found out anything. This is one of the things that eventually we will have to do and that is to make it handicapped accessible. The zero entry is something that I've been wanting to do for quite a while. Its not going to be near as expensive if we (city) do the work. The main thing will be the labor expenses. If the city employees do it you're looking at using probably two to three guys for roughly four to five days. We'll have some electrical that will have to be moved more than likely. We really won't know until we get in there and tear the deck off. There are probably some drain lines that will have to be re-routed. You'll have some water lines that'll have to be re-routed. The drains will have to be spouted off each side of it instead of across it. The water lines could be elbowed down and put back in. The electrical could be run around. Our guys do concrete work all the time. We're not going to be looking at that much expense on the concrete. Probably five or six yards of concrete at the most. The other expense will be whatever the pool guy charges to plaster approximately three hundred more square feet of the pool area," said White

Taylor Dobbs of the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation met with the mayor and aldermen Monday night and reviewed some of the city's alternatives in making the pool renovations for the handicapped. "Its not so much that you want to just be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, you're actually wanting to create a way for anyone to access the pool regardless of physical condition. However it is important to note that since that pool is so large you'll have to have a secondary means of entry so even if you do the zero entry concept, which is going from a zero grade and gradually sloping into the pool, you're also going to have to have a secondary means of entering the pool and that can be a portable chair lift. Any pool over 300 feet has to have one so you'll be looking at incurring that expense as well. The two primary options are the zero entry and the portable chairlifts. If you decide to do the chairlift, you'll need two of them because the pool is so large. That would be your primary and secondary means of entry. If you just do the zero entry, you'll have to have a secondary entry, either the chairlift or a transfer wall which is kind of a hand hold you use to climb into the pool over a wall. I don't think that would be very easy for a handicapped person to use. Then there's the transfer system which is basically a staircase or steps that each have their own little rail that persons can use to bump themselves into the pool. That would be another option. You could possibly do just a concrete ramp," said Dobbs.

Alderman Aaron Meeks said whichever option the city should choose, plans will have to be drawn up and submitted to the state health department for approval and that will take time, delaying the start of the swimming season at the pool. "The first thing you've got to do is have plans drawn up by someone who is authorized or qualified to draw up the plans of what you want to do. You have to submit that to the state for approval. That could take thirty days and if it (plans) has to be changed it could take another thirty days. That could go on for who knows how long? It could be the beginning to mid June before they could have it ready for the pool to open. The swimming season is then missing. As I understand it, we don't have to do this (project) this year. We have until next year to have all this done. I would prefer to see some costs in writing and plans in writing drawn up about what we've talked about doing and whatever alternatives we might have along that line. That's what I would like to see," said Meeks

Mayor Taft Hendrixson suggested that the project be delayed for now. "The way it looks to me if we're going to do this, time wise the pool might not even be open this year if we go ahead and start this now. It might make sense to go ahead and open it (pool) this year and make plans to do that next year before the pool opens," said Mayor Hendrixson.

The aldermen voted to postpone the project until at least after the summer and ask the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation to further study the options and suggest the best alternative for making the city swimming pool ADA compliant.

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