Local News Articles

Original Staff Member Recalls Early Days of WJLE

April 18, 2014
Dwayne Page
Original staff member Elaine Rigsby visits WJLE Thursday
Elaine Rigsby, one of the original WJLE Staff members in 1964
Aaron Durham, the first manager of WJLE in 1964
Jim (Bud) Dearman, one of the early staff members at WJLE
Dale Williams, one of the early staff members at WJLE

An original staff member of WJLE paid a visit Thursday to share a few photographs and memories of her time working here when the station went on the air for the first time 50 years ago this month.

Elaine Rigsby worked as a secretary and announcer for WJLE from 1964 to 1966 and then returned in 1968 for a short stint as General Manager. "We signed on the air in April 1964 and I worked here at the time that we signed on the air. Aaron Durham was the General Manager. I was the secretary. I also did a thirty minute or a one hour show and then I helped do the news and things like that," said Rigsby.

At the time it signed on the air, WJLE was an AM station only. The FM station was added in the early 1970's.

Although she had no previous broadcasting experience, Rigsby found the work enjoyable. "I had never been involved with radio. I was working in Nashville at Ralston Purina and I found out they were opening a radio station. I just came out and applied for a secretary's job. He (Durham) said I want you to read a commercial for me. I read it and he called me later and told me I had the job. I really enjoyed it. We all did different things. Aaron sold the ads and we all taped commercials. We did anything we had to do. It was fun. We learned a lot. Mr. Durham was really smart and he had a great voice. His brother Hal was the voice of the Grand Ole Opry," she said. Aaron Durham later became owner and operator of WAKI in McMinnville.

Unlike most radio stations today that program one format, Rigsby said WJLE had block programming featuring a different kind of music with each dee jay show. "We played everything. Mine was easy listening. Tommy Miller (Jet Daddy) played rock. Aaron played all kinds. We had Gospel shows and of course we had the ministers on the air like you do now," she said.

In addition to Durham and Miller, Rigsby said some of the other announcers she worked with were Jim (Bud) Dearman, Dale Williams, Jack Atnip, and Ralph Vaughn.

As she reminisced, Rigsby recalled some happy and not so happy occasions which took place here back in those days. "An interesting thing, Dale Williams was one of the first announcers and he got married on the air in one of the rooms (studios)".

"I also remember When Dr. Vanhoosier passed away, Mr. Durham talked to the family and they agreed there were so many people who would want to come to the funeral that there wouldn't be room for them in the church so they did a LIVE feed of his service on the air".

"One year at a staff Christmas party, they had taken all the goofs we had made on commercials and played them back for laughs," she said.

Today, Rigsby works part time in the law office of Margie Rigsby Miller.

Girl Talk Tea Time” for Mothers and Daughters

April 17, 2014
Dr. April Martin

The latest statistics from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth reports that DeKalb County has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Upper Cumberland region and ranks 38th in the entire state.

The University Of Tennessee Extension Office Of DeKalb County along with the Health Department are joining forces to offer a program designed to decrease the teen pregnancy rate in our county. “Girl Talk Tea Time” is an educational program designed to enhance communication between moms and their pre-teen (9-12 years old) daughters about puberty, sexuality, family values, decision making and responsibility. Your daughter is changing daily from a girl to a young woman. There is nothing you can do to stop the progress of Mother Nature, but you can equip your daughter with the knowledge she needs for her journey into womanhood.

Instructors for the “Girl Talk Tea Time” program will be University of Tennessee Extension Agent Mrs. April Martin, Health Educator Mrs. Michel Deaver with the Health Department, and Miss Alejandra Cisneros Conohan with Healthier Beginnings.

The “Girl Talk Tea Time” program will be held at the DeKalb County Complex on April 28-29 from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. A light meal will be served each night in a “tea-like” setting. This class is limited to 12 mother/daughter pairs and pre-registration is required. Daughters must be between the ages of 9 – 12 years old.

The cost is $15.00 per mother/ daughter team. Please contact April Martin at 597-4945 for more information. The registration fee is due by Friday, April 25.

Police Department Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs

April 17, 2014

On April 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. the Smithville Police Department, the Dekalb County Health Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its eighth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your pills for disposal to the Smithville Police Department at 104 E Main St. (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.) The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. When those results are combined with what was collected in its seven previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 3.4 million pounds—more than 1,700 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

DEA is in the process of approving new regulations that implement the Safe and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” (that is, a patient or their family member or pet owner) of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances.

Willoughby Updates Board on Personnel

April 16, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby updated the Board of Education on recent personnel moves during Tuesday night's monthly meeting.

Those employed since last month include the following:

Barbara Hicks, custodian at Smithville Elementary School
Jeanne Roller, substitute school nurse
William Boman, part-time computer tech

Helen Faye Pollard, bus driver, resigned/retired
Dinah Cripps, bus driver, retiring at the end of the school year
Starr Ferrell, bus driver, retiring at the end of the school year
Sherree Macemon, teacher at Smithville Elementary System, retiring at the end of the school year
Louann Gum, School Psychologist, retiring at the end of the school year
Marie Hill, DCHS Librarian, retiring at the end of the school year
Bill Tanner, teacher at Northside Elementary School, retiring at the end of the school year
Gail Kirksey, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, retiring at the end of the school year
Margaret Nichols, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, retiring at the end of the school year
Laura Carter, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, retiring at the end of the school year.

Good Turnout for First Day of Early Voting

April 16, 2014
Dwayne Page
Frank Buck Votes Early on Wednesday

Eighty two persons voted in person Wednesday on the first day of early voting for the May 6th Primaries. Four persons voted by absentee.

"With absentees that came in earlier, a total of 122 people have cast votes in this election. That's 82 in person and 40 absentees", said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. "Of that number, only eight voted in the Republican Primary. A total of 114 voted in the Democratic Primary," he added.

Here's how the voting breaks down by district as of Wednesday, April 16th:

4 voters in district 1
13 voters in district 2
29 voters in district 3
25 voters in district 4
18 in district 5
11 in district 6
22 in district 7

Early voting hours on Thursday, April 17 will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the first floor of the courthouse.

DeKalb Firefighters Association Announces Political Endorsements

April 16, 2014
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Firefighters Association Announces Political Endorsements

The DeKalb Firefighter's Association is endorsing candidates for county mayor and the county commission in the local Democratic Primary on May 6th.

The endorsements are the result of candidate responses to surveys recently published by the Association. "A few weeks ago the DeKalb Firefighters’ Association mailed a public safety survey to all candidates running in the May Democratic Primary Election for the offices of County Mayor and County Commission. This survey contained questions pertaining to public safety in DeKalb County", according to the Association.

"Candidates had until March 15 to return their surveys". According to the Association, "All of the following candidates who returned their surveys have met approval for endorsement in the May 2014 Democratic Primary Election

County Mayor—Mike Foster, Tim Stribling

District 1-Bennett Armstrong, Elmer Ellis, Jr.

District 2-Clarence Trapp, Frank Thomas, Joe Johnson

District 3-Jack Barton, Jerry Scott

District 4-Anthony “Tony” Poss, David McDowell, Jonathan Norris,
Wayne Cantrell

District 5-Anita Puckett

District 6-Betty Atnip, Marshall Ferrell

District 7-David Agee

"Not all candidates submitted a response to our survey. This is not a reflection that they do not support public safety," according to the Association.

Community Leaders Honored at Chamber Banquet

April 16, 2014
Dwayne Page
Jen Sherwood with Darrell, Beth, and Eli Gill
Jen Sherwood and Iva Del Randolph

The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni awards were honored Tuesday night during the Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet at the DeKalb County Complex.

Darrell and Beth Gill received the Community Leaders of the Year Award and Iva Del Randolph was presented the Legacy Award. Meanwhile, the Chamber presented Golden Milestone Awards to WJLE Radio and Cantrell's the home of Fluty. Each business is marking 50 years of service to the community.

The Community Leader of the Year award goes to someone who has made a significant and positive impact on the county, specifically during 2013 and in a capacity beyond commitment to his or her profession. "Darrell and Beth Gill worked tirelessly in youth athletics, particularly in both the youth football league and DCHS football", said Jen Sherwood, director of the Leadership DeKalb program.

The Legacy Award goes to the person or persons who have made a significant and positive impact on DeKalb County over a considerable period of time and in multiple or lasting ways. "Iva Del has managed the Relay for Life in DeKalb County for the American Cancer Society for seventeen years. She is also a retired school teacher. Iva Del is a beloved person in our community and we wanted to recognize her for leadership and service, not just for Relay for Life, but for our community to bring us together and to celebrate," said Sherwood.

The guest speaker was Susan Whitaker, Commissioner of the Tourist Development for the state, who spoke about the economic impact tourism has in Tennessee. Whitaker, a Chicago native, is a direct descendent of Tennessee's first Governor, John Sevier.

Meanwhile, the retiring members of the Chamber board were recognized including Tony Luna of the Real Estate Team, Lori Manns of Manns Master Mechanics, Kathy Hendrixson of Justin Potter Library, Valerie House, Leadership Alumni, and Kathy McGlamery, past President.

New members are Elaine Swicker, employee of Smithville Computer Repair, Joan Barrett of Premier Realty at Center Hill Lake, LLC, Dwayne Cornelius, pastor of the New Life United Pentecostal Church and co-owner of DeKalb Depot, Inc., Gail Looper, retired manager of the Gallery and Exhibitions programs at the Appalachian Center for Crafts, and Jason Murphy, owner of Optimus Pest Solutions and a Smithville Alderman.

The 2014 officers are President Julia Cantrell, Vice President Jeff Crips, Secretary Joan Barrett, and Treasurer Susan Young. Janna Gillard is the Past President.

Federal Mogul Announces Layoffs

April 16, 2014

Federal-Mogul has announced that 50 workers at its Smithville location will soon be without employment, as the company moves forward with the second round of layoffs in two years in Smithville.

According to information released by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, on March 21, Federal-Mogul notified the department that 50 employees would be laid off beginning March 14 through April 30.

The employees are not represented by a collective bargaining agreement, the statement says.

In 2012, the Smithville location was shaken with the announcement of a large layoff of nearly 200 employees, with the majority of those positions being sent to Mexico, in what the company called an effort to reduce costs.

Federal-Mogul Corporation is a $6.8 billion global supplier of products to manufacturers of automotive, light commercial, heavy-duty and off-highway vehicles, as well as in power generation, aerospace, marine, rail and industrial.

TCAP Testing to Begin

April 15, 2014
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students will be taking the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, Achievement Tests starting April 29.

Students in grades 3-8 take the Achievement Test, and high school students take End of Course exams for various subjects. In addition DeKalb County will administer the Achievement Test to students in Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 in the areas of reading/language arts, and math. TCAP is a set of statewide assessments given in Tennessee to measure students' skills and progress.

The Achievement Test is a timed, multiple choice assessment that measures skills in Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. "At present all of our schools are gearing up for our End of Year assessments. TCAP counts 20% toward the students final grade and End of Course for our high school students will count 25% of their final grade in that course. TCAP testing will continue through May 2 and End of Course will be May 5-9. Most of our teachers are already reviewing their students for these assessments," said Lisa Cripps, Secondary Supervisor of Instruction for DeKalb County Schools.

"April 29 is the first day of testing, which will be our Reading/Language Arts test and on April 30 we will test math. May 1 will be Science and May 2 will finish testing with social studies. That is the 3-8 grade schedule. For kindergarten, first and second grade, the main focus of their testing will be the Reading/ Language Arts, and Math. The high school will take the following test on these days: May 5th Algebra I, and English III, May 6th Algebra II and English I, May 7th English II and US History, and May 8th Biology and Chemistry", said Cripps

Cripps urges parents to make sure their children are well rested and get to school on time for the testing. "With all of these important assessments at hand, I'd like to encourage each student to get a good night's sleep and be on time each day for testing. Our school nutrition department will be providing free breakfast for each day of testing other than on the makeup days," she said.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby also asks parents to try and avoid any conflicts that would keep your children out of school this week. "During this week that we are giving TCAP tests, we would ask that parents don't schedule any kind of appointments, such as dental visits. Please reschedule those to another time. Because if you come to school at 9:00 a.m. and want to check your child out of school, if the test is underway we cannot go in and disturb that classroom. We have to monitor that classroom and make sure that everyone in that classroom has a great opportunity to do well on the test," said Willoughby.

Norrod Indicted on Child Sex Charges

April 15, 2014
Dwayne Page
Jared Norrod

A 38 year old McMinnville man has been indicted on child sex charges.

Jared Norrod was named in a sealed indictment last week by the DeKalb County Grand Jury charging him with two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, four counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and incest.

Norrod is charged with having sexual contact with two juveniles between the ages of 13 and 18, one of them being a relative, taking pictures of juveniles engaging in sexual activity, having such photographs in his possession, and uploading them to a computer.

Norrod is under a $410,000 bond.


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