Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Falls to 7.1% in November

December 27, 2013
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's Unemployment rate for November was 7.1%, down from 8.1% in October. The rate for November 2012 was also 7.1%.

The local labor force for November 2013 was 9,560. A total of 8,880 were employed and 680 were without work.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for November was fifth lowest in the Upper Cumberland Region. Here's how the fourteen counties ranked from highest to lowest:

Pickett County: 12%
Van Buren County: 10%
Clay County: 10%
White County: 9.9%
Jackson County: 9.2%
Cumberland County: 8.4%
Overton County: 8.3%
Fentress County: 8.1%
Warren County: 7.9%
DeKalb County: 7.1%
Macon County: 6.6%
Putnam County: 6.6%
Smith County: 6.1%
Cannon County: 5.8%

County unemployment rates for November show the rate increased in one county, decreased in 93, and remained the same in one county.

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.8 percent, down from 6.7 percent in October. Knox County’s November rate was 5.9 percent, down from 6.7 percent the previous month. Hamilton County was down from 8.0 to 7.1 percent. Shelby County was 9.4 percent, down from 10.1 percent in October.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for November is 8.1 percent, which is four tenths of one percentage point lower than the October revised rate. The national unemployment rate for November 2013 was 7.0 percent, down three tenths of one percentage point from October.

2013 Fatal Crashes in DeKalb County Double Last Year's Count

December 26, 2013
Dwayne Page
In August Lisa Fineis died in a pickup truck crash on Hwy 70 near Dowelltown

The number of DeKalb County fatal crashes in 2013 has doubled from 2012.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that six persons have lost their lives in DeKalb County wrecks this year compared to three last year.

The first one occurred in May when 14 year old Jacob Billings died in a bicycle accident with two other vehicles on the Casey's Cove Road.

In June, 29 year old Joshua Jernigan of Mount Juliet was killed when his motorcycle crashed into a guardrail on Dale Ridge Road (Highway 96)

In July, 69 year old Haskel Junior Hawkins of Smithville died in a one car crash on Highway 146 (Short Mountain Highway) near Short Mountain Mini-Storage.

In August, 53 year old Lisa Fineis of Alexandria lost her life in a pickup truck accident on Highway 70 between Dowelltown and Liberty.

In September, 61 year old Michael J. Dean of Smithville was found dead in a one vehicle wreck on Four Seasons Road.

In December, 82 year old Mildred Spencer of the Temperance Hall area died two days after being involved in a two car crash at the intersection of Highway 53 and New Hope Road in Alexandria.

Others from DeKalb County who died in traffic crashes outside DeKalb County in 2013 include 62 year old Lebanon Dentist Dr. Steven Thaxton who was killed in a September motorcycle accident in Lebanon; 38 year Nathan Estes who died in a September pickup truck crash on Highway 264 (Temperance Hall Road) just across the county line in Smith County; A head-on crash on Highway 53 near the DeKalb line in Smith County claimed the life of 68 year old Wanda Williams of Brush Creek in October; 24 year old Joshua Maston Owens of Alexandria died in an October single vehicle traffic accident in Murfreesboro; and 65 year old Linda Summers of Smithville lost her life in a November two vehicle accident in Rockwood.

Although it was apparently not recorded as a traffic fatality, another woman, 40 year old Nancy Randolph of Putnam County died in May after driving her Chevy Blazer down a boat ramp and into the lake at Johnson Chapel. Two others with her escaped safely.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be out in force during the Christmas and New Year Holidays to ensure travelers reach their destination safely. State Troopers will focus their attention on impaired driving and seat belt usage.

The holiday season is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to an increase in impaired driving

Designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two of the several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Other important tips include:

•Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;

•If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;

•Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to the Tennessee Highway Patrol by dialing *THP;

•Wearing your seat belt or using protective gear on your motorcycle is your best defense against an impaired driver;

•And remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

The Smithville Police Department will conduct sobriety checkpoints on Friday, December 27 near the intersection of Highway 56 south and East Broad Street. Saturation patrols will also be held throughout the city that day.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will be conducting saturated patrols and sobriety checkpoints over the holidays targeting drunk drivers. Sheriff Patrick Ray said these checkpoints and patrols will occur at various locations across the county now through January 1. Some will be specifically conducted in the Alexandria area in conjunction with the Alexandria Police Department

Two Nabbed in Alexandria Vending Machine Vandalism and Thefts

December 26, 2013
Dwayne Page
Killian Ellis
Martha Silcox

Two people from Alexandria have been arrested for allegedly vandalizing and taking money from drink machines.

20 year old Killian Ellis and 36 year old Martha Silcox are each charged with four counts of vandalism and four counts of theft under $500 . They were arrested Monday.

According to Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins, the arrests are the result of an investigation into several break ins to drink machines, in which money was stolen, that have occurred over the past couple of months .

Bond for Ellis and Silcox is $30,000 each and they are due for an appearance in General Sessions Court on January 16.

Chief Collins said the case was investigated by Sergeant Chris Russell and DeKalb County Sheriff' Department Detectives.

"Love Lights a Tree" for the American Cancer Society

December 25, 2013
Dwayne Page
Love Lights a Tree
Love Lights a Tree "In Honor"
Love Lights a Tree "In Memory"
Love Lights a Tree "In Memory"

The American Cancer Society invites you to make a special donation in honor or in memory of a loved one during the holiday season through "Love Lights a Tree". A special memory board has been erected on the south side of the courthouse that lists the names of loved ones.

The names of Honorees are as follows:

Sandra Wall, Margie Smith, Mindy Gilbert, Doyle Evans, Gail Bailiff, Chizuko Howard, Earl D. France, Gail Taylor, Tracie Webb Baker, Willie Turner, Jo D. Johnson, Walter Johnson, Faye Iverlette, Patsy Judkins, Susan Young, Faye James, Georgie Willoughby, Linda Judkins, Carolyn Sheets, Lisa Anderson, Ralph Curtis, Radley Hendrixson, and Jeffrey Ponder.

Those in memory are as follows:

Jerry James Owens, T.J. White, Loyd Redmon, Ruby Cook, and Pam Baker Cook, Amy Lynn Miller, Earl Judkins, Marie Judkins, Len Judkins, Clyde Randolph, Mary Randolph, Ruth Elder, Jordan Steinbach, Esker Harrison, Eva Harrison, Green Wall, Maud Wall, Mai Akin, John D. Akin, Bob Cook, Buddy Cook, Tony Durso, Willie Foutch, Byron Foutch, Lillie and Grady Judkins, Clarence and Jewell Phillips, Donna Phillips, Margaret and G.D. Hendrixson, Sandra Willoughby, Donald Smith, Eva Crook, Grady Crook, Virgil Smith, Nan Smith, Brownie Haley, Lucille Cook Harris, Ida Malone, Brackett Luna, Nadine Luna, Leonard Freeman, Sr., Margaret Freeman, Buddy Freeman, Kenneth D. Howard, Haskel Elby Howard, T.C. McMillen, Royce T. Givens, Jr., Billy J. France, James Alvie France, Zona Selby, Cora Elizabeth Taylor, Ulys Brent Taylor, Harvey Colwell, Jr., Will Allen Cathcart, Martha Cathcart, Kevin Sanders, Wilma Cathey, Carl Reynolds, Thadeuss Anderson, Bryan T. Walker, Casaundra R. Maple, Helen Vance, Troy J. Bain, Rebecca Gingerich, Ella Mae Harness, Jennifer Kincaid, William Doyle Thomason, Jo Ann Tramel, Bailey Carr, Ethel Carr, Darrell Carr, Regena Carr Olivo, Frances Cantrell, Johnny Cantrell, Jodie Cantrell, Clifton Cantrell, Angie Allen, Edward Hobson, H.R. Rosson, J.W. Pack, James Goodwin, Marie Young, Robert Joines, Johnnie Joines, Marvin Hutson, Sarah L. Hutson, Howard Gunter, Phillip Gunter, Vada Pauline Herndon, Mallow Herndon, H.C. Duke, Lynn Duke, Kathy Foster, Tracy Cassity, Glen Smith, Linnie Johnson, Jessie Paul Johnson, Arlo Cook, Arzie Usrey, Chris Stanley, Homer Ellis, Harold M. Adcock, Charles "Chuck" McCracken, David Ray Davenport, Vanice King Davenport, Vera Bell Davenport, Alfred Love, Jack Tubb, J.C. Oakley, George Durham, Ralph Keaton, David Randolph, Luther and Pearl Fuson, Violet Fuson, Peggy and John Palmer, Jr., Eulalia Cobb Vaughn, Betty Nixon Vickers, Leonard Nixon, Howard Stanley, Everett Redmon, Odell Redmon, Albert Taylor, Winnie Taylor, Jeremy Caldwell, Joshua Caldwell, Mary L. Collins, Rebecca Beason, Cecil Adkins, Geraldine Fish, Dr. Jerry Puckett, Joe Ronald Frazier, John Larry Frazier, Billie Ann Malone Frazier, Woodrow W. Frazier.

The names are in "honor of" and in "memory of" for a donation of five-dollars per name. Forms may be obtained at the local banks. For more information, contact Barbara Ashford at 417-6563, Ivadell Randolph at 597-5296, Lynda Luna at 597-5837, Renee Cantrell at 597-4551, Melanie Judkins at 597-1132, or Patsy Judkins at 597-4213.

Woman Found in Woods with Four Year old Son Charged with Child Neglect and Abuse

December 25, 2013
Dwayne Page
 Elizabeth Rochelle Bradshaw

A Smithville woman who tried to flee on foot from law enforcement officers early Christmas eve morning, accompanied by her children, is now facing charges of child abuse and neglect for putting the youngsters lives at risk in the cold night air.

30 year old Elizabeth Rochelle Bradshaw of Halls Hollow Road is under a $20,000 bond on two counts of child abuse and neglect. She was already wanted for violation of probation and is under a $250 cash bond for that offense. Bradshaw will be in court on January 9.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE Tuesday morning that Bradshaw grabbed her children, a seven year old girl and a four year old boy, and fled into the woods after learning that deputies were on their way to investigate a domestic incident between Bradshaw and the father of the children, Royce Dwayne McCrary, who were at the home of the children's grandmother on Halls Hollow Road in the Holmes Creek area.

"We got a call at 1:30 a.m. to go to Halls Hollow Road for a domestic," said Sheriff Ray. " After the deputies arrived, they were told by family members that Bradshaw had run into the woods with her two young children. As the deputies started their search on foot, they found the seven year old child hiding behind a tree. The child said that when Bradshaw saw head lights of patrol cars coming into the driveway, she took off running with the four year old boy in her arms, leaving her (older child) behind. Bradshaw took the younger child and ran up a steep and heavily wooded hillside," he said. The older child was taken back to her grandmother's home nearby.

Sheriff Ray said members of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad were then called upon to assist in the ground search for Bradshaw and the younger child. An aerial search was also conducted by officials of the Tennessee Highway Patrol who brought in a helicopter.

Shortly after daybreak, Bradshaw and the child were spotted. "At around 7:30 a.m. the helicopter spotted Bradshaw and the small child sitting down on a wooded hillside. Deputies and rescue squad members retrieved the child from Bradshaw and took her into custody. When they were brought down off the hillside and out of the woods, Bradshaw and the child were treated by DeKalb EMS. Bradshaw claimed to have injured her knee," said Sheriff Ray. While Bradshaw and the child were wearing coats (the child had on a hoodie), the sheriff said authorities were concerned about their prolonged exposure to the 27 degree weather. Both Bradshaw and the boy were taken by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital for further treatment.

Sheriff Ray said child protective services were contacted and took custody of both children.

The children's father, McCrary, was arrested by the sheriff's department. He has two violation of probation warrants against him. He is being held without bond. His address is Needles Court, Nashville.

Postal Service Proposes Plan to Reduce Window Hours at Liberty Post Office

December 24, 2013
Dwayne Page
Liberty Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service is looking to reduce hours of operation at the Liberty Post Office.

The proposal is to reduce the window hours from eight hours to six hours a day Monday through Friday. Saturday hours would remain the same.

A community meeting is set for Wednesday, January 29 at noon to discuss the proposals with the public at the Liberty Post Office. "Nationwide the Postal Service is realigning retail window hours at our rural post offices and it's based on customer usage. One of those offices on the list is the Liberty Post Office. We will have a meeting there on January 29 at noon to discuss with residents who are served by that office what their options are," said David Walton, a spokesman for the Tennessee District of the U.S. Postal Service in an interview with WJLE

Liberty Postal customers can expect to receive a notification letter soon along with a survey. "We ask that they complete that survey and send it back to us prior to the meeting so we can share the results at the community meeting. The survey gives customers four options. They can vote to keep their post office open. The other three options would involve closing the office. One would be to establish a village post office in the community. Another would be to close that post office and be served by another nearby post office. The fourth option would be to close the post office and get retail services from their carrier. The plan for this particular office would be to reduce it to a six hour office so we would be cutting two hours. Of course that's Monday through Friday, the Saturday hours would remain the same. At the public meeting, we will share the results of that survey. We'll share how many people turned in their surveys and what the results were," said Walton.

The Postal service will post a final decision a few days after the community meeting is held.

Almost a year ago, the window service hours at the Alexandria Post Office were reduced from eight to six hours each weekday with no change on Saturdays. Alexandria carriers began working out of the Watertown Post Office in November, 2012.

One Found Dead in Christmas Eve Fire (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

December 24, 2013
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters on Scene of Fatal Mobile Home Fire (WJLE)
Mobile Home Fire Claims One Life (WJLE)
County firefighters working to put out the blaze (WJLE)
Autopsy being performed on body of man found at 218 Poplar Place

A Christmas eve fire has claimed a life.

A body was found inside a burned out mobile home which caught fire early this morning (Tuesday) at 218 Poplar Place in Lakeview Mountain Estates off Cookeville Highway.

The identity of the man has not been released. An autopsy is being performed.

911 received the call at 1:56 a.m. of a structure fire on Poplar Place with possibly someone still inside the home.

Members of the Main Station, Short Mountain Highway, and Cookeville Highway Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the tanker and equipment truck and manpower from other county fire stations. DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

The mobile home was apparently fully involved in flames by the time firefighters were alerted. The trailer was gutted by the fire and could not be saved.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined but is under investigation by the Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Section.


DeKalb Approved for Used Motor Oil Collection Grant

December 23, 2013
Dwayne Page
Used Motor Oil Collection Point at HWY 56 North Convenience Center

DeKalb County has received approval for a $9,200 Used Motor Oil Collection Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Solid Waste Management.

Funds from the grant will be used to acquire tanks, canopies, pads, and absorbents.

DeKalb is among twenty seven counties or cities to receive the grants totaling $444,300 to establish, upgrade or replace existing equipment or establish a new collection center.

County Mayor Mike Foster said funds from the grant will be used to establish a used oil collection point at one and possibly two county garbage collection convenience sites. The landfill and five of the convenience sites already have places to collect used oil. Some also have places to collect used anti-freeze.

“Educating citizens on the proper disposal of used motor oil can have a direct impact on the water quality of Tennessee’s lakes, streams and groundwater,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said.

Tennesseans who change their own motor oil generate more than one million gallons of used oil each year, which can pollute soil and water and interfere with the operation of sewer systems when not properly disposed. The General Assembly authorized the Used Oil Collection Act of 1993 to assist local communities in collecting used oil and reducing its negative effects on the environment. Tennessee’s Solid Waste Management Act requires counties to have at least one place in the county where used oil can be properly disposed. Used oil collection grants are funded by a two cent deposit on every quart of oil purchased in the state.

Used Motor Oil Collection Grants assist local governments in improving and expanding used oil infrastructure for the collection of used oil from do-it-yourselfers. Equipment purchased through the Used Motor Oil Collection Grants may include containers, used oil heaters, containment structures, shelter covers and other items. Tennessee counties, cities, solid waste authorities and counties having a metropolitan form of government are eligible for funding consideration.

The priorities for receiving a grant include upgrading or replacing equipment to bring used oil collection centers up to the standards of the Used Oil Collection and Recycling Grant Program requirements. An additional priority is the establishment of a new do-it-yourself used oil collection center.

Smithville Police Department Treats Needy Families to Christmas Party

December 21, 2013
Dwayne Page
Santa and Mrs Claus present gifts to children at Christmas party

Many needy families were treated to a dinner, entertainment, and gifts at the second annual Cops for Kids Christmas party held Friday night at the First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center.

The party, sponsored by the Smithville Police Department and organized by records clerk Beth Adcock, is held each year by invitation only for families who are experiencing a difficult time around the holidays due to illness, loss of income, or other circumstances.

The New Life United Pentecostal Church Choir performed during the party and church pastor Dwayne Cornelius read passages of scripture from the Bible about the birth of Christ.

Santa, Mrs. Claus, and three of his elves showed up to hand out presents to the delight of everyone, especially the children.

Three Named in Sealed indictment Arrested for Kidnapping and Rape

December 20, 2013
Dwayne Page
Savanah Arnold
Abigail Vogel
Johnny Devault
Stacy Dawn Lannom

Three of four people named in Grand Jury sealed indictments have been arrested for allegedly kidnapping and raping a woman they thought stole money and suboxone strips from them.

Savanah Arnold, Abigail Vogel, Johnny Devault and another woman (not yet arrested) are co-indicted on charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape, and theft under $500.

According to Smithville Police, the four defendants held the victim against her will at Arnold's home on October 24. Arnold and the other woman then strip searched the victim, penetrated her body cavity looking for the money or drugs, and stole her clothes. The next day, October 25, Arnold allegedly dressed in the victim's clothes, went to a local industry where the victim was employed and tried unsuccessfully to pick up the victim's paycheck.

The victim came to the police department the day after the assault, October 25 to report the kidnapping, rape, and theft.

Lieutenant Matt Holmes related the story to WJLE on Wednesday, December 18 at the police department. "The victim said that on October 24, she went to Savanah Arnold's house to watch the kids of some friends. While there, Arnold, Vogel, Devault, and the other woman showed up allegedly intoxicated on drugs and accused her of stealing from Arnold $575 and 60 suboxone strips. The victim denied it.

According to Lieutenant Holmes, Arnold and the other woman took the victim to a back room and strip searched her. "One of the suspects placed a trash bag on her hand and penetrated the victim, searching for the money or drugs. She did not find anything. The victim resisted the assault and asked if she could leave. They refused to let her leave and took her cell phone so she couldn't call anyone. Johnny Devault allegedly threatened to assault the victim if she continued to resist. They stole the victim's clothes, placed her in a car half dressed, drove off and then dumped her out on the side of the road," he said.

The next day, October 25 Arnold dressed in the victim's clothes and went to the victim's place of employment. She entered the industry, walked up to the counter wearing the victim's ID and asked for her paycheck, representing herself as the victim. An industry official noticed that Arnold was not the victim and asked why she was there. Arnold then changed her story stating falsely that she was there to pick up the paycheck for the victim who was in a Nashville hospital. When the industry official told her the victim would have to come and get the check herself, Arnold left. The industry later received a call from a female, falsely identifying herself as the victim, saying it was okay for them to give her paycheck to whoever came to pick it up.

Industry officials alerted Smithville Police to a possible identity theft. Lieutenant Holmes and Officer James Cornelius responded to the call. Arnold was taken into custody at the industry and charged with identify theft.

WJLE has obtained a copy of the indictment concerning the kidnapping, rape, and theft which alleges that Arnold, Vogel, Devault, and the other woman (not yet arrested) unlawfully and knowingly did confine the victim on October 24, so as to interfere substantially with her liberty, with intent to terrorize the victim or another, constituting the offense of Aggravated Kidnapping.

Count two of the indictment alleges that Arnold and the other woman did accomplish sexual penetration, unlawfully, while being aided or abetted by another person and through the use of force or coercion.

The third count of the indictment alleges that Arnold knowingly did obtain or exercise control over certain property, to wit: $20 and clothing being under the value of $500, the property of the victim, constituting the offense of theft.

Meanwhile, in a separate case Smithville Police have charged a Lebanon woman with theft over $10,000 for allegedly using the credit card of a local business to pay her personal bills over a ten month period from January to November, 2013.

42 year old Stacy Dawn Lannom, who works for a Watertown accounting firm, is under a $10,000 bond and she will be in court January 9.

21 year old Nathan Theodore Harmon is charged with burglary and theft over $500. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court January 9.

Chief Randy Caplinger reports that on November 25, Harmon and a juvenile allegedly broke into a building on South College Street through a window and took a large tool box and air conditioning duct work valued at $550. The stolen items were sold for recycling.

The juvenile will appear in juvenile court on a petition for committing a delinquent act.

40 year old Chrissy Evans was cited for shoplifting at Walmart on December 1. Chief Caplinger said a store employee told police that Evans was suspected of putting items in her purse. After she paid for some things, Evans was stopped. She produced several items she had not paid for in the amount of $149.50.

25 year old Joshua Ledale is cited for possession of schedule IV and VI drugs. He will be in court on January 14. Chief Caplinger said while responding to a fight call on December 3, an officer made contact with Ledale. The officer found a small bag of a green leafy substance that Ledale had thrown on the ground. After requesting and receiving consent to search, the officer also found a small plastic wrapper on Ledale's person which contained a pill believed to be Xanax.

38 year old James Scott Hall is cited for speeding and charged with a second offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on January 8. Chief Caplinger said Hall was operating a motor vehicle when he was stopped for speeding. He could only produce an ID. A computer check revealed his license were revoked for a DUI. Hall was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

32 year old Rhonda Williams is cited for shoplifting at the Dollar General Store on December 9. Chief Caplinger said an officer was dispatched to the store in reference to a shoplifter. The store manager told the officer that Williams was seen putting items in her purse. She was stopped outside the store where she produced the stolen items from her purse.

37 year old Lynda Neville is cited for theft of merchandise at Walmart. Chief Caplinger said that on December 11 an officer was informed by a loss prevention employee that Neville had been seen placing items in her purse. The officer made contact with Neville, who allegedly admitted to taking several items from the store.

33 year old Jayme Denise Hendrixson is cited for shoplifting at Walmart. She will be in court on January 15. Chief Caplinger said Hendrixson was seen allegedly concealing items from the store in her shirt sleeves, pockets, and purse. Items from the store were found in her jacket.


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