Local News Articles

Two Injured in Separate Sunday Wrecks

August 19, 2013
Dwayne Page
Trooper Bobby Johnson Inspects Motorcycle which Crashed on Dale Ridge Road
Lacie Nichole Hamilton Injured in Wreck on Short Mountain Highway

A 28 year old Lavergne man was airlifted after he lost control of his motorcycle and wrecked on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) Sunday afternoon.

Central dispatch received the call at 5:41 p.m.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Waymon Rasheed Tharpe was traveling south on a 1989 Suzuki when he failed to negotiate a curve, went off the highway, struck a culvert and crashed. Tharpe, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike. He had apparently been traveling with a group of other motorcycle riders.

Tharpe was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and airlifted from there by helicopter ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and members of the Liberty Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Meanwhile in a separate crash earlier in the day, one woman was injured in a car wreck on Short Mountain Highway.

Central dispatch received the call at 12:13 p.m.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 28 year old Lacie Nichole Hamilton of Smithville was north on Highway 146 in a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am when she failed to negotiate a curve, crossed the center line of the highway, went off the left side of the road, and struck a utility pole. A small child, in the car with Hamilton, was not hurt. Hamilton was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene along with the Blue Springs Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

Man in Wreck Charged with DUI

August 18, 2013
Dwayne Page
Man in Wreck Charged with DUI

A 56 year old Smithville man was charged with driving under influence after he wrecked his car in the front yard of a residence at 709 Dry Creek Road Saturday night.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that Forrest "Frosty" Byrd was driving west on Dry Creek Road in a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am when the car went off the left side of the street, hit a mail box, and struck a culvert. The car came to a stop in the yard of a residence.

Byrd was not injured.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene.

Clint Hall is New Administrator at NHC Smithville

August 16, 2013
Clint Hall is New Administrator at NHC Smithville

Clint Hall was recently named the new administrator at NHC HealthCare Smithville. Hall takes over for Jim Finley, who transferred to NHC HealthCare Glasgow in Glasgow, KY.

NHC Smithville recently achieved the coveted NHC 5-Star Award for Excellence for the 12th consecutive year. NHC Smithville has also consistently been a leader in the areas of quality patient care and high customer satisfaction. NHC Smithville employs over 120 partners with an overall budget that exceeds $7 million. The dedicated partners of NHC Smithville cared for over 230 admissions in the past 12 months with over 70% returning back to the community.

“I am truly honored to be able to lead a wonderful healthcare center like NHC Smithville,” Clint Hall said. “The dedicated partners of NHC Smithville are a great asset and I am excited to be a part of the team and to be a part of Dekalb County. NHC Smithville has a tradition of providing quality patient care with high customer satisfaction, and I look forward to continuing that practice.”

Hall previously served as the Administrator of NHC HealthCare Scott in Lawrenceburg, TN. Hall attended the Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN and later received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the George Washington University and his Master of Business Administration in Management from Middle Tennessee State University. Hall has worked for NHC since 2009 and is a graduate of NHC’s Administrator-in-Training program. Prior to NHC, Hall served as a Research Analyst for the Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee and as a political consultant for various officeholders in Middle Tennessee. Hall and his wife, Loree, are originally from Murfreesboro, TN.

NHC Smithville offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care and accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, workers compensation, managed care, and private funds. The inpatient healthcare center offers skilled nursing and rehabilitation services to adults of all ages on a short-term and continuing care basis. NHC Smithville’s outpatient clinic offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy services to adults of all ages. For more information about NHC Smithville, visit www.nhcsmithville.com or call (615) 597-4284.

Tractor Trailer Overturns, Driver Escapes Serious Injury

August 15, 2013
Dwayne Page
Tractor Trailer Overturns, Driver Escapes Serious Injury
Truck Driver from Oak Ridge Receives Minor Injuries in Wreck

A 42 year old truck driver from Oak Ridge lost control of his tractor trailer rig and overturned this morning (Thursday) on the Keltonburg Road, near the intersection with Students Home Road.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Olen Haisten, III was traveling west on Keltonburg Road when the truck dropped off the right shoulder. Haisten overcorrected and came back across the highway. The truck struck a ditch and flipped over on its side in a yard.

Haisten was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS but he refused transport to the hospital. He was driving for the H.T. Hackney Company of Lenoir City which delivers goods to grocery stores. Haisten's truck had no cargo on board at the time of the accident.

A DeKalb County Sheriff's deputy was also on the scene.

Trio Charged in Theft of Copper and Brass from Federal Mogul

August 15, 2013
Dwayne Page
Sample of the copper grain stolen from Federal Mogul
Billy Joe Rigsby
William Corey Dickens
Martin Riley, III

Three men accused of stealing more than $100,000 worth of copper and brass from Federal Mogul in Smithville over an eight month period have been arrested by Smithville Police.

Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE Wednesday that 56 year old Billy Joe Rigsby of Raymond Road, 28 year old William Corey Dickens of Forest Avenue, and 46 year old Martin Riley, III of Poss Road are all charged with theft of property and will be in court on August 22.

According to police, the thefts occurred multiple times from December 2012 to August 2013 during the middle of the night after the second shift when no one else was at the plant. The intruders went under and over a fence, entered through an unlocked door at the receiving area behind the building, and loaded carts with 50 pound bags of almost pure grain copper, which is used in the manufacture of brake pads at the facility. In some cases, pieces of EDM brass were also stolen.

According to Lieutenant Matt Holmes, the investigation began after police first received a tip and then a formal complaint by an official of Federal Mogul. "We spoke to a representative of Federal Mogul who advised us that they had been suspecting some copper was being stolen. They placed a hidden camera out there. He (Federal Mogul official) provided us with some video. When we watched the video and through investigation, we were able to identify the two subjects on the video as Martin Riley and Billy Joe Rigsby," he said.

"They way they were doing it was after hours they were entering the building, loading up carts while no one else was there, and wheeling the carts out the back door. They would go during the times they (plant) were closed during the middle of the night and take anywhere from 10 to 25 to 30 bags at a time or however many they could get loaded and feasibly get out of there with. They went under the fence and loaded their truck," said Lieutenant Holmes.

After committing the thefts, the men allegedly sold the copper and brass at the Southern Central business in McMinnville. "He (Federal Mogul official) initially didn't know how much copper had been taken but they were working on doing an inventory so we started calling around, trying to locate the copper. We learned the copper had been sold to Southern Central in McMinnville," he said. "They would take the copper and brass to the scrap yard. In some cases, they transferred the copper from the bags they came in to totes to transport it to the scrap yard," said Lieutenant Holmes.

The investigation revealed that Rigsby and Dickens were allegedly partners in the crimes from December, 2012 to March, 2013, until Dickens was arrested on a separate charge. Rigsby then allegedly continued with the thefts from the plant and was allegedly joined by Riley, on at least one occasion, through August 4, 2013.

Dickens is charged with one count of theft of property over $60,000. His bond is $25,000. Riley is charged with one count of theft of property over $10,000 (for thefts from June-August, 2013). His bond is $10,000. Rigsby faces two charges, one for theft of property over $10,000 (for thefts from June-August) and another for theft of property over $60,000 (for thefts since December 2012). Lieutenant Holmes explained that the second warrant was taken against Rigsby after it was discovered further in the investigation that he had allegedly been involved in the thefts as far back as December. Bond for Rigsby totals $35,000.

One of the warrants against Rigsby states that on August 4, Rigsby was seen on video taking multiple bags of copper from the back door of Federal Mogul. This activity has been going on from June 1, 2013 to August 4, 2013. An estimated 45 bags of copper has been taken valued at $18,000.

The other warrant against Rigsby alleges that on or about August 4 he was seen on video taking multiple bags of copper from the back door. After an investigation, Lieutenant Holmes determined this activity had been going on since December, 2012. The copper was sold to Southern Central in McMinnville. The copper is valued at over $60,000.

The warrant against Dickens alleges that on August 4 suspects were seen on video taking bags of copper. After an investigation it was determined Dickens was involved from December, 2012 to March, 2013. Dickens entered the business through the back door after hours about fifteen times, taking a total of about 150- 50 pound bags of copper and sold it to Southern Central in McMinnville. The copper is valued at over $60,000.

Riley's warrant states that on August 4, 2013 at Federal Mogul, Riley was seen on video taking multiple bags of copper from the back door. This activity has been going on from June 1, 2013 to August 4, 2013. An estimated 45 bags of copper has been taken all valued at $18,000.

The case was investigated by Chief Caplinger and Lieutenant Holmes.

Student Enrollment Up By Ten Students Over Last Year, Numbers Show More Boys than Girls

August 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

Enrollment in the DeKalb County School System is up by ten students over last year at this time.

Total enrollment, as of Tuesday, August 13, was 3,052 compared to 3,042 last year on the same day, according to Joey Reeder, Attendance Supervisor.

"As of (Tuesday) at 1:30 p.m. we're up by ten students county wide from where we were on this date a year ago. Of course, that's a pretty fluid number and it will be changing daily from now until probably after Labor Day," he said.

DeKalb County High School (grades 9-12) has 834 students, nine fewer than one year ago.

Enrollment at DeKalb Middle School ( grades 6-8) is 592, twenty two more than last August.

Northside Elementary School's enrollment (grades 2-5) is 591, three students fewer than last year at this time.

Smithville Elementary School (Pre-K through 2nd grade) has 621 students, sixteen more than a year ago.

Four hundred fourteen students are enrolled at DeKalb West School (Pre-K through 8th grade), sixteen students fewer than last year.

County wide, there are more boys than girls, 1,605 to 1,447

Boys- 429

DeKalb Middle School:
Boys- 321
Girls- 271

Northside Elementary:
Boys- 305
Girls- 286

Smithville Elementary:
Boys- 327

DeKalb West School:
Boys- 223

Reeder encourages students to be in school on time every day when classes are in session. "According to Tennessee state law, once you miss five unexcused days in a school year you are considered truant. Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II has been a big friend to education. He realizes the importance of education and he wants all our students in school. He has been a big help," said Reeder.

"We've got a new website www.dekalbschools.net with an attendance page that answers your questions about truancy and getting your driver's license or if you lose those license because of absences or lack of academic progress, what you have to do in order to get those driver's licenses back. Our new website is really informative. You can find out a lot there about all of our programs. I encourage people to use that. A lot of times people want to pick up the phone and call the school to ask questions. Now you can go straight to that website and more than likely get your questions answered," said Reeder.

Two Sentenced on Drug Charges in Criminal Court

August 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

Two men were sentenced on drug charges in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.

38 year old Caleb Andrew Lincoln pleaded guilty by information to promotion to manufacture methamphetamine. Judge David Patterson sentenced him to two years. He was fined $2,000. Lincoln was given jail credit from May 20 to August 12, 2013. The sentence is to run consecutive to a TDOC sentence against him.

Lincoln's plea on Monday was the result of an investigation and a subsequent charge brought by the Smithville Police Department. Officer Andy Snow spotted Lincoln operating a pickup truck on Broad Street Monday, May 20. Having knowledge that Lincoln's license were suspended or revoked, Officer Snow pulled over the truck on West Main Street. Officer Snow asked for and received consent from Lincoln to search his truck. Found in the bed were meth lab components. Lincoln was placed under arrest. Lieutenant Matt Holmes was also involved in the investigation.

The sheriff's department, two months before on March 20, cited Lincoln in a separate case for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Wednesday, March 20 a deputy performed a welfare check on a man who appeared to be intoxicated at the Mapco Express. The officer asked Lincoln for his drivers license but he could not produce a valid license, only an ID. Lincoln told the officer that he had needles and methamphetamine. Found were needles and two small plastic baggies that contained less than a gram of methamphetamine.

54 year old Randy Mitchell Hobbs pleaded guilty to felony possession of a schedule VI controlled substance. He received a two year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He must return a gun to a family member.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 a sheriff's department drug detective assisted a probation official in checking on Hobbs at his residence. Hobbs let the officers into his home and they performed a search. Found in a living room dresser drawer were several buds of marijuana which weighed over five ounces. A search of Hobbs' person turned up a plastic bag containing marijuana. More than twenty marijuana seeds were found on a living room desk. Meanwhile, in a bedroom closet, officers found a 12 gauge shotgun. Seven- twelve gauge shotgun shells were also found in the living room. Hobbs was arrested and transported to the jail for booking.

New Report Card Being Developed for Kindergarten and First Grade Students

August 13, 2013
Dwayne Page
Draft of Standards Based Report Card for Kindergartden and 1st Grade

As part of the new Common Core State Standards initiative, the DeKalb County School System is introducing a new standards-based report card this year for kindergarten and first grade students.

0230_001.pdf (212.93 KB)

The purpose of the new reporting system is to provide parents and teachers with more accurate information about students' progress toward meeting the specific content standards for the various subjects taught at each grade level.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through 6th grade, informed the Board of Education Thursday night that the new report card is still in draft form and may be subject to further revisions before its implemented. "We have had kindergarten teachers working on this report card for a period of time and they have done an excellent job but it is still in draft form because we want to make some changes before it goes to print," said Burklow.

Once implemented, educators will know whether all students are learning what they should in each grade by monitoring the skills listed on the report card. " This report card highlights the standards and important skills that a child should learn while in Kindergarten or first grade," said Burklow. " This is one step in a sequence of steps that we have taken to reach a goal. Teachers have worked diligently on creating pacing guides so they will know exactly what will be taught each nine weeks. At the end of that nine week period, there will be common assessments so that every kindergarten and first grade teacher in DeKalb County will be assessing the same skills at the same time every nine weeks. If a child moves from one school to another, he or she will still be at the same point in his or her academic career as students in the other schools," said Burklow.

Traditional report cards usually assign one grade for reading, one for math, one for science and so on. On a standards-based report card, each of these subject areas is divided into a list of skills and knowledge that students are responsible for learning. Students receive a separate mark for each standard.

The achievement marks indicate a child’s progress toward meeting specific grade-level standards. "Teachers will determine proficiency levels of students by using a report card benchmark," said Burklow. "At the end of the nine weeks, the teachers will make an assessment and use that to guide the report card. They will assess specific standards and that will be part of the report card," she said.

According to Burklow, the new report card will be a better tool for parents in identifying subject areas and skills where their children are excelling or might need help. "Standards are given a number. On the test that the students will be taking, there will also be a number correlating to the standard. So when a parent looks at the test, they will also see on the report card if that skill was mastered or not. It can be used as a tool, as a guide to give examples to the parents on how to help their child to master those skills. So not only are they going to receive this report card or something similar to it, but they're also going to receive the assessment that helped guide that report card and use that as a tool to work with the teacher on helping the students master the skills," she said.

Instead of letter grades, the standards based report card will grade students by numbers 1-4. " Category 4 would mean students are advanced," said Burklow. " That means they have an understanding of the standards, the skills. It exceeds the grade level expectations. Earning a 3 would mean that students are proficient in understanding the skills and meet grade level expectations. We want all students to be at that proficient level. So a 3 would mean that they are right on target for gaining all their academic information for the school year. A 3 would be something to celebrate. A 2 would mean that the student has a basic understanding of the skill/skills being tested. This child is progressing toward mastery but needs a little polishing on a specific skill. A 1 would mean that the student has minimal understanding. Here again, teachers and parents would work together, intervene with that student so that they would progress up to mastery," said Burklow.

The new report card, when implemented, will be just for kindergarten and first grade students this year but could be used for higher grade levels later. "As we move to next year, we would like to implement it on up to second grade and then progress up to third grade. We're not sure where we might stop. We feel like this tool will be very beneficial for parents and teachers and that it will really build that strong partnership in a child's education," said Burklow.

"Once we have finalized the report card and it has gone to print my goal is to hold parent workshops during the day and evenings to share with parents a copy of the new report card and clarify terminology being used," she concluded.

0230_001.pdf (212.93 KB)

Smithville Police Charge Alleged Obscene Phone Caller with Felony Stalking

August 13, 2013
Dwayne Page
Walter Smouthers

A 52 year old registered sex offender has been charged by Smithville Police with three counts of felony stalking for allegedly using a pre-paid cell phone to make sexually explicit calls from his home in Paris, Tennessee to female store clerks in Smithville.

Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE that Walter Smouthers, a former resident of Smithville, was arrested Monday by Detective Brandon Donnell and Corporal Travis Bryant at Smouthers' home in Paris. Smouthers is under a $30,000 bond and he will be in court on August 15. Further charges are pending against him.

Police believe Smouthers used the cell phone he purchased at a Walmart to make hundreds of sexually explicit calls over the past year to female clerks at six Smithville businesses.

According to Detective Donnell, Smouthers was arrested in 2007 for making similar types of phone calls to some of the same victims as in the latest cases. "It started happening again over the past year," said Detective Donnell. "We got enough evidence to obtain a search warrant for the phone number and records and it pinged at an address in Paris, Tennessee. Through an investigation, we found that Smouthers, who lives in Paris Tennessee and is a registered sex offender, made the calls. After an investigation, it was determined a prepaid phone from Wal-mart was used to place the calls," said Detective Donnell.

Smouthers placed his last call only minutes before police arrived to arrest him. "Twenty minutes before he was picked up and arrested, he had placed another call to Smithville," said Detective Donnell.

"We believe this phone was used just for this purpose. He didn't report having the phone and that would be a violation of the sex offender rules he is under in Paris, Tennessee," said Detective Donnell.

Police found Smouthers' cell phone hidden under a dresser in his Paris, Tennessee home.

The case was investigated by Detective Donnell and Corporal Bryant.

Five Charged in Meth Lab Case; Another Indicted in Separate Burglary & Theft Investigation

August 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Patricia Lynn Durham
Tara Leann Alford
Andy Joe Certain
Brandon Wayne Hutchings
Sherry Kay Malone
Travis Marcus Melton

Five people have been arrested by the Sheriff's Department on drug charges after a detective found a meth lab at a Smithville residence last week.

46 year old Patricia Lynn Durham of Driver Street, Smithville; 36 year old Tara Leann Alford of Old Harrison Ferry Road, McMinnville; 36 year old Andy Joe Certain of Bright Hill Road, Smithville; and 25 year old Brandon Wayne Hutchings of Young Ridge Road, Sparta are all charged with promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine. 34 year old Sherry Kay Malone of Commerce Street, Watertown is charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Bond for each is $50,000 and they will be in court August 22.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, August 6 a drug detective went to Durham's residence for a knock and talk. After receiving consent from Durham, the homeowner, to do a search, the detective found a one liter cook bottle, a 20 ounce bottle containing a bi-layered liquid, two lithium batteries, a bag of white powder believed to be Pseudoephedrine weighing 29 grams, 12 hypodermic needles, a visine bottle containing acid, and several other items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to Sheriff Ray, Malone admitted to the detective that the meth making components found belonged to her. The others were charged because they were in the same room where the items were located.

20 year old Travis Marcus Melton of Johnson Chapel Road, Sparta was arrested on Tuesday, August 6. He was named in a sealed indictment by the Grand Jury on Monday, August 5 for aggravated burglary (2 counts), theft of property over $1,000, and theft of property under $500. His bond is $40,000.

WJLE has obtained a copy of the indictment now that it has been unsealed with Melton's arrest. In the case of aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000, the indictment alleges that "On or about the 1st day of March, 2012, Melton did intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly enter the habitation of the victim with the intent to commit theft of property, constituting the offense of aggravated burglary."

The indictment further alleges that Melton "did knowingly exercise control over certain property, to wit: a 12 gauge shotgun, 12 gauge ammunition, a Disney Pellet Rifle, a .22 Ruger handgun, ammunition, a 52 inch flat screen television, a DVD player, a leather jewelry box, $25 cash, several knives, an air compressor, tools, a tool box, pillow cases, several bottles of liquor, a gas can, a hatchet with sheath, a machete with sheath, a Browning hunting knife with sheath, two fishing poles with reels, a coke machine key and $3 in change, being over the value of $1,000, the property of the victim, constituting the offense of theft."

In the other case of aggravated burglary and theft under $500, the indictment alleges that "On or about the 3rd day of March, 2012, Melton did intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly enter the habitation of the victim with the intent to commit theft of property, constituting the offense of aggravated burglary."

The indictment further alleges that "Melton did knowingly exercise control over certain property, to wit: a Henry .22 lever action rifle, being under the value of $500, the property of the victim, constituting the offense of theft."

After he was arrested on the charges in the sealed indictments, Melton was further charged with introduction of drugs into a penal institution. His bond on the drug charge is $10,000. Sheriff Ray said that while being booked into the jail on Tuesday, August 6, officers asked Melton if he had anything on him. He replied no. Before being locked down, Melton was searched by a correctional officer who found less than a half ounce of marijuana on his person.


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