Local News Articles

County Firefighters Help Sheriff's Department Solve Theft Case

November 5, 2007
Dwayne Page

A fire call last week resulted in the arrest of a local woman on theft charges.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the DeKalb County Fire Department, on Sunday, October 28th, was dispatched to Kenny and Amanda Bain’s residence, located at 597 King Ridge Road Dowelltown, in response to a call of a vehicle fire.

Upon arrival, Firefighters opened the trunk of the vehicle which was on fire and found several long guns. Firefighters turned the guns over to deputies from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.

Through an investigation, detectives discovered that at least two of the guns were stolen from a victim in DeKalb County.

23 year old Amanda G. Bain, who is the owner of the burned vehicle, was arrested for theft of property. Bond was set at $10,000 and her court date is November 15th.

In another case last week, Sheriff Ray says 26 year old John Brent Williams of Four Seasons Road Smithville was arrested on Monday, October 29th for driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law.

Deputies received a call from someone stating there was a vehicle parked in the middle of the road on Vaughn Lane. Upon arrival, deputies found Williams passed out underneath the steering wheel of the vehicle. Bond for Williams was set at $1,000 and his court date is November 8th.

Meanwhile, 46 year old Larry (Crack) Lattimore of Short Mountain Highway Smithville was arrested on Tuesday, October 30th for 10th offense driving on a revoked license.

Lattimore was seen by a detective of the Sheriff’s Department driving on Short Mountain Highway. The officer had knowledge of Lattimore’s license being revoked.

Bond for Lattimore was set at $10,000 and his court date is November 15th.

Two days later, on Thursday, November 1st, deputies responded to Toad Road, Dowelltown to a domestic violence call involving a gun. Upon arrival officers found a small amount of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and a handgun.

Lattimore was charged with simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for Lattimore was set at $3,500 and his court date is January 3rd.

On Saturday, November 3rd, 44 year old James Edward Stewart of Holmes Creek Road Smithville was charged with driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law.

Stewart was stopped on Holmes Creek Road and found to be intoxicated. Stewart admitted to drinking 6 beers and when the deputy asked him to perform sobriety tasks, Stewart admitted he could not pass them. Bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is November 15th.

DCHS Band Concludes Marching Season in Division II Hall of Fame

November 5, 2007

The DeKalb County High School band wrapped up its marching season at the Tennessee State Division II Championships on Saturday. After a very solid performance in preliminary competition, the band fell short for a finals performance. Director Kristin Reagh and Assistant Director Rebecca Purdue gathered the students after the announcements of the finalist bands and told them how proud they were of this year’s accomplishments. “This band has come a long way this season” Mrs. Reagh told the students, “We’re extremely proud of you”.

During the announcements of the finalist bands, the band learned that it had been inducted into the Division II Hall of Fame for it’s accomplishments throughout the years of Competition. This is an award that acknowledges the rich history of the DCHS Band.

The preliminary contest had its own awards ceremony and DeKalb County had some positive results. Field Commander Dustin Estes had a “superior rating” with a score of 85.5. The Percussion section also had a “superior rating” placing 10th among 25 other bands in the prelim contest with a score of 83.

During the meeting after the announcements of the finalists, Mrs. Reagh left it up to the students as to whether they wanted to get on the bus and go home or stay and watch the finals competition. The band wanted to leave it up to the seniors of the band. One Student said “This is their contest; we’ll do whatever they want to do”. They voted to stay and watch the contest.

The marching season is now over. The band will focus on the music for their upcoming Christmas Concert, Christmas Parades and the Indoor Percussion show. For More info about the band, log onto DeKalbBand.com.

State Issues Report Card on DeKalb County Schools

November 4, 2007
Dwayne Page

The 2007 report card on the DeKalb County School System shows overall progress, but it also reveals areas where improvement is needed.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Supervisor of Instruction Dr. Carol Hendrix met with the local media last week to explain the report.

Dr. Hendrix says the DeKalb County School System overall is in "Good Standing" regarding "No Child Left Behind" Adequate Yearly Progress. "All this is our school's ability to meet the federal benchmarks with specific performance standards. We divide it up into elementary and middle schools. We met the AYP in Math in the demographic categories of "All", "Hispanic", "White", "Economically Disadvantaged", and "Limited English Proficient", (Students that don't speak English). We were not proficient in the demographic of "Students with Disabilities"."

"When we look at Reading/Language Arts/Writing in elementary and middle schools, we were proficient in "All", "Hispanic", "White", "Economically Disadvantaged, and "Students with Disabilities" and yet not proficient in "Limited English Proficient". We have areas there we need to work on."

Dr. Hendrix says the high school met all the academic AYP benchmarks in Math and Reading Language in all demographic areas. "The only place that we did not meet academic standards was in the graduation rate."

The 2007 graduation rate was 74.5%, up from 67.6% in 2006, however Dr. Hendrix says the rate should have been higher because some students were incorrectly coded as "dropouts" and not included in the report, so the local system has filed an appeal to the state. "We have appealed and hope to know something fairly soon. I think we're sending the state 21 different student records to appeal the graduation rate. These are students who finished at the adult high school and actually graduated with the graduating class. We think if we get the appeal through, the graduation rate will be at least 80%, which is above the 75.6% rate we need. The state set the standard four years ago according to what our graduation rate was at that time and we must progressively move forward." By the year 2013-2014, DeKalb County's graduation rate must meet the state goal of 90%.

In addition to the high school, Dr. Hendrix explains that DeKalb West and Northside Elementary Schools were found in "Good Standing" with the state and that DeKalb Middle was named a "Target" School. "The high school is in good standing. It is categorized as "School Improvement 2" as a result of the graduation rate. If we meet our appeal, it will be "School Improvement 1" .

Dr. Hendrix explained that a "Target" school needs to improve in at least one specific area. "They have one year to improve before they go any higher as far as improvement standards. DeKalb Middle School is "Targeted" for two areas, "Students with Disabilities" and "Limited English Proficient".

Student Academic Achievement results for 2007 show that system-wide in grades 3 to 8, DeKalb County earned an "A" in both Math and Reading/Language and a "B" in Social Studies and Science.

In 2006, DeKalb County scored an "A" in Math and a "B" in Reading/Language, Social Studies, and Science.

Actual 2007 scores were as follows: 59 in math, same as 2006; 57 in Reading/Language, up from 55 in 2006; 56 in Social Studies, up from 55 in 2006; and 58 in Science, up from 57 in 2006.

2007 scores in all areas were better than the state by from one to three points.

DeKalb County earned an "A" in 5th and 8th grade writing and a "B" in 11th grade writing, the same grades as 2006.

5th and 8th grade writing scores were also slightly better than the state and below the state by three tenths of a point in 11th grade writing.

Dr. Hendrix says academic achievement grades are based on "what our students have done throughout their school career".

Achievement scores show how well students performed on their standardized achievement tests. The tests are graded according to predetermined standards, and students who answer more questions correctly get higher scores. The achievement section also includes results on the ACT, a widely accepted college entrance exam. The ACT tests students' skills in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The highest possible score is 36.

Value Added scores in the elementary grades are designed to show whether teachers were effective in helping students learn. Children are tracked from year to year to determine whether they have learned a full year's worth of material since the last test. An "A" or "B" shows that the students learned more than expected in one school year, while a "D" or "F" shows that students fell behind.

High School Valued Added scores show whether student performance on Gateway or year-end exams was above or below expectations, based on the student's previous test scores. "Above" means students improved their scores significantly more in this subject than students in an average school. "Below" means they made less progress than average. "Same" means their progress was about the same as that of students in an average school.

The 2007 DCHS Value Added results (3 year average) are as follows:
Math (Algebra 1)- Same
Science (Biology I)- Below
English (English II)- Below
Math Foundations- Below
English I- Below
Physical Science- Above
US History- Below
11th grade writing- Below

Academic ACT Achievement results (3 year average) for 2007 show that in grades 9-12, DeKalb County's scores were up in all areas except Math.

2007 scores are as follows: Composite-19.5, up from 19.2 in 2006; English- 19.3, up from 19.2; Math- 19.3, up from 17.9, Reading- 17.9, down from 20; and Science/Reasoning- 20.2, up from 19.5.

2007 scores were all below the state from eight tenths of a point to 1.9 points.

The ACT results in grades 9-12 for 2007 (individual year) show that the composite score was 19.9, up from 19.7 last year; 19.8 in English, down from 20 in 2006, 19.6 in Math, up from 18.3 last year, 18.1 in Reading, down from 20.5; and 20.9 in Science/Reasoning, up from 19.8 last year.

2007 scores were all below the state from two tenths of a point to 1.8 points.

2007 Academic Growth (Value Added) results for 2007 show that in grades K-8, DeKalb County scored a "C" in Math, down from a "B" in 2006 but earned an "A" in Reading/Language, Social Studies, and Science, the same as last year.

Dr. Hendrix says "Academic Growth is what happened in a one year window. If we look at our overall scores, we did find out that we had a problem in Math last year in the elementary grades, but we are working on that and hope to make improvement.

The following are the 2007 Academic Achievement Grades and Academic Growth (Value Added) results at each school:

DeKalb West School (2007 Academic Achievement Grades): DeKalb West scored an "A" in both Math and Reading/Language and a "B" in Social Studies and Science.

In 2006, DeKalb West scored an "A" in Math and a "B" in Reading/Language, Social Studies, and Science.

2007 actual scores at DeKalb West were as follows: Math- 63, up from 59 in 2006; Reading/Language-59, up from 55; Social Studies- 58, up from 55; and Science- 57, up from 54.

DeKalb West scores were better than the state in all areas from two to six points.

DeKalb West earned an "A" in 5th & 8th grade writing, the same grade as 2006, and the scores were also at or better than the state.

2007 Academic Growth (Value Added) results at DeKalb West School, show that the school gets all "A's" in Math, Reading/Language, Social Studies, and Science. The school earned "A's" in every subject last year except for a "C" in Science.

DeKalb Middle School (2007 Academic Achievement Grades): DeKalb Middle scored an "A" in Math and Reading/Language, a "C" in Social Studies, and a "B" in Science.

In 2006, DeKalb Middle School scored a "B" in Math, Reading/Language, and Science, and a "C" in Social Studies.

2007 actual scores at DeKalb Middle School were as follows: Math- 56, up from 55 last year; Reading/Language- 57, up from 55; Social Studies- 51, the same as last year; and Science- 55, down from 56 last year.

Compared to the state, DeKalb Middle School scores were the same in Science, down by three points in Social Studies, up by one point in Reading/Language, and down by one point in Math.

DeKalb Middle School earned an "A" in 8th grade writing, one tenth of a point better than last year, and two tenths of a point better than the state

2007 Academic Growth (Value Added) results at DeKalb Middle School, show that the school gets a "B" in Math, the same as last year; an "A" in Reading/Language, the same as last year; an "F" in Social Studies, down from a "D" last year; and a "C" in Science, down from a "B" last year.

Northside Elementary School (2007 Academic Achievement Grades): Northside Elementary scored an "A" in Math, Social Studies, and Science, and a "B" in Reading/Language.

In 2006, Northside Elementary scored an "A" in Math, a "B" in Reading/Language and Social Studies, and an "A" in Science.

2007 actual scores at Northside Elementary were as follows: Math- 61, down from 62 last year. Reading/Language- 56, the same as last year. Social Studies- 60, up from 58 last year. Science- 62, up from 61 last year.

Compared to the state, Northside Elementary scores were up by four points in Math, the same in Reading/Language, up by six points in Social Studies, and up by seven points in Science.

Northside Elementary earned an "A" in 5th grade writing, the same as last year, two tenths of a point better than the state.

2007 Academic Growth (Value Added) results at Northside Elementary show that the school made an "F" in Math, down from a "C" last year; a "B" in Reading/Language, up from a "C" in 2006; and and "A" in both Social Studies and Science, the same as last year.

Sandy Brown Seeks GOP Nomination for DeKalb County Assessor of Property

November 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

Local business woman Sandy C. Brown will be a candidate for the Republican nomination for Assessor of Property.

Brown made her announcement Saturday morning during the DeKalb County Republican Party Mass meeting, held at the courthouse. "It's been four years, I think folks know me a little bit better now. I'm a member of Webb's Methodist Church. I have my own business. I've been to the classes for Assessor. I still have the contacts out there but I will need your support folks. It's not going to be the same race as last time. Frankly, I don't have the wherewithal to throw that kind of cash into it and I need your input. Get in touch with me and let me know what you'd like to see me do and what you want me to do."

Brown, who ran unsuccessfully for Assessor of Property in August 2004, is the owner and operator of Tennessee Barn Builders/SCB Enterprises on Highway 70 West.

Meanwhile, incumbent Second District Constable Reed Edge announced his intention to seek re-election. "I'm married to Sonya Edge and we've got four little girls. It's been my privilege to serve you for the last eight years as constable and I'd like to keep on representing you. With the help of the Republican Party and everybody else in DeKalb County, I can do that. I'd like to thank Sheriff Patrick Ray for letting the constables have a more active part in helping with the welfare of this county. I sure would appreciate all the help you can give me."

Delegates to the DeKalb County Republican Party Convention were selected from each of the seven districts Saturday morning and those delegates will convene on Saturday, November 17th at 9:00 a.m. at the courthouse to formally nominate GOP candidates to run for Assessor of Property and Constable in the August, 2008 DeKalb County General Election.

The following persons were selected as delegates:
District 1: Mason Carter, Richard Winfree, Jennifer Winfree and Alternate- Sheelie Askew
District 2: Don Adamson, Charles Robinson, Bobby Joines, Jerry Childress, Donny Green and Alternate- Clarence Davenport
District 3: Vester Parsley, Randy Caplinger, Walter Burton, George Lafever, J.C.. Carter, and Jim Dean
District 4: Jama Todd, Pat Witt, Taft Hendrixson, Bertha McBride, Joe Collins, and Joan Draper
District 5: Natalie Green, Barbara Vandergriff, Burnace Vandergriff, William O. Green, Kiki Brown, U.L. Lafever and Alternate- Larry Green
District 6: Dennis Stanley, Roy Ray, Tracy Ray, Grady Ray and Alternates Melvin Ray, Bruce Parsley, and Donna Stanley
District 7: Todd Lassiter, James Cantrell, Misty Lassiter, Johnny Lattimore, and John Parker

DeKalb County voters will be electing an Assessor of Property and a constable from each of the seven districts in the county during the General Election next August.

The Democratic nominees for these offices will be chosen in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary on February 5th.

All persons, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, have until noon December 13th to become qualified to run.

Mayor Vetoes City Board's Action to Award Bid on Sprinkler System at Golf Course

November 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Aldermen last month voted 3 to 2 to award a bid on the installation of an irrigation system for the fairways at the Smithville Golf Course to Oasis Irrigation for $213,716, the lowest of the four bids submitted.

Since then, Mayor Taft Hendrixson has cast a veto of the board's decision based on an opinion of City Attorney John Pryor.

In the letter to Mayor Hendrixson dated October 25th, Pryor wrote that " At the Monday, October 15th, 2007 City Council Meeting, the Board of Aldermen voted to accept a bid on the installation of a sprinkler system at the golf course. This could potentially create two problems that I see."

"First, the Municipal Purchasing Law of 1983 as codified in (state law) requires that all purchases made shall be within the limits of the approved budget for the department which the purchase is made. My review of the budget does not reveal such funds being appropriated for such a purchase. This could be fixed by amending the budget, which should occur before the approval of the purchase."

"Second, as pointed out by Brian Burns with Rainbird, the bid package required specific parts and or equipment and did not include language that would allow equivalent equipment or parts. Again, the Municipal Purchasing Law of 1983 as codified in (state law) requires purchases to be made only after competitive bids. My concern is our bid may have been too exclusive."

"As a result of the potential problems before the City on this matter, my advice to you is to veto said decision of City Council until such time as we can amend the budget for such an expenditure and put out a fair bid package. Furthermore, I believe your veto should come before the meeting Monday, October 29th, 2007 to comply with your veto powers as set out in the Smithville Charter."

"I consulted with Don Darden of MTAS and he agreed with me as to these potential problems."

Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. voted in favor of awarding the bid to Oasis irrigation last month but Aldermen Cecil Burger and Steve White voted against it.

Burger said "I'm not against golf. It's necessary for the community, but are we going to do something for the rest of the community for recreation? Are we going to spend that much money for our people that don't play golf? We've got people all over the city and county that begs for recreation of other kinds."

White said he felt like the city was breaking the terms of it's own lease agreement with the tenant of the golf course, Jimmy Lewis, by funding this project. " I feel like this would be a breach of the contract on the city's part because we entered into a contract with Jimmy and he's supposed to be installing it (irrigation system) himself"

Alderman Sullivan said "I think he's provided enough information that shows that he has spent the amount of money that was agreed upon in his contract."

The city recently voted 4 to 1 to accept bids on the irrigation system and take half of Lewis' rent to pay for it over time. Lewis will continue to pay his monthly rent of $2,500 per month with half going to the general fund and half going to the city to pay the debt of the irrigation system. Alderman White voted against it, saying he felt like the city should stick to the terms of the current agreement with Lewis.

Tribute to Mike Cantrell

October 31, 2007
Dr. W.E. Vanatta

The following is a tribute to WJLE's Mike Cantrell, written by Dr. W.E. Vanatta, owner of WJLE.

"Mike departed this earthly realm on October 30th, 2007 after a bout with many illnesses with very few complaints and a stubborn determination. He carried on with an optimistic outlook in spite of all odds even needing oxygen to support his breathing. Mike determined to return to his program of gospel music and a listening audience of hundreds he had built up and nurtured for over a period of 10 years. Mike had a rapport with his peolple that few attain. He exuded empathy, love, faith, and hope. His listeners responded with calls of love and concern. Mike is now experiencing another realm that he talked about, sung about, and I am sure prayed about, where there is no heart ache, no pain, or death. Mike will be missed. We will fill Mike's time slot but we cannot replace Mike. We thank you, Mike's family, for sharing this good man with WJLE and his many loyal listeners."

Dr. W.E. Vanatta

Judge Appoints Public Defender to Represent Sosa in Baby Murder Case

October 31, 2007
Dwayne Page

The woman charged with second degree murder in the death of her newborn last week made a brief appearance in DeKalb County General Sessions Court today (Wednesday).

18 year old Lillian Elizebeth Sosa appeared before Judge Bratten Cook II without an attorney.

In determining if she was indigent, Judge Cook, through an interpreter, asked Sosa if she owned any property, assets, or money with which she might could afford to hire an attorney. She indicated "no".

Judge Cook then appointed the District Public Defender to represent Sosa.

Sosa made no request to reduce the bond, which is set at one million dollars. The only mention of bond was by Judge Cook who gave orders that he be made aware of any attempts by Sosa to make bond, so he could approve it, before she is released.

She is due back in General Sessions Court on Thursday, November 8th, unless a bond reduction hearing is held earlier.

Fire Destroys Odom Home on Holmes Creek Road

October 31, 2007
Dwayne Page

A midnight fire destroyed the home of Scott Odom at 8195 Holmes Creek Road Tuesday night.

The fire was reported to 911 at 11:39 p.m.

Officials say Odom was awakened by a smoke alarm and escaped unharmed.

Firefighters from the Short Mountain Highway, Cookeville Highway, Main Station, and tanker truck responded, but they could not save the home.

DeKalb EMS was also on the scene as a precaution along with an officer of the Sheriff's Department.

Officials say the fire may have started from the kitchen area, but the cause is undetermined.

Jamboree Board Adopts New Policy on Use of Stage

October 31, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree Board of Directors has adopted a new policy on the use of the stage during the annual festival.

According to Frank Buck, attorney for the Jamboree board, "The Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival Board met on October 25th and adopted a policy that applies to all persons, clubs, and organizations."

The policy states that " Due to continued growth and time constraints, the Jamboree Board has noted that we cannot offer stage time to any organization or group in the community wishing to perform, other than paid contestants, during the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival. This applies to contestants or groups on Thursday night."

WJLE's Mike Cantrell Dies

October 31, 2007
Dwayne Page

Popular WJLE personality Mike Cantrell has died.

He passed away Tuesday at the V.A. Hospital in Nashville after a long bout with illness including lung cancer.

Mike was the night time announcer on Sunday's, Monday's, Wednesday's, and Thursday's hosting a Gospel music call-in request program.

Mike always enjoyed hearing from his listeners and for many he was more than just a radio announcer, he was their personal friend. He had a special bond with them and when he became so sick he couldn't return to work, several of his friends would often call the radio station to try to find out about his condition.

Mike not only loved playing music on the radio, he enjoyed writing and performing. He authored a couple of inspirational books, including one called "His Loving Touch" and he penned several songs and recitations, many of which he recorded and often played on his radio program, like "The Clown" and "The Old Farmer", among others.

Prior to his employment at WJLE, Mike worked as an assistant manager at K-Mart in McMinnville.


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